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Read this over the holiday and quite enjoyed it. Feel like the story was cut off too abruptly at the end - almost like he was on a deadline to finish the book. Could use a sequel. Any other similar genre recommendations out there?
Lucifer's Hammer was so good you almost don't notice that it was written in 1977 and computers played little role in the plot.

You might also like Footfall, another Niven and Pournelle collaboration, this one about a fairly interesting invasion from outer space. If it's comparable to anything, it might be to Harry Turtledove's series about the same subject.

Edited by roadkill1292
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Read this over the holiday and quite enjoyed it. Feel like the story was cut off too abruptly at the end - almost like he was on a deadline to finish the book. Could use a sequel. Any other similar genre recommendations out there?

If you haven't read The Mote in God's Eye it's pretty good, by the same authors. The sequel was kind of disappointing, but still good.

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Looking for some suggestions for short story collections. Never really read any, but lately I have been busy and find myself not finishing books. Thought this might be a good idea since I could read a story or two before bed. Just picked up Brave New Worlds which has stories about dystopian societies. Been a few stories in there that I have liked so far. What else would you recommend - doesn't have to be a certain genre, as I am up for most anything.

I recently read short story collections by Andre Dubos, Don Delillo, and Joyce Carol Oates. Cant go wrong with any of them. Also, T Coraghessan (sp?) Boyle has some really fantastic short story collections and is an all around great writer. Jim Harrison's novella collections like Legends of the Fall, etc., are also great.
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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Mixed feelings about this one. It was overly long and very repetitious, but it was strangely compelling. I'll probably try something else by Murakami but not right away.

I bought this the day it was released but still haven't tackled it. Murakami is my favorite writer. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is my favorite, but if you'd like to move back to something more accessible, try Norwegian Wood or any of his short-story collections.
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So 2011 was my worst reading year ever. Mainly due to work craziness, but also some laziness. Devoted to turn it around in 2012. Goal is 100 books this year. Bought a kindle, which will help when commuting and traveling. Starting off with a recent bio of TE Lawrence and a collection of Don Delillo short stories.

100 books in a year seems a bit high unless they're throwaway novels. You're going to be missing details trying to read for speed.
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Looking for some suggestions for short story collections. Never really read any, but lately I have been busy and find myself not finishing books. Thought this might be a good idea since I could read a story or two before bed. Just picked up Brave New Worlds which has stories about dystopian societies. Been a few stories in there that I have liked so far. What else would you recommend - doesn't have to be a certain genre, as I am up for most anything.

Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts is really good. The title is a little misleading as it's not a bunch of traditional ghost/horror stories, but would probably be better-described with "speculative fiction" (which is damned near as meaningless a term as "alternative" is to music). Hill writes really well and there are some stories in this book that are among the creepiest/touching/odd I've ever read. The "boxes" & um..."balloon" stories give me chills just thing about them.
:blackdot:
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I am reading The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

So far a very english ghost foggy creepy atmosphere. I think I saw it recommended in a Stephen King post. I believe it is the longest running play in London? I may have the wrong city :shrug:

Anyway today in the Sunday paper I see this has been made into a movie with the Harry Potter kid in the lead. My daughters knew of it and said the trailers look scary. Very short book at 138 pages.

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Going for 75 books this year.

Thus far,

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - Very different, but excellent book. There are similarities to Neil Gaiman as well as Jonathan Strange, but it's quite a unique book.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - Ridiculously good. The fact that everything in the book happened to one person is mind-blowing. What a life, just remarkable. One of the complaints I've seen is that the past is simply too well-remembered for having occurred 70-80 years ago, and I'm sure there's some truth to it, but the underlying story is so fascinating that it's easy to move past it.

So it's two for two on really good books, but I think I've hit a clunker as I'm about a quarter of the way through Gerald's Game by Stephen King. Not feeling it.

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Going for 75 books this year.

