• Hi, I'm the owner and main administrator of Styleforum. If you find the forum useful and fun, please help support it by buying through the posted links on the forum. Please visit ou very popular sales thread, where the latest and best sales are posted, including the latest, updated, very comprehensive, Styleforum Black Friday Sales List

    Purchases made through some of our links earns a commission for the forum and allows us to do the work of maintaining and improving it. Finally, thanks for being a part of this community. We realize that there are many choices today on the internet, and we have all of you to thank for making Styleforum the foremost destination for discussions of menswear.
  • STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

2020 50 Book Challenge

Marc Voorhees

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2012
Messages
1,729
Reaction score
1,672
I love XKCD, and as it happens he's married to the daughter of one of my colleagues...
I love the comic and have for years. What an I credibly tiny world!!
 

Swampster

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2020
Messages
240
Reaction score
361
48. Berlin Game - Len Deighton

Decided I ought to read the first trilogy before reading the final book in the third.
I would definitely have recommended reading 'Game, Set and Match' before 'Faith, Hope and Charity'. Knowing the allegiance of each character before hand takes much of the suspense away.

I'm currently reading 'Winter' - Deighton's prequel to the Samson stories. This covers 1899 to 1945 and brings together the families of many of the characters from the Kaiserzeit to the end of the Third Reich. It takes a snapshot of various years (e.g. 1899, 1916, 1933). It uses the characters to illustrate the various pivotal events, and I think Deighton's intention is at least partly write a chronicle of Berlin and beyond, but he does manage to keep the interpersonal relations of the friends and families centrally. If I were to fault anything, it is that long standing enmities of 20 years get resolved in only a few chapters since there is a sliding scale of time passing - the 20s pass quite quickly whereas the last 12 years will be more detailed (understandably).
In this case, I think the book needs to be read after the others. You know what will happen to the two main characters but seeing how they are getting there is interesting. There is the pleasure of realisation as a new character is mentioned and you work out how they relate to the later books. (A rather trite comparison would be with C.S Lewis's books which I am reading with some children at the moment - better to read the Magician's Nephew after the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).

I've just got past the Night of the Long Knives. A reader knows how it will turn out but I think Deighton does a decent job of having the characters unsure of what will happen.
 

FlyingMonkey

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2011
Messages
5,305
Reaction score
5,980
75. Rage by Bob Woodward.
This is the second book on Trump by the veteran reporter and unofficial 'court chronicler' of presidents from Nixon onwards. This time around he was actually offered significant cooperation by Trump, with dozens of interviews, and it's clear he was also helped by several other White House staffers past and present, notably Jim Mattis, who comes out of it very well, and Rex Tillerson. Jared Kushner also comes across as not completely useless, although his acknolwedged 'efficiency' of often based on total misunderstanding of the problems, so really he is efficiently pursuing completely pointless goals. Woodward's politics, for all that Trump tries occasionally to cast him as a 'radical left Democrat' are straight down the line centrist. He's about as boringly patriotic and conventional an American as you'll find, and it's interesting to see him admit to having his own assumptions challenged, at the age of 77, by Black Lives Matter, in a way that Trump's clearly have not been. The only problem with Woodward's centrism here is that he doesn't probe deep enough and he doesn't really have any skin in the game that Trump is playing. The result, for all that it concludes that Trump is unfit to be President, something I think everyone except his die-hard supports will now freely admit, is surprisingly unengaging and contains no major revelations. It won't change anyone's mind. And there are so many holes. If Kushner is the managerial engine behind Trump, then Stephen Miller is widely considered to be the ideological force, yet Miller is mentioned once or twice in passing and his role is completely unanalysed. Likewise many of the other major officials currently wrecking education, housing, national parks and environment... and more. It's clear that Trump is very limited in his focus and attention, but so too is this book.
 
Last edited:

Geoffrey Firmin

Distinguished Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
7,463
Reaction score
2,879
52 Stalin’s Wine Cellar by John Baker & Nick Place

To begin this is a great “yarn” think Indiana Jones meets your local quality wine merchant and lures him on an adventure to the wilds of the former USSR. Wherein lies a fabled lost wine cellar populated by 30,0000 rare French and Georgian wines from 1847 to 1917, authenticated and drinkable.

