• We would like to welcome Exquisite Trimmings as an official Affiliate Vendor. Exquisite Trimmings is a UK based purveyor of the very best in clothing and accessories, from gloves by Thomas Reimer to leather portfolios from Il Micio, to watch rolls by Rapport London. Please visit their new thread and give them a warm welcome.

  • 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

Geoffrey Firmin

Distinguished Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
7,018
Reaction score
2,435
Rand herself is a good staring point and the so called sad excuse for philosophy which she promoted.

From Wikipedia ( Yes I lazy i know but...) Rand described Objectivism as "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute" Nuff said.
 

Fueco

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
13,994
Reaction score
24,698
11. To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret, by Jedidiah Jenkins

The subtitle kind of gives away the plot... Jenkins is the son of Peter and Barbara Jenkins, who became famous in the 1970s after walking across the country on a quest to become closer to God. They were also famously divorced after their marriage very publicly fell apart.

Jedidiah decides to quit his job at age 30 and ride his bike to Patagonia starting at the beach where his parents finished their journey. In the process, he discovers a lot about himself and about how others see the world from outside of the American Bubble.
 

Fueco

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
13,994
Reaction score
24,698
...As for Ayn Rand...

Her philosophy takes the position that altruism and caring for others are counterproductive to the betterment of human society. She's reprehensible at best, but her philosophy seems to appeal to college kids who haven't experienced the world enough to see how things really are. I know I went through a phase in my twenties.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

Distinguished Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
7,018
Reaction score
2,435
...As for Ayn Rand...

Her philosophy takes the position that altruism and caring for others are counterproductive to the betterment of human society. She's reprehensible at best, but her philosophy seems to appeal to college kids who haven't experienced the world enough to see how things really are. I know I went through a phase in my twenties.
I was busy reading The War of the Flea and Alexander Berkman ABC of Anarchism while friends studying architecture at Sydney Uni were reading Rand.

Made for some very heated exchanges on the human condition and then they turned to Tony Robbins in their mid thirties...life (can be) is very strnage.
 

Fueco

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
13,994
Reaction score
24,698
I was busy reading The War of the Flea and Alexander Berkman ABC of Anarchism while friends studying architecture at Sydney Uni were reading Rand.

Made for some very heated exchanges on the human condition and then they turned to Tony Robbins in their mid thirties...life (can be) is very strnage.
So, she was just a shill for the self help industry? Figures...
 

FlyingMonkey

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2011
Messages
4,804
Reaction score
4,963
Ayn Rand is treated as a joke by most people everywhere outside of the USA for the reasons already given. Her 'philosophy' is basically the most extreme version of the myth of rugged individualism and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, which denies the existence and contribution of the vast majority of people (and of course of the environment). She was also a flat-out terrible writer. I mean really, no excuses, bad.

Anyway, this week:

10. The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald. Ian McDonald is a novella set in this Luna universe. Unlike the novels, this isn't a story full of big political intrigue and unexpected violence, instead it's a rather delightful window into the ordinary social life of moon residents while all that stuff is going on. The titular 'menace from Farside' isn't some world-shattering danger but a beautiful and talented new addition to the extended family of the narrator, a fiery teenage girl who is telling her story to a neo-Freudian psychiatry robot, that she clearly doesn't take all that seriously. The reason for the the psych visit is the point of the story which gradually unfolds over the course of an ill-advised expedition that four teenagers take for very different reasons, and which, like many such teenage trips, turns out to be far more dangerous than they had realised. Ian McDonald is such a subtle and gifted writer that what might seem to be a slight story provides a lot of insight into not only into Luna, but also into how much human families face pretty much the same problems however radically different their arrangements might appear.