Thus far,

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - Very different, but excellent book. There are similarities to Neil Gaiman as well as Jonathan Strange, but it's quite a unique book.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - Ridiculously good. The fact that everything in the book happened to one person is mind-blowing. What a life, just remarkable. One of the complaints I've seen is that the past is simply too well-remembered for having occurred 70-80 years ago, and I'm sure there's some truth to it, but the underlying story is so fascinating that it's easy to move past it.

So it's two for two on really good books, but I think I've hit a clunker as I'm about a quarter of the way through Gerald's Game by Stephen King. Not feeling it.

Gerald's Game should've been a novella - good premise but not enough meat for a full-length book.

I wondered the same about Unbroken - not only how well-remembered details were, but also that some stuff that couldn't be verified was almost too much to believe. But the story is so well-told and, even if only half is true, so fascinating that I had no problem getting past all that.

I'm still on Handling The Undead (same guy who wrote Let The Right One In). I got distracted for a couple of weeks watching the entire Breaking Bad series. Anyway, good book but not your typical zombies-eat-brains novel. I'm not quite sure where he's going with it all yet, but he poses a lot of moral/ethical questions in lieu of blood and guts and there's a pall of sadness over the whole thing. For those looking for a sort of a textbook that lays out the details of a "rising of the dead" episode, this one may not work as the triggering mechanism is left up to the reader's imagination (at least, so far). As with his previous novel, there are a few awkward passages/dialogues but I suspect that is mostly due to translating from Swedish to English.

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Going for 75 books this year.

Thus far,

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - Very different, but excellent book. There are similarities to Neil Gaiman as well as Jonathan Strange, but it's quite a unique book.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - Ridiculously good. The fact that everything in the book happened to one person is mind-blowing. What a life, just remarkable. One of the complaints I've seen is that the past is simply too well-remembered for having occurred 70-80 years ago, and I'm sure there's some truth to it, but the underlying story is so fascinating that it's easy to move past it.

So it's two for two on really good books, but I think I've hit a clunker as I'm about a quarter of the way through Gerald's Game by Stephen King. Not feeling it.

Gerald's Game should've been a novella - good premise but not enough meat for a full-length book.
Hated this book. Certainly my least favorite King.
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Next up: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Thought this was good but may have been a victim of being over-hyped, because it didn't really knock my socks off. 7/10.Next up: A Dance with Dragons by GRRM.I usually don't read hardcovers, and this thing is a behemoth. May have to start thinking about one of them Kindle thingies.
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Next up: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Thought this was good but may have been a victim of being over-hyped, because it didn't really knock my socks off. 7/10.Next up: A Dance with Dragons by GRRM.I usually don't read hardcovers, and this thing is a behemoth. May have to start thinking about one of them Kindle thingies.
I love my Kindle. The only issue for me is if a book has maps or some type of reference section that I want to refer to. I'm not savvy enough to be able to get to exactly where I want to be and get back to my spot with any kind of reliability. I'm sure there's a way to do this, but I'm an idiot - and a lazy one at that. With a series as popular as Martin's, it's not really important as I just print off a map or pull it up on my laptop and there are reference sites to help keep the characters straight.
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Just finished 11/22/63. LOVED the book. It's the best job of staying on track with the subject that I can recall from a King book within recent times. Very touching story, ala The Notebook.

Also loved the callbacks to It.

All in all, I'm going to happily pass the book on to people who aren't fans of King.

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40 Watts From Nowhere: A Journey into Pirate Radio - As a fan of listening to the radio I really loved this book. OK, basically it is an autobiography of a woman (Sue Carpenter) who started 2 pirate radio stations (first based in San Fran, second in LA). It explains all the things she went through to get them started, and how each developed.

It's pretty amazing what she was able to put together with a shoestring budget. She literally ran the stations out of her (very small) apartments. It was definitely easy and quick if you are looking for something like that.

