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What Are You Reading? Third Quarter, 2022


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There was a long discussion about The Dawn of Everything specifically, and their previous books generally, on Charlie Stross's blog.  Predictably, everyone participating is enormously superior in their learning and comprehension than either of the two authors, who are idiots, of course. :leaving:

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Just now, Zorral said:

There was a long discussion about The Dawn of Everything specifically, and their previous books generally, on Charlie Stross's blog.  Predictably, everyone participating is enormously superior in their learning and comprehension than either of the two authors, who are idiots, of course. :leaving:

I'll finish listening to it then go check out the evisceration. 

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I'm working through the second book by Brian Staveley, this one is Providence of Fire. There's so much that's done well, even very well, but essentially none of the plot turns (from one of the main characters) are well supported. Each time it happens, I'm surprised just how nonsensical the decision feels and then, even expecting it, I'm surprised again by the next major action.

 

I don't know quite well enough where in the process this should have been fixed, perhaps the editor should have forced some rework. Either way, it's unfortunate. I really do like many elements of these books.

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I picked up The Girl In His Shadow audiobook from the library as it was available as part of the "Big Library Read". Historical fiction about a woman not being able to legally practice as a surgeon in 19th century London. I enjoyed it quite a lot, it was very well written and narrated. Had some quibbles over the main romance plotline, though.

Next up I'm listening to The Maker of Swans.

Making no progress on books that I'm actually reading rather than listening to. Somehow, despite being unemployed, I never seem to have the time. Probably my TikTok and reddit addiction at work...

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Been working my way through the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks.  I'm about to finish book 4- The Blood Mirror.  TBH, I've been forcing myself to finish the series.  I think the magic system is interesting ("drafting" different colors), but I find the writing itself to be...sub-par.  There is modern slang that is jarring (fore example, one of the main characters, Kip (a name that makes me snicker) refers to a larger man as "Hugely McHugerson" at one point). Characters that were front and center in books 1 and 2 have been all but absent in the last 2 books. 

Without being too spoilery, the big secret by another main character - Gavin Guile - seems to stretch believability that he could actually keep secret.  Also, that character has spent nearly all the last 2 books in prisons of one sort or another...and that has just gotten tedious

I'm stubborn, I guess, so I'll finish the series, although I read some reviews that say Book 5 takes more of an overtly religious tone, so not particularly looking forward to that. 

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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.

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I just finished reading The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. It had some very comical moments in it:

Spoiler

The murders were hilarious, the maggot nest in the baby's brain which induced Eric into his journey of insane antics was also very funny. And the ending was so utterly silly that it made me laugh.

However, I found much of it very boring. And so other than the occasional high point, it was a bit of a chore to read.

Good thing it was short. 

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On 7/25/2022 at 10:59 AM, dog-days said:

I'll finish listening to it then go check out the evisceration. 

Thanks to you, I dived back into Dawn of Everything last night (I'd also finished my go-to non-fiction book, which had occupied me for such a long time, Tom Holland's Persian Fire -- shallow as I am, my happiest take-away from Persian Fire is that the Hellenes were certain Persians we effeminate, unmanly, incapable of real fighting because .... Persian soldiers ...  wore trousers.)

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Still not sure if graphic novels fit here, that said, Superman  For All Seasons is an incredibly touching story. I've always found Superman to be rather boring, but this is a much more humanizing introduction to the character. 

Also, it appears this was a good investment. I ordered it three weeks ago for $35, used-very good from the UK. There's one on Amazon same quality for $62 now. RIP Tim Sale.

 

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I recently finished Three Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty.  I enjoyed it because I wanted to learn more about Phil Jackson and in general about the Lakers.  If you are an admirer of Kobe Bryant, this isn’t a book for you.

Currently, I’m at the 15% mark of The Last Graduate by Novik.  
 

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I posted this to the History in Books thread and decided to post it here too.  The story of Fredrick Douglass will be with me for a long time.

I just finished FREDERICK DOUGLASS (2018) a biography by David W. Blight. Not being an expert on bios or history, I thought this book was fantastic. 
 

With all the CRT pearl clutching these days I felt I needed to catch up.  Several months ago I read the 1619 PROJECT by Nikole  Hannah-Jones, didn’t review it as this old white lady was overwhelmed.  Many of the essays were so gritty and heartbreaking.

Deciding it was time to get back to more history, Frederick Douglass was my choice.  I wasn’t disappointed.  First read the first 2 of his autobiographies, then tackled the Blight book.

Douglass’s life story is the story of an incredible AfricanAmerican who was also a great American.

Born into slavery, didn’t know his birthday or white father.  (his mother was raped most likely by the plantation owner) Taken from his mother very soon after birth.

He suffered hunger, the lash and other cruelties of slavery.  His story of how he learned to read is  amazing and his escape thrilling.

A few years later he began his career as an writer and orator. He traveled with other abolitionists  while still a runaway slave. His speeches and writings contributed much to the abolitionist cause.  
 

He gave talks and speeches for 50 years!  His voice was such an important one for the issues of the black people: abolition, fighting in the Civil War.  Fairness in pay and treatment for black soldiers.  Whatever the issues were he was there.

