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2021 50 Book Challenge

Geoffrey Firmin

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26.Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq

I’ve read most of the novels of Houellebecq.I remember a reviewer saying he was heir to Camaus. I never did see the connection to be honest. Yes he did have some of the qualities of existentialist fiction which I admired.

Submission I bought it I read it. OK jury still out on that one.

I’ve also read Charles Bukowski in my 20’s.

Actually there are two books I have never completed The Castle by Kafka which basically drove me spare with the trials and tribulations of the protagonist. And The Magus which was a crock, both of these I read in my 20’s.

But this Houellebecq is beyond the pale I could put up with the misogyny and other perversities, even masochistic self indulgent alcoholic nihilism which was vaguely amusing. However their comes a time where you just say enough is enough. I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination but …fuck this for a joke. I got to page 189 and gave up in disgust.
 
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LonerMatt

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1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams
4. Uncanny Valley
5. War of Maps
6. A Constellation of Vital phenomena
7. The New Wilderness
8. Attack Surface
9. Gods of Jade and Shadow
10. The Galaxy and the Ground Within
11. Gallowglass
12. Cultural Warlords
13. A Song for A New Day
14. The Secret Life of Addie LaRue
15. Terra Nullius
16. Fall of Koli
17. A Desolation called Peace
18. Gideon the Ninth
19. Harrow the Ninth
20. Essentialism
21. Dead in the Water
22. This is how to lose a time war
23. The Calculating Stars
24. Effortless

24. Effortless


A bit of a manual/self-help book about inverting the idea that important things should be hard and working to make them as effortless as possible. Really enjoyed the premise but probably didn't need the length. The sort of book which, for me, would be a great 2500-3000 word article, but I can see why some work-a-holics might need the length.

Not as insightful as Essentialism, but pretty good.
 

LonerMatt

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1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams
4. Uncanny Valley
5. War of Maps
6. A Constellation of Vital phenomena
7. The New Wilderness
8. Attack Surface
9. Gods of Jade and Shadow
10. The Galaxy and the Ground Within
11. Gallowglass
12. Cultural Warlords
13. A Song for A New Day
14. The Secret Life of Addie LaRue
15. Terra Nullius
16. Fall of Koli
17. A Desolation called Peace
18. Gideon the Ninth
19. Harrow the Ninth
20. Essentialism
21. Dead in the Water
22. This is how to lose a time war
23. The Calculating Stars
24. Effortless
25. The Goblin Emperor

25. The Goblin Emperor


Unputdownable. Such a fucking whiz bang excellent novel. The protagonist, Maia, is 18 and effectively banished. The only son of his father's 3rd disastrous marriage he is both a constant reminder of a sour time and visibly different (being half goblin). However, a disaster leaves him to be the heir and the novel opens with him assuming the throne.

Highly political and nuanced, the story revolves around the first year of Maia's rule as he cements his power and works out what kind of emperor he wants to be. Amazingly riveting and I am so disappointed this is just a one off book as I'd gobble up dozens of these.

Unconditionally recommended to anyone who can stomach made up fantasy words.
 

SixOhNine

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According to Amazon, a sorta kinda sequel is coming out next week- The Witness For The Dead.
 

LonerMatt

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Yeah I saw it was a sorta sequel and I will devour it for sure.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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27.Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

The story of a rural mans economic exile from his rural village and the misfortunes which befall him as his labour contributes to the economic growth of the Japanese economy in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The tribulations and ordinary tragedy of his eventually lead him to the homeless tribes who exist within the confines of Ueno Park.

The author also uses a spectral narrative alongside the social lives of the respectable citizens of Tokyo who frequent the park and its amenities to comment upon the plight of the homeless.

Powerful social commentary and observations. The afterword and the translators note add an interesting dimension to the social and political side of the story.
 

Fueco

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28. Chief Left Hand, by Margaret Coel

A local history account of Chief Niwot of the Southern Arapaho people and the impact of the Colorado Gold Rush and the influx of settlers that came along at the same time.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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28.The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Gracia-Roza

Brazilian Noir/Police Procedural. The first novel in the series, local library has one more. Set in Rio de Janeiro and its surrounds although most of the action is within the mind of Inspector Espinosa a book fiend whose cleaning lady has quit because he has too many books….know that feeling.

Begins with a suicide which because of the gun, briefcase and letter turns into a murder,

Was fine except the conclusion which was bit magical realist I think.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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29.Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson

Three urbane interconnected stories which feature characters emerging at different points of the narrative over the course of the novel.

interesting read with the added spice of magical realism emerging at various points of the novel.
 

