What have you been reading? - Book Discussion Thread

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#451 Posted by Sombre (476 posts) -

@humanity said:

@sombre: I have not and I was actually really surprised to suddenly see it in stores a few days ago. It shouldn't be surprising that an author wrote another novel but somehow I heard nothing about this coming. 1Q84 was incredibly disappointing for me and his next novel Colorless Tsukuru.. failed to really engage me. This was kind of a shock because up until 1Q84 Murakami was an author that could do no wrong for me - I had read all of his full feature novels and really enjoyed them all in various degrees. After Dark is probably the one that was beginning to be a little too wishy washy with ambiguity but I still really liked the concept of it. In comparison 1Q84 was incredibly boring and spanning three entire novels didn't help that at all. Colorless.. was ironically just that - kinda flat, nothing stood out.

So I'm interested to read this new one after I'm finally done with the Witcher books, but I'm also a little anxious about it. The few reviews I read were very middle down the road.

That sucks dude. I fucking LOVE Kafka, probably in my top 3 books ever read. I also really liked 1Q84, even if I associate it with a bad time in my life. I think I'll check out Commendatore at some point, just for another Murakami masterclass in surrealism

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#452 Edited by 49th (3914 posts) -

I've just finished the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. The books are definitely written for young adults but the premise is unique and keeps me reading. I find that some of the plot points seem a little too convenient or undeserved but the overall story is good.

I'm looking forward to the movie next year as I think it could translate really well to the screen.

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#453 Posted by Creigz (235 posts) -

I've been reading a couple books, first one is Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames. It's part of a group of books based in a D&D like universe. The first book is my favorite of the two right now, but we'll see what else comes out. This one is quite good, don't get me wrong but I related to the characters more in the first book is all.

Also I'm reading The Hackers Playbook 3. It's pretty simplified so even a non-professional infosec person can grasp the concepts.

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#454 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@patoday: I read the first one earlier this year and thought it was fantastic, I'm planning on reading the next two books back-to-back soon.

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#455 Posted by PatODay (395 posts) -
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#456 Posted by Sombre (476 posts) -

@49th said:

I've just finished the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. The books are definitely written for young adults but the premise is unique and keeps me reading. I find that some of the plot points seem a little too convenient or undeserved but the overall story is good.

I'm looking forward to the movie next year as I think it could translate really well to the screen.

Is that the Knife of Never Letting go series? That was number 3 in my top things of 2015!

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#457 Edited by wollywoo (302 posts) -

@humanity: Finished Norwegian Wood. Pretty great. Here's my review.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This is a story about sex, death, and mental illness, and how those three feed off of each other in strange combinations. I've heard his book called the Japanese Catcher in the Rye, but they have almost nothing in common, except that both Murakami and Salinger both have great ears for dialogue. My favorite characters were Reiko and Midori who are, respectively, fascinating and hilarious. Certain images - an abandoned well, Midori playing her guitar from a balcony while watching a building burn, Toru feeding cucumbers to a dying man - seem like they will stick in my memory for quite a while. The main flaw, to me, is that the main character is a bit of a blank slate - it seems like every girl he runs into instantly falls in love with him and either sleeps with him or tells him her most intimate secrets, so he must be something special, but I'm not sure exactly why. He's obviously a stand-in for the author, but maybe if there was more distance between the two he would be more interesting. I don't speak Japanese, but there are some strange word choices that make me wonder if the translation is a bit wonky in places.

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#458 Edited by SloppyDetective (1618 posts) -

I just started Cannery Row by Steinbeck, and while I'm a big fan of what I've previously read of his (Grapes, Pearl and Mice), I've found this to be a bit of a slog. There are interstitial pieces inserted between more traditional chapters where he is describing the atmosphere of areas in Cannery Row and the style and flow of these parts have been really unappealing. They are these pseudo-poetic descriptions that are full of back to back $10 dollar words that make it feel like I'm reading a college text book version of literary pros. I mean I'm a moron so I'm sure someone could evocatively explain to me why these are great writing, but on my own they are just tedious. The rest of the book has focused on the characters and why they reside in these places in Cannery Row, and those are as delightful as all the other writings of his I'm familiar with. He is talking about a different type of people in this book than the others I've read in that there is a seediness to their low status compared to the characters in Grapes and The Pearl. These are down and out people living in the skids but he cares about them just as much as any of his other characters, and that's something I really love about his writing.

