1. And... we're back. You'll notice that all of your images are back as well, as are our beloved emoticons, including the infamous :foo: We have also worked with our server folks and developers to fix the issues that were slowing down the site.

    There is still work to be done - the images in existing sigs are not yet linked, for example, and we are working on a way to get the images to load faster - which will improve the performance of the site, especially on the pages with a ton of images, and we will continue to work diligently on that and keep you updated.

    Cheers,

    Fok on behalf of the entire Styleforum team
    Dismiss Notice

2017 50 Book Challenge

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

  1. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

    Messages:
    4,997
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Location:
    South West of the Black Stump
    Not till June no mention of it on any subscription service.
     
  2. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    

    Looks like it will air on Starz in the USA.
     
  3. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    17. Hot Milk
    [​IMG]
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    Sofia takes her invalid mother to Spain to consult a local specialist who may be able to diagnose her mother's mysterious ailments. While there Sofia encounters Ingrid, an ex-pat German, and begins a fraught relationship with this enigmatic stranger.

    I could not get into this book at all. It's a litany of various relationships Sofia has with women, men, the doctor, the nurse, her mother, her father and her step-mother, with continual false starts. Just as you think Levy is about to take Sofia somewhere, somebody walks into the scene, distracts matters, the plot is derailed and the reader left dangling again. Levy forces the issue at the end and opts for a melodramatic finish, but there is still so much left unresolved that the reader can only be left unsatisfied.

    View all my reviews
     
  4. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

    Messages:
    2,313
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Got massively stranded with 'Stand on Zanzibar' which I never finished and was totally bland and boring. Whoops.

    11. A darker Shade of Magic

    Great fantasy, interesting world building, even better characterisation. I've read book #2, this is book #1, there's good variation between and this works quite well.

    Excellente.

    12. A Blade of Black Steel

    Book #2 in a series. Suffers from second album syndrome - doldrums, relies too heavily on recalling the hectic 1st book, and really leans on the writing style a lot. Got a bit too easy to skin through pages. There's a lot going for this series, but it just didn't push through enough plot. Suffers a bit from everyone being a bit bigger than life, apart from one character.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  5. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Senior member

    Messages:
    5,225
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    So I haven't really posted in this thread this year, but I have been reading a fair amount. Mix of various things so far this year. Average book length (not including endnotes, indices, and the like is 398 pages (median is 308). I've started a few books that I haven't finished yet; will update to mention those when I actually finish them.

    (1) The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt - Solid book. Would recommend if you have an interest in politics. Lots of good psychological insight and research.

    (2) Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink - Purchased for light reading after I listened to a podcast with Commander Willink while running. Served its purpose. The fundamental idea behind the book is pretty solid and some of the stories are all right. Not sure it needs a full book.

    (3) Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson - Somewhat heavy subject (race) where I think we benefit from hearing others' perspectives. It helps when said perspectives are offered without vitriol. Watson succeeds here and provides one of many perspectives I hope to consider over the next couple years. Plus he's a former Patriot.

    (4) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg - Good, readable overview of psychological literature on habit, at least from my unsophisticated layman's perspective.

    (5) The Great Partnership by Jonathan Sachs - Very good book discussing the relationship between science and religion. I plan to read more of Rabbi Sachs' works after reading this.

    (6) How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler - This is one of those books I think everyone should read. A reasonable amount of what is in here is intuitive and reflects things that a lot of us may know at some level, but if you spend a lot of time reading, there's value in being more deliberate about it, and this is a classic for a reason.

    (7) Seizing the Enigma by David Kahn - Fascinating WWII history about both the physical seizing of German Enigma devices and the efforts made by the allies to crack German codes during the war.

    (8) A History of the American People by Paul Johnson - If you read only one history of the US, I'm not sure this should be it because it definitely has a certain bias. That said, it's an enjoyable account and is full of interesting anecdotes that get left out of a lot of other history books. Great reading if you already are familiar with US history and want to check out another perspective.

    (9) Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow - I've been a big Ron Chernow fan for awhile and finally got around to reading his biography of George Washington. Definitely recommend this if you like US history and biographies.

    (10) Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag - Detailed stories of covert American submarine missions during the Cold War. What's not to like?

    (11) The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert Gordon - Wonderful economic history of the US. I don't agree with some of the author's politics and do get a bit of a nails on a chalkboard feeling when I see certain claims repeated without context / taken for granted, but this is a minor distraction confined to a few areas of the book. The writer has done people who like economic history a great intellectual service and poses some tough policy questions for all of us to consider.

    (12) Excelsior by Jasper Scott - Science fiction novel (first of three I believe) that I was able to get for free due to some Amazon Prime deal (think it was Prime Reading, but not sure). I liked it. A few interesting plot twists and decent character development.

