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Old 03-30-2013, 12:10 PM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà is offline
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Khadaji's Whatcha Readin' - April 2013 Edition


I'm starting the thread a little early this month - I'll be out of reach of the internet at Grandmother's house in a little while, and I didn't want to leave it until it actually is April. The sun is now out, it has been warm enough to open the windows as I clean the house, and I'm looking forward to reading on the front porch someday very soon. This is the first time in 5 years that I'll have a garden; I'm feeling like Cicero himself!

I'm mostly using the e-reader this month, as I'm zipping back and forth to rehearsals and I don't want to a) schelp large books around nor b) run out of reading material when I have an hour's wait ahead of me. So for the present, it's Logic, by Carveth Read, The Young Hornblower Omnibus by C. S. Forester, and The Travels of Marco Polo in the Project Gutenberg edition of the Sir Henry Yule translation. I have to say, the first two work just fine on the Kobo; the Marco Polo is something where I give it another couple of chapters before I give up and just get a paper copy. I don't mind the copious notes; I just want to make my own decisions about when and how I choose to read them. I have to say, Kobos aren't particularly good with footnotes.


And you, fellow bibliophiles - what are you reading these days?

Here is a link to last month's thread.



For those who are new - Khadaji was a much loved Doper who passed away in January of this year. He was a very kind and compassionate poster, who is fondly remembered for all his encouragement in the 'couch to 5K' and 'I'm quitting smoking' threads. He was also an omnivorous reader who started this long chain of book discussion threads, and it in fond remembrance of him that they are now re-named "Khadaji's Whatcha Readin'"
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:16 PM
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My current pile of books:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson -- I'm really liking this one. Very creepy.
Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens -- I finally got through the infamous American section. Okay, Chuck, we get it: you don't like Americans! Can we get back to the Pecksniffs now?
Polgara the Sorceress, David & Leigh Eddings -- I'm at the Battle of Vo Mimbre section which goes on FOREVER. I liked it much better in Belgarath. Polgara's starting to irk my nerves.
Models of the Universe: An Anthology of the Prose Poem, Stuart Friebert and David Young -- This one probably won't go back on the shelf.
Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga -- This one definitely will go back. I love this book. A poor Rhodesian girl in the late 1960s is taken by her uncle to get a "proper" education in the mission school. She gets a firsthand look at her cousin, who lived in England for a while, slowly disintegrating under cultural imperialism.
And on the Eighth Day, Ellery Queen -- A very strange mystery about a very strange religious cult out in the Californian desert during WWII. It's better than some of the other Queen books I've read.
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:18 PM
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I'm about four-fifths through Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South, by Grady McWhiney, a retired Texas Christian University history professor. (The book came out 25 years ago, so he may be dead now, dunno.) Very interesting. His claim is that the Civil War was above all a continuation of the centuries-old tension and conflict between the English and the British Celts, English culture having predominated in the North, especially New England, and Celtic culture in the South. He makes a good case.
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:40 PM
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Unfortunately the only things I'll be reading in April are my textbooks (A&P, Pharmacology, First Aid, and Medical Terminology).


But, I did just finish Infovore's book The Forgotten(see the link to the Amazon listing in the Marketplace) and it was wonderful!




I will listen to a great number of books in April however, because I fall asleep listening to Audible every night. But, I'm broke so I'll just be relistening to the Discworld and Redwall books with 1984 and a couple Dean Koontz thrown in just for good measure.
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Old 03-30-2013, 09:48 PM
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Just finished Michael Moorcock's History of the Runestaff series, chronicling the exploits of Dorian Hawkmoon. This was my second time through. I'd first read it years ago in university.

The first Hawkmoon series is nowhere near as ominous, brooding, or depressing as the Elric or Corum books, so they were much more fun to read through. Moorcock apparently wrote them all in a month, and it only took me a week or two to read them all.

Yesterday I started China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. I'm enjoying it much more than "Kraken" or "UnLunDun" so far.

I've been reading all of these books on my Kindle. After I finish "Perdido Street Station" I'm planning on starting the next Hawkmoon series. I have the old Berkley paperback versions with the gorgeous Robert Gould covers, so I'm looking forward to reading these on paper.
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Old 03-30-2013, 11:04 PM
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I'm reading Don Quixote. Edith Grossman's translation in paperback. I read the first half a while back, now on part two.
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:15 AM
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My reading habits have slackened to an alarming and embarrassing degree over the last few years. I don't have a ton of time for reading (which is part of the reason it has taken me months to get 3/4 through George R R Martin's A Dance with Dragons), so I've tried to start listening to audiobooks on my commute.

