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Summer reading thread


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#31 Barbara

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 09:30 AM

Reading all the Jo Nesbo thrillers. I'm on Snowman now, Leopard to go before his new one this fall.

#32 dirac

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 01:59 PM

Much obliged to you for reviving this thread, Rosa. I kept meaning to do so and forgetting about it.

So far this summer I'm trying to catch up on various magazines stacked about in a fit of what Tom Wolfe once called subscription guilt. I read "Varina Davis: First Lady of the Confederacy" and in a similar vein, "America Aflame" is sitting on the shelf waiting. Also read a book about Warren Jeffs, "Answer Them Nothing" - horrifying stuff. Just started Hank Haney's book, "The Big Miss."

#33 trieste

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 07:49 PM

Someone mentioned their feelings on Mieville's Embassytown, and I echo them. Also on the table: Nijinsky's Diaries (Unexpurgated), The Brothers Karamazov, various Lovecraft short stories.

#34 JMcN

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 03:18 AM

I've just finished reading The Thread by Victoria Hislop and found it a superb read. This is the third book of hers that I have read, the other two being The Island (about Crete and the Leper Colony of Spinalonga) and The Return (set in the Spanish Civil War). The Thread is set in Thessaloniki and covers the period from the early 20th Century to the 1970s. I knew a bit about the history of Thessaloniki but hadn't realised just how bad things had been during the second world war. Victoria Hislop does seem to do meticulous reseach on her subjects.

#35 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 09:43 AM

Audiobooks via my iPod classic, the one electronic device I absolutely could not live without:
  • Paul Murray's Skippy Dies. It was fantastic -- one of those books that really is both hilarious and heartbreaking. I highly recommend the audiobook, which is beautifully narrated by a full Irish cast (the action centers around a Dublin boarding school for boys).
  • Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies. Every bit as good as Wolf Hall, the first book in her trilogy of historical novels about Thomas Cromwell. Even James Wood, who normally has no time for historical fiction (or genre fiction of any kind for that matter) approves.
  • Stanislaw Lem's Solaris, in a new translation. Also fantastic. (The first translation directly from the original Polish into English, apparently; the one that's been available to date is an English translation of the first French translation. Because of rights issues, the new translation is only available in ebook and audiobook form.) I first read Solaris a bazillion years ago in college, and I can't believe how much I missed the first time around. One really interesting thing: Lem was able to project (presumably) plausible future technologies that enable travel at or near the speed of light, anti-gravity drives, computer-controlled environments, etc., but completely missed digitization! The future world of Solaris is charmingly analogue: the space station where the action takes place is crammed full of paper books, magnetic tape, and complex calculations done by hand on pads of paper. (With a slide rule, maybe? I think mine is still lurking in a box in the back of a closet somewhere.) I've started re-watching Andrei Tarkovsky's great film adaptation on Mosfilm's YouTube channel. (All the films are subtitled. Click on the little red "cc" box in the lower right hand corner of the viewing box.)
  • Alistair Reynolds' The Prefect. Fun space-opera-cum-police-procedural, but it ain't no Solaris.
  • Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, credited with being the first detective novel in English. I'm pleased to report that little of real consequence has changed in the genre since 1868.
Ebooks:
  • How to Think Like a Neanderthal. No, not a self-help book. Posted Image It's a reconstruction of what Neanderthal life -- and Neanderthal psychology -- might have been like based on the archeological record. I think the authors, two professors of psychology and anthropology at the University of Colorado, are on thin ice in a couple of places, but it was mostly very informative and thought-provoking.
  • Picking my way through the two volumes of Susan Sontag's journals that have been issued to date, Reborn and As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh. I'm finding that the private Sontag that emerges from the journals is rather different from the oracular public persona. I used to see her in the audience at concerts and dance performances, and she always looked so forbidding -- and never like she was actually enjoying herself, though going out to see a performance or a film was apparently one of the great joys of her life. For some strange reason I was absolutely crushed to learn that the famous white streak in her hair was fake.
  • In honor of Gore Vidal, who died just yesterday, I think I'll re-read Burr, Lincoln, or maybe Creation or Julian. Burr was the best time I've ever had with a book, hands down.


#36 dirac

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 10:00 PM

Even James Wood, who normally has no time for historical fiction (or genre fiction of any kind for that matter) approves.


Big of him. (Reminds me of those people who used to say things like, "I don't really care for graphic novels, but have you read Maus?")

