2018's What fiction or nonfiction book are you reading?

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#21
after reading your comment I googled this situation. apparently aristotle is commonly regarded as better than anaesthesia.
Oh, I discovered it independently. I have multiple copies of The Politics from my college days (one semester I needed it but my books were in storage so I had to buy a second) and I grabbed one from the shelf one night. Worked like a charm.

This is also an excellent book for insomniacs:

https://www.amazon.com/Spin-Dynamics-Nuclear-Magnetic-Resonance/dp/0470511176/

In that case, I was actually trying to learn something, but it was no good.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#22
funny you mention a science book in a philosophy discussion. I read a lot of high end physics book (example, quantum) and Hawking stated in his latest, "philosophy is dead" going on to say that the questions and answers usually presented in philosophy have moved to books on physics, and that the usual guesswork is now able to be absolutely proven or disprove (eventually, or already in some cases) rendering philosophy to never again be revived.

that said I usually don't read older science science books as they generally contain lots of misinformation and disproven science. I know Darwin is no exception as my college textbooks pointed out that although the general concept of evolution has survived, the specifics to his theories have been systematically disproven and replaced to form the modern makeup of how the theory of evolution exists today. ( the unfortunate side effect of disproving the bulk of it giving fuel to creationist to baulk at the rest without even reading the replacements.)

that said since you suggested it, it is on my TBR.
Yeah, I know what you mean. However, the book is so good in my opinion because it is so systematic, meticulous and ground-breaking in nature. Sure, Darwin also built on his predecessors, but he really excells in tying everything together.

Darwin has been corrected numerous times, and a lot of the specifics he explained turned out to be incorrect. The basis though, the foundation as you will, upon which the modern theory is built, still stands.

I've read a lot of philosophy and science books from all era's and the most interesting ones (in my opinion) are written during times of great change and/or turmoil. This is one such book, and that's why I love it.

And what is peculiar for a book of science: the prose is actually very good. It almost feels like a novel at times with a narrative.

By the way, on the Origin of the Species is a way better book than the Descent of Man.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#23
Finished
Last Tycoon ~ F Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby ~ F Scott Fitzgerald

with the last book and a reread this completes my marathon of Fitzgeralds work.

at a scant 200 pages the outlines at the end reveal the book wasn't even half finished (possibly over 400 pages if completed) I understand a Fitzgerald scholar published a completed version in the 90s, I doubt Ill read it though.

this book could possibly have been his best work, BUT I HAD NO INTEREST. the book is all on Hollywood and filmmaking, actresses, producers, writers. This is not appealing to me IN THE LEAST. everyonce in a while one delights me with intrigue and scandal and murder etc. but all that stuff was in mere outline in this book. It also is a bit typical for a Hollywood content . but since it was published after death in 1941 it might be an early progenitor and the origin of all the clichéd future copiers.

Great Gatsby. I love this novel and reread it at least thrice now. THIS is the epitome of the great American novel.

DNF Dubliners ~Joyce, no fault on the work, I just have a hard time getting into short stories.
DNF Diary of a U Boat Commander, I lost interest, and the author wasn't helping
DNF The French Revolution~ Harlisse? I read a lot of nonfiction, but this one takes the boring cake.


For Fitzgerald as a whole I'd Say Great Gatsby is the one everyone has to read,
Tender is the Night is fantastic i'd rate it just as good, but less important.
This side of Paradise is a good book but unlike the other two I will not be rereading it.
The Beautiful and Damned is okay, you gotta really love fitzgerald for it.
The Last Tycoon had potential for being his best novel, but as an unfinished isn't worth it. I have a feeling the finished "Love of the Last Tycoon" might be worth it enough to read, maybe even take that best of his work position.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#24
The Deeds Of The Disturber-Elizabeth Peters. What a great sense of humor she has. It isn’t so much what is happening (or not) but the way she describes it. LOL funny. The characters are great. The narrator is a small woman who bullies people, but in a way that’s so logical and without malice that they eventually do what she wants. She’s an Egyptologist. Best to read book one first but I hopped to 5 and aside from several references to earlier books I didn’t feel it took away in the slightest. I need a break after a fantasy book or two.mysteries and those by Louise Penny do the trick. These are cozy mysteries. Nothing with a cat helping solve the mystery or anything like The Chocolate Chip Cookie Caper. They is nothing graphic which is why I like them. Good fantasy books stress me out so these are nice tweeners.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#25
finishing off my marathon of James Joyce this week and moving onto my first originally Spanish books.

