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What books are you currently reading?


Books

9,301 to 9,339 of 9,339 << first < prev | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | next > last >>

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Karel Capek's "War with the Newts", which is surprisingly humorous. his "R.U.R", which I read before starting WwtN, was a bit disappointing.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Karel Capek's "War with the Newts", which is surprisingly humorous. his "R.U.R", which I read before starting WwtN, was a bit disappointing.

I remember that. I think I've still got a copy lying around somewhere. Don't remember it being that funny, but it might also have been a different translation.


I was assigned War with the Newts in some "Literature and Politics in Eastern Europe" class in college and, years later, saw someone mention it here on the boards. Picked it up, after that, at some library sale but haven't yet had a chance to re-read it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Southern Honor is in the can. Pretty good, but the takeaway is basically that honor is crazy-making. Truth, conscience, decency? All expendable in the name of reputation, and reputation for being a wild dick at that. It's clearly a system of thuggery with pretensions...which sounds about right.

Moved on from there to the first history of slavery that gets mentioned for more than damning as racist crap: Stampp's The Peculiar Institution. It's way dated, but he basically founded the modern field back in the Fifties. A surprisingly good read so far. He's got these punishing long chapters that are just page turners. I think I'm reading it word for word as quickly as I skim other stuff.


Samnell wrote:


Moved on from there to the first history of slavery that gets mentioned for more than damning as racist crap: Stampp's The Peculiar Institution. It's way dated, but he basically founded the modern field back in the Fifties. A surprisingly good read so far. He's got these punishing long chapters that are just page turners. I think I'm reading it word for word as quickly as I skim other stuff.

More books I was assigned in college.

Think I still have it, somewhere.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Samnell wrote:


Moved on from there to the first history of slavery that gets mentioned for more than damning as racist crap: Stampp's The Peculiar Institution. It's way dated, but he basically founded the modern field back in the Fifties. A surprisingly good read so far. He's got these punishing long chapters that are just page turners. I think I'm reading it word for word as quickly as I skim other stuff.

More books I was assigned in college.

Think I still have it, somewhere.

I have Genovese sitting on my shelf right now, silently accusing me. :) But he'll keep until I read some other stuff. Bare minimum, I want to get a post-Genovese survey in first. May also sneak in some reading on free blacks.

Scarab Sages

For the past month or so I've been working through Gaiman's American Gods again. This is the 10th Anniversary version, however, with the 12,000 or so added words.

It's intereesting to read it along side the new TV show, and see what kind of ideas have been expanded upon, as well as how the showrunners' own beliefs and prejudices get thrown into the mix.


'Lure of the Basilisk' by Laurence Watt-Evans. Pretty good.


Samnell wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Samnell wrote:


Moved on from there to the first history of slavery that gets mentioned for more than damning as racist crap: Stampp's The Peculiar Institution. It's way dated, but he basically founded the modern field back in the Fifties. A surprisingly good read so far. He's got these punishing long chapters that are just page turners. I think I'm reading it word for word as quickly as I skim other stuff.

More books I was assigned in college.

Think I still have it, somewhere.

I have Genovese sitting on my shelf right now, silently accusing me. :) But he'll keep until I read some other stuff. Bare minimum, I want to get a post-Genovese survey in first. May also sneak in some reading on free blacks.

I forget, is it Roll, Jordan, Roll? If so, give a heads up when you start and I'll read it with you, though you'll probably finish it first. (I've noticed my amount of reading has plummeted in the last couple of years.) I've had that one for a long time and never cracked it open.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I just finished X by Sue Grafton. So many straight white old people! And most non-old women were pregnant. But still a good novel.

I just started The Iron Jackal, book 3 of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
I forget, is it Roll, Jordan, Roll? If so, give a heads up when you start and I'll read it with you, though you'll probably finish it first. (I've noticed my amount of reading has plummeted in the last couple of years.) I've had that one for a long time and never cracked it open.

It is! I have a bunch of books ahead of it because I know it'll take me a while and I want to know where the field moved after him before tucking in. May also read his Political Economy of Slavery first. So it'll probably be fall before I get there.

