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Books Read 2021

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El Guapo
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Finished Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution, by Mike Duncan

This is the new book by the History of Rome / Revolutions podcast guy, about the Marquis de Lafayette, basically telling his life story. Lafayette was a pretty remarkable guy, a noble adventurer of sorts who stumbled into the American Revolution, performed well and made friends with a lot of the founding fathers, and wound up becoming a consistent advocate for political liberty back in France (subsequently playing significant roles in the French Revolution and the Revolution of 1830). I did know a fair chunk of this already from the Revolutions podcast, but this went into greater depth (especially on his youth). It's well written and funny in parts. It's a pretty straightforward biography and everything was good but not incredible / compelling, so I think whether you'd enjoy this is mostly contingent on how interested you are in Lafayette in particular.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Speeches That Changed the World, by Alan J. Whiticker.

Found this in a neighborhood book lending library. I love good speeches, so thought this was a good palate cleanser between long books. Basically it contains a selection of speeches throughout the 20th century, including speeches by Gandhi, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Kennedy, and others. It was pretty enjoyable to read. One thing that annoyed me is that the speeches were abridged - there were parts that were summarized in brackets, and elipses for parts that were skipped over. Guessing that's for brevity, but unless it's wildly impractical I'd rather just have the whole original speech as delivered. Also each speech had summary and a brief editorial afterwards...for the most part the summaries were helpful for context, but the editorials got weird at times (like noting that India had elected a woman head of state twice, while "supposedly Christian countries in the West" hadn't achieved it once.

Anyway, worth a read if you find it, but wouldn't go out of your way for it.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Dodie Smith - The Starlight Barking : the forgotten (original) sequel to The 101 Dalmations, written some years later in the mid-late '60s. i respect what appears to be an attempt to get Disney to make a metaphysical sci-fi film (with dalmations) about the imminent existential danger of nuclear holocaust and the reality of interspecies cohabitation on this planet and sentient stars and the agency (or lack thereof) of free will and well, it actually had the potential to be kind of an interesting leftfield setup, but the execution was not great. really, the pacing totally sucked - halfway through this rather short novella, most of what has happened to this point is that the dogs are ... having another meeting... again... there's so much wasted writing that is just dithering around... but it would have been a classic if she'd collaborated with the likes of, say, Philip K. Dick...
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Image

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (audiobook): In this humorous novel, people at an apartment viewing are taken hostage by an inept first-time bank robber. It's not just about the nutty people in the apartment, but also about the father-and-son cops trying to resolve the case (and their own rocky relationship). It's laugh-out loud funny and shows how emotional baggage makes it difficult to communicate and empathize. But sometimes it's too farcical, too sweet, too maudlin. It would probably make a good stage play. This is the first book I've read by the author, and I'll bet it's not his best. I plan to read other books by him like Beartown and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. 4 out of 8 viewing limes.
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Re: Books Read 2021

Post by hitbyambulance »

i swung by this one LFL after work and it actually had very good condition copies of Karl Ove Knausgård's My Struggle vols 2 and 3... with a noticeable gap in the books riiiight where, perhaps, volume 1 was previously. whyyyy would you doooo that?!

(i'm of the mind that if someone has put a complete [small] series in an LFL, take all of them, and replace all of them when done - even if you just want to read one of them, so you don't break up the set forever.)
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Re: Books Read 2021

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I don't really track what I read in this thread, as I want the mental space to pick and choose what I want to read without "What will people think?" being a factor. I read for me, not for others, and if I kept a log in here I'd end up reading for others.


