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Author Topic: Reading Room  (Read 12732 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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« Reply #20 on: Oct 09, 2013, 03:21AM »

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

I haven't come across that one. Seems worth hunting up!

My favourite King to date is The Stand, his apocryphal novel about a post-plague world. There are two versions, one of which is the author's equivalent of the "director's cut", which is the version I prefer (and obviously so does the author!). However, this makes an already long novel even longer. It's enormous.... Eeek!

Odd, though. In the version which was first published (the shorter version, as decreed by the publishers), the original ending was omitted. You'd think an author might object to that!
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« Reply #21 on: Oct 09, 2013, 04:24AM »

I've not been able to get on with King, for a couple reasons (none of which I expect would sway anyone away from his writing).

I recently read The Foundation series by Asimov. All the way through I was thinking "I should be bored by this", but I kept turning the pages. It really is an incredibly slow series, and I'm still not sure why I found it palatable.

I guess if I would have to pick a favorite author it would be Vonnegut. Player Piano is my favorite book title (having favorite books is so passé). This might be because when I started reading the book I didn't know what a player piano was, and when I found out I thought there could be no better title considering the theme of the book. I don't know how the title is experienced by a native speaker.
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« Reply #22 on: Oct 09, 2013, 05:03AM »

I'm not a big fan of Asimov. I read the Foundation series many years ago, but it's set too far in the future for my taste. And he does go on a bit....

My least favourite SF author is Arthur C Clarke, who I know is extremely popular. It's just that he spends so much time showing off his knowledge of science and I'm thinking, get ON with it!!!
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« Reply #23 on: Nov 03, 2013, 01:09PM »

I'm going to come out and say T.H. White's "The Winter King" it's a great interpretation of the Arthurian legend and really deals with the character of King Arthur as a person than a mythical being who could do no wrong.

And of course any of Tolkien's books relating to Middle Earth are a blast, I'm working my way through LOTR again and it's just as engrossing as I remember.
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« Reply #24 on: Nov 15, 2013, 12:23PM »

I'm currently reading Quo Vadis.  It offers a realistic view of the Roman life under Nero.
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« Reply #25 on: Nov 15, 2013, 03:02PM »

I've gotten into nonfiction a lot lately. Currently, I'm making my way through "The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" by Steven Pinker. I enjoyed the other book of his enough, I decided to give this one a try. So far, it's pretty darn good. It's incredibly well-researched and offers a very interesting and nonstandard way of looking at history.

The latest fiction books I've gotten into is Jim Butcher's Dresden series. I think it's considered one of the best "urban fantasy" style series out there.
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« Reply #26 on: Nov 15, 2013, 08:16PM »

I'm reading another Oliver Sachs book, this time it's Awakenings.  Very interesting. 
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« Reply #27 on: Oct 16, 2014, 08:45PM »

I like Robert Ruark, Hemingway, Raymond Chanler ( my 6th cousin), and of course my own books.

Garry-
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« Reply #28 on: Oct 17, 2014, 08:20AM »

"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is the novel I've most enjoyed reading. I loved the way Twain evokes the setting of the mostly undeveloped river and the people who live around it.
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« Reply #29 on: Oct 17, 2014, 09:00AM »

I've been reading more fiction lately, but I did just finish
http://www.amazon.com/Faraday-Maxwell-Electromagnetic-Field-Revolutionized/dp/1616149426

It continues to amaze me how the scientific pioneers figured out so much with the absence of the modern tools (not just computers and lab instruments, but basic calculus, etc.) we take for granted.

Faraday and Maxwell are an interesting contrast.  Faraday did the experiments that laid the basis for our modern understanding of electricity but he lacked the math skills to develop them into a theory.  Maxwell laid the mathematical groundwork over a long period of time and established the nature of electricity through equations. 

By the way, are any of you on Shelfari?  One of my kids insisted I get an account, and I now track all my reading there.
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« Reply #30 on: Nov 09, 2014, 07:07PM »

If you have Kindle you can get my book .... those that have read tell me it is good and has a good story line ... I haven't published it in book form yet as it is much more expensive and time consuming. If you don't have a kindle you can download a FREE program from my page and read it on the computer or other device. It is an adventure w/ political overtones, and show how easy it would be to conquer and lock up everyone in the USA, with them almost begging you to do so. I write in an old style of the 30s and 40s ... but moves right along. No sex, no drugs and very little booze. has a military tone to it. And if nothing else it tells you what the government can do to you ... if they so desire.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O3V6TOI

My favorite line from Hemingway came when he delivered "The Old Man and the Sea" to his publisher. The publisher read through it and called him, saying, "you need to change a bunch of things it your book". Hemingway responded, " Like hell I will, you are the only publisher around." And the book was published the way it was written.

