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Author Topic: Reading Room  (Read 12267 times)
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greg waits
« on: Jun 02, 2012, 08:14AM »

Any favorite books or authors you want to talk about? Let's do it here.

I'll start.

Years ago I was introduced to the American author/poet Charles Bukowski. At the time, his skid row persona did nothing for me. Now I have come to the point where I can enjoy his writing.

I just finished Ham on Rye and have just begun Post Office.

Great reads! Recommended.
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 01, 2012, 07:22PM »

Wow, Trombone Reader's Advisory!  I'm stoked.

In addition to being a brilliant musician Yeah, RIGHT. I'm a paraprofessional in the Chester County (PA) Library system.

If system-wide holds (over 400 at last count) are any indication, Fifty Shades of Gray is heating up the readers--but don't beat yourself up if you can't get a copy  ;-) Besides, Librarian groups are in a tizzy over this series.  Turns out many are conflicted about promoting such a "poorly written" book (I understand the mechanics are lousy), never mind the subject matter (read it and find out) :D
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 02, 2012, 07:52AM »

I'm halfway through Charles Mann's 1491, having just read 1493.

It attempts to summarize the people living in the Americas before Columbus arrived.  While there is disagreement over the numbers, there may have been more people here than in Europe, around 100 million.  If so, the roughly 95% that did not survive Old World diseases represents the greatest single loss of life in history. 
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 02, 2012, 08:18AM »

I don't find much time to read lately.  When I do have time to read It's often non-fiction.  A couple of books I can't recommend enough:

Humanity: A Moral history of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover.  I first read this book when a friend suggested it to me.  He examines the human propensity towards horrific violence, analyzing the actions of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and the Balkan conflict to try and gain insight into what encourages the beast in us and what we can do to contain it.  His writing is mainly a consequentialist examination of Moral and Ethical practices.  Highly recommended if practical applications of philosophy interests you.  It's not written densely either... this dumb okie tore through it in two weeks.  I've read it three times.

Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography - by Peter Green.  I'm into history and military tactics.  Great read, written very well, and funny enough this helped my chess game after I read it. 

FICTION:  I love Hemingway.  For Whom the Bell Tolls is one I've read a few times.  I'm also a big fan of Stephen King.  My writer snob friends laugh at me when I mention this.  Most of them will grudgingly admit that he's a damn good story teller, although his endings sometimes leave a bit to be desired.  I dig Lovecraft, Bradbury, Vonnugut, Barker, and I've probably read Conrad's Heart of Darkness way too much.  I love Tom Clancy and Michal Crichton. My fiction tastes aren't too highbrow - i just love a good story.

Poets;  Whitman, Ben Johnson, I'm really digging Octavio Paz right now.  Spanish Poets are awesome - the language is already intensely musical, you don't really need to understand it all that well to get the jist....
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 02, 2012, 08:25AM »

Humanity: A Moral history of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover.  I first read this book when a friend suggested it to me.  He examines the human propensity towards horrific violence, analyzing the actions of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and the Balkan conflict to try and gain insight into what encourages the beast in us and what we can do to contain it. 

Thanks, I'll look for it.

The best examination of human history of violence and the reasons for it that I've found so far is the Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom.  (not to be confused with the Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo)  It's on my list of books any educated person should have read. Along with Guns Germs and Steel, and Collapse of course. 
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 02, 2012, 09:41AM »

Just finished "The Swerve". Very thought provoking, although it seemed to end rather abruptly, with out really explaining "how the world became modern". But a good read nonetheless...astounding facts really, and quite appropriate to todays cultural issues.

Also recommend Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. Wow!

Also just finished re-reading my wife's great-great grandmother's "Crossing the Plains", her account of the Oregon Trail in 1852 (although they ended up in California).
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 02, 2012, 09:58AM »

Just finished "The Swerve". Very thought provoking, although it seemed to end rather abruptly, with out really explaining "how the world became modern". But a good read nonetheless...astounding facts really, and quite appropriate to todays cultural issues.

Also recommend Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. Wow!

Also just finished re-reading my wife's great-great grandmother's "Crossing the Plains", her account of the Oregon Trail in 1852 (although they ended up in California).
Something's eating at me--is her maiden name Donner?  :D
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 02, 2012, 10:28AM »

I just moved from reading some of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series to Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot. Both quite good, in very different ways. Obviously. One is fiction, one is not.
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 02, 2012, 10:49AM »

Just started "How Shakespeare Changed Everything," by Stephen Marche. Pretty interesting stuff. I'm not sure I buy into some of his premises totally, but it's cool to see just how much influence he has had on many aspects of life today.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 02, 2012, 11:04AM »


I'm really digging Octavio Paz right now.  Spanish Poets are awesome - the language is already intensely musical, you don't really need to understand it all that well to get the jist....

Hey Zac, if you're not already familiar with the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, you might also enjoy the his writing. "Poem in a Straight Line" and "Tobacco Shop" are good starters.

Hemingway and Whitman are also personal favorites. I've been reading a lot of Emerson lately, and realizing just how many of his ideas ended up in Nietzsche's better writings.

My most recent reads were Gogol's surrealistic short stories (Diary of a Madman, The Nose, The Carriage, etc.)- fascinating social perspectives. Before that, I read Camus' play "Caligula", which was a real mind-warping journey into ethical and moral relativism. Then there was Francis Fukuyama' non-fiction "Our Post-Human Future", a chilling look at the effects of pharmaceuticals and technology on future generations.

