Books to read

Posted by: grelber

Books to read - 01/06/12 08:18 AM

It's time to start another thread, rather than put more book recommendations into the movie thread. So, here goes ...

In the afterword to his 11/22/63, Stephen King makes reference to and pays homage to Jack Finney and his Time and Again (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970; ISBN 0-671-24705-0 / 0-671-24295-4 pbk).
Beautifully conceived and equally beautifully literate — a worthy and worth-while read, no matter what your literary predilections.

In case it's not obvious, King's 11/22/63 is required reading.

And if Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain [see movie thread] moved you, add to that all of Richard Adams's work:
Watership Down (1972),
Shardik (1974), and especially
The Plague Dogs (1977)

Posted by: jchuzi

Re: Books to read - 01/06/12 10:18 AM

To add my 2¢, I highly recommend The Hemlock Cup by Bettany Hughes. It is extremely well written, exhaustively researched, and a fascinating look at Athens in the so-called Golden Age.
Posted by: alternaut

Re: Books to read - 01/06/12 10:55 AM

Different in focus but describing the same era, I liked John Hale's Lords of the Sea, the epic story of the Athenian navy and the birth of democracy.

For an entirely different kind of reading fodder, I can recommend Stieg Larsson's Millenium novels, even if you've seen any of the movies (and particularly the current US version of the first book). Be warned, though: you may postpone several of your other to-do items...
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 01/06/12 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: alternaut
For an entirely different kind of reading fodder, I can recommend Stieg Larsson's Millenium novels, even if you've seen any of the movies (and particularly the current US version of the first book). Be warned, though: you may postpone several of your other to-do items...

You may find — as did I — that getting into the first novel is slightly tough slogging. But once you're in, you're hooked, and alternaut's warning definitely comes into play.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 03/27/12 01:51 PM

I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC, 2006; ISBN 978-1-56512-560-5 [PB]), having come to it 6 years too late.
An absolute gem. If the ending isn't the best I've ever read, then I've forgotten what is ... which tells you how and why I might identify with the 'hero' of the tale.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 07/11/12 12:07 PM

If you aren't (or are) a veterinarian, you should read this:

Zoobiquity : What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing (Barbara Natterson-Horowitz & Kathryn Bowers, 2012).

If your tastes are eclectic and far-reaching, you should read this:

A Universe from Nothing : Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing (Lawrence M. Krauss, 2012).

If you're shiftless and work doesn't become you and reading hurts your head, you should read Dilbert every day.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 09/06/15 04:23 PM

Another must-read:

Beyond Words : What Animals Think and Feel
by Carl Safina (New York: Henry Holt & Co, 2015; ISBN 978-0-8050-9888-4; 461 pages)

Four sections: elephants, wolves, (mostly) dogs, killer whales. The last may make you wish you were a different species.

When dolphins were the planet's brain leaders, the world didn't have any political, religious, ethnic, or environmental problems. Creating problems seems to be one of the things that "make us human."
Posted by: tacit

Re: Books to read - 09/06/15 11:45 PM

I just finished The Girl in the Road, by Monica Byrne.

Most science fiction is middle-class Western white dudes. If you watch any episode of Star Trek, you'll see what I mean. Even the "aliens" are basically middle-class Western white people; Japanese society is far more alien than any Star Trek alien.

So I like the fact that The Girl in the Road breaks out of that mold. It's near future science fiction, but it takes place entirely in India and Africa and the main characters are both women.

It's also a rather grim and at times disturbing story, told from the point of view of two characters who are quite damaged and are unreliable narrators. That makes it a challenging read (it's a good idea to read it twice), so naturally, Amazon's reviews are mostly either five stars or one star.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 09/08/15 02:07 PM

A while back this superb satire appeared:
Er ist wieder da by Timur Vermes (Köln: Eichborn Verlag, 2012; ISBN 978-3-8479-0517-2. 396 Seiten)

It's now available in an excellent English translation (by Jamie Bulloch):
Look Who's Back (London: MacLehose Press, 2014; ISBN 978-0-85705-292-6. 375 pages)

I can't wait until the movie is made.

At the end of the day ...
»Es war nicht alles schlecht.« ("It wasn't all bad.")
Posted by: dboh

Re: Books to read - 09/11/15 04:19 AM

John Vaillant's "The Tiger" tells you what tigers think, and it's more than a little chilling.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Tiger-Vengeance-Survival-Departures/dp/0307389049
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 09/11/15 07:01 AM

Originally Posted By: dboh
John Vaillant's "The Tiger" tells you what tigers think, and it's more than a little chilling.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Tiger-Vengeance-Survival-Departures/dp/0307389049

A fabulous book. Carl Safina references it in his Beyond Words. The tiger's memory is an awesome thing.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 09/21/15 01:35 AM

Originally Posted By: alternaut
For an entirely different kind of reading fodder, I can recommend Stieg Larsson's Millennium novels, even if you've seen any of the movies (and particularly the current US version of the first book). Be warned, though: you may postpone several of your other to-do items...