Anyway, I decided to revisit a book series that was foundational for me, one that inspired me and changed the course of my life, quite literally. The Dragonlance Chronicles. Yeah, those. For those that don't know, the Chronicles were the very first novels published based on a D&D property, written by two game designers (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman), the prior an editor who had written a few children's novels, the latter the designer responsible for the co-creation of Ravenloft. I first read the books when I was 15, and they were the main thing that was responsible for launching me into a lifelong love of fantasy, and that had me running to sell what few valuable things I had to get into D&D. That, in turn, was responsible for my social group, all of my friends, and for meeting both my first wife (introduced by a D&D buddy) and my second (Michelle, who was a player in one of my games.) The novels absolutely absorbed me, and I lived for that world and that universe the way the worst World of Warcraft addict lives for Azeroth. I wanted to be Raistlin (the wizard from the novels.) I read the Chronicles, repeatedly, and I read everything else that they published in the setting for the next six years (most of which was awful pulp that I had trouble choking down even then.)

I haven't read them since I was probably 19. But I have so many fond memories that I just had to go back, just one time. And with the recently announced sequels by the original authors (both of whom I've met - and I had a nice long chat with Tracy Hickman, great guy), I decided it was time.

I'm a quarter of the way through the first book. I'm not sure if I can continue. There are so many great memories - the inn, the characters, the boat across the lake. But the writing is just so bad. They literally wrote out the events of their D&D sessions as they played through the associated adventure modules (which they also wrote.) And it shows. Weis and Hickman became better authors over time, but these characters I loved so much at 15 are just so shallow, the writing and dialogue are awkward. I'm not sure that the nostalgia is enough to get me through.

But at the same time, the core characters (and/or their heirs) had their stories continued past what was published when I last read them. They follow-ups were written by the original authors (not the hacks who poured out the massive numbers of filler pulps TSR pushed out every month), now much more experienced. After 30 years, I'd kind of like to see where the story went.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Hipolito wrote: Wed Nov 17, 2021 7:27 pm Image

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (audiobook): In this humorous novel, people at an apartment viewing are taken hostage by an inept first-time bank robber. It's not just about the nutty people in the apartment, but also about the father-and-son cops trying to resolve the case (and their own rocky relationship). It's laugh-out loud funny and shows how emotional baggage makes it difficult to communicate and empathize. But sometimes it's too farcical, too sweet, too maudlin. It would probably make a good stage play. This is the first book I've read by the author, and I'll bet it's not his best. I plan to read other books by him like Beartown and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. 4 out of 8 viewing limes.
I couldn't stand that book. Definitely not his best. I forget how far I made it before I decided to quit reading it, but I found the humor annoying. I found Beartown much better. The sequel to Beartown, Us Against You, was terrible. Not really a great idea to bring in an annoying character and have him play off both sides.

On the other hand, I find humor on paper to be very difficult to do correctly without it coming across as forced. I felt the same way about Cold Storage by David Koepp, where the humor kept derailing what could have been an interesting Andromeda-strain type of story. Instead it was filled absurd humor and kept pointing out how clever it was for it.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Blackhawk wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 12:14 pm I don't really track what I read in this thread, as I want the mental space to pick and choose what I want to read without "What will people think?" being a factor. I read for me, not for others, and if I kept a log in here I'd end up reading for others.
dunno what that's about. i post my 101 Dalmations reviews (original and sequel) in here...
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Re: Books Read 2021