finished
portrait of the artist as a young man~ Joyce
dubliners~ Joyce
exiles ~ Joyce

and 100 pages into Finnegans wake.

I know, I said DNF dubliners because I'm not a short story reader. but after starting on Jorge Luis Borges who never wrote anything longer than a short story, and is still considered one of the best authors of all time, I figured I owed it to myself to try again.

that and I found out all of Joyce is interconnected with repeating characters and concurrent events. ( the short story at the end of dubliners sets up the beginning of the exiles play. the end of exiles, does for ulysses)

ulysses is his masterpiece, clearly. but Finnegans wake might actually be better, but even more unapproachable.

Finnegans wake seems to be an endless dribbles of portmanteau s delightful sightgags, mispelled phonetics, and puns to a point of almost creating it's own language. as well as using words and phrases from numerous other languages.

there appears to be a story, hidden beneath this challenging text, though no one has ever been able to fully follow it. I can catch glimpses of it as in the first chapter Finnegan has a portent of doing some bird or Spector, dies and begins to watch his wake, and recount a few moments of life.

example of it's difficulty (paraphrased and I added translations)

here is the Museyroom in the WillingDown
(welcome to the museum of Wellington)
This is the lipoleum tri corner hat and white harse here in the WillingDown
( this is napoleans tri corner hat and whit horse )
bison is bison
(bygones be bygones)
BleKeK Kekek Kekek KekekKekek Kekek coaz coax coaz ulau ulau ulauulau quarneyau
(??)

I sit with a book in my lap listening to a wonderful audio recording. and reread it thrice each chapter. meanwhile I'm on Borges and, much like philosophy two weeks ago, I stepped into something else.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#26
King Solomon‘s mines

I had seen it referenced recently when I was looking for something else that had nothing to do with it. Anyhow, it was in the public domain so I downloaded it on Kindle.

The first third wasn’t bad but it didn’t move along really fast. It wasn’t boring though. After that, I thought it was a really good adventure story. Especially for a book written in the late 1800s. They made a famous movie about the story and I know the guy wrote nine more books about this adventurer later.

@Bierschneeman
I am not sure if this is a classic per se but I wanted to draw your attention to it.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#27
King Solomon‘s mines

I had seen it referenced recently when I was looking for something else that had nothing to do with it. Anyhow, it was in the public domain so I downloaded it on Kindle.

The first third wasn’t bad but it didn’t move along really fast. It wasn’t boring though. After that, I thought it was a really good adventure story. Especially for a book written in the late 1800s. They made a famous movie about the story and I know the guy wrote nine more books about this adventurer later.

@Bierschneeman
I am not sure if this is a classic per se but I wanted to draw your attention to it.
Allan quartermain
yeah I drew your attention to it last December (as you replied) I had given it a 3/10 with the recommendation that one should watch indiana jones instead. (or read congo) as better written inheriters of much of the spirit and content.

I thank you for thinking of me.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#28
Allan quartermain
yeah I drew your attention to it last December (as you replied) I had given it a 3/10 with the recommendation that one should watch indiana jones instead. (or read congo) as better written inheriters of much of the spirit and content.

I thank you for thinking of me.
Oh, that’s funny. I’m so sorry. I must have looked it up but totally forgot. I was reintroduced to it last week when I was reading something regarding my Elizabeth Peters mystery series and it said that she would “parody Henry Haggard and others for their Victorian values”. The usual, racist and sexist views from that era. Well, since you didn’t like it I’m sure glad it wasn’t based on my drawing attention to it! I honestly thought it was one of the more interesting (classic?) books and I did quite literally lol several times throughout the book with the Goods’ character comic relief with his missing pants leading to the worship of his “white leg” (especially because he was always so meticulous about the way he dressed) removable teeth, and “glass eye” monocle. I actually plan on reading the next book in the series.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#29
I mentioned stepping into another never ending pit of marathoning.....it was Shakespeare.

