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***Book Club***

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Anonymous

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Susan Westemeyer said:
This is one of my absolute favourites, I re-read it every few years. REally incredible -- and so sad that he never wrote anything else.

Susan
Yea, it is rare to read that kind of genius. I was just blown away the first time I read it, and probably should have assumed you read it. Really sad we only got the one.
 
Sep 22, 2009
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Thoughtforfood said:
Then you HAVE to read Confederacy of Dunces by Toole! He wrote the book, put is aside and later committed suicide. His mom found the book 11 years after his death, took it to Walker Percy and made him read it. He couldn't put it down. It won the Pulitzer for Fiction in 1981. Just a GREAT book. HILARIOUS to boot. I have never laughed out loud that much ever reading a book (Choke comes close... I laughed at the line "Pilgrimage isn't the right word, but its the first word that comes to mind" for a couple of days..not constantly, just whenever I thought of it, but I digress) Read it. It is incredibly sad that someone THAT intelligent only gave the world one book.

If you two like Southern lit, read Rick Bragg's memoir All Over But The Shoutin'.

I just finished reading The Plague Of Doves...good writing but I felt it was too disjointed in the storytelling, jumping from time frame to time frame in no particular order and intertwined family lines that were hard to keep up with really. It was kind of weird, but interesting. I can't really decide if I liked it that much. lol
 
Mar 18, 2009
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You guys read some deep stuff here!! I like Stephen Hunter...all the Bob the Nailer books...and I am currently reading Dirty White Boys. It is a little disturbing to me...but I like the style.

For historical fiction I read Bernard Cornwell. His Saxon Series is very well done and historically pretty accurate. Uhtred is a great character...and even helps Alfred become "the great".
 
I finished "Julie and Julia" and was pretty disappointed. Not nearly enough Julia Child and cooking for my taste. :)

My mother has expressed interest in seeing the movie, in which Julia Child is supposed to appear more than in the book. If it is playing when I go visit her, I will go to the movie with her, since I love Meryl Streep and love my nearly 81-year-old Mom even more.

Susan
 
Aug 29, 2009
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Rupert said:
Anyone try Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse? It's set in France, in the Pyrenees. Splits between modern times and the crusades, lots of accurate, interesting historical background. Did a bit of research to see if the background was accurate and it was - mostly about the Cathars around the time of the Crusades. Started reading it during a cycling trip to the Pyrenees, was set in the exact area where we were... Very good read. Kind of new-age, holy grail quest deal, not unlike some of Dan Brown's writing.
For years read "sword and sorcery" as a diversion from the "real world", but also researched early European history as a hobby and read Holy Blood, Holy Grail about 20 years ago. When some of my students were talking about Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, got it and read it and got back into my research again. Will look for Labyrinth, sounds interesting and on the mark. Most people have no idea that the first crusades were against fellow Christians, not the Moslems. Thanks for the info.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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J.Robert Oppenheimer: A life by Kai Bird. Great book and is very easy to read@ like 170 pages a day easy, style and content are interesting. See what the guy who invented the bomb thought about the world and himself before and after.

Cradle to Cradle by McDonough/Braungart. This book is one of the best I have every opened and will make you consider everything. You probably won't wear cycling jackets or socks made from recycled plastic bottles after you read it. So if you got thousands invested in plastic clothes don't, if you are starting to put plastic things next to your skin, read it asap.

John James Audubon by Richard Rhodes. This book is for anybody who loves history, art and the outdoors.If you have enjoyed books about early Australia or the US you will enjoy how savage nature does not care about refined culture. This guy worked his but off as a salesman,artist and explorer. A must read for fans of all things Lewis and Clarke. If you marvel at beautiful coffee table books of all things. Imagine drawing ,etching, printing,selling and god forbid delivering them all over the US and Europe,before trains,cars and plains where available. All the while he hunted and sketched all his animal subjects.
 
Aug 19, 2009
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Hoekstyn said:
For years read "sword and sorcery" as a diversion from the "real world", but also researched early European history as a hobby and read Holy Blood, Holy Grail about 20 years ago. When some of my students were talking about Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, got it and read it and got back into my research again. Will look for Labyrinth, sounds interesting and on the mark. Most people have no idea that the first crusades were against fellow Christians, not the Moslems. Thanks for the info.
Intriguing. I think that relates quite well to one I read recently - The Song of Roland. It's French epic poem which ~ recounts the events surrounding the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778 A.D. The oldest manuscript for The Song dates back to about 1150 A.D.