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hitbyambulance wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:37 am
Blackhawk wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 12:14 pm I don't really track what I read in this thread, as I want the mental space to pick and choose what I want to read without "What will people think?" being a factor. I read for me, not for others, and if I kept a log in here I'd end up reading for others.
dunno what that's about. i post my 101 Dalmations reviews (original and sequel) in here...
It's about my consistently defective mind and how it handles socializing.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Rumpy wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 2:20 pmOn the other hand, I find humor on paper to be very difficult to do correctly without it coming across as forced. I felt the same way about Cold Storage by David Koepp, where the humor kept derailing what could have been an interesting Andromeda-strain type of story. Instead it was filled absurd humor and kept pointing out how clever it was for it.
I like absurd humor and have been known to employ it at times, but it must be carefully apportioned, like ketchup on fish. In Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for example, the absurd humor was perfectly balanced with intriguing sci-fi and adventure. But the Hitchhiker's sequels, in my opinion, were mostly just heaps upon heaps of absurd humor, and therefore not nearly as enjoyable.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Hitchhiker's Guide is a perfect example. It helps that it has good pacing as well. The problem with Cold Storage is that I found it completely took over the story. Almost like the writer had a great concept but didn't know how to develop it and just let the humor dictate the direction of the story, which I found immensely disappointing. It would have been better had the story been just a straight sci-fi along the lines of the Andromeda Strain. The intro gave off similar vibes and it was great, but once the humor came in and became a strong proponent, it fell apart.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Finished Talk to Me by T.C. Boyle. Set in the early 1980s, Talk to Me is mostly the story of Aimee and Sam. Aimee is a painfully shy college student who sees a professor from her school on TV with a chimpanzee who communicates with sign language. Sam is the chimp. Aimee sees that the professor is seeking additional student aides to continue working with Sam, and she applies. Almost instantly she and Sam bond, and Aimee mostly gives up her life to live with the professor and Sam. The experiment largely revolves around raising Sam in a family environment, including communicating in sign language, and seeing how he develops. When the experiment is abruptly canceled, Sam's owner (another professor who lives in Iowa) takes Sam back with the intent to use him for breeding and perhaps medical testing. Aimee will do anything to stay with Sam . . . .

It's a good story and is well written, as is everything I've read from Boyle. I enjoyed the books musings on the nature of humanity and spirituality, and wouldn't have minded some expansion on the spirituality aspect of things (although maybe that would have spelled things out too much). Still, I highly recommend the book.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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The Tudors by G.J. Meyer

I have recently seen a few shows about Henry the 8th and when I saw the GJ Meyer, whose WW1 book I recently read, had written a book on the Tudors I thought this was a chance to read something about him and get some info on Elizabeth 1 to boot. I have to admit what I learned about Henry and Elizabeth, and perhaps the times in general was a little disturbing.

We all know how Henry had 6 wives and how he had two of them executed. One on trumped up charges and one who probably had it coming. But I had no idea what a real killer Henry was. Something in Meyers story made me think of a recent biography of Joseph Stalin I had read. Both killed to consolidate their power, both killed to get what they wanted and both killed people who aided and abetted in their killing when they felt the need to move on. No trials and no self defense allowed.

Elizabeth, who was the last Tudor was also guilty of killing many Catholics simply for being Catholic. With Henry's outlawing of the Catholic Church and the Protestant movement gaining strength there was no such thing as religious freedom. You died for your religion, literally.

The book did give a good telling of how Henry changed the church and how the country changed religions. But it was a slow and painful process that in ways still continues today.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Interesting that Henry VIII is most remembered for eating a turkey leg. Did they even have turkeys in England?
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Jaymann wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:08 pm Interesting that Henry VIII is most remembered for eating a turkey leg. Did they even have turkeys in England?
What's funny is that there is no portrait of Henry holding a turkey leg (or any other bird's leg). The famous and most-remembered portrait has him holding a rolled hat or other fabric, and the turkey-leg versions are caricatures of that from much later (presumably playing on his fatness).

Turkeys (native to North America) weren't even brought to England until after Henry's death.

I'd say Henry is most remembered for breaking with the Catholic church and having a whole series of wives executed.
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One of the first examples of a meme dominating reality.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Holman wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 9:23 pm
Jaymann wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:08 pm Interesting that Henry VIII is most remembered for eating a turkey leg. Did they even have turkeys in England?
What's funny is that there is no portrait of Henry holding a turkey leg (or any other bird's leg). The famous and most-remembered portrait has him holding a rolled hat or other fabric, and the turkey-leg versions are caricatures of that from much later (presumably playing on his fatness).

Turkeys (native to North America) weren't even brought to England until after Henry's death.

