General Discussion

What books are you reading?
bravo1102 at 5:08AM, Nov. 18, 2011
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And here it is 18 November and I finally finished Pillars of the Earth.  Every single trope you'd expect a long novel to have this one does and you find yourself not caring because Ken Follet tells such a good story.  After reading War and Peace and Gone with the Wind there is NOTHING new I can read in a novel.
 
Now I'm reading Phillippa Gregory's The Constant Princess about Katherine of Aragon back when she was first married to Arthur and was one tough hyper cutey.
ozoneocean at 8:06AM, Nov. 18, 2011
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I'm still reading the Odyssey… I only read it while on the train so it's sloooooooow.
 
Bravo talks about tropes in those older stories and that got me thinking about the Odyssey- I don't really recognise any tropes in that story so even though its extremely old, it still feels fresh and new to me. Sorta funny that, eh? :)
 
And even though I've read and seen many adaptions of parts of it before, this long 16thC version  is so much more full and better fleshed out (once you get past the horrible rhymes) , more convincing, realistic and original…
 
One slightly frustrating thing- the story almost seems to happen in REAL TIME. T_T
Yes, I know the Odyssey lasts 10 years, but the story doesn't go through the whole journey from beginning to end, we start off right towards the end where Ulysses is starting to finally make his way home (for real this time) and all his adventurers are really just flashbacks. But during this journey back all the action happens during the day- people experience stuff or tell a flashback story, then it's time for dinner, then time for bed, then sleep, then they get up, have breakfast, do that day's action or tell some stories, then eat, then go to bed and so on and so on…
There's no logical jumps ahead in time like you have in more modern stories (I dunno, 19thC onwards?), the only jumps in time you get are with flashbacks because they're more like small anecdotes.
 
bravo1102 at 2:35AM, Nov. 22, 2011
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ozoneocean wrote:
Bravo talks about tropes in those older stories and that got me thinking about the Odyssey- I don't really recognise any tropes in that story so even though its extremely old, it still feels fresh and new to me. Sorta funny that, eh? :)
 

In a well told story everything is feels fresh no matter how old and worn out the tropes may be in another writer's hands. That is especially true in the Odyssey. 
 
Always liked how the narrative in epic verse often has a pattern (besides the rhyme and meter) to assist in memorization.  Then there is the often interchangeable nature of episodes so that they could go in random order to further help out the story teller.  I'm one of strange types who actually recited it aloud when I read it for school to get a feel for it.  (Song of Roland, several versions of Le Morte D'Artur and other romances.) I did the same when reading Shakespeare, even acting out the parts to understand the text. 
 
At work the sequel to Pillars of the Earth showed up last week along with the follow-up to Phillipa Gregory's The Constant Princess; the Other Boelyn Girl.  So my reading program is set for a while.
Kou the Mad at 2:56AM, Nov. 26, 2011
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The Temeraire Series, a book that takes place in a alternate Earth during the Napoleanic Wars………..and it has giant talking dragons, every military contains dragons in it.
It's awesome.
i also like that the Main Character teamed with the head dragon isn't a teenager or kid (hes a middle aged dude)
its a great series, Peter Jackson seems to like it as well.
 
ozoneocean at 3:37AM, Nov. 26, 2011
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Do the dragoons ride the dragons?
 
Lopriest at 5:06PM, Nov. 27, 2011
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Just finished A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Both awesome!
ozoneocean at 8:27PM, Nov. 27, 2011
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I'm currently reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.
It's starting off pretty interestingly so far, reminds me strongly of The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndam… But that's probably because Wyndam was directly inspired by Verne. :)
 
It's very different to the old pop-up version I used to have!
 
I've read other Verne books before though, so the style isn't new to me. Verne's a good writer, a god mix of fantastic tech, political implications and human reactions to it all. Very clever guy.
 
 
HippieVan at 8:05PM, Nov. 28, 2011
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I finished A Clockwork Orange a couple weeks ago, and loved it. I'd been meaning to read it for ages, and I don't think I could have enjoyed it any more than I did. I think this was a good point(in my life) for me to read it. 
Right now I'm reading a graphic novel called Petrograd.
I went out and bought myself Catcher in the Rye and Tender is the Night, as I'm currently going through my list of “books I've meant to read for ages,” but I can't decide which one I want to read first.
 