    (13) A Criminal Defense by William Myers - Similar deal with this being free due to Amazon Prime. Enjoyable if you like legal dramas, and written by an actual criminal lawyer as well.

    (14) The Death of Expertise by Thomas Nichols - The author makes a compelling case about the decline of regard Americans have for expert opinion / our reduced willingness to listen to people who clearly know more than us, and explores a number of examples and issues. There's a touch of hubris and arrogance in parts of the book, and I think the author could do more to explore the issue of why experts have lost public trust through their own actions. He goes here a bit, but still paints an unbalanced picture. Still worth reading.

    (15) Weaponized Lies by Daniel Levitin - A lot of the lying with numbers part should be familiar to anyone who's studied how you can manipulate data. A lot of what's in here didn't seem particularly new to me, but it's a good overview of a problematic issue. Being able to ferret out BS is a valuable skill and I support anything that helps this skill reach more people (of course, I fear the people who are good at this are the ones who will read the book).

    (16) Soccermatics by David Sumpter - A Mathematician walks through the quantitative revolution taking place in the soccer world. Enjoyable if you have a basic interest in both mathematics and soccer.

    (17) Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra by John Derbyshire - The history in here is pretty interesting, though the weak part of the book is in the math primers. It feels both unnecessarily technical and not technical enough at the same time.
     
  6. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    18. Wood Green
    [​IMG]
    Wood Green
    by Sean Rabin
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Wood Green is a novel that's likely to split its readers depending on how they react to Rabin's somewhat odd final act.

    The story concerns Michael, a PhD who is offered a job as assistant to reclusive author Lucian Clarke, his research subject. Michael jumps at the chance and leaves Sydney behind to move to Hobart and work with Lucian in the mountain hamlet of Wood Green.

    Lucian is irascible and prickly, and it quickly becomes clear that he is not well. He and Michael have a fraught relationship that moves between mellowing out over dope and experimental music, and Lucian accusing Michael of breaching their work contract and of other failings.

    The scenes where the two bliss out on dope are a bit too frequent and seem to serve mostly as a vehicle for Rabin to share his favourites musicians and authors with the reader. I tried listening to some of the music and it is god-awful; I thought it a bit odd that the straight-laced Michael becomes a fan so readily.

    Some of Rabin's minor characters are a bit under-developed. He does little with the back-story that he paints for Carl, and Andrew seems a bit of a shallow stereotype. One gets the feeling that these characters suffered in the editing process.

    In his final act, Rabin introduces a plot twist that is definitely going to generate a love/hate reaction among readers. I liked it because it is pretty original and not easily predicted. For me it made up for the book's faults; I may well have canned it had Rabin gone for a more predictable conclusion.
    View all my reviews
     
  7. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

    Messages:
    4,997
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Location:
    South West of the Black Stump
    12 QUARTLEY ESSAY ISSUE 66 THE WHITE QUEEN AND THE POLITICS OF RACE by David Marr

    [​IMG]

    David Marr turns the political blow torch on Pauline Hanson an extreme right wing Senator who (thinks) she speaks for the dispossessed and aggrieved white Australians who feel the current political and social climate is not to their liking. And in doing so gives former PM John Howard a serve for being a (please insert derogatory term of ones chasing here).

    Interesting and direct analysis of the phenomenon at a local level which is playing out globally at present.
     
  8. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

    Messages:
    4,997
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Location:
    South West of the Black Stump
    13 MAYA by Jostein Gaarder This is a metaphysical tale within a tale form the author of Sophie's World which was an IT book for a fair while back in the early 1990's. This however is completely different type of story which is divided into three parts and mixes metaphysics, the turn of the millennium, cosmology, biology and a interesting Gypsy legend connected to a Goya painting to create story focused on the affects of love,loss and the offer of romantic redemption. Or does it. Once you make it through the bulk of the narrative it takes an unusual literary turn which, well that would be giving too much away. Overall I found it entertaining as a work of fiction but not something I would give permanent shelf space in my library.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    19. Six Four
    [​IMG]
    Six Four
    by Hideo Yokoyama
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Mikami is the director of Media Relations in a regional Japanese police prefecture, a job that he holds reluctantly, being a detective at heart. His job is made difficult by a recalcitrant press pack kicking up a stink over transparency, and his home life has been fraught since his daughter disappeared without a trace.

    In the midst of all this, Mikami is told that the Commissioner is visiting from Tokyo and wants to make an announcement about the prefecture's most notorious case - codenamed Six Four - the abduction and murder of a seven-year-old girl that has been unsolved for 14 years. Mikami was involved in this case during his early years on the force. The Commissioner wants to visit the girl's father and make a staged press announcement in front of his house.

    Nobody will tell Mikami why the Commissioner is coming and what this announcement will be. Knowing that he cannot embarrass the Commissioner, he does everything he can to find out, uncovering a can of worms full of police politics and cover-ups. At the same time, his team needs to get the obstreperous Press gallery onside as fast as possible so they will cover the Commissioner's visit appropriately, and they show no signs of co-operating.

