Rate the last book you read Page 88

  • rice_sandwich 5 Jan 2020 06:39:00 6,294 posts
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    The Map and The Territory - Michel Houellebecq.

    Finished my first read of 2020. Essentially about an artist who becomes famous and gets involved with the writer. There's a lot of funny self-parody and absorbing analysis of different aspects of the arts and contemporary culture.

    MH has been variously been accused of being a racist, misogynist, and what have you. After reading TMATT, I'd be inclined to agree that one could take that view to a certain extent. Still, an entertaining read. 8/10
  • RedPanda87 5 Jan 2020 09:32:07 2,005 posts
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    In contrast to Boo I'm currently reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and really enjoying it.

    Aside from its somewhat novel structure it's certainly more of an airport read than anything classy, but I'm finding it highly compelling, and also closer (for better or worse) to both a video game and a Punchdrunk production than most other novels I've read.

    It's also not 'mind-manglingly convoluted'. The bulk of it is actually quite easy to follow and make everything line up, though there are possibly a few holes in the plot.

    I'll give him that characters are very one-dimensional. This isn't bothering me much and (again for better or worse) makes it feel a bit more like the protagonist is playing a game than reliving a real day. But it is a potential issue.

    I would add that I've still got about 150 pages to go though, so I may well change my mind when I'm done. It does seem like the type of book that could easily have a terrible ending.
  • simpleexplodingmaybe 5 Jan 2020 10:46:40 12,529 posts
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    barchetta wrote:
    @simpleexplodingmaybe My physical pile is small - but I got a PaperWhite for Christmas. The backlog - is growing!
    Eight in the immediate pile with six more on the shelf that I want to hit next. Although that includes Alan Mooreís Jerusalem which has already beaten me once (itís not very bus friendly thatís my main reading time)
  • senso-ji 5 Jan 2020 19:12:16 10,063 posts
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    Made the mistake of popping into hmv, where they had 2 for £5 with an additional 20% off. Grabbed 8 books and could have doubled the tally, tbf. Massive backlog at start 2020 already :(
  • wuntyate 15 Jan 2020 11:50:25 14,139 posts
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    Two fantastic books read over the last couple of months:

    The Terror
    Dan Simmons
    9/10

    Gripping from start to finish. The supernatural element was, if anything, underplayed and instead we get a semi-fictional account of the last days of the men on the Erebus and Terror Expiditions to the North-West Passage. All I can say is I've never felt so bloody cold whilst reading a book.

    Going to check out the TV series now on Prime.

    The Bone Clocks
    David Mitchell
    10/10

    I absolutely loved this, even though I think huge sections of the book were completely superflous to the main narrative. The book is split into six sections, each one (barring the first and last) focusing on a different character in a different decade from the one preceeding it. It opens in 1984 and ends in 2043 however there are parts of the story that goes back millennia. Essentially it focuses on one character, Holly Sykes (a teenager in the books first part) and how her life is affected (viewed sometimes only in passing by characters in later sections) by a centuries old battle between two groups of immortal beings - the constantly reincarnating Horologists and the life-force sucking Anchorites. A battle that you only ever get vague impressions of every hundred or so pages, sometimes just as a throwaway line here or there.

    It's mental, sometimes confusing, sometimes rambling, but never dull.

    I read Slade House a few years back which is a small companion piece to this, and it now makes a bit more sense...

    I've now started to read High Rise as been meaning to for a while.

    Edited by wuntyate at 11:53:51 15-01-2020
  • jrmat 15 Jan 2020 11:58:33 176 posts
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    The Reckoning by John Grisham.

    Thought I'd already reviewed it. I'm a fan of Grisham but not of this. A guy kills another guy. Doesn't tell anyone why. Then the middle 70% of the book is the guys life history. Then in the last chapter you find out why which involves a character never mentioned in the book.

    Disappointing. Grisham writes well if you like his work but this wasn't for me.
  • senso-ji 21 Jan 2020 16:31:16 10,063 posts
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    Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    This is as much a philosophical work on morality, society, human arrogance and suffering as it is a plot about a poor student committing a heinous crime. In all honesty, I can't rate this as I believe it needs to be re-read, studied and analysed countless times to get the full appreciation of all of Dostoyevsky's ideas. But I did enjoy it, and I absolutely believe it's one of the greatest novels ever written.
  • Rivuzu 21 Jan 2020 17:13:39 18,366 posts
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    Bought the book collection of The Expanse series a few months back, didn't get around to finishing it.

    Just completed the first one, Leviathan Wakes.