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#459 Posted by Humanity (18946 posts) -

Just finished the Inverted World by Christopher Priest and it’s a fascinating read about a city on rails that is constantly moving. It’s an oldie but a real goodie with some amazing twists and turns along the way.

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#460 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7649 posts) -

I had started listening to is "The Long Earth Series" by British authors Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. It is an interesting series, but I don't love it. I can see what teh authors were going for "what if" the westward expansion went on forever on parallel earths. But, truthfully, this was a situation where two great authors produce a really dreadful series of books. But, I gave the second book a go...and yeah, this one is not good either. So, a regrettable "Do Not Recommend" for me on "The Long Earth Series"

Before the holidays I listened to "Tau Zero" 1970, by Poul Anderson. This is a very 1970s science fiction book, like full bell-bottoms with paisley shirt 1970s book. It deals with the phenomenon of what happens when you are in a broken spaceship that keeps accelerating faster. A vehicle can never reach the speed of light, teh occupants and ship are alway chasing the last few fractions of the speed of light...99.898, 99.899, all the way up to 99.99998 and beyond. However, what does happen is time speeds-up so that years, centuries, and eons pass by outside as they accelerate. In teh final horus Billion-year cycles which pass as moments for the people in the ship as their ship. I won't give away what happens, but I will say the book is more about the people and how they cope as their journey puts them beyond all that they knew. So, this is a "Recommend if you like 1970s sci fi".

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#461 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@monkeyking1969: I picked up Tau Zero during a sale late last year, and just listened to it over the past few days. It had the worst audiobook narration I've ever heard. The story itself was really interesting, though, even if the characters weren't written all that well. It's the first Poul Anderson that I've read. Have you read any more of his stuff?

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#462 Posted by Humanity (18946 posts) -

I've been reading Destination Void by Frank Herbert as it's supposed to be a sort of stand alone intro novel to his later trilogy. I loved the Dune novels Frank Herbert wrote and consider them some of the best sci-fi ever written. Game of Thrones is basically Dune but in a fantasy setting. Destination Void though.. I dunno. Halfway into it as I started struggling I went on to read some reviews if I was the only one and the general consensus is that this "intro" is less a novel and more a philosophical thought exercise with narrative mouth pieces arguing back and forth about the definition of consciousness. Although my biggest issue is with the tech-speak. Having read past Herbert work and being a big fan of William Gibson I'm no stranger to show-don't-tell type of organic world building. He picked up the Quaziloop and sealed it around his wrist seeing a stream of Xarqs flood his vision and giving him access to the console under his palm - you know that sort of stuff. Destination Void seems, to me anyway, 90% incomprehensible. Even more incomprehensible than the Light series by M. John Harrision and those were some techno-babble-ass books. Whats different is that Herbert strings entire sentences of this stuff together with nary a regular word in between.

I'll brave on through to the end which I hear starts to oscillate back to regular storytelling and has some interesting revelations, but so far it has not been a particularly fun read. Great concept though.

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#463 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7649 posts) -

@monkeyking1969: I picked up Tau Zero during a sale late last year, and just listened to it over the past few days. It had the worst audiobook narration I've ever heard. The story itself was really interesting, though, even if the characters weren't written all that well. It's the first Poul Anderson that I've read. Have you read any more of his stuff?

I think I have only read his "Harvest of Star" books, but that was a solid 25 years ago or more. Mr Anderson is one of those authors you see on teh shelf that you never get around to reading.

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#464 Posted by SloppyDetective (1618 posts) -

I just finished 1984 by George Orwell. I have to say I was pretty bored through a lot of it. I like the two main characters quite a bit and was surprised at how romantic the story got at times, and how liberal with sexuality the author was. This book handily fulfilled one of my pet peeves though. Forcing the reader to read, for far too long, an in world book. This is a pivotal moment for the character but we have to trudge through way too many pages of blatant explanation for things we already contextually learned about the world; this really killed the pacing of the second half of the book. Still, I'm glad I read it and now know where all those references and ideas come from. This book has had such a wide influence on our culture and pop-culture that I think it is worth a read even if it feels uneven and drones on at times.

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#465 Posted by pappafost (230 posts) -

The Harry S Truman biography by McCollough. I'm listening to the audiobook while doing Monster Hunter World grinding. It's pretty fascinating stuff, and it makes what happened later in the 20th century make a lot more sense: Cold War, North Korea, Vietnam, Berlin wall, etc.

