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What are you reading at the moment?

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4 hours ago, Scribblor said:

I knew you'd barge in and claim it was something I haven't read. I even added a sentence to that effect originally, but deleted it. Although I did think it'd be a Russian Golden Age tome, not a magical realism book from South America.

 

I have started One Hundred Years of Solitude, but didn't get very far. It was when I was working in games dev, so a couple of years ago now. Don't remember a great deal about it after one of the boys whose names I can't remember takes up with an older woman - Pilar? -, although I remember enjoying it, and it seeming similar to Little, Big in some ways. And not only in that I didn't finish either book.

 

Seems like since I had children, finishing books is something I do much more rarely than before I was a parent. I've no idea why.

 

Anyway, you're wrong. It's definitely Mockingbird.

 

Ooh, I 've never read that Little, Big, I'll have to give that a look.

 

Much as I bum the Russians there is nothing better than One Hundred Years of Solitude, and much as I agree that literature is entirely subjective, it is, apart from on this particular point. Because One Hundred Years of Solitude is so magnificent it breaks all rules, including that one.

 

It contains no less than 22 different characters of the Buendia family called Aureliano, so it can get a bit confusing. Read a page each night, and you will never age a single day.

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Kim Gordon's Girl In A Band about her time with Sonic Youth.

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Interesting book as she's writing it after her marriage of almost thirty years has fallen apart to fellow band member Thurston Moore... it starts with a pretty bitter and heartfelt description of the anger and disappointment  she feels towards them as they play out the band's last ever gig at a festival in Brazil. 

I'm not massively interested in Sonic Youth, I bought some of their early albums when I was younger which I liked a lot, but by the time Goo came out I tuned out of them. But I liked the book. She's got a lovely turn of phrase and even if the main section of her twenties in New York becomes a bit of a catalogue of this person and that person and this person, it's still pretty readable. But it's also fairly depressing- she's cut loose from a marriage she never wanted to end at the age of sixty, her band is over, her husband is with another girl... I hope she continues to write though, she's got a definite way with words and even if I couldn't whole-heartedly recommend the book, there's bits and pieces of it that'll stick with me for a ling time. 
 

Quote

"Writing about New York is hard. Not because memories intersect and overlap, because of course they do. Not because incidents and times mix with others, because that happens too. Not because I didn't fall in love with New York, because even though I was lonely and poor, no place has ever made me feel more at home. It is because knowing what I know now, it's hard to write about a love story with a broken heart."


Also read Season of the Witch : How The Occult Saved Rock and Roll by Peter Bebergal- which does exactly what it says on the tin. 

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From the blues through rock n' roll, the sixties, prog rock, up to the modern day, Bebergal tries to trace the influence of the occult- either as a pose or a genuine interest- and how is helped shaped modern music. At times it feels like an extended magazine article, but it also tipped me off to a bunch of music I'd never heard of, like the moog concept albums of Mort Garson in the 60s and 70s. 
 


Bebergal's also got a nifty turn of phrase at times.
 

Quote

"Madness and the visionary experience are difficult to parse. What were once believed to be religious visions were later understood to be chemical imbalances. For the occult imagination, this distinction is meaningless. But for the psychedelic sixties, it wasn't going to suffice to simply be seized by visions over and over. There would always be a danger, as the historian of religion and early psychedelic advocate Huston Smith said, of creating a religion of little more than religious experiences. Syd Barrett was burdened by a consciousness always seeking occult connections, but all he found was an infinity of meaning with no single truth on the horizon."


...'all he found was an infinity of meaning with no single truth on the horizon' feels like one the great cosmic horror lines of all time. 

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I really need to read that Kim Gordon book.

 

On that note any Sleater-Kinney fans, or people looking for an insight into the less glamorous path of a rock bands should really read 'Hunger makes me a modern girl' by Carrie Bownstein. It's an amazing insight into the band, the bullshit they had to put up with due to being an all women band and the insecurity that someone so talented can carry with them.

