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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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    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 15. Misterioso 16. The Lost Sailors 17. Black Run 18. The Natural Way of Things 19. Piano Lessons 20. Pedigree 21. Sing Fox To Me 22. Mister Roberts 23. Talking To My Country 24. The Bricks That Built the Houses 25. Oblivion 26. The Sixth Extinction 27. The Cruel Stars of the Night
    28. Normal
    [​IMG]
    Normal: The Most Original Thriller Of The Year
    by Graeme Cameron
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    To read Normal is to occasionally have to question yourself. Graeme Cameron's first person account of a serial killer is laced with mordant humour that causes you to laugh and then think "how could I have laughed at that?". (For example, his wry observation that the girl in McDonalds looked like she'd make good hamburgers).

    At the outset, Cameron's unnamed anti-hero is indulging his usual urges with ruthless efficiency. He captures a young girl and stows her in a dungeon underneath his garage. But something is starting to go strange in this psychopath's makeup. He starts to show little signs of empathy, letting a potential victim go and allowing his prisoner, Erica, additional luxuries. Worst of all, he may be falling in love.

    As the police net closes around him, he tries to imitate "normal" for both them and for the girl that he is attracted to, which causes him great stress and conflict, as it's something he has no idea how to do. Meanwhile, the problem of Erica in the dungeon just gets trickier.

    This book reminded me a bit of American Psycho with its deadpan first person account of a psychopath's life. Normal is less gruesome and a bit more lighthearted than that, but it's an original enough approach to keep you glued to the end.
    View all my reviews
     
  2. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    Started reading Atonement waiting for my last couple of shipments of L'Amour books.

    So far pretty tedious.

    Tell me it gets better...
     
  3. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Hated Atonement, but I think I'm in the minority.
     
  4. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    We're in the same club I was just furious with that stupid girl and her actions. Mrs GF was happy when I finished it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

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    Absolutely. I really enjoyed this book. Ronson is an amusing writer and his earlier book, "Men Who Stare at Goats" is also well worth reading.


    For those of you who enjoy Scandinavian crime writing, have you tried some Japanese crime/mystery writing?

    I noticed a few months back that one of my wife's favourite authors, Keigo Higashino, has had a few of his books translated into English, including "Malice", "The Devotion of Suspect X" and "Salvation of a Saint".

    Higashino is an excellent writer and the books are well translated from the originals. Hopefully, there will be more translations to come.
     
  6. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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  7. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    33 The Suit Form, Function and Style by Christopher Breward This is a very interesting and engaging book lavishly illustrated. It traces the origin development of the modern suit in the context of the historical cultural and social times. It arrived on Tuesday and I sat down and read the first two chapters with ease.The author was recently interviewed on the ABC the interview can be found here http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/blueprintforliving/the-history-of-the-suit/7520514
     
  8. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    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 15. Misterioso 16. The Lost Sailors 17. Black Run 18. The Natural Way of Things 19. Piano Lessons 20. Pedigree 21. Sing Fox To Me 22. Mister Roberts 23. Talking To My Country 24. The Bricks That Built the Houses 25. Oblivion 26. The Sixth Extinction 27. The Cruel Stars of the Night 28. Normal
    29. The Shepherd's Crown
    [​IMG]
    The Shepherd's Crown
    by Terry Pratchett
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I have had so much enjoyment from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books over so many years I felt that, almost as an act of gratitude, his final novel was mandatory reading.

    I find Tiffany Aching is one of the dreariest denizens of the Discworld, so I was a bit disappointed that this final book was centred around her and the Wee Free Men. At the outset, one of the major Discworld characters dies, and Tiffany is called upon to step up. This involves her leaving home on The Chalk, which she is not quite ready to do.

