What have you been reading? - Book Discussion Thread

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#1 Edited by SloppyDetective (1613 posts) -

At the start of this year I decided I wanted to start reading more. I decided on 2 books a month-1 fiction and 1 non-fiction. So I thought I would start a thread for us duders to discuss what books we just finished or are in the middle of reading. Please use the spoiler settings for any of the juicy details of a book you want to talk about, and leave a rating, if you want, for books you finished.

*Note this is not a book club thread, a bunch of those have tried and died already. This is just to talk about and rate whatever book you are in the middle of or have just finished.

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#2 Posted by SloppyDetective (1613 posts) -

Estranged by Alex Fedyr-It was a breezy read that helped kick off my year of reading. It's a twist on zombies, but the twist adds some interesting parallels to addiction. I don't feel like the author had anything to really say about addiction though, as it was all over the place on the topic. My biggest problem with the book would be how thick the main character is. There were more than a few times I put two and two together and was then surprised when pages later the main character finally put it together. There are a few convenient character twists as well that don't feel earned. Still it was an enjoyable light read. 3/5

Elephant in the Room by jon Ronson-It might be a little dubious for me to count this as my non-fiction book of the month; it's only about 40 pages long and is a kindle single (or whatever they call the short stuff they publish). But it was thoroughly fascinating. Ronson is an investigative journalist best known for his books The Men Who Stare At Goats and the Psycho Path Test. He's very funny, self-deprecating, and a master of juxtaposition. This book is about how, through his connection with Alex Jones, got a glimpse into the Trump campaign. The most interesting part was how Trump tapped into a section of the public that normally never votes and got them to vote-the conspiracy theorists. It's funny and scary and brilliant. 5/5

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#3 Posted by Asurastrike (2306 posts) -

I am reading Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle.

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#4 Posted by SloppyDetective (1613 posts) -

@asurastrike: I tried reading that in high school and didn't make it that far. I should give it another go now that I'm older.

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#5 Edited by theuprightman (222 posts) -

I have just started rereading The Wheel of Time series again, I read it 3 or 4 years ago, I haven't read much over the last year or so. I am trying to get back into the routine again.

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#6 Posted by eltopo715 (15 posts) -

@sloppydetective:I really dig the idea of this thread. It's always fun to see what the community gets up to besides video games. Have you read Ronson's earlier book, Them? It might be semi-out of print (it was published at least fifteen years ago), but it has a fascinating section where Ronson accompanies Alex Jones to the Bilderberg Group's annual meeting and I imagine "The Elephant in the Room" is a bit of a successor to Them. Regardless, I'll have to check it out when I get a chance.

I'm reading a couple of books, at the moment:

The City & The City by China Miéville: A readable police procedural that takes place in two cities that, through some unspecified fantastic or sci-fi narrative invention, have come to occupy the same geographic location. An imperfect, but apt metaphor: imagine Borges writing a hard-boiled detective novel that happens to be keenly interested the dynamics of movement politics. It reminds me a little bit of Roberto Bolaño's final novel, 2666 if that does any work in explaining the gist of The City & The City.

And: The Phenomenology of the End by Franco 'Bifo' Berardi: I read Berardi's previous work Heroes last year and this might be a better starting place if you haven't encountered autonomist thought before (Heroes being maybe 250 pages, while And is considerably heftier). Basically Heroes represents a --morbid if effective -- attempt to theorize mass shootings and suicide. Not only why extreme interpersonal violence occurs from a psychological perspective, but an exploration of the social, material, and technological aspects that motivate individuals to such affective extremes. And is a bit of a re-centering to more commonly experienced emotional (and aesthetic, Berardi would argue) states. I'm not terribly far into it, but so far it seems to be concerned with attempting to understand how certain private and social sensibilities are effected by economic and technological dislocation. Fun stuff, all around.

Anyways, sorry for the long post; I don't get as many chances to write down my thoughts on the books I'm reading as I once did, so this thread is pretty welcome.