Fueco

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29. Stone Palaces, by Geof Childs

A collection of short stories, both fiction and prose, on climbing. Many of these were published in magazines over the years. I enjoy Childs’ style of writing, so this was an excellent read.
 

LonerMatt

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1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams
4. Uncanny Valley
5. War of Maps
6. A Constellation of Vital phenomena
7. The New Wilderness
8. Attack Surface
9. Gods of Jade and Shadow
10. The Galaxy and the Ground Within
11. Gallowglass
12. Cultural Warlords
13. A Song for A New Day
14. The Secret Life of Addie LaRue
15. Terra Nullius
16. Fall of Koli
17. A Desolation called Peace
18. Gideon the Ninth
19. Harrow the Ninth
20. Essentialism
21. Dead in the Water
22. This is how to lose a time war
23. The Calculating Stars
24. Effortless
25. The Goblin Emperor
26. Dune

26. Dune


I first read Dune in High School, and I found the implicit world building and characterisation somewhat confusing. Now, 14-15 years later I enjoyed the book a lot more. While I still find the writing style and characters incredibly stiff, especially juxtaposed with the religious fanaticism, feudal loyalty and grief in the story, there was a lot more to enjoy.

Glad I revisited.
 

LonerMatt

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Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
2,740
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1,522
1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams
4. Uncanny Valley
5. War of Maps
6. A Constellation of Vital phenomena
7. The New Wilderness
8. Attack Surface
9. Gods of Jade and Shadow
10. The Galaxy and the Ground Within
11. Gallowglass
12. Cultural Warlords
13. A Song for A New Day
14. The Secret Life of Addie LaRue
15. Terra Nullius
16. Fall of Koli
17. A Desolation called Peace
18. Gideon the Ninth
19. Harrow the Ninth
20. Essentialism
21. Dead in the Water
22. This is how to lose a time war
23. The Calculating Stars
24. Effortless
25. The Goblin Emperor
26. Dune
27. The Backyard Adventurer

27. The Backyard Adventurer

This is a part memoir, part personal philosophy, part raconteur of a book by local legend Beau Miles. Beau is a former outdoor educator who began dabbling in film making before ending up with a fairly successful youtube account. Unlike most outdoorsy videos, his work (and this book) focuses a lot on the internal trajectory of adventuring and the meandering thinking one does while hiking, running, paddling.

Beau's adventures are things he constant questions and change from the very grand (running the Alpine track, paddling the tip of Africa) to the very local (sleeping in the biggest tree on his farm, running a mile an hour for 24 hours). As he ages and realises that the traditional adrenaline white-guy-travels-somewhere-hard version of adventure is immature and selfish the journeys he takes become pretty different and quite interesting.

With a very Australian voice, quite dry humour and a lot of slang thrown in, the voice won't suit everyone, but I really enjoyed this book.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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30.DEEP WORK: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World by Cal Newport

Life hacks on how to focus the mind and improving knowledge worker output by an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University.

Simple, straight forward practical advice on focusing the mind to achieve a higher rate of quality written output. Basically work more intensely in shorter blocks, rest then do it again for a maximum three hours. Similar to the idea of Flow.
 

LonerMatt

Distinguished Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
2,740
Reaction score
1,522
1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams
4. Uncanny Valley
5. War of Maps
6. A Constellation of Vital phenomena
7. The New Wilderness
8. Attack Surface
9. Gods of Jade and Shadow
10. The Galaxy and the Ground Within
11. Gallowglass
12. Cultural Warlords
13. A Song for A New Day
14. The Secret Life of Addie LaRue
15. Terra Nullius
16. Fall of Koli
17. A Desolation called Peace
18. Gideon the Ninth
19. Harrow the Ninth
20. Essentialism
21. Dead in the Water
22. This is how to lose a time war
23. The Calculating Stars
24. Effortless
25. The Goblin Emperor
26. Dune
27. The Backyard Adventurer
28. The fated sky

28. The fated sky


Follow up to the Calculated Stars. East Coast of the USA has been wiped out by a meteor and global warming is ramping up, a lunar base is established but a Mars settlement is the only thing that'll save humanity. The novel follows the same protagonist as before as she is part of the first crew to Mars. Replete with sexism (lots), racism (some) and MUCH less awkward sex dialogue (phew) this was a really good novel.
 

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