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2019 50 Book Challenge

California Dreamer

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1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
[
4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
6. Education, by Tara Westover

7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
11. The White Darkness, by David Grann

12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura

Yusuke Kimura comes from the north of Japan, where the 2011 tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident occurred. These two novellas are about the lives of the people left to struggle on in the aftermath of these twin disasters.

Sacred Cesium Ground is about a woman who leaves her abusive husband to volunteer at a ranch that looks after cattle that have been subjected to massive radiation. The rancher has been ordered by the government to put the animals down but refuses to do so. (This is based on a real case, apparently). Kimura conveys an excellent study in the ethical quandaries of exposing oneself to unnecessary risk and of prolonging the lives of doomed animals.

Isa's Deluge is about a young man who returns to his home town from Tokyo, and his interest in tracking down his black sheep uncle Isa. The other members of his fishing family scorn him and oppose his digging up the past, and the wider community now treats him as an outsider, since he does not share their defining experience of the tsunami.

I preferred the first story, but both of these are well worth a read.
 
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Geoffrey Firmin

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9.How The World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy by Julian Baggini

What is philosophy? Can philosophy be categorised by national boundaries? Is it valid to compare American Pragmatism against Continental Philosophy? Can the connection between theology and philosophy be defined and compared in divergent systems of thought as embodied in the Indian and Islamic traditions? Can philosophy and theology be separated into different systems, which speak of the same goal of self realisation and connection to the divine?

What exactly is philosophy? Is philosophy an attempt to understand the true nature of the human condition and its spiritual quest. I know some will ardently disagree but Baggini devotes a large amount of text to the differences between systems of non Western tradition to logically demonstrate how history and culture contribute to systems of thought in their attempt to answer the riddles of human existence. However in a book of this scope and range their are some glaring omissions most notably the work of Henri Bergson when he ventures into discussion of the question of spirituality in Western philosophy.

He divides the book in five sections;How the world knows. How the world is.Who in the world are We. How the world lives. And concluding thoughts. This enables him to provide an engaging and stimulating overview of the global systems of philosophy. He does competently articulate the historical cultural and national difference while avoiding any attempt at a Theory of Everything assumption on the human condition.

What I found to be the most stimulating were the sections on the aesthetic character of Japanese philosophy and its connections to nature and Buddhist thought. Highly Recommended.
 

Fueco

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9. A Sand County Almanac - Aldo Leopold

This is a classic in ecology writings. It’s a collection of stories about the ecology of the sand counties of Wisconsin in the 1930s and 40s, and details Leopold’s Views of conservation and land use ethics.

I read this for a college Conservation class 24 years ago, and finally circled back to reread it.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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@Fueco ever read any Tiimothy Morton?
 

California Dreamer

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1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
[
4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
6. Education, by Tara Westover

7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura

13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman

Jonathon Hickman continues his weird tale of global finance barons in thrall to the god Mammon, and the grisly murders committed in the course of their internecine rivalry.

In this instalment, Detective Dumas seeks the help of an academic to help his inquiries. The two go inside the Fed building and encounter a deep, dark secret. Meanwhile Ria Rothschild and her familiar are proceeding to enact a bloody retribution for the murder of her brother.

The artwork is still suitably creepy and Hickman manages to keep his story on the right side of ridiculous. I did find his chronology confusing at times; the narrative is not quite sequential, and the reader should pay attention to the date/time stamps on the top of the page. I also started to get uncomfortable with his use of the Rothschild name, and how he characterises them. I think it's the only real name in the finance industry that he appropriates, and he gives the impression that he's aligning with some of the anti-Semitic stuff that was hurled at the Rothschilds in the past. It's not necessary and the story would not have suffered at all if he'd invented another name for those characters.

I'm not expecting another instalment for a year or so, but I will be looking out for it. It will be interesting to see if I can pick up this convoluted tale after a long break.
 

Fueco

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@Fueco ever read any Tiimothy Morton?
I haven’t, but I just added one of his books to my list on the library’s website. I’ll get to it after a few books I have checked out now.

10. Hillbilly Elegy - J.D. Vance

A memoir of an Appalachian family told from the perspective of one who escaped poor town Ohio to get a law degree (I find it funny that a J.D. got a JD).

A common thread I noticed between the two books I’m reading today (I’m listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama) is the similarity between growing up in poor environs and escaping to Ivy League schools and the relatively higher accessibility of those schools to poor folks than the local schools.

