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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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I've written some book reviews on Yahoo Voices:
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Readers and Book lovers 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 2:00 PM What's on Your E-Reader? Caedy
Sun 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
MON
alternate Mondays
2:00 PM Political Books Susan from 29
Mon 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery michelewln, 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
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM All Things Bookstore Dave in Northridge
Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 2:00 PM e-books Susan from 29
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly Bookpost AdmiralNaismith
alternate Thursdays 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
Fri 8:00 PM Books Go Boom! Brecht; first one each month by ArkDem14
Fri 10:00 PM Slightly Foxed -- but Still Desirable shortfinals
SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
Sat 12:00 PM You Can't Read That! Paul's Book Reviews pwoodford
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

Just finished

A Wicked Company by Philipp Blom. About the radicals of the European enlightenment, especially Holbach and Diderot. Interesting. These two were the ideological ancestors of atheists such as Dawkins and Hitchens, more than 200 years ago. A fascinating book about fascinating people. Rousseau was a jackass.

Now reading

On politics: A history of political thought from Herodotus to the present by Alan Ryan. What the subtitle says - a history of political thought.  But he should add the adjective "Western" or something as he doesn't discuss other traditions or writings.

The Year's Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois. My favorite of the annual collections of SF.

Leibniz: An intellectual biography by Maria Rosa Antognazza.  Leibniz was co-inventor of calculus (with Isaac Newton) but he also made contributions to law, philosophy, physics, economics, chemistry, geology, medicine, linguistics, history and more. This book is good, but fairly dense.

The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell.  The philosopher writes about why he thinks a lot of people are unhappy when it is not justified by their external circumstances. Written in 1930, this is partly interesting as a time capsule and partly as advice (quite a bit of which remains valid, 80 years later).

Reinventing Bach by Paul Elie. How the performance of Bach has changed over the centuries.

I play bridge and I decided to start listing bridge books I am reading

Bidding, probability and information by Robert MacKinnon. Appeals to both the bridge player and the statistician in me. Not very well written, unfortunately, and aimed at better bridge players than me, but still interesting.

Card Play Technique by Victor Mollo and Nico Gardner. One of the classics of bridge literature. Subtitled "The art of being lucky". Very well written, intended for that huge class of bridge players called "intermediate".

Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter. Prehistory with an SF feel. First of the Northlands trilogy. This takes place when "civilization" is just getting started in the West; Jericho is a new town. This isn't anything profound, but it's fun. I needed something light to leaven things up.

Stiff by Mary Roach. A re-read for me, with the History group on Goodreads. This is about what happens to us after we die. It ain't pretty.

Just started
Turing and Burroughs by Rudy Rucker.  This is a deeply weird book. Not in a bad way at all, but .... odd. It starts off with the (possibly true) attempt of someone in the British government to kill Alan Turing with cyanide laced tea. But Turing's lover drinks first and dies. Then Turing uses biological tools he has been working on to switch faces with his friend. Then the tools get loose, Turing escapes to Morocco where he meets (and melds with) William Burroughs.... This is strange stuff but fascinating. Rucker captures Turing quite well in my view (I have read a lot about Turing).

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. A re-re-read. Pratchett at the top of his game, in this first Discworld book that showed he is a great writer. In the religious dictatorship of Omnia, everyone believes in the great god Om (if you don't, the quisition will get you). But the simple man Brutha doesn't just believe. He BELIEVES. Then the God manifests to him as a tortoise (a small god, because almost no one really believes).  

Pratchett beautifully skewers fanatical religion, while not totally skewering the more humane elements of it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Finally finished (16+ / 0-)

    Albion's Seed - hooray! I liked it, very informative. Written nearly 25 years ago, it's still illuminating on persistent political realities in the US of A.

    Started Germany: A New History, written by a guy on the faculty at Brandeis, up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. I'm not very far in yet, but I think it will meet my objective of knowing something more about that nation's history beyond its role as a monumentally bad actor in the century just past.

    About halfway through The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith (Isabel Dalhousie mystery.) McCall Smith is a little like the Seinfeld Show, particularly this series, where the protagonist edits a minor academic journal on applied ethics. There's a lot of her internal dialog included, sidebars on the ethics of the tiniest  points of ethics. Set in Edinburgh, I'm listening to it on audio, enjoying the gentle Scottish brogue it's delivered in, such as "Edinburgh" is more four syllables than three.