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Been plodding through the Walking Dead graphic novels. I much prefer the TV series. I would have already bailed on the graphic novels, but I heard so many great things about the Governor that I wanted to hang with it at least until I got to him. Well I've been introduced to him now and it hasn't picked up that much. I may give it another volume or two, but that's probably about it. Also, I don't like that the author admits there is no master plan or end in mind for the series.

Cadillac Jukebox - James Lee Burke

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - Loved it. Atticus is the kind of person I would aspire to be.

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Reading King's 11/22/63. I think King is back on top of his game with this one. His last couple have been 'meh' imo, but I can't put this one down. Can barely keep my eyes open this morning because last night I told myself 'one more chapter and I'll go to bed' about 25 times.

I agree. Thanks to all in this thread for this recommendation. I liked it so much that I read "Under the Dome". Never been a Stephen King reader, but these two have me hooked.
Just finished this yesterday and I was very happy with it, was sorry to see it end. Best King I've read in a long time. I've criticised him before for his seeming weakness to just get tired of a book and wrap it up abruptly or without a good resolution. (Like "Under the Dome" which you mention and was the last King I read) I liked the plot resolutions here and the final scene as well. Then I noticed that in the afterword that he thanked his son for giving him a better idea for the ending so he changed what he originally had... hopefully he collaborates with his son more often in the future and he's got a lot of stories left in him. Looking forward to The Wind Through the Keyhole.
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Working my way through Martin's Ice and Fire series, nearly through "Crows" which is much less interesting than his last two.

Wrapped up the Live from New York (SNL) book based on what others said here. I didn't like it that much. A few interesting nuggets but as a mid 30's person, I certainly didn't really appreciate how half of the book was devoted to the first five years of the show with the main people being Gilda Radner and John Belushi who got a lot of time in the book. Then, I felt they really glossed over the years I really enjoyed (Carvy, Mike Meyers, Phil Hartman, Sandler, Farley, etc.) as a sort of afterthought. Farley especially I thought got covered very little, even his death, especially when compared to Belushi who they talked about ad nauseum. I had forgotten all the people who came through there though. Anyways, wouldn't recommend for anyone unless they are a huge old SNL fan.

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Read this over the holiday and quite enjoyed it. Feel like the story was cut off too abruptly at the end - almost like he was on a deadline to finish the book. Could use a sequel. Any other similar genre recommendations out there?
Lucifer's Hammer was so good you almost don't notice that it was written in 1977 and computers played little role in the plot.

You might also like Footfall, another Niven and Pournelle collaboration, this one about a fairly interesting invasion from outer space. If it's comparable to anything, it might be to Harry Turtledove's series about the same subject.

not sure if this is close as i haven't read those books, but just finished lights out.

it's about a EMP (electric magnetic pulse) being set off taking out all power and the events that unfold for some people trying to get by.

thought it was really good.

Edited by steelerfan1
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Been plodding through the Walking Dead graphic novels. I much prefer the TV series. I would have already bailed on the graphic novels, but I heard so many great things about the Governor that I wanted to hang with it at least until I got to him. Well I've been introduced to him now and it hasn't picked up that much. I may give it another volume or two, but that's probably about it. Also, I don't like that the author admits there is no master plan or end in mind for the series.

I've been reading through the comics as well. I've kinda stalled about halfway through the prison setting. I've always preferred reading a book to comics, as I find the graphic format hard to follow and the story too short from comic to comic. Someone needs to adapt (and expand) The Walking Dead into a novel - I would be all over that.
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Any reviews of Under The Dome by Stephen King?

Finished Stephen King's Under The Dome. I may be done with King. Either I'm turning into a literay snob or he's lost his touch. A lot of the characters seemed cliche and one-dimensionsal, although Chef and Junior were pretty good characters that I would expect from King. I really didn't care about the protaganist or any of the other characters. And some of the writing was just brutal. Like the parts that were POV of the woodchuck and the dog? Come on.Story was still somewhat enjoyable, and the climax was great for a King novel. Overall a 5/10.