11. How Music Works by David Byrne.
I love David Byrne's music, whether it has been as part of Talking Heads, or with Brian Eno, or St. Vincent, or whoever. He's endless curious and inventive and surprising. This book is a collection of his writings on different aspects of music and the music industry. There are some really excellent sections and a lot of insight into his creative process and music more generally, but it's basically a meandering monologue - that's the way it comes acrosss - and unlike his recordings, there is no actual music here to support the voice, so it can become a bit tiresome.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

Distinguished Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
7,018
Reaction score
2,435
Ayn Rand is treated as a joke by most people everywhere outside of the USA for the reasons already given. Her 'philosophy' is basically the most extreme version of the myth of rugged individualism and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, which denies the existence and contribution of the vast majority of people (and of course of the environment). She was also a flat-out terrible writer. I mean really, no excuses, bad.

Anyway, this week:

10. The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald. Ian McDonald is a novella set in this Luna universe. Unlike the novels, this isn't a story full of big political intrigue and unexpected violence, instead it's a rather delightful window into the ordinary social life of moon residents while all that stuff is going on. The titular 'menace from Farside' isn't some world-shattering danger but a beautiful and talented new addition to the extended family of the narrator, a fiery teenage girl who is telling her story to a neo-Freudian psychiatry robot, that she clearly doesn't take all that seriously. The reason for the the psych visit is the point of the story which gradually unfolds over the course of an ill-advised expedition that four teenagers take for very different reasons, and which, like many such teenage trips, turns out to be far more dangerous than they had realised. Ian McDonald is such a subtle and gifted writer that what might seem to be a slight story provides a lot of insight into not only into Luna, but also into how much human families face pretty much the same problems however radically different their arrangements might appear.

11. How Music Works by David Byrne. I love David Byrne's music, whether it has been as part of Talking Heads, or with Brian Eno, or St. Vincent, or whoever. He's endless curious and inventive and surprising. This book is a collection of his writings on different aspects of music and the music industry. There are some really excellent sections and a lot of insight into his creative process and music more generally, but it's basically a meandering monologue - that's the way it comes acrosss - and unlike his recordings, there is no actual music here to support the voice, so it can become a bit tiresome.
There is or was a kindle? version of the book that did come with a digital stream of a lot of the music at one stage. Read this back in 2012 and think it came out a year after its release. The CD of American Utopia on Broadway is Very Cool.
 

California Dreamer

Distinguished Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Messages
6,782
Reaction score
3,218
1. Damascus, by Christos Tsiolkas
2. Dr Knox, by Peter Spiegelman
3. The Hills Reply, by Tarjei Vesaas

I've been keeping up with my reading, but not with writing up my reviews. Time to do a bit of catching up.

4. Cold Fear, by Mads Peter Nordo

* I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. *

In the second Matthew Cave novel, Nordbo has Cave receiving news that his long-dead father may still be alive. His father is being pursued by the US military over the deaths of two officers involved in a mysterious experiment decades before. A horrific set of murders and the disappearance of Cave's recently-found sister mean that Matthew needs to find his father very quickly, and work out what he might have had to do with these crimes.

Matthew is again helped out by Tupaarnaq, an inscrutable local girl with some very serious grudges of her own to resolve.

This novel has a good plot line and some interesting threads left open at the end for the series to pursue. However I cannot get past the fact that this feels like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, only set in Greenland. If Nordbo had simply resisted whatever urge he had to make Tupaarnaq a tattooed woman, his stories would seem much more like his original ideas, and less derivative. It's a shame, and he really can't dig himself out of the hole that he's dug himself into by doing this.

5. The Drover's Wife, by Leah Purcell

A few years back, indigenous playwright Leah Purcell wrote an award-winning play based on the classic Henry Lawson story about the drover's wife, left alone to scrabble out a hard living in the bush with her children.

Purcell brings two points-of-view to this story that Lawson did not: that of the local indigenous people violently displaced by the mountain cattlemen, and that of the burgeoning feminist movement. Purcell's Molly is a much tougher, resilient and assertive character than the put-upon, isolated character that Lawson wrote of with his sympathetic eye.

Purcell's plot expands on the short story really well, sowing a few seeds early on to set up a startling and action-packed last third. This reads like it would have been fantastic to see on stage.

BUT ...

