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2017 50 Book Challenge

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

  1. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    Welcome. We are the erudite (read snobs) of the Forum,:)
     
  2. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    It's true. The intellectual elite. Welcome!

    I read most of the Sjöwall / Wahlöö books a life time ago. Wouldn't mind picking them up again and in chronological order this time. I will make that a project for the future.
     
  3. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Reading them in order does make sense. There are quite a few back-references.
     
  4. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    23. City of Bohane, by Kevin Barry.
    Easily the best book I've read so far this year, City of Bohane is an extraordinary first novel. Barry's great achievement is to immerse the reader utterly in a geography, culture, tribalism, fashion and argot of his own invention and make it utterly believable. He peoples Bohane with a set of memorable characters and tells a twisted story of plot and counter-plot between and within the gangs of Bohane. In some ways, Barry's book reminds me of Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, although I think his story is told on a grander scale.

    With the blessin' of the Sweet Baba Jay all the fiends of the SF Fancy will read this book, ye sketchin'?
     
  5. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 28/50: Alain de Botton - How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997)

    I usually don't read self-help books but this wasn't bad at all, particularly for someone who, like me, has a vague plan to start the big project of reading Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. De Botton shows how Proust's masterpiece can be a life-changing experience. 
     
  6. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    45. LA Confidential 1990 James Ellroy
    A very intricate but exciting detective tale. At least 4 plot in plots, heroes who change into villains and vice versa. Ultimately it's about courage and honesty. Who has it and who doesn't and how the 3 main characters acquire both. This is the third of the LA quartet books. It will be hard for White Jazz to beat it...
     
  7. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Which one is your favorite so far Steve? Unfortunately, I thought White Jazz weaker than the first three. But I read those books a long time ago and can't fully separate them in my mind.
     
  8. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    This one looks like a must-read! It has got raving reviews in all the serious papers and I loved A Clockwork Orange. A pity I have just received a wheel barrow full of other stuff from amazon. Maybe later this year.
     
  9. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    So far LA Confidential. By far.

    City of Bohane sounds good as well...I need a number 50. I don't want to spend another 6 weeks on Anna Karenina.
     
  10. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    46. The Affair Lee Child 2011
    My brother gave me this book a couple of weeks ago and I wasn't initially going to read it, because it was hoi polloi and over 500 pages long. I read it in less than a day and it was a very pleasant surprise. A murder mystery with a couple of major plot twists that has the reader going one way, then coming back the other way by surprise. I highly recommend it.

    I AM leaning toward Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky for #50. One must keep with traditions.

    Or maybe Gravity's Rainbow.
     
  11. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    24. Two Caravans, by Marina Lewycka (2007)
    A fairly slight novel about illegal immigrant workers from Eastern Europe trying to make their way in the UK. It's not a bad book, but the laughs are few and far between and I think Lewycka could have done more with her premise. At times there are mind-snapping jerks such as when she suddenly switches from writing light comedy to indulging in a near-polemic about the poultry industry.

    The comic highs come in the form of the befuddled and grammar-challenged letters home from an African character obsessed with "canal knowledge". The lows are when she occasionally switches to the narrative voice of a dog, which just gets boring and repetitive.

    Time for some non-fiction now, I think.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012
  12. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    25. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo (2012)
    I've been fortunate enough to visit India on business a number of times in the last few years, and I always enjoy my trips there. So I am quite a regular reader of books by Indian writers, and books about India.

    Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an account of the lives of a few thousand people crammed into a half-acre slum near the Mumbai airport. (The slum is hidden behind a brick wall covered with ads for tiles which read "Beautiful Forever", hence the title).

    Boo's book is an account of the lives of the marginalised poor, desperate to survive as exploited labourers, scavengers, beggars or worse. Most of all she describes the way India's endemic corruption blights every aspect of their lives. It's told with the clear eye of a Pulitzer-winning reporter, without being judgmental or polemical.
     
