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  #241  
Old 20 October 2012, 02:16 AM
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I am brushing up my Shakespeare (and will start quoting him now) by reading
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare-perfect Halloween reading what with Macbeth, Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream, and various others at my disposal.

In keeping with that information I am also going through THe Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory-The first chronologically of Gregory's Tudor series about Catherine of Argon (Her scenes with her first husband, Arthur are beyond adorable. )

Because Shakespeare is a difficult read, I am not reading too many others with them except:
The World of Fairies by Gossamer Penwyche-A beautiful described though too brief book about the famous creatures
Wise Women-Edited by Susan Cahill-A wonderful book about various women and their spiritual ideals from Hildegard of Bingen to Starhawk and everyone else in between.
Myth and Mankind: Tales of Chivalry-Various myths and legends on Medieval legendary characters like Charlemagne, El Cid, Abelard and Heloise, and many others (Not King Arthur and his bunch though-they are earlier and featured in Heroes of the Dawn: Tales of Celtic Mythology)
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  #242  
Old 20 October 2012, 01:28 PM
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At the moment I'm re-reading "John Dies at the End," because I just finished reading the sequel, "This Book is Full of Spiders," and wanted to go back and read the origin again.

I found "This Book is Full of Spiders" to be a solid sequel. While I enjoyed "John Dies..." it did meander quite a bit (understandable considering that it was written in chunks), "Spiders" has a definite, clear plot and structure. There is some minor derivation from the mythology created in the first, and some significant things from the first that are not mentioned at all in the second, but that's amusingly hand-waved at the opening of "Spiders." And Dave is a pretty unreliable narrator anyway.
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  #243  
Old 25 October 2012, 11:12 AM
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I finished The Sea Fairies and an now reading the first of the Phryne Fisher books. It's pretty good.
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  #244  
Old 25 October 2012, 06:42 PM
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I must have been reading an article of recommendations of sci-fi/fantasy because I suddenly have a stack of books of those genres waiting on the hold shelf at the library. I really must start managing my hold list better so I don't get 4 books at a time.

Currently reading Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay. A real page turner about a guy whose brother spends his days on the equivalent of Google street view and sees something suspicious (let the fun begin!).

I think it's my favourite of his since 'No Time for Goodbye' (about a girl who wakes up one morning and her family is gone).
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  #245  
Old 26 October 2012, 06:17 PM
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Anybody who wants can now read the third Jim Dallas novel, Eden Feint, on Kindle. It was supposed to be published tomorrow, on my and Ken's birthday, but Amazon evidently jumped the gun.

OTOH if you want to wait you can get all three Jim Dallas books (so far) in an economical omnibus edition, Dallas Times Three, tomorrow on Amazon.
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  #246  
Old 26 October 2012, 07:28 PM
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I'm reading Carol Channing's memoir Just Lucky, I Guess. I don't know if Channing (or a ghost, for that matter) was intentionally trying to capture her stage persona exactly in the rambling, conversational writing style, or if she really is just like that in real life, too, but it's a hoot - like talking at length with a dotty great aunt who has a lot of great stories to tell and doesn't really care who's in the room, who knows whom, or even whether the stories are particularly relevant to the thread she started from.
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  #247  
Old 27 October 2012, 12:56 PM
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And the Dallas Times Three omnibus edition is now available. Hey, it's my birthday. Go buy two or three!
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  #248  
Old 30 October 2012, 02:40 PM
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I'm reading The Box Of Delights as a bedtime story to the kids. It's somewhat dated but also interestingly weird and mysterious. British shopesters of my generation might remember the TV serial that was made of it in the 80s.

I have picked up Le Chien Jaune by Georges Simenon (a Maigret book) whilst at my mum and dad's over the weekend. I need to keep up my French and can manage the language. I was also prompted to go to some crime fiction by Radio 4's "Foreign Bodies" series about European detectives.

Also re-reading La Fievre d'Urbicande by Schuiten/Peeters, which is a graphic novel I bought years ago at the comics museum in Brussels and never really got the hang of.
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  #249  
Old 30 October 2012, 03:48 PM
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Just finished Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City". Admittedly I skimmed many of the chapters leading up to the building the Chicago exhibition.

Also just finished Murakami's "After Dark" - one of his shorter novels and one I found hard to put down.
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  #250  
Old 30 October 2012, 05:19 PM
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If you like Devil in the White City, try Thunderstruck about Crippen and the transatlantic telegram.

