Books: Last Book You Read and Rate It

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Ceremony, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. kihei

    kihei Registered User

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    The Flame: Poems and Selections from Notebooks
    . by Leonard Cohen

    The Flame is a collection of about two hundred poems and fragments of poems that Leonard Cohen didn't publish in his life time. There is a good reason for that as they are a pretty mediocre lot. From youth through old age, Cohen's persona never changed greatly. He appeared an inward-looking, lachrymose man, a warrior to love ultimately made weary by an endless string of romances that never managed to work out. The affairs that he writes about in this collection increasingly seem like battlegrounds, tests of will each encompassing their own inevitable demise. Picturing a happy Leonard Cohen is like picturing a happy Miles Davis--just too hard to imagine and too in conflict with their self-image. This last collection of poems does little more than freeze this persona into a permanent memorial.

    At least in his early years, the women whom Cohen wrote about had definable personalities and quirks, elements that made them attractive and particular--think Suzanne, think Marrianne, think sisters of mercy, think Chelsea Hotel, and so on. There are references to women galore in this collection, but they all sound the same--impersonal, interchangeable beings notable only for leaving a mark or a regret on Leonard's aching heart. Even more than usual, the focus is on the "I" in these poems--they virtually all scream me, me, me; in fact it is almost impossible to find a poem in which the first person pronoun isn't used to the point of distraction. At his best, Cohen is a superb wordsmith, so there are a few stanzas here that remain memorable and reflect his way with words. However, most of these poems are dull and repetitive. That they are accompanied with dozens of Cohen's pencil drawn self-portraits only emphasizes the degree of total self-absorption that is on display here. Long time Cohen fans may deem this a necessary addition to his work, the rest of can just play his first several albums.
     
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  2. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (1992) - Few authors- if any - have the tendency to make me think about how books should be read and written. A Cormac McCarthy novel always gets this question out of me. As compared to many writers and many novels, with Cormac McCarthy, you always get the sense as if you are being told a story, and it is important to remember that you are currently reading a novel, which in turn allows you to be fully immersed in the work itself. While I wouldn't mean this negatively, the vast majority of writers often read as if they're trying to convince you of one thing or another, or at the very least, have you believe the words they've written, which is fine, sometimes great, but one gets the sense that Cormac McCarthy has a heightened awareness of what he is doing and what is in control of, which allows his bountiful imagination to spread across his prose and narrative. He knows he is a storyteller. He is not trying to hide the fact. And in turn, I personally feel it allows me to understand that I am actually reading a fantasy, and which in a sort of way, makes one grasp the mystical sensation of a literary tradition, the belief in another world, another life, than our own and the one we share with the world around us. The turning of a page doesn't become only a way to read what happens next. It becomes a pleasurable action in and of itself. His books aren't so much novels as they are epics. And they know that they are. And they want you to know that they know that they are.

    All the Pretty Horses is far more romantic in a large sense than other works I've read of his - although a sense of awe towards nature is consistently present in other works as well - but it feels McCarthy lets him be a lot more gooey than in other works, where, in an endearing way, we see the author is a lot more human and prone to emotion than he's let on in earlier books. I liked it a lot. I also find that McCarthy is a more understandable read when he is read fast. Whenever I slowed down my reading pace, I found it far more likely to become lost in the events described. Not so much when I read the book at a faster pace, where it felt the relatively fragmented narrative become a single whole, and which made the experience a lot more rewarding. I did struggle a bit towards the end, when John Grady Cole, the main character, attempts revenge and rescue all at once, and which had a lot happening within a single moment. This quality mixed in with McCarthy's singular, dense prose gave me certain struggles at that point. Thankfully, the book ends with a couple of separate episodes/epilogues which were breathed with grace. The book is peppered with grandiose monologues - but are not felt in such a way at the moment of reading - that display an impressive knowledge of Mexican history and class struggles and which felt like vintage McCarthy, where horror, violence and sheer emotional vastness mix in for a philosophical experience. A better poet than most poets. While I've still many books to read, and many authors to discover - american or otherwise - it's difficult not to imagine Cormac McCarthy having a legitimate claim at being the greatest writer in American history.
     
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  3. stingo

    stingo Registered User

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    Over the last few years there have been many self help books written around mental health, and getting the most out of your life. But tell someone who is depressed to just not “give a f#%!” , and it’s really not going to do much for them because it never gets to the root of the issues .

