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2cents

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One more thing @Suv666, I’d avoid any work that is just using the Crusades to push an agenda about modern day relations between Islam and the West/Clash of Civilizations, etc. It’s a really weird, bizarre and fascinating period that needs to be understood in its own context, authors who try to relate it to modern issues just end up obscuring things.
 

Suv666

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One more thing @Suv666, I’d avoid any work that is just using the Crusades to push an agenda about modern day relations between Islam and the West/Clash of Civilizations, etc. It’s a really weird, bizarre and fascinating period that needs to be understood in its own context, authors who try to relate it to modern issues just end up obscuring things.
Thanks for your suggestions mate.
Yeah often reading about contentious issues like the Crusades its hard to find an unprejudiced account which is entertaining at the same time.
I'll give Tyerman a go but at first glance it looks too dry for me. I've enjoyed more impenetrable books though, so who knows
 

oneniltothearsenal

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Actually that does sound less daunting if the books are quite distinct and I can mix in the odd other book to break it up. I have a mental block about opportunity cost if I read a super-long book, ie I could have read two or three others in the meantime.

Give us a review if you do go for the Murata.

@Nickosaur will have a look at Last Evenings on Earth, thanks.
So I read Convenience Store Woman and I loved it.

A refreshing original voice. It's really short (less than 200 pages) and it goes by quickly but that doesn't take away the quality. It's what I call a low-stakes epic. No mass murder or political corruption or starships but it's the type of novel that constantly makes you think and empathize while also being wonderfully entertaining.

I would absolutely recommend reading this in between more dark and gritty works as it's the perfect balance to something intense. I really can't praise the voice and how she develops Keiko enough. The book says so much from just Keiko's point of view.

Definitely give it go, especially in between books of 2666 ;)
 

2cents

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Thanks for your suggestions mate.
Yeah often reading about contentious issues like the Crusades its hard to find an unprejudiced account which is entertaining at the same time.
I'll give Tyerman a go but at first glance it looks too dry for me. I've enjoyed more impenetrable books though, so who knows
I just finished it last night. It’s packed with detail, and in parts assumes a knowledge of medieval European politics, terminology, etc. which I didn’t always have. On balance I really enjoyed it and the general approach Tyerman took. But I can’t pretend that some parts weren’t a bit of a struggle, especially around the Second Crusade. Once I got to the Third Crusade I breezed through most of the rest.
 

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One more thing @Suv666, I’d avoid any work that is just using the Crusades to push an agenda about modern day relations between Islam and the West/Clash of Civilizations, etc. It’s a really weird, bizarre and fascinating period that needs to be understood in its own context, authors who try to relate it to modern issues just end up obscuring things.
The First World War and the fight against the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent divvying up of the Middle-East between the UK and the French is a major cause of the troubles in the Middle East. Read any book on Lawrence of Arabia for the details.

Read ‘A Year at the Circus’ by John Sopel concerning twelve months at the Trump Disneyland aka the White House. If only half of it is true it just shows how the American people have been duped by this egotistic, lying muppet. The prospect of four more years is scary.
 

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So I read Convenience Store Woman and I loved it.

A refreshing original voice. It's really short (less than 200 pages) and it goes by quickly but that doesn't take away the quality. It's what I call a low-stakes epic. No mass murder or political corruption or starships but it's the type of novel that constantly makes you think and empathize while also being wonderfully entertaining.

I would absolutely recommend reading this in between more dark and gritty works as it's the perfect balance to something intense. I really can't praise the voice and how she develops Keiko enough. The book says so much from just Keiko's point of view.

Definitely give it go, especially in between books of 2666 ;)
That was quick! That's really good to hear, thanks, glad you loved it. I'd built up pretty high expectations in my head, so good to hear it lives up to them.

Also, it will continue my slow diversification away from books by dead pre-war white English men. 2666 is on the list!
 
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I just finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult which has been sitting on my shelf since at least 2018.

The story centers around an AA female nurse who, during a routine check of a newborn, is accosted by the baby's father, who is openly a white supremacist, and he essentially instructs the nurse's supervisor that he doesn't want an AA person touching his baby. Stunningly, the supervisor complies and instructs the nurse to swap patients with a white nurse. Baby tragically dies whilst still in hospital care. Racist father accuses AA nurse of killing his baby. Nurse is first suspended, then arrested as the hospital chose to protect themselves against a hefty lawsuit and so they throw the nurse to the wolves. Story goes on, things happen, and the nurse eventually winds up on trial for murder, represented by a white female public defender doing her first ever murder trial. They clash at first but form a bond, and after some decent lawyering, she winds up beating the case and eventually opens her own medical clinic and lives happily thereafter

I don't know whether I would recommend this book. Premise of the story is fine, but I always have a problem when every character is just a walking stereotype, like a really extreme version of that type of person. It also has no business being 500 pages, it could have been at least 100 pages shorter.

