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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 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
TUES 5:00 PM Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left bigjacbigjacbigjac
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views Brecht, bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly Bookpost AdmiralNaismith
Thu (third each month - on hiatus) 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 4:00 PM Daily Kos Political Book Club Freshly Squeezed Cynic
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

Just finished

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meachem.  An admiring look at Jefferson and his need for power. It is a good biography, but did not live up to the reviews (which were very strong). Full review to come on Yahoo.

The irrationals by Julian Havil.  The history of irrational numbers, nicely presented. Not for the mathematically naive (lots of calculus). A bit over my head, but interesting.

Now reading
Cooler Smarter: Practical tips for low carbon living by the scientists at Union of Concerned Scientists, a great group. These folk make sense, concentrating on the changes you can make that have the biggest impact with the least effort.

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.

What hath God wrought? by Daniel Walker Howe. Subtitled "The transformation of America 1815-1848. I am reading this with the History group at GoodReads.  This is very well written, and does a good job especially with coverage of the treatment of Blacks and Native Americans.

The hard SF renaissance ed. by David G. Hartwell.  A large anthology of "hard" SF from the 90's and 00's. I think Hartwell takes SF a bit too seriously, but the stories are good.

On politics: A history of political thought from Herodotus to the present by Alan Ryan. What the subtitle says - a history of political thought.  

Snakes can't run by Ed Lin
A mystery/police procedural set in NYC's Chinatown in the 1970s. "Snakes" is a slang term for illegal immigrants.

Just started
Far from the Tree: Parents, children and the search for identity by Andrew Solomon.
The title comes from the phrase "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". This book is about apples (children) who did fall far from the tree (parents). This book got amazing reviews and it grabbed me from the opening:

"There is no such thing as reproduction. When two people decide to have a baby, they engage in an act of production, and the widespread use of the word reproduction for this activity, with its implication that two people are but braiding themselves together, is at best a euphemism to comfort prospective parents before they get in over their heads"
I don't agree with all that Solomon says, but this is a book to make you think about deep questions of humanity.

[Rayburn: A Biography] by D. B. Hardeman. A very admiring look at Sam Rayburn, former speaker of the House.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Les Miserable. (15+ / 0-)

    Figured it has been a while and I was due to read this classic again.

    "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

    by newfie on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 04:37:03 AM PST

  •  Well, I've got a couple of interesting books going (11+ / 0-)

    Maya Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World which is an excellent read. Contrary to what many of us learned in gradeschool, not all Loyalists were wealthy ennobled landowners--or even white.

    Also on the plate William Stone's 1838 two volume biography of Mohawk leader and Anglican Joseph Brant.This is chock full of first hand accounts of the actions of Brant and Iroquois cooperation with the British during the War of Independence.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 04:47:09 AM PST

  •  Perdido Street Station (10+ / 0-)

    book goes from a nice steam punk clever read to "OHMYGOD WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?"

    Finished it last night. I've hated other China Mieville stuff (The City and the City was so self-important I think it disappeared up its own asshole) but really did enjoy this enough to give him another shot.

    just a little bit bored.

    by terrypinder on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 04:52:22 AM PST

  •  For my fun read, I picked up "Getting Back" (6+ / 0-)

    by William Dietrich. It's about a dystopian future where everything is great. Everybody is guaranteed a job. Everybody has everything they need. But of course, that's boring as hell and people rebel against it.

    And for my nerd book, I got 'The Art of Procrastination" by John Perry. How to accept my naughty procrastinating ways.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 04:58:27 AM PST

  •  Sigh...the final book in the Wheel of Time series (9+ / 0-)

    by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Mr. Jordan died before he could comlete the series and Mr. Sanderson has provided the last three books based on outlines left by RJ)

    I picked this series up in its 7th book when I was 6 months pregnant with my 14 year old boy so I have, literally, been reading this series for his entire existence.

    I have sworn and kicked and thrown temper tantrums because I couldn't wait to get to the end to see how everything turns out and now that I am here, I can barely stand to read it because it is the last and there will be no more.