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bravo1102 at 12:18AM, Nov. 29, 2011
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Getting into The Other Boleyn Girl  and this book is scary how sexual politics in 16th Century England was perpetrated by teenagers.  No wonder court life was such a tangled mess.  We have a 30ish Henry doing 14-17 years olds. 
 
It's good to be the king especially if you're a selfish spoiled ass like Henry VIII.  This book is written like an adapted screenplay so I wonder what came first the screenplay or the book.  There are lots of little scenes that cry out for dramatization.  Probably will see the movie now.
 
Imagine the worst High School YA romance in gowns and trunk hose that is actually deciding the politics of an entire nation… that's life in the Tudor court.
Air Raid Robertson at 5:53AM, Nov. 30, 2011
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I finally got around to reading classical Greek theater over the past month. I started with the drama of Sophocles. I enjoyed it because I've been a nerd for ancient Greek mythology since I was a kid. At the same time, however, it did come off as a bit dry. If I wasn't already well-read in the epics of Homer I doubt that I would've gotten anything out of it.
 
I much preferred reading the work of Aristophanes. When I first came across the name I was told that he was the spiritual godfather of the humor of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, and the South Park guys. I thought that the gentleman who told me this was just being pretentious, but it turns out that he's completely on the ball. Aristophanes' comedic approach is to blend socio-political commentary with generous amounts of toilet humor and scatalogical gags.
 
I never thought that I'd encounter so many poop, dick, fart, and rape jokes in a piece of literature composed several hundred years before the birth of Christ.
ozoneocean at 7:06AM, Dec. 16, 2011
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Wow, I'm STILL slowly reading through 20,000 leagues under the sea on the train…
It starts off with all sorts of exciting accounts of mysterious goings on, on the ocean,  speculation about an unknown giant sea creature, then the exciting hunt for it… The when we actually get ON the Nautilus everything shunts to a crawl.
 
We get introduced to a detailed look at the scifi tech of the amazingly technological submarine, which is pretty interesting and really very, VERY clever considering there are only crude experimental ones around in his time and the Nautilus is basically a FULLY modern electrically powered submarine from the mid 20th century with everything but sonar.
 And Verne gives an exhausting report on ALL the different fish and species of shell, coral, sea-slugs, sea snakes, whales, otters luminous plankton, various sea-mammals! Every single chapter is full of it. He makes David Attenborough look like Steve Irwin (ie. Irwin was to Naturalism what Paris Hilton is to celebrity).
 
WAY, way too much emphasis and time spent on the sea life… But Verne had obviously done a hell of a lot of research! From his descriptions you'd think he'd have to have gone to see most of this stuff first hand, either by actually visiting and diving in the tropics or looking at every aquarium and collection he could find! Unless it was almost/mostly/basically plagiarism from biological journals and things… He'd obviously absolutely devoured all the scientific journals of the day, on every singe subject. The man must have been extremely clever and knowledgeable!
 
But that doesn't make for very exciting reading. :(
 
bravo1102 at 1:03AM, Dec. 21, 2011
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Just finished World Without End Ken Follet's follow-up to Pillars of the Earth
It has Crecy and the plague and some interesting characters.  They are a lot less balck and white than they were in Pillars of the Earth. Follet does a great job in recreating the 14th Century and it really, really is an epic fantasy ala Game of Thrones without the magic.  Who needs pseudo medieval fantasy when there's a book about the real thing.  It's good that Follet is very general about the battles going with impressions of the characters.  Pre-modern battle is the expertise of Bernard Cornwell and I could tell that Follet had read the Archer's Tale.
 
There are also some inside references to bits of Chaucer which are good for a smile if you know the Canterbury Tales.
Now comes my quest to find more historical fiction about the Middle Ages.
 
