Author Topic: What Are You Reading Now  (Read 1413 times)

Bill Wyatt

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Duriora Virtus
    • View Profile
    • bwyatt.com
What Are You Reading Now
« on: October 01, 2016, 02:45:34 PM »
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I tried to read this a few years ago. It's about a thousand pages I think and the print on the paperback I was reading was so small I just couldn't see it. Finally quit trying. Then the movie (Part 1) came out and I saw that after it became available on TV. The movie didn't move me. In fact, it was so un-impressionable on me I can't remember much about it. Finally got the book on Kindle and I'm a hundred or so pages in. So far I like it... but who the heck is John Galt?

[ATTACH=CONFIG]35[/ATTACH]
It's a happy enchilada... (John Prine)

Solon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1326
    • View Profile
What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2016, 02:34:39 AM »
A recent favorite of mine is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was a finalist for the National Book Award a couple of years ago and I can see why. It is a beautiful story that details the experiences of a German boy and a French girl who briefly meet during WWII. The boy is an orphan and the girl becomes blind as a child. Sounds depressing doesn't it? Don't believe it. It is poignant, but beautifully written.

The story brings them together briefly, but the connections reverberate far into the future. In my old age I read quite a bit both fiction and nonfiction. This is well worth your time if you appreciate literary skill combined with a superb story line centered on the WWII era.
On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
...H. L. Mencken

Solon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1326
    • View Profile
What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2017, 07:30:55 PM »
I recently finished, Earthly Remains, another book in the crime series by Donna Leon. She is an expatriate American who fell in love with Venice, lives there when the tourist season tolerates it, and has made a career of writing about its modern political quirks through the character of Commissario Brunetti. I, too, fell in love with Venice after a typical daytripper visit and have been back for longer stays on several occasions. That alone would explain my devotion to Brunetti even though he shows little regard for typical American methods. Leon omits the features that characterize most American crime fiction with which I am familiar: on the page sex, multiple acts of violence, machismo language, and lots of head-butting. Instead she presents a cerebral man with a healthy appreciation for Italian food, knowing affection for his two children, and devotion to his opinionated, professorial wife--an expert on Henry James. He is obsequious with a boss for whom he has a dim regard and connives with the elegant Signorina Elettra secretary to Vice-Questore Patta to investigate matters he would rather avoid. With those "failings" it makes no sense why the BBC, hence PBS, has never produced a series for Masterpiece Mystery. If they can do it for Kurt Wallander, why not Guido Brunetti? The Germans did a series years ago. I don't get it.

The political observations are always biting which explains why Leon refuses to publish in Italian. She doesn't want to wear out her welcome in what is a remarkably small city given its historical significance. To Americans, of course, Venice has no historical significance at all. Even as a graduate student in modern European history, we totally ignored Venice. It was a nonentity that surrendered to Napoleon without a fight and which he contemptuously gave away to Austria...part of a wedding exchange I supposed. If you look further back in time, however, Venice was a major player in commercial and political affairs in Europe and Italy, in particular. For over a thousand years, 787 to 1797, Venice was a commercial republic in a world of monarchs. We could learn something from the ways the Grand Council prevented the Doge from usurping legislative power.

The issues in the series, however local they may first appear, are actually universal, and Leon's/Brunetti's observations resonate in the good ole US of A with every crime, whether resolved or not. That is another feature of Leon's series. Sometimes the criminals are too well-connected to suffer for their misdeeds. Brunetti may get to the bottom of a murder, but the culprits may not be brought to justice. That seems down right unAmerican until you come to grips with, well, Trump's America. Self-serving corruption has always been a problem, but catastrophic is insufficient a term to describe the new normal. Still, that is not entirely fair. I could compare the dumping of poisonous chemicals into the lagoon by the industries of Margheera with my own recollection of days spent on the Smith River. I can remember it running red on occasion with fish kills too. No, it wasn't from divine intervention either...more like dyes from...take your choice. But, those days are gone, along with the industries. Taking a water taxi from the da Vinci airport to a hotel in Cannaregio, however, one can still see the smoke stacks of Margheera and anticipate new opportunities for Brunetti to apply his skills.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 11:48:40 PM by Solon »
On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
...H. L. Mencken

Common Sense

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
    • View Profile
What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2017, 08:18:50 AM »
I'm currently reading a classic:

"The Souls of Black Folks" by W.E.B. DuBois

An estounding piece of writing at a critical time in U.S. history. I was inspired to pick it up at the bookstore based on the fact of where civil rights is in the U.S. now. This was published right at the turn of the century (1903) and isn't a quick read due to the older English style of diction. This was a part of the start of the movement of the 'Talented Tenth' and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.

