The Flat Earth Society

Other Discussion Boards => Arts & Entertainment => Topic started by: DuckDodgers on December 02, 2013, 06:49:07 PM

Title: FES Book Club
Post by: DuckDodgers on December 02, 2013, 06:49:07 PM
Post what you have recently read and anything you'd like to point out about it (preferably without spoilers when talking about a fiction story).  Maybe after we get some more regulars/traffic we can actually start up a monthly or quarterly club to discuss a specific book if people are into that idea.

I finished Ender's Game a few weeks ago after watching the movie. I found myself absorbing Ender's internal conflicts as if they were my own. 
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on December 02, 2013, 07:02:06 PM
I just finished "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" by Sam Harris.  I found it to be quite illuminating but those that know Sam Harris' beliefs can likely just watch his Ted Talk on the same topic.

Maybe after we get some more regulars/traffic we can actually start up a monthly or quarterly club to discuss a specific book if people are into that idea.

I would be in to this.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on December 03, 2013, 12:22:40 AM
I would definitely be into a FES book club.

I recently read Cold Mountain. I think it captured the TN hills pretty well. It was like a Confederate soldier's Odyssey.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: DuckDodgers on December 03, 2013, 05:36:56 AM
I'm going to pick up the latest Sanford novel for my parents for Christmas and then I'll subsequently borrow it from them sometime there after.  His books are the first serious cop drama in any format that I actually enjoy.  The bad guys in those books are usually pretty well developed and often disturbingly psychotic. 
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on December 03, 2013, 05:40:37 AM
I'm going to pick up the latest Sanford novel for my parents for Christmas and then I'll subsequently borrow it from them sometime there after.  His books are the first serious cop drama in any format that I actually enjoy.  The bad guys in those books are usually pretty well developed and often disturbingly psychotic.
On a related note, my dad has finished or is close to finishing a cop drama set in the Midwest. He loves the genre and used to be an LA cop. Exciting.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: DuckDodgers on December 03, 2013, 05:45:43 AM
Sanford's series is set in Minnesota.  Maybe it is the same one.  He has two series which intermingle based around Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Tom Bishop on December 03, 2013, 05:52:09 AM
Earth Not a Globe by Samuel Birley Rowbotham is an enlightening pick.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on December 03, 2013, 06:23:47 AM
Sanford's series is set in Minnesota.  Maybe it is the same one.  He has two series which intermingle based around Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers.
Sorry, I meant finishing as in writing his own books.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: DuckDodgers on December 03, 2013, 06:33:44 AM
Oh that's actually pretty cool.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Alchemist21 on December 03, 2013, 04:20:37 PM
Earth Not a Globe by Samuel Birley Rowbotham is an enlightening pick.

lol Glad to have you here, Tom.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Thork on December 03, 2013, 06:49:06 PM
Earth Not a Globe by Samuel Birley Rowbotham is an enlightening pick.

lol Glad to have you here, Tom.
ditto. :D
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: EnigmaZV on December 03, 2013, 10:45:48 PM
I just finished "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" by Sam Harris.  I found it to be quite illuminating but those that know Sam Harris' beliefs can likely just watch his Ted Talk on the same topic.

Maybe after we get some more regulars/traffic we can actually start up a monthly or quarterly club to discuss a specific book if people are into that idea.

I would be in to this.

I didn't care for "The Moral Landscape" at all. I agreed with everything he was saying, but his arguments didn't seem very well laid out.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on December 04, 2013, 12:20:29 AM
Ironweed.  I learned that homeless people are disgusting and depressing.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on December 04, 2013, 03:48:57 AM
Bluefish.  I learned that knowing how to read is over-rated and dogs are better than people.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Foxbox on December 04, 2013, 04:19:51 AM
foxes are cool.

Correct.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Snupes on December 04, 2013, 06:35:50 AM
foxes are cool.

Correct.

Correct.

(http://i.imgur.com/wdt4Ddz.jpg)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: beardo on December 04, 2013, 06:58:58 AM
(http://www.cracked.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/foxcry.jpg)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Foxbox on December 04, 2013, 07:04:45 AM
foxes are cool.

Correct.

Correct.

(http://i.imgur.com/wdt4Ddz.jpg)

Super cute!


(http://www.cracked.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/foxcry.jpg)

That's me.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on December 04, 2013, 12:14:55 PM
I thought this was a book thread.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: DuckDodgers on December 04, 2013, 02:44:13 PM
I just finished "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" by Sam Harris.  I found it to be quite illuminating but those that know Sam Harris' beliefs can likely just watch his Ted Talk on the same topic.

Maybe after we get some more regulars/traffic we can actually start up a monthly or quarterly club to discuss a specific book if people are into that idea.

I would be in to this.

I didn't care for "The Moral Landscape" at all. I agreed with everything he was saying, but his arguments didn't seem very well laid out.
I thought he took too long explaining why we can scientifically look at morals.  I lost interest in the book rather quickly.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on December 04, 2013, 03:03:08 PM
I'm most of the way through Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein

Generally good, with some amusing commentry on the modern world, but because it's Heinlein, there are some uncomfortable passages, such as a woman explaining that "9 times out of 10, rape is at least partly the woman's fault..."
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Alchemist21 on December 04, 2013, 04:15:23 PM
I thought this was a book thread.

(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_JdbPDBOICRc/SlOsBoZW-wI/AAAAAAAABFs/gqac0OxyGbQ/s320/foxhound.JPG)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Sean on December 08, 2013, 05:54:44 AM
I am reading Rousseau's Discourses.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on December 08, 2013, 05:55:02 AM
It's been a while since I shared my progress in my Discworld marathon:

The Last Hero: I liked this book a lot more than I had expected to.  I'm not a big fan of the Rincewind novels, mainly because they're a bit too loose and unfocused in terms of plot for me - they mostly consist of Rincewind running around and meeting zany characters with very little rhyme or reason, after all - but probably because of the short length of this book, combined with the fact that Cohen the Barbarian's subplot got a lot of attention, that didn't come into play here, and I was the happier for it.  Speaking of Cohen's subplot, I think Pratchett really perfected with it the simple parodying of heroic fantasy that he had in mind when he first began the series, and without spoiling anything, it was a great way to conclude Cohen's mini-story arc.  Also, the illustrations were good.  So good, in fact, that I think I would have enjoyed Eric a lot more if I had read the illustrated version.

Night Watch: I had heard some hype about this one before I began, but I still wasn't prepared for the very abrupt change of tone.  This book is fucking dark.  I mean, shit gets real here.  And it's not very funny, either.  It provided a few smiles here and there, I suppose, but for the most part, the story is serious fucking business.  Now, that being said, it's not bad.  In fact, it's fantastic, and I'd probably rank it up there with Thief of Time as one of the best of the series.  The story is riveting, the action is great, there's some thoughtful exploration of some very complex themes (like remembrance of the war dead), and I'd even go so far as to say that it serves as a surprisingly deep and nuanced character study of Vimes.  It's just that my appreciation of it is on a completely different wavelength, so to speak, than the rest of the series.  As a comedy, it's not very good, but as whatever the hell it's trying to be, it's magnificent.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on December 18, 2013, 01:17:49 AM
Monstrous Regiment: This was the first one in a while that was just sort of okay.  The main problem was that it just rehashed subjects that had already been covered by previous books without really adding anything new.  War, for example, was dealt with in Jingo.  Religion was taken care of in Small Gods - and with a lot more sophistication, too.  At least there Pratchett tried to show us his thoughts on how religions work, and the things that differentiate reasonably good religions from bad ones.  Here, he just comes across as a dumb teenager on r/atheism shouting about how religions are dumb.  The one thing that the book might have been able to explore more thoroughly was gender, and for a while it seemed like it was going to, but any real examination of its role in society soon gave way to - without spoiling anything, a very strange running gag that wasn't very funny, and became very predictable very soon.

Going Postal: Much better.  In direct contrast to Monstrous Regiment, while this book does revisit subjects from previous books, it explores different facets of them.  Things like golems, secret societies, and "chosen one" myths.  There's also new stuff, like capitalism, financial speculation, and the Interwebs.  The story itself is great, the main character is especially likable, and of course, it's very funny.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 03, 2014, 11:38:33 PM
Finished Mason & Dixon, finally, and what an amazing experience it was. So amazing, in fact, that today I went out and bought two Pynchon novels at full retail price, something I would normally never do with books as I find them terribly overpriced in general.

I decided to move on to Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic (hi sadaam). I wanted to contrast my previous book with something short, simple and reasonably entertaining that I could just steamroll through in a short amount of time. It has proven to be all these things so I'm enjoying it for what it is, despite now being more than a little spoiled by the mad genius of Pynchon.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Eddy Baby on January 04, 2014, 12:34:38 AM
I recently started and finished Helle Nächte, a German translation of Dostoyevski's White Nights, and today I found a short collection of Heinrich Böll's short stories.
Also, this year a lot of my uni work will revolve around the USSR and GDR, so I'm starting to read a little background stuff, namely Marx's Das Kapital.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Tintagel on January 04, 2014, 12:44:59 AM
I'm finally getting around to reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.  I've finished The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt, and I'm working on The Dragon Reborn now.  Really enjoying it thus far.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 05, 2014, 01:00:16 PM
The Colour of Magic was amusing and easy, which was just what I needed. Next up: Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Socker on January 07, 2014, 01:31:50 PM
Just finished reading The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. It amazed me how he went from such a great series to a very mediocre last book. Still probably worth reading though if you're into that kinda stuff.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 08, 2014, 09:43:32 PM
I feel somewhat bad about this, but yesterday I shelved The Third Policeman to start Pynchon's Vineland, by his standards a slim volume at a mere 400 pages.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on January 19, 2014, 09:56:56 PM
Finally finished Stranger in a Strange Land.

Apart from the casual sexism resulting from its time, this really is a great book. The society that Heinlein so ably skewers is still recognisable today so a lot of the barbs still stick. The first half of the book is an especially clever way of looking at our society with the eyes of an outsider and all the time you end up feeling the same way you feel when a foreign visitor points out just how loopy some of our conventions and traditions are, whilst the second half looks at the way someone who sees how a system works, but is not bound by it, is able to play the system and tilt it in their favour.

Next I have to read a draft manuscript by someone in my writer's group for a feedback session in February.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on January 19, 2014, 11:37:50 PM
It's been a while since I shared my progress in my Discworld marathon:

Thud!: This was great.  It would have been easy to just give a simplified message of "Racism is bad, mmkay," but Pratchett went more into detail about deep cultural differences and historical feuds, which is definitely a more accurate reflection of the conflicts in our world.  It was great to see all the members of the Watch back in a more procedural-like format, and Vimes's relationship with his son was genuinely heartwarming.

Making Money: Perhaps not great, but still very good.  It can't have been easy to write a book about monetary policy and high finance and still make it funny, so I was definitely impressed.  And needless to say, this is definitely a book that gold bugs like Thork should read.  Anyway, yeah, the characters were good, the story was good, and while nothing really groundbreaking about its subjects were explored, what was explored was done in a funny way.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: fappenhosen on January 20, 2014, 03:24:20 PM
Discworld is meh. The first three (any three) are good but then it just gets formulaic.

I'm currently reading The Fistings of Anne of Cleves by Hilary Mantel. It's part historical and part fantasy.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: jroa on January 20, 2014, 05:59:38 PM
Flat land.  It is a love story. 
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on January 22, 2014, 01:08:48 AM
Unseen Academicals: I feel somewhat misled.  The title, cover, and jacket description of this book suggested that it was going to be about the Unseen University going into athletics and creating a football team.  And that is what happens in the book, but it's really only the b-story.  The main story centers around Nutt and his friends, and I guess that worked out okay.  Not great or anything, but they were fun characters, and their relationships were cute and all.  It was probably for the best, really, as I think the wizards make better side characters than leads.  Anyway, it was pretty good.

Snuff: Unfortunately, this book wasn't very good at all.  There were almost too many issues with it to list.  I didn't like the new setting.  I didn't like the new characters.  In fact, I didn't even like some of the old characters.  For example, Vimes's loyal butler Willikins has been Flanderized into a thug whose only distinguishing feature is that he's an unparalleled master of combat.  He's not funny, he's not interesting, and any and all tension is sapped out of a scene the moment he appears, because you know that Pratchett's just going to write something dumb like "A cloud of dust rose into the air, and when it settled, everyone could see [insert bad guy here] rolling around on the ground in agony."  And Vimes's relationship with his son, which I really liked in Thud!, has now been reduced to poop jokes.  No, that's not an exaggeration.  It's literally poop jokes.

But the biggest problems of all are with the overall story.  It's extremely dull (far too much space is devoted to tedious exposition and long-winded descriptions of the scenery), what little humor it has is terrible (see: poop jokes), and to top it off, the narrative soon falls into a clichéd, predictable "white man's burden" plot.  The goblin culture is fascinating, and I think a great book could have been written about it, but Pratchett seems to be far too busy with his "Racism is bad, mmkay" message to say anything new or insightful.  A huge step down from Thud!, and in general.  Bah.  Or should I say, BAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 15, 2014, 06:20:49 AM
Thomas Pynchon - Vineland

Originally got a lot of flak as it apparently compared unfavourably to Gravity's Rainbow. I thought Vineland was very smart, very funny, dramatically compelling, the conspiracy stuff was highly engaging, and above all it really made me feel like I had lived in the time it was set. Not many books can do that, in fact, Juan Rulfo's Pefro Páramo and Pynchon's own Mason & Dixon are the only other ones I can think of that really brought me to another time and place.

J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye

Catching up on stuff I probably should've read as a teenager. It's very funny, very sad, the colloquial prose style is very warm and inviting and I feel like I really got to know Holden Caulfield's character and what he's all about just through the little things, the sudden and almost post-modern tangents that he goes off on, talking about something he remembered from years ago etc. Really fantastic.

Now reading: Ernest Hemingway - For Whom the Bell Tolls

So far it is very boring and the prose style is clunky as fuck.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 15, 2014, 11:32:36 AM
Read The Old Man and The Sea if you have not already. Phenomenal novel.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on February 15, 2014, 06:01:58 PM
I really dislike Hemingway's style. His stories aren't terrible but they're written in a way that ruins any enjoyment.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Vongeo on February 19, 2014, 05:15:07 AM
Sanford's series is set in Minnesota.  Maybe it is the same one.  He has two series which intermingle based around Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers.
Virgil flowers loves the D, as does his creepy ass cult.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 16, 2014, 04:54:36 PM
Put down Gorbachev again and picked up The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson which I picked up at a charity shop yesterday.

I'm already more than half-way through it. BB is a fantastic writer and I can't believe that I've only just gotten around to reading anything by him.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 29, 2014, 11:45:23 PM
Since finishing For Whom the Bell Tolls I also read George Orwell's Coming Up for Air. I liked both reasonably well, but I can't be bothered to go into much detail.

Now reading: Thomas Pynchon - Gravity's Rainbow

At long last, more Pynchon!
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on April 07, 2014, 06:03:48 PM
On the notion of Finnegan's Wake:

13:48   Saddam   Crudblud: The Gracehoper was always jigging ajog, hoppy on akkant of his joyicity
13:49   Saddam   Just saying
13:49   Crudblud   Saddam: Haldrewake and iriticable, Thoutsnapped viscosely, telling Umbert to stick a baguette in his bumberthumps and rumps to his mumps.
13:50   Foxbox   Vaguette
13:50   Saddam   What secondtonone myther rector and maximost bridges- maker was the first to rise taller through his beanstale than the bluegum buaboababbaun or the giganteous Wellingtonia Sequoia
13:50   Saddam   I'm considering reading the whole thing
13:50   Barkno   yes
13:50   Saddam   I have no delusions of actually understanding it, but it seems hilarious
13:52   Saddam   The Amazon reviews are pretty funny too
13:53   Saddam   Into the gobbledeegook go slipper the whipper and the trimtrammaduhdeedo, believing the glubbledubble spewed forth by a madman. What do you think, am I a genius or what? Just send me twenty bucks and I'll send you the next 600 pages.
13:54   Crudblud   >no multilingual puns
13:54   Saddam   And to all those stuffy professors who like to belittle the layperson by pretending to understand this book, I offer this lucid reproval: ooglebagoogle you jimmenyjammeroos. Take that, Mr. Wisemen.
13:54   Crudblud   Worst parody ever
13:54   Saddam   I can't understand why this book wasn't rated the greatest novel of the 20th century! My God! I read this book every night before I go to bed. The words flow easily across the page, and the characters are incredibly rich in development!
13:55   Saddam   The story itself is so engaging that whenever I read it, my hands literally begin to tremble in anticipation of what is going to happen next! Here is an excerpt from the book and one of the more famous passages from this MASTERPIECE OF MODERN LITERATURE!
13:55   Saddam   Orkman ribpop easily cross arrows. Flaunting wissam on narrow shoulders opens me. opens me. Pilly saw Roman do the tiger on ruskpappy for Flynn. Squiggles on canvas slapped brightly on Easter fippoon aiktart. Common man sees field sorry fart on apple.
13:55   Barkno   Get these walls of text out of IRC
13:56   Saddam   Barkno: ooglebagoogle you jimmenyjammeroos
13:58   Saddam   bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!
13:58   Barkno   >mfw
13:58   Saddam   People actually paid money to read a book full of words like that
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on April 09, 2014, 12:08:29 PM
I have finished The Lost Continent and now have a choice, which of the following do I take on holiday?
The Count of Monte Christo - Dumas
Crime and Punishment - Dostoevsky
A short history of nearly everything - Bill Bryson
Long Walk to freedom - Mandela
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on April 09, 2014, 08:32:26 PM
I have finished The Lost Continent and now have a choice, which of the following do I take on holiday?
The Count of Monte Christo - Dumas
Crime and Punishment - Dostoevsky
A short history of nearly everything - Bill Bryson
Long Walk to freedom - Mandela
Depends how long the holiday is. If you're going to be sat around for a long time with nothing to do, Dostoevsky's probably your man.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on April 16, 2014, 02:13:15 PM
I'm in the middle of reading Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's Illuminatus! trilogy.  I'm enjoying the content of the books; there are some funny jokes, some clever satire, and all the kooky conspiracy stuff is a lot of fun.  Alas, this is somewhat diluted by the ridiculous rambling format of the stories.  I know that the trilogy has a cult following, and I'm sure that its fans would reply to this by saying that it's deliberate, or that it's the whole point, but you know what, it's kind of like with The Rocky Horror Picture Show - being deliberately bad is still being bad.  I'm not sure how best to specifically describe my issues of how they're written, but you can read the books here, if anyone is so inclined:

http://www.rawilsonfans.com/downloads/Illuminatus.pdf
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: AlParsons_ChristianComedy on April 17, 2014, 12:25:12 PM
I'm reading the Bible...again.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on July 07, 2014, 11:58:35 AM
Finished Gravity's Rainbow and Animal Farm this morning. Now rereading Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Yamato on July 07, 2014, 02:03:05 PM
Does manga counts as "book"?
I would say that manga with many chapters can count as a book if you stick them all together.

If so, then I finished just yesterday reading...

Sun-Ken Rock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun-Ken_Rock)

If you have the chance to read it, do it.

(http://s3.mangapanda.com/cover/sun-ken-rock/sun-ken-rock-l0.jpg)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on July 11, 2014, 02:45:30 PM
Paul Auster - Moon Palace
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on July 11, 2014, 08:27:09 PM
Current progress through my summer reading list.  Tolstoy's Kingdom of God has thus far been my favorite read.

(http://i.imgur.com/HUmnvNO.jpg)(http://i.imgur.com/w8wk9XG.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/AkEag3i.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/ad70OiI.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/bLcH7yQ.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/jlZp8Ao.jpg?1)

Next up in the queue are:

(http://i.imgur.com/BGLyHeM.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/Suflqd3.jpg?1)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on July 11, 2014, 08:28:32 PM
Neuromancer is a great choice. One of my favorite books. Let me know your impressions when you're finished.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on July 18, 2014, 06:31:06 PM
Just started reading this classic:

(http://i.imgur.com/bf9iloV.jpg)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on July 18, 2014, 06:44:45 PM
We didn't need to see that image.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on July 18, 2014, 06:47:02 PM
We didn't need to see that image.

Are you suggesting that we ban some books on FES? You're a monster. That cover is artwork. Not to mention that it's a Canadian bestseller. It deserves your respect.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Shmeggley on July 18, 2014, 07:26:00 PM
Just started reading this classic:

squick (http://i.imgur.com/bf9iloV.jpg)

Christ, I think I remember some kids in grade 6 telling me about this book. I never read it and I assumed they were just full of shit.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on July 21, 2014, 11:46:27 PM
Ian Rankin - Let it Bleed

Something that will hopefully be simple and entertaining while the weather is too hot and humid to read difficult stuff.

Edit: Feels like it was written to be adapted for TV, by which I mean it's a lot of snappy dialogue contextualised by insubstantial prose. I'm calling it a day and moving on.