I've only read about 150 pages but reluctant to read more. Thought I was done with King but got it as a Christmas gift. Maybe I'm becoming a literary snob as well but so far it isn't anything great. Maybe King has always been like this but he comes across as an awkward author struggling to find his style rather than an accomplished somebody with a sure hand. Will keep reading based on some fbg's giving it a thumbs up. Edited by Dr. Awesome
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Any reviews of Under The Dome by Stephen King?

Finished Stephen King's Under The Dome.

I may be done with King. Either I'm turning into a literay snob or he's lost his touch.

A lot of the characters seemed cliche and one-dimensionsal, although Chef and Junior were pretty good characters that I would expect from King. I really didn't care about the protaganist or any of the other characters. And some of the writing was just brutal. Like the parts that were POV of the woodchuck and the dog? Come on.

Story was still somewhat enjoyable, and the climax was great for a King novel. Overall a 5/10.

I've only read about 150 pages but reluctant to read more. Thought I was done with King but got it as a Christmas gift. Maybe I'm becoming a literary snob as well but so far it isn't anything great. Maybe King has always been like this but he comes across as an awkward author struggling to find his style rather than an accomplished somebody with a sure hand. Will keep reading based on some fbg's giving it a thumbs up.
I really did not like Under the Dome, just about swore off King completely, but I'm probably going to get his latest 11/23/63 based on great reviews.
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Working my way through Martin's Ice and Fire series, nearly through "Crows" which is much less interesting than his last two.Wrapped up the Live from New York (SNL) book based on what others said here. I didn't like it that much. A few interesting nuggets but as a mid 30's person, I certainly didn't really appreciate how half of the book was devoted to the first five years of the show with the main people being Gilda Radner and John Belushi who got a lot of time in the book. Then, I felt they really glossed over the years I really enjoyed (Carvy, Mike Meyers, Phil Hartman, Sandler, Farley, etc.) as a sort of afterthought. Farley especially I thought got covered very little, even his death, especially when compared to Belushi who they talked about ad nauseum. I had forgotten all the people who came through there though. Anyways, wouldn't recommend for anyone unless they are a huge old SNL fan.

First five years was the best ever, show declined from then. Not surprised they focused on it, makes me want to read it more.
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Any reviews of Under The Dome by Stephen King?

Finished Stephen King's Under The Dome.

I may be done with King. Either I'm turning into a literay snob or he's lost his touch.

A lot of the characters seemed cliche and one-dimensionsal, although Chef and Junior were pretty good characters that I would expect from King. I really didn't care about the protaganist or any of the other characters. And some of the writing was just brutal. Like the parts that were POV of the woodchuck and the dog? Come on.

Story was still somewhat enjoyable, and the climax was great for a King novel. Overall a 5/10.

I've only read about 150 pages but reluctant to read more. Thought I was done with King but got it as a Christmas gift. Maybe I'm becoming a literary snob as well but so far it isn't anything great. Maybe King has always been like this but he comes across as an awkward author struggling to find his style rather than an accomplished somebody with a sure hand. Will keep reading based on some fbg's giving it a thumbs up.
I really did not like Under the Dome, just about swore off King completely, but I'm probably going to get his latest 11/23/63 based on great reviews.
:goodposting: Toss "Under the Dome" for now and pick up 11/22/63, his best in a while.
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not sure if this is close as i haven't read those books, but just finished lights out.

it's about a EMP (electric magnetic pulse) being set off taking out all power and the events that unfold for some people trying to get by.

thought it was really good.

Thanks for the tip, I'll check this one out. You should enjoy One Second After, a similar story about surviving after a EMP attack. I thought it was very good.
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I'm reading The Help. Very good, much like the movie. It switches back and forth in narration between the three main characters: Skeeter (the white girl) and the two maids. The author has strong narrative skills, which is important for me.

Next up: The Lincoln Lawyer. After that, Empress Orchid, which was recommended to me, about the 19th century Empress of China. If I like that I'll read the sequel, The Last Empress.

