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2018 50 Book Challenge

Geoffrey Firmin

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56 SHELL by Kristina Olsson

This is a complex story about Australia between Autumn 1965 and February 1966 in which the Opera House,Conscription, filial love and glass art perform their own opera.

Utzon the architect of the Opera House is this invisible presence who is everywhere and nowhere as the sails stretch over the harbour. Underneath are the philistines of the Askin Liberal Country Party government who are waging war against Utzon and his vision, determined to cut a tall poppy down.

Its also about changes in society and the trauma that conscription imposed upon Australia. And the people with the courage to stand against the absurdity of the Vietnam war.

Its strongest story arc IMHO is centred on the Swedish glass artist as he strives to conceive and create an artwork which will do justice to the majesty of the Opera House. By far this is the best description I’ve evert read of the creative process from conception to actualisation I’ve ever read.

One of the best works of Australian fiction I’ve read in a long time.
 
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California Dreamer

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64 Speaking Up, by Gillian Triggs

Gillian Triggs' five-year tenure as the Chair of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) proved to be both high-profile and controversial. The activities of the AHRC became subject to partisan rancour and media hit campaigns, leading to frequent stoushes with conservative politicians and commentators.

Triggs' AHRC was embroiled in a series of major human rights issues, including the treatment of asylum seekers, indigenous recognition, youth incarceration, racial discrimination, marriage equality and more. In Speaking Up, she delves into the issues and some high-profile cases, and sets out the legal background to the decisions that have been made.

A point Triggs makes repeatedly is that both the Parliament and the courts have abandoned their role in protecting the human rights of Australians and are waving through legislation that would not be tolerated in any comparable democracy. The core problem is that Australia has no charter of rights that courts can hold governments to, and Triggs argues that the time to solve this is now. Sadly, she does not offer much advice in how we might bring that about, but this book is still an important read for every Australian.
 
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Geoffrey Firmin

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57 Under The Night by Alan Glynn

Glynn wrote the novel The Dark Fields which was filmed as Limitless. This is billed as a sequel and prequel to that book. It deals with MK Ultra and ties into a book I am currently reading so it was good to take fictional detour.

The novel evolves around the Sweeney family over two time frames the present and the nineteen fifties.Its peopled with a fascinating eclectic cast of characters along with some nefarious RAND corporate types, government officials and historical scientific and cultural characters.

Its fast paced and entertaining and has some moments of depth and perception on the human condition. Its darker and has a stronger conspiracy flavour particularly in relation to the CIA and MK Ultra which is played out to a tragic conclusion or is it a brighter tomorrow?

The ending is something else again as its finally revealed who the villain of the narrative is. It also leaves the potential open for another book, but myself I would leave the story where it is.

I also watched Limitless today which I have previously watched, might see if the local library has the first book.
 
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Journeyman

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^Great write-up, @Foxhound! It's also great that you and your girlfriend bought books for each other and discussed the books that you were reading.

Any travel plans for the near future? Did you ever end up going to Antarctica, by the way?
 

Foxhound

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^Great write-up, @Foxhound! It's also great that you and your girlfriend bought books for each other and discussed the books that you were reading.

Any travel plans for the near future? Did you ever end up going to Antarctica, by the way?
Thanks JM, I went to Antarctica over the new year period of 2016/2017, was a great experience! Here's some photos.
 

LonerMatt

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1. Kangaroo
2. South of the Border, West of the Sun
3. 19Q4
4. An Elegant Young Man
5. Throne of the Crescent Moon
6. When Gravity Fails
7. The Choke
8. Heat and Light
9. Who Owns the Future
10 Waking Gods
11. Wimmera
12. Artemis
13. Fire in the Sun
14. Exile Kiss
15. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
16 Prisoners of Geography
17. Nevermoor
18 La Bell Sauvage
19. Red Sister
20. Jade City
21. We Are Who We Pretend To Be
22. First Person
23. Too Like Lightning
24. Sea of Rust
25. Don't Skip Out on Me
26. Autonomous
27. Grey Sister
28. The Free
29. Lean on Pete
30. Clade
31. The Shepard's Hut
32. The Soul of an Octopus
33. The Dog Stars
34. At the mouth of River Bees
35. Dragon's Teeth
36. Designing Your Life
37. Deep Work
38. So Good They Can't Ignore You
39. Low Town
40. The Girl with all the Gifts
41. The Dismissal Dossier
42. The Last Garden
43. Storyland
44. Wolfblade
45. Warrior
46. Home Fire
47. Warlord
48. The Lyre Thief
49. Down to the River
50. Retribution
51. Me, Early and the Dying Girl
52. 84k
53. Snap
54. The Haters
55. Codename Villanelle
56. Those Above
57. Those Below
58. Of a Boy
59. Publish your Photography Book
60. Spinning Silver
61. Record of a Spaceborn Few
62. Dayzone
63. The Silent Empire
64. Rosewater