  13. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    47 White Jazz James Ellroy 1992
    Last of the LA Quartet novels.
    Set in 1950s LA it's a web of intrigue between who killed whom and who's on the take. 4 or 5 of the characters carry over from the other books. The protagonist is an unabashedly dirty cop. The book is written in a very clipped, stream of consciousness reality. I liked it, but not as well as the other 3 Quartet novels.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  14. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    26. Bar Balto by Faiza Guene (2008)

    I picked this up as one of those near-random recommendations you get on Amazon, which described Guene as an emerging new talent worth checking out.

    Guene is a Gen Y French writer of Algerian background. The book is the account of an investigation into the death of the owner of the Bar Balto, a universally-detested man with no shortage of enemes wishing ill of him.

    Each chapter in Bar Balto consists of a statement by one of eight characters, mostly made to the police investigator (who never says a word). Guene's great trick is to adopt a different vernacular and style for each chapter, shifting narrative voice so that it's pretty quickly clear who is speaking. In doing so she reveals the incidents leading up to the murder and who did it, with quite a few twists on the way. So it reads like an epistolary novel only with police statements instead.

    This is mostly successful, althought there a few false notes. She attributes dialog to a Downs Syndrome character which seems pretty advanced to me. Also, her Gen Y characters talk about having friends on MSN; surely the fad-conscious kids she portrays would have been on Facebook by 2008. I also doubt if anyone actually says ROFL, as opposed to writing it.

    Not a bad book overall, and a quick read. I might look for her other two novels at the library some time and give them a spin.
     
  15. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    48. The Crossing Cormac Mc Carthy 1994
    The second of the Border Trilogy books. Again about the coming of age of a 16 year old with a few differences from All the Pretty Horses. Riding a horse when cars exist. Actually 1940s- protagonist has a heart murmur so he can't join the army. So he wanders back and forth between Mexico and the U.S.. McCarthy's prose is excellent, some of the best I've read. I really enjoy him as an author. Recommended.
     
  16. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    49. Cities of the Plain 1998 Cormac McCarthy
    The third Border Trilogy book. Theme is the same. As is the prose, describing events, landscapes, and personalities. This book combines the heroes of books 1 and 2. They are older, more comfortable, have steady jobs on a ranch. One of them goes on an impossible quest and loses all.
    It's very difficult to describe these books without giving away the plot, but they are all excellent and worth reading.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2012
  17. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 29/50: Evelyn Waugh - A Handful of Dust (1934)

    I like Evelyn Waugh's writing and A Handful of Dust may be the best of his books I have so far read. Aristocratic Tony Last is struggling to keep up his Gothic mansion as well as his marriage. Brenda Last is bored and takes a young lover of the useless type. The marriage eventually falls apart as a result of a domestic tragedy and the narrative suddenly moves from the English landscape to a horror story in the Brazilian jungle. Indeed an unusual twist. This is a very readable mix of tragedy, satire and comedy.
     
  18. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 30/50: John Galsworthy - A Man of Property (1906)

    The first novel of a trilogy collectively called The Forsyte Saga. This family epic is an excellent read and there is no wonder its author was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1932. The many characters of this upper middle class English family is treated with sympathy but also with a sharp critical eye by Galsworthy, who himself came from a wealthy family background.

    The "man of property" is Soames Forsyte who believes in the ownership of property including ownership of his beautiful, seductive and mysterious wife Irene. This novel scrutinizes the moral codes of the time through a love tragedy in the midst of a rigid class system. I look forward to read the next novel in the series.
     
  19. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    50. Bad Luck and Trouble 2007 Lee Child
    51. Worth Dying For 2010

    Jack Reacher is bad ass. That is all.

    (Anna Kareninna on the paralell read, lest you all think I've completely lost my taste)
     
  20. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    1.) Anna Karenina is the best.

    2.) What is your new target for 2012?

    3.) Congratulations on completing the 50 books challenge for a second year.

    4.) Amazing intellectual prowess.
     

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