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Old 12-12-2005, 04:04 PM
Shirley Ujest is offline
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Pre Christmas 'Whatcha Reading Thread"


I have been long tempted by The Shadow of the Wind and finally decided to bite the bullet and :::::shudder::ay full price for it at Borders. ( It was an emergency. I had to have a flat tire repaired.)


I'm only on page 25 and am just sucked into this story line.


Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife the continuation of Pride & Prejudice...only a bit easier to read and sex. So far, so good.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:17 PM
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Microserfs by Douglas Coupland.

It's been a good and interesting read so far probably since I'm the target audience for the book. I've got about thirty pages left and will probably finish it on Wednesday, on my 4 hour train ride home.

I know people greatly dislike Coupland's writing, to put it mildy, but I love everything I've ever read by him.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:22 PM
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"Ulysses" by James Joyce. While some passages do have a genuinely poetic lyricism, most of it really is as much a slough as you might imagine it to be. Yeesh, this makes most of Faulkner's works seem positively breezy.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:25 PM
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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (the guy who wrote Remains of the Day).

Very weird, very good so far (I'm maybe a quarter of the way into it). The narrator reminisces about her time in school, and the people she knew then, with two of whom she has relationships of some sort now -- it's one of those books where you figure out the premise as you go along. Very weird, very good. (Oh wait, I already said that )
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:55 PM
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Recently finished The March by E. L. Doctor and recommend it highly.

Right now I'm on a western binge. After The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout, I'm reading Meridian by Norman Zollinger and paging through The Best of the West, edited by Tony Hillerman. Not fiction so much as original writings from the time.

I love western fiction. So sue me.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:57 PM
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Dammit! I saw the typo right after I hit Submit. Wouldn't you know this'd be one of those days when the board's running lickety-split?

That's Doctorow, of course.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay, Architect
"Ulysses" by James Joyce. While some passages do have a genuinely poetic lyricism, most of it really is as much a slough as you might imagine it to be. Yeesh, this makes most of Faulkner's works seem positively breezy.
Try this book. I found it very helpful. I'd read each episode twice, once with Gifford, and once on it's own.

Stuart Gilbert has many flaws, but is a good guide to understanding Joyce's symbolism, the least important part of Ulysses, IMO.
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:13 PM
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Just finished reading (as self-assigned classic literature reading) The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Dunno what to say about it -- the story is definitely weak, the message rather powerful until Sinclair loses it and forces the reader to make such leaps of faith and to subject himself to socialist propaganda. Even as a Social Democrat, that was somewhat hard to stomach. Sigh. Next on the self-assigned list is The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot. Looking forward to it, kinda.

Apart from the self-assigned classics, I'm reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, which is all the fun you ever thought it was (which is plenty), Larry Niven's A World Out of Time (interesting), Elizabeth Longford's biography of Wellington, The Years of the Sword (somewhat enthusiastic...my only biography of Lord Wellington, I'm taking many of her evaluations with a grain of salt just now); and finally I'm occasionally taking a look into The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway. Okay, not great.

Relatedly, I've done some Christmas shopping and got my brother Fluke -- Or, I Know Why the Winged Whales Sing by Christopher Moore, which I have high hopes for after the god-damned hilarious Lamb -- The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. My mum's gonna get a German novel, Der Schwarm, by Frank Schaetzing, and my Dad's gonna get a copy of the brillant Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (the guy who wrote Remains of the Day).

Very weird, very good so far (I'm maybe a quarter of the way into it). The narrator reminisces about her time in school, and the people she knew then, with two of whom she has relationships of some sort now -- it's one of those books where you figure out the premise as you go along. Very weird, very good. (Oh wait, I already said that )
Wait'll you figure out just what's going on. It's VERY weird. And very good. Oh wait, you said that.

I loved this book. One of the best two books I've read this year.
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:33 PM
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"Tepper Isn't Going Out," by Calvin Trillin. It's a very funny book about a guy who, even though he keeps his car in a parking garage, seeks out a parking space on the street after work every day. He sits there, reading the NY Post until his meter time runs out. After a little item about him appears in an underground newspaper, strangers start lining up at his car door to ask his advice.
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:38 PM
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Right now I'm in the middle of Richard North Patterson's Conviction (a testament to my weakness for mass-market thrillers). I was in Borders on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised to find that my favorite author has a new novel out, so next up I'll be reading The Lighthouse by P.D. James.
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Old 12-12-2005, 05:46 PM
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I'm working on The Brightonomicon by Robert Rankin. It's very entertaining and funny in a Doug Adams sort of way. (I know I'm supposed to like Christopher Moore too, but for some reason he just doesn't do it for me.)

My car book is Don't know much about mythology : everything you need to know about the greatest stories in human history but never learned, by Kenneth Davis. I haven't had a chance to do more than nibble at it yet.

