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For those who are new ... we discuss books.  I list what I'm reading, and people comment with what they're reading.  Sometimes, on Sundays, I post a special edition on a particular genre or topic.

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Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
SUN (hiatus) 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
Bi-Monthly SUN Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
MON 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery Susan from 29
Mon 11:00 PM My Favorite Books/Authors edrie, MichiganChet
TUE 10:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
WED 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
alternate THU 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
SAT 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

Just finished
The Universal Computer: From Leibniz to Turing The history of the idea of the computer as a universal machine, and of the logic that makes it possible, up to the time of Turing. Fascinating. Re-affirms my belief that Leibniz is under-rated and that Godel was a very strange man. Full review

Another re-read of Cryptonomicon, one of my favorite novels. My review
Now reading

The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four remarkable friends who transformed science and changed the world by Laura Snyder.  A group biography of Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell and Richard Jones, four friends who met at Cambridge early in the 19th century, and of how, together, they changed the role of science into something like what it is today.

A Behavioral Theory of Elections by Jonathan Bendor et al. Traditional "rational choice" models of voter behavior don't mesh all that well with how voters actually behave, in particular, they don't do well with predicting turnout. This is an attempt at a different formulation. This will interest election geeks.

Angel in the  Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution by Benson Bobrick.  A good history of the revolutionary war period, hampered by a complete absence of maps.

Eminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France by Jean-Vincent Blanchard. If you thought politics is dirty now, read about what it was like in the days of Louis XIII. Very well done.

Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey by Peter Bowler and Iwan Rhys Morus.  A survey of the history of science from Copernicus to now.

Just started .
Soverign by C.J. Sansome. The third in the Matthew Shardlake series of mysteries set in Tudor England. This is the best yet (and the first two were good). Wonderfully done and deeply researched, Sansome gives a real flavor of what life was like in the time of Henry VIII. The storyline here is that Shardlake and his assistant have been sent to York, to ensure that a prisoner is well-treated so that he can be better-tortured when he returns to London. At the same time, Henry and his court are due on a "progress". Then someone is murdered.....

Empires of the Word: A language history of the world by Nicholas Ostler. Ostler traces the history of many of the "major" languages, where by "major" I mean "spoken by huge numbers of people". Fascinating. Linguistics is so interesting!

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Comment Preferences

  •  my list (7+ / 0-)

    Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present by Michael B. Oren

    (restarted, perhaps 25 percent through)

    No Apology by Mitt Romney (hardback, perhaps 40 percent finished)

    Joe McGinniss's 'The Rogue,' on Sarah Palin (picked up at a Museum book sale), perhaps 20 percent through (fluff)

    Finished: Jimmy Carter :We can Have Peace in the Holy Land.

    "Obama won. Get over it."

    by onanyes on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 04:41:02 AM PDT

    •  The Palin book IS fluff. but it has the best (0+ / 0-)

      treatment of Trigg and why it matters that I've seen.

      Also has a good chronology of the Palin's post-election administration and the factors that led to her resignation.

      You could say it has a stronger finish.

  •  What I'm reading... (7+ / 0-)

    11/22/63 by Stephen King. I'm about 80% finished. It's really good, not a quick read, it's taking me a couple of days.

    I haven't made any more progress on Flatland. I think the geometry is getting in my way. Geometry was never a subject I was fond of, and my dyscalculia (and my life experiences with math) make it a less than comfortable topic.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 04:50:13 AM PDT

  •  "A World on Fire" by Amanda Foreman. (10+ / 0-)

    About the role of Britain and the British in the American Civil War. Also "Crucible of War" , a history of the Seven Years War. I've just begun this one and hopefully it has more on the conflict outside of North America. I read Parkman a few years ago and his work was almost exclusively focused on the North american campaigns in what was really a world-wide struggle.

    ",,, the Political whorehouse that is Fox News." Keith Olbermann

    by irate on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 04:52:32 AM PDT

  •  I Just Finished Tom Clancy's (6+ / 0-)

    Dead Or Alive. 900+ pages. Read it in two days. The reviews on Amazon were terrible. I found it interesting if not good. For those that read his Jack Ryan books you know there is a set number of characters, although not all of them are in every book. They were all brought back (think Rainbow 6 for example) here.

