Another Open Thread

By request, an open thread for people to share book choices (and other things).






263 replies
  1. 1
    AhabTRuler says:

    Well, the last book I finished was Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Tecnologies by Charles Perrow. Dull for most people, but fascinating to me.

    Currently, I am rereading Kant’s Prologomena to Any Future Metaphysics. I wasn’t as thorough as I could have been during my Philosophy class this past semester.

  2. 2
    John Cole says:

    @AhabTRuler: I could count the number of philosophy books I’ve read on both hands and both feet, assuming I took my socks off, and Prologomena was one of them.

    On the other hand, I think the most important class I had in philosphy dealt with symbolic logic.

    Sort of off topic, but the class i had that made me most feel clueless- matrix algebra. I just have come to terms with the fact that my brain is not wired for that. On the other hand, my brother, the smartest person I know, is all about philosphy and mathematics, and had advanced degrees in both fields. I haven’t won an argument with him since I was 14 and he was 10. I’ve learned to cope.

  3. 3
    demkat620 says:

    I just picked up American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips.

  4. 4
    alphie says:

    I just finished The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.

    Great book, can’t wait for the movie.

  5. 5
    Jason says:

    “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”

  6. 6

    Books? After turning us on to bacon wrapped chicken with tarragon and lavender/lemon bars, you want us to talk about books.

    The only book I’m interested in right now is a cookbook.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    KG says:

    @6: then I would suggest “To Serve Man”

  9. 9
    El-Franklo says:

    Everything that Tim Dorsey writes. I giggle incessantly at times when I read his novels – and almost never do that. I need a kleenix box nearby when I am reading about Serge. (I tend to snot all over when I get into a non-stop-laughing mode. I would say I love that those episodes are rare, but I would actually love alot more of them.)

    Anyway, Florida Roadkill is the first novel. Enjoy.

  10. 10
    AhabTRuler says:

    @John Cole: For my final semester, I took three 300 level philosophy classes. Advanced Philosophy, Philosophy of Law, and Philosophy of Language. The second and third were really enjoyable, the first was a pain in my ass.

  11. 11
    Original Lee says:

    I just watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with my teenaged niece. It was the first time for her, and I had to keep stopping the DVD to explain things to her (such as, there really were places that didn’t have very many women in the 1850s). She really liked the dancing, though.

    The last fiction book I finished reading was Fortress of Ice, by C.J. Cherryh. I find the way she posits the use of magic in that universe to be very interesting, and I like the level of detail she involves in describing low-tech living. I also think she uses Quinaltine/Bryaltine/Teranthine religions quite well in terms of the political infighting.

    The last nonfiction book I finished reading was Christianity for the Rest of Us, which is a very loosely structured discussion of two main themes: what traditionally denominational (i.e., not fundamentalist) Christians are looking for in a church; and what some traditionally denominational churches are doing to thrive. There were some moderately interesting points made about traditional denominations relative to nondenominational community churches, but there weren’t very many Aha-Erlebnisse in it for me – it was more sort of a nod, nod, yup, yup kind of book.

    I am currently re-reading Water Baby: The Story of Alvin. It’s still pretty cool, even on a third time through.

  12. 12
    Indylib says:

    @Jason: How is it? I’ve been thinking about it, but the premise is so odd, I was afraid it would be stupid.

  13. 13
    cletus says:

    for sci-fi fans, The Walls of the Universe, by Paul Melko. It’s the first of (hopefully) many.

  14. 14
    Phoebe says:

    Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
    http://www.amazon.com/Under-Ba.....0385509510

    It starts with a true crime story of a fundie Mormon killing of a mainline Mormon and her baby, then backs up with the whole history of the Mormon church, LDS, and the split with the fundamentalists, FLDS.

    Fascinating and freaky, and very well written.

  15. 15
    Krista says:

    I’m currently (and slowly) making my way through Pillars of the Earth. In some ways I’m enjoying it, and in some ways it’s depressing me. So the jury’s still out.

  16. 16
    Aaron Baker says:

    I recently finished Inga Clendinnen’s AZTECS: AN INTERPRETATION. I was a Classical historian (before I had to become a lawyer), and I’ve trying lately to increase my knowledge of other premodern peoples than the Greeks and Romans. AZTECS is a very Geertzian “thick description” of Aztec beliefs and ritual, and how these helped the Aztecs make sense of the inimical cosmos they found themselves occupying. We obviously won’t care for many of their answers; and human sacrifice was plainly a lot messier and less sexy than it is in the movies; but we’re stuck with the same inimcal cosmos, and the same need to put some intellectual tether on it.

    Anyway, the book’s not easy going, and it may not be the best first book to read about the Aztecs (Richard Townsend’s Thames & Hudson survey is an admirable place to begin); but it is fascinating; it creates the impression (at the least intermittently) that you’re looking at this culture from the inside out; and, without minimizing in the least the horror of much Aztec ritual, it gives an unforgettable sense of what a catastrophe the arrival of Europeans was for the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas. So, if you’ve ever entertained even the least interest in American Indians or pre-Columbian civilizations, give it a read, or the Conquista, give it a read.

  17. 17
    Ken J. says:

    Based on Anne Laurie’s recommendation from a day or so ago, I ventured out to Borders tonight to pick up a copy of Castle Freeman’s “All That I Have.” It had better be good, or you’ll both be getting a cranky note from me.

    Note to shoppers: Borders has it filed as “literature,” not as “mystery.”

    I’d be reading it tonight, except that I was seduced away by Donna Leon’s police procedural “Death at La Fenice,” which jumped off the bookstore shelf into my paws tonight. Venice *and* opera? Couldn’t resist; I jumped right into the book as soon as I got home. The conductor is poisoned during the intermission before the third act of “La Traviata.” Wheeeeee!

    This will be an interesting experiment, to see if I can get my brain to process fiction. My brain has been unwilling to do that for some years; I think reading on the net has scrambled it.

    I look forward to Balloon Juice’s next incarnation as a literary blog.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Brachiator says:

    Books – I enjoyed The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800 so much that I bought a hardbound edition after originally reading the paperback version. The authors, Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick weave politcal, social and economic history as they make palpably vivid the early years of the republic. You get a clear idea of how the French played Americans for fools (looking for a bribe for continued support, but really more interested in thwarting British interests than in helping the young country). You also get a wonderful understanding of how Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were unparalleled political thinkers, but entirely out of their depths when it came to understanding economics, where Alexander Hamilton shined.

    Elsewhere, I had grand fun with the new movie, Drag Me To Hell. I love it when everyone joins in on the fun. Walking up to the ticket counter, I said, “We want to be dragged to hell at 4:00.” Giving us our tickets, the vendor said sternly, “Go to Hell!”

    The movie is much more humorous than the trailers suggest and is not nearly as gory as some might imagine (its rated PG-13). Director Sam Raimi is having fun, and wants the audience to enjoy being scared out of its wits. It has a slightly retro-feel and is limber and the opposite of most bloated effects-extravaganzas that pop out like cinematic boils over the summer.

    Alison Lohman is game as she endures all manner of indignities as a bank officer who falls victim to a gypsy curse. The movie is often preposterous, but damned enjoyable.

    It was also fun watching groups of children squeal with delight both as they came out of and went in to see Pixar’s Up. I understand that there are both 2D and 3D versions of the film in some theaters, but also that the Pixar people don’t overdo the 3D effects.

  20. 20
    John Cole says:

    I’m actually mad at myself by how little I read books these days. I bet I am down to little more than 30-45 minutes a day. I spend so much time reading news, journals, magazines, that my reading is limited to just 30-45 minutes a day. Granted, I spend 50% of my day reading, but very little is spent on longform reading, unless you count long magazine articles, journals, or investigative reports.

    There is just too much for me to keep up with. I actually like having to take plane flights and go to the doctors office because I get to catch up on podcasts and books.

    It really sucks. So much of being “informed” these days is having to be aware of transient bullshit. That is one reason I really like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, who, for all their faults, seem to be able to spend a good bit more time on longform thinking and reading.

    This is a real weakness for me.

  21. 21
    TX Expat says:

    The last enjoyable book (series) I read was Phillip Pullmans’ Dark Material’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Dark_Materials

    If you all would like an intelligent discussion of these books, Michael Berube did a series of pieces on it. This humble poster is not capable of picking out all the ins and outs beyond the fact that it is an interesting (and, admittedly hostile to organized religion) deconstruction of the three books.

    When I was in undergrad, I had a hard time deciding on whether I wanted to pursue a dual degree in either history/religion or history/political theory. I should have gone with the former since I went to a Jesuit college even though I’m a committed secularist since there were lots of savvy people there who were willing to debate the “why” of faith.

  22. 22
    Persia says:

    I started re-reading Yukio Mishima, arguably modern Japan’s greatest writer. I read him a lot when I was in high school, and it’s really interesting re-reading with an adult perspective.

    If anyone wants to dip their toes into Japanese comics, it’s hard to go wrong with Fullmetal Alchemist, which is a steampunky, funny, action-packed story with a deep, smart moral grounding.

  23. 23
    hilzoy says:

    The Lost City of Z is really good. I also just finished Legacy of Ashes, which made me despair of the CIA.

  24. 24
    John Cole says:

    I guess a better way of distilling my previous comment is that we (and by we, I include myself) seem to be moving from classical scholars to people who are more like legal scholars. The distinction is important. Classical scholars think longform, and know things. Legal scholars know where to find things and look things up. If you look at our society, especially with the rise of the internet as a go-to source, we have moved it seems from people who know things and recognize relationships and understand things, to people who simply know where to refute things. Sadly, I have fallen in the latter category these past few years.

    I hope that makes sense.

  25. 25
    AhabTRuler says:

    @John Cole: Thanks.

    I too struggle to keep my nose in a book as much as I should. The internets is way too easy. And concise.

  26. 26
    kidkawartha says:

    John-
    If you don’t have a lot of time, the master of the police procedural just released his latest- Michael Connelly’s “The Scarecrow”.
    http://www.michaelconnelly.com.....ecrow.html
    Blew through it in about 5 or 6 hours last night. Then you can go all the way back and start with “Black Echo”. He is the best of the best.

  27. 27
    Cain says:

    @Alan:

    It’s fun watching Charles Johnson finally see the RW losing it’s senses.

    Wierd, reading the comments you’d think I’ve stumbled on another balloon-juice type blog with all the mockery of other right wing sites.

    cain

  28. 28
    steve s says:

    Currently reading:

    Very Good, Jeeves – Wodehouse
    The Handmaid’s Tale – Atwood
    The Eight – Neville

    and Men’s Health, Vogue, and the last three New Yorkers.

  29. 29
    iluvsummr says:

    @Phoebe: Read that a couple of years ago and couldn’t put it down even though I found it disturbing overall.

    Just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the Shore,’ an excellent book for a 19 hour trans-Atlantic flight. I’ve read J.M. Coetzee but not Nadine Gordimer so I decided to remedy that. Picked up two of her books while in Cape Town: ‘July’s People,’ and ‘beethoven was one-sixteenth black.’ Starting on ‘July’s People’ now.

  30. 30
    Cain says:

    @Original Lee:

    I just watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with my teenaged niece. It was the first time for her, and I had to keep stopping the DVD to explain things to her (such as, there really were places that didn’t have very many women in the 1850s). She really liked the dancing, though.

    Watch the bollywood movie “Satte pe Satta” an old Amitabh Bachchan flick. I enjoyed it a lot and it’s a rip of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers except they added a villain and what not. It’s like watching two movies at the same time!

    cain

  31. 31
    laxel says:

    This will sound all bandwagoney, but The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

  32. 32
    Tattoosydney says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor:

    The only book I’m interested in right now is a cookbook.

    The best cookbook I have bought in the last few years is “Maze: The cookbook”, written by Jason Atherton, and based on dishes from his London restaurant (owned by shouty Gordon). You can only buy the original version from UK Amazon. The food is amazing, and consists of sets of three linked recipes, that contain similar ingredients or similar techniques, so that once you have prepared one part, you can use it in different dishes. I ate there last year and some of the dishes – the cornish crab with sweetcorn sorbet, the BLT in a cocktail glass, the oineapple carpaccio – are wonderful, and often quite simple. Avoid the version which is available soon for release on Amazon US, as shouty Gordon has obviously decided he didn’t get enough credit on the cover of the UK version.