I have Finished all the Shakespeare Histories I care to. I have read them all before, I kind of got fed up with them. they aren't anywhere near as entertaining as his other plays so the glaring anachronisms and just plain wrong depictions of history are irksome to this here student of history.

I have finished all of his tragedies save the one that happens to be my only non-reread, Coriloanus. some I watched plays of, some I read, some I read dramatic reading of, some more than one version. My favorites remain Macbeth, Othello, Titus, King Lear. (Troilus remains the worst IMOHO)
And I read Cymbeline, which I will follow with Ovid's works before moving on to his other comedies. (as they are all supposed to be just plagiarized Ovid).

I also finished The Aleph and other stories~ Jorge Luis Borges
and will be working slowly on his 'Selected Non-fiction'

regarded as one of the greatest writers of all time, he focuses entirely on short stories, thoughts, reviews, and reactionary commentaries. His work, is very humbling. I do appreciate reading his review on three of James Joyce's works, right after having read them.

rereading Alexander Pushkins works currently, considered the greatest poet of Russia, he is also an earlier one. He was exiled for his works, and told not to produce anything so revolutionary again.
I read of note the LOOOOOOng epic poems Onegin, and the Daughter of the Commander (or commandant depending on which translation) but the most important piece is the 'Bronze Horseman'. ANYONE who wants to learn of the Russian revolution should start here. This poem cries "FREEDOM" so loud it is cited as the basis for the decemberist revolt, and still reverberating 90 years later for one of the inspirations of the 1917 revolution.

I will being reading for the first time, Finnegan's Wake for a long time. and will likely spend decades trying to form cohesive interpretations of it. I AM ENJOYING THE HECK OUT OF IT THOUGH.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#30
addendum to Pushkin. its easy to cry freedom when you enjoy a seven room apartment costing more than 4 years pay (per year) of a wage laborers salary. but that is par for the course for Russia, as the revolution was built on the work of the overprivledged supposedly for the good of the oppressed (of whom are less likely to improve their condition while the already overprivledged that worked for it, usually did improve their privledge)
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#31
I rarely reread books but one thing led to another and I decided to reread Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study In Scarlet and then reread Neil Gaiman’s Short story A Study In Emerald. Scarlet is the first Holmes book Doyle wrote and Emerald follows it closely but turns it inside out into a Lovecraftian type Ctuhulu horror mystery. It was fun comparing and contrasting.
 
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Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#32
finished William Faulkner~ The Sound and the Fury

another great depiction of southern decay.

This one follows a family, formerly aristocratic. as each member falls into ruin or death the slow decay of a once well to do family. this is contrasted by their maid, a black woman whose been with the family for decades. the more the family rots becoming less and less respectable, the more they take it out on their maid. the more they mistreat her, the more she turns the other cheek, and turns to god. she becomes a tower and beacon of faith, compassion and grace.

there are parts that put people off, the first section is very disjointed. recounted from the mentally disabled son, this part is not told in chronological order skipping between 20 years randomly.

the second part is one of the most beautiful segments of all literature. the story skips from two scenes 20 years apart, but as the scenes progress and the protagonist slips into maddening depression with thoughts of suicide the reality of which time it really is becomes meaningless. very elegantly done.
The damn honeysuckles. this leaves you to wonder
did he want to "do incest" making it not just a lie to his father that he did do it, to protect her and her bastard pregnasncy.

those damn honeysuckles

8.5/10
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#33
Yet another Louise Penny Inspector Gamache mystery. I’ve now read books. I try to spread them out over time. The Nature Of The Beast was definitely a favorites despite the subject matter so much darker than the others.