    This book excels as an exposition of Japanese police procedures and the complex culture that they operate in. Hierarchies, face and respect are vital concerns that Mikami must navigate to get at the truth. The role and conduct of formal apologies in the police's relationship with the public is revealed, something that I've not read of anywhere else.

    The plot has a few very good twists but I think that, at 640 pages, it is longer than it needs to be. I also found it a bit confusing and difficult to follow. There is a large number of characters with similar names, and I had trouble keeping in mind who was who.
    There is a reason for that, related to the plot, but I still think it was too confusing and marred my enjoyment of the book.

    Overall this is a very different kind of police procedural, both due to the Japanese culture that it goes into, and the fact that the protagonist is working from the press relations point of view rather than as an investigator. That's a unique device in my experience.
    View all my reviews
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  10. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    

    My son read Sophie's World and Maya when he was in primary school. I remain gobsmacked at how he use to just hoover up adult books and understand them at that age.
     
  11. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

    Messages:
    4,997
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Location:
    South West of the Black Stump
    

    I have a friend whose son was reading Plato at ten.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  12. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    

    Annoying, isn't it?
     
  13. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

    Messages:
    4,997
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Location:
    South West of the Black Stump
    

    Definitely. Yet I did read Tolkien at 15[​IMG]
     
  14. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Can't remember what I was reading at 15, but it wasn't fantasy. Would have been reading Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare etc for school, but I can't remember what I read at home. Probably the Football Record.
     
  15. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

    Messages:
    4,997
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Location:
    South West of the Black Stump
    

    Julius Ceaser at school changed my life and reading habits. Did encounter Satre's Nausea st 17.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  16. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

    Messages:
    2,313
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Sorry for this post - my computer and SF aren't playing nice, cannot get things like spoiler tags, etc to work at all. Frustrating.


    1. Roadside Picnic
    2. Fifth Head of Cerebus
    3. You are not a Gadget
    4. Is the future going to be a better place?
    5. The Three Body Problem
    6. A Cold and Common Orbit
    7. A Gathering of Shadows
    8. Laurinda
    9. Short Stories inspired by Laurinda
    10. The Pier Falls
    11. A Darker Shade of Magic
    12. A Blade of Black Steel
    13. Naveed
    14. Terra Nullius


    13. Naveed

    Story of a boy in Afghanistan, commissioned by the ADF for Australian kids to have a better understanding of the War. Nice book, achieves its aims, too happy a story to be realistic. Read for class.

    14. Terra Nullius

    Sven Lundquist's book is part travel, part history. Mostly history. Australians can make a pretty good guess at what the subject matter will be. For the non-Aussies it's about Indigenous Australians and is a fairly depressing read. Not for the predictable stuff (colonialisation and settler history) but for how long into the 20th century Indigenous Australians were denied rights, freedoms and equality at every step.

    Learned a lot!

    (predictably the first google search result on this book is from the Australian newspaper and is critical, who would have thought?)
     
    2 people like this.
  17. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    20. The Last Wolf & Herman
    [​IMG]
    The Last Wolf & Herman
    by László Krasznahorkai
    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    This small book consists of three short stories. Two of them are alternative accounts of the story of Herman, a gamekeeper beset with guilt over the number of animals that he has killed, and the extreme actions he takes as a result. The first of them. "The Game Warden", is quite good, but the second, "The Death of a Craft", is pretty silly and poorly resolved.

    The main story is "The Last Wolf", wherein a minor academic regales a bored and testy Hungarian barman with a long and convoluted tale about how he went to Spain and tracked down the man who shot the last wolf in the region. This story is notable for being told in a single 70-page sentence. The story is not that interesting (intentionally) but the character of the barman gives sporadic amusement.

    This book is a gimmick in both content and format, and people who like gimmickry may enjoy it. Personally I prefer my reading to have interesting plots and characters and think that a story inevitably suffers when the punctuation becomes the .
    View all my reviews
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

    Messages:
    10,273
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    San Antonio
    5. When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi- David Maraniss

    I don't usually read non-fiction, but this one was pretty good. I'm old enough (just barely) to have remembered him. I've not been reading much this year-don't know if I'll make 50...
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  19. Foxhound

    Foxhound Senior member

    Messages:
    2,748
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Since I have left Post-Grad, I have finally had a chance to do some solid reading.

    1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky (3/5)
    A good book, the film is also quite good, if not better. A little cringe worthy at parts, and my high school self can identify with some of the characters.

    Charlie has the worst luck, when he's finally about to do the deed with the girl he loves, and that's when he decides to have a flashback to being abused.
     
  20. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

    Messages:
    5,540
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne
    

    Did you read books for study? No reason why you can't include them.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by