    Also recommended, “Appetisers“, by Shane Osborn, an Australian chef working in London at his restaurant Pied a Terre.

    For sheer cookbook porn, it’s hard to go past Christine Manfield’s “Fire” – she is another Australian chef, best known for her architectural desserts, but in this book, she visits major cities of the world, and provides truly wonderful dishes from each. It’s also one of the most beautiful cook books ever, with slip case and cover all covered in bright red soft fabric – not the most practical book to cook with, but amazing to read and enjoy.

  33. 33
    Captain Goto says:

    I am *so* buying “Idiot America” by Charlie Pierce.

  34. 34
    TX Expat says:

    @John Cole:

    I see your point in law school quite frequently. Of course, we’re being trained to think this way, but since I was trained to look at the long term and synthesize a lot of ideas in their historical context I have a completely different take on legal issues. Needless to say, this does not serve me so well in school.

    But, I, like you, find myself reading so many blogs/legal analysis/news matter (ok, really the majority of things that I read are my law school reading materials i.e. case law) that I fall into the same rut. I don’t have the time or energy anymore to read books about the underlying assumptions underpinning our political discourse or any of our discourse for that matter.

    On my breaks, the only thing I feel like reading are Hunter S. Thompson or Harry Potter, but usually I just wind up zoning out watching a movie. Sigh…

  35. 35
    Persia says:

    @laxel: It is a really excellent book. It’s best to not think about science too much while reading it, but that’s true of most books anyway.

  36. 36
    Captain Goto says:

    And…g’night, all.

  37. 37
    Mike in NC says:

    Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

    Very good book. Got the audio version last year (narrated by Scott Brick) from Fairfax County VA library. One of the best library systems in the country, according to a few professional librarians I’ve talked to. Here in Brunswick County NC, however, you can’t find much in audio beyond romance novels and the “Left Behind” garbage. Yuck.

  38. 38
    Cain says:

    @John Cole:

    This is a real weakness for me.

    Get Dougj to do it. You seem to be in need of a tropical vacation. I suggest you go to Los Roques for vacation. Nobody around, not commercialized… fantastic. You’ll catch up on many books. Say Hi to that dude ruling in Venezuala.. I hear he has some good reading material! har har har!

    cain

  39. 39
    laxel says:

    or “You Know Me Al (book in HTML)” by Ring Lardner.

  40. 40
    Aaron Baker says:

    That last sentence came out more garbled than I intended; the art of posting quickly AND accurately has completely passed me by.

  41. 41
    Michael G says:

    It’s not a book, but jeezus, I need to post this somewhere. In a “so bad it’s good but then wraps back over to bad” way, I highly recommend the Young Con Anthem rap. Which is apparently not a joke.

  42. 42
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    Some good ones that come to mind.

    And Then We Came to the End – by Josh Ferris. Very funny read for anyone who has worked in an office.

    A Soldier of the Great War – Mark Helprin

    American Tabloid – James Ellroy

  43. 43
    Lola says:

    I love LOVE love Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It is amazing that a piece of literature can be so entertaining. A true page turner. Check it out at the library.

  44. 44
    Phoebe says:

    iluvsummr @29, Didn’t you love that one guy who turns apostate when he found out the prophet wasn’t infallible, but stays in the town anyway because it’s a good place to raise your kids, even though he is a total outcast? I think about that book a lot. It’s not a good reflection on the hearts of men, generally, sadly. But that one guy was great.

    steve s @28, Do you like the Wodehouse? I love the Wodehouse.

    I also recommend Wigfield, by Sedaris, Dinello, and Colbert.
    http://www.amazon.com/Wigfield.....ef=ed_oe_p

    I only read the book, but according to my friend, who was laughing hysterically in the park, alone with her ipod, and freaking people out, the audio book is good too.

  45. 45
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Steeplejack, if you’re out there, I’ve read most of the books you’ve suggested. Not my cup of tea. Now that we have a shiny book thread, might I reiterate my request for dark, twisted, and/or haunting books? I read graphic novels, as well. Just don’t be offended if I don’t like ’em because I have really eclectic, odd, picky taste.

    @hilzoy: hilzoy, if that is really you, I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog entries.

  46. 46
    laxel says:

    Also, and this is a serious rec, the audio book for 1776, read by the author. What a perfect voice for the subject. Tremendous.

  47. 47
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Ken J.:

    Donna Leon’s police procedural “Death at La Fenice,”

    I’ve read all of Donna Leon’s books as they have come out – she writes pretty good police procedurals, but with an amazing ability to convey the feel of Venice, and great characters – worth picking up.

  48. 48
    Phoebe says:

    Ok, I’m going to the library website and requesting something by this Murakami guy.

  49. 49
    Phoebe says:

    asiangrrl, for you the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.

  50. 50
    burnspbesq says:

    I’m pissed at Walter Mosely for (apparently) killing off Easy Rawlins. But not so pissed off that I’m not devouring his latest book, The Long Fall, in which he introduces a new detective character, Leonid McGill. So far, so good.

    After that, I’ll probably read Krugman’s book on depression economics.

    Waiting for the sequel to Presumed Innocent to come out later this year is killing me.

  51. 51
    Indylib says:

    Does anyone read anything, you know, like fiction, for fun that isn’t mystery or Terry Pratchett?

    I like non-fiction, especially the political stuff, but I got burnt out reading about all the ways Shrub and Darth fucked us up, over and around. I read everything I could get my hands on for about 5 years. Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Fiasco: The American Adventure in Iraq, The Looming Tower, The Assassins’ Gate, etc but I don’t seem to be able to work up the energy to read the stuff that’s come out in the last year or so. I keep trying to work up the gumption to read Nixonland, mostly because of the good things I’ve heard about it from commenters here, but haven’t goten it yet. Doesn’t exactly call to me as enjoyable summer reading.

  52. 52
    Tattoosydney says:

    @TX Expat:

    Phillip Pullmans’ Dark Material’s

    Some of my favourite books ever… If you enjoyed those, and particularly if you have kids, his Sally Lockhart mysteries are wonderful…

  53. 53
    Calming Influence says:

    What I’m reading right now, and loving it: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!)

    Now it may be enticing enough to know that in the parallel universe in which this novel takes place, all the daughters are highly trained in the martial arts in order to deal with zombies; Elizabeth Bennet carries a dagger in an ankle sheath. But just in case that doesn’t hook you, here’s a brief excerpt:

    He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins’ admiration. The hall, the dining room, and all its furniture, were examined and praised; and his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet’s heart, but for the mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property. The dinner too was highly admired, and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins the excellency of it’s cookery was owing.
    Briefly forgetting her manners, Mary grabbed her fork and leapt from her chair onto the table. Lydia, who was seated nearest her, grabbed her ankle before she could dive at Mr. Collins and, presumably, stab him about the head and neck for such an insult. Jane and Elizabeth turned away so Mr. Collins would not see them laughing.
    He was set right by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters were too busy training to be bothered with the kitchen. He begged pardon for having displeased Mary. In a softened tone she declared herself not at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour.

    It’s really a lot of fun.

  54. 54
    burnspbesq says:

    @Indylib:

    Contrary to what Republicans believe, The Handmaid’s Tale is fiction, not an instruction manual.

    If you’ve never read it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  55. 55
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Phoebe: Ooooh, looks intriguing. Should I start with Uglies, or doesn’t it matter?

  56. 56
    Indylib says:

    @Calming Influence:
    Thanks for the excerpt, sounds like it’s worth a try. Any version of P & P that takes the idea of stabbing Mr. Collins about the head and shoulders seriously is worth reading.

  57. 57
    Phoebe says:

    Yes, start with Uglies!

  58. 58
    AhabTRuler says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Have you ever read any CS Friedman?

  59. 59
    va says:

    In the last couple weeks I’ve read mad fiction: Ragtime, Mumbo Jumbo, Manhattan Transfer, 1984, Riddley Walker, Invisible Man, and Hawksmoor. Started Gravity’s Rainbow tonight; I’ll be slogging through that for the next few days. This is all for my comps in a few months. I fucking hate books, and I think I need glasses now. But they’re all good!

  60. 60
    Tattoosydney says:

    @steve s:
    @Phoebe:

    I love the Wodehouse

    Who does not love the Wodehouse? Even though he seems to have written hundreds of stories, all with basically the same plot (Bertie gets into trouble, Jeeves fixes problem), every single one is a joy, and a couple of hours with Bertie and his butler is enough to make the world a wonderful place again.

  61. 61
    Indylib says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I haven’t read it, but it sounds good. Thanks for the recommendation. And it’s only $3.95 on Kindle, can’t beat that with a big stick.

  62. 62
    Rosali says:

    Ok, I just ran and bought 2 Castle Freemons book based on what I read here and an excellent review I heard on NPR. I bought Go With Me and All That I Have. Any suggestions on which one I should read first?

    By “ran and bought” I mean that I sat here and 1-clicked my Amazon purchases which were delivered in less than a minute. I love, love, love the Kindle. It’s a good thing that I recognize that I shouldn’t buy books that I don’t have time to read because, otherwise, I’d be here like those lab mice who keep pressing the lever to deliver cocaine pellets.

  63. 63
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Phoebe: Right. I am ordering it as I type. Well, I’m going to wait to see if there are any other suggestions so maybe I can get a discount on shipping.

    @Indylib: I like Banana Yoshimoto, but she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Chitra Divakaruni’s Sister of My Heart and Wendy Law-Yone’s The Coffin Tree are both great books, too.

    If you like graphic novels, Neil Gaiman is good. One of my fave graphic novels is Midnight Nation by J. Michael Straczynski.

    AhabTRuler, no, I haven’t. Recommend one. Is he sci-fi? I’m not big on sci-fi.

  64. 64
    Crashman06 says:

    @alphie: A bit late but seconded. That book was wonderful; an incredible modern noir. Chabon is brilliant.

  65. 65
    Calming Influence says:

    @Tattoosydney: It’s not just that Jeeves manages to solve whatever difficulty Bertie gets into, but that he does it in a way that maximizes Bertie’s discomfort and embarrassment.
    Plus the stories often include pigs, dangerous swans, and a gentleman’s club that would make George Bush’s frat house look like Phi Bet Kappa.
    Timeless humor.

  66. 66
    AhabTRuler says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Either In Conquest Born and the Madness Season are good stand-alones.

    The Coldfire Trilogy, which is more Fantasyish, is also very good, if a little disappointing in the end. I recommend trying either of the first two books to see if you like her, then go from there.

  67. 67
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    @va: Good luck with Gravity’s Rainbow. It made my head hurt.

  68. 68
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    @Crashman06: It is on my list. I have read most of his other stuff – loved Wonder Boys.

    We saw him read from YPU when it came out and take questions.

  69. 69
    Indylib says:

    @asiangrrlMN:
    Those all sound good, I’ll check them out, thanks.

    I’ve read Mistress of Spices by Chitra Divakaruni, and I really liked it. I bought it used and never thought to see if she had written anything else. I like Neil Gaiman, too.
    I’ve read lot’s of fantasy, but I like the epic stuff the most, as long as the series doesn’t go on so long that I’ve moved 3 times before the damned last book comes out. That’s why I invested in a kindle, moving 18 boxes of books every three years sucks.

  70. 70
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @AhabTRuler: I read that they are romps and like space operas. That doesn’t sound very dark to me.

  71. 71
    Krista says:

    Does anyone read anything, you know, like fiction, for fun that isn’t mystery or Terry Pratchett?

    There is something to be said for a novel that is well-written, but fun and light. I can only get into a “heavy” story so often. Jennifer Cruisie is a favourite of mine — she’s got a good ear for dialogue, her characters are quirky as hell, and she’s mastered the art of the non-graphic, yet extremely sexy, sex scene. She’s written a couple of mysteries with Bob Mayer, and those were a lot of fun, too.

  72. 72
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Indylib:

    Does anyone read anything, you know, like fiction, for fun that isn’t mystery or Terry Pratchett?

    Yes.

    Fictionwise, in the last couple of weeks, I have re-read “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. Ignore the existence of the musical – this is one of the best political satires ever written.