I'm re-reading a lot of PG Wodehouse because I need the laugh.
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  #251  
Old 30 October 2012, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gayle View Post
If you like Devil in the White City, try Thunderstruck about Crippen and the transatlantic telegram.

I'm re-reading a lot of PG Wodehouse because I need the laugh.
I once wrote part of a PG Wodehouse fan fiction, based on Bertie's and Jeeves's trip around the world that is mentioned but never detailed by the Master.
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  #252  
Old 04 November 2012, 02:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
I once wrote part of a PG Wodehouse fan fiction, based on Bertie's and Jeeves's trip around the world that is mentioned but never detailed by the Master.
Is that something you posted online?
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  #253  
Old 04 November 2012, 02:39 AM
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Yesterday I finished Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card, after finally getting around to reading his novel Ender's Game. Both are well worth reading.
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  #254  
Old 06 November 2012, 11:25 PM
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I finished Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb, and read Assassin's Quest as well. The last one in the trilogy was better than the other two. I enjoyed all of them, but the first two really annoyed me in places, whereas the third annoyed me less.

In the first two, I was seriously wondering at times whether all the main "good" characters were being psychically brainwashed into being as useless and ineffectual as possible by an unseen bad guy - the universe and plot would have allowed for that. But apparently not, they just were useless and ineffectual. Occasionally they'd half-heartedly try to do the right thing, and have a minor victory, but then they'd congratulate themselves for a bit and stop and go back to doing nothing, when they could clearly have carried on with similar tactics and perhaps achieved something. There didn't seem to be any sort of court or army or organised state at all - the king could stay in his rooms doing nothing during a time of crisis, and after a couple of weeks the other characters who one would have thought should also have been trying to run the country would say "Oh, you've not seen the king either? Maybe something is wrong... perhaps we should check..." And in the first books, they'd usually all blame the hero for not having single-handedly sorted things out, even though the people placing the blame would have been far better placed, more capable and indeed more obviously responsible for doing so.

The characterisation was still a bit inconsistent, but it did seem that she had decided by the end what the hero was actually like, what his skills were and what the plot should be. The idea that he's an "assassin" was still a bit of an "informed ability", as TV Tropes puts it - he went on maybe two "assassination" missions in the whole thing, and only one of those even involved killing somebody. He talked as though there were others but it's not obvious where they would fit. It's not obvious that the timescale worked either, though. I'm sure less time passed in parts of the narrative than we were told passed in the world, so maybe we were supposed to infer that other things had happened which we weren't told about.

On the whole I enjoyed them though, and the last book was definitely better than the other two. Having checked, these weren't her first books, just her first under this name. I might read some more now - they had good points as well, I just like moaning.

I needed to read some proper contemporary literature after all that fantasy, so I read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, which was very good, but rather short. I almost wanted to read it again when I finished. Perhaps I should have, as it had a pretty good "unreliable narrator" who was unusual in that he admitted to being "unreliable" in an apparent attempt to be as reliable as possible, but might well still have been wilfully forgetting a rather important event, which is only vaguely alluded to, but would make sense of a lot of other things which don't quite fit. Also, it's clever in that each character clearly has quite a different interpretation of whatever actually did happen - it's possible the narrator isn't leaving very much out, but at least one of the other characters certainly seems to think he is.

That was it for October, but I couldn't post earlier thanks to a failed laptop (it went wrong while I was trying to write the last version of this post).

Since then I've read Khufu's Wisdom by Naguib Mahfouz, the first of his ancient Egyptian trilogy. That was also quite short, and a simple sort of story. It has the air of a retelling of a myth, but I don't know (and haven't checked) how much of the narrative is historical fact or an existing tale, and how much was made up by Mahfouz. I was assuming it was made up based on a framework of fact, but the Wikipedia entry for Khufu suggests it's entirely fiction. Djedefra was Khufu's son, according to Wikipedia, and he certainly wasn't in the book. I probably should have known or realised that Khufu was also known as Cheops, though - he's building the Great Pyramid in the novel.

Now I'm reading The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde. I like Jasper Fforde.
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  #255  
Old 06 November 2012, 11:42 PM
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I started listening to Perfume by Patrick Susskind, on the recommendation of several people, but after an hour I was so unimpressed I stopped. Way too much exposition and a thoroughly unsympathetic main character.

