Books The BOOK thread

Tiber

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Anyone interested in Star Wars books? Timothy Zhan writes Star Wars better than just about everyone, Heir To the Empire is the best story in of all of Star Wars imo. His entire Star Wars collection (all the way from the very recent 2021 Thrawn books to Heir to the Empire ) is available for 99p in the Kindle Deal of the Day

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/browse?i...636492652b16e&language=en_GB&ref_=as_li_ss_tl

Might not be much of a Star Wars book audience here, but well worth checking out if there is
 

hungrywing

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I'm going to cash in a decade-plus of all my "relative non-involvement in this thread" chips on this one book:

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez

If you have testicles, read this. If you don't have testicles and/or had them/don't-have-them-but-want-them, read this (and hopefully for you it becomes a gateway into other big-data bias books).
 

b82REZ

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Listening to Klara and the Sun.

Wasn't really clicking with me in part 1, but part 2 is really starting to draw me in. Very sinister undertones.
 

Jippy

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I finished The Silence (Don DeLillo) recently, which feels like a very minor work his canon. I'd hesitate to call it even a novella, it's more like a short story.

The premise is that a bunch of people are watching the superbowl and the power goes out. Another strand follows two people on a plane who survive a crash landing.

Plot is subservient to analysis, which is usual in some of DD's recent books. In this case it talks about our feelings of being addicted to technology and explores what happens when that affordance is no longer granted.

I was struck most by the way people then begin to create their own language and entertainment forms. They're highly confused though, like they've just emerged out of Plato's cave.

It's got bad reviews but it's not a bad book IMO.

Very abstract but still human-focused, which is DD's great strength as a writer.
I just read this in one on a plane the other day and I was underwhelmed. It felt like DeLillo's pitched it as some portentous novella, stripping bare our fears and vulnerabilities, but to me it was more like he'd mixed a load of concerns of the day with a few conspiracy theories thrown. That Einstein-loving guy spouting stuff like 'facial recognition, bioweapons, chemtrails' to no-one in particular made him sound like a tinhat wearer using google, rather than offering any insight into the human psyche.
It was interesting framing it around the Superbowl and maybe as a slice of life snapshot it kind of works - the banality of most people's reaction to stuff- but I'm glad it was short.

Since finishing that I've been reading Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth, another American writer I'd somehow not gotten round to reading. Fair to say it's a rather different novel and very funny in parts, but quite brash and in your face.
 

Vidyoyo

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I just read this in one on a plane the other day and I was underwhelmed. It felt like DeLillo's pitched it as some portentous novella, stripping bare our fears and vulnerabilities, but to me it was more like he'd mixed a load of concerns of the day with a few conspiracy theories thrown. That Einstein-loving guy spouting stuff like 'facial recognition, bioweapons, chemtrails' to no-one in particular made him sound like a tinhat wearer using google, rather than offering any insight into the human psyche.
It was interesting framing it around the Superbowl and maybe as a slice of life snapshot it kind of works - the banality of most people's reaction to stuff- but I'm glad it was short.

Since finishing that I've been reading Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth, another American writer I'd somehow not gotten round to reading. Fair to say it's a rather different novel and very funny in parts, but quite brash and in your face.
Have you read Endzone? That book basically revolves around Am Football and leads with the analogy its similar to the make-up of American society. It's not a wholly complete novel but it's very funny, like White Noise, and probably my favourite of DeLillo's. Certainly the only one I've read twice.

I tried to read Portnoy's Complaint about a decade ago and couldn't get into it. I've not stepped into Roth since, which might be an error.
 

Jippy

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Have you read Endzone? That book basically revolves around Am Football and leads with the analogy its similar to the make-up of American society. It's not a wholly complete novel but it's very funny, like White Noise, and probably my favourite of DeLillo's. Certainly the only one I've read twice.

I tried to read Portnoy's Complaint about a decade ago and couldn't get into it. I've not stepped into Roth since, which might be an error.
That my first DeLillo. I think I might have a break before I read another, given I was underwhelmed by The Silence, but I'll have a look at those two, thanks.

