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2018 50 Book Challenge

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

  1. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Distinguished Member

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    1 Los Alamos by Joseph Kanon
    Set amid the lead up and culmination of the Manhattan project. Its an espionage thriller with love interest and an interesting premise about guilt, redemption and Communism. The birth of the Bomb its self is very descriptive and the characters are historically and personally realised.

    Laid back Holiday fare on the birth of the Cold War. Have three on the go at present so will report back in due course. I never knew people took that much Acid in the. 60’s.
     


  2. Lionel Hutz

    Lionel Hutz Distinguished Member

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    happy to have found this thread in January
     


  3. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    Loved this.
     


  4. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Distinguished Member

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    Good choice FH.

    I got to 50 last year. Just.
     


  5. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Distinguished Member

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    2. We Were Eight Years In Power; An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    This is a book about a Nation seen through the eyes and experience of ‘the Other’. This is a book about social commentary, economics of hope and the new horror. It is an observation on culture race and identity. It themes cover a lot of what I would classify as cultural studies and analysis, biut on a profoundly personal level and that is what makes this work sing with insight, rage and the power of writting. It is history unfolding and history retreating. It is a remarkable piece of social commentary that is well written and passionate in its ideals and beliefs.

    I picked this up at the library the other day and was not able to put it down. In retrospect I should have bought a copy.

    I have read a couple of the Atlantic articles from which this collection is based and I am also a fan of Coates Black Panther comic.

    Highly recommended.
     


  6. Journeyman

    Journeyman Distinguished Member

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    I got a bit of reading done during a recent family holiday:

    1. Rubicon - The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland. The first half of the book fairly races through the first few centuries of the Roman Republic and then spends the last half going in to much more detail about the last 50 years of the Republic and the first decade of the Empire. As such, the latter half features a well-known cast of characters - Pompei, Cicero, Lucullus, Cato, Octavian, Brutus, Marcus Antonius and others including, of course, Julius Caesar. Highly readable history, and enjoyable and interesting.

    2. La Belle Sauvage [Book 1 of the "Book of Dust" trilogy], by Philip Pullman. I've been looking forward to this for ages and picked it up immediately it was released late last year, but held off on reading it until the holidays. Very enjoyable, although perhaps a bit weaker in the latter half where Pullman takes the story on a more fantastical path, as though the characters have ventured into an alternate world. The story is set a decade or more before the events of Pullman's earlier "His Dark Materials" series, and features the very likeable Malcolm as the main character. Some characters of the earlier series make appearances, and the "Dust" is also mentioned, albeit briefly. I am looking forward to seeing how the story develops when the next book is published. My twelve-year old son devoured it in two days and my ten-year old daughter is now greatly enjoying it.

    3. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, by Jessica Townsend. I bought this as a Christmas present for my daughter and she really enjoyed reading it. I borrowed it from her to read on the plane back from holidays and found that her assessment was correct. Reviews inevitably compared it to Harry Potter but I found it more enjoyable - it's both more original than the HP series and written with more humour and spark. The main character is a girl, 11 years of age, a "cursed child" born on an unlucky day, destined to die on her twelfth birthday. However, on that day, she is spirited away by a strange character to a country that she never even knew existed, and plunged into a fantastical adventure. The main character is very well-realised and Townsend really brings the strange city of Nevermoor to life with whimsy, detail and affection.

    4. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Professor Yuval Noah Harari. I picked this up after reading Matt's (I think) review of it earlier in this thread, but only got around to reading it last week. It reminded me of a cross between "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond, and something by Nassim Nicholas Taleb or perhaps Malcolm Gladwell - scientific and well-argued and researched in some ways, but a bit too "pop-culture" and too sure of its own (sometimes unsourced) assertions in other ways. Still, a good and thought-provoking read with some very interesting ideas.

    On the way back from holidays, I picked up the Penguin edition of "I, Claudius" by Robert Graves, about the step-grandson of Emperor Augustus, and started it last night. I remember watching the BBC series with my parents years ago, but couldn't remember much of the details, so I'm looking forward to reading it this week.
     


  7. Foxhound

    Foxhound Distinguished Member

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    I remember Matt mentioning it and last year so did one of my professors. I plan on reading it quite soon.
     


  8. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    1. Seeking Whom He May Devour, by Fred Vargas

    In a remote French village, sheep are being killed, seemingly by wolves. When an irascible sheep farmer gets killed as well, the talk turns instead to werewolves. Her adopted son and her taciturn shepherd are determined to track down the man they think is responsible, and they persuade a young woman to accompany them as their driver.

