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2017 50 Book Challenge

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

  1. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    1. A Tale for the Time Being 2. The Sun is God 3. The Keeper of Lost Causes 4. Lost and Found 5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower 6. How to be Both 7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore 8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 9. Levels of Life 10. The Seventh Day 11. Fortunately the Milk 11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle 12. The Agile Project Management Handbook 13. Reykjavik Nights 14. The Siege 15. The Torch 16. Being Mortal 17. Hicksville 18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen 19. The Buried Giant 20. Another Time, Another Life 21. The Corpse Reader 22. Portrait of a Man 23. All the Birds, Singing 24. Out Stealing Horses 25. Last Winter We Parted 26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society 27. Rituals 28. Bitter Remedy 29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death 30. Old Gold 31. Hausfrau 32. Irene 33. I Refuse 34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible 35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat 36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
    37. The Eye of the Sheep
    [​IMG]
    The Eye of the Sheep
    by Sofie Laguna
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It's no surprise that, at a time when domestic violence is becoming a prominent social and political issue here, a novel set in a Melbourne household dominated by an abusive father wins the Miles Franklin Award. The Eye of the Sheep has a lot more going for it than mere topicality; it's a profoundly original and affecting book.

    The story unfolds as observed by Jimmy Flick, a tearaway 11 year old who suffers from an unspecified disorder (seemeingly ADHD or something similar). He cannot control his behaviour and is not in touch with his emotions.

    Jimmy narrates his family life in the inner suburb of Altona, living with his older brother Robby, their obese mother, and his father, who works at the nearby refinery. From the outset, it is clear that Jimmy's behavioural disorder exasperates his father, and only his mother is able to deal with him - barely. Jimmy's artless narration recounts how bottles of Cutty Sark disappear and the consequences, especially on a Friday night. When Jimmy's father is retrenched, things get worse and the tensions within the family erupt.

    Laguna's narrative voice captures perfectly the sense of a child struggling to make sense of almost everything, but especially what is going on right in front of him. Situations that Robby sees clearly are incomprehensible to Jimmy, more so as things become ever worse.

    I probably won't be the first to liken this book to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time but I think the similarities are limited. This book is more serious in intent than Haddon's, and Laguna carries it off. There are some points where she gives way to her instincts as a children's author, with things threatening to get a bit Tom Sawyerish towards the end, but she does not go in that direction, fortunately.

    The Eye of the Sheep paints a very affecting picture of domestic violence, without being polemical. Laguna is sympathetic towards the abusive Gavin, and shows how he is also a victim. As the story unfolds we also see glimmers of how this behaviour persists trhough the generations.

    I would give this book 5 stars, except that I though Laguna overdid it a little by giving her supposedly backward narrator a vocabulary and a degree of insight that I thought was pretty unrealistic at times, for an 11 year old boy with learning difficulties. That occasionally jarred, but otherwise this is a very fine novel.
    View all my reviews
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2015
  2. Coxsackie

    Coxsackie Senior member

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    Has anyone here read The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison, or The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson? Either of them worth the effort?
     
  3. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    43. I Have Abandoned My Search for Truth Ashleigh Brilliant 1980

    A collection of "Pot Shot" pithy sayings from primarily the late 70s- my high school and college years. Some humor. Easy read.
     
  4. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
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    1. A Tale for the Time Being 2. The Sun is God 3. The Keeper of Lost Causes 4. Lost and Found 5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower 6. How to be Both 7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore 8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 9. Levels of Life 10. The Seventh Day 11. Fortunately the Milk 11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle 12. The Agile Project Management Handbook 13. Reykjavik Nights 14. The Siege 15. The Torch 16. Being Mortal 17. Hicksville 18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen 19. The Buried Giant 20. Another Time, Another Life 21. The Corpse Reader 22. Portrait of a Man 23. All the Birds, Singing 24. Out Stealing Horses 25. Last Winter We Parted 26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society 27. Rituals 28. Bitter Remedy 29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death 30. Old Gold 31. Hausfrau 32. Irene 33. I Refuse 34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible 35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat 36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State 37. The Eye of the Sheep
    38. The Miniaturist
    [​IMG]
    The Miniaturist
    by Jessie Burton
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    The Miniaturist is set in Reformation-era Amsterdam, a city dominated by the East India Company and by oppressive religion. It tells the story of Nella, a teenager who comes from the country to marry Johannes, a wealthy merchant. The household she moves into is dominated by her flinty sister-in-law Marin.