I want to live in the tiny village of Three Pines in an eastern province of Quebec. Not located on any map and travelers only find it by accident. What a loveable cast of quirky characters that grow throughout the series.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#34
Yet another Louise Penny Inspector Gamache mystery. I’ve now read books. I try to spread them out over time. The Nature Of The Beast was definitely a favorites despite the subject matter so much darker than the others.

I want to live in the tiny village of Three Pines in an eastern province of Quebec. Not located on any map and travelers only find it by accident. What a loveable cast of quirky characters that grow throughout the series.
you'd love a bookstore in Houston. it's called murder by the book. it almost exclusively sells mysteries. with whole sections dedicated to sub genres rather than broad categories: female protagonist, medieval mysteries, steampunk mysteries, ww1 or 2 era mysteries, teenage mysteries, time travel mysteries, archaelogical mysteries, etc.

anyway it's a fun little shop with a humorous decor, and a passionate staff. I think you'd love it
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#35
This is slightly off topic because I read the book in 2015.

The Sue Grafton alphabet series is a Kindle Deal today. Letters A through O. It got me curious. I read “D” is for Deadbeat” in 2015. I remembered precious little about it. I thought I remembered it being “OK”. I went back and checked and indeed I rated it a “3”. Why else would I not read any more? Then I read the plot summary. Still very little recognition but it actually sounded better than the book was. It was an airplane book. I couldn’t relate to the detective IIRC.

But check this out. She stopped at the letter “Y”. There will be no “Z”. She died last year of cancer. She didn’t want a ghost writer (or TV or movie made of her books). Odd her passing before the last letter. Coincidental but odd nevertheless.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#36
This is slightly off topic because I read the book in 2015.

The Sue Grafton alphabet series is a Kindle Deal today. Letters A through O. It got me curious. I read “D” is for Deadbeat” in 2015. I remembered precious little about it. I thought I remembered it being “OK”. I went back and checked and indeed I rated it a “3”. Why else would I not read any more? Then I read the plot summary. Still very little recognition but it actually sounded better than the book was. It was an airplane book. I couldn’t relate to the detective IIRC.

But check this out. She stopped at the letter “Y”. There will be no “Z”. She died last year of cancer. She didn’t want a ghost writer (or TV or movie made of her books). Odd her passing before the last letter. Coincidental but odd nevertheless.
wow. that's uhh... a combination of depressing and quite beautiful and perfect ending.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#37
Sometimes reading a book by a new author and I have high hopes. Sometimes I’m skeptical and get a pleasant surprise.

I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan and Laurie R. King is supposed to be one of the best. Her twist is that the entire series is from the perspective of his young wife.

Doyle killed Holmes at some waterfall battling his arch enemy Moriarity. Watson finds evidence of both going down. Doyle wants to move on. Public pressures him to bring him back. So he returns to Watsons shocked delight 3 years later novel time.

So modern authors write new books. In King’s version he marries his 24 year old apprentice. Cradle robber.

From the beginning she prattles on about Bolsheviks, Brittish governance of India and a bunch of other stuff I know nothing about. His wife Mary is the star even though it’s a Sherlock story. The book title is The Game and I’m not even sure I understand what the game is. Well, vaguely I do The spy dance.

The mystery was lame. The upcoming twist obvious. She writes in the old style and hakf the time I’m lost. Parts were very exciting but I can get that from a thriller..

I gave it 3/5 stars. I already have 4 mystery series anyhow. Maybe if you’re British or Indian you appreciate it more. I would have punted if not for my personal weirdo rule that I must read it if I purchased it or once I get past 30 pages I’m stuck free or not. I look at some of the nutty rules here people make for themseves so this is my own kookiness. I feel like one of those Opus Dei priests inflicting punishment on myself for making a bad decision. Who are those men approaching me...?

 
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Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#38
Friends Of The Dusk-Phil Rickman. Book 13 of the Merilee Watkins series.