Owned by Czar Nicholas II, claimed by Lenin then added to Stalin with a selection of notable 20th century French wines and moved to hide it all from the Nazi hordes during WW2. Then its simply forgotten to history until...

Money guns and vino combine in a delightful tapestry to provide a rollickingly informed historical and viticultural read.
 

FlyingMonkey

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2011
Messages
5,305
Reaction score
5,980
76. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.
Still catching up on the best SFF of last year, this was one that I didn't think I would enjoy, and it's pretty much lived up to that first impression. It is certainly an original premise. The setting is a decrepit solar system (galaxy?) populated by dead and dying necromancers seved by reanimated skeletons, each planet having a slightly different specialism in serving the deathless Emperor. In the creepiest, least popular world, the Ninth, whose occupants guard a locked tomb that contains some hideous secret, an orphaned girl has grown up to be the protector of the grim young necromancer, Harrowhark, the only other girl on the planet. She is a foul-mouthed, well-muscled redhead with a big sword, whose only reading is girlie magazines (yes, that type) in contrast to the stick-thin, black-cloaked nuns with skull-pained faces who populate the deep dark chasm that holds the tomb. The pair, along with a similar couple from each of the other planets is called to a competition on the 1st planet to see who will become a new and deathless 'lyctor' (a sort of praetorian for the Emperor). We meet a cast of characters from the prissy to the intellectual to the outright sexy (this, if you haven't guessed is a very LGBTQ+ book, although it's all sighing and longing like some mid-century novel about girls' school crushes...). From here on in the book becomes essentially a haunted house mystery, and gets increasingly and disgustingly grande guignol, with a lot of murder, bones, and bodily fluids. So what's not to like? Well, the writing is horribly uneven. It veers between fluid description, overly portentous exposition, and stupidly camp / Buffy or Mean Girls-style 'repartée', often in the space of a paragraph. It's jarring and sometimes the intrusion of some ridiculous contemporary cultural reference from our world completely undermines the job of world and atmosphere building that the author has done. I'm sure it's deliberate (at least I hope so or Muir is just a bad writer), but for me at least, it's grating and does not work. In conclusion, if you like reading a dark and atmospheric science fantasy populated by bitchy goth teenagers (or adult characters who still behave and sound like bitchy goth teenagers) whose idea of a witty comeback is 'that's what she said!' or 'Eat a dick!' then you'll like this book. Clearly, from the reviews, a lot of people like this, it has won awards, and it clearly has a target audience. It's not me.
 

Marc Voorhees

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2012
Messages
1,729
Reaction score
1,672
Bit of an Info dump. Past few weeks have been a bit hard to read. So these are mostly from 3 weeks ago or so (Time have been lost for me, timeline may be wrong, but order is correct)

36. * Soldiers of Fear - Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch - Fun STTNG book set as book 2 of the Invasion! sub series about mythical creatures which are the foundation for the devil myth in most species. Fun stuff
37. Civil War Ghosts and Legends - - Goofy history of some first hand experiences and lore around, you guessed it, Chosts and Legends of the Civil war. quick and interesting read
38. The Gladiator - Alan Baker - Terrible. Disappointing in so many ways, was supposed to be a view of Gladiators and an insight into the book. References were scattered and incomplete, filled with touchy feely examples and writing at times. not a huge fan
39. *Mosaic - Jeri Taylor - This is basically a biographical sketch of Captain Kathryn Janeway. Like most star Trek books (As opposed to Star Wars Books) this is not technically canon, BUT Jeri Tayor was a show writer, and perhaps unsurprisingly, she writes a really engaging and accurate and probably as close to canon as you can get. It is really good, I liked it just as much now as I did years ago
40. *Saratoga - Michael Jan Freidman - Fun whodunnit novel in the Deep Space Nine Universe, page turner with a twist at the end!
41. *A Rock and a Hard Place - Peter David - See my above note about Peter David, great sci-fi author. Next Generation book