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#466 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7649 posts) -

I read soem Young Adult books from time to time - a book is a book is a book.

I just got into listening to an "offshoot" series the Honor Harrington series. This series illuminates the first discovery of "Treecats" by Harringtons. Treecats are a sentinet, thepathic species of 'cat analog' aliens which befriend certain humans in a futuristic space empire. A few Treecat character weave their way through the whole Honor Harrington series experiencing in space warfare and high adventure of thos pulp sci fi books. These YA books are a bit more 'tame', but are nicely written. Not as gooey or melodramatic as 'The Hunger Games', but there is some teen romance part to the stories.

I like the series, it lighthearted with some Nancy Drew type thrills and mysteries.

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#467 Edited by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

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#468 Posted by FrostyRyan (2924 posts) -

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I've never seen either movie adaptation. This is a real treat so far

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#470 Edited by sparky_buzzsaw (8931 posts) -

Been catching up on Kadrey's Sandman Slim novels. So far, they're terrific. A guy banished to hell by a circle of magician friends comes back for revenge when one of them kills his girlfriend, and by the end of the first novel, he becomes sort of a hitman for hire. It's a really unique blend of shlock, intelligence (the dialogue in particular is sharp and witty), and violence. Hugely recommended, particularly if you like big action novels with a bit of unique flavor.

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#471 Posted by Damenco (62 posts) -

I am currently reading metro 2033 and stalker. I love these books

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#472 Posted by billmcneal (1266 posts) -

I just finished two books. I read "The Apprentice" by Greg Miller about the influence of Russia in the 2016 USA presidential election. I also finished "Baseball Cop" by Eddie Dominguez about the dark side of Major League Baseball.

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#473 Posted by SloppyDetective (1618 posts) -

I finished the Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. It was a very enjoyable read; quite humorous, and very lyrical prose. I felt some plot points came and went too quickly and some of the jokes didn't land, but it made me curious about other books in the series. I may skip around and read some of the more highly regarded books: I doubt I will read all 40+.

I'm currently reading The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. I like it quite a bit (not as much as Our Man in Havana) but I can see why this is widely considered his greatest work. The subject matter is dark, he brings a huge amount of humanity to the characters and he's dealing in big philosophical questions. I'm sure my interpretation of it now is much different than what it was in the 20th century when released.

I also started reading Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris today by reading a few of the first essays. I think Sedaris is very funny, but my god I can never match my dad's love of him. I think the opening essay about his European dentistry experiences has been the strongest one so far. I do kind of wish I got the audio book as he's such a fantastic narrator, but I have such a hard time focusing on audio books they feel like a waste and I never finish them.

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#474 Posted by Sombre (476 posts) -

I work in a school, and I Was looking at the school library for a book to read on my week off. I found Gaiman's "Stardust". Being a big fan of the film, I picked it up for a bit of quiet reading time with the kids. 30 minutes FLEW by. The teacher I work with asked me to read it over half term and give a review to the class when I get back, but theres a pretty graphic sex scene first 20 pages.

Wew

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#475 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

*casts resurrect on thread*

I've been struggling to get through books this year. Time that I ought to spend on books, I find myself browsing Twitter and despairing at the state of the world. I imagine at least a few people here can relate. Anyways, here's my review of a nonfiction book I recently finsihed:

A truly remarkable exploration of the ways that America's current economic system has its roots in the slave trade and the labor that was forced from the hands of millions of enslaved black folks, The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist is an eye-opening book that every American should read.

This is not your high school history textbook. The overarching story of the expansion of slavery is told through the lens of treating each chapter as a part of the body (back, legs, hands, etc.). It's a narrative style that Baptist uses to great effect, melding personal accounts of enslaved people, enslavers, and broad economic and historical context into a cohesive whole. Much of the book is deeply unsettling, and that is by no means a criticism.

Baptist pulls no punches in critiquing the Southern enslavers--Baptist uses this term throughout the book, and I personally will never again refer to the people who thought they could own another human being with the sanitized term "plantation owners." As I said, this is not your high school history textbook. The Northern business owners who profited from the forced labor of enslaved black folks in the South are not spared here. This book makes it clear that people throughout the entire American economic system were complicit.

