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Old 12-31-2010, 04:46 AM
Khadaji is offline
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Whatcha Readin' Jan 2011 Edition


A wish of a happy and joyful new year - and some great new reads!

Just finished Jim Butcher's Side Jobs a collection of short stories from Butcher's Dresden Universe. Based on something I had read on the dope, I had feared that I might have already read most of the shorts. Luckily I was wrong, and only had read one before.

It was a quick easy read and I enjoyed most of the shorts. It isn't the same as a full-length novel, but the next one isn't due until April...

December's link.

Be safe tonight!
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Old 12-31-2010, 07:23 AM
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I'm gonna start the new year with King's Full Dark No Stars. Not a mega fan but I've read some of his books and I think he's best when he writes short stories or novellas.
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:46 AM
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I'm pretty sure it's still December, but I'm also pretty sure I'm not going to finish this book today:

A Devil To Play by Jasper Rees. It's a year long memoir of a 40 year old British journalist who hasn't touched his French Horn since he graduated from high school, and set a goal of re-learning the instrument and performing Mozart's 3rd Horn Concerto in front of a live audience at the end of the year.
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:50 AM
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Got home just before 9pm. We'll watch the city fireworks from atop our 36-story building. Close to 10pm now. (We're 7 hours ahead of GMT and this time of year 12 hours ahead of the US East Coast.)

I'm almost halfway through The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James. It's better, IMHO, than his The Ambassadors, so I would recommend reading this before that. I believe this one was written first but appeared a year after The Ambassadors. The language is still somewhat plodding. I am familiar with many authors of the same period, and they don't do that, so I'm not sure why he felt he had to write like this. But I am enjoying this one. Although I did see the 1997 film version with Helena Bonham Carter, I don't think that really helped, as that was so long ago.
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Old 01-01-2011, 01:59 PM
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Well, I got a Nook e-reader for Christmas, and my hubby pre-loaded it with 628 books! This allows me to do something I love, which is to read a number of books at one time. Currently, I'm reading Freakanomics (forget the authors names), Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time, George Carlin's Brain Droppings, James Patterson's Along Came a Spider, and am re-reading Stephen King's It.

Oh, I'm a happy camper!

Oh, and when I'm not reading it, my 11YO is reading Coraline and starting on the Percy Jackson series.
  #6  
Old 01-01-2011, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
...I'm almost halfway through The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James. It's better, IMHO, than his The Ambassadors, so I would recommend reading this before that. I believe this one was written first but appeared a year after The Ambassadors. The language is still somewhat plodding....
Henry James takes his lumps in this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=530227

Still enjoying Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, and almost done with the Star Trek novel Gods of Night by David Mack, which is all right (if only he didn't have characters smirking every other page).

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01-01-2011 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 01-01-2011, 04:55 PM
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Since the movie The King's Speech isn't showing in my area yet (if ever) I'm reading up on George VI, with Sarah Bradford's biography The Reluctant King. It's very good, so far. I'm up to 1936, the year of three kings. I'm always shocked to read about how George V's doctor hurried along the king's death with morphine and cocaine so that the Proclamation of the new King could make the morning papers.
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Old 01-01-2011, 05:16 PM
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I am just starting Scott Turow's Innocent (a sequel to Presumed Innocent) and just finishing Miracle and Other Christmas Stories (a dandy collection of Christmas-themed short stories by the incomparable Connie Willis).
  #9  
Old 01-01-2011, 06:40 PM
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Started two new books today: Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America by Benjamin L. Carp and The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth. Both Christmas gifts.
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:15 PM
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Henry James takes his lumps in this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=530227
No doubt he cried all the way to the bank.
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:22 PM
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Currently slogging through the blood, sh*t & corruption of Patricia Cornwell's Blow Fly.
Not impressed. I more often read non-fiction but pulled this one off the shelf because I was bored. Think I need to make a trip to Barnes & Nobel.
SS
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:16 PM
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Doing another run through Discworld. It's been a while, and I'm enjoying it a great deal. Putting off Gary Taubes' (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories) new book, as I may become convinced (again) to change my lifestyle and I want one last weekend of relative gluttony.
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:34 AM
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Yesterday, I started Keith Richards' autobiography, Life. After a couple of chapters, my initial thought is that he really, really likes his lawyer.