    Johannes gives his bride an unusual present: a scale model of the house so that she can learn how it works. Nella decides to order miniature replicas of the household items from a miniaturist in the town that she has never met. The items that arrive are not what she expects, and seem to have disturbing links to family secrets that Nella is only gradually becoming aware of.

    Although the concept seems to offer much, this book is only an average historical fiction in execution. Burton telegraphs most of her plot reveals from a long way off, and her resolution of the central mystery surrounding the miniaturist is extraordinarily weak and disappointing.
    View all my reviews
     
  5. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    16 Prague Fatale A Bernie Gunther Thriller by Phillip Kerr Bernie is a good German and detective who strives to believe in the due process of the law, or what masquerades for it Nazi Germany. Entertaining from a both historical and criminal perspective.
     
  6. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Have you read any of the Breslau novels? Kind of the polar opposite; a Nazi-era cop who is totally corrupt.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  7. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    No haven't come across them will investige this further.
     
  8. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Inspector Mock series
     
  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    1. A Tale for the Time Being 2. The Sun is God 3. The Keeper of Lost Causes 4. Lost and Found 5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower 6. How to be Both 7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore 8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 9. Levels of Life 10. The Seventh Day 11. Fortunately the Milk 11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle 12. The Agile Project Management Handbook 13. Reykjavik Nights 14. The Siege 15. The Torch 16. Being Mortal 17. Hicksville 18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen 19. The Buried Giant 20. Another Time, Another Life 21. The Corpse Reader 22. Portrait of a Man 23. All the Birds, Singing 24. Out Stealing Horses 25. Last Winter We Parted 26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society 27. Rituals 28. Bitter Remedy 29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death 30. Old Gold 31. Hausfrau 32. Irene 33. I Refuse 34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible 35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat 36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State 37. The Eye of the Sheep 38. The Miniaturist
    39. Crime
    [​IMG]
    Crime
    by Ferdinand von Schirach
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Ferdinand von Schirach is a defence attorney working in Germany. His book Crime is a series of stories about some of the more unusual cases and defendants that he has represented.

    Every one of these stories grabbed my interest and held it to the end. The author has a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact style, and there is none of the melodrama you often find in such books. von Schirach doesn't shy away from the fact that some of the people he has represented were quite likely guilty, nor does he entirely approve of all of them. On the other hand, he shows a great deal of empathy for some clients who, even though guilty, found themselves in remarkably extenuating circumstances.

    This is a cut above most of the true crime genre that is out there and well worth the read.

    Mind you, the author prefaces his book with a quote from Heisenberg and closes with a quote from Magritte; subtle signals that we are not to take these stories as the literal truth.
    View all my reviews
     
  10. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    1. A Wrong Turn at the Office on Unmade Lists

    2. Acceptance

    3. Shipbreaker

    4. Winter's Bone

    5. Dhmara Bums

    6. Istanbul

    7. On the Trail of Genghis Khan

    8. Holy Bible

    9. The Boat

    10. Collected Stories

    11. Lost and Found

    12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman

    13. White Noise

    14. Clariel

    15. Off the Rails

    16. Sabriel

    17 Hitler's Daughter

    18. Quack this Way

    19. Grapes of Wrath

    20. Every Man in this Village is a Liar

    21. The Twelve Fingered Boy

    22. Riders of the Purple Sage

    23. The Sheltering Sky

    24. How to Travel the World for Free

    25. Deliverance

    26. Trigger Warning

    27. It's Complicated

    28. Fight Club

    29. Past the Shallows
    30. Wonderboys
    31. It's what I do
    32. A Long Way Down
    33. Men Who Stare at Goats
    34. Boxer Beetle
    35. This is How You Lose Her
    36. No Sugar
    37. The Invisible Writing
    38. Schismatrix
    39. The Water Knife
    40. Essays
    41. Wolfblade
    42. Trash

    Was on holidays, didn't read much at all. Back on the wagon now.

