What are you reading now?


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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby scottmitchell74 » Wed May 15, 2013 7:03 am

Team of Rivals - The Politcal Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns-Goodwin

About 1/4 of the way through, so far very interesting.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby mump boy » Wed May 15, 2013 2:56 pm

Conor Dary wrote:
mump boy wrote:I was given a copy of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe for xmas. I'm not going to pretend it's a page turner but it a beautifully written and observed book from an african perspective which is very refreshing

I've only read the first part because Judge Judy keeps interrupting but i'll get there :D


You have reminded me of this fine novel.

http://www.amazon.com/Palm-Wine-Drinkar ... e+drinkard

I've had fresh palm wine. It is very good.


Looks great but it's $103 :shock:
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Thu May 16, 2013 8:24 pm

scottmitchell74 wrote:Team of Rivals - The Politcal Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns-Goodwin

About 1/4 of the way through, so far very interesting.


Looks promising, I will have to look this one up.

Thanks, another example of why this is about my favorite thread.

This was spurred by Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Many years ago I read Freeman Dyson's book Disturbing the universe; I suspect it is a bit dated now because its main topic is nuclear disarmament, as a lot has changed in that sphere (thank goodness, although not enough -- no putting that genie back in that bottle).

As long as I am going back two + books by John McPhee:
Curve of Binding Energy
Annals of the Former World

The former is about the mass reduction that occurs when you join atoms (below iron) and the energy released via E = MC^2
The latter is a re-release of four books on geology wherein he travels across a type of terrain with a geologist of note, with the story also about the geologist. I would be interested in what our resident geologist thought of these books (if he has read them). I read them individually near the time they came out and then re-read them, with pleasure, several years ago. I rarely re-read anything since there is SO much to read and I read so slowly (those dyslexia and add things :evil: ).
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby scottmitchell74 » Fri May 17, 2013 2:47 am

That's some heavy reading, 26 miler.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Fri May 17, 2013 6:34 am

No, none of those books is particularly 'heavy' (other than the actual weight of the 4-volume compendium of McPhee). Dyson's book was one of the first of a series by something like the Sloan Foundation that 'commissioned' a series of books by scientists.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Fri May 17, 2013 10:26 am

A little lighter by John McPhee - Levels of the Game - a book about professional tennis in the late 1960s - one of the best sports books I've ever read.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby lonewolf » Sat May 18, 2013 8:08 pm

26mi235 wrote:[As long as I am going back two + books by John McPhee:
Annals of the Former World

The latter is a re-release of four books on geology wherein he travels across a type of terrain with a geologist of note, with the story also about the geologist. I would be interested in what our resident geologist thought of these books (if he has read them). I read them individually near the time they came out and then re-read them, with pleasure, several years ago. I rarely re-read anything since there is SO much to read and I read so slowly (those dyslexia and add things :evil: ).

I read Basin and Range when it was released.. did not know there were four books..
As one of the resident geologists, I thought it was the best presentation of geology to laymen I have ever read..I still have it around here somewhere... unless my geologist daughter has pilfered it...now I gotta scare up the missing volumes.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby kuha » Sun May 19, 2013 10:29 am

I loved Basin and Range when I first read it years ago. I have the "Annals" book that 26 mentions on the very top of (one of my) reading stacks. McPhee is a truly brilliant literary craftsman, who is eloquent regardless of what the subject may be. Coincidentally, I just met his daughter, a fine contemporary photographer, two days ago.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:27 pm

Well, apparently, how we all spent our summer vacations wasn't reading! :-)

I'm embarrassed to admit that in a very busy, fragmented year, I've devoured a dozen fluffy paperbacks (working on series by Sue Grafton, John Sandford and the Frank Herbert Estate) that go down well on planes and in hotel rooms, but I haven't read anyting of substance in months, even though my library shelf continues to pile up with new hardbacks courtesy of my good friends at Amazon, who now hold a second mortgage on the house.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby mcgato » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:22 pm

On another thread, I mentioned Nate Silver's book "The Signal and the Noise." gh asked why I didn't mention it on this thread, and how was it. So I'll cross reference my review from over there to here.

