What are you reading now?


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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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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:24 pm

kuha wrote:
Dixon wrote:by William Burroughs


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


What was the deal?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby kuha » Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:01 am

I was visiting to see the visual art he was making at the time--shotgun paintings.
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Re: David vs Goliath

Postby gh » Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:42 am

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.


Gladwell nonetheless remains a fascinating character (no William Burroughs, but…. :mrgreen: )

He was featured on a 60 Minutes episode last week (12:00 video).

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/malcolm-g ... -underdog/
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Re: David vs Goliath

Postby Master Po » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:32 am

I realize that critiquing Macolm Gladwell is now becoming more common, although it isn't keeping pace at all with buying his books. I have never read enough of his work either to be much of a fan or a serious critic, but with that noted, I thought this article provided an interesting perspective on the popularity of Gladwell's works:

John Gray, "Malcolm Gladwell is America's Best-Paid Fairy-Tale Writer: the heavily-footnoted uplift of 'David and Goliath'"
The New Republic
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/1154 ... airy-tales
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:09 am

Junkie....a very interesting read, William Burroughs :D
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby jeremyp » Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:20 am

"12 years a slave." The movie follows this true story pretty closely. A must read for all interested in the roots of America. Also: "The Terror Courts" about military tribunals and Guantanamo. Again a fascinating look at our dark and inhumane side.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Per Andersen » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:57 pm

Dixon wrote:Junkie....a very interesting read, William Burroughs :D

It was early though. Now, try "Naked Lunch", if you haven't already. Dr. Benway is in it. The surgeon they paged in that great movie, "Repo Man"
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Bob Duncan » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:17 pm

see my other post
Last edited by Bob Duncan on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Bob Duncan » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:24 pm

Dixon wrote:Junkie....a very interesting read, William Burroughs :D


I read Burroughs' The Soft Machine when I was in high school and a lot of his other work, including Junkie. Back in the day, one had to purchase Burroughs material from the "special section" of the downtown bookstore in Atlanta. 8-)

I'm currently finishing Building for War: The Epic Saga of the Civilian Contractors and Marines of Wake Island in World War II by Bonita Gilbert. This is the story about the US effort to build airstrips and military stations in some of the remote Pacific islands like Midway and Wake, knowing that war with Japan was imminent. The contractors were afforded very little military protection but assumed that the Japanese would never dare to attack them. But Wake Island was repeatedly attacked from the air after Pearl Harbor and eventually overrun, with the survivors taken prisoner and shipped off to Japan.

Another really good recent read is a book about nuclear weapon accidents, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser. The book focuses on a Titan II missile silo accident in Arkansas in 1980 and describes many "broken arrow" incidents involving atomic bombs, as well as lives lost during the testing programs in the Pacific during the 1950's.

I liked Schlosser's book so well that I read another one of his called Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. The "Drugs" part focuses on the marijuana trade, although this was well before the current round of legalization. The best part of the book is the "Sex" part which is about the porno industry and one of its kingpins in the late 20th century, Reuben Sturman, who was eventually sent to prison for income tax evasion.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Helen S » Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:01 am

Just finished "The Peerless Four" by Victoria Patterson, a novel about 4 female Canadian track and field athletes sent to the 1928 Amsterdam games, narrated by their female chaperone.
Not much about track, the inside front cover says "It's a meditation on sacrifice, loyalty, commitment, perseverance, and the courage to live a true underdog tale."
If you are a supporter of women's athletics, it is worth the short time it takes to cover the 212 pages.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Vielleicht » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:13 pm

I'm 1/4 into this book called »The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer« by an Indian-American oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee. It's a detailed, accessible and clear history compiled of the human efforts in treating cancer. Lots of struggles, failures as well as ingenious, brilliant attempts - really amazing how much we've come through to the place we are concerning this terrible disease, that's perhaps why the book has a touch of humanity. Loving every bit of the read so far!
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Dixon » Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:16 pm

The Rivals of H.G.Wells.

While Wells is well known there were a lot of other great British Sci FI writers in his day, this a book with these.."who?"..authors and their works.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:36 am

bambam wrote:About to start The Sleepwalkers - history of how WWI started


Just saw this - its 8 months later. Still languishing on my iPad. I guess I'll get to it someday.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:15 pm

too late, it already happened (ps--the butler didn't do it)
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby DrJay » Sat Jan 18, 2014 7:36 pm

gh wrote:I already know whta my Xmas present book will be:

<<Inferno
The World at War, 1939-1945
By Max Hastings
(Alfred A. Knopf; 729 pages; $35)

If there is a contemporary British historian who is the chronicler of World War II, it would be Max Hastings. In book after book, he has zoomed in on individual theaters and arenas in the global conflict, which continues to fascinate historians and readers more than 65 years after it finally came to an end.

If you want to know all about the Battle of Britain or the United Kingdom's Bomber Command or Winston Churchill's pivotal role in the war, Hastings' studies are the ones to go for. If you want a detailed account of the Normandy Invasion, there's his definitive "Overlord." How did the Allies finally conquer Germany and Japan? "Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945" and "Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45" will each give you a detailed account of how these monumental feats were accomplished.

The great virtue of this culminating volume "Inferno" is that it provides the whole six years as only someone as knowledgeable as Hastings can do....>>

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... z1fFqnLB5K


Finally started reading this, after it sat in the stack by the bed for 14 months. He writes really well. Next up will be his "Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War" (did gh recommend that one as well? Can't recall.)
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby AS » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:56 pm

I tend to knock off about 25% of my year's (leisure-reading) over the 2-3 weeks of holidays around Xmas/New Year. Among my highlights have been:

"The Luminaries" by Eleanor Catton (epic novel set during NZ Gold Rush - very deserving winner of 2013 Booker Prize (i.e. best book by Commonwealth author))
"The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" by Daniel James Brown (actually made rowing interesting!)
"The Neruda Case" by Roberto Ampuero (nice mix of fiction and fact in Chilean detective novel)
"One Summer: America, 1927" by Bill Bryson (a fun way to piece together some US history)
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:04 am

DrJay wrote:Next up will be his "Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War" (did gh recommend that one as well? Can't recall.)


I just started this one - only one chapter in so far. Also read Inferno which was great
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby jeremyp » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:44 am

Into Boob Gates memoir: "Duty." A fascinating bird's eye view of machinations of the movers and shakers. Also just finished Cliff Gaddy's " Putin, Operative in the Kremlin." Attended his lecture as well. Basically the government of Russia is run as a protection racket.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Marlow » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:54 am

bambam wrote:Also read Inferno which was great

I found it to be an interesting short story buried in a travelogue about Florence. The description of tourist attractions (admittedly, "great art") went on for chapters and chapters interminably!
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:10 am

After months of guilty pleasures (by which I mean paperback mystery stuff like Le Carré, Grafton, Leonard) I finally got back to reading something of substance. I usually try to alternate, keep learning things, but the kid in me won out there awhile.

At any rate, hearty recommendation for The Sixth Extinction (An Unnatural History) by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Fascinating stuff if you're at all into a wide variety of sciences. Primarily biology, but also geology, geography, paleontology, etc., etc. Mother Earth has had 5 great extinctions already (the most famous being the end-Cretaceous, of course).

The author makes the case for No. 6, which some call the Anthropocene. The one that's being caused by us. Fascinating read.

And you can now color me much more concerned with ocean acidification than global warming.
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