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#7 Posted by TheWyotee93 (223 posts) -

I've entered the Warhammer 40k hole after listening to an old Bombcast where Vinny mentions he had started them as well. I decided on the Horus Heresy series, as that's the one everyone online seems to agree is the place to start, and I'm enjoying them a surprising amount. I'm in the middle of Book 2 and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

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#9 Posted by baka_shinji17 (1457 posts) -

Mistborn.

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#10 Posted by mandude (2833 posts) -

The Coming Revolution by Patrick Pearse.

From 1913 to 1916, the Poet and school-teacher, Pádraig Mac Piarais, talks about the mechanics of blood sacrifice, nationality and education, and eerily predicts how Ireland would establish independence.

It's a pretty weird and fascinating book. And at times, disturbing.

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#11 Edited by JamesFargoth (119 posts) -

Started on the Witcher books and really enjoying them. I'm reading the Kindle versions while listening to the (really well done) audiobooks. Peter Kenny narrates and does a fantastic job. Quite the experience reading and listening all at once.

There is a few reasons why the Witcher games are great, one of them is the source material.

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#12 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8906 posts) -

I've been reading a bit of Janet Evonovich and John Sandford. I'd like to spend the better part of 2017 getting caught up on some Tad Williams and Robert McCammon, but I suspect I'll probably just wind up with a much bigger backlog than I already have and pick through it like a frog nabbing flies at random.

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#13 Posted by ItsaCorey (40 posts) -

I've been reading His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. It's about a murder in Scotland during the 1800's.

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#14 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (7837 posts) -

I've been reading Johnny got his Gun. As someone who's been sick and partially bedridden for the past month, it's a hell of a thing to read. I can understand how affecting it must've been back around the time it was written; right on the cusp of ww2.

The way it switches back and forth between the character's history and his present situation is very well done. Getting close to finishing it. One of my resolutions was to read a book a month.

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#15 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1371 posts) -

Right now I am reading Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow, which is very interesting about how our future as a species might look like.
And Bevegelsen: Det andre stedet, which is book two in a trilogy by a Swedish horror-writer. The last one was very weird, about a group of camping tourists that suddenly found themselves on an endless grass lawn under a uniform blue sky. I really like that one, but it was difficult to understand. This one is a prequel/biography, about the author himself and what happened to him as a young man that made him write horror. Kinda Stephen King/Lovecraft-vibes. I am reading it in Norwegian, and it seems it is not available in English. He is the guy most known for "Let the right one in" by the way.

Oh, and I am listening to A night without stars. Because I need to read newer stuff for my work (I work at a bookstore) I tend to listen to fantasy, sci-fi or older books I haven't gotten to yet as audiobooks. Started doing so a few years ago, and it is wonderful! Though, the narrator for this series (John Lee) tends to make everyone sound extremely arrogant. Takes a while to get used to it.

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#16 Posted by BojackHorseman (690 posts) -

Currently burning through Hemmingway like a mafakka. Boy could that man write.

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#17 Posted by pyromagnestir (4505 posts) -

So far this month I have finished:

Fall of Kings, the final book in David Gemmell's retelling of the Trojan war. The whole series was something I've been meaning to read for quite a while and I finally got around to it late last year.
It's a sorta realistic take on the old mythical story of the Trojan war, though not a completely grounded one as there are still a number of fantastical touches (particularly a whole lot of highly accurate prophecies), but it feels plausible enough outside of that. I quite like the series's versions of Odysseus, Priam, Andromache, Achilles, and other already well known figures from mythology.
The series was very good as a whole, and the final book was damn good.

Barrayar, from Lois McMaster Bujold's sci fi Vorkosigan series. It's a direct sequel to another book in the series, Shards of Honor, which I finished a couple years back.
I liked both. In Shards of Honor two characters from opposing sides of a war find themselves stranded together and forced to team up to survive, they fall in love, and shit gets complicated.
In Barrayar, they are married and living on dude's home planet when the dude is appointed regent for his new child emperor, so of course again shit gets quite complicated. I enjoyed it more than Shards. I felt the story of Barrayar just had more punch to it. And as a result I probably won't wait another couple years to pick up anther book in the series.

