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williamjm

Second Quarter 2020 reading

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2 hours ago, JEORDHl said:

I finished the last book of this trilogy a month or two ago. Spark's prose took a little getting used to, but I loved these books and the perspective from which she views [figures like] Alexander the Great-- who was her direct historical inspiration for Marith.

Looking forward to see what she does next. Very talented writer. 

See my above comment for more Anna Smith Spark. She's also in The Art of War anthology. I think she's brilliant and the prose is so epic and Homeric 

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3 hours ago, JEORDHl said:

I finished the last book of this trilogy a month or two ago. Spark's prose took a little getting used to, but I loved these books and the perspective from which she views [figures like] Alexander the Great-- who was her direct historical inspiration for Marith.

Looking forward to see what she does next. Very talented writer. 

I need to give this one another go--I found the prose and the people utterly alienating through the first book, but maybe with a reframing of perspective it will make more sense and not just be "I hate everyone involved here and I don't understand any of their motivations either."

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I’ve only read the first Spark book, but it was pretty good, thought the prose takes a bit of getting used to. It’s also one of those series where all the main characters are kind of terrible people, like most things by KJ Parker. If you need a sympathetic main character it’s probably not for you.

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34 minutes ago, Little Valkyrie said:

I need to give this one another go--I found the prose and the people utterly alienating through the first book, but maybe with a reframing of perspective it will make more sense and not just be "I hate everyone involved here and I don't understand any of their motivations either."

The prose was tough for me at first. Got used to it, even found some beauty in it during many sequences. The motivations though, I mean, you won't find much more there than these are broken people. Broken by circumstance, their families, their friends, by expectation, addictions, etc. None of that really changes in the subsequent books, except the broken come in to power, so obviously it goes sideways... 

Might not be for you, I don't know.

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Just finished Procopius' Secret History. Delightful fun, though gets a bit bogged down with accounts of Emperor Justinian stealing money. I was expecting more of Theodora and the swans.

(Oh, and Procopius asserting that Justinian killed ONE TRILLION people makes him sound like Doctor Evil).

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I've been busy this week, but last week I was on a big Diana Wynne Jones kick, which I'll probably resume as soon as I have a chance. I read:

The Dalemark Quartet

Time of the Ghost

Dark Lord of Derkholm 

Year of the Griffin 

Time of the Ghost slaked a little of my curiosity about DWJ's own life in that it was clearly drawing on her childhood, when she, like the protagonist, had astonishingly neglectful parents, but to an extent made up for it through her bond with her sisters.  I'm an only child myself, and one of the really engaging things about her work is the way she puts sibling relationships centre-stage - it's fascinating, and to me every bit as exotic as wizards and griffins. 

She was a writer who, like all the best ones, stood "at a slight angle to the universe". 

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Okay, so I've gotten a little further into Red Queen and my initial thoughts have held up. It's a ridiculously thin, paint-by-numbers YA dystopia. The protag is the angry downtrodden girl with the sweet sister and a nebulous crush on her childhood boy friend. She hates the ruling class with a narrow-minded passion and yet is unexpectedly thrown in with them. The first major plot "twist" is so laughably obvious (see spoiler). But well it's a library book and I don't have another one lined up yet (audiobooks for my runs/walks) so I guess I'll keep listening. Hopefully the eyes don't roll right out of my head.

Spoiler

the random handsome stranger she runs into who gives her a job just HAPPENS to be the crown prince who just HAPPENS to be about to get engaged after a vague competition to find the most deserving queen in the land...

In a better turn of events, I finished reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, which was a lovely autobiography with a very sad ending (of Trump's election). Next up I am reading In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. Not my usual type of book, but it was recommended in a newsletter I read and they had it at the library so why not.

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Hi!  I'm a Relatively New person to the Literature part of forum.  I'm looking for recommendations on books that have a Rapture Theme.  Like the "Left Behind" series.  Apocalypse genre but not Crass or Gross just for a sick, cheap, thrill.  Thank you for your Time and Consideration.

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7 hours ago, TheMightyKC said:

Hi!  I'm a Relatively New person to the Literature part of forum.  I'm looking for recommendations on books that have a Rapture Theme.  Like the "Left Behind" series.  Apocalypse genre but not Crass or Gross just for a sick, cheap, thrill.  Thank you for your Time and Consideration.

This thread is more to discuss what we're currently reading. Check out this guide on asking for recs. You'll probably get more responses if you start a new thread.

As far as recs, that seems like a pretty narrow category and not one I'm much interested in so no advice from me.

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3 hours ago, Starkess said:

This thread is more to discuss what we're currently reading. Check out this guide on asking for recs. You'll probably get more responses if you start a new thread.

As far as recs, that seems like a pretty narrow category and not one I'm much interested in so no advice from me.