    40. Essays

    George Orwell's collected essays. Some great, some a bit dated, some a bit dull.

    41. Wolfblade

    Great fantasy. I'm in the mood. Expect more. Books that keep you wanting to read at 1 am in the morning are so valuable.

    42. Trash

    Had to read because I'm teaching it. Kids lives in a garbage dump, finds treasure, authorities in a corrupt country conspire to get it, hunt ensues.

    trying to get to 50 by end of August.
     
  11. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    15 ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI' OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME This is a well reasoned response to the ongoing debate about Climate Change and its impact upon both the present and the future. It is elegantly and articulately written and clearly states the issues while avoiding a heavy handed doctrinaire approach to solutions. It clearly links the the issues of climate change to social justice and the ethical behaviour of the developed world. I found it an interesting and stimulating contribution to the public debate on Climate Change.

    14 DEATH IN BRESLAU by Marek Krajewski Picked it up the other night, 1933-4 Freemasons, Nazi power obscenities, murder and sexual eroticism plus perversity what more could you want on a long winter night?
     
  12. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    An American diplomat is assassinated in front of his wife. She proceeds to find his killer, with many twists and turns along the way.

    Highly recommended.

    44. The Cairo Affair Olen Steinhauer 2014

    for some reason 44. won't show up but it is the Cairo Affair...
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
  13. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    Matt, have you read his collection yet? I think it's called Pump Six. I was wondering how it compares to the Wind-Up Girl, which I couldn't get ahold of immediately. I was at once very stoked to get a solid lead on some science fiction -- an unfamiliar genre -- but also sort of disappointed. I'm not sure whether that disappointment stems from the author, or from science fiction tropes in general.

    I find his ideas interesting. His general, environmental slant, that's okay. But then there were some structural things, teasers, I guess, that are meant to pull you into the world, but that stack up so fast, and with such delayed explanations, they usually have the opposite effect. In some cases it's quite distancing. I guess this would fall under world-building? The studiously oblique references to the facets of the world, meant to provide (I'm guessing) realism? A swifter pace? Anyone know what I'm getting at? In quote-unquote 'literary' science fiction, I usually see it handled like this: one oblique reference, usually in the first scene (an 'action' scene), followed by a second expository sequence -- essentially, a second, or 'real' beginning, the place where a novice would probably start the story. A brief spell of confusion, a teaser, if you will -- then boom, everything handled up-front, the reader now able to focus on the meat of the story, not puzzle over essential details. And I have to say I think that works better (if you at-all know what I'm talking about) than an all-out reference-fest to things we can't access until pages later. (It also tends to sound really dorky, really fast).

    This is where I really wondered whether some more up-front exposition, however brief, would have helped things, or whether this is just a staple of a genre pretty foreign to me.

    The other thing -- and this is what kills me -- is more of a taste issue, I guess. I think it's clear PB is (or could be) a very capable prose writer; he's able to pull double or triple duty with the language, maintaining a swift pace while describing, characterizing, etc. in a pleasing way, he's got a good ear, sentence variation, all that. But like, without fail, there's always something out of whack -- one misplaced word, an extra adjective, some fumbling alliteration. What kills me is that it's always on the surface, too, if that makes sense. A very tiny problem. Like you could literally draw a red line through it, and the paragraphs would be crystalline, really sing. (And here is where I wish I had my heavily earmarked copy). It seemed like if the stories had appeared in AGNI or something, they'd really be line-edited differently. And again I had to wonder: genre conventions/genre expectations? Just the author? Just me?

    Other than that, pretty solid. I enjoyed your post on Wind-Up Girl, and I'm still looking forward to it. I imagine a longer work would really ease up on that giant pancake stacking of confusion that would bog down a short story, too.

