Author Topic: read any good books lately?  (Read 1745 times)

LetterRip

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read any good books lately?
« on: September 09, 2020, 10:43:44 PM »
I've been doing a lot of reading lately rather than watch tv, go to the movies, or surf the web.

Reading recommended book series mostly - I've binged most of Robin Hobb's Assassin series.  Was rathee surprised at myself how emotional I'd get over the trials and tribulations of the characters. 

Also nearly everything by a John Scalzi. Interesting ideas on alien societies and the future of warfare.

Before that the Lilith's Brood series by Octavia Butler and the meaning of being human.

The various works of Neal Gaman especially American Gods.

David Brin's Uplift series and other works.

Even further back Ian M Banks Culture series and other works.

Also the Rifters trilogy and Blindsight by Peter Watts - his science fiction vampires are especially fascinating and really interesting alien species.

NobleHunter

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2020, 10:49:53 PM »
T Kingfisher is good for both horror and comforting fantasy/romance. The two get a little mixed up so some of the romance has rather horrifying moments but it's all good.

C L Polk is good for gay and historical settings.

Mary Robinette Kowal is good for science and history and feminism.

Martha Wells' murderbot is good for snark and commentary on the foibles of idiot humans.

yossarian22c

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2020, 10:54:58 PM »
I just finished the gate series by our host. Starts strong then goes a little too philosophical, religious, in some occasionally interesting ways but mostly a little dry. Also OSC still can’t write a love story, he should leave couples out of his books. It’s like a weaker ender series, the central conflict from the first story just fades in the following two books.

I’m currently reading the third book in the onyx and crake series by Atwood. Cool dystopian idea, the narrative jumps around in time a lot and IMO spends a little too long in the past. But overall interesting work.

cherrypoptart

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2020, 11:49:18 PM »
Are we counting audio books?

I listened to the Solo audio book. The narrator Marc Thompson made it extraordinarily good because of his style. I almost thought they got Woody Harrelson to voice Tobias Beckett. Can't go wrong with the Jack Reacher books though it's been a few months since I finished the last one. Just finished Howard's Conan "Beyond the Black River", more of a short story but reading it was good for a quick sword and sorcery fix.

Fenring

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2020, 02:46:27 AM »
I tend towards non-fiction, and am reading John Stuart Mill at the moment (On Liberty, with Utilitarianism upcoming). When I do read fiction it tends to be either sci-fi or Stephen King. I read The Dark Half recently, pretty good read, and for sci-fi I read Hellstrom's Hive by Frank Herbert, also pretty good. Unfortunately I read super-slowly so don't finish books at the rate I'd like to. When a book is boring me I have becoming increasingly inclined to put it down swiftly rather than press on, and for non-fiction when I feel the author doesn't really have anything useful to teach me. A few weeks ago I put down Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker as it met both criteria at a certain point.

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2020, 10:47:19 AM »
Reading "Flyboys" at the moment, very interesting historical notes about Japan that I didn't really know. As well as lots of other good descriptions of Japanese relations with the league of nations and trying to join the white christian countries as a colonial power and being rejected. And of course the central part of the story, the bravery shown by the fliers themselves.

"Upstream" by Dan Heath talking about how to solve public and corporate problems by moving upstream to eliminate root causes of problems rather than trying to react to late-stage consequences.

And not recent, but a personal favorite, "The Boys in the Boat" about the US Olympic Team that eventually went to Berlin and took Gold. A lot of in-depth exploration of the members of that crew, their varied backgrounds, and what motivated them.

LetterRip

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2020, 11:50:18 AM »
I read all of the King, Asimov, Herbert, and Heinlein works when I was young.  I tried revisiting some of the Asimov stuff and I was surprised how clunky the writing was and how flat the characters were.  Rereading some of the Herbert and Heinlein were OK.  OSC's writing that I've reread have held up reasonably well.

I haven't actually read much sci-fi or fantasy over the past years, but going off of TV during the pandemic and cutting way back on Quora and Ornery and other internet stuff, along with fewer social obligation, has freed up a lot of time these past months.

For most of the past 10 years I've mostly been reading non-fiction - histories, science, sociology, philosophy, communication, business management, leadership, health and fitness, nutrition and a handful of biographies of historic Americans and Europeans.

LetterRip

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2020, 11:57:08 AM »
Are we counting audio books?

I listened to the Solo audio book. The narrator Marc Thompson made it extraordinarily good because of his style. I almost thought they got Woody Harrelson to voice Tobias Beckett. Can't go wrong with the Jack Reacher books though it's been a few months since I finished the last one. Just finished Howard's Conan "Beyond the Black River", more of a short story but reading it was good for a quick sword and sorcery fix.