With Portnoy's Complaint, I can kind of see why the parts where he is a kid might be a struggle to get into a bit and maybe feel somewhat juvenile. It is somewhat one-paced in the sense that it's the book equivalent of shouty, but it's also quite funny in places and worth giving another shot at some point.

After stupidly packing my books in sea rather than air freight I need to order some because I'm two thirds of the way through Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album and don't feel like reading Dickens' David Copperfiled, but they are way more expensive in Singapore versus the UK:(
 

oneniltothearsenal

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That my first DeLillo. I think I might have a break before I read another, given I was underwhelmed by The Silence, but I'll have a look at those two, thanks.

With Portnoy's Complaint, I can kind of see why the parts where he is a kid might be a struggle to get into a bit and maybe feel somewhat juvenile. It is somewhat one-paced in the sense that it's the book equivalent of shouty, but it's also quite funny in places and worth giving another shot at some point.

After stupidly packing my books in sea rather than air freight I need to order some because I'm two thirds of the way through Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album and don't feel like reading Dickens' David Copperfiled, but they are way more expensive in Singapore versus the UK:(
The Silence is such a minor, tangential piece of Delillos's body of work you shouldn't let that influence you in any way. It's like scribbles in a notebook in the overall scheme.

White Noise is absolutely brilliant, one of the most original and powerful novels I've ever read. If you really want to know Delillo, read that! It really showcases Delillo's unique style along with issues that have only become more timeless and ever present in the 21st century.
 

Jippy

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The Silence is such a minor, tangential piece of Delillos's body of work you shouldn't let that influence you in any way. It's like scribbles in a notebook in the overall scheme.

White Noise is absolutely brilliant, one of the most original and powerful novels I've ever read. If you really want to know Delillo, read that! It really showcases Delillo's unique style along with issues that have only become more timeless and ever present in the 21st century.
I tend to prefer reading two or three books from an author before making any definitive call on them, so will try White Noise, thanks.

It seems like books in Singapore are largely going to cost me anything between double and four times what I was paying in London, where there was an excellent secondhand bookshop near where I lived and way more cheap options online.
 

BD

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Slogging through Count of Monte Cristo at the minute. It's one of those books that, as I'm ready it I really enjoy, but I don't feel so engrossed to keep reading for chapter after chapter.
 

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Slogging through Count of Monte Cristo at the minute. It's one of those books that, as I'm ready it I really enjoy, but I don't feel so engrossed to keep reading for chapter after chapter.
I'm feeling the same with David Copperfield right now. The font and spacing of the text is microscopic and the pages like bible paper, so it feels like you're making very little progress and are going to be reading it forever. It is ok and all I do actually like the Dickens novels I've read, but I prefer 200-400 page books generally.
 

BD

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I'm feeling the same with David Copperfield right now. The font and spacing of the text is microscopic and the pages like bible paper, so it feels like you're making very little progress and are going to be reading it forever. It is ok and all I do actually like the Dickens novels I've read, but I prefer 200-400 page books generally.
I've never read anything from Dickens - where should one start? Far away from David Copperfield I gather?
 

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I've never read anything from Dickens - where should one start? Far away from David Copperfield I gather?
:lol:Definitely. I like Great Expectations and it's about 450 pages- was my first Dickens and I'd say the best way in. Hard Times is the shortest at around 350 pages and it's not bad, albeit it's very political of its time and if you don't read any footnotes half the references go over your head. Bleak House is very good, but a beast at over 900 pages.
I didn't read any til the last year, apart from A Christmas Carol at school, but there is a reason why his work is so enduring- he can be funnier than you expect and devises some great characters.
 

BD

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:lol:Definitely. I like Great Expectations and it's about 450 pages- was my first Dickens and I'd say the best way in. Hard Times is the shortest at around 350 pages and it's not bad, albeit it's very political of its time and if you don't read any footnotes half the references go over your head. Bleak House is very good, but a beast at over 900 pages.
I didn't read any til the last year, apart from A Christmas Carol at school, but there is a reason why his work is so enduring- he can be funnier than you expect and devises some great characters.
Cool thanks, will add that to my list.
 

