Author Topic: Book Thread  (Read 24309 times)

Offline Chanterais

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Book Thread
« on: April 28, 2006, 06:37:07 pm »
I'm starting a bookie thread.  My exams are over next Friday, and after that, I anticipate sinking into the loving embrace of a delicious novel or ten while I eat bon bons in the bath and drink champagne from my high heels.

Carrying on from Henrypie's notes on reading the Forsyte Saga:

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The Forsytes are great.  I really love them.
I don't know if all editions have a family tree as a frontispiece, but mine does, and, while it comes in handy initially, it also reveals some plot turns that I would rather not have known about in advance.  It reminds me a little of when I read War and Peace: years before I read it, I had happened upon just the shortest snippet of the movie version, with Audrey Hepburn, and a major plot element had been revealed in just the seconds I saw.  I was flipping channels, or it was in a documentary or something.  I had forgotten it entirely for years, but then when I got into the book and became attached to the characters whose futures I had inadvertently learned about years before, I had this eerie deja-vu feeling about them.  It actually made the experience all the more poignant.  Kinda made me love them more because I knew something they didn't know.  Sniff.  I can imagine having had an eerie forefeeling with Brokeback Mountain, but in fact I didn't.

Something similar, but inverted: I had seen The Age of Innocence years ago, and liked it tremendously (I'm not safe around movies with hoop skirts and white gloves and fluttering fans), and then a couple of weeks ago I read the Wharton's novel.  Knowing what happens to poor Countess Olenska (In my next life, I'm coming back with the name Countess Olenska) is just heartbreaking.  Even though Wharton describes her as being brown-haired and not especially beautiful, I couldn't help but see a blondely delicate Michelle Pfeiffer in my mind's eye.  I had that awful sense of dread that you describe - of inexorably being pulled towards an end you can't escape from.

Actually, come to think of it, I did have that same sense with Brokeback.  I watched it feeling like I was digging my toes into the ground, trying to stop that awful inevitability.

I've also recently finished Sarah Waters' The Night Watch, which is fabulously delicious, and lesbolicious to boot.  Yum Yum.

Oh, I'm being called to grill the pork chops.  Will be back later.

In the meantime, what is everybody else reading and loving these days?  Recommendations needed.



Offline henrypie

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2006, 11:01:15 pm »
Yay!
Thanks for starting this thread, Adriana.

Other books I finished recently are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Slaughterhouse-Five, the latter of which was kind of like salt in my Brokeback wound.  Ow, ow.  The former was good but didn't have quite the payoff I had hoped for.  I've also been nibbling at The Woman at the Washington Zoo, a compilation of essays by the late Marjorie Williams.  Also good.  And I reread Pride and Prejudice lately.

I also can't resist petticoats, smelling-salts, dance cards, coaches and six, etc.

Offline Chanterais

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2006, 12:17:15 am »
Curious Incident has been on my list for a very long time.  In fact, I own it.

Does that ever happen to you?  Books that you know you should read, that everyone recommends, and that you know you'd probably love, but for some reason, you just can't make the commitment?  It stares balefully at me every time I peruse my bookshelves.  It and Madame Bovary and (oh god, I'm going to be killed here) Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer have all ganged up on me.  For some reason, it never seems to be the right time, or I'm not quite in the right mood to launch in.  Strange, isn't it?

I Wikipedia'd Slaughterhouse-Five, because although I'd heard of it, it's one of thse books that just hasn't come across my radar before.  In the blurb, I came across the quote "Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future."   Holy depressing, Batman!  Ennis del Mar much?  Should I put it on the list, or will it make me want to slit my wrists?  I mean, I'm up for some healthy masochism, but a girl can only take so much.  Yea or Nay?

I know, I love rereading Austen.  Even Mansfield Park, with stupid old Fanny Price, who has got to be the lamest character she ever commited to paper, is worth another go round.  I backpacked around Asia for six months a couple of years ago, and I brought with me a Complete Works of Austen. A hefty brick of a book, it was worth its weight: comforting and funny and subtle in all the right ways.  When smiling at strangers in turbans gets to be just too much, Jane is a good friend to have.

Offline henrypie

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2006, 10:53:45 am »
My grandparents gave me a 1906 complete Jane Austen in 10 volumes.  Sits above all the other books, haughty and dusty.  But I take em down and dust them off from time to time.  They're not leatherbound -- just cloth -- but the paper is nice and cottony, and acid-free.  Boo acid!  I've never taken them abroad.

I loved Slaughterhouse-Five and would recommend it, no matter what.  It's a killer but in a lighthanded way -- it'll only kill you if you let it, and I suspect many don't let it.  But I don't know about that.

Speaking of Slaughterhouse-Five, one of my all-time favorite books is Catch-22 (I like hyphens).  Now THAT was a killer, at least at the time.  Gosh, I'd love to write my next essay about the two of them (you know, for the English class I'm not enrolled in).

(Someone snarky and wise once said there's no satisfaction like escaping a book which everyone else is reading.)

Offline isabelle

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2006, 11:27:34 am »
I'd recommend "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt, if you like to cry. I loved that book, it haunted me for days/weeks after finishing it. It is about growing up in Ireland from the 1920's onwards. Lots of humour AND emotions.
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Offline delalluvia

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2006, 11:57:34 am »
Gosh where to start, I read so much.  SO many books, so little time to read them all.

For real-life drama non-fiction I HIGHLY recommend:

The Perfect Storm - about the Halloween gale and the swordfish boat the 'Andrea Gail'
Into Thin Air - about the 1996 disaster on Mt. Everest when 8 climbers were killed
Isaac's Storm - about Galveston's 1900 hurricane

Other non-fiction I recommend:

The Coming Plague and the Hot Zone - only for those with strong stomachs and interested in such topics as Ebola and the spread of other deadly communicable diseases.  They are the scariest books I've ever read and what's worse, they are true.
Unearthing the Bible and the Jesus Puzzle, the Masks of God series by Joseph Campbell, The Harlot by the Side of the Road - for those interested in religion.

White Mischief
- true crime novel of the Happy Valley murder of Lord Errol

Alexander the Great
- Robin Lane Fox's tour de force about Alexander

The Demon Haunted World - Carl Sagan's book on rationality in a modern world

Ghosts of Vesuvius - amazing amazing read.  The author is a scientist who ties together his study of ancient meteor impacts on the earth, the eruption of the volcano and burying of Pompeii, the catastrophe of the Titanic and the World Trade Center.  Run do not walk to get this book.  If you can make it through the first few chapters on volcanos, then you're on your way.  You won't regret it.

Botany of Desire - a book describing 4 plants that impacted the world.  You'll think twice about McDonald's French fries after this book

Spoiled - will turn you into a vegetarian.

The Naked Olympics - about a typical visit to the ancient Greek Olympics.  You are there.

London, a Biography - about the history of the city of London.

Poetry:

Rengetsu's waka  poetry - She's an 19th century buddhist nun and I love her little book of poetry Lotus Moon.
Residence on Earth  - by Pablo Neruda
Poems of [Anna] Akhmatova - Russian poet
Dorothy Parker - of course
Epigrams of Martial, Pure Pagan and the poetry of Sappho - for those who like ancient Roman/Greek poetry

Fiction:

Lord John Grey and the Delicate Matter
- mystery novel.  Main character is an 18th century gay English nobleman and soldier.  He's a minor character in the Outlander, VERY historical bodice-ripper, novels and the author so liked him, she started a series with him as the main character.  I love this character, he's my hero.  There is only one book so far, but there was a novella 'Lord John and the Succubus' and a short story 'Hellfire Club' with him as the primary character if you can find the anthologies they're in.

Outlander Series - stange mix of time travel/historical drama/bodice-ripper novels, tons of sex, but you'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about the history of Scotland

Smilla's Sense of Snow - mystery novel

The Silver Metal Lover - sci-fi novel about a young woman who falls in love with a robot.  Her best friend is a young gay man who is ultimately her savior.

For those who love ancient Rome and mystery stories, Gordianus the Finder series by Steven Saylor.  There are several authors who do ancient Rome and mysteries, but Saylor I put above all the others.  He's very realistic, very evocative.  I have a sneaky feeling that the author himself is gay, so he always manages to input a little period homoeroticism in his books as well.

More mystery novels, this time in late Soviet era Russia.  Martin Cruz Smith's Investigator Arkady Renko series.  Great read.

And SOOOOOOO many more, I can hardly name them all...

 
« Last Edit: April 29, 2006, 11:59:31 pm by delalluvia »

Offline Chanterais

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2006, 02:53:46 pm »
Oooh, oooh, Del, that is a killer list.  I can tell we have a similar taste.  I was just re-reading The Perfect Storm last night as I was going to bed.  I'm staying at my aunt and uncle's cottage up on Lake Huron while I'm studying for my exams, and the wind was blowing furiously off Georgian Bay, hitting the house like a sledgehammer.  The Perfect Storm is just so wonderfully atmospheric - even without the real-life sound effects, it was comforting to be inside and under the duvet while reading about the wild world outside.  I definitely want to read Issac's Storm now.

Agreed, The Coming Plague is an excellent read.  If I'd been inclined towards the sciences, I would have indulged my fantasy of being an epidemiologist.  You know, tracking viruses, following the trail, saving the world.  Only, I wouldn't look very sexy in one of those biohazard suits.  The tailoring is all wrong for me.  The world will have to be saved by someone else.

Did you read Ackroyd's London before you went?  How long were you there for, anyway?

Speaking of Into Thin Air, have you ever read any of Joe Simpson's books?  He's a Brit, and a hell of a mountaineer, and writes some truly magical, fascinating stuff, like Into the Void and This Game of Ghosts.  Highly, highly recommended.

Wasn't Smilla's Sense of Snow fabulous?  In the U.K., it was sold as Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, which is less alliterative, and much more twee.  I prefer the American title.  Hey, did you ever see the movie of it?  It was a bit so-so, but I loved Julia Ormond as Smilla.  It's such a shame she gave up acting in big movies.  I thought she was starkly, uncompromisingly talented.  Also, she had the most beautiful nose I've ever seen.

Isabelle, I have read Angela's Ashes.  And as I read about all of his gnawing hunger and poverty, I couldn't stop eating.  Literally, I remember sitting at my kitchen table scoffing piece of toast after piece of toast, mesmerised late into the night.  I think I gained 10 lbs courtesey of that book.  Thanks, Frank McCourt, for nothin'.  But you're so right, it's an excellent, teary read.  I'm a sucker for the Irish.

Oh, H'pie, this is a glorious sentance: "Sits above all the other books, haughty and dusty."  I know just what you mean.  Snobby books, queens of the castle.  I like to take down my inherited collection of beautifully-bound Shakespeare, and show it who's boss every now and then.  We can't have books getting too uppity on us.  "Boo acid!"  You crack me up.

