Books: a literary discussion

13567

Comments

  • edited May 2010
    I've mentioned it a couple of times before, but I will say it again: read the Hoke Moseley series. They are four crime novels by the unbelievably underrated Charles Willeford, and without a doubt up there with the best ever written. Should you ever trust an anonymous stranger off the internet, make it now. Read these books.

    This is the cover of the first one, Miami Blues. Do yourself a favor and buy it. Thank me later.
    miamibluesbook.jpg
  • edited May 2010
    Soooo.... Dracula?
  • edited May 2010
    I just finished "Strange Highways" by Dean Koontz. This was the first Koontz book I read in English, bought on the Dover ferry, and thus it will always have a special place in my heart.

    Since it’s not one complete novel, but instead one novella followed by 12 short stories (this is the UK Headline edition, which doesn’t include the novella “Chase”) it’s not so easy to review. That’s why I’ll concentrate mostly on the titular story and only give a few words about each other tale.

    “Strange Highways” is one of the more supernatural stories by Koontz. A man suddenly finds himself back again at the most important crossroads of his life, where he made one wrong decision which influenced the rest of his life – twenty years ago! It’s time to make things right and take full advantage of this second chance.

    It’s a very religious story, full of divine intervention (a variety of which will also return in his later book “The Face”), and reminded me several times of “Hideaway”. The villain is somewhat similar, only a bit toned down, and he remains more in the shadows which makes him also similar to Judge in “Chase”.

    The setting also speaks to the imagination: a semi-abandoned coal town slowly being devoured by a subterranean fire. It adds to the apocalyptic feel and almost makes you believe it’s an alien world. The town is almost a character on its own.

    “The Black Pumpkin” is a straight up horror story about a pumpkin coming to life and eating a little boy’s family. This is the first story of several in which revenge against people who’ve wronged the main character is a huge theme.

    “Miss Atilla the Hun” always reminds me of “Winter Moon” and is a cute little invasion story with a twist.

    “Down in the Darkness” is another horror story basically about revenge.

    “Ollie’s Hands” always succeeds in slipping from memory. It’s the story about a guy with several special powers, who finds a girl with the potential to change his life.

    “Snatcher” is yet another scary horror story about someone getting what he deserves.

    “Trapped” is a terror story in the vain of “Watchers” and “Darkness Comes”, which reminds me of that old animated movie “The Secret of N.I.M.H.”, but the ending is way too fast.

    “Bruno” is a humorous detective story with similarities to “Men in Black”.

    “We Three” is my first favorite, a very short story, mostly dialogue, about three kids with special powers.

    “Hardshell” is a more action packed variety of the “Bruno” story with a good twist.

    “Kittens” is a second favorite, combining a bit of religion with the revenge theme, and a shocking ending.

    “The Night of the Storm” is a science fiction story that doesn’t really touch me. It’s kind of like a bigfoot story only with robots in the role of humans. But since the main characters are robots, for me it’s as good as impossible to sympathize with them, which lessens the impact.

    “Twilight of the Dawn” is the last favorite. Heavy on religion, it’s like a battle between atheism and religious faith. Kind of like the story of Job but with a life-altering twist.
  • edited May 2010
    Good review. It is a good collection of stories, couldn't really pick a favourite right now as it's been a while since I've read it but I do remember liking "We Three" a lot.
  • edited May 2010
    Thanks.

    I hope to read his latest "Breathless" soon. None of our stores are carrying it; I guess they're waiting for the UK paperback to come out, but that's only on July 8.

    I could order it in a store, but then it's double the price. Tried ordering through Amazon but that's been giving me trouble as well with credit cards and such. I'm so living in the wrong country for this.

    Just noticed our library has a copy, so I'll try to check it out this weekend.
  • edited May 2010
    A friend recommended Robert Merle's books, has anyone read his stuff? It seems really interesting.
  • edited May 2010
    I don't read...



    ...besides games and the internet, anyway. And copy protection manuals...
  • edited May 2010
    I practically grew up on the old Bela Lugosi films from Universal, because my grandfather worked on them. But it is true that they are nothing like their book counterparts. I kind of think of them as spoofs.

    Dracula is an incredible read. The way it is written makes you feel like every word is something that actually happened, and it can definitely get to you. I remember an old classmate of mine who is an atheist, telling me that she started carrying a cross around with her for months after she read it in high school. Shows how much you can get into a book when you read it, I guess.

    The Picture of Dorian Grey is a favorite of mine, the 1945 film was very good as well. Although I like the book a little better, I read the book first. The film changed the mood of the end slightly and it wasn't as powerful for me as the book's ending.

