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***Book Club***

Grab a short black and come join in the non-cycling discussion. Favourite books, movies, holiday destinations, other sports - chat about it all in the cafe.

Moderators: Eshnar, Irondan, King Boonen, Red Rick, Pricey_sky

08 Feb 2012 22:33

elapid wrote:For those that enjoy reading military history and have not done so already, I would highly recommend Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. I don't have much interest in the Vietnam War, but this was an excellent read.

How does someone who reads military history not have much interest in Vietnam?
User avatar LeakyBoat
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09 Feb 2012 01:19

I forgot about this thread.

Just finished Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandlebaum's That Used to be Us.

I'm now on Charles Payne's So Much Reform, So Little Change about urban educational reform in the US. I attended a lecture by him in the fall, and finally got around to reading his book. Fascinating stuff,

EDIT: not to mention the dozen or so books I'm paging through for different classes.
More Strides than Rides
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22 Jun 2012 17:15

Has anyone read the new book about Gino Bartali? Just came out this week, I think, so might be a bit premature to ask :)

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Valor-Cyclist-Inspired-Nation/dp/030759064X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340384614&sr=8-1&keywords=road+to+valor

Looks interesting and has received good reviews so far.
User avatar VeloCity
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11 Jul 2012 22:14

My favourite authors right now: Thomas Bernhard and José Saramago.

Currently reading: "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins (bought it at the airport 3 years ago, never got around to it, suddenly picked it up and now really liking it)

Planning to read next: "The name of the rose" by Umberto Eco (Everyone has been telling me it is a must-read, plus I am interested in medieval history)

Planning to buy/find: "A little yes and a big no" (George Grosz autobiography), biographical works on Jaroslav Hasek, Biography of Salazar, "Confieso que he vivido" by Pablo Neruda
piccoli equivoci senza importanza.

Visit my blog on spanish history: http://www.histoires-espagnoles.blogspot.fr
User avatar Christian
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21 Aug 2012 08:44

Well I just finished "The Name of the Rose"! Luckily I had some time on my hands so I was able to read it pretty fast without much distraction. Though some parts of it can be pretty dense and philosophical, in a whole I found it agreeable to read though.

I am sure I missed many of the intertextual allusions and so on that Eco hid in there. I read that some people compare it to the political situation in Italy in the 1970's - that is of course difficult to grasp for us today who are not familiar with it. But in any case it is an enjoyable read, even on a more superficial level.

One thing I have to say though. People have recommended this book to me by saying "You learn a lot about life in the Middle Ages". Here I disagree. You learn a lot about life in a monastery in the Middle Ages. To me there is a difference - it is a sheltered microcosmos, to use an anachronism I guess you could call them the "1 %". The non-clerical farmers who work for the monastery and the villagers only appear very marginally. Of course there is the episode of the village girl, but this is also rather a side-note of the story. You also learn a lot about the political and philosophical debates of the time, but again - this tells me nothing about life itself during that time. The most interesting part of the story in that sense is to me the story of Salvatore and Remigius, who joined Fra Dolcino and later reveal their motives for doing so.

In school I have been studying the Middle Ages in Spain through worldly documents and found it much more interesting and revealing. Poems such as "El cantar de mio Cid" or the collection "El Romancero Viejo" reveal a great deal between the lines about all different parts of society, even if they are usually set in a noble situation. In another class we studied chronicles that certain kings had ordered to be written about their kingdom, law texts and "court rulings". But of course these are real documents from the time and "The Name of the Rose" is a fiction novel from 1980, so they shouldn't be examined by the same standards.

So while I agree that it is a great novel, I find it misleading to say it reveals a lot about "life in the Middle Ages"
piccoli equivoci senza importanza.

Visit my blog on spanish history: http://www.histoires-espagnoles.blogspot.fr
User avatar Christian
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22 Aug 2012 14:36

Christian wrote:Well I just finished "The Name of the Rose"! Luckily I had some time on my hands so I was able to read it pretty fast without much distraction. Though some parts of it can be pretty dense and philosophical, in a whole I found it agreeable to read though.

I am sure I missed many of the intertextual allusions and so on that Eco hid in there. I read that some people compare it to the political situation in Italy in the 1970's - that is of course difficult to grasp for us today who are not familiar with it. But in any case it is an enjoyable read, even on a more superficial level.

One thing I have to say though. People have recommended this book to me by saying "You learn a lot about life in the Middle Ages". Here I disagree. You learn a lot about life in a monastery in the Middle Ages. To me there is a difference - it is a sheltered microcosmos, to use an anachronism I guess you could call them the "1 %". The non-clerical farmers who work for the monastery and the villagers only appear very marginally. Of course there is the episode of the village girl, but this is also rather a side-note of the story. You also learn a lot about the political and philosophical debates of the time, but again - this tells me nothing about life itself during that time. The most interesting part of the story in that sense is to me the story of Salvatore and Remigius, who joined Fra Dolcino and later reveal their motives for doing so.