This book is ruined by a whole series of brain-dead anachronisms that any half-way decent editor should have picked up on and fixed prior to publication. For example, uneducated bush dweller Molly worries about her hormones during pregnancy, ten years before science identified the first hormone, and decades before they ever became linked to health issues during pregnancy. Similarly, she has London feminist Louisa using terms like "bachelor pad" and "global economic depression". I'd be almost 100% certain that neither of those terms were in use in the 1890s. (According to the dictionary, the term "pad" for somewhere to live originated with the hippies in 1960).

This is not just pedantry (although there are also spelling errors that riled the pedant in me), because it seriously misleads the reader. I spent most of chapter two convinced that the Louisa story thread was set in the 1930s and that she was referring to the Great Depression. It was only after a different allusion that I worked out that all of this was happening in 1893. That's something that would not happen on stage, because you could see from the actors' costumes what the setting is.

Sadly, Purcell has ultimately failed to translate her successful drama into an equally successful novel due to either not being up to the task, or having editors who were not up to the job of keeping the manuscript on the rails.

6. The Silent Death, by Volker Kutscher

The second Gereon Rath novel, set in the early 1930s, sees Berlin detectives engaged in a high-profile serial murder case in Dusseldorf. As punishment for his perceived insubordination, Rath is denied the chance to take part and given boring duties like observing the funeral of somebody called Horst Wessel, and attending a fatal industrial accident on a film set, where an actress has had a light fitting fall on her.

Rath doesn't think that this was an accident and gathers proof to suggest otherwise. Then a second actress is found dead in a cinema, perfectly posed, but with her vocal cords cut out. The police are desperate to avoid the sensationalism abroad in Dusseldorf, and so refuse to link these cases. Rath decides to defy them and pursue his own inquiries.

Gereon Rath remains a splendid character: ruthlessly ambitious, hated by his colleagues, the bane of his superiors, heedless of other people, and willing to do whatever is necessary to prove his case. Kutscher includes allusions to the political environment of the times, suggesting where Rath's anti-authoritarian streak may find him in future. Hopefully more of these novels make it into English translation soon.

7. Darkness for Light, by Emma Viskic

After two hair-raising cases, deaf detective Caleb Zelic has decided to simplify his life, take no unnecessary risks and focus on winning back his wife's trust. A meeting arranged at the children's farm throws all that into chaos when his client is found murdered. Pretty soon he is caught up in a whirlwind of contract killers and a rogue AFP cop who demands that he get his disappeared partner back for questioning. His partner's sister is beaten up and her little girl kidnapped, at which point Zelic can no longer sit idly by; he pulls out all the stops to try and rescue the young girl, despite the almost-certain bad outcomes for him personally.

I like Zelic as a character; a deaf PI seems like a very innovative concept, and Viskic has made sure to consult the deaf community to make sure that what Caleb does is realistic. I also enjoy reading novels set in my home town; the places and settings that she describes are all familiar and realistic.

I would have rated this novel higher, but I thought that Viskic's final resolution was rushed and did not really make sense of what had gone before. Otherwise this is yet another very good effort from her.

8. The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides


Psychotherapist Theo Faber leaves a job in a prison to join a small hospital for the mentally-ill. The big attraction for him is that their patients include Alicia Berenson, a convicted murderer who has spent years in a self-imposed silence. Theo is certain that he has the skills to get her to speak and to describe what really happened on the night of her husband's murder.

Theo first has to overcome professional jealousies and administrative opposition before he gets his chance. He makes small steps forward, but Alicia seems determined to resist his help, and there are several major setbacks that arouse condemnation from his peers. As he delves into Alicia's life to help him unlock her silence, he also starts to confront some issues in his own life.

I liked this book a lot. Alicia is a complicated character who evokes reader empathy, and Theo's determination to get her talking is engrossing and absorbing. There are plenty of plot twists and some devious minor characters in the mix. A very satisfying mystery.
 

samtalkstyle

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Messages
167
Reaction score
294
6. The Silent Death, by Volker Kutscher

The second Gereon Rath novel, set in the early 1930s, sees Berlin detectives engaged in a high-profile serial murder case in Dusseldorf. As punishment for his perceived insubordination, Rath is denied the chance to take part and given boring duties like observing the funeral of somebody called Horst Wessel, and attending a fatal industrial accident on a film set, where an actress has had a light fitting fall on her.