Since I am a statistician by trade, most of what he covers about trying to predict things is what I do for a living. He isn't really going to teach me anything about statistics or statistical thinking in the book. That said, I am not really the target audience for the book. My sister got it for me for last Xmas, so I decided to read it. So my review for others follows.

I think that it is a well written book that covers a lot of basic statistical concepts in a very understandable way. He really doesn't get into any details of statistics, but he gets into good case studies of how the predictions were made and communicated, and how that affected a lot of things beyond the prediction. He covers:
--the housing bubble
--his attempts at predicting future success in baseball based on minor league information
--the success of the National Weather Service of doing a better job at prediction than in years past
--unsuccessful attempts at predicting earthquakes
--the aforementioned attempts at predicting disease propagation
--why loud and opinionated political pundits are usually the worst at predicting things
--his attempts at making a living playing poker
--why stock market analysts usually recommend that you buy a stock

There are a few chapters on how predictions can be improved moving forward. I think if someone is interested in some of these areas, it is a very interesting read. Worst case, you will have a better understanding of what the predictions that you read about in the news are really worth, if anything.

He has a very good chapter about global warming, addressing reasons why people are skeptical about the predictions coming out of that area. Note that I am a global warming skeptic, and I think that he gave a very balanced and interesting account of the subject.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby lonewolf » Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:25 pm

mcgato wrote: Note that I am a global warming skeptic, .

Hallelujah !!!!..there are at least two of us who will admit it.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:36 am

My favorite thread -- I will have to get busy and give a brief review of the summer's reading. I am currently reading The Comprehensible Cosmos: where do the laws of physics come from. It is a 'dual' book, with 190 pages of text, basically sans equations, and then 130-page set of appendices that get progressively harder both within each appendix and then as you go from App A to B to ... H. My math is decent, but not in this context (or depth). He is definitely not one of the Paul Davies, Michio Kaku sorts.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby DrJay » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:30 am

The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor. Reading it because a friend read and said it was really good and loaned it to me five years ago. I've had one false start, now 60% thru it and it's tedious. Anyone else here suffer thru it before me?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:23 pm

Lot of stuff recently because I've been traveling a lot

One Summer - 1927 by Bill Bryson - about the summer of 1927 - Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, bunch of other stuff - very good

David and Goliath - new Malcolm Gladwell book - have always loved his stuff - not this one. Waste of time - did not like it at all

Jefferson and Hamilton by John Ferling - summary of the great rivals among the founders of the USA - big fan of this genre, so know much of the story, and have read several of Ferling's books. He always does a good job - as with this one.

Wheelmen - by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell - Lance Armstrong story - highly recommended. He is one complete prick.

Toughness by Jay Bilas - Jay is an old friend from my day's with Duke basketball team. I thought it was pretty good but not quite deserving of some of the encomiums I have seen on twitter and various other sources

Our Lives Our Fortunes Our Sacred Honors - the Forging of American Independence by Richard Beeman - story of the summer of 1776 basically - was pretty good - bit of a slog to get through however

The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester - just starting it - I'll let you know

How I have spent my summer and fall!
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:56 am

A collection of his westerns, talking Robert E. Howard who was best known as the father of the sword & sorcery novel; his most famous character...Conan.
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Re: David vs Goliath

Postby bambam » Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:27 am

Speaking of David and Goliath, this is the title of Malcolm Gladwell's new book. Read it last week while travelling. I thought it was terrible and would not recommend wasting your money.
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Re: David vs Goliath

Postby gh » Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:31 am

based on the book review in my paper I had it on my purchase list. Now I'll reconsider.
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Re: David vs Goliath

Postby Dixon » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:30 pm

bambam wrote:Speaking of David and Goliath, this is the title of Malcolm Gladwell's new book. Read it last week while travelling. I thought it was terrible and would not recommend wasting your money.


Was the book about sending college kids out to get humililated over $$$$$$$$$$$.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:34 pm

A must-read for WWII buffs: With Wings Like Eagles (A History Of The Battle Of Britain), by Michael Korda.