Now reading Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Thork on July 22, 2014, 05:24:15 PM
Ian Rankin - Let it Bleed
Sounds like good advice for dealing with women.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: fappenhosen on July 22, 2014, 10:55:43 PM
Currently reading "Sasha Grey-Grand Theft Anal 11" I know they made it into a film but I wanted to read the book first.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on July 23, 2014, 02:19:26 AM
Currently reading "Sasha Grey-Grand Theft Anal 11" I know they made it into a film but I wanted to read the book first.

Meh, by 7 or 8 it was obvious they had run out of ideas.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on July 23, 2014, 09:01:56 AM
Ian Rankin - Let it Bleed
Sounds like good advice for dealing with women.
The title was actually name dropped in the third chapter in reference to bleeding a radiator. I don't know if it has significance beyond that because I couldn't get past the bland prose.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: spoon on July 28, 2014, 06:34:20 AM
Currently attempting to read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

It is a compilation of passages composed over the course of a 15-year, heroin-feuled excursion of isolation. The author was a mad junkie. There isn't too much continuity between chapters at all; it is noted that the reader can start pretty much anywhere.

A lot of it is hard to stomach - not the content, but the sheer volume of content. I can handle a couple paragraphs about sodomy, but page after page after page detailing insect rape can at times be overwhelming. The language is unsettling as well, even when the story being told isn't necessarily awful.

I can only handle about an hour at a time, at least the chapter I am reading. Has anybody else tried reading this?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on July 28, 2014, 09:41:11 AM
Currently attempting to read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

It is a compilation of passages composed over the course of a 15-year, heroin-feuled excursion of isolation. The author was a mad junkie. There isn't too much continuity between chapters at all; it is noted that the reader can start pretty much anywhere.

A lot of it is hard to stomach - not the content, but the sheer volume of content. I can handle a couple paragraphs about sodomy, but page after page after page detailing insect rape can at times be overwhelming. The language is unsettling as well, even when the story being told isn't necessarily awful.

I can only handle about an hour at a time, at least the chapter I am reading. Has anybody else tried reading this?

I've read it once. I liked it a lot, though it is very dense and disjointed and I can see why someone would have trouble with it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Foxbox on July 31, 2014, 09:38:45 PM
Currently attempting to read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

It is a compilation of passages composed over the course of a 15-year, heroin-feuled excursion of isolation. The author was a mad junkie. There isn't too much continuity between chapters at all; it is noted that the reader can start pretty much anywhere.

A lot of it is hard to stomach - not the content, but the sheer volume of content. I can handle a couple paragraphs about sodomy, but page after page after page detailing insect rape can at times be overwhelming. The language is unsettling as well, even when the story being told isn't necessarily awful.

I can only handle about an hour at a time, at least the chapter I am reading. Has anybody else tried reading this?

I've read it once. I liked it a lot, though it is very dense and disjointed and I can see why someone would have trouble with it.

I liked it a lot too. I have been wanting to read it again since it has been quite some time.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on August 04, 2014, 11:01:01 AM
Miguel de Cervantes - Don Quixote, Part 1 (trans. Rutherford)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on August 11, 2014, 05:14:59 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/ZqqjSIX.jpg)

Just started reading this book today. I've heard good things.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on August 12, 2014, 07:58:57 PM
While reding Alien Bodies I came across this line:

"But sometimes my arms bend back."

Sounds like a Twin Peaks reference to me.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on August 12, 2014, 09:27:53 PM
Currently attempting to read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

It is a compilation of passages composed over the course of a 15-year, heroin-feuled excursion of isolation. The author was a mad junkie. There isn't too much continuity between chapters at all; it is noted that the reader can start pretty much anywhere.

A lot of it is hard to stomach - not the content, but the sheer volume of content. I can handle a couple paragraphs about sodomy, but page after page after page detailing insect rape can at times be overwhelming. The language is unsettling as well, even when the story being told isn't necessarily awful.

I can only handle about an hour at a time, at least the chapter I am reading. Has anybody else tried reading this?

I read a little of a friend's copy, I had literally no idea what was going on

"And we were walking along a sky made of penises and we were penises and the largest penis started talking to us in squirrels." Basically seemed to be the general gist.

I had no intention of carrying on.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on August 12, 2014, 09:29:21 PM
"And we were walking along a sky made of penises and we were penises and the largest penis started talking to us in squirrels." Basically seemed to be the general gist.


Sounds like pretentious drivel.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on August 13, 2014, 02:13:55 AM
I'm reading Catch-22 right now.  I had heard it was funny.  I didn't expect it to be this funny.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Particle Person on August 13, 2014, 02:25:52 AM
I'm reading Catch-22 right now.  I had heard it was funny.  I didn't expect it to be this funny.

That's my favorite tome ever penned. It gets funnier. The end is a real riot.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on August 13, 2014, 04:11:42 AM
Catch-22 is a great book.  I gave a presentation on it to my English class in college.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: DuckDodgers on August 15, 2014, 08:07:00 PM
I just finished The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro. He adds an interesting twist to vampires and it's refreshing to see them be portrayed as the vicious beasts we are supposed to be afraid of instead of the misunderstood being we need to make love to.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on August 31, 2014, 03:24:42 AM
John Kennedy Toole - A Confederacy of Dunces

I don't know how long it'll take me to read this, I've just finished the first chapter and I was pausing to laugh so often it might have taken me twice as long as ten pages normally would.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on August 31, 2014, 03:53:30 AM
it's refreshing to see them be portrayed as the vicious beasts we are supposed to be afraid
According to which folklores? If you mean the original eastern European vampires then they're supposed to be bloated and mischievous. In the 1800s, western European versions are more commonly supposed to be both terrifying and seductive. I actually dislike when they're just one or the other. They have a big weakness in sunlight. Blending in, seducing, and killing their food-source makes more sense to me and is kind of terrifying in itself.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on September 24, 2014, 09:41:17 PM
Salman Rushdie - The Satanic Verses
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on September 24, 2014, 11:24:54 PM
Seneca: Letters From a Stoic and The Emperor's Handbook: Marcus Aurelius

I need stoicism in my life since I have a new boss and am not enjoying it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Foxbox on October 24, 2014, 07:28:15 PM
Thomas Pynchon - Inherent Vice

Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: spoon on October 24, 2014, 09:07:50 PM
Thomas Pynchon - Inherent Vice



Are you gonna finish it in time to watch the movie when it comes out? Paul Thomas Anderson is directing it. It's like a dream come true.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Foxbox on October 24, 2014, 09:11:55 PM
Thomas Pynchon - Inherent Vice



Are you gonna finish it in time to watch the movie when it comes out? Paul Thomas Anderson is directing it. It's like a dream come true.

Of course! And yes he is my favorites <3
I had originally tried to wait and watch the film first before I read it, but I can't wait any longer.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on October 25, 2014, 02:33:28 AM
I'm reading a pretentious hipster novel that no one has heard of because it sucks.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on October 25, 2014, 05:05:47 AM
Thomas Pynchon - Inherent Vice
<333333
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on October 25, 2014, 08:17:26 AM
I'm reading a pretentious hipster novel that no one has heard of because it sucks.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Snupes on October 25, 2014, 02:10:26 PM
Almost done with Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room. Really, really freaking good book so far.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Foxbox on October 25, 2014, 09:07:58 PM
Almost done with Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room. Really, really freaking good book so far.

I still need to get that.

Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on December 02, 2014, 10:49:19 PM
Thomas Pynchon - Inherent Vice

I've been reading it for a few days now. Forgot to post sooner to get my lit cred.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on December 16, 2014, 04:49:33 PM
Thomas Pynchon - V.

Fuck yeah, V.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on December 16, 2014, 06:29:14 PM
The Green Ember
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on January 14, 2015, 04:41:05 AM
I just got done rereading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.  It had been a while so there were some pretty good laughs to be had, although I had forgotten how boring So Long and Thanks For All the Fish was, and just how much I hated the ending to the whole thing in Mostly Harmless (yes, I saw the humor in it, and I appreciated the cleverness of how it was done, but still... what a fucking downer).  My favorite of the bunch is hands down The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  The animal that tries to talk Arthur into eating it is one of the funniest things ever.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on January 14, 2015, 09:10:40 AM
It's very easy to see how badly Adams was being affected by depression by So Long... I found it quite an uncomfortable read because of that.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 08, 2015, 04:11:32 PM
Aeschylus - The Oresteia (trans. Phillip Vellacott)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 09, 2015, 09:13:02 PM
Thomas Pynchon - The Crying of Lot 49
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on February 13, 2015, 11:06:09 PM
Raising Steam: Having now read the final (to date) Discworld, I can now say what I was suspecting since reading Snuff is definitely true: Pratchett has simply lost his touch.  The characters seem to have lost their distinctive personalities and speech patterns, most of the dialogue is just one long tedious wall of text after another, and the antagonists are one-dimensional losers who are promptly beaten down in every confrontation with the heroes, ruining any sense that they might ever pose a real threat.  These were all problems with Snuff as well, but Raising Steam's biggest flaw is a new one for the series - it's boring.  So, so, boring.  The story centers around the building of a railway, and that's it.  For most of the book, there is literally nothing more than compelling than this fucking railroad and the process of building it.  Snore.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 16, 2015, 12:05:10 PM
William Shakespeare - Othello
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on February 16, 2015, 09:00:05 PM
I'm reading the Harry Potter series since I never finished it. Right now I'm on The Order of the Phoenix.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 16, 2015, 09:44:22 PM
I am reading Constellation by Nick Payne with an eye to producing it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: EnigmaZV on February 17, 2015, 09:14:19 PM
I'm reading the Harry Potter series since I never finished it. Right now I'm on The Order of the Phoenix.

I've just started reading them to my kid at bed time. She's only 18 months though, so we only get through half a chapter a day. Needless to say, it's slow going.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 17, 2015, 09:37:53 PM
I'm reading the Harry Potter series since I never finished it. Right now I'm on The Order of the Phoenix.

I've just started reading them to my kid at bed time. She's only 18 months though, so we only get through half a chapter a day. Needless to say, it's slow going.

My wife did the same thing.  I was amazed at how quickly my son learned what Quidditch is.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on February 17, 2015, 10:48:51 PM
The final book is crap.  Crap crap crap.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 17, 2015, 11:59:37 PM
All the books fell short for me.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on February 18, 2015, 09:45:05 AM
I've never come across a writer as brilliant as JK Rowling, and I've read quite a few books.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 18, 2015, 12:02:07 PM
I've never come across a writer as brilliant as JK Rowling, and I've read quite a few books.

He is.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 18, 2015, 01:32:14 PM
I dunno, I think the Potter books I've read (1-4) are okay, but I'd say Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett have written much better fantasy books for children/teenagers.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on February 18, 2015, 03:08:54 PM
I agree. His Dark Materials trilogy was far more exciting than Harry Potter.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 18, 2015, 04:16:23 PM
I agree. His Dark Materials trilogy was far more exciting than Harry Potter.

More exciting, better written and more creative a setting.  Haven't read Terry Pratchett.  I would also prefer the Chronicles of Narnia for Juvenile Fantasy Literature.  Even The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the unbeliever, but it might be considered adult literature.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on February 18, 2015, 04:29:45 PM
Absolutely. It was one of the more important books of my childhood. Lyra was such a strong and brave character.

I wouldn't say that Harry Potter taught me anything, in fact, by the end of the series I was tired of Harry being ungrateful and whiney.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Thork on February 18, 2015, 07:50:29 PM
I dunno, I think the Potter books I've read (1-4) are okay, but I'd say Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett have written much better fantasy books for children/teenagers.
I know Phillip Pullman's brother. He used to run a major airline. He bought a plane off me a few years ago and I flew it with him from the factory in South Czech Republic up through Germany to Northern Denmark where we registered it for tax purposes, and then back down Denmark, through Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France and right up the UK to his home near Manchester. Took about 4 days.

The life and times of Thork.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on February 19, 2015, 09:14:05 PM
Absolutely. It was one of the more important books of my childhood. Lyra was such a strong and brave character.

I wouldn't say that Harry Potter taught me anything, in fact, by the end of the series I was tired of Harry being ungrateful and whiney.

Harry is a little faggot, but there are plenty of other interesting characters.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on February 19, 2015, 09:17:01 PM
Harry is a little faggot, but there are plenty of other interesting characters.

Intersting, sure. But most of them feel a bit shallow which is fine for an independent reader level book.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on February 19, 2015, 11:19:29 PM
Snape is the only interesting character in the Harry Potter series. He's the only reason I read the books.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on February 19, 2015, 11:38:03 PM
Harry is a little faggot, but there are plenty of other interesting characters.

Intersting, sure. But most of them feel a bit shallow which is fine for an independent reader level book.

Is that the only thing you ever do... post boring critiques of stuff?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 20, 2015, 02:45:31 AM
Harry is a little faggot, but there are plenty of other interesting characters.

Intersting, sure. But most of them feel a bit shallow which is fine for an independent reader level book.

Is that the only thing you ever do... post boring critiques of stuff?

I couldn't chose one book from the seven epic ones of Harry Potter,so I planned to tell you readers why it was so hard.Talking about Harry Potter in front of a bunch of adults usually raises a couple of eyebrows, if not worse… Some even call you insane and make you feel like a complete idiot. After all, Harry Potter is just for kids. It's not even real! And everything is just blown up for the money! Yet I absolutely love it! And so do many others, and I'm not just talking about the kids… The statements those muggle smake must be incorrect.
First of all, it's not just for kids. The few adults that have picked up the book have been reported to like it as much as their offspring. After all, the book may start with eleven-year olds, they do grow up. In the seventh book, Harry Potter and his friends will be eighteen, so it won't really be about kids anymore.
Kids' books can be amusing to read, but they often lack depth. Usually they just tell stories, and sometimes they deal with a theme like love, family or death. Harry Potter must be an exception because JK Rowling writes about a zillion interesting themes that not even "adult" writers dare to deal with. Death is in fact the most important theme throughout the seven books and Rowling shamelessly deals with this theme in "a children's book". What makes a person good or bad? How do you deal with idolatry on one hand and jealousy on the other hand? Whose right is it to take vengeance on a person? Rowling doesn't always answer the questions, but at least she's got the guts to ask them.
Something that makes the book even more interesting to read is the intrigue between the characters. And I don't just mean between the teens, but also between the professors and between the parents. There are too many conflicts to name! Some of the most interesting are the conflicts between Voldemort and Harry's parents (why did Voldemort kill them? This question is still unanswered after four books) or the conflict between Hagrid and Dumbledore (why did headmaster Dumbledore keep Hagrid as gamekeeper when Hagrid got expelled ago? They deal with that in book 2.) And there are also the ones between Ron and Hermione (do they love to hate each other or hate to love each other, because they're always arguing or having a fight) and the one between Black and Snape (Why can't they just get a long? Black only almost killed Snape…). I could continue with this list for another ten pages at least, but I won't.
Then there are also those people that simply refuse to read the books 'because it is not real'. I always find that the lamest excuse of them all. Movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones weren't real either. Nor is the book The Lord of the Rings, yet everyone seems to respect those. It didn't seem to bother anyone that those stories were unreal.
The conflicts and emotions in the Harry Potter novels are as real as can be and it's for those intrigues that people keep reading the books. They are very appealing and discuss-worthy. The magic just brings the story into a more pleasant and interesting atmosphere and adds more humour to the story.
The Harry Potter universe is not that farfetched. The story starts from our 'muggle' world and the reader slowly gets introduced to this hidden magical world that us 'muggles' just can't see because we're no wizards. In the books, the magical world exists right next to our own! It makes the reader believe we actually could be living in a universe like that.
You might say that I live in a fantasy world. Yes, it's called the world of Harry Potter, where there is no limit in believing, where my heart belongs. The world where dragons and elves run around... And if you haven't, you should visit it, your imagination is feeling neglected.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on February 20, 2015, 03:01:23 AM
Harry Potter is really just a cheap carbon copy of DC Comics' Tim Hunter.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on February 20, 2015, 03:02:33 AM
Rama Set, are you drubk?

Cause I am. Good critique doh
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 20, 2015, 03:24:48 AM
Roberto Bolaño - The Savage Detectives
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on February 20, 2015, 04:13:39 AM
Harry Potter is really just a cheap carbon copy of DC Comics' Tim Hunter.

No way, it was all stolen from Nancy Stouffer:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/01/style/author_stouffer032801.htm

My favorite part:

Quote
For example "Neville" is another name in the books I have trademarked.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on February 20, 2015, 07:40:59 AM
Harry Potter is really just a cheap carbon copy of DC Comics' Tim Hunter.

No way, it was all stolen from Nancy Stouffer:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/01/style/author_stouffer032801.htm

My favorite part:

Quote
For example "Neville" is another name in the books I have trademarked.

I remember her.  Looney tunes!

"There are other similarities. Castle with mirrored lake. Receiving room and wooden doors."

O-kay.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on February 20, 2015, 09:51:03 AM
I just finished Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke about an invasion of sufficiently advanced aliens who use their technology to bring peace, prosperity and wealth to the people of the Earth, whilst maintaining an enigmatic ulterior agenda.

The novel starts well, framing the 'invasion' through the eyes of the leader of the UN who becomes the human face of the 'overlords.' The early chapters involve his efforts to balance the demands of the overlords against the wishes of the human subjects, managing protests and dealing with violent rebel groups. The novel then skips ahead fifty years and it's this part of the book which is the weakest and yet occupies the greatest volume of the book. The overlords have revealed themselves, humanity is settling into a peaceful yet dull golden age and there is no real mystery or challenge to drive the plot forwards until we reach the final fifth of the book.

On one hand, the ending comes too quickly without enough buildup but the last few chapters are what cements this book in the SF canon.  The bland utopia novel you thought you were reading suddenly leaves you feeling small, insignificant, and faintly depressed as the real purpose of the overlord's invasion becomes clear and mankind changes beyond all recognition in a swirl of beautiful prose.

In conclusion, I'd give the opening chapters a 4/5, the middle a low 3/5 and a full 5/5 to the final chapters. Overall 4/5 - Definitely worth reading but you'll have to struggle through the bland middle section to get the most out of it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on February 20, 2015, 10:38:40 AM
I just finished Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke about an invasion of sufficiently advanced aliens who use their technology to bring peace, prosperity and wealth to the people of the Earth, whilst maintaining an enigmatic ulterior agenda.

The novel starts well, framing the 'invasion' through the eyes of the leader of the UN who becomes the human face of the 'overlords.' The early chapters involve his efforts to balance the demands of the overlords against the wishes of the human subjects, managing protests and dealing with violent rebel groups. The novel then skips ahead fifty years and it's this part of the book which is the weakest and yet occupies the greatest volume of the book. The overlords have revealed themselves, humanity is settling into a peaceful yet dull golden age and there is no real mystery or challenge to drive the plot forwards until we reach the final fifth of the book.

On one hand, the ending comes too quickly without enough buildup but the last few chapters are what cements this book in the SF canon.  The bland utopia novel you thought you were reading suddenly leaves you feeling small, insignificant, and faintly depressed as the real purpose of the overlord's invasion becomes clear and mankind changes beyond all recognition in a swirl of beautiful prose.

In conclusion, I'd give the opening chapters a 4/5, the middle a low 3/5 and a full 5/5 to the final chapters. Overall 4/5 - Definitely worth reading but you'll have to struggle through the bland middle section to get the most out of it.

I read that book for school.  I thought it was pretty good.  I've always liked Arthur C Clarke; he wrote really thoughtful, edgy, and plausible science-fiction.  Even as a kid I had a short story collection of his called The Nine Billion Names of God that I loved.

When I read Childhood's End for school I was assigned a really dumb project where we had to create a mock newspaper that takes place in the world of the novel.  I did mine as a Weekly World News-style tabloid.  I put a picture of a very happy and very pregnant woman smiling and holding her belly with the original caption "I'm excited and frightened" attached to it, and the headline "I'm Having Karellan's Baby!"  I can't remember what the actual story was, but it was Weekly World News so the bitch may very well have been having the devil's baby.  Anyway I thought it was pretty funny but I was disappointed because I only got a C for it.  That teacher (Mrs Posatko, I also had her for Latin) never appreciated my creativity.  :(
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on February 20, 2015, 05:49:55 PM
That sounds awesome, I always liked Weekly World News.

I never read Arthur C Clarke in school, but we did read a lot of Isaac Asimov's short stories. Nightfall was my favorite. But there was this short that I really loved but can't remember too well. Something about a lonely woman who kept a defunct robot who made light sculptures and a man tried to buy it from her. Does this sound familiar to anyone cause I can't figure out what it was called.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 20, 2015, 05:51:48 PM
Nightfall was my favorite.

Me too!  I feel a literary kinship...
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on February 20, 2015, 06:00:35 PM
Aw yay! The novel is one of my favorite sci-fis and one of my favorite apocalyptic stories.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on February 20, 2015, 06:23:01 PM
Aw yay! The novel is one of my favorite sci-fis and one of my favorite apocalyptic stories.

Same here.  I read it on a lark, first thing I read by Aasimov, and was totally blown away.  Such a great idea, simple and really well-written.

