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Now Reading in the New New New Year


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So many recommendations, so little time! But I shall make sure I get around to them all.

 

Over the last few weeks I have finished:

 

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Such clear, stark and beautiful writing. My head was in the French countryside each time I opened its pages.

 

Then I went onto:

 

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which was a wonderful trip. I love stepping into a character's head. I guess that's why I dig first person narratives. I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest of David Mitchell's books.

 

Now I've started:

 

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***

 

I was looking at a copy of Infinite Jest in a bookstore today. Has anyone read David Foster Wallace? I'd love to read impressions of his work. I was in a second hand bookstore earlier this morning looking at the back cover of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and DFW's blurb on the back cover completely sold me on the book. I've never read a blurb that moved me so much!

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Really interesting. I started running almost 2 years ago after a lifetime of being mostly sedentary and I liked learning more about people that have mastered running and what it takes to do it. This book was also instrumental in bringing the barefoot running debate to the forefront. I have to admit that it has a pretty compelling case. I've always run in minimalist shoes but now i want to try barefoot shoes. On top of that, there is a lot of interesting writing about the Tarahumara people of Mexico's Copper Canyon and of the ultrarunning culture and people.

 

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I'm not as highminded as a lot of you

 

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I've only read Swann's Way (the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past), but intend to read the rest of it... someday, someday...

 

There's a plot in there, somewhere, but the plot's not really the point. :)

 

 

On a much lighter note: I picked up "Why We Broke Up" by Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler yesterday, and the actual physical picking-up of it was kind of the point for that one. It weighs a ton! I haven't even cracked it yet, but looks like it's printed on very thick, glossy paper. I think it's one of those young-adult novels with lots of illustrations (notes that the teens have wrtiten each other, etc.). I'm looking forward to it, I have mixed feelings about some of his books, but more often than not there's enough in there to keep me amused.

 

 

So, the official "now reading" list for me:

 

Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman, Why We Broke Up:

 

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Adam Ross, Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

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Kirstin Downey, The Woman Behind the New Deal:

 

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Erik Larson, In the Garden of Beasts:

 

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George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones:

 

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I got the first three of teh GRR Martin Series up right after I finish all of the Dresden Chronicles.

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This couple quit their jobs and traveled to all of the national parks. The "books" are a collection of their emails home to their friends telling them about their journeys. It is nothing earth shattering but they have a nice way of writing- they are lightly funny and honest about the good and the bad. I wish i could do what they did. These are each a dollar for kindle.

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The subject matter sounds interesting but that has got to be the laziest format ever for a book! I mean, I wish I could write books by just rounding up a bunch of emails I've sent people. Then again, a dollar each for kindle is very affordable.

 

I'd love to do what they did.

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yeah- SUPER lazy. i think they figured it was an easy way to make back some money after a year+ off of work! the emails seem like they've been polished for the book so it isn't really rough writing or anything. it is for sure an easy read!

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Enjoy Game of Thrones, gogo! I think that first book is the best. I'll probably keep reading the others as long as Martin keeps churning them out, but things are getting way out of hand.

 

Just finished Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman:

 

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I never really knew Scientology's history, exactly what's involved, and what these people actually believe. Or what a complete nutjob psychopath L. Ron Hubbard was. Holeeee crap.

 

that looks interesting. I love reading about cults and weird religions like that.

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I was looking at a copy of Infinite Jest in a bookstore today. Has anyone read David Foster Wallace? I'd love to read impressions of his work. I was in a second hand bookstore earlier this morning looking at the back cover of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and DFW's blurb on the back cover completely sold me on the book. I've never read a blurb that moved me so much!

 

It takes a while, but it is worth it in the end, I thought. A lot of people thing DFW is exceedingly wordy, but a good ramble does a lot. I recommend it to everyone when they ask "What should I read?"

 

I even bought a Kindle version of that book for my iPhone... just incase I ever need something to read. I can always go back to that one. It's in my top 10 books ever written.

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***

 

I was looking at a copy of Infinite Jest in a bookstore today. Has anyone read David Foster Wallace? I'd love to read impressions of his work. I was in a second hand bookstore earlier this morning looking at the back cover of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and DFW's blurb on the back cover completely sold me on the book. I've never read a blurb that moved me so much!

