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What are you reading? Jan 22, 2013comment with what they're reading.  Sometimes, on Sundays, I post a special edition on a particular genre or topic.

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Just finished
Kansas City Lightning  by Stanley Crouch. A start of a biography of jazz great Charlie Parker, but Crouch uses Parker's life as a focus with which to examine the role of music and the entertainment industry more generally in Black culture, and much else about Black life in the period from the end of the Civil War onwards. So, we read not only about jazz, but about ragtime and swing; and not just about music but about Jack Johnson and Joe Louis. Well-written and researched; one odd not is that Crouch inconsistently refers to Black people as Negroes and Blacks. Full Review

Now reading

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.

21st Century Science Fiction ed. by David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. A collection of shorter length SF from the first decade of the 21st century.

The Yamato Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave. The "secret" history of Japan's emperors, especially during World War II and after.  A bleak story of how the Japanese people have been manipulated and how MacArthur made people lie about war crimes.

Citizens  by Simon Schama. The French Revolution.  I found the prologue confusing, but it's getting better as I get into it.

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

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".

Just started
Lexicon by Max Barry. Science fiction. A group called "poets" can control people's minds with words. Another group is fighting them. It also has some of Barry's humor.

The Passage of Power by Robert Caro. The 4th volume in Caro's magisterial, magnificent biography of Lyndon Johnson. Covers LBJ as VP to JFK and the first weeks after JFK's assassination.

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
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

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Comment Preferences

  •  The newspapers. (9+ / 0-)

    Two dead trees every day. Both called the times.

    I have handled a million newspapers. The sad thing is that I never made union scale.

  •  hi (14+ / 0-)

    I am really up, not just going to bed.  The night owl part of me has had a hard time lately.  :)

    I have finished reading:

    If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino

    I am reading:

    Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton  (pg. 860 of 1008)

    The Dragon of Despair by Jane Lindskold (pg. 189 of 729)

    Challenge Books

    The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman (pg. 299 of 463)

    Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s by Jennifer Worth (pg. 44 of 319)

    Pendragon: The Definitive Account of the Origins of King Arthur by Steve Blake and Scott Lloyd (with pictures, maps, charts, and big print)  (pg. 11 of 272)

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

    by cfk on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 04:50:04 AM PST

  •  Good morning. (9+ / 0-)

    Last night's diary:  Redefining Realness, which is Janet Mock's memoir subtitled, My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

  •  Half way through (7+ / 0-)

    Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941

    Olson’s fourth history pivoting around the year 1940 chronicles America’s debate about intervention in WWII. To recall its vituperative tone, something long since forgotten by the popular memory of wartime national unity, Olson incorporates the venomous vernacular in which advocates and opponents of intervention assailed each other into her time-line reportage of the controversy as it was affected by war news, the 1940 election, and such war preparations as the enactment of conscription and lend-lease. FDR’s brawling secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes, took naturally to the idiom of vitriol, labeling isolationists as Nazis and traitors. As for the isolationist organization America First, Olson recounts its campaign to sway public opinion, which was more hindered than helped by the political obtuseness of its celebrity spokesman, Charles Lindbergh. Underscoring the period’s passionate animosities, Olson parallels their playing-out in mass media and their sub rosa manifestations in illegal wiretaps and British espionage. Humanizing public events with private strains, on, for example, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Olson delivers a fluid rendition of a tempestuous time. --Gilbert Taylor
    Holy crap, and we think our politics are crazy. Fist fights on the house floor, FBI (J. Edger) up to its eyeballs in snooping on anyone fingered by "friends" of the administration and the administration, dueling newspaper publishers, objects (including an office chair) thrown at Wendell Willkie during the 1940 campaign, "committees" spreading propaganda on both sides, etc..

    Pet peeve alert; on page 7, the author states that Lindbergh received the Congressional Medal of Honor. There is no "Congressional" MoH, its is just the MoH. Arrgggh

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 05:48:31 AM PST

  •  The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson (8+ / 0-)

    Repairman Jack is a fixer but he doesn't fix appliances as some think. He helps people with things the police cannot help them with. So far it's been a good read.

    So many books--so little time. Economic Left/Right -7.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -6.97

    by Louisiana 1976 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 06:25:36 AM PST

  •  "Annihilation" by Jeff Vandermeer (7+ / 0-)

    Started late last night and only got a few pages in before I started getting drowsy-- and I don't like to read Vandermeer while drowsy. I don't want to miss any of the quietly horrifying details and I don't want his imagery showing up in my dreams.

    I've been on a mythology kick lately. I read "The Bible Unearthed" by Finkelstein and Silberman, which raised my curiosity about mythologies of the Near East. We had a copy of "Mythologies of the Ancient World" edited by Samuel Noah Kramer on the shelf, so I worked my way through that. I picked up another mythology survey organized around themes-- Creation, Flood/Apocalypse, Heroes, etc-- but set it aside because it was providing a broader rather than deeper perspective.

