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  1. #801
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Chesapeake, VA.
    The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse. Fun stuff.
    If you have never read Wodehouse you need to fix that.

  2. #802
    Quote Originally Posted by aimo View Post
    So, finally finished Bad Blood. Chick is nuts. Obviously a sociopath from the get-go. I just cannot believe that people were buying it. And the employees that stayed there as long as they did.
    Agreed! I just finished the audiobook.
    I was also curious how she was able to find such an effusive (IMO way over the top) advocate in Channing Robertson. Stanford's Phyllis Gardner has some interesting things to say.

    Currently reading a paperback (glow-in-the-dark cover!) passed down to me, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. I'm about halfway through. Thus far it strikes me as a middling example of fantasy (even YA) fiction; indeed, it seems to be reviewed as such on goodreads, with Ready Player One being cited as a better example - so I may read that next. For me nothing crypto/mystery/puzzling really lives up to Cryptonomicon, so maybe I should quit trying.

  3. #803
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Steamboat Springs, CO
    We'll see how much progress I make, but just picked up the Philip Roth bio by Blake Bailey and new books by Don Lemon on racism and Adm. McRaven on heroes.
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  4. #804
    Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind Author Yuval Noah Harari 2015 This international best seller is endorsed by Bill Gates on the front jacket and Barack Obama on the back. The NY Times says: "Beautifully written and so easy to understand." I have read this book twice in the past 14 months and I got as much out of it the second time as I did the first. The brief history consists of 4 parts. The first 3 parts: The Cognitive Revolution, The Agricultural Revolution, The Unification of Humankind, consists almost entirely of the ancient history and cultural anthropology of our species.(244 pages 13 chapters). While Part 4 The Scientific Revolution (175 pages 7 chapters) consists of chapters on the assumptions and underpinnings of the Scientific Revolution, Capitalism, the Industrial Revolution, the nation state and finally the history of Happiness and lastly the potential future of Homo Sapiens. His examples are quite illustrative. In 1610 an English/French nobleman would eat sugar only as a rare delicacy. In 1810 these noblemen would eat 18 pounds of sugar - Obviously due to the expansion of the slave trade in the Caribbean. You will want to keep a pen handy to bracket sentences/paragraphs as you read it. Two notions that I thought interesting. The author is enamored with the elite hunter gatherer Their diet was more varied and they didn't have to work as hard as the farmers who followed. And oh the ecstacy of bringing down a woolly mammoth. He seemingly thinks that other animals have the same types of emotions/feelings that we have. The paperback is large and somewhat heavy with many pictures and illustrations. On Amazon the paperback is only $12. I too along with Gates and Obama heartily recommend it.

  5. #805
    "Sapiens" is probably the best book I've ever read by an academic for a non-academic audience. So well written and thought-provoking. Inspired me to really add more brain evolution to my own classes. I tried to read "Homo Deus", but I think he loses something when he's purely speculating and can't tell a "story" like he could for Sapiens (Harari is a historian after all). "21 Questions..." had its moments, so that might be next on your list.

    If you like "big history", I'd also recommend "Origin Story" by David Christian. It's the entire history of the universe in one book, but he organizes it by major inflection points he calls threshold events, when major changes occur that shape future directions (these can be fundamental physical changes, like the universe cooling enough to allow atoms to form, all the way down to major events in the evolution of life and humans). It's a bit more technical than Sapiens, with some denser academic citations in it, but still very satisfying (and, again, mind expanding). It's sort become of a reference book for me when I want to remember how something happened in the universe. (I had read Bill Bryson's "A brief history of everything" (?) a long time ago, so not sure how Origin Story compares.)

  6. #806
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Bethesda, MD
    Quote Originally Posted by rsvman View Post
    The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse. Fun stuff.
    If you have never read Wodehouse you need to fix that.
    I second this emotion

  7. #807
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont

    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    Agreed! I just finished the audiobook.
    I was also curious how she was able to find such an effusive (IMO way over the top) advocate in Channing Robertson. Stanford's Phyllis Gardner has some interesting things to say.