    Meanwhile, in Fairyland, restless elves sense a weakness in the barriers to the Discworld, and one of the more belligerent ones overthrows the Queen and commences raids on Lancre and The Chalk. The Queen seeks Tiffany's help, but Tiffany will only offer it if the Queen changes the elves' ways. Tiffany needs to muster all the help that she can get fro ma ragtag group of mostly junior witches to fight off the elves.

    Pratchett introduces a new character in Geoffrey the "calm maker" who wants to train as a witch, and his weird goat Mephistopheles. There is also the inscrutable white cat You, who attaches itself to Tiffany. Pratchett seems to suggest that there will be some kind of plot development about one or both of these familiars, but never really goes there. One does get the sense that there are intended plot lines in this book that were never completed.

    I didn't really enjoy this book that much, but I could see what Pratchett was trying to do, and why Tiffany had to be the central character. This is a novel about transition: from the older generation to the younger, and from the arcanely magical Discworld of The Colour of Magic to the industrialised world of Raising Steam.

    Pratchett's Discworld has had its technological revolution now, and there is little place left for elves and the like, who cannot fit into this new industrial age. It is a fitting conclusion to a series that stands as one of the great achievements in English fantasy fiction.
    View all my reviews
     
  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    I've read Suspect X and Mailce, and enjoyed both of them. I'm on the lookout for a few more, starting with "Salvation of a Saint". I've also read a couple by Fuminori Nakamura that were not bad, notably "The Thief", and will read more of his. Any other recommendations?
     
  10. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

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    Thanks for the review, CD.

    I've been re-reading (and, in some cases, reading for the first time) the Discworld series this year and I just read Raising Steam for the first time a couple of weeks back.

    It's been a very interesting experience reading through all of the books in as much order as I can manage, given that I don't want to buy them all and given that the library doesn't always have the one that I want in stock.

    The way that Discworld evolved, and the way that (for example) Ankh-Morpork went from a rather cartoonish city, full of filthy misfits and wizards, to a great, bustling (albeit still smelly) metropolis with a thoroughly multi-racial and multi-cultural population was very interesting, as was the way in which technology evolved and, to a fair extent, left behind magic.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2016
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  11. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    Then in the (figurative) trash it will go. No sense wasting good time on bad books.

    EDIT: The movie was great.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016
  12. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    60. To Tame a Land- Louis L'Amour

    Rye Tyler is an orphan-turned-gunman in this Eastwood-like tome, And of course (through much sturm und drang) he gets the girl in the end.

    Thumbs up on this one.
     
  13. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    34 Woman With Birthmark by Hakan Nesser Another Scandi Noir interesting interplay between the main characters but ultimately a very nihilistic and pessimistic thriller.
     
  14. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    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 15. Misterioso 16. The Lost Sailors 17. Black Run 18. The Natural Way of Things 19. Piano Lessons 20. Pedigree 21. Sing Fox To Me 22. Mister Roberts 23. Talking To My Country 24. The Bricks That Built the Houses 25. Oblivion 26. The Sixth Extinction 27. The Cruel Stars of the Night 28. Normal 29. The Shepherd's Crown
    30. Vixen
    [​IMG]
    Vixen
    by Hoa Pham
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Vietnamese-Australian author Hoa Pham has been producing a series of highly original novels that convey the immigrant experience through the lenses of fantasy and magic realism.

    Vixen is the story of a Vietnamese spirit, a fox fairy who can take the shape of a human woman. At the start of her story, she is a courtesan in the Imperial court in Hue, during the rise of the Viet Minh and the intervention of the French colonialists. Her spirit luck allows her to rise in the court to become a trusted advisor to the Emperor; she also falls in love with one of the Imperial guards.

    This idyll cannot last and she is expelled from the court just as the Empire starts to wane. Her survival threatened in a land where worship of spirits is on the wane, she ends up fleeing to Australia. There she encounters an even stranger country, and spirits of an altogether different kind. In both human and fox form, she finds herself struggling in alien surrounds.

