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What Are You Reading? Third Quarter, 2022


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1 hour ago, LongRider said:

Nice!  Really, that was kind of you.    :cheers:

Indeed it was. Also, @Fragile Bird, I would seriously look up what the book is selling for online on your end of the interwebs. I checked again and it's still out on Amazon and the few online sellers I've looked at either don't have it or are still charging a good deal more than you mentioned. Might be able to scoop up the five books you saw and resell them for a good deal.

Edited by Tywin et al.
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Crusing through The Murderbot Diaries while I have my 90 day Kindle Unlimited from a PaperWhite I bought on Prime Day. Not my usual cup of tea, but they sure do move right along, and I generally laugh out loud several times per novella. I wish there were twenty of these.

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This weekend I wrapped up Tim Hannigan's A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis: The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia's Largest NationDerek Perkins is an outstanding reader, and he does a really credible job of pronouncing the Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia, both place names and personal names as well as other vocabulary throughout.

This is a popular history, so it varies from the Great Man approach when talking about leaders like Sukarno to the social history approach when talking about the influx of Buddhist Hinduism and later Islam.  But if you were planning a visit to the archipelago, this would be a good precis to give you some basis for understanding.

During the colonial era, the book does focus on the efforts and activities of the colonial masters from Britain, Portugal and the Netherlands, as well as the place in society of their mixed-race offspring.  For this portion of history, the reader doesn't have much insight into the people of the Nusantara, given the space for the colonizers.  However, it is also true coincidentally these interlopers, as well as a couple of Americans, wrote very colorfully and perceptively about the history and science of the time, so it would be a shame to miss out on their input.

On a couple of occasions, the geographic descriptions of one place in terms of another are backwards.  For instance, you go "down" to Bogor from Bandung, not "up", and Probolinggo is east of Ponorogo and Madiun, but otherwise the main thrust of the thread of history is well told and easy to digest.

The story of The Year of Living Dangerously is told from the viewpoint that seeks to be objective, and the uprising of the PKI and the slaughter of the communists and Chinese on Java just sort of happens.  Personally I think that is understates the influence of both the CIA and the fundamentalist Muslims.  Instead, the author pins most of the blame for the ongoing, year-long efforts to wipe out Abangan, Nusa Tengara Christians, Balinese caste deniers and communists on Wibowo, which seems a bit too specific.  However, since we will probably never know the truth about the reasons and political decisions behind the deaths, it is a reasonable way to approach the sad blemish on history.

The book doesn't say much about this current century beyond a description of the 2004 tsunami, and it also omits the rise of fundamentalist Islam and the turn towards a homogeneous Satri practice.  It omits the huge influx of religious preachers from the Arabian peninsula who, funded by their home governments, flooded Java and Sumatra in the 1990s and 2000s, and so obviously changed the syncretic practice of Islam from a social religion to a fundamentalist one.  And it omits the way the Sailendra-, Sanjaya- and Majapahit-era Hindu structures have been neglected and run down since that change, other than Prambanan and Borobudur, which generate so much tourist revenue.

However, both of those are pretty sensitive political and social topics, so I can see why the author steered clear of them for the most part, given that this is intended to be a general, popular history.

Another group that gets a huge pass, barely being mentioned at all, is the IMF, who drove the response to the 1997 Asian currency crisis with a single-minded focus on repaying debt owed to the US banks at the expense of the population.  The devastation of the savings and living standards of regular Indonesians so that bankers in New York could realize their projected profits is truly evil.  But again, probably not the mission of this book.

Good stuff, all around, and recommended reading.  Excellent audiobook reader.

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I finished Nona the Ninth, as is apparently to be expected with Tamsyn Muir books I had no idea what was going on for a significant portion of the book but it was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the last book.

Next I'm going to read Naomi Novik's The Golden Enclaves.

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6 hours ago, ljkeane said:

I finished Nona the Ninth, as is apparently to be expected with Tamsyn Muir books I had no idea what was going on for a significant portion of the book but it was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the last book.