    It's bloody amazing how accurate they nailed the characters in the show to the book. Great read as well. 7 more to go.
  • prettyvacant 21 Jan 2020 20:18:54 370 posts
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    @senso-ji House of the Dead I think it's called is an interesting read about Dostoyevskys time in a Siberian work camp , it certainly covers punishment .
  • TechnoHippy 22 Jan 2020 10:02:16 16,292 posts
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    The Martian

    I'd forgotten what a joy this book is to read. I love the humour and all the technical geekary.

    10/10
  • rice_sandwich 24 Jan 2020 10:26:39 6,294 posts
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    Celestial Bodies - Jokha al-Harthi

    A novel that looks at the intrigues of three generations of various families in a small village in Oman. It contains all of life: births, marriage, death, and a whole host of joys and lingering disappoinments. I can see that most people probably hold onto unspoken regrets or unfulfilled hopes for their whole lives.

    It's fragmentary by nature, each chapter telling the story from a different perspective. It jumps around in time quite a bit and as in real life, not everything is completely resolved or ever fully understood.

    4/5

    Fun fact: Slavery was only abolished in Oman in 1970!

    France: A History from Gaul to De Gaulle - John Julius Norwich.

    A whistle stop, high level summary of the history of France. It's jam packed with tales of betrayal, philandering and power struggles. There are so many King Louis' and royal families that it all becomes a bit of a blur.

    I enjoyed the later chapters on Napoleon, Napoleon III and the French Revolution. In order to get a real understanding of any single event or person featured, you'd have to read many more single subject books, but on the whole it does enough to leave the reader reasonably well informed.

    3.5/5
  • Nazo 25 Jan 2020 10:54:26 1,240 posts
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    Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

    Absolutely loved this, very cleverly put together and eerily prescient given what's happening with the environment, politics etc at the moment.
    Great start to my NY resolution of reading at least one book a month.

    5/5
  • Trowel 25 Jan 2020 11:35:53 23,042 posts
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    Jitterbug Perfume - Tom Robbins

    Haven't had any variety in my reading for a few years, so before Christmas I went to the local second hand bookshop (ahh, the smell!) and grabbed a load of randoms for myself.

    This was certainly random! Some beauty in the style, though rambling at times, and the metaphor-every-sentence approach was a distraction. The core story of lovers defeating death is strong, but the pacing of the side stories is a drag on the whole tale overall.

    3/5
  • RichDC 25 Jan 2020 12:03:52 8,756 posts
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    A Brief History of England: A Foundation - Peter Aykroyd

    Whilst it says brief, it's a long fascinating read of English history covering from the dawn of time up until the death of Henry VII. Chapters generally alternate between rules of Kings and more general information about the country and lives of people. It can be hard going at times with lots of names and dates thrown about (it is history after all) but as the quality of record keeping and chroniclers progress it becomes easier to digest.

    Quite ashamed at the amount I didn't know, but equally there's so much here to take in. What it really reveals though is that despite all the changes and squabbling between the Kings and the nobility, the lives of the average person remain almost completely unaffected.

    Will have a break but looking forward to the next book, The Tudors.

    Edited by RichDC at 12:06:10 25-01-2020
  • wuntyate 25 Jan 2020 12:06:14 14,139 posts
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    High Rise - JG Ballard

    It's social commentary is not particularly subtle and it's far more extreme than I thought it was going to be. Some of it made for quite uncomfortable reading. I really liked it though, and will check out more of Ballard's books.

    I'm on a roll with books at the moment. Loving what I'm reading recently.

    9/10
  • senso-ji 3 Feb 2020 20:09:42 10,063 posts
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    Killing Floor - Lee Child

    My wife is a big fan of Jack Reacher, and managed to convince me to read the first one in the series.

    I could pick at the terrible plot, shallow characters, awful dialogue or boring ending, but what I want to know most of all is: why is this stuff popular? Even though I didn't like the book, I respect Lee Child and am glad he is doing well, but what do audiences see in this? It honestly reads like a novelisation of generic 80's and 90's Hollywood action movies. I thought there would be something unique in Child's writing, but I found nothing of interest.

    4/10 (only because it was at least readable and easy to follow)
  • Not-a-reviewer 4 Feb 2020 08:53:45 6,038 posts
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    Itís popular because itís easy to read, stuff happens and nothing gets complicated. Theyíre all like very average action/crime films, never shit but never great. Most people donít look for something unique, they want something comfortable.


    Moby Dick 7/10. Itís a bit of a slog but still good once I got past the first third.

    Edited by Not-a-reviewer at 08:54:30 04-02-2020
  • TechnoHippy 4 Feb 2020 09:01:31 16,292 posts
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    Excession - Ian M Banks

    This is one of my favourite reads of all time. Great concept, lovely interaction between the ship Minds, and some decent space combat.