63. Empire of Silence

In a far away future humans have left Earth after destroying it. A new Church has sprung up, part Manifest Destiny, part pre-lutheran with-holding of knowledge, ingratiating into society. They have banned most technologies, yet keep most technology for themselves.

So, anyway. Hadrian Marlowe is in prison and writing his memoirs. We know that he IS great, but he wants to set the record straight. Oldie but a goodie in terms of set up. So Hadrian's Dad is important, but all Hadrian's attempts to impress him go awry. Hadrian gets sent to priest school, but manages to escape before hand. After being put in cryo-sleep for a long journey he wakes up on a far flung planet where he knows no one. Wanting to keep his identity a secret (in case his Dad comes to get him) he scrounges a living begging and stealing.

Eventually he becomes a pit bitch for gladiators, and eventually finds himself working for a local lord, against his will.

Lots more happens: encounters with the other sentient race, a discovery of the Silents - a pre-human civilisation that has mysteriously vanished, and clashes with the priests, killing one.

A pretty ripper fucking read.

64. Rosewater


Ok so this book is pretty good too! Aliens have arrived in Nigeria and some humans have developed special abilities. The aliens gather knowledge by spreading microscopic fungi throughout the planet and some humans have mysteriously developed the ability to tap into this system and manipulate it.

Kaaro is the main character and he works two jobs. One in a bank and one for the government where he interrogates people by finding memories they want to hide from authorities.

Anyway, not to bore you with details - but the book hovers a bit on magic realism and there are several crazy twists and turns, but generally this was a really enjoyable story and I would recommend it.
 

California Dreamer

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65, Quicksand, by Malin Persson Giolito

Quicksand is the story of a school shooting, told from the perspective of Maja, a teenage survivor who is charged with murder. The prosecution makes great play of Maja's relationship with her boyfriend, Sebastian, who appears to have been the prime mover in this atrocity.

Maja recounts the lead-up to what happened over the previous school year, starting with her becoming Sebastian's girlfriend and the subsequent events that led inexorably to the shooting. This tale is interspersed with her account of the trial, and her experiences in prison.

I am actually bemused at the awards that this book has won. It is a bit glossy for Scandi crime and there are really not enough twists and turns in the plot to mark it out as exceptional. This is quite a good premise for a crime novel, but I'm afraid this treatment falls down both in plot and tone.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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58 The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Ingenious mathematically based, AI role playing game which seeks a solution to the problem and intergalactic Space Opera. It won the 2015 Hugo Award for best SciFi Novel. First part of a trilogy but don’t think I will read the rest of it.

59 Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch is back, enjoyable LA Noir but not sure I like the ending and how it affects the character portrayal of HB. The next book will be interesting to see where he takes it in terms of story.

60 The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
Entertaining story about Norwegian Nazi’s who served on the Russian Front and Neo Nazis and numerous murders all in the name of God. A period of history that is best not forgotten.


61 The Thirst by Jo Nesbo.
Dracula, megalomaniac psychologists and Harry Hole and numerous macabre deaths and body counts.
 