Other than that: several books about throwing a cheap wedding.
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Old 12-12-2005, 06:21 PM
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At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig : Travels Through Paraguay by John Gimlette. Absolutely fascinating. Not only is Gimlette a hell of a writer, but Paraguay's history is amazing.
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Old 12-12-2005, 06:38 PM
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just finished "the lady and the panda," nearly done "the last panda". next up "titan" and "the fords".
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Old 12-12-2005, 07:20 PM
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Finished To Rule The Waves: A History of the Royal Navy over the weekend. Next up is Spices: The Scents of Paradise. The surrent truck book is If At All Possible, Involve A Cow, a history of college pranking through the ages.
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Old 12-12-2005, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
next up I'll be reading The Lighthouse by P.D. James.
I just started that.

I'm also reading The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton. I've been having a phase the last few months of reading Alain De Botton in the bathtub.
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Old 12-12-2005, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Wait'll you figure out just what's going on. It's VERY weird. And very good. Oh wait, you said that.

I loved this book. One of the best two books I've read this year.
SPOILER:
Just got to the part where they spell it out -- or start to spell it out, I suspect. Yikes!
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Old 12-12-2005, 09:09 PM
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I'm reading.."Lusitania - An Epic tragedy" by Diana Preston. She did a lot of research, and it's pretty good. I'm learning a lot. A Vanderbilt, very powerful and rich family at the time, was on the ship, torpedoed by the Germans in 1915. I like history stuff.

Also a travel guide on Montreal, becaue I may very well be going there in spring!
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Old 12-13-2005, 01:08 AM
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Some mystery entitled Fearful Symmetry. Can't remember the author. Just bought it today. Hope it's good.
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Old 12-13-2005, 01:58 AM
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Just finished The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. It's brilliant, quite heartbreaking. Reminded me a lot of Millions, another book ostensibly for children, but able to be enjoyed by adults, too. I have a copy of Robert Fisk's The Great War For Civilisation waiting for me to read at work in January, when things have calmed down a little.

At home I've been rereading my least favourite Harry Potters - the fourth and the sixth, and really enjoying them this time round, and I'm settling into Featherstone, by Kirsty Gunn, who wrote Rain.
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Old 12-13-2005, 02:09 AM
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Just finished Coyote Blue leaving me with Fluke as the only Christopher Moore left to read. Started with Biff and loved it but, The Stupidest Angel struck a chord as the funniest. Maybe it was listening to it (audiobook) instead of reading it.
In the last month or so
A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut Part autobiography, part essays with illustrations, song lyrics and poetry by the author. And lots of my thoughts and feelings, expressed much better than I could. (no surprise there)
Mental Floss Presents: Forbidden Knowledge - a wickedly smart guide to history's naughty bits. I think any fan of The Straight Dope would find something of interest here. (Well, maybe not you. Or you. But you will love it.)
chameleon by Joe Haldeman IMO the best Haldeman I've read in a long time. And I like Haldeman's books. I recommended this in another thread about books I'd like to see made into a movie. (and i guess i just did again, hunh?)
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Old 12-13-2005, 06:39 AM
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Eldest the sequel to Eragon. So far it has not "caught" me. However, sometimes I go through periods where I can't get enough to read and periods where it seems like an effort. Perhaps I'm in one of those latter periods now.
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DfrntBreign
chameleon by Joe Haldeman IMO the best Haldeman I've read in a long time.
Do you mean Camouflage? I haven't tried that one yet because I was so disappointed with Guardian and The Coming. I love most of Haldeman's stuff, though.

I seem to be caught up with movies right now. I just finished reading the short story Brokeback Mountain. Saw the Narnia movie on Saturday then went home and re-read TLTWATW and The Horse and His Boy. And I have ordered a copy of Memoirs of a Geisha.
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Wait'll you figure out just what's going on. It's VERY weird. And very good. Oh wait, you said that.

I loved this book. One of the best two books I've read this year.
BTW -- what was the other?
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:28 AM
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Making Friends With Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain's Road to War. Very good (IMHO) addressing of the question of whether Britain really had any chance of preventing Hitler from starting a war.
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster
BTW -- what was the other?
Richard Russo's Empire Falls.