Thanks!  Great link!

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Needing to get some non-fiction in my diet, I've turned to a book I bought a few months back that's been sitting on one of my shelves, waiting to be read: Breaking the Banks - What Went Wrong with Australian Banking? by Joseph Healy. Intending to blast through this one through most of today and the weekend, as it's a relatively brisk read (a little over 300 pages). 

 

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On 4/28/2020 at 8:39 PM, Darth Richard II said:

I’ve only read the first Spark book, but it was pretty good, thought the prose takes a bit of getting used to. It’s also one of those series where all the main characters are kind of terrible people, like most things by KJ Parker. If you need a sympathetic main character it’s probably not for you.

It wasn't so much that they were all terrible people (I've read some Parker), it's that I couldn't figure out why they were doing the things that they were doing--there didn't seem to be much narrative payoff, in addition to the opaque psychology.  But I may give it another go through the stylized lens.

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I finished The Court of Broken Knives. As advertised the prose was a bit of a slog at first but you do get used to it. Overall it was a good book and I'll read the next one at some point but it is a bit tiring how awful all the characters are. I'll probably leave it for a bit.

Next up I'm going to read Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky .

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3 hours ago, ljkeane said:

I finished The Court of Broken Knives. As advertised the prose was a bit of a slog at first but you do get used to it. Overall it was a good book and I'll read the next one at some point but it is a bit tiring how awful all the characters are. I'll probably leave it for a bit.

Next up I'm going to read Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky .

I read that initially as Walking to Alderaan, and though, “He’ll be in for a hell of a disappointment.”

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I'm normally quite a big fan of Tchaikovsky's books but I have to say Walking to Aldebaran was a little bit of a disappointment. It's not bad and there's a lot of interesting ideas but I felt like there was a bit too  much going on to fit into a novella and the ending felt a bit abrupt.

Spoiler

Basically the switch to killing and eating his own crew came out of nowhere a little bit for me. Ok he's been changed by the machine and his experiences but he manages to interact peacefully with several alien species and then he finds his own crew and immediately starts hunting them down and eating them? I think there needs to be a bit more set up for that.

Now I'm reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/3/2020 at 3:48 AM, Triskele said:

I dusted off an old copy of Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and am about 40 pages in and if I'm being honest am kind of hating it so far.  Lots of impressive stuff in terms of "how does this author know so much (Stephenson-esque)" but boring as shit at the same time.

It's a great book, but you have to take it on its terms. A professor of mine once wisely said "knowing what the author's project was can help you better read the text".

Kind of makes it sound like you have to do homework, but if it helps, a good way to approach it is him musing over the post-WW2 rise of seeing patterns (apophenia) in everything - a concept that pops up in Gibson's Pattern Recognition - and the interplay of that with the rise of conspiracy theories, as well as a heavy dose of the pop culture of the time. 

(I'm an ex-academic wonk with a massive amount of love of the tradition and school that Pynchon operates within, so if I can put my skills to use in helping you enjoy this book, well, tabernac I will!) 

Mark, who runs Kaedrin, put together this useful little reading guide on the book, which I hope helps! 

http://kaedrin.com/fun/books/gravity.html

Edited by IlyaP

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Spinning Silver was very good. For anyone who hasn't already read it I'd definitely recommend it. It's similar in style to Uprooted it's a step up in quality in my opinion.

Next up I'm reading City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.

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On 5/2/2020 at 1:48 PM, Triskele said:

I finished A Bend in the River, the first Naipaul I've read.  

 

I dusted off an old copy of Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and am about 40 pages in and if I'm being honest am kind of hating it so far.  Lots of impressive stuff in terms of "how does this author know so much (Stephenson-esque)" but boring as shit at the same time.

I managed to get about half way through and as you did, I found it quite boring. Then I hit the chapter that made me decide enough was enough. No spoilers. You will know it when you reach it.

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Finally finished The Panama Papers by Frederik Obermaier/Bastian Obermayer. This took me quite a while to read, though it didn't strike me as particularly dry for the most part. It's quite a compelling read in fact, although it's probably fair to say they are better investigative reporters than they are novelists. It can be a little bit tough to follow some of the stories - if anything I could have done with slowing down even further. Beyond that, I don't have much of a review other than to say: eat the rich. 

Next up is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. That's two consecutive books from the 21st century! Also, this book is equivalent to roughly 15% of the pages I've read so far this year. I've read 22 books, which means this book is over 3 times as long as the average book I've read this year. Might be biting off more than I can chew here. 

 

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I’m trying to read Black Leopard, Red Wolf but it’s honestly just boring the hell out of me and I’m almost at the 1/3rd mark. Might drop it if it doesn’t get interesting real soon.

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