Current summer reading plan, assuming I keep to my current intention to have a two-chapter day over the weekend, is:

Finish The Peculiar Institution probably Friday, possibly Thursday.

Berwanger's The Frontier Against Slavery starting Saturday and probably finishing Wednesday. It's short.

Litwack's North of Slavery starts on the 21st (maybe, depends if I feel like toting two books to my mother's knitting group) or the 22nd. He'll go until the 28th.

Berlin's Slaves Without Masters gets me until July 6th.

Kolchin's American Slavery picks up here and should take me until July 15th.

That's...sooner than I thought. Don't tell anyone, but I think maybe I like history.

Political Economy of Slavery would get me to July 24, which would bring the big one up on July 25.

It's possible I'll find Genovese's prose tedious and slip something in to break it up, but I think the forecast is still good to within a week or two.


Fall's fine by me. The last bunch of recruits ended up being readers and their books (Tariq Ali, Dilemmas of Lenin, Richard S. Fraser, Revolutionary Integrationism, V.I. Lenin What Is Soviet Power?) are waiting to be read, not to mention all the fantasy novels in the world.


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'The Duel: A History Of Duelling' by Robert Baldwin.

Hey, kids! Want to provoke a quarrel with a 17th century English aristocrat? Send their mistress a chamber-pot with a mirror in the bottom! Works every time! {Dies from about a dozen smallsword wounds}


Just finished up The Second Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories. A mixed bag, and at least one story that could not be considered anywhere near a ghost story (even though some of these were ghost stories only in the broadest possible sense).

Had originally started Heinlein's The Green Hills of Earth and nearly tripped over the misogyny (don't know why I'm surprised), then got hold of Stross' The Nightmare Stacks and decided to read that instead.


3 books in parallel

*Sword Woman and other Historical Adventures. A collection of Robert E Howard's "historical" tales (meaning medieval setting and no supernatural elements)

* the Tindalos Cycle. A collection of stories more or less related to the Hounds of Tindalos created by Frank Belknap Long

* Crypts of terror, a game book in the oooooold Fire*Wolf tetralogy, that I intend to play through, at last, now that I've procured the last two volumes... damn, that series is difficult.


Hurr hurr he said Belknap...


Finished The Peculiar Institution ahead of schedule last night, then read the first chapter of The Frontier Against Slavery. It's dry even by academic standards, with large parts of the argument revolving around "this law was passed at this time." That's fine, but there's not a whole lot of of context given beyond general white supremacy and even that is a little undersold. Maybe it's because I'm reading it fifty years later and he's fighting a battle I consider long won, but so far it's a lot of nothing. I feel like it would really be better at twice as long as it is. May try to blitz it and be done over the weekend, which would put me the better part of a week ahead of schedule.


Samnell wrote:
read the first chapter of The Frontier Against Slavery. [...] May try to blitz it and be done over the weekend, which would put me the better part of a week ahead of schedule.

Did that. Wasn't scheduled to finish it until Wednesday night, but wrapped it up yesterday and did a chapter of North of Slavery. May do another before bed.

The Frontier Against Slavery was ok, except for a chapter on Kansas that's the product of some really bad historiography then current. Main problem is that I had already taken on everything board the whole argument. Ended up a big nothing.

North of Slavery is off to a great start. Litwack is a good writer and doesn't belabor his point tediously. The material is less well-trod ground for me (and in general; most 19th century antiblack racism studies are about the South) so it's full of new information. Like that time Massachusetts abolished slavery with little controversy, then went back and expelled a few hundred black people from the state for not being from there. Some were foreigners who came as sailors but a good chunk were just people from Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Promptly grabbed that footnote, found out it went to a 19th century source, and grabbed it off Internet Archive.

If I keep up like I have over the last three days, then my whole schedule is shot. I planned based on nine chapters a week, five one chapter days and two two chapter days. Right now I feel good about two chapters every day, but I suspect that's only sustainable with fairly short books. I have two nights where I also read an academic paper, so those are obvious places where I could get burned out.

Either way, my response to setting down a schedule has apparently been "Faster dork! Read! Read! F%@@ your schedule! Go into the bookshelves at night and wreck up the place! Sell the ones without footnotes for parts!"