Speaking of great reads:

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Awesome moving story that goes in to incredible detail about life in North Korea.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on March 05, 2015, 05:19:39 AM
Just got 'Fear Itself' by Ira Katznelson because it criticizes the New Deal from the left.
I ordered it along with his other book 'When Affirmative Action Was White' which argues that affirmative action in the US was distorted by by southern democrats from its inception in the 1960's into maintaining the status quo and that the racist aspects of Johnson's Great Society have roots in Roosevelt's New Deal which leads into his more recent book.

I have a slim history of the Democrat Party by a Trotskyite publisher which I recall entitles one of its chapters 'The Party of Slavery'. I thought this book by Katznelson might give teeth to that perspective with respect to the New Deal era. I understand that the book is not so critical of Roosevelt as of the Congress which was dominated by southern Democrats who were Roosevelt's main opponents in getting New Deal legislation passed & forged a consensus with Roosevelt which tainted the New Deal. According to this book, a given law was passed only if it was okay with the southerners which is why, for example, farm laborers and domestic servants got passed over by the New Deal.

This made me ponder that the Southern aristocracy largely via the Democrat party in actuality ran the country even though it had officially lost the civil war.  I think it also gives teeth to Stalin's declaration back in 1924 that the western democracies are the moderate wing of fascism.

I became acquainted with the Wisconsin school of American historian led by William Appleman Williams which viewed America's cold war anti-communism very critically as that America has always been a virtual colonialist monstrosity non-stop from the British colonial days through to the Cold War, but Williams argued american foreign policy has always been directly connected to its domestic policy. The rich own America and exploit the poor, but an ever expanding empire hides and disguises expiration by giving the exploited the opportunity to escape. This is why a revolution temporarily overthrowing the upper class occurred in France, but not in America. The exploited in France had no where to run and Revolution was much more the only alternative.
The history books by communist party chairman William Z. Foster appear to me to have voiced William Appleman William's ideas a generation before Williams himself (who was considered a radical 1950s and 1960s scholar). Foster was critical of Roosevelt and ran against him for president in 1932. He wrote that the New Deal programs as Roosevelt presented them had a lot of valor, but its effect was to pacify the people who if left to themselves would have changed the American system more drastically. Thus, Foster considered the New Deal a controlled socialism that saved capitalism's ass by preventing what had happened in Russia. Morgan and Rockefeller much preferred to tell a Roosevelt what to do and say to the people rather than have a Lenin kick them out of their houses.

I think Obama and most other recent Democrat presidents are like Roosevelt then. They may be personally inclined to what most people want, but they are willing to and do compromise that by submitting to the desires of other persons who in truth have no interest in democracy at all.

I saw a YouTube video of the author and was partially disappointed and hope the book will be more dynamic than the author's speech. I also get the idea that the more intriguing part of the book about the southern dominated congress is only one third to one half of it, but I'll see when I get home to read it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on March 05, 2015, 06:26:37 PM
I'm on Order of the Phoenix right now. It seems like JK Rowling started running out of steam at this point. Although, writing seven record shattering novels isn't something many people can do.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 05, 2015, 09:08:30 PM
I'm on Order of the Phoenix right now. It seems like JK Rowling started running out of steam at this point. Although, writing seven record shattering novels isn't something many people can do.

I don't think she ran out of steam at this point. Order of the Phoenix is just the weakest book in the series, in my opinion. It drags.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on March 05, 2015, 09:17:35 PM
I'm on Order of the Phoenix right now. It seems like JK Rowling started running out of steam at this point. Although, writing seven record shattering novels isn't something many people can do.

I don't think she run out of steam at this point. Order of the Phoenix is just the weakest book in the series, in my opinion. It drags.

And it is 800 pages long.  Lethal combination.  Half-Blood Prince picks up a little and the Deathly Hallows was fairly unsatisfying.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 05, 2015, 09:24:06 PM
I'm on Order of the Phoenix right now. It seems like JK Rowling started running out of steam at this point. Although, writing seven record shattering novels isn't something many people can do.

I don't think she run out of steam at this point. Order of the Phoenix is just the weakest book in the series, in my opinion. It drags.

And it is 800 pages long.  Lethal combination.  Half-Blood Prince picks up a little and the Deathly Hallows was fairly unsatisfying.

Half-Blood Prince is my favorite in the series.

On second thought, I feel like the weakest books are the first two. They're somewhat juvenile, basically the same plot, and not very interesting on a second read. I think JK actually improves as the books go on. Order of the Phoenix being the exception.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on March 05, 2015, 09:28:26 PM
I thought OotP was the best book, even though it was arguably a bit too long.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Tau on March 05, 2015, 10:23:37 PM
ITT: people have different opinions about what makes a good book. This is an outrage
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on March 06, 2015, 05:29:39 AM
Just finished Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on March 06, 2015, 06:52:07 AM
Just finished Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick.

I haven't read Dick in a long time. Worthwhile?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 06, 2015, 09:18:40 AM
I'm on Order of the Phoenix right now. It seems like JK Rowling started running out of steam at this point. Although, writing seven record shattering novels isn't something many people can do.

I really enjoyed OotP, especially Umbridge's reign of terror. The last three books concentrate less and less on the day-to-day lessons and trials of a Hogwarts education and, in my opinion, they're stronger for it.

I thought the weakest of the series was either The Goblet of Fire or Chamber of Secrets. The first because I didn't really care too much about the Triwizard Cup and the former because, as Vauxy said, it doesn't really add anything to the series that the first didn't.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on March 06, 2015, 12:00:30 PM

Just finished Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick.

I haven't read Dick in a long time. Worthwhile?

It's his first book, so it gets a little clunky in a couple spots. It was still a pretty fantastic read..
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 06, 2015, 05:49:27 PM
I thought the weakest of the series was either The Goblet of Fire or Chamber of Secrets. The first because I didn't really care too much about the Triwizard Cup and the former because, as Vauxy said, it doesn't really add anything to the series that the first didn't.
I disagree. The Chamber of Secrets introduced the first Horcrux, Dobby and the house-elves, and Fawkes. It also gave background to Voldemort and why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts.

My favorite book was the Prisoner of Azkaban because of Sirius. I stopped reading the series for awhile when Sirius died because I was so upset.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 06, 2015, 06:01:57 PM
I disagree. The Chamber of Secrets introduced the first Horcrux, Dobby and the house-elves, and Fawkes. It also gave background to Voldemort and why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts.

Fawkes' saving of Harry felt like a lazy deus ex to me, which is another reason I'm not a fan of the second book.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 06, 2015, 06:35:37 PM
I disagree. The Chamber of Secrets introduced the first Horcrux, Dobby and the house-elves, and Fawkes. It also gave background to Voldemort and why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts.

Fawkes' saving of Harry felt like a lazy deus ex to me, which is another reason I'm not a fan of the second book.
She set up Fawkes much earlier in the story, it was heavily foreshadowed. Since deus ex devices are contrived and unexpected, I don't think you could call it that.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 06, 2015, 06:46:46 PM
I disagree. The Chamber of Secrets introduced the first Horcrux, Dobby and the house-elves, and Fawkes. It also gave background to Voldemort and why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts.

Fawkes' saving of Harry felt like a lazy deus ex to me, which is another reason I'm not a fan of the second book.
She set up Fawkes much earlier in the story, it was heavily foreshadowed. Since deus ex devices are contrived and unexpected, I don't think you could call it that.

She doesn't set Fawkes up. She just introduces him. He arrives at just the right time to save Harry and Ginny, healing him and arming him with the only weapon capable of winning the battle.

It might be more accurate to say that the Sword of Gryffindor is the deus ex here, and that Fawkes is a chekhov's gun. As far as I remember The Sword was not introduced in the story before the fight, but I could be wrong because I haven't read The Chamber of Secrets in years.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 06, 2015, 07:10:35 PM
She does set Fawkes up. There is a whole scene where Dumbledore and Harry are talking about him and the healing tears.

The sword was closer to a deus ex, I think. But the sword had to be absorb the venom so it could destroy horcruxes later on.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 07, 2015, 04:35:47 PM
I thought the weakest of the series was either The Goblet of Fire or Chamber of Secrets. The first because I didn't really care too much about the Triwizard Cup and the former because, as Vauxy said, it doesn't really add anything to the series that the first didn't.
I disagree. The Chamber of Secrets introduced the first Horcrux, Dobby and the house-elves, and Fawkes. It also gave background to Voldemort and why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts.

My favorite book was the Prisoner of Azkaban because of Sirius. I stopped reading the series for awhile when Sirius died because I was so upset.

We don't even know the significance of the diary as a horcrux until the last book, until then it was basically just a generic evil artifact with an excuse to flesh out Voldemort's past. It could have been incorporated into either the first or the third books without much of a bulking of the story.  Likewise Dobby and the house-elves.

Is Fawkes that significant? From the top of my head, I can't really think of anything particulary plot-important thing he did until the Battle in the Dept. of Mysteries.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 07, 2015, 05:18:24 PM
It's not actually generic. The soul it's holding bleeds into the people close to it which is a staple of the horcruxes. And we get a ton of background on Voldemort and the Riddle family in that book. Annnd,  we learn about Parseltongues.

Sure, you could try and scatter all that information into other books but then you'd be making already large independent readers even bigger. I think it's enough for its own book. I think it's just a bit slow because it's mostly laying foundation to the rest of the series.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 07, 2015, 05:42:24 PM
It's not actually generic. The soul it's holding bleeds into the people close to it which is a staple of the horcruxes. And we get a ton of background on Voldemort and the Riddle family in that book. Annnd,  we learn about Parseltongues.

Sure, you could try and scatter all that information into other books but then you'd be making already large independent readers even bigger. I think it's enough for its own book. I think it's just a bit slow because it's mostly laying foundation to the rest of the series.

Oh, come on. The Evil Object storing the soul of the Big Bad making good characters do bad things has a whole TV Tropes page dedicated to it Soul Jar (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SoulJar).

OK, I'll concede that it does set up a lot of little things for the rest of the series, but we only really learn of their significance four or five books down the line. As a standalone novel it doesn't really hold up as well as the rest of them.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 07, 2015, 05:43:01 PM
To be fair, I'm pretty sure JK made most of the story up as she went along. I'm sure she had the basics sorted out (Voldemort's backstory, Harry's, maybe how the series was going to end), but I doubt at the time she wrote The Chamber of Secrets that she had any significant plans for the horcruxes.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 07, 2015, 05:46:24 PM
To be fair, I'm pretty sure JK made most of the story up as she went along. I'm sure she had the basics sorted out (Voldemort's backstory, Harry's, maybe how the series was going to end), but I doubt at the time she wrote The Chamber of Secrets that she had any significant plans for the horcruxes.

She said for years that she had the final chapter of the final book written by the end of Philosopher's Stone. Turned out it was that pretty unrelated little epilogue with the next generation going to Hogwarts; and, to be fair, you can tell that she wrote it early on, the naieve writing style really clashes with the more mature writing of Deathly Hallows and I really wish she'd left it locked away.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 07, 2015, 05:49:55 PM
To be fair, I'm pretty sure JK made most of the story up as she went along. I'm sure she had the basics sorted out (Voldemort's backstory, Harry's, maybe how the series was going to end), but I doubt at the time she wrote The Chamber of Secrets that she had any significant plans for the horcruxes.

She said for years that she had the final chapter of the final book written by the end of Philosopher's Stone. Turned out it was that pretty unrelated little epilogue with the next generation going to Hogwarts; and, to be fair, you can tell that she wrote it early on, the naieve writing style really clashes with the more mature writing of Deathly Hallows and I really wish she'd left it locked away.

I completely agree with you. The epilogue at the end of The Deathly Hallows is possibly some of the worst fiction I have ever read in my entire life. It reads like a bad fan fiction at worst and complete fanservice at best.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 07, 2015, 06:17:11 PM
It's not actually generic. The soul it's holding bleeds into the people close to it which is a staple of the horcruxes. And we get a ton of background on Voldemort and the Riddle family in that book. Annnd,  we learn about Parseltongues.

Sure, you could try and scatter all that information into other books but then you'd be making already large independent readers even bigger. I think it's enough for its own book. I think it's just a bit slow because it's mostly laying foundation to the rest of the series.

Oh, come on. The Evil Object storing the soul of the Big Bad making good characters do bad things has a whole TV Tropes page dedicated to it Soul Jar (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SoulJar).

OK, I'll concede that it does set up a lot of little things for the rest of the series, but we only really learn of their significance four or five books down the line. As a standalone novel it doesn't really hold up as well as the rest of them.
It's not my fault she uses tropes, I'm just pointing out that it's there and it's important to the rest of the series.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 07, 2015, 06:30:31 PM
It's not actually generic. The soul it's holding bleeds into the people close to it which is a staple of the horcruxes. And we get a ton of background on Voldemort and the Riddle family in that book. Annnd,  we learn about Parseltongues.

Sure, you could try and scatter all that information into other books but then you'd be making already large independent readers even bigger. I think it's enough for its own book. I think it's just a bit slow because it's mostly laying foundation to the rest of the series.

Oh, come on. The Evil Object storing the soul of the Big Bad making good characters do bad things has a whole TV Tropes page dedicated to it Soul Jar (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SoulJar).

OK, I'll concede that it does set up a lot of little things for the rest of the series, but we only really learn of their significance four or five books down the line. As a standalone novel it doesn't really hold up as well as the rest of them.
It's not my fault she uses tropes, I'm just pointing out that it's there and it's important to the rest of the series.

You protested that it wasn't generic. But it pretty much is, until several books and about a thousand pages later.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on March 07, 2015, 06:42:51 PM
People give tropes a bad rap. Mythological my resonant symbols are really important to a good story. It is when the story is not fleshed out that they fall short or feel two dimensional.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 07, 2015, 06:47:09 PM
People give tropes a bad rap. Mythological my resonant symbols are really important to a good story. It is when the story is not fleshed out that they fall short or feel two dimensional.

I see nothing wrong with the use of already existing tropes. Even if you try to be super unique in your writing, you're going to fall into a trope here and there almost every time. It's impossible to avoid, but that's the nature of tropes. There's only so much you can do as a writer.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 07, 2015, 07:37:29 PM
But it pretty much is, until several books and about a thousand pages later.
It sounds like you don't have any patience for a good build up or at least can't appreciate it. Just because everything is not immediately explained in full doesn't mean it doesn't add to the story.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 07, 2015, 07:44:00 PM
But it pretty much is, until several books and about a thousand pages later.
It sounds like you don't have any patience for a good build up or at least can't appreciate it. Just because everything is not immediately explained in full doesn't mean it doesn't add to the story.

I don't think you're looking at the book for what it is. Chris and I seem to be judging the book by itself, not based on what kind of impact it had on later books in the series. The Chamber of Secrets itself is sub par, in my opinion, and I'm not going to change my opinion just because later books in the series build upon ideas presented in it.

You can't say one book is great because a later book in the series is better.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 07, 2015, 07:56:08 PM
Whoa, whoa. I never said Chamber of Secrets was great. It's definitely in the least favorites for me, I'm just arguing that it did add a lot to the series. I view it as one of those boring build up episodes you see a lot in television.

I thought the weakest of the series was either The Goblet of Fire or Chamber of Secrets. The first because I didn't really care too much about the Triwizard Cup and the former [I believe you mean latter] because, as Vauxy said, it doesn't really add anything to the series that the first didn't.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 07, 2015, 07:57:01 PM
Whoa, whoa. I never said Chamber of Secrets was great. It's definitely in the least favorites for me, I'm just arguing that it did add a lot to the series. I view it as one of those boring build up episodes you see a lot in television.

My mistake.


I thought the weakest of the series was either The Goblet of Fire or Chamber of Secrets. The first because I didn't really care too much about the Triwizard Cup and the former [I believe you mean latter] because, as Vauxy said, it doesn't really add anything to the series that the first didn't.

I never really even said that. I just said it's too similar to the first book in the series for my tastes. The plot is similar and it progresses in much the same way.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 09, 2015, 03:49:18 PM
Whoa, whoa. I never said Chamber of Secrets was great. It's definitely in the least favorites for me, I'm just arguing that it did add a lot to the series. I view it as one of those boring build up episodes you see a lot in television.

I thought the weakest of the series was either The Goblet of Fire or Chamber of Secrets. The first because I didn't really care too much about the Triwizard Cup and the former [I believe you mean latter] because, as Vauxy said, it doesn't really add anything to the series that the first didn't.

I already conceded that it did set things up (albeit viewed from 3 or 4 books on) what else do you want from me?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 09, 2015, 04:57:24 PM
I already conceded that it did set things up (albeit viewed from 3 or 4 books on) what else do you want from me?
Why would you make a post about this two days later? I haven't been pushing any more points so I obviously don't want anything from you... I was just responding to Vauxhall.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 09, 2015, 06:35:41 PM
I already conceded that it did set things up (albeit viewed from 3 or 4 books on) what else do you want from me?
Why would you make a post about this two days later? I haven't been pushing any more points so I obviously don't want anything from you... I was just responding to Vauxhall.

I didn' see the date.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost of V on March 09, 2015, 06:37:19 PM
It's still a shitty book.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 09, 2015, 06:44:56 PM
It's still a shitty book.
I agree. Terrible movie as well.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on March 09, 2015, 07:33:35 PM
http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=harry
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 09, 2015, 07:49:15 PM
http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=harry
2 edgy 4 me
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 11, 2015, 05:21:35 PM
I've just finished Huxley's Brave New World. It's the last of the dystopian novel triangle of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 I needed to read and I think it's the best of them. I found the world of BNW far more believable and sinister than Orwell or Bradbury's simply because it doesn't portray the ruling elite being evil for its own sake. There is a faintly terrifying familiarity with the leisure-and-drug-drenched world where people are more than happy to sacrifice freedom and liberty for happiness and short-term relief.

The plot itself is less well-organised than the other two, but it helps capture the feel of a world warped by drugs and social conditioning. Unlike 1984, it knows not to labour the point and wraps up neatly before you can get too bored with it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on April 02, 2015, 11:07:44 PM
Chris, did you ever publish your book?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on April 02, 2015, 11:37:52 PM
I've just finished Huxley's Brave New World. It's the last of the dystopian novel triangle of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 I needed to read and I think it's the best of them. I found the world of BNW far more believable and sinister than Orwell or Bradbury's simply because it doesn't portray the ruling elite being evil for its own sake. There is a faintly terrifying familiarity with the leisure-and-drug-drenched world where people are more than happy to sacrifice freedom and liberty for happiness and short-term relief.

The plot itself is less well-organised than the other two, but it helps capture the feel of a world warped by drugs and social conditioning. Unlike 1984, it knows not to labour the point and wraps up neatly before you can get too bored with it.

My biggest problem with Brave New World was that the writing was terrible.  Huxley created a world both fascinating and frightening, but his descriptions of said world were hampered by his complete and utter lack of writing talent.  It wasn't quite as bad as, say, Tom Clancy's writing, but it was still pretty bad.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on April 03, 2015, 01:58:53 AM
I've just finished Huxley's Brave New World. It's the last of the dystopian novel triangle of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 I needed to read and I think it's the best of them. I found the world of BNW far more believable and sinister than Orwell or Bradbury's simply because it doesn't portray the ruling elite being evil for its own sake. There is a faintly terrifying familiarity with the leisure-and-drug-drenched world where people are more than happy to sacrifice freedom and liberty for happiness and short-term relief.

The plot itself is less well-organised than the other two, but it helps capture the feel of a world warped by drugs and social conditioning. Unlike 1984, it knows not to labour the point and wraps up neatly before you can get too bored with it.

My biggest problem with Brave New World was that the writing was terrible.  Huxley created a world both fascinating and frightening, but his descriptions of said world were hampered by his complete and utter lack of writing talent.  It wasn't quite as bad as, say, Tom Clancy's writing, but it was still pretty bad.

I have to agree with this (except the Tom Clancy part, he I think is a fine writer even if his stuff does tend to plod along sometimes and he does get a bit bogged down in the technical details).  Brave New World was a fascinating concept poorly executed, in my opinion nowhere near the quality of 1984 or Fahrenheit 451.  I've read 1984 like five times since first reading it for school.  It used to be my favorite book.

As far as bleak futuristic dystopias go I'm not sure it gets any better than Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I just read for the first time a couple weeks ago.  So profoundly disturbing, and I actually found that the more I reflected on it after I was done reading it the more disturbing it seemed.  There was a lot of unsettling subtext in that book.  I guess it remains to be seen if it holds up that way for me after some time has passed, but I have a feeling I'll be reading that one again.

And also speaking of political thrillers (I know, it's a weak segueway but whatever) I just got done reading The Bourne Supremacy.  Certainly Robert Ludlum was a better writer than Clancy.  Of what I've read so far his stuff never gets boring, and the story in that and Identity is just plausible enough that I am able to gleefully suspend my disbelief while I'm reading it, while at the same time being ridiculously exciting enough that it feels like the literary equivalent of a thrill ride.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on April 03, 2015, 05:12:29 PM
Tom Clancy novels read like droning political textbooks; the only difference being they expect the reader to already know what an M240-A is.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on April 03, 2015, 06:20:10 PM
whatever, that's like, your opinion man
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on April 03, 2015, 09:14:47 PM
I'm pretty sure the process for writing a good novel is objective.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on April 04, 2015, 03:32:58 PM
I'm pretty sure the process for writing a good novel is objective.