The writing style comes across as somewhat stream-of-consciousness, which isn't really working for me, at least not in these early pages where he's covering his childhood. I think (hope) it will fit better once I reach the parts about the Rolling Stones.
  #14  
Old 01-02-2011, 12:24 PM
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Finished Bryson's "Neither Here Nor There", about his travels in Europe. Very funny stuff, especially if you've spent any time in the locations he's describing. Started a book called "Yellow Dirt", about how the government screwed over the Navajo in the search for uranium.
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:25 PM
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I am just starting Scott Turow's Innocent (a sequel to Presumed Innocent)....
I'll be very interested to hear how you like it; Presumed Innocent is one of my favorite legal thrillers. His nonfiction Ultimate Punishment, about wrestling with the pros and cons of the death penalty, is also excellent.
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:44 PM
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Finished Bryson's "Neither Here Nor There", about his travels in Europe. Very funny stuff, especially if you've spent any time in the locations he's describing.
I love Bryson. His A Short History of Everything is on my Amazon wish list. I never read anything by him I didn't like, and a couple of books (A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country) I've read and reread and reread--they're just that good.

At present, I'm 2/3 of the way through John Grisham's The Confession on my Kindle.
SPOILER:
I cried when they actually executed Donte Drumm


Full Dark No Stars is next up.
  #17  
Old 01-02-2011, 05:52 PM
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I love Bryson. His A Short History of Everything is on my Amazon wish list. I never read anything by him I didn't like, and a couple of books (A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country) I've read and reread and reread--they're just that good.

At present, I'm 2/3 of the way through John Grisham's The Confession on my Kindle.
SPOILER:
I cried when they actually executed Donte Drumm


Full Dark No Stars is next up.
"Short History" is brilliant. I also really like his new one, "At Home".
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:21 AM
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I stumbled upon Neal Asher over the holidays, and am now comfortably ensconced in the Polity World he has built. Currently working my way through the Spatterjay series. I also got the Baroque Trilogy on my new kindle, so I'll be re-reading that for a few weeks at least.
  #19  
Old 01-03-2011, 04:44 PM
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Finished Black Dust Mambo a very mediocre urban fantasy.

Kallie Riviere is a hoodoo apprentice who wakes up to find that her last night's lover has been killed by a hex. The book follows her adventure in tracking down the killer.

The dialog was poor, the magic was silly: Heart beat heart beat, keep the blood flowing neat. Death needs to be cheated, for this man is needed. Heart beat heart beat, keep the blood flowing neat.

This next part isn't a major spoiler, but I'll spoiler it anyway. It was one of the more stupid moments in the book.
SPOILER:
At one point a homosexual man is killed and he inhabits another man's body (a "Vessel") The man is so turned on by his new body he takes some time to fantasize about it and masturbate in his new body.


I won't be reading the next installment.
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Old 01-03-2011, 05:05 PM
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Just finished Lev Grossman's "The Magicians". It was a well-written interesting take on the "Harry Potter" magician's school, and yet it somehow sucked all the fun out of magic. I guess the main problem is that the protagonist is a whiny, drunk, useless, aimless emo bitch for most of the book. Every time his heart's desire is granted, it's not good enough for him (which I guess is sort of the point of the book, but man, it made reading it a drag).

The other thing that sort of irritated me is that although the main character is a hot shot genius who has spent years tediously perfecting his art, he doesn't seem to use magic very much at all, and it's rarely his go-to option when things turn all pear-shaped.


Currently reading "Blackout" by Connie Willis. It's a curious alternate history, because apparently cell phones have not been invented, or are for some reason forgotten. Half of the muddling that the characters do (in the "present") would be resolved if they had text messaging. The best part of Blackout (as in all of CW books) is the little tidbits of fascinating historical minutia that she scatters throughout the book. She does have this giant author-crush on St. Paul's Cathedral and the London Blitz, though.
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:02 PM
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Since I just got a Kindle, I've been picking up books left and right (mostly classics 'cuz they're free, but I've gotten a few others as well).

I just read Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I found the discussion of early hunter-gatherers and the domestication of crops to be especially interesting.

I also just finished Gulliver's Travels. While the ending pissed me off a little bit initially (I find his treatment of his wife appalling), I read a little bit of analysis on it, and found it fairly interesting, so now I have a bit more respect for it. I suppose I ought not to have been surprised at Gulliver's sexism and racism anyway, considering the time period in which the book was written.