I'm starting with Myke Cole's Control Point, which can be a difficult listen because of the unfamiliar military jargon. But I'm enjoying it! I much prefer reading, but this will have to do.
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Old 03-31-2013, 10:00 AM
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Finished The Accounting by William Lashner. It's sort of a cross between a thriller and a caper novel. Three teenage boys rip off drug dealers (almost a million bucks) as retaliation for being sold some bad weed. They play it smart, don't even buy new bicycles. Years pass, they grow up and leave town, spend the money gradually, pretty sure they've gotten away with it. But nope.

Started Mystical Union by Don Robertson, one of my favorite writers. It reminds me of Spoon River Anthology, short chapters about people and their relationships. Robertson's writing is very rich. He really should be better known. Most of his books are out of print.
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Old 03-31-2013, 09:52 PM
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I'm about four-fifths through Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South, by Grady McWhiney, a retired Texas Christian University history professor. (The book came out 25 years ago, so he may be dead now, dunno.) Very interesting. His claim is that the Civil War was above all a continuation of the centuries-old tension and conflict between the English and the British Celts, English culture having predominated in the North, especially New England, and Celtic culture in the South. He makes a good case.
Finished Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South, by Grady McWhiney. It was very interesting. A root element of the antagonisms between Northerners and Southerners in the antebellum American South is shown to be the English-Celtic cultural differences that were imported into the New World, an age-old conflict that stretched back to the British Roman days, although most if any of the Civil War combatants were not aware of this aspect. He makes a very good case.

Next up: The Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco. That should take me up to when we leave for Japan next weekend, where I'm also taking with me the two Michael Connelly books I've not yet read: The Drop and The Black Box. But it's not clear how much time I'll have for reading there.
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:23 AM
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I'm about halfway through A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and I don't know if I love it or despise it. Yes, it's unusual in its structure and is quite funny in places, but the narrator/protagonist is a huge pain in the ass. Incredibly self-centered and self referential and wildly unrealistic (It's San Francisco in the earely nineties) and I keep expecting to hear Holden Caulfield weigh in about all the Goddam phonies,

I dunno. I read it for about three hours this afternoon and was facinated and appalled at the same time. Should I finish it, or let Bear chew the cover off it and chuck it?

Last edited by movingfinger; 04-01-2013 at 02:24 AM.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:14 AM
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Well I gave up on Gormenghast

Decided to treat to my mind to some light-weighted sci-fi so am working my way now through Julian May's books - Intervention, Galactic Milieu trilogy and Pliocene saga
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:29 AM
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I'm about halfway through A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and I don't know if I love it or despise it. Yes, it's unusual in its structure and is quite funny in places, but the narrator/protagonist is a huge pain in the ass. Incredibly self-centered and self referential and wildly unrealistic (It's San Francisco in the earely nineties) and I keep expecting to hear Holden Caulfield weigh in about all the Goddam phonies,

I dunno. I read it for about three hours this afternoon and was facinated and appalled at the same time. Should I finish it, or let Bear chew the cover off it and chuck it?
You lasted for three hours? I read twenty minutes of that book and I couldn't get it away from me fast enough. If that crap's staggering genius, I'll take outright idiocy.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:37 AM
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But, I did just finish Infovore's book The Forgotten(see the link to the Amazon listing in the Marketplace) and it was wonderful!
I’ll get my hands on that one eventually. I added it to my Amazon wish list, and tried to get it through interlibrary loan as well, but no dice. Ah, well, birthday’s coming up in a few months.

I’m nearing the end of The Rook, which I’ve enjoyed very much. Sort of Bridget Jones battles the Elder Gods.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:50 AM
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I just finished three non-fiction books:
1) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.
I've maybe seen two or three episodes of The Office and hadn't seen any episodes of her show either. I frankly don't know why I picked up this book. I will say that it was entertaining for certain, but it just wasn't amusing for me.

2) Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill and Lisa Pulitzer.
I was watching videos on youtube and somehow found a Scientology protester dressed up as a gay pope stomping around the L.A. church and holding up this book. I was intrigued. It turned out to be quite the fascinating and horrifying tale of a girl who was brought up in Scientology, separated from her parents for most of her lift growing up, forced into labor and obeying the cult demands, and how she finally got out. It's only more interesting that she's the niece of the leader. I highly recommend reading this book.

3) Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet by Heather Poole.
There are some interesting stories in here, but sometimes it's a bit...I don't know. Scattershot? Self-involved? Wink-wink? What it probably is is just a bunch of short personal stories that are probably best not all digested at once.

Currently Reading:
1) Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman.
After reading Beyond Belief, I wanted to round out the weirdness of it all with this book. The struggle to be objective in a non-fiction book to obtain credibility seems to be at the author's forefront. It's interesting enough info so I'lll finish for sure.
2) I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert.
I'll pop in for a chapter or two now and then.
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:54 PM
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Still puttering around w/ Lovecraft, currently most of the way through At the Mountains of Madness. Obviously Lovecraft saw one of this guy Roerich's paintings and got rather fascinated with it. I'm tempted to visit the Roerich Museum, which is located here in NYC.
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Old 04-01-2013, 05:06 PM
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I had a busy March, but I got in a few reads.

I was disappointed in Nick Trout's Tell Me Where It Hurts, A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon. It's a collection of largely unsatisfying anecdotes, and not very well written. The author performs expensive surgical procedures on pets, and he does demonstrate the controversy behind this, albeit without an in-depth discussion. For instance, he tells the story of an old man who is willing to spend money he can hardly spare on a complex, risky procedure to save the life of an elderly dog.

But I was pleasantly surprised by a goofy little military sci-fi novel I picked up called The Myriad, by R.M. Meluch. Despite some serious faults, particularly the jarring sexism, it was a lot of fun. The dialog is snappy and I loved the ending. Also, it has Romans in Space.

The followup novel to Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth, is called Shadows of the Workhouse, and it's worth reading, but not as good as the first book. It has more stories about poor people living in London's East End in the 1950's, particularly those who grew up in the notorious workhouses. The first season of the BBC television series seems to cover both of these books and possibly the third one as well.

I just finished Nancy Mitford's novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, combined in an omnibus edition. I'm glad I had them both because I think they'd each be rather insubstantial alone. These are amusing stories about an eccentric aristocratic English family, set between the World Wars. Mitford was a "Bright Young Thing" in London society in the 1920's, and these are based on her own experiences. They read a lot like a memoir, actually.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:35 PM
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I'm about halfway through Mrs. Ames by E.F. Benson, the author of the glorious Mapp & Lucia novels. I'm not loving it as much as I thought I would but can see glimpses of characters that show up later in Tilling.

After reading Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (which I really enjoyed but had to totally engage my brain to get through), I'm now starting Montaigne's Complete Essays edited by M.A. Screech.

And I'm working my way for about the fifth time through Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire series and also re-reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice because this year is its 200th anniversary of publication.
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:04 AM
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Well, not surprisingly A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius crashed and burned just past the halfway mark. I offered it to my cat who enjoys chewing covers from books and he wouldn't touch it, so to my local used book store it will go, and some other schlub can have a shot at it.

Last edited by movingfinger; 04-02-2013 at 02:05 AM.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:21 AM
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Well, not surprisingly A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius crashed and burned just past the halfway mark. I offered it to my cat who enjoys chewing covers from books and he wouldn't touch it, so to my local used book store it will go, and some other schlub can have a shot at it.

That is true rejection!

ETA: I just had a thought--you should leave a note at the point where you gave up that says "sucker!" for the next unlucky person who picks up that book.

Last edited by Catamount; 04-02-2013 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:32 AM
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I'm about halfway through Incarnate, by Ramsey Campbell, and I'm liking it very much.
S'about dreams, and a group of five people who appear to have different abilities to use them to predict or interpret events.
Campbell is always slow moving horror, very much influenced by Lovecraft, and I'm just beginning to see some nasty things lurking in the peripherals of the different characters' eyes.