In school I have been studying the Middle Ages in Spain through worldly documents and found it much more interesting and revealing. Poems such as "El cantar de mio Cid" or the collection "El Romancero Viejo" reveal a great deal between the lines about all different parts of society, even if they are usually set in a noble situation. In another class we studied chronicles that certain kings had ordered to be written about their kingdom, law texts and "court rulings". But of course these are real documents from the time and "The Name of the Rose" is a fiction novel from 1980, so they shouldn't be examined by the same standards.

So while I agree that it is a great novel, I find it misleading to say it reveals a lot about "life in the Middle Ages"


I have a book that might interest you, I haven't read it yet, but others say it's very good. The book is `Montaillou' named after a Languedoc village, and it was written by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. He used accounts of an inquistion to piece together the lives of the inhabitants of Montaillou over the period 1294 to 1324. Look it up there's loads about it online.
Hawkwood
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favourite Cycling Book

23 Aug 2012 18:31

[email="http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Round_the_World_on_a_Wheel.html?id=h2JwfeowoXsC&redir_esc=y"]http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Round_the_World_on_a_Wheel.html?id=h2JwfeowoXsC&redir_esc=y[/email]

this is great............Round the World on a Wheel - John Foster Fraser

Cycling Round the World before there were Todays Roads in the 19th Century

I recall one Section..............in a Far Off Land Our Travellers wanted to Buy Something with UK Currency............the Trader wanted Local Currency

Our Indignant Travellers quipped 'You Must Accept Our £.....it's the Queens Currency'

those were the Days
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24 Aug 2012 19:15

VeloCity wrote:Has anyone read the new book about Gino Bartali? Just came out this week, I think, so might be a bit premature to ask :)

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Valor-Cyclist-Inspired-Nation/dp/030759064X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340384614&sr=8-1&keywords=road+to+valor

Looks interesting and has received good reviews so far.


Perhaps this has been discussed elsewhere already on the forum, but I am slightly disappointed in the 80% I have read so far.

As far as his wartime heroics go, it was very informative (more so about WWII in Italy than Gino's life).

In terms of the cycling aspect, very basic and nowhere near as detailed as I would have liked. Almost zero mention of his Giro victories, two pages tops of his rivalry with Coppi (as opposed to Fotheringham who devoted a whole chapter to the rivalry in his Coppi bio), limited mention of one day races ignoring the significance of MSR and GdL.

The book reads more like a WWII history focusing on Bartali and Florence, instead of a Gino Bartali history with WWII being an integral part of the book.
[SIZE="2"]El Rey[/SIZE]
User avatar nvpacchi
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01 Sep 2012 06:46

I've been reading Philip Mirowski's More Heat Than Light from 1989. It is a book about the parallel histories of neo-classical (mainstream) economics and physics. Mirowski comes from the heterodox camp and is an established scholar in the field of economic history.

In this book, his basic claim is that the forefathers of economics borrowed heavily from 19th century physics, namely from classical mechanics, and put the concepts and laws utilised in physics mostly to metaphoric use. The objections that some physicists raised were mainly ignored, and so on. The underdeveloped notions that borrow from a dated paradigm of physics is, for Mirowski at least, the main source why mainstream economics does not fare very well in explaining its object. Personally, I find people like Steve Keen and Yanis Varoufakis more convincing since they tackle economics head on.

Yet I find it an enlightening read, though it is also rather burdensome at points, being an academic study and all. It is also a doubly tough nut for poor old me who hasn't studied physics since secondary school.

However, anyone interested in the development of sciences during the last 150 years will get somethinn out of it for sure.

Mirowski's writing style is biting and full of sarcasm, which lightens the load at least a bit.

For laughs, I've been leafing thru Jäniksen vuosi (The Year of the Hare) again. Dunno if the humour carries over to other languages, but in Finnish the book is rather funny, especially in our current political climate.
User avatar meat puppet
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05 Sep 2012 10:17

I'm into Asimov at the moment. Going for the Foundation Trilogy next.
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08 Sep 2012 23:43

SafeBet wrote:I'm into Asimov at the moment. Going for the Foundation Trilogy next.


Back when I was a kid, I had something like 1K paperbacks of various SF on my shelves. Asimov was one of the first, and one of my first favorites. But, just as writing SF quit appealing to Asimov, SF quit appealing to me as a reader. I was just "into other things". Like I used to enjoy classical music more, now I'd rather listen to zydeco and worldbeat.