I've never gotten into audiobooks myself.  The Jack Reacher series seem fun, my dad is a huge fan of those audiobooks.

rightleft22

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2020, 12:30:36 PM »
I've been reading Fredrik Backman work who first came to my attention with the book A Man Called Ove
'Bear Town' and 'Us Against You' were really good. Fredrik character development reminded me of Card's. You might not like all the characters but you get a look inside and can understand them.

Wayward Son

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2020, 01:19:16 PM »
I've been working my way through the 236 books and series in NPR's Science Fiction and Fanstasy Finalist List for the last couple of years.  I had already read a bit over a third of them, and the ones I've gotten through so far have all been pretty good, except for one or two exceptions.

The most entertaining so far was The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  It deals with a kid orphaned by some mysterious, powerful entities, who grows up on the streets and then gets into a university to learn magic.  Witty, well-paced, fun story.  The sequel wasn't quite as good, at least until he got the kid out of the college.  Rothfuss hasn't finished the third book of the trilogy yet, even though it's been over 10 years since the sequel was published.  ::)

The most surprising one was Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany.  Kind of American magic realism about a drifter who goes to a city that America has forgotten about except in rumors and stories.  Lots of sex, bizarre events, and no real plotline I could detect, but still a compelling read.  I think it captured the zeitgeist of the late 60s so that you really feel it.

Good Omens is a really fun and funny book, about how the Apocalypse goes wrong because an angel switched the baby at birth.  Contains one of my favorite lines of all time:  "It wasn't a dark and stormy night.  It should have been, but that's weather for you." :)  Which brings up other books by Neil Gaiman--Neverwhere, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Stardust--and Terry Pratchett--Going Postal and especially Small Gods.  (When a storm gets so bad than even Death hides out with you, you know it's bad! :) )

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu is good hard-SF story with a Chinese perspective.

Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle if the current disasters aren't enough for you. :)

The Yiddish Policeman's Union for a detective story set in an alternative world where Israel is located along the Alaskan coast.

World War Z by Max Brooks (Mel's son) was surprisingly good, especially if you're a military-buff.  So was Old Man's War by John Scalzi.

I figure the last 116 of the books and series on the list should keep me busy for the next decade or so.  And if you need a flowchart for the top 100 books and series, SFSignal gots you covered, including an interactive version.

wmLambert

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2020, 01:31:19 PM »
I'm always reading, and have begun to use Project Gitenberg. Letterrip, you mentioned reading Heinlein - did you know that his original "Stranger in a Strange Land" was available there? This is the original manuscript that the publisher made him delete a third or more of the book, to make something he could print.

While there, I looked up the largely unknown novel written by Edward Bellamy, "Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887". This is the book that John Dewey said inspired him to create the US educational system under Woodrow Wilson, to create something that Dewey confessed he designed to "reject American history, reject the American founding, reject the principles in the Declaration! The world begins today with political science, with behavioral science, with social science. We're the experts. The trained and the educated and the learned drives society. Wash out the individualism! The individual will find meaning in the collective." In this book Bellamy was writing about the Utopia in 2000 when we no longer needed to use money because all things were provided to all people for no cost.

One of my favorite books is still OSC's Ender's Shadow. But I prefer reading entire series: David Weber's Honorverse series, his Safehold series, and Empire of Man, and Mutineer's Moon series. Also Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Brad Taylor, Lee Child, Lustbader, and Clancy. Anne McCaffery, Laurie R. King, and J.K. Rowling also have fun series.

Seriati

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2020, 11:21:24 AM »
I've been working my way through the 236 books and series in NPR's Science Fiction and Fanstasy Finalist List for the last couple of years.  I had already read a bit over a third of them, and the ones I've gotten through so far have all been pretty good, except for one or two exceptions.

Fun list, mostly stuff I do like to read.  Though it definitely includes some books that aren't strongly written if that matters to you. 

The Belgariad, loved this as a kid, and still re-read it occasionally, but the main characters are always just better at everything than the other side.

The Black Company Series, great, great series.  Lots of grit and fair bit of moral complexity.  Really plays on who's a good guy, who's a bad guy and whether that's just a matter of perspective.

Bridge Of Birds, by Barry Hughart.  There's actually 3 books in this series.  They were fun, probably couldn't be written today.  As I understand it, he patterned his stories very loosely on Chinese myths but completely made up his own version of an alternate historical China.  Very well done, but I think he just quit writing after he did the three.

The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny.  The first series of five books is amazing.  Very 70s dated, but amazing.  The second series isn't quite as good, and the stuff written after his death is terrible (no wonder he specifically never wanted anyone else to write in the universe).  The universe he created though is very fun.