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:45:58 AM PST

  •  the assassination of Pres. Kennedy (5+ / 0-)

    GOP game - resentment: In 60 years the GOP have played immigrants against native-born citizens, straights against gays, low paid whites against blacks, and people without pension benefits or health care against union workers. ~ Senator Bernie Sanders

    by anyname on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:01:05 AM PST

  •  On an early-20th purple prose binge. (9+ / 0-)

    Just finished another Zane Grey ("The U.P. Trail") and am currently munching down James Oppenheim's "The Nine-Tenths," after reading de Graaf's review in Truthout: The Original "Occupy": Novel Was Written 100 Years Before Zuccotti Park

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:36:43 AM PST

  •  Rudy Rucker is great! (4+ / 0-)

    I will track down a copy of 'Turing and Burroughs'.  I've read a lot of Rucker's stuff (but nothing for a while it seems) and it can get deeply weird but it is always fun.

  •  Currently reading, (9+ / 0-)

    due to too much swearing at work, "Pride & Prejudice."  It always gets my language back on track.  I'm also reading a book for work "Current Perspectives & Applications in Neurobiology: Working with Young Persons who are Victims and Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse" by Longo, Prescott, Bergman and Creeden.

    For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die--Ted Kennedy

    by sobermom on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:56:07 AM PST

  •  I need to add to my November list (6+ / 0-)

    because I haven't been updating it properly, so there have been quite a few works on the kindle, etc that I've read this month that aren't listed yet.

    But I just finished "Imager's Intrigue" by L.E.Modesitt Jr last night.

    On my TBR pile (and I just raided the library yesterday)

    Scholar by L.E.Modesitt Jr (the next Imager novel)
    Azazel by Isaac Asimov (my son's reading for the next week or so)
    Into the Woods by Kim Harrison
    Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
    and
    The Collapsing Universe by Isaac Asimov (non-fiction primarily about black holes, my son's reading assignment after Azazel)

    My daughter is about to start Hamlet with her father as part of her school work, and she has a book on hold at the library that she wants to read (the second in a series she's working through).

    "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 Nov 20, 2013 at 06:00:24 AM PST

  •  The Astounding, The Amazing and The Unknown (6+ / 0-)

    I'm currently in the middle of The Astounding, the Amazing and the Unknown by David Malmot, his follow up to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, in which Robert Heinlein and a team of  Golden Age science fiction writers are recruited by the Navy to help defeat the Nazis and discover a mystery involving Nikoli Tesla and his Death Ray.  As in his previous book, there are a lot of fun cameos by writers of the period and other notable figures.

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

    by quarkstomper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:38:38 AM PST

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

    Finished the audiobook version of The City and The City by China Mieville.  Overall I thought it was pretty good although it did get kind of confusing toward the end.  I liked it enough that I'll have to check out other books by the author.

    70% of the way through the Kindle version of Night Film by Marisha Pessl.  I like this one. An investigative journalist is looking into the mysterious suicide of a young woman who is the 24 year old daughter of an infamous, reclusive horror film director.  Although things are being revealed gradually, it's not boring at all.  And now I think the pace is really going to pick up.

    Recently started the audiobook version of Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman.  The author has written 3 books and this is his second.  I've not read the other two, but I plan to.  The story takes place in France during The Black Death in the 1300's.  The prologue states that this has been released by Lucifer. A young orphan girl is taken under the protection of a knight.  She insists they go first to Paris and then onto Avignon. She can see and talk to angels, saints and demons.  My wife read it and though it was pretty good although a bit odd.  So far I think it's pretty good.

    •  I would find it (4+ / 0-)

      very difficult to listen to The City and The City. I had to read over stuff to keep up with it- not a speed reading sort of book. Really fascinating.

      •  I agree. (4+ / 0-)

        The end of the book would have definitely been easier to follow if I had been actually reading it so that I could re-read certain parts.  It's true that one can go back and re-listen to any part of an audiobook, but at some point it becomes a little annoying to do so.  The rest of the book worked fine as an audiobook especially because the reader was excellent.