    As always: it is late, so late....

    .​
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  14. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    1. A Wrong Turn at the Office on Unmade Lists

    2. Acceptance

    3. Shipbreaker

    4. Winter's Bone

    5. Dhmara Bums

    6. Istanbul

    7. On the Trail of Genghis Khan

    8. Holy Bible

    9. The Boat

    10. Collected Stories

    11. Lost and Found

    12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman

    13. White Noise

    14. Clariel

    15. Off the Rails

    16. Sabriel

    17 Hitler's Daughter

    18. Quack this Way

    19. Grapes of Wrath

    20. Every Man in this Village is a Liar

    21. The Twelve Fingered Boy

    22. Riders of the Purple Sage

    23. The Sheltering Sky

    24. How to Travel the World for Free

    25. Deliverance

    26. Trigger Warning

    27. It's Complicated

    28. Fight Club

    29. Past the Shallows
    30. Wonderboys
    31. It's what I do
    32. A Long Way Down
    33. Men Who Stare at Goats
    34. Boxer Beetle
    35. This is How You Lose Her
    36. No Sugar
    37. The Invisible Writing
    38. Schismatrix
    39. The Water Knife
    40. Essays
    41. Wolfblade
    42. Trash
    43. The Honours

    43. The Honours

    An attempt at tension fails to climax.

    Noob: having not read that particular text I'll ruminate a bit below.

    1. I suspect part of it is genre-specific, for two main reasons. The first is that explicit world-building (ie, starting with specific exposition) is fairly passe, and also a bit tired, so often at the expense of brevity or clarity world-building is shown through writing - not always the most satisfying. The second is that SF is a genre that has always been over-written, and really revels in this at times. I mean, read HG Wells' descriptions of machines, and go from there...

    In some texts you definitely get stories that start like: "It's 2080, and humans are now able to..." which is very up-front, but mercilessly efficient. I feel we're in an SF era where the differences are meant to mirror our own lives, compared to when the differences were a look into the future, a guess, if you will.

    2. I always enjoy PB's writing, but I am not a particular critical reader of prose. I like a good story, and I like being sucked in, even if the writing is atrocious. I'd always prefer to not be able to put down the book, even while shaking my head, rather than think 'oh cool sentence' while feeling so-so about the story. Obviously that's a matter of preference, and at times bad writing makes even a great story boring (Lord of the Flies......)
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    1. A Tale for the Time Being 2. The Sun is God 3. The Keeper of Lost Causes 4. Lost and Found 5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower 6. How to be Both 7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore 8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 9. Levels of Life 10. The Seventh Day 11. Fortunately the Milk 11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle 12. The Agile Project Management Handbook 13. Reykjavik Nights 14. The Siege 15. The Torch 16. Being Mortal 17. Hicksville 18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen 19. The Buried Giant 20. Another Time, Another Life 21. The Corpse Reader 22. Portrait of a Man 23. All the Birds, Singing 24. Out Stealing Horses 25. Last Winter We Parted 26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society 27. Rituals 28. Bitter Remedy 29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death 30. Old Gold 31. Hausfrau 32. Irene 33. I Refuse 34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible 35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat 36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State 37. The Eye of the Sheep 38. The Miniaturist 39. Crime
    40. Golden Boys
    [​IMG]
    Golden Boys
    by Sonya Hartnett
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Sonya Hartnett has authored many children's books that have a somewhat dark twist to them, so it's little surprise that her adult fiction tends the same way.

    Golden Boys is about a group of young children knocking about a typical Australian working-class suburb. The Jensons, who have just moved into the area, are a contrast to their neighbours, being affluent and indulgent of their kids. The Jenson boys want for nothing, and their dad encourages them to share what they have with their new friends. Their dad, Rex, is solicitous and caring, helping to patch up a badly hurt kid, and counselling another.

