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Old 06-30-2011, 03:31 PM
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Whatcha Readin' July 2011 Edition


For those who are having a holiday this weekend, be safe!

I have finished Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives. I read these collections of short stories to try and find new authors. I found one or two. Over all the stories were ok.

In a fit of nostalgia I bought The New Destroyer: Guardian Angel (Destroyer #146). When I was 20 (more than half my life ago) I read all of these that I could find. They got bad not too long after Richard Sapir died.

I can already see that I have outgrown the series, but Remo and Chiun were old friends and it was fun to visit with them a little. This new book had some of the flavor of the originals.

Link to Last Month.

Last edited by Khadaji; 06-30-2011 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 06-30-2011, 05:41 PM
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I've never enjoyed life on the cutting edge, so I am currently reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. It was always on my list, but I never got around to it until now. In a similar (i.e. late to the party) vein, I have Kidnapped and The Count of Monte Cristo stacked up on my Kindle, thanks to a recent thread on adventure novels.

My beachside page-turner is Crashers by Dana Haynes which combines the details of a NTSB plane crash investigation with some terrorists and other sneaky bastards--it's crying out for a movie treatment.

On my iPod, I'm listening to Teacher Man by Frank McCourt, read by the author in his lovely brogue.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:28 PM
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I'm finally reading Pale Fire, by Nabokov and it's six kinds of awesome. Laugh out loud at 2 a.m. and wake up Mr. Ko and the dog kind of awesome. Who knew?
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:10 PM
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In reviving my classic sci-fi journey, I've just finished The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. It features a lot of politics/philosophy/religion themes while maintaining a solid grounding in science. It is very good, although I think LeGuin gets a little carried away with some of her ideas. It's definitely a must-read for sci-fi fans.

Next up, I'll probably finish off the Hunger Games trilogy with the final book, Mockingjay.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:43 PM
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I'm about halfway through a re-read of Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. I started it when the first season of Game of Thrones concluded, in the vain hope that I could re-read Clash, Storm, and Feast before Dragons comes out. It ain't gonna happen.

Also reading Low Town by Daniel Polansky. Fantasy noir, I'm hearing Bruce Willis' voice for the main character, it's got quite the Sin City feel.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:12 PM
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Still putting the finishing touches on Brothers Rivals Victors, and damn it is one of the best WWII books I have ever read.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:40 PM
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In preparation for our trip nine months from now, I've recently begun reading through the Lonely Planet: New York City guidebook. Interesting so far but not much plot.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:42 PM
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Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich. The ebook has been leaked before publication.

I feel like shaking the protagonist by the lapels and pointing out the insane stupidity of what he's about to do. He was on track for becoming an astronaut. Now he's in jail. He could have had it all, but he was greedy.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:01 PM
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Chaplin: His Life and Art, by David Robinson. Been meaning to read it for 15 years or so.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:26 PM
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I predicted this would be a relatively boring thread, with many repetitions of 'Martin', 'Song of Ice and Fire', etc. popping up.

I'm rereading the whole damned series. I've got even odds on whether I'll ignore the release date and actually get through it all before giving in to temptation and getting the latest.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:35 PM
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I'm reading The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. Jon Ronson is fun.

Also, I just received The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo in the mail today. I mentioned in the other thread that they didn't release it in the U.S. and it's right in the middle of the series, with lots of character developments (based on mentions of it in the book that follows it). That'll be next, after I finish up with the psychopaths.
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Old 07-01-2011, 10:20 AM
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I'm reading Jane Eyre for the first time. I'm enjoying it, although gothic fiction isn't something I would usually seek out. The Kindle has been good for me, with instant access to all those classics I've always meant to read.

I'm killing time waiting for the new Martin book.
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:08 PM
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The Library of America volumes of the novels of Philip K. Dick.
I just finished Martian Time-Slip and started the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:16 PM
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I just finished the third of Tana French's novels about the Dublin police force. Each is written from a different point of view, but some characters cross over from book to book. I thought they were all interesting and well-written. In order, they are In the Woods, The Likeness, and Faithful Place.

www.tanafrench.com
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:23 PM
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Eleanor, I love Jane Eyre, although I think it took a few readings to really grow on me.