    But once every 10-15 years a book comes along in which the evidence is so powerful & overwhelming that the reader has no other choice but to accept it as the truth. The truth often leads to revolutions. Lost Connections is one of those books.

    Johann Hari travels the world and talks to psycholosts, scientists , and people suffering from mental health issues. His discoveries are alarming.

    The belief up until now was that there was a problem with our brains when suffering from depression, anxiety, etc. Our serotonin levels are low. The problem is in our genes. The solution was to give people pills, all the pharma companies were happy. Profits were soaring .

    And therein lies the problem.

    As I read the authors reasons for depression, anxiety I couldn’t believe these weren’t already accepted by the wider medical , psychiatric community, but once the author gets into the reasoning it makes sense , and it should make the reader angry.

    Does lower serotonin levels cause depression? According to a study that had people without mental health issues drink a serotonin lowering drink? No, it doesn’t . Studies also show a good nights sleep has more benefit than the pills we are taking.

    I have been around people who have been depressed, went on pills, felt better for a bit, and then the pills stopped working & they went back to the doctor and got prescribed the same pill but at a higher dosage. When those pills stop working , put them on another drug and repeat the process .

    In our culture we are more anxious and depressed than ever. I hope this book and it’s message reaches everyone. It’s a revelation - thought provoking and empowering to all those who suffer.

    10/10

    (I should clarify that some people do need medication, and that’s totally okay if they work. If it gives you relief that’s all that matters. But hope those that need medication will still read, and find value in this book).
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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  4. jumptheshark

    jumptheshark Rebooting myself Sponsor

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    Last book I read was by Dave Hill guitarists from Slade. I only read it because a few of my friends are mentioned in it and a couple of incidents mentioned in the book, while I was not directly involved in--I was around them when they happened. Wanted to read his side of the story. 2/10
     
  5. Finlandia WOAT

    Finlandia WOAT Bench Rosen

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    Brave New World

    A dystopian future, in the name of social control and utilitarianism, has succeeded in breeding "desire", the most human of emotions, out of the human herd. Babies are born in factories and, depending on their determined caste, are inculcated (via Skinner box methods, electric shock for bad, sweets for good) with an immanent, insatiable yet obscured, like something is permanently on the tip of your tongue, yearning to want 2-4 different goods. This is not "desire", for "desire" can only exist when there is simultaneously an absence of something, and awareness of that absence: the Brave New World conditions both of these traits out of the herd. There is never any lack of anything, for all you (are conditioned to) want is available and easy: meth, sex, community, a greater purpose... so people go about there lives with no sense of lacking anything, and only a deep, in-their-bones understanding that something is horribly wrong, in the name of increasing social harmony via endless, mindless consumption.
    All of the characters in the book with more than 3 speaking roles realize, to some extent and at least at some point, that something is horrible wrong....

    There are times when Brave New World, unlike 1984, is not (only) a warning of things to come, but a warning of how things already are.

    Standing lone against the Brave New World is John the Savage. John is caught between world where all human desire is edited out and replaced with mindless consumption and pre-approved cliches to make the most Western Canadian NHL grinder shudder, and the heart-wrenching, soul crushing feeling of wanting something down to the depths of your soul, and being unable to obtain it, what those nerd philosophers call, "despair".

    Huxley was amused by the idea of a choice between an insane world and despair, but didn't take it seriously later in his life. But sometimes, I wonder...the idea is not out of place in these times.

    Also Huxley is a great writer, this is the kind of book that makes me want to get my hands on everything he's ever written.

    Rating: 2/10.
     
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  6. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    2/10 yet you want to get everything he's ever written? Does not compute.
     
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  7. Brownbeard

    Brownbeard Registered User

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    I've been reading a lot, and have probably finished 40 books this year.

    The last one was something I got from the library, called What She Knew. It's by Gilly Macmillan. I like thrillers and can be a sucker for them, and hers are okay. It was a 3-3.5/5 kind of book.

    I'm now reading her second book (that was her first), as it's the only one I haven't. I'm more than halfway through. It's called Odd Child Out and is also decent.
     
