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Author Topic: books: what are you currently reading?  (Read 309152 times)
Queequeg
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« Reply #280 on: December 11, 2007, 08:43:07 PM »

The Velocity of Honey: And More Science of Everyday Life
From Publishers Weekly
"Science can uncover the origins of the cosmos and the blueprints of life itself, but it can also explore some of the most inconsequential phenomena known to man. No less than three essays in this charming collection concern the spillage of breakfast foods, including the title piece on dripping honey and further investigations of why toast always falls with the buttered side down and why coffee stains are ring-shaped. Other topics probed by Ingram, host of the Discovery Channel's Daily Planet and author of The Science of Everyday Life, include the physics of coin-spinning, stone-skipping and paper-crumpling; the math talents of animals and infants; the six degrees of separation myth; and the cognitive psychology behind a range of desultory human capabilities, from catching a fly ball to working an ATM machine. Though the scientific theories Ingram unearths are fascinating, more hilarious is the disproportion between effort and importance, as with the elaborate experimental protocols scientists have developed to investigate the feeling people sometimes get of being watched. Ingram's deft, witty writing gives a real feel for science as a human process of trying to answer the questions, no matter how inane, that happen to get stuck in one's craw."
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blued03r
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« Reply #281 on: December 11, 2007, 10:07:02 PM »

Good for you Jeremy!  Nothing better than Dosty!  Piscator

So true!

I wish that I would have seen this post last month.  If you read good ol' Fyodor, as any literate person should,  I HIGHLY recommend the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations over ANY other.  These translations are brilliant and reflect the true poetry and music of Dostoevsky's genius!!!!
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« Reply #282 on: December 11, 2007, 10:42:23 PM »

I love Doestoyevski but its difficult to say he's better than Tolstoy. Anybody else find this? When you first read "the Russians" especially War and Peace, you get half way through and realize that everyone has three or four names and then you better start over now that you know everyone's name(s). In the immortal words of Boney M. "Oooh those Russians!"
My other favourite Russians ...
Alexander Solzhenitsyn - just about anything
Mikhail Bulgakov - The Master and Margarita
Life and fate -  Vasily Grossman (about Stalingrad)

I also really like the Czech writer Josef Skvorecky (which I believe is pronounced Sharesky). The Engineer of Human Souls is astounding. The Bass Saxaphone is great too. It's mostly about jazz and communism and how they don't mix so well. Another knock against communism, imho.   




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jeremy3220
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« Reply #283 on: December 11, 2007, 11:12:41 PM »

When you first read "the Russians" especially War and Peace, you get half way through and realize that everyone has three or four names and then you better start over now that you know everyone's name(s).

Yeh, I was luck to catch on to this quickly. I'm sure there's a reason behind this, I should probably research it.
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Caleb
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« Reply #284 on: December 11, 2007, 11:41:51 PM »

Regarding 'the stranger'.  I'll leave open that possibility that I'm just not deep enough to "get it".  But I just couldn't see a point to any of it. But then again, maybe that was the point.

On reading:  Right now I'm reading Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson.  I think in '08 I'm going to focus my reading on American History and Theology. 

By the way, I'd be curious to know about how many books you folks go through in a year.  I've read about 50 this year, which is pretty high for me.  20 is usually about my average, but I've picked up the pace a bit in '07. 
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piscator
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« Reply #285 on: December 12, 2007, 03:31:01 AM »

Duck,

"McMurtry is an American treasure in my H.O. I've almost bought the Proust many times but having read the first 50 or so pages of the first book, I'm terribly daunted and am pretty sure it's some kind of existential torture as opposed to entertainment. Maybe I'll stick with McMurtry."

I think your opinion is right on target.  Mr. McMurty could certainly go down in history as one of America's great writers.  He's certainly up there with Dana, Parkman and Cooper and probably beyond Steinbeck or Crane. 

I've always found that I don't choose the book, the book chooses me, so if Proust hasn't grabbed you in 50 pages, I'd say "move on."  He hasn't grabbed me yet.

The Russian novels use a lot of family names which can be confusing and not always essential to following the story.  I think you're best to read them without worrying much about it.  Catch the drift and come back a second time.  I've read most of the major Russian novels more than once and I'll read them again.  I think Tolstoy's message is pretty static, but there's always something new to find in Doestoevsky.  Dosty, more than Tolstoy, is the 'Russian Shakespeare'.  If the length puts you off, the shorter novels like Dostoevsky's "The Gambler" or "Crime and Punishment" are equally powerful.  Tolstoy's short stories serve that purpose.