Beautifully written, supremely informative, and intensely raw, this is a book that should be read by everyone.

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#476 Posted by Sombre (476 posts) -

I've been listening to Sanderson's "Way of Kings" book 1 on Audiobook. The fact you get a 3 month trial with Prime for Audible is fucking amazing.

I'm about 4 hours in, and I'm loving it. I have a 40 minute walk each way to work, so it's a really nice way to start the day, and wind down after work.

It's a cool fantasy with some DENSE worldbuilding

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#477 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8931 posts) -

Finished Zoje Stage's Baby Teeth a few weeks back and that's some terrific psychological horror. The escalating hostility between a mother dealing with her own perceived failures and a child with an unhealthy obsession with her father made me really antsy for the inevitable blowup, and when it happens, it's done in a really smart way I wasn't expecting. Stage is immensely patient about it too, layering on dread like she's painting a house. Utterly fantastic and one of the best books I've read in a while.

Right now, I'm reading Amy Vansant's Pineapple Port novels. They're pretty light, silly mysteries and kind of remind me of Psych in a lot of ways. Nothing really complex, but they don't have to be. Sometimes you just need something breezy, and the dialogue and characters are good enough for me for the moment.

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#478 Posted by Pezen (2388 posts) -

Have not a fiction book in quite some time and that trend seems to continue. Not that I read many books to begin with. Over the last two years I have probably only read two books; Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark regarding artificial intelligence, and Marc Maron's book Attempting Normal. And these last few weeks have been no different. Currently reading through The Complete Penny Stock Course by Jamil Ben Alluch based on Timothy Syke's trading techniques and teachings. As well as How To Day Trade by Ross Cameron. So if it wasn't obvious, I have been deep diving into the world of stock trading. It's been fascinating and really rewarding experience. Especially seeing how I am slowly getting my predictions on stock movements right (which more than not happens when I don't trade, but that's better than having taken a trade that didn't go the way I had hoped).

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#479 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

I just finished reading And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic.

Who is to blame for the way the AIDS epidemic ravaged the gay community in the early 1980s? And The Band Played On is a work of literary journalism that humanizes the people who lived and died during the epidemic while also serving as a blistering indictment of the forces that worked to ignore the crisis, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of people.

Randy Shilts tells the story of the early, confusing, and horrifying years of the AIDS epidemic by setting stories of personal, heartbreaking loss against the backdrop of a growing crisis that would come to affect so many people across so many communities, most of them marginalized in some way.

The Reagan administration (particularly Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler), the blood bank industry, the owners of gay bathhouses, the warring factions at the CDC and the NIH (and the way the work of the Pasteur Institute was overlooked and co-opted for personal glory), the news media, and an uncaring public all take their turn in the spotlight here.

And The Band Played On serves as essential reading for those who wish to understand the AIDS epidemic and how its early years have continued to have an effect on the community to this day.

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#480 Posted by cameron15 (5 posts) -

I am reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Very nice book.

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#481 Posted by Nicholas_Attano (19 posts) -

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind.

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#482 Edited by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

My god. I just finished The Poppy War. There's grimdark, and then there's The Poppy War.

What starts out as a fairly standard fantasy story about a girl who gets into an academy where she isn't welcomed by other students or teachers quickly turns into a disturbing tale of occupation, war, genocide, and sheer brutality.

For the first half of the book, there is very little magic or fantasy to speak of. Eventually, the main character's shamanic powers are awakened. The magic system is interesting and unique, based on a pantheon of 64 gods that seemingly choose at random when they want to allow mortal shamans to access their power. The quickest way to access the gods is through mind-altering drugs--primarily poppy seeds. The problem is that shamans inevitably lose their minds and become immortal conduits of the devastating power of their gods, requiring them to be locked away in a magical prison.

The book is largely inspired by Chinese history, particularly the Rape of Nanking. It contains the most disturbing imagery I've ever read in a fantasy book. From there, the stakes are raised in extreme ways that will hopefully be explored further in the sequels. The second book comes out soon. If the middle part of a trilogy is supposed to be the "dark middle chapter," I honestly don't know how things will get any worse for the characters.

The description on the back of this book makes it sound like a typical YA novel. It is decidedly NOT a YA novel. So just be aware of that if you read it.

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#483 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8931 posts) -
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#484 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@sparky_buzzsaw: The audio narration is fantastic, if you're into audiobooks.