    The Kiley family are both attracted to and repelled by the Jensons. Playing at the Jensons' offers them a refuge from a home dominated by a drunken, abusive father, but there is still some unease about getting too close to their new neighbours. Two other boys, Garrick and Avery, see no such issues; their home lives are so miserable that they welcome the chance to experience the Jensons' indulgence.

    It's not hard to see where Hartnett is going with this book, but she still manages to tell her story in a very affecting way, showing the various impacts on the children of the abuses that go on in their fractured families. The ending is uncompromising stuff, and the reader is left with a saddening sense of the unfairness of it all, with innocent children's lives being blighted by the actions of their parents.
    View all my reviews
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    45. Dutchman's Flat Louis L'Amour 1986


    A collection of Western short stories. I enjoyed it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  17. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    13 If The Dead Rise Not by Phillip Kerr featuring the good German Berrnie Gunther. Interesting historically and well written in terms of plot and character development and the historical milieu of the horror that was Nazi Germany.
     
  18. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melbourne
    1. A Tale for the Time Being 2. The Sun is God 3. The Keeper of Lost Causes 4. Lost and Found 5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower 6. How to be Both 7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore 8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 9. Levels of Life 10. The Seventh Day 11. Fortunately the Milk 11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle 12. The Agile Project Management Handbook 13. Reykjavik Nights 14. The Siege 15. The Torch 16. Being Mortal 17. Hicksville 18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen 19. The Buried Giant 20. Another Time, Another Life 21. The Corpse Reader 22. Portrait of a Man 23. All the Birds, Singing 24. Out Stealing Horses 25. Last Winter We Parted 26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society 27. Rituals 28. Bitter Remedy 29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death 30. Old Gold 31. Hausfrau 32. Irene 33. I Refuse 34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible 35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat 36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State 37. The Eye of the Sheep 38. The Miniaturist 39. Crime 40. Golden Boys
    41. The Holiday Murders
    [​IMG]
    The Holiday Murders
    by Robert Gott
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from a detective story written by a cartoonist, especially the creator of the rather quaint Naked Man cartoons. I guess I expected something frothy and a bit risqué, like the Phryne Fisher books. I did not expect this; a rather gruesome story set in wartime Melbourne, with a psychopathic Nazi at its core.

    Inspector Titus Lambert heads up the newly-formed Homicide division of the Victorian police. On Christmas Eve, Lambert's holiday plans are wrecked when he receives a call to a mansion in East Melbourne. There he encounters a brutal double murder: a young man killed in the living room in the style of the Crucifixion, and his father upstairs, shot in the bath.

    Lambert very soon finds himself at loggerheads with Military intelligence: one of the victims was an intelligence agent. MI demand that Lambert give them his sergeant, Joe Sable, to help investigate the Nazi sympathisers that they are sure are behind the murders. Lambert is unhappy with this, given wartime manpower shortages. He is forced to supplement his team with (shock, horror!) a woman - Constable Helen Lord.

    Gott's police procedural is certainly intriguing in terms of its setting and concept; there are a few wartime detective stories around, but i can't recall anything set in wartime Melbourne. Gott's descriptions of Melbourne and surrounds are very accurate, and recognisable even today. However there are some problems with this book. Lambert is improbably modern in his attitudes towards women, fostering Lord's career over her male superior in Sable, and running all of his investigations past his wife, even when covered by Official Secrets. The Jewish Sergeant Sable somehow manages to forget that Hanukkah is going on during the investigation; this simply never comes up, which seems an oversight, given the character and title. The right wing group's name - Our Nation - is cutely close to that of a modern right wing group. Gott also telegraphs his punches quite a bit, there aren't really a lot of surprises and the ending is all a bit too neat. These flaws mar the book, but I still think that I'll give the next book in this series a whirl, just to see how Gott develops his promising concept.
    View all my reviews
     
  19. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    That Hartnett sounds interesting - I'm reading Cloudstreet at the moment, and it's hard not to read some parallels there.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  20. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    46. Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand 2010

    Biography of WWII hero Louis Zamperini. Was out as a movie in late 2014.

    I thought it was inspiring and a fairly good read.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015

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