If I could have only one Russian novel it would be Dostoevsky's "Brother's Karamazov" or "The Idiot"

Blue03r,

"I HIGHLY recommend the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations over ANY other.  These translations are brilliant and reflect the true poetry and music of Dostoevsky's genius!!!!"   +1

100% RIGHT-- ABSOLUTELY!!  The Peavear/Volokhonsky translations are brilliant.  Reading these new editions is like reading an entirely new book.  Don't even think about investing time in the other translations, until you've exhausted these!!

Creature,

A terrific goal!  Ben is highly underated and the recent crap popularizing him as a mere 'dirty ol' man' is atrocious.  A magnificent thinker whose contributions changed the world! 

Whew, glad to get all that off my chest 

Happy reading folks!  Piscator
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« Reply #286 on: December 12, 2007, 04:09:21 AM »



Creature,

A terrific goal!  Ben is highly underated and the recent crap popularizing him as a mere 'dirty ol' man' is atrocious.  A magnificent thinker whose contributions changed the world! 

Whew, glad to get all that off my chest 

Happy reading folks!  Piscator
If one could read our thoughts, we'd ALL not only be classified as "dirty", but absolutely filthy.   

But I hear what you're saying.  I've read quite a bit on Franklin, and Isaacson tends to be treating him as very human, but not saintly like some authors of old have.  But I'm not even half-way through the book yet and it's a big one, so things could change. 

And I agree that BF changed the world for the better. He did in one long life what most of us couldn't (or wouldn't) do in ten. I think he was one of the most briliant thinkers in what little we actually know of human history. 
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piscator
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« Reply #287 on: December 12, 2007, 07:39:03 PM »

Creature,

You may be right.  All I can claim is that I'm trying to clean up my act!   

You're certainly right about Ben, firefighter, inventor, gas-lamp promoter, diplomat, author, printer...  I'd love to have half his enegy!

Whether it's a portrayal of BF or anyone else, I have a real problem with this horrible penchant we have for typecasting. 

I don't really watch television, but I caught part of a "docu-drama" that portrayed Franklin as a lecherous has-been whose association with Jefferson and reason for hanging with the Continental Congress was mainly the opportunity it provided to eat, drink, and chase young women.  It was awful. 

A while back I saw another portraying Eisenhower as a emotional softy, inclined to qouting Shakepeare and constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown provoked by his telepathic visions of his profound place in history.  It was so bad I didn't know whether to laugh or weep.

Another is the portrayals of Columbus.  I now know that Columbus spent years petitioning two courts and risked his life crossing an unknown ocean because he was a thug who enjoyed robbng and beating the defenseless, under a disguise of feigned Catholicism.  Why didn't he just go into investment banking or real estate?

I find these treatments reprehensible.
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Larrivee OM3R
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« Reply #288 on: December 12, 2007, 08:09:54 PM »

Duck,

"McMurtry is an American treasure in my H.O. I've almost bought the Proust many times but having read the first 50 or so pages of the first book, I'm terribly daunted and am pretty sure it's some kind of existential torture as opposed to entertainment. Maybe I'll stick with McMurtry."

I think your opinion is right on target.  Mr. McMurty could certainly go down in history as one of America's great writers.  He's certainly up there with Dana, Parkman and Cooper and probably beyond Steinbeck or Crane. 

I've always found that I don't choose the book, the book chooses me, so if Proust hasn't grabbed you in 50 pages, I'd say "move on."  He hasn't grabbed me yet.

The Russian novels use a lot of family names which can be confusing and not always essential to following the story.  I think you're best to read them without worrying much about it.  Catch the drift and come back a second time.  I've read most of the major Russian novels more than once and I'll read them again.  I think Tolstoy's message is pretty static, but there's always something new to find in Doestoevsky.  Dosty, more than Tolstoy, is the 'Russian Shakespeare'.  If the length puts you off, the shorter novels like Dostoevsky's "The Gambler" or "Crime and Punishment" are equally powerful.  Tolstoy's short stories serve that purpose.

If I could have only one Russian novel it would be Dostoevsky's "Brother's Karamazov" or "The Idiot"

Blue03r,

"I HIGHLY recommend the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations over ANY other.  These translations are brilliant and reflect the true poetry and music of Dostoevsky's genius!!!!"   +1

100% RIGHT-- ABSOLUTELY!!  The Peavear/Volokhonsky translations are brilliant.  Reading these new editions is like reading an entirely new book.  Don't even think about investing time in the other translations, until you've exhausted these!!

