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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 199

post #2971 of 3275
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

For me, the book I could never get into was The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Never got past p. 35; it bored me to tears.

 

I persisted. Was rewarded. Great background and counterpoint to the movie, which is one of the best movies ever made, full stop.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

The Magus persisted with it even though the story was driving me around the twist with it affectations and carry on. Then gave up.

 

Persisted. Regretted. It's rubbish. Who these days talks about John Fowles? He has faded into a well-deserved obscurity.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
 

I feel a bit ashamed to admit that, having really enjoyed a few of Thomas Pynchon's books, I stopped reading "Gravity's Rainbow" at around the 100-page mark. I tried to pick it up again a few times over the intervening years but again found myself frustrated by it and so never really proceeded any further. 

 

Persisted. Rewarded. It is an extremely difficult book. Took me about eighteen months (and many other books in between). There's just so much content in there, so many curious and downright bizarre ideas and flights of fancy. There's also a strong undercurrent of magic realism, which surely must predate any example of that style from South America or Central Europe.

 

I make a hobby of persisting with "difficult" books. I've trawled through Joyce's "Ulysses" (and Homer's original, for that matter). Most of the time I'm wildly out of my depth, but as I read, I try to imagine what it must like to be ultra-intelligent and ultra-erudite and hence actually empowered to read these tomes without effort.

 

Some others have defeated me. Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano". Toni Morrison's "Jazz". Others I can't think of now. 

 

One day I will tackle Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason". I'm sure I won't understand or remember any of it.

post #2972 of 3275
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coxsackie View Post

I persisted. Was rewarded. Great background and counterpoint to the movie, which is one of the best movies ever made, full stop.


Persisted. Regretted. It's rubbish. Who these days talks about John Fowles? He has faded into a well-deserved obscurity.


Persisted. Rewarded. It is an extremely difficult book. Took me about eighteen months (and many other books in between). There's just so much content in there, so many curious and downright bizarre ideas and flights of fancy. There's also a strong undercurrent of magic realism, which surely must predate any example of that style from South America or Central Europe.

I make a hobby of persisting with "difficult" books. I've trawled through Joyce's "Ulysses" (and Homer's original, for that matter). Most of the time I'm wildly out of my depth, but as I read, I try to imagine what it must like to be ultra-intelligent and ultra-erudite and hence actually empowered to read these tomes without effort.

Some others have defeated me. Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano". Toni Morrison's "Jazz". Others I can't think of now. 

One day I will tackle Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason". I'm sure I won't understand or remember any of it.

Can't understand why you didn't get Under The Volcano, but them I'm biased. As for Kant read it when I was 21. Gave up on Being and Time when I realised his hypothesis was wrong. Anyway Heidegger turned into an unrepentant Nazi.

Never found Homer difficult.
Edited by Geoffrey Firmin - 4/3/16 at 4:27am
post #2973 of 3275
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coxsackie View Post

Who these days talks about John Fowles? He has faded into a well-deserved obscurity.

True.
post #2974 of 3275
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas

 

15 Consider Phlebas

 

Classic space opera - a random band of rag-tag fighters find themselves in a situation widely out of their depth. Excellent world building and extremely interesting characters, as well as an unusual ending (they don't win) make for a really good read. Assuming you're into SF in the first place!

post #2975 of 3275
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

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15 Consider Phlebas

Classic space opera - a random band of rag-tag fighters find themselves in a situation widely out of their depth. Excellent world building and extremely interesting characters, as well as an unusual ending (they don't win) make for a really good read. Assuming you're into SF in the first place!

I went through an SF period in the 80s, and read a few of the Culture novels, maybe the first 4. I think I enjoyed The Player of Games the most.

I also enjoyed The Wasp Factory (creepy), The Crow Road and Complicity. I reckon Wasp Factory anticipated stuff like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by decades, and was much more disturbing.
post #2976 of 3275
13 1956 The World In Revolt by Simon Hall Interesting premise behind his assertion that 1956 was a pivotal year in World history because of the conflagration which engulfed both East and West. And precipitated the fall of both the remnants of the French and British empires in Africa, along with the Suez fiasco. The trouble in the Eastern Block with Poland and Hungary expressing discontent against their Soviet masters, the Poles got off lite compared to the Hungarians. Civil rights issues in the USA and South Africa to name a few other, oh and add some rock'n'roll and Fidel and Che and civilisation is coming to an end. A bit lite weight to be honest but interesting.
post #2977 of 3275
4. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch



Cliched and very good. Basically terminal cancer patient giving life advice

5. Into the Wild by Jon Kraukauer



Reminded me of that herzog documentary of that dude that lived with bears and then got eaten. kinda naive college freshmen hippy type message

6. I, Claudius by Robert Graves



enjoyed the shit out of this. roman history semi-fictional autobiography
post #2978 of 3275
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post


I went through an SF period in the 80s, and read a few of the Culture novels, maybe the first 4. I think I enjoyed The Player of Games the most.

I also enjoyed The Wasp Factory (creepy), The Crow Road and Complicity. I reckon Wasp Factory anticipated stuff like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by decades, and was much more disturbing.

