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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. Go Spurs Go

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    Reading 50 books in a year is quite an accomplishment, and it looks like you'll make it easily at the rate you're going.

    I figured out a formula last year that is helping me read at this rate. AND I don't have much else going on in my life. It's 100 outside and nothing interesting on TV.

    Thank you for your congratulations.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012


  2. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    53. The Enemy Lee Child 2010
    Yet another Reacher novel with the same plot and results. I've exhausted all my local library's stock, and the 2nd hand book store. Now we'll see how serious the habit really is when I actually have to pay full price for the books.
     


  3. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    29. Quarterly Essay No 46 Great Expectations: Government, Entitlement and an Angry Nation, by Laura Tingle.

    Tingle is a high-profile and much-awarded Australian political journalist who writes for the Australian Financial Review, our equivalent of the WSJ. Her essay is about the unrealistic expectations Australian have of their governments, and the contradictory demands we make of them, such as demanding that they solve all our problems while also staying out of our lives and not taxing is.

    Decades of deregulation and privatisation mean that modern governments directly control a lot less than they once did. That doesn't stop our pollies from taking credit and making promises about things such as interest rates, over which they have virtually zero control. We then hold them responsible, even though we know deep down that they can't really do a thing about it. When our governments can't meet our impossible demands we get pissed off and cynical.

    Interestingly, Tingle traces all of this back to Australia's convict origins. We didn't have to fight for the rights that Europeans and Americans shed blood for; the early Governors had no choice if they wanted to create a society out of a few shiploads of people. The government had to educate and provide for the population as a whole, from the very earliest times, and this expectation is now hardwired into our cultural DNA.

    This essay is very specific to Australia so I doubt it would make much sense to others, but from what I read, Tingle has identified a situation true of many countries, including the USA. The Tea Party is the perfect example of an angry populace, resenting government intrusion, but still making comsiderable demands of them.
     


  4. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    54. Die Trying 1998 Lee Child
    You guessed it- another Reacher book. About thwarting a militia group in Montana who had kidnapped the daughter of the COS. I pretty much read it through in one sitting. Not making much progress on Stevenson and Tolstoy.
     


  5. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    55. Tripwire Lee Child 1999
    The standard Reacher stuff I've grown to know and love...His former CO dies and wills him his house so he has to settle down and quit drifting. He finally acknowledges his feelings for the CO's daughter and she has also pined for him for 15 years. Plus he solves and thwarts some nastiness involving a Vietnam veteran.

    Leaves us with the burning question...Will Reacher settle down? I don't know which book to read to find out. He doesn't write them in order.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012


  6. L.R.

    L.R. Senior member

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    60th (or so). Iron Council, by China Miéville.

    I've read the majority of the Jack Reacher novels, I view them as junk-food books. Not great, but quick and fun.
     


  7. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    Actually hearing them described as junk food makes me feel better. I was thinking male romance novels.

    That said, to have credit for 60 books you need to list all of them and give us a short summary.

    We are snobby intellectuals on (what is often) a snobby forum
     


  8. Reynard369

    Reynard369 Senior member

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    Out of curiosity, why are you reading the Reacher books out of order?
     


  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    30. The Queen of Spades and The Captain's Daughter, by Alexander Pushkin (1836)

    I really haven't read much Russian fiction. Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Pasternak and a bit of Chekov. I also read Boris Akunin's Fandorin detective stories. So I thought it was about time I read some Pushkin.

    The Queen of Spades is an 1834 short story about a young man obsessed with learning the secret of three winning cards in the game of faro. The story takes a couple of unexpected turns, and is not a bad read.

    The Captain's Daughter is a short novel about a young officer who is posted to a remote fortress and falls in love with his
    commandant's daughter. He becomes embroiled in the Pugachev rebellion against the reign of Catherine II, and is mysteriously spared when Pugachev overwhelms the fortress and hangs the officers. He later learns of a connection between he and Pugachev, and seeks to leverage it to save the captain's daughter from an untimely fate, at great cost to himself.