    I also read Chuck Palahniuk’s “Lullaby” – I’ve often been disappointed by his books, but this is the real deal – nasty, funny and (for him) surprisingly coherent.

    I also just read number 4 of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series. Four hundred page novels on the intricacies of 19th century naval warfare should be numbingly boring, but somehow I keep going back. Perfect holiday reading.

  73. 73
    steve s says:

    It really sucks. So much of being “informed” these days is having to be aware of transient bullshit. That is one reason I really like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, who, for all their faults, seem to be able to spend a good bit more time on longform thinking and reading.
    This is a real weakness for me.

    This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. 95% of news is functionally worthless. Trainwreck in Peru. Chemical fire in Abeline. Hot young white girl goes missing in Scranton. National Review writer calls Sotomayer ‘dumb beaner’. It’s information that could hardly be more irrelevant to your life if you tried.

    I read news and blogs every day, but I recognize that it’s virtually worthless. It’s more an addiction than anything. I learn nothing of any importance or value from 95% of it. It’s just immediate, and fresh, and so it feeds that read-a-holic need.

    I learn more from a single good long-ass piece in the New Yorker or Vanity Fair than from all the news sites and blogs I’ve read all week. I just have amass some more self-discipline and wean myself off the hourly ‘news’ fix.

  74. 74
    Jon H says:

    Recently bought the new China Mieville novel, The City And The City, but I haven’t started reading it yet. I’m finishing up a book about the 16th century French wars of religion, and there are about 70 other books on my kindle ahead of the new Mieville (which is also on my kindle. Pre-ordering a book takes on new meaning when it’s delivered wirelessly at 12:01 am on the release date.)

    I’ve been reading a lot more since i got the kindle, but it helps that I spend a fair amount of time on buses.

    The ability to read a kindle in the sun is a great excuse to get away from the computer and get some vitamin D.

  75. 75
    AhabTRuler says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Yeah, well the review on the amazon page is crap, the plot is a great deal more twisted than that description implies. The customer descriptions are much better.

  76. 76
    Krista says:

    Fictionwise, in the last couple of weeks, I have re-read “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. Ignore the existence of the musical – this is one of the best political satires ever written.

    I’ve been wanting to read that, but rarely buy new books anymore (due to cost, not the lack of finding something I want to read), and so have been waffling. I think I’ll have to take the leap and give it a try, as I’ve only ever heard good things about it.

  77. 77
    Tattoosydney says:

    Turning to non-fiction (I AM enjoying this thread), I thoroughly recommend:

    James Wood’s “How Fiction Works“, which is truly fascinating to read.

    Patrick Smith’s “Ask the Pilot” – everything you want to know about flying, and every worry you have convincingly addressed.

    Bill Bryson’s “Made in America” – a history of American language, and why you lot speak the way you do…

    (“Aluminum”? Pfffft.)

  78. 78
    Anne Laurie says:

    I look forward to Balloon Juice’s next incarnation as a literary blog.

    Oh, hush, J********. Don’t scare the nice man who’s given me an opportunity to run my big fat mouth without having to learn FYWordPress!

    Looking forward to hearing what you think of Donna Leon, since the Spousal Unit loves “exotic” mystery series. He’s just replaced most of his Jonathan Gash collection, and we’re about halfway through the BBC’s Lovejoy series via Netflix.

    For general consumption, I should mention that Lovejoy is played by Ian McShane, more recently of Deadwood and Kings. McShane’s Lovejoy, and the TV episodes in general, are a lot less dark than the original novels. Good light entertainment, although the 80s outfits may cause unfortunate flashbacks to those of us who actually remember combining spandex and ‘power suit’ shoulderpads!

  79. 79
    Indylib says:

    @Krista:

    Yeah, Krista! I love Crusie. Welcome to Temptation and Faking It are my favorites. Ya gotta love the Dempsey clan and their love for Dusty Springfield and a good con.
    I love the fact that the characters are flawed and “bent” as Crusie would say.

  80. 80
    jenniebee says:

    I tried reading P&P&Zombies. I made it almost all the way through chapter 2.

    Now reading: Persuasion and Little Dorrit

  81. 81
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @AhabTRuler: Which one?

    Fake hubby, if you guys follow the Queen’s English for the most part, why do you say eggplant instead of aubergine?

  82. 82
    Krista says:

    Yeah, Krista! I love Crusie. Welcome to Temptation and Faking It are my favorites.

    I think Fast Women is my fave, but yeah, they’re all really great.

  83. 83
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Calming Influence:

    It’s not just that Jeeves manages to solve whatever difficulty Bertie gets into, but that he does it in a way that maximizes Bertie’s discomfort and embarrassment.

    Yep.

    Plus the stories often include pigs, dangerous swans, and a gentleman’s club that would make George Bush’s frat house look like Phi Bet Kappa.

    And the scariest collection of aunts in literature.

  84. 84
    iluvsummr says:

    @Persia:

    I started re-reading Yukio Mishima, arguably modern Japan’s greatest writer. I read him a lot when I was in high school, and it’s really interesting re-reading with an adult perspective.

    Better than Yasunari Kawabata? I’ve never read Mishima – any books in particular you’d recommend?

  85. 85
    Crashman06 says:

    @Gordon, The Big Express Engine: I was very impressed with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay.

    And I have to bring this up now, but is anyone out there a George R. R. Martin / Song of Ice and Fire fan? I really want to talk about good fantasy…

  86. 86
    BethanyAnne says:

    Finally got “Outliers” from the library. High hopes for it. But am currently working my way through “The Great Transformation” by Karen Armstrong. So far, it’s been really really good.

  87. 87
    Calming Influence says:

    @Indylib:
    Snowcrash.

  88. 88
    Jon H says:

    OT: Another baby-crazed woman?

    Have you seen the story about the Philadelphia woman who called police claiming to have been abducted, with her daughter, by black men, and stuffed in a car trunk? She was later found with her daughter in Disneyworld, having flown under a stolen identity.

    According to this story the woman is suspected of misappropriating a lot of money from her employer, spending it on, among other things, fertility treatments.

    And she already has 3 kids.

  89. 89
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Jon H:

    the new China Mieville novel, The City And The City

    It’s in the post on its way to me from the US to Australia… It’s very exciting, although you never know with him. The Scar is one of my favourite books ever, while Iron Council was somehow a bit disappointing.

    Fake wifey… have you read Perdido Street Station? If you like fantasy and wierdness (and books that don’t feel the need to explain every aspect of the fantasy world, but let you work stuff out for yourself), then this may be the book for you.

  90. 90
    AhabTRuler says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Well, the official review/synopsis for ICB is total junk, while the one for TMS is more accurate.

  91. 91
    Indylib says:

    @Tattoosydney: Wicked sounds excellent.
    @Krista: If you have the wherewithal consider getting a Kindle. You don’t have to go out to get the book and they are cheaper than the paper version. Mine paid for itself in less than a year. If that’s not something you want to use money on right now with the baby coming check out used book stores.
    @jenniebee: I re-read all of Austen every summer.

  92. 92
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Jon H: Don’t forget, she blamed the ubiquitous ‘black men’ with the abduction as well. Feh.

    @Tattoosydney: Oooh, fake hubby, that looks good. Would you recommend The Scar as well?

    AhabTRuler, ok, I will give her a shot. I will start with her first book first (since I’m kinda anal that way).

  93. 93
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Krista:

    I think I’ll have to take the leap and give it a try, as I’ve only ever heard good things about it.

    If you’ve read the Oz books or seen the movie, Wicked is a wonderful experience. The Wizard is a fascist, political oppression of talking animals abounds, the Great and Mighty Wizard has invaded part of Oz for its natural resources… it’s wonderful, very sad, and ultimately a very powerful book.

  94. 94
    Tattoosydney says:

    @jenniebee:

    Now reading: Persuasion and Little Dorrit

    Any zombies in either of those?

  95. 95
    Jon H says:

    @Jon H: On additional reading, it appears her third child, 8 months old, is the result of the fertility treatments. That one’s with a new husband, so I suppose she was hurrying to get one with the new guy, not seeking to have even more. Which doesn’t seem quite as bad, although a little weird because she’s only in her early 30s.

  96. 96
    Indylib says:

    @Krista:

    Have you read Katie MacAlister?
    She’s another one with some wicked funny dialog and an odd sense of humor.

  97. 97
    Tattoosydney says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Fake hubby, if you guys follow the Queen’s English for the most part, why do you say eggplant instead of aubergine?

    Our version of English is an odd mix of British and US English… we did have a lot of Australians travel to the US, and vice versa, during our goldrushes, which happened about the same time, and which resulted in a lot of US words coming over here…

    One of our major political parties is the “Labor” party, although the verb/noun is spelled “labour”. We tend to have “apartments”, not flats.

    However, on other things we are very different… Any reference to a “fanny” by an American is sure to cause hilarity in Australia or the UK.

  98. 98
    BethanyAnne says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Hey grrl, does your musical taste skew the same as your book taste? If so, you might try “dead inside” by the Golden Palominos. If you like poetry at all, Nicole Blackman’s “Blood Sugar” is where many of the lyrics come from, and she sings / narrates “dead inside”.

  99. 99
    Calming Influence says:

    @jenniebee:
    Just curious, why didn’t you like it? I’ve been reading and rereading Austen since jr.high, and I’m in my fifties. I’ve seen pretty much every good and bad film adaptation of her novels. It’s really not just a gimmicky take-off; a good 50% or more of P&P&Z are Jane’s own words, and I think Seth Grahame-Smith has done a brilliant job of tweaking it. I’d encourage you to give it another go…

  100. 100
    Tattoosydney says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Would you recommend The Scar as well?

    Definitely. I think the Scar is a better book, but it helps to have read Perdido first. As I said, he expects you to get your head around the oddities of his world without explaining everything, but there is a little bit of background in Perdido that helps you understand Scar.

  101. 101
    Jennifer says:

    Just finished David Copperfield. Don’t know why I never picked up Dickens until now, but damned if he doesn’t write a hell of a yarn. I started with Great Expectations; don’t know which one I’ll pick up next.

    Anyone who’s looking for something really different can’t go wrong with Santa Evita by Tomas Eloy Martinez, a fictionalized account of the perambulations of Eva Peron’s embalmed corpse based on actual events – just hard to tell in the story where the facts end and the fiction begins.

    And for those of you out there who might enjoy some humorous kink that’s not smut, Mario Vargas Llosa’s In Praise of the Stepmother and The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto are fabulous (as is any and everything written by Vargas Llosa).

  102. 102
    grumpy realist says:

    Anne Laurie–you might also like the series of art mysteries (mostly set in Italy) by Iain M. Pears. (The Bernini Bust, etc.) Suitably corkscrewy in plot and obviously written by someone who has had much experience with Italian bureaucracy….

    Another series is the Phyrne Fisher series, set in Australia in the 1920s. Phyrne is a witty rich young woman with a taste for cocktails and beautiful young men. She also turns out to have a good nose for detecting. What raises the series above the ordinary is the immense amount of history that gets woven into each story. Even though the stories are in many ways “feel good stories” where everything ends happily, there are sufficient details and descriptions to make you realize exactly what things were like for, say, a Chinese worker in the gold fields in 1880.

    (Oh, and one of the absolute best alternate world books I have ever read is Armour of Light (co-authored by Melissa Scott.))

    Ah well, back to the nanotech stuff…

  103. 103
    Common Sense says:

    @Krista:

    I really enjoyed Wicked. It is deliciously satirical and IMO by far Macguire’s best work.

    I also loved Pillars of the Earth, as well as most of Follett’s books — Jackdaws is a phenomenal (quick) read.

    I’m a bit surprised no one has brought up Kavalier & Clay when discussing Chabon. Lord knows there’s enough comics fans on this blog, and the book is a wonderful work of literature regardless of its subject.

  104. 104
    BethanyAnne says:

    @Indylib: I love Neal Stephenson. One of the few authors that can make a 900 page book feel short. If you haven’t tried any of his stuff, maybe start with “Cryptonomicon”.

  105. 105
    Steeplejack says:

    @Persia:

    I started rereading Yukio Mishima, arguably modern Japan’s greatest writer.

    I might argue. I much prefer Kawabata, and his work has held up better (for me) since I first read them both in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Thousand Cranes is one of my all-time favorite novels–it goes in the small desert-island duffel bag, not the gigantic “if we have a little more room to spare” one. (And Snow Country is in the bigger bag.)