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« Reply #10 on: Dec 02, 2012, 07:47AM »

Here's one for you who are into religion, philosophy, space-time, energy matter, and the like.

It was to me like reading an alien language to start, then it gradually began to make sense.
It is a PROJECT but I have found it well worth the effort!

ISBN 978-0-911560-51-0 The Urantia Book.

It claims to: Reveal the Mysteries of God, the Universe, Jesus, and Ourselves

I believe that it lives up to that claim.

 Way cool Way cool
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« Reply #11 on: Jan 30, 2013, 09:00PM »

If I were to suggest one author it would be Richard K. Morgan... his book Altered Carbon is an amazing merger of scifi and hardboiled detective novels.
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 05, 2013, 11:27AM »

I'm currently reading John Adams by David McCullough. He's a great writer (both, actually, but I'm referring to McCullough); I really enjoy his research, his storytelling ability, and his honesty. The book is tremendously detailed and dramatic, but he also emphasizes in a sense the drama of history, how much of how Adams and people around him lived is now lost to time, and subtly encourages me (the reader) to fill in the blanks.
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« Reply #13 on: Jun 05, 2013, 07:24AM »

Steven King's "112263" novel. 

Visualize this:  In the coming movie, glisses and trills of trombone music would add a sense of realness when the guy goes through the time portal.  Background Trombone music would also be neat when the guy is in the past and reminiscing about the future he is from.

(I was in 2nd grade on that fateful Friday.)
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« Reply #14 on: Jun 06, 2013, 07:15AM »

Steven King's "112263" novel. 

Visualize this:  In the coming movie, glisses and trills of trombone music would add a sense of realness when the guy goes through the time portal.  Background Trombone music would also be neat when the guy is in the past and reminiscing about the future he is from.

(I was in 2nd grade on that fateful Friday.)
I was three  Pant nyahh.

"so I asked her where she was when Kennedy was shot, and she said, 'Ted Kennedy was shot?' 'No...' 'yeah...'"--Billy Crystal and Bruno Kirby, City Slickers
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« Reply #15 on: Jun 06, 2013, 10:26AM »

I read "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde earlier this year. It's my favorite book I have read so far. It, quite literally, changed the way I look at the world, at myself, and at art/philosophy.

Oscar Wilde was a very strange man, and his ideas are yet stranger. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" illustrates a plethora of ideas and philosophies that are truly eye-opening, and I doubt you can find them anywhere else. It's about a young man (Dorian Gray) who trades his soul for eternal youth (under the bad influence of a friend), whilst his portrait takes the burden of his sins and age. Basically, the painting, and several other factors, represent the constant struggle of conscience and pleasure.
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« Reply #16 on: Jun 14, 2013, 10:01AM »

Not too long ago, I finished up "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Heinlein. It was interesting, although I was actually a bit disappointed. Some of the writing shows fantastic craftmanship, but some of it I found to be intellectually lazy, and doesn't compare with some of the other fiction that I've seen from the same period. IMHO it's because he was being a bit too blatant with the merging of politics and social issues. The Fosterites, for example, I found to be pretty interesting. Much more than the supposed Martian church the protagonist creates, which I found to be naive in the extreme, and not well-conceived. Mainly because I never bought the unfortunately central concept that anyone can conveniently ignore the laws of physics if they so chose.
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 04, 2013, 11:08AM »

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 04, 2013, 03:17PM »

Steven King's "112263" novel. 

Visualize this:  In the coming movie, glisses and trills of trombone music would add a sense of realness when the guy goes through the time portal.  Background Trombone music would also be neat when the guy is in the past and reminiscing about the future he is from.

(I was in 2nd grade on that fateful Friday.)

I read that recently. Probably my favorite King novel overall.

I also just finished the entire Game of Thrones series for the second time. And of course, I'm just as disappointed as last time since it's not finished...
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« Reply #19 on: Oct 09, 2013, 02:50AM »

I read "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde earlier this year. It's my favorite book I have read so far. It, quite literally, changed the way I look at the world, at myself, and at art/philosophy.

Oscar Wilde was a very strange man, and his ideas are yet stranger. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" illustrates a plethora of ideas and philosophies that are truly eye-opening, and I doubt you can find them anywhere else. It's about a young man (Dorian Gray) who trades his soul for eternal youth (under the bad influence of a friend), whilst his portrait takes the burden of his sins and age. Basically, the painting, and several other factors, represent the constant struggle of conscience and pleasure.

I'm sure it's an excellent novel and it's certainly full of interesting ideas. I've seen and enjoyed the film.

However, I'm currently reading it for the first time and all I can think is, "I wish that man had had a better editor!" Just for a start, in the very first sentence, he used the word "the" ten times, which any half-decent editor (including myself) could have reduced to five or six with advantage. The Lord Henry character is always saying, "You could think that, but you could also think the opposite" (OK, you can use such a format a couple of times, but not all the way through the book!). And later on, there are pages and pages of LISTS, which soon become extremely tedious. I confess to skipping some pages (because I'm keen to see how it ends), so will have to go back and re-read, but if they hadn't been dull and irritating, I wouldn't have skipped them in the first place.
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