2017 50 Book Challenge

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by edinatlanta, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    Clockwise, as to Hemingway, I think it's one of those cases where people say "he's super paired down and manly" and I think "oh wow that sounds rad!", then I pick it up and realise I prefer my overwrought androgynous cyberpunk bullshit.
     


  2. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    I just wonder why people tend to conflate the lack of adjectives or whatever with masculinity -- I'm guessing it's mostly the subject matter, something entirely different. (Maybe there's a better argument for the hardness of the single syllable?).

    Anyway, I finally picked up William Carlos William's Doctor Stories the other day. I've been after it for awhile. Like Hemingway, it is equally pared-down and modernist, but in a more tolerable and organic kind of way.

    (Here's one -- I think The Use of Force is his most famous).
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014


  3. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    15. The Infographic History of the World
    [​IMG]
    The Infographic History of the World
    by Valentina D'Efilippo
    My rating: 2 of 5 stars


    The objectives of D'Efilippo and Ball in writing The Infographic History of the World were to use advanced techniques of graphical data to succinctly summarise and present the entire history of the world. Just a tad ambitious.

    The book is certainly a graphical feast, but I think in the end it becomes self-defeating. Towards the end I just wanted to scan the text to pick up the cogent facts and move on; not at all what the authors had in mind, I'm sure. The complexity of some of the diagrams is bewildering and sometimes far too much information is included, at the expense of clarity. It seemed to me also that the authors often chose what they thought would be a cool graphical shape for the subject under discussion and then shoe-horned their data to conform to that shape. In my view the best graphical design uses the form that best represents the data, not the other way round.

    I also wished for a somewhat less glib and smart-arse commentary. I feel that the authors were conflicted over their need to inform and the need to entertain but, to be true to their objective, they should have erred on the side of information, which they do not do. The book is also far too UK-centric; the frequent use of "we" to refer to the UK seems somewhat out of place in a supposed history of the world.

    Still there is some very interesting information here, and some of the graphical devices used are excellent. I think overall this is not a book to read cover-to-cover, but rather something to dip into occasionally for a bit of arcane trivia and some idle amusement.

    View all my reviews
     


  4. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    29. Sackett's Land Louis L'Amour 1974

    The beginning of the famous Sackett saga. 1599-the fens in England. Barnabas Sackett is bamboozled out of an inheritance his father earned. His rival Shanghais him to the New World which he decides he likes. End of the book has him mulling the change of venue.

    And of course he gets the girl.

    To your point Clock, the only Hem I don't like is The Sun Also Rises. But I prefer more uplifting stuff- Coelho, Ishiguro. SciFi I've been culturally conditioned to duality. :(

    That whole relaxing in 2014 doesn't seem to be workin....
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014


  5. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 24/50: Jean-Philippe Toussaint - Camera (1989)

    I don't know why I like these minimalist novels by Belgian author Toussaint so much. This is the third I have read so far and in my opinion the best. The protagonist is essentially the same character as in The Bathroom and Monsieur but in this novel I seem to understand him better. This is, in Toussaint's own words, about the "struggle of living" and the "despair of being". The protagonist is seemingly living a life without direction and largely without emotions but in Camera, as opposed to Monsieur, he actually falls in love but only in some kind of resigned and distinctly non-committal fashion.

    The blurb on the back of my copy calls Toussaint a comic Camus for the 21st century and there are many similarities with Camus' The Stranger but it's even bleaker, even more scaled down. Toussaint thinks a minimalist novel is very simplistic so he instead suggests calling his style "the infinitesimal novel", being infinitely large as well as infinitely small. In any case, most normal readers would call it minimalist and I suspect, in the case of Camera, most would, if not love it or even like it, be intrigued by it. Recommended!
     


  6. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    And the Sun Also Rises is very important to me. I have read it several times and think I should re-read it soon.

    Let's relax in the later part of 2014. There must be something else to do than reading?
     


  7. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    1. All Tomorrow's Parties
    2. Undivided: Part 3
    3. High Fidelity
    4. Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World
    5. Polysyllabic Spree
    6. Armageddon in Retrospect
    7. South of the Border, West of the Sun
    8. What we talk about when we talk about love
    9. Norweigan Wood
    10. The Master and Margherita
    11. The Fault in Our Stars
    12. Of Mice and Men
    13.Fade to Black
    14. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
    15. Watchmen
    16. Captains Courageous
    17. A Brief History of Time
    18. The Trial
    19. Wind up Bird Chronicle
    20. A Visit from the Goon Squad

    20. A Visit from the Goon Squad

    Mum lent this to me. A very middle-aged text. Some OK moments, overall hd a very 'nice' feel to it - with all the beige, vagueness that word means.

    Nothing special. For better or worse.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014


  8. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    16. Red or Dead
    [​IMG]
    Red or Dead
    by David Peace
    My rating: 1 of 5 stars

    It takes a pretty special effort to write such a turgid, bloated, repetitive and boring book about a subject that should be of great interest to a sports fan such as myself.

