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Request: I will be away Aug 15 (we're going to London). If you'd like to guest host, let me know in comments

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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I've written some book reviews on Yahoo Voices:
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Book Readers schedule

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 8:00 AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
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
Cop hater by Ed McBain. The first in the famous 87th precinct series.  I don't see what the fuss is about; the writing is clunky to an absurd degree. It's interesting as a view into the past, since it was written in the 1950s. But unless the series is better, later, I don't get it.

Now reading

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.

Existence by David Brin. A very complicated SF book; the main plot is about a guy who collects the garbage that's in outer space. Then he finds an alien artifact. Fairly dystopian.

Cooler Smarter: Practical tips for low carbon living by the scientists at Union of Concerned Scientists, a great group. Just started, but I have high hopes.

Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Kahneman, most famous for his work with the late Amos Tversky, is one of the leading psychologists of the times. Here, he posits that our brains have two systems: A fast one and a slow one. Neither is better, but they are good at different things. This is a brilliant book: Full of insight and very well written, as well.

Just started
Nothing this week

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Comment Preferences

  •  Spy the Lie by 3 former CIA agents (6+ / 0-)

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 04:39:55 AM PDT

  •  I have a stack of books to (4+ / 0-)

    return to the library.  I want to enter them into my book journal before they go back, though.

    So here's a list of the finished ones:
    Cop to Corpse by Peter Lovesey
    A Detective at Death's Door by H.R.F. Keating
    The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith
    Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum
    Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
    The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

    I'm just finishing The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell.  I keep thinking I'll get weary of this series, but I haven't yet.  

  •  I just finished reading Eclipse (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, myrealname, Velocity, kirbybruno, inHI

    by Richard North Patterson. It's about the defense by an American lawyer of an activist in the fictional oil-rich African country of Luandia.

    Currently I'm reading Hollywood Tough by Stephen J. Cannell.

    "We are all New Orleans now."--Barbara O'Brien So many books--so little time. Economic Left/Right -7.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -6.97

    by Louisiana 1976 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 04:58:12 AM PDT

  •  Almost finished with... (6+ / 0-)

    the audiobook version of Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.  Now I had seen the Hayao Miyazaki anime adaptation a number of years ago and, although I thought it was good, I admit to being completely confused about certain parts of it.  The book, however, is not at all confusing.  Very, very British as well.  I love this book.  Never thought I'd use the word "delightful" to descibe a book until now.

    Also working on A Discovery of Witches which is the debut novel by Deborah Harkness.  I'm just a little over 100 pages into it so I can't say whether I like it or not.  It's apparently gotten some real good press, but I have the sneaking suspicion that it's going to be a bit of a paranormal romance novel, which I have no interest in (although my wife loves them).  We'll see how this develops.

  •  The Warmth of Other Suns by (8+ / 0-)

    Isabel Wilkerson.

    Ms Wilkerson primarily follows three migrants from the South during the Great Migration. Ida Mae Gladney moved from Mississippi to Chicago in 1937; George Swanson Starling moved from Florida to New York in 1945; and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster moved from Louisiana to California in 1953. Three people who had many similar experiences but also quite different experiences.

    This is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the obstacles African Americans faced in both the South and the North (or West) during the 20th century. The resilience of these men and women is amazing.

    I highly recommend this book. If there is anyone on this site who does not understand white privilege, please read this. From the fear of lynchings in the south to the less deadly but still dehumanizing insults in the north and west, the treatment of African American citizens is laid out and will break your heart. One instance in particular stood out for me (though there are many more just as bad or worse ) was when Dr. Robert Foster and a friend were having drinks in a club in Los Angeles. When they finished their drinks and paid the bill, the bartender took their glasses and threw them on the floor to break them so that no one else would "have" to drink from them.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 05:36:37 AM PDT

  •  Why Marx was Right, (6+ / 0-)

    by Terry Eagleton. Not recommended for the knowledgeable Marxist, highly recommended for your average Joe. Eagleton patiently demolishes every conceivable barroom inaccuracy about Marxism. A Book-of-the-Year selection of the Giddiyap Society.

