Right now I'm reading

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JimZipCode
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by JimZipCode » Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:39 pm

Fat Cat wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:56 pm
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Kim is wonderful.

One of my favorite science fiction novels is Lord of Light (1967) by Roger Zelazny. It's one of the big books of the "New Wave" of sf in the 1960s. Zelazny writes it in a flowery style that's supposed to evoke the Indian culture of this colonized planet. I didn't realize this until many years later, but Zelazny is aping Kipling's prose from Kim (I think), to create that "Indian" feel. It works great, though I think Kipling did it better.

So I guess I'm saying, if you liked Kim and you like sf, you might Lord of Light.
“War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. You know it and they know it, but they wanted war, and I say let us give them all they want.”
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Fat Cat » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:12 pm

Thanks, I'll look into it. I remember reading some RZ sci-fi as a kid, can't recall which titles though.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:02 am

Finished all 1100 pages of "The Wise Man's Fear," the sequel to "The Name of the Wind." Although it was excellent, there was a good 200-250 page chunk that I found quite boring and contained a couple bizarre turns away from how the story had been progressing.

8/10

As an aside, I stepped into a game store this week and found that the game Tak (a fictional game played in "The Wise Man's Fear") has been created as a tabletop game. I was told it was a ton of fun and I think it's only 5 star reviews on Amazon for it.

For those interested:

https://www.amazon.com/Cheapass-Games-T ... B01LFA7QFK
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by JimZipCode » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:49 am

Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. I've wanted to read it for a while; for some reason, last week I pulled the trigger on reserving it at the library.
“War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. You know it and they know it, but they wanted war, and I say let us give them all they want.”
― William Tecumseh Sherman

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:08 am

JimZipCode wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:49 am
Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. I've wanted to read it for a while; for some reason, last week I pulled the trigger on reserving it at the library.
I loved that book. It's interesting to see someone so good at chess and martial arts, combining tactics and strategies to improve and win.

Fan of the film "Searching for Bobby Fischer" about his childhood as well.
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Fat Cat » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:51 pm

Napoleon by David G. Chandler...I wasn't up for his three volume magnum opus The Campaigns of Napoleon so opted for his briefer monograph on the same subject. It's classic history, no bullshit about gender or class warfare, but really well written with an easy to follow narrative style.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:17 pm

Finished "Bruce Lee: A Life" by Matthew Polly. It's a long, well-researched book with pockets of too much information (a long section on the Chinese film industry in the 60's for example). But there is a ton on the formation of Bruce Lee as a philosopher, fighter and athlete that I found very intriguing.

If you were to open to one page I'd suggest 199, it's the biggest section of the book covering his training and teaching methods. I got a few people hooked on it by having them start there.

Also read "Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics" - the book felt cobbled together, and the author admits as much. He was writing on deadline while dealing with his other job. That said there are a number of useful meditation tidbit's in here. I particularly liked the "do nothing" meditation. Sit, breathe and do nothing. Let your mind wander or your leg itch, or your mind focus on your leg itching.

Bruce Lee 8/10

Meditation 7/10
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:42 pm

"The Lies of Locke Lamora"

https://www.amazon.com/Lies-Locke-Lamor ... 055358894X

Fantasy setting meets Ocean's 11. First in a series, I've yet to start book 2 but it (and book 3) are well reviewed.

Locke Lamora lives on a fucked up hell-hole of an island, if you're poor that is, that's sort of like Venice: they speak Italian, there's canals. A prodigious thief, he's the leader of a group of other thieves who con the rich with elaborate schemes.

But all sorts of hell goes wrong.

There's some magic, some swearing, some good jokes.

Fun, well-written and a bit over-the-top.
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Tue May 14, 2019 4:04 am

Ahhh shit, been a busy year:

Red Seas Under Red Skies - sequel to Locke Lamora (reviewed above) - easy to read, pirates/fantasy/caper

Wrecked - Book 3 in the IQ series - Sherlock Holmes in the 'hood. Loved it, best book of the series

Team Human - digital philosopher talks about the downsides of social media, unchecked capitalism and what our positive options are. Enjoyable, but challenging

American Cosmic - religious studies professor looks at the UFO phenomenon through the lens of religious studies, very interesting

Lost City of the Monkey God - adventurers using NASA tech unearth city lost for 500 years in Honduras, then get incurable disease. Great read!

