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Poster:plantgirl
Date:2011-08-30 02:11
Subject:Don Quixote?
Security:Public

Hokay...

Who has read Don Quixote?

I've made it through the first 18 chapters. There have been funny scenes & some great lines. Unfortunately I've only read 142 out of 1000+ pages & the book is already feeling forced. So I am wondering how much more I am going to have to endure of the rather obvious set-ups & (to me) embarrassing humor. (It went from funny to embarrassing about 2 beatings ago - apparently I have a low tolerance for "let's set up the delusional guy to do stupid things & get whomped for it.")

I'm trying to remind myself that it's a satire. If I understand the history correctly it's the earliest published mockery of the romantic action hero. I want to read it. It's a classic. It's one of the foundations of literature & had a huge impact on culture & language.

Do I keep going?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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Poster:plantgirl
Date:2011-08-21 16:37
Subject:Three Pines mystery series
Security:Public

It's been a while since I've discovered any new mystery series that I liked enough to dive into. This discovery happened because friend the 1st insisted friend the 2nd read a book that friend the 1st had just read & loved. Sadly, friend the 2nd doesn't much care for mysteries, but when he was done I scooped up the book & read it. I was conflicted, but I liked the book enough that I went to the library for the next title in the series - it at least deserved that much more attention. By the end of that month I had read 5 of the 6 titles that currently make up the series.

What's the series? The Three Pines/Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, by Louise Penny. They are mostly set in the small town of Three Pines, a bit out of Montreal.

The conflict: Penny's writing has some significant weaknesses. There are places where sentences are constructed poorly enough to jar me out of the story, or words slightly misused. Things that someone who is not a pedant might not notice, but that drive me batty.

So why do I like the books? It's the sort of small-town community & setting for which I have a gross weakness. Some of her characters are oddly compelling. Most of her characters turn out to be much more complex than they originally seem. Penny is good at allowing people both light & dark sides. And her plots are relatively well done. I've read a lot of mysteries. I'm at the point where I'm thinking of giving them up because it's hard to find plots where I don't know whodunit pretty quickly into the book. Penny is good at setting up enough probable suspects that I couldn't figure things out right away. That's a novel experience for me (hyuck hyuck).

So here's hoping that Louise Penny gets a better editor, & if you like small-town mysteries with eclectic characters & a psychological/dark edge, give 'em a try. The first title in the series is Still Life, followed by A Fatal Grace.

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Poster:plantgirl
Date:2008-01-05 13:16
Subject:sue grafton
Security:Public

Powells.com has a recent interview with Sue Grafton. So she really does mean to complete the series, and she really does think she mixes it up from book to book, and she really is going to keep Kinsey stuck in the 80s. Wow.

Forgive me for sounding a little skeptical. I think they are nice, solid, if rather predictable, books. I think Grafton leans too heavily on her protagonist being saved by a Deus ex machina, rather than by her own skill or wit. I get frustrated by the slow timeline, and the resulting stasis of the character's life. But I read them, all the same, and will do so through the end of the series.

What do you think of the Kinsey Millhone series?

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Poster:redzils
Date:2007-05-28 12:04
Subject:
Security:Public

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Poster:redzils
Date:2007-04-09 16:12
Subject:
Security:Public

I have been keeping a running tally of books read so far at my own journal: redzils.  It is a sticky post, so will show up as my most recent entry all year, if you are interested in books 1-42. 

Here is this week's tally:

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Poster:plantgirl
Date:2007-04-04 09:55
Subject:bookreporter.com
Security:Public

I just discovered a web site called Bookreporter.com. I'll have to track them for a few months to see what sort of things they discuss, and what I think of their picks, but my initial impression is favorable. They occasionally offer a few free, preview copies of a title to readers who are willing to read and comment on it. I sent an email asking for one. I'll let you know how it goes.

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Poster:joyce
Date:2007-02-22 09:27
Subject:non-murder mysteries?
Security:Public

Lately, I've been finding that reading murder mysteries is a touch depressing. I think I'm temporarily tired of reading about that much evil and about people dying (even if they're people who are just words on a page). Anyone got any good mysteries to recommend that aren't murder mysteries?

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Poster:redzils
Date:2007-02-18 16:40
Subject:
Security:Public

plantgirl suggested that this would be an appropriate place to cross-post this list....