It earns some bonus points because it did somewhat attempt to tackle racism, especially towards the end during the trial there were some passages about race relations in America that I really liked. Overall, it was just okay. I'm glad I read it, but nothing particularly special or poignant that will stay with me.
 
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Tiber

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I would like to read the Witcher books, but I have heard that they are a hard read. Im not sure that means they are badly written or issued caused by the translation.
 

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I would like to read the Witcher books, but I have heard that they are a hard read. Im not sure that means they are badly written or issued caused by the translation.
Depends. If you let a lot of time pass between books then sure, they might be difficult i guess

Read them one after the other and they're really not, at all
 

Vidyoyo

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I finished Point Omega this week, which I vaguely remember reading a few years ago.

This is peak late Delillo, make no mistake about it. He's not interested in plot; he's interested in unravelling the psyche of trauma and how people adjust to losing control.

This comes through the character of Elster, a former Pentagon employee involved in foreign conflict whose daughter goes missing on a vacation trip.

There's angst but no drama. Elster is helpless and unable to wrought control from the escalating mystery; a lot like how we must divorce ourselves from the horror of war.

There's also a character who dreams of nothing more than filming a man standing against a wall. Not sure what it's about but Delillo talked a lot about performance art during this period (e.g. The Body Artist).

It's sandwiched by trips to a museum to watch a 24-hour version Psycho. The voyeurism of a spectacle slowed down to a point that it's unrecognizable. We're seeing things in new ways.

He's got a new book coming out this month, The Silence.
 

Nickosaur

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He's got a new book coming out this month, The Silence.
Nice. Although I feel I need to read a few more Delillo novels before I try his latest one. I've only read White Noise, Mao II and Libra. Great Jones Street and The Names are next on my list.
Sounds like Point Omega is definitely worth a read too.
 

Suv666

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I would like to read the Witcher books, but I have heard that they are a hard read. Im not sure that means they are badly written or issued caused by the translation.
I've only read the first two they were light reads. Maybe it gets more complex when the main story kicks in.
 

BD

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Just finished The Handmaid's Tale. Found it dragged a bit, but overall was pretty good. Not amazing though.
 

Vidyoyo

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Nice. Although I feel I need to read a few more Delillo novels before I try his latest one. I've only read White Noise, Mao II and Libra. Great Jones Street and The Names are next on my list.
Sounds like Point Omega is definitely worth a read too.
Sorry, I got distracted by work when I first saw this.

Point Omega is a lean novel and a little more abstract than it is coherent (so, in some respects, similar to Mao II and much less like Libra). I was reading an interview yesterday and apparently he wasn't too pleased with it, though I personally like it more than the book that came after (Zero K).

The Names is good. I definitely recommend that.

My personal favourite is Endzone. Nobody talks about it but it's a really funny novel (and if you liked White Noise then I think you'd enjoy it).

Weirdly, I'm still not enamored by Underworld which gets a lot of buzz. I think it's too long and that Delillo does better concentrating his ideas down.

I bought The Players in Waterstones yesterday. Having a bit of a Delillo binge :drool:
 

Suv666

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Read Yuvi Herrera's Signs Preceding The End Of The World. A short but incredibly moving story about a woman who enters the US illegally to look for her brother.
 

Nickosaur

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Sorry, I got distracted by work when I first saw this.

Point Omega is a lean novel and a little more abstract than it is coherent (so, in some respects, similar to Mao II and much less like Libra). I was reading an interview yesterday and apparently he wasn't too pleased with it, though I personally like it more than the book that came after (Zero K).

The Names is good. I definitely recommend that.

My personal favourite is Endzone. Nobody talks about it but it's a really funny novel (and if you liked White Noise then I think you'd enjoy it).

Weirdly, I'm still not enamored by Underworld which gets a lot of buzz. I think it's too long and that Delillo does better concentrating his ideas down.

I bought The Players in Waterstones yesterday. Having a bit of a Delillo binge :drool:
Cheers for your thoughts mate, much appreciated.
 

oneniltothearsenal

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I read The Silence this week and thought it was really good but felt more like a novella than a novel. It's super short (took me less than 2 hours to read it). and is more a riff on ideas than a complete story. I need to read some more Delillo now. I've read White Noise, The Names, Running Dog and Players plus some of his short stories. Thinking about reading Underworld or Libra after the three books currently on my in-progress list.
 