The Deed of Paksennarion Trilogy, still think if you're a D&D player this should be required reading before you play a certain LG character type.

Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey.  Most of what she wrote is written simply with strong stories, and I'd almost classify them as young adult these days.  This one is the first in a long number of stories set on Pern.  Very fun read, this one in particular has some elements that would have been controversial when it was written (though they are implied), but now would be fairly tame.

The Hollows Series, by Kim Harrison, the early books in this series are rich and strongly written - Great Stories.  I think the later books are less so, but you'll keep reading them to see what happens and they're still good enough to enjoy (didn't like the final one though).

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.  This was all the rage a few years back.  Strongly written, interesting story that seemed unique to me.  If you avoid fantasy because it's not literature (which no one on this board should be doing, but you may have a friend) you may find this one a good one.

The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore.  Not sure if this is referring to a part of the series, or to his entire work that covers these characters.  Some of these are terribly written (look at the IceWind Dale Trilogy with a critical eye, which is unfortunate because they are the first in order), but the stories are terrifically fun, and the characters are Iconic.  Of course, they are all set in the D&D Forgotten Realms world.

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman.  I read this after I started watching the television series of the same name (probably better to do it in this order, they are very different and less angst in enjoying the "alternative" version in the book).  Pretty good stories with a bunch of unique elements.  Often billed as an adult version of Harry Potter, which isn't remotely fair, all it really has in common is that magicians have a  school for learning magic.

On Basilisk Station, by David Weber.  This is book one in the "Honorverse," series of space operas patterned as an in space version of the Horatio Hornblower age of sail novels.  Most of the early ones are really good.  However, the series is like 25+ books and some of the later ones suffer from trying to cover way too many side stories (sometimes they miss covering the main story).  Even still probably read through all of them 4-5 times (not atypical for me to have done so with a series I enjoy).

The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks.  Read these as a kid, and never realized that he still hasn't stopped writing in the Shannara world.  He's scattered those books from our modern time through the far future of the times in the Shannara Trilogy.  Some parts are stronger than others, and I suspect many will find the ever changing "rules" of how magic/science/power are invoked and how evil and good work confusing.  You also have to be able to tolerate the time scale where even beloved characters are going to be shown to be creating non-permanent solutions on a scale of thousands of years.

The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind.  Strong book fun read.  But also book one of a lengthy series of books.  The good news is you can read this one and the story ends put it down and keep it "done" in your head.  If you keep going, then every time a "conclusion" occurs the very next book unwinds it in the first few chapters to create a new and worse problem.  You also have to be able to tolerate the dark side of war and abuse, lots of graphic scenes.  And if you can tolerate all of that, then you'll have to be prepared for some of the later books being political screeds, with the characters sometimes lecturing the reader (and other characters) through literal speeches putting out the author's political views.

The Uplift Saga, by David Brin.  If you haven't read at least Startide Rising and the Uplift War I highly recommend doing so.  The book before and the books that follow are not as strong in my view.

The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony.  Has anyone actually finished these?  I've tried a few times, but I've found that after the first 6 books of the first "trilogy" (which has 9 books), the stories go down hill a bit.  There are still flashes of great stuff in every book (at least as far as I've read).  I recently read through book 25 (Swell Foop, which was written in 2001, and he's published through book 44 released this year).   He's very fixated on juvenile sexual innuendo (both in the quality of the references and in the age of some of the characters), which is a bit off-putting.  I think he's gotten away with it mostly because it's innuendo and the books are heavily on the comic side of comic fantasy (in reality some parts are little more than vehicles to write out a pun) and the references can been seen as humor.

Quote
Terry Pratchett--Going Postal and especially Small Gods.  (When a storm gets so bad than even Death hides out with you, you know it's bad! :) )

Not sure how a new reader would approach the Disk World books.  It appears like an enormously long series, but really it's a group of smaller lightly related series set in the same world.  The biggest advantage to reading them all is catching the cameos.  If you start at the beginning, you'll get a false picture, the first 2 are more serious than the rest of series becomes.  I think my favorite groups are the Witches books, and the Night Watch books, but there are lots of other good ones (the various books related to Death as a character, as well as, what seem to be stand alone - like the very good Small Gods mentioned above).

It's interesting that none of the modern fantasy related to vampires (Twilight, Sookie StackHouse stuff) is on the list.  Not worse than some of the other inclusions on an objective basis - is it out of category?

yossarian22c

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2020, 11:32:01 AM »
The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind.  Strong book fun read.  But also book one of a lengthy series of books.  The good news is you can read this one and the story ends put it down and keep it "done" in your head.  If you keep going, then every time a "conclusion" occurs the very next book unwinds it in the first few chapters to create a new and worse problem.  You also have to be able to tolerate the dark side of war and abuse, lots of graphic scenes.  And if you can tolerate all of that, then you'll have to be prepared for some of the later books being political screeds, with the characters sometimes lecturing the reader (and other characters) through literal speeches putting out the author's political views.