No, it's funny.  I'm not taking any classes in English either, and didn't all through university.  The thing is, I adore reading, suck up literature of all sorts, eat books up like they're donuts.  I always did well in my English classes in high school, but I knew that in a really important way, I didn't ever want reading to become work.  I love it for the pure pleasure I get from it, untinged with guilt about having to come up with something earth-shattering to say about it.  I always disliked taking some books apart in class.  Some need years to digest, and you don't have that luxury in school.

Nevermind, we can post our own aimless, happy "essays" on here, as and when we choose.  If we choose.  Yossarian is always welcome here.  If he wants to be here.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2006, 03:11:13 pm by Chanterais »

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2006, 03:14:36 pm »
Oooh, oooh, Del, that is a killer list.  I can tell we have a similar taste.

Yep  8) Apparently so.

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I was just re-reading The Perfect Storm last night as I was going to bed.  I'm staying at my aunt and uncle's cottage up on Lake Huron while I'm studying for my exams, and the wind was blowing furiously off Georgian Bay, hitting the house like a sledgehammer.
   :o

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The Perfect Storm is just so wonderfully atmospheric - even without the real-life sound effects, it was comforting to be inside and under the duvet while reading about the wild world outside.

Absolutely.  The movie was so-so.  They did exactly the opposite of what the book did.  Junger could only speculate on what happened on the boat that day, so his stories were about the people around those 'Andrea Gail's' fishermen.  The movie focused on fictionalizing what might have happened on board.  Made the story more hokey IMO.

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I definitely want to read Issac's Storm now.

Good read.

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Agreed, The Coming Plague is an excellent read.  If I'd been inclined towards the sciences, I've always had fantasies about being an epidemiologist.  You know, tracking viruses, following the trail.

Me too.  Or forensics.  But I'm too much of a coward at heart to be one of those plague trackers.  I mean, talk about bravery.  I think The Coming Plague mentioned one scientist whose courage failed him on the hunt for Ebola/Marburg and he got off the plane before it even left the States.

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Only, I wouldn't look very sexy in one of those biohazard suits.  The tailoring is all wrong for me.

 :laugh:

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Did you read Ackroyd's London before you went?  How long were you there for, anyway?

Ten days.  Love love love love the city.  Want to move there.  I went in September of '05, my best friend bought me the book for my birthday in October.  It was a great memory jogger and I learned a lot of little things that just tickled me.

From Shakespeare in Love, Viola is on stage as Juliet, the other theater owner says to the Geoffrey Rush character, "We're going to end up in the clink."  An anachronism, or so I thought.

Geoffrey Rush's character replies, "See you in jail."

From Ackroyds' book:  "There were seven prisons in the area by the 17th century (it's most famous, the Clink, literally gave its name to other institutions)..." 

And many many other such tidbits.

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Speaking of Into Thin Air, have you ever read any of Joe Simpson's books?  He's a Brit, and a hell of a mountaineer, and writes some truly magical, fascinating stuff, like Into the Void and This Game of Ghosts.  Highly, highly recommended.

No I haven't!  Will have to check them out!

Quote
Wasn't Smilla's Sense of Snow fabulous?  In the U.K., it was sold as Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, which is less alliterative, and much more twee.  I prefer the American title.  Hey, did you ever see the movie of it?  It was a bit so-so, but I loved Julia Ormond as Smilla.  It's such a shame she gave up acting in big movies.  I thought she was starkly, uncomprimisingly talented.  Also, she had the most beautiful nose I've ever seen.

The book is unbelieveably good.  I've read it many times and even now, when I pick it up after months have gone by, I can't put it down.  I wanted to name one of my cats Benja and when I write, I always name a male character Fojl.  I agree, the American title had better alliteration.  I quote this book to my friends.  I very much identify with Smilla - sadly - and she is another character that is just alive.  The movie was well casted, but underwhelming.  It needed to be much longer than it was to capture the essence of the book and locales.  Julie was perfect as Smilla, IMO.

Can't recommend the book enough. 
« Last Edit: April 29, 2006, 11:45:25 pm by delalluvia »

Offline henrypie

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2006, 01:01:26 am »
Speaking of London,
I was in London for an academic year, experiencing depression.  The second apartment I lived in -- after I moved from a nicer one to save money -- was truly squalid: no heat; little furniture; fleas; a human poo right in front of the door downstairs one day.  But only just that once.  And of course I'm not sure it was a human poo.  But I'm kinda sure.

The part about books: the only thing I liked about this apartment was that in the kitchen there was a cupboard crammed with books.  The previous tenant had left them.  During the winter I got the flu -- of course I got the flu.  So for a week I was so feverish and achy and miserable that I skipped all my classes and didn't leave the house, but I read and read of the books of the magic cupboard, huddled by the space heater in the kitchen.  I read five books in five days and they were:

1984 (Orwell)
A Thousand Acres (Smiley)
Moo (Smiley)
Breathing Lessons (Tyler)
A Patchwork Planet (Tyler)

Other cupboard books I remember were Couples (Updike) and a dated, sexist nonfiction book about sex, which I remember reading at the laundromat while waiting for my bedding to dry at high temperature, which I had hoped would take care of the fleas but no, they were in between the floorboards; they were everywhere; I had to drag in an exterminator.  And a book of stories by Katherine Ann Porter which I left on a train.  I read so many other books in London, not necessarily cupboard books.  The World According to Garp and A Widow for One Year, The Handmaid's Tale, West with the Night and Out of Africa, Rabbit, Run, The Corner, Wicked Women, Horse Heaven.

Moo is such a delight.  Speaking of Updike, I also recommend In the Beauty of the Lilies

1984 wasn't such a good book for me to read then.  I was totally creeped out by scary futuristic London and how it didn't seem all that different from the London I was in.

Sebastian Junger was on the Colbert Report the other night and he is HOT.  Movie star hot.

Offline Chanterais

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2006, 01:20:41 am »
Del: (Or Ms Rain or Dela, or Lluvypie, or whatever.  I haven't yet found a diminutive that feels right for you.  What should I go with?  Can you think of one that you like?)

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I think The Coming Plague mentioned one scientist whose courage failed him on the hunt for Ebola/Marburg and he got off the plane before it even left the States.

Ah yes, that would be me.  I remember flying home to London during the height of the SARS scare in Toronto, and the woman next to me sneezed and coughed the entire time.  It took all of my self control not to shriek "Get off this plane you disease riddled old hag!  A curse on you and your festering pestilential germs!".  I didn't.  I was very nice, and offered her kleenex.  But I wanted to smother her with my mini pillow.  I would make a terrible epidemiologist.

Well, when you move to London, you know where my house is.  Cross the Abbey road crosswalk so you're facing the studio, and turn left.  Keep walking for about thirty seconds, and you'll be there.  Number 24.  Watch out for the cat, she bites.

Oh, you're so right about the casting of Smilla's Sense of Snow.  Gabriel Byrne, Jim Broadbent, Julia Ormond, and wasn't Tom Wilkinson in it too?  Shame it wasn't all it could be.

I forgot to write before about how much I loved Robin Lane Fox's book on Alexander.  It makes me laugh because every weekend in the Financial Times in the U.K., he has a column on.......gardening.  It's so great.  This erudite, tweed-wearing old fellow happily nattering on about aphids and bindweed, and debating the merits of Rosa Rugosa and Rosa Rugosa Alba.  Long live the English eccentric.

Henrypie:

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Speaking of London,
I was in London for an academic year, experiencing depression.  The second apartment I lived in -- after I moved from a nicer one to save money -- was truly squalid: no heat; little furniture; fleas; a human poo right in front of the door downstairs one day.  But only just that once.  And of course I'm not sure it was a human poo.  But I'm kinda sure.

Oh yay.  Depression in London.  Been there, done that.  No fecal matter on my doorstep, though.  That really takes the biscuit.  Nice that you had a slight margin of doubt about its provenance, anyway.  What part of London were you based in?  Where I grew up in St. John's Wood, there was a red-faced old codger across the street who used to get out his chalk and circle any doggie turdlets that were left abandoned on the pavement.  Boy, he would just get hopping mad.  Hey, they weren't my turdlets.  Sidewalk sausages are a strong argument for cats, I feel.

That's not a bad collection of books to be holed up with, though.  Speaking of Smiley, have you ever read her All True Travels and Adventures of Lydie Newton?  I took the year off from school in 2003 to teach English in Honduras, and it was the only goddamn book in Tegucigalpa that I could find that wasn't in Spanish.  Well, there was that and Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger, and I'm not too proud to admit that I devoured that, too.  But the Smiley's a goodie.  I wept.  Oh, how I wept.  Generally, books don't make me cry, but I howled over Lydie Newton.

I've never read any Updike.  Philistine, aren't I?  Should I start with In The Beauty of the Lilies?
« Last Edit: April 30, 2006, 02:16:58 am by Chanterais »

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2006, 01:01:03 pm »
Henrypie

Quote
I was in London for an academic year, experiencing depression.  The second apartment I lived in -- after I moved from a nicer one to save money -- was truly squalid: no heat; little furniture; fleas; a human poo right in front of the door downstairs one day.  But only just that once.  And of course I'm not sure it was a human poo.  But I'm kinda sure.

Ah, the charm of the city.  Actually the country and old houses are no better sometimes.  I lived in a tiny one bedroom converted 19th century carriage house for 3 years during my college years in central Texas.  Lovely, picturesque.

But recall that carriage houses in the 19th century are nowadays known as ‘garages’.  No insulation.  Inside the little house it grew to over 100 degrees F in the summer and below freezing in the winter.  One summer we got fleas and we could not get rid of them.  I was a poor student as well, but I could not afford an exterminator.  This was the country.  He would have had to do the house AND the yard AND my cats AND probably the neighbors’ yards AND wandering pets/critters as well (I had field mice and possums living under and around the house).

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The part about books: the only thing I liked about this apartment was that in the kitchen there was a cupboard crammed with books.  The previous tenant had left them.  During the winter I got the flu -- of course I got the flu.  So for a week I was so feverish and achy and miserable that I skipped all my classes and didn't leave the house, but I read and read of the books of the magic cupboard, huddled by the space heater in the kitchen.

I know you were miserable, but this reads rather romantically.

Quote
1984 (Orwell)
A Thousand Acres (Smiley)
Moo (Smiley)
Breathing Lessons (Tyler)
A Patchwork Planet (Tyler)

The World According to Garp and A Widow for One Year, The Handmaid's Tale, West with the Night and Out of Africa, Rabbit, Run, The Corner, Wicked Women, Horse Heaven.

I’m afraid I’ve not read any Updike either.  I've read Out of Africa, a biography on Karen Blixen (forgot the name) and Silence will Speak (biography of Denys Finch Hatten) as I'm a nut about that era and area.  I also strongly identify with Blixen.  The Handmaid's Tale I read and it really creeps me out everytime the funny-mentalist religious freaks in this country start yipping and yapping. 