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  8. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (1938) - I think I'm done for now. Anytime I pick it up I read a couple of pages - painfully so - before putting it down and looking for something else to do. There's some good writing there (when taken outside of the novelistic form) and Sartre does appear to have something to say but artistically it just feels so off. I find the pacing terrible, and the diary entries involving the main character just sitting in a cafe and describing the most mundane events with acute details is just so goddamn boring. Very french too. It truly feels like Sartre was going for something interesting here and maybe he succeeded but I'm really not feeling it right now. In fact, I kind of hate it and find it self-indulgent in the worst of ways.
     
  9. Hippasus

    Hippasus 1,9,45,165,495,1287,

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    Functions Modeling Change: a preparation for calculus: student solutions manual 475

    For the most part, this text gives fully worked-out solutions for every fourth problem in the companion textbook. As this is a precalculus book, it covers topics in algebra and trigonometry. The introductory exposition sections in the companion textbook are well-presented with graphs and clear explanations. For me, this was especially welcome in the two trigonometry chapters. The chapters of the companion textbook are intended to get the student comfortable with the verbal, graphical, and algebraic representations of functions. The presentation of the introductory expositions to the sections show the book(s) to be slightly slanted toward scientific conceptualizations of the problems rather than a more purely mathematical and theoretical treatment. This also seems to be the case in the textbook I am currently working on, Single Variable Calculus: early transcendentals, so maybe this is normal for such course books. Although the solutions manual is not that long (169 pages), it took me a while.

    Rubank Intermediate Method: flute or piccolo: a follow up course for individual or like-instrument class instruction 500

    This book is about 50 pages of sheet music with a tiny bit of exposition on the nature and performance of trills and the like. Since there is so little exposition or text, a measure of independent motivation and imagination may be required to get through it. Rhythmically, it's not too challenging, and it tends not to have quicker notes than sixteenths. Overall, the style of the music is classical, and was a lot of fun to play. There are a lot of exercises that resemble runs of thirds in various major, harmonic minor, and melodic minor keys. This would be an example of one of the fun aspects of the book.

    200: distasteful and pathetic
    300: mediocre or subpar
    400: average, but decent
    500: very good
    600: superb
    700: transcendental
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  10. Hippasus

    Hippasus 1,9,45,165,495,1287,

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    I remember liking the reading of this play in college. If I recall correctly, it illustrated existentialism fairly well.
     
  11. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    I'm not sure if we're talking about the same work. Nausea is a novel - unless it's also been adapted as a play - and it might do so later on in the book, but I thought it was far too despairing for existentialism as far as I could tell.
     
  12. Hippasus

    Hippasus 1,9,45,165,495,1287,

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    Whoops, I was thinking of "No Exit".
     
  13. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    Yeah, I enjoyed that one too. Maybe some other time. I buy any book I read so I can always go back to it anyhow.
     
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  14. RobBrown4PM

    RobBrown4PM Pringles?

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    Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

    I just crossed the half way point and am now in Part 3. Holy crap is this thing both a slog and an emotional book. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is both a science loving geek, and to those that have a liking for apocalyptic settings.
     
  15. kihei

    kihei Registered User

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    Sense and Sensibility
    (2018) by Jane Austen

    It bothers me (slightly) that there seems to have grown a distinction between "literature" and "women's literature," with the latter being perceived, mostly by male critics, as a poor cousin of the former. Undoubtedly things like Harlequin romances appeal more to one gender than the other just as Marvel comics do on the male side. But serious literature, one would hope anyway, should be judged by different standards. Unquestionably, Jane Austen is a writer of uncommon skill. Her command of language and detailed descriptions seem second only to Henry James in this period, though James creates the greater psychological depth (no surprise there, as psychological fine-tuning is one of the defining characteristics of James' works). Austin is also excellent at creating a fictional reality based on a time and place few today could even imagine, especially in North America--a time of landed gentry, living off past inheritances, spending time endlessly visiting one another in lieu of anything better to do, divorced from the concerns of discomfort, yet imperious enough to see themselves as superior to almost all of the rest of humanity. Austen has the ability to humanize these people long enough to get her readers to identify with their romantic concerns if nothing else. Her romances are essentially character studies which reveal both the values of this rigid class system, and the kind of behaviors that were either frowned upon or favored by members of this rarefied society. If viewed from this generalized perspective, Austen is obviously a highly skilled, perceptive writer whose carefully structured works provide more than sufficient evidence that she need not take a backseat to any of her contemporaries in terms of her ability as a writer.

