What's everybody reading?

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dws1982
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Postby dws1982 » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:18 pm

Been too busy to read much lately, but the last two I read, back in the spring, are two of the all-time greats: Edwin O'Connor's The Edge of Sadness and Mark Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War. The Edge of Sadness is one of the more obscure Pulitzer-Fiction winners, probably because there isn't a major "plot" to speak. It's about a middle-aged priest in an unnamed New England city basically trying to find some meaning in his life after falling into a deep depression. A Soldier of the Great War is a lot more sprawling (the only way it could be successfully adapted would be as a HBO miniseries, but I'd prefer it be left alone), about a 75 year-old professor recounting the story of his life; it's very funny at times and unbearably sad at others, extremely moving in the way it portrays all of the joys and disappointments of life. I know a lot of people may not like Helprin because of his politics, but I think this is an absolutely essential work.

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Postby Okri » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:08 pm

Finished Philip Roth's latest and the biography on Sam Steward. The latter was quite good; the former just okay. I miss the mid-90's Roth.

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Postby Mister Tee » Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:45 pm

My wife asked me what Freedom was "about", and I had inordinate trouble supplying anything like a plot description. Yet, while I was reading it, I felt myself engaged every moment in a classic "what come next" story telling sense. It's a spawling book, one filled with striking insights, page after page; wonderfully three-dimensional views of multuple characters; and imaginative incidents from first to damn near the last pages.

With all that, for a long time I was asking myself, what oes it all mean?/how does it all hang together? And then the last sentence of the book caught me so off-guard my eyes just filled with tears. This is some kind of major work -- but not one easily digested or discussed.

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Postby Okri » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:04 pm

Currently reading Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century by Ruth Harris. Enthralling so far, with a note that I only knew of what happened in the most general of terms, so it's very informative.

I also started I Curse the River of Time but much like Peterson's previous book, I just couldn't get much into it (well, I got halfway but it was overdue).

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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:48 pm

Howard Jacobson just won the Man Booker Prize, so I will undoubtedly start that sometime in the coming weeks. Also Mario Vargas Llosa. I love having books/authors endorsed to me by people who know better!

I am returning to the fantasy realm, having started Brandon Sanderson's mammoth new book The Way Of Kings, still in preparation (always) to begin Robert Jordan's The Wheel Of Time saga. Aside from that, I seem to be starting and abandoning more books than I am actually finishing.

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Sonic Youth
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Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:03 pm

Still loving my kindle.

I'm on a Willa Cather kick. Having read One of Ours, A Lost Lady,[i] and [i]O! Pioneers (a re-read), (with My Antonia next in line), I can confidentally say Willa Cather is one of my very favorite American authors.

Washington Square - Prototypical Henry James novel with a difference. In this case, the dying aristocracy that the innocent female protaganist is struggling against is American, not British. A bigger difference is that it's much less heavy-handed than most James, which may be why it's the James novel most non-James fans admit to liking.

The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy. James novels are populated with single-minded character traits who unfailingly outwit themselves. Hardy's characters are more recognizably human. It's an exercise in blinkered perspective played for tragedy instead of farce. Except for the ominpresent "reddleman", everyone has only limited understanding of what is going on and of what other people's motivations are, and everyone acts rashly with the limited information they've given. Each unfortunate maneuver logically follows what came previously, affecting all that's to come next, like a Rube Goldberg machine. I usually find such stories too frustrating, and it takes humanity and grace for me to overlook the cruel, calculating narrative.

The Clouds, Lysistrata - Aristophanes. The Marx Brothers go ancient. There's something oddly comforting in knowing they told fart jokes 2,500 years ago. Clouds is much more entertaining. At least it follows the basic, time-honored dramatic structure. As for Lysistrata, I guess it's meant to be seen, not read. It's barely an anti-war play. Anti-inefficient bureaucracy is more like it.

A Widow for One Year - The first John Irving novel I've finished. It's also the fifth Irving novel I've started, and the last. That's all I'll say about that.

The Egyptologist - Arthur Phillips. AKA, the Akash Maharaj story. Good, wicked fun.




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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:27 am

Just started Gregory Maguire's third Wicked novel: A Lion Among Men.

I'm surprised at just how much I remember of the backstory of both prior books considering it's probably been at least a year or more since I read them. And style shock is setting in. Switching from Sue Grafton to Gregory Maguire is a strange change.
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Postby Okri » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:01 am

Finished Franzen's latest. I really wish he wasn't as talented as he obviously is, because it would be easier to hate him then. Pretty remarkable work.

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Postby flipp525 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:05 am

Some recent reads:

Nights in Aruba (1983) by Andrew Holleran
The Help (2009) by Kathryn Stockett
Babycakes (1984) by Armistead Maupin
Jack and Lem: John F. Kennedy and Lem Billings: The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship (2007) by David Pitts
Stray Dog Winter (2008) by David Francis
Beowulf (2001) translated by Seamus Heaney
The Passion of Alice (1995) by Stephanie Grant




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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:53 pm

Okri wrote:
Franz Ferdinand wrote:Anybody out there still reading? I confess I have slowed down this year; I am still hoping to start on War and Peace sometime, but who can say when? I am currently reading Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall, and Ian Kershaw's one-volume abridged Hitler bio. Interesting summer titles for sure.

I recently finished David Mitchell's latest, and I adored it

I have it waiting on my shelf for when I finish Wolf Hall. I am agonizing over the wait to start it.

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Postby Okri » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:41 am

Franz Ferdinand wrote:Anybody out there still reading? I confess I have slowed down this year; I am still hoping to start on War and Peace sometime, but who can say when? I am currently reading Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall, and Ian Kershaw's one-volume abridged Hitler bio. Interesting summer titles for sure.

I recently finished David Mitchell's latest, and I adored it

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Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:55 pm

I'm reading my new Kindle and I LOVE it. It's a gorgeous machine, it's extremely user friendly, it's very pleasant on the eyes. It does have a few curious technical quirks, but I'm reading more now than I have in a while.
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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:44 pm

Anybody out there still reading? I confess I have slowed down this year; I am still hoping to start on War and Peace sometime, but who can say when? I am currently reading Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall, and Ian Kershaw's one-volume abridged Hitler bio. Interesting summer titles for sure.

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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:35 pm

I've been preparing myself to attack Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series sometime by reading the author commissioned to finish it - Brandon Sanderson. I haven't read much fantasy or sci-fi before, but I thoroughly enjoyed his debut novel Elantris, and am almost through with his Mistborn trilogy, which I (close to) love. The magic system is great, the characterization is given time to develop and transcends caricature, and any mystical backstories is fully explained over time. I am really enjoying it, and I look forward to Jordan's series.

Currently I am also reading Connie Willis' 1992 Hugo and Nebula-winning Doomsday Book - sci-fi, so a bit of a leap, but hugely likable. A young female historian from 2050's UK is sent back to the fourteenth century to study the era, just as a viral outbreak causes quarantine in the present time. There is speculation that she may have been sent back to 1348 (the year the Plague showed up in England) rather than 1320 - it is closer to historical fiction than straight up sci-fi, but it is quite exciting, I'd recommend it.

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Postby abcinyvr » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:52 pm

Last book, Una Vita by Italo Svevo. Awful translation by Archibald Colquhoum. Svevo has a wonderful style but it took me months to get through this - many times putting it away.

Current book, Two For The Dough by Janet Evanovich. Second in her amusing Stephanie Plum series. VERY disappointed to see that stick insect, Jennifer Anniston, playing the lead in the film version of the first book, One For The Money (film title Bounty Hunter).


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