    Also, very obscure, but a great read. The Uninvited, by Dorothy Macardle. This was also made into a film in 1944 (I saw the film first in this case). Many refer to it as the stepping stone for all future hollywood ghost stories. The book is very difficult to find, but I managed to get my library to order it. They also have it on Amazon Used, but it's kind of pricey. The screen play for the film is also available, oddly enough, but I wouldn't recommend reading the script, read the novel instead, or watch the film. Dorothy Macardle has a very unique writing style. I don't think I've ever read anything that sounded quite like it. Possibly because it is written in the style of its time (1940's England) with all the cultural references to boot. But it is worth checking out, especially if you like ghost stories.

    The last book I can think of (without repeating more of what others have recommended already) would be Ombria in Shadow, by Patricia McKillip. A lot of people criticize her because she leaves a lot unexplained at the end and her plots aren't always that easy to follow. But I don't really find that a problem, because any healthy imagination can fill in the gaps and it leaves you with a mysterious "I just woke up from a dream" type feeling. And the cover art is beautiful, not that that should matter, but it makes my bookshelf look pretty. :p
  • edited May 2010
    I read quite a bit, and often find myself reading books that many people don't understand or are simply not bothered enough about to try to understand.

    For instance, my current favorite book is Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. :D
  • edited May 2010
    For instance, my current favorite book is Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. :D

    That and "Under the volcano" by Malcom Lowry were my two last adquisitions. But i will start with them as soon as i finish "In search of lost time" in a couple of months i presume.
  • edited May 2010
    If you guys aren't doing a group book read, I'm reading Dracula anyway. I'm tired of putting it off.
  • edited May 2010
    If you guys aren't doing a group book read, I'm reading Dracula anyway. I'm tired of putting it off.

    I'll read Dracula too! I had to put it off due to finals, but now... I'm free!:D
  • edited May 2010
    Every human beeing wih a heart beating in her/his chest should at least have read one book from Jack Vance.

    I suggest getting Alastor for example. I can't remember how many people i bought this book already, i once got it as a present as well. Trust me, this is awesome and i rarely use this word!

    alastor-tor1995.jpg
  • edited May 2010
    Taking place over a single night, “Ticktock” by Dean Koontz is a story that puts your brain on standby and simply pulls you along for the ride.

    Vietnamese-American Tommy Phan drives his mother crazy by forsaking the old Asian traditions. When he finds a peculiar doll at his doorstep, however, the tables are turned and the craziness he has to face never stops.

    In his own afterword, Koontz calls “Ticktock” a screwball comedy and indeed, the tale is filled with humour, though sometimes a particular comedic line seems a little forced or overdone. Nevertheless, the book is a very good prelude to future stories like “Life Expectancy” and “Relentless”. While “Ticktock” might seem a very simple and somewhat silly story about which many people say it’s not really worthy of the Koontz byline, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

    Even though the main character has Vietnamese origins, Koontz never goes overboard with the Asian references as he does with the pastry analogies in “Life Expectancy”. Though constantly comparing the character’s life with his own fictional child, detective Chip Nguyen, does get old after a while. After all the military or law inforcement trained heroes, being a regular guy makes Tommy Phan a real breath of fresh air.

    Straying even more from the formula, the heroine of the story this time is the one to call the shots. Deliverance Payne is to me personally one of the more memorable Koontz characters and I’ve always felt there’s so much more story to her than is told in these few pages.

    The villain of the piece is a supernatural monster straight out of a horror movie, very similar to the golem in “Dragon Tears”. In this very lighthearted story, the creature at first comes over more as some kind of gremlin, but when our heroes witness the screams of a pair of innocent victims, the reader is hit with the seriousness of the situation and for me personally, that scene immediately puts the story in a completely different mood.

    “Ticktock” is a rather quick read, with great dialogue and no real long paragraphs judging some aspect of society. It’ll resonate with some people, but not everyone will find it memorable.
  • edited June 2010
    So I just wanted to recommend the book I'm reading right now, Haruki Murakami's South of the Border, West of the Sun. It taps into a feeling anyone who's been in love will be familiar with: a forbidden yearning for the past you can't grab onto, because you'll hurt and maybe harm someone else in the process. It captures the essence of a past life of mine, but it somehow feels global and not personal. It's really quite lovely.

    southoftheborder.jpg

    Read it, everyone, especially if you've loved and lost.
  • WillWill Banned
    edited June 2010
    And if you like that one, you should give Sputnik Sweethearts and Norwegian Wood a read as well.
  • edited June 2010
    Oh wow, let's see... I have a whole range of books I read, and it didn't help that I was a complete and total bookworm for most of Middle School. Let's see what books I loved that I can remember at the moment

    -"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (entire series) by Douglas Adams. Kudos to my Math Teacher in middle school who suggested that book to me, read that book 5 times in a row for two years.