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Moo is such a delight.

I’ve heard about this book, but never read it.

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1984 wasn't such a good book for me to read then.  I was totally creeped out by scary futuristic London and how it didn't seem all that different from the London I was in.

It still is a creepy book.  I read this years ago.

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Sebastian Junger was on the Colbert Report the other night and he is HOT.  Movie star hot.

Yep, I think they tried to get him to do TV/movies, but he preferred to write.  With a name like that, I wonder what his friends call him?

Chan

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Del: (Or Ms Rain or Dela, or Lluvypie, or whatever.  I haven't yet found a diminutive that feels right for you.  What should I go with?  Can you think of one that you like?)

You can call me whatever you like.  [blushes]  I have to admit I prefer calling you Chan despite knowing your real name because it’s easy for me to remember.  In the world of slash fanfiction writing, the word ‘chan’ refers to the type of story where an adult has sex with an underage person.

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Well, when you move to London, you know where my house is.  Cross the Abbey road crosswalk so you're facing the studio, and turn left.  Keep walking for about thirty seconds, and you'll be there.  Number 24.  Watch out for the cat, she bites.

One landmark in my pictures of that area show a sign that says ‘Abbey House’.  What is that and is that close to your place?

Quote
I forgot to write before about how much I loved Robin Lane Fox's book on Alexander.  It makes me laugh because every weekend in the Financial Times in the U.K., he has a column on.......gardening.  It's so great.  This erudite, tweed-wearing old fellow happily nattering on about aphids and bindweed, and debating the merits of Rosa Rugosa and Rosa Rugosa Alba.  Long live the English eccentric.

He is indeed!  He also wrote the ‘Making of Alexander’ book, which of course, makes it a read far and above other books of that type.  LOL!   So not only does he write about genteel subjects as aphids and bindweed, he also writes about how it wasn’t a big stretch to imagine Alexander going for soft dancing boy Bagoas, since after years on horseback, Hephaestion’s arse would have been as tough as saddle leather.

I read Clancy's Hunt for Red October and Sum of All Fears before Clancy got egomaniacal and ruined his Jack Ryan character.  There is a great part in Sum in which most Americans would do well to read.  The president has ordered the arrest of Jack Ryan who is trying to save the world, and when Ryan orders the captain/colonel to ignore the order and the officer protests that he can't, Ryan firmly reminds the officer that he took an oath to the Constitution and not the president!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2006, 01:04:40 pm by delalluvia »

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2006, 04:53:57 pm »
Thanks for all these wonderful recommendations. I'm printing out this thread for my next trip to the bookstore! I have very little time to read, and I spend about half of it rereading BBM! So your recommendations are very important to me. I have a few to add. First starting with nonfiction, there are two I wholeheartedly recommend for women. The first is The Alphabet vs. the Goddess, by Leonard Shlain. It is the most important book I've read for many years. It can get a bit scholarly though. Secondly, Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Denver's own Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I previously mentioned this to Becky as a book which reexamines old fables and fairy tales in terms of culture and myth.

Since I have little free time for reading, I often listen to books on tape. One that is mind-blowing is Jonathan Safren Froer's Extermely Loud and Incredibly Close. It is a Catcher in the Rye type of story about a young man living in New York after the 9-11 disaster. It is so good and better than his first book Everything is Illuminated which was a pretty good movie. Also, any of the books of Alexander McCall Smith, particularly those set in Botswana, are excellent to listen to.

If you like BBM (and u do, otherwise u wouldn't be here!) I bet you will also like Like Water for Chocolate. Although it is set in Mexico and doesn't have any gay themes, there are many parallels. Another book that I am reading right now that does have a gay theme is The Dreyffus Affair by Peter Lefcourt. Leslie (llnicoll) recommended it and I am finding it to be very good. Another excellent book with a gay theme, among others, is Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Finally, I also really liked Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

I also read a couple of excellent biographies recently. One was a recent bestseller about Gengis Khan. Amazingly, it was fascinating. Another biography was about Josephine, consort to Napoleon.
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Offline henrypie

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2006, 10:00:20 pm »
Chantie-
The apartment I had to move out of because it was too expensive was very nice and about two blocks from the Willesden Green tube station. Zone 2, very close to the Royal Academy where I was taking the classes I skipped all the time.  Squalor-apartment: 79 Bruce Grove, closest tube stations were Seven Sisters and Tottenham Hale.  Opposite side of city, much farther from school, Zone 3 so my tube pass was more expensive.  Aside from the squalor of my particular flat, the neighborhood was vibrant, lots of fabulous cheap fresh produce markets.  Lots of racial tension, too.  A very good experience in some ways, but it was all through the chronic fog-pain of depression.  Yich.

So wait, you grew up in St. John's Wood?  I can just hear the Jubilee line lady saying it in her tight-ass little voice.  The next stop is St. John's Wood!  This train terminates at: Stanmore.

I went to the Sainsbury's at the Finchley Road stop regularly.

I'm about to watch Proof.  When my husband saw that Jake's in he groaned and said he ought to get me a "life-size Jake."  I think he meant like a cardboard cutout.  In any case, he's a good man.

Oooh hey -- I surely do recommend that you start with In the Beauty of the Lilies for Updike.  Has he won a Pulitzer?  A Nobel?  Yet?

Offline Chanterais

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2006, 10:58:47 pm »
Sorry I went awol for a while.  Had to kill an exam dead.  And now that I've slain the beast, I'm back to reveling in this thread.  I love the stories that come out when people talk about their favourite books.  Like pieces of music, I guess we all associate certain novels with certain places, or certain times in our lives, and the people who were with us then.  We talk about the books we love, and in doing so we are telling about ourselves.

Yoooovia:

Quote
You can call me whatever you like.  [blushes]  I have to admit I prefer calling you Chan despite knowing your real name because it’s easy for me to remember.  In the world of slash fanfiction writing, the word ‘chan’ refers to the type of story where an adult has sex with an underage person.

You know, I got comedically indignant when I first read this, and then remembered the crush I had on Jack Bowers, an eleven-year-old I babysat a few years ago.  I swear, if he'd been fifteen years older I wouldda married him.  He was so great.  Funny as hell.  But no, I didn't seduce him.  I did give him noogies, however.  And that is the extent of my pederasty.  So yes, Chan is just fine.  I like Chantie a lot too.

Quote
One landmark in my pictures of that area show a sign that says ‘Abbey House’.  What is that and is that close to your place?

Yes, isn't that the sensationally ugly block of flats on the corner?  I seem to think it's a blue sign, right?  Go past that and hang a right.  There's a little street called Garden Rd. that you'd never notice if you weren't looking for it.  A few steps down there, you'll find a quiet, leafy little enclave away from the business of Abbey Rd., called Hamilton Gardens.  Ours is the one with the crimson door.  Knock, and come right in.

Quote
I read Clancy's Hunt for Red October and Sum of All Fears before Clancy got egomaniacal and ruined his Jack Ryan character.

Oh, I'm in emphatic agreement!  Mr. Clancy's terrific if he sticks to the thriller stuff, but as soon as he starts thumping his Republican drum, I tune out.  Oh, and also when he starts rabbiting on about this new martial technology or the other.  Boring.  Flip, flip, flip.

Frontie:

Quote
Thanks for all these wonderful recommendations. I'm printing out this thread for my next trip to the bookstore!

Oh, I know!  Isn't it great?  I made a list, but I've already lost it, which tells you something about me.  But I'll make another one, and tuck in into my wallet so I have it on hand whenever I pass a bookstore.  Like the Boy Scouts, I'll Be Prepared.

Quote
Also, any of the books of Alexander McCall Smith, particularly those set in Botswana, are excellent to listen to.

I ain't religious, but I am evangelical about the Number One Ladies Detective Agency books.  You can't tell me that Mma. Ramotswe doesn't exist.  Of course she does!  To anyone who hasn't read them, run, don't walk to the nearest shop and get the first in the series, the above mentioned Number One Ladies Detective Agency.  Your world will immediately become a cheerier, better place.  You will also develop an unhealthy addiction to redbush tea, but I can't be held responsible for that.

Henrypie:

Oh yes, Willesden Green's very decent.  I have absolutely no idea where Seven Sisters is, but I'll be sure neverto go there. Forewarned is forearmed.

I just squealed with appreciate laughter when I read this:

Quote
So wait, you grew up in St. John's Wood?  I can just hear the Jubilee line lady saying it in her tight-ass little voice.  The next stop is St. John's Wood!  This train terminates at: Stanmore.

You've got it exactly!  Word perfect!  I'm so impressed.  How long ago were you there?  If it was in the last six years, then that enormous Sainsbury's you shopped at is our local supermarket/eyesore.  Before then, there was a seriously crummy little Sainsbury's I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.  This is so funny.  I like to think of you patrolling the bread aisle.  I feel like we're connected through so many things, supermarkets being least among them.

Books:  to sedately celebrate having demolished my first exam, I am tucking myself up tonight with an old copy of The Sign of Four, a little Sherlock Holmes mystery courtesy of Herr Conan Doyle.  I anticipate fog, jangling carriages, ingenious solutions and dastardly villains.  Maybe a rabid dog in there somewhere.

Interesting facts: Sherlock Holmes never wore a deer-stalker hat, never smoked a pipe, and certainly never, ever uttered the immortal phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson."  Filthy lies.  It's all ornamentation by the movies.  Like cats, you just can't trust them.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2006, 11:47:22 pm »
Chantie

Quote
One landmark in my pictures of that area show a sign that says ‘Abbey House’.  What is that and is that close to your place?

Yes, isn't that the sensationally ugly block of flats on the corner?  I seem to think it's a blue sign, right?  Go past that and hang a right.  There's a little street called Garden Rd. that you'd never notice if you weren't looking for it.  A few steps down there, you'll find a quiet, leafy little enclave away from the business of Abbey Rd., called Hamilton Gardens.  Ours is the one with the crimson door.  Knock, and come right in.

Yes, it was a not attractive block of something.  Looked like an institution if you ask me.  Lovely lovely area.  Wish I could come by for a chat.

Quote
I ain't religious, but I am evangelical about the Number One Ladies Detective Agency books.  You can't tell me that Mma. Ramotswe doesn't exist.  Of course she does!  To anyone who hasn't read them, run, don't walk to the nearest shop and get the first in the series, the above mentioned Number One Ladies Detective Agency.  Your world will immediately become a cheerier, better place.  You will also develop an unhealthy addiction to redbush tea, but I can't be held responsible for that.

I read the first one on my way home from London.  Sad to say, I was very disappointed.  I had saved it specifically to read on the plane so the atmosphere of the book could take me away.  While it was very people-oriented and a lovely set of new morality tales, the atmosphere I was looking for to immerse myself in was lacking.   :(

Quote
I just squealed with appreciate laughter when I read this:

So wait, you grew up in St. John's Wood?  I can just hear the Jubilee line lady saying it in her tight-ass little voice.  The next stop is St. John's Wood!  This train terminates at: Stanmore.