Anyway, it was a good read, and I noticed some parallels to my own childhood as trailer trash in the early days of Silicon Valley.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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I haven’t, but I just added one of his books to my list on the library’s website. I’ll get to it after a few books I have checked out now.

10. Hillbilly Elegy - J.D. Vance

A memoir of an Appalachian family told from the perspective of one who escaped poor town Ohio to get a law degree (I find it funny that a J.D. got a JD).

A common thread I noticed between the two books I’m reading today (I’m listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama) is the similarity between growing up in poor environs and escaping to Ivy League schools and the relatively higher accessibility of those schools to poor folks than the local schools.

Anyway, it was a good read, and I noticed some parallels to my own childhood as trailer trash in the early days of Silicon Valley.
Know that story, grew up a Houso. Long live the glorious Proletariat.
 

Fueco

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11. Fishing Bamboo - John Gierach

This one is kind of a history, owners manual and ode to bamboo fly fishing rods. I don’t own such a rod, but still enjoy Gierach’s writing style, and needed a break from politics.
 

Fueco

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12. Wilderness, The Gateway To The Soul by Scott Stillman

A paean to Wilderness and wild places in general, presented as a series of short stories from backpacking and road trips, primarily in The American West. Stillman is a local writer here in Boulder who is a contributing writer for Backpacker Magazine.

This was my quickest read in some time, consuming my free time for the past 16 hours.
 
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Geoffrey Firmin

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10.Black Panther Epic Collection; Revenge of the Black Panther by Jack Kirby,J Shooter and others.

The King is an excellent draftsman and illustrator however his dialogue leaves a bit to be desired.

Just picked up Killing Commendatore by Murakami, it will be some time before I return.
 

Fueco

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13. What You Are Getting Wong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte

This is a response to Hillbilly Elegy by a historian. She contends that much of JD Vance’s point of view is wrong, and does nothing but strengthen negative stereotypes of Appalachian people.
 

California Dreamer

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1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
[
4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
6. Education, by Tara Westover

7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura
13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman

14. Dark Echoes of the Past, by Roman Diaz Eterovic

Heredia is a private detective working in Santiago. Things are slow until his girlfriend introduces him to Virginia, who wants him to investigate the death of her brother. The brother, Reyes, was killed in the course of a robbery, but Virginia thinks there is more to it.

Heredia takes on the case and soon turns up the fact the Reyes was a political prisoner during the Pinochet regime. Things get murkier from there, as he seeks to unearth an ugly past that plenty of people would like to forget.

This could have been quite a grim novel, but Eterovic manages to write with a light, almost breezy touch. Heredia loves to read, which enables the author to sneak in references to his favourite works. Heredia also discusses the case with his cat, who answers back and gives him advice. This is not your ordinary detective fiction; it's a skilful blend of noirish themes with a pacy and crisp narrative style and a touch of magic realism.
 

California Dreamer

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Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Messages
6,375
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1. Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
2. Illustrado, by Miguel Syjuco
3. Kill 'Em All, by John Niven
[
4. The Black Monday Murders, volume 1: All Hail God Mammon, by Jonathon Hickman
5. Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn
6. Education, by Tara Westover

7. Europe: A Natural History, by Tim Flannery
8. No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings
9. Scrublands, by Chris Hammer
10. The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura
11. The White Darkness, by David Grann
12. Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa's Deluge, by Yusuke Kimura
13. The Black Monday Murders, Volume 2: The Scales, by Jonathon Hickman
14. Dark Echoes of the Past, by Roman Diaz Eterovic

15. Acute Misfortune, by Erik Jensen

This is an unflinching account of the life of <i>avant garde</i> artist Adam Cullen. Cullen won Australia's major portrait prize, the Archibald, but most of his work was far more confronting and radical. He was an iconoclast with major dependencies on drugs and alcohol.

Erik Jensen spent months in close proximity to his subject, shacking up with him in his remote studio and talking about his deepest feelings. The relationship between writer and subject became fraught, even abusive, in the process, and Jensen does not hesitate to put all that on record.

I'm ambivalent about this book. I think the reader's opinion is mostly going to come down to the degree of empathy that they feel for Cullen, and whether they can look past his personal failings in the appreciation of his art. I couldn't.
 
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