    Now on to a few Jack Higgins books my dad got for like .75 cents each at a flee market. Generally speaking these are not the kinds of books I read. I like to think I read "serious" books, but right now I just want some page turners where I don't have to think much :).

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 04:55:37 AM PDT

  •  "A Revolution Down on the Farm" Covers the (8+ / 0-)

    changes to American agriculture in the last century.

    Author and Vanderbilt University history professor Conkin ... grew up on a subsistence farm in Tennessee, working summers as a harvest hand, and members of his family still farm. As such, he's personally witnessed many of the radical changes he covers in this practical, thorough and clearly-written story of the American farm's 20th century transformation into the world's breadbasket.
    Finished Empires of Food, definitely rec'd for the interesting historical details related to trade and agriculture over the centuries. Ever hear of Chinese slaves who worked the guano island "mines" off S America (to their death) before the advent of the Haber Process?

    “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

    by the fan man on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 04:56:17 AM PDT

    •  That Sounds Very Interesting (9+ / 0-)

      I need to pick that up. This is the view outside of my front door.

      Outside My Front Door (5/22/11)

      The amount of food we grow and how we grow it amazes me. That field in-front of my house is now just feed corn. They used to do a crop rotation of corn, soy beans, and winter wheat. Now just corn.

      Monsanto is based not that far from me and there is a lot of anger directed towards them (many reasons). But the crop in front of my house is Monsanto GE corn and to be honest, it just doesn't seem "nature" to me.

      Since we are feeding it to a lot of things we eat, I wonder if 25 years from now somebody will realize maybe that wasn't such a good idea.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:04:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  25 years from now, I hope we can feed ourselves. (10+ / 0-)

        We're not learning quickly enough. One message from Empires of Food is that our global food system, while unbelievably productive, is precariously balanced on specialization, cheap energy, long distance trade and a few crops in the face of an increasingly unstable climate. (The 2008 food crisis was just a warm up. Harvests were pretty good, energy prices drove prices through the roof.) There are historical examples where things didn't work very well at all with those elements in play. As many have now pointed out, we need a more localized, diverse, resilient ag based on sustainability and bioregions.

        If Monsanto came up with corn that could fix its own nitrogen, I'd be impressed. (I'm not holding my breath.) In the meantime, I'm watching the Land Institute. They are working on perennial grain crops.

        “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

        by the fan man on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:27:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Living in the NE, Monsanto doesn't play much. I (7+ / 0-)

        knew a wonderful small scale dairy farmer who planted RR corn when Monsanto was doing their door to door. "Eh, not impressed" was the final comment. No pressure, he never tried to save the seed. Just stopped using it. Also tried rBGH when it first came out, definitely not impressed. "Bad for the cows". That was all he needed to make his decision.

        “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

        by the fan man on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:32:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And That Is The Problem (7+ / 0-)

          Monsanto says they own the seed ... forever. So if you buy it, grow it, then try to use the seed the next year they sue you. They say they own the rights to it.

          This changes the farming model, for like since we started farming, and people hate it.

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:38:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are other examples: many fruit tree scions (5+ / 0-)

            carry a royalty proceed proviso. 95% of modern farmers use hybrids, so saving seeds doesn't work. Since Monsanto's seeds breed true and farmers can save the results of Monsanto's work, the company decided to go with a license model of seed use, not a seed purchase model. You're not buying a product, you're buying a license to use the product. (You can save Monsanto seeds if you wish, just got to pay the piper for the royalty.)

            Some growers are getting pissed at Monsanto when the product doesn't work as advertised. There are other seed sources (not many anymore) and that is bad news, the worst aspect of the GMO "revolution".

            “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

            by the fan man on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:57:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm reading Running With The Mind Of (9+ / 0-)

    Meditation, by Sakyong Mipham - he is a Tibetan spiritual teacher (book jacket says he is the leader of Shambala, a global community of meditation retreat centers). It is more about the mental/spiritual side of running, which is good, since I don't run yet.