You've got it exactly!  Word perfect!  I'm so impressed.  How long ago were you there?  If it was in the last six years, then that enormous Sainsbury's you shopped at is our local supermarket/eyesore.  Before then, there was a seriously crummy little Sainsbury's I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.  This is so funny.  I like to think of you patrolling the bread aisle.  I feel like we're connected through so many things, supermarkets being least among them.

Henrypie saying this also gave me such a jolt...you know? - I think it's homesickness I feel! - I so loved and got along so well in London, I feel like it's my 'real' home.  I shopped at the Sainsbury over on - I think it was - Buckingham Palace Rd when eating out got too costly.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2006, 11:48:54 pm by delalluvia »

Offline Chanterais

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2006, 12:06:29 am »
Chantie
Quote
I ain't religious, but I am evangelical about the Number One Ladies Detective Agency books.  You can't tell me that Mma. Ramotswe doesn't exist.  Of course she does!  To anyone who hasn't read them, run, don't walk to the nearest shop and get the first in the series, the above mentioned Number One Ladies Detective Agency.  Your world will immediately become a cheerier, better place.  You will also develop an unhealthy addiction to redbush tea, but I can't be held responsible for that.

I read the first one on my way home from London.  Sad to say, I was very disappointed.  I had saved it specifically to read on the plane so the atmosphere of the book could take me away.  While it was very people-oriented and a lovely set of new morality tales, the atmosphere I was looking for to immerse myself in was lacking.   :(

Well that's it.  We can't be friends.  No, look, I'm sorry, but it's just not on.  There are some lines I cannot cross.  Delalluvia! You're a woman of such taste!  How can you say such things?  Where is your heart?  I'm going off to pout in the corner now, and when I get back, you'd better have changed your mind, or our love affair is over.  And that would be sad, indeed.
 :D

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2006, 12:19:44 am »
Chantie
Quote
I ain't religious, but I am evangelical about the Number One Ladies Detective Agency books.  You can't tell me that Mma. Ramotswe doesn't exist.  Of course she does!  To anyone who hasn't read them, run, don't walk to the nearest shop and get the first in the series, the above mentioned Number One Ladies Detective Agency.  Your world will immediately become a cheerier, better place.  You will also develop an unhealthy addiction to redbush tea, but I can't be held responsible for that.

I read the first one on my way home from London.  Sad to say, I was very disappointed.  I had saved it specifically to read on the plane so the atmosphere of the book could take me away.  While it was very people-oriented and a lovely set of new morality tales, the atmosphere I was looking for to immerse myself in was lacking.   :(

Well that's it.  We can't be friends.  No, look, I'm sorry, but it's just not on.  There are some lines I cannot cross.  Delalluvia! You're a woman of such taste!  How can you say such things?  Where is your heart?  I'm going off to pout in the corner now, and when I get back, you'd better have changed your mind, or our love affair is over.  And that would be sad, indeed.
 :D

 :'(  :'(  :'(  ;D

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2006, 09:48:35 am »
I posted this elsewhere on BetterMost, but I think the subjet of the Adovocate column fits here in this discussion.

From the Advocate:

 
COASTAL DISTURBANCES
The next Brokeback
Christopher Rice suggests hitting the bookstore to get a glimpse of the next big thing.

http://www.advocate.com/currentstory1_w.asp?id=30096


April 24, 2006
Coastal disturbances


By Christopher Rice


Here’s my advice to all of you who are still broken up about Brokeback Mountain’s loss at the Oscars. Head to your local gay bookstore and shell out a few bucks for something besides porn. As it turns out, Jack and Ennis weren’t hatched during a pitch meeting at the Ivy. They first came to life in the pages of The New Yorker, a magazine driven almost entirely by words alone.

In some sense, the literary origin of Brokeback—and the highly visible marketing of Annie Proulx’s short story, on which it is based—has masked a spreading indifference to the written word among gay men. Gay op-ed pages abound with condemnations of the formulaic treatment we receive on television sitcoms, but any defense of the gay bookstore and the much wider array of representations it offers is weak at best. At worst, we get dismissive essays from successful gay authors who seem determined to disregard the bookstores that helped give them their start.

Rather than spending all of our energy trying to guilt-trip the media into representing us more diversely, it’s time we put our passion and our dollars behind the nuanced representations of gay men that have already been written.

Don’t think you’re part of the problem? Here’s a test. Which of the following do you recognize? Mack Friedman, Richard McCann, Barry McCrea, Vestal McIntyre, Sulayman X, Aaron Hamburger, Dennis Cooper, Harlan Greene, Thorn Kief Hillsbery, Keith McDermott, Patrick Ryan, Blair Mastbaum, Bart Yates, K.M. Soehnlein, Michael Lowenthal, Eric Shaw Quinn, John Morgan Wilson. This is but a small sampling of current writers whose work collapses stereotypes of gay men. (Here’s hoping you’re already familiar with living gay literary lions such as Alan Hollinghurst, Felice Picano, Andrew Holleran, Edmund White and others.)

If big gestures are more your style, get out your checkbook and spend a paltry $25 to join the struggling Lambda Literary Foundation—sponsor of the Lammy awards—the only organization dedicated to increasing the visibility of LGBT writers.

All of that’s pretty easy. The hard part will be letting go of excuses like “I try to read before bed but I fall asleep”—to which I’m always tempted to reply that I hope you don’t read the CNN news ticker while on the treadmill. Patronizing your local gay bookstore and setting aside 20 minutes each night to read is not too much to ask when the next gay-themed film to take American culture by storm may be at stake.

Otherwise, we had better prepare ourselves for an endless slate of happy-go-lucky sex comedies firmly rooted in the “taming the go-go boy” school of storytelling.

Brokeback is just one of many recent successful films that are faithful adaptations of written source material. In Brokeback’s case, it was the short story’s impact on several well-placed straight filmmakers that ultimately carried it toward the big screen.

That’s because gay men have been remiss in forming a potent segment of the book-buying public with the power to nudge gay titles into the Hollywood pipeline. If we truly want Hollywood to present us with representations of gay men that challenge and even devastate us, this situation needs to change. And why shouldn’t it? After all, we each have the power to change it before bedtime tonight.

TJ

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2006, 10:00:23 am »
Christopher Rice is son of Anne Rice; and they both are published writers.

I do have a number of gay-themed books which I bought at regular bookstores and through different online book dealers.

Since I am on fixed income, I have not bought any books in that category for a few years now except for the 2005 edition of the stand-alone paperback, "Brokeback Mountain."

Offline henrypie

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2006, 01:25:04 pm »
Hey Chantiepie,

Regarding what you wrote:
"Interesting facts: Sherlock Holmes never wore a deer-stalker hat, never smoked a pipe, and certainly never, ever uttered the immortal phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson."  Filthy lies.  It's all ornamentation by the movies.  Like cats, you just can't trust them."

Hee hee,
I just learned that from Curious Incident.  I think he did all those things in the movies, but never in the books.

By the way I don't know how much you rode the Central line, but did you ever notice that when she says "Shepherd's Bush" she sounds like she knows she's saying something naughty?  I rode the Central line back and forth from Ealing, where I stayed for a few nights with a friend of a friend when I was searching for an apartment.  I was in London from September 2000 to July 2001.  The Sainsbury's at Finchley Road was indeed a giant and an eyesore.  How about that Rainforest Cafe thingy?  What was that?  And the ... Homebase, is it called, down across the carpark from Sainsbury's?  I went to the latter a few times, looking for flea spray and mirrors and screws and whatnot.  I also went to see "Quills" at that cinema.  Ew.  Another bad memory.  Oh hey, on the bread aisle at Sainsbury's:  of course, I went right for the day-old bread.  I was just toasting it anyway.  Also olive ciabattas.  Mmm.


Dela,
I admit I tend to wax nostalgic for a lot of things about London.  I would love to give it a go again sometime, with a little more money, and a job.  If my husband got some swanky engineering job and I could be his kept woman, who sings and writes and takes her exercise in Regent's Park every day and, maybe, is a mom, well that could be splendid.  But living in/travelling through slums to get to central London everyday is mighty wearing (particularly during tube strikes of which there were many), and you don't live in central London, or one of the nicer suburbs, unless you have money to burn, or you have an ancestral home of some sort.  I also kinda think that if I were to jump off into a big new foreign city, it would most likely to be Stuttgart, where my husband is from.  We consider it from time to time.  There, my consuming hobby/task/interest/burden would be learning krazy-German (distinct, impossible dialect of the region).  And trying not to be depressed and angry at my crushing, chronic lack of articulateness.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Carnal Knowledge
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2006, 06:24:01 pm »
I'm reading a great article in The New Yorker by Bill Buford. It's called "Carnal Knowledge" about his purchase of a pig for butchering in Tuscany. He is a chef, in case you're confused.
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2006, 06:24:28 pm »
The latest book I am reading is "Augusta Locke" by William Heywood Henderson about a woman who grows up in the Rocky Mountains and lives as a man in Wyoming, owning a cattle ranch. It's a great read, and has a recommendation from Annie Proulx on the jacket.
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2006, 08:19:14 pm »
One of my favorite Victorian novels is Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters.  Not many people had even heard of this before the excellent Masterpiece Theatre version a few years ago.  Some people who don't care for Dickens or Thackeray imagine they don't like the Victorians, but Gaskell is worlds away from them in this work, a little more in the late Austen tradition.  Certainly there is Austenian genius in how characters like Mrs Gibson reveal their moral qualities unwittingly in their speech - it's really rare in novels to have dialog which places the characters so perfectly.  It's also like Austen in having an extremely sympathetic main character set in the midst of a very mixed, difficult family situation, as in Pride and Prejudice.  And the family is surrounded by an immense, varied, beautifully painted rural community.  The action never lags, working itself out in unpredictable ways.  I'm really working myself up to a rereading!

Offline henrypie

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2006, 09:22:50 am »
Thanks, Frontie, for reviving the thread!

I am now reading The March by E.L. Doctorow.  It's his most recent, I believe.  (His Ragtime goes on the all-time-favorite pile.  Holy crap, that's a fine little book.)  Anyway The March is speeding by, gripping and beautiful.  (It's set in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina in the midst of Sherman's March to the Sea.)

Offline Andrew

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2006, 02:20:06 pm »
Something just made me remember the much-loved story "A White Heron" by the 19th century Maine writer Sarah Orne Jewett.  This has so many beautiful things to say about growing up... being true to what you have always been even as you become someone new...

Stories are a nice alternative for people who think they have no time to read. 

If anyone else knows and likes this story I would be glad to hear of it.