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5 chapters in to Matrtina Coles "the runaway" and its great I find myself feeling such sympathy for the young girl in it right from the off. Nearly brought a tear to my eye but I did pick it up just after the death of Man United on Sunday afternoon.
 

MoskvaRed

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I'm feeling the same with David Copperfield right now. The font and spacing of the text is microscopic and the pages like bible paper, so it feels like you're making very little progress and are going to be reading it forever. It is ok and all I do actually like the Dickens novels I've read, but I prefer 200-400 page books generally.
I finished it last month. It’s very good but I query whether it really needed 1,000 pages. “Great Expectations“ is the better bildungsroman in my opinion (and half the length!).
 

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I finished it last month. It’s very good but I query whether it really needed 1,000 pages. “Great Expectations“ is the better bildungsroman in my opinion (and half the length!).
Yeah it feels a bit flabby. My version is 'only' 716 pages, but like I said, it's in a tiny, densely packed font. Great Expectations is very good. Dickens is odd in the sense that in parts of say Bleak House are quite schmaltzy, others brutal. Also, his liking of coincidence as a plot device hasn't stood the test of time too well imo.
 

Vidyoyo

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No idea how you fellas read Dickens but bravo nonetheless.

I'm reading 1Q84 at the moment. 120 pages in and so far it's intriguing. Quirky characters, weird situations and all that typical Murakami jazz.
 

ChrisNelson

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Any John Grisham fans on here?

His new book The Judge's List came out last week, it's fantastic.

I love a good legal thriller and he's the master of the craft for me, also like Sheldon Siegel and John Lescroart.

It's a follow on from The Whistler, with the character Lacy Stoltz.

I'd welcome any recommendations of similar writers who I may have missed.
 

OleBoiii

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I want to read more classic literature but I'm not sure where to begin. I don't care much about historic importance or how ahead of its time the book was. I just want good books that have aged well, preferably in understandable English(no Shakespeare etc please).

Classics that I've read:
- The Catcher in the Rye
- Of Mice And Men
- Animal Farm
- Kokoro
- Yukiguni
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of The Rings
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Classics that I want to avoid because I've seen the film:
- Pride and Prejudice
- To Kill A Mockingbird
- The Great Gatsby
- A Christmas Carol
 

Jippy

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I want to read more classic literature but I'm not sure where to begin. I don't care much about historic importance or how ahead of its time the book was. I just want good books that have aged well, preferably in understandable English(no Shakespeare etc please).

Classics that I've read:
- The Catcher in the Rye
- Of Mice And Men
- Animal Farm
- Kokoro
- Yukiguni
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of The Rings
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Classics that I want to avoid because I've seen the film:
- Pride and Prejudice
- To Kill A Mockingbird
- The Great Gatsby
- A Christmas Carol
Don't dismiss Gatsby cos you've seen the film, it's a very good book.
 

OleBoiii

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Don't dismiss Gatsby cos you've seen the film, it's a very good book.
I have no doubt that it is :)

But I'm a slow reader. If I know all the major plot points and the ending, then it becomes hard to get though the book. Even when I'm relatively invested in the story I may spend around 3 months getting through a 400 page book.
 

Jippy

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I have no doubt that it is :)

But I'm a slow reader. If I know all the major plot points and the ending, then it becomes hard to get though the book. Even when I'm relatively invested in the story I may spend around 3 months getting through a 400 page book.
It's only about 200 pages and the writing is great. Kurt Vonnegut is a great but quick read, usually around 200 pages.

Also this overlooked modern classic from Enid Blyton.

Five go to court over fly-tipped rubbish

https://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/ne...fkKSp8ZiT9ulVuBTQscwgoprfEphOdrXjtXoGuby6fZMQ
 

MoskvaRed

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I have no doubt that it is :)

But I'm a slow reader. If I know all the major plot points and the ending, then it becomes hard to get though the book. Even when I'm relatively invested in the story I may spend around 3 months getting through a 400 page book.
Most classics are quite long. If you want shorter, try Chekhov or Raymond Carver.
 

b82REZ

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Just finished 2001.