I’m in the midst of re-reading A Simple Plan…jeez, I’d forgotten how dark this is.
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Old 07-01-2011, 04:03 PM
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That's on my wait list at the library, but it doesn't look like I'll be getting my turn for a month or two! For now I've got another one of his, The Men Who Stare at Goats, ready to go next.

I just finished Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love by Father Albert Cutié and found it fascinating.

Right now I'm on Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World by Diane MacEachern - a look at how to make better shopping choices, keeping the planet in mind. It's a little preachy but has a lot of good advice on how to avoid getting "greenwashed" by products and manufacturers who are slapping meaningless "green" and "natural" labels on everything.

I love these threads, by the way. It's where I get at least half of my ideas for my reading list!
  #17  
Old 07-01-2011, 04:45 PM
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Finished Magic Lost, Trouble Found (Raine Benares, Book 1), an acceptable first book in a (traditional, not urban) fantasy series. Not spectacular, but a light easy read.

Last edited by Khadaji; 07-01-2011 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 07-01-2011, 04:53 PM
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I'm about halfway through Adam Goodheart's 1861: The Civil War Awakening. I love this book. Goodheart focuses on the viewpoints of the people involved, quoting extensively from letters, newspapers, and diaries. I wish history had seemed this interesting when I was in school (but, of course, back then there was much less of it).
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:33 PM
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I'm reading Jane Eyre for the first time. I'm enjoying it, although gothic fiction isn't something I would usually seek out....
I just finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, an odd but intriguing and occasionally very funny novel, set in an alternate universe, about an English literary detective taking on an over-the-top villain. The villain manages to actually enter the text of Jane Eyre and threatens to take the title character hostage.

I have more books underway at the moment than I usually do. I skip from one to the other depending on my mood, and how much time I have:

Kennedy by Theodore Sorensen - A very interesting profile of JFK by one of his top longtime aides. Lots of funny and offbeat behind-the-scenes remembrances.

Then Everything Changed by Jeff Greenfield - Generally plausible political what-if scenarios from recent American history.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet - A 1936 play by A.A. Milne (yes, that A.A. Milne) based upon Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It's pretty true to Austen's novel, and also - interestingly, and skillfully - fills in some scenes, such as meetings between Bingley and Jane, and Darcy and Wickham, etc.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:24 PM
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The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, by Deborah Blum.
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:03 AM
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I just finished Founding Father, by Richard Brookhiser, about...surprise! George Washington. A small book which I started a few months ago and put aside after my dear cat chewed the better part of the cover off.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:59 AM
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I'm reading Skippy Dies by Paul Murray and am thoroughly enjoying it
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:19 AM
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Just beginning Flashman’s Lady. It ought to get a lot better after he finishes describing this tedious game of cricket!
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:08 AM
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Twice Have the Trumpets Sounded - an acount of the second season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival by Robertson Davies and Tyrone Guthrie.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:13 AM
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I'm reading Skippy Dies by Paul Murray and am thoroughly enjoying it
I'm listening to this on audiobook right now. I'm enjoying it too and finding it marvelously bizarre.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:21 AM
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I'm now midway through Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men.” Surprisingly, it was never required reading in any of my high school or college classes, and I’ve never seen either of the movie versions (though, knowing a bit about Huey Long, I can sort of see where the story is going).
  #27  
Old 07-05-2011, 09:26 AM
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Just finished The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives, by Leobard Mlodinow.
Terrific and readable book about how different concepts in probability were developed over the centuries. The "randomness" turns out to be more encouraging than you might think -- for one thing, you'll be less inclined to think famous people are anything special after you read this book. And, it includes several well-explained, fun "paradoxes" (really, examples of how our brains have evolved to make certain kinds of mistakes).
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:31 AM
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I just finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, an odd but intriguing and occasionally very funny novel, set in an alternate universe, about an English literary detective taking on an over-the-top villain. The villain manages to actually enter the text of Jane Eyre and threatens to take the title character hostage.
I bought a copy of that book, but I had put it aside until I had a chance to actually read Jane Eyre first. I'm looking forward to it now.