LonerMatt

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1. Kangaroo
2. South of the Border, West of the Sun
3. 19Q4
4. An Elegant Young Man
5. Throne of the Crescent Moon
6. When Gravity Fails
7. The Choke
8. Heat and Light
9. Who Owns the Future
10 Waking Gods
11. Wimmera
12. Artemis
13. Fire in the Sun
14. Exile Kiss
15. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
16 Prisoners of Geography
17. Nevermoor
18 La Bell Sauvage
19. Red Sister
20. Jade City
21. We Are Who We Pretend To Be
22. First Person
23. Too Like Lightning
24. Sea of Rust
25. Don't Skip Out on Me
26. Autonomous
27. Grey Sister
28. The Free
29. Lean on Pete
30. Clade
31. The Shepard's Hut
32. The Soul of an Octopus
33. The Dog Stars
34. At the mouth of River Bees
35. Dragon's Teeth
36. Designing Your Life
37. Deep Work
38. So Good They Can't Ignore You
39. Low Town
40. The Girl with all the Gifts
41. The Dismissal Dossier
42. The Last Garden
43. Storyland
44. Wolfblade
45. Warrior
46. Home Fire
47. Warlord
48. The Lyre Thief
49. Down to the River
50. Retribution
51. Me, Early and the Dying Girl
52. 84k
53. Snap
54. The Haters
55. Codename Villanelle
56. Those Above
57. Those Below
58. Of a Boy
59. Publish your Photography Book
60. Spinning Silver
61. Record of a Spaceborn Few
62. Dayzone
63. The Silent Empire
64. Rosewater

65. Eggshell Skull

Did someone already read this one? GF? CD?

IMO maybe the book of the year for me, certainly in the top 3.

Quick summary:
- Memoir about a young woman becoming a judge's associate and being exposed to a lot of trials about sexual assault, rape and minors
- Cutting critique of the justice system
- She herself was/is a victim as a child
- Decides to prosecute her rapist
- Things are hard

Emotionally turbulent, viscerally empathetic, masterfully written and told. Impossible to read and not feel really fucking shitty. Hard to recommend because it's an ugly story, but so well done I want everyone to read it. A lot there, a lot to absorb. Damn fine.

Also, another killer Australian novelist. We're really doing well at the moment guys.

Also,

GF that mirrors my thoughts of the 3 body problem precisely. Did not enjoy, unmemorable, can't see why it is so praised, though people assure me that the 2nd book 'is crap for 100 pages then insanely good'. :/
 

California Dreamer

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66. The Day the Sun Died, by Yan Lianke

The Day the Sun died recounts the experiences of the teenage Lu Niannian when all the people in his village start dreamwalking after the sun goes down. This seems harmless enough in the beginning, with people merely doing more work than usual, but things soon start to go very wrong. There are suicides, scandalous confessions, shameless behaviour, looting and, eventually, violence and murder. Niannian and his father do their utmost to try and bring the villagers around and quell the impending disaster.

In a trope reminiscent of Martin Amis there is a character in this book, author Yan Lianke. This author is one of Niannian's favourites and he cites favourite works and excerpts that seem to be riffs on Yan's real works. There is probably a bit of an inside gag here that readers more familiar with Yan's work will appreciate.

The book seems to work as an allegory of the Cultural Revolution, where the social norms of society broke down and ordinary people were pitted against one another in the service of a new group of leaders. It certainly suggests the violence, fear and doubt that would have existed then. I did find Yan's writing a little cumbersome at times with strange repetitions of sentences and dialogue. (This may have been due to the translation). Overall a curious and interesting novel.

67. Newcomer, by Keigo Higashino

Detective Kaga has been assigned to a new district in Tokyo and is learning the ropes in his new environment. When a woman is murdered the Tokyo homicide cops are called in, and Kaga acts as the local liaison.

Kaga uses his unerring instinct for evasions and half-truths to put together a string of relationships around the dead woman. He talks in turn to various local shopkeepers and follows the trail from one to the next, all the time building the picture of who this woman was and why she died.

This book has a really satisfying plot where the author gives little away, but still lays a trail for the alert reader. Kaga is a really appealing protagonist, clever and subtle. This is another strong effort from Higashino.

68. Lyme, by Mary Beth Pfeiffer

In Lyme Mary Beth Pfeiffer makes a powerful case that Lyme disease, along with other tick-borne pathogens, is an epidemic that is proceeding apace, yet not acknowledged as such by the medical establishment.

