Books


#1

I reckon we need a book thread desperately.

Just finished "Short Squeeze" by Chris Knopf and thoroughly enjoyed the lawyerly adventures of the sassy Jackie Swaitkowski in the Hamptons in the US and pleased to report it restored my faith in the author Chris Knopf whose latest work is a turkey.

On a different and pertinent note, I'm currently a third of the way through "The Arabs" by Eugene Rogan, an immensely readable and engaging historical examination of the development of the modern middle eastern world. It is definitely an eye opener for the uninformed, like myself.


#2
Sorry, I got half way through your post and got bored.

Lol.

I got this far & laughed so hard I popped a rib…

“his efficiency and ability to paint indelible pictures with a few carefully-crafted paragraphs”

Thats so the opposite to reality.

It was probably in old old blitz when I spoke on JRR, but I read the Hobbit as a kid, & went on later to LOTR, at maybe 12 - 13?

Remembered getting into it but not finishing it.

So when the movies are coming out a mate gets it & reads it & I borrow it to do the same. I get halfway through & it all comes back to me why I didn’t finish it the 1st time. It was like deja vu.

I’d put money on it that I stopped & consigned it to the bin on exactly the same page. A more long winded, unending, unmitigated borefest I’ve not encountered.

Fantasy is hard enough, but 10 15 pages describing some hollow they camped in o/nite in a forest was beyond ridiculous. I’ve never been back to the genre in books movies or TV, life is too short to waste on such things.

Quitter.

Lightweight SFF just gives me no reason to invest in the story.
Someone recommended the hunger games books to me. “There was a girl who was poor and everything was hard then she went in a competition against people better prepared and won and all the bad guys got what was coming”. Plastic characters, no weight to anything, predictable action, conclusion. Guessed the whole story from the first chapter, and was right. Eye roll.

It’s the depth & detail that builds the attachment to characters. The craft of Tolkein (or any great fantasy writer) isn’t in the story, it’s in the back story, the world.
If you were picking up a 1200+ page book expecting to knock it off quickly, then that’s on you.

If you want an action book, pick up an action book.


There is a limit though. I’m currently reading Tigana and it’s OK but it’s all the back story being shoe-horned into it that is turning me off. It seems that instead of letting a character reveal themselves through actions and dialogue through the plot, we have to learn what sort of a person they are through flashbacks. It reeks to me of the “Shawshank Redemption” style of storytelling where subtlety or ambiguity plays second fiddle to a sledgehammer.

The world exists to hold the story, not the other way around.

I just finished the Mistborn Trilogy and I think Sanderson got it right in there - the plot was pretty much the protagnists revealing the worlds history and I found that a wonderful plot device. The history wasn’t just a cheap way to explain why a certain character wasn’t very good at making friends.


#3
Sorry, I got half way through your post and got bored.

Lol.

I got this far & laughed so hard I popped a rib…

“his efficiency and ability to paint indelible pictures with a few carefully-crafted paragraphs”

Thats so the opposite to reality.

It was probably in old old blitz when I spoke on JRR, but I read the Hobbit as a kid, & went on later to LOTR, at maybe 12 - 13?

Remembered getting into it but not finishing it.

So when the movies are coming out a mate gets it & reads it & I borrow it to do the same. I get halfway through & it all comes back to me why I didn’t finish it the 1st time. It was like deja vu.

I’d put money on it that I stopped & consigned it to the bin on exactly the same page. A more long winded, unending, unmitigated borefest I’ve not encountered.

Fantasy is hard enough, but 10 15 pages describing some hollow they camped in o/nite in a forest was beyond ridiculous. I’ve never been back to the genre in books movies or TV, life is too short to waste on such things.

Quitter.

Lightweight SFF just gives me no reason to invest in the story.
Someone recommended the hunger games books to me. “There was a girl who was poor and everything was hard then she went in a competition against people better prepared and won and all the bad guys got what was coming”. Plastic characters, no weight to anything, predictable action, conclusion. Guessed the whole story from the first chapter, and was right. Eye roll.

It’s the depth & detail that builds the attachment to characters. The craft of Tolkein (or any great fantasy writer) isn’t in the story, it’s in the back story, the world.
If you were picking up a 1200+ page book expecting to knock it off quickly, then that’s on you.

If you want an action book, pick up an action book.


#4

Just read The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haigh

Won’t say much, except it is a great read, and if you like Red Rising or even Hunger Games, it is worth it.

Set in the future after the Blast has virtually destroyed civilization, it has many layers and though it ends at a good point, it is set up for the next two sequels already.


#5
Terry Pratchett's daughter has officially retired the Discworld novels; she won't write any more and she won't give out the rights to anyone else. Personally I think it's the right choice. I'd hate to see it all go the way that the Dune universe books have ie ■■■■■■■ ■■■■.

Definitely the right choice.


#6
Terry Pratchett's daughter has officially retired the Discworld novels; she won't write any more and she won't give out the rights to anyone else. Personally I think it's the right choice. I'd hate to see it all go the way that the Dune universe books have ie ■■■■■■■ ■■■■.

Give Eoin Colfer a crack.