Last edited by Private Bin; 04-02-2013 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:40 AM
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I just finished Lois McMaster Bujold's Captain Vorpatril's Alliance and enjoyed it. A nice mix of humor and drama; significantly better than the last Vorkosigan book Cryoburn I think.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:39 AM
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Well, not surprisingly A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius crashed and burned just past the halfway mark. I offered it to my cat who enjoys chewing covers from books and he wouldn't touch it, so to my local used book store it will go, and some other schlub can have a shot at it.
Really, with a title that pretentious, the damn thing is doomed from the start. (However, it's a sure way to get your book to make the rounds on NPR. Even better than it being about jazz!)
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:33 AM
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I've just finished Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon; a big historical epic of a journey first to find, and then to pay a ransom to the Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in Turkey. It starts in 1072 in the north of England as some of William the Conqueror's Norman forces are doing some 'rough wooing' to subdue the locals. Normans, Norse, Vikings, Rus, Franks and more end up having to work together to survive the various perils they meet along the way. Great fun!
Now started Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It's set in the 1st half of the 20th C and tells the stories of a baby born in 1910, or did she die at birth? Or drown in a seaside accident, or from the cold the following winter? Each itteration of her life lasts a bit longer, and her various fates affect those arond her and thus history at first subtly, then more dramatically... Excellent so far, but she's only reached the age of five!
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:15 PM
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I'm having some funny trouble with my Kobo. It is supposed to save your page when it goes to sleep or when you shut it down. Instead, it is selecting some arbitrary page in a chapter I've already read. Using the button to make a bookmark doesn't seem to help. It's only doing this on one particular book, and strangely enough, it's one of the few books I've actually bought from the Kobo store (as opposed to the ~200 I've downloaded from Project Gutenberg). My kluge has been to annotate a particular word, and that seems to get it, but still...

My personal jury is out on e-books vs. paper editions. I certainly enjoy having the complete Dickens, Jane Austen, Hornblower series, etc. in one slightly-smaller-than-a-trade-paperback format. The dictionaries are handy for reading in another language. (In English, it's a pretty safe rule of thumb that if I need to look it up a word, the Kobo dictionary isn't going to have it...)

On the other hand, notes are pretty inconsistent. It can't look up a specific page number, and it's nowhere near as easy to look up a passage that I read the other day to quote it to somebody. If I'm sitting at home reading, I still strongly prefer the original paper.

I'm loving the content of 'The Travels of Marco Polo', but it makes me yearn for a large coffee table edition with maps, photos and footnotes that I can choose. I'll probably finish the e-book edition in any case, but this is one I'd much rather read in a 'too large to carry' edition.

How do the rest of you feel about the medium that brings your books to your eyes?
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:41 PM
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How do the rest of you feel about the medium that brings your books to your eyes?
I got a Kindle (keyboard) about 2 years ago and really liked it. A couple months ago, my SO surprised me with a Kindle Fire. I was quite hesitant to adopt it as I had enjoyed reading on the glare-reduced screen of my standard Kindle. A couple months later and I've really taken to it. A big part has been inverting the text so it's white on black instead. But I really like how flipping pages is so much quicker and less visually distracting.

I think there's a new update on the Fire as I just noticed on a book I am currently reading that it gives a countdown in minutes until the end of the chapter.

My tiniest of complaints would be that sometimes it changes where paragraphs are in relation to the screen. (Let's say I'm mid-chapter, go to check something else on line and then return to the book. The position of the first paragraph might now be two paragraphs down. The book is still in order, it's just shifted).
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:03 PM
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In light of Iain Bank's terrible news , I would like to know which of his non-Culture books, written as Iain Banks, are your favorites.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:10 PM
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In light of Iain Bank's terrible news , I would like to know which of his non-Culture books, written as Iain Banks, are your favorites.
My favorites are The Wasp Factory and Complicity.

I actually prefer his non-SF stuff.

Sad news. Foreshadowed by the fate of the narrator in Complicity.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:15 PM
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In light of Iain Bank's terrible news , I would like to know which of his non-Culture books, written as Iain Banks, are your favorites.
#1 with a bullet - Espedair Street. I have read it at least 5 or 6 times, and I still love it.

The Crow Road - this is the most Scottish book I know. In my humble opinion, there is no better volume for expressing Scottish society.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:15 PM
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I've never read Banks, but still sad to hear; any man's death diminishes me.

I'm quite in love w/ my Kindle, though I mostly use the app on my phone or iPad. (The Kindle itself came in very handy during Sandy, though--the long battery life was a life-saver.) Part of that is living in Manhattan; I don't have much room for physical books and I'm always reading on the subway. But even when I move out, I expect my habits will not much change--physical books will be for the special ones, Kindle for the rest. Interestingly, I especially like the way Kindle treats w/ annotations--tap on a endnote marker and it takes you there; tap the 'back' button and you're right back. Much more convenient than having to page to the back of the book and keep your finger in. I do wish they'd somehow segregate them from the page count/percentage complete, as you can get a bit of a shock hitting the end of a book at "only" 60% complete.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:19 PM
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Interestingly, I especially like the way Kindle treats w/ annotations--tap on a endnote marker and it takes you there; tap the 'back' button and you're right back.
See, in theory, the Kobo functions the same way. In practice, it's 'tap', 'tap', 'tap' over and over again, with the thing either turning the page on me or looking up the nearest word in the dictionary. Then, when I finally get to the endnote, I can't get back. I've just given up on reading footnotes/endnotes on the bloody thing.