And I am near the end of:

Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden: A non fiction detailed journalistic breakdown of the events of the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, which kinda happened when, on a raid to pick up a couple targets, a couple helicopters were shot down and turned what was supposed to have been a simple hour long mission into an overnight all out battle where a bit over a hundred American soldiers were trying to hold out against what seemed like an entire city.
Many parts of it have made me legitimately uncomfortable (such as the part where the medic is desperately trying to treat a soldier who is bleeding to death from a gunshot and they can't extract him to base/hospital because of how rough the combat they are stuck in is) and this book has made me realize I could never have been a soldier. Not that I ever really wanted to be a soldier, but as someone who has never had much idea of what the hell I'm doing with my life the option of enlisting has been something I've considered once or twice. After reading this I don't know how anyone could want to be a soldier. I feel like this book should be required reading for anyone thinking about enlisting. If it terrifies them so much they change their mind, that's fine. And if it doesn't terrify them at all they shouldn't be allowed to enlist, because if you aren't even a little bit disturbed by some of this stuff that's just not healthy.

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#18 Posted by stryker1121 (2171 posts) -

Book threads are always a good thing. Let's try and keep this one alive!

On topic, I just finished 'You Will Know Me' by Megan Abbott, about a woman whose daughter is an elite gymnast. The woman gets caught up in this strange, cultish world of helicopter parents and boosters, and wackiness ensues when someone among the group is killed in a hit-and-run accident. The book is more of a thriller/character study than mystery, and it's excellent at building and keeping tension. It's not a very pleasant read, but it's very good.

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#19 Posted by Atwa (1690 posts) -

I finished The Tower of the Swallow (Witcher #6) and enjoyed it quite a bit. Now eagerly awaiting the last part to be out in March. The characters and world of the Witcher just appeals to me a whole bunch and I just like to read them a lot.

Now im reading Spring Snow, Yukio Mishima and Hardboiled-Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami. So kinda in a Japanese state of mind. I am enjoying both of them about equally, and man Murakami is just such a rad writer.

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#20 Posted by marceloblvictor (12 posts) -

I've been reading The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco, and am finding it quite amusing. It has a sherlock holmes vibe that I didn't expect, so it's been really hard to put down. When I finish it, I might come back and expose my complete impressions.

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#21 Posted by FrostyRyan (2922 posts) -

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis and the entirety of The Sandman

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#22 Posted by ColossalGhost (240 posts) -

At the start of the month I finished Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It was a really enjoyable read that is surprisingly humorous for a book about war. Also, this book manages to use time travel in a way that enhances the storytelling.

I am currently reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker's book #2) by Douglas Adams. I am most of the way through it and, everything about it so far amazing and hilarious.

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#23 Edited by SloppyDetective (1613 posts) -

@eltopo715: I haven't read Them, but it's on my list. He recounts part of the Bohemian Grove story in Elephant in the Room. I've also heard him tell it on podcasts. The only other thing I've read by him is The Psychopath Test, but Them and his new one about public shaming are on my list.

*edit Also bringing up Roberto Bolano will get me interested in any book.

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#24 Posted by deactivated-5b031d0e868a5 (935 posts) -

Just finished 10% Happier by Dan Harris which is definitely worth reading.

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#25 Posted by SloppyDetective (1613 posts) -

@ohagan: I need to read that. I've been thinking of using some of my tax return to take a TM class. Meditation on my own has not been fruitful.

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#26 Edited by alphasquid (135 posts) -

Haven't read enough of it to really say anything about my feelings on it but I just started reading Human Acts by Han Kang. It's about the way that the South Korean Gwangju Uprising impacts various people's lives at different points in time. Her other book, The Vegetarian, is a really interesting portrait of mental illness that I liked and would recommend.