Offline Andrew

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2006, 02:48:50 pm »
Well, that happens in "A White Heron".  Because it's set in Jewett's native Maine I took it along a few years ago when we visited Acadia National Park, staying in a cottage overlooking Southwest Harbor.  I read it aloud one evening to my partner and the friend who came with us.  And had great difficulty controlling my voice as I read the last paragraph.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2006, 03:01:48 pm »
This is on the Internet! at
http://www.public.coe.edu/~theller/soj/awh/awh-cont.htm
along with a lot of her other things.
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2006, 03:09:21 pm »
Did you have a chance to read it, Front-Ranger?  Did you like it...even a little bit?  I read it in high school when it was in the anthology for our English class.  And something made me remember it and want to seek it out years later, though I was too young to know what I thought about it or about much of anything the first time around.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2006, 03:32:14 pm »
Yes, I just finished reading it and liked it very much. I can't wait to read more of her work! Have to explore the whole site. As for you, Andrew, I might have to start calling U Thoreau. I have several Rokcy Mountain wildflower pics to post on your Nature Journal
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2006, 03:39:39 pm »
I'll look forward to the wildflowers.  Unfortunately I don't think any of Jewett's other stories are at all like A White Heron, she put everything she had to say about nature in that one story.  But I know there are other stories about small town life and I want to read them.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #30 on: August 06, 2006, 05:33:44 pm »
Just finished reading "The Oracle" by William Broad, which is the non-fiction story of the rediscovery of the oracle of Delphi and how a modern geologist and archaeologist proved that the old stories of the strange 'pneuma' and subterranean crack in the ground that was the source of the 'voice of the gods'.

Offline Andrew

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #31 on: August 13, 2006, 12:08:01 pm »
I am getting along in The Little White Bird by J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.  It is a touching and humorous fictional account of a fussy bachelor leisured gentleman's obsession with and growing involvement with a working class family and their baby boy, whom he adores.  There are autobiographical elements of Barrie and how he became part of the Llewelyn Davies family, but it is no autobiography.  Peter Pan makes his first appearance in this book, which was later revised and shortened as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, my next read.  The way Barrie weaves in his own fairy lore as told to little David into what is also a realistic and comic picture of life in London is quite captivating, although it can be a little disorienting at first when the fantasy appears unannounced.  This book was from 1902, the play Peter Pan was produced in 1904 and the narrative Peter and Wendy is from 1911.

Offline tamarack

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #32 on: August 13, 2006, 04:28:28 pm »
I just noticed this thread for the first time and skimming through it I noticed that several of you mentioned liking The Perfect Storm . When I read it several years ago I became really interested in what it was like day-to-day on a sword boat, not realizing at the time that Linda Greenlaw had written such a book. If you remember, Linda is the captain of the Hannah Boden, the sister ship to the Andrea Gail.

I have since read The Lobster Chronicles, which tells of life at home on Isle au Haut, Maine, where she returned to learn lobstering after she tired of the sword boats, and All Fishermen Are Liars, which was fun to read but wasn't a book that I kept when I was finished with it. She has a wonderful way with words and a great, dry sense of humor.

I seem to have a somewhat different taste in books than most of you, but if you liked the Perfect Storm I think that you would also enjoy The Hungry Ocean, at least.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #33 on: September 02, 2006, 10:30:25 am »
I need help. As the Labor Day weekend starts in the U.S., I find myself with four books to read, and I don't know in which order I should read them, or if I should pass any of them up altogether. They are: The Book of Ruth, by Jane Hamilton, The Time Traveller's Wife, The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood, and Daughter of Fortune, by Isabel Allende.

What's unusual for me in all of these books is that they are by and about women. I usually read books about men, and am almost finished with John Steinbeck's To A God Unknown. I selected these books to bring a little balance into my life, and also because Annie Proulx has convinced me to read more fiction by women. (She doesn't include many strong female characters in her books, though, at least not lately.)

Your thoughts welcome!!
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Offline Andrew

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2006, 10:57:21 am »
I can't help with any of those titles since I haven't read them, but if your interest in works by and about women continues, see my recommendation on p.2 about Wives and Daughters by Elisabeth Gaskell.  The Victorian period was an interesting transitional time.  Although women still ostensibly had traditional roles, de facto there were big changes going on.  Gaskell herself was the big breadwinner in her family and this very book, published serially, was allowing her to buy the house their family needed.  If you have an idea about what 'Victorian' means in literature from other authors, like Dickens or Trollope or Thackeray or Eliot, well, they're all different from one another and she is at least as different from any of them.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #35 on: September 02, 2006, 01:38:06 pm »
I just noticed this thread for the first time and skimming through it I noticed that several of you mentioned liking The Perfect Storm . When I read it several years ago I became really interested in what it was like day-to-day on a sword boat, not realizing at the time that Linda Greenlaw had written such a book. If you remember, Linda is the captain of the Hannah Boden, the sister ship to the Andrea Gail.

I have since read The Lobster Chronicles, which tells of life at home on Isle au Haut, Maine, where she returned to learn lobstering after she tired of the sword boats, and All Fishermen Are Liars, which was fun to read but wasn't a book that I kept when I was finished with it. She has a wonderful way with words and a great, dry sense of humor.

I seem to have a somewhat different taste in books than most of you, but if you liked the Perfect Storm I think that you would also enjoy The Hungry Ocean, at least.

I did read 'The Hungry Ocean' but IMO it wasn't very compelling.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2006, 09:04:19 pm »
I will look up Wives and Daughters, Andrew, as soon as I'm done with The Time Traveler's Wife. It's very entertaining (the main character is the time traveler, a guy, LOL)

Here's some info on it:
http://www.amazon.com/Time-Travelers-Wife-Audrey-Niffenegger/dp/015602943X
I guess this was the first novel of Audrey Niffenegger, who next wrote The Secret Life of Bees. The film rights were bought up by Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. I wonder who owns them now? The film is slated to come out in 2008.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #37 on: September 13, 2006, 10:07:36 am »
For any of you who want to read a 9-11 themed novel, I recommend Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathon Safren Foer. At the heart of the story is a Holden-Caulfield type boy who lost his father in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The plot is skimpy but the characters are finely drawn and you will fall in love with the main character and the "heavy boots" he wears.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #38 on: September 14, 2006, 07:23:08 pm »
The Charioteer by Mary Renault (published in the 1950's).

A memorable book, one of the handful about gay men from the first half of the twentieth century, and one of the ones most worth reading.

Many people who have read her later historical novels of Greece must pick this up and assume from the title that it's going to be another in the series.  In fact, it's her last novel of contemporary British life before she got impatient with having to write about people living under such heavy social restraints, and switched to a different style and a different period, when she believed gay men at least were more accepted.

Besides being extraordinarily convincing as a story and a presentation of the characters, it's unusual among earlier gay novels in not being primarily about homophobia.  The main characters do have to hide parts of their lives, but they don't feel they have to marry and they are not the victims of violence, nor do any come to a bad end.
While much in the historical novels comes from her scholarship, this novel comes from her direct knowledge of the society she lived in, with her experiences as an army nurse during the war giving verisimilitude to all the parts in the hospital.  It's as much a period piece (giving an intense sense of wartime life) as her later novels.

It's also unusual in involving a male triangle of sorts and a choice, but without a Mr Wrong and a Mr Right.

Some American readers will find parts of certain chapters difficult, like the one telling of Laurie's time at a private school, simply from our not being totally familiar with the cultural expectations which are so obliquely alluded to.  Rereading some chapters afterwards gave me more confidence that I was picking up the meaning she intended, here and there.  But you can have some doubts and questions and still be swept along.  Eventually context explained a lot of things.  And a lot of people with quick intuitions will have no trouble at all.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #39 on: September 14, 2006, 10:08:59 pm »
The Charioteer by Mary Renault (published in the 1950's).

A memorable book, one of the handful about gay men from the first half of the twentieth century, and one of the ones most worth reading.

Many people who have read her later historical novels of Greece must pick this up and assume from the title that it's going to be another in the series.  In fact, it's her last novel of contemporary British life before she got impatient with having to write about people living under such heavy social restraints, and switched to a different style and a different period, when she believed gay men at least were more accepted.

Besides being extraordinarily convincing as a story and a presentation of the characters, it's unusual among earlier gay novels in not being primarily about homophobia.  The main characters do have to hide parts of their lives, but they don't feel they have to marry and they are not the victims of violence, nor do any come to a bad end.
While much in the historical novels comes from her scholarship, this novel comes from her direct knowledge of the society she lived in, with her experiences as an army nurse during the war giving verisimilitude to all the parts in the hospital.  It's as much a period piece (giving an intense sense of wartime life) as her later novels.

It's also unusual in involving a male triangle of sorts and a choice, but without a Mr Wrong and a Mr Right.

Some American readers will find parts of certain chapters difficult, like the one telling of Laurie's time at a private school, simply from our not being totally familiar with the cultural expectations which are so obliquely alluded to.  Rereading some chapters afterwards gave me more confidence that I was picking up the meaning she intended, here and there.  But you can have some doubts and questions and still be swept along.  Eventually context explained a lot of things.  And a lot of people with quick intuitions will have no trouble at all.


That's exactly what I thought about The Charioteer, having read 3 of Renault's books on Alexander the Great.  Very interesting.  Thanks for the info.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2006, 10:12:31 pm »
Peter Pan makes his first appearance in this book, which was later revised and shortened as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, my next read.
I once, as a child, owned a facsimile edition of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, and loved it to itsy bitsy pieces. I cherished this incarnation of Peter even more than in the more famous stage variation; the book captured a child's fancy for seeing the magical and fantastic in the midst of our everyday world. Kensington Gardens became a hoped-for pilgrimage site for me, a journey which I have yet to commence. Your mention of the book brought back a swell of fond memories; I look forward to your thoughts on it as you choose to share them.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #41 on: September 15, 2006, 09:27:12 pm »
Scott,
on the subject of The Little White Bird/Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens - the first title is available new only as a plain paperback, without the fifty sensational Rackham drawings (a few of which are at a couple of websites,

http://www.nocloo.com/gallery2/v/arthur-rackham-peter-pan

and

http://www.art.com/asp/display-asp/_/id--16166/Peter_Pan_in_Kensington_Gardens.htm

How odd and unaccountable that a work that is often called Rackham's masterpiece is long out of print.  Dover Press has done the most for Rackham in recent years, including a Midsummer Night's Dream reprint with all the original color and black and white illustrations.  I have written to them to ask them if they would consider reprinting the Barrie/Rackham book.  Feel free to join me in the campaign!  The original edition that has all fifty pictures can only be bought from rare book dealers, at prices you can imagine.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #42 on: September 15, 2006, 09:37:14 pm »
Oh...the memories! Thanks for those links, Andrew; what a magical book that was (is still for the lucky few)! My childhood copy was lost long ago during the course of my family's frequent moves (all in the same city!).