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Modules, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Hive Monkey by Gareth L Powell. Because sometimes you just got to chill with a book about an uplifted chimpanzee who's gone from powering a MMRPG AI character to fighting inter-dimensional neanderthal assassins while piloting a zeppelin.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

All my library holds came at once! Looking for something lighter, I sped through The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones (finished by her sister Ursula Jones). I didn't realize until I got to the end that it was completed by another author, which is a mark of success—helped in this case by them having grown up telling stories together and Ursula being a playwright in her own right.

Next was Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was by Angélica Gorodischer (translated by Ursula K. Le Guin), which is all lyrical and episodic and sometimes inexplicable and whose stories are bookended by humorous heckling of the audience by the storyteller-narrator.

Now on to Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee as a refresher of the Ninefox Gambit universe before the sequel, Raven Stratagem, comes out in July!


John Varley's Titan.
I'm kinda torn on it. On the one hand, OK handling of plot and characters aren't terrible. On the other, too much sex. Not that I'm a prude or anything but learning of the orientations and couplings of the spaceship's crew within five pages or so was quite frankly unnecessary, broke up the flow of the story slightly and not terribly interesting.


I found a comic adaptation of Neil Gaiman's short story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" at my local library. As soon as I finished, I went and reread the original story for the first time since I first received and read Fragile Things, just after it came out.

I also found The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1 on the same library visit, so have now read that. I enjoyed it, but probably need to clear my palate with more serious stuff before trying Vol. 2.

One of the local Half Price Books had a copy of Curse of Strahd, so I'm slowly reading through that. I've almost bought it a couple times before, because my teenage daughter loves both RPGs and vampires.
I went with Tales from the Yawning Portal instead, when that came out, but I may run "Death House" as a one-shot around Halloween.


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Finished 'Heaven's Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ira C. Craddock' by Leigh Eric Schmidt.

Started 'The Thirteen', by Balzac.


North of Slavery was great, though most of the back half was old news. Put it to bed last night. Tried to start up Slaves Without Masters which is all about free blacks in the slave states, but I got tired and went to bed. Will crack it open today.


Limeylongears wrote:
Finished 'Heaven's Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ira C. Craddock' by Leigh Eric Schmidt.

Making love to angels; the Link to Locked Threads Post


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Modules, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Reading the third Gareth L Powell's Ack-ack-macaque trilogy (Macaque attack) so shortly after Alex von Tunzelmann's book about the Suez crisis and the Hungary uprising, I'm kinda feeling that the most SFnal part of that series is the idea that Anthony Eden made a good decision in 1956.

The Exchange

Finished Half A War (Shattered Sea #3 by Joe Abercrombie) - that one turned out to have been an overall good book with some pretty awesome moments and elements, and very well written - but also followed the Joe Abercrombie formula a bit too closely, and with lesser execution than his previous work.

Driven to try something new, I picked up "Three Parts Dead" (Craft #1 by Max Gladstone). Another decent read that I really wanted to enjoy more than I did. A fresh, original and fun world with an interesting magic system is let down by iffy writing (specifically, Gladstone is *terrible* with similes), underdeveloped characters and some structural issues. I believe that this is the first novel by the author, so I'm certainly going to give the rest of the series a fair chance to win me over as it goes - most of my favorite authors had comparable first novels.

So after reading something that felt over familiar I sought out something completely weird and found it. Now, having read something a bit amateurish, I decided to continue to one of the greats of the genres - and finally started on The Forever War by Joe Haldman.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Lord Snow wrote:

Finished Half A War (Shattered Sea #3 by Joe Abercrombie) - that one turned out to have been an overall good book with some pretty awesome moments and elements, and very well written - but also followed the Joe Abercrombie formula a bit too closely, and with lesser execution than his previous work.

Driven to try something new, I picked up "Three Parts Dead" (Craft #1 by Max Gladstone). Another decent read that I really wanted to enjoy more than I did. A fresh, original and fun world with an interesting magic system is let down by iffy writing (specifically, Gladstone is *terrible* with similes), underdeveloped characters and some structural issues. I believe that this is the first novel by the author, so I'm certainly going to give the rest of the series a fair chance to win me over as it goes - most of my favorite authors had comparable first novels.