I would second the read the first and put it down. The first book is great. Each book in the series gets progressively worse afterwards. Until they are just bad. I stopped at around book 4 or 5 I think. Books 2 and 3 were okay but ultimately the series was just irritating and then IMO bad reads. And I agree about the dark side of war and abuse, I think there's a 50 page torture sequence somewhere in one of the later books, it gets pretty dark.

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2020, 12:23:06 PM »
Piers Anthony.... loved the Blue Adept series as a youth. Not sure I'd still love it now, and I won't reread it because I've disappointed myself that way before. But I have reread Incarnations of Mortality series, and not been disappointed. In fact, maybe I'll do it again on audio now!

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2020, 12:24:12 PM »
And a way overlooked Heinlein book: Job, A comedy of justice.

msquared

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2020, 12:30:22 PM »
I loved the Incarnations series, but the first one, On a Pale Horse, was the best.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, especially the first trilogy, is also one of my favorites.  The chapter Lord Mhoram's Victory from the third book is still one of my favorite chapters every written.

wmLambert

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2020, 01:50:37 PM »
I loved the Incarnations series, but the first one, On a Pale Horse, was the best.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, especially the first trilogy, is also one of my favorites.  The chapter Lord Mhoram's Victory from the third book is still one of my favorite chapters every written.

I wear a white gold ring. Every now and then I try to do some magic. Nothing yet, but I'll let you know.

Wayward Son

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2020, 02:10:26 PM »
And let us know if you ever find the manual to the ring, Lambert!.  :D

msquared

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2020, 02:26:52 PM »
I wear white gold as well.  It has diamonds but I do not think those were natural to The Land either.

Seriati

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2020, 02:45:05 PM »
There were quite a few books and series on the list I didn't comment on - even though I read them - for one reason or another (e.g., WOT - loved them despite their problems, Fire and Ice - too many characters and unconcluded, Elric - very confusing for a novice reader, Foundation - good but the style is older Sci-Fi, LofTRs - everyone already has an opinion, Dune - really a mixed bag about future evolution), but Thomas Covenant I didn't comment on because I could never get into it.  I don't mind dark heroes or anti-heroes, but it's hard to read about "heroes" that are have so few redeeming qualities.  You can like a hero that's 3/4's evil, but its hard to like a whiner.

One series that isn't on the list (its post 2001 when the list was compiled) in the series Wen Spencer wrote that started with Tinker.  It had an interesting premise (an experiment causes the entire city of Pittsburgh to be shifted (and shifted back and forth) to a world of magic.  It's a mature kind of look at it that looks at the impact on the human residents of Pittsburgh that stayed and the interactions with both worlds and the races that already lived there.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 02:50:01 PM by Seriati »

Fenring

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2020, 03:23:28 PM »
Dune - really a mixed bag about future evolution

A teeny quibble, since Dune is my bible, but the author never explicitly states that the genome is any different 20,000 years from now than it is presently. Naturally some variation would occur, but I believe his intent is to comment on what our nature currently is, and whose uses will only be discovered and maximized far in the future. Unless you meant political/social evolution?

msquared

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2020, 03:25:27 PM »
Seriati

Covenant is hard to like and the first book it a tough read.  But he gets better and I think the books get better as you go along.

I like Brandon Sanderson's works now as well.  The Stormlight Archive is going to be a great series and I like the Mistborn series, both the original 3 and the Wax/Wayne books.

Kasandra

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2020, 03:37:19 PM »
I read all of the King, Asimov, Herbert, and Heinlein works when I was young.  I tried revisiting some of the Asimov stuff and I was surprised how clunky the writing was and how flat the characters were.  Rereading some of the Herbert and Heinlein were OK.  OSC's writing that I've reread have held up reasonably well.

I haven't actually read much sci-fi or fantasy over the past years, but going off of TV during the pandemic and cutting way back on Quora and Ornery and other internet stuff, along with fewer social obligation, has freed up a lot of time these past months.

For most of the past 10 years I've mostly been reading non-fiction - histories, science, sociology, philosophy, communication, business management, leadership, health and fitness, nutrition and a handful of biographies of historic Americans and Europeans.

It's best to think of Asimov as a pioneer, rather than an evolutionary disciple.  His works spawned half or more of the best speculative writing in the past 90 years.

Overstory is excellent for all the right reasons.  Well plotted, mysterious, satisfying and relevant.  You can't do more than he tried, and I congratulate him even on the places where he didn't quite succeed.  One of the best reads of the year.