Next I'm going to read Naomi Novik's The Golden Enclaves.

Ooh, I forgot it was released today. Joy! 

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Self-Love Poetry: For Thinkers and Feelers by Melody Godfrey

I wanted to get more into poetry, so I bought this for my 30th b-day in July. I thought it would be an exercise of wit to see if I could emulate some of the wordsmiths and books I like. And then it would end with me actually getting done some poetry of my own and also some essays on various topics. I hope that I can finally put into effort some of my desire to write again.

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Finished Q3 last night with the final chapters of Jade War by Fonda Lee. Not as good as the first in the series (harder to root for anyone) and I'll take a break before the third. 

I also read The Hours by Michael Cunningham and wasn't impressed, and the Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry by CM Waggoner which was fluffy fun and a nice palette cleanser between big series. 

 

Next up, my library hold on Spear by Nicola Griffith came through, so I'll pick up that and then finish the Scholomance trilogy now that The Golden Enclaves is out

 

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Just wrapped up the latest Cornwall - Sharpe’s Assassin. I’m not sure that it held up compared to past volumes - felt like the call backs to past adventures were a little too prevalent. That said, it was still another opportunity to march with Sharpe and Harper so I will continue to be there for them. 
 

Now back to the Time Life Old West set that my daughter found at a used book store.  My first observation is that it appears that there was a foam backing under the “simulated hand tooled leather” covers. My second is that the stories here plus contemporary understanding of the garbage behavior of the cattle/land/rail/etc barons has really jaded me to the romanticism of the old west and even more toward contemporary ranching. 

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Christopher Priest's The Gradual. I'll definitely have to come back to it, all Priest books I've read so far reward unpacking. It's good, I'm a fan of the Dream Archilepago books in general, but I did find myself somewhat less satisfied by it than by The Islanders, despite understanding it considerably more -I've read that book I think three times and I'm still not sure I understand more than like 30% of what's going on, and I'm normally pretty good at picking stuff up. The Gradual isn't nearly as complex or vague, but it also seemed a bit... slight? Like there's a fair bit going on, but like I think all Priest books the emotion is second to the puzzly nature of the plot, except there isn't really a puzzle here if you've read at least some of the previous stories (and if you haven't, on the converse, you've got no chance in hell of figuring anything out before it tells you).   

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/26/2022 at 7:59 PM, Starkess said:

I loooved the first book of Lightbringer and damn it really came crashing down for me with the last book (and started trending that way with the middle books). Started so fun and then...nah.

I finally finished it...and yeah.  There were plenty of issues with the whole series in terms of plotting and pace...but then when he went full on evangelist at the end of the last book...bleh....

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I knew about the twist at the end from seeing the movie, but damn, the last page of On Her Majesty's Secret Service had to be shocking to readers back in 1963.

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Recently started Shadowmarch (audiobook). Only chapter 4 or so at this point. Starting with the history was rough. I had to listen to it 4 times before I had a general grasp. My mind keep moving on to other things. Things have gone better since it got into the true narrative, however.

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I finished The Golden Enclaves.

The book is pretty new so I'll put my thoughts inside a spoiler tag.

Spoiler

I absolutely love the revelation that the enclaves were made by producing maws. There's just something so poetic and tragic about it. The way that even the people who want to stop it can't stop because other people will continue producing more maws and put them in even more danger… Great drama.

As for the ending, look, I love happy ending as much as the next person, but Orion being okay at the end just made no sense for me. It was unconvincing.

Despite not floor, I still give it a five out of five stars.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I am reading a book called Communication with the Archangel Michael for Guidance & Protection by Richard Webster. I saw it while my sister was working at this little spiritual shop and my Mom gave it to me for my birthday this year.

I've also read Schizoaffective Disorder Simplified by Martine Daniel, and The Physics of Angels by Fox & Sheldrake. I'm trying to read The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene.

I have so many books that I need to read. in my possession. I guess I better start to read what I have so I can go to that used bookstore.

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