  •  Reading and listening... (6+ / 0-)

    Still working on The King of Pain: a novel with stories by Seth Kaufman.  It's a satirical look at the reality tv show industry, and it's not bad.  I was led to believe this was supposed to be very funny.  Honestly I haven't found it that funny, but that doesn't mean it's not good.  I've chuckled here and there, and it has held my interest so far.    Since I'm only about 1/3 of the way through there's still time for it to really kick in.

    Really burning through the audiobook version of The Electric Church by Jeff Somers.  It's a combo scifi/techno thriller/dystopia novel about a society maybe 50 years or so from now where the world is under a (very corrupt) unified world government that would probably be a wet dream for the 1%.  As it's described in the book, society consists of the rich, the cops and the poor.  The rich have everything, the poor have nothing and the cops have carte blanche to pretty much do whatever they want to the poor.  The protagonist is a hit man just trying to survive with the rest of the riff raff and he gets caught up in trying to assassinate  the head of The Electric Church which consists of nothing but cyborgs.  Human brains have been removed and placed into robot bodies, and the practitioners, preach immortality through cybernetics more or less.  However, things are not what they seem within the church, and suffice it say, the converts that join it are not at all willing.  I highly recommend this one if you like this kind of thing.

  •  The boy and I are a little more than... (8+ / 0-)

    halfway done with Trenton Lee Stewart's "The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict," a prequel to the "Benedict Society" trilogy.

    It's getting really good, though we have less time to read during the school year.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 05:06:11 AM PST

  •  The Same Sea by Amos Oz (7+ / 0-)

    Oz, in the contest of his country Israel, is a left-winger, having been an advocate of a two-country solution since 1967.  But his writing is not inherently political, it is much more personal.  Indeed, he has been quoted as saying that he uses different colored pens to write his fiction and his non-fiction.

    This novel is actually less of a novel than a collection of moments and ruminations.  Poetry, internal dialogues, descriptive exposition, moments where the author comes out from behind the scenes.  Real, heartbreaking, tender, sad, beautiful.  Strong recommendation.

    My train book is The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose.  Roose, a liberal student from Brown University, decided to spend a semester at Liberty University.  The book, which I am about a quarter of the way through, describes his expeeriences.  I am intermittedly interested.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 05:08:37 AM PST

  •  Just finished: (7+ / 0-)

    The Throne of Fire by Rick Rioran. This book is based on Egyptian Mythology the way Lightning Thief was based on Greek Mythology. Once more there are teens drawn into the world of myth and magic, once more teens are required to save the world. It was an enjoyable read, and a quick read for me at least.

    Currently reading: The Prophecy (Bakkian Chronicles #1) by Jeffery M. Poole. This is currently free on Kindle. This is fluff fantasy, though not badly done fluff fantasy. It's a "we accidentally walk into another world" book. Right now the world is still being introduced, by way of a two day journey to the King and Queen's castle. I'm hoping once they get there the plot will get a bit more involved, but it's not a bad way to discover a new world, and it's not a flat world, there's a lot of detail and depth to it. I don't think I would have paid $12.95 for it, but free or even $2.99 wouldn't have been bad.

    "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 Jan 16, 2013 at 05:18:38 AM PST

  •  Conquest: The English Kingdom of France 1417-1450 (8+ / 0-)

    by Juliet Barker. As one might gather, it's about how the English won nearly all of France under Henry V and lost it under Henry VI. The author delves a bit into what interests me most about this region during the period: the culture clash between the records-keeping, tax-collecting English and the essentially ungoverned French. I've just started the book, so we shall see how much of this social history is discussed, and how much is devoted to the machinations between the English, the Burgundians, and the French.


  •  About Those Parents & What They Engage in (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, plf515, ferg, inHI, Larin, LinSea, Monsieur Georges

    "Procreation" is more accurate and probably the word Solomon (The Wise?) should have used instead of "production" if he really wants to eschew euphemism.

    But I'm not a sociologist and never understood the subject, anyway.