    Peace's novel is based on the career of Bill Shankly, the soccer manager who dragged Liverpool from the doldrums of the Second Division to being the power in the game that it is today. Shankly was ambitious, dedicated, determined and a great judge of talent. His attitude is best summed up by his famous quote: 'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.'

    There are great moments in this book, such as when Shankly first hears the Liverpool anthem, You'll Never Walk Alone. Some excellent writing too: Bill knew the time of the greatest victory was also the time of the greatest danger.These hours when the seeds were sown, these days when the seeds were planted. The seeds of complacency, the seeds of idleness. Watered with song, drowned with wine. The seeds of defeat. In showers of praise. But these brief moments are drowned in a sea of mundane writing at almost John and Betty level: Bill went to the drawer. Bill opened the drawer. Bill took out the tablecloth. Bill closed the drawer. This precedes about a page and a half describing Bill setting the table. Not only that; Peace recounts this identical scene several times at different points. At one stage, Peace spends about ten pages describing Bill mowing the lawn. Peace describes vast numbers of Liverpool matches following exactly the same bland formulaic prose, always terminated by the unnecessary tautology "Away from home. Away from Anfield" or "At home. At Anfield". There is so much of this bland repetition that it completely crowds out the inherent interest in a story of ambition, achievement, triumph and the bittersweet aftermath of retirement after a glittering career. There is more than 730 pages in this book, and Peace could easily have told this story in half that length. It's massively contemptuous of readers, their time and their patience.

    I can only conclude that Peace must be an Everton supporter, to have written such an appalling book about a Liverpool legend such as Shankly.

    View all my reviews
     


  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    17. The Sisters Brothers
    [​IMG]
    The Sisters Brothers
    by Patrick deWitt
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    It took me a while to get past the contrived and silly title of this book and give it a chance. The Sisters Brothers is about Charlie and Eli Sisters, two murderers-for-hire in the employ of a shadowy operative called the Commodore.

    The story is narrated by Eli, the younger of the brothers. Eli is tired of the mercenary life and seeking an exit to a quiet retirement with somebody who will love him. Charlie remains a violent man who takes the lead in their activities.

    The brothers have been despatched by the Commodore to the Californian goldfields to find and kill a man called Hermann Warm. The book follows their violent journey there from Oregon, while Eli recounts his growing dissatisfaction with his life. When they arrive in California, the brothers discover the reason why the Commodore has sent them after Warm, and everything changes.

    Eli and Warm are memorable characters (as is Eli's horse Tub) but the story never really hits any great heights in comparison to a host of similar novels. Much more could have been made of the Commodore as a character as well, but this chance is lost. If you want to read a "western", I'd recommend The Luminaries as a much more imaginative and absorbing work in this genre.

    View all my reviews
     


  10. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Do you mean Goon Squad Matt?
     


  11. klewless

    klewless Senior member

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    Klewless title 14/50: Graveyard of Memories by Barry Eisler

    [​IMG]

    This is a prequal in the John Rain series. For those unfamiliar with the character, Rain is a military trained assassin who is of mixed Japanese/American descent. Because he never "fit in" in either culture, he has attempted to live under the radar in Japan, while working as a for hire assassin who specializes in deaths that appear to be natural cause realated. The books have an authentic feel as the author claims to have been a CIA operative, and has spent several years residing in Japan.

    This particular title takes us back to the early Rain years, when he is on his first assignment and works well as a starting point with the series. I didn't feel it was up to the standard of the other titles, but was still an entertaining read.

    Klewless title 15/50: The Weeping Girl by Hakan Nesser

    [​IMG]

    Nesser is another of my favorite Eurocrime authors. This book is billed as the 8th in the Inspecter Van Veeteren series. Interestingly enough, this title character has been all but removed from the series, and only appears in one scene. The series started off featuring V.V. as he is known, a grizzled Dutch police officer nearing retirement. Now that he has moved on, Nesser has shifted the books to another officer in the Maardam PD.

    Never have I read such a flawless handoff and elimination of a main character. This particular title is an excelent homage to classic Greek tragedy, and was a very fast read. A nicely constructed criminal tale with convincing characters. Highly recommended.
     


  12. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    12?


    Probably as close to perfect as any book has a right to be.
     


  13. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    Some day I shall read them again as well...

    Unfortunately I think I got in the habit of reading A LOT last year and it carried over. How about some episodes of Breaking Bad or House of Cards?

    30. To The Far Blue Mountains Louis L'Amour 1976

    B. Sackett pursues his dream of traveling to, and settling in, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over the ensuing 20 years his wife bears him 5 children, and leaves with 2 of them for education in England.

    Shortly thereafter, the Indians get him.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014


  14. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    I did. Will edit now.

    Typing and I are occasional enemies.
     


  15. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 25/50: Georges Simenon - The Carter of La Providence (1931)

    The 4th book of the Inspector Maigret series is probably the best so far. Atmospheric description of life along the French canals as Maigret has to solve the case of a murdered upper class wife from one of the canal boats. As is commonly the case with Simenon, the solution to the mystery is hidden in the distant past of the characters and he delves deep into psychological clues.
     


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