So you view it as more science than art?  I wish you'd elaborate on this if you're serious.  Some of the best writers of all time have been ones who wrote outside the established norm.  Some of my favorite books of all time have basically said hell to normal structure.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on April 06, 2015, 06:26:14 PM
As far as bleak futuristic dystopias go I'm not sure it gets any better than Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I just read for the first time a couple weeks ago. 

I actually just finished this book as well. 1984 still tops my list in terms of overall favorite read, but Dick does paint a very disturbing picture that goes beyond a big-brother dystopia. I also watched Blade Runner last night, which drew its inspiration from this book, which in turn inspired the video game Snatcher that my username is based on.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on April 06, 2015, 07:03:26 PM
As far as bleak futuristic dystopias go I'm not sure it gets any better than Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I just read for the first time a couple weeks ago. 

I actually just finished this book as well. 1984 still tops my list in terms of overall favorite read, but Dick does paint a very disturbing picture that goes beyond a big-brother dystopia. I also watched Blade Runner last night, which drew its inspiration from this book, which in turn inspired the video game Snatcher that my username is based on.
I always thought you were referring to yourself as German nobility and called you "yoonker" in my head. I think it's too late to change this, it's already ingrained.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on April 06, 2015, 07:29:09 PM
I always thought you were referring to yourself as German nobility and called you "yoonker" in my head. I think it's too late to change this, it's already ingrained.

Yeah, pretty much everyone does that, or "yunker" :(
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on April 08, 2015, 03:56:00 PM
Recently finished and would recommend:

(http://i.imgur.com/h92rkhP.jpg?1)

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1199688.Babel_17

Basically it's a cool sci-fi story that has a lot to say about linguistics and the effects of language on perception.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on April 25, 2015, 09:54:13 PM
The Savage Detectives was pretty damn good overall. Some chapters of the second part dragged, especially one in particular, narrated by a guy who compulsively dropped Latin phrases into every other sentence, but overall very good.

Now: Flann O'Brien - The Third Policeman

I originally tried reading this last year, but stopped about a third of the way in because I had just gotten a copy of Gravity's Rainbow and I wanted to get to it right away.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on April 27, 2015, 03:15:39 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PlGcRJgGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)

Just finished Honourable Friends? Parliament and the fight for change by Caroline Lucas MP, a memoir of the first Green MP's first five years in office, as well as a look behind the scenes on how parliament works from the perspective of a newcomer without a cadre of experienced fellow MPs to help guide her.

The preface openly admits that the book has been rushed out in time for the 2015 General Election and it does show. There are one or two clumsy bits of grammar and factual errors, along with one or two spelling mistakes, which a thorough editing process should have picked up and ironed out. These smudges do mar what is otherwise an open and interesting read.

For a Green Party member like myself, it's interesting to read how our only MP views her first stint in the Commons and outlines how some key issues are dealt with in parliament. For non-Greens, the book serves as a backstage tour behind the bluster of Prime Minister's questions and into the day-to-day running of the UK Parliament.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on April 30, 2015, 06:51:12 PM
Chris, did you ever publish your book?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on May 01, 2015, 10:55:58 AM
Not yet, I sent it around to a few publishers and agents and have had either silence or rejection in response. I need to submit it to a few more but the whole process has put me off for a while.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on May 01, 2015, 04:43:42 PM
Have you revised it at all since sending it in?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on May 03, 2015, 10:02:27 AM
A little. The problem is that you rarely get any feedback beyond ' sorry, this isn't for us' so it's hard to know whether you were rejected on the basis of the summary on your opening email, the one-page synopsis, the opening paragraph, the first three chapters, or anything else.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: spoon on May 04, 2015, 06:37:10 PM
The Children's Blizzard, David Laskin

History written as a novel. Captivating narrative, I learned several ways people could die in the cold.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on May 04, 2015, 08:56:32 PM
A little. The problem is that you rarely get any feedback beyond ' sorry, this isn't for us' so it's hard to know whether you were rejected on the basis of the summary on your opening email, the one-page synopsis, the opening paragraph, the first three chapters, or anything else.

If all else fails you could try self-publishing it on Amazon or iBooks.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on May 05, 2015, 05:44:31 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/Ori9BfU.jpg)

The Martian was fucking awesome.  There's nothing else to say say about a book that sort of makes me want to be get stranded on Mars.

(http://i.imgur.com/dvQ1kHi.jpg)

I'm almost finished with the first George Smiley novel.  If you like spy fiction, then you'll likely enjoy this.  I'm enjoying it, anyway, so I'll probably read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy next.

Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on May 05, 2015, 08:30:28 PM
Joseph Heller - Catch-22
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on May 05, 2015, 09:18:22 PM
Joseph Heller - Catch-22

I love that book.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on May 06, 2015, 12:22:23 AM
Joseph Heller - Catch-22

I love that book.

I tried to read it as a kid but I didn't get it all so I gave up. I'm enjoying it a lot this time around, though.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on May 06, 2015, 08:28:03 AM

The Martian was fucking awesome.  There's nothing else to say say about a book that sort of makes me want to be get stranded on Mars.

The Martian really annoys me. I had begun plotting for an almost identical novel, except my protagonist wouldn't have had a hope of ever returning to Earth and would slowly be driven mad by the isolation.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on May 08, 2015, 01:41:42 AM
I just read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  It was great.  Such a shame he died before his career as a novelist had even started.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on May 27, 2015, 05:10:07 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/L2hSKuJ.jpg?1)

I just finished my first memoir.  History has officially ruined fiction for me.  This is way more interesting than any adventure novel or war epic I've read, and it actually happened to someone.  Also it's only $0.01 on Amazon.


The Martian was fucking awesome.  There's nothing else to say say about a book that sort of makes me want to be get stranded on Mars.

The Martian really annoys me. I had begun plotting for an almost identical novel, except my protagonist wouldn't have had a hope of ever returning to Earth and would slowly be driven mad by the isolation.

Although I really loved The Martian, that would have been a way more interesting finish.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on May 27, 2015, 07:46:21 PM
Check out The River of Doubt.  It is a non-fiction account of Theodore Roosevelt's exploration and mapping of a major Amazon tributary.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on May 27, 2015, 08:35:13 PM
Check out The River of Doubt.  It is a non-fiction account of Theodore Roosevelt's exploration and mapping of a major Amazon tributary.

I'll definitely check that out.  Teddy is super interesting.  I'm a big fan of Dan Carlin's description: "The guy sorta reminds me sometimes of a heavily armed, imperialistic, racist version of Peter Pan."
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on June 04, 2015, 02:25:23 PM
Umberto Eco - Foucault's Pendulum
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on June 04, 2015, 03:40:15 PM
I just read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  It was great.  Such a shame he died before his career as a novelist had even started.

The first three quarters or so of that book are good.  It becomes terrible once the central mystery is cleared up and the story devolves into a bizarre revenge-fantasy rant that clearly had a lot more to do with Larsson himself than the actual plot of the book.  Also, Blomkvist is one of the most blatant Mary Sues in all of literature, and Lisbeth is a prominent example of inaccurate and annoying stereotypes in pop culture about mental illness and hacking.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on June 04, 2015, 11:03:55 PM
I just read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  It was great.  Such a shame he died before his career as a novelist had even started.

The first three quarters or so of that book are good.  It becomes terrible once the central mystery is cleared up and the story devolves into a bizarre revenge-fantasy rant that was clearly had a lot more to do with Larsson himself than the actual plot of the book.  Also, Blomkvist is one of the most blatant Mary Sues in all of literature, and Lisbeth is a prominent example of inaccurate and annoying stereotypes in pop culture about mental illness and hacking.

I thought the book was about 300 pages too long. Who the fuck cares that he ate open face sandwiches at that stupid fucking cafe?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Vongeo on June 11, 2015, 04:13:09 AM
I'm reading a book a cute girl I know wrote.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on June 28, 2015, 10:42:21 AM
Previously: Mary Mackey - McCarthy's List

Now: Don DeLillo - Underworld
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on July 13, 2015, 01:10:33 AM
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick

A scary-real dive into the world of drug addicts. One of those novels that keeps you thinking and analyzing once you're done.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: naildownx on July 16, 2015, 02:09:49 PM
Agents of Artifice - A Planeswalker Novel

Quote
Jace Beleren is a planeswalker who has taken the path of least resistance. He is gifted and powerful, but chooses not to push himself. Part of an inter-planar consortium that deals in magical artifacts, Jace has some power and influence. He also has a certain amount of security. That’s all about to change.

When Liliana, a dark temptress with demons of her own (quite literally), comes into his life, she brings with her more possibilities, but also more problems.

Under attack from external interests, a friend dies because of decisions Jace made. Upset with himself and fearing for his life, Jace sets out to find who is behind this new threat. What he uncovers along the way, an inter-planar chase filled with peril, will alter everything he knows.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VbcqXFCtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)

Ari Marmell is what makes this book so good. I really enjoyed the story and the action throughout.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on July 17, 2015, 08:02:03 AM
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick

A scary-real dive into the world of drug addicts. One of those novels that keeps you thinking and analyzing once you're done.

That's the one where he dedicates the novel to all his friends who've been killed by drugs and lists himself amongst them, isn't it?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on July 17, 2015, 03:14:01 PM

A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick

A scary-real dive into the world of drug addicts. One of those novels that keeps you thinking and analyzing once you're done.

That's the one where he dedicates the novel to all his friends who've been killed by drugs and lists himself amongst them, isn't it?

That's the one. Killed or severely debilitated.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on July 20, 2015, 05:09:45 AM
I've nearly completed my introductory Eastern Front Reading List.

(http://i.imgur.com/QAxyxQZ.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/TICbAWc.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/pXYRPNC.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/mzXriux.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/gnQ5sTh.jpg?1)

Deathride is the only one of the five that I wouldn't recommend reading.  The author's argument is that it's nothing short of a miracle that the Wehrmacht was defeated by the Red Army, that Hitler's strategic assessment of the Eastern Front was entirely rational, and that the war didn't begin to turn against Germany until the 6th Army's surrender at Stalingrad.  His argument would be compelling if it didn't omit the most salient argument against Barbarossa: logistics.  He focuses far too much on raw casualty figures and fails to recognize the complete inability of the Wehrmacht to sustain those operations in Soviet territory.  Operation Barbarossa makes a much, much more compelling argument that Barbarossa was always a total fantasy.

Stalingrad and Leningrad are by far the most readable, and I would recommend them to anyone.  I think there's a real value to reading the firsthand experiences of people who suffered in the manner these folks did.  Leningrad was truly heartbreaking at times.  Like a mother describing in her journal how she killed her 1-year-old child to feed her 2-years-old child.  Also, apparently there is a level of hunger where you're totally willing to boil wallpaper to separate the glue and eat it.  No thanks; I'll just die.

Stalin is actually the first proper biography I've ever read.  I enjoyed it, but I enjoy memoirs more I think.  Stalin was an interesting figure.  Not what I expected.  The juxtaposition between total brilliance and completely irrational narcissism is something.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Eddy Baby on July 28, 2015, 02:41:09 PM
I know Stalingrad is supposed to be well good. I might bump it up my to-read list.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on July 28, 2015, 03:51:13 PM
I know Stalingrad is supposed to be well good. I might bump it up my to-read list.

Stalingrad is decent as fuck.  Stalingrad and Leningrad were my favorites of the bunch and easily the most accessible.  I think Stalingrad is the better military history, and I think Leningrad is the better narrative history.  Stalingrad was like reading some epic war saga; Leningrad was the bigger emotional roller-coaster.  Going to a grocery store now kinda makes me want to cry from joy.

Reading Leningrad has also absolutely convinced me that I should probably keep a 6-month supply of foodstuffs in storage.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on August 27, 2015, 01:32:19 PM
Will Self - The Quantity Theory of Insanity
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on August 27, 2015, 03:03:40 PM
Concrete Island by J.G.Ballard.

(http://startnarrativehere.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/concreteisland-197x300.jpg)

This is my first exposure to Ballard's work and it left a mixed impression on me. The concept itself is fantastic - a man crashes down a steep motorway embankment, leaving him grievously injured and trapped in the 'concrete island' formed by the intersection of three motorways. The story follows his efforts to survive, the exploration of the island and the coming to terms with his life.

the first half of the novel is a bleak but fantastic survival story in the mould of Robinson Crusoe. It becomes somewhat more horrifying and surreal when the other inhabitants on the island are encountered , but the ending feels rushed and unsatisfying. It could have done with just one or two more chapters for him to come to his realisations more naturally.

I'd give it 3/5, but it's certainly worth reading.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Eddy Baby on August 28, 2015, 10:27:18 AM
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

(http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03019/mitchell_bone_cloc_3019703a.jpg)

I generally say that David Mitchell is my favourite author. Cloud Atlas blew me away (not so much the film), but some of his other works surpass it in pure strength of imagery and craftsmanship of the language used. His best book so far is, in my opinion, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

I'm not so sure about this one. After Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas, this is his third novel that has a time-travelling, globetrotting plot, with several craftily interlinked main characters and hints of the supernatural that don't quite feature enough to call the books 'fantasy'. Of those three, it is also the second to feature a tortured, failing literary type. 

I'm also over halfway through, and there have been several minor supernatural occurrences, but nothing has yet properly happened. Mitchell as a writer is interesting enough to be able to pull off a slow plot, but I sincerely hope some earlier events are elaborated on by the end.


So far, 7/10, hopefully getting to an 8.5 by the end, we'll see.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on September 01, 2015, 12:07:25 PM
Fiction: Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge

Non-fiction: Noam Chomsky - Failed States
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on September 15, 2015, 08:42:06 PM
Mervyn Peake Titus Groan
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on September 27, 2015, 03:24:44 PM
James Joyce - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Foxbox on September 28, 2015, 12:00:46 AM
Fiction: Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge

What were your thoughts on this? I think you may have already told me, but I forgat..
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on September 28, 2015, 01:47:53 AM
Fiction: Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge

What were your thoughts on this? I think you may have already told me, but I forgat..

Once I got over how weird it was to read a Pynchon novel set in the early 2000s, I really enjoyed it. Of his recent stuff I didn't enjoy it as much as Inherent Vice (although it succeeds as a "tech noir" just as well as IV did as a "stoner noir"), but comparing them you have to bear in mind that the 1960s is his home turf and he can write about that as well as anyone; with the modern New York setting he shows his age more, but it's impressive to consider a guy in his late 70s writing something like this, because it's got that same understanding of time and place and all the little details you'd expect of him when he's working in more comfortable territory. To that end it's pretty dense, lots of weird stuff going on just on the margins of the story, sometimes creeping in to the foreground, and you can never be sure if it's directly relevant or if it's just the atmosphere of paranoia that makes it seem that way. Of course, Pynchon doesn't really offer any answers and thereby avoids tying things up neatly, which in some ways puts it more in line with his older stuff where it's not so much about the truth as it is about looking for it, and maybe even cherishing the search itself as a small victory regardless of the outcome. In some ways you could almost think of it as a stylistic/thematic bridge between V/Lot 49 and Vineland/Inherent Vice, and for that reason it's probably best to be familiar with those before reading it, but ultimately like any Pynchon novel it stands perfectly well on its own.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: geckothegeek on October 17, 2015, 04:51:20 AM
"Sherlock Holmes In Dallas", by "Edmund Aubrey " (Edmund S. Ions)

Has anyone read it and have any comments ?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on October 19, 2015, 12:22:06 AM
In this episode of Garygreen's Good and Tasty History:

(http://i.imgur.com/LGKrbHf.jpg?1) (http://i.imgur.com/eTrhTg4.jpg?1) (http://i.imgur.com/5jIXVpZ.jpg?1) (http://i.imgur.com/7J79SS0.jpg?1)

Destiny of the Republic: easily my favorite of the bunch.  I knew not a single fact about James Garfield before reading this book, and he's now my hands-down favorite president.  It's not even close anymore.  Pretty much everything about Garfield's life was remarkable.  As an example, he was a lawyer for a time, and the very first case he tried was in front of the Supreme Court.  He won.  The case is still important.  He's (probably) the only president in American history who actively opposed his own nomination.

As an added bonus you get to learn a bunch of cool shit about Alexander Graham Bell and medicine-before-anyone-really-understood-septicemia.

The American Revolution: if I'm being completely honest, I only read this because I wanted to read something by Gordon Wood, it was apropos of the other bits of my reading list, and Empire of Liberty is way too fucking long.  I'm glad I started here.  This is an excellent survey/primer on the American Revolution.  Although it only covers the revolution in broad strokes, it stays robust by not locking itself into any particular narrative or searching for causes of the war.  If it focuses on any particular narrative at all, it's that America, it's people, and it's origins, are really quite odd.

The President and the Assassin: I also didn't know a goddamn thing about McKinley before reading this book, and I'm not sure I really do now, either.  Perhaps it was because I read this right after Destiny of the Republic, much of which was biographical, that I didn't like it much.  I think the problem for me is that it wanders too much.  Like DotR, it wants to tell the story of the unlikely forces that came to connect two people, a president and his assassin.  Unlike DotR, it gets way too bogged down in ancillary material, like Cuban independence and the Spanish-American war.  Those events are important to the story (especially to the story of the assassin), but I don't want to also survey those events themselves in their entirety.  Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent history, but it's one to read more for its policy perspectives than its biographical elements. 

The Triumph of Improvisation: I didn't know anything about Reagan before reading this book (it's almost as if there's a theme going on here...), and I haven't actually finished reading this one.  I'm only 40% finished, but that's enough to know that it's worth recommending to anyone who would like to learn about Reagan's foreign policy.  It's really, really fair.  It doesn't cast Reagan as a dolt, and it doesn't cast him as a savior.  It casts him as an interesting fellow who was at once absurdly naive and perfect for the job that needed doing at the time.  It makes me think that much of what I've read about Reagan from both the Right and the Left is hopelessly misguided.

e: for whatever it's worth, The President and the Assassin, and Destiny of the Republic, come at the recommendation of some history nerd on CSPAN who gave a lecture to a bunch of other book nerds at Good Sir Book Nerd College or whatever; they're written for general audiences, but their scholarship is genuinely lauded by the other history book nerds.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on October 29, 2015, 03:10:17 PM
Thomas Pynchon - Against the Day

#basedpynch
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on November 05, 2015, 06:44:11 PM
Magyk by Angie Sage

Before that, I finished my fourth read of The Hobbit. No one nails down fantasy like Tolkien.

After the seven part Septimus Heap series, I'm going to start on The Chronicles of Narnia because, well, C.S. Lewis is a bamf.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on November 16, 2015, 10:40:14 PM

Neil Gaiman. Just read Neverwhere, excellent, American Gods, brilliant, The ocean at the end of the lane, gorgeous.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on November 17, 2015, 01:34:50 PM
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 - Hunter S. Thompson
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5135713GQ9L.jpg)

As a self-described liberal and progressive, this book depressed me. It is a typical Hunter S. Thompson rollercoaster following the 1972 presidential democratic Primaries and the election contest between George McGovern and Richard Nixon.

It's a classic example of Thompson's 'Gonzo' style of journalism; he involves himself intimately with events, admits to misremembering facts, and reporting them through a drug and alcohol-fuelled haze. He makes no claims to objectivity (indeed, after Nixon is elected in a landslide,  there is a chapter where his editor simply printed a verbatim transcript of an interview with him after he became too 'bummed out' to actually finish the chapter on time.)

As a behind-the-scenes look at the dirty realities of a presidential campaign, it's both stimulating and depressing as it draws some uncomfortable parallels with Jeremy Corbyn's current bid to become the next Labour Prime Minister in the UK (Unorthodox left-leaning candidate elected on the back of students and activists but unpopular with the Party machinery fighting against a right-wing incumbent with a strong control over the narrative...)

8/10

High Rise J.G. Ballard
(http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358752559l/12331767.jpg)

The inhabitants in the eponymous High Rise live a stratified life in a 40-storey block of flats. Although they all hail from the same social circles, the nature of the building divides them by class into (literally) lower, middle and upper classes. The novel follows a resident of each as the wild nightly parties and the minor irritations of high-rise living erode away civilisation until the residents find themselves at war between floors, eventually descending into a squalid tribal existence within the confines of the building.

The descent of the building into anarchy is described wonderfully, as elevators break down, the garbage piles up, rooms are ransacked and excrement clogs the ventilators. The violence is visceral, and clearly inspired by his own experiences in Japanese-occupied Shanghai.

The biggest problem, for me, was the sheer believability of it. Over two-thousand people live in the building, plus all the staff, delivery drivers, visitors, garbage collectors, meter-readers, and yet not one of them raises concerns with the police? Not one of the residents’ colleagues or families are concerned when they stop going into work? The supermarket suppliers and bank operators aren’t worried about their loss of profit? I understand the message that the residents eventually become grateful for the opportunity to live lives as decadent and hedonistic as they please but I struggled to believe that it applied to absolutely everybody who had any dealings with the building.