NobleHunter

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2020, 03:49:35 PM »
Seriati

Covenant is hard to like and the first book it a tough read.  But he gets better and I think the books get better as you go along.

I like Brandon Sanderson's works now as well.  The Stormlight Archive is going to be a great series and I like the Mistborn series, both the original 3 and the Wax/Wayne books.

Are you reading the preview chapters for Rhythm of War?

Speaking of books not out yet, I'm waiting for Battle Grounds (Harry Dresden) by Jim Butcher, Rhythm of War (Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson, Midnight Bargain (magic victorian or Regency lesbians) by CL Polk, The Secret Life of Addie LaRue (uh... the devli's in it? Urban fantasy-ish?) by V. E. Scwab and The Hollow Places (horror but probably with domestic creeping dread) by T Kingfisher.

fizz

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2020, 06:26:21 AM »
Piers Anthony.... loved the Blue Adept series as a youth. Not sure I'd still love it now, and I won't reread it because I've disappointed myself that way before. But I have reread Incarnations of Mortality series, and not been disappointed. In fact, maybe I'll do it again on audio now!

When I started reading books of Piers Anthony I quite liked him (never touched the Xanth ones, I got to know him with Bio of a space Tyrant and then Incarnations of mortality).
Then I started noticing a trend: he created situations to allow under-aged girls having sex, and sex with older (often quite older) men too, and justifying that situation.
Also having rapey situations around where the hero was justified in having to have forced sex with a woman.
If it happened one or two times, I could have chalked it to a narrative decision, however unfortunate, and not thought about it anymore. But it happened again and again. And the vibe was not so much
So I got suspicious, checked online if anybody else was getting those vibes or if it was in my mind, and I heard about one of his novels, Firefly.
Tried checking it, was unable to finish, but checked the afterword as it was pointed to me that there he wrote his own thoughts on the matter.
Now I'm firmly convinced that, even if likely (one hopes) not a practicing one, at least he's either supportive or decided to pander to that crowd, and I'm not fine with that.
And I find a bit chilling that's he also the writer of a famous series of ya fantasy books that are notoriously just a tiny bit naughty.
It's even worse than the (in)famous "Oh John Ringo, no! books.


Said that, the last bunch of books I've read and enjoyed this past couple of years.

The "janitors of the post-apocalypse" series from Jim C. Hines: light and fun.

I did *not* enjoy Space opera by Valente: I mean, I liked the idea, but something in how it's written simply turned me off.

The Penric and Desdemona books from LMM Bujold: I was already a big fan of course of her Miles series and the rest of the 5 gods world, and these does keep the trend.

The Sector General series by James White. In some ways they are a bit dated, but it's so refreshing reading a series where the true enemy is illness, and there are almost no real bad guys.

I just ended a reread of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher due to the imminent arrival of its next book after a long hiatus.

Turning Darkness into light by Marie Brennan (a sort of follow up to her "a natural history of dragons".

I reread the Witcher series by Sapkowski in preparation to the arrival of the series on Netflix.

The Khaavren romances by Steven Brust. I enjoyed his Vlad Taltos series, and the Khaavren romances are hilarious if you've ever read Dumas.

Martine's "A memory called empire", interesting, we will see if it will keep the level in case of follow-ups.

Finished Leckie's Imperial radch trilogy.

Wells' "The Murderbot diaries".

Taylor's the "bobiverse" series

Monette's "The Goblin emperor".


In the "serious literature" department (I don't read too many of these nowaday, because good serious literature tend to be too depressing):

I finally tackled "war and peace" by the expedient of bringing only that on my vacations.

Manzoni's "The Betrothed". Its a book every Italian student have to read at school, and hate it... I wanted to check it with mature eyes.
It's really not bad, even if clearly of its time, especially by including the parts that at school they expunged. It turned out to be also quite sort of a weird anticipation of what happened, as all the last part happens on the background of one of the big plague epidemics in northern Italy and, well, when covid arrived a lot of the echoes of the book ringed quite true.

I read also "100 years of solitude" of Marquez, definitely recommended even if quite haunting.

"History" by Elsa Morante and "That Awful Mess on Via Merulana" by Gadda, to get a view of the Italian fascist years.



