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First Quarter 2020 Reading

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Finished The Second Sleep.  It's good all the way through, though the author's combination of literary knowledge. writing skills and knowledge of past and present historical detail,* which created such a smashing impression at the start, which was distilled poetry of writing skill on the page, doesn't continue.  Not through failure -- and it's not a failure in the least.  It's that he's captured the reader so thoroughly with what he did at the beginning, that the reader must roll on in impatience to find the answers!

This isn't quite like anything else I've read, which is saying something, all right.

* Which I tried to describe a couple of weeks ago in the Mysteries thread.

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3 hours ago, Zorral said:

Finished The Second Sleep. 

Robert Harris?

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Just now, Zorral said:

Meaning sí, Robert Harris's latest.

 

Ah, okies! 

Danke! :)

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On 2/11/2020 at 11:13 PM, Wilbur said:

Well, unlike Spy or Heights, Travels with My Aunt is actually pretty funny, as are a lot of Greene's entertainment books, filled with dark, insightful humor based upon the characters in the novels.

 

Yeah, I did find myself chuckling a fair bit in Travels with my Aunt. It was indeed a really enjoyable read, another one for the re-read pile actually. Some curious similarities with A Spy In The House of Love, though, in some of the characters anyway.

Since my last post I've also read Foundation by Isaac Asimov. It's been a while since I've read a sci-fi book, and this one has been on my to-read list ever since my Dad bought me a copy years ago. Overall, I would have to say I liked it. Firstly, it's so recognisable as a modern sci-fi work. It's also just really enjoyable to read from a structure point of view - I don't read many stories that follow that sort of style. A few quibbles:

Spoiler

Each of the sections is resolved in pretty much the same way - some unappreciated genius has a smart idea that revolves around him manipulating the contemporary sceptics into a resounding victory. I think Asimov points out the similarities himself at some point, but that doesn't really make up for the fact that it happens in every chapter. 

Also, I think a woman appears in ~5 pages overall... very typical for 20thC Sci-Fi (made the same point about Emphyrio last year), but given the aforementioned lack of variety in plot, this is doubly noticeable for me.

Also, inches, really??

Anyway, I'm cracking on with Why Read The Classics? by Italo Calvino, which I am finding really interesting to read (and also extremely fucking difficult). I picked this up last year hoping it would introduce me to some books. Well, it turns out I would have done better to have actually read the classics before picking up this book, and that is only true for a small portion of those contained in this. However, it has still succeeded at introducing me to new authors and books, and I look forward to returning to these essays when I've read a few more of them.

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finished the way of kings recently.  i'm not certain my recency bias has receded but it was an amazing book.  still working through dresden...dead beat is the first time that i realized that this is actually going somewhere.  i'm currently reading the hod king, which is a revelation.  if that is any indication, what the absolute fuck is bancroft going to do next?

sometimes, i'm glad that i read comics.  the endless maelstrom of that which never changes soothes me. 

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On 2/7/2020 at 4:30 PM, IlyaP said:

Finished William Gibson's Agency last night. Lots of interesting questions set up and threads established that could take a potential third book to some very interesting places.

Based on your notice, I read Agency by William Gibson this past weekend.  Once again his near-future or contemporary sci-fi is most enjoyable for his style, which is tremendous.

Upon finishing, my own feelings were that the book was less gripping than The Peripheral because the individual characters in The Peripheral seemed to have more at stake or more at risk in the story.  The heritage humans characters in Agency seemed to float along within the plot without much agency despite the title.  True decision-making and risk-taking agency seemed to be available only to UNISS.

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4 hours ago, Wilbur said:

Based on your notice, I read Agency by William Gibson this past weekend.  Once again his near-future or contemporary sci-fi is most enjoyable for his style, which is tremendous.

It seems as he's gotten older, his style has shifted in an interesting way. Someone, once, somewhere (maybe it was John Clute?) referred to his later style as being "cromulent", which is both a wonderful casual reference to The Simpsons and a wonderful English word unto itself. It's for this reason (not the cromulent bit, but the amazing prose) that Spook Country in particular has become my favourite of his works (the prose is spectacular).

Edited by IlyaP
Clarifying

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I ended up finishing Why Read The Classics? today. Not much more to add from yesterday, except to say that I will never read a book of essays again, even one I find as interesting as this.

I was a bit unsure of what to read next. I have just refreshed my shelf of unread books that I keep to hand (i.e. not with all the boxes of books at my parents house), so I did have a lot of choice; this includes some books that I've been interested in for a long time, like The Master and the Margarita, and The Bell Jar. However, I ended up going with Mrs Dalloway. After reading A Room With A View in January I'm curious to read more by Woolf, plus this will put me back neck-and-neck on books read by male vs female authors (currently 8 - 7). 

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7 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Um, I don't think you know what that word means :P

Oh *I* do. I also just remember seeing that pop up in a glowing review of Spook County and thinking "that's not a word I expected in a review but okay!" 

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28 minutes ago, Leap said:

After reading A Room With A View in January I'm curious to read more by Woolf,

 Woolf didn't write A Room With A View (pub. 1908); E.M Forster is the author.  His work examined and described the manners and mores of class, race, wealth and gender though, which often Woolf does as well.

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2 hours ago, IlyaP said:

It seems as he's gotten older, his style has shifted in an interesting way. Someone, once, somewhere (maybe it was John Clute?) referred to his later style as being "cromulent", which is both a wonderful casual reference to The Simpsons and a wonderful English word unto itself. It's for this reason (not the cromulent bit, but the amazing prose) that Spook Country in particular has become my favourite of his works (the prose is spectacular).

Gibson is like the modern-day Jack Vance, the ultimate stylist whose style is so exquisite that the plot is not necessarily of primary importance to the enjoyment of the work.

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16 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

Gibson is like the modern-day Jack Vance, the ultimate stylist whose style is so exquisite that the plot is not necessarily of primary importance to the enjoyment of the work.

Exactly. I never read his books for the plot - I go there for the beautiful prose and wonderful neologisms. 

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3 hours ago, Leap said:

I ended up finishing Why Read The Classics? today. Not much more to add from yesterday, except to say that I will never read a book of essays again, even one I find as interesting as this.

I was a bit unsure of what to read next. I have just refreshed my shelf of unread books that I keep to hand (i.e. not with all the boxes of books at my parents house), so I did have a lot of choice; this includes some books that I've been interested in for a long time, like The Master and the Margarita, and The Bell Jar. However, I ended up going with Mrs Dalloway. After reading A Room With A View in January I'm curious to read more by Woolf, plus this will put me back neck-and-neck on books read by male vs female authors (currently 8 - 7). 

I think you have confused A Room of One’s Own and A Room with a View. The latter is E.M. Forster, the former Virginia Woolf. Inread Room with a View recently too, and enjoyed it, although its not Forster’s best by any means - more a statement on how i rate his other work than a criticism of the text though

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On 2/18/2020 at 12:01 AM, Teng Ai Hui said:

I’m glad to see that you are giving positive reviews to the later books of the Alex Verus Series. I was highly invested in the series for a while, then dropped it in the middle of book six, Veiled. The activities of White Rose zapped the fun out of reading. I’ll try to pick it up again soon.

Yeah, that was pretty dark.  As much as it does feel like The Dresden Files, it definitely trends much darker overall.  

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