 

I've heard The Wasp Factory is pretty intense - I think I'll probably check it out sooner rather than later. No one's told me anything about the plot or the characters, just that it's fucked up.

post #2979 of 3275
14 I AM NO ONE by Patrick Flanery
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
A slow burn of a Kafaesque exploration of the intrusiveness of surveillance in the life of a New York academic who is a leading expert on the Stasi and cinema of surveillance who may or may not have crossed the boundary line between citizen and suspect. The novel unfolds at measured pace and builds, revealing by degrees, his own interpretation of what is occurring. His transgression, or is it mere human frailty and emotional vulnerability? When it is revealed is surprising due to the glimpse into the thought process of both state surveillance and his own professional transgression. It is replete with lashings of paranoia and has a mysterious scotch drinking connoisseur of an American academic who may or may not be a CIA agent with his own agenda or is he just another emotional cripple in the age of surveillance? Which ideological state apparatus is investigating his life and why is intriguing and definitely revealing of state paranoia and human frailty when the logic behind it all is finally revealed. It harks back to a couple of interesting movies from the 70's, the Conversation being one with its intimation of paranoia and surveillance being conducted by a unknown who with no clear why to their motivation.

I enjoyed this and highly recommend it.
Edited by Geoffrey Firmin - 4/4/16 at 3:53pm
post #2980 of 3275
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas
16. The Amber Spyglass

 

16. The Amber Spyglass

 

The end of the Phillip Pullman trilogy I've been re-reading. I found this one the least pleasurable re-read of them all - much less world building, marginal character development, and over-the-top narrative. What makes the first book so great is missing here (the pace, the exploration), and the length gets fatiguing. There are so many threads and additions and sub-plots it gets a bit tedious, really.

 

Still a great series, really hit me hard when I first read it, just found this one a bit lack-lustre.

post #2981 of 3275
15 Words Without Music A Memoir by Philip Glass This is a fantastic read as he strolls through a life lived immersed in culture and its various manifestations ranging from the 1950's to the present. And it sheds some light on the creative, inspirational and compositional aspects of his oeuvre.

Helps I must admit to having listened to his music and seen him perform live either solo or ensemble for the past thirty five years.
post #2982 of 3275
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post #2983 of 3275
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

I've heard The Wasp Factory is pretty intense - I think I'll probably check it out sooner rather than later. No one's told me anything about the plot or the characters, just that it's fucked up.

That it is.
post #2984 of 3275
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
0. Asterix and the Missing Scroll
1. The Whisperer
2. The Vanished Ones
3. Quarterly Essay: Political Amnesia
4. From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
5. The Lost Girls of Rome
6. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
7. Never Mind
8. The Vegetarian
9. Man on Fire
10. Comfort Zone
11. The Invisible man From Salem
12. Red Light
13. Balancing Act

14. Crimea: The Last Crusade
Crimea: The Last CrusadeCrimea: The Last Crusade by Orlando Figes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Sebastapol, Alma, Inkerman, Balaclava. Raglan, Clarendon, Russell, Cardigan, Canning. The places and people of the Crimean War are imprinted on the map of my home town. Yet I really couldn't say that I knew that much about it, beyond the mythology of Florence Nightingale and the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Orlando Figes' book is a comprehensive account of the major battles of the Crimean conflict, particularly of the siege of Sevastapol. His account brings home the privations on both sides of the conflict, cutting through the mythology, and shows how the Crimean War remade Europe and also became the first war where the soldiers emerged with the plaudits instead of their aristocratic leaders.

While this is a compelling story, it is pretty padded at times. Figes gives us 200 pages of background before getting to the battle of the Alma. Understanding the political and religious contexts of the war is vital, but this could surely have been conveyed in a less expansive manner (as even the author suggests early on in the book). Similarly, the Epilogue is 25 pages of pure padding that could have been dispensed with. Apart from that, this was an absorbing and informative read.


View all my reviews
post #2985 of 3275
List (Click to show)
1. Hicksville
2. Slaughterhouse 5
3. Firefight
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
6. Lagoon
7. Solo Faces
8. Breath
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
15 Consider Phlebas
16. The Amber Spyglass
17. The Liar's Key

 


17. The Liar's Key

 

The second book in Mark Lawrence's new trilogy (which he is still writing) is a pretty fun read. It follows the story of the disgraced Prince Jalan who finds himself bound with a grieving Norseman (whose wife and children have been murdered), this new installation sees the pair (which turns into a trio, then a part of four, then a party of five) travel back south to Jalan's homeland. The novel largely focuses on two questions:

1. Why are these random people forced into these very meaningful actions?

2. What should they do with their new found power?

 

The novel is fast paced and written relatively cleanly - I liked the characters, and the prose was definitely more emotional that most fantasy novels, which I liked. THe main character/narrator can get a bit predictable (though over a trilogy this seems an inevitable flaw) and his schtick wasn't really for me, but it is important in terms of the plot and development, so instead of it feeling like a fantasy author play acting their own ideas of how cool they could be, it came off as more intentional.

 

Will look forward to reading the next one!

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