I had never before quite realized how brilliant Hugh Dowding was.

Bam, did you know that Billy Fiske was in this book and why?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:41 pm

gh wrote:A must-read for WWII buffs: With Wings Like Eagles (A History Of The Battle Of Britain), by Michael Korda.

I had never before quite realized how brilliant Hugh Dowding was.

Bam, did you know that Billy Fiske was in this book and why?


First American killed in World War II - he flew for the Royal Air Force because he had so many friends in Britain.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby kuha » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:30 pm

Read on my just-concluded international flights:

Paul E. Johnson, "Sam Patch, The Famous Jumper" (truly fascinating and wonderful)

Brad Tyer, "Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape" (powerful, personal, and important)

Graham Robb, "Parisians: An Adventure history of Paris" ( good, but not as enjoyable as his earlier book, "The Discovery of France")
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bad hammy » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:44 pm

Songwriters on Songwriting, a book I would guess many songwriters, wannabee songwriters or folks really interested in the process of crafting music at least know about if not read. Paul Zollo, a songwriter and musician, interviews around 70 songwriters from Pete Seeger to Mose Allison, Dave Brubeck, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bacharach/David, Goffin/King, Harry Nilsson, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Brian Wilson and a boatload of others.

Each entry starts with a short musically-oriented bio and then the interview where they talk shop, including the development of songwriters and the crafting of the music itself. There is zero of the People Mag kind of salacious angles – just music. Pretty much all of the songwriters really respond well to this and open up quite a bit. Highly recommended!
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:07 pm

Thanks Bad Hammy, and glad to see you here occasionally.

Again, this is about my favorite thread on this site, at least for one not on Current Events.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bad hammy » Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:41 pm

26mi235 wrote:Thanks Bad Hammy, and glad to see you here occasionally.

Thanks - I was chattier in my youth but still try to keep up . . .
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:37 am

bambam wrote:
gh wrote:A must-read for WWII buffs: With Wings Like Eagles (A History Of The Battle Of Britain), by Michael Korda.

I had never before quite realized how brilliant Hugh Dowding was.

Bam, did you know that Billy Fiske was in this book and why?


First American killed in World War II - he flew for the Royal Air Force because he had so many friends in Britain.


You didn't give his sports significance! golds in the bob in '28 and '32 and was the '32 U.S. flag bearer.

Korda calls him the first America killed, but I did some Wikiing when I read that and it's open to interpretation.

A U.S. naval attaché was killed earlier in '40 in Norway, and another American-born pilot went down over the Channel, but his "family had moved to Wales before the War," so his status is not clear-cut.

(I'm sure all these references are to people in uniform: hard to imagine that "many" people w/ U.S. citizenship didn't go down as collateral damage in the first year of the war)
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:40 pm

JOINER...by James Whitehead, great read about southern life and football.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby aaronk » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:48 am

Anyone Alamo buffs??
Just finished (a few hours ago) a novel based on a true story, "Alamo Heights" by Scott Zesch, published in 1999.
Hard to find, located it on Amazon.....had searched lots of bookstores.

Anyway, it concerns a woman who, in the first decade of the 20th century, worked to save the Alamo from being made part of a big hotel complex.
An east coast developer comes to Texas to try to buy the property, but the woman, a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, tries to stop him.
Has an interesting cast of characters, and the story flows along, with various newspaper articles, Letters to the Editor, and Western Union telegrams providing some continuity.

Written somewhat comedically, but has some excellent detailed descriptions of San Antonio life circa 1907...including a car the woman drives like a maniac in a town where people still went around in horse-drawn carriages!!

If you want to read EVERYTHING Alamo-oriented, this novel (or is it historical novel??) is well worth reading.

320 pages, hardback
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby DrJay » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:44 am

gh wrote:A must-read for WWII buffs: With Wings Like Eagles (A History Of The Battle Of Britain), by Michael Korda.

I had never before quite realized how brilliant Hugh Dowding was.

Bam, did you know that Billy Fiske was in this book and why?