I'd say Henry is most remembered for breaking with the Catholic church and having a whole series of wives executed.
He only had two wives executed, and one of them actually did have lovers on the side. But he did have hundreds of others killed.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Scuzz wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 9:48 pm He only had two wives executed, and one of them actually did have lovers on the side. But he did have hundreds of others killed.
You are correct. Bad slip on my part.
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Mark Leyner - Et Tu, Babe? : i swear i read this about 25 years ago, but maybe that was Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog (i had definitely read My Cousin, My Gasenterologist by then, which remains an influence on my own writing to this day) but this is the kind of book meant to be re-re-re-re-re-read. a cry for help buried in layers of abstraction, hyperbole, popular (and obscure) high/low culture references and metaphors, non-sequitors and general randomness. still one of the funniest authors ever i've read (and one of the most 'fun' to read - he gets this Joycean-like rhythm and musicality in the language at many points in the 'narrative')
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Re: Books Read 2021

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A bit of a cheat here, but I just finished The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I only knew of this story from the movie (which I haven't seen), but at some point I got a free download of it so I decided to read it. Turns out it's really just a short novella (if you're being generous - maybe just a short story). The story, of course, follows the life of the titular Benjamin Button as he is mysteriously born as a 70 year old man who ages backwards. The why of it and the logistics of growing younger are never addressed, which is for the better, I think. It's both amusing and sad. Some of the writing is a bit dated, but it's still well worth checking out, particularly given how short it is.
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Philip K. Dick - Martian Time-Slip : public schooling on Mars, autistic people having precognitive abilities due to existing in a time-dilation state, the ethics of colonization (the Martians are basically genetically related to African bushmen) and land speculation, the untrammeled power a labor union boss has over the water-destitute colonies, the inevitable entropy of everything in the universe - this was actually a pretty good one, if quite dated in some regards (his output is extremely uneven usually, even within a book) and nearly always enjoyable to read.

Rudolf Koch - The Book of Signs : acquired this from Andrea's aunt's book cull (photos of the pile TK). a compilation of various ancient symbols and the sometimes heavily biased) interpretations thereof. i appreciate the entire book uses the author's custom blackletter font, even for this English translation, tho it is annoying to read lol.

then there's short stories from

Joseph Conrad - "Youth" and "Typhoon" and i forget what else : bad things happen whilst being a sailor lad out and about
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Re: Books Read 2021

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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson (audiobook).

This is about the Great Migration, the movement of large numbers of African-Americans from the South to the North and West of the United States during the period roughly from World War I until the 60s. Something I didn't know a ton about beyond the broad outlines. It's a good book, although it's a little different from what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a general history book, but it doesn't really tell the history of the Great Migration except indirectly. Rather, it's basically a personal history, telling the stories of three individuals and their families from the South to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles respectively, with a few asides for other people and some brief background on the Great Migration. So good, but not 100% what I was looking for exactly.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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El Guapo wrote: Wed Nov 03, 2021 8:04 am Finished Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution, by Mike Duncan

This is the new book by the History of Rome / Revolutions podcast guy, about the Marquis de Lafayette, basically telling his life story. Lafayette was a pretty remarkable guy, a noble adventurer of sorts who stumbled into the American Revolution, performed well and made friends with a lot of the founding fathers, and wound up becoming a consistent advocate for political liberty back in France (subsequently playing significant roles in the French Revolution and the Revolution of 1830). I did know a fair chunk of this already from the Revolutions podcast, but this went into greater depth (especially on his youth). It's well written and funny in parts. It's a pretty straightforward biography and everything was good but not incredible / compelling, so I think whether you'd enjoy this is mostly contingent on how interested you are in Lafayette in particular.
I love the author's podcasts!