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Signs Preceding The End Of The World
Interesting. I've had it on my to-read list for years and you're the first person I've heard mention it since I put it on there.

I read The Silence this week and thought it was really good but felt more like a novella than a novel. It's super short (took me less than 2 hours to read it). and is more a riff on ideas than a complete story. I need to read some more Delillo now. I've read White Noise, The Names, Running Dog and Players plus some of his short stories. Thinking about reading Underworld or Libra after the three books currently on my in-progress list.
Yeah, I've heard it's super short, which is okay by me as I think Delillo is better when writing shorter content.

Underworld, despite its plaudits, is a bit too long IMO. It feels like an amalgamation of ideas he used for other novels.
 
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oneniltothearsenal

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Interesting. I've had it on my to-read list for years and you're the first person I've heard mention it since I put it on there.

Is it out now where you are? Amazon aren't sending it my way until the 29th...
Yeah, it just came out this last Tuesday.
 

Suv666

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Reading Clark and Adrain Levy's Deception: Pakistan, The United States and the Global Nuclear Conspiracy. This is my third Clark and Levy book after Exile and Meadow. Its just as good if not better than those two. The amount of detail in it is breathtaking although slightly overwhelming at times.
Investigative journalism doesnt get any better than Clark and Levy, unbelievably gifted journalists.
 

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Been finally reading a lot more recently but peering into this thread I don't think I'm as high brow as some of these sound.

Finished Dune, Flowers For Algernon and most recently James O'Brien's latest book in the last few weeks. Enjoyed them all. Not sure where to start next as I have so many on my shelf.

Thinking about getting my gf a book for Christmas. Does anyone have any suggestions? She enjoys books about real life issues and things.

Previously she's read:

Girl, Woman, Other
Olive - Emma Gannon
The Body Keeps The Score

And looks like she's currently reading Me & White Supremacy.
 

Nickosaur

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In the last month I've read Melancholy of Resistance and Satantango by Laszlo K.

I really liked Melancholy, but I absolutely loved Satantango. Possibly goes into my top 10 books.
 

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Started reading Man's Search for Meaning the other day. Seems quite ridiculous to say, but god the holocaust is a grim read. But still, a very interesting book.
 

oneniltothearsenal

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Been finally reading a lot more recently but peering into this thread I don't think I'm as high brow as some of these sound.

Finished Dune, Flowers For Algernon and most recently James O'Brien's latest book in the last few weeks. Enjoyed them all. Not sure where to start next as I have so many on my shelf.

Thinking about getting my gf a book for Christmas. Does anyone have any suggestions? She enjoys books about real life issues and things.

Previously she's read:

Girl, Woman, Other
Olive - Emma Gannon
The Body Keeps The Score

And looks like she's currently reading Me & White Supremacy.
You might try one of these from Amy Krouse Rosenthal:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39872.Encyclopedia_of_an_Ordinary_Life
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27833861-textbook-amy-krouse-rosenthal
 

Jippy

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In the last month I've read Melancholy of Resistance and Satantango by Laszlo K.

I really liked Melancholy, but I absolutely loved Satantango. Possibly goes into my top 10 books.
I preferred War and War to Satantango. Melancholy is on the list.
Reading 100 Years of Solitude currently. Remarkable number of interwoven stories going on, the odd ones dipping into the mystical and sounding like tales from Greek mythology.
The writing really flows, very evocative descriptions and happily I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would.
 

Nickosaur

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I preferred War and War to Satantango. Melancholy is on the list.
Reading 100 Years of Solitude currently. Remarkable number of interwoven stories going on, the odd ones dipping into the mystical and sounding like tales from Greek mythology.
The writing really flows, very evocative descriptions and happily I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would.
That's on the xmas list haha. Glad you enjoyed it, can't wait to dig in.
100 Years is a remarkable book. I also recently read Chronicle of a Death Foretold which is nowhere near as grand in scale but an equally fascinating and beautiful book which I adored.
 

Jippy

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That's on the xmas list haha. Glad you enjoyed it, can't wait to dig in.
100 Years is a remarkable book. I also recently read Chronicle of a Death Foretold which is nowhere near as grand in scale but an equally fascinating and beautiful book which I adored.
Interesting you had Satantango above Melancholy- @oneniltothearsenal had them the other way round.