Instead I'm reading Terry Brooks' latest Armeggeddon's Children.  After this it'll probably be time to crawl back into some nonfiction.  I have a hankering to learn stuff. 
SydneyRoad at 4:38AM, Jan. 31, 2012
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Right now I'm reading the Blade Itself
http://www.amazon.com/Blade-Itself-First-Book-ebook/dp/B002VHI8FE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328013462&sr=8-1  
ayesinback at 7:07AM, Jan. 31, 2012
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Collected Stories of Colette.
 
just saw GIGI again, and remembered I have this collection.  Light, witty stuff (so far)
under new management
bravo1102 at 12:32PM, Feb. 1, 2012
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A World at Arms (1994) A global history of WWII.  Pretty interesting as the author pays attention to the diplomacy and under reported areas of the war. 
ozoneocean at 8:20PM, Feb. 1, 2012
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Read Alice In Wonderland.
Nice book :)
 
The original dream state novel… or at least the original modern dream state novel. Yes, 1800s are still modern because litereture then was the same as it is now.
 
Anyway, I'm taking a break from old classics for nome modern SciFi now. Iron Sunrire and Singularity Sky, two books by Charles Stross I'm looking at now.
He's not a great writer, he's ok… it's just that he's the sort of writer I'm in the mood for reading right now. You know?
-New SciFi, adventure, mystery, daring, a bit of techno flash and cool… very visual writing, with enough real, current science knowledge to make everything plausible enough.
 
Lemony at 6:34PM, Feb. 10, 2012
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Doctor Faustus
The Exorcist
Eat Your Heart Out (Play)
Darkmans
And I'm probably going to reread Harkovast soon. :)
Hello, I'm a little camera shy.
Hapoppo at 6:21AM, Feb. 15, 2012
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Totally getting into DiscWorld right now.  I'm only on the third book (Late entry, I know) but so far I'm loving it!  Terry Pratchett's hilarious.  Also, if you thought I was late to THAT party… I've just recently been getting into Sherlock Holmes.  Shame on me for starting so late, I know.
gullas at 6:40PM, Feb. 19, 2012
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Am reading Kaoru Kurimoto's, The Guin Saga the first book. It's pretty good…
bravo1102 at 1:11AM, Feb. 24, 2012
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The Soprano State : New Jersey's Culture of Corruption By Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure.
 
It so outrageous it makes the DD Soap look entirely plausible but it's all true.
ozoneocean at 8:13AM, Feb. 27, 2012
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I'm reading Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross.
 
It's a bit of a real page turner. Some decent modern SciFi!
But he's definitely not up their with greats like Azimov, Anne McCaffery, Robert Heinlein…
 
Criticism:
He's just a little cheap in some of the writing tricks he uses: Things like not fully describing what a character sees or cutting away before reveals, that sort of thing. It's a really easy, cheap and nasty way to get some suspense in there, but the problem is that at the same time it makes the story far less immersive.
You can't as fully identify with the characters, there's always a lot more distance between you and them because you know some of their thoughts, what they're feeling and all that sort of thing, but suddenly in a key scene you're cut off and have to wait for that event to be described second hand some time later… That isn't just done once or twice for effect, but constantly: enough to be a little irritating. often you can't “see” what a character watches on a screen, or reads in a message, or who comes through a door in front of them etc, all you know is their reaction to it.
 
Poor social commentary-
One other thing is that he's a bit too obtuse and heavy-handed with the social commentary.
It's great that he HAS social commentary in his stories, just like all the greats used to, but they were great because they were subtle ad clever with it.
Stross has things like having an imperialist ex-earth colony that is completely and utterly imperial and conservative in the old pre-WW1 style, with Victorian architecture and uniforms and Victorian embellishments on their technology. They're highly royalist and socially conservative. Women are stuck in dresses and not treated equally. And they have secret police forces and social hierarchies to rival anything in old Slovakia or Imperial Russia…
 
And of course they're completely “backward” and evil and stupid and extremely religious as of course ALL royalists and conservative people ALWAYS are /sarcasm.
 