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In continuation of my recent interest in improving my understanding of the US health care system, I recently read The Healing of America, by T.R. Reid. This was a really enlightening, well-written, well-sourced, and balanced account of modern health care. Reid visited several first-world countries (France, Britain, Japan, Germany, Canada, Taiwan, and Switzerland) and detailed their health care systems and then compares and contrasts them with that of the U.S. Importantly, this was written in pre-Obamacare 2009, so it's somewhat out of date, and from Reid's reportage it is apparent that the health care systems in these other countries are undergoing constant reform, so the book may no longer accurately describe them either. Regardless, it's a useful primer on the three major health care models in place worldwide and how different countries have applied them.

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not sure if this is close as i haven't read those books, but just finished lights out.

it's about a EMP (electric magnetic pulse) being set off taking out all power and the events that unfold for some people trying to get by.

thought it was really good.

Thanks for the tip, I'll check this one out. You should enjoy One Second After, a similar story about surviving after a EMP attack. I thought it was very good.
thanks bud,

i love books like that. will be checking it out.

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Read this over the holiday and quite enjoyed it. Feel like the story was cut off too abruptly at the end - almost like he was on a deadline to finish the book. Could use a sequel. Any other similar genre recommendations out there?
Lucifer's Hammer was so good you almost don't notice that it was written in 1977 and computers played little role in the plot.

You might also like Footfall, another Niven and Pournelle collaboration, this one about a fairly interesting invasion from outer space. If it's comparable to anything, it might be to Harry Turtledove's series about the same subject.

not sure if this is close as i haven't read those books, but just finished lights out.

it's about a EMP (electric magnetic pulse) being set off taking out all power and the events that unfold for some people trying to get by.

thought it was really good.

Is this the one where they hole up in the mountains of North Carolina? Or just a similar-sounding novel?
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Anyone feel like helping to put all of this into a spreadsheet or one post? I want to so I can ind the books more readily but it's gonna take a while.

igbomb might have a good list started.I also have a list of everything I've read in a spreadsheet :bag::nerd::unsure:
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Read this over the holiday and quite enjoyed it. Feel like the story was cut off too abruptly at the end - almost like he was on a deadline to finish the book. Could use a sequel. Any other similar genre recommendations out there?
Lucifer's Hammer was so good you almost don't notice that it was written in 1977 and computers played little role in the plot.

You might also like Footfall, another Niven and Pournelle collaboration, this one about a fairly interesting invasion from outer space. If it's comparable to anything, it might be to Harry Turtledove's series about the same subject.

not sure if this is close as i haven't read those books, but just finished lights out.

it's about a EMP (electric magnetic pulse) being set off taking out all power and the events that unfold for some people trying to get by.

thought it was really good.

Is this the one where they hole up in the mountains of North Carolina? Or just a similar-sounding novel?
no, they are in texas.

1 second after is the 1 i think you are talking about, which was just recomended to me.

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Read this over the holiday and quite enjoyed it. Feel like the story was cut off too abruptly at the end - almost like he was on a deadline to finish the book. Could use a sequel. Any other similar genre recommendations out there?
Lucifer's Hammer was so good you almost don't notice that it was written in 1977 and computers played little role in the plot.

You might also like Footfall, another Niven and Pournelle collaboration, this one about a fairly interesting invasion from outer space. If it's comparable to anything, it might be to Harry Turtledove's series about the same subject.

not sure if this is close as i haven't read those books, but just finished lights out.

it's about a EMP (electric magnetic pulse) being set off taking out all power and the events that unfold for some people trying to get by.

thought it was really good.

Is this the one where they hole up in the mountains of North Carolina? Or just a similar-sounding novel?
no, they are in texas.

1 second after is the 1 i think you are talking about, which was just recomended to me.

I'm sure you're right and I appreciate the refresher. I think we actually talked about One Second After earlier in this thread. Had an interesting story line but was very poorly edited, was the consensus.