42. Inside the The Third Reich - Albert Speer - Okay. So, my advice is if you have any interest in history, understanding a bit more about Hitler, getting an interesting perspective on history, or understanding how 2016 happened here in the US, I would read this book. Albert is a good writer, tons of information. I found it a bit confusing at times because I don't know too much about very detailed parts of german military history AND he jumps around in time a bit, it isn't perfectly linear, but I got through it. It is LONG however. 700Pages, and I got the distinct feeling he could have written 1400 before he felt he wrote too much. Biggest knock is that there does seem to be a bit of "Well, I had no idea about slaves and Jews dying except in one or two places and I made it better where I could" he only mentions concentration camps a hand full of times and Auschwitz once that I remember. There is some detail about the Nuremberg Trials which was neat as well. Read it, it is worth it.

43. Between the Strokes of Night - Charles Sheffield - Great science fiction book which spans (The very distant future) 2010 AD and 27,000AD. it is a genuinely page turner of a book, well written and at the end I was left wanting more. I also thought the ending was quite beautiful. A story of technological and scientific advancement with a modicum of potential truth. A fun read, one I pick up based solely on the cover art. I find that is the best approach for Science fiction selections
 

FlyingMonkey

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2011
Messages
5,305
Reaction score
5,980
77. A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin
Even though the irrascible, dogged detective is supposedly now several years into retirement, Ian Rankin clearly can't let Rebus just read, listen to his extensive collection of vinyl and walk his dog. The novel starts with Rebus's old deputy, Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke helping her retired boss move to a downstairs flat, as his declining health means he can no longer manage the steep tenement stairs. But both are soon back in action. Rebus is called to help out his estranged daughter, Samantha, who lives about as far from Edinburgh as you can get, on the bleak and windswept north coast of Scotland, near Tongue. Sam's partner, Keith, has gone missing, which is not like him, and it's made all the more worrying by the fact that his car is sitting in a lay-by near a local church. Meanwhile back in Edinburgh, a wealthy Saudi student, who mixed with the cream of Scottish society, has been found murdered in a decidedly unpreposessing carpark near a municipal golf course. Clarke is on the case, helped none too willingly by another member of the old team, Malcolm Fox, who has been seconded by Headquarters to keep on the eye on the investigation because of the Saudi student's important political connections. Up north, the local police are trying to pin things on Samantha and very much want Rebus out of the way, but as Rebus and Clarke & Fox investigate their respective cases, the same names seem to come up, as do some familiar figures from the past... are there connections or would that be too easy? Ian Rankin couldn't write a bad book, and while Rebus's first post-retirement outing was a little weaker, this is a very satisfying story, which gets the balance of criminal and domestic detail right, with enough red herrings and blind alleys to keep you guessing. In particular, the physical and social atmosphere of the villages along the North Sutherland coastline is captured perfectly (I should know as my wife did her doctoral research in the area and we've visited a few times).
 
Last edited:

LonerMatt

Distinguished Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
2,689
Reaction score
1,511
1. The Tangled Land
2. The Test
3. Grace of Kings
4. Wall of Storms
5. Where there was Still Love
6. The Secret Commonwealth
7. Children of Ruins
8. Hunger
9. Legacy of Ash
10. When we were Vikings
11. The Yellow Notebook
12. A Couple of Things Before the End
13. Agency
14. Sword of Fire
15. How to Fix the Future
16. The Topeka School
17. Beijing Payback
18. The Lucky Country
19. A horse walks into a bar
20. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
21. The Secret Scripture
22. Stone Sky Gold Mountain
23. The Return
24. The Lost Decade
25. Shop Class as Soulcraft
26. Makers
27. Between the World and Me
28. How to do nothing
29. Amusing Ourselves to Death
30. The Bear
31. Eden
32. The Medium is the Massage
33. The Book of Koli
35. The End of Education
36. Exploded View
37. Quarterly Essay: Cry me a river
38. Water Knife
39. Dance Dance Dance
40. Norwegian Wood
41. Snow Crash
42. Being Ecological
43. The Trials of Koli

43. The Trials of Koli


The 2nd in MR Carey's Koli trilogy, this novel follows Koli and a band of characters with where they were left: Koli expelled from his village, teaming up with a roving doctor and breaking out of his imprisonment in a religious fanatic's den.