And the Millennium series continues with David Lagercrantz nailing the deceased Larsson's style. Note too that with one exception it's not a girl ...

Stieg Larsson:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Original/Swedish Title: Män som hatar kvinnor (Men who hate women)

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Original/Swedish Title: Flickan som lekte med elden (The girl who played with [the] fire)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
Original/Swedish Title: Luftslottet som sprängdes (The air castle that was blown up)

David Lagercrantz:

The Girl in the Spider's Web
Original/Swedish Title: Det som inte dödar oss (That which doesn't kill us)

As for the movie versions, the US take doesn't hold a candle to the 3 Swedish films (based on the first 3 books).
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 10/01/15 12:02 PM

Lagercrantz's continuation is a definite Yeah!. smile
I can't (but clearly must) wait until the next one.
Posted by: MacManiac

Re: Books to read - 10/01/15 02:07 PM

I totally agree...got the e-book and devoured it immediately.

The characters and story continuity were very well delivered and maintained the original integrity developed in the first three books.

I heartily endorse it as a great read.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 10/03/15 08:09 AM

Originally Posted By: MacManiac
The characters and story continuity were very well delivered and maintained the original integrity developed in the first three books.
I heartily endorse it as a great read.

A star fell outside in the night sky.
Posted by: MacManiac

Re: Books to read - 10/03/15 08:26 AM

Stardust?

Another good read in my opinion.
Posted by: alternaut

Re: Books to read - 10/03/15 11:33 AM

Originally Posted By: grelber
And the Millennium series continues with David Lagercrantz nailing the deceased Larsson's style.

I may be opening a can of worms with this post, but I think Sophie Gilbert (The Atlantic) provides an interesting take on Lagercrantz’s continuation of the Larsson novels, and in general on the continuation of popular book series or characters by authors other than the original ones: Lisbeth Salander: The Girl Who Survived Her Creator. Gilbert starts her piece by mentioning a 2010 Slate article by Michael Newman, The Girl Who Deserves To Escape Her Author, who is quite vocal in criticizing Larsson’s writing. Newman allows for the effect of translation on his impressions, but suspects that doesn’t explain his issues with the novels: to him it’s most likely Larsson’s writing that sucks. While I (think I) see his point, I have to disagree with it in the aggregate, and posit that—for me at least—translation has to incorporate not just the correct meaning and style, but also the linguistic ’touch and feel’ of the story, warts and all.

Unfortunately, I can’t judge that in this case, having read Larsson only in (English) translation. But in other cases I could, having read the original as well as a translation. Specifically, the English translations of Larsson’s novels remind me—albeit in different ways—of certain stories originally written in German or Dutch, western germanic relatives of the northern germanic Swedish. Most translation readers rarely experience it, but the sound of a story in the original language can carry an important part of its texture. For instance, if you have read Kafka in German, you can’t escape the estranging effect of the language used. Heck, any halfway decent translation conveys that effect. But if anything, hearing it in German hammers that home irrevocally and inimitably. IMO, if that’s lost in translation, an essential part of the story’s ‘soul’ is lost as well. Incorporating such language texture in translation is hard to do, and the difficulty varies by language, but it’s possible, if perhaps only in approximation.

Anyway, regardless of Larsson’s language use being functional or delinquent, I wolfed down his Millennium series and will definitely have a go at Lagercrantz’s novel.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 10/03/15 04:53 PM

Michiko Kakutani's review of Lagercrantz's novel in Books of The [New York] Times provides another take.

Larsson's Millennium trilogy was admirably translated by Reg Keeland (pseudonym of Steven T. Murray), as was Lagercrantz's follow-up by George Goulding.

I do have a couple nits to pick with the latter:
• Even though it was published in the USA, its style is strictly British. This is particular annoying when straight off an NSA email message/quote written by an American uses the term "no-one" instead of "no one", and this sort of thing persists throughout the book.
• Add to that the use of British slang most likely to be unfamiliar to North American audiences — for example, stroppy 'bad-tempered and argumentative'. [And yes, I prefer the British grammatical usage of placing the punctuation (eg, period or full stop, semicolon) outside the quote marks at the end of a sentence/phrase if it's not part of the quoted passage.]
The editor(s) responsible should have caught such faux pas.

