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2020 50 Book Challenge

Fueco

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PS: Is no-one else reading right now?
I am, but my time for reading has been seriously cut down since our youngest arrived. I'm almost done with two books.
 

Fueco

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I had that problem when i had my kid, but after a few months you slowly get a bit of free time back. I found it hard to stay away though lol.

I recently found an app called "split vote" where you can make really cool looking polls, and i got quite a bit of help on there about what book to read next.
Yes, that works with one or two kids. Not with three...
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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61.The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction Edited by Michael Emmerich, Jim Hinks & Masashi Matsue

A thoughtful, stimulating collection of short stories dealing with the foibles, dramas and egos of the citizens of Tokyo and its environs.

The collection takes its inspiration from the fact Tokyo is the literary and publishing capital of Japan.Aside from Banana Yoshimoto I was not familiar with the authors in the anthology. So as a springboard into new literary territory it has promoted my curiosity to seek out a number of these authors.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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@FlyingMonkey also reading The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years by Greil Marcus & about to begin Hinton by Mark Blacklock, this was picked up after hearing the author interviewed on BBC4 Arts and Ideas program.

Also a pile (very definite term of measurement) of journal articles on Neoplatonism and Jung.
 

Marc Voorhees

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FlyingMonkey

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61.The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction Edited by Michael Emmerich, Jim Hinks & Masashi Matsue

A thoughtful, stimulating collection of short stories dealing with the foibles, dramas and egos of the citizens of Tokyo and its environs.

The collection takes its inspiration from the fact Tokyo is the literary and publishing capital of Japan.Aside from Banana Yoshimoto I was not familiar with the authors in the anthology. So as a springboard into new literary territory it has promoted my curiosity to seek out a number of these authors.
I've got this and dipped into it, but still not read everything. Must get back to it...
 

Fueco

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71. David and Goliath, by Malcom Gladwell

A look at how we think about obstacles and disadvantages. Gladwell makes the case that might isn’t always right, and that the little guy often isn’t as weak as he appears, with a series of true stories.
 

LonerMatt

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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
45. New Dark Age
46. The girl and the stars
47. Demon in white
48. Infinite Splendour
49. Legacy of Steel
50. The Practice

49. Legacy of Steel

2nd in a trilogy and it's a fun one. Lots happens. A bit bloated but in a good way. I always enjoy books like this even if others would find them laboured.

50. The Practice

Average advice written about creative work. Every sentence written like a headline. A few things to take away but a lot left by the wayside.
 

Marc Voorhees

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44. *The Final Fury - Dafydd ab Hugh - This is the final book in a sub series that spread across the 4 major Star Trek series. The author is fantastic, big fan of some of his other works in the genre. The premise is there was a species of "Demons" that used to rule the alpha quadrant (Where Star Trek takes place) these aliens formed the collective basis for all of the devil and evil mythology across all the the races in start trek. They were cast out of heaven by the enslaved races (Humans Vulcans etc). This book is the Voyager book where they have to prevent an invasion of the alpha quadrant by this race. It is a truly good book, very enjoyable. One of my favorites as a kid, and still one of my favorites now.

45. *Bless the Beasts - Karen Haber - Just.......Skip it

46. *Death of a neutron Star - Eric Kotani - So I learned something today, the Author of this book was actually a famous japanese Physicist (Yoji Kondo) using a Nome De Plume. This probaly explains why I like it so much. Book 17 in the Star Trek Voyager series. It has a realistic technology bend, espionage and treachery, and a very fast paced plot. Very fun and believeable, again, a favorite as a kid, still holds up now

47. Witness to Nuremburg - Richard Sonnenfeldt - A Frist hand account of a Jew living in Nazi Germany who travels around the world, ends up joining the US army in 1945 and them becomes the chief translator for the Nuremburg trials. Fascinating story, not a huge fan of his writing, and I found myself wanting more detail about things, but worth a quick read. This book is written in reverse chronology sort of, first two chapters talk about the trials, then the next one starts at his birth. More Trial detail would have been good. Basically an autobiography and book bragging about weird sex incidents.

48. The Devil's Heart - William J Johnstone - Here is another one, probably just Skip. Star Trek The Next Generation book

49. Veritas - Ariel Sabar - I find the story to be well worth reading. Fascinating amount of work and detail to cover the forgery of the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife". it is a fascinating exploration into the world of "Publish of Die" academia. That said, I find that Ariel Sabar is a pretentious and unnecessarily long winded author, and seems to come at this from a slightly holier than thou approach at times. I would recommend reading it for the absolute fascinating story!

I should note here, My hand written list says 50, but my typed list says 49. haven't quite figured out how/why there is a gap. Hmmm.
 