In this novel, Koli aims to get to London to see if there are remnants of tech to try and help the doctor find a way to avert the fertility crisis. Added to this is a new narrative thread, back in Koli's village something is up.

Another really great installment, MR Carey is a really good writer and consistently has interesting takes on well worn paths. This post-apocalyptic novel series is inventive, interesting, unpredictable and well written.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

Distinguished Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
7,463
Reaction score
2,879
53.The Force by Don Winslow

Greed graft corruption murder payback. Just another day in the life of NYPD Detective.

Brutal but has some great moments of comedy.

Exceptionally well written and paced, but you sadly you know from the start where this is going.
 

LonerMatt

Distinguished Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
2,689
Reaction score
1,511
1. The Tangled Land
2. The Test
3. Grace of Kings
4. Wall of Storms
5. Where there was Still Love
6. The Secret Commonwealth
7. Children of Ruins
8. Hunger
9. Legacy of Ash
10. When we were Vikings
11. The Yellow Notebook
12. A Couple of Things Before the End
13. Agency
14. Sword of Fire
15. How to Fix the Future
16. The Topeka School
17. Beijing Payback
18. The Lucky Country
19. A horse walks into a bar
20. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
21. The Secret Scripture
22. Stone Sky Gold Mountain
23. The Return
24. The Lost Decade
25. Shop Class as Soulcraft
26. Makers
27. Between the World and Me
28. How to do nothing
29. Amusing Ourselves to Death
30. The Bear
31. Eden
32. The Medium is the Massage
33. The Book of Koli
35. The End of Education
36. Exploded View
37. Quarterly Essay: Cry me a river
38. Water Knife
39. Dance Dance Dance
40. Norwegian Wood
41. Snow Crash
42. Being Ecological
43. The Trials of Koli
44. A Deadly Education

44. A Deadly Education

So, Naomi Novik is an author that I've been really excited by. Her first novel that I read, Uprooted, was masterful and unexpected. Spinning Silver came out last year and was equally lovely. Typified by retelling Eastern European tales with a feminist flare and some interesting quirks that were really well done.

A Deadly Education is a real departure from those two novels. No longer a retelling this is more of a confrontation of fantasies obsession with cheery red-faced youth. As a fairly obvious riff on Harry Potter it's actually a lot more than that.

In this novel El is a loner and a bit of a dickhead. She's trying to navigate her 2nd-to-last year and it's dangerous, the final test is escaping a bunch of monsters and there's a lot of alliances, power sharing and everything balances on a knife's edge. Regularly students disappear, are killed or are so stressed they crack.

Anyway, this is getting a bit long, but once I took the book on its own terms it was really fun. It's a bit of an interesting one and I like that it clearly challenges so many of the tropes and issues of the genre. Ends on an important cliff hanger and I look forward to reading the next one.
 

samtalkstyle

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Messages
280
Reaction score
662
50. Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style - W. David Marx

An interesting foray into the history of menswear in Japan, from pre-WWII to somewhat current.
Another one that I found hard to put down. Great read.
 

Journeyman

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
7,674
Reaction score
2,856
44. A Deadly Education
^Goddamnit, Matt! I was just about to write a review of Novik's new book, too!

I've never read any of her "Temeraire" novels (alt-history around Napoleonic times, with dragons), but I really enjoyed both Uprooted and Spinning Silver.

As you say, A Deadly Education is quite different and so I think that some people on Goodreads were a bit disappointed as a result. This book is pretty heavy on exposition and El is pretty bitchy - but I enjoyed the world-building and I enjoyed El's personality, too. I actually wouldn't have minded if it was a bit longer and a bit more detailed.

I'm really looking forward to the next instalment.
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

Most Interesting Fashion Collaboration of 2020

  • JW Anderson x Uniqlo

  • Nigo x Virgil Abloh

  • Converse x Midnight Studios

  • Rick Owens x Champion

  • Barbour x Engineered Garments

  • Adidas x Bed JW Ford

  • Jordan Brand x Dior

  • Billie Eilish x Takashi Murakami

  • Lego x Levi's


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
448,765
Messages
9,712,408
Members
202,728
Latest member
satmandinn
Top