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About to go sit in a caravan for 3 days so went old school and picked up some paperback.

 

George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'

Shirley Jackson's 'We have always lived in the Castle'

John Le Carre's 'The Night Manager'

and

Thomas Savage's 'The Power of the Dog'

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I don't think I've posted in this thread all year. Here's a quick rundown of my recent reads:

 

White Line Fever -  Lemmy's autobiography. Good fun. By 50 pages in, he had already fathered an illegitimate child and seen a UFO. 

Lords of the Bow - #2 in the Conqueror series. They get a lot of love in various threads in his subforum and it is well deserved. Some of the battle scenes in this one are particularly great. I'll get onto #3 soon.

Easy Riders Raging Bulls - I have had this on my shelf for years but only removed it from the pile of shame recently. It's an account of how Hollywood changed from the late 60's onwards and how it all fell apart for the new breed of auteur directors (thanks to Spielberg who created the first blockbuster that was Jaws). Worth it for the Hopper stories alones, but would really recommend for anyone into the era of Taxi Driver, Bonnie & Clyde, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now and so on.

The Girl on the Train - I thought this was rather poor. I would put it in the same boat as something like Gone Girl (which I preferred to this). Originally I started listening to the audiobook but I thought that made the main characters even more unlikeable so I switched to the print version. There are twists, they are not hard to see coming.

Foundation - I picked up a nice edition with the first three novels collected. I've never read any Asimov before - I liked this but the span of time makes it hard to get attached to any of the characters (not that there's much time for them to develop). Still, it goes by so quickly and it's still really impressive for it's time. I'll get round to the next one soon.

Fahrenheit 451 - I rattled through this in a few sittings. I read Something Wicked last year and this continues my appreciation of Bradbury. I love a good dystopian novel and I'm surprised I didn't read this back in my teens when I discovered 1984 and Brave New World but I'm very glad to have read it now.

 

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I love Ray Bradbury. His voice is so effortless...I mean I'm sure it's not, but his language is just so perfect from line to line that it's dizzying for me, especially his short stories. The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man collections are both too beautiful for words.

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On 3/18/2016 at 1:51 PM, Glasgowchivas said:

About to go sit in a caravan for 3 days so went old school and picked up some paperback.

 

George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'

Shirley Jackson's 'We have always lived in the Castle'

John Le Carre's 'The Night Manager'

and

Thomas Savage's 'The Power of the Dog'

 

This was incredible; can't recommend it enough. Probably about 100 pages too long and with an ending as abrupt as a rifle shot but utterly absorbing and loaded with dread and menance and so much longing for change. It's been quite some time since I've been blown away by a book so this was a real treat from start to finish.

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On 3/19/2016 at 8:37 PM, Kingpin said:

Lords of the Bow - #2 in the Conqueror series. They get a lot of love in various threads in his subforum and it is well deserved. Some of the battle scenes in this one are particularly great. I'll get onto #3 soon.

 

They are fantastic. Really enjoying his War of the Roses books too. 

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Seeing as the rather good TV adaptions have a new series coming out soon, I've been re-reading the Jack Irish books by Peter Temple. Not as good as The Broken Shore and Truth by the same author, but there isn't much that is as good as that.

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Over the weekend I read Dublin Seven by Frankie Gavin. The story of a young guy from north Dublin who starts college, decides it's not for him and spends his grant money establishing himself as a drug dealer. He soon starts to work his way up the drug-dealer hierarchy but finds his new found success comes with a price.

 

This was pretty good for a debut novel. It was written in a quite authentic Dublin vernacular, the way Trainspotting or something like that was written in their vernacular. This might limit the audience for it though and if you're not familiar with the words and phrases it could  be tricky to understand parts of it.

 

The plot was fairly light but it moved at a good pace and the central character was interesting. I don't know if I'd recommend it, I can't see it having a market outside of Dublin. But I will be keeping an eye out for this writer in future. 