    Pushkin packs a lot of incident into this brief novel with a few twists and turns. The rather mannered ending lets it down a bit, but that was the fashion of the times, I believe. I quite enjoyed this one, and am thinking I should lay my hands on a copy of Eugene Onegin.

    Just as an observation, this was a Folio edition. After a long stretch of reading on the iPad, I must say it was very nice to pick up a high quality, well-illustrated hardback. It gives you a pleasure that ebooks will never deliver.

    30b. Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson (2011)

    This is such a short book I'm not going to count it, but it's worth noting. Johnson's novella recounts the story of Robert Grainier, a man who worked in bridge-building and forestry between the wars, and ultimately ends up living as a recluse. The great thing about this book is how well Johnson brings you into Grainier's world - you can almost smell the spruce and breathe the air that he writes about. His observations of the aftermath of a fire is particularly good, and very true to the real thing (having been uncomfortably close to a few in my time). At a tick under 120 pp it's a quick read, and well worth it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012


  10. L.R.

    L.R. Senior member

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    Everyone needs junk food books and movies; guilty pleasures.

    As for the full list,I like this thread, first time checking it out, so I'll write down whatever I've just finished, and add in a couple read previously.

    Previously read this year:

    Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan: A cyber-punk/science fiction/detective novel I received as a gift from my Secret Santa. Absolutely amazing, with a main character who is more then simply a hard-boiled detective or killer, but rather a thinking man whose greatest feats are more cerebral. Similar somewhat to the basic premise of Jack Reacher novels (ex-Soldier/killer, dragged in over his head), but with a plot and enough twists to make you think. If you liked Blade Runner, or enjoy sci-fi, check it out.

    Broken Angels by Richard Morgan: Sequel to Altered Carbon. As you're already introduced to the character in the earlier work, I find this novel somewhat less personal, and jumps into action with less of an introduction to the world. This future, an extremely interesting place, is part of what made the first novel such an amazing work. The central conceit was humanities ability to "digitize" themselves (their mind/being) and transport this conciousness to empty bodies or "sleeves", and as such the practical and moral implications of such a technology. This tool was given much less of a central role this time around, and at first I thought this novel to suffer from exclusion. However, the author more than makes up for it, but exploring more of the universe and the alien history within it.
     


  11. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    I was. Now I'm not.

    THEY are out of order. One of the others I read had his brother in it. The current one I'm reading (the first) chronicles his death. After this I will read a couple in order to see how they turn out...
     


  12. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    I remember years ago coming across a similar problem when my kids got hooked on Brian Jacques' Redwall series. The books hop around between different eras, and publication order bore no resemblance to chronological order. Even if you decided to read them with the kids in order, Jacques could derail that with his next book. So we just gave up.
     


  13. Reynard369

    Reynard369 Senior member

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    I believe only one is chronologically out of order (compared to publication order), and that's the one where he's still in the Army. Although I could be wrong out of that.

    Just googled it. From Lee Child's website:
     


  14. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    I think it was The Enemy that had him still in the Army, where his Mom died. He's been out for 6 months on the Killing Floor, which is the first.
     


  15. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    31. Snowdrops, by A.D. Miller (2011)

    A snowdrop is Russian slang for a long-dead corpse that turns up during the spring thaw, after being buried in winter. The novel starts with Nick Platt's first encounter with a snowdrop.

    Nick is a lawyer on the make who has moved to Russia to get away from his dead-end London life and get involved in the wheeling and dealing going on as Russia opens itself up to capitalism and oligarchy. He gets inolved with two young girls, Masha and Katya, and falls in love with Masha. Given his middle age, comparative wealth and average looks, Nick suspects he is being taken advantage of, but he isn't sure how.

    Nick narrates the book as a confession to some other person, so we know that he has done something that troubles him. The suspense in the book lies in the gradual revelation of what that is, and Nick's reassessment of himself.

    AD Miller was the Moscow correspondent for The Economist, so he writes with the verisimilitude of somebody who lived there while these sorts of events were occurring. He captures the corruption of Russian society convincingly, but I think his plot could have made more of it, and taken a few more twists and turns along the way. It's a worthwhile enough read, but I can't really see how it got shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
     


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