    I really liked the ending to this book, but it is preceded by 200+ pages of arrant nonsense. We are expected to credit that there is widespread and uncritical acceptance of werewolf superstitions in modern France. We are expected to believe that two farm workers who have spent a life on the land have never learned to drive. We are expected to believe that a young woman, in her first ever attempt at driving a livestock truck manages to manoeuvre it around miles of narrow Alpine switchback roads without mishap. And that's just the start. This book is just silly.

    2. The Choke, by Sofie Laguna

    Thirteen year old Justine lives with her grandfather on a small block near the Murray River. Her favourite hideaway is The Choke, a narrow stretch of the river where flood waters can build up until the banks burst. She is nearly friendless and has undiagnosed learning difficulties, so her refuge at The Choke is a great comfort to her.

    Justine is occasionally visited by her ne'er-do-well father who spends most of his time away from home involved in criminal activity. Her Pop is convinced that her father went bad when his mother died; Pop gets the blame, but it's not clear why.

    On a visit home, Justine's father commits a crime and the consequences are visited upon Justine. Her life is in tatters, she is alone and exploited, before she makes a stand.

    This is another excellent outing from Sofie Laguna. Justine is a highly empathetic protagonist, and her relationship with the disabled Michael is beautifully handled. About my only reservation with this book is that there are a few ends left dangling that I would have preferred be clarified.
     


  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    Make sure you get hold of Claudius the God as well, for the complete story.
     


  10. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Distinguished Member

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    CD I've just requested ~6 books from the library based on the past two or three pages or your reviews - all Australian, I think.
     


  11. Foxhound

    Foxhound Distinguished Member

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    1. Taipei - Tao Lin (3/5)
    2. This is how you Lose her - Junot Díaz (4/5)
    3. The Hunt for Red October - Tom Clancy (3/5)
    4. Sam Fishing in the Yemen - Paul Torday (1/5)

    5. American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis (4/5)
    This week the Patty Winters Show featured the story of an affluent mid twenties Wall Street worked seemingly disconnected from reality.

    American Psycho is a book told from the eyes of twenty six year old yuppie, Patrick Batemen. It is set during the 1980s. Bateman is obsessed with menswear, women, and murder. The book makes the movie look like playschool. It is incredibly gory, riddled with torture scenes, which are spread among dinners, breakfasts, work out sessions, and parties. It is filled with profanity, which is often misogynistic, to show how little Bateman, and often his friends, think of women.

    The first handful of pages are a a little hard to decipher, with no direct idea as to who is narrating, but the rest of the book, bar one chapter, are clearly from Bateman's point of view. As the book develops, so does the deterioration Bateman's grip on people and events around him, and he proves to be highly effective as an unreliable narrator.

    Nine times out of ten, when meeting a new acquaintance, Bateman lists the items they're wearing, including the brand. Whilst this may appear tedious at first, it really goes to show what kind of person he is, which is pointed out to him in the novel, making it even more obvious.

    A fantastic novel, one that I thoroughly enjoyed, marred only by the fact that I had seen the movie first.
     


  12. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Distinguished Member

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    3. Sticky Fingers The life and times of Jan Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

    I never knew that people consumed THAT much acid in the Sixties. A revelation about the life, desire, ambition and motivation of the man behind one of the most influential cultural phenomena of the past fifty years.

    It goes into the money, the sex, the love, the bands, the larger than life personalities, the ego desire, the sixties as a machine for making many but above all it’s journalists and photographers and everything else between the covers. To quote Dr Gonzo "It was just outside of Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs kicked in", indeed.

    Highly informative, highly entertaining & highly recommended.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018 at 10:07 PM


  13. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Distinguished Member

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    3. Seventeen, by Hideo Yokoyama

    Hideo Yokoyama's Seventeen centres on the JAL 123 airline disaster in 1985. Yuuki is an unambitious local news reporter who is unwillingly tapped to head his newspaper's coverage of the disaster. This event forces him to cancel a planned climbing trip, with unexpected consequences. Seventeen years later Yuuki is once again set upon performing this climb, this time as a middle-aged man.

    Yuuki's attempts to do this gigantic story justice meet resistance from all quarters, and he ends up in a series of escalating confrontations as he tries to do the right thing in terms of both the gravity of the event and the impact on bereaved families and survivors. His chosen methods get a lot of his more conservative management and colleagues offside, and he begins to question his own motives and effectiveness.

    While he is caught up in this drama, Yuuki also has to deal with family troubles and a crisis with one of his friends.

    As with Six Four, Yokoyama excels at capturing the internecine office politics in Japanese companies. In his preceding book, the political games were being played out with a police media liaison officer and crime reporters; this time his setting is within a regional newspaper office. Yokoyama is a former journalist himself, which lends his story significant verisimilitude. This is a very different and affecting novel.
     


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