 

DFW is my favorite author of all time (despite his relatively limited number of works). Infinite Jest is my favorite novel of all time. Yes, it is long and wordy, but it is an astonishing piece of literature. Highly, highly recommended.

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It takes a while, but it is worth it in the end, I thought. A lot of people thing DFW is exceedingly wordy, but a good ramble does a lot. I recommend it to everyone when they ask "What should I read?"

 

I even bought a Kindle version of that book for my iPhone... just incase I ever need something to read. I can always go back to that one. It's in my top 10 books ever written.

 

DFW is my favorite author of all time (despite his relatively limited number of works). Infinite Jest is my favorite novel of all time. Yes, it is long and wordy, but it is an astonishing piece of literature. Highly, highly recommended.

 

Thank you for the the responses. I shall definitely add him to my list.

 

Am currently reading this 'cause it's been lying around the house:

 

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After this I'll be reading John Irving's new one which I'm very much eager to read. I had a peak at the first two paragraphs and I was hooked. His writing just keeps getting better.

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Any fans of Alice Hoffman here? The most beautiful book I've read lately (other than The Moonflower Vine) was this:

 

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I had a very hard time putting it down, even when it was getting to be the wee hours of the morning and my eyelids were sagging. Each chapter seemed to flow forward into the next, and I wanted...needed!... to know how it all turned out. She writes like a dream, such wonderful perspectives and descriptions and phrases, and it seems so effortless. What a gift it is to be able to write as she does.

 

I can't recommend it highly enough. You will thank me. :yes Read anything of hers!

 

Just read "Blackbird House" on my wife's recommendation and enjoyed it thoroughly. Reading Carl Hiaasen's "Skinny Dip." Not high literature but a good read - perverse and humorous. Mixing it up with the collected short stories of Mark Twain (always satisfying) and soon to launch into "A Portrait of the ARtist as a Young Man" for a little light summer reading.

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Are you enjoying it? I loved that book!

 

I'm struggling with it a little, actually. I enjoy the style of writing but I'm about a third of the way in and I'm yet to become fully engaged with what's going on. I will prevail, though, and get through it as I've been in this place before with some books yet have ultimately been rewarded upon finishing them.

 

We shall see.

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I just finished this. It was a dystopian satire about a future English society that was formed by the paranoid writings of a schizophrenic cabbie, The cabbie made a 'holy book' full of driving routes, racism, and misogyny that he buried in his ex-wife's backyard in hopes that is son would find it and learn the knowledge. Instead a post-apocalyptic chiefdom of English folks found it and organized themselves according to its principles.

 

Like the other Self book I found it acidic, cynical, occasionally funny, and the absurdity of its satire was so well-thought I often forgot is was satire, instead it just seemed like a strange, but plausible world.

 

Now I'm on to this:

 

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Yeah, some of the 33 1/3 books try a little too hard. I like to read some good journalism about the process, with some criticism as to why the album was important in its time. I don't need Colin Meloy trying his hand at narrative writing based on the Replacements, or some stuffy critic using OK Computer to examine what a compact disc is from a theoretical standpoint.

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Love the album. The book is really ambitious and I'm having some trouble following all of the balls Lethem keeps putting in the air, but it was a pretty decent read.

Agree - and I'll add in that I also love Lethem's writing. (And I swear I posted something similar in this thread but I can't find it.)

I liked his approach but then I'd lose his train of thought.

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This is the description given by Amazon, but the book is so much more than this implies.

 

"William and Molly lead a life of small pleasures, riddles at the kitchen table, and games of string and orange peels. All around them a city rages with war. When the uprising began, William’s wife was taken, leaving him alone with their young daughter. They keep their heads down and try to remain unnoticed as police patrol the streets, enforcing a curfew and arresting citizens. But when an old friend seeks William out, claiming to know what happened to his wife, William must risk everything. He ventures out after dark, and young Molly is left to play, reconstructing his dangerous voyage, his past, and their future. An astounding portrait of fierce love within a world of random violence, The Curfew is a mesmerizing feat of literary imagination."