In the non-fiction department:

"More than human" by Ramez Naan

"1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed" by Cline

I've also read "the world until yesterday" and I've already bought and waiting in my to-be-read pile "upheaval" by Jared Diamond.
I had already read years ago his "Guns germs and steel" and "collapse".. all interesting, the first is part of what i consider my "foundational" worldview shaping library, together with:
Desmond Morris "The naked ape", Dawkins "the selfish gene", Popitz "Phenomena of Power: Authority, Domination, and Violence", Minsky "the society of mind", Carroll "Endless forms most beautiful", Cipolla "Guns sails and empires" (also others like "allegro non troppo", with the famous laws of stupidity), Chabris and Simons "the invisible gorilla", Conway and Oreskes "merchants of doubts", Graeber "Debt: The First 5000 Years", Pinker "the better angels of our nature"  (also read "enlightenment now", even if it's more of an expansion of the first), Safina "Beyond words".
(As a note, there are no titles in the more hard sciences field because my training was in that field, so I rely quite less on "general public" books to shape my worldview regarding that... but I enjoyed and recommend Einstein "The Theory of Relativity and Other Essays", Hawkings "a brief history of time", Feynmann "siex easy pieces" and "six not so easy pieces": they passed my mom test! :-p).

oldbrian

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2020, 10:11:56 AM »
Fizz -
What are the infamous John Ringo books?  I can't open livejournal

fizz

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2020, 12:37:06 PM »
It's "the paladin of shadows" series.
I've not actually ever read it, it's definitely not my kind of thing... but the review I linked to is quite entertaining, John Ringo approved, and gave the start for a while to a meme ("Oh John ringo, no!") and even t-shirts!

Let's me try to repost the article here: https://justpaste.it/8yr9e

(Warning: as it's generally considered not polite to copy and republish the entire article of somebody else, and I'm doing it only because the article is quite old and it does not seem to have ads in his page, I'll still unpublish it sometime in the coming days).

wmLambert

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2020, 01:17:48 PM »
Fizz -
What are the infamous John Ringo books?  I can't open livejournal

You mean SF's "50 shades of gray?" Ringo is a good author - just goes to places many people find uncomfortable.

Speaking of uncomfortable, there are many books out there that are "hard to read."

The two hardest books I've come across that were worth the effort were "Moby Dick" and "Dhalgren." The first is a classic, but Melville wrote it in several different formats: novel, textbook, biography, history, etc. To get through it, one needs to constantly shift gears. Dhalgren is reminiscent of James Joyce, who wrote in stream of consciousness that drove his publishers to tears. Samuel R. Delany is similar, but unlike James Joyce, you have to take it on faith that a story will eventually emerge that ties things together and starts to make sense. I think you need to get three or four hundred pages in before the eureka moment.

Some books are easy to read, but takes a different approach: Reading Sherlock Holmes is a treat, but the average reader is trying to solve mysteries before Sherlock explains everything. Laurie R. King does that with her Beekeeper's Apprentice series. I came across Hy Conrad years ago in a mystery.com forum, where Hy would block out a mystery, and the posters would send in requests for specific answers to questions to nail down the answers. Each took about a week, and the winner wold earn a T-shirt. Y'know, mysteries like ...There is a cabin in the woods. All the people inside are dead. But all the windows and doors are locked from the inside. How did they die? After questions about doors and windows, locks, and injuries, I figured it was a plane cabin that crashed into the woods. Hy went on to be the mystery developer for "Monk".

oldbrian

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2020, 04:00:55 PM »
You mean SF's "50 shades of gray?"

I thought that was L Ron Hubbard's 'Mission Earth' series.  He wrote a decent trilogy, but he wanted to be the only SF author with a decology*, so he padded it with 7 books worth of sex and general stupidity.  Would not recommend.


* It's right on the cover in big bold print - THE ONLY SF DECOLOGY IN EXISTANCE!

msquared

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2020, 04:51:47 PM »
I have heard it said that you should write what you know. L Ron knew paranoid delusional real well.

DonaldD

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #30 on: September 18, 2020, 06:24:34 PM »
 ;D ;D

cherrypoptart

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #31 on: September 18, 2020, 07:38:54 PM »
I didn't read this lately but I did like one off the beaten path a bit when I was a teen called Anvil of the Heart by Bruce Holmes. About ten years ago I looked him up on the internet and bought his music cd for a dollar for the shipping cost from him directly and even though it's not generally the kind of music I listen to I liked it anyway as it offered a further connection to the author. I remember one thing about the book and that is the running. Now that I'm getting back into running since the gym is out it made me remember.

LetterRip

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2020, 11:43:00 PM »
Just tried rereading 'On a Pale Horse' and the first 'Adept' book (read them both in my early teens originally?).  They are awful, I can vaguely see how they might have appealed to a 13 year old, but wow - the only redeeming parts are the novelty of the concepts.  The characters are cardboard and sexist, the dialog is atrocious (huge amounts of poorly written dialog); tons of really bad inner dialog; mediocre plotting; etc.


DJQuag

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2020, 02:58:42 PM »
Anathem is what I'm going to recommend.