I might not pick up the book, but there's a pub/restaurant not too far from my neighborhood that's famous for having been an inn where Lafayette hid out after the Battle of Germantown.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Holman wrote: Fri Dec 10, 2021 7:25 pm
El Guapo wrote: Wed Nov 03, 2021 8:04 am Finished Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution, by Mike Duncan

This is the new book by the History of Rome / Revolutions podcast guy, about the Marquis de Lafayette, basically telling his life story. Lafayette was a pretty remarkable guy, a noble adventurer of sorts who stumbled into the American Revolution, performed well and made friends with a lot of the founding fathers, and wound up becoming a consistent advocate for political liberty back in France (subsequently playing significant roles in the French Revolution and the Revolution of 1830). I did know a fair chunk of this already from the Revolutions podcast, but this went into greater depth (especially on his youth). It's well written and funny in parts. It's a pretty straightforward biography and everything was good but not incredible / compelling, so I think whether you'd enjoy this is mostly contingent on how interested you are in Lafayette in particular.
I love the author's podcasts!

I might not pick up the book, but there's a pub/restaurant not too far from my neighborhood that's famous for having been an inn where Lafayette hid out after the Battle of Germantown.
Oh yeah - Revolutions is great. I've started to listen a bit to History of Rome, but it's weird going back because History of Rome (at least at start) isn't as polished as Revolutions (which makes sense, since it came first).
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink (audio book)

This is about Churchill's first few months as prime minister, when England looked pretty boned and some people in English leadership were pushing to explore a peace deal with Hitler. One of the theses of this book is that Churchill seriously considered it. Though honestly the case that the book makes isn't that compelling - he winds up reading a lot into a few notes from meetings that are explained at least as well as Churchill playing politics with those in leadership who really did want to at least consider a peace deal.

This is also the basis for the movie with Gary Oldman. The movie is great, and honestly my recommendation is just to watch the movie, which is really well done and hits essentially the same points.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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I'm reading The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris and it's so slow moving. I don't usually have a problem with slow moving stories, but in this case it's almost like I'm waiting for the characters to do something, anything. There are pacing issues. It's character-driven, but the characters are also very thinly drawn, which is another issue. As an important period of history, I feel what directly follows the post-emancipation should be better explored than in this book, as it's only briefly touched upon at best. Wanted to like this one more than I have so far, as I really enjoyed The Water Dancer.
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Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

This is the first book in the A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. It is the first book by Erikson I have read and I enjoyed it. The book reminded me, in it's characters and world, of the early Black Company books. Although Erikson's magic is quite a bit different and more detailed. The characters themselves are well done, and there are a lot of them. Perhaps as many as 5 factions worth.

I have bought the second book, although I will be reading something else first. I rarely read the books in a series back to back, and with what appears to be a 10 book series I see no reason to rush thru these no matter how much I enjoyed the first one.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Rumpy wrote: Sat Dec 11, 2021 2:50 pm I'm reading The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris and it's so slow moving. I don't usually have a problem with slow moving stories, but in this case it's almost like I'm waiting for the characters to do something, anything. There are pacing issues. It's character-driven, but the characters are also very thinly drawn, which is another issue. As an important period of history, I feel what directly follows the post-emancipation should be better explored than in this book, as it's only briefly touched upon at best. Wanted to like this one more than I have so far, as I really enjoyed The Water Dancer.
At first I read that as The Sweetness of Walter (Payton). That's a book I would read.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Jorge Luis Borges - The Book of Imaginary Beings : i actually learned of this one from perusing the 'classics' section at an airport book store (in the section where Penguin has their revised book covers for a select group of titles). this is a bestiary (or AD&D Monster Manual without the stats) of various mythological, literary and folklore-based creatures from around the world and throughout history. not nearly a complete list by any means, but entertaining to read (and is not intended to be read from beginning to end, but picked through at random as the mood dictates. since i had it checked out from the library, i needed to read through it conventionally). i'd like to find to seek out an edition with the original illustrations, as this one has a new set by Peter Sís.