 

This book is a very fast read, partially because it is written in a sparse style (but one in which every word counts) and partially because you will want to know what happens so you will read straight through. The first few pages had me thinking I wouldn't like it, mostly because I couldn't figure out what was going on (you'll see) but I decided to stick with it, and I'm so intensely glad I did, because the book soon begins to unfold like some huge, multi-petalled flower that just keeps getting more fascinating. There is much humor here, and it is so clever that you want to read it aloud to somebody on the spot...but it's direct, heartfelt humor, not coy and precious. The father, William, works helping people to compose epitaphs. These scenes are simply brilliant, and I have been mentally composing epitaphs in my head ever since. The puppet show is at once both surreal and achingly human, and if you love a book that stays in your head permanently, don't miss this one. Soooo good.

 

It was an impulse pick-up at the local library. Now I'll be looking for his other books!

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the-curfew-by-jesse-ball.jpg

 

This is the description given by Amazon, but the book is so much more than this implies.

 

"William and Molly lead a life of small pleasures, riddles at the kitchen table, and games of string and orange peels. All around them a city rages with war. When the uprising began, William’s wife was taken, leaving him alone with their young daughter. They keep their heads down and try to remain unnoticed as police patrol the streets, enforcing a curfew and arresting citizens. But when an old friend seeks William out, claiming to know what happened to his wife, William must risk everything. He ventures out after dark, and young Molly is left to play, reconstructing his dangerous voyage, his past, and their future. An astounding portrait of fierce love within a world of random violence, The Curfew is a mesmerizing feat of literary imagination."

 

This book is a very fast read, partially because it is written in a sparse style (but one in which every word counts) and partially because you will want to know what happens so you will read straight through. The first few pages had me thinking I wouldn't like it, mostly because I couldn't figure out what was going on (you'll see) but I decided to stick with it, and I'm so intensely glad I did, because the book soon begins to unfold like some huge, multi-petalled flower that just keeps getting more fascinating. There is much humor here, and it is so clever that you want to read it aloud to somebody on the spot...but it's direct, heartfelt humor, not coy and precious. The father, William, works helping people to compose epitaphs. These scenes are simply brilliant, and I have been mentally composing epitaphs in my head ever since. The puppet show is at once both surreal and achingly human, and if you love a book that stays in your head permanently, don't miss this one. Soooo good.

 

It was an impulse pick-up at the local library. Now I'll be looking for his other books!

 

Wow! What a review. You've completely sold me. I shall be looking for a copy of it very soon.

 

I must say...I really do enjoy reading through the recommendations and reviews in this thread.

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Yeah, some of the 33 1/3 books try a little too hard. I like to read some good journalism about the process, with some criticism as to why the album was important in its time. I don't need Colin Meloy trying his hand at narrative writing based on the Replacements, or some stuffy critic using OK Computer to examine what a compact disc is from a theoretical standpoint.

 

The OK Computer one was absolute disaster. I think even the 33 1/3 people acknowledge that's the worst one of the series. I don't mind the ones that are more personal about the writer's relationship with the record, some do it better than others: The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Radio City and Wowee Zowee all come to mind as ones I really liked that did this.

 

I agree very much, OCB, I have been trying and have even re-read sections a few times, but I am really struggling following Lethem through it. I have read Lester Bangs reviews that were easier to follow. And speaking of which for me Lester still has the definitive word on Fear of Music: http://www.davidbyrne.com/film/TH_Chronology/bangs/index.php.

 

 

--Mike

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Wow! What a review. You've completely sold me. I shall be looking for a copy of it very soon.

 

I must say...I really do enjoy reading through the recommendations and reviews in this thread.

 

Well, sorry to be longwinded, but worth it if it gets this book read. I'd love to hear how you like it, Fritz!

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On another note, what are people's thoughts on abandoning books when part/half/some of the way through? If a book's just not doing it for you after 150 - 200 pages I always go through a little crisis - put it back on the shelf because life is short and we should be reading something which gives meaning to our existence, or persevere because it could be ultimately rewarding? Not finishing a book always leaves me a little uncomfortable but sometimes it's a real struggle!

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