#37 bart

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 03:00 AM

I'm reading Michael Palin's diaries--watching as he writes Monty Python and Ripping Yarns--wonderful fun!

Have to get this! !! Thanks, macnellie.

Kathleen, I agree about Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. Serious historical fiction is a joy. Mantel's are possibly the best written historical novels I've ever read. She has an earlier novel about the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety -- focusing on the relationships among Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins. You can see the origins of the narrative style that makes the two novels about Thomas Cromwell so astonishing.

Re Gore Vidal: I also like the historical novels and am thinking of rereading Burr, with its roguish, though charming, almost tragic leading man. Have you read 1876? A lot of rogues in that, too. Both novels have amazing resonance given what is happening in U.S. politics today -- one of the low points of our long history.

#38 atm711

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 06:31 AM

Looking around for light summer reading I came across "Ther Chaperone" by Laura Moriarty. The 15 year old Louise Brooks is a main character and it covers her early years with Denishawn. It has whet my appetite for more Brooks and I am re-reading "Lulu in Hollywood" and the excellent biography by Barry Paris.

#39 Rosa

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 07:29 AM

  • Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, credited with being the first detective novel in English. I'm pleased to report that little of real consequence has changed in the genre since 1868.


One of my favorites. Do you know who was the narrator, Kathleen?

#40 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:38 AM

  • Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, credited with being the first detective novel in English. I'm pleased to report that little of real consequence has changed in the genre since 1868.


One of my favorites. Do you know who was the narrator, Kathleen?


The version I'm listening to uses a different narrator for each of the witnesses. I've just finished Gabriel Betteredge's section, which is narrated by Patrick Tull (who did all the Aubrey-Maturin novels). I've just started Drusilla Clack's section, which is narrated by Davina Porter. I think a bunch of the audiobook heavy-hitters will eventually get their turns. So far, the narration has been excellent and I'm really enjoying it.

#41 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:47 AM

Serious historical fiction is a joy. Mantel's are possibly the best written historical novels I've ever read. She has an earlier novel about the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety -- focusing on the relationships among Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins. You can see the origins of the narrative style that makes the two novels about Thomas Cromwell so astonishing.

Re Gore Vidal: I also like the historical novels and am thinking of rereading Burr, with its roguish, though charming, almost tragic leading man. Have you read 1876? A lot of rogues in that, too. Both novels have amazing resonance given what is happening in U.S. politics today -- one of the low points of our long history.


I read A Place of Greater Safety, too. It was really good, but Wolf Hall just blew me away. I think I read 1876, but since I can't recall any of the details, maybe not ... Perhaps I'll go with that one rather than re-reading an old favorite.

#42 dirac

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 09:26 AM

Burr is better than 1876 by a long way, but the second book is not bad. 1876 lacks a single fascinating historical figure to provide a center (Tilden ain't no Burr). The Schuyler family is more to the fore and because Vidal doesn't invest his purely fictional characters with the same kind of life as his historical/fictional characters this is a weakness. He once said he wanted to see 1876 as a movie (with his friend Claire Bloom as the central female figure, Emma) and I think the material could be improved upon if dramatized.

Vidal's Messiah is a good read. Also liked Two Sisters and Williwaw. The City and the Pillar has dated but it is worth a look. And of course, there's Myra. I never got around to Kalki or Duluth.

#43 Moonlily

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 02:31 PM

Whenever I happen to be at the railway station, I enjoy going through the selection of classics in a relatively cheap edition at the book store there. So recently I decided to brush up my Spanish and bought the short novel Réquiem por und campesino español by Ramón J. Sender. It is set around the time of the Spanish Civil War and so far quite nice to read. I hope for a bit more intensity as the novel progresses however. I have a collection of short stories waiting for me once I finish this novel.

#44 carbro

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 05:45 PM

Thank you, Moonlily. Réquiem por un campesino español sounds like a very interesting selection and a fine opportunity to keep your Spanish language "muscles" in tone.

#45 bart

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 07:20 AM

Kathleen, I hope you enjoy 1876. I agree with dirac on this, but always enjoy Vidal when he lets loose the his arsenal of wit and scorn. The "Gilded" Age certainly deserves everything it gets. I love the minor characters, especially the rogues.

Moonlily, Sender's book is worth it. I found that reading it in Spanish actually helped me by forcing me to read slowly and thoughtfully. There's an excellent Spanish movie that is quite faithful to the text. Antonio Banderas played the young campesino.


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