    -"Eat. Pray. Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Ok, so it's a girly book, sue me! That book put me in such a good mood throughout Senior Year. I should read it again.

    -A lot of Tracy Chevalier's books like "Girl With A Pearl Earring", "Falling Angels". Basically, they were books taking place back in the early days. I don't remember much, but I remember loving the books. My English teacher tested me on her books while the rest of my class read books like "The Pearl" or "Of Mice and Men" (both books that I wasn't a fan of. Can't remember it for the life of me).

    -"Catcher in the Rye" and "To Kill a Mocking Bird" were the only two books I actually took the time to sit down and read. I really enjoyed those books.

    -I also loved Dan Brown's work (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol, Deception Point etc.) I'm a sucker for mystery and suspense.

    -I also like reading books from comedians and film directors, so I have Kevin Smith's "My Boring Ass Life" (great book to read when traveling) and I love George Carlin's work. I have all of his stand up routine books: "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?" "Napalm and Silly Putty", "Brain Droppings" and I also have the newest (and unfortunately last) book "Last Words" which is more of his biography (or "sortabiography" as he called it) then a stand up routine.

    -Currently, I'm reading a book called "The Bronze Horseman" which takes place in Soviet Russia during World War II. Finally found time to sit down and read it.

    Now, there are plenty of other books I've read, but I just can't remember (and too damn lazy) to type the rest.
  • edited June 2010
    Kindle firmware update, version 2.5.3 is finally out.

    Amazon's site lists the following as what was changed:

    Kindle Version 2.5 Overview

    We're excited to announce that a new, free software update is now available for Kindle and will be automatically delivered to your device. The features included in this update are:
    • Collections: Organize your books and documents into one or more collections.
    • PDF Pan and Zoom: Zoom into PDFs and pan around to easily view small print and detailed tables or graphics.
    • Password Protection: Password protect your Kindle when you're not using it.
    • More Font Sizes & Improved Clarity: Enjoy two new larger font sizes and sharper fonts for an even more comfortable reading experience.
    • Facebook & Twitter Posts: Share meaningful book passages with friends on Facebook and Twitter directly from your Kindle.
    • Popular Highlights: See what the Kindle community thinks are the most interesting passages in the books you're reading.



    My wife and I aren't going to use the "popular highlights" or Twitter/Facebook update. However, I have already started creating collections, and they're quite useful.

    62174194.png



    Also, the update doesn't mention it, but I'm almost sure that the Kindle didn't used to have a way of displaying book titles that were too long to fit. But now they do display when highlighted (as shown below.) If a title is still too long when highlighted, the text will wrap to a smaller font just below the progress bar.

    67855531.png


    Also, I'm not going to use them, but now the Kindle has 2 more (huge) font sizes.

    85094977.png


    Nevermind the skin on the border of the device. It is my wife's after all.
  • edited June 2010
    My wife and I like listening to music, but we find that often times we instead listen to audio books, most commonly the Stephen Fry (UK) version of the Harry Potter series. The whole series.

    I didn't used to read very often, but since I got back into reading after I got introduced to Harry Potter (about the time book 4 came out,) I find that I read a lot now.



    "Weasley can save anything,
    He never leaves a single ring,
    That's why Gryffindors all sing:
    Weasley is our King."
  • edited June 2010
    While I rather enjoy reading I have been rather inactive on it until recently. A friend suggested me to read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's a fantasy book and it's simply amazing. It's helped me start reading on a regular basis again because the writing makes me feel like I'm there and it's so well written that I'm already excited that the second book will be out later this year and I'm not even done with the book yet.

    As for how we're listing our favorites I would have to say: Harry Potter series, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Oracle Night by Paul Auster, The Dark Tower series, Firestarter by Stephen King, The Regulators by Richard Bachman, Brave New World, Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn, and The Tempest by Shakespeare.
  • edited June 2010
    I like the Collections feature (on my PRS 505. Don't have a Kindle). It's handy, I use it both for series (ex, Les Rougon-Macquart) and for genre (ex, Theatre, Comedy, Réalisme, Sci-Fi...) It's very practical that each book can have as many tags as you want, also you need to be careful about ending with collections that have only one book in them because you added too many tags :p
  • edited June 2010
    "Sole Survivor" by Dean Koontz

    One year after a plane crash took away his wife and two daughters, Joe Carpenter meets a woman who was supposed to have died in that accident as well, holding the secret of what really happened.