    Yet the notion of gender cannot be escaped entirely. Sense and Sensibility is a romance that focuses almost entirely on women, the novel being a detailed chase that we can assume will almost certainly end well with our two central heroines marrying the men that best suit them but who are also, of course, a good match for them in terms of their station and income. Elinor is a strong character, rational to the point of coldness, a believer in appearances who fully accepts the restrictive social mores of her class, someone who is often offended by the impetuousness of her own sibling. Marianne, her younger sister, is comparatively a free spirit who speaks her mind without necessarily considering the social niceties she may be offending. Where Elinor is measured and rational, Marianne is spirited and emotional--love means everything to her and when she appears to be wronged by a man she deeply cares about, she goes into a bottomless funk. The rest of the novel is an often verbose attempt to find a solution to Marianne's conundrum--and Elinor's as well. In other words, how will the romantic dilemmas of both sisters be eventually resolved because of course they will be resolved--there is never any question about that. I found the emotional landscape of this novel fresh for awhile, but then repetitive and even maybe overwritten (not an infrequent characteristic of first novels, which this is). At a certain point, the enumeration of emotional distress seems to explore the same characteristics--joy, despair, impropriety, appearances--over and over again without adding any further insight. In short, what needs to be accomplished in terms of narrative arc doesn't require the amount of time that Austen takes to resolve it. I can see discrepancies of opinion here based on gender. While I perhaps should have the patience to appreciate the perspective Austin provides, I don't--certainly not in a way that lets me immerse myself fully in the material. Maybe it's just the fact that a 19th century upperclass woman's rather repetitive perspective wears out its welcome for me in a way that it does not for women readers who seldom see female characters so artfully drawn in most other novels of the period (or well beyond this period, for that matter). While someone could unfairly argue that Austen just writes ultra-accomplished Harlequin romances, I don't think that argument would ever come close to carrying the day. The fact that parts of this novel weary me has more to do with the failures of my imagination than in any inherent flaw in Austen's work.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
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  16. Oscar Acosta

    Oscar Acosta Registered User

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    The Pianist - Wladyslaw Szpilman

    What to say about this book but it should be a must read to everyone in high school and beyond. True story of Szpilman's unbelievable survival during the Nazi invasion of Poland and his time in the Warsaw ghetto.

    Like the movie, it's just amazing but reading the book there's added horror and context to what he was going through. Makes you really question the evils that mankind can reach. He wrote this book soon after I believe 2 years after the war ended, so there's this odd detached statement of fact in everything he has to say. There isn't the years later to have him think about it and then write a book. It's just "this is what happened and how I survived".

    Which is a stark contrast to a book like "Man's Search for Meaning". Szpilman has no belief that he was psychologically better or enlightened by his experience. Rather, he knows how lucky he was to live, questions why he even wanted to. But it's a horrific recount of a time a man lived through that he hadn't processed yet, there's a cold detachment to his descriptions of seeing where Nazi's swung children against a wall to smash their heads in. But it is what he lived through.

    It's hard to read. Equally hard to put down.

    10/10
     
  17. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

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    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926) - An old favorite. Finished this a few days ago. Always enjoy revisiting it. Hemingway does a fantastic job of conveying meaning and emotional depth through accessible and wholly enthralling episodes throughout the book (which is considerable when you think of how despicable most characters in the book are) and it is difficult not to be charmed and romanticize the french and spanish settings, particularly the latter. I've mentioned this before but Heminway has this quality that feels both strong and tender to describe in few words some appealing sceneries and creating a lively atmosphere within them that I find are such a fun read. The only slight flaws within this one is the prose sometimes clunks and he tends to repeat short thoughts a little too much within a short amount of time which takes away from the fluidity. I don't know that I would have started the book with a full-on description of Robert Cohn's upbringing either but the technique makes sense. At least it feels justified. One thing that bothers me about certain reviews of the book though is that people negatively say that its characters are shallow. I've always found that to be a lazy critique because it seems to entail that there is nothing to tell or gain by writing about shallow characters, that there are not observations to make about characters, observations that these characters may not know about themselves (or hell, even the author). The characters are shallow (mostly). But so what? Hemingway says many interesting things to them and about them. A great work with one of my favorite endings of all-time.

