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rllmuk's recommended reading


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Christ , I'm a bit derpy, didn't think to +1.


+1 on the Iain M Banks series.


I'd suggest Clive Cusslers Dirk Pitt series but they're the book equivalent of mindless summer blockbuster movies or a McDonalds meal  and they're only connected by having the same characters as well the fact that Cussler inserts himself into each one in a cameo similar to Stan Lee in the marvel movies. Eejit. But they're entertaining, usually decent sized tomes and not written in crayon so; Clive Cussler , Dirk Pitt series!

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1 hour ago, geekette said:



I'll assume you meant non-scifi.... :quote:;)


And are you recommending The Crow Road, Holes... or both?

16 minutes ago, ZOK said:

Yes, The Crow Road is easily Banks' best non-SF novel. He wasn't very consistent when not writing SF, unfortunately.


If Geekette is recommending The Crow Road, is this a +1?

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Sorry to hog this thread and I won't do any more but:


A Canticle for Leibowitz  by Walter M Miller-  The humanity of this Sci-fi post apocalyptic set of stories  is what gets me in this, especially in the 1st two - feels like people trying to  find tiny pinpricks of light/knowledge in a world gone dark.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarty -  only a recent read for me but  pops up in my head at least once a week,the brutality and inhumanity within is terrifying, sickening and seductive. If that makes sense.

The Thin Red Line - James Jones -  occasionally dreamlike fictional story of  part of the Guadalcanal campaign in WW2 with a large  cast - the movie almost does it justice

Chickenhawk by Robert Mason - one of the best books ever written about the Vietnam war - regards a Huey pilot and details some of the most white knuckle sections of any book I've ever read in the accounts of dropping troops into hot LZs

1984- George Orwell - no explanation required.


And High Fidelity- because it's funny as fuck and not as grim as all the rest on the list there!



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@lolly if you had to recommend just one of those, which would it be?


Sorry to be a bit of a stickler, but this thread's intention was to slowly grow a list of recommendations from everyone, I was kind of thinking you might add a book/series a month, if everyone who has contributed so far did just that, then we'd have 50+ books and series already.


Plus the idea was to try and get the cream to float by adding a +1 to existing books/series on the list and keeping the list growing slowly should help with that. 


In the end though it is not my list, it is rllmuk's. So if others are happy I will add all the books lolly has mentioned.


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The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

This was the first book of hers that I read, and I can't recommend enough. It follows a physicist from a rigidly anarchist world travelling to a capitalist one, to work on his theory of ansible communication. The clash of the two societies that unfolds is brilliant. The influence on Ian M Banks is palpable, and the Hainish universe it sets in motion is highly enjoyable. I'll stick to this as my main recommendation, The Left Hand of Darkness was a close run thing for me, being a huge Culture fan it could easily be read as an early Contact agent travelling to the really richly described world of Winter.

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8 hours ago, ZOK said:

Lolly, have you read Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes? If you like Vietnam books you'll love that.

No, but I think it's on my  ever expanding Goodreads  to-read list! Cheers for the recommendation. 

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Just noticed this thread and I'm stunned nobody has mentioned Catch 22 by Joseph Heller yet. It's an incredible book.  


Hard to explain it really.  I know they made a movie, I've not seen it, but I've read the book twice and it's been at least ten years so it's high time I went through it again.  Set at the absolute arse end of World War 2 on an American air force base in Italy, it's a book about the insanity of war and the ridiculousness of bureaucracy. It reminds me quite a lot of Dr Strangelove and weirdly, the Ronnie Barker sitcom Porridge.  

Catch 22 is very funny and while not much really happens in terms of an overall plot (It's WW2. Spoiler: the Germans lose) it doesn't matter because the book is actually about the petty grievances between comrades and little victories they are constantly trying to score over each other. There is a central protagonist named Yossarian who just wants to go home but there is an ensemble cast of about twenty other characters who take centre stage from time to time. Deliberately confusing in the early chapters because it's all over the place, it's like watching someone paint a picture and trying to guess what they are painting.  Heller will often reference things which the characters are all aware of but the reader doesn't and often doesn't reveal the information until much later. Often you will see the same event told from multiple points of view, usually including the different biases and opinions each character has which creates some really great "aha!" moments when you figure things out which previously seemed absurd. It's a brilliant, brilliant book. 


Years later some journalist accused Heller of never writing anything else as good as Catch 22.   "Who has?" was the famous reply. 

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Definite +1 for Catch-22. It's phenomenal.


I read that, To Kill A Mockingbird, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, Slaughterhouse 5, Fahrenheit 451 and Catcher In The Rye in the same year. Other than the massively disappointing Catcher, it was the best year of my life, reading wise.

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  • 1 month later...