It's a book that stretches your brain a bit but the twist is fun and the ending makes you think.

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2020, 03:20:38 PM »
Anathem is what I'm going to recommend.

It's a book that stretches your brain a bit but the twist is fun and the ending makes you think.

Good choice

cherrypoptart

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #35 on: September 30, 2020, 06:27:46 PM »
I listened to the Anathem audiobook when someone recommended it here a while back and really enjoyed it  so I can third that recommendation.

DJQuag

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #36 on: September 30, 2020, 06:31:11 PM »
So on a side note how do you all even tolerate audio books? I tried it once and it was just so *slow*. Couldn't deal with it.

cherrypoptart

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #37 on: September 30, 2020, 06:40:36 PM »
I only ever listen to them while I'm lifting weights or walking on my treadmill or outside or once recently I  listened to a couple (Solo and The Force Awakens) on my iphone speaker while riding my bicycle behind a strip mall just doing laps. I don't think I could just sit down and listen to one and have that be all that I'm doing but if there's just some repetitive exercise I'm engaged in that I don't have to think about at all an audio book is just the thing to distract me so I don't think about the exercise.  I like to think of it as working out the mind and body. I listened to the whole Game of Thrones series like that a few years ago too. My nephew says he can't get anything out of it that way so I guess it works for some but not everyone.

DJQuag

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #38 on: September 30, 2020, 06:55:38 PM »
In any place or time I just can't deal with the slowness.
I can be working out or patiently planning the Democratic Way To Civil War.

But honestly it's just I can't keep an eye on that *censored*. I try but then it doesn't work. You all are here now so I'll recommend the Brandon Sanderson Wheel of Time. Homeboy was dying from blood cancer or something, doesn't excuse his last few books. Sanderson put it to rest at least.

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #39 on: September 30, 2020, 07:14:12 PM »
Audiobooks are about enjoying the performance. Being able to drive, cook, or clean - making those less tedious. You can read Shakespeare faster than watching the play also. Hamlets speeches are delivered quite slowly also.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. (long pause)

LetterRip

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #40 on: September 30, 2020, 07:51:35 PM »
Binge reading the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series I've had it recommended to me a number of times and finally the above reminder got me to check it out - fairly enjoyable take on Holmes with an interesting and well writren new  character.

LetterRip

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #41 on: September 30, 2020, 07:54:40 PM »
While I can't stand the slow speed of audio books you can use vlc media player to play them back at 2x+ speed which makes them far more tolerable.  Aside from the slowness I don't really like most voice actors interpretation of characters.

msquared

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #42 on: September 30, 2020, 07:57:55 PM »
I love audio books when I am long distance driving (18 hours from Ohio to Florida, straight through). The miles just melt away.  I do turn it off when there is traffic and I am in larger cities, but on the long open stretches, it really helps pass the time. Of course a good book with a good reader helps.

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #43 on: September 30, 2020, 08:31:04 PM »
While I can't stand the slow speed of audio books you can use vlc media player to play them back at 2x+ speed which makes them far more tolerable.  Aside from the slowness I don't really like most voice actors interpretation of characters.

Agreed, the voice acting, or just narration, can be hit or miss.

wmLambert

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #44 on: September 30, 2020, 08:34:14 PM »
So on a side note how do you all even tolerate audio books? I tried it once and it was just so *slow*. Couldn't deal with it.

It depends on the reader. Some put you to sleep, and some make it interesting. I know my three boys learned the joy of reading when I gave them Tolkien to read and also played Books on Tape of the books, but these had high post-production values. Sound Effects and character voices were well done, and allowed the kids to accelerate their reading skills.

Otherwiae, they are great to fill the time for long-distance travel.

wmLambert

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #45 on: September 30, 2020, 09:22:29 PM »
Writing books for income has surged in the political realm since the 80's. There have always been politicos worldwide who discovered this way to generate wealth. In the 80's Newt Gingrich was a history professor who wrote alternate history novels and brought in a nice income. He has a new book now, "Burning Down the House" (https://www.amazon.com/Burning-Down-House-Gingrich-Republican/dp/1594206651) That outed how the publishing industry was funding favored politicians by offering unsuccessful authors huge signing deals, with upfront bonuses for books that never sell. At that time, many books were more or less black listed by the industry if written by authors who weren't Democrats.

Newt took down Speaker Jim Wright by showing his new book for which he was given far more than fundraising rules allowed. The book was mostly blank pages, with a few words sprinkled throughout with no literary intent. It had become normal for these fake books to make it onto best seller lists, and for libraries to order multiple copies, while well-written books by opposition candidates were rarely seen on library shelves, and none of these opposition authors were offered the kind of bonuses the Democrats were given - even though the opposition books sold far better to the public.