    So far, of the Hemingway's I've read, I'd rank them like this.

    The Old Man and the Sea (one of literature's masterpieces)
    The Sun Also Rises (Close to flawless)

    A Farewell to Arms (Very good)
    To Have and Have Not (Okay)

    I've read a bunch of short stories of his as well and own all of them. Can't remember many titles but many are fantastic. One in particular about a heavy drinking man taking a trip to Florida with his much younger lover (and possibly step-daughter if I recall?) was a particular favorite.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
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  18. kihei

    kihei Registered User

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    Proust's In Search of Lost Time (all seven volumes) and Flaurbert's Sentimental Education are about shallow characters--doesn't prevent those books from becoming among the great achievements in the history of literature.
     
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  19. Steve Varlamov

    Steve Varlamov Registered User

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    Just finished Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. What a harrowing, depressing, hopeless book. I loved it.
     
  20. kihei

    kihei Registered User

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    In a House of Lies
    , by Ian Rankin

    The plot is there's these bad guys and eventually they get caught. Nothing more really worth saying. Every extended, popular detective series eventually comes to this point. If you are not familiar with the long-term cast of characters and their idiosyncrasies, it will take a while getting into this installment of Ian Rankin's spectacularly successful Inspector Rebus series. In a House of Lies, as well as the past couple of books that precede it, is strictly for the already initiated. Actually it's now the John Rebus series because in the last few books Rebus has been retired from the Edinburgh police force (yet still mucking about like he never really left). Initially putting Rebus to pasture seemed like a liberation for author Ian Rankin who has about 20 such books to his credit. But not so much. He may have retired his chief cop but after a couple of limp attempts to replace him with another detective, Rankin brought the old warhorse back into action. It seemed a desperate move at the time, though maybe just a lazy one in retrospect--who doesn't like making piles of money? And now we have what In a House of Lies and its recent brethren represent: unoriginal police procedurals with all our favourite characters still kicking around for want of anything better else to do with their lives. New Rebus books, this one included, seem now not like detective novels but like a weekly TV installment of a popular cop show--familiar enough to keep the hardcore audience coming back for more but not memorable in the least as the stories offer no real challenges of any kind and only celebrate the already commonplace. Success breeds repetition which eventually turns into benign indifference, seemingly for reader and writer alike. Will I pick up the next Rebus installment? Probably but no longer certainly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  21. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    In a previous life I wrote university essays while adhering to a style and formatting guide I'd managed to find while navigating the awful computer systems we had to use. I discovered at some point near the end of my academic career that I shouldn't have been using this guide, there was another one I should have been following. The original one contained a section asking you to ensure the titles of texts were accurate, and gave an example of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned being wrongly written as The Beautiful and The Damned.

    I'd Die for You: And Other Lost Stories is a collection of 'lost' short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, released this year (in paperback) compiled and edited by a woman named Anne Margaret Daniel. On the small author profile on the cover of the book Fitzgerald is credited as the writer of The Beautiful and The Damned, casting immediate ridicule on my propensity to buy anything with Fitzgerald's name on it if the cover's fancy enough.

    The collection contains 'lost' stories in the sense that they were unpublished, or otherwise hidden away in an archive for years and only found recently. They cover pretty much the whole of Fitzgerald's literary career from the start of the 20s to the end of the 30s. The stories themselves are included here mainly because they're of a different genre to where Fitzgerald made his fame and fortune. It's not all attractive young men and women getting drunk and dancing.

    Each story is prefaced with a little background about its composition and the attempts to sell it to magazines. Pretty much anything which deviated from that best-selling format was rejected, usually to the author's irritation. Drunks, Catholics, the civil war, impractical New York subway layouts, nobody wanted to publish that during the 20s. It's interesting in many ways to see the experimentation Fitzgerald went through with genre, as well as seeing the influence his attempted shift to Hollywood in the 30s had on his style.

    The problem with a collection based on this premise is that if the stories were all unpublished, there's probably a reason for that. And as much as it will pain me to say it, not all of these are good. Some are even horrible to read. There's one based on a film script which is an ongoing farcical comedy which feels more like a lampoon of Fitzgerald than anything he wrote himself. The two civil war stories I referenced earlier start with the same introduction and develop in different ways. This is interesting to see how his writing process worked, but sadly both stories are dull and uninspiring.

