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chandler
chandler UltimaDork
1/21/22 11:39 a.m.

The qty or the subject? The Cukoo's Calling  is written by "Robert Galbraith" because jk Rowling didn't think her Harry Potter readers would want to read a grimy crime drama by her. They aren't perfect but the five Cormoran Strike books so far have been consistently good. I think there is a TV series on BBC or HBO as well.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
1/21/22 11:54 a.m.

Lucius Beebe's Mixed Train Daily, which is considered a must-have by railfans, covering Beebe and Charles Clegg's adventures across the US to memorialize as many shortline railroads in the US operating mixed trains (freight cars at the front, a couple passenger cars tagged on the rear) as they could before they became fully extinct. Excellent photographs and beautifully written, although you do have to remember that it was written in 1947, and is thus a product of it's time. There's some casual racism here and there, that raised my eyebrows at first.

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/21/22 12:17 p.m.

Out. Standing.

Not a big reader. Wife bought me two of Mark's books for Christmas and I damn near couldn't put this one down. 

Mark had a passing interest in bikes early in life, got away from them for several decades, then got into motorcycle racing in his 40s or early 50s. Worked up to a pro-license level, got the wild hare to go the the Isle of Man, quit his job and moved to the Isle for a year to prep for and race the TT. This book chronicles that experience. 

Well-written without being pretentious or verbose. Cannot recommend highly enough.

The other book is his "On Motorcycles", which is a collection of his best motorcycle short articles he wrote semi-professionally for a big motorcycle forum. Nice blend of historical interviews, tracking down old race bikes, chronicling motorcycle racing history, commentary on motorcycle culture and the like. Good book for the back of the toilet.

Gary
Gary UltraDork
1/21/22 2:02 p.m.

Memoirs of Johnny Kent, RAF fighter pilot in WWII.

Pic taken right now on Pompano Beach, FL. 80+ degrees here on the beach. (And I am wearing swim trunks wink). Back home it's 15. That's why we're here.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/21/22 2:56 p.m.

OK, update time.  It will be a long one.

Agency - William Gibson:  Actually read this a little bit ago, but don't think I noted it here.  It was... not my favorite.  Part II (2019) of Gibson's "Jackpot" trilogy; Part I being The Peripheral (2014), and Part III being unreleased as of this writing.

I like Gibson and I guess I liked Agency, but ultimately it's just too much Gibson for its (or his) own good.  In The Peripheral, while I grasped the main idea he was trying to explore and thought it was interesting, I failed to grasp the significance of several characters and events that were obviously meant to be very significant.  Huge - and I mean, globally scaled, and across a multiverse to boot - efforts and resources were brought to bear to eliminate a witness to a murder that didn't seem to matter all that much to begin with; and which the witness had literally no method of doing anything about anyway.  But at least the main character was an active participant in their own story, and the fundamental plot device joining the two multiverses was used effectively.  I've probably reviewed this one somewhere above.

But in Agency, all those same complaints are cranked up to 11.  There is a significant social upheaval occurring, very dynamically.  But the significance of this main character is even less apparent than in the previous book,and is not so much an active participant in the plot as a literal piece of baggage that is moved randomly around the book by unknown forces for reasons even less apparent than before, and completely without their own input.  The aforementioned global machinations /  multiverse angle is included again, but this time it really seems Gibson put it there just to remind the reader that he had a really cool idea 5 years go when he wrote the previous book.  This time it has even less relation to the main character, and they themselves have minimal relation to the actual story line.  Having been used for a handful of pages to start the story and then treated like an inanimate object for the vast majority of the book, the main character is deposited at the end of the story where the big reveal that we all knew was coming more or less ends the central conflict with a whimper, not a bang.

Critics used to accuse Michael Crichton of writing "hardcover screenplays"; books that were designed to be made into blockbuster movies.  Lately William Gibson seems to be trying to do that in his own way, except nobody really wants the film rights.  The last Jackpot book is probably still a couple years away, and I will undoubtedly read it when it comes out.  But I'm not holding much hope for it.