A self-doubting, imperfect, chain smoking, petite female single mom who is a Catholic priest who leads her first small parish and is given the additional task as serving as the Deliverance Minister (i.e. excorcist) of her surrounding area in South Wales and it seems that some higher up or another in the church is always out to ruin her, and who always ends up getting caught up in a murder investigation. Add in a supporting cast of well drawn characters. Best read in order to show character growth but certainly not necessary.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#39
reread likely the best short story to come out of Russia (If you don't include expatriated sci fi authors) The Overcoat~ Nikolai Gogol

also The Death of Ivan Illyvich ~ Leo Tolstoy
and The Gambler ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

in my marathon of Gogol I figured I'd start with his best. the most often referenced in cultures all over the world. of course they say "we are all born of the overcoat"

I have read, and listened to this many times and I must say listening is far superior for this story. when reading there is a subtext I missed because I don't know russian. the heroes name is Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin. the narrrator explains that this essentially means he is Akaky shoe son of Akaky shoe. which I take to the equivalent of mundane names like John Smith Johnson (which is important anyway) what the narrator doesn't point out is that Akaky Akakievich sounds like Kaka son of Kaka. my russian friends pointed out that the word Kaka (for poop) comes from Russia, and Akaky sounds similar to Okakat (or however you spell that) which means to wipe with poop. so now his name becomes poop shoe son of poop shoe with a connotation that you stepped in it and spread it across the bottom of your shoe. with this realization the hero becomes that awkward inconvienence of stepping in poop and unable to scrape it off for days.

even before these realizations I loved the story
as a man born to be a copy clerk (the 1800s version of a photo copier) with zero ambition and utter dull joy in a mundane existence with no concept of getting more out of life getting better than horrible pay no pressure job. he can' t even bring himself to making tiny changes. his meager living means he doesn' even buy anything he needs just repairs his clothes for as cheap as he can.

he is forced to replace his overcoat, because it no longer works to keep him warm, and it is too thread bare to repair. he can't afford it initially but gets a boon and has extra money to do so. so suddenly for the first time in his life he has ambition, he spends all that money on making it very nice. whereas he is laughed at previously and constently for his previously green now red "dressing gown" of an overcoat. they now marvel at it. he gets attention and respect, he is now confident he has a future, he has ambition, he has a commanding voice instead of his usual meek, whining, pleaful pathetic voice.they throw a party for the coat on his way home way too late (latest ever for him) he is robbed of his overcoat.

without it he is submissive again. people treat him like poop on their shoe. that little inconvience you must try to remove. he can' t even get a proper police report in to get it back. wearing the threadbare coat again he gets sick and dies and haunts the city just trying to get his coat back, only to disappear after taking the overly dominant police general (?) who wrong him, overcoat.

we are left thinking of a plethora of lessons and sayings

the Death of Ivan Illyvich

is much simpler to right on. Tolstoy is often a steady and straight forward author. death is meaningless, when life was meaningless.

the book centers on a mundane man who did not really do anything. on his deathbed for a long time he goes through so many coulda shoulda and didnts while the people around him seem less distressed but more bothered or put off. Also a background theme of aristocratic excess and selfness.


The Gambler

is more a story of gambling problems. well written and likely new concepts when it came out, now.... we'e all seen this story in media hundreds of times because people refer to this when they wrote a new gambling story.
 
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Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#40
Murder In G Major. Alexia Gordon. What a pleasant surprise. The author is relatively unknown. Only 65 reviews but almost all very positive so I gave her a try. Loved it. Picture an American spunky woman of color who winds up in a relatively small community in Ireland. It’s kind of like The Ghost And Mrs. Muir except with murders. Nothing graphic. It was only 268 pages but hard to put down. Well written, interesting plot, and great characters. Ended with a bit of a cliffhanger and I will definitely buy the next one at a later time. It left me with a good feeling and sometimes you just need a book like this as a change of pace.

Now that I’m reading more mysteries I’m getting the hang of guessing the murderers. I think in this case it was more a matter of good clues.To her credit nothing out of left field.

Only complaint was the main characrers name. Gethsemane doesnt quite roll off your tongue.
 
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