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Just beginning Flashman’s Lady. It ought to get a lot better after he finishes describing this tedious game of cricket!
That one has a lot of Elspeth in it! It's kind of shocking to see Flashy actually concerned about the welfare of another human being.


In honor of the holiday I watched the musical 1776, and now I'm reading American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, by Joseph J. Ellis. It's good, but I'm wondering if I should have read a straight Jefferson biography first. Most of what I know about him has come from reading about John Adams.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:09 AM
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I'm finally reading Pale Fire, by Nabokov and it's six kinds of awesome. Laugh out loud at 2 a.m. and wake up Mr. Ko and the dog kind of awesome. Who knew?
I just picked this up as well. Looking forward to starting it soon.

In the meantime, I finished A Game of Thrones last week and have moved on to A Clash of Kings. I'm loving the series so far.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:07 AM
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Last night I started reading Game Of Thrones (for the first time).
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:24 AM
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I'm finally reading Pale Fire, by Nabokov and it's six kinds of awesome. Laugh out loud at 2 a.m. and wake up Mr. Ko and the dog kind of awesome. Who knew?
I've got this one, and will read it right after I finish "All the King's Men."
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:38 PM
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I just finished Founding Father, by Richard Brookhiser, about...surprise! George Washington. A small book which I started a few months ago and put aside after my dear cat chewed the better part of the cover off.
That's a great book! Concise but well-researched and lively. May I also recommend:

James Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man - Also a great bio. Read this to see just why Washington was so vital to the cause of American independence, and then how he practically invented the Presidency.

Garry Wills, Cincinnatus - Examines Washington as a man shaped by, and who became an icon of, the Enlightenment.

David McCullough, 1776 - Follows Washington as a determined and inspirational military leader during the darkest days of the Revolution.

Richard M. Ketchum, Victory at Yorktown - Explores Washington's greatest triumph, in the 1781 battle which virtually ended the war.

Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton - A magnificent, highly readable profile of the brilliant but deeply flawed man, a key Washington advisor, who did more than anyone else to lay the groundwork for generations of American prosperity.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 07-05-2011 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 07-06-2011, 01:57 AM
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I've never enjoyed life on the cutting edge, so I am currently reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. It was always on my list, but I never got around to it until now. In a similar (i.e. late to the party) vein, I have Kidnapped and The Count of Monte Cristo
The Handmaids' Tale is one of my favorite novels. And I simply adored The Count of Monte Christo. I picked it up during one of my "I must read all the classics that I never have" periods and was surprised just how must I enjoyed it. I generally struggle with a lot of the "classics".

Wow, this sounds great. What do you think? Did/are you enjoy(ing) it?

I'm currently unemployed and have been reading all those books that I've bought and never read over the years. Nothing particularly outstanding but several that I would not recommend! I had two Dorothy Dunnett novels and started but still can't get into either. She's just too dense, girthy for me, I guess. I have, however, re-read most of my Gary Jennings and Margaret George novels for my historical fiction fix. Just finished a novel called Ahab's Wife that was quite the struggle to get through...usually I would just give up but out of boredom...

I'm about to start The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Don't know a thing about it!
  #34  
Old 07-06-2011, 03:30 PM
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Finished Black Wings. Madeline Black guides dead souls to the door (think Reaper from Dead Like Me, only not exactly.) But it turns out she is more and is soon embroiled in a fight with demons and other foul creatures.

It was light and quick moving and I will read the next in the series.