I'm now reading a Straight Dope literary staple: Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. The writing's a bit dry, but the topic is interesting.
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:19 PM
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I'm gonna start the new year with King's Full Dark No Stars. Not a mega fan but I've read some of his books and I think he's best when he writes short stories or novellas.
I finished it over the weekend. It was okay. Nothing to shout about but not bad. Didn't like the first story, 1922. Too long and I felt that the farmer did what he did just so King could write about rats and guilt and bodies dumped in wells because there was no other reason why Wilf murdered his wife. There was no indication they were in a rut (in fact, they had a healthy sex life). So she wakes up, decides to sell the farm and the husband thinks, "That's it. Marriage has been great so far but that's the last straw. I'm gonna kill the bitch!"

The other three stories in the collection were better. I liked A Good Marriage. Creepiest one. How well do we know our spouses, anyway?

Today, gonna crack open Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:23 PM
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Just finished Lev Grossman's "The Magicians". It was a well-written interesting take on the "Harry Potter" magician's school, and yet it somehow sucked all the fun out of magic. I guess the main problem is that the protagonist is a whiny, drunk, useless, aimless emo bitch for most of the book. Every time his heart's desire is granted, it's not good enough for him (which I guess is sort of the point of the book, but man, it made reading it a drag)..
I felt the same way about this book. If you pressed me, I liked it. I liked his brother's book better though... Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman. Read that one? It is to comic books what The Magicians is to kid's fantasy novels.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:22 PM
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I wanted to like The Magicians, I had heard great things about it, I but found it dull and none of the characters engaging. In the end, I gave it a pretty poor review.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:23 PM
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Currently reading "Blackout" by Connie Willis. It's a curious alternate history, because apparently cell phones have not been invented, or are for some reason forgotten. Half of the muddling that the characters do (in the "present") would be resolved if they had text messaging. The best part of Blackout (as in all of CW books) is the little tidbits of fascinating historical minutia that she scatters throughout the book. She does have this giant author-crush on St. Paul's Cathedral and the London Blitz, though.
There's a tiny reference in one of her time travel books, in Blackout, I think: one of the historians is assigned a costume that comes with a cell phone, and the technician assures the historian that it's a fake and perfectly safe. Insinuating, I suppose, that in the future cell phones have been abandoned because they're dangerous. Mostly Willis just ignores their existence, as her plots (and humor) depend heavily on poor communication between her characters.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:36 PM
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I'm reading Sympathy For The Devil, a compendium of short stories about...well, The Devil. Pretty good so far. The book includes classics like Young Goodman Brown and many modern takes on Mr. Beelzebub. I love shit like this.
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:20 PM
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Reading 'An April Shroud' by Reginald Hill. This is number 4 in the Dalziel and Pascoe, although at page 175 it's been almost all Dalziel. I love Hill's writing.

If you'll forgive a brief hijack, I'm also reading the Anthology Thread of the most recent SDMB Short Fiction contest, and I highly recommend it to all of you. If you have any spare reading time in the next ten days, please, have a look, comment on any of the stories and vote for your favourites.
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:26 PM
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Doing another run through Discworld. It's been a while, and I'm enjoying it a great deal. Putting off Gary Taubes' (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories) new book, as I may become convinced (again) to change my lifestyle and I want one last weekend of relative gluttony.
Currently reading Unseen Academicals. Would be interesting to go back and read all of them again. He grew so much as a writter since the beginning. Which makes his condition even more depressing.
  #29  
Old 01-03-2011, 09:45 PM
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I'm still working through \Godel Escher Bach Should be done by February.

Also reading an anthology of new space opera edited by Gardner Dozois.
  #30  
Old 01-04-2011, 02:59 AM
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I spent the holidays reading Robert Rodi's What They Did to Princess Paragon, a rather fun novel set in the comics industry: a comics writer intent on furthering his reputation as cutting-edge changes a Wonder Woman stand-in into a lesbian, and hilarious events ensue with a fan. Quite nice, but I've had better comics-themed books in my hands.
Also finished Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I'd started this one once before and didn't get into it, but this time around, it was a joy to read. I especially liked the ways in which Chabon implied a totally changed world history since 1948, but we really don't get to know any of it. Made it much more mysterious. Recommended.
Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza. Excellent, though depressing.
Joe Hill's Locke & Key. Liked this so much that I have already ordered the next volume.
I'm probably going to keep reading Justin Cronin's The Passage for the rest of the week--very enjoyable, but also somewhat scary for wusses like me...
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:07 AM
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I've just finished The Girl Who Played With Fire, which I thought was v. good. Not sure if it's better than the first one, it felt more like a traditional thriller and I had more of a sense of Sweden as a place from the first book.

