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Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden. Inside the Iran Hostage Crisis. My dad read it and raved, I just started.Also, A Fine Balance by Rohan Mistry. Set in India in the '70's. Unfortunately became an Oprah book, but should be good anyway.

Interested to hear what you thing of Guests. I'm a Bowden fan, but it didn't get rave reviews.
Guests of the Ayatollah is just so DRY. I expect a story that seemed to be so full of tension and controversy to be more enthralling in book form, but 200 pages in I've pretty much given up on it.A Fine Balance was super fantastic. Great writing about a setting I'm always interested in - India.Right now I'm 150 pages into Under the Dome by Stephen King. The premise is so far-fetched, and it hasn't bothered me a bit. Really enjoying the book so far.
Thanks! May skip Guests. King is my favorite writer of all time, but I am a fan of his older stuff. However, I've heard great things about Under the Dome. I'll give it a try.
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Yesterday I read Twilight and thought it was meh. The writing was pretty bad but it had potential. Today I read New Moon (Twilight two). After the first hundred or so pages I was ready to shoot myself it was so bad but I hung in and it got much better. It also seems like it set up the next one to have a chance to be good. If I read the next one tommorrow I will report back. :goodposting:

Edited by PIK95
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Just finished this Isaac Newton by James Gleick. As a biography, I thought it was decent and not too long. IMO biographies are uninteresting to me when the writer tries to prove that they did more research than anyone else or linger too long on uninteresting aspects of a life. While this biography avoided these pitfalls, I thought the author did a mediocre job of storytelling – he didn’t create any drama nor look at things from a new or interesting angle.

I also finished Superfreakonomics – I really liked the first one and I liked this one too. I probably preferred the first one based on topic selection as this second one targets more contemporary and controversial topics.

Also, Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh. Liked it OK. As he’s a sociologist and not a professional writer, I should have expected a banal approach to the material. It was certainly an interesting study of life in the projects, but I kept waiting for a potential solution or So What? that never seemed to come.

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Finished Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. It was decent, but I can't bring myself to recommend it.

Pages away from finishing Ada. Nabokov is just unreal. Great book. I already look forward to reading it again.

Gonna start reading Hamlet tonight. I have some glaring gaps in my memories of Shakespeare, so I'm going to spend the winter rectifying that.

Edited by pantagrapher
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Halfway through Outliers. It's terrific so far. Even if they're totally wrong, I love reading people who come at old ideas from a new angle. I've enjoyed just about everything I've read of Gladwell's.

Agreed. I like Gladwell a lot. Outliers and Tipping Point were both easy, interesting reads and there's no better way to waste 15 minutes than to read one of his articles from here: http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html

I have a friend who disagrees with me though and brought up a good point that I've had a hard time refuting...I say "old ideas from a new angle" and he replies with "so what?" Gladwell doesn't come up with any solutions or ideas to change anything. Just looks at things differently. I say that I don't care...that I'm entertained and interested in the stories and am not looking to change the world. He says that Gladwell's tone is that all of his "findings" are significant and worthwhile even though they are really just good stories and nothing more. It irks him...but doesn't bother me in the least. Interested to hear the thoughts of others...

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The Given Day by Dennis Lehane. End of WWI era novel set in Boston. Only about 75 pages in...already love it. The prologue stars Babe Ruth in a pickup baseball game in the middle of nowhere - just great stuff.Lehane is the guy that wrote Gone Baby Gone. Very good writer, highly recommended.

he also wrote for the wire on hboim just catching up on this thread after not reading the past few years (stopped after my 2nd son was born)i recently read the first dresdon book by Jim Butcher - storm front. was entertaining fluff not sure if ill read more of the seriesI had jury duty a few weeks ago and started the glass books of the dream eaters by gordon dahlquist. very fun and fast paced so far even if I have very little idea whats happening.listened to gaimans graveyard book on audio last month. perfect timing with halloween. really easy and entertaining and was narrated by gaiman himself. bela fleck added the danse macabre on banjo. just good audio experience all around.today I finished The Book Thief on audiobook by markus zusak. great story about a girl in nazi germany. along the lines of stones from the river where you see more of that time from the german civilian point of view. the audio book narrator added alot to the story.so im up for another audio book now. anyone have any recommendations that com? i may try Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke since i couldnt get into reading it. someone earlier mentioned the audio narrator was top notch.
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Halfway through Outliers. It's terrific so far. Even if they're totally wrong, I love reading people who come at old ideas from a new angle. I've enjoyed just about everything I've read of Gladwell's.

