Books


#761
I am a keen audiobook listener. I find I get more from a book listening to it read to me by someone else than I do by reading it myself: the structure of the book seems to emerge with greater clarity, and the strengths and weaknesses of the writing, characterisation and plot. I read books in print as well, but for me, audiobooks are more rewarding.

I have just read (listened to) War and Peace. 61 hours. The Bible was 77 hours, Great Expectations was 17, To Kill a Mockingbird was 12. So it’s long.

I’d previously read (in print) about 300 pages, and I’ve seen various filmed versions, the most striking of which was Sergey Bondarchuk’s 1966 4.5 hour Russian epic. So I had a fair idea of the basic plot before I began, which made listening easier.

I had in the back of my mind all the time as I was listening the thought that this was universally considered to be Great Literature, and two questions. The first was whether I thought myself that it was Great Literature, and the second was why.

At the end of it I still have the same two questions, but only very tentative answers.

To the first question, the tentative answer is yes, it is great literature. But what is really difficult is the answer to the second.

So why is it great literature? The first reason I have is the scope of it. It ranges over the whole of Russian history from about 1806 to about 1818, centred on the Napoleonic wars and their effects on Russian society as a whole and two families in particular. And the second reason is that in its treatment of both themes it is masterful.

There are long – very long – passages discussing the causes and the progress of the war. Tolstoy’s basic thesis is that wars are not commenced or won or lost by individuals who make decisions that have consequences, but rather by the force of all the circumstances existing at the time.

The second is that his accounts of the personal lives of the principal characters are deep and searching, and totally free of clichés of language or conception. The characters grow and learn and change in a wholly convincing way. Tolstoy was writing in the 1860s, in living memory of the times about which he was writing, and his characters have the emotions, assumptions, beliefs and values of their time.

I learned a lot from it – about history, about people, about Russia. Reading it was an effort, but the effort was repaid many times over.


You must have “The Patience of Jobe” to be able to sit through 61 hours of that.

Only my opinion, but War & Peace is possibly the worst book I have ever attempted to read.


#762
I am a keen audiobook listener. I find I get more from a book listening to it read to me by someone else than I do by reading it myself: the structure of the book seems to emerge with greater clarity, and the strengths and weaknesses of the writing, characterisation and plot. I read books in print as well, but for me, audiobooks are more rewarding.

I have just read (listened to) War and Peace. 61 hours. The Bible was 77 hours, Great Expectations was 17, To Kill a Mockingbird was 12. So it’s long.

I’d previously read (in print) about 300 pages, and I’ve seen various filmed versions, the most striking of which was Sergey Bondarchuk’s 1966 4.5 hour Russian epic. So I had a fair idea of the basic plot before I began, which made listening easier.

I had in the back of my mind all the time as I was listening the thought that this was universally considered to be Great Literature, and two questions. The first was whether I thought myself that it was Great Literature, and the second was why.

At the end of it I still have the same two questions, but only very tentative answers.

To the first question, the tentative answer is yes, it is great literature. But what is really difficult is the answer to the second.

So why is it great literature? The first reason I have is the scope of it. It ranges over the whole of Russian history from about 1806 to about 1818, centred on the Napoleonic wars and their effects on Russian society as a whole and two families in particular. And the second reason is that in its treatment of both themes it is masterful.

There are long – very long – passages discussing the causes and the progress of the war. Tolstoy’s basic thesis is that wars are not commenced or won or lost by individuals who make decisions that have consequences, but rather by the force of all the circumstances existing at the time.

The second is that his accounts of the personal lives of the principal characters are deep and searching, and totally free of clichés of language or conception. The characters grow and learn and change in a wholly convincing way. Tolstoy was writing in the 1860s, in living memory of the times about which he was writing, and his characters have the emotions, assumptions, beliefs and values of their time.

I learned a lot from it – about history, about people, about Russia. Reading it was an effort, but the effort was repaid many times over.


You must have “The Patience of Jobe” to be able to sit through 61 hours of that.

Only my opinion, but War & Peace is possibly the worst book I have ever attempted to read.

The recent 6-part mini-series on the BBC certainly made it watchable. I assume they ignored myriad connections, affairs and alliances.


#763
I am a keen audiobook listener. I find I get more from a book listening to it read to me by someone else than I do by reading it myself: the structure of the book seems to emerge with greater clarity, and the strengths and weaknesses of the writing, characterisation and plot. I read books in print as well, but for me, audiobooks are more rewarding.

I have just read (listened to) War and Peace. 61 hours. The Bible was 77 hours, Great Expectations was 17, To Kill a Mockingbird was 12. So it’s long.

I’d previously read (in print) about 300 pages, and I’ve seen various filmed versions, the most striking of which was Sergey Bondarchuk’s 1966 4.5 hour Russian epic. So I had a fair idea of the basic plot before I began, which made listening easier.