If you want to read Gibson when he actually seemed to care about what he was writing, try the Blue Ant trilogy instead: Pattern Recognition (2002), Spook Country (2006), and Zero History (2010).

 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/21/22 3:20 p.m.

SEVENEVES - Neal Stephenson:  Recently finished this over the holiday break.  It benefited from several days where I could read for a couple hours at a stretch.  After finishing Weir's PHM I was on a bit of a long-form hard-sf jag, so why not?  7E was good - I enjoyed it much better than Fall, the last Stephenson book I read.

I liked this one about as much as I liked Anathem, and although somewhat different, 7E had the same mix of minute detail and millennia-spanning curiosity that makes Stephenson intriguing when he is on the mark.  The main characters were interesting; their actions less scripted, their personalities more naturalistic than Gibson's, and (also unlike Gibson) they were significant to all 800+ pages of the story line.

I guess when I'm not bitching I don't have as much to write.  I now have Quicksilver sitting on my nightstand, waiting for me to get to it in a few days.  I guess it says something that I queued up another 800+ page Stephenson book right on the heels of an unrelated 800+ page Stephenson page book.  I know some people have had trouble getting through the Baroque trilogy, but I am guardedly optimistic about it.

Currently reading:

The Left Hand Of Darkness - Ursula K Leguin: I probably read this 40 years ago, but if I did, I've forgotten all but the basic premise.  I like Leguin - although her books are most often set in fantasy worlds, she tackles very human and relatable ideas which she uses to dissect our own world, society, and personalities.  But she always does so gently, in ways that get you thinking on your own, rather than beating you over the head with her version of what humanity should be.  And she does it with beautiful prose.

 

Karacticus
Karacticus GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/21/22 6:09 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

I really enjoyed the Baroque trilogy but you're definitely reading it quite a while. 
Rightly or wrongly, one of the things it got across to me is how much of a E36 M3hole historical western civilization was.  

stroker
stroker UberDork
1/24/22 5:21 p.m.
chandler said:

The qty or the subject? The Cukoo's Calling  is written by "Robert Galbraith" because jk Rowling didn't think her Harry Potter readers would want to read a grimy crime drama by her. They aren't perfect but the five Cormoran Strike books so far have been consistently good. I think there is a TV series on BBC or HBO as well.

I hadn't heard about an impending "Strike" book and was hoping to know more about how long I'd have to wait...

 

pilotbraden
pilotbraden UberDork
1/25/22 6:49 a.m.

About face by David hackworth . actually I am rereading it. I highly recommend it.

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass HalfDork
1/25/22 9:13 a.m.

I started Redemption Song but am putting it aside for a bit - it's a huge book, over 600 pages. 

I got a gift before it - IN ORDER TO LIVE by Yeonmi Park, her life and escape from North Korea. Its shorter, should be an easier read, and my friend had been asking if I'd started it yet so here we go. Im about 20 pages in so far and it's wild, and I know Im scratching the surface so far. 

Freaking NK, man. It's fascinating to me because it's so backwards. And it's terrible as heck. 

chandler
chandler UltimaDork
1/25/22 9:21 a.m.
stroker said:
chandler said:

The qty or the subject? The Cukoo's Calling  is written by "Robert Galbraith" because jk Rowling didn't think her Harry Potter readers would want to read a grimy crime drama by her. They aren't perfect but the five Cormoran Strike books so far have been consistently good. I think there is a TV series on BBC or HBO as well.

I hadn't heard about an impending "Strike" book and was hoping to know more about how long I'd have to wait...

 

The Ink Black Heart - August 30

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/25/22 10:33 a.m.

My lovely lady got me the Dave Ghrol book for Christmas, haven't had a chance to start it yet. And one of our friends gave me a book about Abe Lincoln for Christmas as well. And my mentee sent me a copy of Infinite Jest, so I need to get my ass in gear and start reading.

