Books: And What Are You Reading?

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Renzatic

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While Terror Castle set the scene for the series, once the 'reveal' came, I never had any real interest in returning to the book. I may revisit it, because the side story of the Rolls Royce is very entertaining, and I liked Worthington.

I remember how it ends, and yeah, it is a little disappointingly mundane. Though I have the lens of nostalgia working in my favor here. I was maybe 9 or 10 when I first read it, maybe the first mystery book I had actually read up to that point, and it left me with a lasting impression. It was so eerie. So spooky. I didn't know what would happen next, and I loved it. Even with full knowledge of the rather flat ending waiting for me, it's fun reading through it again just for the memories.

However, in the Stuttering Parrot, the actual crafting of the mystery, the sequence of the discovery - and working out of - clues, and dawning comprehension, are all very well done; it is clever - and intellectually satisfying, in a way that some of the more mundane mysteries are not.

It's now queued up next on my list.
 

Scepticalscribe

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I remember how it ends, and yeah, it is a little disappointingly mundane. Though I have the lens of nostalgia working in my favor here. I was maybe 9 or 10 when I first read it, maybe the first mystery book I had actually read up to that point, and it left me with a lasting impression. It was so eerie. So spooky. I didn't know what would happen next, and I loved it. Even with full knowledge of the rather flat ending waiting for me, it's fun reading through it again just for the memories.



It's now queued up next on my list.

Even at ten-eleven, which is when I came across those books, I loved the Stuttering Parrot; it was satisfying.

As mentioned earlier, my other favourites at the time were The Fiery Eye, and - the final book written by the original author, which was also a clever, well crafted, mystery detective story - The Talking Skull.

For a modern YA world, which is also eerie, well crafted, very good character development, wonderful world building, great storytelling, and spooky atmospherics, (and a terrific - strong and cranky - female character as one of the three original protagonists), I recommend that you take a look at Jonathan Stroud's Lockwood series. They are excellent.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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At the risk of repeating myself, Cod (by Kuransky) was exceedingly good, excellent, in fact. Strongly recommended.

Loved Paper - which was excellent (lots of fascinating stuff in the earlier chapters, and synthesising of stuff, sources ideas and information - a terrific read).

His book on the history of the Basques was also excellent.
 

lizkat

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His book on the history of the Basques was also excellent.

I'll have to check that one out. It's from Kurlansky's wayback far enough (1999 or so) that there seems not to be an ebook version, but it also appears to have recipes in it, so... I'll be prowling for a used one in good shape, probably!
 

yaxomoxay

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Currently (and slowly) re-reading Destined for War by Graham Allison, a most excellent work on US-China relations and what probably lies ahead. @Scepticalscribe you will find this one an exceptional work. I read it before Covid and the world's meltdown; current events just make it an even more necessary read.

Since you're all lefties here, here's the cover with Biden's endorsement of the book (honestly, it's far from being a partisan book)



heck, let's add the cover with Kissinger's endorsement:




An interesting conversation on the book, at Harvard, between Kissinger and Allison:

 

lizkat

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Currently (and slowly) re-reading Destined for War by Graham Allison, a most excellent work on US-China relations and what probably lies ahead. @Scepticalscribe you will find this one an exceptional work. I read it before Covid and the world's meltdown; current events just make it an even more necessary read.

Since you're all lefties here, here's the cover with Biden's endorsement of the book (honestly, it's far from being a partisan book)



heck, let's add the cover with Kissinger's endorsement:




An interesting conversation on the book, at Harvard, between Kissinger and Allison:


As a complement to Allison's book, I'd suggest Michael J. Green's book By More Than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific since 1783. Published early in 2017, it focuses on the development and history of US strategy in East Asia from the times of Jefferson through those of Kissinger.