On a similar note I would remark that Timur Vermes's Er ist wieder da was superbly translated by Jamie Bulloch with the title Look Who's Back — see Post #35923 above. I read both cover to cover (and in that order) and the translation was true to the original, while being amenable to the English-speaking psyche.

All of these passed through the doors of MacLehose Press.
Posted by: slolerner

Re: Books to read - 10/09/15 11:17 AM

Quote:
In the afterword to his 11/22/63, Stephen King makes reference to and pays homage to Jack Finney and his Time and Again (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970; ISBN 0-671-24705-0 / 0-671-24295-4 pbk.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FHNzV8iiwxA
"Time travel is a bi#ch."
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 10/24/15 01:54 AM

Not exactly a book, but definitely worth a read: Reinventing the Library

A superb op-ed piece by Alberto Manguel (an Argentine-born Canadian writer, translator and editor) in today's New York Times pointing up that "If we change the role of libraries and librarians, we must be careful to preserve the centrality of the book."
Posted by: Ira L

Re: Books to read - 10/24/15 07:56 AM

"…change the role of librarians…": see these librarians! smirk
Posted by: joemikeb

Re: Books to read - 10/24/15 08:33 AM

The op-ed piece grelber referred to is thought provoking and well worth a read. My nephew is a librarian in a growing mid sized community in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and rather than closing libraries and/or reducing operating hours, they are building new and additional buildings. But the space for shelving printed books is getting smaller and smaller to make way for more computers and various electronic devices. A graduate student friend tells me none of her textbooks are available in print form but are downloaded into each student's iPad. This makes it possible to revise the textbooks during any given semester sometimes more than once.

I agree with the concept of preserving the centrality of the book, but these trends suggest a necessity to re-define the concept of what a book is and, as suggested by the op-ed piece, re-thinking what a library is or should be.
Posted by: alternaut

Re: Books to read - 10/24/15 11:49 AM

Originally Posted By: Ira L
"…change the role of librarians…": see these librarians! smirk

‘Librarians’ with guns and assorted other weaponry? Great role models, only in the US! crazy
Posted by: Virtual1

Re: Books to read - 10/26/15 06:39 AM

Originally Posted By: alternaut
‘Librarians’ with guns and assorted other weaponry? Great role models, only in the US! crazy

Librarians got it easy, save your pity for the unfortunate staff at the museum
Posted by: alternaut

Re: Books to read - 10/26/15 09:17 AM

Funny that you should bring that up. I actually worked ‘there’ in the 80’s cool, and I sure couldn’t agree on the basis of that experience. But of course, that was before that Night at the Museum… smirk
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 11/13/15 12:13 AM

It's a bit dated but well worth the read:
Listening to Whales : What the Orcas Have Taught Us by Alexandra Morton (2002).
However, combined with Gabriela Cowperthwaite's poignant documentary Blackfish (2013, available on DVD, 83 min), it's a strong indictment of the entertainment industry which exploits sentient and intelligent beings.
If that doesn't turn you into an 'animal activist', nothing will. (A good start would be to scuttle SeaWorld exhibits wherever they are and by whatever methods you feel comfortable with.)
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 09/11/16 08:44 AM

Despite its provenance and raucous formulations Tom Wolfe's The Kingdom of Speech is a treatise to be reckoned with.

A recent review in Books of the Times will get you started:
Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Kingdom of Speech’ Takes Aim at Darwin and Chomsky.

And should you care to try to wrap your mind around the subject a New Yorker article by John Colapinto is a good place to start:
The Interpreter : Has a remote Amazonian tribe upended our understanding of language?

EDIT
And this is the May 2014 article on The Mystery of Language Evolution that moved Wolfe to run amok.
Posted by: slolerner

Re: Books to read - 09/11/16 10:44 PM

Originally Posted By: grelber
And should you care to try to wrap your mind around the subject a New Yorker article by John Colapinto is a good place to start:
The Interpreter : Has a remote Amazonian tribe upended our understanding of language?

Thanks, great article.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 09/14/16 01:44 AM

I remain unconvinced that language is an artifact, which would have to be invented anew ontogenetically. Physiological substrates are necessary for its acquisition and production, even if no specific LAD (language acquisition device) or universal grammar can be effectively enlisted.
About the only treatise I haven't read is Everett's "Language : The Cultural Tool"; once I do, I might have a better idea how he construes the notion of artifact.
His seminal paper on 'Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã' (2005) is almost totally observational; the underpinnings with respect to language and its evolution had yet to be worked out.
Being retired (but not yet retarded) perhaps it's time to return to my intellectual roots and get to scribin' ... after all, Noam's a mere 87 and still kicking.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 11/29/16 12:48 AM

Born a Crime : Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (2016)

