Books The BOOK thread

17Larsson

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Trying to get back in to reading for pleasure again after finishing my PhD and read a book a week this year (soft target, Infinite Jest is staring at me and if I tackle that I won't make it)

So far, I've polished off Life After Life by Kate Atkinson which I thought was fine and Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro which may be my favourite book of all time. Currently reading Kafka on the Shore.

I'm very open to suggestions though, I feel like I've got a real gapping hole of modern classics that I should read. Might have another pop at John Le Carre at some point but the jargon in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy lost me.
+1. Love me some Ishiguro.
+2. Never Let Me Go is one of my favourites of all time.


Just read I know This Much is True by Wally Lamb. Monster of a book, really well written. I loved it
 

The Corinthian

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Recently finished reading "The Humanity of Muhammad" by Dr Craig Considine. Interesting book, although fairly high level. He's a Christian scholar and theologian who's written a positive message on the commonality between Christianity and Islam.
 

BD

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For those of you who were recently talking about Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro has a new book coming out next week called Klara and the Sun, which sounds like it might be somewhat similar to NLMG from the synopsis.
 

2cents

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Just finished The Lord of the Rings again for the umpteenth time, but the first time in maybe a decade or more. I still find it extraordinary, so many epic, iconic moments. Book 1 probably my favorite of the six, the way it unfolds between the birthday party and Council of Elrond still excites me the way it did reading it for the first time - especially Bree and Strider. But this time round my favorite sections were the Faramir chapters in Book 4 and the Siege of Gondor in Book 5.
 

sullydnl

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For those of you who were recently talking about Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro has a new book coming out next week called Klara and the Sun, which sounds like it might be somewhat similar to NLMG from the synopsis.
Yep, I've at least liked all of Ishiguro's books (even if some of them do have flaws) so I will be getting it as soon as I can.

Was just thinking about Never Let Me Go earlier. One of the things I particularly like about it is that I'm pretty sure what I got from it was completely different to how Ishiguro sees it (he's said he sees it as his most cheerful novel whereas I was left physically wanting to scream at the narrator). Yet I kind of got what he meant too.

I love the idea of works of art standing separate from their author's intentions and POV, as if they gather layers, life and meaning as they're being created that even the author may not intend and becomes something outside their imagination. It's great when you take away strong feelings from a book only to hear someone else give an entirely different perspective that also makes sense.
 
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Salt Bailly

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Just finished The Lord of the Rings again for the umpteenth time, but the first time in maybe a decade or more. I still find it extraordinary, so many epic, iconic moments. Book 1 probably my favorite of the six, the way it unfolds between the birthday party and Council of Elrond still excites me the way it did reading it for the first time - especially Bree and Strider. But this time round my favorite sections were the Faramir chapters in Book 4 and the Siege of Gondor in Book 5.
Epic.

I'm due a re-read myself. Used to be an annual thing but I don't think I've read it since around the release of The Children of Hurin... which I thought was a decade ago but googling it suggests it was 2007!

Mental.
 

celia

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Was just thinking about Never Let Me Go earlier. One of the things I particularly like about it is that I'm pretty sure what I got from it was completely different to how Ishiguro sees it (he's said he sees it as his most cheerful novel whereas I was left physically wanting to scream at the narrator). Yet I kind of got what he meant too.
I found Never let me go the most depressing book of the four I read of him. Even if I can't say the three others were close to be cheerful. This is why I would wait before reading another of his books even if I really enjoyed The Remains of the Day.
 

NinjaFletch

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Was just thinking about Never Let Me Go earlier. One of the things I particularly like about it is that I'm pretty sure what I got from it was completely different to how Ishiguro sees it (he's said he sees it as his most cheerful novel whereas I was left physically wanting to scream at the narrator). Yet I kind of got what he meant too.

I love the idea of works of art standing separate from their author's intentions and POV, as if they gather layers, life and meaning as they're being created that even the author may not intend and becomes something outside their imagination. It's great when you take away strong feelings from a book only to hear someone else give an entirely different perspective that also makes sense.
I agree. I found Never Let Me Go utterly bleak. I was in a funk for days after finishing it. I think Ishiguro's approach is claustrophobic and his tendency to reveal huge plot points as casual asides in stories which superficially serve a different purpose (the story about the Judy Bridgewater tape for example, although I don't want to give away spoilers) does a good job of leaving the reader unsettled. Something is off throughout and you realise slowly what that is. I could write essays on how it deals with themes of exclusion, the futility of life, and our acceptance of the lot we are dealt, so I’ll spare you all and just say it’s a wonderful, wonderful novel.
 

sullydnl

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I found Never let me go the most depressing book of the four I read of him. Even if I can't say the three others were close to be cheerful. This is why I would wait before reading another of his books even if I really enjoyed The Remains of the Day.
I agree. I found Never Let Me Go utterly bleak. I was in a funk for days after finishing it. I think Ishiguro's approach is claustrophobic and his tendency to reveal huge plot points as casual asides in stories which superficially serve a different purpose (the story about the Judy Bridgewater tape for example, although I don't want to give away spoilers) does a good job of leaving the reader unsettled. Something is off throughout and you realise slowly what that is. I could write essays on how it deals with themes of exclusion, the futility of life, and our acceptance of the lot we are dealt, so I’ll spare you all and just say it’s a wonderful, wonderful novel.
Yep.

And yet Ishiguro saw it as his most positive book, because in the face of their situation the characters cared most about each other and setting things right. So to him its shows the best of humanity and the decency of those characters, as opposed to previous books (like the also excellent Remains of the Day) which focus on his characters' failings.

It's a great book all told.
 

NinjaFletch

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Yep.

And yet Ishiguro saw it as his most positive book, because in the face of their situation the characters cared most about each other and setting things right. So to him its shows the best of humanity and the decency of those characters, as opposed to previous books (like the also excellent Remains of the Day) which focus on his characters' failings.

It's a great book all told.
I’ll spoiler this as it touches on the books ending.

You’re also never really left with the sense the characters are particularly unhappy. There’s a tragic sense to it because we realise that there’s no biological reason why they should ‘complete’ at the point they do. We hope that the penny drops for Kathy H. that simply refusing to be bound by the rules that she has been led to believe gets her the extra time with Tommy she would have liked, but Kathy isn’t broken by those restrictions and doesn’t spend time raging against how unfair they are. Instead she is concerned with producing good art, being a good carer and ultimately being a good donor. Life is futile if you live for 30 years or 90 years and Kathy finds her meaning within the confines of what she believes them to be.

I’m not sure I took it being an example of the ‘best of humanity’ either, though. One of the things that really shone through to me was how much various people were excluded. Obviously the clones were excluded by ‘normal’ humans and treated as sub-human, Ruth spends the entirety of the novel excluding Kathy (be it from Tommy or from the older kids at the cottages), the Hailsham kids spent the novel excluding or being excluded by people who hadn’t been part of that background, and even, right at the end, whilst Ruth is attempting to make amends her and Tommy still exclude Kathy because she’s not a donor and she just doesn’t get it.

I think all these things strike at the heart of what it means to be human, and by playing with the limits on the clones’ lives Ishiguro succeeds at holding up a mirror to our own, longer lived, lives.