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#27 Posted by jaycrockett (860 posts) -

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

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#28 Posted by Boba7heFett (7 posts) -

Non-Fiction

The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh Great read about the dawn of modern flight. Anyone even slightly interested in flight should give this book a look. Amazing how much these three guys contributed to advancing aviation. Moves incredibly well for a non-fiction book the author does a great job at weaving topics together. I could not put it down.

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS Neat look at the unconventional beginnings and tactics of the SAS. Lots of great characters and stories. Entertaining and informative read. Some of the missions they pulled off put even the wildest action movies to shame.

D-Day Through German Eyes Books 1+2 A raw and sometimes appalling look into the minds of German soldiers towards the end of WW2. Most of the interviews were recorded shortly after the war and are completely unfiltered. I have read many books written from the allied side of the war and it is always interesting to read things from the other side.

Fiction

S. A mystery within a novel. It is a book written by a fictional author who was an enigma. The story of the author and some strange happenings around the book are told in the margins through a conversation between two students studying the book. A bit tough tough to keep track of the story threads but so far it is tons of fun. Have not finished it yet but it has kept me invested and I am excited to see how it all wraps up.

and of course...Too many Star Wars books....help me

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#29 Edited by Toastburner_B (472 posts) -

I'm currently cycling through a couple of series I am re-reading.

The Dresden Files because I am holding out hope that Butcher will finish up Peace Talks sooner rather than later. Please, Jim? Please?

Gaunt's Ghosts because I never finished/caught up with the series...I never went beyond what was in the last omnibus.

And The Powder Mage series because the next book comes out in March.

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#30 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1371 posts) -

@boba7hefett:I loved S! I found both of the stories to be interesting, and the way they fit together is pretty neat. Love all the weird stuff crammed into the book as well, postcards. loose sheets of paper and even a napkin! Should also be mentioned that the book is written and made by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Yeah, that J.J. Abrams.

@colossalghost: Douglas Adams was a genius. Every time someone mentions him I want to reread all five books in the trilogy. Which I did every year for six years or so. Sadly don't have enough time to do so anymore.

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#31 Posted by Superharman (305 posts) -

I generally do a book to two books a month depending on length. Last year I think I read about 20 books all up but always use the start of the year as a new starting point.

First book this year was:

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

Great little journey through 19th Century country Australia. Had the feel of a solid western and focused closely on what forces a man to a life of crime taking the view that in his eyes, he's right. I know Carey went heavily into fiction with this one, but the scent of the true story is there enough for it to feel genuine.

Just started reading as a tie in to Chinese New Year:

Monkey by Wu Ch'eng-en (Translation by Arthur Waley) (aka Journey to the West)

Have been wanting to read this for a while given it's continuing influence on Eastern culture. I literally started it this morning but it is fun. I understand that this is a very abridged and popular translation, but that's okay for what I'm trying to get out of this.

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#32 Posted by Bribbins (33 posts) -

Just Finished Shadow and Claw. Two great books in a series by Gene Wolfe. Excellent blend of science fiction and fantasy.

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#33 Posted by splodge (2775 posts) -

So I have been watching The Hollow Crown series from that BBC. It's not reading, but feels like it. Its also great.

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#34 Edited by Humanity (18846 posts) -

@bribbins: those books are pretty wild and a difficult read, or at least they were for me. Large swathes of that lengthy tome feel like a fever dream only loosely connected to the overarching plot. It is incredibly unique though and I love the under represented genre of "so far in the future it's the past again" especially how people keep using ancient future technology they don't really understand.

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#35 Edited by Cerberus3Dog (1028 posts) -

I started January off with Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. I think it should be required reading. Changed my perspective on how to look at and compare someone's relative intelligence to my own.

Just got done with Pierce Brown's Red Rising Trilogy. Excellent from start to finish. Highly recommended. It's great young adult reading. It's space opera. The MC is born poor, with no promising future and becomes a revolutionary trying to topple the authoritarian government. That premise is cliche but it pulls it off spectacularly because of Brown's world building and characterizations. He is pretty into Warhammer 40k apparently. The first book is like a more hardcore Hunger Games if that interest you. This trilogy deals with classism and caste systems while also adding in cool fight scenes and gigantic space battles taking influences from the Hunger Games and Ender's Game. It's ambitious and I love it for its scope.