    There are memorable stories. The one in the title is good, and there's a few others which stand out. Mostly those which follow the standard Fitzgerald pattern the magazines wanted but with other darker elements added, rather than being based on something completely different. Seeing him write about asylums is particularly striking, given his and Zelda's experience of them. The prefaces to the stories give context here which helps ground the stories more in a particular period of his life, which is a useful aspect of the collection.

    This is probably projection of something I do, but I think when some writes so strikingly about a period as Fitzgerald does that preconceptions are created. Or maybe expectations. It certainly seems like these existed at the time, as anything which deviated from his successful formula was unwanted. Given how much of Fitzgerald's writing was out of necessity in terms of payment, it's unsurprising that he stuck so firmly to this formula. Reading some of the stories in this collection, you realise how much of a shame this is. They aren't all perfect. Some are downright annoying. But for the most part they show someone brilliant trying something new. Fitzgerald's best stories all have an undercurrent to them, some sort of personal turmoil which suggests the ideal, superficially perfect lives people aspired to at the time weren't always what they appeared. When those darker elements are less subtle I suppose people didn't want to hear it, and that's why a collection like this exists.

    Thinking about it now, while there's nothing in the collection I'd consider truly great or essential, there's more good than bad. I'm sure by the time I get around to re-reading Fitzgerald I might be able to appreciate them some more.
     
  22. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

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    After finishing James Kelman's first novel, The Busconductor Hines, a week ago I've been trying to think how to describe it. I've realised that there isn't really that much to think about, which is sort of the point.

    Partly (I'm assuming, since Kelman worked on the buses before becoming a full time writer) based on real events, partly fictional, Rab Hines is a bus conductor in Glasgow, some time around the mid-eighties. He is married to Sandra and has a young son, Paul, and they live in a tiny flat that Hines is reluctant to decorate because the building is falling to pieces, and they'd probably get a move as soon as he'd finished. The book doesn't really cover much in the way of events. It's more of a glimpse into a few days of Hines' life, the things he does and thinks.

    The thing is, the book actually starts out seeming like it might be normal. It's split into four sections and the first is straightforward enough, really only detailing what I said in the previous paragraph. It's after this Hines' internal monologue starts to take over where we see what he thinks and feels about everything – his son, his job, his missus, the people he works with, it all comes pouring out of him at once. I've said before that in reading Irvine Welsh there's a real sense of familiarity as you read characters and how they behave and see your own surroundings in them. Well, there's no drugs in this and it's set in Glasgow rather than Edinburgh, so you can turn that up several notches.

    Personally, with the book being set in the decade before I was born I found it interesting to see small snippets of things I barely remember from... well, the age of Hines' son, I suppose. Half-remembered things I saw or heard first-hand, or heard about from older relatives back when I would participate in family gatherings. As much as Hines' monologues are personal and unique to him and really have to be read for yourself to fully appreciate them, as I write now I'm struck by how universal this existence must have been for a period of time.

    It feels strange to say that a life as different to mine as Hines' is feels familiar but the book's really about more than him alone. It's about his environment, his peers, the company he keeps. It's about the effect all of these have on his thoughts and actions and really, it's the best kind of stream-of-consciousness writing. Deeply personal, often a struggle to read through, but unmistakably familiar. It takes skill and a level of insight to write this sort of book and not be overly indulgent or convoluted, but Kelman seems to be quite good at it.

    I've struggled a bit writing this because I realised how little of the book is actual events and how much of it is unfiltered thought that can't really be expressed in other words. If there was one thing for me to say of Rab Hines it would be that I understand him, even if he struggles to understand himself.
     
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  23. Hippasus

    Hippasus 1,9,45,165,495,1287,

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    How to Play the Flute: practical advice for beginners 400 (legend above on this page, post 384)

    I was trying to brush up on fundamentals, but the music wasn't that enjoyable. The music is just okay and there isn't that much of it. Furthermore, I already knew the written exposition, for the most part. Although that aspect would be useful for readers of this book that are actually beginners.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  24. GB

    GB Registered User

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    The ratings are

    5* = masterpiece
    4* = really good
    3* = enjoyable/good but flawed/informative but a little tedious
    2* = OK/tedious but the only source on a subject
    1* = any book this bad does not get finished. Many years ago I forced myself to finish Perdido Street Station and the end was so infuriating that I decided to never do that to myself again. Books that aggravate me and have no redeeming features don't last long now.