    •  I read Night Film and would be interested to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madmsf, plf515, Limelite, Monsieur Georges

      hear your take when you're done.  Although it might be tough to discuss it here without giving away any spoilers!  Have you read her earlier one- Special Topics in Calamity Physics?

      •  I've not read Calamity Physics. (5+ / 0-)

        I take it you have? Was it good?  When I was looking into Night Film the reviews mentioned her first novel and that it was very good.  Do you agree with that?
         I like Night Film so far and I would be inclined to read her first book.  I'm really curious to see how Night Film is going to end.  Without giving spoilers away, I just finished the part where they were at the antique shop and he discovered what was in his daughter's pocket.  So now they're in the Adirondacks and are just about to sneak onto the property.

        •  I listened to the audio version of (5+ / 0-)

          Calamity Physics, but I might recommend reading it instead.  If you've read reviews, you're probably aware that she wrote it in a pretty unusual style- a lot of it reads kind of like a research paper, complete with citations and page numbers referencing real or imaginary texts.  Elsewhere, the narrator uses extensive and sometimes detailed metaphors to describe the world around her.  I found the metaphors to be mostly entertaining, but if I had the paper version in my hands I probably would have started skimming the citations (an option not available when listening).

          That said, I did like it and would recommend it.  The most I would say without giving anything away is that there is a mystery involved and there are enough clues and ambiguities to make you have to think.  

          It's not for everyone- I could easily see how some might find it annoying and not worth the effort, but it worked for me.    

  •  The most exciting and (6+ / 0-)

    depressing book I've read lately is The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman. Tells the story of the copy of The Hebrew Bible (which makes a strong case for it to be THE BOOK, on a certain level) and the horror that befell it on its arrival in Israel.

    •  Now that is Interesting (3+ / 0-)

      My experience in Aleppo, before the late unpleasantness, was aggressively warm and welcoming.

      Can you tell me more about this codex?

      The moment you pick up the clay you become a demiurge, and he who embarks on the creation of worlds is already tainted with corruption and evil. (-8.7,-9.3)

      by Dom Segundo on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:10:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  From Amazon: (3+ / 0-)
        A thousand years ago, the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible was written. It was kept safe through one upheaval after another in the Middle East, and by the 1940s it was housed in a dark grotto in Aleppo, Syria, and had become known around the world as the Aleppo Codex.
        Journalist Matti Friedman’s true-life detective story traces how this precious manuscript was smuggled from its hiding place in Syria into the newly founded state of Israel and how and why many of its most sacred and valuable pages went missing. It’s a tale that involves grizzled secret agents, pious clergymen, shrewd antiquities collectors, and highly placed national figures who, as it turns out, would do anything to get their hands on an ancient, decaying book. What it reveals are uncomfortable truths about greed, state cover-ups, and the fascinating role of historical treasures in creating a national identity.
  •  Mindmelding with Burroughs (3+ / 0-)

    sounds risky, what with Burroughs's partiality to biological absorption, often accompanied by sound effects such as "schlup...schlup schlup."

  •  I've been listening to Patricia Wrede's (4+ / 0-)

    Enchanted Forest books.  I just last night figured out that my hard copies are missing.  I CERTAINLY would not have sold off Talking to Dragons, since it is also part of another collection I have.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:40:14 AM PST

  •  Buddhist Warfare (2010) to prepare (4+ / 0-)

    a draft for the Anti-Capitalist Meetup

    Buddhist Warfare, edited by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:43:16 AM PST

  •  hi (6+ / 0-)

    I have finished reading:

    All Roads lead to Austen: A Year Long Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith

    The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die by Colin Cotterill

    The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan, a mystery set in Boston (hat tip to Susan from 29 who did a diary on Ryan.)

    I am reading:

    Down Below Station by C. J. Cherryh (pg 78 of 439)

    The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley (pg. 102 of 233)

    Prague by Arthur Phillips (pg. 206 of 367) (second try)

    Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry Co-edited by Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo (pg. 459 of 522)

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

    by cfk on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:06:30 AM PST

  •  Rise of the Warrior Cop (5+ / 0-)

    fascinating book.

    The last days of colonialism taught America’s revolutionaries that soldiers in the streets bring conflict and tyranny. As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America’s cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other—an enemy.