Rath doesn't think that this was an accident and gathers proof to suggest otherwise. Then a second actress is found dead in a cinema, perfectly posed, but with her vocal cords cut out. The police are desperate to avoid the sensationalism abroad in Dusseldorf, and so refuse to link these cases. Rath decides to defy them and pursue his own inquiries.

Gereon Rath remains a splendid character: ruthlessly ambitious, hated by his colleagues, the bane of his superiors, heedless of other people, and willing to do whatever is necessary to prove his case. Kutscher includes allusions to the political environment of the times, suggesting where Rath's anti-authoritarian streak may find him in future. Hopefully more of these novels make it into English translation soon.
I loved the Babylon Berlin series and wasn't aware there were novels. Will definitely have to read. Maybe I'll pick up a German version and see how well I remember my previous studies...
 

Journeyman

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
7,483
Reaction score
2,591
6. The Silent Death, by Volker Kutscher

The second Gereon Rath novel, set in the early 1930s, sees Berlin detectives engaged in a high-profile serial murder case in Dusseldorf. As punishment for his perceived insubordination, Rath is denied the chance to take part and given boring duties like observing the funeral of somebody called Horst Wessel, and attending a fatal industrial accident on a film set, where an actress has had a light fitting fall on her.
Historical note (that people may know already) - the reference to Horst Wessel shows that the novel was set, or at least commenced, in 1930 as that was when Wessel was murdered. He was a far-right-wing leader in the Sturmabteilung, the brown-shirted stormtroopers who provided the Nazi Party's muscle in its early days, and was shot in the head by one or members of the German Communist Party. Wessel composed a song (a "lied", in German) that was commonly played at SA rallies. After his murder, the song was renamed the Horst Wessel Lied and became the official anthem of the Nazi Party and, later, the co-anthem of Nazi Germany.
 

FlyingMonkey

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2011
Messages
4,804
Reaction score
4,963
There is or was a kindle? version of the book that did come with a digital stream of a lot of the music at one stage. Read this back in 2012 and think it came out a year after its release. The CD of American Utopia on Broadway is Very Cool.
This is apparently a new and updated edition. Not quite sure what about it is updated... but it certainly doesn't have a music link that I've seen. I decorated my entire old house listening to David Byrne's internet radio stream...
 

jeradjames

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2015
Messages
85
Reaction score
277
6. Doctor Faustus - Thomas Mann
Took my sweet time with this one. Mann's take on the Faust legend told through a close confidant of Adrian Leverkuhn, Manns protagonist, a composer. I found it difficult to push through the first 250 but became engrossing shortly after.

7. Letters to a Young Poet - Rilke

A young poet writes to Rilke about his poetry and Rilke shares his advice to the aspiring poet from 1902-1908. As close to self- help as I'd like to be.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

Distinguished Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2010
Messages
7,018
Reaction score
2,435
This is apparently a new and updated edition. Not quite sure what about it is updated... but it certainly doesn't have a music link that I've seen. I decorated my entire old house listening to David Byrne's internet radio stream...
I spent from 1978 to 1984 going to parties were Talking Heads were on the mandatory playlist, particularly at art school parties. Byrne and Talking Heads have provided some of the best concerts I’ve seen over the years.:worship:
 

samtalkstyle

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Messages
167
Reaction score
294
3. John le Carre - The Spy who Came In from the Cold

The first of le Carre's novels, and it shows - while nevertheless a good read, it lacks the visceral descriptiveness that characterises most of his later writing. Still couldn't put it down, I'm a sucker for a good Cold War thriller.
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

How do you feel about spending money on non-essential goods during the Covid-19 crisis?

  • I don't want to spend money at a time of economic uncertainty, even if I could afford it.

  • I feel compelled to spend to help small businesses that are struggling.

  • I reduced my budget for non-essential goods and I'm not spending at the moment.

  • Not much has changed for me and I'm still buying stuff I can't afford.


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
438,579
Messages
9,452,313
Members
198,124
Latest member
timothyneills
Top