cover art M.J.Green - By More Than Providence.jpg

Green's own expertise had long been centered on Japan, but his desire to research and write this 700-page tome with a larger view of East Asia (about 160 pages are notes, an index and photos / illustrations) sprang from his government service. He spent six years serving at NSC under the G.W. Bush administration, and advising Bush 43 on East Asian affairs, with the realization that while much material about the USA's relationships with China since Nixon (thus, Kissinger's approaches) had already been presented by historians, short shrift had been given --since a book written back in 1922!-- to how crucial American leadership had always deemed relationships in the Far East to American economic interests and its national security. The book is divided into sections on the historical rise of US, Japan, USSR and China in the region, with a lengthy conclusion in which Green looks at the inherent difficulties that a democracy has in trying to establish and maintain long term strategic policies in conduct of its foreign affairs.
 
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Gutwrench

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Dear Me, by Peter Ustinov. I recently stumbled on it and it’s perhaps the most enjoyable books I’ve read in years. I remember him as a superb actor/director.

Here’s how I found the book. If you like dry witty sarcastic humor Peter is the man!

@Scepticalscribe & @lizkat - if you've not read or heard him reading his autobiography I hope you’ll listen to the youtube link below. It’s masterful!

 

Scepticalscribe

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Dear Me, by Peter Ustinov. I recently stumbled on it and it’s perhaps the most enjoyable books I’ve read in years. I remember him as a superb actor/director.

Here’s how I found the book. If you like dry witty sarcastic humor Peter is the man!

@Scepticalscribe & @lizkat - if you've not read or heard him reading his autobiography I hope you’ll listen to the youtube link below. It’s masterful!


I read that book years ago; my godmother gave it as a gift to my mother (they had been best friends at boarding school - "a high class boarding academy for young ladies", a quote from its brochure - during the latter years of the second world war, and for a few years immediately subsequent to that), and my mother, who thought it hilarious, gave it to me to read.

Agreed, he writes beautifully, with a biting, dry, wit.
 
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lizkat

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Reading From Harvey River, a memoir and four-generation look-back by the noted Jamaican poet and painter Lorna Goodison. It's prose but the poetry shines through it and illuminates both great care for history and love of family. This is one of the books that I wanted to get to more than a few years ago when my summer's deep dive was into works of writers from the Caribbean. Slowly catching up with books that ended up set aside in summer projects derailed by the too-fast approach of autumn.

cover art - Goodison - From Harvey River.jpg
 

Scepticalscribe

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Re-visiting a book I loved when I first read it a decade ago: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
 

lizkat

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Re-visiting a book I loved when I first read it a decade ago: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

Time really does fly... still haven't read that book and still keep thinking I will get around to it (but should probably admit it won't happen). I know, I know, it would be worth the read. That's the trouble with so many books!
 

Scepticalscribe

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Time really does fly... still haven't read that book and still keep thinking I will get around to it (but should probably admit it won't happen). I know, I know, it would be worth the read. That's the trouble with so many books!

It is a stay-up-reading, or read-in-bed and say to yourself, okay, okay, only one more chapter before lights out, and suddenly you realise that another hour has passed.

Seriously, once started, or, rather, (as it is slow until the appearance of Lisbet Salander), once she is introduced on the page, it is a book that is almost impossible to put down.
 

Scepticalscribe

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@Renzatic: I have re-read a number of the Three Investigators books.

My initial observations stand - re the almost complete absence of women (who, when they do appear, are mothers/aunts with domestic lives who are given predictable lines "dinner is ready; wash your hands" (however, somewhat paradoxically, given current circumstances, and conditions, with Covid, that particular instruction is still more than relevant, all these decades later) - but, are otherwise entirely irrelevant to plot, character, narrative, challenge etc. They are just there as stable background decoration.

Unlike the male characters with jobs (professions), while some of these women do have jobs, do work, do have professions, the (gendered assumptions of the) narrative mean - or means - that their jobs never seem to allow them to offer an observation, insight, perspective or thought on anything to do with the resolution of any clue in any plot ("did you know that burials in LA in the 1880s...") - they are not depicted as having any intellectual interests or mental life - but are confined to "don't be late; dinner is ready; clean your room, wash your hands.."