I had in the back of my mind all the time as I was listening the thought that this was universally considered to be Great Literature, and two questions. The first was whether I thought myself that it was Great Literature, and the second was why.

At the end of it I still have the same two questions, but only very tentative answers.

To the first question, the tentative answer is yes, it is great literature. But what is really difficult is the answer to the second.

So why is it great literature? The first reason I have is the scope of it. It ranges over the whole of Russian history from about 1806 to about 1818, centred on the Napoleonic wars and their effects on Russian society as a whole and two families in particular. And the second reason is that in its treatment of both themes it is masterful.

There are long – very long – passages discussing the causes and the progress of the war. Tolstoy’s basic thesis is that wars are not commenced or won or lost by individuals who make decisions that have consequences, but rather by the force of all the circumstances existing at the time.

The second is that his accounts of the personal lives of the principal characters are deep and searching, and totally free of clichés of language or conception. The characters grow and learn and change in a wholly convincing way. Tolstoy was writing in the 1860s, in living memory of the times about which he was writing, and his characters have the emotions, assumptions, beliefs and values of their time.

I learned a lot from it – about history, about people, about Russia. Reading it was an effort, but the effort was repaid many times over.


You must have “The Patience of Jobe” to be able to sit through 61 hours of that.

Only my opinion, but War & Peace is possibly the worst book I have ever attempted to read.

There was a BBC version in the seventies with Anthony Hopkins that was 15 hours long and screened over 10 or 12 weeks that was great.

I didn’t find it difficult in audiobook form. There were a couple of sections where Tolstoy expounded at length his theories about war and history that dragged, but otherwise I enjoyed it. Knowing the basic plot and the names of the major characters helped.


#764

The Hanging Tree Review
4/5 stars

For a book that took its sweet time to get released I was a little let down with the lack of magical action in this book and it seemed like they just put it all in the end, which was the best bit.

Peter Grant is on another case, this time to try and solve a suspicious drug overdose. If you love police procedural things, this is the book for you. Giving the extra star to make it 4 as it reveals who the Faceless Man that has been terrorizing him.


#765

Michael J Sullivan’s new series Age of Myth kicked off quite well. A refreshing change from his we received Riyria series.


#766
I am a keen audiobook listener. I find I get more from a book listening to it read to me by someone else than I do by reading it myself: the structure of the book seems to emerge with greater clarity, and the strengths and weaknesses of the writing, characterisation and plot. I read books in print as well, but for me, audiobooks are more rewarding.

I have just read (listened to) War and Peace. 61 hours. The Bible was 77 hours, Great Expectations was 17, To Kill a Mockingbird was 12. So it’s long.

I’d previously read (in print) about 300 pages, and I’ve seen various filmed versions, the most striking of which was Sergey Bondarchuk’s 1966 4.5 hour Russian epic. So I had a fair idea of the basic plot before I began, which made listening easier.

I had in the back of my mind all the time as I was listening the thought that this was universally considered to be Great Literature, and two questions. The first was whether I thought myself that it was Great Literature, and the second was why.

At the end of it I still have the same two questions, but only very tentative answers.

To the first question, the tentative answer is yes, it is great literature. But what is really difficult is the answer to the second.

So why is it great literature? The first reason I have is the scope of it. It ranges over the whole of Russian history from about 1806 to about 1818, centred on the Napoleonic wars and their effects on Russian society as a whole and two families in particular. And the second reason is that in its treatment of both themes it is masterful.

There are long – very long – passages discussing the causes and the progress of the war. Tolstoy’s basic thesis is that wars are not commenced or won or lost by individuals who make decisions that have consequences, but rather by the force of all the circumstances existing at the time.

The second is that his accounts of the personal lives of the principal characters are deep and searching, and totally free of clichés of language or conception. The characters grow and learn and change in a wholly convincing way. Tolstoy was writing in the 1860s, in living memory of the times about which he was writing, and his characters have the emotions, assumptions, beliefs and values of their time.

I learned a lot from it – about history, about people, about Russia. Reading it was an effort, but the effort was repaid many times over.

If you can find any where the author reads it himself it’s awesome. Steve Coogan is doing the Alan partridge bio and it’s 6 hours long. I chuck it on most nights and chuckle myself to sleep.
I might struggle with war and peace though.


#767

I’ve been reading (on Kindle) the autobiographical books written by Chris Stewart, the first drummer of Genesis (he admits he was a crap drummer and dumped by the other members after 2 shows).

One thing he’s not crap at is writing, and he’s writing about his (and his wife’s) buying a farm in the Alpujarras, in the mountains south of Granada in Andalucía. This is probably over the last 30 years so a lot of things are still relatively primitive in that part of Spain. He had a power-operating shearing device so hawked himself around the valleys (and in Sweden during the winter).

I’ve read the first book, Driving Over Lemons, and about a third of the way through A Parrot in the Pepper Tree. His first book has just been published and he’s copping the media attention…English journalists getting lost on the way to his farm.