We have a really cool framed photo of Lincoln from my late Grandfathers law office hung right by the front door. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/25/22 10:43 a.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

DW got Grohl's book out of the library for me. I forgot to mention reading it above.

It's good - it's also about what you'd expect, but it was interesting, enjoyable, and an easy go.  It reads about like he talks in interviews. It was good enough that she read it too.

 

Gary
Gary UltraDork
1/29/22 9:49 a.m.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa PowerDork
2/4/22 9:00 p.m.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) - Dennis Taylor

 

Engineer sells company he built, sets up cryogenic trust for his noggin, dies.  Wakes up and finds himself as the piloting program shoved in a starship sent to colonize the galaxy.

Gary
Gary UltraDork
2/25/22 1:33 p.m.

"Let there be fast food, fast cars, and fast women."

-Anatoly Arutunoff

My takeaway: Toly's style is similar to Burt Levy's. (Or maybe Burt's style is similar to Toly's). And then add in a dash of Hunter Thompson gonzo and a splash of James Ellroy hipster.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
2/25/22 1:37 p.m.
chandler
chandler UltimaDork
2/25/22 2:43 p.m.

Reading Grohls book now, Eddie Rickenbaker's biography by W. David Lewis is next.

stroker
stroker UberDork
2/25/22 9:05 p.m.

In reply to Gary :

Gary, I was somewhat disappointed with Bomber Mafia.  The subject was interesting but I thought it was a bit superficial for Gladwell....  

Gary
Gary UltraDork
2/25/22 11:11 p.m.

In reply to stroker :

I tend to agree with you on the superficiality aspect. I've read more in-depth work on the subject. I think he was trying to weave a story based on the Army Air Corp "mafia" guys who developed tactics and beliefs about precision bombing at Montgomery field in the thirties. Admirable attempt, but rather weak overall I think. I was on vacation in Florida in January and that's "what I was reading at the time."  (And it was 50% off list price at the retailer where I bought it). Now I'm on vacation in Palm Springs, CA, reading Toly Arutunoff's memoirs and I'm totally flummoxed with that one. smiley

stroker
stroker UberDork
3/3/22 2:04 p.m.
JohnInKansas said:

Out. Standing.

Not a big reader. Wife bought me two of Mark's books for Christmas and I damn near couldn't put this one down. 

Mark had a passing interest in bikes early in life, got away from them for several decades, then got into motorcycle racing in his 40s or early 50s. Worked up to a pro-license level, got the wild hare to go the the Isle of Man, quit his job and moved to the Isle for a year to prep for and race the TT. This book chronicles that experience. 

Well-written without being pretentious or verbose. Cannot recommend highly enough.

The other book is his "On Motorcycles", which is a collection of his best motorcycle short articles he wrote semi-professionally for a big motorcycle forum. Nice blend of historical interviews, tracking down old race bikes, chronicling motorcycle racing history, commentary on motorcycle culture and the like. Good book for the back of the toilet.

Got my copy from interlibrary loan.  Gonna buy three copies for friends and family.  Thanks for the heads-up!

 

chandler
chandler UltimaDork
3/3/22 9:08 p.m.

One Second After - William Forstchen

 

It was very hard to take a break from it.

RichardNZ
RichardNZ GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/4/22 12:40 a.m.

I'm picking my way through Brandon Sanderson's "Stormlight Archive" for the second time. Currently half way through volume 2 of 4. At a thousand odd pages each should keep me occupied for a while.

Took a detour to read "None of My Business" by PJ O'Rourke this week after reading a few tributes to him - first time in the library for quite a while. I'll probably hunt out some of his others in the future.

 

stroker
stroker UberDork
3/4/22 8:47 a.m.

In reply to chandler :

My God, the editing in that was bad.  Not a bad concept for a book but the execution...  angry

chandler
chandler UltimaDork
3/4/22 2:41 p.m.

In reply to stroker :

 

Ha, I actually listened to it so a lot of that didn't come through. I was impressed by the scope of thought. Downloaded the second one and will try that on for size in the coming week.

 

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