However, for those into history or Russia:

The Rebellion Of Ronald Reagan; by James Mann
A history of Ronald Reagan's dramatic turnaround towards the Soviet Union when Gorbachev began perestroika. He analyzes why Reagan supported Gorbachev, and discusses how Reagan's policies impacted the era (or didn't, as the case may be). Very well researched, very easy to read, and a valuable outlook on Reagan and the politics of the period.

The March of Folly: Barbara Tuchman
Tuchman takes several periods of history that fit the definition of folly and examines them in her typical detail. I never find Tuchman easy to read, as her writing is incredibly dense with detail. However, she is one of the best historians ever. Here she takes the topic of folly - when a group of people all made the same bad decisions repeatedly, in the face of contrary evidence and experience. She starts with the Trojan horse. She covers the popes before the Protestant revolution. She covers the actions of George III and his cabinet leading up to the American Revolution. And she closes with the Vietnam War. What we learn from this is to recognize that folly is alive and well, and may only be on the other side of your front door. In the case of the American Revolution, it is interesting to also discover what the history of events was. The version we usually get (in the US) is biased and watered down. Which may be understandable, but one must learn from history if one does not wish to repeat it. And, while our men certainly fought bravely, it is useful to realize just what part English folly, vanity, and incompetence played in the events.

Last book for this post. Russia again. Since working over there in 2004-5 for a year or so, I wanted to learn more about how things happened after the fall of the Soviet. I turned to the above book on Reagan, and this book:

Russia's Capitalist Revolution: Why Market Reform Succeeded and Democracy Failed; author Anders Aslund
Aslund does a very technical job of looking at the economy and the events and movements. He is also thorough. An understanding of the language economists use will be helpful. Of course, google can also be your friend! Aslund does an excellent job of recording this bit of history. He clarifies why certain economic trends happened (like why did the oligarchs come into success and power?). And, he shows us a lot of what most of us in the US and Europe do not understand - due to our stereotypes of "Russians". I will say Europeans generally have fewer stereotypes of Russians, but they still do. Aslund discusses why an economic transfer to an open market, such as has been accomplished by China, did not happen (and could not have happened) in the Soviet Union. Like Tuchman, the text is thick with detail, and it is not an easy read. Still, it is a valuable contribution to the history of Russia from the collapse of the Soviet until Medvedev. It makes a good pair with Mann's book on Reagan.
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08 Sep 2012 23:48

Christian wrote:Planning to read next: "The name of the rose" by Umberto Eco (Everyone has been telling me it is a must-read, plus I am interested in medieval history)


I recall Eco's books. Very enjoyable - lots of fun to read!
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12 Sep 2012 16:38

Just finished Virginia Wolf's Men and Women

"Why are women so much more interesting to men than men are to women?"
Never judge things by their appearance... even carpetbags. I'm sure I never do." Mary Poppins
User avatar LauraLyn
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who's afraid?

14 Sep 2012 11:12

LauraLyn wrote:Just finished Virginia Wolf's Men and Women


did you enjoy?

i never got very far with mrs dalloway

but really enjoyed a room of one's own

+ the reference section of a local library had an interesting volume of virginia's letters ( can't recall the title )

now if only my posts were as half as interesting?
User avatar ebandit
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16 Sep 2012 13:01

ebandit wrote:did you enjoy?

i never got very far with mrs dalloway

but really enjoyed a room of one's own

+ the reference section of a local library had an interesting volume of virginia's letters ( can't recall the title )

now if only my posts were as half as interesting?


Yes, really loved A Room of One's Own as well.

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.”


Your posts are a close second to reading Virginia Woolf. :)
Never judge things by their appearance... even carpetbags. I'm sure I never do." Mary Poppins
User avatar LauraLyn
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27 Oct 2012 06:55

Currently reading

Flying Fury: Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps.
User avatar Eric8-A
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28 Oct 2012 04:08

hiero2 wrote:I recall Eco's books. Very enjoyable - lots of fun to read!


Yes, Name of The Rose was a good read.
movingtarget
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28 Oct 2012 04:11

LauraLyn wrote:Just finished Virginia Wolf's Men and Women


Tried to read To The Lighthouse, did not care for it. I read The Waves which was not too bad.
movingtarget
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28 Oct 2012 08:34

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

The best written book I've ever read.
User avatar Descender
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28 Oct 2012 21:48

Currently reading "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ" by José Saramago. I really enjoy it, as the other books that I have read from him so far!
piccoli equivoci senza importanza.

Visit my blog on spanish history: http://www.histoires-espagnoles.blogspot.fr
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