I love the film, but the book explores so many more themes it actually makes the film seem pretty hollow in comparison. I know Kubrick and Clarke wrote the novel and screenplay in tandem but I'm surprised that Kubrick chose to ignore the themes of mysticism and evolution (except for the opening 20 mins).

Tempted to read the sequels but I plan to finally start Dune tonight.
 

WeePat

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Hit a huge reading slump in recent weeks. Struggled to keep reading beyond a couple of pages or sometimes even pick up a book. Started an easy crime fiction yesterday. Typical whodunit, nothing too fancy, but I've at least managed to fly through 300 pages in one evening.
 

Jippy

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It’s so overrated and the only half-decent book he ever wrote.
It's a good book and well-written. It just stays on the right side of hammering home its message through the green light analogy- could see why some may think that's slightly overdone. Would be harsh though.
 

entropy

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It's a good book and well-written. It just stays on the right side of hammering home its message through the green light analogy- could see why some may think that's slightly overdone. Would be harsh though.
Is it well written though? I’d say it is very well edited. I think the reason the book is widely regarded is because of its themes and post-war sentiments when it became famous. It also helps that every kid is forced to read it in school. Personally, I always found the story to be really boring(for the lack of a better word)
 

Jippy

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Is it well written though? I’d say it is very well edited. I think the reason the book is widely regarded is because of its themes and post-war sentiments when it became famous. It also helps that every kid is forced to read it in school. Personally, I always found the story to be really boring(for the lack of a better word)
He's very good at descriptions.

We didn't read it at school, although I did English language A level, not literature. Mill on the Floss was a key text in that, which loads moaned about.
 

Boycott

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I want to read more classic literature but I'm not sure where to begin. I don't care much about historic importance or how ahead of its time the book was. I just want good books that have aged well, preferably in understandable English(no Shakespeare etc please).

Classics that I've read:
- The Catcher in the Rye
- Of Mice And Men
- Animal Farm
- Kokoro
- Yukiguni
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of The Rings
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Classics that I want to avoid because I've seen the film:
- Pride and Prejudice
- To Kill A Mockingbird
- The Great Gatsby
- A Christmas Carol
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is considered the best mystery book of all time. I read it as a teenager in one sitting many Christmases ago and followed it up by reading her entire Hercule Poirot series.

Hard to think of many classics off the top of my head that haven't been turned into films. Jonathan Swift's Gullivers Travels is better as a book than any of the films. The Secret Garden is good fun as a book rather than the films.
 

Thaumaste

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Is it well written though? I’d say it is very well edited. I think the reason the book is widely regarded is because of its themes and post-war sentiments when it became famous. It also helps that every kid is forced to read it in school. Personally, I always found the story to be really boring(for the lack of a better word)
I think your distinction between writing and editing is a little disingenuous, unless you're suggesting the editing was done by someone else. Editing is a part - some might say the most important part - of any writing process, and unless you think great writing is supposed to - or can - emerge fully formed in the first draft, then great writing presupposes great editing. And Gatsby is one of those novels whose construction, from phrase upwards, never strikes a jarring note (at least for me, and most of the people who have written on the book), so it is by definition beautifully written, because it leaves no room for improvement.

The story being boring is a matter of taste, really. And obviously a lot of books get bludgeoned into boredom by being taught or over-taught in school. Like @Jippy, I didn't read it at school and loved it when I first picked it up.
 

entropy

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He's very good at descriptions.

We didn't read it at school, although I did English language A level, not literature. Mill on the Floss was a key text in that, which loads moaned about.
That was precisely his problem. He was good at plot and terrible at everything else. Which is why his book was rejected multiple times. It was only until Perkins took him under his wing and walked him through lots of changes(often with Maxwell forming the prose himself, explaining why grammatically it made sense) was his book accepted to be published. I think with Fitzgerald lot of the criticism stems from the fact that his editor did lot of leg work on his behalf and that he never wrote any book worth considering after the Great Gatsby.
 