    Also reading The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind-A New Perspective on Christ and His Message. Just started a 4 week class last night, so I don't know much about it yet, but she draws a lot on the Nag Hammadi texts, especially Thomas. Seems interesting.

    Also on book 9 of the Walking Dead, and re-reading Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter - so looking forward to that movie.

  •  Almost done with... (8+ / 0-)

    the audiobook version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  Wow this one is as good as the other two.  Just an excellent trilogy.  It really sucks that the author passed away so early in life and so we won't hear his voice anymore.

  •  Just finished (6+ / 0-)

    The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey, an interesting take on both disability and cultural hegemony. This makes it sound rather grim, but it's a haunting piece of fiction and well worth reading.

    "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

    by northsylvania on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:20:27 AM PDT

  •  Hi, plf! (5+ / 0-)

    I'm currently rereading Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters fantasy series, in preparation for reading the latest, which is about to go on sale.  Currently I'm reading "Reserved for the Cat".

    C'est la vie, c'est la guerre, c'est la pomme de terre.

    by RunawayRose on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:47:20 AM PDT

  •  I had just started (6+ / 0-)

    "The Marsh Arabs" by Wilfred Thesiger, but I packed it for the trip to Providence, and picked up "Further Fridays" by John Barth and got interested in that.  Essays on books and writing and such.

  •  The Lessons of Love by Melody Beattie (6+ / 0-)

    Beattie's Codependent No More was a major revelation for me a few months ago.  So when I saw this book on sale at the AIDS thrift store recently, I snapped it up.  Turns out it's about her coming to terms with the sudden death of her 11 year-old son.  

    Beattie writes honestly about her grief and how it twisted and immobilized her.  And reading about her process back to the world was very helpful to me, in terms of how I may move forward myself.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:52:16 AM PDT

  •  Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law (4+ / 0-)

    edited by Justin Levinson and Robert Smith.  In various areas of the law, the essays discuss and apply social science to explore how racism infects our legal system and question why racial equality is so difficult to combat in our courts. Believe it or not, it's an easy read; and, while it may not have all the answers, the authors go a long way to honing the questions we need to be asking.

  •  Professor Challenger and The Man With Two Brains (5+ / 0-)

    This past week or so, I've been reading a collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, including The Lost World and The Poison Belt, his two Professor Challenger novels.

    Many of the short stories in the volume were knew to me, such as "The Horror of the Heights", which has something of an H.P. Lovecraft feel to it, or "The New Catacomb", which was definitely trying to channel Poe.   The volume also contained Round the Red Lamp, a collection of short stories with a medical theme which gave an interesting look into the state of medicine in the late Victorian Era.

    I just started reading The World of Null-A, by A.E. van Vogt, a novel which was very popular and influential when it first came out, but which fell out of critical favor and has now become I fear rather obscure.  I tried reading it as a teenager, but got swamped and am finally giving it another try.

    It's set in a future where the society is dominated by a philosophy called Null-A, which uses Non-Aristotlean Logic to approach problems.  What does that mean?  Well, it was my difficulty in sussing that out that led be to drop the book the first time around.  

    The hero, Gilbert Gosseyn, has just discovered that he isn't who he thinks he is, and that much of his memory has been planted in his head.  As he tries to figure out who has done this and why, he comes across a huge conspiracy to overthrow the stable Null-A society.

    I just got to the part where he gets killed.  And then gets better.  Another mystery for him to solve.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 06:20:26 AM PDT

  •  I'm waiting on Redshirts! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raboof, plf515, Louisiana 1976, myrealname

    I'm struck by how the meanest, cruelest, nastiest people brag about how they live in a Christian nation. It's rather telling.

    by terrypinder on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 07:02:03 AM PDT

  •  Currently listening to (6+ / 0-)

    The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction and the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction. It's the story of the re-discovery of a Latin poem from ~60 BCE, "On The Nature Of Things" by Lucretius, in the early 15th century. In this poem Lucretius, a disciple of Epicurus, argues that the universe is made up of nothing but atoms and void, and that all things are made up of combinations of atoms. Because of that, there is no need for gods or the supernatural, and that the purpose of life is pleasure - not licentiousness or gluttony, but a sensible moderation, the pleasure of friends conversing in a sunlit garden. The man who rediscovers this manuscript is Poggio Bracciolini, former personal secretary to the Pope. Obviously, the ideas in the poem contrast sharply with  the official positions of the Church, but as the ideas in the poem are discussed by intellectuals, they inspire some to start questioning those positions, becoming a major mover for what we now call the Renaissance.