 

I also started Wuthering Heights. This is AMAZING so far. Properly romantic and tragic. I almost don't want to read on knowing something terrible is probably going to happen. I know nothing about this apart from the Kate Bush song. 

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I'm amazed how many people here seem to enjoy Wuthering Heights.. out of all the classics I read so far, this is one I wouldn't think to recommend.

 

To Kill a Mockinbird, however, gotta agree with that being the number 1 book :) (out of my admittedly rather limited reading experience).I just read it last year and it left me a bit broken, but also a bit more whole :) 

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The Circle by Dave Eggers. It's about a new employee at a giant online company called The Circle (should have spoken to Sean Parker and dropped the "The"). As the employee gets into the swing of things and the cult-like working environment, a sinister side emerges to the company.

 

I like the premise, there's plenty to take aim at there. I was hoping for a Black Mirror-esque treatment but it fell far short.

 

The first half was ok. It focusses on the modern day white collar work experience - overwork, never switching off, internal social networking, competition from peers and so on. I've worked in large online companies and it felt like an exaggerated version of what I've experienced and it got a few laughs.

 

Then the second half tries to tackle the bigger issues but there's absolutely nothing new here - privacy, monopoly, online direct democracy, hacking etc. It would have been better if he referenced actual real world instances (e.g. someone like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden) but each idea is presented in a vacuum, as if it's the first time these things have ever come up.

 

There's really not much to recommend here - the characterisation isn't even worth mentioning, and the writing itself is very dull. Apart from a few racy scenes, it feels like a condescending attempt at a YA novel. 

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I've just finished reading 'Between The World and Me' by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A really interesting and thought provoking read. It can be heartbreaking in how it explains the challenges of being a black man in a white mans world, as well as the thoughts that these issues will never be resolved.

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Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke. Really liked this - similar to Foundation, it covers a long(ish) period of time and the lead characters will change with each time period. Unlike Foundation, I did manage to connect with the characters throughout. I thought the whole thing was very bittersweet - it's equally depressing and uplifting by the end, depending on your perspective.

 

It also reminded me of something from Iain M Banks' Culture novels (spoilers for CE and a general Culture concept).

 

Spoiler

The idea of civilisations "subliming" and evolving beyond our reasoning. I am not an extensive sci fi reader and I had never come across this concept outside of the Culture novels. Is this a standard theme? I'd really like to read more in a similar vein, the idea really grabs me.

 

 

Now I've moved on to The Cartel by Don Winslow after reading Power of the Dog last year. About 10% in and I'm sucked back into that world again. Compelling stuff so far already.

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Some of Ken Macleod's novels deal with futur humans, including those living (much quicker) in virtual worlds and evolving along their own paths.

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I'm re-reading Orxy and Crake by Margaret Atwood it's a great book. I especially like the start section which deals with the main characters relationship with his parents.

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I'm reading The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross. It's the third book in his 'Laundry' series, about magical spies mixed with Lovecraftian horror. Like the previous two, I'm really enjoying it, but it's light entertainment rather than high art.

 

If you enjoy Ben Aaronovich's Folly books, I think you'll enjoy these too.

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On 4 April 2016 at 2:41 PM, Kingpin said:

Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke. Really liked this - similar to Foundation, it covers a long(ish) period of time and the lead characters will change with each time period. Unlike Foundation, I did manage to connect with the characters throughout. I thought the whole thing was very bittersweet - it's equally depressing and uplifting by the end, depending on your perspective.

 

It also reminded me of something from Iain M Banks' Culture novels (spoilers for CE and a general Culture concept).

 

  Reveal hidden contents

The idea of civilisations "subliming" and evolving beyond our reasoning. I am not an extensive sci fi reader and I had never come across this concept outside of the Culture novels. Is this a standard theme? I'd really like to read more in a similar vein, the idea really grabs me.