    I read 102 books in 2018. Until I compiled this list I hadn't realised that 8 of them were rated 2*. I think I'm normally better at picking books than that but I'm not going back over 2015-2017 to confirm that. 50 of the books were 4* are above. I think that's a good rate of picking books I enjoy. I stuck to my goal of at least half my reads being by female authors again in 2018 (53 of the 102) and it was still a great decision. I encourage everyone to diversify their reading like this if possible. I stuck to my goal of reading books by LGBTQ+ authors again in 2018 and again most of that representation was from lesbian authors. Mainly this is because Ali Smith, Jeanette Winterson and Sarah Waters are 3 of my very favourite working authors. I'll try and work on balancing this in 2019.

    I decided to add some poetry in 2018. There wasn't a lot but I found enough that was enjoyable to do the same again in 2019.

    My last goal for 2019 is to read from more countries. Most of my reads are from the UK, the US, Russia, & Japan. I'd like to read the last two books of
    Jón Kalman Stefánsson's Heaven and Hell trilogy, some more African literature, and some non-Japanese Asian literature.

    Lastly, the books aren't in order inside their groups. Except the bottom two books on the list are comfortably the worst two of 2018.

    5*

    Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
    The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
    Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
    My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up by Stephen Elliott

    4*

    Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
    Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine by Hannah Fry
    The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
    Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy by Ed Hawkins
    Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
    Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Spires-Thompson
    Passing by Nella Larsen
    Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson
    Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson
    The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
    Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson
    Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
    No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
    Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
    Snow in May: Stories by Kseniya Melnik
    How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
    Marlena by Julie Buntin
    In-Flight Entertainment by Helen Simpson
    Winter by Ali Smith
    Hotel World by Ali Smith
    The Whole Story and Other Stories by Ali Smith
    Pastoralia by George Saunders
    Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame by Charles Bukowski
    The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison
    The Passport by Herta Müller
    The Power by Naomi Alderman
    Tuff by Paul Beatty
    The Guts by Roddy Doyle
    Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami
    Wind/Pinball: Two Novels by Haruki Murakami
    Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
    Affinity by Sarah Waters
    The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
    Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
    Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
    Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain by James Bloodworth
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
    A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
    Black Snow by Mikhail Bulgakov
    The Man Within by Graham Greene
    Dr Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene
    All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
    Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley
    My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

    3*

    Pies and Prejudice: In search of the North by Stuart Maconie
    Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin
    Maintenance Of Headway by Magnus Mills
    The Forensic Records Society by Magnus Mills
    By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
    Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman
    Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction by Catriona Kelly
    The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven
    History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
    Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life by Roald Dahl
    The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
    The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
    Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
    The Terracotta Army by John Man
    Francisco Goya by Rose-Marie Hagen & Rainer Hagen
    Love And Summer by William Trevor
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
    Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
    While the Women Are Sleeping by Javier Marías
    How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt
    The History of Bees by Maja Lunde
    Last Things by Jenny Offill
    Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker
    Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain by Lisa McKenzie
    Out of my League by George Plimpton
    Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
    Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones
    How Not To Be a Boy by Robert Webb
    The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin
    Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
    The Exclamation Mark by Anton Chekhov
    The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla (editor)
    Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
    Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi
    Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife by Mary Roach
    Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked by Adam Alter
    Cockfosters by Helen Simpson
    The Life and Loves of a She Devil by Fay Weldon
    The Traitor's Niche by Ismail Kadare
    Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson
    Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
    You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers

    2*

    PopCo by Scarlett Thomas
    Old Man Goya by Julia Blackburn
    Agnes Grey & Poems by Anne Brontë
    Beautiful Children by Charles Bock
    What? Are These the 20 Most Important Questions in Human History or Is This a Game of 20 Questions? by Mark Kurlansky
    Quartet by Jean Rhys
    Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
    Tampa by Alissa Nutting

    If anyone wants reviews of any of the books let me know.
     
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  25. kihei

    kihei Registered User

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    ^^^^^^^^^
    I would appreciate some commentary on your top four books, none of which I am familiar with. Impressive year, to say the least.
     
    GB likes this.

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