    But I haven’t read any of Mishima’s stuff in quite a while, and I have been thinking of going back through the Sea of Fertility tetralogy, which I remember making a big impression on me when the individual books first came out. Maybe I’ll work back into it with The Temple of the Golden Pavilion first, which I also liked.

    Question: How do you separate Mishima’s great writing from his bat-shit craziness? Not saying you have to, but the whole homoerotic/military/death fetishism was a bit of a stumbling block for me. It seemed like such a negation of Mishima’s work, although Mishima’s novels dealt with all those subjects in some way or other.

    Also must put in a word for Kobe Abe, the other Japanese writer I associate with that period of my reading. The Ruined Map and The Face of Another are very good. I just reread the former a few months ago. And of course he wrote The Woman in the Dunes, which was made into the excellent (and creepy!) film of the same name.

  106. 106
    Indylib says:

    @Tattoosydney:

    Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin

    Those look interesting. I like the detailed historical stuff.

    Anybody else read Judith Tarr or Morgan Llywelyn?

  107. 107
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I’m a GRRM ASOIAF fan. Gave the series to my ex a couple of years ago. I liked the series so much that when I played the original Metal Gear Online for Playstation 2, I made accounts for Gregor & Sandor Clegane and achieved soldier ranks for each that corresponded with each character’s name. Sandor was a Hound & Gregor was a Doberman. Good times.

    In the current version of Metal Gear Online for Playstation 3, one of my main characters, a female, is named Eowyn. Peter Jackson’s movies turned me on to Tolkien in a big way.

    Right now, I’m struggling to read Larry Bond’s “First Team” series of techno-thrillers. I love his other work (Red Storm Rising w/ Tom Clancy is wonderful), but this series he’s got is a drag to read & I don’t know why.

    I have 1 more in the series to finish besides the one I’m on, then it’s the Da Vinci Code. After that, I’m going to dig into my shed & find Atlas Shrugged.

  108. 108
    Jennifer says:

    After that, I’m going to dig into my shed & find Atlas Shrugged.

    Life is too short to waste it on reading Ayn Rand. She’s such a bad writer.

  109. 109
    BethanyAnne says:

    @Common Sense: Aye, I’ll 3rd or 4th the Wicked rec. And 2nd the “his best by far” :-)

  110. 110
    Jon H says:

    Re: @Alan:

    Some of those commenters can’t seem to understand that the Obama rule regarding submission of stimulus-lobbying comments isn’t an unconstitutional restriction on speech.

    People are free to comment on projects or lobby any way they want, Obama’s rules be damned. They don’t, however, have the right to be listened to. The Obama administration is free to circular-file any comments that don’t follow the transparency rules.

    I imagine the same people also think it’s unconstitutional that they can’t file their taxes in the form of a sestina or an interpretive dance.

  111. 111
    Tattoosydney says:

    Hmmm. My Amazon cart has fifteen items in it. I knew this open thread was a bad idea.

  112. 112
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I just watched the DVD of High Fidelity, which I dug out of storage. In keeping with the top five list theme, I’d say my top five books are:

    The Sirens of Titan (Vonnegut)
    Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut)
    Ship of Fools (Katherine Anne Porter)
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers)
    Lost Illusions (Balzac)

    Actually that was completely impossible, which is also in keeping with the themes of the movie. Trying to whittle it down to five is infuriating. But fun. The first two, for instance, are definitely tied, choosing between them would be like choosing only one of your children. Or so I’ve heard from people who have children.

    Oh and “High Fidelity” would now definitely be on my top five list of movies. At least right now after re-watching it.

    Having things stashed away in storage in different cities is a great way to revisit things you’d forgotten, sort of keeps them from you just long enough. I also took out of the DVD box in the storage space:

    Dr Zhivago
    Laurence of Arabia
    Lost in Translation
    Wall Street
    Crimes and Misdemeanors
    The Edge

    and shall have myself a little festival.

  113. 113
    Steeplejack says:

    @hilzoy:

    I also just finished Legacy of Ashes, which made me despair of the CIA.

    Amen. The trilogy I read last year that made me despair of everything was: Legacy of Ashes, Fiasco (which should have been more honestly titled Fucked!, but I can see the, er, marketing issues) and Imperial Life in the Emerald City. Jeebus, what a hat trick that was.

    After that I read nothing but Nancy Drew mysteries for three months.

  114. 114
    Crashman06 says:

    @Robertdsc-iphone: No better fantasy series out there. ASOIAF blows Jordan’s (RIP) Wheel of Time out of the water.

    Did you know that HBO is making a Song of Ice and Fire series? Currently filming in Northern Ireland; Peter Dinklage has been cast as Tyrion.

  115. 115

    Harvey and Lee by John Armstrong. It’s self-published and Armstrong could have used a proofreader. Plus, it’s impossible to find. Last I saw a copy on eBay fetched $175.

    But it’s the best book on the JFK assassination. Ever.

    Easier to find is The Assassinations, a collection of essays by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, which is available at Amazon and there’s a long essay within by Armstrong.

    All your answers to why America has been sliding inexorably into burning hell since the sixties is all there.

  116. 116
    Steeplejack says:

    @Lola:

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

    I just finished that a few months ago and liked it a lot. I was weirdly nervous going in, because it was my first Murakami and I really wanted to like him. I think Norwegian Wood is up next . . . unless you have a recommendation?

  117. 117
    Indylib says:

    @Calming Influence: @BethanyAnne:

    I’ll have to give Stephenson a second look. His books have always looked a little to techie for what I go for so I haven’t really paid any attention to the premises, but they look good, thanks.

  118. 118
    Steeplejack says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Did you see the other entry where I recommended Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box?

  119. 119
    Comrade Kevin says:

    Right now I am reading “Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal”. It’s a really weird, fascinating book.

  120. 120
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Indylib:

    Those look interesting. I like the detailed historical stuff.

    They took me a while to get into, because his historical language and detail is SO accurate that sometimes it is like reading a book in a foreign language, and he (thankfully) resists the urge to explain things that would be obvious from an 18th century perspective, but less clear from our modern day view. However, I love his characters, and his descriptions of sea battles are perfect. There are a hell of a lot of books, but I just tend to buy one each time I go on holidays – they’re perfect to read when you have nothing else to do…

  121. 121
    Jennifer says:

    I haven’t read Legacy of Ashes but suspect there are many reiterations of points made in this article, which ran in the Atlantic a full 3-1/2 years before 9/11. This was back before the Atlantic fully descended into Michael Kelly suckage, when it was still actually worth paying for a subscription.

  122. 122
    Anne Laurie says:

    Asiangrrrl, Wicked — and even more its stand-alone sequel, Son of a Witch — are pretty dark and twisted. Imagine the Witch of the West as a mutant, mistreated child who grows into a political activist targeted by the fascist Emerald City kleptocracy that’s enslaved the four kingdoms… and it only gets nastier from there! Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is also excellent and tragic; it transplants you-know-who to Amsterdam during the tulip-mania years, with the “ugly” narrator gradually discovering her own strengths as an artist despite being overshadowed by her beautiful (emotionally damaged, sexually abused) stepsister and her even uglier, brain-damaged genetic sister.

  123. 123
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Indylib:

    I’ll have to give Stephenson a second look. His books have always looked a little to techie for what I go for so I haven’t really paid any attention to the premises, but they look good, thanks.

    If you want to try Stephenson and you like detailed historical fiction, then here is the book series for you.

  124. 124
    Comrade Kevin says:

    Oh yeah… as of Wednesday, I am out of a job. I spent the month of March training my replacements in India, and they were still bugging me with stupid questions two days before I was “laid off”. Good luck, chumps. I got a relatively generous severance package, so it’ll be a while before I’m screwed.

    The company I worked for weren’t losing money, or having problems in the current economy. They decided to ship a bunch of jobs overseas and use the economy as a cover story. They’re currently angling for “stimulus” money now, too. They’re also ordering a couple of new corporate jets.

  125. 125
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Tattoosydney: Yeah, you won’t catch me saying “fanny” in Britain of Australia. I will get The Scar as well.

    @BethanyAnne: All my tastes skew that way. I am playing some Golden Palominos on YouTube, and yeah, I’m digging it. I will check out the poetry you mentioned as well, though I don’t normally read poetry. I see she (the poet) is on YouTube as well.

    Steeplejack, no I didn’t see that. I will check it out.

    Anne Laurie, hm. I will consider Wicked now that you are the billionth person to recommend it.

    Comrade Kevin, so sorry about your job. It’s especially sucky that you had to train your replacement.

  126. 126
    Indylib says:

    @Crashman06:

    Wheel of Time is one of the series I just completely gave up on because it took so long for subsequent books in the series to come out that I felt like I need to go back and read half the series to have a clue what was going on in the new one. I really liked the first five of them, then I threw in the towel.

    I love George R R Martin. Song of Ice and Fire is one of the best fantasy series ever.

  127. 127
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @BethanyAnne: Speaking of Neal Stephenson, have you read “Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller”? That was my favorite of his. I liked Cryptonomicon, but was quickly bored by his next book, and haven’t bothered with anything after that.

  128. 128
    BethanyAnne says:

    @Indylib: Hope you like them. His earlier books were more techie than the newer stuff. Crypto is sort of in the middle. It’s got tech, but personally I just sort of gloss over that bit :)

  129. 129
    Crashman06 says:

    @Indylib: I kinda felt the same way. The first three were real good, but then he decided to make a five book series into a twelve book series, and was scrambling for space to flll. It had so much promise, but he blew it by dragging it out for too long.

  130. 130
    Crashman06 says:

    @Indylib: And yeah, Ice and Fire is incredible. Literary fantasy at its best.

  131. 131
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I didn’t know about the filming, Crashman. That’s a tall order because there’s so much ground to cover.

    I read Fiasco but had a concern about it that I’ve never been able to square. Thomas Ricks writes about General Petraeus doing a good job in his AOR in Mosul for the invasion, but I’ve read bloggers who’ve criticized his efforts there. I have Rick Arkinson’s “In The Company Of Soldiers” which covers Petraeus & his unit, but haven’t read it yet.

    Other than that, I’ve read Evan Wright’s “Generation Kill” & Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin’s “Shooter” for boots-on-the-ground accounts. For American imperialist worldview, I can highly recommend Robert D. Kaplan’s “Imperial Grunts”. It is remarkably well-written about the lives of several people serving American interests worldwide.

  132. 132
  133. 133
    BethanyAnne says:

    @Tattoosydney: I *loved* that series

  134. 134
    Steeplejack says:

    @Indylib:

    I second Tattoosydney’s recommendation of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels. Fucking awesome. Maybe the greatest extended historical novel I have ever read. The characters–a huge cast of characters–realistically develop and age over about 15 years, from about 1801 to 1815, and the great (naval and political) events of the times are set in counterpoint to close, almost Jane Austen-ish (Austenesque? Austenovian?) observation of British society. And O’Brian’s writing style is remarkably fluid in a way that’s hard to describe. The first one is Master and Commander, and I think you have to give it 50 or so pages to get going, because you are dropped right down in the middle of a situation without much information or much prep work on the characters. But, holy shnikeys, what a great, consistently excellent series of books. And it’s not just a guy thing. I got my mostly female reading group to try Master and Commander, and most of them loved it.

  135. 135
    Crashman06 says:

    @Robertdsc-iphone: Martin is a TV writer by trade; he did Beauty and the Beast and Twilight Zone, and he’s supposed to write one episode per season for the HBO series, so I think he understands how a TV show works. But we’ll see.It’s been some time.

  136. 136
    BethanyAnne says:

    @Comrade Kevin: No, I’ll check it out, thanks.

  137. 137
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I can also second Stephenson’s Zodiac. Good stuff. Snow Crash was great & The Diamond Age was OK. I have several others of his in the shed, LOL.

  138. 138
  139. 139
    Indylib says:

    @Crashman06:
    Maybe I’ll read the last book when it comes out in November so I can find out how Tarmon Gai’don actually turns out. I figure I deserve that much for hauling the books around to 5 different states and 2 different countries since I read the first one 19 years ago.