Review: ‘Born a Crime,’ Trevor Noah’s Raw Account of Life Under Apartheid
Posted by: Virtual1

Re: Books to read - 11/29/16 05:39 AM

Originally Posted By: grelber
Trevor Noah’s Raw Account of Life Under Apartheid

I never understood why they called it "Apartheid"... it's just racism? "Life Under Racism"? Maybe due to it being codified in law. But then why doesn't anyone refer to the 50's in the US as "Apartheid"?
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 11/29/16 06:18 AM

Originally Posted By: Virtual1
I never understood why they called it "Apartheid" ... it's just racism? "Life Under Racism"? Maybe due to [its] being codified in law. But then why doesn't anyone refer to the ['50s] in the US as "Apartheid"?

First off, the word is Afrikaans, literally 'separateness', from Dutch apart 'separate' + -heid (equivalent of '-hood').

"Adopted by the successful Afrikaner National Party as a slogan in the 1948 election, apartheid extended and institutionalized existing racial segregation. Despite rioting and terrorism at home and isolation abroad from the 1960s onward, the white regime maintained the apartheid system with only minor relaxation until February 1991."

When/Why would anyone use a foreign word for segregation qua racism in the US?! Especially given the marginal intelligence/ethics/morality of those who practice/promote such.
Posted by: joemikeb

Re: Books to read - 11/29/16 09:03 AM

Originally Posted By: grelber
Especially given the marginal intelligence/ethics/morality of those who practice/promote such.

I know some genuinely intelligent people who are convinced it is their ethical duty and moral obligation to be superior to anyone of color or whose primary language is Spanish. Racism is not a function of intelligence, ethics, or morality. Rather it is a function of ignorance and fear. Ignorance of anything or anyone outside of their narrowly constrained lives and fear of their own ability to compete and succeed in a world where their kind are not in control and can subjegate anyone and everyone who thinks, acts, or looks "different." Skin color is a convenient and highly visible means of determining "difference."

If you don't believe intelligent people can be ignorant there are a number of otherwise intelligent politicians who apparently take great pride in their ignorance of science. One was just elected President.

Neither is racism regional. It has been said that in the North they love the race but hate the individual while in the South they hate the race but love the individual. I'm not sure which is the more egregious because in the final analysis the result is equally destructive.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 11/29/16 09:49 AM

Au contraire. Every counterargument/example you proffered is proof positive of substantial lack of intelligence and/or ethics and/or morality — by definition.

If the premises are false/flawed, rationality (in all those spheres) dictates that any conclusions which derive from them are likewise false/flawed.

And do recall Mencken's comment (supplied in another forum by Pendragon):
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” — H.L. Mencken (July 26, 1920)
Posted by: Ira L

Re: Books to read - 11/29/16 09:50 AM

Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Skin color is a convenient and highly visible means of determining "difference."


And racism needs to be taught/learned, it is not genetic.
Posted by: tacit

Re: Books to read - 11/30/16 04:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Virtual1

I never understood why they called it "Apartheid"... it's just racism? "Life Under Racism"? Maybe due to it being codified in law. But then why doesn't anyone refer to the 50's in the US as "Apartheid"?


Actually, some people do refer to racial segregation in the US (and mandatory legal racial segregation in general) as "apartheid."
Posted by: Virtual1

Re: Books to read - 12/01/16 06:22 AM

this pretty much says it all

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/98/a4/58/98a458e743cb818bb8ffa2c1ba4b8adb.jpg
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 12/01/16 08:20 AM

True dat.

On the other hand, ah luvs naps — any time, anywhere.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 08/09/17 12:01 AM

Finding Gobi by ultramarathoner Dion Leonard (2017).
While its focus is "a little dog with a very big heart", the first half especially is chockfull of descriptions of the author's running experiences. Eminently readable.
Posted by: grelber

Re: Books to read - 10/06/19 09:45 AM

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden.
New York: Metropolitan Books / Henry Holt, 2019.
ISBN 978-1-250-23723-1

First sentence of Chapter 1: "The first thing I ever hacked was bedtime." (The night he turned 6.)

And the memoir just grows and gets better from there. Beyond the autobiographical reminiscences is the fascinating glimpse into the so-called Deep State and the ways in which the techno-universe functions or rather malfunctions. My naïveté may be showing, but this is a great ~ informative read for techies or techie wannabes, as well as for anyone who wants to try to understand another's mind and behavior and the grim realities of the world's surveillance structure.
Posted by: deniro

Re: Books to read - 10/09/19 05:07 AM

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. I think everyone on Earth should read it and watch some of the YouTube videos where he is interviewed by the press.

I for one would like to see Edward Snowden tried to treason.