What this novel needed was an external threat to isolate the high-rise but then it wouldn’t have stayed true to its central conceit about human nature really being feral and brutish. Ballard had the choice of either making it believable or sacrificing his parable. By doing neither, the story ends of feeling a little contrived and the message is confused and hollow.

7/10

The Martian – Andy Weir
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51eok8EviTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)

A sandstorm hits a Mars exploration mission 6 days into its 6-month mission. When one astronaut is hit and apparently killed by flying debris, the rest of the crew assume he’s dead and leave without him. Having survived the disaster, Mark Watney has to figure out how to McGuiver his way to survival until a plan can be developed to rescue him.

After the bleakness of Ballard and the cynicism of Thompson, I needed something a little lighter. Fortunately, this delivered.

Told mostly through log entries, the novel is carried by the good humour of its central protagonist as he bodges his way through every problem Mars can throw at him. Jury-rigging old probes, recycling shit, and patching holes are just some of the solutions he has to come up with. Weir has done his homework and, not only can you tell, he’s shown his working, without flooding the pages with too much maths.

This isn’t a literary classic, nor does it aspire to be. It’s a fun survival story with an uplifting message. The overly-informal writing style did start to grate by about half-way through, but I can overlook it when there’s so much to like.

7/10
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on December 03, 2015, 08:02:05 PM
I took a break from the fantasy stuff for now and also started reading The Martian. It's very well written, and doesn't leave you stranded on Mars with the main character. It takes breaks often, and lets the reader know what's happening on Earth also. In 50 years, The Martian will almost surely be a classic.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on January 14, 2016, 10:26:46 AM
The first book I finished this year was the Welcome to Night Vale novel.
(http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51e7119ae4b01c2e6a200e01/t/55ef4317e4b03a8ebbc9fc88/1441743655078/?format=300w)
Based on the podcast series of the same name, WTNV follows its two protagonists through the weird and wonderful world of Night Vale and beyond. Unlike the podcast, which is framed as a community radio news program, the novel is a surprisingly traditional mystery novel following Jackie – a pawn-shop owner who has been nineteen as long as anyone can remember, - who is given a piece of paper which reads ‘KING CITY’ and no matter what she does to it, the paper will always reappear in her hand, uncrumpled and legible. Meanwhile, Diane Clayton, head of the Night Vale PTA is trying to help guide her teenage son, who can shapeshift into any form he wants, away from his mysterious father who left hem when he was a child. The chapters are interspersed with excerpts from Cecil – the host of the NV podcast.

Their adventures will take them through agents from a vague but menacing government organisation, the eldritch horrors of the City Council, the psychopathic owner of the local newspaper, the dreaded librarians, a host of angels all called Erika, dimension-hopping plastic flamingos and invisible pies. All the weirdness from the podcasts makes it here.

And that’s probably the book’s biggest problem.

While the weird little asides about sentient patches of haze working at the cinema box office, or how wheat and wheat by-products have suddenly turned into venomous snakes, are amusing for the half-hour podcast format, in the novel they start to get in the way of the pace of the story to such an extent that instead of smiling about some strange town quirk, by chapter five you’re rolling your eyes and wishing they would just get to the point. For instance, there is a scene about half-way through where the two main characters meet properly for the first time in the All-Nite Diner, both of them are following their own mysteries and getting in each other’s way. Instead of this being a snappy back-and-forth exchange between them, the narrative keeps getting distracted to tell you that the waitress has caught her leaves in the kitchen door, that paying for the bill involves a complicated incantation to some sort of creature that lives under the sugar bowl, that men-in-black-style agents are muttering into microphones about the woman who is feverishly writing everything down, and so on…

All-in-all, if you enjoy the podcast, you’ll enjoy the book, but it’s probably best read in small doses. 7/10
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: M-Bone99 on January 23, 2016, 01:54:18 PM
Currently reading Alfred Hitcock's Tales of Terror: 58 Short Stories Chosen by the Master of Suspense.
(http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388274035l/80140.jpg)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 30, 2016, 02:40:16 PM
New (second hand) acquisitions, 2016/01/30

John Barth - The Sot-Weed Factor
Saul Bellow - More Die of Heartbreak
Don DeLillo - Libra
Eugène Ionesco - Rhinoceros / The Chairs / The Lesson
Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching
Thomas Mann Buddenbrooks
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Molière - The Misanthrope / The Sicilian / Tartuffe / A Doctor in Spite of Himself / The Imaginary Invalid
Molière - The Miser / That Would-Be Gentleman / That Scoundrel Scapin / Love's the Best Doctor / Don Juan
Orhan Pamuk - The White Castle
Plato - The Symposium
Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea
Philip Roth - The Human Stain
Gore Vidal - The Smithsonian Institution
Virgil - The Aeneid
Virgil - The Eclogues
Voltaire - Candide
Walt Whitman - Leaves of Grass
Tom Wolfe - The Bonfire of the Vanities
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 07, 2016, 11:51:33 PM
William Faulkner - Intruder in the Dust
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on February 13, 2016, 12:54:43 AM
James Kelman - How Late It Was, How Late
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Saddam Hussein on March 01, 2016, 03:31:45 AM
Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell - The Disaster Artist

This was a great read.  Anyone with any interest in The Room, or even filmmaking in general, ought to check it out.  It's hilarious, cringey, and surprisingly well-written.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 01, 2016, 11:16:09 AM
Previously: Don DeLillo - Mao II

Currently: Hector Berlioz - Memoirs
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 06, 2016, 08:21:24 PM
Previously: Juan Rulfo - Pedro Páramo (reread)

Currently: Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 12, 2016, 07:47:40 PM
Hermann Hesse - The Glass Bead Game
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 18, 2016, 06:44:37 PM
David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on March 19, 2016, 04:17:09 AM
'The Great Conspiracy Against Russia'
By Michael Sayers and Albert Kahn
(1946)
http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Great%20Conspiracy/index.htm

This was the best historical book I read last year. I came across it in a footnote of Harry Haywood's autobiography 'Black Bolshevik' which I stopped one third of the way through because Albert Kahn's book was stupendous.

I'll return to Haywood's autobiography later. It's packed full of rich pieces of knowledge and and insight like that. Haywood's book is also likely the best history of the communist party USA showing the causes and history of its degeneration in the 1950s.

I think it's also the best history of black civil rights in the past 100 years I've come across critiquing the drawbacks of things like the Garvey movement, NAACP, and Martin Luther King and the American power structure.

I'm saving Haywood's older and controversial 1948 book 'Negro Liberation' for later as I know its strategy goes way beyond reparations for slavery. I have read it contains a strategy to give the descendents of slaves and poor whites 40 acres and a mule which Reconstruction failed to do when it was back stabbed in 1877. This strategy involves the possibility of dismemberment of the USA by means of a liberated American black south gaining its sovereignty and the right to secede if it so chooses, although not necessarily. Such a reality would involve breaking the back of American military power and the book doesn't shy from violence if necessary and views the black belt in the American south as an oppressed nation just like Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It differs from Garvey in that it views exploited white minorities as friends and fellow blacks. Opposition to this book was one of the major causes of division in the CPUSA in the 1950's. It is basically the application of Stalin's thesis of national liberation to American blacks. It is critical of King, urban League, and NAACP as being loyalists of American empire.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on March 19, 2016, 05:14:38 AM
'Negro Liberation'
By Harry Haywood
(1948)
http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/NL48.pdf
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 21, 2016, 01:39:58 PM
I'm currently finishing The Voyage of the Discovery by Captain Robert Scott
(http://cfx.scdn2.secure.raxcdn.com/x/230/9781840221770.jpg)

Although Scott is most famous for being beaten to the South Pole by Amundsen and his team in 1911, this book recounts his first expedition to Antarctica ten years previously where his crew became the first people to have wintered within the Antarctic Circle.

The book itself is a mixture of geographical field notes, diary extracts, and adventure story written largely in a style which is surprisingly easy-to-read. He paints a picture of life in the Antarctic in beautiful detail and gives the reader painstakingly clear accounts of the problems they faced and how they addressed them. His descriptions of the food stocks and how they had been calculated is reminiscent of recent books like Weir's The Martian

The version I read is a slightly abridged version of the original 2-volume collection which excludes a lot of the charts, maps, and sketches which would have been useful to include. For instance, there is an expedition map which was included in the original which traces Scott's sledding expeditions south. I'd probably recommend picking up the two-volume version to get the most from it.

The Discovery herself still exists and is now a floating museum ship in Dundee which is well worth visiting if you're ever in the city (and not just because there's sod-all else to do in Dundee)

(http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/48186/img_9191.jpg)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 21, 2016, 04:36:13 PM
David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas

Gave up on this half way through after reachin'e bit w're'vr'yun talks like 'is 'n'I be want'n'a punch 'em all right 'n 'ems gobby 'ole if y' be 'earin' me. I'd have to think about it before saying for certain, but this might be the most badly written, irritating, obnoxious pile of shit I've ever read.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 21, 2016, 07:41:36 PM
Now: Orhan Pamuk - The White Castle
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 22, 2016, 01:05:34 PM
Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane

It's the first Neil Gaiman book I'm reading, though I've wanted to read his work for quite some time.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on March 22, 2016, 04:11:34 PM
Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane

It's the first Neil Gaiman book I'm reading, though I've wanted to read his work for quite some time.

It's a grand book!
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 23, 2016, 01:17:17 PM
Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane

It's the first Neil Gaiman book I'm reading, though I've wanted to read his work for quite some time.
I loved it.

Only childhood has that kind of magic and pain. Kinda made me want to read through His Dark Materials again.
But instead I'm now reading..

Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christia
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on March 23, 2016, 03:08:08 PM
Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane

It's the first Neil Gaiman book I'm reading, though I've wanted to read his work for quite some time.
I loved it.

Only childhood has that kind of magic and pain. Kinda made me want to read through His Dark Materials again.
But instead I'm now reading..



Think Dark Materials was Pullman, Gaiman wrote Stardust & Coraline, both good although the film is actually better as far as Stardust's concerned, probably cos' it has Michelle Pfeiffer in it, and Clare Danes, oh and Sienna Miller.

Of his childhood oriented novels The Graveyard Book is excellent, but read American Gods (for adult) which is the bollocks!
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on March 23, 2016, 04:08:15 PM
Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane

It's the first Neil Gaiman book I'm reading, though I've wanted to read his work for quite some time.
I loved it.

Only childhood has that kind of magic and pain. Kinda made me want to read through His Dark Materials again.
But instead I'm now reading..



Think Dark Materials was Pullman, Gaiman wrote Stardust & Coraline, both good although the film is actually better as far as Stardust's concerned, probably cos' it has Michelle Pfeiffer in it, and Clare Danes, oh and Sienna Miller.

Of his childhood oriented novels The Graveyard Book is excellent, but read American Gods (for adult) which is the bollocks!
I know it's Pullman, I've read them before. But the theme of children going through terrible shit while set in a fantasy setting made me want to bounce right back into that trilogy (which I own).

My friend also has The Graveyard Book so I'll probably just borrow that one next.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on March 23, 2016, 10:16:38 PM
John Barth - The Sot-Weed Factor
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on March 31, 2016, 08:33:17 PM

Apologies Rooster, it was the "his" that threw me. Another great book in the same vein is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Just finished Dan Simmons "The Terror" A fictional telling of the ill fated Franklin trip to find the north west passage mixed up with horror and Innuit legends, excellent!
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on April 01, 2016, 02:06:21 PM

Apologies Rooster, it was the "his" that threw me. Another great book in the same vein is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Yeah, that's part of the trilogy title though.

Just finished The Graveyard Book. I really liked how every chapter was a new adventure in Bod's life, but I think I prefer The Ocean at the End of Lane overall in terms of theme and setting.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on April 07, 2016, 01:01:49 PM
Right now I'm trying to read through The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks and it's kinda shit.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on April 08, 2016, 10:16:51 AM
Simone de Beauvoir - The Woman Destroyed
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on April 12, 2016, 03:51:17 PM
Don DeLillo - White Noise
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on April 17, 2016, 10:33:25 PM
The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 18, 2016, 06:32:38 AM
'Fraud, Famine, and Fascism:  the Ukrainian Genocide Myth From Hitler to Harvard'
By Douglas Tottle

http://www.garethjones.org/tottlefraud.pdf

Recently secured a very good condition paperback copy of this from a Canadian bookseller through bookfinder.com and currently reading it.

The first chapter alone so completely demolishes the myth. The information about fascist newspapers and radio and their influence is quite absorbing. Love the stuff about Hearst in the early chapters.

A key book for anyone looking to deflate the historical arguments of Ukrainian fascism or Stalin critics. Includes information about anti-semitism as well.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on April 18, 2016, 09:35:29 AM
Interesting, I didn't realise that the Ukrainian famine was a disputed historical event. The record of mass-starvation across the Soviet Union as a whole was fairly well-accepted, I thought? What are the main points that the author makes?

As a side-note, the famine memorial in Kiev is quite moving.

Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on April 19, 2016, 08:49:03 PM
Walt Whitman - Leaves of Grass
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 20, 2016, 06:14:48 PM
Interesting, I didn't realise that the Ukrainian famine was a disputed historical event. The record of mass-starvation across the Soviet Union as a whole was fairly well-accepted, I thought? What are the main points that the author makes?

Some well evidenced points I've noticed this far:

1) As to what actually happened, Tottle doesn't deny a famine existed. He totally denies any genocide or any kind of planning or purposeful intent. Also, it was not in any way particularly limited to Ukraine, but widespread in the USSR in 1932. More significantly, the Ukraine and other areas had bumper crops from spring 1933 onwards when the propaganda campaign got into high gear.

2) There source of the famine stories was German Nazism who started saying it a couple years before anyone else. The main source of it in the USA was the Hearst newspapers who had actually published a story denying any famine prior to Hearst's personal meeting with Hitler in 1934 after which they went all out.

3)  Virtually none of the photos were legitimate - most having been taken from the genuine Soviet famine of 1921-1922 and are contained in sources prior to the 1930's. In some cases, photos from the czarist era are even used evidenced by editors to lazy to omit nineteenth century photos showing alleged "Soviet" soldiers in czarist uniforms.

4) This propaganda was recognized as fascist in the 1930's and 1940's and accordingly rejected back at that time. It's current widespread acceptance dates only to Reagan's resurgence of anti-communist propaganda in the 1980's.

The height of the 1980's campaign were Robert Conquest's allegedly scholarly book 'Harvest of Sorrow' and a documentary film called 'Harvest of Despair' that appeals to emotion. Tittle says the impressive presentation of both is shattered when their sources are examined and shown to be nothing more than the old discredited photos and witnesses used by Nazis and Hearst back in the 1930's. The making of this 1980's documentary facilitated a veritable reunion of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators and ranking German Nazis from World War II.

5) Mace and Robert Conquest (both associated with Harvard Univ) have been the two academics most involved in recycling this old Nazi propaganda with all the same uncorrected errors.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 20, 2016, 06:32:35 PM
Another point is this book mentions and critically examines the key sources of news of Urainian famine over the decades. Two early 1950's pamphlets published by partisans of McCarthyism and repeating the same fake photos of the 1930's constitutes perhaps the only Ukraine genocide literature published between the 1930's and early 1980's. A universally pervasive characteristic of the photos used is their lack of any sources or things like information about the photos given - different publications often giving blatantly contradictory statements about the same photograph.

The most commonly cited source has come to be a Hearst employee using the pseudonym "Thomas Walker" who never visited the Ukraine and who was roundly denounced at the time by Americans who had been to the Ukraine when Walker claimed to be. His real name was Robert Green, a felon wanted in several countries who found work with William Randolph Hearst.

A final point I've noticed is that Ukrainian war criminals (guilty of things like mass executions of both Ukrainian resistors and innocent Jews during the Nazi occupation) associated with the Nazi regime seem to be the chief persons associated with occasionally publishing any claims of famine after the 1930's until the early 1980's.

At this point, I'm not quite half way through it, but I can discern from what I've read and especially a couple of chapters towards the end that this book is also a good place to start for researching Nazi collaborators in Ukraine especially and Eastern Europe generally and thereby understanding a dynamic of Ukrainian politics.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 20, 2016, 06:52:43 PM
As to the question "Why?" Hearst and the Nazis would lie about Ukrainian famine (not that they didn't on other subjects as well), was their opposition to the labor movement. This was the period of the Soviets' first and second five year plans in which they were surging ahead economically on all fronts industrially and agriculturally in spite of all that was thrown against them and thus proving that communism in Stalin's time worked very well indeed and that its opponents were liars. This was a huge boon to the heart and confidence of the American and other western laborers. Something had to be invented that would tarnish the Soviet image.

Also mentioned are all the visitors (including non-Bolsheviks) who testified the famine-genocide story is a lie. I haven't yet seen Tottle mention Sidney and Beatrice Webb, but this non-Bolshevik couple wrote a massive two volume survey of the USSR published towards the end of their lives in 1936 which strongly endorses the USSR, collectivization, etc as a good thing. The Webbs, among most others, knew the Nazi propaganda for what it was. These testimonies are typically dismissed by the very biased anti-communist western press as liberals allegedly taken on Potemkin tours and don't see how they are allegedly hoodwinked by the Bolsheviks. This faulty view is disproved by (CP USA Chairman) William Z. Foster who wrote that during his first visit to the Soviet Union, he met unhindered a motley host of enemies of Bolshevism including, for example, an anarchist who spent much time telling him all about the most seediest aspects of the Bolshevik Revolution, and no police nor anyone else prevented such communications.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 21, 2016, 06:40:11 PM
'The Goslings'
&
'The Profits of Religion'
By Upton Sinclair

I've been steadily acquiring the classic books of the muckrakers over the past two to three years and had so far bypassed Upton Sinclair because 'The Jungle' was technically a novel and I'm really not keen on fiction - thus my brief superficial assessment.

I recently began reading a brief but extremely informative 1942 book by George Seldes on media corruption entitled:

'The Facts Are a Guide to Falsehood and Propaganda in the Press and Radio'
http://gseldes.blogspot.com/?m=1

This book mentioned an earlier book by Upton Sinclair entitled 'The Brass Check' about how greed and subsequent monopolization had corrupted the American newspapers in the late ninteenth and early twentieth century. This book was also largely what Seldes's book was based upon.

I looked up the 'Brass Check' and found it was one of a series of six hard hitting non-fiction books by Upton Sinclair - each of which exposes the thorough corruption of an American institution by way of tracing its penetration by the love of money. The 'Brass Check' is about newspapers and journalism. The 'Goose Step' is about American universities.

The 'Goslings' is about children schools as propaganda founts. I just got this one and am looking forward to its leftist perspective as a breath of fresh air to complement pro-home school historians like Blumenthal. Appreciate how it traces the money factor and how these schools are de facto corporate propaganda replete with truant
law enforcement.

'The Profits of Religion' is a scathing indictment of the catholic and Protestant churches with actual praise for a tiny handful of leftist oriented churches. I have seen Sinclair described as rabidly anti-Christian, but I don't think so from an examination of this book which would richly complement the standard guidebook to American churches and denominations. He gives away his belief in biological evolution in the preface stating that men are descended from simians, but that's the only instance of it. Very useful book about important characteristics and red flags of which to be aware even if one's Church is not listed in the book.

I intend to collect all six of Sinclair's non-fiction series. I've thus far got three of them - old hardbacks from the 1920's and 30's.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 26, 2016, 05:59:45 AM
Interesting, I didn't realise that the Ukrainian famine was a disputed historical event. The record of mass-starvation across the Soviet Union as a whole was fairly well-accepted, I thought? What are the main points that the author makes?

Two other points:

First, forgive my wordiness. I'm still reading the book. If we'd have made these posts perhaps a week after I finished, then I would have answered much more succinctly in only one post.

Second, a chapter towards the end of the book about the actual famine (in 1932) makes a point you'd want to know about:

A bad harvest was only the second most influential cause of famine. By far the major cause of Ukrainian famine in 1932 was the deliberate sabotage and large scale destruction of food supplies, crops, and animals by wealthy Ukrainians (kulaks). The reason for this was their reaction to Soviet collectivization which meant the surrender of their excess property to the more unfortunate Ukrainians. Many reckoned that they would rather nobody benefit from the property if they could not have it all to themselves. The Nazis and Hearst totally lied about this. At least people back then didn't believe them.

The fourth century Orthodox Christian bishop John Chrysostom wrote a homily against the wealthy wherein he declared that whatever property wealthy men possess in excess of their own needs is in fact stolen from the poor.

I would say that the Soviet communists practiced John Chrysostom's principles which had been practically rejected by the hypocritical church of the Romanovs and Ukrainians. My cousin who converted to Judaism when she was young once told me that the Russian church has a reputation as very corrupt. My experience and investigation have confirmed what she told me.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 26, 2016, 06:13:10 AM
'Pogromchik'
By Saul Friedlander

I just ordered this book (published in 1976) understanding that the author is an authority on the history of Ukrainian antisemitism. I already have an older book from 1932 about this pogrom, but this particular author's analysis of Ukrainian nationalism appears too rich to bypass.