    WOID: a journal of visual language

    by WOIDgang on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 05:47:28 AM PDT

  •  A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz (6+ / 0-)

    Picked it up because it's on the summer reading list at the high school where I work and it looked interesting given my own background in Latin American history (I once wrote a masters thesis on the Spanish conquest era).  I didn't know Horwitz and was not familiar with his other work, so I didn't really know what to expect.  Now that I'm about halfway through, I read a couple reviews of Confederates in the Closet and understand what's going on in this book a little better.

    For those who don't know, Horwitz writes historical travel fiction.  Given his linguistic limitations (he knows English but not Spanish or Norwegian), he does a pretty extensive job immersing himself in the literature, and the history part of the book is passable.  (I've got some quibbles with the De Soto section of the book, which I just finished, but for the most part he gets the history right.)  He then visits the places the history occurred and tries to get a feel for contemporary culture there.

    I've read the sections on Vinland, Columbus and the Dominican Republic, Coronado's Southwest, and De Soto's Southeast.  From the Table of Contents, it looks like the last section of the book is on the English Atlantic Seaboard.

    Horwitz is a good writer, does a good job putting me in the places he describes, but he's also damn annoying.  What really gets me is his insensitivity to the people, especially poor and/or marginal people, in the places he's writing about, whether they're Micmacs in a sweat lodge in Newfoundland, Dominicans struggling to survive, poor folks melting down copper wire on the banks of the Mississippi in the Delta region.

    And then there are his omissions.  Maybe it's just because his time frame includes settlements in the US prior to the establishment of the Plymouth colony, but there's nothing here on the French in the Midwest and South, nor on the Russians on the Pacific Seaboard.

    Alan Taylor's American Colonies, cited in Horwitz's bibliography, deals with all of the non-English settlements and trading posts in what is today the United States, and is a much better book.  In particular, I trust Taylor much more on Cahokia and de Soto's impact on it than I do Horwitz.  If you're going to read Horwitz, read Taylor alongside as a corrective.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 05:49:48 AM PDT

  •  My Monthly Bookpost up (6+ / 0-)

    What I read last month, spanning the centuries from Virgil and Tacitus to current NY Times bestseller Blackout.

    Of particular interest to political junkies is Jodi Kantor's behind the scenes biography of The Obamas, and Tacitus's Annals, with parallels to the Imperial American government and a warning that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Enjoy!

    The Romney Campaign: Most expensive mid-life crisis in American history.

    by AdmiralNaismith on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 05:55:51 AM PDT

  •  In the early stages of reading (5+ / 0-)

    "The Marsh Arabs," by Wilfred Thesiger.  I had read his classic "Arabian Sands," and have looked forward to this one for a long time.  I'm just coming out of my usual between-books getting used to the change in voice period.  By which I mean, after reading a couple of hundred pages by one author, there's a settling-in time with the new one.

    I'm not sure what happened to the Marsh Arabs of Iraq after Saddam Hussein drained the marshes.  Thesiger knew that was coming when he wrote the book.

  •  Hemingway's Boat (4+ / 0-)

    Just started (about 100 pages in) Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, by Paul Hendrickson.  It is really an unconventional biography of the last 30 years of Hemingway's life, with the recurring motif of his beloved boat Pilar.  When it starts, in 1934, he is at his peak of fame and success (having just returned from his African safari) and buys the boat.  It then traces his decline, at once sympathetic and damning.  I'm not there yet, but I suspect the book's take will be that Hemingway's life has general lessons about the price of fame in America.

    Just finished The Yellow House, about van Gogh's and Gaugin's short-lived attempt to live and paint together in Arles.  It was fascinating.

    Am also reading The End of June, about a young woman who kidnaps her murdered sister's baby.  Beautifully written, but I'm reserving judgment on the book as a whole until I read more.

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:41:13 AM PDT

  •  I just started reading "Prague Winter: a personal (4+ / 0-)

    story of remembrance and war, 1937-1948.". Madeleine Albright's latest memoir.