Creature,

A terrific goal!  Ben is highly underated and the recent crap popularizing him as a mere 'dirty ol' man' is atrocious.  A magnificent thinker whose contributions changed the world! 

Whew, glad to get all that off my chest 

Happy reading folks!  Piscator

Yeah well it takes Proust 50 pages to describe the most mundane of things. I get the point. Novelizing in almost real time but the reason we like novels is tension created within a plot with "necessary" development. 10 pages of someone tying their shoe is excessive. I have almost the same problem with Sartre who is only slightly less pedantic. Having read all the Dostoevski you mention, I can only agree. Tolstoy may be a one note but it's the right one. ;)

As an aside ,who reads Canadian authors? My favourite Canadian writer is Mordecai Richler along with Robertson Davies, Margaret Lawrence, Leonard Cohen and Czech ex-patriot Josef Skvorecky. It's too cold to write anything long so most of us are songwriters. ;)             
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Caleb
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« Reply #289 on: December 12, 2007, 08:40:51 PM »

Creature,

You may be right.  All I can claim is that I'm trying to clean up my act!   

You're certainly right about Ben, firefighter, inventor, gas-lamp promoter, diplomat, author, printer...  I'd love to have half his enegy!

Whether it's a portrayal of BF or anyone else, I have a real problem with this horrible penchant we have for typecasting. 

I don't really watch television, but I caught part of a "docu-drama" that portrayed Franklin as a lecherous has-been whose association with Jefferson and reason for hanging with the Continental Congress was mainly the opportunity it provided to eat, drink, and chase young women.  It was awful. 

A while back I saw another portraying Eisenhower as a emotional softy, inclined to qouting Shakepeare and constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown provoked by his telepathic visions of his profound place in history.  It was so bad I didn't know whether to laugh or weep.

Another is the portrayals of Columbus.  I now know that Columbus spent years petitioning two courts and risked his life crossing an unknown ocean because he was a thug who enjoyed robbng and beating the defenseless, under a disguise of feigned Catholicism.  Why didn't he just go into investment banking or real estate?

I find these treatments reprehensible.
Just a few good reasons why I read very little modern commentary on history.  Most of the real historians are dead.  What we have today is a bunch of lazy critics only interested in stirring the pot. Real research would be too hard, so taking stabs in the dark will have to do for these pukes. 
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piscator
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« Reply #290 on: December 13, 2007, 04:31:25 PM »

Mr. Duck or Mr. Trapper (if you prefer) 

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It's too cold to write anything long so most of us are songwriters. ;)             
   +1   

Too funny!  Sitting here waiting for YOUR snow to hit us, I'm preparing to light a fire and put on my Oscar Brand records. 

I've read Bill Mason's, "Path of the Paddle," "Song of the Paddle," and enjoyed his wonderful films -- does that count?

I once worked with a Canadian company that had offices in Montreal and Toronto.  I was in Montreal the night the power blackout shut the lights on the Hockey game.  On that occasion I was even "officially adopted" as a Canadian's fan.  I love Canada, but it is too %^&& cold!

If there are not a lot of Canadian writers it may also be that (as one business associate told me) "there's just not a lot of Canadians in the first place".  If I were up there, I'd be so busy chopping wood to keep warm, I'd never write a line!   bigrin

Quote
the reason we like novels is tension created within a plot with "necessary" development. 10 pages of someone tying their shoe is excessive. I have almost the same problem with Sartre who is only slightly less pedantic.

There may be other reasons to like a novel, but not wanting to be pedantic, I wholeheartedly agree with your point.  Overwrought writing is a tedious plague.  "There's no such thing as writing, only editing" is advice that haunts me. 

I also think there are writers who gain great reputations before doing anything great.  They may be 'darlings of the public' or carry reputations from other fields.  In those cases the writer may try to live up to an impossible ideal and fail.  A writer with the initials JPS, might be an example. 

Quote
Having read all the Dostoevski you mention, I can only agree. Tolstoy may be a one note but it's the right one. ;)

Well put, Sir!  And from what I understand Tolstoy may have been the first to agree.  Tolstoy believed that moral instruction was the justification for literature.  He objected to writers who neglected this mission, probably including Dostoevsky.  I read an account of Tolstoy's last days that noted the irony that a bible and one of Dostoevsky's books were alongside Tolstoy's bed on the night he died.  The two men never met.