I'm remembering how the Serpentine beckoned as some impeccably enchanted realm. And of Lock-Out Time, and of how Peter could never return to the human world, to the tender embrace of his mother. So many little details dancing back into my memory...

Yes, I may join you in your campaign. This is surely one of the classics of books designed for the delight and edification of children, and should be more widely available.


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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2006, 06:52:23 pm »
Does anyone recommend a particular edition of Walt Whitman's poetry?
Why do we consume what we consume?
Why do we believe what we believe?
Why do we accept what we accept?
You have a body, a mind, and a soul.... You have a responsibility.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2006, 11:39:12 pm »
Quote
I will look up Wives and Daughters, Andrew, as soon as I'm done with The Time Traveler's Wife. It's very entertaining (the main character is the time traveler, a guy, LOL)
Here's some info on it:
http://www.amazon.com/Time-Travelers-Wife-Audrey-Niffenegger/dp/015602943X
I guess this was the first novel of Audrey Niffenegger, who next wrote The Secret Life of Bees. The film rights were bought up by Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. I wonder who owns them now? The film is slated to come out in 2008.

I just started this book.  I'm about 100 pages in and I'm finding it very fascinating.  I absolutely LOVE books that are written in a diary-like form, or have very short chapters.  It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something *lol*  In any case, I've found the reading very enjoyable so far the storyline is great.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the movie, I'll certainly check it out.  It seems like it'd be complicated to create it.  And who's going to play Henry?  Hopefully someone comfortable with nudity!! *lol* 
"... and Ennis, not big on endearments, said what he said to his horses and daughters, little darlin." ~Proulx

"Life is not a succession of urgents nows; it is a listless trickle of why-should-I's."  Johnny Depp as the Second Earl of Rochester.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #45 on: September 17, 2006, 10:01:45 pm »
Does anyone recommend a particular edition of Walt Whitman's poetry?

I don't have the attached edition of just the Calamus poems, but I would certainly be interested to see it, to see if any of the photographers have made work that grows out of the world of the poetry.  Sometimes it's worth it if even one seems to understand (the cover is promising...)

http://www.amazon.com/Whitman-Men-Celebrated-Contemporary-Photographers/dp/0789300222/sr=1-31/qid=1158544132/ref=sr_1_31/002-6314108-6466443?ie=UTF8&s=books

I DO have a very specific recommendation for Emily Dickinson (whom you didn't ask about, but she is Whitman's reverse side), and that is the selection of her poems published by Little, Brown of my own Boston.  This is the first edition which printed the poems just as she had written them, without all the changes of her early editors.  I have had this edition since I was in school.  You can buy it used for under a dollar plus shipping!

http://www.amazon.com/Final-Harvest-Emily-Dickinson-Poems/dp/0316184160/sr=1-2/qid=1158544617/ref=sr_1_2/002-6314108-6466443?ie=UTF8&s=books
« Last Edit: September 17, 2006, 10:15:59 pm by Andrew »

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #46 on: October 14, 2006, 11:55:02 am »
Oftentimes I skip the fiction in my weekly New Yorker because I'm more of a nonfiction person than a novel or short story person. But lately I've been trying to read all the fiction, because I'm looking for a "new" Brokeback Mountain. But, sadly, I haven't read anything that comes close. There was a pretty good story in the September 11 issue called "Black Ice." It is by Cate Kennedy and is set in Australia. Interestingly, the phrase "just an Aussie Sheila" is used in it, which is the first time I have seen that phrase used outside of Katie77's thread in "Our Daily Thoughts." The Sept 11 issue is the one that has a tightrope walker suspended in midair, with an inside cover that shows him with the WTC site in the background.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #47 on: October 14, 2006, 12:01:00 pm »
The Whitman book I found in my daughter's bookcase (she is a master of all things transcendental) is Leaves of Grass, comprehensive reader's edition, published by The Norton Library. Would you like me to send it to you Daniel?

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #48 on: October 14, 2006, 12:08:08 pm »
Re: who should be Henry, my vote is for Tommy Flannigan. Read more about him here:

http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php?topic=2833.msg98105#msg98105

He's skinny, looks good in long hair, and has intense eyes. And he's not too handsome--has a scar on his face (which I find hot!)

But the movie's probably been cast already.

What does this have to do with books? Very little!!
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #49 on: October 22, 2006, 01:18:54 am »
I had a wonderful chat with an author at the "Equality State" book fair today in Casper, Wyoming. Her name is Lily Burana and she is a resident of Cheyenne who writes for the New York Times and other publications. I told her about this site, gave her the URL, and invited her to stop by. She wrote a message in her book "Try" which I bought, saying, "To the one and only Front Ranger, My best, Lily B." Later, at the Casper Library, I saw a book on display called "Lily and the Bull."

What is the significance of the title, "Try?" It is defined as "a rodeo rider's mettle in the face of being thrown time and time again."

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #50 on: November 03, 2006, 11:15:11 am »
I am listening to a series of lectures given by Robert Thurman for the second time. It is called "Liberation Upon Hearing In the Between." "In the Between" is his way of translating the title of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. THe latter title is wrong, he says, because there are no dead, there is no such thing. It is an immensely interesting and enlightening series of lectures, and I will write some highlights here. I don't know if the lectures exist as a book, but he has written many books on Tibetan Buddhism.

One last thing, Buddhism is not a religion. It is an educational system. THere are no gods to be worshipped in Buddhism, only ordinary people like you or I who have become enlightened.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #51 on: November 08, 2006, 03:44:57 pm »
Now I am reading two books. The first is The Virginian by Owen Wister. Based in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming, it was first published in the 1930s and is thought to be the first and most classic Western. (Although I'm not sure where Buffalo Bill's dime novels and Zane Grey fit in.) It is very interesting to see the parallels to BBM, which are many. The Virginian himself at first glance seems to be a melding of Jack and Ennis (Very sympatico!!) I have just started the book, and one of the first topics is the sharing of beds among all the male travellers in a small town!!

I am also listening to Laurel Canyon. It is a chronicle of the start of the folk-rock movement in Los Angeles, with the Byrds, CSN&Y, Joni Mitchell, the Mamas and the Papas, Bob Dylan, and Frank Zappa. It promises to be fun!!
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #52 on: November 08, 2006, 09:31:53 pm »
Just re-read 'Virtures of War' by Pressman.  Fictional Alexander the Great novel.  Nice fast reading.  Doesn't go into much depth with character or place or action other than battle.  He doesn't ignore Alexander and Hephaestion's relationship, but neither does he do much with it either.  Author gets points for making the man/boy, boy/boy, man/man relationships the norm.

Still reading the letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (leader of the all African-American Massachusetts 54th in the Civil War) in 'Blue-eyed child of Fortune, the Civil War letters of Robert Gould Shaw'.  So far, is a lovely pleasant read.  He seems to have been a truly sweet, nice, very empathetic positive person, always looking for the best in everyone and expecting the best out of everyone.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #53 on: November 08, 2006, 10:27:41 pm »
Here's Jeff Wrangler in front of the Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston near Boston Common.  It's from when he was here for the Boston Brokies get together in September.


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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #54 on: November 08, 2006, 10:33:13 pm »
Here's Jeff Wrangler in front of the Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston near Boston Common.  It's from when he was here for the Boston Brokies get together in September.



Cool!!!!   8)

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #55 on: November 08, 2006, 10:34:25 pm »
Jeff is a cutie!

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #56 on: November 13, 2006, 03:43:11 pm »
As I said earlier, I am reading "The Virginian" by Owen Wister, which is about a Wyoming cowboy, or cow-puncher, as the narrator calls him. I was wondering why the book is titled that, and why the taciturn stranger is called just The Virginian. Ostensibly, it's because he has a southern accent, but I think there's something more to it. Virginia was named for Elizabeth I, the unmarried Queen of England. She was called a virgin because she remained unmarried (I hope everyone has seen the outstanding movie Elizabeth, which explains all this, or the recent miniseries starring Helen Mirrin) and that is the traditional definition of the word virgin "an unmarried woman." Virgins of old were not necessarily chaste; in fact they were often the opposite. The vestal virgins of ancient Greece were priestesses in charge of secret sexual rites paying homage to the Goddess. But what does all this have to do with the Virginian? Perhaps nothing. But for me, personally, the Virginian, like Ennis, is a young untested man who subjects himself to the power of nature, or should we say, Mother Nature, which has a lifelong influence on him. It has a mythical resonance for me.

Now, the word Wyoming... I will have to deal with the meanings inherent in that word next. Or not!!....
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #57 on: November 27, 2006, 12:03:45 pm »
There was a story about the book "Passionate Minds" on NPR this morning about Emilie du Chatelet, who was Voltaire's lover and an eminent scientist and philosopher. It sounds like something many would be interested in.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6542620
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2006, 12:14:17 pm »
A group of us is going to start reading The Virginian together and I'll create a new topic here for discussion of it. Also, watch for a new topic here about parallels between Brokeback Mountain and a previous work of Annie Proulx's called Postcards.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #59 on: December 14, 2006, 12:06:53 pm »
Looking for a good book to read over the holidays? I have two recommendations: The Virginian, by Owen Wister, is a book we're reading and discussing now. It has been called the greatest Western ever written and has sold millions of copies since it was published first in 1902.

Also, there's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathon Safren Foer, my candidate for the best novel about the 9-11 experience. Here is a link to the first page for your reading enjoyment:
firstpage
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #60 on: December 16, 2006, 06:23:04 pm »
Whenever I find a really good book, I usually try to read it on more than one level. First of all, I enjoy the story for what it is: a romance, an action yarn, a coming-of-age piece, or whatever. Secondly, I make note of the historical and geographic aspects of the book and what it tells me about time and place. Next, I pay attention to the symbols introduced by the author and what they mean. Finally, I read the story for its theme or meaning, and try to understand what the story and those similar to it are saying about the human condition. This last is called the "mythical" or "archtypical" aspect of the story.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #61 on: December 16, 2006, 10:45:03 pm »
Whenever I find a really good book, I usually try to read it on more than one level. First of all, I enjoy the story for what it is: a romance, an action yarn, a coming-of-age piece, or whatever. Secondly, I make note of the historical and geographic aspects of the book and what it tells me about time and place. Next, I pay attention to the symbols introduced by the author and what they mean. Finally, I read the story for its theme or meaning, and try to understand what the story and those similar to it are saying about the human condition. This last is called the "mythical" or "archtypical" aspect of the story.

That sounds like a lot of work.  ;)  I just look at the subject material and see if I like anything about it.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #62 on: December 16, 2006, 10:51:28 pm »
Yes, I do that too, della. For instance, today I read a little of The Last of the Mohicans, and decided I didn't want to read it. Ditto with The Book of Ruth. But then I picked up The Red Badge of Courage, and enjoyed it. And then, I started reading Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, and that was best of all. It's special books like this one, that I start reading on multiple levels.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #63 on: December 16, 2006, 11:29:01 pm »
Yes, I do that too, della. For instance, today I read a little of The Last of the Mohicans, and decided I didn't want to read it. Ditto with The Book of Ruth. But then I picked up The Red Badge of Courage, and enjoyed it. And then, I started reading Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, and that was best of all. It's special books like this one, that I start reading on multiple levels.