    Am loving Rules of Civility (the one by Amor Towles, not George Washington.)  I don't know why I like this book so much as it's still in search of a plot.  But the string of incidents is fascinating and often Towles' prose is fresh, biting, and sounds exactly what I think twenty-somethings in the 1930s should sound like.  Another thing I notice is this man writing about women makes all the women seem mannish in a way I don't mind.

    LimeSpouse and I are finishing our third read aloud Aubrey/Maturin.  This one is H.M.S. Surprise.  Along with gun powder and cannon balls, intrigue and marriage proposals are in the air.

    Delving into a book I'm supposed to be doing an "early" review of, The Eleven by Pierre Michon.  I think the English translation of this Grand Prix du Roman-winner is destined to put Michon on American readers' literary map.

    Just cracked open Daniel by Swedish writer Henning Mankell.  It's a literary mystery cum psychological drama.  I'm wondering if I'll find Mankell reminds me of Per Petterson, who is Norwegian, and whose psycho-dramas I like.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:09:18 AM PST

  •  hi (9+ / 0-)

    I have finished reading:

    The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth

    The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings  

    Six Geese A Slaying by Donna Andrews

    I am reading:

    Captain Flandry: Defender of the Terran Empire (part 5 of the Technic Civilization Saga) (pg. 161 of 397)

    Challenge books:

    Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright (pg. 229 of 416)

    The Enemy Is Listening by Aileen Clayton (pg. 25 of 350)

    A History of London by Stephen Inwood (pg. 24 of 937)

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

    by cfk on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:23:11 AM PST

  •  Almost finished with The Yellow Birds (6+ / 0-)

    by Kevin Powers.  2004 Iraq through the eyes of a grunt.  I probably shouldn't say anything yet, because I'm just getting to what (I hope) will be the big reveal/payoff that the story has been building to.  Depending on how satisfying that is or isn't, the book will either be mildly disappointing or will live up to its notices.  Up to this point, I have to say that for a novel of men at war, it is awfully wordy, dense in an excessively ornate kind of way.

    •  I Found "Matterhorn" Impossible (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      plf515, inHI, Larin, LinSea, Monsieur Georges

      to read for a similar, though ironically different reason.  While about the Vietnam war but also critically acclaimed, I was exhausted by the repetition and (IMO) overuse of grunt jargon.  Then, I found the near endless opening sequence of "Saving Private Ryan" too over the top.

      The realities of war portrayed in literature and art have to be literary and artistic for me to stay tuned.  Bludgeoning me over the head in service to "realism" doesn't work with me.  It annoys.

      I am a cranky reader and less and less of a movie-goer these days.

      Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

      by Limelite on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:50:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting that you should mention Matterhorn (5+ / 0-)

        because as I have read Yellow Birds, I kept coming back to Matterhorn in my mind as being a much more powerful and immediate evocation of the time and place and experience of combat.  That said, no-one will ever mistake either Powers or Marlantes for Hemingway, or even Mailer in the Naked and the Dead.

  •  The current stack (11+ / 0-)

    Stack of Books

    The one on top is for my newest camera. I should have read GIMP a while ago but it is too late now as Adobe is giving away CS2 and I am switching to Photoshop.

    The Big U is getting the boot back into the stacks.

    Adventures in Time & Space is a classic SF anthology. This particular copy has been in my family since new.

    The Hollow Earth is so awful that it is awesomely awful. That it got reprinted is a crime against trees. Everything the author knows about geology is wrong. After reading half I say, "No more." back to the stacks.

    My Lai 4 is better than I expected. Hersh is well represented in my library but this is my first time through this one. Recommended.

    Special Tasks is a re-read and currently active. Sudoplatov was the Soviet equivalent of our CIA Director of Operations. Nearly purged in 1937, actually purged after Beria, and rehabilitated. Strongly recommended for Kremlin watchers.

    The Obamians is next. I'm hopeful after reading the first few pages.

    The next two are Regnery and polemical. Good for raising blood pressure but not likely to be read in their entirety. I was hoping for better from Patterson who wrote 'Dereliction of Duty,' a book I appreciated so much that I bought it twice.

    Taibbi is hit or miss and this one wasn't bad.

    Wills never misses.

