What are you reading?

Started by iheartgranola, Jun 20, 2017, 02:02 pm

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KathyB

Some books I've recently finished:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. A novel about two families in Shaker Heights, Ohio in the late 1990s. That makes it sound like a lot of books out there, but Ng is an engrossing writer, and I couldn't put this down. The setting is as much a character in the novel as any of the actual characters. Highly recommend.

The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson. Another novel about a family, this time from Iowa, over a 30-year period. Also recommended, but not as highly.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. Kind of an odd premise here, where the setting is a dystopian planned community, where the residents alternate between living in prison and living in regular housing from month to month. This way, everyone shares housing, jobs, transportation, etc. I kept thinking this might be something Chris L. might enjoy (mainly because something about it reminded me of Marcus Sakey's Brilliance)--except I know that Atwood is Not a Favored Author. It was enjoyable for about the first half, but then it started being more about plot and less about setup, and it wasn't as interesting.

Chris L

Quote from: KathyB on Nov 08, 2017, 04:17 pmThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. Kind of an odd premise here, where the setting is a dystopian planned community, where the residents alternate between living in prison and living in regular housing from month to month. This way, everyone shares housing, jobs, transportation, etc. I kept thinking this might be something Chris L. might enjoy (mainly because something about it reminded me of Marcus Sakey's Brilliance)--except I know that Atwood is Not a Favored Author. It was enjoyable for about the first half, but then it started being more about plot and less about setup, and it wasn't as interesting.
I didn't know you'd read Brilliance.

Yes, after three attempts to read Atwood's books, I've come to regard her as an author who can take a great idea and strangle every ounce of life out of it in the name of Art. ;) However, I'm always game for another try. Otherwise, I would have stopped after my first Atwood book!
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

KathyB

Currently I'm reading Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan, because I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and the book sounded interesting.

I am wondering how many drugs one person can take before being seriously messed up for life, both physically and emotionally. There has to be at least one mention of drug use on every page. I have to say I'm glad to not be famous enough to have ever had the occasion to get in a car with either Wenner or Hunter S. Thompson (or Annie Leibovitz) driving. There are also a lot of affairs happening, but they only happen maybe once every four pages. ;)

Personally I'm more interested in how Rolling Stone evolved from a small newspaper to a large full-color tabloid with award-winning journalism and photography, but that's not nearly as juicy as the drugs and sex, naturally. :)

Chris L

Quote from: KathyB on Dec 02, 2017, 03:04 pmCurrently I'm reading Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan, because I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and the book sounded interesting.

I am wondering how many drugs one person can take before being seriously messed up for life, both physically and emotionally. There has to be at least one mention of drug use on every page. I have to say I'm glad to not be famous enough to have ever had the occasion to get in a car with either Wenner or Hunter S. Thompson (or Annie Leibovitz) driving. There are also a lot of affairs happening, but they only happen maybe once every four pages. ;)

Personally I'm more interested in how Rolling Stone evolved from a small newspaper to a large full-color tabloid with award-winning journalism and photography, but that's not nearly as juicy as the drugs and sex, naturally. :)
This is what I tell myself every time a young(ish) rock performer dies: I don't have to worry because they were doing a hell of a lot more drugs than I was. Though that still doesn't explain the incredible resilience of Keith Richards.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Chris L

Mar 25, 2018, 05:14 pm #79 Last Edit: Mar 26, 2018, 02:13 pm by Chris L
Dan Brown's Origin -- I had promised myself that I was never going to read anything by Dan Brown, but huge posters for this book followed me all over the United Kingdom last fall, looming out of bookstore windows in every town except Oxford, where the main bookstore chose to highlight Allan Hollinghurst instead. (I think Oxford feels that Dan Brown is a bit beneath them. I agree with them.)

I'll give Brown credit for one thing and one thing only. He knows how to keep a reader turning pages. He doesn't do this by creating memorable characters, ones that you care about, or by writing in a compelling style, but by the simple trick of withholding information. From the beginning he makes it clear what that information will be about. It's such a large, audacious and frankly ridiculous subject that he's withholding information on that I kept reading just to see if, when it was eventually revealed, the revelation would be worth the buildup.

It wasn't. It didn't even come close. The whole premise seemed absurd throughout -- at times, even Brown's characters had to admit it was absurd -- and at the end it turns out to have been a grand fake-out, a huge Maguffin that exists only to justify a mediocre chase thriller. (Another thing I'll give Brown credit for is that he know it's important to keep putting obstacles in the path of the protagonist, even when those obstacles are rabbits that he pulls out of his threadbare but bottomless hat.)

But at least I can say I've read a Dan Brown novel. It's not much to brag about, but the next time I say something insulting about Mr. Brown, I'll have evidence to back me up.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Leighton

Currently reading Reservoir 13, which is quite wonderful.
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

Chris L

Quote from: Leighton on Mar 26, 2018, 07:48 amCurrently reading Reservoir 13, which is quite wonderful.
Looks interesting and might be worth reading. But -- and here's the key question -- is it better than Dan Brown? ;) 
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Leighton

Yes, and as much a page turner (in a very different way!)
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

DiveMilw

Quote from: Chris L on Mar 25, 2018, 05:14 pmDan Brown's Origin -- I had promised myself that I was never going to read anything by Dan Brown, but huge posters for this book followed me all over the United Kingdom last fall, looming out of bookstore windows in every town except Oxford, where the main bookstore chose to highlight Allan Hollinghurst instead. (I think Oxford feels that Dan Brown is a bit beneath them. I agree with them.)

