Two questions about books

Question 1
I use to ready stories as a kid and up into my teens. I lost interest for a while after but have gotten back into reading. However, I don’t ready novels or anything like that. Three books that I have read recently (starting with the most recently read book):
Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age
Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language
Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World
Other than non-fiction, is there a category for these books?

Question 2
When I use to read stories and novels, when multiple people were talking I would get confused about who said what. I would have to re-read parts because when I thought person A was talking it would actually be person B or C. This happened to me a lot. Am I the only one, or do any of you have that problem?

The first book would probably be under business or music, the second, probably linguistics, and the third, general world history.

I was thinking in terms that the first and third book told stories, just not sci-fi or crime or romance or action or drama, so I was curious if there was a category for other kinds of stories. Thinking about it, they all follow something from the past into the present. I guess that would mean they would have to do with history. The history of of the music industry, the history of language, and the history of the banana.

More specifically, I suppose you could say narrative history (as opposed, I suppose, to chronology).

With regards to your second question, yes, it happens to me fairly often. Sometimes it’s poorly structured dialog, sometimes inattentiveness of the reader. I actually remember reading a novel fairly recently and noticing that I didn’t become confused who was speaking, despite some fairly complex exchanges of dialog. Unfortunately, I forget what novel it was. But it obviously takes some skill as a writer to avoid either confusing the reader or loading scenes down with lots of attribution. Sometimes if I get really lost I’ll go back and read the scene while imagining the characters speaking in two different accents! That seems to help, although something can be lost in terms of drama.

I’m just curious about what you thought of the music book and the banana book. They both look pretty interesting to me.

Narrative History. I like that. Thanks.

A long time ago I had some ambitions of being a writer but wasn’t good at it. When I would have multiple people speaking I would try to make sure it was clear who was who, so it would be something along the lines of John said, “blah, blah, blah,” and Sally replied, “uh huh.” “Well,” Sam said…

So I guess I would have fallen into using “lots of attribution.”

The “music book” was pretty interesting. For reasons which I can’t really articulate it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but I’m glad I got it. It takes you behind the scenes of the music industry and talked about practices that, while I never heard about them I’m sure lots of people, and especially people here on the SDMB knew about them, like record companies use to pay stations to put certain songs in heavy rotation, and when CDs came out the record companies would screw over artists by having record packaging fees in their contracts. And we could have had legal mp3 downloads years earlier, but the record companies fought against it for a long time before finally working with Steve Jobs and iTunes. Anyway, like I said, I found it interesting.

The “banana book” was a pretty good read, packed with lots of information. My only complaint is that I think it had a little too much information. To me it got boring at parts and I would have liked the author to have condensed or even left out some information. But that’s just my opinion. The one thing that shocked me, and which, as I mentioned in another thread, I don’t really remember learning in school, was our (US) involvement in banana republics. The book goes into a lot of detail about that. It was a real eye opener and I’m glad I read it. Overall it’s a book about how the Cavendish (the banana most of us are familiar with) is probably on its way to extinction by the same disease that wiped out the Gros Michel banana that our grandparents were use to eating. It goes over the history of when bananas first started becoming common place, the riches and political power the banana companies had for decades, how bananas are important all over the world and how different they are, and the search for bananas resistant to Panama disease that threatens to wipe out the Cavendish.

I have this problem a lot. I don’t mind if the author goes back and forth, but I’ve seen pages at a time where it was only dialog and I could never follow along. I wish they would just throw in he said, or she said every few sentences. And there have been times when it looks like the author gets confused as well since what one person says doesn’t make sense because they weren’t the one doing the talking.

Cool; thanks. I’ll add the banana book to my list. I already know more than I prolly need to about the music bidness. Buncha assholes, really.

Yeah, this happens to me all the time when reading dialog. As soon as it’s been more than 2 or 3 lines since a “John said” or “Sally said,” I have to go back and retrace the steps. To get through a long passage of dialog, I have to sit there and mentally insert a “John said” or “Sally said” after each line. I’ve never been able to understand how fast readers can just fly through it and keep everything straight.

What surprised me was how much of an asshole Steve Jobs can be. I mean, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

Yeah, he can be. He’s not a total ass tho; I’ve met him several times and he was usually pretty laid back and accomodating. I’ve seen him be The Boss tho, and sometimes he came across as kind of a dick, but WTH, he’s The Boss.

I didn’t mean to imply that he was all the time.

You didn’t. I was just saying that I’ve seen that side of him, and his nicer side as well. And that what I saw of him being an asshole was also him acting in his capacity as The Boss, so it was understandable where he was coming from, even if his manner was a bit, er, brusque.

This happens to me too. However, we don’t realize how lucky we are in English. In Spanish, the convention is not to use quotation marks at all. Usually you can tell when something is spoken aloud (offset with a dash), but it not always clear (especially determining where the quote ends). So it’s not just a question of who is saying something, it’s a question of whether it’s even dialogue at all. Aggravating!

But one thing that I envy about Spanish is how questions start with a question mark or explanations start with an explanation point. It’s weird to read a sentence only to discover that it was actually a question or that the speaker was speaking emphatically. Not that this happens often, but it still would be nice to know from the start.

If you liked the bananas book, you might like the book ‘Salt’

Someone here mentioned it, I got it, and I thought it was really interesting. It gives you bits of info about just about every civilization’s relationship with salt, and boy yah! I had no idea. NO idea!! Very interesting. And an easy read, in that it weaves about a bit, through time and history, so you can read 5-10 pages, put it down, and pick it up again with it starting on another focal point; you don’t have to read it straight through to get the info out of it.
I thought it was neat.

I might just get it. Thanks.

Hell, if we’re gonna start recommending books, let me suggest Zipper: An Exploration In Novelty by Robert Friedel. It’s a well-researched and well-written account of the invention of the fastener that changed the world. I’m proud (and lucky) to have a 1st edition copy, and even tho I’ve read it 4 or 5 times, it’s still a great read.

Alright, now Zipper looks interesting, too.
I need to find a thread listing interesting non-ficiton, the kind those of us with no head for history can still appreciate and enjoy.