With 100 years, I was wary of the magic realism, but it's not pervasive throughout the novel and works well when it is incorporated.
Will check out Chronicle, cheers.
 

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Ok this type of question has probably been asked loads but whatever! Can anyone recommend me a few of their favourite standalone Sci-fi books? I've read a bunch of the classic series (Dune, Hyperion Cantos, Foundation, Sprawl Trilogy, Enders Saga), but what I'd really love is to get a handful of nice standalone novels. I've read hardly any so you can recommend anything even if it's an obvious choice. I was thinking of trawling through the Hugo/Nebula/Arthur C Clarke awards to get some inspiration :lol: Atm I'm reading Children of Time and quite enjoying it! I
 

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The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. It belong to a series but its books can be read in any order. I read the first one at first and didn't like it at all, the Left Hand is on a different level.

And I don't really remember any recent SF standalone I like. The Martian was interesting. I like too Lock in by Scalzi but it has become a 2-novel series even if I don't like as much the second one.
 

Jippy

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I hit 52 for the year last month, just not gotten round to posting it. Was pretty easy in the end, but in future I wouldn't only read novels -I've missed non-fiction. Also I need to get up to speed with modern writers after filling in loads of gaps on the classics front.
Blood meridian was my favourite. She is the most execrable thing in print, avoid at all costs.

1. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of champions
2. Evelyn Waugh, Handful of dust
3. George Orwell, Burmese days
4. Philip K. Dick, Cosmic puppets
5. Cormac McCarthy, Blood meridian
6. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse five
7. Hilary Mantel, The giant, O’Brien
8. Ian McEwan, The child in time
9. HG Wells, The history of Mr Polly
10. Graham Greene, Travels with my aunt
11. Ian McEwan, The cement garden
12. Samanta Schweberlin, Fever dream
13. Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
14. Albert Camus, The outsider
15. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The great Gatsby
16. Evelyn Waugh, When the going was good
17. H. Ryder Haggard, She
18. John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire
19. Edgar Allen Poe, The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
20. Graham Greene, Our man in Havana
21. HG Wells, The invisible man
22. Denis Diderot, The nun
23. Albert Camus, The fall
24. Cormac McCarthy, Child of God
25. John Steinbeck, The grapes of wrath
26. Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
27. John Buchan, The thirty-nine steps
28. JG Ballard, Crash
29. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and punishment
30. Kurt Vonnegut, Mother night
31. Hilary Mantel, Every day is Mother’s Day
32. John Steinbeck, Of mice and men
33. Charles Dickens, Great expectations
34. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
35. Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
36. Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
37. László Krasznahorkai, Satantango
38. William Faulkner, As I lay dying
39. Jane Austen, Emma
40. Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
41. Charles Dickens, Hard times
42. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
43. Philip K. Dick, Ubik
44. László Krasznahorkai, War and war
45. Virgina Woolf, The waves
46. Colette, Claudine married
47. Thomas Hardy, Under the greenwood tree
48. Margaret Atwood, The handmaid’s tale
49. Margaret Atwood, The testaments
50. Iris Murdoch, The bell
51. Sylvia Plath, The bell jar
52. Sayaka Murata, Convenience store woman

A few more since:
John le Carré, A most wanted man, bit meh
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 100 years of solitude, excellent
Nikolai Gogol, Dead souls
Evelyn Waugh, Scoop
 

Nickosaur

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Congrats Jippy, good list!
Was this just reading books? any audiobooks?
I'm attempting 30 this year and it's going to be tight!
 

BD

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"Finished" Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (didn't actually finish it, got over half way through but wasn't bothered with the rest). Found it pretty decent at the start but quickly settled into boringness. Oh well
 

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Anyone recommend some books by current relevant left-leaning intellectual journalists and authors in the ilk of Hitchens but still alive?
 
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Jippy

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Finally just read On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I'd put it off for years on end, fearing it might be a dull long hippy '60s acid trip.

It's not what I expected at all and is excellent though. I didn't realise it's actually a (semi-fictional) account of his road trips in 1947-48, albeit published a decade later. In my mind's eye I had a picture of life immediately post-war being grey, staid and austere, particularly in England, but On The Road paints quite a different picture. There is still plenty of hardship, but it's an interesting whirlwind tour of the US, touching on segregation at the margins, although in no depth, but it's the scale of the partying that is an eye-opener. I love the way everyone is up for anything and it actually sounded an amazing time to be young in.
 

oneniltothearsenal

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Anyone read Tony and Susan by Austin Wright?

I'm loving it.