Douglass died in 1895, still fighting; against poor treatment of the black men, their voting rights, lynching and white supremacy and more.  Sadly, his voice is still needed today.  
 

I’m glad I read this book, a well researched and comprehensive bio.  Highly recommend it.

  Also, after reading this and the 1619 Project, I see a glimmer of why CRT and gritty history based on reality scares the Right so much, it should.

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Starting up J Robert Oppenheimer: A Life by Abraham Pais. Pais also wrote the absolutely wonderful Subtle is the Lord, the best biography of Einstein by a fair measure.

The unique thing about Pais is that he was a rather famous physicist in his own right, and personally knew and was friends with the subjects of his biographies. Also, his biographies are biographies of the subject's scientific work, and pretty comprehensive at that. Frankly, I find myself profoundly disinterested in the lurid details of who Einstein or Oppenheimer were having affairs with - it's prosaic and crushingly boring. However, a biography that goes into their famous works, and the elements of their life and chain of thoughts that lent them inspiration is very fascinating. And that's where Pais excels.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading this one. I plan to follow it up with Pais' biography of Niels Bohr.

I'm also reading The Wandering Earth collection of short stories by Cixin Liu.

And finally, @Tywin et al. has sufficiently intrigued me about Dragon Ball that I plan on reading the manga. The anime is incredibly long, which I find too intimidating, but manga are pretty easy to go through. I'm excited!

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I've been on an Adrian Tchaikovsky kick recently, thanks to the thread started for him. I started with Guns of the Dawn, which was excellent, possibly a perfect novel? Characterization, prose, pace, story... 

I followed that up with the Echoes of the Fall trilogy. The first, The Tiger and the Wolf was the best, benefiting from a tighter focus and better characterization, but the series progressed well / at a good pace, and I loved the way the story ended. The lore of the world was so fun, and partway through the second book I sensed the tie to the Shadows of the Apt series (which I haven't read), so will have to go back to that to see what I missed. I do think the worldbuilding held up just fine on its own, and maybe added more of a sense of mystery than otherwise. Thanks for the rec @williamjm!

In the middle there, I also read Misrule by Heather Walter, the second in a duology retelling Sleeping Beauty with a sapphic slant. Very disappointing follow up to the first book in the duology (Malice), which I remembered really loving. Might be because there was really no one in the book to root for, all the characters were manipulative, gaslighting each other and themselves.

Not sure what's next, I think I need a Tchaikovsky break so I don't burn myself out on him, but nothing in my to-read pile seems like it will hit the spot. Might try Jade City by Fonda Lee.

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2 hours ago, IFR said:

I'm also reading The Wandering Earth collection of short stories by Cixin Liu.

His Three Body Problem has been on my “to read” pile forever I just never got around to it. It’s on audible and I will probably get it to listen on my drive to work. 

I’m reading The Hummingbird by Sandro Veronesi. An interesting and well written book about all the tragedies,  doomed family saga & love stories that represent the sum of Marco Carrera’s life. It’s hopping dates and places so often between the sixties, eighties/nineties and 2008 I’d need a timeline to keep it organized. However it really is an incredibly entertaining and suspenseful novel that’s clearly building up into the biggest of the doozies. 

I really hope the ending is as good as the beginning and the middle so far!

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On 7/29/2022 at 11:24 AM, LongRider said:

Douglass died in 1895, still fighting; against poor treatment of the black men, their voting rights, lynching and white supremacy and more.  Sadly, his voice is still needed today.

I think one of our recent US Presidents met him or something…

Well written summary definitely looks like you enjoyed it! Also it  doesn’t sound like one of those dry bios I’ve read before! 

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44 minutes ago, TormundsWoman said:

I think one of our recent US Presidents met him or something…

Well written summary definitely looks like you enjoyed it! Also it  doesn’t sound like one of those dry bios I’ve read before! 

Thank you for your kind words.
The book was definitely not dry, I thought it was well balanced; his life as an enslaved person, the start and advancement of his speaking and writing career, how his thoughts about abolitionism changed over time.
 

Also informing on his family and private life without being prying or judgmental. 
Good grief, what a life, can’t write anything short about it.  :thumbsup:

Are you referring to Obama as the president you mentioned. He certainly is a good speaker and decent man.   :)

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2 hours ago, TormundsWoman said:

I think one of our recent US Presidents met him or something…

TW is referring to the sudden, at some point, romperisto learned the name of Frederick Douglass, and seemed to believe nobody had ever heard of him before, and that he was, well, you know, around. Or something.  Thought he was doing something extraordinary never ever before done referring to Douglass.

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15 hours ago, Underfoot said:

 

@williamjm

Not sure what's next, I think I need a Tchaikovsky break so I don't burn myself out on him, but nothing in my to-read pile seems like it will hit the spot. Might try Jade City by Fonda Lee.

The Jade trilogy was excellent, I hope they turned into a high level TV series or movie soon..

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11 hours ago, Zorral said:

TW is referring to the sudden, at some point, romperisto learned the name of Frederick Douglass, and seemed to believe nobody had ever heard of him before, and that he was, well, you know, around. Or something.  Thought he was doing something extraordinary never ever before done referring to Douglass.

Oh,  :ack:  :ack:  :ack:   

 

Thanks.

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