Taking inspiration from joyce, I have decided to keep track of the books I read in 2007. I will be listing them in chronological order, so:

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Poster:diluvian
Date:2007-01-12 11:43
Subject:
Security:Public

Check this out: U.S. contest seeks to be "American Idol' of books

If online readers like the manuscript's first chapter, the author is voted through to the next round. Two more chapters are posted and the public narrows the field in the same fashion.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070111/wr_nm/books_competition_dc

Of course, "popular" books are very often utter dreck, but I'm intrigued.

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Poster:joyce
Date:2006-12-12 21:42
Subject:[series recommendation] Byrant & May
Security:Public

The Bryant and May series, by Christopher Fowler, features Arthur Bryant and John May, two 70-something year old detectives heading the Peculiar Crimes Unit in London, full of slightly odd cops that don't quite fit in at other units, solving crimes that (as their superiors like to remind them) don't really belong in today's world of gang wars and drug related murders. The series starts with Full Dark House, and I've read it and The Water Room so far. I liked Water better than House; I feel like Fowler was just getting his feet under the series in the first book, but you need to read it for the background on the characters and to understand their personalities. These books are richly detailed and darkly atmospheric, and meet my criteria for good mystery novels (must have interesting, engaging characters along with good crimes.) Highly recommended.

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Poster:thewitchesbwew
Date:2006-12-11 01:02
Subject:Ulysses
Security:Public
Mood: confused

Hey, all.

So I'm a big James Joyce fan, and I've finally made it to Ulysses. I've been looking forward to reading this book for years, and I've heard SO much about it, and I knew it would be challenging. But I'm now halfway through, and I'm still kind of...I dunno. I'm not exactly sure what it's about, and I know that's a pretty juvenile perspective, but I feel that, based on its reputation and what I know about James Joyce, there MUST be more to it than I'm getting out of it.

I'm sure I'll wind up reading it again years from now and understanding it better, and that's fine. There are plenty of books that I didn't appreciate the first time and later grew to love, and I'm not going to give up on this one just because I don't really "get" it.

But I was wondering if anyone who's read it before has any observations, suggestions, reviews, comments, or advice for getting the most out of it? I'd very much appreciate any help you can give.

Thanks a bunch in advance!

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Poster:joyce
Date:2006-11-26 22:13
Subject:books about books
Security:Public

I'm a sucker for books about books. This weekend, I finished The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, part memoir and part history about bookselling, which was a touch dry but mostly very interesting. I also recently inhaled Booked to Die, the first of a mystery series about a cop turned rare book dealer (highly readable, and highly recommended.) However, so far, my favorite books about books are the Thursday Next series, starting with The Eyre Affair. The series is very readable without having read Jane Eyre or the other books referenced, but the problem with reading books about books is that now I want to go and read Jane Eyre and Great Expectations and then go back and read the Thursday Next books again, so that I can get all of the in-jokes.

So, am I the only person with a thing for books about books? If not, what are your favorites?

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Poster:generalist
Date:2006-11-18 00:14
Subject:A short stack of books, with mini-reviews
Security:Public
Mood: calm

Hi!

I have read a few books recently, I tried to read several prize-winning books. Some of these are, some are not, I got a bit distracted. Anyway, here is what I think:

Author Title Comments
Bujold, Lois McMaster Paladin of Souls In the same world as (and more-or-less sequel to) The Curse of Chalion. This is the story of Ista, an ex-queen, good-hearted and well-intentioned but a secret accidental murderess. Now an overly-protected dowager. This is the story of her false pilgrimage (an attempt to get out from under too-protective relatives), that lands her in the middle of an unexpected little war. Good writing, fairly descriptive but not overly so. Decent plotting, though the ends tie up too neatly and far too quickly at the end of the book. I do not think it deserved the Hugo award it received in 2004 for best novel. I will definitely go get Chalion, since I have read in various places that it is better, and this one was certainly a good enough read to be worth a few bucks.
Bunch, Chris Firemask This is the second volume of a multi-volume series, though each volume stands on its own. It is science fiction (not sword-and-sorcery) war fiction, the ongoing story of the 'Lost Legion'. Here is the scene: Cumbre, a star system on the edge of human-controlled space has a ramshackle military force, and not-particularly-friendly neighbors, both of the human and non-human (sentient alien) kind. This book is the story of a rather half-hearted attempt by the alien Musth, who are bent on conquering or dominating all, to take Cumbre for their own. It is well thought-out, and really quite an enjoyable romp.
Jones, Edward P. The Known World This is a Pulitzer prize winning novel about the American South, set fairly late during the time of black slavery in the U.S. It is fundamentally not a story at all, though it has both a plot and characters. It is about an imaginary place, a county in Virginia that never was. But the stories of the characters and how they all encountered slavery are believable enough. As well-presented anecdotes about slavery, it rings true, and I am truly glad that I did not live in those times, whatever status I might have had.
Bear, Greg Darwin's Radio This one is well written, well thought out, and quite interesting. To understand it, it helps to have some idea both of the basic principles of science, and also of how science works in the real academic and commercial worlds. A bit of an understanding of politics helps, too. I will give you the big ideas in the book. Yes, these are spoilers, but they really don't matter since what is most interesting about this book, and this is quite rare for hard science fiction, is that the way it is told is more important than what is being told. The big ideas: Bureaucracy sucks. The next version of humanity is nigh. Evolution operates by storing up potential changes, then applying them all at once. Love is mysterious and conquers nearly all. Have I mentioned that political bureaucracy sucks? This book is not perfect, and there were several parts where perhaps I knew a little too much, and so had real trouble suspending my disbelief. I still recommend this book , and think it richly deserved the Nebula award it received in 2000.
Brin, David The Postman A post-apocalyptic classic about a traveler who ends up re-starting a postal service in a Western USA that is broken up into disconnected hamlets and survivalist brigands. He does it more or less by accident, and by so doing more-or-less saves the world. The book received prizes, it deserved them. Everyone else read it years ago, I heard all about how it was great, but somehow never read it. Now I have, I finally got around to it. This novel is still quite good, it still resonates. Recommended. But I know you've already read it, don't kid me.
pictures of booksCollapse )

Cheers! generalist

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Poster:diluvian
Date:2006-11-16 17:12
Subject:
Security:Public

Going with the "Discussions about anything book/author-related" clause, I give you:

http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester

Unsuggester takes "people who like this also like that" and turns it on its head. It analyzes the seven million books LibraryThing members have recorded as owned or read, and comes back with books least likely [emphasis mine] to share a library with the book you suggest. The unsuggestions come from LibraryThing data, not from Amazon. LibraryThing also produces great suggestions.

I haven't played extensively with this yet, but it's been fun so far.

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Poster:plantgirl
Date:2006-11-13 15:16
Subject:what are your favorite mystery series?
Security:Public

Like most of you, I'm a voracious reader. I have certain authors who are favorites. Over time they become what I refer to as "comfort authors." You know, for when you aren't feeling well, or you're stressed. You want to read something, but you don't want to have to think to hard, and you want to know the author will take care of you. You want comfort.

A year or two ago, I purged much of my library. Got rid of many of my books. I'll spare you the full discussion about what criteria I used. Let's just say that my comfort authors were kept. You don't want to be having a shitty day, go browse your shelves for something to take your mind off of it, and realize that you don't have it, do you? Here's my list of the mystery authors who made the cut:Collapse )

What authors do you make sure to keep on your shelves?

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Poster:joyce
Date:2006-11-11 22:44
Subject:[book review] Under Orders (Dick Francis, 2006)
Security:Public

For those of you who haven't been indoctrinated, Dick Francis is a prolific British writer of mysteries. They're all tied into racing in some form or fashion (though not always directly; the protagonist might be a race course photographer, or just own race horses, or have friends who do, or what have you), the protagonist is always male (and there is usually a different proagonist from book to book, though he's had two main characters that occasionally reappear), and he usually gets his girl. (Speaking of which, plantgirl, I know you read Francis; do you remember which one it what where the main character had the paralyzed wife? It's been bugging me lately, and I can't seem to find it.) His books are fun, lightweight, well researched, and, while they're always cut from the same mold, they're always different enough to be interesting.

Anyhow, Under Orders is Francis' first release in something like 6 years, and so I was very excited to get my hands on it; however, it just wasn't quite as good as I've come to expect from him. It felt like he was relying too much on exposition instead of letting the story move itself, which has never been an issue before; I felt too much like the author and his opinons were coming through, not the protagonist; and, it was the first time in the history of reading Francis (and I've read about half of his over 40 works of fiction) that I realized, two thirds of the way into the book, that I didn't care who the villan was.

I'm hoping that this is just a glitch, the result of spending six years without publishing a book. If you haven't read Francis before and you're a mystery lover, you should go forth and read, because he really is excellent, but this isn't the place to start.