  140. 140
    Brett says:

    I’ve been reading a book called Magnifico, about Lorenzo De Medici (“Lorenzo the Magnificent”). It’s an excellent biography, but just as importantly it is a very well-written look on to the society and events in the mid-to-late 15th century Florence, as well as Italy in general.

    My other read is actually a re-read of James Lovelock’s 1980s book The Greening of Mars. It’s basically a (fictional) account by a descendant of the first colonists on Mars in 2245, writing about space flight in the era, how the terraforming process on Mars was started in that (fictional) history, the lives and customs of the Martians (basically, the colonists and descendants of colonists living on Mars), as well as a (fake) report on the effect that Mars life has had on the human population’s evolution in the Mars environment.

    It’s a very good piece of speculation on Lovelock’s part, although since it was written in the early 1980s, it’s obviously quite dated (and Lovelock missed a couple of trends in technology that occurred, as well as certain dates) in some ways, and I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions. Nonetheless, he tries to present a coherent, realistic image of the Mars in that “era”, the society and how they live, and the author of the account.

  141. 141
    Steeplejack says:

    @va:

    Mumbo Jumbo.

    I have always felt sorry for Ishmael Reed in some obscure way. Like he really does have a case that the Man was downin’ him all those years. I loved Mumbo Jumbo and liked some of his other stuff a lot–Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down is the only one that comes to mind right now–but he never seemed to catch a break.

    Sort of the same thing with Albert Murray (Train Whistle Guitar and South to a Very Old Place).

  142. 142
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Tattoosydney: Ooooh! I must have!

    Ok, peeps. No more recommendations for me. I have put in my order. That’s it. No more. Nuh-uh, no way, no how (unless you have a REALLY good suggestion).

  143. 143

    @Robertdsc-iphone: I have an Atlantic Monthly Press version of Zodiac, and Stephenson did an appearance at a bookstore I worked at, years ago, and when I asked him to sign it, he said “Where the hell did you get that?” :-)

  144. 144
    Bruuuuce says:

    Tattoosydney @82:

    And the scariest collection of aunts in literature.

    I don’t know about that. I just finished rereading my Charles De Lint collection (all of it recommended), and the aunts in Forests of the Heart are pretty scary, especially Aunt Nancy.

    Currently reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (about 1/3 done, and marvelous to this point) and rereading one of my favorite philosophy books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The latter is a book that never fails to inspire me, and in which I always find something new each time I read it.

  145. 145
    Tattoosydney says:

    @BethanyAnne:

    I loved that series

    Same here. I liked his more techie books, but I thought that the combination of historical fiction, his “stock” characters (Stephenson likes to use the same names for similar characters in different books), and 18th century “techies” was the best thing he has produced.

  146. 146
    Indylib says:

    @Steeplejack:

    I wish they had them for Kindle. If I get attached to the series that’s a lot of books to haul around, lol.

  147. 147
    BethanyAnne says:

    @asiangrrlMN: I went on youtube, and couldn’t find much by them. Wish I could find a link to “Metal Eye” or “Belfast”. There was a related link to her doing a song for KMFDM. Dogma

  148. 148
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Steeplejack:

    And it’s not just a guy thing. I got my mostly female reading group to try Master and Commander, and most of them loved it.

    If his books were just about men in boats, then they would be boring as hell. But they are very much about the relationships between the characters, the power struggles both on the ship and within the British navy, about the politics of the Napoleonic wars, with the odd love and hate story thrown in. All served in meal sized chunks of a huge 20 course feast. Yum.

  149. 149
    BethanyAnne says:

    This video of Blackman speaking has some clips of “Holy” in the beginning. And it’s worth watching on its own, I think.

    Best line from “Dogma”: “You have nothing to say, and no way to say it, but you can say it in 3 languages”

  150. 150
    Calming Influence says:

    @Indylib:
    Snowcrash takes off at 150 mph and maintains that velocity through he whole novel.

    It’s also a great example of what America would look like if we took Ayn Rand’s ideas to the limit.

  151. 151
    Crashman06 says:

    @Indylib: No kidding. We’ve only waited 15 years to see the end scene that we have been waiting for….. I’m 27 now; I remember reading book 7 while looking for colleges junior year in HS. Yeah, it’s been too long.

  152. 152
    steve s says:

    @ Phoebe: Hells yeah. I’d heard about Wodehouse for years, and when I finally read the first sentence of Jeeves in the Morning, I instantly understood.

  153. 153
    Anne Laurie says:

    I guess a better way of distilling my previous comment is that we (and by we, I include myself) seem to be moving from classical scholars to people who are more like legal scholars. The distinction is important. Classical scholars think longform, and know things. Legal scholars know where to find things and look things up. If you look at our society, especially with the rise of the internet as a go-to source, we have moved it seems from people who know things and recognize relationships and understand things, to people who simply know where to refute things. Sadly, I have fallen in the latter category these past few years.

    John, beautifully thought-out ideas like this are why this blog has become my first-up daily internet site.

    I also find that — possibly because I’m non-neurotypical (mildly dyslexic & ADD), or just because I’m old — that I just can’t read pixels as well as paper. I’m a pretty fast book-reader, and neither stupid nor generally uninformed, but I find following an argument or an exposition on-screen far more difficult than following the same logic-train in non-electron form. I’ve wondered before if this is just a “Get off my lawn” problem, or if it really is more complicated for the average brain to process Serious Thought on the flicker-screen? Is part of the Internet ADD Syndrome actually our hard-wiring, something more obvious to canary-in-a-coalmine brains like mine, or am I just generalizing from my own admittedly aberrant experience?

  154. 154
    Steeplejack says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Heart-Shaped Box: Aging, reclusive rock star buys a ghost on eBay. Bad things ensue. Really bad things.

  155. 155
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Bruuuuce:

    I just finished rereading my Charles De Lint collection (all of it recommended)…

    I like the look of his writing… any recommendations for a first book to start with?

  156. 156
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @BethanyAnne: I bought Dead Inside on Half.com after listening to clips on Amazon. I like it. I listened to Want by Nicole, and I liked that as well. I will listen to the clip you linked.

    P.S. Dogma is throbbing. I like it. I also like the movie of the same name because Alan Rickman is in it.

  157. 157

    @Calming Influence: Agreed, Snow Crash is an absolute tour de force. I read it first, then went back and look for something else he had written.

    Edit: Oh yes, I first heard about Snow Crash on a segment of the radio show Fresh Air.

  158. 158
    Crashman06 says:

    @Anne Laurie: I think pixels are hard as hell to read… I sure do love this blog though. First stop, every day.

  159. 159
    Indylib says:

    I’ll probably get flamed by those of you who like the more serious, gritty epic fantasy, but I just gotta say when I want something lighter, I love David Eddings. I love the sarcasm and the humor.

    For my more existential good vs evil moods I love Guy Gavriel Kaye.
    His writing is beautiful. I reread whole paragraphs several times just because I love the way he puts words together.

  160. 160
    Phoebe says:

    About Jeeves:
    I only recently realized what he is [among other things] just recently, in his manipulation of Bertie, which is – unless I’m using the term incorrectly – passive aggressive. But when he does it, it’s a good thing. A great thing. A genius beauty thing.

    I loved Kavalier and Clay, except for one thing, at the end, which is spoily, so avert your eyes if you need to: The non-biological dad’s relationship with his non-biological son seemed to be nonexistent, or disposed of instantly, on a dime. This is both creepy and unrealistic. I object.

  161. 161
    Crashman06 says:

    @Indylib: Gavriel Kay is great. Lions of Al-Rassan is a classic.

  162. 162
    Calming Influence says:

    @Comrade Kevin: Sorry to hear about your job. I really would like to push the meme that the ‘illegal’ aliens that we should be angry about are the ones that take our jobs while staying in their own countries…

  163. 163
    Steeplejack says:

    @steve s:

    I love Wodehouse, and I also have to put in a good word for the TV adaptations done with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (Dr. House!). Uniformly excellent. (I have always wanted to be a member of the Drones Club. Also.)

  164. 164
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Steeplejack: Bought it. You didn’t tell me he was Stephen King’s son, though.

    I love Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, but I just couldn’t get into the Jeeves and Wooster series. I much prefer their own show.

  165. 165
    Indylib says:

    @Crashman06:
    Geez, you’re just a baby. I read Wheel of Time in 1990, when my daughter was only 3 monthes old. She’s turning 20 this year.

  166. 166
    kvenlander says:

    Rules for O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin novels:
    1. read in order
    2. read in order
    3. the second book flags a bit if you like cannons firing and swashes a-buckling more than marriage intrigues. Keep reading, and remember rule 1.
    4. remember rule 2.

  167. 167

    I also liked some of William Gibson’s stuff , in particular his “sprawl” trilogy, Virtual Light and Idoru.

    There’s one or two of Bruce Sterling’s, too, in particular “Heavy Weather”, which is about storm chasers.

  168. 168
    JoyceH says:

    @Indylib:

    Does anyone read anything, you know, like fiction, for fun that isn’t mystery or Terry Pratchett?

    How about thrillers with a touch of the outre? (Heck, a touch? A LOT outre!) Then try Douglas Preston’s and Lincoln Child’s Pendergast series. Start with Relic, there’s plenty more.

    Hmm – how to describe? Well, if Sherlock Holmes were contemporary American, from a fabulously wealthy (and frequently insane) old New Orleans family, and with a penchant for investigating the bloodily curious and bizarre, he’d be Special Agent Pendergast. I just love these books, they’re completely over the top.

  169. 169
    Bruuuuce says:

    Tattoosydney @154: There are a bunch of good ways to start with CDL. Most of his work is urban fantasy (with heavy doses of Celtic and Native American mythology), set in a fictional Canadian city called Newford. Of those, Moonheart and its sequel Spiritwalk are two that I keep returning to. So, too, are Jack the Giant-Killer and the more recent Someplace to be Flying and Forests of the Heart (which I mentioned before). There are also all sorts of short story collections (which I tend to conflate one for the other) that flesh out Newford and its inhabitants.

    Something kind of different for him is Mulengro, where he explores the culture of the Romany (Gypsies). Yes, it’s terrific.

    You can’t go wrong with any of these, in my NSHO. Enjoy!

  170. 170
    Crashman06 says:

    @Indylib: I hope she’s been nicer to you than I was to my folks back then!

  171. 171

    After posting a few comments about Neal Stephenson, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, it just occurred to me where some of these “going Galt” clowns get their “inspiration” from. I suspect they read some of the “cyberpunk” novels of the 90’s and thought the authors where enthused about the environments they described.

    I can imagine them sitting around and saying “DUDE: Data Havens! Woah, heavy”

  172. 172
    Indylib says:

    @Crashman06:
    Tigana is my favorite – makes me bawl every time I read it.
    I really like the Fionavar Tapestry, too. Actually, there’s nothings he’s written that I don’t really love. The Last Light of the Sun was kind of an outlier, I thought. Less tragedy, but still really good.

  173. 173
    JR says:

    Tonight’s reading selection: Mark Tushnet’s examination of the Supreme Court, “A Court Divided.”

    As to Stephenson, I’ve got my copies of The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon on my bedside, but I think my favorite of his novels might still be his pseudonymous political thriller, Interface. Either that or The Big U. (Crotobaltislavonia aiwa!)

  174. 174
    Indylib says:

    @Crashman06:
    lol Depends on the day!

  175. 175
    Crashman06 says:

    @Indylib: I’ll b honest; Lions was the only one I read by him that I remember. There was another one, but I can’t recall what it was. Tigana was your favorite?

  176. 176
    Steeplejack says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    [. . .] I find following an argument or an exposition on-screen far more difficult than following the same logic-train in non-electron form.

    It’s not you, it’s that 99.9 percent of the typographical design on the Internet sucks, sucks, sucks! As a former typographer, I find that this is a hot-button issue for me, and I must deploy the No. 4 (medium dense) bite-stick or I will go off on a rant of cosmic dimensions.

    God knows there are plenty of badly designed books, but even those are miles ahead of the vast majority of Web pages. Not to pick on one blog in particular, because it is an excellent one that I read every day or so, but Obsidian Wings comes immediately to mind. WTF is up with the tiny, tiny font?! Jeebus. What, are they saving space or something? Because, you know, it’s not like a Web page has unlimited room and could just continue on down as far as it needs to go.