Likewise, this is a middle class world (okay, the boys do work, cleaning their rooms, working in gardens, Jupiter's aunt & uncle's junkyard, Bob's library job), and - something I did not pick up on, as a child, reading the books initially - not only is it entirely male, which I had noticed, with annoyance, but, equally telling, it is also entirely white.

I don't think that any of the books have a black character (one or two impoverished Mexicans do put in an appearance), and this was something that did not strike me (unlike the absence of girls, or women) when I first these books, as a child.

A world that is white, male and mostly middle class.

So, an interesting stroll down memory lane.

As a child, in the series, I preferred the mysteries, to the adventures. And still do; they tended to be more intellectually interesting.

Has anyone read Jean M Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series?
 
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Scepticalscribe

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Of The Earth's Children series by Jean M Auel - The Clan of the Cave Bear was the first book - nothing, but nothing, approached the brilliance, creativity, compelling narrative power and verve and dash and chutzpah and intelligence and sheer originality of the superb first book in the series.
 

lizkat

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Here's a book I want to read, and I will want to read it whether it's more relevant in just four months or only after a max of four more years and four months... After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency.

The book deals with not only ways to regain respect for norms and traditions in the executive branch that were stomped on during the Trump administration, but suggests improvements to help put up better guardrails against rogue exploitation of Constitutional flexibility offered our Presidents.

cover art - After Trump.jpg

How I became interested: I was intrigued by some remarks from the authors. One headed up the White House Counsel's Office under Obama, and the other served in Bush 43's Office of Legal Counsel

So this offering doesn't seem to be one of those (belatedly handwringing) authors' takes on time spent actually working under Trump while wondering whether to blow the whistle or just take notes and prepare to cash in later. No. These guys worked in earlier admins that had some fundamental adherence to norms and traditions, but they did observe flaws and loopholes that could be addressed and still leave a president room to govern effectively. And one needn't have worked for Trump to realize that this particular presidency ran amok even before Day One. The book steps through foreign state influences, war power concerns, financial conflicts of interest, bureaucratic dealings, investigations of prior administrations, White House counsel issues, pardon powers, reforms related to handling vacancies and more.

And of course I hope Biden-Harris, the117th Congress and justices of the high court read this thing.
 

Arkitect

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Finally our local libraries are coming to life and my book reservations are arriving.

Currently: Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph — Jan Swafford…

1601897971724.png


Weirdly, considering Beethoven is God to me, I have never read a biography of him.
Only a few chapters in, he's barely 12 but already on the way… and surprisingly, his father wasn't the monster I had always been led to believe. No bashing little Ludwig around the ears for a start.
 

niji

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Currently (and slowly) re-reading Destined for War by Graham Allison, a most excellent work on US-China relations and what probably lies ahead. @Scepticalscribe you will find this one an exceptional work. I read it before Covid and the world's meltdown; current events just make it an even more necessary read.

Since you're all lefties here, here's the cover with Biden's endorsement of the book (honestly, it's far from being a partisan book)



heck, let's add the cover with Kissinger's endorsement:

every year i look forward to what books to give to people i give christmas presents.
i bought two books this past year to give out.
Destined for War
and
To Kill A Mockingbird
i gave To Kill A Mockingbird to all my younger American friends knowing they have never read it.
i gave Destined for War to all my Japanese and SE Asian friends because i wanted them to understand what lies ahead.
when i told people in these two groups which book i selected for each group of friends, several people in each group joked that they would have had the other book. but they weren't joking.
americans wanted to find out about what china is up to - not be reminded about what america is.
japanese wanted to find out what america is all about - not wanting to face the problem they will need to face sooner or later.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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Visited the library today to collect a few books that I had been notified were waiting for me.

First up, Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby.
 
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