From a small cluster of victims in mid-70s Connecticut, Lyme disease has exploded to 400,000 infections a year in the USA alone. As climate change increases the geographical area in which ticks can survive, the pathogen is spreading inexorably into areas in which it was formerly unknown.

This is the point where medical conformism clashes with reality. The official line about Lyme disease has been that it is easy to detect, easy to treat and that there is no such thing as long-term Lyme disease. In a spectacular demonstration of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy, anybody who presents with symptoms that contradict this official line is dismissed as obviously not having Lyme disease, even when they have the antibodies in their blood. Furthermore, people who show symptoms in areas where Lyme is not supposed to be present are told they have something else, despite the migration of the ticks. This causes frequent misdiagnosis and delays in treatment, with serious results.

The other disturbing thing is that Lyme conformists are so sure of themselves they do not believe that it is worth allocating research money to Lyme disease, therefore preventing their conclusions from ever being challenged. Lyme patients must fund and publish their own research.

There is a chapter in which Pfeiffer talks about children who presented with Lyme disease being misdiagnosed, with dire results. It is heartbreaking stuff, especially one boy who died after effectively being told he was faking it to get out of school.

There seems little doubt that tick-borne pathogens need the kind of urgent and focused attention that AIDS and the Zika virus got. More and more people in ever-widening areas are going to be bitten by infected ticks. Some will be OK with antibiotic treatments, some will have severe symptoms for the rest of their lives, and some will die. It seems that the only thing that can stop this impending disaster is some kind of Kuhnian paradigm shift among the medical establishment that allows them to take this disease seriously.
 

LonerMatt

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Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
2,568
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1. Kangaroo
2. South of the Border, West of the Sun
3. 19Q4
4. An Elegant Young Man
5. Throne of the Crescent Moon
6. When Gravity Fails
7. The Choke
8. Heat and Light
9. Who Owns the Future
10 Waking Gods
11. Wimmera
12. Artemis
13. Fire in the Sun
14. Exile Kiss
15. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
16 Prisoners of Geography
17. Nevermoor
18 La Bell Sauvage
19. Red Sister
20. Jade City
21. We Are Who We Pretend To Be
22. First Person
23. Too Like Lightning
24. Sea of Rust
25. Don't Skip Out on Me
26. Autonomous
27. Grey Sister
28. The Free
29. Lean on Pete
30. Clade
31. The Shepard's Hut
32. The Soul of an Octopus
33. The Dog Stars
34. At the mouth of River Bees
35. Dragon's Teeth
36. Designing Your Life
37. Deep Work
38. So Good They Can't Ignore You
39. Low Town
40. The Girl with all the Gifts
41. The Dismissal Dossier
42. The Last Garden
43. Storyland
44. Wolfblade
45. Warrior
46. Home Fire
47. Warlord
48. The Lyre Thief
49. Down to the River
50. Retribution
51. Me, Early and the Dying Girl
52. 84k
53. Snap
54. The Haters
55. Codename Villanelle
56. Those Above
57. Those Below
58. Of a Boy
59. Publish your Photography Book
60. Spinning Silver
61. Record of a Spaceborn Few
62. Dayzone
63. The Silent Empire
64. Rosewater
65. Eggshell Skull
66. Run, Rabbit

66. Run, Rabbit


Fairly unlikable, obviously manipulative man runs away from suburban life, sleeps with someone, then returns to his wife, etc, etc. I assume we're all familiar with this.

Not sure whether it's of its time, etc, seemed kind of sexist and obnoxious.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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62 HEROS; Mortals and Mosnters:Quests and Adventures by Stephen Fry

The irascible Stephen Fry continues his outre rabelaisian romp through the Greek Myths this time spinning the tales of heros and those risqué gods. Light years away in morality and style from Robert Graves two volume epic The Greek Myths. Fry is in his element telling these tales in a grand eloquent manner.

Highly entertaining.
 
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Geoffrey Firmin

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63 The Avengers Omnibus 3 by Writer Roy Thomas and illustrated by John and Sal Buscema.

Roy Thomas was the first and only writer I’ve encountered in comic books to quote Shakespeare and Shelly.
 

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