    I've gotten about halfway through the book, where Poggio is just about to find the manuscript, and I find it fascinating. I'm looking forward to hearing about the effects this discovery has on the intellectual history of the time and how that cascades even into the present.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 07:29:44 AM PDT

  •  Hilary Mantel's "Bring (5+ / 0-)

    Up the Bodies." Almost finished.

    Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" was due yesterday. No renewal as someone else placed a hold. But I am on disc 22 of 46.  Aug. 1939. I will keep listening at least til Sat. And then get back in the library queue. Must see this through.

  •  I am about half way through (5+ / 0-)

    Amanda Foreman's Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire and I am about 20 percent through Jose Saramago's Cain.  I don't usually read biographies but Georgiana is also great political biography of late-1700s Britain.  

    Saramago's Cain is wonderful--beautifully written.  I wish I could read it in original Portuguese.

    On the floor next to my desk is a stack of books on water and the West.  That's the next project.

  •  Right now reading/getting through (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, plf515, Louisiana 1976, myrealname, inHI

    Frostbound by Sharon Ashwood. It's an interesting world she's built, though I'm not sure why she sees snow as so debilitating, nor am I sure I like her casual use of the word "hell" in everything. Thank God she doesn't have a TSTL heroine. She's also not going with the stereotypical ... God, I don't know how to put it today ... well, let's just say "mating" pisses me off sometimes, and her version doesn't.

    Just started Lara Adrian's Darker After Midnight. Not sure how I'll like it yet, but after less than fifty pages I'm not thinking life's too short to read it, so that's a good sign.

    Other than that, I've been busy this morning trying to cheer people up after the losses in WI and talking to my GM for my Changeling game. We had a really intense game last night, and my poor little character, who just escaped faerie enslavement and has intense PTSD, ended up having to leave very quickly when someone (in-game only, it's a fantasy world) got shot. At that, though, disturbingly enough, she seems to be saner than some of her fellow escapees...which isn't a good sign. :D

  •  One I just finished...oops, I can make a new post (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, Louisiana 1976, myrealname, inHI

    for the book I forgot, right? Yes, I can!

    Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann. This one got to me not just because of the characters and the crap they go through, but because of a secondary character she added in, a clearly heartbroken gay man named Hugh Darcy who just haunted me afterward. I'd like to think he found a nice life in the future with Matt Bomer or another good man in Hollywood, but she left me hanging and I wanted CLOSURE on this issue, damn it!

    That is all now. Really. Unless I think of something else...sigh.

  •  hi (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, myrealname, Monsieur Georges

    I have finished reading:

    The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte

    I am reading:

    At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68 by Taylor Branch (pg. 365 of 772)

    No End Save Victory, Essays on WW II ed. by Robert Cowley  (pg. 226 of 688)

    Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (pg. 308 of 436)

    In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck (pg.114 of 246)

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 12:15:26 PM PDT

  •  Just finished 2 short books "Retirement Heist" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Monsieur Georges

    by Ellen Schultz... an eye opener on how pension funds have become cookie jars. There are many legal ways to capture these funds to sweeten other employee (i.e. CEO) benefits and golden paracutes.  Companies can illegally cut benefits amd save a bundle. IF it gets litigated the company can drag things out while pensioners die. The company has no obligation to the heirs/estate and damages do not apply.   All this and more.

    Also finished Sarah Vowell's "Unfamiliar Fishes"... the history of Hawaii.

    Not sure what to start next... looking here for ideas.

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