Last edited by Khadaji; 07-06-2011 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 07-06-2011, 03:32 PM
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I'm re-reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I'm about halfway through The Waste Lands, the third book in the series. I think this is my third time through the whole series, but I think I've read The Gunslinger four or five times now. Every time I read it it makes a little more sense. The first time I read The Gunslinger I was scratching my head and asking myself "What the hell did I just read?"
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Old 07-06-2011, 04:38 PM
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Forgot to add: also finished Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin, Book 2). This is the second in the Gin Blanco assassin series. It too was a light and quick read and I will keep reading the series.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:31 PM
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I finally decided to pick up George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones. I'm a little more than halfway through it, and I think I have a new "go to" author, but have heard horror stories about how long it takes him to complete a novel. At least I'm able to enjoy the ones he's already written while he writes the next one.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:53 PM
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Wow, this sounds great. What do you think? Did/are you enjoy(ing) it?
Yes. It's well written and the subject matter is interesting. It seems episodic when you start but settles down into a narrative before too long. The featured reviews on the Amazon page are pretty accurate I'd say.
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:05 PM
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I've just finished A Treasury of American Folklore and am now reading a stack of Nero Wolfe novels. After that I've got a box full of books to read, including a Game of THrones that waas given to me as a gift, and Henry Kuttner's Mutant, a fix-up of his "Baldy" short stories.
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Old 07-06-2011, 10:19 PM
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Also just started The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which is OK so far. I tend not to like books about the South during the Civil Rights era because they're usually so cliched and obvious (yes, I know that racism is bad and that black people were often treated very poorly), but I'll keep at this for at least a little while longer.
  #41  
Old 07-07-2011, 07:21 AM
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I loved The Help as an audiobook because the performances were wonderful...not so sure how much I'd have liked it on paper.
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:48 AM
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Just finished reading Boss by Mike Royko. The book taught me two things:

1) Daley's Chicago (Richard J. Daley, that is) must have been a horrible place to live up through 1976 (case in point: if a Chicago cop during the Daley era were to spot my boss and me talking in public, my boss would have been questioned at best, beaten to a bloody pulp at worst -- especially in Bridgeport -- because how dare a black man converse with a white man!), and

2) Despite Daley's massive corruption, he was an angel compared to his predecessors.

Next up: Bossypants by Tina Fey...I guess keeping with the "boss" theme...which I just now noticed....
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Old 07-07-2011, 10:14 AM
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I have been circling that one - glad to hear someone I know is reading it; I look forward to hearing what you think. And as for the Ben Mezrich book, I haven't read that one, but he is really not a very good writer; he has a decent nose for stories - although he imposes more drama on them than actually took place for the sake of "entertainment."

My book reports

- State of Wonder - by Ann Patchett. Her newest; if you are a fan, it delivers Patchetty goodness, but is not as satisfying as Bel Canto. But her even tone and simple prose style are once again put to good use in telling a multi-layered story.

- Positively 4th Street - David Hajdu - a group bio of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. Came out a few years ago and is held up as a definitive overview of the Folk Scene emerging in the 60's. Interesting, easy to read and seemingly balanced in showing how these characters evolved and interacted. Thomas Pynchon, one of Richard Farina's closest friends, makes a guest appearance which, given his reclusiveness, is interesting...

- The Leader's Checklist by Michael Useem - I am a huge fan of checklists to manage projects (if you have not read Atul Gawande's Checklist Manifesto and are a business person and /or a leader of teams, I can't recommend it highly enough). This is an attempt to apply a Checklist to Leadership. Interesting and a decent list, but hard to process if you aren't actively leading something, i.e., it kind of reads like common sense, but if you peel the onion, there's more there (...but, if you already appreciate that, then you are likely an active leader and may not really need this book...the ever-present paradox of self-help books)

Not sure what my next book will be...

Last edited by WordMan; 07-07-2011 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 07-07-2011, 10:37 AM
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May I suggest....

Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips is an interesting look at how the 16th President led under very difficult circumstances, and how his methods have modern applications in virtually any organization. I also liked It's Your Ship by Michael Abrashoff, a very successful destroyer captain who discusses how to apply U.S. Navy leadership techniques.
  #45  
Old 07-07-2011, 10:58 AM
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I just finished the third of Tana French's novels about the Dublin police force. Each is written from a different point of view, but some characters cross over from book to book. I thought they were all interesting and well-written. In order, they are In the Woods, The Likeness, and Faithful Place.
I have really enjoyed those. I haven't read In the Woods yet, but the others are outstanding.
I enjoyed it a lot. It was nominated for an Agatha Award last year, and Faithful Place was nominated for an Edgar.
  #46  
Old 07-07-2011, 11:28 AM
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I just finished what I assume to be the last book in the Spin trilogy:Vortex. I enjoyed it better than the second one. I took a break from my 1000 page book to read this one, as sort of a dessert. Unfortunately I finished it in less than 24 hour.