In Iron Sunrise there are a bad group that infiltrate and take over governments and worlds by stealth, before coming in in a more heavy handed way to help “protect” them… Basically they're completely based on the Nazis. They call themselves the Re-mastered, most have blonde hair, huge cartoon Nazi storm-trooper physiches and German names.
He's not subtle about it. Deliberately not subtle. The idea will probably be that the group is directly inspired by old Nazi ideals because of some old cultural connection and they think it's a great ruling philosophy.
But I still don't think that's very clever. Reading audiences are not cretins, we can easily work out that some group is bad and nasty and what they're doing is Nazi-like without so many obvious superficial cues! 
It doesn't make the writing patronising though; it actually makes it semi-comical, which is jarring because the Nazi type people really are fully nasty in a gritty and visceral way.
 
gullas at 5:23AM, March 1, 2012
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I am just finishing Neil Strauss's “The Game”.

It is cleverly written and manages to keep me interested. It's a bit hypocritical cause it starts off with praising the “player” lyfestyle, but in the end it condemns it.
lba at 3:26PM, March 1, 2012
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I'm officially re-reading Black Hawk Down for the 19th time. I more or less have it memorized to the point I can give a synopsis at the drop of a hat by now. It's still an enjoyable read, but I have a feeling that after I spend the next month dissecting it and analysing every single person in it's moves that I'm going to not want to pick it up again for a long time.
If you haven't read it, it is a really interesting in-depth look at a part of military history that never really got a lot of coverage to begin with. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the politics of the western world's New World Order ideas in Africa and abroad. It's interesting to note how it tied into other world events of the time like the genocide in Rwanda. Heck, even if you just want a cool war story you'll probably enjoy it.
last edited on March 1, 2012 3:31PM
bravo1102 at 1:31AM, March 2, 2012
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Hornet Flight by Ken Follett.  A novel during the darkest days of 1941 and how the Brits found out about and combatted the first German radar based on true events. And airplanes: Whitley's, BF-109s, Tiger Moths, Tiger Hornets.  Interesting insights on the collaborators and resistance in Denmarck.
ozoneocean at 3:35AM, March 10, 2012
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Picture of Dorian Grey by Osar Wilde… It's a little gay ^_^
Lot's of amazing quotes in there!
It's not bad really, but a bit slow after the flashy page turners of the last too books so it's hard to adjust to the pace.
 
lenoir85 at 9:48PM, March 10, 2012
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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
I <3 Lovecraft.
guys. check this out. it's my comic and stuff. whoa. www.knoxenstein.com
bravo1102 at 11:40PM, March 11, 2012
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lenoir85 wrote:
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
I <3 Lovecraft.

One of my favorites.  I've read it three times.  “Never bring up what you can't put down again.”
Just started The Longest Tunnel which is the final definitive account of the Great Escape. This is like the fourth book I've read about Stalag Luft III.  
ayesinback at 8:15AM, March 12, 2012
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THE HUNGER GAMES – and now I see what all the fuss is about.
 
I'm loving this story-telling.
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Chernobog at 7:42PM, March 14, 2012
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“Send This To the Immune Officer: Found letters To The Montclair Police Department from NJ Poet Alfred Starr Hamilton” by Lisa Borinsky
 
Reading this man's one sided correspondence is an interesting journey into the mind of paranoia and ego.
 
 
“You tell yourself to just
enjoy the process,” he added. “That whether you succeed or fail, win or
lose, it will be fine. You pretend to be Zen. You adopt detachment, and
ironic humor, while secretly praying for a miracle.”
ozoneocean at 6:33AM, March 22, 2012
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STill reading The Picture of Dorian Grey slowly on the train.
It gets better and better and better… then you bog right down into lists and lists and lists…
Like the endless lists of sea flora and fauna in Vern' 20,000 leagues under the sea, instead it's lists of instruments, jewels, art, church clothing, relatives, characters in a book, and so on.
Very boring.
Now the story has finally through that stage, things seem to be picking up again.
 
Lord Henry is obviously the key character. Basil the painter represents the voice of sanity and normalcy… They function sort of like the angel and devils on the shoulders of a cartoon character. Lord Henry, the devil, wins… But Dorian is an empty vessel. a pretty face with no mind or character or substance, till Henry breaths it into him and even then he's just a stupid puppet and he doesn't even realise it.
 
He's like one of those modern day celebs that get built up hugely by some Svengali of an agent or producer like a fast growing fungus and then rot from the inside out as they find they can't handle their fame and postilion any more.
 
last edited on March 22, 2012 6:43AM

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