    The title “Sole Survivor” doesn’t only point at this woman, but also at Joe himself. He’s the one left behind, the only one of his family still alive. The book is about loss, about grieving, accepting death, and about faith, believing that the human soul doesn’t just vanish into nothingness when shed of its mortal coils.

    All this makes it quite heavy to swallow. It’s a dark story, a sad story, a depressing story even. Joe is a man who has basically given up on life and is just waiting to die, too scared to take care of it himself. And if it weren’t for a chance encounter on a public beach at the beginning of the novel, he might have gotten his wish. There’s almost no signature Koontz humor in this novel. It’s a very serious story.

    “Sole Survivor” is mostly a mystery story, a conspiracy story, of the sort where the answers stay away until the final act. When they are delivered, the style changes very much and it’s like we’ve suddenly been transported into a science fiction story. Until we reach that conclusion, however, we’re pulled along with Joe into a very compelling investigation. But Joe isn’t just riding shotgun; he sets things in motion as well, even though he has no clue what’s going on.

    Even though the novel features an enigmatic woman, there’s no trace of a love story here. The book vows to transcend material and physical love and instead concentrates on the bigger picture.

    While not necessarily religious in nature, it does discuss some of the building blocks of religious groups, combined with some radical sciences – which is in fact the only thing that makes it recognizably a Koontz novel. It’s a first taste of things to come in “From the Corner of His Eye”, but also the Chris Snow books, as if Koontz is testing the waters with some variety of his theories, to see whether his audience is open enough for them.

    Plotwise, “Sole Survivor” always reminds me of “The Eyes of Darkness”, while the ending comes closer to “Dark Rivers of the Heart”. It’s a story that doesn’t really end, because it creates some kind of alternate universe of our world where the villains have become too large to be dismissed.
  • edited January 2011
    What books are you all currently reading?

    I got a Kindle2 for Christmas, and find that it encourages me to read a lot more.



    I recently read The Hunger Games trilogy, and though it was compelling in that there are no lulls or stopping places in the story, it really wasn't my thing.

    I'm currently reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; second book in The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy anthology.
  • edited January 2011
    I've been reading Lord of the Rings because I realized I had to at one point or another.
  • edited January 2011
    I have got to take another try at that one. I had to read along with an audiobook of The Hobbit in middle school (long story short, the tech arts class I was signed up for was canceled when the teacher quit and they had to scramble to make up a new class for us to take), and when that was done with, I started Lord of the Rings on my own. I made it through Fellowship and about a quarter of the way into The Two Towers before I somehow got lost.
  • edited January 2011
    I read all of the Lord of the Rings books. They're a challenging read and in some parts badly paced. But they were great

    The Hobbit was best though :)
  • edited January 2011
    Fellowship is really really slow paced and Tolkien clearly wasn't able to tell what would be interesting to read about from Tom Bombadil, but from what I've read of The Two Towers, it gets much, much better.

    I also watched the film of Fellowship but that's another discussion.
  • edited January 2011
    Ribs wrote: »
    Fellowship is really really slow paced and Tolkien clearly wasn't able to tell what would be interesting to read about from Tom Bombadil, but from what I've read of The Two Towers, it gets much, much better.

    I also watched the film of Fellowship but that's another discussion.

    Yeah, some serious shit goes down in Two Towers, it's def my fave, though a lot like Return of the King.

    Didn't they spend a fortnight at Bombadils house stuffing their faces, singing songs and getting polexed while Middle Earth fate was hanging uncertainly in the balance? :rolleyes:
  • edited January 2011
    I'm currently rereading the Jack Ryan novels - you can see my progress in my sig.

    I also plan to reread the Lord of the Rings when I've done that, along with The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.
  • edited January 2011
    I keep hearing about how great House of Leaves is, so I'm finally going to give that a read when I can get a copy.
  • edited January 2011
    I'm currently rereading the Jack Ryan novels - you can see my progress in my sig.

    They get a bit rubbish after Cardinal of the Kremlin. Tom Clancy has a way about writing about nothing that leads to a climax 900 pages later. Patriot Games is the best though.

    I also reread Goldfinger, and once I'm done with LOTR, I intend to dig into Raymond Benson's "Choice of Weapons" Anthology.
  • edited January 2011
    Ribs wrote: »
    They get a bit rubbish after Cardinal of the Kremlin. Tom Clancy has a way about writing about nothing that leads to a climax 900 pages later. Patriot Games is the best though.