I'm a pretty big fan of modern writers who really get into depth about people and motivations, their thoughts, etc.  That's why it took me so long to get through 'Lord of the Rings'.  It was written in a mythological action adventure style that did nothing for the characterization that I look for.  I'm not sure, because I haven't read it, but I was thinking a book like 'Last of the Mohicans' would be the same.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #64 on: December 17, 2006, 03:11:14 pm »
Here's a Link to The Last of the Mohicans online:

http://www.americanliterature.com/LM/LMINDX.HTML

by James Fenimore Cooper

Let me know what you think of it. I had slow going with it. As for contemporary novels that delve into feelings, this is a somewhat difficult area because it is rather out of fashion to expound on feelings and motivations these days. But I would recommend Memoirs of a Geisha, Like Water for Chocolate, The Corrections and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #65 on: December 18, 2006, 04:37:03 am »
Here's a Link to The Last of the Mohicans online:

http://www.americanliterature.com/LM/LMINDX.HTML

by James Fenimore Cooper

Let me know what you think of it. I had slow going with it. As for contemporary novels that delve into feelings, this is a somewhat difficult area because it is rather out of fashion to expound on feelings and motivations these days. But I would recommend Memoirs of a Geisha, Like Water for Chocolate, The Corrections and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.


I haven't read Like Water for Chocolate, but I loved the other three.  The Corrections is timely for this season, though not very jolly.


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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #66 on: December 18, 2006, 01:16:22 pm »
Like Water for Chocolate might make a good candidate for our next book club discussion. It's set in Mexico, and is considered to be one of the first and best examples of the magical realism genre.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #67 on: January 02, 2007, 01:30:07 pm »
Momentum is building to read "The Last of the Wine" by Mary Renault. Thanks to injest for sujesting this, and starting a topic about it!!

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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #68 on: June 15, 2007, 10:08:43 am »
Some good recommendations for summer reading!
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Offline michaelflanagansf

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #69 on: July 15, 2007, 05:47:03 pm »

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #70 on: February 16, 2010, 04:05:12 pm »
Someone was asking what ONE book a global person could read to give them an understanding of the US. The one I would choose would be the excellent book with a gay theme, among others, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. The reason is because there are actually at least four Americas: the South, the Midwest, and the two coasts. If you read a book set on one of the coasts, then you don't understand the other three. The South is rapidly becoming just like the other parts of the country, losing its distinction. But the Midwest is the true melting pot of the US, and that is where The Corrections is set. It's about a midwestern family, a chef daughter who is gay, a schoolteacher son, and a mother and father who go on a misguided cruise.

What would be your choice for the one US book the rest of the world should read? How about Canada?
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #71 on: February 19, 2010, 06:47:12 pm »
Speaking of London,
I was in London for an academic year, experiencing depression.  The second apartment I lived in -- after I moved from a nicer one to save money -- was truly squalid: no heat; little furniture; fleas; ...the only thing I liked about this apartment was that in the kitchen there was a cupboard crammed with books.  The previous tenant had left them.  During the winter I got the flu -- of course I got the flu.  So for a week I was so feverish and achy and miserable that I skipped all my classes and didn't leave the house, but I read and read of the books of the magic cupboard, huddled by the space heater in the kitchen.  I read five books in five days and they were:

1984 (Orwell)
A Thousand Acres (Smiley)
Moo (Smiley)
Breathing Lessons (Tyler)
A Patchwork Planet (Tyler)

Other cupboard books I remember were Couples (Updike) and a dated, sexist nonfiction book about sex... And a book of stories by Katherine Ann Porter which I left on a train.  I read so many other books in London, not necessarily cupboard books.  The World According to Garp and A Widow for One Year, The Handmaid's Tale, West with the Night and Out of Africa, Rabbit, Run, The Corner, Wicked Women, Horse Heaven.

Moo is such a delight.  Speaking of Updike, I also recommend In the Beauty of the Lilies

I'm a little late with this but I'm just now reading Moo and loving it! A friend of mine met Jane Smiley and stayed at her house. She has a winning style of writing, pithy insights, and a rapier wit!!
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #72 on: February 19, 2010, 07:14:19 pm »
This is a great thread.  I must get back to reading.  I was an avid reader before BBM, but somehow that led to learning about a zillion fabulous movies I'd never seen, so I became a DVD person.

I love getting lost in a good book.  I read the short story before I saw the movie.  And I have a stack in my to-be-read pile.  Maybe tonight...no DVDs and I'll get started on the Sarah Waters book that was a gift from Amanda.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #73 on: February 19, 2010, 10:33:52 pm »
Someone was asking what ONE book a global person could read to give them an understanding of the US. The one I would choose would be the excellent book with a gay theme, among others, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. The reason is because there are actually at least four Americas: the South, the Midwest, and the two coasts. If you read a book set on one of the coasts, then you don't understand the other three. The South is rapidly becoming just like the other parts of the country, losing its distinction. But the Midwest is the true melting pot of the US, and that is where The Corrections is set. It's about a midwestern family, a chef daughter who is gay, a schoolteacher son, and a mother and father who go on a misguided cruise.

What would be your choice for the one US book the rest of the world should read? How about Canada?

I don't know of one good book that would cover everyone.  The Midwest is definitely NOT the West Coast or East Coast or the South or the Southwest for that matter, much less Hawaii or Alaska.  We're large enough to have distinct differences.  The attitude and people of North Dakota are not the same as those in West Virginia.

One book couldn't possibly represent 'everyone'.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #74 on: March 17, 2010, 09:43:23 pm »
I'm a little late with this but I'm just now reading Moo and loving it! A friend of mine met Jane Smiley and stayed at her house. She has a winning style of writing, pithy insights, and a rapier wit!!

A few notes on MOO...
"Most of the students sat upright but removed, like horses asleep on their feet in a field." p. 68
"He can have her pregnant by Christmas if they get on with the ceremony," p. 98
"Fornication never surprised him, he had fornicated himself before truly accepting Jesus, and he had drunk intoxicating liquors, and he had laid blows upon some of his fellow men--he was a man, wasn't he?" p. 212
"Meanwhile, Joy could hardly feel the cold. Listening to Dean was getting more and more like receiving muffled blows, let's say being hit over and over with a sofa pillow. It didn't hurt, it didn't raise bruises, and you could go on letting it happen for weeks, until you realized that the experience was numbing, and probably meant to be numbing." p 297
"He had moved out of the Lady X's house with only the wallet in his pocket and a change of clothes in a brown paper bag." p. 304
"He had told her that nothing suited him better than shucking all of that bullshit. 'Including your toothbrush?' she had challenged." p. 304
"Some people do wait their whole lives for something, and it's only when that thing arrives that they find out that they've been waiting rather than living." p. 308

I see Brokieisms!!
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #75 on: March 17, 2010, 10:20:38 pm »
Someone was asking what ONE book a global person could read to give them an understanding of the US. The one I would choose would be the excellent book with a gay theme, among others, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. The reason is because there are actually at least four Americas: the South, the Midwest, and the two coasts. If you read a book set on one of the coasts, then you don't understand the other three. The South is rapidly becoming just like the other parts of the country, losing its distinction. But the Midwest is the true melting pot of the US, and that is where The Corrections is set. It's about a midwestern family, a chef daughter who is gay, a schoolteacher son, and a mother and father who go on a misguided cruise.

What would be your choice for the one US book the rest of the world should read? How about Canada?

I loved The Corrections and think it would be an excellent choice as a book to represent the U.S. It's not entirely set in the Midwest, though. The parents live in St. Louis, and the kids are from there, but they have moved to the East Coast. As I recall, the daughter and elder son live in Philadelphia, and the younger son lives in, I think, New York.

I think The South still does have its own distinct character, but sadly it, like everywhere else, is becoming more indistinguishable from the rest of the country.

What a great idea it would be to write a novel involving lots of different regions of the country. I have lived in the West (Idaho), the South (Louisiana), the Midwest (Minnesota) and the East Coast (New York City), so I've tried a few. They all do have their own distinct characters.


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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #76 on: October 26, 2010, 09:58:55 pm »
A few weeks ago, when BrianR stopped in Boston as part of his big tour, he and Paul and I went to the Boston Public Library to hear Michael Cunningham read from his new novel, By Nightfall.   Paul and I got inscribed copies at the end of the reading.  I have since read it and actually could not believe how much I came to like it.  I had read the first part of A Home at the End of the World (1990); I had not read The Hours (1998).  Frankly, the first chapter of By Nightfall even as read by the author was not strongly inclining me to read it, but following an instinct I re-read that chapter myself, persisted with the rest and was rewarded with a story that kept drawing me in more and more.  Now that I have finished it, I am at the stage where I am going back to reread different places and think about how concentrated it is, how he makes everything contribute to the whole, how there is a new thought or effect on every page, how involving and plausible and thought-provoking it all is.  

The story of A Home at the End of the World was spread over years, and I know from reading about it that The Hours is juxtaposing the lives of three women in successive generations.  Cunningham is attempting something new with each novel, and By Nightfall is short, unified, and linear.  It takes place in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Greenwich CT over just a few days, with only three central characters.  His subject is a kind of experience many middle-aged people go through, though Peter Harris' version of it is very specific to who he is as an individual, and what he is expecting (and not getting) from life.  I was at page 50 before I got in tune with the theme and started to see how every part of the novel was connected, how all the symbols drove the story into a single course while being completely ordinary, realistic parts of his life at the same time.  In the end, the story was only limited by the realism of the outcome, which is no limitation at all.

This is the kind of story Ang Lee has such a genius for turning into unforgettable films.  There are so many projects I wish he would do, darn it!   But the book has some remarkable passages which, even if they inspired the director to come up with some amazing visual/aural equivalent, also need to be appreciated just as writing.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #77 on: October 27, 2010, 12:41:37 am »
For my class in detective fiction that I´m currently taking, I´ve been reading detective stories lately. I´ve also joined the town´s book club although I still feel like Luke from The Gilmore Girls everytime I go there. But it´s nice to read again. I almost stopped completely after Brokeback because I compared everything to it. I still haven´t gotten around to watch movies as much as I did before BBM.

I enjoyed Tony Hillerman and his two tribal police officers Chee and Leaphorn. He writes about a people somehow stuck in limbo on a reservation they don't want to live but at the same time find it impossible to live on.From what I understand Hillerman lives in the Four Corners area himself, so he nails the description of the empty, desolete area too.