 

 

Now I've moved on to The Cartel by Don Winslow after reading Power of the Dog last year. About 10% in and I'm sucked back into that world again. Compelling stuff so far already.

 

I wouldn't call it subliming, but if you are into the post humanism jag then definitely read Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling (I may have mentioned it in this thread before), that is the daddy of all that stuff. Also worth reading Holy Fire by him if you fancy a much more near future look at post humanism.

 

And there is a really great novella called Mortimer Grey's History of Death by Brian Stableford, a truly wonderful little romp through all manner of life-extended and environment-altered humanity: http://speculiction.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/review-of-mortimer-grays-history-of.html

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Awesome, thanks for the recommendations. Schismatrix was on my wish list thanks to this thread but the rest of it is new to me. 

Awesome, thanks for the recommendations. Schismatrix was on my wish list thanks to this thread but the rest of it is new to me. 

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Another convert! If you get Schismatrix try to get the Schismatrix Plus edition, as that also has five essential short stories from the same universe. 

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At the start of the week I read Gene Wolf's Shadow of the Torturer. It was good! I've Claw of the Conciliator to be getting on with, so I'll give that a start soon.

 

On Wednesday night, I thought to start You Had Me At Hello, as Mhairi McFarlane was appearing at the local Waterstones on the Friday, and I'd been given the book as a present so it seemed a good idea to read it and head on over if I enjoyed it. It was 23:30, so I figured I'd get a few chapters out of the way, then finish the rest on Thursday. Next thing I knew, it was 5 am, I'd finished the book, and I needed up to be up in a few hours' time for work.

 

So, um, that's me converted I guess. A great piece of romantic comedy.

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On 05/04/2016 at 10:08 PM, ZOK said:

Another convert! If you get Schismatrix try to get the Schismatrix Plus edition, as that also has five essential short stories from the same universe. 

 

I've just realised I've not read the short stories yet.... 

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Just picked up The Blade Artist, Irvine Welsh's new one. It's about Begbie in 2016, not too far in at the moment but he's a reformed character living in the USA at the start of the book and he's called back to Edinburgh for a family emergency. It's telegraphing a spiral back into madness at the moment, there's a clumsy metaphor involving an iPhone with a dodgy battery but I'm enjoying it so far. 

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I'm just coming to the end of Wool, by Hugh Howey, can anyone comment on how the rest of the books in the series stack up? I feel like it maybe didn't quite deliver on it's potential, the introduction of Lukas felt rushed, as did the start of the uprising, though that aside, I have enjoyed it. I'm just wondering if it's worth investing more time?

 

edit: Just found the Wool thread, sounds like the other two books in the series are indeed worth reading.

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9 hours ago, TurningMonster said:

I'm just coming to the end of Wool, by Hugh Howey, can anyone comment on how the rest of the books in the series stack up? I feel like it maybe didn't quite deliver on it's potential, the introduction of Lukas felt rushed, as did the start of the uprising, though that aside, I have enjoyed it. I'm just wondering if it's worth investing more time?

 

edit: Just found the Wool thread, sounds like the other two books in the series are indeed worth reading.

 

Yes, stick with it, it's not perfect by any means but well worth reading the other two...the second one might even be the best one.

 

The whole thing demands a healthy suspension of disbelief to work, but do that and you'll enjoy the ride.

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The Cartel by Don Winslow was grim (how could it not be?), but it's another compelling novel about Mexican narco cartels and the agents who live in that world. 

 

For me, The Power of the Dog was the better novel but this is a very close second. 

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Currently reading Slide Rule by Neville Shute. Not usually interested in autobiographies but this guy was an aeronautical engineer in the 1920s and 30s and worked on the R100 airship (sister to the ill fated R101). Studying aero engineering myself it's pretty interesting. These guys were basically building something with no experience or frame of reference at all. The descriptions of the scale of the vessels is quite something.

 

r101-airship-its-first-test-flight-westm

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