    Currently reading a paperback (glow-in-the-dark cover!) passed down to me, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. I'm about halfway through. Thus far it strikes me as a middling example of fantasy (even YA) fiction; indeed, it seems to be reviewed as such on goodreads, with Ready Player One being cited as a better example - so I may read that next. For me nothing crypto/mystery/puzzling really lives up to Cryptonomicon, so maybe I should quit trying.
    I think the Channing Robertson connection opened the flood gates for Holmes...with his seal of approval, the venture capitalists were crawling all over each other to hurl cash at her...after that, normal scrutiny went out the window.

  8. #808
    I just finished "Fortune Smiles," as short story collection by Adam Johnson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Orphan Master's Son," which I've also read. I think that if he can be more prolific he has a Nobel Prize level of talent. Besides writing so darn well, his range of imagination and vision is stunning. His famous novel and the title short story from his collection focus on North Korea, but the collection also have short stories about a young, working class man and a child in post-hurricane Louisiana, a struggling female writer losing a battle to cancer married to an acclaimed writer, a former East German political prison warden in reunified Germany, a man dealing with PTSD from being molested as a boy, and others.

    Before that, I read Dos Passos's "1919" and Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise." Beyond the fact that those are 2 incredible authors, I find it interesting that in their books and other contemporary giants, like Faulkner and Hemingway, you could so easily miss that the 1918 pandemic ever happened. There are a few mentions of cholera or otherwise getting sick, but not too much. Of course, a lot of other big stuff was going on, like WWI, the Russian Revolution, and social and economic issues in the US. Still, while it may be that the best novels written now won't focus on COVID-19, I would think the pandemic would at least be more apparent in any novel set in 2020 or 2021.

  9. #809
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado
    Quote Originally Posted by Duke79UNLV77 View Post
    I just finished "Fortune Smiles," as short story collection by Adam Johnson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Orphan Master's Son," which I've also read. I think that if he can be more prolific he has a Nobel Prize level of talent. Besides writing so darn well, his range of imagination and vision is stunning. His famous novel and the title short story from his collection focus on North Korea, but the collection also have short stories about a young, working class man and a child in post-hurricane Louisiana, a struggling female writer losing a battle to cancer married to an acclaimed writer, a former East German political prison warden in reunified Germany, a man dealing with PTSD from being molested as a boy, and others.

    Before that, I read Dos Passos's "1919" and Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise." Beyond the fact that those are 2 incredible authors, I find it interesting that in their books and other contemporary giants, like Faulkner and Hemingway, you could so easily miss that the 1918 pandemic ever happened. There are a few mentions of cholera or otherwise getting sick, but not too much. Of course, a lot of other big stuff was going on, like WWI, the Russian Revolution, and social and economic issues in the US. Still, while it may be that the best novels written now won't focus on COVID-19, I would think the pandemic would at least be more apparent in any novel set in 2020 or 2021.
    Loved "The Orphan Master's Son". I think it was modern day Don Quixote in terms of absurd humor.

  10. #810
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Steamboat Springs, CO

    Philip Roth's Biography, the Controversy

    I am nearly 200 pages into Blake Bailey's newly published biography of the author Philip Roth. Turns out there is a huge controversy brewing about the behavior and background of the author. Bailey is accused of sexual abuse of adults, young women, colleagues, etc. W.W. Norton has halted sales of the book. There's an ethical question here about what to do if an "evil author" writes a great book, and I don't have an answer to it. Nevertheless, this volume is really worth reading.

    Anyway, I'll keep plowing through it. Roth , oh my! What a complicated individual -- and both victim and perpetrator. I discovered him when Goodbye Columbus and Other Stories was published eons ago. Somewhat ironic that his biographer is also scarred.

    Here's a link to a WaPo opinion piece on the controversy.
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  11. #811
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westport, CT
    Deacon King Kong

    By James McBride

    Fantastic book recommended by the NY Times Top Ten of 2020 and Obama's Top Ten 2020.

    I am almost done with the book and I have loved the story, the characters (boy are they characters!), and the writing.