I enjoy both writers but I don't re-read Tolstoy as much.  Tolstoy's 'one note' is probably the reason.  Tolstoy's characters are marvelous, but they only exist to deliver a singular message and their actions are therfore predictable.  Once the "cat's out of the bag" and the story is told, the characters don't 'hold up' in a second reading.

Interestingly, I can't think of a single Tolstoy character that I'd care to read about in a sequel devoted only to that character.  With Dostoevsky it's the opposite.  I'd 'rip through' a second book centered on just about any of Dostoevsky's characters. 

I don't think this is a criticism of Tolstoy, more importantly, it intimates what each writer was trying to accomplish.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Duck.  And BTW, YOUR snow is just starting to fall, so it's time to light the fire, put on the music and curl up with a BOOK.

Best, Piscator
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« Reply #291 on: December 19, 2007, 05:23:47 AM »

finished slaughterhouse five!  so great, eor found it.  i really liked vonnegut, but this is the first of his books that i've read- only interviews, essays and the like before.  it took a little bit to put it all together, but i'm glad i did.  and even if you don't get into all the philosophical/outer space crap, it's still a good story.  not sure if he invented non-linear story telling, but it is certainly more prevalent nowadays than it was before him, in movies especially.

love,
eor

i saw it as more of a pro-free will vs fatalism, but i guess it depends on the reader.
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« Reply #292 on: December 20, 2007, 07:07:52 PM »

2: Dylan's Visions of Sin by Christopher Ricks and a biography of Sir Francis Drake. Now THERE was a dude.
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« Reply #293 on: December 23, 2007, 09:53:04 AM »

Hey, I've been mostly lurking on this thread, but there is some incredible offerings here.
I find myself wanting to go through all of these pages over the next week and create a book list from all of your suggestions.
It made me think of something. Too bad we can't post the book names in a list--you know, like "The Larrivee Forum Book List" similar to those in The New York Times.
Thanks again. You all have given me some new avenues to consider in the literary world.
--Fred
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« Reply #294 on: December 24, 2007, 05:28:50 AM »

The Bounty: the True story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander.  a very detailed account of everything and everyone involved with the mutiny.
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« Reply #295 on: December 26, 2007, 04:18:44 AM »

1. Bible
2. The Kingdom Triangle - JP Moreland
3. The Real Face of Atheism - Ravi


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Caleb
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« Reply #296 on: December 26, 2007, 05:08:36 PM »

I just finished Walter Isaacson's Ben Franklin: An American Life.  I've read quite a bit on Franklin and this book dug into his private life pretty extensively, but like most biographers, I think Isaacson made some assumptions that one really cannot know for sure.  You can learn a lot about a person by reading through their journal entries, old letters, etc., but the details that most of us really want to know die in these people's grave.  Franklin is one of my favorite historical figures and I'll likely continue to read about him in 08.

I just scored 2 from the library that I'm excited about:

Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer

and

Inventing a Nation
by Gore Vidal

We shall see.....
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #297 on: December 27, 2007, 04:01:12 PM »

I finally finished 'Crime and Punishment', it was magnificent yet it left me somewhat mystified, though perhaps that was the intent. Usually it's obvious what ideology an author is trying to push, however Doestovesky in this book presented a philosophy well, then the opposite just as soundly. I have been well aware of the possibility that a person may hold certain ideals/views on life that are seemingly arrived to and supported by reason and study, then they fall in love, start a family and their convictions change and all that philosophizing goes out the window.
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« Reply #298 on: December 27, 2007, 05:30:20 PM »

I finally finished 'Crime and Punishment', it was magnificent yet it left me somewhat mystified, though perhaps that was the intent. Usually it's obvious what ideology an author is trying to push, however Doestovesky in this book presented a philosophy well, then the opposite just as soundly. I have been well aware of the possibility that a person may hold certain ideals/views on life that are seemingly arrived to and supported by reason and study, then they fall in love, start a family and their convictions change and all that philosophizing goes out the window.

Ahh, the many questions of the, "Grand Inquisitor".  Isn't Dostoevsky amazing!
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« Reply #299 on: December 27, 2007, 06:03:34 PM »

Just finished "What is the What" by Dave Eggers and "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Now reading  "Bridge of Sighs:"  by Richard Russo (Nobody's Fool, Empire Falls, )

All are great reads if anyone is interested
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