Agreed. I like Gladwell a lot. Outliers and Tipping Point were both easy, interesting reads and there's no better way to waste 15 minutes than to read one of his articles from here: http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html

I have a friend who disagrees with me though and brought up a good point that I've had a hard time refuting...I say "old ideas from a new angle" and he replies with "so what?" Gladwell doesn't come up with any solutions or ideas to change anything. Just looks at things differently. I say that I don't care...that I'm entertained and interested in the stories and am not looking to change the world. He says that Gladwell's tone is that all of his "findings" are significant and worthwhile even though they are really just good stories and nothing more. It irks him...but doesn't bother me in the least. Interested to hear the thoughts of others...

I agree with you and I'm a fan of Gladwell's. While he does repackage other's ideas, he puts them into an interesting and easily digestable format without totally dumbing things down. This particular skill appears to be in scarcity which I think contributes to his success. I'm sure if I read Nature magazine or other journals I could be at the forefront of some of these ideas, but I find it more enjoyable to read Gladwell's interpretation.
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Finished up God Emporer of Dune. Didn't much care for it as I said so I won't be continuing the story line. Will get back to my top 100 list I guess. Maybe finish up the Vonnegut collection.

god emperor is the worst in the serieshighly recommend you finish the series off
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Halfway through Outliers. It's terrific so far. Even if they're totally wrong, I love reading people who come at old ideas from a new angle. I've enjoyed just about everything I've read of Gladwell's.

Agreed. I like Gladwell a lot. Outliers and Tipping Point were both easy, interesting reads and there's no better way to waste 15 minutes than to read one of his articles from here: http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html

I have a friend who disagrees with me though and brought up a good point that I've had a hard time refuting...I say "old ideas from a new angle" and he replies with "so what?" Gladwell doesn't come up with any solutions or ideas to change anything. Just looks at things differently. I say that I don't care...that I'm entertained and interested in the stories and am not looking to change the world. He says that Gladwell's tone is that all of his "findings" are significant and worthwhile even though they are really just good stories and nothing more. It irks him...but doesn't bother me in the least. Interested to hear the thoughts of others...

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that there may be some intellectual elitism at play in your friend's opinion.

He is probably a guy that is analytical and has no problem looking at situations and problems from many angles for himself. Sadly, this isn't true for most people. I would say that Gladwell's writing (like Leavitt's Freakonomics) is incredibly valuable if it can serve to get just a few readers to eschew the obvious (and often wrong) conclusions and think a little harder about the world around them.

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Halfway through Outliers. It's terrific so far. Even if they're totally wrong, I love reading people who come at old ideas from a new angle. I've enjoyed just about everything I've read of Gladwell's.

Agreed. I like Gladwell a lot. Outliers and Tipping Point were both easy, interesting reads and there's no better way to waste 15 minutes than to read one of his articles from here: http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html

I have a friend who disagrees with me though and brought up a good point that I've had a hard time refuting...I say "old ideas from a new angle" and he replies with "so what?" Gladwell doesn't come up with any solutions or ideas to change anything. Just looks at things differently. I say that I don't care...that I'm entertained and interested in the stories and am not looking to change the world. He says that Gladwell's tone is that all of his "findings" are significant and worthwhile even though they are really just good stories and nothing more. It irks him...but doesn't bother me in the least. Interested to hear the thoughts of others...

I agree with you and I'm a fan of Gladwell's. While he does repackage other's ideas, he puts them into an interesting and easily digestable format without totally dumbing things down. This particular skill appears to be in scarcity which I think contributes to his success. I'm sure if I read Nature magazine or other journals I could be at the forefront of some of these ideas, but I find it more enjoyable to read Gladwell's interpretation.
Agreed with you both. He has a great writing style and he's able to put his ideas into a narrative that flows as well as good fiction. So there's no doubt he's an entertaining read.