While retreating from Spain, Charlemagne's troops were attacked by Christian Basques, but somehow in The Song, the Basques were turned into Muslim Saracens.

An early form of war-time propagana I suspect.
 
Aug 19, 2009
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fatandfast said:
J.Robert Oppenheimer: A life by Kai Bird. Great book and is very easy to read@ like 170 pages a day easy, style and content are interesting. See what the guy who invented the bomb thought about the world and himself before and after.
"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

A quote from the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture) that, according to Oppenheimer, came to mind while watching the Trinity nuclear test.
 
I tend to be rather eclectic in my readings, and also like to read multiple works simultaneously. Over the last several months, these titles have come up:

Plautus: The Rope, The Amphitruo and Aulularia ("A Pot of Gold")

Playwrights as distinguished as Ludovico Ariosto, John Dryden, Gotthold Lessing, Molière, Cole Porter, William Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw stole freely from Pautus (c. 254-184 BC) - the greatest, and earliest, surviving Latin comic playwright.

Cervantes: Don Quixote

Need I say more...

E. H. Gombrich: A Little History of the World, The Story of Art

Vienna born 20th Century professor of Art History and History of the Classical Tradition at London U., director of the Warburg Institute. Very intelligent, witty and perspicacious analysis of the history and art of world cultures.

Thomas Bernhard: Extinction

Austrian novelist, poet and playwright, among the most discerning post-modern, rationalist critics of society (in his case Austrian, though it could be extended throughout the Western World), it's excesses, follies and hypocricies - in the best tradition of Erasmus and Swift but with the mania of our contemporary times. I feel death ever pinching me by the throat, or pulling me by the back - Montaigne

Charles Bukowski: Women

German born American author from California. After the Beat Generation, Bukowski allows us to laugh at the desolation of life. Interminable days at the bar, women, colossal drunkenness, sordid adventures set against the backdrop of impoverished and emarginated decadent americana. Lude and pornographic, the vis comica of our age, always accompanied by the crude and realistic narrative of the author.

Alexander Dumas: The Borgia

A work about the brutality and cynicism, the sensuality and beatifulness, the civility and infamy of the papal court during the reign of Alexander VI Borgia and his children, particularly Lucrezia and Caesar ("Duke Valentine"). Dumas looks at this moment of the Italian Renaissance with the brutal eye of a XIX century French journalist, oriented toward the most intriguing and scandalous (and therefore loved) aspects of papal Rome during the late XVth century.

Roman Days

Nine key moments in the history of the Eternal City, in the form of lectures presented in 2007 by different Italian university professors specialized in the various historical periods and their topics under discussion.
 
Aug 19, 2009
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I finished Wuthering Heights last night... a bit of a departure for me, but a wonderfully crafted and poetic story.

I had started it about 15 years back, but was going through an extended Hermann Hesse phase then, and got called away.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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others have mentioned Charles Bukowski in this thread. I think he is very good also. His book Ham On Rye is a coming of age of Henry Chinaski and is much more interesting than Catcher in the Rye.

Post Office is another good Chinaski novel.

Barfly, the movie, was about the character Heny Chinaski and played by Mickey Rourke. The screeplay incorporates various scenes from the Chinaski novels (including his love of classical music) and its a really good movie in my opinion wwith a great soundtrack. (Mike Magnussan in Heft On Wheels talks about this movie also as being one of his favorites.)

Chinaski is an anti-social, asocial, anti-hero who lives a hard drinking, brawling life. He is the emobiment of nihilism.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Dan Brown - The Lost Symbol. Predictable, OK, but not in the realm of Angels and Demons and the Da Vinci Code.

Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451. Excellent. Classic which can translate easily to current society.

Ernest Hemingway - A Farewell to Arms. Haven't finished yet, but am thoroughly enjoying the read!
 