Garry-
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« Reply #31 on: Dec 05, 2014, 09:16PM »

I have to confess that I do not read many books these days, other than for reference purposes. However, I recently came across a book sale at a local retail centre where a huge stock of new books was available at $2 each. It seems to me that the publishers must be in a lot of trouble if they have to dump them at such a low price.

The $2 book that caught my attention was “Anyone Who Had A Heart”, My Life and Music, Burt Bacharach - actually put together by Robert Greenfield using various sources, but it is largely the memoirs of Burt himself. A lot of the content is written by his ex-wives, lyric writers, musicians and other workmates. The date of publishing is 2013, so it is not as though it is an old book.

I love Burt’s tunes; largely because they have such distinctive melodies, a sometimes different form to the norm, interesting progressions and different rhythms. Also of course he worked with some of the best-ever lyric writers: Hal David, Bob Hilliard, Carole Bayer Sager, Elvis Costello,

Some of the best ones were huge hits in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s; and sung by the pop stars of those days, notably Perry Como, Frankie Vaughan, Dionne Warwick, The Beatles, Gene Pitney, Cilla Black and Dusty Springfield, Jack Jones, Sandie Shaw, Tom Jones and Herb Alpert. That is not to say there were not many other distinguished performers and that he did not write some good tunes later. But the 60s in the UK, mainly recorded by Brits are what I appreciate most:

Singles
"Magic Moments”
"Tower of Strength"
"Baby It's You"
"Only Love Can Break a Heart"
"Don't Make Me Over"
"Make It Easy on Yourself”
"Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa"
"Anyone Who Had a Heart"
"(They Long to Be) Close to You"
"Wives and Lovers"
"Wishin' and Hopin”
"Walk On By"
"I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself"
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me”
"You'll Never Get to Heaven"
"What the World Needs Now Is Love"
"What's New Pussycat?"
"Here I Am"
"Promise Her Anything"
"Trains and Boats and Planes"
"My Little Red Book"
"I Say a Little Prayer"
"The Look of Love"
"Casino Royale"
"This Guy's in Love with You"
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"
"I'll Never Fall in Love Again"

If you want a comprehensive list of the tunes he wrote, when he wrote them, by whom they were recorded, and where they got to in the various hit charts around the world, go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Bacharach

That is enough about the tunes because, although I thought I would be less interested in his personal life, he certainly lived through some highs and lows whilst married to Paula Stewart, Angie Dickinson, Carole Bayer Sager and Jane Hanson. At first he worked basically as a pianist and music director for Vic Damone and Marlene Dietrich, before concentrating on the song writing.

Although he always tries to appear the ‘nice guy’, I sometimes get the impression he was not always quite that to his family and associates and maybe he is/was a bit full of himself. On the other hand it was probably his work ethic that often got in the way of family and other relationships. It is difficult to say. What can you say bad about a guy who fell in love with music after sneaking into a Manhattan jazz club to see the legendary Dizzy Gillespie?

The book is an interesting read, particularly for musicians, and I recommend it. After a bout of pneumonia and a long recovery period, Burt said this about song writing - but it applies equally to playing:

“What I learned was that the longer you stay away from your craft, the harder it is to re-enter. What I Would say to people who write music is that if you stop for a while and think you can pick it up again anytime you like, it’s really not that easy. There is something to be said for going to your piano or guitar every day, even if you don’t write anything, just so you can keep in touch with your music. If you do that, there will be days when something magical happens, but you have to do it on a daily basis.”
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Grah

"May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay......forever young."
Ellrod

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« Reply #32 on: Dec 05, 2014, 10:19PM »

I find I don't have time, or my eyesight is crap, or the light is bad, etc.

I feel as if life is a re-write of Catch 22. I expect I'm Major Major. "Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three." I do not, however, resemble Henry Fonda.
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MikeBMiller
Best trombone player on my street.
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« Reply #33 on: Feb 03, 2015, 02:18PM »

In the past year, I read the whole Fire and Ice series on my Kindle app. Close to 5,000 pages. And only about half of it was very interesting. Mr. Martin never uses one word when 5 will do. It's a great story though, and I hope he eventually finishes the darn thing.

Other good reads lately - The Guns of August - The story of the run up to WW I and the first month of the war. Hellhound on his Trail by Hampton Sides - a fascinating account of the MLK assasination and how the James Earl Ray almost got away with it and ended up in Africa. He was arrested in London trying to board a plane with a gun. The Martian by Andy Wier. An astronaut gets accidentally left on Mars and has to fend for himself while NASA tries to figure out how to rescue him.
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