FlyingMonkey

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87. The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller
Hudson is a small town that was once made rich through the whaling industry. Hundreds of magnificent animals ended their long lives here, flensed and gutted, their fat rendered for lamp oil, their bones destined for corsetry and their flesh - well unlike in Japan, Americans didn't even eat it, so it was burried in massive pits all around the town. The end of the whaling industry saw a precipitous decline into poverty and irrelevence until recently, New York City property prices started to drive New Yorkers to Hudson, leading to new investment and highly controversial gentrification.
This much is fact, however Sam Miller, author of excellent cli-fi / neo-cyberpunk novel, Black Fish City, uses these facts as the basis for a much wilder take on what's really going on in this town. It's a novel in which Hudson is haunted by the spirits of being that may or may not be the long-dead whales, where seawater seems to be seeping into basements and people's lungs, and where the arguments over gentrification get vicious and violent. The novel starts with the return to the town of Ronan Szepessy, a hip gay NYC photographer who fled homophobic Hudson years before, leaving behind his butcher father and the friend he loved in high school. Now he's back and he's not entirely sure why. Maybe it's to see his father, maybe it's to see his old friend Dom and his wife Attalah and disrupt their marriage, maybe it's to hook with a guy named Katch, although the only problem with that is he seems to be dead.
Ronan's arrival seems to precipitate something. A simmering anti-gentrification movement, supporting the evicted and the marginal long-term and particularly black residents of Hudson, suddenly gets jet-fueled, the drugs get better, and fake Grindr and Tindr handles created by Ronan to troll pro-gentrification inhabitants suddenly seem to have lives and appetites and politics of their own. Soon there are gangs of whale-masked vigilantes with harpoons roaming the streets, people are making plans and making bombs, and the (also gay) head honcho of the multi-million dollar arts company, Penelope's Quilt, which no-one quite understands, is framed for a disgusing crime.
Quite a few reviews have praised this work, and its fusion of literary novel with elements of SF and horror, but I found that not only were the politics of the novel unclear and sometimes pretty nasty, even when it comes to queer issues (and I believe Miller is gay himself), but that the novel seemed constantly on the verge of spiraling out of control. There is just too much that Miller tries to cram into the work; it's like the book has ADHD.
 

samtalkstyle

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Haven't been on SF for a bit. 3 more books down.

53. London Match - Len Deighton
54. Charity - Len Deighton


Must say I expected a much more dire ending.
Or at least something not so prettily wrapped up with a bow.


55. Take Ivy
I'm in the middle of reading a fairly dense volume, so it was quite a relaxing evening spent flipping through the many photos that compose this book.
Also interesting to see how the book goes about idolising the American college student of the time - it was even more interesting to have only read this for the first time after reading Ametora, where the story is told of just how different of a scene the crew making Take Ivy were presented upon arrival in the States, versus their preconceived ideals.
 

FlyingMonkey

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88. Red Pill by Hari Kunzru
Hari Kuzru is one of my favourite contemporary writers and his last novel, White Tears, was the Get Out of literary fiction. Red Pill deals with similarly contemporary issues, but it's set very specifically in 2016 in the run-up to the election of Donald Trump, although this doesn't become signficant until near the end of the book.
The protagonist is a poor Kunzru substitute, Gary Bridgeman, an aimless British-Indian writer (not of the same level as Kunzru) transplanted to New York, with a lovely and brilliant Japanese wife, Rei, and 3-year old daughter, Nina. Due to some limited success with a popular book on aesthetics, he is offered a 3-month residency by an eccentric German oganisation, the Deuter Foundation, located in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, just across the lake from the house where the Nazis developed the Final Solution. Like me, Gary is already obsessed with surveillance and privacy and somewhat paranoid, and it turns out that the foundation has completely the opposite views and expects its fellows to work completely transparently and engage with the other resident fellows. Needless to say, Gary reacts badly and retreats into his room and then tries to escape into the local area and the centre of Berlin. He encounters Syrian refugees and ex-Stasi informers, but most fatefully of all, Anton*, a mephistophelean white supremacist who happens to be the showrunner of a TV show Gary is obsessed with, a truly horrific police drama called Blue Lives (and yes, you can't help adding the 'Matter' at the end). From here things go very badly wrong for Gary.
Red Pill is another beautifully written and genuinely disturbing novel from Kunzru, but I can't help feeling, coming out as it does as Trump is on his way out, that it feels much more temporally specific and maybe even dated, than White Tears. There is a lot going on and some of it feels forced, and certainly the story of the Stasi informer reads so much like an outtake from or a riff off Anna Funder's brilliant book, Stasiland, I was surprised not to see her name in the acknowledgements. It's still head and shoulders above most other things I've read this year.

*As an SF member, I did wonder whether "Anton" with his numerous aliases, had at least a nominal connection to Mr. Michael Anton AKA Manton AKA Michael Antongiovanni... and certainly his views seem to have a strong connection to Curtis Yavin, the notorious right-wing blogger and white supremacist 'great replacement' conspiracy theorist, who Manton has quoted in the past. Or maybe not - The character, Anton's views owe as much to right accelerationist theorist, Nick Land, and a number of other weirdo thinkers.
 
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Geoffrey Firmin

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@FlyingMonkey have you listened to this years Massey Lectures?
I looked up White Tears and ordered a copy sounds like a good lie in the sun at the beach book.
 

FlyingMonkey

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@FlyingMonkey have you listened to this years Massey Lectures?
I looked up White Tears and ordered a copy sounds like a good lie in the sun at the beach book.
It's pretty intense... not sure I'd read it on the beach!

As for the Massey Lectures, yeah, they were pretty good - but then I would say that because Ron is a friend of mine!
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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It's pretty intense... not sure I'd read it on the beach!

As for the Massey Lectures, yeah, they were pretty good - but then I would say that because Ron is a friend of mine!
I was thinking content not name dropping 😂
 

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