    Today’s armored-up policemen are a far cry from the constables of early America. The unrest of the 1960s brought about the invention of the SWAT unit—which in turn led to the debut of military tactics in the ranks of police officers. Nixon’s War on Drugs, Reagan’s War on Poverty, Clinton’s COPS program, the post–9/11 security state under Bush and Obama: by degrees, each of these innovations expanded and empowered police forces, always at the expense of civil liberties. And these are just four among a slew of reckless programs.

    In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Balko shows how politicians’ ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society.

    Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

    by snoopydawg on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:17:53 AM PST

  •  Mostly magazine articles (4+ / 0-)

    as no book has been able to hold my attention until...

    The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton by Michael Mott, the authorized biography of the Trappist monk that was done prior to the release of Merton's journals (which would make a great Xmas present for me!)

  •  The Signature of All Things (5+ / 0-)

    by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm enjoying it very much.

    Within a Budding Grove (In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower) - Marcel Proust. I'm alternating between two translations, with an occasional dip into the French.

    I also enjoyed The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and To the Lighthouse by Woolf, which I read over the summer.

    Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

    by coral on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:52:17 AM PST

    •  I admire your approach to Proust. (4+ / 0-)

      Hitchens wrote an essay about the new translations, each volume by a different contemporary author, and while he noted the project's praiseworthiness, and where the newer translations get it 'better' at certain places, there was, however, only one Proust, and therefore some effect of the singular narrative voice is missing in some respect.

      The Democrats care about you after you're born. --Ed Schultz

      by micsimov on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:11:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting -- is the Hitchens on the Net? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        I'm going to look for it, but would love to know where to find it in print.

        Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

        by coral on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:42:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was in an article for The Atlantic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          somewhere between 2003-2005; I believe a volume of his collected essays was released posthumously so that might be a good place to start as well; but the article definitely appeared originally in The Atlantic around the time of the release of Lydia Davis's translation of Swann's Way.

          The Democrats care about you after you're born. --Ed Schultz

          by micsimov on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:28:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Been Traveling, So Audiobooks in Car (4+ / 0-)

    have been my friend.  Ed King by David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars).  It's Oedipus Rex for the Information Age.  Nobody's likable, not much plot, but fascinating nonetheless as a cobra is fascinating to a field mouse.  

    Another pure diversion that I regret having listened to rather than reading in text form is David Baldacci' s, The Collectors.  Camel Club vs. domestic spies against the background of the Library of Congres and rare books.  Unfortunately, the producers rendered the novel as radio play with dialog actors and a narrator.  Very annoying to hear a spoken line of dialog followed by a different voice saying the inane, "she said brightly."  Showed up a lot of overwriting.

    Just started listening to The Commoner about the woman who married the Crown Prince of Japan in the late 50s.  Beautifully narrated.

    Opened up Lisa Randall' s Knocking on Heaven's Gate, all about the importance of understanding scale and how theories are "effective" only ever certain ranges of energy and distance.  The second major topic is the importance of the LHC allowing us to make "observations" in the realm of tiniest scale.  Randall is my favorite physicist and modern physics writer.

    Checking down a pretty amateurish effort called The Norseman.  The forgotten history of incident catches my interest as I'm pretty much flipping through it.

    And I got a bunch of new e-books that I'll tell you about elsewhere and at another time.

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

    by Limelite on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:24:38 AM PST

  •  Allegiant by Veronica Roth. (3+ / 0-)

    And I've found the most recent 10-12 chapters to be very rough going. Not as good as the previous two, and I haven't even gotten to the allegedly tragic ending.

    Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here: http://bettysrants.wordpress.com

    by Kimball Cross on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:31:15 AM PST

  •  Dogs, Horses, Trees: Bronze Age Sociotechnology (3+ / 0-)

    Who would have thought that Aspens were so important in the wriggling evolution of our modern way of life?

    And where  are the bears?  Did ursine worshippers give rise to us all, or did they simply leave a physical culture for us to discover while grampa greatgreatgreat was out tricking the swamp rat into the pot.....

    The moment you pick up the clay you become a demiurge, and he who embarks on the creation of worlds is already tainted with corruption and evil. (-8.7,-9.3)

    by Dom Segundo on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:00:13 PM PST

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