When i was searching for the Notra Trulock book, Operation: Kindred Spirit, I found a brand new copy that had been donated to the library in the "Friends of the Library" book store. No other copies on the shelves, even though it was a real best seller, with research potential. But at the same time, poor books authored by favored politicians were stacked six-deep. Obama got rich with his two autobiographies, written before he was a known politician. The two books are the only samples of anything he authored, even though he was an editor on the Harvard Crimson, and those who know the industry see traces of Bill Ayres' handiwork, and themes that were favored by Ayres, but outside of Obama's personal history.

Now, every TV host or politician has a book. It is the new income stream.

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #46 on: September 30, 2020, 10:16:21 PM »
We had one nice thread with no politics. Until now.

DJQuag

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #47 on: September 30, 2020, 10:20:30 PM »
Writing books for income has surged in the political realm since the 80's. There have always been politicos worldwide who discovered this way to generate wealth. In the 80's Newt Gingrich was a history professor who wrote alternate history novels and brought in a nice income. He has a new book now, "Burning Down the House" (https://www.amazon.com/Burning-Down-House-Gingrich-Republican/dp/1594206651) That outed how the publishing industry was funding favored politicians by offering unsuccessful authors huge signing deals, with upfront bonuses for books that never sell. At that time, many books were more or less black listed by the industry if written by authors who weren't Democrats.

Newt took down Speaker Jim Wright by showing his new book for which he was given far more than fundraising rules allowed. The book was mostly blank pages, with a few words sprinkled throughout with no literary intent. It had become normal for these fake books to make it onto best seller lists, and for libraries to order multiple copies, while well-written books by opposition candidates were rarely seen on library shelves, and none of these opposition authors were offered the kind of bonuses the Democrats were given - even though the opposition books sold far better to the public.

When i was searching for the Notra Trulock book, Operation: Kindred Spirit, I found a brand new copy that had been donated to the library in the "Friends of the Library" book store. No other copies on the shelves, even though it was a real best seller, with research potential. But at the same time, poor books authored by favored politicians were stacked six-deep. Obama got rich with his two autobiographies, written before he was a known politician. The two books are the only samples of anything he authored, even though he was an editor on the Harvard Crimson, and those who know the industry see traces of Bill Ayres' handiwork, and themes that were favored by Ayres, but outside of Obama's personal history.

Now, every TV host or politician has a book. It is the new income stream.

Bruh.

We were just all talking about books and stuff. Or maybe how audio books are *censored*. Let's not politic it up, yeah?

wmLambert

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #48 on: September 30, 2020, 11:34:40 PM »
...Newt Gingrich...has a new book now, "Burning Down the House" (https://www.amazon.com/Burning-Down-House-Gingrich-Republican/dp/1594206651)

...We were just all talking about books and stuff. Or maybe how audio books are *censored*. Let's not politic it up, yeah?

Public it up? Are you unable to understand what you read and write? Almost everyone here who responded in this thread talked about quality of writing and the authors' predilections. One of us wrote about the novelty of the concepts. How the characters may be cardboard and sexist, the dialog atrocious (huge amounts of poorly written dialog); tons of really bad inner dialog; mediocre plotting; etc.

I guess I shouldn't have brought in the publishing houses and how they put out some of those bad books while ignoring better writers? Sorry. How does a writer like Samuel R, Delany write hundreds of pages of stream of consciousness with no punctuation or capitalization and get the editors to put in all that "techie stuff?" I find that interesting. Most people cannot read [i[Dhalgren[/i], yet the few readers I've come across that read it to the end saw something in it.  Contrariwise, no one ever read Jim Wright's book and said it was a real attempt at anything but a paycheck.

I just don't like that some librarians and publishers use their political biases to artificially raise bad books to best seller lists while obstructing better books from even getting published.

A different thing is what happened to Peter Wright, the Britisher who was the first intel scientists a lá "Q" in James Bond. His book, Spycatcher was actually banned in Great Britain, and he had to go to Australia to publish. His book has since been judged totally accurate and truthful with no government secrecy violations., and is now legal in the UK. He was there at the founding of MI-5 and MI-6, and besides running all the scientific areas, was put in charge of ferreting out moles that penetrated all the way to Downing Street. Incredible read, but hard to get published. He had to write the book to survive, because when he was first asked to move his career into Intelligence, he was promised a generous retirement income, but since it was a handshake agreement, the government reneged when he retired. His book allowed him to buy a little farm and have a life. Highly recommended.

TheDrake

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Re: read any good books lately?
« Reply #49 on: September 30, 2020, 11:52:06 PM »
Get the toxic out of the book thread!