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Poster:plantgirl
Date:2006-11-10 00:53
Subject:the giganimous stack
Security:Public

Okay, this is going to be absurd. First, I haven't done one of these in at least two months, so it's going to seem like I do nothing but read, when in fact I've been reading less than usual. Second, I have this bad habit of letting people hand me books to read. "Here, you'll like this," they say. "My stack of books to read is huge!" I protest. But it is vain & pointless, because I have already tucked the volume near my purse so I will remember to take it with me when I go.

Recently read:Collapse )

Currently open:Collapse )

In the stack:Collapse )

x-posted to stackofbooks

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Poster:zhaneel
Date:2006-10-20 19:04
Subject:Housekeeping vs. The Dirt
Security:Public

Some days, though I try desperately to restrict my library diet to only holds off of my to-read list, I wander around aimlessly looking for books that might drag themselves off the shelf and hitch a ride in my stack. Housekeeping vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby tagged me with its bright colors, small size and odd titling then used my distraction to finagle its way underneath a book on beads I had just been accosted by in the nonfiction aisles.

It's a book about reading books, metareading, if you're into that faux-intelligentsia nomenclature for our thought processes. Nick, the author of High Fidelity and A Long Way Down, writes a monthly column for The Believer and fourteen of these essays are reprinted as this book.

There's just something about his way of speaking, how he discusses Assassination Vacation (he has a bit role as "the smoker from London") then Man on the Moon, a children's book about an astronaut who commutes to the moon, then lambasts his own magazine for failing to appreciate books with negative emotion (shan't have any books like that in -this- magazine, don't you know) and replacing his column one month with pictures. Pictures! The horror.

To be very honest, it's a fine romp of a read. He's witty and entertaining, and who knows, you just might get a book recommendation or two out of it. Especially if you like thrillers.

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Poster:plantgirl
Date:2006-10-18 13:10
Subject:Reading novels linked with increased empathy
Security:Public

"'Oh! it is only a novel!' or, in short, only some work in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusion of wit and humour are to be conveyed to the world in the best chosen language." From Northanger Abbey (1818) by Jane Austen.

The more fiction a person reads, the more empathy they have and the better they perform on tests of social understanding and awareness. By contrast, reading more non-fiction, fact-based books shows the opposite association. That's according to Raymond Mar and colleagues who say their finding could have implications for educating children and adults about understanding others.

Finding out how much people read is always difficult because it's socially desirable for people to report that they read a lot. Mar and colleagues avoided this by asking 94 participants to identify the names of fiction and non-fiction authors embedded in a long list of names that also included non-authors. Prior research has shown this test correlates well with how much people actually read. Among the authors listed were Matt Ridley, Naomi Wolf (non-fiction), Toni Morrison and PD James(fiction).

The more authors of fiction that a participant recognised, the higher they tended to score on measures of social awareness and tests of empathy – for example being able to recognise a person's emotions from a picture showing their eyes only, or being able to take another person's perspective. Recognising more non-fiction authors showed the opposite association.

The researchers surmised that reading fiction could improve people’s social awareness via at least two routes – by exposing them to concrete social knowledge concerning the way people behave, and by allowing them to practice inferring people's intentions and monitoring people's relationships. Non-fiction readers, by contrast, “fail to simulate such experiences, and may accrue a social deficit in social skills as a result of removing themselves from the actual social world".

However, a weakness of the study is that the direction of causation has not been established – it might simply be that more empathic people prefer reading novels.
___________________________________

Mar, R.A., Oatley, K., Hirsh, J., dela Paz, J. & Peterson, J.B. (2006).
Bookworms versus nerds: exposure to fiction versus non-fiction, divergent associations with social ability, and the simulation of fictional social worlds. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 694-712.
Science Direct abstract, w/ links to full text.

x-posted to plantgirl

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Poster:zhaneel
Date:2006-10-17 02:37
Subject:A book recommendation / tracking engine
Security:Public

Out of all the book recommendation/book display websites out there, so far, I like Shelfari the best. I just finished uploading a file generated by my Delicious Library (which contains a good many of my books (about 80% of my fiction). I like it because it's been easy to use, plus it displays opinions and ratings in an easily viewed manner.

I'm (what else) zhaneel there, so if you're curious, have a look at what's on my shelves at home. :)

x-posted to stackofbooks and zhaneel

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