I've read Tipping Point and a number of his articles and always find them extremely thought-provoking. Maybe that is more where their educational value lies, in getting the reader to think about things they wouldn't normally consider, rather than in getting the reader to buy his interpretations and conclusions, which often seem to overreach

A recent NY Times review of his latest, "What the Dog Saw," touches on these points.

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I've read Tipping Point and a number of his articles and always find them extremely thought-provoking. Maybe that is more where their educational value lies, in getting the reader to think about things they wouldn't normally consider, rather than in getting the reader to buy his interpretations and conclusions, which often seem to overreach

A recent NY Times review of his latest, "What the Dog Saw," touches on these points.

I agree with the bolded.

I like Gladwell a lot, even though I recognize that he is basically the High Priest of the Narrative Fallacy.

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Halfway through Outliers. It's terrific so far. Even if they're totally wrong, I love reading people who come at old ideas from a new angle. I've enjoyed just about everything I've read of Gladwell's.

Agreed. I like Gladwell a lot. Outliers and Tipping Point were both easy, interesting reads and there's no better way to waste 15 minutes than to read one of his articles from here: http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html

I have a friend who disagrees with me though and brought up a good point that I've had a hard time refuting...I say "old ideas from a new angle" and he replies with "so what?" Gladwell doesn't come up with any solutions or ideas to change anything. Just looks at things differently. I say that I don't care...that I'm entertained and interested in the stories and am not looking to change the world. He says that Gladwell's tone is that all of his "findings" are significant and worthwhile even though they are really just good stories and nothing more. It irks him...but doesn't bother me in the least. Interested to hear the thoughts of others...

I agree with you and I'm a fan of Gladwell's. While he does repackage other's ideas, he puts them into an interesting and easily digestable format without totally dumbing things down. This particular skill appears to be in scarcity which I think contributes to his success. I'm sure if I read Nature magazine or other journals I could be at the forefront of some of these ideas, but I find it more enjoyable to read Gladwell's interpretation.
I don't think it's his goal to propose solutions -- just identifying some previously overlooked reason behind the problem is pretty important, though. Take his hockey birthdate chapter, for example. I'm pretty sure that he's hit on something important there but what the heck does somebody do about that problem? Breaking the age groups down by month or quarter instead of year seems like the only solution but eminently impractical. Still, it seems worth trying something because of all the talent being underutilized.

That kind of stuff is really cool to think about. I also really liked his three-part email exchange with Simmons some months back. That one could have gone on for 10 or 20 parts as far as I was concerned.

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On another note, this book also included the first chapter of The Yiddish Policeman's Union, which actually seems pretty good to me, definitely a cool concept. Despite my disappointment in K&C, I think I want to pick this one up to give Chabon another chance. Anyone read this?

:)

YPU was good, but K&C was better.

loved K&C havent read yiddish yet but The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh is excellent
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Just finished Beat the Reaper.

Holy crap - Buy. This. Book. It is a breezy read (I consumed it in 3 hours or so). Awesome story and filled with all kinds of obscure facts. One of the most original and well written books I have read in years.

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Just finished Beat the Reaper.

Holy crap - Buy. This. Book. It is a breezy read (I consumed it in 3 hours or so). Awesome story and filled with all kinds of obscure facts. One of the most original and well written books I have read in years.

:blackdot:
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Just finished Beat the Reaper.

Holy crap - Buy. This. Book. It is a breezy read (I consumed it in 3 hours or so). Awesome story and filled with all kinds of obscure facts. One of the most original and well written books I have read in years.

:blackdot:
If you read it please chime in with your opinion. I'd be very interested in another take on it.
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Cracked open A Voyage Long And Strange (by Tony Horwitz) last weekend. Good stuff about the explorers who visited North America between Columbus in 1492 and the Pilgrims in 1612, and Horwitz' own research into their routes and the native people they would have encountered along the way.

Thanks for the recommendation. I've been trying to find a good book covering this precise time period.

:sadbanana:

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Cracked open A Voyage Long And Strange (by Tony Horwitz) last weekend. Good stuff about the explorers who visited North America between Columbus in 1492 and the Pilgrims in 1612, and Horwitz' own research into their routes and the native people they would have encountered along the way.