So after reading something that felt over familiar I sought out something completely weird and found it. Now, having read something a bit amateurish, I decided to continue to one of the greats of the genres - and finally started on The Forever War by Joe Haldman.

I read some of that series, I think. Is it the "modern" magic mystery series with the Aztec pastiche? It gets a little bit better, but I stopped reading it when it started focusing on someone's unpleasant dad.

The Exchange

SmiloDan wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:

Finished Half A War (Shattered Sea #3 by Joe Abercrombie) - that one turned out to have been an overall good book with some pretty awesome moments and elements, and very well written - but also followed the Joe Abercrombie formula a bit too closely, and with lesser execution than his previous work.

Driven to try something new, I picked up "Three Parts Dead" (Craft #1 by Max Gladstone). Another decent read that I really wanted to enjoy more than I did. A fresh, original and fun world with an interesting magic system is let down by iffy writing (specifically, Gladstone is *terrible* with similes), underdeveloped characters and some structural issues. I believe that this is the first novel by the author, so I'm certainly going to give the rest of the series a fair chance to win me over as it goes - most of my favorite authors had comparable first novels.

So after reading something that felt over familiar I sought out something completely weird and found it. Now, having read something a bit amateurish, I decided to continue to one of the greats of the genres - and finally started on The Forever War by Joe Haldman.

I read some of that series, I think. Is it the "modern" magic mystery series with the Aztec pastiche? It gets a little bit better, but I stopped reading it when it started focusing on someone's unpleasant dad.

I don't know about Aztec... it had gragoyles and a magic system based around legal pacts with gods


That's the one. Two Serpents Rise is the Aztec pastiche, set in a different part of the same world. I read that first and quite liked it. Read Three Parts Dead recently and liked it as well, though not quite as much. I can see your criticism, though I didn't really notice the similes.

The setting is definitely cool though. I'd love to play an RPG in a setting like that - or even one without the God War and the whole legalistic apparatus, just with gods being so tightly tied into the world. The Fire God Kos supply heat and light to his city. His lover powering gargoyle police.
Or in Two Serpent's Rise, the Aztec rain god actually providing the rain the people need - but needing blood sacrifice to do so.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I'm currently ripping off the dragonfly livery system and driverless carriages in my current steampunk campaign.


Putting aside Gordon R. Dickson's "the Alien Way" to read Wynne Jones' "The Islands of Chaldea". Though she has a tendency to overuse certain elements in characterization and plot, I have yet to read a DWJ book that hasn't been very enjoyable, and this one appears to continue that trend.


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'Flame Winds', by Norvell W. Page, in which Prester John beats several city guards to death by picking up their captain by the ankles and using him as a giant club, strangles a tiger, strangles a boa constrictor, kills thousands of wizards' soldiers with burning carpets and informs us that salt dissolves rapidly in boiling water.

A ridiculous book. I loved it.


I generally don't like bad-guys-as-the-heroes stories. I usually don't sympathize with such characters, so I don't care what happens to them. But I take exception to the book I'm now reading. I've already heard the unabridged book on CD. I've seen the very famous movie adaptation three times (and the first movie sequel once). But this is the first time I'm actually reading The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

I find it remarkable that the story can make me empathize with murderers and criminals, and even make me admire them, in a way. I'm not quite sure how this story does it, when others can't. Somehow, I find something distinctly satisfying about making people an offer they can't refuse, and about the idea of Vito coldly, calculatingly making such offers, while his reputation alone usually dissuades any resistance. How often have you felt exasperated at people who refuse to let you reason with them? Now imagine that observation as a death-sentence. Heck, I even felt a surge of triumph at Felix Bocchicchio's actions (in Chapter 21), idiotic though they were.

When I started reading this book, I had plans about how I was going to write this post, because there were certain subplots that I thought were uninteresting, and practically irrelevant to the plot. I didn't care about Johnny Fontane's personal life, Lucy Mancini's sex life, or stuff like that. And I doubt I'm alone in that opinion, as the movie only briefly hinted at these things. So I thought that notes of what parts to skip might help future readers.