    Where’s my paper bag? I need to breathe into my paper bag. Serenity now.

  177. 177
    Calming Influence says:

    @Comrade Kevin: I was talking to a friend at work about ‘Snowcrash’, and someone else chimed in and said “Oh, is that any good? Someone gave me a galley proof of that years ago and I never read it.”
    I was totally slack-jawed. (Amazon lists a first edition, first printing for $2,500.)

  178. 178
    Steeplejack says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    You didn’t tell me he was Stephen King’s son, though.

    Hey, you won’t get the chatty Entertainment Weekly sidebars from me, sister. Anyway, dude deserves to make it (or not) on his own.

  179. 179
    Johnny Pez says:

    Reading? Books? I remember that.

    I just got a bunch of Leigh Brackett books and am now starting “Eric John Stark: Outlaw of Mars”.

    Have I mentioned that I’m working my way backwards through science fiction?

  180. 180
    Steeplejack says:

    @kvenlander:

    Rules 1, 2 and 4 apply to everything, as far as I’m concerned. It drives me nuts how few mystery/sci fi/fantasy series contain any kind of notation to let you know the order of the books. At least the O’Brian novels have the order printed discreetly on the spines (of the paperbacks).

    P.S. I have found Wikipedia to be an invaluable resource for sorting out this stuff. Most authors who have been around long enough to have published a series have an entry, and usually some other poor OCD bastard has gone to the trouble to lay out the order.

  181. 181
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Steeplejack: Tis true. It’s not his fault he’s the son of Stephen King. Duly noted.

  182. 182
    Indylib says:

    @Crashman06:

    Tigana is excellent. Song for Arbonne mirrors medievel France, Germany and Italy, and the Sarantine Mosaic is based on Byzantium.
    I really love all of them. I can’t reread them often because there’s an element of tragedy in all of them that, sentimentalist that I am, gets me every time.

  183. 183
    Indylib says:

    @Steeplejack:

    I usually try to sort out reading order by getting Amazon to give me the authors list in order of publication instead of relevence. It can be irritating because crap shows by other authors, but I can usually make it work. I’ll have to try using Wiki.

  184. 184
    Bruuuuce says:

    For SF and fantasy, there’s another good way to find series order (or at least, the order they were published in). http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ has excellent bibliographies by author, and series are sorted individually. It’s one of my bookmarks for just that purpose.

  185. 185
    Steeplejack says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    One last recommendation: anything by Edward Gorey, e.g., The Gashlycrumb Tinies, collected in Amphigorey.

    Personal favorites from that collection: The Unstrung Harp (the fiction writer’s life) and The Curious Sofa (pornography).

  186. 186
    Frank Sobotka says:

    To my mind, American literature of the past 20 years centers entirely around Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian. I first read it about four years ago, thought it a wonder then — even if I didn’t fully understand — and now that I am giving it a second go, I’m convinced its legacy will be nothing short of being one of the great American novels. He has a descriptive, gothic style that is perfect for the casual violence and hellish moonscapes that permeate his novel. The Road is decent, but Blood Meridian is epic.

    Also, I decided to give the BBC miniseries “State of Play” a go after reading about the American remake. I feel foolish that I have missed this particular outing these past five years. Just an awesome political thriller. Highly recommended.

  187. 187
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Steeplejack: Now you’re talking my language! I really enjoy Edward Gorey.

  188. 188
    Steeplejack says:

    @Indylib:

    The problem I have found with Amazon is that it gives you chronological order of published editions, which may include reprints, etc., that skew the true order of publication. (And Amazon isn’t going to help you with the order of really old stuff, e.g., Dickens.)

    This is a major problem in Amazon’s underlying database. They don’t distinguish between a “work”–War and Peace, say–and a “book”–the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace contained in the Vintage paperback with ISBN 1400079985.

  189. 189
    Indylib says:

    Seems most everyone has checked out. ‘Night all to those still up, thanks for the recs.

  190. 190
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Indylib: Night, night. I think it’s bedtime for me, as well. Night, all!

  191. 191
    Linkmeister says:

    @Steeplejack

    If you want dead accuracy on series order, look the book up at Library Thing. Search by title, author, or ISBN. When found, click the “Common Knowledge” link on the left of the page. That will give you a screen with series info. Click the name of the book on that page, and you’ll get the entire series list in order.

    Surely I’m not the first to mention Library Thing in this literate crowd, am I? If so, go ye forth and discover its wonders! I’ve been a member since the second month of its existence. Catalog your books, review books, talk about books, meet fellow travellers; it’s got it all.

  192. 192
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @TX Expat:

    I began reading more poetry and short stories in law school for the same reason.

    After 20 years as a working lawyer, Vanity Fair(the magazine, not the book) was about the only thing I could guarantee reading all the way through.

    I’ve joined a book club in my retirement, so I can work my way back into the long-version world. Favorite so far:

    The Center of Winter

  193. 193
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I was on LibraryThing but lost track of keeping my books in order on there because I have so many, LOL.

    The last count I made had my collection at 1700+ books in all formats. Good times.

  194. 194
    Cain says:

    @Indylib:

    @Crashman06:
    Maybe I’ll read the last book when it comes out in November so I can find out how Tarmon Gai’don actually turns out. I figure I deserve that much for hauling the books around to 5 different states and 2 different countries since I read the first one 19 years ago.

    Don’t hold your breath. The last book is being split up into three parts, one each year. You got another 3 years to ago. Fuck me, I’ve never had a publisher string us along for so long. I started reading the damn book when I was 20 or something like that. That was after the first 3 books were published!

    cain

  195. 195
    grumpy realist says:

    Suggested series for those who like historical fiction:

    The Lymond series by Dorothy Dunnett. (She also wrote the Niccolo series, set in Renaissance Italy. Supposedly with an even more byzantine plot. Still have to read this set.)

    Steeplejack–aha, another Gorey lover! How did you ever run across The Curious Sofa? It’s hilarious. Coy carefully posed drawings coupled with euphemistic captions.

  196. 196
    Cain says:

    @Indylib:

    I’ll probably get flamed by those of you who like the more serious, gritty epic fantasy, but I just gotta say when I want something lighter, I love David Eddings. I love the sarcasm and the humor.

    David Eddings was good until his wife started co-writing his books. Ugh. It got waaay too cutsey after that. I really started getting annoyed by that time. The Belgariad was the best, the Mallorean started out good but then it started turning into a farce.

    I’ve been reading Jim Butcher’s Furies series and I like them pretty good. Good brain candy, and it moves along quickly and I don’t have to wait a long time for the next book.

    cain

  197. 197
    Steeplejack says:

    God, it’s taken me over two hours to get through this one thread, and that’s just devouring and commenting on other people’s book recommendations.

    What I am currently reading:

    – I am diligently beavering away on the Terry Pratchett Discworld subseries about the Night Watch, thanks to the, er, somewhat assertive recommendation of fellow Juicers. Currently halfway through Jingo. Took a peek at Mort at the bookstore today; think that sequence might be next. (Useful Discworld reading guide here.)

    – I just started Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (Thinking I might need to take a short palate-cleansing break on Pratchett after I finish the current one. And I usually have several books going at one time.) Swedish mystery. Got good reviews; starting off okay so far.

    For some reason this book reminds me of Smilla’s Sense of Snow, by Peter Høeg, an excellent Danish novel that was made into a pretty good movie with Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne. Both recommended. But I digress.

    – I am reading, or rather working through, Pumping Nylon and Fretboard Logic, two books on guitar technique that are frustrating helping me as in the last year I have taken up playing again after not playing for a long time. Interesting how much the technology and resources have changed over the last 20-30 years. It used to be “Here’s your crappy Mel Bay chord dictionary with directions for ‘Red River Valley,’ and good luck to you,” and you were supposed to get from there to, say, “Purple Haze” all by yourself, but now you can get incredibly detailed books/CDs/DVDs on just about any guitar god or music genre you can name. I am working on “Travis picking,” which I always admired but could never master back in the day. (Here’s some dude on YouTube working through the canonical “Windy and Warm.”)

    – Finally, I find myself unable to resist reaching for W.G. Sebald’s novel The Rings of Saturn about every other day. I have read it two or three times over the last 10 years, and it occasionally comes back to haunt me. Not much happens–a narrator who is and is not Sebald himself takes a walking tour along the east coast of England–but somehow he manages to cover “Sir Thomas Browne’s skull, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, recession-hit seaside towns, wooded hills, Joseph Conrad, Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson, the natural history of the herring, the massive bombings of World War II, the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi and the silk industry in Norwich”–and make it not just interesting but hypnotic. I can’t figure out how the hell he does it. It is the most “dreamlike” book I have ever read. Recommend dipping into it anywhere, reading for a page or two and seeing if it grabs you. Sebald’s other books are good too. The Emigrants is a more straightforward novel, and his nonfiction book On the Natural History of Destruction is an amazing meditation on the Allies’ bombing of Germany in World War II.

    I apologize for any whiff of pedantry. But Balloon Juice + books is like gasoline on the fire. Sorry I couldn’t work cats in. Oh, wait.

  198. 198
    Steeplejack says:

    @Linkmeister:

    Thanks! I’ll check that out.

  199. 199
    NR says:

    @Indylib:

    Wheel of Time is one of the series I just completely gave up on because it took so long for subsequent books in the series to come out that I felt like I need to go back and read half the series to have a clue what was going on in the new one. I really liked the first five of them, then I threw in the towel.

    I love George R R Martin. Song of Ice and Fire is one of the best fantasy series ever.

    Funny, I gave up on Song of Ice and Fire for the same reason you said you gave up on Wheel of Time – it was taking way too long for the books to come out. He had a good pace going for the first three books, but then it took five years for A Feast for Crows to come out, and now it’s looking like it’ll be at least five years between that book and the next one.

  200. 200
    va says:

    @Steeplejack: I loooooove Ishmael Reed. He is so, so funny and yes, not nearly as widely read as he should be. He’s been publishing political op-eds in various places over the years and they’re interesting.

    I think of him whenever I read Fafblog, too. If you haven’t already, Flight to Canada is amazing too. Also the short story (hard to find) called “Cab Calloway Stands In For The Moon,” which he billed as a “trailer” to Mumbo Jumbo.

  201. 201
    Steeplejack says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I read one or two of the Lymond series way back when but got derailed by something and never got back on them. But they were good.

    I can’t remember where I first saw Gorey, but I picked up Amphigorey when it first came out and really fell in love. As you suggested, The Curious Sofa is a masterpiece of, er, understatement, and The Unstrung Harp pretty much sums up the way I imagine a midlist writer’s life must be.

  202. 202
    Steeplejack says:

    @va:

    Thanks, will try to find them. The other thing I remember liking by him was a sort of long, free-form “jazz” poem that was both hilarious and scathingly political. Must be in an anthology or something somewhere.

  203. 203
    Irony Abounds says:

    The Glory and the Dream by William Manchester. It covers 1932-1972 in a wonderful narrative style. The first part dealing with the Depression and FDR is a must read for two reasons. It’s a great reminder that, no matter how bad it may be now, the Depression was REALLY bad. Also, it is a great antidote to the anti-FDR revisionists prowling around these days. He took a nation that was swirling down the toilet post haste and gave it the confidence it needed to stave off the totalitarian extremes of fascism and communism.

    And I always enjoy going back to Bruce Catton’s Army of the Potomac trilogy (Mr. Lincoln’s Army, Glory Road and A Stillness at Appomattox). Just a great way to immerse one’s self in the Civil War.

  204. 204
    Steeplejack says:

    @Comrade Kevin:

    Condolences, dude. I sort of skipped past your post in my frenzy of book lust, but I feel your pain. I did a lot of short- and medium-term software consulting from ’93 to ’02, and I saw (from the outside) a lot of the stuff you are talking about: corporate dillweeds making short-term, or short-sighted, decisions completely divorced from any long-term “good” in the situation just because it benefited them in the here and now. Screw the consequences, etc.

    Console yourself with the thought that you’re well out of it, and it sounds like you’ve got enough of a buffer to tide you over to the next big thing.