The book covers the 1927 Paris murder trial of a Ukrainian Jew who freely admitted that he killed Symon Petliura, the founder of modern Ukraine in the wake of WWI and the architect of the 1919 genocide of Jews in Ukraine by the White Army of General Denikin. This was the most murderous of the Russian pogroms that had occurred especially after 1881 (and the assassination of Alexander III) and also the biggest genocide of Jews (at least in recent centuries) prior to World War II. The Jew on trial for the assassination was apparently the only surviving member of his family who had all been murdered. It ended in a hung trial and thus his freedom.

From what I've read modern Ukraine is an artificial nation invented by diplomats to serve as a front especially for German imperialism and to be a vanguard in smashing communism as well as to extend the domestic exploitative system of the catholic Austro-Hungarian empire which had just recently been destroyed. Among other things, non-Soviet (western) Ukrainian government was racist anti-Jewish and officially anti-communist from its foundation.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 26, 2016, 09:56:42 PM
'Stalin's Thought Illumines Problems of the Negro Freedom Struggle:
A Guide For Discussion in Schools and Study Groups'
By Charles Mann
(1953)

This is the next book I intend to read. Only about 50 pages long, I intend to read it as a preface to afterwards reading Stalin's book 'Marxism and the National Question.'

This booklet seems to be inspired by Harry Haywood's 1948 book 'Negro Liberation' which also advocates a sovereign black controlled government in the southern United States - hence its objective involves the dismemberment of the U.S. and consequently the breaking of its power.

Unlike the racist twisting of this idea afterwards by the likes of Farrakhan, Mann advocates power shared commonly by poor whites and the descendents of ex-slaves in which all are finally given their 40 acres and a mule which the Union armies failed to deliver after winning the American Civil War (something Lenin did deliver to Russia's ex-serfs). Thus, Mann advocates the reversal of the 1877 backstabbing which ended Reconstruction in a victory for the Confederacy which was thereby restored to power under the tutelage of Wall Street and the south became northern owned - much like how fascism was restored to power in West Germany in the late 1940's.

This book advocates unity of the negro people rather than segregation. It advocates that black people retain their culture and national unity as they integrate as a whole into American society - not individually which would destroy their culture and nationality.

This is a major aspect of Stalin's view of nationalism which
respects and preserves national cultures. This is in severe contrast to the melting pot of America which acts as an acid upon the national cultures of immigrants. A great example of this is how Americanist minded idiots thoughtlessly criticize hyphenated Americanism not realizing their stupid doctrine is only destructive of national culture wanting to Americanize immigrants and eradicate their own language.

In a 1958 interview with Pacifica Radio, American singer Paul Robeson expressed the view that black American integration into mainstream America must be done as a group and not individually.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YeHzzyisfM

I think the principles about nationality and cohesiveness which characterized the USSR in Stalin's time and facilitated the coordination and team work which won the victory over Nazism also applies to religious groups which are a kind of nation themselves and which had likewise been persecuted by the Romanovs along with the various nationalities.

Needless to say, the American civil rights movement did not follow the way outlined in this booklet and has accordingly had at best a mixed success.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 26, 2016, 10:01:07 PM
Thought it worth mentioning that Harry Haywood, author of the 1948 book 'Negro Liberation' became Malcolm X's mentor in the early 1960's when he needed guidance upon emerging from the "Nation of Islam."

http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/NL48.pdf
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on April 27, 2016, 03:07:41 AM
Truman Capote - In Cold Blood
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on May 03, 2016, 06:32:25 AM
'Final Judgment'
By Michael Collins Piper

Criticism - The book's central thesis that the Israeli Mossad was the key force behind Kennedy's assassination is the most tenuous and unsupported part of an otherwise uncommonly informative and interesting book. There's not too much about Isser Harel and the folks in the Mossad around the time that Eisenhower and Kennedy were presidents.

This book fails to prove its thesis.

Compliment -
1) Among other things, it contains probably the best list and succinct analysis of ALL books written about the Kennedy assassination over the past 50+ years.

2) It does the same for pretty much all the people involved. One will have a very decent working knowledge of it all after having read this book as well as a very good understanding of the mechanics of the assassination and of the extensive cover-up.  It's top drawer as far as this goes, but the way it ties it together at the top glaringly lacks evidence.

A couple of the better writers whom Piper approvingly quotes (such as Peter Dale Scott) have a more objective approach devoid of Piper's anti-Semitic bias.

3) Another plus about this writer in my opinion is that his array of evidence generally points to a right wing colonialist force behind the assassination. Piper has a positive  view of communists like Castro or the Algerian liberation movement against French colonialism. This is a bit more impressive considering the arguably fascist newspaper and employer whom Piper worked for.

I'm also critical of Israel, but I believe it's my responsibility to believe any man is innocent until he's proven guilty. I'd be interested to read a very informative critique of Mossad, but not this one. It can be useful about the Kennedy assassination especially if one understands its error.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on May 03, 2016, 07:32:37 AM
'The Liberty Lobby and the American Far Right'
By Frank Mintz (1985)

Never anticipated that I would praise anything associated with William Buckley or the National Review for whom the author wrote.

This book is a critical history of Willis Carto (who just died in late 2015) and the degeneration of the Liberty Lobby he founded in 1955 from a "semi-respectable national conservative organization to the lunatic far right fringe with soft spot for Nazism."

Additionally, in 1978 Carto founded the Institute For Historical Review which has for several decades been the world's major publisher, coordinator, and promoter of holocaust denial.

Buckley had a bitter falling out with Carto by the early 1970's which ultimately ended in court with a victory in the 1980's for Buckley. 

Not generally a fan of Buckley, but his conservatism is mainstream compared to
Carto.

The book has an interesting chapter comparing Liberty Lobby with the sophisticated John Birch Society as the symbiosis of each other.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on May 03, 2016, 08:59:09 PM
Eugène Ionesco - Rhinoceros
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on May 05, 2016, 06:48:54 PM
Thomas Mann - Buddenbrooks
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on May 05, 2016, 07:15:44 PM
John Whyndham - The Chrysalids
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on May 27, 2016, 07:44:41 PM
Günter Grass - The Tin Drum
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on May 31, 2016, 12:33:16 PM
Neil Gaiman - Stardust
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: The Terror on June 08, 2016, 12:09:28 AM
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The Sign of Four
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on June 08, 2016, 12:31:33 AM
Michel Houellebecq - Atomised
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on June 17, 2016, 12:20:35 PM
Ann Rule - The Stranger Beside Me

I've read Ann Rule before, but I didn't realize she was actually friends with Ted Bundy before any of it even happened. A true crime author is friends with one of America's most prolific serial killers and she didn't even fucking know it. It's fantastic. She was even writing about his murders as they happened and when they finally had the name 'Ted' to go on, she offered him up to her cop friends as a possibility... but could he have possibly done it? The man she spent so many nights with at the crisis center hotline talking down suicide callers? The man who always wanted to walk her to her car just to make sure she got there safely? The book is great, she goes back and forth from describing her friend and writing about their communications to reporting on horrific and violent crimes and you somehow have to see it as the same person. Ann Rule really struggles with a lot of emotions in this one.

Also,

Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on July 10, 2016, 07:19:58 PM
'Devils in Amber - The Baltics'
By Phillip Bonosky

A history of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia from 1918 to 1991 published in 1992.  I am interested in books that educate with perspectives and knowledge which is unfamiliar, and this book delivers since it totally goes against the nigh universal anti-communist trend of the late 1980's - criticizing, for example, the removal of communist statues at that time as an ignorance of the lessons of WWII and their liberators.

I liked a passage about the failure of American propaganda in communist countries during the majority of the Cold War not because it was blocked (it wasn't), but because it's lack of knowledge and familiarity of actual conditions and its agenda became so obvious to peoples in those countries. 

I reckon that Bonosky's account of how a genuine old school nationalism that defeated Nazism and harmonized communism was gradually replaced during the 1970's and 1980's by a shallow nationalism that harmonized with American propaganda.

It's nice to see a book from the 1990's which accounts for those events and yet written in the (quite edifying) style of old school communist books of the 1930's and 40's.

I think the historical trends traced in this book have since continued on the same paths since it was written with regard to things like American engineering of elections in foreign countries such as the Orange "revolution" in Ukraine and similar events in Georgia and eastern Europe. Gerald Sussman wrote a great book about American rigging elections and puppet governments in Eastern Europe which is a good follow up to this one.  I just picked up both of these, and their really great. Sussman's book nails down the major government and corporate organizations that make the propaganda part of it in particular.

'Branding Democracy: US Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe'
By Gerald Sussman
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on July 10, 2016, 07:58:37 PM
Not that Putin is a Marxist (he isn't), but it's worth noting that at the opposite end of the spectrum from Gerald Sussman would be anti-Putin books such as 'Faking Democracy' by Andrew Wilson of Yale. The agenda of such books are like fearing a German Shepard while ignoring a combative lioness that's next to you.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: trekky0623 on July 10, 2016, 10:42:09 PM
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on July 13, 2016, 02:10:16 AM
'The Negro Question in the U.S.' (1936)
By Sol Auerbach
aka James S. Allen (pseudonym)
http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/NQ36.pdf

A pretty thorough and methodical history of blacks in the South from the end of Reconstruction to communist party led unionizing and integration campaigns in the south in the 1930's and concluding with chapters proposing a sovereign predominantly black interracial communist government in the US South and the confiscation of land and property from rich whites and its redistribution to poor blacks and whites.

I think the book is an ideal prelude to Harry Haywood's autobiography 'Black Bolshevik' which describes a predominantly black communist yet interracial militant (as in armed and often willing to take on southern police) sharecropping Union in Alabama in the 1930's which spread to other states and was a significant step towards dismantling the strongholds of American power in the South and which failed not because of racist southerners with guns but because CPUSA chairman Earl Browder forced the abandonment of the program about 1936.

Musician Pete Seeger in an interview mentioned a book entitled 'The Challenge of Interracial Unionism' which is a history of the perseverance of non-conformist interracial mine worker unions in Alabama from the 1870's to the 1920's which indicates to me that Alabama apparently preserved the essence of the antebellum Underground Railroad throughout the Jim Crow era.

Harry Haywood also wrote a classic entitled 'Negro Liberation' in 1948 which argues for a sovereign communist South and which criticizes black conformist groups like the NAACP and the Urban League which in spite of their rhetoric have leaders like the Democrat Party which bows to the immoral white power structure at every critical point and run away from ideas which are deemed too radical and beyond the pale. In other words, they are the black bourgousie conformists - although it's necessary to recognize the white chauvinism is the chief problem.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on July 13, 2016, 02:16:00 AM
Historian and educator James Lloewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me) seems to me to be one of the best historians of racial issues around. Once I was turned onto his writings, I bought up all of his books. I particularly like his 'Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader'.

Sol Auerbach (a communist Jew from Russia who became the communist party's expert on Afro-American issues in the 1930's along with Harry Haywood) also wrote an uncommon history of Reconstruction celebrating its triumphs unlike the more familiar and predominant southern historical point of view).

James Lloewen
http://sundown.afro.illinois.edu
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on July 13, 2016, 02:38:12 AM
When I read or contemplate books like those of Harry Haywood or Sol Auerbach, it occasionally brings to mind themes like country music group Alabama's 'Song of the South' which has an interesting theme and fitting music with alas chickenshit conformist lyrics which is doubtless why the song was permitted to become a hit. If the song was given completely new lyrics advocating the old communist themes of Haywood and Auerbach or at least Pete Seeger style, it would be so much more intellectually satisfying and verily important.

That's what I like most about Pete Seeger is that his music is subordinate to lyrics since he recognizes music has a purpose. It was a consistent principle with him. Apologize if this last post appears to belong more in a music thread, but the theme is connected to the books I mentioned above.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHdXQAQHjd8
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on July 14, 2016, 04:34:21 AM
'Pete Seeger in His Own Words'

This book is an autobiography of sorts which consists exclusively only of things written and said by Pete Seeger put together by the editor to form his life story.

It especially dwells on his wisdom and also interesting history of music, musicians, the music industry its interaction with people and politics over the decades and trends and insights therein: from the 1930's to the Obama era.

(At Obama's inauguration, Bruce Springsteen played with Seeger and introduced him as the "father of American folk music."
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on July 16, 2016, 08:31:05 PM
'Origin of the Family, Private Property & the State' (1892)
By Engels

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/

I had not paid attention to this book before understanding some of its themes as quoted in a 1936 economics for beginners book entitled 'Political Economy' by Leontiev of which I'll post about more when I finish it.

From my perspective, one thing I initially surmised which a check of its contents has actually further confirmed is that this book does not contradict biblical and Christian views about marriage. Of course, Engels was an adherent of biological evolution who questioned or even rejected what the Bible says about marriage, but all that is simply totally irrelevant to the majority of this book of which the first part accurately covers marriage, family and community in diverse cultures in the ancient world - generally what the Bible calls the Gentiles. Without diving into detail, this complements rather than contradicts the Bible - at least to me. I certainly do disagree with Engels as to biological evolution, but I appreciate that this does not confuse or hamper his elucidation of this subject.

Engels shows that neither private property nor government have always existed and that both were invented and have always existed as instruments of exploitation. This considerably  illuminates much history about, for example, the Roman Empire and its decline. It also refutes some basic propaganda of capitalism which falsely asserts that private property is as fundamentally human as bread and butter. He distinguishes between personal property and private property and shows that much of what was communal property until recent times has been verily stolen by individuals who now claim sole rights and exclude others. The system of laws which legalize this new status are immoral and illegitimate. This approach of Friederich Engels appears to me to essentially agree with that of Saint John Chrysostom who stated that whatever a rich man possesses in excess of his needs is in fact stolen from the poor and needy.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Blanko on September 25, 2016, 10:39:01 PM
Martin Heidegger - Being and Time
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on October 03, 2016, 01:41:56 AM
'Negro Comrades of the Crown'
By Gerald Horne

A history of the loyalty of African-American slaves to the British Empire from 1776 to the U.S. civil war demonstrating among other things that one of the major causes of the American Revolution was america's antipathy to the abolitionist movement against slavery in London in the 1770's and that the US became the most right wing pro-slavery segment of the British empire later rewriting its own history to make itself an alleged beacon of freedom and democracy in much the same way that Ukrainian and German Nazi collaborators rewrite history transforming themselves into enemies of Hitler.

This book views early nineteenth century America as sinister and both the American founding fathers and the American revolution as evil.

The author is a very knowledgeable and prolific (judging by his output of non-conformist books) Marxist African-American university professor.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on October 03, 2016, 01:47:14 AM
Apparently, Charles Dickens, H G Wells, and George Bernard Shaw are later British writers who preserved vestiges of this early nineteenth century British sympathy and support for African slaves and former slaves coupled with a sharp criticism of the United States of their time. It would be interesting to read their anti-American writings.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on October 03, 2016, 01:55:52 AM
Another thought concerning this book is that of self determination of the predominantly black belt across the southern US as a sovereign nation.  This book tends to evidence international recognition of this black nation as an occupied people during the nineteenth century.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on October 03, 2016, 12:22:08 PM
The Amber Spyglass which is the third book in His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.

It's been a long time since I've read the whole trilogy. The books get better as it progresses. The third book is full blown anti-God and the Church. It's fabulous and I completely forgot about the finale of the story. I originally read these books in elementary school and they changed the way I thought about the world with topics like dark matter, parallel universes, puberty, souls, and religion.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on October 12, 2016, 04:50:23 PM
After slogging at a snail's pace through the turgid mire of supercilious vomit that is Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities (it was so boring that I wasn't even moved to pick it up for entertainment when my monitor broke) I am re-reading Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on October 13, 2016, 08:09:26 AM
I enjoyed Bonfire of the Vanities. It could have done with losing a little bit of padding, but I never felt the pace felt turgid.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on November 26, 2016, 05:36:43 AM
'Deconstruction of a Myth'
By Steven Bigham

Summarizes a theory popular with some academics over the past 100 years that Epiphanios of Salamis, Cyprus was a famous early Christian writer from the fourth century after Christ who rejected icons.

This view is based on specific controversial texts bearing his name which argue unambiguously against icons as idolatrous, et cetera. However, these texts were condemned at the Seventh Oecumenical Synod in 787 A.D. as forgeries resting, among others, upon the arguments and evidence presented in that same century by Saint John of Damascus.

This historical controversy about Epiphanius was revived in the early twentieth century by a group of academics aiming to validate their Protestant views. This book summarizes the arguments of two major academics who took opposite sides on this controversy and lists those who have contributed to either side: whether or not the aforementioned treatises ascribed to Epiphanius are genuine or forgeries written centuries later. 

The author believes that veneration of icons has always been a part of the Christian religion, and makes the case that the documents in question were medieval forgeries fabricated by iconoclasts because otherwise they had no historical precedents for their views. just like the famous so-called Donation of Constantine.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on November 26, 2016, 05:38:52 PM
'The New Soviet Constitution:  A Study in Socialist Democracy'
(1938)
By Anna Louise Strong

https://ia802600.us.archive.org/1/items/TheNewSovietConstitution/The%20New%20Soviet%20Constitution.pdf

A sympathetic history and analysis of the second Soviet Constitution, usually referred to as the Stalin Constitution. It has a copy of the basic constitution as an appendix. 

Very different from other books which often begin their approach to anything in Russia from this era with a vitriolic anti-communist prejudice. I think this book would be useful as a model to contrast against capitalist legal systems.

For me, the Soviet system was far superior to the capitalist systems without doubt.

Ultimately, it would be interesting to compare this to the pre-capitalist systems of Old Russia and the ancient Roman legal systems of Justinian and Theodosius. I have read a study of Justinian's religious policy that made clear his legal system involved an absolute separation of church and state. I find intriguing the universality of such principles over such a vast difference of time and place.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on November 27, 2016, 01:56:41 AM
'Tibet Transformed' (1983)
By Israel Epstein

History of modern Tibet by a lifelong Jewish (non-Chinese) member of the Chinese Communist Party. The book asserts that Tibet was a very oppressive society where peasants led miserable lives before liberation by the communists who have eradicated these abuses. This book is echoed by the western historian Melvyn Goldstein.

Incidentally, the author is not unaware of imperfections in the Chinese communist system having wrongfully spent five years in prison during the cultural revolution, but forgave his captors who likewise apologized as Epstein viewed the greater good and the cultural revolution overall as a hiccup compared to things like the racist British or Manchu systems or peasant life in Tibet. This book is very critical of the Dalai Lama who has been in exile since 1959 and is about 80 - akin to a Confederate sympathizer after a lost cause wanting to restore a fascist order where rape was routine and the young were mass forced into monasteries.

Another writer I like on Tibet is Anna Louise Strong.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on November 27, 2016, 05:26:40 PM
E.J. Hobsbawm - Industry and Empire
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on December 15, 2016, 07:12:48 PM
E.J. Hobsbawm - Industry and Empire

I've heard good things about this author but never read anything by him.  In particular, I've read that Habsbawm has written negative analyses of modern nationalism analogous to Benedict Anderson whose book 'Imagined Communities' argues that nations created during and since the nineteenth century (such as Germany, Italy, Greece, and Japan, among others) have had fabricated myths guided by European enlightenment ideology as official histories which are deeply ingrained and indoctrinated through compulsive schools and a justice system for the nonconformists.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on December 25, 2016, 12:49:56 AM
'The Unknown Mao'
By Halliday

People often get more conservative as they age is unfortunately true of this author. His Marxist oriented histories of Japan published in the 1970's are likely still second to none - at least in English.

I've read about Mao both for and against finally settling in favor because the Chinese are certainly much better off during and after Mao than before he came along, but concluding he did have some mistakes especially from about 1965 onwards such as the Cultural Revolution.

So I was disappointed to see a book by an apparently former Marxist totally lambast him as killing more people than Hitler, etc, and every other accusation right down the line. The book could have just as well been written by a Kuomintang or Japanese fascist propagandist.

More sensitive and balanced pro-communist books which are critical of Moa include Sam Marcy's essays and Jonathan Authur's book 'Socialism in the Soviet Union'.  Both written in 1977 and both criticizing Chinese propaganda against the USSR from 1965 onwards as doing the CIA's bidding. These two books by a Trotskyite and a Stalinist respectively come to essentially the same conclusions and are quite worthwhile in understanding this era of the 60's and 70's.

An opposite perspective and perhaps equally worthless as Halliday's book is a book by Mobo Gao which says the Cultural Revolution and Mao were without mistakes.

'My China Eye' is the autobiography of Israel Epstein and published in 2005, the year the 90 year old Jewish author died. Magnificent book.  Like many other Chinese communist leaders, he was imprisoned during the cultural revolution, but he did not lose faith in the overall benefit of communism for China. Zhou Enlai apologized to him, and he subsequently continued his career in China. The author was a journalist and later an active participant on the communist side in events in China from before and during the 1930's, 40's, 50's, on up until his death.