I saw a segment on him in Rick Stein’s series on Spain after he left the quintessential Spanish city of Seville. For those wanting to argue, I regard Barcelona as a Catalan city (as I suspect the natives do too).

Apparently some Englishman called Gerald Brenan, who was a member of the Bloomsbury set including such people as Virginia Woolf, E M Forster, Keynes et al, went there after WWI to recover, and wrote a book called South of Granada.

For those who haven’t been to Andalucía, do yourselves a favour.


#768
What are you guys's favourite non-fiction books? I just finished Outliers - it's pretty famous so you've probably heard of but it's great. It's about success and how it's not simply a function of hard work and talent but there's so much more that we don't often consider. A lot of the greatest athletes (or just the athlete "cohort" in general) are born early in the year for instance.

Also finished “Chasing the Scream” It’s about the war on drugs. I LOVE IT. Check it out.

Currently reading a book on sleep called “The Sleep Revolution”. It’s pretty average so far but not into the meaty part yet.

Yes I’m into non-fiction books. I like reading about sports people or war history.

Some books I recommend are:-

Long Tan by Harry Smith.
http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/searchedproduct.aspx?name=Harry smith

My Vietnam War-Scarred Forever by Dave Morgan.
http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/searchedproduct.aspx?name=my vietnam war

The Girl Who Climbed Everest by Sue Williams.


I trekked with this young lady six weeks ago on the Kokoda Track. What an inspiring young person.

I just finished Mark Thompson book… Bomber: The Whole Story. Good read.


#769

Just started the latest Lucas Davenport by John Sandford, “Extreme Prey”.

Nice line about political hangers-on

They won’t do good in DC, but they will do well

Could equally apply here.


#770

Just finished a doozy set in Girona in Catalonia.

It has a lot of currency in that people are being urged, tempted, whatever to kill or beat up minorities or other deplorables through social media and blog…and guess who the culprits are. Immigrants include people whose parents came from other parts of Spain like Andalusia.

It’s based around a female detective, Sotsinspectora Elisena Domenèch and her team in the Catalonian police, the Mossos d’Esquedra. Unputdownable.

I got it on Kindle and on finishing, immediately bought the next in the series. $3.99.

City of Good Death by Chris Lloyd.


#771

#772
https://twitter.com/DuneAuthor/status/826641857400565760

Haven’t they already done this twice though?


#773

Just excited because Villeneuve is one of the most exciting directors at the moment.


#774

Have just finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia series of books by C.S Lewis with my son. He’s nearly 9years old and loves reading, but we’ve gotten into the habit of reading a chapter of a book together each night before he reads a different book to himself before bed. He absolutely loves it and I must admit I’ve enjoyed reading a heap of books I haven’t read since I was young.

Tonight we’re starting The Hobbit which was my favourite book until I read the Lord of the Rings when I was about twelve. I’m not sure who’s more excited out of the two of us. He could read it himself, but I feel like I’m getting to introduce him firsthand to Middle Earth.


#775

Hobbit yes, great for a 9 yr old

But would you really be cruel enough to inflict TLOTR on him?


#776

Nah, I’ll leave that until he’s a bit older. And he can read that himself.


#777

I don’t know if anyone here has come across Mick Herron, but I like a lot of his stuff. It’s basically thrillers but with a fair touch of humour. English. His best are the Slow Horses series. They’re about a bunch of MI6 personnel who have all committed some kind of major farkup, but who for some reason or other can’t be sacked. As a result have been sent to do the most mindless, boring, pointless work imaginable at Slough House, under the direction of Jackson Lamb, in the hope that they’ll get discouraged and resign. Lamb is gross: fat, rude, farting, etc., etc. And on occasion very nasty.

Needless to say, the boring work gets interrupted from time to time with other stuff. The plots are complicated and rather far-fetched, and the body count is enormous. But it’s very enjoyable.


#778

I don’t read comics, or illustrated literature, but I decided to give V for Vendetta a crack on the read comics website, and I’m really enjoying it.
Might give the rat one a go when I’ve finished it.


#779

Thoroughly recommend The Taste Of War for the history buffs - very unusual take on WWII in that it focuses entirely on food and food policy of every combatant, including often-neglected places like China, Britain’s African colonies, India, the Pacific Islands, and internal Japanese policy. Really novel, interesting perspective on a time period that’s been done to death, and a pretty interesting insight into the economic rather than military aspects of the war.


#780
Thoroughly recommend The Taste Of War for the history buffs - very unusual take on WWII in that it focuses entirely on food and food policy of every combatant, including often-neglected places like China, Britain's African colonies, India, the Pacific Islands, and internal Japanese policy. Really novel, interesting perspective on a time period that's been done to death, and a pretty interesting insight into the economic rather than military aspects of the war.
Way to turn it into yet another pun thread.