I think I liked Never Let Me Go a bit more, but this was definitely a great read. Part of it was that I live in a small town, and Russo really managed to capture the personalities you find in places that are off the beaten track.
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Athena
Richard Russo's Empire Falls..
I've only read one book (Straight Man) by Russo -- because it was one of the funniest freakin' things I've ever read in my life, and anything else would be a disappointment in comparison.
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:43 AM
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Just finished Krakauer's Into the Wild, which was very good (if short), then I'm on to a book about the lost colonists at Roanoke, then onto the A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. Then I should probably read some of the books I actually own, but haven't read yet, instead of going back to the library.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:19 AM
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I'm switching back and forth between The Beatles by Bob Spitz and Paperback Writer by Mark Shipper. Nice contrast between the detailed, sometimes long-winded Spitz book (that I know the rather depressing ending of), and Shipper's humorous pipe dream, which has them reuniting in the final chapters.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:29 AM
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I love these threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pokey
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
next up I'll be reading The Lighthouse by P.D. James.
I just started that.
Cool! Have you read her other books, too? These days I can't read an Adam Dalgleish story without picturing Roy Marsden.

Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster
I've only read one book (Straight Man) by Russo -- because it was one of the funniest freakin' things I've ever read in my life, and anything else would be a disappointment in comparison.
I just read the synopsis, and added this to my wish list. Thanks! I love the idea of reading about the politics of a small English department ... my professor this semester gave us some insight into the workings of our own department. I might have to read Empire Falls first, though, to avoid disappointment (thanks, Athena!).
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Richard Russo's Empire Falls.
I just bought this with a B&N birthday gift certificate, but haven't started it yet. I'm glad to hear it was good.
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Old 12-13-2005, 11:08 AM
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I've just finished Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin (Bogeywoman and I are working our way through the complete Rebus novels in chronological order). Excellent stuff.

I am also reading Stephen King for the first time in my life and am pleasantly surprised by The Dark Tower. (Currently about two thirds through The Waste Lands).

On the re-reading front is Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. Bogeywoman gave me the paperbacks for my birthday since I wanted something more easily portable than the hardcover editions I already own. They still weigh a ton but are worth every ounce.

I've also just started Eats, shoots and leaves by Lynne Truss.

And finally (I think) there's Eugen Roths Kleines Tierleben - the only book in my native German I'm currently reading - think Edward Lear writing an Encyclopaedia of Animal Life
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Old 12-13-2005, 11:37 AM
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On re-reading my post: please forgive punctuation errors. I will learn, promise.
  #34  
Old 12-13-2005, 11:58 AM
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I just finished The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir. I took the biography out of the library after watching the excellent Masterpiece Theater drama on her life.

I've also just read The Food Lover's Guide to New Jersey by Peter Genovese.

Right now I'm plouging through Evidence of Harm by David Kirby on the supposed autism/vaccines link. Frankly this one sucks so far because he has a lot of misinformation in the book. Still a compelling read though.
  #35  
Old 12-13-2005, 06:47 PM
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Having the library's catalog at your fingertips is great, so I've been catching up on some long-delayed reading.

I just finished "Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman" and "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (Yes, the British edition, given to the Chicago Public Library by the British Consul-General in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the consulate's establishment in Chicago).

I have "The God* That Failed" (Richard Crossman, ed.) waiting at the library. And I'll be reading my own copy of "The Annotated Christmas Carol" again.

* No, not that God.
  #36  
Old 12-13-2005, 07:17 PM
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I've discovered the soft comfy chairs of Barnes & Noble, so I am lately reading books I can't afford while chugging down Starbucks drinks and overpriced pastries. I think this is a better way to unwind from work than what I've recently been doing.

The last week I've read the first three volumes of Fantagraphics' COMPLETE PEANUTS and yesterday, Neil Gaiman's ANANSI BOYS. I may find an omnibus of Wodehouse tomorrow and start on that, or maybe something by
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Old 12-13-2005, 07:39 PM
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Finished my previous truck book in traffic today, so the new one is an old favorite: The Histories of Herodotus.
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Old 12-13-2005, 07:42 PM
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I'm starved of new books for the moment. Shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is on my wish list.

I've recently read Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow, which isn't my sort of thing but it was new at the library and beggars can't be choosers. I figured out the twist well before the end.

I also read Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro which I have to say I was a little disappointed by, so I was surprised to see the positive reactions in this thread. I thought it was so understated it ended up falling flat.

I'm a big fan of Annie Hawes Extra Virgin and although her sequels Ripe for the Picking and Journey to the South aren't quite as good, they are well written, perceptive and witty.
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Old 12-13-2005, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
I've discovered the soft comfy chairs of Barnes & Noble, so I am lately reading books I can't afford while chugging down Starbucks drinks and overpriced pastries. I think this is a better way to unwind from work than what I've recently been doing.
Pack your own mug and snack and skip the Starbucks and you would be able to afford books again.

It is even more relaxing.
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Old 12-13-2005, 08:11 PM
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Am I the only non-literati book reader around here?

I'm about 1/3 of the way through a Carl Hiassen novel, I forget the title. It's the one about the PR man at the Disney World competitor run by a mob guy in witness protection. It's my second Hiaasen novel and better than the first one (the one about the ex-cop who lived in Stiltsville and the plastic surgeon and the killer with the weed whacker hand).