It contains an interesting view of the Tiananmen Square riots of 1989 as involving instigators coordinated through the American CIA which definitely has a history of such in communist China.

The fact that the author was a friend of Deng Xiaoping and editor of an edition of his selected works set me reflecting about Deng. I think I still disagree with much or most of his foreign policy such as his alignment with Reagan and against the USSR in the 1980's, but I think it is an error to view his domestic policy as wrong generally or to view Deng as a dictator. That would exist in right wing propaganda rather than reality. Deng's policy is also what made China into an economic powerhouse without exploiting people.

Deng Xiaoping was denounced during the cultural revolution, but the conclusion that that era was exactly the height of Mao's errors set me to reevaluate Deng letting his actions speak for themselves.

One other error of Mao's in his early days was to reject participation in the Comintern since he took power in the Chinese Communist Party about 1935. The logical conclusion of this unfortunate policy was Nixon's later exploitation of the Sino-Soviet split in the 70's to side with China to weaken Russia. The Stalinist Wang Ming was Mao's chief communist rival in the 1930's who wanted China's participation in the Comintern to maintain international unity. He later wrote an interesting book entitled 'Mao's Betrayal' which never the less does not include the reckless accusations in Halliday's book the 'Unknown Mao'.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on December 28, 2016, 03:26:17 AM
'Timaeus' (by Plato)
With Commentary By Calcidius

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674599178

Just received this book today. Have not yet had a chance to read it.

First time in English translation, the author being from the fourth century after Christ when early Christian flat earth cosmology was in its heyday, this book strikes me as very likely flat earth oriented or at least useful to those ends because his commentaries are said to contain astronomical knowledge which is appropriate for a commentary on the Timaeus who was an associate of Plato's that gave a discussion about cosmology which Plato recorded.

Significantly, the sixth century (A.D.) flat earth Christian Egyptian monk Cosmas Indicopleustes mentions the existence of the Americas referring to them as Atlantis because they are mentioned in Plato's book containing the discourse of Timaeus.

Specifically, Cosmas believed the arctic ice shelf is at a higher altitude than the rest of the world and effectively constitutes a mountain around which the sun revolves once per day, and the shadow cast by this mountain constitutes night in the part of the world away from the sun. He referred to the part of the world on the other side of this mountain from Europe and Asia as what globularists would call the antipodes. He said these antipodes contain a very large island called Atlantis which was mentioned in Plato's Timaeus.

Calcidius's edition of Plato's Timaeus which includes his commentary on it strikes me as the kind of book that takes its place alongside Euclid's 'Elements' among the best of the ancient Greek philosophic and scientific writings.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on January 02, 2017, 11:33:45 PM
'Our Enemies in Blue'
By Kristian Williams

By far the best book on this subject. Covers all aspects of police in america including a comprehensive history from a radical left perspective. Among other pluses, an extensive 25 page topical bibiliography of the most useful books is particularly good.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on January 03, 2017, 01:41:59 PM
Covers all aspects of police in america including a comprehensive history from a radical left perspective.
I don't trust any history with a hard slant.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Fortuna on January 04, 2017, 05:46:54 PM
Yeah, that book sounds like trash to me. A good non-fiction book should try to keep the bias to a minimum.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Snupes on January 08, 2017, 02:28:17 AM
Been reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm only about halfway through, but it's fantastic. A slow burn, for sure, but it feels more like a living, breathing world than the vast majority of books I've read.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 08, 2017, 11:26:47 AM
Finished reading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell last night. Kind of been dipping into Peter N. Carroll and David W. Noble's The Free and the Unfree, which is a light history of America from colonialism up to and including Nixon and Watergate.

Not sure what I'm going to read next. I have vague notions of reading about 10 different books at the moment, including The Aeneid, Balzac's Lost Illusions, Philip Roth's American Pastoral, re-reading Pynchon's V., and re-attempting Ulysses—which I previously got some way into and then stopped.

Edit: Decided to go with Plato's Symposium, translated by Christopher Gill.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on January 08, 2017, 11:50:39 PM
'Foundations of Many Generations'
By Eschini (1940)

http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/library/books/Foundations%20of%20Many%20Generations%20(E.%20Eschini).pdf

Been checking out this rather disappointing particular flat earth book & came to the following conclusions:

1) It presents nothing original.

2) Published in 1940, I noticed the book is unfortunately political and repeats propaganda against Stalin and the Soviet Union.

3) The author relies somewhat on religious arguments. Earlier flat earth books did as well, but those were largely not political which indicates to me a degeneration of religion and perhaps of the flat earth movement as well at that time.

4) Finally, the online edition includes a letter from the author to Samuel Shenton apparently written in the 1960's which accepts space travel propaganda at face value.  the author's propensity to thoughtlessly and uncritically include bandwagon anti-communist propaganda in his 1940 flat earth book is consistent with his likewise uncritical acceptance of moon travel propaganda in the 1960's.

This book has value primarily as an indicator of the dearth of published intelligent flat earth material circa 1940.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 10, 2017, 05:33:52 PM
Honoré de Balzac - Lost Illusions (trans. Herbert J. Hunt)
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on January 11, 2017, 02:17:53 AM
Covers all aspects of police in america including a comprehensive history from a radical left perspective.
I don't trust any history with a hard slant.

It does not go into stuff like the Pinkertons cooperation with police departments which seems to be well covered in several labor history books.

It is very informative (among other things) about the permeation of police forces by the klux klan and its modern manifestations.

'Our Enemies in Blue'
https://www.akpress.org/our-enemies-in-blue.html
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on January 11, 2017, 02:50:11 AM
E.J. Hobsbawm - Industry and Empire

I've heard good things about this author but never read anything by him.  In particular, I've read that Habsbawm has written negative analyses of modern nationalism analogous to Benedict Anderson whose book 'Imagined Communities' argues that nations created during and since the nineteenth century (such as Germany, Italy, Greece, and Japan, among others) have had fabricated myths guided by European enlightenment ideology as official histories which are deeply ingrained and indoctrinated through compulsive schools and a justice system for the nonconformists.

My favorite (non-theological) Greek writer is Paschalis Kitromilides who is a student of Hobsbawm and Benedict Anderson. He wrote a fascinating essay which is now more difficult for me to locate online for free.  It's entitled: 

'Imagined Communities and the Origins of Nationalism in the Balkans'

It argues convincingly that modern Greece was fabricated in the 1800's to serve British colonialism. Until the late 1700's, the Ottoman Orthodox Christian community considered themselves Roumeli or Eastern Romans. Kitromilides says that the modern Greek, Serb, Romanian, and Bulgarian nations were totally fabricated or invented in the late 1700's by European propaganda that instilled racist and anti-Muslim nationalisms in christian communities still governed at that time by the Ottoman Empire. This propaganda and the nations and governments which it formed were subservient to western colonialism. Greece was given German kings and a pro-British government. The schools and monasteries in the new Greece incorporated and instilled the propaganda and lies of the new system which stubbornly persist still today.

'Greece:  The Hidden Centuries'
By David Brewer

This British historian of Greeks under the Ottomans has many of the same conclusions as Kitromilides. In an interview, David Brewer was asked what he thought Greek people would think of his book. He replied that a good number will hate it because it demolishes deeply ingrained myths.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on January 13, 2017, 03:39:15 AM
Been reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm only about halfway through, but it's fantastic. A slow burn, for sure, but it feels more like a living, breathing world than the vast majority of books I've read.
I love Neil Gaiman. I haven't read this one yet, but it was next on my list.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 21, 2017, 10:42:59 PM
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on January 22, 2017, 08:52:56 AM
'The Enemy:  What Every American Should Know About Imperialism' (1970)

By Felix Greene

As hardcore as they come, this book analyzes and damns American society and the American system domestically and across the world ending with the conclusion that the violent overthrow and uprooting of the American government and its economic foundations to be replaced with a communist system are the only ultimate solution to its problems.

Greene is sternly critical of pacifists and leftists who believe in the basic goodness of the America and reform rather than revolution.

It's basically an update of Lenin's book 'State and Revolution' applied to every aspect of American society. Lenin's much older book exposed every aspect of the pitical machine of the ruling class including the mafia, politicians, unions, etc, and their respective functions in the whole apparatus.

My only qualm is with the chapter on religion which is not altogether bad since most religion in America is indeed degenerate among other ways in that it serves this system, but Greene declares all religion inherently corrupt and throws the baby out with the bath water. Unlike the other chapters, he does not go into specific examples, but only generalizes about religion, extolling atheism.

I think the unfortunate way he wrote that particular chapter which I think could have been argued much better being accompanied by facts from strong examples of religious corruption and exploitation such as in Upton Sinclair's classic 'Profits of Religion.'

In spite of the chapter on religion, the book is magnificent and utterly important.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it an 11.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Snupes on January 23, 2017, 12:56:23 AM
Been reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm only about halfway through, but it's fantastic. A slow burn, for sure, but it feels more like a living, breathing world than the vast majority of books I've read.
I love Neil Gaiman. I haven't read this one yet, but it was next on my list.
Shamefully, I've yet to finish. I've basically only been reading it on breaks at work, and I just took a week off work lol. Now time to try to finish it...


Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Write up a lil review if you don't mind, or at least let me know what you think. People keep telling me to read this.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on January 23, 2017, 02:01:42 PM

Bleak! Dystopian! Loved it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on January 23, 2017, 02:51:42 PM
I remember really liking The Road.

Short, grim, haunting, dystopian - all good things. Not overly complicated, it doesn't go into too many details about what happened, just the perspective of a dad dealing with the aftermath. I think I cried a couple times at least.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 23, 2017, 05:45:12 PM
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Write up a lil review if you don't mind, or at least let me know what you think. People keep telling me to read this.

I think it's a really beautiful book. I won't say any more than that, I think it is well worth discovering for yourself.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 23, 2017, 10:42:11 PM
Philip Roth - The Human Stain
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Elusive Rabbit on January 25, 2017, 01:49:53 PM
Re-read Cormac McCarthy's The Road recently. I agree with the sentiments posted here about this book.

I also will say that it is one of the most strangely heart-warming books ever, past the pounding and wrenching surface. Through the chaotic terror, abject hopelessness, and senseless violence of the ruined world, the man's and the boy's world stays intact-- one of love between a father and son.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on January 25, 2017, 10:26:32 PM

Well I just read a damn good novel.

China Mieville's -Perdido Street Station.

If you like your cities a mashed up steampunk version of Gormenghast, a baroque Sin city with aliens, low sorcery and valve driven robots? Visit China's New Crobuzon. If you like your stories and hero's clear cut and tied up nicely at the end, don't. 
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on February 04, 2017, 08:13:31 PM

Another grand book!

Marlon James – A brief history of seven killings

a Booker prize winner, not necessarily a good thing (too much Ian McEwan), but it's really good.
Based mainly in Jamaica on the politically motivated gangs and the attempted assassination of Bob Marley, through to the New York crack wars, told through a multitude of characters; Gangsters, journalists, CIA even a Ghost, cracking read.

A warning, the Jamaican slang will get into your head, so when I saw wan of the sistren working for the shitstem, selling cheese in Waitrose, I and I go over and me say, quiet like “Babylon fallin” well she spit her drink all apon me face an start to choke, but she got it..am sure she got it. Rastafari.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Elusive Rabbit on February 07, 2017, 02:01:33 AM
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on February 11, 2017, 06:22:06 AM
'Inside the Myth: Orwell
- Views From the Left'

I bought this last summer and just now getting time to read it a bit. A compilation of essays published back in 1984 by various writers all criticising different aspects of George Orwell.

It's agreeable, but too much for me to read straight through. I'll read one topic at a time & come back to it. Good thing the book is organised the way it is.

I discovered it in an essay by the Anglo-Indian writer Joti Brar about Orwell's involvement with British government surveillance of British citizens including Orwell's authorship of an infamous list of names of activists and left writers to be spied upon.

https://stalinsociety.net/2016/07/12/george-orwell/

And I was totally ignorant of that aspect of Orwell. It's striking to similar information I earlier discovered about Bertrand Russell, another well known "left" anti-communist.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on March 16, 2017, 08:57:24 PM
'Black Bolshevik,
Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist'

By Harry Haywood (1978)

http://ouleft.org/wp-content/uploads/Harry-Haywood-Black-Bolshevik.pdf

This book is good for many reasons, but the perspective it has makes it trump all other books covering American society in the early twentieth century.

Its view of the Harlem Renaissance and black American society generally including solid knowledgeable criticisms of the Garvey movement and of the NAACP & Urban League and the role their leaders have played in making black Americans conformist.

It's also the best history of the Communist Party USA including deep insight into its degeneration in the 1950's through personal experience. 

The author is quite aware of racial issues & admirably consistently places them lower than class differences as he believed race is manipulated to divide the exploited class against itself which serves to maintain its weakness. 

The author was radical and well read believing the overthrow of American government and its financial owners and the division of its land through redistribution to finish what post civil war reconstruction failed to accomplish is the ultimate answer to america's problems.

EDIT:
The author advocates revolution, not reform because he believes the American system is evil root and branch. Most of its defenders have been conditioned by schools and other propaganda methods to fight against their own class interests much like those poor common people who chose to serve or collaborate with fascism in Nazi Germany or the Confederate South. Harry Haywood's ideas are much more well thought out and sophisticated than the neo-communist movement of the 60's and 70's.

I have read that this author became a mentor of Malcolm X when he was trying to find his was after leaving the Nation of Islam.

It's worth mentioning that Haywood had a negative view of Roosevelt and the New Deal as being the saviours of capitalism and the American system. This is a striking difference of old left communists from American Democrats who are the old party of slavery that transformed its image into the saviour of capitalism in the 1930's. This book shows the ugly side of the New Deal and the heritage of the Democrat party in the 1930's South. One gets a sharp understanding from the author's life as a communist organiser in the U.S. (both North and South), and this is complemented by events in the Soviet Union where the author attended the Lenin School from 1925 to 1929.

For my purpose's, this book's communist perspective is somewhat like Russia Today in that it helps place the rhetoric of American Democrats such as the anti-Russian stances of Bill Maher and Anderson Cooper in a critical perspective without having to rely on the media of American Republicans which merely offer a different variety of fascism.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on March 20, 2017, 02:19:05 PM
Currently reading Millenium People by J.G.Ballard. As one of his last books, it definitely feels more mature than the likes of High Rise or [/I]Concrete Island[/I]. it continues the same Ballardian theme of the middle classes seething with boredom and longing for a chance to release their animal passions, but here the radicalised middle-class actually seem to have some legitimate grievances to air, the descent into violence feels natural, even expected, in a way that it didn't in earlier works. I'm enjoying it so far.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 10, 2017, 08:01:21 AM
'The Ottoman Mosaic:
Preservation of Minority Groups and Religious Tolerance /
Exploring Models For Peace By Re-Exploring the Past'

Edited By Kemal Karpat

I don't know why I didn't pick up on this veteran and prolific Turkish historian a long time ago. He's written about Turkey from a left leaning perspective since the 1950's.

I spent a year in Greek monasteries a decade ago, and the racism against Turks so disgusted me that it played a definite part in my rejecting the Greek Orthodox religion in favor of the more traditional Russian Old Believers. I'm not Muslim, but my respect for the Turks (and for the Greek left) escalated to something akin to what Muhammahad Ali had for the Vietnamese.

This book is an informed refutation of the racist martyr complex propaganda of the Greek right (which I reckon is analogous to the Israeli right). Those hypocrites criticise the Ottomans who have a beautiful history of tolerance while they persecute Islamic immigrants in their own country. I reckon my experience seeking the truth among such close minded morons motivated me to seek the other side's perspective, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

I simultaneously bought the author's historical study of the Ottoman Empire. Reading a section about how the Ottomans intermarried with Byzantines and pursued policies to the advantage of traditional Orthodox Church against Latin intrusions. I found this writer to be a kindred spirit.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on April 11, 2017, 03:25:10 AM
'How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs'
By De Lacy O'Leary (1949)

Written by an Anglican and reprinted by a Muslim publisher, I bought this years ago and was reviewing it to see whether I would keep it because a newer book chronicling the Baghdad school that translated Greek science classics into Arabic seems much more worthy of the title than O'Leary's book which is actually more of a religious history.

The verdict is I think I'm going to hang on to it as the author is clearly knowledgeable even if I'm uncertain I would concur with all of his judgments or sympathies.

Until I have a more thoroughly informed authoritative source, I frankly reckon the passage that convinced me to keep this book is O'Leary's assertion that Syria and Egypt had practically mostly Christian populations with Arab rulers until the time of the Crusades.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on May 18, 2017, 11:12:17 PM
'My Song'
By Harry Belafonte

His autobiography published in 2011. This book is one of the best and discriminating histories of America from roughly 1960 to today.

He doesn't shrink from criticising leftists who have degenerated into conformists (like Farrakhan supporting Trump) or blacks like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice as house negroes who serve the master. When criticised for saying such things, he stands his ground. Of course, he's far more critical of people like George Bush, but his outspoken criticism of Bush is precise and informative giving details of reversals of things won during the civil rights movement of which he was at the centre.

It includes all the music history, but he says he was an activist before he became a musician & the activism is what's at the heart of his life.

He has a pessimistic assessment of American society today compared with the 1960's saying the spirit of most leftist leaders then is absent now. On this note he criticises Obama as not having a heart for the poor and disadvantaged whether they be black or white. He does not believe being black makes someone immune from criticism, very unlike many white liberals and black racists.

Belafonte says his primary influence (of many) was Paul Robeson whom I also find to be profound as well as profoundly neglected these days. Robeson was a good friend of the black communist writer Harry Haywood & Belafonte's autobiography in many ways comes close to a successor of that heritage. Perhaps Belafonte is not quite a communist, but he's definitely one of the best of the sixties generation. I remember MLK's right hand man Ralph Abernathy came out with an autobiography in the nineties, but Abernathy's politics went downhill in the seventies until he supported Reagan for president in 1980. He publicly repented of that before he died, but the point is the verve and edge of Belafonte's life and autobiography did not end with the sixties. He has stayed the course. He's 90 now and still going.

Many people predictably become more conservative as the age. That's conformists for ya.  I want to be dynamic like Belafonte as I get older.

He could be criticised as a serial cheater, but none of us is perfect. At least he admits his guilt and did not try to hide it.

Belafonte (about the time his book was published) receiving the NAACP's highest award. His talk brought to mind Michelle Alexander's book 'The New Jim Crow' about the increase in prison populations since the sixties which was just about the time the old Jim Crow laws went away.

I'm for gun rights, but anyone who is for gun rights and yet opposes the black lives matter movement acts like a thoughtless pawn. The whole purpose of gun rights should be to defend against terrorists such as the American police. The homeless and the weak are the ones who should be armed. Most police and security positions should be abolished along with most prisons. They're only guarding property that should be distributed to the needy anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qke8tHBroX4
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on May 19, 2017, 01:48:57 AM
'Backdoor to Eugenics'
By Troy Duster

I understand this book to be an indictment of modern genetics and its associated technologies.

 I just ordered the second updated edition and have not read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on May 23, 2017, 03:57:03 AM
Selected Writings of Mikhail Suslov

Mikhail Suslov led the attack against the Khruhschevites and thus helped end de-Stalinisation in early 1960's Soviet Union. Although not completely free of criticism against Stalin himself, he was perhaps the principle Soviet intellectual of the Brezhnev era. A Top Secret CIA assessment of Suslov from 1978 asserted that although others existed who held his opinions, none had the widespread respect which Suslov had. Su slob had participated on Stalin's side in all the struggles of the 1930's and even fought in a Bolshevik army unit during the Russian revolution.

The report concluded that when Suslov finally dies, he will leave a void that will be difficult to fill. He did die in 1982 not so long after Brezhnev had passed away. Looking back, this CIA report was quite correct about Suslov's death leaving a void. The void was eventually filled by Gorbachev, a man with opposite objectives who instituted essentially anti-communist policies like glasnost and perestroika that smashed the Soviet Union.

1978 CIA Assessment of Mikhail Suslov (pdf)
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000500564.pdf
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Snupes on June 07, 2017, 12:04:43 AM
Neil Gaiman - American Gods

Wow hey look who took SIX MONTHS to read this book. I got like 68% of the way through then I stopped, didn't touch it for four-five months, and now finally finished the rest in one day. It's a heavy, thick book (not literally, I have it on a Kindle Voyage), incredibly dense, and took work to get through, but I'm really glad I did. It was absolutely fantastic. Gaiman is a magician with words and images.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: honk on June 07, 2017, 03:15:51 AM
My one issue with it was how passive the protagonist was for most of the book. Not that it didn't make sense in the story, but it got a little dull after a while to be following a main character who does little more than what he's told to do by someone else. The fact that he finally started making some decisions for himself and taking some big steps in the final act helped finish it off on a strong note, though. My other nitpick is the way he talked was a little...inconsistent. I feel like there may have an unused draft where he was an English professor instead of a working class ex-con.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Snupes on June 07, 2017, 11:31:28 PM
I would've been bothered by his passiveness were it not addressed, but it fit nicely into the story and gave him a really nice arc, so I'm completely okay with it. If the story were solely about him, I'd agree, but everything going on around him was interesting enough that I wasn't bothered, since it fit. And I thought it was mentioned in the books that he's a pretty smart dude, and that he's read hundreds of books in prison?
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on June 08, 2017, 02:23:54 AM
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with a shaggy dog story as long as it's well-written, which American Gods was, so I had no quibble with it. I'm sure it suggests something about the random nature of the universe, or something.