Planning to start on the final book in the trilogy soon, but am dipping into some Jeffery Deaver short stories while I wait.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:11 AM
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Currently reading John Dies at the End by David Wong. I'm almost halfway through, and it's definitely holding my interest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DataZak View Post
I'm gonna start the new year with King's Full Dark No Stars. Not a mega fan but I've read some of his books and I think he's best when he writes short stories or novellas.
I got this one for Christmas, so it'll probably be up next.
  #33  
Old 01-04-2011, 08:29 AM
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...Joe Hill's Locke & Key. Liked this so much that I have already ordered the next volume....
I read this late last year and liked it very much. Good stuff. I have the second volume but haven't started it yet.
  #34  
Old 01-04-2011, 08:42 AM
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Lady Godiva: A Literary History by Donoghue. Great info on the Bareback Rider and her times, and how the theme has been treated since.

Heretics of Dune -- I never read the end of the Dune cycle, and am just now getting to it.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon -- although I know the stories of Rip Van Winkle and The Headless Horseman, I realized that I never read them, or the rest of Washington Irving's classic. I was also curious about the Christmas sections, which inspired Dickens' own A Christmas Carol.

Mark Twain's Autobiography Vol. I. A gift for my birthday. I read the existing autobio a couple of years ago, but Twain wanted much material sealed until a century after his death -- that's last year. The first volume alone is about twice the length of his old one.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:09 AM
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Also finished Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I'd started this one once before and didn't get into it, but this time around, it was a joy to read. I especially liked the ways in which Chabon implied a totally changed world history since 1948, but we really don't get to know any of it. Made it much more mysterious. Recommended.
I really liked that book, and I loved Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
  #36  
Old 01-04-2011, 09:11 AM
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I'm still reading Walter Rankin's Grimm Pictures: Fairy Tale Archetypes in Eight Horror and Suspense Films in paperback, and these days on my Kindle I'm reading Jim Butcher's Side Jobs (as mentioned in the OP).

Next up is another paperback, Maria McCann's As Meat Loves Salt. I'm not usually into period pieces, but the reviews are excellent and it sounds...interesting. I learned about it in a friend's journal, when he mentioned getting it for Christmas, and after looking it up I asked if I could borrow it when he was done. Turns out he'd also bought a copy for himself (not expecting to get it as a gift), so he gave me the "extra" copy when I saw him yesterday.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:20 AM
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I'm reading Sympathy For The Devil, a compendium of short stories about...well, The Devil. Pretty good so far. The book includes classics like Young Goodman Brown and many modern takes on Mr. Beelzebub. I love shit like this.
Me too. I’ll have a look for it.

Last night I finished Monsters of Men, the last book of the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I really liked this series, though it made me cry, dammit! Added Mr. Ness to my list of authors to watch for.

Started a new audiobook as well, One Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus. It’s about a fictional agreement between President Ulysses Grant and the Cheyennes to send brides to the Indians in trade for horses.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:36 AM
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I read The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age by Juliet Nicholson, which I found very interesting, though she does tend to rely too heavily on accounts of the upper class to the exclusion of regular people (she is the granddaughter of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West). I do understand that this information is more readily available, but that just means she has to work harder. Still, quite good. I had previously read her The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm.

Then read 9 Dragons by Michael Connolly. It got a lot of hate. I don't think it's his best, but I don't think it was that bad. Harry Bosch's daughter gets kidnapped and he has to go to Hong Kong to rescue her; Chinese triad gangs are involved. There's too much of calling her "his daughter" for emotional effect and not enough using her name, and I don't like being manipulated like that -- actually, I can't be manipulated like that, but the action was pretty good. I think Connolly was especially eager to
SPOILER:
kill off Bosch's ex-wife. I don't know why.

Getting ready to start Ken Follett's new Fall of Giants.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:54 AM
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Right now, I’m in the middle of “The Fixer” by Bernard Malamud.

I had just finished “Whip Hand” by Dick Francis.
  #40  
Old 01-05-2011, 12:27 PM
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Started a new audiobook as well, One Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus. It’s about a fictional agreement between President Ulysses Grant and the Cheyennes to send brides to the Indians in trade for horses.
Or maybe not, it’s starting to get on my nerves already.