    I've got a couple translations of the Epic of Gilgamesh on the shelf and "Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth" by Wolkstein and Kramer; I'll probably re-read those soon. If any of you brilliant Kossacks can recommend translations and/or commentary regarding mythologies of the ancient Near East, I'd love to read something as substantive about some of the less prominent mythologies.

  •  Just finished re-reading The Left Hand of (6+ / 0-)

    Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin.

    Also recently completed The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark


    The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith. It's quite different from the movie, which I also recommend, but which significantly alters the real story.

    Currently reading:

    Rex Stout, The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe #2)


    Ken Macleod, The Star Fraction.

    Thinking of next reading:

    Jacqueline Jones, A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama's America

    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

    by another American on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 06:49:07 AM PST

  •  Anthony Marra (6+ / 0-)

    "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" is a wonderful, moving novel set in Chechnya. Do not miss it. I've been immersed in it this week.

  •  Reading and listening... (7+ / 0-)

    Almost done with the audiobook version of HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.  I've always heard about the Lovecraft influence on so many horror books, but I'd never read anything by him so I thought I'd give this a try.  Meh. Obviously the writing style is very dated. It's OK. Any Lovecraft fans out who can steer me to anything better?

    Finished the hardcover version of Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough. Mixes the Jack the Ripper murders with another set of gruesome  murders that happened at the same time but were overshadowed by the former. These would be the Thames torso murders. The story is fiction, but many of the characters actually existed. On top of the two sets of murders there's a Polish evil spirit and lots of opium dens. An odd mix, but it worked fairly well. The ending was very abrupt though. Kind of weird in that respect.  I'd recommend it if you like gothic horror/murder mystery type stuff.

    Just started The Commitments by Roddy Doyle.  This is the book that the 1991 movie was based upon.  I'm surprised at how short the book actually is.  Literally only a few pages into it.  I have a feeling though that by the time I'm done with it I'm going to have to go back and watch the movie.

    •  Lovecraft and Doyle (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, madmsf

      I recently read 'At the Mountains of Madness' ... same reaction.  It was not the horror masterpiece it was billed as, and I suspect that the world of horror has just taken his lessons and evolved.  Tough to be a pioneer.

      'The Commitments' is part of the Doyle trilogy that also includes 'The Van' and 'The Snapper'.  These are all amazing books ... I love them all.  All have been made into films as well and they are also well done.

      •  Actually, my motivation for reading (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Commitments was that Doyle has finally written a followup to that book. It's entitled The Guts and re-visits Jimmy Rabbitte much later in life.  I heard an interview with Doyle several months ago on BBC Radio 2 and it sounded pretty good.

        I've heard of The Snapper from the movie, but I didn't know it was based upon another Doyle book.  I'm not at all familiar with The Van.

  •  February (9+ / 0-)

    Currently reading: Whisper by Michael Bray (Kindle)
    Unexplained Mysteries of WWII by William B. Breuer
    The Science of Stephen King by Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg

    Everyone is sick so things have slowed down reading wise, otherwise some of those would have been finished already. The Science of Stephen King is a book I'm really enjoying! It goes into the science behind the novels, organized by category (parapsychology, biowarfare, time travel, alternate dimensions). I'm just over half way through with it, but I had to take a break from it yesterday. I was running on about 2.5 hours sleep and it was getting into quantum physics and the 5th plane and I was just too blargh to follow it. I will read it some more today now that I've slept.

    Draco and I will be finishing Unexplained Mysteries next week. With everyone sick we just have taken a week or so off from school work, doesn't do any good when everyone has mush brain and can't focus.

    "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 Feb 05, 2014 at 07:27:20 AM PST

  •  Reading: (8+ / 0-)

    Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantell - about half way though and enjoying it, but, I wish she had been less careless in the use of the personal pronoun "he." I hate having to go back and figure out which "he" is speaking, thinking.

    Rereading Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World because of comments made in a Bill Nye debate diary. We need more Sagans.

    Also reading/listening to Dharma teachings because I am working on a diary.

    Have not been reading much; too many things going on at once.

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 08:33:52 AM PST

  •  I finished (9+ / 0-)

    Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. Besides the unique sidestepping and retelling the tale, which sounds like a totally author-ly thing to do--this isn't working, so let's try this--it is so realistic about the London Blitz that you feel you are there, in your flimsy dress and silly shoes, trying to save lives, your own included. I rated it a 5+ on my homegrown scale of 1-5.

    Also finished Hyperbole and a Half, a book from the blog by the same name by Allie Brosh. I'm usually immune to cartoons, and I'm definitely immune to cute; Allie's pictures and stories are different. Her analysis of depression has the sheen of realness to anyone who has been there, and her girl in the pink dress has the most expressive face and mannerisms to make it all clear. I rated this one a 4, less than maximum just because it is, um, cartoons.