I just finished Small Gods from the Discworld series. As it dealt intelligently and often viciously with some of my own interests, like religion, mythology, and philosophy, and also had me laughing out loud several times, I think it's one of my favorite books in the series.

I am now reading V. by Thomas Pynchon. It's interesting.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on June 08, 2017, 05:42:17 AM
I am now reading V. by Thomas Pynchon. It's interesting.

I've found that to be his most difficult book, but I know quite a few people who think it is his best, too.

I just finished re-reading Pynchon's Mason & Dixon last night. It was even more enjoyable for me this time around, Pynchon's deep grasp of the historical setting (mostly America on the eve of revolution, plus some bits in the Dutch Cape Colony, St. Helena, and of course Britain) and 18th century astronomy, to say nothing of other technical fields, provides a rich environment in which to stage the great and believable friendship between the two main characters, as well as tons of smaller stories which occur within the main narrative. The last part is expected of Pynchon, most his novels unfold almost like CRPGs in that everywhere the story goes there are new characters to meet with their own stories to tell, but the central relationship between Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon is the engine that drives the novel, and to have this at its core is what makes it so special among a very special body of work.

Another point in its favour: Saddam hates it!
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: crutonius on June 11, 2017, 04:15:02 AM
On tyranny, Timothy Snyder.

A little disappointing to be honest. Its much shorter than it should be. It can't decide whether it wants to be a scathing take down of Trump or a thorough exploration of fascism.

Think i'll either look for something on fascism that I can really sink my teeth into or just take a break from this and get back to work on les miserables.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on June 12, 2017, 02:27:00 PM
Nicholson Baker - The Fermata

A book which I guess would be the subject of much protest were it published for the first time today. It's basically a guy, Arnold Strine, who can stop time (the titular "fermata", also referred to as "the drop") telling you about how he uses it to undress or sometimes sexually violate women without them ever knowing about it. It's billed as a comedy, but I think it's more complicated than that. The main character and narrator is creepy as fuck, as you might imagine, displaying a kind of psychopathic disregard for other people, except for those he becomes obsessed with, in which case he may invade their lives in other ways, always using his ability to prevent them from finding out. He spends some time in the book (which is presented as a fictional autobiography) rationalising what he does, claiming that it is not rape or tantamount to rape, because he believes that his intentions are essentially good, and that the idea of other people being able to do what he does disgusts him.

Baker uses a lot of protologisms, puns, wordplay etc. in a deliberately obnoxious way to highlight how smug the Strine character is. The would-be casual, would-be affable way in which the narrator recounts his doings becomes very uncomfortable and slimy very quickly, and the voice the author has developed for the character is incredibly effective. It shares a stylistic base with The Mezzanine, an earlier novel by Baker (mentioned here because it's the only other one of his that I've read), but he has definitely added a much creepier tone, and without feeling at all forced. The narrator himself does feel like he is writing in a forced manner, because he is trying to impress you, sort of like a child who has found something gross and wants to show it to everyone. This subtle shading of the prose is an impressive display of ability on Baker's part, I'd say it might even be the most unnerving and brilliantly observed psychological portrait I've encountered in literature, but that's not the kind of statement I can easily commit to.

At some point during his life of "fermation", Strine begins to use it to take long stretches of time out of his day and write pornographic fiction, which is where most of the laugh-out-loud humour is, because it's just so ridiculously over the top. Of course, he also uses the ability to surreptitiously slip copies of his stories into the handbags and so forth of unsuspecting women, and then observe them reading. Baker never lets a laugh get far, he has a kind of contrapuntal way of maintaining the unpleasant atmosphere even in the book's most ridiculous passages. On a deeper level the stories within the story reveal what I think is the author's true intention: not to hold this vile character up and say "isn't raping women hilarious?" but to brutally satirise erotic fiction and the romance novel in general by turning the format on its head and making it as vulgar and uncomfortable as possible. It definitely succeeds, and I found it as engrossing as it was unpleasant—sometimes even infuriating. It definitely isn't the kind of finger wagging moralistic preaching that tends to pass for satire in common parlance today, but a heady and grotesque affair that doesn't pull any punches whatsoever. I'm still not entirely sure whether I liked it or not, but it is a brilliant piece of writing.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Roundy on June 24, 2017, 02:43:34 PM
I am now reading V. by Thomas Pynchon. It's interesting.

I've found that to be his most difficult book, but I know quite a few people who think it is his best, too.

This is an interesting comment, as I originally had my sights on Gravity's Rainbow and chose to read this one first because a lot of people seem to consider that one particularly difficult and recommend reading something else by Pynchon first.

Certainly it's a dense and complicated writing style, but once I got past that I found the story surprisingly easy to follow (to be fair it wasn't quite as complicated as I was expecting). The story of Benny Profane and the Whole Sick Crew was entertaining enough, but what really stood out for me were Stencil's discoveries into the past. It's consistently gripping and sometimes shocking stuff. The chapter early on that tells its story from the perspectives of a series of outside observers was particularly inventive and amusing.

At some points while I was reading it I thought I might have to read it a second time for full comprehension but it all came together in the end (more or less... as much as I think it was supposed to at any rate). In all a very good book.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on June 24, 2017, 03:58:49 PM
I am now reading V. by Thomas Pynchon. It's interesting.

I've found that to be his most difficult book, but I know quite a few people who think it is his best, too.

This is an interesting comment, as I originally had my sights on Gravity's Rainbow and chose to read this one first because a lot of people seem to consider that one particularly difficult and recommend reading something else by Pynchon first.

Certainly it's a dense and complicated writing style, but once I got past that I found the story surprisingly easy to follow (to be fair it wasn't quite as complicated as I was expecting). The story of Benny Profane and the Whole Sick Crew was entertaining enough, but what really stood out for me were Stencil's discoveries into the past. It's consistently gripping and sometimes shocking stuff. The chapter early on that tells its story from the perspectives of a series of outside observers was particularly inventive and amusing.

At some points while I was reading it I thought I might have to read it a second time for full comprehension but it all came together in the end (more or less... as much as I think it was supposed to at any rate). In all a very good book.

Gravity's Rainbow probably is more difficult in terms of how complicated the plot is, but I think it's where his writing goes from "hmm, impressive" to "holy shit how do you even do that" level. I'd agree that it might not be the best intro to Pynchon, that honour most likely goes to Inherent Vice, but either way he's done a lot of different stuff and one book won't necessarily prepare you for another.

V. is easily better than anything I could ever write, but I think the reason it was difficult for me is that I found the prose style a little messy. Some of that is because he's riffing on the beats, at least in the '50s chapters, but overall I think it's just down to his being fairly young and inexperienced as a novelist. He was in his early-mid twenties when he wrote it, and he'd only written a handful of short stories (substantial in their own right, it should be noted) before that, and I think both of those things show through the ambitious structure. It might also be worth noting that I read Mason & Dixon first, which is pretty much Pynchon at the height of his powers, and maybe I was a little spoiled by both that and GR when I finally got around to V.. Still, I would like to re-read it soon, especially having now seen your positive reaction to it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on July 19, 2017, 07:14:56 AM
Don DeLillo - Libra

DeLillo's psychological and blackly satirical take on the events leading up to the assassination of JFK. Split between an almost comical look at a group of CIA agents who are trying to plot a failed attempt on the President's life as a pretext for full blown war with Cuba, and the meticulously researched and convincingly dramatised biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, the plot alternates as the two stories converge, in a similar but not quite the same structure as the previously mentioned V.. Jack Ruby, who is the main character of a few sections, is also richly fleshed out. There is also a third story, arguably a frame narrative of sorts, though it first appears a good way into the novel rather than at the beginning, in which a CIA archivist is piecing together the events surrounding the assassination.

DeLillo's writing style, as usual, jumps deftly between poignant psychological insights, colloquial banter, and deadpan absurdism that can be both hilarious and depressing at the same time. His "biography" of Oswald shows off his rich characterisation abilities, and delivers a very complex character, neither a monster or a hero, a weird and insecure guy who doesn't really know what he's doing, but finds himself at odds with American society because of his communist political leanings. As he is drawn into an unfolding plot, the designers of which find him to be a near perfect match for their projected shooter/patsy, his ability to balance family and politics, which are ever in conflict, is steadily demolished. I won't go into detail about the book's depiction of the Oswald family, but the way DeLillo eschews sensationalist conspiracy theory fiction in favour of keenly observed domestic scenes to build the foundations of Oswald's character, his tether to the real world, is well worth mentioning as one of the book's strongest elements.

The book weaves its themes together convincingly. These are dense and multi-layered, but the idea of Libra, scales, balance between opposing forces, a mediating influence between them, is applied to almost everything. The book makes a great deal of coincidence, personal agency, and the ineluctable modality* of history. Oswald himself is presented as someone who is trying to escape history but is at the same time drawn to the romanticism of fate. He is taken in by the manic David Ferrie, who is obsessed with fate and astrology, and claims to find Oswald intriguing because of his star sign, Libra. It is never clear how much of Ferrie's interest in Oswald is guided by the personal vs. his involvement with the Kennedy plot, but this sort of ambiguity of motive is the book's bread and butter. It is a highly engaging and thoughtful book that is beautifully constructed, and I recommend it muchly.

*just started my second attempt at James Joyce's Ulysses
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on August 23, 2017, 01:04:07 PM
James Joyce - Ulysses

640 pages of sheer tedium dressed up in myriad literary styles, linguistic and structural games, and references to literature, history, myth, and whatever else. Very clever but impossibly boring.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Ghost Spaghetti on August 24, 2017, 08:16:01 AM
Refugee Tales Edited by David Herd & Anna Pincus
(http://commapress.co.uk/books/refugee-tales/refugee_cover_with-drop-shadow.jpg/image%2Fspan3)

A collection of short stories, vignettes, and poems about life for a modern-day asylum seeker in Britain.

The idea of the book is to be a modern take on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, so all the pieces are titled things like 'The Detainees Tale' or 'The Appellant's Tale' if that was where the Chaucerian links ended I'd be happy with it, unfortunately some of the authors have decided to write their pieces in Chaucer's style, or they merge the modern-day stories with Chaucer's stories. Unfortunately, these stylistic choices sometimes overwhelm the substance of the stories they're trying to tell. Which is a shame, because in an age when refugees are increasingly viewed with suspicion, anger, and hostility, making sure that their stories and experiences are told as clearly and as loudly as possible is vital.

That said, when the writing shines it is very effective at getting people's stories across and introducing people to the Kafkaesque nightmare of Britain's detention system where people who have lived in the country legally for thirty years can be snatched in the dead of night and driven to deportation centres based on a flimsy evidence. There, detainees can be held for hours, days, weeks, or years, without ever leave to appeal.

In the end, this is a book that is worth reading, but I just wish that the authors could have puled back from literary showboating and simply told the tales as they heard them
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on September 03, 2017, 06:16:02 PM
Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Not bad. I find Atwood's prose style a little grating, it's a clumsy would-be witty style that doesn't flow all that well for me, and falls over into poetics too often, struggling to maintain the first person voice. It also suffers from the 1984 problem of clearing everything up with an epilogue, if it had ended where it seems like it should it would have been much more impactful for its ambiguity. Some of the Christian derived stuff seems silly to me, but maybe that's just a matter of contemporaneity, today it seems far more likely that unchecked growth of Islam would give rise to such a dystopia in the west. Overall I liked it, but I don't quite get the hype.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on September 04, 2017, 09:14:28 PM
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

An amazing story crafted by a wonderful writer I had never encountered before. She has an amazing talent of transporting people in to the scene's she creates and it gives the narrative an intense momentum and impact. Couple that with her willingness to explore extreme circumstances and you have a story that is very moving.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on September 16, 2017, 01:41:05 AM
Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


I finally got around to reading the Harry Potter series over the past 10 months or so due to SU's demands. Goblet of Fire is probably my favorite installment. A bit too much to review in a single post, but at least I understand pop culture more now.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Kirito on October 24, 2017, 08:59:40 PM
I’ve always liked Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 05, 2018, 08:10:10 PM
For whomever may be interested, I wrote a blog post (https://cazoozerdon.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/a-few-novels-of-some-personal-significance/) talking about a few of my favourite novels.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Cain on January 22, 2018, 06:25:13 PM
I really liked Wolfhound Century. It may not be a classic, but it has some pretty good twists. And yes, I know this is a dead thread, i just don't particularly care
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on January 23, 2018, 11:55:34 PM
It's not dead, just sleeping.

I just started on Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, as in the sequel to Titus Groan, not the series which is often confusingly referred to by the same name as the second book in it.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on January 25, 2018, 05:41:40 PM
Tad Williams - Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

I've been re-reading this series. I think Shadowmarch might be my favorite series of his, but this one is great too. The War of the Flowers was a little too weird for me.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on March 06, 2018, 06:03:31 PM
‘Sundown Towns’
By James Loewen

Perhaps the best history of Jim Crow because it covers the pervasiveness of racism throughout the United States from the end of Reconstruction until today including especially the North, the Midwest, and the far west USA and includes racism against Chinese and why Chinatowns were first formed in major western cities. It constitutes a devastating history of white america.

By the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me which was its publisher’s best ever seller.

If your looking for an author that really delves into race without holding back, then James Loewen is your man.

https://sundown.tougaloo.edu
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on March 20, 2018, 07:37:29 PM
A description by the author and discussion of the above book in a Washington, DC bookstore:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8lTVjdLR4E
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on May 01, 2018, 10:04:11 AM
I recently finished reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, I wrote a little blog post (https://cazoozerdon.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/some-thoughts-on-the-name-of-the-rose/) about it.

Also, I'm writing what is looking to be a pretty long review of Ready Player One, which I read over the past few days. It is not a good book.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Cain on May 01, 2018, 11:58:17 AM
I recently finished reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, I wrote a little blog post (https://cazoozerdon.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/some-thoughts-on-the-name-of-the-rose/) about it.

Also, I'm writing what is looking to be a pretty long review of Ready Player One, which I read over the past few days. It is a good book.
Fixed.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on June 29, 2018, 03:18:20 AM
Divergent
Insurgent
Allegiant

A coming-of-age series about angsty teens growing up in a dystopia separated by groups (factions). Various infighting, senseless slaughtering, big brother, etc. Not bad. Apparently they made movies that were terrible though.


The Giver

A well-written story hitting on some heavy themes (also set in a dystopia). Loss of innocence, more big brother, and some real fucked up shit. 9/10.


I actually did these on audio book. I have a long commute to work and got tired of AM sports radio.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: rooster on July 02, 2018, 03:24:24 PM
The Giver was one of my first favorite books. I remember going through that one in a single day as a young lass. Good stuff. And I still love dystopian themes.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Dionysios on August 07, 2018, 03:47:55 AM
Just got ‘Rock and Sand’ by Josiah Trenham. I haven’t read it yet, but this interview of him about the book is the best presentation I’ve ever heard about Protestantism from the Orthodox Christian perspective. Although Orthodox himself, the interviewer asks good tough questions like a well informed Protestant might.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piVdrtgo7Xw
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on November 10, 2018, 09:25:56 AM
Also, I'm writing what is looking to be a pretty long review of Ready Player One, which I read over the past few days. It is not a good book.

Oh, yeah, finally got around to finishing that one (https://cazoozerdon.wordpress.com/2018/11/10/book-review-ready-player-one/). I owe a huge thanks to Snupes for encouraging me to keep working on it beyond the original draft, I think it turned out pretty well.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jeppspace on April 09, 2019, 08:42:38 PM
Grabbing up some TinTin lately. Finally acquired the whole series. Only two left to read.

Oh also, the poems of Zoroaster. I indeed like him.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on April 09, 2019, 08:57:33 PM
Finished Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Starting to think I just don't find SF particularly impressive. This was overlong and most of the stories (it's modelled after The Canterbury Tales) are boring pulp with the occasional explosion of ultraviolence. "The Priest's Tale" and "The Scholar's Tale" were very good, however.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on April 09, 2019, 11:33:09 PM
i've been on a john lecarre kick.

i've finished a murder of quality and a call for the dead, both george smiley novels.  i really liked them.  slow burn spy thriller/murder mystery done quite well imo.  i still need to read the spy who came in from the cold as i hear it tells mundt's backstory.

just started the first book of the karla trilogy, tinker tailor soldier spy.  when i finish i'll leave my review in the prearranged dead drop.

also: george, seriously bro, stop letting ann back into your life.  she's just gonna leave again.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Benjamin Franklin on May 16, 2019, 08:22:29 PM
Just finished reading Snow Crash, at the recommendation of Junker.

Really great book. Mixes a lot of eclectic topics into a nice read.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on May 16, 2019, 09:58:45 PM
I'm about halfway through the 1200 page U.S.A. trilogy by John Dos Passos. It's basically about working class people, labour movements, anarchists etc. in early 1900s America. It's good but can be quite confusing because it shifts around through so many different characters and times and places, and some of the chapters are like fragmented first person memory narratives, while others are literally made out of cuts from newspaper headlines and articles. Enjoying it so far.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on May 16, 2019, 10:38:02 PM
Just finished reading Snow Crash, at the recommendation of Junker.

Really great book. Mixes a lot of eclectic topics into a nice read.

Well done, Franklin. It is time for Neuromancer.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: WellRoundedIndividual on May 17, 2019, 11:14:14 AM
I love Neuromancer! Great Cyberpunk.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Rama Set on May 17, 2019, 11:17:14 AM
Then Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and you will leave no cyberpunk trope unturned.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: WellRoundedIndividual on May 17, 2019, 12:50:46 PM
I have read excerpts of Sheep. I took a bunch of Lit classes in college. Reading is one of my favorite things to do. I tend to favor Fantasy fiction over Sci-Fi - my dad read us the Hobbit and the Sword of Shannara when I was 6 or so. I was hooked after that.

My favorite series of all time is the Wheel of Time - and I am anticipating great things for the Amazon screen adaptation.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on May 17, 2019, 03:24:46 PM

For Fantasy, I would recommend The Malazan Book of The Fallen by Steven Erikson, dense, complicated and a damn good read.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: junker on May 17, 2019, 03:29:02 PM
Then Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and you will leave no cyberpunk trope unturned.

Indeed. You will wonder why you ever wasted your time watching Blade Runner after that... But it is easy to fall down the PKD rabbit hole, which I did. There are only a couple of his novels I haven't read yet.

Actually, Franklin, put A Scanner Darkly on your list. Then, when you are done reading it, get lit af and watch the animated movie. You'll thank me.

Also, get yourself a SegaCD emulator and acquire Snatcher. Then your Cyperpunk life will be mostly complete.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Jura-Glenlivet on May 17, 2019, 03:55:56 PM
Then Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and you will leave no cyberpunk trope unturned.

 Then your Cyperpunk life will be mostly complete.

Not without Slaughtermatic by Steve Aylett.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Cain on May 17, 2019, 08:44:38 PM

For Fantasy, I would recommend The Malazan Book of The Fallen by Steven Erikson, dense, complicated and a damn good read.
I'm reading that now, in fact. About halfway through Deadhouse Gates. Pretty good so far, but I wish that Erikson didn't introduce a new cast of characters for this one. Kindof sucks, considering I prefer the characters from book one.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: garygreen on May 29, 2019, 03:34:08 AM
i finished tinker tailor soldier spy.  the book is significantly better than the 2011 movie, especially the jim prideaux plotline.

i think i'm gonna take a pause from george smiley and the karla trilogy.  gonna read some sci-fi next.
Title: Re: FES Book Club
Post by: Crudblud on June 26, 2019, 07:39:26 PM
I'm about halfway through the 1200 page U.S.A. trilogy by John Dos Passos. It's basically about working class people, labour movements, anarchists etc. in early 1900s America. It's good but can be quite confusing because it shifts around through so many different characters and times and places, and some of the chapters are like fragmented first person memory narratives, while others are literally made out of cuts from newspaper headlines and articles. Enjoying it so far.
This was very good overall. Massive time investment, and not one I'm sure I'd be willing to make again, but it is a real achievement with great pathos. I definitely don't rate Dos Passos as highly as someone like Faulkner, and it's easy to see why he fell into relative obscurity compared to writers like Faulkner and Steinbeck, but as a social document of the US in the first couple of decades of the 20th century, I can't think of a contemporary of Dos Passos who was doing anything as broad or as deep.

Much shorter, only taking me a few days, was Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip, which is basically about people going crazy on a colonised Mars. I like PKD's stories, his ideas and the things he has happen to his characters are very cool, but he is a pretty bad prose stylist. Overall I really enjoyed this, though.