  205. 205
    R-Jud says:

    In the last three months I have plowed through a lot of stuff while nursing the baby (some of it re-reading, some new to me):

    *Twelfth Night, sonnets by Shakespeare
    *Slapstick, Slaughterhouse Five, Timequake, Breakfast of Champions (Vonnegut)
    *Collected stories of Flannery O’Connor (hands down my favorite writer EVAH)
    *Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke– I recommend it to everyone on this thread who likes a) Jane Austen and b) Fantasy
    *Poems by Rumi
    *Eleanor of Aquitaine, Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir
    *One Hundred Years of Solitude, Living to Tell the Tale, Love in the Time of Cholera (Garcia Marquez)
    *The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard (Chekhov)
    *Wonder Boys (Chabon)
    *Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
    *If You Want to Write (Brenda Ueland)
    *The Epic of Gilgamesh
    *Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
    *Lewis Carroll (Morton Cohen’s excellent biography)
    *On The Nature of Things, Lucretius
    and a pile of stuff by Harlan Ellison.

    I can’t help but think that I ought to have some direction to my reading rather than just dipping and choosing what looks shiny at the library or on our shelves.

    Also since the kid was born I have written most of my second book while continuing to try to flog the first. I have spoken to a few agents who seem to think there is no more room in the market for another fantasy series, which could be true, but I would like to show them this thread.

  206. 206
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @R-Jud:

    I can’t help but think that I ought to have some direction to my reading

    You do. Flawless taste. It’s all great stuff.

    I think having naturally good taste is like having natrually curly hair, only others really notice.

  207. 207
    Tattoosydney says:

    I just want to thank John again for putting up the book thread by request. Thankyou to everyone for the suggestions. Amazon also thanks you.

    OK.

    I have been looking at my bookshelves and there are three last ones to throw into the mix.

    First is the book I referred to in an open thread the other day: Plays well with others.

    Second – the other day there was a discussion about the movie of Auntie Mame. I bought the book a few months ago, and it is wonderful – very very funny. Dennis’ “The Joyous Season” is also recommended, particularly to anyone who mentioned liking Wodehouse above.

    Finally, I want to mention one of my favourite authors, Jose Saramago. He’s a Nobel Prize winner from Portugal. Although his writing style is eccentric – he uses only commas and fullstops, and those infrequently – it is amazingly lyrical once you are in the flow after the first 30 pages, and he uses the omniscient narrator to editorialise and joke and conspire with the reader very successfully.

    He tends to take an unusual occurrence in a small unnamed Catholic European nation (the entire nation goes blind, people stop dying one midnight, a copy editor removes a “no” from a history of the siege of Lisbon and literally rewrites history, Spain breaks off and heads across the ocean) as his starting point, then focus on two or three ordinary people and see what happens. His books are funny, and moving, and as cynically eccentric as only an 87 year old, atheist, communist, pessimist from Portugal can be.

    Pick one of his books – they’re all good, although I particularly like “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” (a wonderfully blasphemous portrayal of an unwilling Jesus) and “Blindness”.

  208. 208
    Comrade Baron Elmo says:

    I’ve been drinking in a lot of those little 33 1/3 books… you know, the ones that devote a lengthy essay to a single classic album? Recently I’ve read the ones for Wire’s Pink Flag, Sly Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn and The Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime, all huge favorites.

    But my main read at the moment is Rick Perlstein’s Before the Storm, his enormous tome covering the 1964 LBJ/Goldwater presidential campaign. Ho-lee shit, what a killer book this is… a crucial text for anyone interested in American politics.

    Did you know that Barry Goldwater was thought to be the hardest of the hard right-wingers of his day — the candidate for them as found Nixon too liberal? The punchline is that old Barry was actually a fairly principled guy, compared to the likes of Cantor and Bohner, and that today’s GOP would damn him as a scumbag RINO. Thoughts like that keep me warm at night.

  209. 209
    Pooh says:

    Recent books that I’d recommend:

    Liar’s Poker; and The Money Culture by Michael Lewis

    Barbarians at the Gate

    F.I.A.S.C.O. by Portnoy

    so yeah, I’m reading way too much about late 80s/early 90s financial shenanigans.

    I also just red “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” which was fucking hysterical.

  210. 210
    Jon H says:

    Ha! Looking at the NYTimes page, I thought Frank Bruni was getting surprisingly technical.

    Here’s the text of the link to his column:

    “Commencement 2009: HASH(0x66a0b4)”

  211. 211
    Tattoosydney says:

    @R-Jud:

    a lot of stuff while nursing the baby

    Now there’s a good excuse to have a baby. I’m a little jealous of the opportunity you had to read, and I like your reading list.

  212. 212
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Comrade Baron Elmo:

    Did you know that Barry Goldwater was thought to be the hardest of the hard right-wingers of his day

    I remember it well from the time. He was nutcase right, which made it all the more shocking that he was actually the Presidential nominee. That’s why the famous Johnson “Daisy” ad worked so well, it was primed to, since the subtext was already there that Goldwater was a far right wild man bound to destroy us all if he got the chance.

    Now, as you point out, he’d be kicked out of the party for being a liberal.

    I also remember Reagan being seen as so far to the extreme right that the idea of him being President was a joke, literally so in a Doonesbury cartoon from the late 70s that I remember. What an absurd idea, THAT extremist being President, ha ha.

    Again, even as destructive as he was, compared to the current crop he’d be a moderate.

    Most of the country is only now waking up to how far off the dinner plate we rolled over the past decade.

  213. 213
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Jon H:

    “Commencement 2009: HASH”

    Looks like an article about a graduation ceremony in the 60s.
    “Ah, look, they’re throwing their hats into the air.”
    “Wait, those can’t be hats, some of them are lit”

  214. 214
    geg6 says:

    I just want to say that anything by Chabon is worth a read. Love him to death. Ditto with anything by Perlstein, especially Nixonland. Gregory Maguire’s fractured fairy tales rock. I’m reading Son of a Witch right now, alternating with Stephen Carter’s Emperor of Ocean Park. And I congratulate anyone able to slog through Stephenson. I found Crytonomicron mind-numbingly boring, but that’s probably because I have no mind for all the math. Couldn’t slog through any of the sequels even though friends couldn’t recommend them enough. For those who like Krakauer, I recommend Shadow divers by Robert Kurson. True story of a years long search for a WWII u-boat sunk off the Jersey shore by a group of weekend divers, a wreck that no agency or government believed existed. It became a 6 year obsession, killing marriages and various divers in the process. In the end, they found it at 230 feet (crazy deep, if you’re a diver) and identified it. Great and tragic adventure.

  215. 215
    Mwangangi says:

    Sweet I’m in late. I’m drunk and it’s my birthday +(who the fuck knows at this point).
    @asiangrrlMN: If you want short horror by him, check out “20th Century Ghosts”. Best horror anthology I’ve ever read, and it’s all by one author.

    cosign the Song of Ice and Fire

    I’ve recently finished “God of Clocks”, which is the third book by Alan Campbell. Very interesting world(s)… very metaphysical.

    I just finished another book also. For all you folks who read Ayn Rand when you were a teenager and want to see an obvious descendant of that ‘reasoning’, read “The Unincorporated Man”. I read 80% of the book thinking it was perfect satire of Libertarian/Capitalist thought (and if you limit yourself to 80% of the book, it is that…). The end will hang you out to dry.

    If you want to see how your adult mind picks apart that strain of thinking, its a better option than re-reading Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. It’s a fun, fast paced novel.

    super co-sign C. S. Friedman, esp. Cold Fire trilogy although you can really just read the first book as a stand alone.

    non fiction, Barbara Ehrenreich: “Nickel and Dimed” and “Bait and Switch” will piss you off, unless you’re me (because it just describes my life)

  216. 216
    Robert Sneddon says:

    asiangrrlMN, here’s a long-ish short story that may be to your dark and twisted tastes — “A Colder War” by Charlie Stross.

    http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/.....derwar.htm

  217. 217
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    For the fantasy buffs out there Patrick Rothruss has “In the Name of the Wind” which is book 1. But if you are cautious about waiting till the series is done – it may be a bit.

    I’m a huge Guy Gaveriel Kay fan, especially his earlier work, up through and including Lions of Al Rassan. My favorite is probably Song for Arbonne for heart, and Tigana for literary merit. The Fionovar triology, while his least technically proficient is generally one of those that I must read at least annually.

    For science fiction, Modessitt, Jr has written a bunch, and I’ve enjoyed it all. Gravity Dreams is a good one to start out with. But he has a lot of variety out there.

  218. 218
    harlana pepper says:

    oh crap, the head of the Gorgon is back, top of the page. just when i was feeling better

  219. 219
    geg6 says:

    If you want some quality punditry this morning, read Frank Rich’s comlumn please. He takes apart the Cheney argument, the re-wimpification of congressional Dems, and most spectacularly, the punditariat and journimalists. It’s a thing of great beauty and unimaginable tragedy. Richard Clarke in the WaPo is also a lovely thing.

  220. 220
    gus says:

    I’m reading Arthur Schlesinger ‘s three-volume series on FDR and the New Deal.

    Best fiction I’ve read in the last couple of years is “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, set during the Biafran conflict in Nigeria of the 1960’s.

  221. 221
    gus says:

    Oh… forgot: Just finished Laurie King’s “The Language of Bees,” the latest in her series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, Fans of Holmes who haven’t read these novels ought to take a look. (Start with the first, “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.”) King sets her stories after Holmes retired to Sussex to raise bees and respects Conan Doyle’s canonical works. They are not pastiches.

  222. 222

    @geg6: Richard Clarke’s Op Ed piece in the Washington Post is pretty good too.

    The Bush administration’s response actually undermined the principles and values America has always stood for in the world, values that should have survived this traumatic event. The White House thought that 9/11 changed everything. It may have changed many things, but it did not change the Constitution, which the vice president, the national security adviser and all of us who were in the White House that tragic day had pledged to protect and preserve.

    Sounds like the pushback on Cheney’s Pro Torture Tour continues.

  223. 223
    Ash Can says:

    Maybe I’m skimming too lightly, but there seems to be an outbreak of good sense on the part of this AM’s print pundits. Kathleen Parker gets into the act as well, doing a nifty job of lampooning the anti-Sotomayor hysteria (h/t GOS).

  224. 224
    Svensker says:

    @Jennifer:

    Just finished David Copperfield. Don’t know why I never picked up Dickens until now, but damned if he doesn’t write a hell of a yarn. I started with Great Expectations; don’t know which one I’ll pick up next.

    Dickens is The Best. I re-read David Copperfield every couple of years and laugh and cry all over again.

    Highly recommend Nicholas Nickleby.

  225. 225
    kay says:

    @Ash Can:

    They went on a bender (again) after swearing off (again) and now it’s Sunday and the analysis of the actual opinions has been done, not by any of them, but the hard analytical work is complete.

    Turns out, she’s not a wild-eyed racist bomb-thrower, or stupid, or a screeching unreasonable diva, or any of the other things pundits and media pulled out of thin air, knee-jerk, the minute her particular face appeared on television.

    They’re all bleary-eyed and hungover, and full of remorse.

    Sober. Until the next drunk.

  226. 226
    CatStaff says:

    @asiangrrlMN: asiangrrlMN —

    I know I’m late to the party here, but if you’re still in the market for dark, twisted, and/or haunting, I give you “Let’s Go Play at the Adams’.” I read that book probably 30 years ago, and have never been able to forget it, though I’m pretty sure I would never read it again.

  227. 227
    keestadoll says:

    Just finished The Road to Serfdom and The Tragedy of American Compassion…highly recc!

  228. 228
    AhabTRuler says:

    For science fiction, Modessitt, Jr has written a bunch, and I’ve enjoyed it all.

    Gravity Dreams is excellent, as is Adiamante. Modessitt, Jr. is generally very good, although after you read about a half dozen of his books, you tend to be able to identify the ideological points he is going to hit in developing the story. Almost (but not quite) potboiler-ish. His Recluce fantasy stuff tends to be even more like that, although not exclusively (Scion of Cyador and Magi’i of Cyador are quite enjoyable, and not as predictable as the other Recluse books).