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entropy

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I think your distinction between writing and editing is a little disingenuous, unless you're suggesting the editing was done by someone else. Editing is a part - some might say the most important part - of any writing process, and unless you think great writing is supposed to - or can - emerge fully formed in the first draft, then great writing presupposes great editing. And Gatsby is one of those novels whose construction, from phrase upwards, never strikes a jarring note (at least for me, and most of the people who have written on the book), so it is by definition beautifully written, because it leaves no room for improvement.

The story being boring is a matter of taste, really. And obviously a lot of books get bludgeoned into boredom by being taught or over-taught in school. Like @Jippy, I didn't read it at school and loved it when I first picked it up.
His editor(Maxwell Perkins) had a very unconventional relationship with Fitzgerald. He played a huge role in helping him with prose through the course of this book. This has been well documented by those who have examined great gatsby.
 

Thaumaste

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His editor(Maxwell Perkins) had a very unconventional relationship with Fitzgerald. He played a huge role in helping him with prose through the course of this book. This has been well documented by those who have examined great gatsby.
That's totally fair to say, and I'm no expert on the textual history of the book, but again that doesn't change the fact that the novel is extremely well written. I'm not arguing on behalf of Fitzgerald as a great writer, though lots of great writers were the beneficiaries of great editors (which stands to reason, since the better the writer, the likelier they are to impress the better literary agencies and publishers, and therefore to be paired with better editors), simply that the final text of The Great Gatsby is a beautiful piece of literary art, something that is not affected by the number of contributors or the relative quantities of their contributions.
 

entropy

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That's totally fair to say, and I'm no expert on the textual history of the book, but again that doesn't change the fact that the novel is extremely well written. I'm not arguing on behalf of Fitzgerald as a great writer, though lots of great writers were the beneficiaries of great editors (which stands to reason, since the better the writer, the likelier they are to impress the better literary agencies and publishers, and therefore to be paired with better editors), simply that the final text of The Great Gatsby is a beautiful piece of literary art, something that is not affected by the number of contributors or the relative quantities of their contributions.
I think if it was a traditional writer-editor relationship then sure. But it wasn’t. He struggled a lot with prose and this is where his editor helped him. My point isn’t whether the book is a beautiful piece of art or not, that is up-to-the reader(personally I think it is overrated). But to merely point out how unconventional the editor-author relationship was, to the point where Maxwell was writing prose on his behalf.
 

Thaumaste

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I think if it was a traditional writer-editor relationship then sure. But it wasn’t. He struggled a lot with prose and this is where his editor helped him. My point isn’t whether the book is a beautiful piece of art or not, that is up-to-the reader(personally I think it is overrated). But to merely point out how unconventional the editor-author relationship was, to the point where Maxwell was writing prose on his behalf.
Fair enough if that was the purpose of the original post. It just made it sound like you were saying there was a difference between writing and editing which affected the ultimate quality of writing of the final text. I don't think writing and editing are different processes, and it doesn't matter if the same person does all or part of the ultimate production of a text. What comes out was written and can be evaluated by whatever criteria of literary/linguistic quality one cares to apply.

If what you were actually saying is that Fitzgerald somehow receives too much personal credit for the book, that may be true, but the whole cult of the author is a cultural development that's used to fuel sales, which is why I prefer to talk about texts and not writers.
 

entropy

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Fair enough if that was the purpose of the original post. It just made it sound like you were saying there was a difference between writing and editing which affected the ultimate quality of writing of the final text. I don't think writing and editing are different processes, and it doesn't matter if the same person does all or part of the ultimate production of a text. What comes out was written and can be evaluated by whatever criteria of literary/linguistic quality one cares to apply.

If what you were actually saying is that Fitzgerald somehow receives too much personal credit for the book, that may be true, but the whole cult of the author is a cultural development that's used to fuel sales, which is why I prefer to talk about texts and not writers.
I totally agree. The cult of the author thing is very real and complete bs.