    I dunno, I like most of them. I love Rainbow Six (I know not strictly a Jack Ryan novel but still part of the same universe, as is Without Remorse), and I really like The Sum of All Fears. Interestingly though my favourite Clancy novel isn't any of the Ryanverse books, it's Red Storm Rising.
  • edited January 2011
    I dunno, I like most of them. I love Rainbow Six (I know not strictly a Jack Ryan novel but still part of the same universe, as is Without Remorse), and I really like The Sum of All Fears. Interestingly though my favourite Clancy novel isn't any of the Ryanverse books, it's Red Storm Rising.

    I've read 4 (I believe) Ryanverse books, and Patriot Games is the last of those chronologically that I enjoyed. Debt of Honor was truly boring and was incredibly confusing and had an insanely unbelievable twist ending.
  • edited January 2011
    When reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the story describes the Guide itself as essentially an ebook reader in a plastic case; which only has one (albeit incredibly large) ebook on it, uses color ink and has respectable text-to-speech. :)

    It even has a keypad with real buttons.
  • edited January 2011
    Ribs wrote: »
    I've read 4 (I believe) Ryanverse books, and Patriot Games is the last of those chronologically that I enjoyed. Debt of Honor was truly boring and was incredibly confusing and had an insanely unbelievable twist ending.

    There is no doubt that the quality of his works dropped in later years but I can still enjoy them at some level. Even The Teeth of the Tiger. And now he's getting someone else to do the hard work for him (I'm talking about the most recent Ryan novel, which was released last month that was ghostwritten/co-authored). But putting his name on something he hasn't done much with isn't new for Clancy (see Op-Center, Net Force, et al).
  • edited January 2011
    So yeah since last time I have posted here I have read a few books, and a lot more books have entered my wish list since then.

    I have just finished all 12 books with Jack Sparrow as a kid, although kids books they are still a funny read and I enjoyed them a lot.
    Thinking about getting the books that comes after.

    Read The Painted Man, that book was great and I can't wait to get started on The Desert Spear, I have to find out what happens next.
    I can only highly recommend that book.

    Hoping to get Ghosts of Ascalon as I am a Guild Wars fan.

    Hoping to get The Black Prism written by Brent Weeks, I enjoyed his Night Angel Trilogy so I can't wait to see what the next series is about.

    Waiting for the two latest books in the Skulduggery Series.

    Can't wait to get started on Discworld, so I hope I will get a few of those books.

    Finished the Devil Wars (Danish Books), and it was really good, although the ending was a little meh.

    Right now I am on the Shadow of the Apt series, but it's kinda dull at the moment so it's put on hold until I have all the other books on the list.
  • edited January 2011
    I've been working through translating the Skaldskarparmal and various Old English texts (this week it's Wulfstan's Sermo Lupi Ad Anglos) and between that and academic article readings for class I don't really have much time for free reading. If I get the chance though, I'd like to get my hands on Wil Wheaton's Memories From the Future. It's basically his reviews of every episode from the first season, half of which was posted on TVsquad before he put in this book. I've read the stuff online and it's pretty damn funny.

    ..Is it sad that I realized while typing this that I haven't read anything for fun since I re-read Mona Lisa Complex in June?
  • edited January 2011
    mgrant wrote: »
    If I get the chance though, I'd like to get my hands on Wil Wheaton's Memories From the Future. It's basically his reviews of every episode from the first season, half of which was posted on TVsquad before he put in this book. I've read the stuff online and it's pretty damn funny.

    'tis a good book. Should also listen to the podcast he created to go along with the book. Though it should be said the book only covers the first half of season one, up to Datalore. Hopefully he'll do more volumes soon.
  • edited January 2011
    I absolutely adored Lord of the Rings. Haven't read the Hobbit though... ought to do that.

    I need to buy myself a copy of Hitchhickers. I've read it, and loved it, but my brother saw my copy, started reading it, loved it, took it with him and now I have no copy. So I need to get another.

    My sister-in-law-to-be wanted me to read the Twilight series. She lent me book 1 and it was fine. Nothing overly wow about it, but it did alright. She then lent me book 2. I've only recently finished it. Gawd. It was as boring as could be. NOTHING HAPPENS. So don't read it.

    Now I'm reading 'Bored of the Rings' which is a strange little spoof ofLord of the Rings. Not brilliant, certainly nothing compared to LoTR itself, but it passes time and is funny in areas.
  • edited January 2011
    I'll just die of boredom if I try to read any book that is completely fiction. But I love comics (fiction yeah but stories are short enough) and science magazines.
Sign in to comment in this discussion.