Just finished John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation read by Wil Wheaton, and I liked it very much. A bit predictable, but very enjoyable.

Also reading Neal Stephenson's Reamde in dead tree format, and it's very enjoyable. I like a good book with a bit of heft, especially one that challenges me a bit.

I've also started rereading The Hobbit in preparation for the movie. I read it when I was a young teen, and I am struck by the feel that it's a children's story. The way he tells the story feels like it's aimed at kids. I don't know if that's true, but I didn't remember it that way. Still, it's lovely, and I keep reading parts of it aloud to myself because I love the words so much.
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  #256  
Old 07 November 2012, 12:20 AM
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I'm reading Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All by David Fitzgerald. After reading it (well, nearly 70% of it) I feel I owe damien an apology for a post a while ago where I assured him that it was uncontroversial that the historical Jesus existed. Obviously it's far from settled (but I personally am now leaning strongly towards the mythical idea) and the information I was basing that conclusion on was incomplete. Doing an elective unit on early Christianity at the moment is doing wonders for reinforcing my atheism (it's a purely historical unit - not theological).
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  #257  
Old 07 November 2012, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auburn Red View Post
... perfect Halloween reading what with Macbeth...
When I read Macbeth at school it wasn't too difficult to imagine the setting because Dunsinane Hill is only 20 miles west of Dundee (and Birnam Wood is another 10 miles west of there).
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  #258  
Old 07 November 2012, 01:01 AM
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Funny, when I studied it across the water in Fife, no-one told us how close we were to the locales. I dunno if we were assumed to recognise the placenames, but we'd only moved over from the west that year so I didn't pick up on it.

However, the last performance I saw of Macbeth was in the grounds of Cawdor Castle, so these things even out.
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  #259  
Old 07 November 2012, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Moku View Post
Funny, when I studied it across the water in Fife, no-one told us how close we were to the locales. I dunno if we were assumed to recognise the placenames, but we'd only moved over from the west that year so I didn't pick up on it.
Dunno either. Glamis Castle is only 12 miles north of here but I'm sure most Dundonians know it as the childhood home of the Queen Mother rather than the residence of Macbeth (the fictional one). If I was teaching Macbeth in Fife, I'd be sure to mention that the ruins of Macduff's Castle lie just outside Kirkcaldy.
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  #260  
Old 10 November 2012, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kit_n_caboodle View Post
I started listening to Perfume by Patrick Susskind, on the recommendation of several people, but after an hour I was so unimpressed I stopped.
I read that because it was a "word of mouth sensation" of some kind here, ten or fifteen years ago. I wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped either, although perhaps more so than you, since I did finish it.

I was never sure how much of the "sensation" was down to its being a translation from the German. It's easy to say "Maybe in German it was better. Maybe people recommended it because they thought they were being sophisticated by reading a translation". I don't (on the whole) think that German literature translates well to English, which is weird considering that the languages are relatively similar. What I mean, I suppose, is that a lot of German literature has a heavy existential theme, and I'm not sure the cultural approach to things translates well. Even that's a bit odd, as I don't have this problem with French literature, or Russian, and one would have thought those cultures were no more or less dissimilar to my own.

Not entirely coincidentally, I'm currently reading a book I just bought:

Is That A Fish In Your Ear? The Amazing Adventure of Translation -- David Bellos.

I got it because it's a subject I've always been interested in, and he starts by referring to Douglas Hofstadter's book, Le Ton Beau de Marot, which is also great. He's a good old-fashioned academic writer, and hence a bit pedantic - I've read four chapters so far, and he's still "talking around" the subject, albeit in interesting ways, and he's explained why he has to put the idea of "translation" in context first. I keep thinking "but you're missing the point - the word must be... oh, hang on," or "No, that's obvious, it's... oh, hang on, that's what you're getting at, isn't it?". So far, he's been good at raising questions, but some of these questions I think I already know the answers to, and he's not got that far yet. I hope he does because it's a very interesting subject and he seems very knowledgeable about it. Not that I'm expecting him to say, "and finally, the answer: It's exactly what Richard W thinks," but I'm hoping he will at least discuss the points I thought of.

Oh, The Hobbit was indeed published as a children's book, by the way. It was still thought of as a children's book in my childhood too. I blame J K Rowling.
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