#7

The worst part of Hilary Mantel’s novel “An Experiment In Love: A Novel” is the Mills and Boonish title. It’s part of her wonderful back catalogue, and in it she mines her own forensic knowledge and direct experience of the English Catholic education system and the adventures of a straitened female boarder in London’s university scene. I suppose it’s her dark coming of age treat with its focus on eating disorders and the treachery of female friends, and parents and boyfriends for that matter. The prose is just as sharp and abrasive as you’d expect from one of the modern masters of the barbed metaphor, for instance her description of the house soup served up to the hapless students as “an uncleaned aquarium, where vegetable matter swam”. It does end very abruptly and she relies on the reader to fill in the final blanks, when I’d happily have left the chore to the author, but the novel’s delights, and they’re often nasty delights, more than compensate.


#8

I have been reading this...

513s0h8YFEL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-stic

at work, and this...

51lgREwgVKL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopR

at home.


#9

I've just finished the Moshui trilogy by Daniel Fox, which is a really excellent Chinese-inspired fantasy series, which would be right up there with Best Ever if it didn't suffer somewhat from Dissatisfying Ending Syndrome, both on an individual book level and for the series as a whole.  Currently reading Beasts of Eden by David Rains Wallace, which is an interesting history of mammalian paleontology and the various weird personalities that have driven it over the last hundred and fifty years, but which suffers a bit through lack of focus.  It can't decide whether it's about the fossils or the people - needs to jump either one way or another.  Deborah Cadbury's Terrible Lizard was a much better read, if more limited in scope, because it really vividly illustrated the people and social factors involved


#10

Emperor series. Pretty good so far.


#11

Currently reading a book called "Elle s'appellait Sarah" (English title is Sarah's Key). Its a story set around the events of the rafle du Vel d'hiv, where the french sent their own jews away to the concentration camps during WWII. The Vel d'hiv is a velodrome where the French police initially gathered everyone before they were sent to the concentration camps. Anyone interested in WWII, especially from a french perspective will like this. The film based on the book starring Kristin Scott Thomas was released a couple of years ago. Very intersting. If you speak french get the French version of the book as its quite easy to read.

Have started reading again after finishing uni as my current job is mind- numbing and I need to do something to make my brain tick-over.


#12

New Jack Reacher out in the next few days.


#13

Currently reading a book called "Elle s'appellait Sarah" (English title is Sarah's Key). Its a story set around the events of the rafle du Vel d'hiv, where the french sent their own jews away to the concentration camps during WWII. The Vel d'hiv is a velodrome where the French police initially gathered everyone before they were sent to the concentration camps. Anyone interested in WWII, especially from a french perspective will like this. The film based on the book starring Kristin Scott Thomas was released a couple of years ago. Very intersting. If you speak french get the French version of the book as its quite easy to read.

Have started reading again after finishing uni as my current job is mind- numbing and I need to do something to make my brain tick-over.

It was a very good film too. 


#14

One of the first books I ever owned was “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Like most kids I wasn‘t that excited about getting a book for my birthday and I just shoved it aside. But I must have read it a few months later because it quickly became the book I measured all others against. Uncannily it was around about the time I decided to barrack for the Dons, in a 5 pound migrant family that took no interest at all in footy. I wonder now if the narrator's home town of Essendean played a part in that choice.
Anyway I recently finished the Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel‘s memoir “Giving up the Ghost”, a mixture of childhood memories, whimsy and the debilitating impact of undiagnosed illness, and was intrigued to read that she too loved Stevenson‘s “Kidnapped”.
All I really recalled of the novel after over 40 years was that they seemed to eat a hell of a lot of porridge. It was with great trepidation that I downloaded a free kindle copy from the Gutenberg Project site(and if you haven‘t been there it‘s well worth a look).
Nostalgia is a bit like Russian Roulette but this time it paid off. I devoured the book once more.

The original and best odd couple buddy quest, it's full of adventure, ships, sword fights, the Scottish Highlands and astute political reflection and is wonderfully written. And I was right, they do eat lots of porridge. Fortunately I‘m well past the age of being too mature for “Boy‘s Books”. Put simply it was an "unco braw" read.
Now I might revisit Treasure Island although I do remember thinking it wasn‘t as good as Kidnapped.


#15

Currently reading Frederick Forsyth's latest....I think it's called The Tracker...another in the long list of US super-assassins tracking down and eradicating terrorists. Vince Flynn is dead, but Mitch Rapp lives on.

 

Forsyth retired quite a few years back to live on the proceeds of such hits as Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, but his financial adviser, a stereotypically Jewish gentleman (beard, yarmulke the lot) ripped him off for every penny he had. His friends had advised him against using this guy, but he thought they were just anti-Semitic. He should have listened to them. Most of his books since coming out of retirement have been along this line.

 

Called The Kill List


#16

Currently reading "Waging Heavy Peace" (Neil Young's Autobiography)

 

As you'd expect, it is a bit all over the place but I've always loved his music and I am enjoying the book.

 

Just finished reading a chapter and it finished with this (imo) classic paragraph:

 

"So we are getting into this now. There may have to be more than one book. I read up on this sort of thing, and the worst thing you can have is a book that is too long. That doesn't help the publisher. There is a lot here to cover, and I have never done this before. Also, I am not interested in form for form's sake. So if you are having trouble reading this, give it to someone else. End of chapter."

 

Classic Neil Young...take me as I am or fuck off :)


#17

I've been reading this...

 

9780618257607.jpg

 

 


#18

Finished the Kill List this morning (had to finish it before I went to work).

 

Grabbed the new Jack Reacher and the new Kathy Reichs at Dymocks at lunchtime.


#19

Noonan, what was that book with the alternate grassy knoll story?


#20

Noonan, what was that book with the alternate grassy knoll story?

The Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter

 

another one is Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry...although that's more an alternative doer.

 

Libra by Don De Lillo