Jack Clark - Nobody's Angel
Hard Case Crime is a contemporary imprint for crime, detective and noir titles that have been: out of print for years, never before published, from authors who weren't known for writing in this genre and new titles, along with new 'retro' style covers (the best part). this one was from a Little Free Library near my place that seems to keep dispensing the HCC titles out on a regular basis. written by a former Chicago cab driver who self-published this book back in the 90s and sold it from his cab. ofc it's about a cab driver who is simultaneously trying to track down a murderer of cab drivers, as _well_ as a murderer of prostitutes. a litttttle far-fetched concept, but it's not a bad effort from a first-time author with a somewhat nihilistic ending that catches you by surprise. for sure the best parts are the day-to-day details about cabbie life. Clark wrote a sequel to this a few years ago, which i believe i will seek out some day.


Stephen King - Later
again, from a LFL - the third of Stephen King's contributions to the Hard Case Crime imprint. t I've read the other two from King (_The Colorado Kid_ and _Joyland_) which also were... fine, i suppose. because these stories are written specifically for the HCC imprint, the publisher gives King a _lot_ of leeway with the 'crime fiction' adherence in these books, since they're far and away the major money-makers for this publisher. this one is very, very... loosely... maybe... crime related, and shoves it all in at the end in a basic, perfunctory manner. this is basically a story inspired by M. Night Shyamalan's _The Sixth Sense_, if you can believe it. well. it's compulsively readable at points (i nearly went through this one in one sitting), tho not too memorable. some people say King is great at writing younger characters (this one is 22 years old) but i wasn't feeling it. (reviews reference some callbacks to _IT_.


Dave Eggers - The Museum of Rain
got this from a LFL. published as a charity donation effort for McSweeney's this year. a pleasant enough short story (tho a very short one).


Haruki Murakami - Murakami T: The T Shirts I Love
received in the book club book exchange last week. this is the sort of book that more authors should have the freedom to write - just kinda riff on their own personal interests and obsessions. as a casual t-shirt collector _and_ as someone who's read most of Murakami's books, this was a Venn intersection that i don't get to experience very often, so i had to see what this was about. i had anticipated this was going to have some 'truly vintage threads' and i was surprised, by not only how recent many of these were made, but especially by how pedestrian most of these shirts are, as most of the ones featured here are basic brand/logo advertisement and promo shirts. second most common are Hawaii-related surf brands, followed by beer and whiskey brands, with animal-related designs probably fourth. most barely look like they've been worn and were given out for free in the first place, haha. the real reason for this book is for the essays (originally printed in a series in a Japanese men's fashion magazine), where Murakami reveals how Hawaiian Goodwill stores were his favorite places to find these, but 'the prices have gone up' from $0.99/1.99 to $3.99, which doesn't make the purchase so appealing anymore. Murakami's style in here is droll and goofy, and it's probably the most light-hearted book he's ever released.

no way would i pay the listed $24.99 MSRP for this, tho.
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Hipolito
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Re: Books Read 2021

Post by Hipolito »

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The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (audiobook): This modern fantasy takes place in a world shared by humans and magical beings, but the magical beings must register with the government. As children, magical beings must live in orphanages which are strictly regulated by the government in the name of safety. The protagonist is a middle-aged bureaucrat who inspects these orphanages and recommend whether they remain open or be shut down. He is assigned to visit one orphanage that is considered so troubling that its existence is kept a secret.

Except for Maniac Magee, this is the only “middle grade” (aimed at ages 8 to 12) book I’ve read since I aged out of that range. I tried it because many BookTubers gush over it. While having a lot of funny, lighthearted and romantic moments, it deals head-on with bigotry, labels, preconceived notions, and cultural assimilation. The protagonist is so milquetoast that he reads his agency’s rules and regulations manual in his spare time, but he knows how to talk tenderly to traumatized children and when to be a jerk to ignorant adults.