    I am listening to Richard Ford's novel "Canada," which makes me wish I could take a driving trip and listen to this the whole way.

  •  iOS Programming (4+ / 0-)

    The Big Nerd Ranch Guide.  And "God Created the Integers", the essay compendium edited by Stephen Hawking.  Jumping from author to author...currently really enjoying the Laplace.  Wish I'd discovered the book sooner.

    Enjoy London!

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:34:09 AM PDT

  •  Finished Jamrach's Managerie (4+ / 0-)

    by Carol Birch, which was awesomely great.  Although the setting and action could not be more different, it reminded me in a way of the The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet in that it is a grippingly well-told story of youthful adventures related by the narrator from the perspective of old age and the long life shaped by them.

    I then went on to read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, which beat out Jamrach for last year's Man Booker Prize, but for me at least was not in the same league.  Well-written of course, but slight and eventually tiresome.  It's saving grace is that it's very short, but the big revelation at then end did little to make up for the longeurs of the narrator's interminable philosophical musing.

    I am now about a quarter of the way through Store of The Worlds:  The Stories of Robert Sheckley, a new, highly praised collection.  I have to say the stories seem worth reading primarily only for their historical value, not their literary merit.  They are quintessential examples of post-war "Golden Age" SF, all high concept, black and white moralism, all the subtlety of a jackhammer and reflected social values that make Don Draper seem like an Esalen group leader.  What's most amazing is how far SF traveled in so short a time from this style of writing to Delany, Ballard, LeGuin, Russ, et al.

  •  How To Be A Woman by (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, Louisiana 1976

    Caitlin Moran...loving it so far!

    "...annoyingly ethical,"

    by chicating on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:50:40 AM PDT

  •  On the recommendation of Dave in Northridge (4+ / 0-)

    I'm reading Gary Weiss's "Ayn Rand Nation."

    I've read quite a few of the books Dave has either recommended or referenced in various diaries and I've loved them all so far.

    Since Trapper and I are taking a brief vacation next week, I'm looking for something fairly light and frothy to read next. I could read (assuming it's available for Kindle) a collection of Dennis Cooper's essays that I recently saw on a remainder cart in a bookstore near my office. Or I could finish a self-published novel with a gay theme written by one of my friends. Or...well I'm getting curious about early 20th Century American history so maybe I can find something worthwhile there. Or some good sci-fi.

    We'll see. One of my primary sources of reading suggestions is the book reviews in The Nation. I have lots of back issues to get to. Maybe I'll read those too.

  •  The Westing Game (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Monsieur Georges, inHI

    I just finished re-reading The Westing Game, a very good young-adult puzzle mystery by Ellen Raskin.  And I'm slowly taking another trip through A.J. Langguth's Patriots, a very readable overview of the American Revolution from the Writs of Assistance trials to Washington's Farewell Address.  Right now I'm about to the point where Washington is moving the cannon siezed from Fort Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights, overlooking the British position in the city of Boston.

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

    by quarkstomper on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 04:29:30 PM PDT

  •  hi (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am so late now, but I will say hi and run.

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

    by cfk on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 05:01:51 PM PDT

  •  Fahrenheit 451 and Magnificent Obsession (0+ / 0-)

    I embarrassed to have not read F451 earlier.  I don't know what moved me to pick it up at this late date.  The idea holds up: the idea of re-purposing fire departments to burning books after breakthroughs in fire retardants have made them obsolete.  There are some prototypes for Skype, for cell phones, Ipads, etc.  Stereotypical gender roles stand out like a sore thumb, as does all the cigarette lighting.  The literature quoted and preserved might not be what is considered the most compelling today.

    MO is about Queen Victoria's obsession with Albert before and after his death. The sub-title suggests that it will have something to do with the changing monarchy... I mis-interpreted it to mean something about the move to a more representative constitutional monarchy.  Otherwise, a short, and OK read.

    Not sure what I'll pick up tonight. I just put down an Aretha Franklin Bio... interesting person... dull text.

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