    Also finished True Grit, by Charles Portis. I know, most of you read this decades ago; somehow I dodged it. I enjoyed the 1st POV Mattie Ross at first, but after a while she grated on me and became one of those mean old bags who won't shut up. Still, her adventures were thrilling. It is probably an asset that I never saw the movie and John Wayne's voice does not overpower the reading. I rated this a 3, mostly because I was sick of Mattie.

    Quit without finishing Richard Dawkins's The Greatest Show on Earth. I like science writing, and Dawkins is a good writer; I also like evolution, but Dawkins is preaching to the choir here, and when he got so micro-detailed in the development of the fetus, I bailed. But it would be a great book for anyone who wasn't already convinced. I gave it a 3 just because I ran screaming for the exit.

    Finished Half-Broke Horses, the prequel to Jeannette Walls's memoir, The Glass Castle. This is the story of Walls's grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who was a tough old bird, kinda like Mattie Ross full-grown, with a little more education. It was a nice explanation of how Walls's mother, Rosemary, became the way she is, but the writing was not as good as that in the original memoir. I like tales of the west, especially with lots of horses, and I gave this one a 4.

    Speaking of horses, I finished The Faraway Horses, by Buck Brannaman, and enjoyed every minute of it. This was an on-sale kindle book, so I couldn't quite see the pictures; it would be better to pick up the real thing. Buck is no writer, and you will not be bowled over by gorgeous prose, but the story gave me goosebumps and lots of admiration for the man who vowed never to do to anyone else, on two legs or four, what was done to him. He now makes his living training horses and riders (he has a website, of course). The movie about his life, Buck, is also great; when it played here at our local theater, cowboys came from all over Montana and Idaho and the audience was a sea of cowboy hats. Buck is the best rider I have ever seen. I rated the book a 4 for inspirational value.

    Finished Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. This is a book I should have hated, since I dislike all of its elements: opera, south American countries, mansions, armies, police, guns. But it's so well done, so well written, that I ended up caring deeply about the people and living their captive lives alongside them. I rated this a 4 just because it wasn't quite perfect, though I don't know how it could have been better. Hey, it's a subjective system.

    What I'm reading now: Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. In the beginning I was in awe of the writing; now, about half-way through, the writing has settled down and I'm annoyed by the plot. I don't handle some sci-fi and/or fantasy well, being grounded in reality, or so I like to think. Anyway, I recommended this to my granddaughter: she might like the scariness and the originality and creativity of the writing.

    What I'll read next: The Goldfinch. I may abandon Bradbury to start on this.

    Thanks for letting me spout off here, and I think I've figured out why I usually don't: I go on and on when I should be reading.                            

    "You can observe a lot just by watching." ~ Yogi Berra

    by dandy lion on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 08:42:55 AM PST

  •  Broken Homes (6+ / 0-)

    It's the fourth in the Rivers of London mystery/fantasy series by Ben Aaronovitch.  Peter Grant has become apprenticed to the only wizard in London's metro police force.  They get the weird cases.

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

    by RunawayRose on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 08:55:33 AM PST

    •  ooh, thx! I need to get back to these! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and a similar, but sufficiently different series... doggone, what's the series about the Faerie (?) using computers for modern magic ... OK, that's not exactly the storyline, but it's GOOD: that's Kelly McCullough's Webmage / Cybermancy / Codespell / MythOS / SpellCrash

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:14:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Red Rising" (3+ / 0-)

    by Pierce Brown.

    Science fiction, set on mars at least 500 years from now, in a caste based society.  The POV character is from the lowest caste, and is set to infiltrate the highest caste and turn the system inside-out.  There's some good world-building here, and some very nice character insights.  Very readable.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 10:24:33 AM PST

  •  aside from work crap, (4+ / 0-)

    H.D. Vinod (2010) Advances in Social Science Research using R. Springer

    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 Feb 05, 2014 at 11:12:03 AM PST

  •  Lately? (3+ / 0-)

    I've been going back and forth between Conservatives Without Conscience (John W. Dean), The Truth (Terry Pratchett), and Boyd, the Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art of War (Robert Coram) as part of the ongoing series I've been posting lately.

    And I've also been going through The Hallowed Hunt (Lois McMaster Bujold) again.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:50:58 AM PST

  •  FINALLY, after 25/30 years of suggestions, I have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    started to read the Vorkosigan Saga.

    And they were all right, and I guess I was being pigheaded... For a long time I resisted just because EVERYBODY kept assuring me how much I would LOVE it, 8-P And now, I am enjoying it a lot.

    Then I read the first volume of the Sharing Knife, without really twigging to who the author was. I continued to really enjoy the SK, even after I connected it up, and now, about 5? years after the SK, I decided to try MV!

    I've also recently expanded my Modesitt exposure from the Imager Portfolio to the Ghosts of Columbia, which I also finished last week. So sad there's only 3 of those! Ecolitans next, I suppose, 8-) DH is a Modesitt fan, although his fav is probably Magic of Recluse, which I need to put on my list, too!

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 10:19:24 PM PST

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