I'll give Brown credit for one thing and one thing only. He knows how to keep a reader turning pages. He doesn't do this by creating memorable characters, ones that you care about, or by writing in a compelling style, but by the simple trick of withholding information. From the beginning he makes it clear what that information will be about. It's such a large, audacious and frankly ridiculous subject that he's withholding information on that I kept reading just to see if, when it was eventually revealed, the revelation would be worth the buildup.

It wasn't. It didn't even come close. The whole premise seemed absurd throughout -- at times, even Brown's characters had to admit it was absurd -- and at the end it turns out to have been a grand fake-out, a huge Maguffin that exists only to justify a mediocre chase thriller. (Another thing I'll give Brown credit for is that he know it's important to keep putting obstacles in the path of the protagonist, even when those obstacles are rabbits that he pulls out of his threadbare but bottomless hat.)

But at least I can say I've read a Dan Brown novel. It's not much to brag about, but the next time I say something insulting about Mr. Brown, I'll have evidence to back me up.
The ebook version of this finally became available to me.  I had forgotten specifically why Chris didn't like the book but I did remember that I wanted to try to out for myself.  I got four mini-chapters into the book before I decided I hated the style and it was wasting my time.  Each of the four chapters only existed to tell us that some guy was going to make a big, no, HUGE announcement at an event he was hosting.  As I started the fifth chapter to became clear that there was a good chance this was just another chapter saying the exact same thing.  Not willing to be strung along for even one more page I returned to the Rabbi Small mystery series I had been reading before "Origin" became available.  
I no longer long for the old view!

Chris L

Quote from: DiveMilw on Jun 28, 2018, 06:32 amThe ebook version of this finally became available to me.  I had forgotten specifically why Chris didn't like the book but I did remember that I wanted to try to out for myself.  I got four mini-chapters into the book before I decided I hated the style and it was wasting my time.  Each of the four chapters only existed to tell us that some guy was going to make a big, no, HUGE announcement at an event he was hosting.  As I started the fifth chapter to became clear that there was a good chance this was just another chapter saying the exact same thing.  Not willing to be strung along for even one more page I returned to the Rabbi Small mystery series I had been reading before "Origin" became available. 
Rabbi Small? Is that something new or the old On Monday the Rabbi Moved His Bowels series?

It's almost absurd to call Dan Brown's style a "style." He writes in exclamation points. Everything! Is! Hugely! Important! And, yes, there really isn't a reason to read the rest, but I said the hell with it and went along for the ride. At least there were some good descriptions of architecture. Now, if @AmyG and I visit Spain (as we plan to at some point), I'll reread Brown's description of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia to see if it's accurate. Brown made me want to see it (as did The Alan Parson Project's album Gaudi, which actually has a song called "La Sagrada Familia"). (Also, remember how on Fringe there was a skyscraper in the alternate universe's version of Manhattan that had been designed by Gaudi?)
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

DiveMilw

Quote from: Chris L on Jun 28, 2018, 08:17 amRabbi Small? Is that something new or the old On Monday the Rabbi Moved His Bowels series?


I'm not sure where I heard about this series but it was in the past couple of months.  I requested my library to get the ebook and they did!
[attach name=rabbi+small.png type=image/png]374[/attach]
I no longer long for the old view!

Chris L

Quote from: DiveMilw on Jul 01, 2018, 04:27 pm
Quote from: Chris L on Jun 28, 2018, 08:17 amRabbi Small? Is that something new or the old On Monday the Rabbi Moved His Bowels series?


I'm not sure where I heard about this series but it was in the past couple of months.  I requested my library to get the ebook and they did!
[attach name=rabbi+small.png type=image/png]374[/attach]
Yeah, those are the books. They were bestsellers back in the late 60s/early 70s. I think I started one and never finished it, but now i can't remember. How do they hold up after all these years? (I guess pretty well if you got all four out of the library.)
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Leighton

I finished Stoner fairly recently, which was utterly gorgeous and utterly heartbreaking, and I'm mid-way through The Immortalists, which I am devouring.  It is really, really good.
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

KathyB

Quote from: Leighton on Jul 20, 2018, 12:52 pmI finished Stoner fairly recently, which was utterly gorgeous and utterly heartbreaking, and I'm mid-way through The Immortalists, which I am devouring.  It is really, really good.
I really liked The Immortalists. (It's by Chloe Benjamin, for anyone who wants to look it up.) It's about four siblings who, as children, were told the dates of their deaths by a psychic.
Currently reading There There by Tommy Orange, which is OK. Nothing to rave about, but by no means terrible.

Leighton

I finished The Immortalists.  It was utterly heartbreaking, and beautifully written.  Chloe Benjamin is a major talent.

I will be moving on to Ottessa Moshfegh's collection of short stories, 'Homesick for Another World' shortly, once I've finished a very quick re-read of RL Stine's The Babysitter, one of the early Point Horror series.  I find them a very comforting read, taking me back to my early teenage years.  I think of it like a palette cleanser! ;)
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!