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Anonymous

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I was just remembering this quote from Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy:

Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak. Historical law subverts it at every turn. A moral view can never be proven right or wrong by any ultimate test. A man falling dead in a duel is not thought thereby to be proven in error as to his views. His very involvement in such a trial gives evidence of a new and broader view. The willingness of the principals to forgo further argument as the triviality which it in fact is and to petition directly the chambers of the historical absolute clearly indicates of how little moment are the opinions and of what great moment the divergences thereof. For the argument is indeed trivial, but not so the seperate wills thereby made manifest. Man's vanity may well approach the infinite in capacity but his knowledge remains imperfect and howevermuch he comes to value his judgements ultimately he must submit them before a higher court. Here there can be no special pleading. Here are considerations of equity and rectitude and moral right rendered void and without warrant and here are the views of the litigants despised. Decisions of life and death, of what shall be and what shall not, beggar all question of right. In elections of these magnitudes are all lesser ones subsumed, moral, spiritual, natural.

There is more to it, and you have to read the book to have it fully in context, but still, just a great piece of writing.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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So there's some new Nabokov on the horizon. Apparently some publisher finally got a hold of the rights to it and it will be published according to the note cards Nabokov composed it on. (Dude wrote everything on note cards. Craziness.)

Anywho, looking forward to that.

As for my top choices:

Joyce's Portrait, DFW's short stories, Yeats & Auden (together, of course), Kundera's Immortality, and pretty much anything Tolstoy wrote.

Am currently reading Sons & Lovers and watching a LOT of zombie movies.
 
Jul 7, 2009
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Anyone read Into The Wild? I remember reading about that kid in the Washington Post when they found his body.

Everest, A Mountaineering History was fascinating.
I'm no mountain climber, but it's a great read.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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knewcleardaze said:
Anyone read Into The Wild? I remember reading about that kid in the Washington Post when they found his body.

Everest, A Mountaineering History was fascinating.
I'm no mountain climber, but it's a great read.
I have read Into The Wild. It was a very good book, but also romantacized what in essence was sheer stupidity on the part of the main character, Christopher McCandless.

I too am no mountaineer, but love reading about the exploits of mountaineers. Into Thin Air by Krakauer is also an excellent book, but the best mountaineering (and survival) book ever published has to be Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. Simply stirring stuff.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert - non-fiction.
Eustace Conway is one of a kind.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Thoughtforfood said:
I was just remembering this quote from Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy:

Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak. Historical law subverts it at every turn. A moral view can never be proven right or wrong by any ultimate test. A man falling dead in a duel is not thought thereby to be proven in error as to his views. His very involvement in such a trial gives evidence of a new and broader view. The willingness of the principals to forgo further argument as the triviality which it in fact is and to petition directly the chambers of the historical absolute clearly indicates of how little moment are the opinions and of what great moment the divergences thereof. For the argument is indeed trivial, but not so the seperate wills thereby made manifest. Man's vanity may well approach the infinite in capacity but his knowledge remains imperfect and howevermuch he comes to value his judgements ultimately he must submit them before a higher court. Here there can be no special pleading. Here are considerations of equity and rectitude and moral right rendered void and without warrant and here are the views of the litigants despised. Decisions of life and death, of what shall be and what shall not, beggar all question of right. In elections of these magnitudes are all lesser ones subsumed, moral, spiritual, natural.

There is more to it, and you have to read the book to have it fully in context, but still, just a great piece of writing.
That first sentence could be a quote from Nietzsche's "On the Genealogy of Morality"!
 
Mar 18, 2009
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I'm currently reading Max Manus. An autobiography combining two books by a member of the Norwegian resistance during WWII. He wrote the first book in seclusion (sort of) immediately after the war ended and the second book the following year.

It is compelling reading albeit a little slow for me as it's only written in 1940's era bokmål Norwegian. Don' think it is available in English.

There's a relatively informative page on him in Wikipedia in English.
 
Jul 23, 2009
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Canada and other matters of opinion by Rex Murphy.

A compilation of columns and talking points from Murphy's work at The Globe and Mail (print) and The National (television). An extremely well spoken man whose humorous observations of the absurdities in life and politics (left and right) make for a very interesting read.
 
Oct 27, 2009
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Here's one that could be misconstrued as cycling-specific: Albert Camus' The myth of Sisyphus. Always climbing the hill/mountain and knowing it will lead to an inevitable descent.
Aside from that another one that sticks with me is Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being (damn, that could be cycling-specific too:))
Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain and Timeline.
Clarke's 2001 and 2010 (as if you didn't already know{see icon}).
Everyone else has given me some great ideas as I have become way too selective to the point of not reading for fear of boredom and the anti-climatic.
 

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