ETA: Huck Finn seems like it might be a good choice. It's been so long since I read it I don't remember anything, and I certainly want to get to it before it gets all sanitized.

Last edited by Dung Beetle; 01-05-2011 at 12:29 PM.
  #41  
Old 01-05-2011, 12:27 PM
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My mom's a big Dick Francis fan, but I've never read any of 'em. Are you a fan, astorian?

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01-05-2011 at 12:28 PM.
  #42  
Old 01-05-2011, 12:47 PM
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I'm reading Germania by Simon Winder. It's a history of Germany written in a rambling tone, with many personal asides. I'd normally be okay with that -- in fact, a well-written rambling book can be quite enjoyable -- but Winder's personality shines through too much, and his personality seems to be a bit prickly. He's much more forthcoming with negative criticisms of art, architecture and food than he is with praise of the same, and when he does have a compliment, it tends to be of the backhanded variety.

Reading a 450-page book written by someone with whom I doubt I'd want to spend five minutes is something of a chore, and I'm considering setting it aside for awhile.

Last edited by Gordon Urquhart; 01-05-2011 at 12:48 PM.
  #43  
Old 01-05-2011, 02:58 PM
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Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45. by Barbara Tuchman

and

World War Z by Max Brooks

An odd contrast in that WWZ starts out in China and mentions some of the same places. I keep expecting a Stilwell like character to pop up.

Also listening to Lolita on tape, which is awesome.

Last edited by shiftless; 01-05-2011 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 01-05-2011, 03:08 PM
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Just finished Colleen McCullough's The October Horse and started Antony and Cleopatra.
The graphic novel Pride of Baghdad (sniff).
Ken Croswell's Planet Quest.
The first three volumes of Ellis and Cassady's Planetary.
The only really new stuff I've read lately are the first two Star Trek "Typhon Pact" novels.
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:16 AM
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Right now I just started Griftopia by Matt Taibbi. It's excellent, it's funny and well written and informative as hell about how investment banks killed the economy and the state of foreclosures in America, but it's depressing in the extreme and makes me angry to read. I have to do it in small doses.
  #46  
Old 01-06-2011, 09:29 AM
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Dung Beetle is offline
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Starting again on Joe R. Lansdale’s Two Bear Mambo, which I was forced to abandon a few weeks ago. Yep, still good!
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Old 01-06-2011, 02:52 PM
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My first book of the year is Tishomingo Blues by Elmore Leonard. It's my first go-around with him. I'm impressed with his writing, especially the dialogue, but so far the mystery in this mystery hasn't raised its head.

Last edited by TheMerchandise; 01-06-2011 at 02:53 PM.
  #48  
Old 01-06-2011, 07:55 PM
Siam Sam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMerchandise View Post
My first book of the year is Tishomingo Blues by Elmore Leonard. It's my first go-around with him. I'm impressed with his writing, especially the dialogue, but so far the mystery in this mystery hasn't raised its head.
I liked that one. It's reportedly Leonard's favorite of the ones he's written. There was supposed to be a movie version starring Don Cheadle, but that got scrapped.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:24 PM
Elendil's Heir is online now
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
I liked that one. It's reportedly Leonard's favorite of the ones he's written. There was supposed to be a movie version starring Don Cheadle, but that got scrapped.
I read it; it was pretty good. Wiki says it's Elmore Leonard's favorite book of all those he's written!

Just listened to the audiobook of David Sedaris's short story collection Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, which was a disappointment, overall, I have to say. It's all stories about anthropomorphized animals, sort of like a latter-day Aesop's Fables. The best of the bunch are "The Mouse and the Snake," about a doting mouse who raises a small snake she finds; "The Crow and the Lamb," about a sly bird and the sheep who doesn't realize he's up to no good; "The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat," about life in a lab cage; and "The Grieving Owl," my favorite, about an owl who gives his prey a chance to save their lives by telling him something he doesn't know.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01-06-2011 at 08:25 PM.
  #50  
Old 01-06-2011, 08:57 PM
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I cannot think of the title, but there's another book where some of the characters from Tishomingo Blues reappear. The Indian ball player and the landlady, and it's set just before the main character in Tishomingo appears. I'm thinking a book of short stories, and they're in one of the stories. Not long at all, their chapter. The wife and I have both read Tishomingo and both read this other book, but she can't think of the other title either.
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