I hated Margarete Crombie´s novel A Finer End. A detective story written in a very distinct Brittish style set in a small town in the countryside. The perspectives change between different characters and we find out about extramaterial affairs, unwanted children and old enemies. I had no idea who the killer might be up until the very end when the author explains it all in half a page. And it's the most unbelievable explanation ever. I felt like throwing the book out the window.

Then it was Leonie Swann´s Three Bags Full - a detective story revolving around the murder of George the shepherd and his flock of sheep. The sheep are trying to solve the case themselves, you see. In the best way that sheep can. The entire book is built on the notion that the reader will find all this hysterical funny. And it works - mostly anyway.

But out of these three, Hillerman was my favorite.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #78 on: October 31, 2010, 08:31:35 pm »
A few weeks ago, when BrianR stopped in Boston as part of his big tour, he and Paul and I went to the Boston Public Library to hear Michael Cunningham read from his new novel, By Nightfall.   Paul and I got inscribed copies at the end of the reading.  I have since read it and actually could not believe how much I came to like it.  I had read the first part of A Home at the End of the World (1990); I had not read The Hours (1998).  Frankly, the first chapter of By Nightfall even as read by the author was not strongly inclining me to read it, but following an instinct I re-read that chapter myself, persisted with the rest and was rewarded with a story that kept drawing me in more and more.  Now that I have finished it, I am at the stage where I am going back to reread different places and think about how concentrated it is, how he makes everything contribute to the whole, how there is a new thought or effect on every page, how involving and plausible and thought-provoking it all is.  

The story of A Home at the End of the World was spread over years, and I know from reading about it that The Hours is juxtaposing the lives of three women in successive generations.  Cunningham is attempting something new with each novel, and By Nightfall is short, unified, and linear.  It takes place in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Greenwich CT over just a few days, with only three central characters.  His subject is a kind of experience many middle-aged people go through, though Peter Harris' version of it is very specific to who he is as an individual, and what he is expecting (and not getting) from life.  I was at page 50 before I got in tune with the theme and started to see how every part of the novel was connected, how all the symbols drove the story into a single course while being completely ordinary, realistic parts of his life at the same time.  In the end, the story was only limited by the realism of the outcome, which is no limitation at all.

This is the kind of story Ang Lee has such a genius for turning into unforgettable films.  There are so many projects I wish he would do, darn it!   But the book has some remarkable passages which, even if they inspired the director to come up with some amazing visual/aural equivalent, also need to be appreciated just as writing.

There is a three-part video interview of Michael Cunningham by James Franco at Amazon, on the page for By Nightfall.  A little is about the novel but a lot is about writing in general.

http://www.amazon.com/Nightfall-Novel-Michael-Cunningham/dp/0374299080/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288569621&sr=1-1

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #79 on: October 31, 2010, 08:38:26 pm »
Andrew, I will definitely try By Nightfall. Buffy, are you going to be studying Sherlock Holmes in your detective fiction class?
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #80 on: October 31, 2010, 09:01:12 pm »
Hey Lee, like I said I had to stick with it, and the parts I have been rereading first are in the last fifty pages since that is when it all comes to a head.  But since it is such a short novel, the buildup is not really that long.

It's fun when a friend actually tries a recommendation, funner if they actually like it.  Films come with all the machinery to be enjoyed and talked about by a lot of people at the same time, but sharing the pleasure of a particular book is a challenge.  There are so many more interesting books and they usually require more time and always, more discipline than films.  

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #81 on: November 01, 2010, 06:01:40 pm »
Are anyone into the subject pedagogy? I usually try to read one chapter each day about the subject. And  at the moment I am reading a book called A school for everyone, by Roger Säljö. I am sure majority would find this literature very boring and not as exiting as fiction, sc-fi or films, but I find this fascinating in my own little weird way.  :)

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #82 on: November 01, 2010, 06:28:42 pm »
Love his name. Is it Säl-jö, or Sälj-ö?   :laugh:

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #83 on: November 01, 2010, 06:44:38 pm »
Love his name. Is it Säl-jö, or Sälj-ö?   :laugh:

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

The first sounds like the sound of the seal (not the artist) öh...öh... and the other version sounds like the island someone trying to sell to his stupid friend who are willing to pay enormously. The real pronunciation is sälj...jö. 

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #84 on: November 02, 2010, 01:10:47 am »
Andrew, I will definitely try By Nightfall. Buffy, are you going to be studying Sherlock Holmes in your detective fiction class?
Hi Lee, No, nothing by Doyle. Are you a fan?

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #85 on: November 06, 2010, 02:08:48 pm »
Yes! I bought the three-volume set this spring in preparation for going to London and staying around the corner from Baker Street. I've fallen head over heels for the London sleuth and his right-hand man. One of the first and greatest buddy teams ever! Now I'm enjoying the three part series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman on PBS as modern day detectives. The final episode is on tomorrow night...it was originally produced in Britain and probably available on DVD if it's not showing in your area.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #86 on: November 17, 2010, 09:26:01 pm »
Yesterday I had lunch with the proprietor of the bookstore who sold me the Sherlock Holmes set of books. When I emailed to invite him out to lunch he responded "Thank you for knocking me up." That's a Holmesian expression that I love! We went to a place about a block from his store called GB Fish and Chips, an authentic Brit place. It was fun, but I was somewhat too intimidated to really get into the Sherlockian discussion.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #87 on: November 19, 2010, 12:11:15 am »
Yesterday I had lunch with the proprietor of the bookstore who sold me the Sherlock Holmes set of books. When I emailed to invite him out to lunch he responded "Thank you for knocking me up." That's a Holmesian expression that I love! We went to a place about a block from his store called GB Fish and Chips, an authentic Brit place. It was fun, but I was somewhat too intimidated to really get into the Sherlockian discussion.

My sister and I went to the Sherlock museum at 221B Baker Street while we were in London.  Lots of fun that place.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #88 on: November 19, 2010, 12:35:53 am »
Cool! Then, do any of these photos ring a bell?









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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #89 on: November 19, 2010, 12:51:50 am »
Cool! Then, do any of these photos ring a bell?


[/url]

Had lunch there.


Quote

Nice view of St. Paul's in the background.  This one's better  ;)






[/center]

[/quote]

Yep, yep and yep.

Didn't take the Thames cruise though my London friend recommended it.  I wanted to go to Brighton and my sister had breakfast with a friend who took the train up from Paris.

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #90 on: November 26, 2010, 11:13:38 pm »
Cool! You may have noticed the drawbridge rising on the bridge...just as we arrived there, a three-masted schooner sailed through! I was told that rarely happens anymore.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #91 on: January 02, 2011, 08:44:30 pm »
Friend Chanterais and Henrypie, I miss you both so much! I just finished reading Alex M Smith's Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. I so enjoyed it and wish so much that I could talk to you about it! I also read all of Vol. I of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes this past year, and am quite deep into Vol. II.

Sorry I went awol for a while.  Had to kill an exam dead.  And now that I've slain the beast, I'm back to reveling in this thread.  I love the stories that come out when people talk about their favourite books.  Like pieces of music, I guess we all associate certain novels with certain places, or certain times in our lives, and the people who were with us then.  We talk about the books we love, and in doing so we are telling about ourselves.

...I ain't religious, but I am evangelical about the Number One Ladies Detective Agency books.  You can't tell me that Mma. Ramotswe doesn't exist.  Of course she does!  To anyone who hasn't read them, run, don't walk to the nearest shop and get the first in the series, the above mentioned Number One Ladies Detective Agency.  Your world will immediately become a cheerier, better place.  You will also develop an unhealthy addiction to redbush tea, but I can't be held responsible for that.

...Books:  to sedately celebrate having demolished my first exam, I am tucking myself up tonight with an old copy of The Sign of Four, a little Sherlock Holmes mystery courtesy of Herr Conan Doyle.  I anticipate fog, jangling carriages, ingenious solutions and dastardly villains.  Maybe a rabid dog in there somewhere.

Interesting facts: Sherlock Holmes never wore a deer-stalker hat, never smoked a pipe, and certainly never, ever uttered the immortal phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson."  Filthy lies.  It's all ornamentation by the movies.  Like cats, you just can't trust them.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #92 on: March 18, 2011, 09:36:32 pm »
Just started The Comforts of a Muddy Sunday by Alexander McCall Smith, yet another book in the Isabel Dalhousie series, and I've already found quotable passages. This from page 4:

"...although it would soon be eight o'clock, there was still a good deal of sunlight about--soft, slanting sunlight, with the quality that goes with light that has been about for the whole day and is now comfortable, used."

How well I remember that light. Even at 11 o'clock it was still twilight...and Kelda and I went to explore an ancient castle ruin south of Glasgow.Sigh...

Isabel, who is walking in a park in Edinburgh at the time, is a philosopher and editor of a journal of philosophy. When she was ousted from the editorship in a political coup, she simply has her lawyer (counselor) buy the magazine. I like that!!
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #93 on: May 17, 2014, 05:21:52 pm »
I am listening to a series of lectures given by Robert Thurman for the second time. It is called "Liberation Upon Hearing In the Between." "In the Between" is his way of translating the title of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. THe latter title is wrong, he says, because there are no dead, there is no such thing. It is an immensely interesting and enlightening series of lectures, and I will write some highlights here. I don't know if the lectures exist as a book, but he has written many books on Tibetan Buddhism.

One last thing, Buddhism is not a religion. It is an educational system. THere are no gods to be worshipped in Buddhism, only ordinary people like you or I who have become enlightened.

Here's a 40-minute documentary about the Tibetan Book of the Dead that friend Rayn shared with me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ermcc6iDqQA&noredirect=1
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #94 on: May 25, 2014, 06:36:22 pm »
I have finished Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson, a Wyoming-based novel. I've now begun another Wyoming-based novel, Where Rivers Change Direction, by Mark Spragg. It is set at a dude ranch east of Yellowstone and west of Cody, so you can imagine my interest rising, since I've been to a dude ranch there (Goff Creek) three times.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #95 on: May 25, 2014, 09:01:34 pm »
And, I am going to start another book at the same time, If, by Rudyard Kipling.
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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #96 on: May 26, 2014, 08:58:23 pm »
I've now begun another Wyoming-based novel, Where Rivers Change Direction, by Mark Spragg. It is set at a dude ranch east of Yellowstone and west of Cody, so you can imagine my interest rising, since I've been to a dude ranch there (Goff Creek) three times.

A couple of things I've learned from the novel are that the word Absaroka (the name of the mountain range there) means raven, and that the full moon in late May/early June is called the full fatted moon.
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #97 on: July 30, 2014, 10:47:03 pm »
Good read: The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, by Nathaniel Philbrick (2010).

Since it appears I'm not getting to visit the battlefield this year, I decided to read about it. Philbrick tells a very clear story about what was a confused and confusing military action, and there are a lots of maps to help visualize the action. He extensively employs recorded reminiscences of individuals, both white and Indian, who were there that day.
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