    I'm an unabashed fan of Pham's writing; I find her stories fascinating and will happily read anything that she writes. This one is another winner for me.
    View all my reviews
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    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 15. Misterioso 16. The Lost Sailors 17. Black Run 18. The Natural Way of Things 19. Piano Lessons 20. Pedigree 21. Sing Fox To Me 22. Mister Roberts 23. Talking To My Country 24. The Bricks That Built the Houses 25. Oblivion 26. The Sixth Extinction 27. The Cruel Stars of the Night 28. Normal 29. The Shepherd's Crown 30. Vixen
    31. The Heart Goes Last
    [​IMG]
    The Heart Goes Last
    by Margaret Atwood
    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    I first encountered this story as a series of Byliner episodes a few years back, so I was curious to read Atwood's full account of the Positron story.

    Charmaine and Stan are two young people who have lost their jobs in the wake of a catastrophic financial collapse. Like countless others, they are forced to live hand-to-mouth, roughing it in their car, feeling forever threatened. When Charmaine encounters the Positron project, their problems appear to be solved.

    Positron is a Benthamite solution to the dystopia; a gated community where half of the population at any one time is in Positron prison, while the other half lives in the town of Consilience, supporting the prison. Each month, the population swaps roles. Everything is shared, including housing, with unnamed Alternates. Things seem to be going well until Stan finds a note by the refrigerator starting "I'm starved for you".

    Atwood has a great concept here, but I was quite disappointed in her execution. I felt that Stan and Charmaine, her two leads, were very difficult to like or sympathise with. Charmaine, in particular, behaves in a bizarre fashion that Atwood completely fails to explain. Stan is pretty much a cardboard cutout jerk. Characters such as Conor and Ed, either of which promises much as a villain, are similarly rendered limp. The whole story pretty much descends into farce, which was not what I was hoping for.
    View all my reviews
     
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  16. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Have you read PAYBACK The Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood its a transcript of the 2008 Massey Lectures on the CBC shows a very interesting compassionate and intellectual side of her thinking.
     
  17. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Saw some savage reviews of that when it came out, so I passed. So much ignorant crap gets talked about debt in Australia that I can't stand reading more of it.
     
  18. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    61. The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour- The Frontier Stories, v.1

    A large collection of Western short stories, all of which I enjoyed. There were a couple that I'd already read in other collections, but just a couple.

    If you want to read L'Amour short stories, this is a great place to start.
     
  19. Foxhound

    Foxhound Senior member

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    5. Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari
    Close to calling this 10/10. Ansari discusses the differences between dating today, and dating in the past(predominantly within a 50 year range). He interviews many people from all different age groups, and runs focus groups across various cities and countries. As someone who goes on plenty of dates, I found it a very interesting, insightful, and also entertaining book. I decided to pick it up after binge watching his TV show, Master of None, which I can also recommend.

    In the book he also cites a plethora of studies and works alongside many academics from both social and cognitive sciences. He notes one study that is particularly interesting. I personally find that lots of younger people cannot converse in real life. The study argues that due to the use of texting and social media, where one can retype and think before they send, constructing many variations of what they wish to communicate, that the muscles in the brain used for spontaneous communication are not being developed properly.

    6. The Year of Living Dangerously - Christopher Koch
    I've developed a new habit since reading Shogun in Japan to read a book that resolves around the country I am traveling in, preferably about a foreigner in a strange land. I consulted r/books and was recommended The Year of Living Dangerously. It resolves around an Australian journalist working in Jakarta during the year 1965 (the year in which a failed coup occoured, followed by mass political purge). I really enjoyed it, however felt that the first two thirds of the book was stronger to the last. I also found the end a little rushed. I felt that the characters in the book were quite interesting, especially Billy Kwan, the sidekick of the story.

    I'm looking forward to watching the film when I get home from 1982, starring Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, and Linda Hunt(whom won the Oscar for best supporting actor for her portrayal of Kwan).
     
  20. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Fox

    Have you read Time Out Of Joint by PKD?
     

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