So what do you call a functionality that doesn't?
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:38 PM
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I finished reading Nicholas Nickleby. I thought it was not bad: better than Our Mutual Friend or The Old Curiosity Shop but not as good as David Copperfield or The Pickwick Papers.

It still suffered from the usual problem where 20% of the plot is in the first 80% of the book and 80% of the plot is crammed into the last 20% of the book, complete with the usual Dickensian malarkey (e.g. long-lost relatives, miraculous monetary windfalls, implausible coincidences, etc.).

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How do the rest of you feel about the medium that brings your books to your eyes?
I like my Sony Reader and I use it far, far more than I thought I would. But it's flaky about some things (e.g. sometimes it flips two pages at a time, sometimes it crashes if I highlight a word at the bottom of a page, sometimes it's impossible to access a particular page unless I toggle to landscape/portrait mode). And I don't like how it handles footnotes either. Recently I read Les Miserables and I wish I had done it with a "too large to carry" version, as you call it.

For some Project Gutenberg books, the footnotes just failed to work for me altogether.

Last edited by hogarth; 04-03-2013 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:56 PM
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See, in theory, the Kobo functions the same way. In practice, it's 'tap', 'tap', 'tap' over and over again, with the thing either turning the page on me or looking up the nearest word in the dictionary. Then, when I finally get to the endnote, I can't get back. I've just given up on reading footnotes/endnotes on the bloody thing.

So what do you call a functionality that doesn't?
I do occasionally get that problem, especially when the marker is near the edge of the screen. I have more problems w/ getting definitions to come up--in theory, if I hold my finger to the screen for a few seconds, it should highlight the word and bring up the definition. In practice, I hold my finger there for a few seconds, nothing happens, and I eventually give up in disgust. Minor complaint, though.
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:34 PM
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I finished reading Nicholas Nickleby. I thought it was not bad: better than Our Mutual Friend or The Old Curiosity Shop but not as good as David Copperfield or The Pickwick Papers.

It still suffered from the usual problem where 20% of the plot is in the first 80% of the book and 80% of the plot is crammed into the last 20% of the book, complete with the usual Dickensian malarkey (e.g. long-lost relatives, miraculous monetary windfalls, implausible coincidences, etc.).
Yep, that's the problem I have with Dickens. I can get through the beginning and end just fine, but the middle just d r a g s o n f o r e v e r.

Speaking of, I finally finished Martin Chuzzlewit yesterday. I would have liked it a lot better without the Infamous American Section. I have to agree with Doctor Who: "Mind you, for God's sake, the American bit in Martin Chuzzlewit, what's that about? Was that just padding? Or what? I mean, it's rubbish, that bit."

Next up is Dombey and Son. I can't wait until I get to A Tale of Two Cities. That's my favorite Dickens.

Last edited by Catamount; 04-03-2013 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:10 PM
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...
Yesterday I started China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. I'm enjoying it much more than "Kraken" or "UnLunDun" so far.

I've been reading all of these books on my Kindle. After I finish "Perdido Street Station" I'm planning on starting the next Hawkmoon series. I have the old Berkley paperback versions with the gorgeous Robert Gould covers, so I'm looking forward to reading these on paper.
Perdido Street Station is fantastic (and extremely weird) I went on a Mieville binge after reading it, and nothing else was nearly as good in my opinion.


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Originally Posted by wonderlust View Post
In light of Iain Bank's terrible news , I would like to know which of his non-Culture books, written as Iain Banks, are your favorites.
I've only read one Iain Bank's book, Dead Air which I found decidly meh. I've loved every book I've read of his when he's used his middle initial though.