Now I'm trying to get my way through Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem. It's pretty slow going. I'm hoping it picks up because I've heard so much hype around it. Apparently Obama really dug it and he's a pretty well read guy.

I'm thinking about picking up 1984 next because of the "alternative facts" fiasco going on right now and I haven't read it. Or I might go for some President biographies next.

Anybody have suggestions for good US President biographies? I have a general interest in Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Roosevelt's if that helps. Though if you have read one you really enjoy that is about a different president, let me know! Apparently Lincoln suffered from crippling depression and it would be cool to learn more about that aspect of his life.

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#36 Edited by Cerberus3Dog (1028 posts) -

@ohagan: So I'm going through a rough spot in my life right now. Do you think 10% Happier would help me look at things more positively? Did you get something out of it?

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#37 Edited by Cerberus3Dog (1028 posts) -

@jaqen_hghar: I've been on the fence of reading these books because I've read some criticism about Yuval Noah Harari's work on Sapiens where he made some assumptions about the history of mankind without evidence. So with Homo Deus being about mankind's future, do you think he makes good logical arguments about where we are headed? Does he explain his reasoning well? And in general, are you enjoying it?

(sorry about the repeated posts, I wasn't sure if Giant Bomb duders got notification messages from edits)

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#38 Posted by pyromagnestir (4505 posts) -

@cerberus3dog: I loved Death of the Republic about President James Garfield. Not sure it qualifies as a complete biography but it certainly is worth checking out, it kinda briskly moves through his life up to being elected and then settles down to detail his brief time as president, most of which was spent in bed after an assassination attempt while doctors try to treat him.

After reading that book I think he's now my favorite person ever elected president. Unfortunately he didn't get to do much actual presidenting.

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#39 Posted by Cerberus3Dog (1028 posts) -
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#40 Posted by Toastburner_B (472 posts) -


Anybody have suggestions for good US President biographies? I have a general interest in Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Roosevelt's if that helps. Though if you have read one you really enjoy that is about a different president, let me know! Apparently Lincoln suffered from crippling depression and it would be cool to learn more about that aspect of his life.

I read Grant's autobiography in the last year or two, and it was pretty interesting. He mostly sticks to his life before and during the American Civil War, and doesn't touch on his presidency, so it might not be what you are looking for. If you do decided to read it, I would suggest looking up map. He talks a lot about troop movements, so unless you have a real good grasp on the geography of the area, you are going to get real lost, real quick (like I did).

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#41 Posted by pyromagnestir (4505 posts) -

@pyromagnestir: Is this the one? That summary is really intriguing. Thanks for the suggestion.

Oh right, Destiny of the Republic. Yep that's it.

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#42 Posted by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

Some time ago, I decided to read all the (main) Discworld books in publication order. I'd already read a few of them here and there, but I wasn't sure which. I'm up to Eric which is the ninth or tenth, and I've only recognized three of the books so far, but it's been so long, they were worth the re-read anyway. They're all really good, though some are certainly better than others. I just finished Guards Guards! It might have been my favorite so far. It's enjoyable seeing Pratchett's writing develop over the first few books. He starts out competent, and two books later, much like his world, he's magic. It's a very rapid progression. I'm not sure I'm going to make it through all thirty-something of them before I need to read something else just for a change.

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#43 Posted by RenegadeSaint (1640 posts) -

I've been working on Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. I'm currently on book 7/7 and hoping to finish this month.

After Herbert's Dune series, this has to be one of the toughest set of novels I've ever attempted to push through. That's not to say the series is bad, but there are definite slow spots (particularly book 4, Wizard and Glass) and it is exceedingly long with lots of detours. The series is absolutely loaded with pop culture references and the themes of fate/destiny are almost overbearing. That being said, King's signature style is present and at least keeps things interesting. The fourth wall gets broken in a way I've never experienced before, with mostly positive results. Considering the tale starts as western, you'll be very surprised at what it eventually becomes.