Yet as I read the book, I considered what to advise. To skip Chapters 12, 13, 22, and 26? That's not much. I never lost interest in the novel as a whole, and I'm already more than 90% through it. And Vito Corleone's backstory shed light on his character, so I certainly wouldn't advise skipping that. (The first movie sequel covered that backstory.)

So even with those few extraneous chapters, I would call the novel greatly entertaining. Admittedly, I know practically nothing about the Gangster story genre (or about the real-life subject, for that matter). But if you want to read such a story, I'd certainly recommend The Godfather.


Puzo is a very good writer -- I also enjoyed The Last Don quite a bit, for what it is, and I'd classify The Fortunate Pilgrim as actual literature.

Puzo's secret to making gangsters so sympathetic is by inventing them whole-cloth; there's basically nothing in The Godfather or The Last Don that any actual criminal, cop, or prosecutor would recognize as correlating in almost any way with real life. And that's OK -- fun fictional stories generally should feature sympathetic characters.

Contrast with Goodfellas -- from reporter Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy -- in which pretty much none of the characters are remotely sympathetic. It's loosely based on real-life mafioso Henry Hill, and at least nods its head slightly in the direction of accuracy, at the expense of sympathy.


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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Puzo's secret to making gangsters so sympathetic is by inventing them whole-cloth...

You know, I'm inclined to agree. I heard about Puzo basing the character on real people, but the resemblance often seems kind of flimsy. Like... Vito is supposed to be based on Carlo Gambino, Frank Costello, and Joe Profaci, but what parts of those people show up in the character? Gambino's title? Costello's political connections and disapproval of drug traffic? Profaci's olive oil business that concealed his criminal activities? These do seem like pretty small things.

I mean... I find it hard to believe that Vito's method of business is really effective. Why make a generous offer, using violence as a last resort, when making a stingy offer could have the same effect for less money? And Vito often goes to great expense and risk in exchange for ambiguous "favors" that don't seem worth that much. And I find it hard to believe that Al Capone's gunmen could be so ineffective as they were portrayed in Chapter 14 - how could Capone have met with so much success like that? Even if his gunmen got surprised once, why not send more gunmen? And so on.

On the other hand, some parts sound more true to life. By incredible coincidence, shortly after I started reading the book, my daughter was assigned to give a presentation at her school about the history of Jewish gangsters in the US, and Bugsy Siegel's life sounded awfully familiar to me...


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Aaron Bitman wrote:
history of Jewish gangsters in the US

Once Upon a Time in America and Boardwalk Empire are now required viewing!


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Lots of interesting books to read about.

I finally finished the history of the '27 Chinese revolution, which was an amazing book I thought, which ended with a written much later chapter about '49 and then, synergistic weirdiosity, discovered that Netflix is streaming some blockbusterized version of Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) which I started watching way past midnight and only got 40 minutes into before I fell asleep, but I want to finish it up.

(Trailer, even though it belongs in another thread.)

Also finally finished the Brigadier Gerard collection which was quite enjoyable, although I started to get a little bored by the end, much like I did with the Sherlock Holmes stories, the last fourth of the Wooster and Jeeves collection I read...probably not the stories' fault but the nature of reading a collection of stories that were intended to be read weeks, if not months, apart, I guess. Stories made me realize I don't know enough about the Napoleonic wars and I started looking up his marshals; some interesting reading.

Almost finished Revolutionary Integration: A Marxist Analysis of African-American Liberation. First half written by Richard S. Fraser in 1963 right before he got kicked out of the Socialist Workers Party, second half written in 1980something by a member of the Freedom Socialist Party. Mostly covers ground I've plowed since I was sixteen, but did pick up a few factoids I had never heard before.

Not sure what I'm going to read next. I saw my mother reading my copy of The Handmaid's Tale due to all of the tv-show generated buzz (she hasn't seen it), so maybe I'll read that with her; also requested the new Arundhati Roy novel from the library, but I don't know when that will get here. We'll see.


"Profiles of the future" By Arthur C. Clarke, a collection of futurist essays, both on the concept of futurism itself and specific elements. Dated, but interesting.

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