I finished Use of Weapons a couple of days ago and have now moved onto Bernard Cornwall's Lords of the North, the third of the Saxon Chronicles. It's typical Cornwall, fast paced, lots of action and set in an interesting historical period.
  #35  
Old 04-03-2013, 07:18 PM
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Listening to Ken Follett's Winter of the World in my car on unabridged audio. Pepper Mill had gotten me the first book in the series on audio, a fall of Giants, and I loved it. This one carries the story into WWII. I'm a third of the way through it.

I'm still working my way through Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Mars, which I finally got a copy of.

On the side, for a break from that, I'[ve read the 1974 anthology Flashing Swords #2, edited by Lin Carter. The title (and Frazetta cover painting_ are misleading -- only two strories really are about barbarian swordplay. L. Sprague de Camp's contribution has no swords at all, but I finally got to read one of his Pusadian stories, which seem to be a take on Clark ashton Smith's Poseidonis stories about an Atlantean city.

Having finished that, I'[ve got The Hand of Zei, de camp's second book of his Plant Krishna series.

I've also picked up a copy of the anthology The New Jules Verne. The seemingly absurd title refers to a set of new stories set in Verne's fictional universe. I'm a big Verne fan, so I'll either love this or hate it.
  #36  
Old 04-03-2013, 07:41 PM
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I got through about 25% of Game of Thrones before I got impatient and went online and spoiled myself.
SPOILER:
Because I know the 5th book ends in cliffhangers I'm probably going to put the series down until the next book comes out.


I think I'm going to start "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and "The Forever War." I was going to read the last three books in Harry Potter, but I know that once I do I'll be sad.
  #37  
Old 04-03-2013, 08:13 PM
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Yep, that's the problem I have with Dickens. I can get through the beginning and end just fine, but the middle just d r a g s o n f o r e v e r.
On the other hand, I feel that the end part is usually the worst because it generally feels so tacked on and rushed. ("Uh oh! I was having so much fun writing humourous vignettes that I forgot to put in any plot. I better squeeze in fifteen separate happy endings in the last thirty pages!")
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:24 AM
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On the other hand, I feel that the end part is usually the worst because it generally feels so tacked on and rushed. ("Uh oh! I was having so much fun writing humourous vignettes that I forgot to put in any plot. I better squeeze in fifteen separate happy endings in the last thirty pages!")
It's like the extreme opposite of "rocks fall, everyone dies." When he started outlining his plots before he started writing, Dickens is a lot better. Man needed an outline.

Of course I believe that Wilkie Collins handed Dickens his ass re: serial publication with The Woman in White. That's how you do monthly installments!

Last edited by Catamount; 04-04-2013 at 05:25 AM.
  #39  
Old 04-04-2013, 09:35 AM
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Some of these should technically be March, but I'm lazy with my updating...

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty. Entertaining book about basketball and spirituality.

Post Office: A Novel, by Charles Bukowski. I've read about this guy for quite a while and while it was a decent read, wasn't particularly compelling. Alcoholic wastrel wanders through life working for the USPS. Not exactly riveting stuff in this one.

When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball by Seth Davis. Y'all get the idea that I like reading basketball books? This was a pretty informative, if at times slightly dry, book about the 1979 NCAA Championship Game between Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores. Spoiler Alert: Michigan State won the game.

Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl. The book that convinced me that the British Titled Class is a bunch of assholes and idiots. I especially liked the observation that butlers weren't allowed to wear glasses because it would make them seem "too American." Uh... OK. That's a perfectly good reason to condemn somebody to bad eyesight - wouldn't want their appearance to be wrong, would we? Very entertaining collection of short stories, easily the best book of the four on this post. Also, who knew I could insult my wife while demanding that she cook my dinner? I'm going to change my whole approach to my marriage... I'll let y'all know how that works out, OK?

(BTW, I don't necessarily think Dahl holds these opinions, just that they reflect the attitudes of the people who he was writing about.)

Last edited by JohnT; 04-04-2013 at 09:39 AM.
  #40  
Old 04-04-2013, 10:13 AM
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Of course I believe that Wilkie Collins handed Dickens his ass re: serial publication with The Woman in White. That's how you do monthly installments!
I haven't read The Woman in White, but I quite liked The Moonstone.

I've started reading The Brothers Karamazov and it seems pretty good so far.
  #41  
Old 04-04-2013, 01:04 PM
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I broke down and read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'd just assumed it would be too bleak for me. Well, it IS bleak, but it was good. I'm glad I read it.