    Set in a housing project in Brooklyn in 1969 it is the story of a local church deacon who shoots a drug dealer. A comedy you say? Why yes! In parts...
    I will be sorry to see this book end.
    Really enjoying it!

  12. #812
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Seattle
    Finished Obama's A Promised Land a few weeks back. An interesting look at his first four years in office (and some time before that as well), but it needed an editor. Brevity is not Obama's friend.

    Also finished The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. A bit heavy-handed, but heartwarming, tale. I can see why it has been so well received.

  13. #813
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Quote Originally Posted by luburch View Post
    Finished Obama's A Promised Land a few weeks back. An interesting look at his first four years in office (and some time before that as well), but it needed an editor. Brevity is not Obama's friend.
    Whoa, keep me out of this.

  14. #814
    The Humans, by Matt Haig. Labeled as an Edgar Award finalist.

    I really don't like it, but will finish it, as it is a favorite of a dear relative of mine, so I feel I should give it a fair shake by seeing it through. It's not very long (under 300 pgs) and is an easy read. Many short chapters.

    IMO it plays on tired tropes and stereotypes, and structurally has massive holes. And for a book that recruits an element of serious mathematics to set the plot in motion (the Riemann hypothesis, regarding the distribution of prime numbers) it makes a glaring algebra error early on. Not to mention misusing its celebrated recruit.

    As one reviewer said, "fish out of water" stories have been done time and time again, and to succeed, you need the fish to be fresh and the water to be clean. So far, it seems neither applies here.

    Next up will be Bruce Schneier's Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World. He was offering them at his website, signed, at $6/copy (hardcover!) plus shipping.

  15. #815
    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    The Humans, by Matt Haig. Labeled as an Edgar Award finalist.

    I really don't like it, but will finish it, as it is a favorite of a dear relative of mine, so I feel I should give it a fair shake by seeing it through. It's not very long (under 300 pgs) and is an easy read. Many short chapters.

    IMO it plays on tired tropes and stereotypes, and structurally has massive holes. And for a book that recruits an element of serious mathematics to set the plot in motion (the Riemann hypothesis, regarding the distribution of prime numbers) it makes a glaring algebra error early on. Not to mention misusing its celebrated recruit.

    As one reviewer said, "fish out of water" stories have been done time and time again, and to succeed, you need the fish to be fresh and the water to be clean. So far, it seems neither applies here.
    ...
    Amazon readers disagree - it averages 4 1/2 stars over 4k+ reviews. Should I believe you or the Amazon readers and your dear relative? $15.19 is riding on this!

  16. #816
    Quote Originally Posted by Skydog View Post
    Amazon readers disagree - it averages 4 1/2 stars over 4k+ reviews. Should I believe you or the Amazon readers and your dear relative? $15.19 is riding on this!
    There's no accounting for taste. I can't tell you who to believe - it's just opinion.

    But among opinions expressed on Amazon, I agree much with P.G. Harris' 2-star review (Top 1000 reviewer, from the U.K.). There may be general thematic spoilers. If you want to read it, do a keyword search on all reviews (or two-starred ones) using the term "apologising". As of this writing, that should generate a single result - Harris' review of 11/1/2014. I agree with all of his criticisms, would add several of my own, and disagree on one small point: it's not inoffensive. Not sure if I want to get into that here. You can PM me if you want more info.

    Maybe you can split the difference and buy the book used, so only 1/3 of $15.19 or so is riding on it.

    P.S. I did finish it. It is not without some warm sentimentality and charm, but in my view, its flaws are overwhelming.

  17. #817
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    Maybe you can split the difference and buy the book used, so only 1/3 of $15.19 or so is riding on it. .
    Or there's this place called the library . . .

  18. #818
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    I've cleared the decks of my numerous magazines and am prepared to choose a new lunker...I really like lunkers.

    p.s. I just finished The Young Lions, written by Irwin Shaw (who once took me out to lunch), a classic from 1947 or so, considered one of the best WWII works of fiction ever written, along with Catch 22 and others...(not sure why I'd never read it).
    Given its age, I expected it to be not great, but in fact it's superbly written and stands the test of time, very impressive book...

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