This is a charming and smart novel that can help kids understand the world and inspire them to become compassionate and justice-minded adults. The audio narrator does a superb job voicing diverse characters and emotions. The book didn’t quite sweep me off my feet, though. It has lots of discussions of little things, implying larger lessons, and the sweetness of these discussions can be cloying. Still, it did broaden my mind. So I might be too old to enjoy it, but not too old to learn from it. 5 out of 8 vinyl records.
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Re: Books Read 2021

Post by hitbyambulance »

currently i'm ont J.R.R. Tolkien's translation of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" (did it need to be translated?) along with a few others ("Pearl" and "Sir Orfeo"). i had intended to get to Tolkien's translation of "Beowulf" whenever i felt like reading that bit of Anglo-Saxonism for the fourth time, but i am reminded it's maybe time to get to some other original work by that author. should it be "The Silmarillion", or the 'lost tales' collections, the adventures of Tom Bombadil, or some of the children's books, or the essays, or...? (i don't think i need to go through the Chrstopher Tolkien-compiled "History of (the writing of) Middle-Earth" series.)
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Re: Books Read 2021

Post by Holman »

hitbyambulance wrote: Wed Dec 15, 2021 1:28 am (did it need to be translated?)
I'm an English teacher who never learned Middle English, so, yeah.
Much prefer my Nazis Nuremberged.
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Hipolito
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn (paperback): This novel, which takes place after the first Mass Effect game, focuses on Cerberus, a ruthless shadow organization with highly placed contacts in the human military and government. Believing that only humans should rule the galaxy, they conduct secret experiments to give humans an edge over alien races. Their prized project is Gillian, a young girl who seems to be autistic but has great biotic (psychic power) potential.

I enjoyed the Revelation prequel novel, but am disappointed by Ascension. It reads more like a spy novel than a sci-fi novel, and not a thrilling one at that. Its saving graces are: 1) it reveals a lot about the nomadic quarians, and 2) it has good commentary on how long-term stability can reduce a society’s willingness to adapt to change, rendering it weak and vulnerable (which brings the USA's current condition to mind). 4 out of 8 hits of red sand.
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El Guapo
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Re: Books Read 2021

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The Jewish State, by Theodor Herzl

This is Theodore Herzl's classic essay arguing (~1896) for the creation of a Jewish state. I found this in a free lending library (a different edition FWIW), so figured I'd give it a read since I enjoy diving through primary sources from time to time. It's interesting enough but that all that well written (it's a little meandering) and it wasn't as focused on the high minded theory that I was looking for. Rather, he seems mostly focused on arguing for why a Jewish state would be practical (to counter accusations of utopian pie in the sky thinking I think) and on the details of what it would look like (he was *very* focused on having a seven hour workday for some reason). Interesting enough, and not that long, but not the most interesting argument that I've ever read.
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El Guapo
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Amish Vampires in Space,
by Kerry Nietz

I put this on my Amazon wish list awhile ago because it made me laugh, and my brother just got it for me off that list as part of my birthday (probably for the same reason). I wouldn't say I read 100% of this book, but I spent a few hours borderline skimming / speed reading it. The basic plot is that in the future the Amish have to resettle from one planet to another because their former planet is dying, so they get picked up by a non-Amish ship for transport. Only that ship also turns out to be carrying a parasite that turns its hosts into essentially vampires!