    As I believe I have mentioned in other threads, CJ Cherryh is one of my favorite Sci-fi/Fantasy authors. She has an amazing ability to develop alien cultures (whether they be alien-human cultures or alien-alien cultures). Cyteen kicks ass, although I found it difficult to get into the first time I read it, and her Chanur series is fascinating. Any of her Alliance stand-alones are well worth the read. The first Foreigner trilogy was great, the second was very good, the third was a drop-off, and I think I saw that she is on her fourth trilogy in that series. A shame from an author who usually knows enough to quite while she’s ahead.

  229. 229
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    I am through 4 of the 5 books of 2666 by Roberto Bolano. It has been a couple of months since I finished Book 4. Parts of it are just brilliant and I find myself thinking about it quite often, but damn if I am smart enough to put it all together.

    I even followed along with the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog which featured that book earlier this year. Not sure anyone really got it there either.

  230. 230
    Persia says:

    @iluvsummr and @Steeplejack:

    I like Mishima better, but I haven’t read Kawabata in years and I might think differently now. Kawabata actually preferred his own short stories to his novels, and I’d really recommend Palm-of-the-Hand Stories if you’re interested. Plus most of them are short-shorts, which is a form I don’t think we use often enough in the West.

    Apparently when the Nobel was awarded there was a lot of discussion about who really ‘deserved’ it, but Kawabata was something of an elder statesman and mentor to Mishima.

    I still haven’t read Abe, that’s a good reminder.

    As for Mishima’s personality and life: I’m well aware that the fact Mishima was in the ground some years before I was born incline me to be more forgiving. But at the same time, he was clearly a product of his culture, and clearly had a hell of a time reconciling the different sides of his life. If you haven’t watched Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters, it’s really excellent, and makes him sympathetic while still showing that he was, well, kind of a jerk.

  231. 231
    KidA says:

    @ demkat620 @ 3 That was a really good book. Hope you enjoy it. Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth early to mid 60″s but still my favorite.

  232. 232
    Tom says:

    Just finished Bangkok 8 by John Burdett. It’s a pretty awesome “east-meets-west,” corrupt police, Buddist stream-of-conscious thriller that features methed-up killer cobras and a whole lot of prostitution.

  233. 233
    anonevent says:

    Go see “Up.” Pixar has completely rewritten the rules on what goes in an animated story with this one. Plus a Doberman with the voice Alvin was hilarious.

  234. 234
    Krista says:

    Does anyone read anything, you know, like fiction, for fun that isn’t mystery or Terry Pratchett?

    One bit of historical fiction that I love is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. They’re set in Scotland right before the second Jacobite rising. Her first book got slotted under the romance genre, because there is actually a romantic relationship threading through it (heaven forbid, right?), so I think a lot of people overlooked it otherwise, thinking it was your average romance-novel fluff.

    But the books are a hell of a lot more than that — historical fiction intertwined with a little bit of fantasy. She’s got a hell of an eye for detail, and her characters are very, very real (which is impressive, as these are pretty sweeping books with a LOT of characters popping up in them.)

  235. 235
    Jennifer says:

    I just gotta say, a book thread with several hundred comments that hasn’t mentioned Salman Rushdie is pretty sad. Start with Midnight’s Children and then progress to Shame and The Satanic Verses – the last two will teach you more about “the Muslim mind” than anything else you’ll ever read. And the first one – well, it’s just one of the best books ever written.

  236. 236
    geg6 says:

    Krista: I, too, love Gabaldon’s Jamie and Claire series. I have them all, even the Outlander Companion! Though I often don’t discuss it because so many consider them historical/fantasy romantic fiction. But they really are well-researched in a mind-boggling number of subjects and a fun and engaging plot. An aside…in morning punditry, check out Glennzilla. He’s not verbose, he’s spot on, and John gets a huge shoutout. Well worth the click today.

  237. 237
    Steeplejack says:

    @Persia:

    I have read Palm-of-the-Hand Stories. Excellent. And I forgot to mention last night that “The Izu Dancer” is one of my favorite short stories.

    I have not seen the Mishima film. I will look it up.

  238. 238
    Steeplejack says:

    @Jennifer:

    I’m off Rushdie because his recent stuff has been such a fall-off from the earlier work. Plus, how did he let Padma Lakshmi slip through his fingers?! Inquiring tabloid minds want to know.

  239. 239
    Persia says:

    @Steeplejack: I’m reading The Enchantress of Florence right now, and it’s good, but not as good as I remember the earlier stuff.

    I’m not sure he let her slip as much as sent her running at a fast pace, heh.

    The Mishima movie is so good– especially since it’s the creation of a Western filmmaker, in the 1980s. One of the stories he adapted hasn’t ever been translated, and I was totally frustrated because after that movie I wanted to read it, desperately!

  240. 240
    Jason says:

    @Indylib: It’s funny, if you like mash-ups and can give it some time. I’ve read the Austen original so often, and love the zombie genre so much, that it’s a good read. I’d say that, overall, people who:

    a) think “Shaun of the Dead” is genius;
    b) think Jane Austen is genius;
    b) can successfully tap in to the adolescent mind that loved Encyclopedia Brown, Beezus and Ramona, and the Blue Moose while reading;

    …will love it. If you haven’t read Austen give it to yr kids if you have them, it might pique their interest in classic lit if they’re geeky enough.

  241. 241
    Indylib says:

    @Cain:

    David Eddings was good until his wife started co-writing his books.

    Sadly, so true. I don’t have much use for The Dreamers series. I do like the Elenium and Tamuli, though. Many of the characters are clones with a twist from characters in the Belgariad. I love Talon and the troll gods and Blowk are an interesting addition. Sparhawk is like a merging of Belgareth and Garion.

    I have the audiobooks for the Elenium and the Tamuli, the narrator does a really good Scottish accent for Zalasta. That threw me at first, now I just giggle when I hear it.

  242. 242
    Jason says:

    @Calming Influence:

    +1 for Snow Crash. Great stuff.

  243. 243
    Indylib says:

    @Jason:
    Someone else up thread posted an excerpt where Mary jumped up on the table and was going to go after Mr. Collins with a fork. That did it, any book that takes seriously the idea of stabbing Mr. Collins with pointy flatware is worth a read.

  244. 244
    Jason says:

    @Comrade Kevin: If you want to read something like the absurd end of that particular era, read “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez. Brings the Instapundit technotopian bullshit strong and hard in a structure that doesn’t even resemble a novel – straight out of the Crichton school of preemptive screenplay. Good action sequences, though, and everything else is so ridiculous that it’s almost sophisticated parody.

  245. 245
    Jason says:

    @Indylib: Honestly, the book had me at the conceit alone. And the front cover. I’d buy it just for that. Also, illustrations.

  246. 246
    Krista says:

    Though I often don’t discuss it because so many consider them historical/fantasy romantic fiction. But they really are well-researched in a mind-boggling number of subjects and a fun and engaging plot.

    Exactly. And I look at books the way that I look at food and wine: if I enjoy it, I enjoy it. If it’s not highbrow enough for other people, oh well, to each their own. There are a lot of people who miss out on some great gems of storytelling because they’re genre snobs, and would never be caught reading something that’s considered a “romance” or a “fantasy” or a “sci-fi”. Their loss, IMHO.

  247. 247
    Indylib says:

    @Krista:
    @geg6:

    I love Gabaldon.

    I like Katie McAllister’s vampire stuff and her stand- alone novels. Corset Diaries is a masterpiece of humorous, light romance.
    I have a real soft spot for Sherrilyn Kenyon, despite the fact that the Dark Hunter series has gone off the track several times. The early stuff in the series is really good.

  248. 248
    Calming Influence says:

    Awesome thread, John, thanks.

  249. 249
    Steeplejack says:

    @Persia:

    I’m not sure he let her slip as much as sent her running at a fast pace, heh.

    True dat.

  250. 250
    iluvsummr says:

    @Persia: I’d read other Kawabata books but not the Palm-of-the-Hand stories. Thanks for that tip.

    @Tattoosydney
    The rape scene in Blindness absolutely infuriated me and I put it down for a day or two before returning to finish reading it. I ran a book club for a few years and one of the best discussions we had was on Saramago’s “All the Names.” Truly unexpected ending, and I have to re-read it again someday.

    @Gus
    Loved Half of a Yellow Sun too. My mom couldn’t finish reading it because it brought back vivid, painful memories. The Biafra war was over long before I was born, so I didn’t have that particular problem.

    Also like Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation, though Ishmael Beah’s “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” is the real deal when it comes to the experiences of child soldiers.

  251. 251
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    I am seriously bookmarking this thread for future reference. What a reading list!

  252. 252
    tess says:

    “Will in the World” by Stephen Greenblatt. It’s really wonderful, and I’m going to be sad when I’m done. Usually, non-fiction doesn’t provide a lot of escapism, but I find myself entirely subsumed into Shakespeare’s world while reading it.

    Also interesting: “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher” by Kate Summerscale, about a major murder trial in 1860 England that gripped the nation around the same time the detective mysteries were becoming popular. Summerscale ties the two together, which is an interesting angle on an otherwise regular true-crime sort of novel. However, I never know whether to be relieved or deeply saddened that the trial-of-the-century for the crime-of-the-century behavior is hardly a new, 24-hour news phenomenon.

    I have “Slavery by Another Name” by Douglas Blackmon on my to-read list, but haven’t felt up to it yet.

    A lighter read would be “Behind the Scenes at the Museum” by Kate Atkinson. It won the Whitbread Award in 1995. I haven’t liked her later books as much, but this one was truly enjoyable, with a bit of snark that made me laugh out loud in spots. Some mind find it to be chick reading, though.

  253. 253
    Linkmeister says:

    For the light fiction fans, I may have found a successor to Travis McGee: a San Francisco-based guy named Quinn Parker, in a series (4, so far) by Bruce Zimmerman. The sort of philosophy about modern life that McGee used to express is shared by Parker. They’re good.

    Another P.I.: Moe Prager, by Reed Farrel Coleman; he’s a Jewish ex-cop who runs a wine shop in Brooklyn but gets dragged into detective work on occasion.

    Two thumbs up for Connie Willis’s “To Say Nothing of the Dog.”

    Nobody has mentioned Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series; they’re great SF and relationship stories.

  254. 254
    gus says:

    @Linkmeister:

    Nothing at all wrong with a new go at Travis McGee-ness.

  255. 255
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @gus: I have read ever Laurie King book. I second that nomination.

    I have put the new recommendations on my wishlist at half.com.

    @Robert Sneddon:
    I am about to read the story now. Thanks!

  256. 256
    HRA says:

    Quite a few titles I have seen mentioned here have at one time or another passed through my hands to be cataloged for our stacks. One would think I have had enough of the daily peering, judging and correcting into books to make me want a rest from them after hours and on weekends. Nothing is further from the truth.

    My favorites authors are Isabel Allende, John Sandford, Greg Iles, Robin Cook, John LeCarre, etc. There really are too many of them. Intrigue, suspense, mystery, historical fiction are my choices.

  257. 257
    Linkmeister says:

    gus @ #253, or with MacDonald in general. His non-McGee books are equally good.

  258. 258
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Cain: I read the Butcher series, too. I like it because I am intrigued by witchcraft and such. Plus, like you said, fast reads.

  259. 259
    gwangung says:

    These threads just incite my Kindle lust….

  260. 260
    TenguPhule says:

    One step closer to the Death Star, Bitchez!

    You may fire when ready.

  261. 261
    TenguPhule says:

    Nobody has mentioned Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series; they’re great SF and relationship stories.

    It kinda goes downhill after “Civil Campaign” though.

    The Early Miles though is classic Protagonist Refuge in Audacity.

  262. 262
    Linkmeister says:

    @TenguPhule

    Well, there’s only one Miles book after ACC anyway: “Diplomatic Immunity,” published in 2002. So it’s not like Bujold fell off a cliff, she just got started on “The Sharing Knife” books.

  263. 263
    k55f says:

    @Indylib:

    Wheel of Time is one of the series I just completely gave up on because it took so long for subsequent books in the series to come out that I felt like I need to go back and read half the series to have a clue what was going on in the new one. I really liked the first five of them, then I threw in the towel.

    I love George R R Martin. Song of Ice and Fire is one of the best fantasy series ever.

    I’ve been waiting for the next in the series Song of Ice and Fire for 3+ years now, Amazon has emailed me 3 times with a chance to get my money back as George hasn’t met his publishing date. Still the best fantasy series ever written. Sorry, J.R.R.

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