Zen and the Art of Surfing - short stories, lots of Jesus talk, swearing and violence. The penultimate chapter the author goes to New York right after 9/11 to volunteer with food service and take it all in, hang out with firefighters, and share the pain so many felt.
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by JimZipCode » Tue May 14, 2019 6:53 pm

The Iron King (1955) by Maurice Druon.

First in a seven-book series of French historical novels collectively called The Accursed Kings (“Les Rois Maudits”). Translated by some guy with the unlikely name "Humphrey Hare". The first six books came out from 1955 to 1960, the seventh in 1977. Capets vs Plantagenets and the beginnings of the Hundred Years War. Intrigue, revenge, betrayal, mayhem. Initially crossed my radar as one of the inspirations for the Game of Thrones series; George RR Martin wrote an intro to the new editions in 2013. ("This is the original Game of Thrones!")

I'm about a third or so into it. It's good. The Game of Thrones similarities are there: alternating third-person chapters from different viewpoints, vivid medieval setting, a zillion characters. Intelligently written; doesn't pander at all. There's the occasional old fashioned touch. Like once or twice a "Little did they know – !" sort of sentence. Also the nobility are sometimes referred to by name, sometimes by title, sometimes by their lands – like in Shakespeare – so you have to slow down a little when the reference changes, to sort out who they're talking to or about. So, a couple allowances for age: but it's good.



The book is interesting by itself, just the story. It's also interesting for the setting: the characters are walking around downtown Paris, the Ile de Cite and in front of Notre Dame etc, and my wife & I were there not very long ago (also that area's been in the news recently). And also because of tie-ins: for example the Isabella in chapter one is the same historical character that Sophie Marceau played in Braveheart. Her husband was the gay son in that movie; now king of England in this book.

I know NOTHING, zilch about this era of European history. This book, while a potboiler, also appears to be ridiculously well-researched. Not that I could identify any historical errors he makes; but just because so many of the characters are actual historical figures. There's also about 30 footnotes in the back (for example one about the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar), and those are fun & informative.
“War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. You know it and they know it, but they wanted war, and I say let us give them all they want.”
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:34 pm

Smugglers Cove - a book on the history of Tiki culture in America, how to make 100 different cocktails (including creating about a dozen different homemade simple syrups), how to create a Tiki party and space in your home. 10/10 - wonderful book

Dark Horse - non-fiction book by some Harvard researchers. Looks at anomalous business successes (e.g., a high school dropout/fast-food chef who became the most acclaimed amateur astronomer of the past 200 years) and how you can utilize your own, unique interests into making your life richer and more rewarding. Half-way through, but enjoyable.

10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now - funny, well-written, and makes plenty of sense. Fucking up journalism, making people into assholes, undermining truth, and losing your free will are some of his take on the ill effects.
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Wild Bill » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:38 pm

Started "Soldier of the mist" by Gene Wolfe.

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by nafod » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:29 pm

Wild Bill wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:38 pm
Started "Soldier of the mist" by Gene Wolfe.
I’d never heard of Gene Wolfe until he passed away recently, and got steered to his books. Currently reading Shadow and Claw, which is a combination of two books. He is great, and I regret not taking him up sooner. Predict I’ll read more from him.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by beefheart » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:35 am

Time reading Gene Wolfe is time well spent.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Schlegel » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:53 am

I know i posted about Wolfe before. He's fantastic. The fact that SF and fantasy are literary ghettos IMO is a major factor in making him severely underappreciated. If there is any justice he will be remembered for generations. In a time obsessed with grunge and cybertech, Wolfe poured out mythic poetry as intoxicating as any honeyed wine.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by beefheart » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:52 am

"Of the nature of Death and the Dead we may enumerate twelve kinds.
First there are those who become new gods, for whom new universes are born.
Second those who praise.
Third those who fight as soldiers in the unending war with evil.
Fourth those who amuse themselves among flowers and sweet springs with sports.
Fifth those who dwell in gardens of bliss, or are tortured.
Sixth those who continue as in life.
Seventh those who turn the wheel of the universe.
Eighth those who find in their graves their mothers' wombs and in one life circle forever. Ninth ghosts.
Tenth those born again as men in their grandsons' time.
Eleventh those who return as beasts or trees.
And last those who sleep."

I hope Mr. Wolfe sleeps in peace.
ab g-d wrote:I can't understand how, given the training they did, the cavemen beat the dinosaurs.