I probably would only recommend this series if you have a lot of free time (I've been deployed, so there's not much else to do) or if you're extremely excited for the upcoming movie.

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#44 Posted by deactivated-5b031d0e868a5 (935 posts) -

@cerberus3dog: I'm not entirely sure if it would make you look at things more positively but it might.

The main focus of the book about Dan Harris and some of the troubles he faced, how he then came to try meditation first as a skeptic then the story of how he got more into it. I'd say its mainly an autobiography that details how Dan Harris used meditation to overcome his troubles which if that works for you is great. It certainly presents a convincing argument for why you should at least meditation, what to expect when you initially do so and the long term effect it has had on Dan Harris himself.

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#45 Posted by dudeglove (13763 posts) -

Just finished The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Good book, basically like reading a screenplay. The denouement wasn't entirely to my satisfaction, and it maybe strayed off a bit from its initial thing? Other than that, the book still holds up, what, 60 or 70 years after the fact?

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#46 Posted by dudeglove (13763 posts) -

@sinusoidal: I dropped off Pratchett after his... uhh... like the first 20 books? He became kinda repetitive for me, but I will still say that Mort, Guards Guards!, Small Gods, and Feet of Clay are all excellent.

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#47 Edited by xanadu (2046 posts) -

I made a thread poll awhile back asking if I should get a kindle paper white or a regular kindle. Got a paper white not too long ago and started reading The Witcher books. Im half through the first book and digging it a lot. Its surprising to see how good of a job CD Project RED did translating the tone and atmosphere of those books into those games. Can't wait to read the the initial series and start a new play through of the Witcher 1-3 with a new perspective!

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#48 Edited by JohnTunoku (418 posts) -

William Gibson's Neuromancer. Not too far in but I'm digging the style so far. Lot of fun dark future nonsense.

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#49 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1371 posts) -

@cerberus3dog:I enjoyed both Sapiens and where I am at so far in Homo Deus. Although, a lot of Homo Deus is very similar to Sapiens, probably because he didn't want to assume everyone had read Sapiens, and where we came from is very important to where we might be going.

I actually think he handled things pretty well, because he usually presents you with several theories, and don't really hammer in that one of them is true. I got the feeling that he knew perfectly well that we don't know enough to make definitive statements, and a lot of it are our best guesses and assumptions. Maybe some people felt he said "this is how it was", but I did not. Which I feel is in stark contrast to Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel", which is another interesting read about our past, but was for the most part presented as the absolute truth.

If you want to read one of his books, I would actually recommend not reading both. At least not back-to-back. If you are more interested in our possible future, read Homo Deus. You will get enough of our probably past in that, just not as in-depth. If you want to know more about what most likely makes us humans different from all the other animals on this planet, read Sapiens. At the very least it made me realize things about our psyche I hadn't considered before.

@renegadesaint: Most of my audiobooks last year was The Dark Tower. I loved all of the books, though Song of Susannah was my least favorite. It might have been the excellent narration by Frank Muller and George Guidall, but I rarely felt bored. Frank Muller was the best though, but he got in an accident before the series was finished and died not that long after. He only narrated the first four, and I only got the hold of 2-4 with him, as Guidall must have started narrating the first ones as well as the last ones. Anyway, because of Muller's narration book 4 is my favorite. It doesn't bring things forward, seeing how it is a flashback to Roland's past, but I really liked the story itself.

A lot of people hate the ending by the way. I loved it.

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#50 Posted by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

@dudeglove said:

@sinusoidal: I dropped off Pratchett after his... uhh... like the first 20 books? He became kinda repetitive for me, but I will still say that Mort, Guards Guards!, Small Gods, and Feet of Clay are all excellent.

I'm looking forward to Small Gods. I know I read it and liked it a long, long time ago, but I can remember nothing else about it.