I also finished Briarpatch by Tim Pratt. Interesting concept for a world, but the plot was kinda meh to me. I just wasn't that interested in the characters. But if it's a setup for a series, that could probably work.
  #42  
Old 04-04-2013, 10:49 PM
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During my recent Arizona trip, I finished Stephen C. Neff's Justice in Blue and Gray, about legal issues (secession, slavery, blockades, seizure of property, habeas corpus, Sherman's March to the Sea, etc.) in the Civil War. Dry but quite interesting.

I also just finished Joe Haldeman's Old Twentieth, a sf novel about humans in the distant future on a looong starship voyage to colonize another planet. They spend a lot of their time in an ultra-advanced virtual reality system, which starts to malfunction... or does it? There are echoes of Star Trek's Holodeck and The Matrix here, but Haldeman puts his own spin on it, and it's a pretty engaging story. Next on my Haldeman list: The Accidental Time Machine.

I'm also now almost 300 pages into Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life, and enjoying it. Although the author doesn't break much new ground with this recent bio of the Father of His Country, he does show the human side of the great man (Washington's love for his wife, earlier flirtations with older women, his sense of honor, zest for riches, occasional bad temper, love of cards, wine and the theatre) very engagingly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by movingfinger View Post
Well, not surprisingly A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius crashed and burned just past the halfway mark. I offered it to my cat who enjoys chewing covers from books and he wouldn't touch it, so to my local used book store it will go, and some other schlub can have a shot at it.
A year or so ago, I put it down after 50 pages with nary a regret.

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Originally Posted by RandMcnally View Post
...

I think I'm going to start... "The Forever War."...
Great! I'm a big Haldeman fan (see above) and would be glad to recommend other books of his.
  #43  
Old 04-05-2013, 01:25 AM
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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Oxford History of the American People by Samuel Eliot Morison

Gospel of John (English Standard Version)
  #44  
Old 04-05-2013, 09:28 AM
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Great! I'm a big Haldeman fan (see above) and would be glad to recommend other books of his.
I finished Forever War last night and I really enjoyed it. You can tell he was a veteran. Even though I didn't deploy nearly as long as those in the book, or even as long as my Army counterparts, when you get back home you do feel like things have passed you by, even when the time is only measured in months. It really is weird. And, despite the danger, you do start to feel at home over there.

He didn't touch on PTSD at all throughout the book (it's very possible I missed it). I wonder of it's because when the book was written PTSD wasn't really a thing.*

By that I mean it wasn't really in the public consciousness.

Last edited by RandMcnally; 04-05-2013 at 09:29 AM.
  #45  
Old 04-05-2013, 11:57 AM
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Yes, there's very little about PTSD in the book - Mandella's growing disassociation from Earth is a far more important issue. Unless you want more, I'll limit myself here to a single Haldeman recommendation: the short story "A Separate War" in his collection A Separate War and Other Stories. It's about the Tauran War from Marygay's perspective.
  #46  
Old 04-05-2013, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
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Yes, there's very little about PTSD in the book - Mandella's growing disassociation from Earth is a far more important issue. Unless you want more, I'll limit myself here to a single Haldeman recommendation: the short story "A Separate War" in his collection A Separate War and Other Stories. It's about the Tauran War from Marygay's perspective.
You'll have to tell me how you liked The Accidental Time Machine. I've heard mixed things.
  #47  
Old 04-05-2013, 12:39 PM
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The Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett (re-reading),
Deader Homes and Gardens by Joan Hess, and
The Existential Jesus by John Carroll.
  #48  
Old 04-05-2013, 12:44 PM
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I’ve been pecking at How to Be a Person: The Stranger's Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself for a few days now. When I first brought it home from the library, I gave it to both kids and told them to scan the table of contents. Each child then absconded with the book for a few days. I wonder if they were reading the sex and drug chapters or the cooking and laundry stuff?
  #49  
Old 04-05-2013, 01:50 PM
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You'll have to tell me how you liked The Accidental Time Machine. I've heard mixed things.
Will do. I like probably three-quarters of Haldeman's stuff, but he's not perfect.
  #50  
Old 04-05-2013, 02:54 PM
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Still plodding my way through At the Mountains of Madness. I'm not sure if I've read this one before, actually--I don't remember a Lovecraft story that was essentially sympathetic to the Old Ones.

However, may put it down soon, as the new TPB of The Unwritten showed up on my doorstep on Wednesday. I'm getting a bit hazy on the story now, so I may start over from the beginning to get my bearings. Highly recommended series, by the way.
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