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:08 pm

Finished Dark Horse (I mentioned it a few posts back). As someone who tends to see things in black and white, I'm right/you're wrong, the book resulted in a bit of shift in thinking. The premise of the book is that we all have different interests or passions, which shift over time. The more of those passions you include in your life, the harder you will work and the more fulfilled you will feel. The reason for the cognitive shift is it made me feel more accepting of different approaches - you could lift super heavy, or do bodyweight exercises, or lift like a bodybuilder, or not exercise....and I don't have to give a fuck. And then just expand that to virtually everything - polygamy, psychedelics....I dunno, whatever. On the other hand, I found the last couple chapters to be mostly redundant.

https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Horse-Achie ... 0062683632

Started Range, it aligns nicely with Dark Horse, and focuses on research showing that the majority of successful athletes, creative-types and business people tend to thrive with a variety of activities. Not all, but the majority. This echoes Dark Horse in that pursuing your passions can be better than forcing yourself to choose one thing in the pursuit of excellence.

https://www.amazon.com/Range-Generalist ... oks&sr=1-1

And half-way through Caddyshack, about the making of the movie. Kinda fun and interesting seeing how it all came together.
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Fat Cat » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:35 pm

Just finished:

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein...hadn't read it since I was a kid and wanted to revisit. Forgot how didactic it is, but still fun. Sad how much attitudes have changed.

Campaign in Russia : The Waffen SS on the Eastern Front by Léon Degrelle

Currently reading:

Powerlifting Foundations and Methods by Boris Sheiko, Honored Coach of Russian Federation

Manthropology: The Science of Why the Modern Male Is Not the Man He Used to Be by Peter McAllister

Moral Letters to Lucilius by Lucius Annaeus Seneca, translated by Robert Mott Gummere
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Bram » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:25 am

2/3rd's through Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men."

I've seen the movie, which is so far a near-perfect translation of the book, and I hated the ending.

But, this is a great book as far as I've gotten. Great characters, vivid descriptions. The story and writing feels tight, like nothing's wasted, but it still feels poetic. And it's funny. And violent and fucked up. And exciting.

A special piece of literature so far.
"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there its sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by johno » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:04 pm

Three novels by Kent Anderson, loosely based on his experiences first as a Special Forces soldier in Vietnam, then as a cop in Portland, then in Oakland.

Each novel stands alone. But I recommend they be read in chronological sequence: "Sympathy for the Devil," "Night Dogs," and "Green Sun." I suspect these novels reflect his life/death experiences and grappling with life as a warrior, a survivor, and a cop.

*****

Also, Jonah Goldberg's "Suicide of the West" is at times excellent...even profound. His discussion of "The Miracle" that is modern society silences those who hate Western Civilization.
Goldberg is a Trump critic and I think that is the weaker part of his book, not because Goldberg is wrong but because Trump is so ideologically slippery.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Alfred_E._Neuman » Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:41 pm

Been upping my reading over the last year or so, trying to skew a little more toward learning/improvement in addition to fun & light. Some of my recent reads:

The Big Picture: On the Origin of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll. I'm a physics/cosmology junky along with getting more into philosophy. This book ticks all those boxes. Sean Carroll is one of my favorite physicists to listen to, and his minor in philosophy definitely comes through when you hear him give a lecture or debate. All of this comes through even more in this book where he melds his philosophy with all of the current evidence of a universe that is devoid of any meaning other than that which we give it. One of my favorite books on the subject.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (So Far) by Lawrence Krauss. Another highly recommended book on the fundamental make-up of the universe, going through the history of our understanding of the theories of quantum mechanics. By far Krauss' best book unless you are a total Trekkie, in which case you'll probably like "The Science of Star Trek".
A Universe from Nothing, also by Krauss. A little dated now, but goes into detail on the energy in empty space and the mounting evidence that that energy can manifest into the creation of a universe from what would otherwise be "nothing".
I've always liked Krauss, especially since he's a fairly hard atheist like myself. Too bad he got caught up the the #metoo BS. I've not delved too deeply into the accusations he faced, but from what I understand it's now basically illegal to find a female attractive that does not find you attractive. But I'm open to changing that opinion of him based on evidence.

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges. One of his older books, dating to just after the financial meltdown of 2008. Hedges goes into the increasing slip into a fantasy world of mass-market media, influencers, fantasy, and illusion that Americans increasingly retreat into rather than face the hard questions of economic, environmental, and social rot affecting our culture. He basically predicts Trump (or a similar demagogue) in this book with scary accuracy. The wife and I got to see Chris give a talk on his latest book, America: The Farewell Tour earlier this year at the Atlanta History Center. This earlier work on the same basic subject is a great jumping in point if you want a little better insight into well thought out progressive liberal ideas without the usual hyper SJW sour taste of much of the current left. The chapter on the pornography industry made me completely rethink my relationship with the 'net and the porn that pops up even on sites like IGx.

Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind by Annaka Harris. This is a short book or long essay on our current understanding of theory of mind, and how consciousness arrises out of a collection of non-conscious matter. More of an accumulation of thinking by scientists working on the issue and some opinions by Annaka rather than research done by the author, it covers many of the modern hypotheses, including the more esoteric ones like Panpsycism (various ideas that consciousness could be a fundamental property of the Universe rather than some result of brute information processing power of a brain). Picked it up because I have a huge existential crisis going on about why I'm here and what not, and because she's Sam Harris' wife. Was pleasantly surprised, and it's good to hear the top minds in the field all admit that we currently have no idea why our collection of particles can feel like something to be itself.

The Fifth Science by exurb1a. I've followed Alex's youtube channel for quite a while. On his channel he deals with philosophical and existential issues in some of the most humorous and thoughtful prose I've ever heard. He also writes SciFi that incorporates his philosophy into the story. This book is a collection of short stories that follow humanity from the beginning of our move to a galactic empire to the eventual fall of the empire. The arc of the empire is a very loose background canvas to the stories that dive deep into the philosophy of our relationship with technology and the idea that Consciousness could end up being a fifth fundamental force in our universe alongside the Strong and Weak nuclear forces, Electromagnetism, and Gravity. The story "Water for Lunch" is a near spot on critique of our modern meme and "influencer" driven society.
The Prince of Milk, also by exurb1a. A full length novel that again deals with consciousness but this time in the form of a story of "gods" (Arbiters of various fundamental properties in this book) who regulate the cosmos who fall into a love triangle played out over the history of the human race and coming to a head in a small English village. If you like Douglass Adams, you'll enjoy this book.
If unfamiliar with exurb1a, this is one of my favorite short films of all time and showcases his writing as well as anything:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n__42UNIhvU[/youtube]

Buddhism Without Belief: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor. In order to deal with my ever growing existential crisis I'm having, I've been diving deeper into philosophy, which has in turn drawn me toward Eastern philosophy. Since I've taken up a regular Theravada meditation practice I've been learning more and forming my own conclusions. But I still find myself unable to accept any form of higher power guiding this existence. I simply cannot believe anything on insufficient or zero evidence. Much like Sam Harris, Batchelor distills the practice of mindfulness as a way to recognize the root of our suffering is our desire to either obtain things we do not have that we think and hope will make us happy, or avoid those things we fear or find unpleasant. He removes any dogmatic underpinnings and gets to the core of the idea that focusing on the present moment can break us free from the constant worry/fear of the future and the analyzing/regretting of the past that contribute so much to our distracted state in the present.

The Demon Crown by James Rollins. This one is a basic summer action/adventure read. If you like Clive Cussler, you'll like Rollins. This is the latest in his series of Sigma Force novels. Sigma Force is an elite arm of DARPA that seems to constantly find itself involved in world-hopping dustups of a science and history bent. Think Indiana Jones written by Dan Brown. I like a good adventure story based loosely on obscure historical theories mixed with some science.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Gav » Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:25 pm

Fat Cat wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:35 pm
Just finished:

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein...hadn't read it since I was a kid and wanted to revisit. Forgot how didactic it is, but still fun. Sad how much attitudes have changed.

Campaign in Russia : The Waffen SS on the Eastern Front by Léon Degrelle

Currently reading:

Powerlifting Foundations and Methods by Boris Sheiko, Honored Coach of Russian Federation

Manthropology: The Science of Why the Modern Male Is Not the Man He Used to Be by Peter McAllister

Moral Letters to Lucilius by Lucius Annaeus Seneca, translated by Robert Mott Gummere
Seneca was one hell of a clever mother fucker. I’ve got the full version with all the letters. I bought it for one euro on amazon.
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Re: Right now I'm reading

Post by Fat Cat » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:56 pm

In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown by Nathaniel Philbrick

I really enjoyed this. It's popular history, but a reexamination of the twin (naval and land, respectively) Battle of the Chesapeake and Yorktown. Philbrick's basic assertion is that these two battles were basically Anglo-French affairs, with mere American window-dressing. The history is compelling, in that it is both well-researched and well-written. I liked it enough that I am now reading Bunker Hill, another in his series of works on the Revolutionary War.
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