Funny and interesting enough to be amusing. Not intended to be anything more than that, and for what it is it's decent.
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Hipolito
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Mass Effect: Redemption by Mac Walters, John Jackson Miller, and Omar Francia (paperback): Like the Ascension novel, this brief graphic novel takes place between Mass Effect 1 and 2. In search of a missing friend, an asari goes to the lawless Omega space station. She contends with the Shadow Broker, the humanist hate group Cerberus, the enigmatic Collectors, and various mercenaries, thugs, and assassins. There are plenty of battles and betrayals, but the story’s not very interesting. It doesn’t fit well in Mass Effect lore and actually decreases the mystique. And the art is iffy in my opinion. 2 out of 8 star treks.
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Finished Singularium by Jason J. Hancock (aka Jaymann). I like to try to support our authors around here, so although I'm thoroughly unfamiliar with the LitRPG genre, I decided to give this a try. (Note I just got the first book, but Jaymann has now bundled all three books into one.) The premise here is quite intriguing and creative. Our hero Spencer attends a UFO convention, and when he goes through a mysterious green door he is transported to "The Realm", which is a fantasy world where he basically picks his class and goes through some traditional RPG-style adventures. I don't want to say much more about the plot to avoid spoilers, but there's lots of adventure, plot twists, and sexy times. My biggest criticism is probably that some of the dialogue falls a bit flat, particularly the repeated double entendres between the hero and his love interest. I think as Jaymann evolves as a writer he can work on that, particularly since he's clearly got the creativity part pretty well handled. Congrats to Jaymann on such a big accomplishment!

That was probably the last book I'll finish in 2021, barring something odd happening. That makes 14 books read for 2021, which is one more than in 2020. Yay progress!
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Jaymann
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Re: Books Read 2021

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ImLawBoy wrote: Wed Dec 22, 2021 12:03 pm Finished Singularium by Jason J. Hancock (aka Jaymann). I like to try to support our authors around here, so although I'm thoroughly unfamiliar with the LitRPG genre, I decided to give this a try. (Note I just got the first book, but Jaymann has now bundled all three books into one.) The premise here is quite intriguing and creative. Our hero Spencer attends a UFO convention, and when he goes through a mysterious green door he is transported to "The Realm", which is a fantasy world where he basically picks his class and goes through some traditional RPG-style adventures. I don't want to say much more about the plot to avoid spoilers, but there's lots of adventure, plot twists, and sexy times. My biggest criticism is probably that some of the dialogue falls a bit flat, particularly the repeated double entendres between the hero and his love interest. I think as Jaymann evolves as a writer he can work on that, particularly since he's clearly got the creativity part pretty well handled. Congrats to Jaymann on such a big accomplishment!

That was probably the last book I'll finish in 2021, barring something odd happening. That makes 14 books read for 2021, which is one more than in 2020. Yay progress!
Thanks for the kind words! The full 3 part kindle novel is now available as a free promotion on Amazon through tomorrow. Be advised Part 2 goes in a completely different, hopefully intriguing direction, while still in the same universe.

When I started writing this I was not aware of the "LitRPG" genre, but my editor (son) advised me it is a hot area for readers. This is not exactly that, but close enough. I am already 10 chapters into my next book which delves further into that area.
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El Guapo
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Re: Books Read 2021

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Dune - book 1 (Graphic Novel) by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson.

Got this for my birthday. It's the graphic novel adaptation of Dune (obviously). This is the first part which covers a similar scope as the movie (though this ends a little earlier, with Paul and Jessica in the desert but before they meet up with the Fremen). I loved the original book which I read back in high school but haven't read since, so this was a good way to get refamiliar with the story. And it's well done - the story is good as always, and the illustrations are beautiful.

I'd recommend. Second installment is apparently coming out in the summer (I think June).
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Re: Books Read 2021

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anonymous 'Gawain poet', J.R.R. Tolkien [trans] - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl and Sir Orfeo: modernized renditions of some of the surviving northwest country Middle English poetry of the 14th century. i thought Pearl was actually about a pearl that a dude lost and was upset about, then has a dream where the pearl is safe in G-d's hands and he and this dream lady have a conversation hovering perilously close to how many angels can dance on a pinhead, then i looked it up after - no, it's actually his infant daughter who died, whoops. and Sir Orfeo is just a medievalized Orpheus and Eurydice that has a happy ending. it's the main story here that's the attraction, and it was a pretty alright story... ...allegory, even, in this telling, tho i most enjoyed the usage of alliteration - brought a surprising vividness to the reading.

then there's the cover art of this LFL-gained edition i read, which was clearly hoping to pull in the LotR fans with this (many probably were a bit ... disappointed)
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