Right, time for another one:


Andy Mcnab's Nick Stone Series (17 Books).


I can hear the literate dropping their quills and walking away from their tablets as I dare to mention the name BUT please give me a chance to explain. Andy Mcnab was in the SAS, he was also in something called 14th Det (a secret service run undercover unit based in NI during the troubles). So, whatever you may think of a person like that he does know his stuff. He's from a dirt poor background in East London and has moved from there, through the Army, the SAS and the secret service, wrote one of the most famous SAS books of all time and then turned his hand to fiction. 


Nick Stone is Andy Mcnab, have no doubts this character came from his own experiences. He's an ex-SAS trooper who now works for British Intelligence. Typically what Mcnab does is to write with a semblance of reality, rather being pure James Bond. He lets Nick Stone get caught, he lets him get beaten, shot, make mistakes, mess things up, he lets his character be dysfunctional and he lets all sorts of shit happen to him. Not because he deserves it, but because he is willing to go to those places that other people couldn't or wouldn't. The first time I heard Osama Bin Laden's name was in one of these books, back in 2000.


The first book starts with him tailing a couple of IRA bods off to America, where he gets into a world of shit. The second book is about him going to America to track down an Mi6 agent and he gets into a world of shit... the third book is about Echelon (y'know, the forerunner to PRISM) and him getting into a world of shit.... and so it continues. Mcnab takes the establishment and twists it, opens up the book on deniable operations and throws it back in the faces of Whitehall, takes gangsters and religious fanatics and shows them up; while (nearly) always at the detriment of his narrating main character.


Best of all he always puts Nick Stone in terrible situations and then twists the knife and lets the blood fall where it may. Perhaps the series peaked at Dark Winter, but the other books are also worth reading and while there are nods to bits of kit (gotta keep the Tom Clancy fans happy) he is more concerned with the how than the what, with plenty of left leaning liberal commentary to boot - as hard as that may be for you to believe at the outset. The writing isn't to the level of literature, but the thrills keep coming and the perceptions, insider viewpoints and approaches are what keep you glued to the pages. I mean how many of you would be able to think of a way to escape from plasticuffs and American Special Forces? Or how to get back to the UK without a passport? Or how to track someone down who's been kidnapped by Somali pirates? Make a bomb from stuff you'd find in most kitchens? Buy a weapon in the US when you are a UK citizen? Hide from motion activated CCTV? Know the best ways to avoid being tracked?


Well worth having a go at Remote Control at least. You'll know whether you want to read more by the end of that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm going to recommend The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth.


At the end of the 17th century, real life poet Ebenezer Cooke wrote an epic poem called "The Sotweed Factor". Sotweed is an olden times word for tobacco and a factor is like a distribution agent. The poem was a bitter satire about said factor's journey to the recently-founded tobacco plantations in Maryland. He didn't write much else and not a lot is known about him.


In 1956, John Barth got to wondering about Cooke and what led him to write his poem. He did what anyone would do in such a situation and wrote a 750 page novel imagining Eben's life, his journey to the New World and his disillusionment with what he found there. And obviously he wrote it in the style of an 18th century bildungsroman because why not? Here's the opening sentence...


In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point.


The whole book is pretty much like that. Barth's Ebenezer is a hopeless tool who imagines that book learning and pontificating in coffee shops are more than adequate substitutes for your actual real life experience. The po-faced narration gently takes him apart and exposes his idiocy on every step of his journey from cloistered Cambridge digs to the uncouth world of the plantations.


I don't have many points of reference in 18th century literature. The book it most reminded me of was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The story amounts to a series of increasingly preposterous adventures and mishaps with pirates, "salvage indians", corrupt governors and a range of rogues and ruffians, many of whom turn out to be the same person (which sort of makes sense in the book). Ebenezer is constantly out of his depth and making things worse for himself by virtue of being a prissy self-important idiot.


It's long out of print but it's worth getting the audiobook if you're on Audible. The narration is outstanding and having someone else read the old fashioned language for you probably makes the whole thing go a bit smoother.

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  • 5 months later...

Can I recommend the War of the Roses series by Iggulden as well please.


Just wondering if this thread is worth a sticky, it was sitting on page 2 and I certainly found/find  it quite useful for recommednations to add to my pile of shame, plus it would be in keeping with the intent of the tread?

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On 20/10/2016 at 01:33, lolly said:

Can I recommend the War of the Roses series by Iggulden as well please.


Just wondering if this thread is worth a sticky, it was sitting on page 2 and I certainly found/find  it quite useful for recommednations to add to my pile of shame, plus it would be in keeping with the intent of the tread?


I've just started reading the first in the series and really enjoying it so far (but not as much as the Mongol series)

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