    Ansel Adams is a slow slog but worth it.

  •  The Black Count (9+ / 0-)

    by Tom Reiss.  It's about the real-life Alexander Dumas's father, major inspiration for his still widely read novels, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.  He was the son of a slacker of a French aristocrat and a slave in Haiti (then Saint-Domingue), brought back to France as a teenager.

    Prof. Henry Louis Gates - of "beer summit" fame, and host of a genealogical TV show on PBS for awhile - wrote one of the jacket blurbs for the book, saying he learned something new on practically every page.  He's right on about that.  One little example:  In the earliest days of the USA, French King Henry XVI's birthday was observed as a national holiday owing to France's major role in helping the US Revolution.  Another:  The use of the words "left" and "right" as political labels originated with the assemblies during the French Revolution.

    I'm really enjoying this book.  He was one other, called The Orientalist that looks like it could be quite interesting, too.

    Finished all eleven of Alan Furst's historical spy novels awhile back.  He's excellent, too.

    What do we make of the contrast between heroic teachers who stand up to a gunman and craven, feckless politicians who won’t stand up to the N.R.A.? -- Nicholas Kristof, NYT --

    by Land of Enchantment on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 07:09:38 AM PST

    •  Both Reiss books are great! (6+ / 0-)

      I favor the Orientalist because it is more personalized.Reiss takes you along on his biography writing adventure.

      The Black Count starts that way- with the episode on the safe. There are a few other moments, often when he's inspecting a document.  I'm wondering if his editors took this kind of narrative out... thinking it was too folksy for a bio of this caliber... BUT I like reading about the process too.

      Through the Black Count, you can see the turmoil in France and her colonies in this period. You can also see the reality of race relations and how it played out in people's lives.

      Both books are page turners.

  •  Currently on audiobook: (7+ / 0-)

    Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Pinker makes a convincing argument that violence as a fact of human life, on scales ranging from interpersonal through tribal through state-sponsored, has declined precipitously through human history. While it hasn't been continuous and there is always the possibility of backsliding, there has been a measurable downward turn in the amount of violence in everyday life throughout history. It's one of those books that turns common sense on its head.

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

    by milkbone on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:35:07 AM PST

  •  About 20 more pages to go (7+ / 0-)

    on Delillo's White Noise and baby, that novel gets very disturbing in the last 100 pages, I had to slow down.

    Also reading Martha Nussbaum's Philosophical Investigations. I'll refrain from saying what I think of this essay collection until...uhm, and appropriate time, shall we say (hopefully next week)

    Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise. Yeah, I'm withholding some of what I think on Silver (who remembers the Alan Trammell-Sweet Lou Whitaker-Lance Parrish-Milt Wilcox-Willie Hernandez-Sparky Anderson-Kirk Gibson-Jack Morris 1984 Detroit Tigers as fondly as I do!).

    But he did remind me of the straw that seemed to break the camel's back with President Ford: The 1976 flu outbreak. I vaguely remember the panic (I was all of 9 years old) but who remembers more?

    And how costly was that whole debacle to President Ford?

  •  Driving the Saudis (4+ / 0-)

    A short and very descriptive look behind the scenes.

    Just finished Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King.  Very well done.

  •  Will I ever finish Rushdie's "Satanic Verses"? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynChi, Monsieur Georges

    Yes. But then I will need to speed read it to connect the plot lines.  

    Got lots of mileage out of "Winter of the World."  Five hours + to LA and back to see "Angels in America," the opera, which was stunning.

  •  Most Recent Reads: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Monsieur Georges

    Most recent reads:

    A couple of the James Blish Star Trek adaptations. They're fun, and actually better than I remember them being.

    The Dynamiter, by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's a rollicking adventure invovling Victorian-Era terrorists, with nested and interlocking stories combining to one overarching plot.

    I just finished by umpteen-hundreth re-read of The Hobbit, for a series of pieces on the book for the SF/Fantasy Book series.

    The next book I'll be discussing for that series is The Skylark of Space by E.E. "Doc" Smith, so I've started re-reading that one.

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

    by quarkstomper on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:48:00 PM PST

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