    10/10
  • wuntyate 4 Feb 2020 09:14:30 14,139 posts
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    I need to get back on the Culture series. I have them all on my bookshelf but have only gone through Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games so far.
  • TechnoHippy 4 Feb 2020 09:29:23 16,292 posts
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    I'm a huge Banks fan, and the Culture series is great - Excession is not a good one to start with though :-) I think the only one I struggled with was Matter.
  • wuntyate 4 Feb 2020 09:38:51 14,139 posts
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    Is book three Use of Weapons or something? I'll maybe start that once I've finished what I'm currently reading. I find Banks sometimes hard going which is what always makes me hesitant to start a new book of his (probably why I've left it so long). I've given up at Feersum Endjinn twice and after finishing Transition can firmly say I still don't know what the hell went on. He was utterly brilliant however and the rewards always outweigh any struggles I have with the narrative, so I should just get stuck back into his books.
  • JoelStinty 4 Feb 2020 09:53:51 8,625 posts
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    Northern Lights - Phillip Pullman

    Amazing book but read it too soon after the TV series (which is really close to the source material, itís pretty much 1:1) so I been reading it but also jumping ahead in my head. Will jump straight into Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass.

    There are Elements if Subtle Knife in the TV series but I should be able to be more at one with the book than I was with NL.

    Been a while since I last read NL but it is a modern classic.
    5/5
  • Mola_Ram 4 Feb 2020 10:03:30 22,755 posts
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    I should try reading them again. I remember loving the first book, then steadily going down in appreciation and ending with really not liking Amber Spyglass. But it feels like one of things that I might change my mind about with a re-read.
  • TechnoHippy 4 Feb 2020 10:28:53 16,292 posts
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    @wuntyate Yep, although it doesn't really matter too much which order you read them. He does big ideas really well, hence my love of Excession. Surface Detail was also very good.
  • TechnoHippy 4 Feb 2020 10:31:43 16,292 posts
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    Mola_Ram wrote:
    I should try reading them again. I remember loving the first book, then steadily going down in appreciation and ending with really not liking Amber Spyglass. But it feels like one of things that I might change my mind about with a re-read.
    I re-read the trilogy fairly recently after reading the second Book of Dust. After the first book things do get weird, it'll be interesting to see how far the TV series follows it.
  • RyanDS 4 Feb 2020 10:42:50 13,073 posts
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    wuntyate wrote:
    Is book three Use of Weapons or something? I'll maybe start that once I've finished what I'm currently reading. I find Banks sometimes hard going which is what always makes me hesitant to start a new book of his (probably why I've left it so long). I've given up at Feersum Endjinn twice and after finishing Transition can firmly say I still don't know what the hell went on. He was utterly brilliant however and the rewards always outweigh any struggles I have with the narrative, so I should just get stuck back into his books.
    Those two are the two experimental novels. Every other book of his I have read 3 or 4 times, Feersum just the once as I cant read the prose, and transition was just okay.

    Apart from those 2 he has a 100% strike rate for me.
  • Mola_Ram 4 Feb 2020 10:48:39 22,755 posts
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    @TechnoHippy

    From memory, the thing that really annoyed me was it getting all author tract-ey with the anti-religion/pro-evolutionary-theory stuff.

    Like, I'm fine with authors having opinions and expressing them through their work, but I need a bit of subtlety to it. Otherwise it really takes me out of the story, because I can see the author pulling the plot strings just to argue for whatever his/her philosophy is. And that's irrespective of whether I agree with it or not.

    Anyway, it's been long enough that I should probably give it another chance to see if it's as egregious as I remember, or whether I've grown enough to tolerate it if it is. The first book is really really good, after all.

    Edited by Mola_Ram at 10:50:22 04-02-2020
  • wuntyate 4 Feb 2020 10:52:42 14,139 posts
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    @RyanDS That's good to know. I've read a fair bit of his non-SF work which I love but those two books mentioned above have always made me a bit more hesitant towards his SF work purely because they were more arduous, despite me really enjoying Phlebas and Games. Weirdly Transition was published under his non-SF moniker but I always thought that was a mis-step.

    Yeah, Feersum was just unreadable for me. I couldn't be arsed to go through it.

    As an aside my dad is currently reading Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram by Banks as he undertakes a tour of distilleries, and I'm definitely going to grab it for a read afterwards.

    Edited by wuntyate at 10:55:22 04-02-2020
  • Mola_Ram 4 Feb 2020 10:57:00 22,755 posts
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    If you're a Dan Simmons fan (as I am, loved The Terror too) and like sci-fi, then read Hyperion. It's real good.
  • TechnoHippy 4 Feb 2020 11:04:28 16,292 posts
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    @Mola_Ram The anti-religion is the core theme of the books - it's essentially Paradise Lost, so doesn't really deviate from that :-)
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