Thanks for the recommendation. I've been trying to find a good book covering this precise time period.

:sadbanana:

Woah, time warp. I just realized that I responded to a post that is over a year old, yet I entered this topic by posting on the 'Go to unread' button.

...

Currently reading three non-fiction books; The Omnivore's Dilemma (fantastic, thus far), What the Dog Saw (read the first essay last night), and Superfreakonomics.

After that, picking up The Talisman.

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I decided to go back and read the favorite fantasy novels of my youth.

When I was 13 I spent the summer devouring books like Raymond Feist's Riftwar Saga, C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Naria, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and the Hickerman and Weis Dragonlance series.

I'm into the third book of the Riftwar Saga and I'm fairly impressed. Granted, Feist writes the romantic sections like, well, a pubescent with pimples (me at 13), but the rest is surprisingly well done for what it is.

I might take this further. After running through C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Weis & Hickerman, I might go on a fantasy binge and check out Phillip Pullman's stuff and some others.

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On the non-fiction side, I'm reading Half the Sky, a book about worldwide female repression.

It's pretty depressing stuff at times (and at times fairly graphic and nasty), but it's a depressing that needs to be talked about.

For example: you learn how gang violence in West Africa mixes with patriarchy to make rape one of the most effective tools of war.

Women are basically property, and thus virgins are pure gold. Instead of shooting rival men, many militia-gangs now target women in villages. They gangrape them (often finishing the job with objects, causing internal hemorrhaging) then leave. However, unless the woman has a male witness to the act, she's deemed promiscuous by her village and her family is forced to "honor kill" her (usually via public stoning). Often times the father and/or brothers commit suicide after. Hence it's a much more brutal, emotionally scarring, and debilitating way to crush your enemies.

Like I said, grim stuff.

Edited by Henry Rollins
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David McCullough's Truman. It's 1,100 pages long and I'm not a very fast reader, so it took me a long time to work up the nerve to try it. I'm glad I did; it's excellent, a real page-turner. It sounds like a cliche, but McCullough makes history come alive. He did it with 1776 and he does it here.

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David McCullough's Truman. It's 1,100 pages long and I'm not a very fast reader, so it took me a long time to work up the nerve to try it. I'm glad I did; it's excellent, a real page-turner. It sounds like a cliche, but McCullough makes history come alive. He did it with 1776 and he does it here.

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The Given Day by Dennis Lehane. End of WWI era novel set in Boston. Only about 75 pages in...already love it. The prologue stars Babe Ruth in a pickup baseball game in the middle of nowhere - just great stuff.Lehane is the guy that wrote Gone Baby Gone. Very good writer, highly recommended.

he also wrote for the wire on hbo
Reading The Given Day right now, about 150 pages in. Didn't think I'd like it at first but love it now.Next up is Shutter Island. I've already read all of the series with Kenzie in it.
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Just started Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence, after finishing off a slew of books in the last three weeks, including:

Chris Salewicz's Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer--recommended for any JS fan, or rock music fan. A really good read.

Cornelius Ryan's A Bridge Too Far -- a detail-laden account of WW2's Operation Market Garden. It was tiring to read at points, but ultimately worth it.

Jim DeRogatis' bio on Lester Bangs, Let It Blurt-- I knew next to nothing about LB other than a few tidbits, but really enjoyed this book. That dude was nuts.

David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries -- It tends to ramble at times, but it's still a solid read.

and John Grisham's The Partner -- The first Grisham book I've read since The Client, this was a fun and fast read.

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Just finished Beat the Reaper.

Holy crap - Buy. This. Book. It is a breezy read (I consumed it in 3 hours or so). Awesome story and filled with all kinds of obscure facts. One of the most original and well written books I have read in years.

:football:
If you read it please chime in with your opinion. I'd be very interested in another take on it.
May be a while. I'm a slow reader and my queue is getting pretty long.
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The first half of this one was fantastic. The second half got very weak in a hurry. I think the reason it changed so much for me is it went from being an excellent investigative book about the food industry to a philosophical discussion of the ethics behind our food choices.