Thanks for that one. My son will love it. He's currently in the WWII air-war mode, having plowed through a lot of WWII tank stuff.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:25 am

With the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI upon us in 2014, there are a number of books out now about 1914 and the coming war. I started one, called only 1914, and couldn't get thru it. Anybody else tried any of the others?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:01 pm

dang! I thought that about 5 years ago I read the best WWI book ever, but I can't remember the name and I can't find it on my bookshelf.

I actually went back and found all my posts on this thread, but all that tells me is that it was a lot longer than 5 years ago I read it, given this thread starts in '06!
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:05 pm

Who here has read The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy? Will watching the movies work without reading the books?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Daisy » Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:16 pm

Dixon wrote:Who here has read The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy? Will watching the movies work without reading the books?

IMO, the movies are well done and pretty close to the books. The characters in the book are very close to how you'd imagine them if reading the book. Obviously there is less detail in the movie, but that might actually help.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:26 pm

Daisy wrote:
Dixon wrote:Who here has read The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy? Will watching the movies work without reading the books?

IMO, the movies are well done and pretty close to the books. The characters in the book are very close to how you'd imagine them if reading the book. Obviously there is less detail in the movie, but that might actually help.


Thanks Daisy :D I'm a little hesitant to attempt that read however, have been thinking about it for awhile. I was waiting to get a copy of The Hobbit (wasn't real worried about it) as you know you need to start there. Might try it.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Daisy » Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:21 pm

Dixon wrote:I was waiting to get a copy of The Hobbit (wasn't real worried about it) as you know you need to start there.

Actually, while the Hobbit is a prelude to the Lord or the Rings, you don't really need to have read it to understand the trilogy.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:26 pm

Daisy wrote:
Dixon wrote:I was waiting to get a copy of The Hobbit (wasn't real worried about it) as you know you need to start there.

Actually, while the Hobbit is a prelude to the Lord or the Rings, you don't really need to have read it to understand the trilogy.


You mean all this time.... :roll:
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby JayIsMe » Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:31 pm

Daisy wrote:
Dixon wrote:Who here has read The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy? Will watching the movies work without reading the books?

IMO, the movies are well done and pretty close to the books. The characters in the book are very close to how you'd imagine them if reading the book. Obviously there is less detail in the movie, but that might actually help.

I'm a Tolkien fan, having read the trilogy multiple times and agree that the movies do a decent job. My book-loving daughter pointed out to me that while the books are told from a hobbit's point of view, the movie's POV is that of men. It makes a difference, I think. If you do read the books I recommend reading the National Lampoon's parody Bored of the Rings afterwards- hilarious.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby kuha » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:58 am

Have finally gotten around to reading "The Sports Gene," and I am genuinely impressed so far. He is writing for a popular audience, but the work is based very solidly on real science. I'm 2/3s of the way through, and really like the way he combines clarity and complexity--he can suggest pretty succinctly the rich and amazing complexity of the overall story. If nothing else, the book makes complete fools out of anyone pretending to have ANY one-phrase or one-sentence answer to the question of athletic excellence.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:03 am

I (strongly) recommend reading The Hobbit after the trilogy. It's much more of a kids' book and doesn't contain much/any of the depth and breadth of the big 3 (which I've read somewhere between 55 and 60 times; lost track a few years back).

And I'd def. read the books before seeing the movies (which are, in and of themselves, very much worth watching).
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:15 pm

gh wrote:I (strongly) recommend reading The Hobbit after the trilogy. It's much more of a kids' book and doesn't contain much/any of the depth and breadth of the big 3 (which I've read somewhere between 55 and 60 times; lost track a few years back).

And I'd def. read the books before seeing the movies (which are, in and of themselves, very much worth watching).


Having seen all the movies I guess I'll pass on reading the books.

Junkie...by William Burroughs looks interesting, apparently he knew Kerouac so that should work.
Last edited by Dixon on Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby kuha » Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:05 pm

Dixon wrote:by William Burroughs


I spent an afternoon with him 20 years ago. Unusual and interesting.
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