I'm currently not reading The Blind Watchmaker (too much like homework ), and one by that real funny commentator/essayist who's always on NPR? The gay guy who lived in France or something? Yeah, can't do it for some reason. And I'm also trying to read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I stumbled accross a quote from some columnist comparing this guys verbosity with someone who writes a little more cleanly, and now I just can't read it any more.
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Old 12-13-2005, 08:50 PM
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Natural cures they don't want you to know about.

Honestly, it's dumber than you think it is. No matter how stupid you think this book is, it's much worse. Kind of hypnotic though.
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:18 PM
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Natural cures they don't want you to know about.

Honestly, it's dumber than you think it is. No matter how stupid you think this book is, it's much worse. Kind of hypnotic though.
[bookstore worker rant]I hate this book with an almost irrational passion. Every time some little old lady plunks one down on the counter, tells me how great it is and asks me if I've read it, something intangible dies inside. I can't wait till the damned thing falls off the bestseller list and ultimately the face of the earth. Stupid stupid dumb stupid book.[/bwr]

Speaking of stupid, I'm reading The Stupidest Angel : A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore. It ain't Dostoyevsky, but it's got zombies and it's kind of fun.
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Old 12-13-2005, 09:38 PM
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Pack your own mug and snack and skip the Starbucks and you would be able to afford books again.
If I land a better paying JOB soon, I can afford books again.

I spent six-fifty on a cookie and coffee at Starbucks and READ a novel in its entirety in four hours.

If I'd bought the book I was reading, I'd have spent over twenty-six dollars.

If I wait until summer I can buy it used or in paperback for around eight bucks, including cost of shipping.

So, short term: read the novel, ate, drank and was intellectually occupied for a few hours for under seven bucks. Not bad.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:06 PM
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I'm glad others are reading Shadow of the Wind, wonderful fun.

I'm another Christopher Moore fan, having read the hilarious Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove a few months ago. I then bought all his other books.

One of my recent faves is Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson. What would happen if one day all the lights in the sky went out? It's a remarkable character-driven science fiction novel filled with Big Ideas. It's surprisingly good for mainstream readers as well. I bought all his backlist too. Currently I'm reading Chronoliths, also written by him.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:31 PM
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So, short term: read the novel, ate, drank and was intellectually occupied for a few hours for under seven bucks. Not bad.
Bookstores let people do this? Cool.

When I was growing up, if I turned more than a couple of pages of a book for sale, I'd get yelled at. "This ain't a liberry!"

Of course this was at the beer hall. I was 11 and trying to read Mickey Spillane off the revolving paperback rack.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:34 PM
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I'm right in the middle of A Million Little Pieces, James Frey's account of his stay in rehab. I'm liking it, but not quite as much as I thought I would after hearing how much other people liked it.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:45 PM
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The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields

Susan
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Old 12-13-2005, 11:46 PM
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I love these threads.

Cool! Have you read her other books, too? These days I can't read an Adam Dalgleish story without picturing Roy Marsden.
Most of them I think. I love her but I find what I always loved best about her was the first half of the book she would spend so much time creating all these people who were going to be involved in the plot and for some reason that's always my favourite part of the story. What I love best about her is her knack for character revealing details. They stay with me even when I don't really remember how things turned out. I love her writing in general too. It's funny but whenever I meet anyone who reads P.D. James I expect to like that person. She's the only contemporary crime writer I really like at all.
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Old 12-14-2005, 12:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eleanor of Aquitaine
Do you mean Camouflage? I haven't tried that one yet because I was so disappointed with Guardian and The Coming. I love most of Haldeman's stuff, though.
Sorry for the slow response. I keep weird hours.
You're right it is Camouflage. One of the characters is referred to as the chameleon, another as the changeling and I wasn't paying attention (with the book in my hand no less).

I, too was left cold by Guardian, but Camouflage has brought me back around. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Can't remember reading The Coming but that should say something about it right there.
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Old 12-14-2005, 12:50 AM
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Thanks to the movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman (haven't seen it but have seen clips of Hoffman's incredible performance), I've become interested in Truman Capote and his writing and am devouring everything he's written that I can get my hands on. In the last couple of weeks I've polished off The Thanksgiving Visitor; A Christmas Memory; Answered Prayers; Breakfast at Tiffany's (and its accompanying short stories); Music for Chameleons (a collection of short stories and memoirs), and I've just started In Cold Blood.

I've known of Capote for decades and used to watch him on The Tonight Show all the time, but frankly I had no idea what an incredibly talented writer he was. I knew he was supposed to be good, but I didn't know he was that good! His writing is nothing like his public personna: it's delicate, sensitive, concise, worldly, witty and heart-tugging, and incredibly sophisticated in terms of 'writerly' skill. I can't recommend him highly enough!
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