I mowed through the sections on the industrial food industry (focused on corn), the industrial organic industry (think Whole Foods) and the self-sufficient farm in Virginia. I don't think that any of us would be surprised by the conditions in the large-scale meat operations, but it was interesting, if repulsive, to read about.

But the self-sustaining farm in Virginia was my favorite section. That place sounds like a paradise. I would really enjoy checking it out.

Bottom line: Read the first half to two-thirds. Skip the third section altogether.

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What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

This book was clearly a money-grab for Gladwell and his publishers as it consists entirely of essays that were previously published in the New Yorker. Having said that, there are enough different topics written about that anyone who likes Gladwell's writing will find a few to interest them. A few of my favorites are essays about Nassim Taleb, The Dog Whisperer, and the power-law theory. All in all, pretty hit or miss, but not bad.

Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

This one was a very weak imitation of their first book, which I really liked. It is much shorter and seems lighter on the science. Essentially, this entire book could have been handled in a few posts on their blog.

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Just picked up 1634: The Baltic War to read on my drive down to Florida. Got a few chapters in. Continues the solid and interesting story line of the Ring of Fire Series. I find myself enjoying many of hte characters more then I thought I would. It's by no means a great in literature but it's fun, and the story line has some great potential.

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Just started King's Under The Dome.

Just finished it. Most enjoyable King book for me in years, reminiscent of his two other magnum opuses, The Stand and It.But its not as good as those, mainly because the characters aren't as well drawn out, IMO. His villain, though, is one of King's best. Worth the read.
Good to hear. This sucker is a doorstop in hardback.
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Finished up God Emporer of Dune. Didn't much care for it as I said so I won't be continuing the story line. Will get back to my top 100 list I guess. Maybe finish up the Vonnegut collection.

god emperor is the worst in the serieshighly recommend you finish the series off
REally? Maybe I'll reconsider but I did stop looking into it after that book. And I'll come out and say it - the mystery of what just is exactly going on is tiresome. They dance around the reasons for everything way too much. God Emporer was just basically a tease as to everything Leto did. Maybe I need to focus more on the underlying story a little more, but I couldn't tell you just what exactly is going on in that book most of the time.
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Just finished a novel called Eating Crow by Jay Rayner, which centres around a mercilessly negative food critic who rethinks his life after one of his targets kills himself. The critic, Marc Basset, apologizes to the family, feels freed and then begins apologizing to anyone else he's ever wronged.

It's a breezy read with an interesting premise (Basset ends up becoming a professional apologist), but ultimately not very memorable.

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Finished up Chimera by John Barth. I liked it. If you like Barth, you probably will too.

Between that and Julien Donkey-Boy, which would you read first?
I'd say Giles as (believe it or not) it's actually referred to in Chimera. As is Sot-Weed.
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Just finished, "The Life of Graham" by Bob McCabe - a biography of Monty Python's Graham Chapman.

Just started, "The Wrestling" by Simon Garfield - a bittersweet look back at the British professional wrestling scene during the sixties and seventies.

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Finished up Chimera by John Barth. I liked it. If you like Barth, you probably will too.

Between that and Julien Donkey-Boy, which would you read first?
I'd say Giles as (believe it or not) it's actually referred to in Chimera. As is Sot-Weed.
I somehow confused the movie Julien Donkey-Boy with the book Giles Goat-Boy. Anyway, thanks for the info.

:goodposting:

Edited by pantagrapher
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Just finished Beat the Reaper.

Holy crap - Buy. This. Book. It is a breezy read (I consumed it in 3 hours or so). Awesome story and filled with all kinds of obscure facts. One of the most original and well written books I have read in years.

:mellow:
If you read it please chime in with your opinion. I'd be very interested in another take on it.
What a fun read. Quirky, grisly, funny, repulsive.
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Just picked up 1634: The Baltic War to read on my drive down to Florida. Got a few chapters in. Continues the solid and interesting story line of the Ring of Fire Series. I find myself enjoying many of hte characters more then I thought I would. It's by no means a great in literature but it's fun, and the story line has some great potential.

Is the Ring of Fire series decent?
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