And yes, I am history nerd!
"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - POTUS #32

Bill Wyatt

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Duriora Virtus
    • View Profile
    • bwyatt.com
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2017, 09:00:16 PM »
Anyone recommend any good civil war books? Those based on true stories preferred.
It's a happy enchilada... (John Prine)

Common Sense

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
    • View Profile
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2017, 07:35:40 PM »
Bill I think you'd might like the Bernard Cornwell series 'Sharpes Army'. Its historical fiction, based around the Civil War. Its a very detailed account of the Civil War based on battles, army regiments, and mindsets. While the characters are fictional the history is real.

The 'Sharpe series' goes by company battles and is written in several year increments.

https://www.goodreads.com/series/40550-richard-sharpe-chronological-order
"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - POTUS #32

Bill Wyatt

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Duriora Virtus
    • View Profile
    • bwyatt.com
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2017, 07:40:39 PM »
Thanks! I'll put it on my list.
It's a happy enchilada... (John Prine)

Solon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1326
    • View Profile
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2017, 04:13:48 PM »
Anyone recommend any good civil war books? Those based on true stories preferred.

If you are looking for good civil war fiction, a classic is The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975 and describes the battle of Gettysburg. His son, Jeff Shaara, picked up the mantle and also wrote several novels on the civil war. He has subsequently written a number of books about other major US wars.   

Common Sense is quite correct to point you to Bernard Cornwell who may be the preeminent author of historical fiction still writing. His Starbuck Chronicles follow the exploits of a young Boston-born Confederate officer, Nathaniel Starbuck.
They are listed below in order of publication.
Rebel (1993)
Copperhead (1994)
Battle Flag (1995)
The Bloody Ground (1996)

The Shaara and Cornwell books are located in the Blue Ridge Regional Library system.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2017, 04:24:49 PM by Solon »
On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
...H. L. Mencken

Steven

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 380
    • View Profile
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2017, 08:29:29 PM »
I haven't read a book in a long time but when I was in high school in the late seventies I read a lot. My favorites were Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan.

jonas_24112

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2017, 11:11:16 AM »
I'm finally getting around to reading "Factory Man."  Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town. 

I worked for Bassett for a few years before they shuttered the plants here, so my being familiar with the characters, locations and some of the family lore makes it that much more interesting.  So far, it's a good read. 

Common Sense

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 471
    • View Profile
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2017, 10:02:42 AM »
Tonight I start 'American Lion' by Jon Meacham. This is a highly praised biography of President Andrew Jackson in his time in the White House.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3147367-american-lion

I bought it a couple months ago based on some fellow history, and politics, nerds. And just found out it will be turned into a mini-series on HBO!
"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - POTUS #32

Solon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1326
    • View Profile
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2017, 03:13:05 PM »
The Economist published an article recently that claimed you need to read their spy novels if you want to understand the Brits. If that is true I should be able to read them like a book which seems appropriate since I am reporting on John Le Carré's latest, A Legacy of Spies. If you want to read this book with the greatest pleasure, however, you should read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, one of Le Carré's earliest works. Heirs of people who died in the earlier book are suing the British government for causing their parents deaths. True, one was a spy and aware of the risks. But, his son believes he was set up and betrayed. The other death was an innocent young woman who became entangled in the affair by a web of deceit spun by the spymasters at the top of British intelligence. The faded hero of past and present is Peter Guillam, a protogé of George Smiley, the genius of British spymasters in the novels of Le Carré. The new book presents a generational dichotomy that is worthy of reflection regardless of your interest in spy novels or not.

MI-6 wants to vet Guillam before he faces a Parliamentary inquiry in hopes of limiting the damage to the service. It is their intention to throw Guillam to the lions if push comes to serve. First they need to find out what he knows, because the records have been hidden and what has been found needs verification. As it turns out, Guillam's dissembling is as necessary in this situation as if he were being interrogated by the Stasi. 

If you know the original storyline from The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, the book is particularly satisfying as Guillam weaves a thread of deception through the material uncovered by his successors on the operation. There are enough allusions to the events in the earlier book that you can understand A Legacy of Spies, but without the prior knowledge, it is less enjoyable to read. At the end of the book we are even treated to a meeting with George Smiley who reflects on the reasons they were willing to act as they did during the Cold War. Herein lies the generational divide I alluded to in the first paragraph. The present generation is looking to cash in on the deaths of their parents. The people who died were dedicated to "causes". They were committed to something greater than themselves. They were prepared to sacrifice, and they did. Yet, that sacrifice comes with considerable confusion and angst. No one ever seems quite certain about motives. It's all a bit grey...like the shadows they work in. Even the rationales that Smiley offers at the end of the book (including a not-so-subtle dig at Brexit) seem to be stated for effect and less than candid...as you would expect from the master.

For me, this is the most satisfying book Le Carré has written in many years. I first discovered him with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and became an avid fan thereafter. I would love more books in this vein, but Le Carré is 85 and I am not so young myself so this one I will especially savor.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 03:24:05 PM by Solon »
On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
...H. L. Mencken

Steven

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 380
    • View Profile
Re: What Are You Reading Now
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2017, 10:44:47 AM »
Right now I'm reading this forum.
I couldn't resist that one.