Kindle is amazing. I preordered the book and the morning it was released it downloaded automatically to my Kindle. In fact, I forgot I ordered it. Magic I tells ya.
  #47  
Old 07-07-2011, 11:35 AM
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I have been circling that one - glad to hear someone I know is reading it; I look forward to hearing what you think.
I'm about a third of the way through it now, it's really very good. I'm a sucker for well-written true crime/forensic stuff, and there's plenty of that. The background of NYC politics in the teens and 20s is pretty interesting, too. It covers the changeover from the coroner's office being a sinecure for the mayor's pals to it being run by people who actually cared about solving cases. Good stuff.

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And as for the Ben Mezrich book, I haven't read that one, but he is really not a very good writer; he has a decent nose for stories - although he imposes more drama on them than actually took place for the sake of "entertainment."
I haven't read The Social Network (I saw and liked the film) but I wasn't overly impressed by Sex on the Moon. Mezrich drags the story out a bit, and even then it reads more like a magazine article than a book. And the title is sensationalistic; the guy pinched the moon rocks to sell, not to use as sex toys. It was, in fact, a particularly stupid and badly botched get-rich-quick scheme. There wasn't much drama, he pretty much delivered himself to the cops gift-wrapped.

It's interesting, but the story doesn't really go anywhere. Academically gifted guy hoists himself on the petard of his own arrogance. It's a one-act play.
  #48  
Old 07-07-2011, 12:03 PM
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May I suggest....

Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips is an interesting look at how the 16th President led under very difficult circumstances, and how his methods have modern applications in virtually any organization. I also liked It's Your Ship by Michael Abrashoff, a very successful destroyer captain who discusses how to apply U.S. Navy leadership techniques.
Sigmagirl and Shakester - cool; I will check out Poisoner's Handbook...and Shakester, yeah, I don't know if you were on the 'Dope at the time, but I actually know a guy whom Mezrich used as the basis for a book - I posted about it in one or two threads, including one on the Social Network (and seeing what Aaron Sorkin did with the story was fascinating vs. what Mezrich did). Hearing my friend describe his dealings with Mezrich and the over-dramatization of what really happened was...interesting.

Elendil's Heir - thanks; I am not a huge fan of business or leadership books, for the reason I describe above (by the time I can appreciate the leadership lesson, I have had to have made the mistakes and internalized the lesson - at best, the book organizes and memorializes lessons I better already have some insight on...). Having said that, those two look interesting so I will check them out...

Last edited by WordMan; 07-07-2011 at 12:05 PM.
  #49  
Old 07-08-2011, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
Shakester, yeah, I don't know if you were on the 'Dope at the time, but I actually know a guy whom Mezrich used as the basis for a book - I posted about it in one or two threads, including one on the Social Network (and seeing what Aaron Sorkin did with the story was fascinating vs. what Mezrich did). Hearing my friend describe his dealings with Mezrich and the over-dramatization of what really happened was...interesting.
I've been a member here for quite a while but have been participating a lot more lately. I didn't see the threads you mention, but I'm not surprised that Mezrich seems to be a bit of a sensationaliser. I think he tried to do that with Sex on the Moon, but there wasn't that much to work with. It's an interesting story, but not really enough for a whole book.

The movie rights have been sold, no doubt on the strength of The Social Network. Whether the movie will be any good or not is another question, I'd expect them to fictionalise it a lot so it could end up being anything.
  #50  
Old 07-08-2011, 08:55 AM
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Just finished Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and I'm starting on Johannes Cabal the Detective.

The first featured our surly and asocial anti-hero selling his soul to Satan for the secrets of raising the dead and then making a bet to get it back - can he, with the aid of a magic and evil travelling carnaval, his scientific necromancy, his sibling-rival of a brother, and his wits, tempt 100 people to signing over their souls to Satan in one year, thus saving his own? Will he damn the innocent to save his miserable hide - or is there really some good left in him, despite all appearances?

Fine, fantastic Faustian fun.
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