Will definitely check out Lights Out. :thumbup:

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Read this over the holiday and quite enjoyed it. Feel like the story was cut off too abruptly at the end - almost like he was on a deadline to finish the book. Could use a sequel. Any other similar genre recommendations out there?
Lucifer's Hammer was so good you almost don't notice that it was written in 1977 and computers played little role in the plot.

You might also like Footfall, another Niven and Pournelle collaboration, this one about a fairly interesting invasion from outer space. If it's comparable to anything, it might be to Harry Turtledove's series about the same subject.

not sure if this is close as i haven't read those books, but just finished lights out.

it's about a EMP (electric magnetic pulse) being set off taking out all power and the events that unfold for some people trying to get by.

thought it was really good.

Is this the one where they hole up in the mountains of North Carolina? Or just a similar-sounding novel?
no, they are in texas.

1 second after is the 1 i think you are talking about, which was just recomended to me.

I'm sure you're right and I appreciate the refresher. I think we actually talked about One Second After earlier in this thread. Had an interesting story line but was very poorly edited, was the consensus.

Will definitely check out Lights Out. :thumbup:

i did notice some spelling errors in this light out, but really very minor issue to me anyway.
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In continuation of my recent interest in improving my understanding of the US health care system, I recently read The Healing of America, by T.R. Reid. This was a really enlightening, well-written, well-sourced, and balanced account of modern health care. Reid visited several first-world countries (France, Britain, Japan, Germany, Canada, Taiwan, and Switzerland) and detailed their health care systems and then compares and contrasts them with that of the U.S. Importantly, this was written in pre-Obamacare 2009, so it's somewhat out of date, and from Reid's reportage it is apparent that the health care systems in these other countries are undergoing constant reform, so the book may no longer accurately describe them either. Regardless, it's a useful primer on the three major health care models in place worldwide and how different countries have applied them.

If you're interested in reading about health care - or even if you're just interested in reading well-written, thoughtful, incredibly enlightening books - then I heartily suggest "Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer." Thankfully, I've had limited exposure to cancer in my life and didn't really understand a lot about it. This is a fantastic book that won a nonfiction Pulitzer last year.

I'm just getting caught up in this thread - will post a couple more things in a minute. Sorry if I get a little spammy

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Gave up on Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Just too ridiculous with all the characters coincidentally meeting each other and major historical figures. Think Forrest Gump, but taking itself seriously.

I'm in my early 40s, which means that as a precocious reader in my tween and early teen years, there just wasn't much for me to read. Girls had Judy Blume, and boys had Stephen King, which wasn't aimed at us, but was pretty much the closest thing we had to Young Adult fiction.

Then one summer my aunt gave me a Ken Follett book. "Triple," about the efforts of a Mossad super-agent to steal the uranium Israel needed to build an A-bomb, without the rest of the world knowing it happened. It was great, for the action and for a couple of harder-than-soft-core-but-not-quite-pron sex scenes that blew my mind. I read all his stuff: Eye of the Needle, Key to Rebecca, and his real-life Iran story "On Wings of Eagles." So I've always had a soft spot for him, and enjoyed Pillars of the Earth when I read it a few years ago.

So when I picked up "Fall of Giants," I was predisposed to find the good in it. About 800 pages later, I was still looking. It was really horrible crap.

On a related note, my other favorite inadvertent Young Adult author was Clive Cussler, whose Dirk Pitt novels (like Follett's) combined action, historical references, and geopolitics with steamy sex scenes. I loved "Raise the Titanic!" as well as the less-renowned "Night Probe!" which had one sex scene I remember bringing to school to share with my seventh grade classmates. It wasn't until much later that I realized novels with exclamation points in their titles maybe weren't necessarily awesome.

You know, in thinking back about these books, I just remembered the other author who completed my youthful Holy Trinity: Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, the Pellucidar series (which started with "At the Earth's Core" and later featured an incredible crossover installment - "Tarzan at the Earth's Core"). I spent summers growing up with my grandparents in their cabin in New Hampshire, and paperback editions of Burroughs novels lined the shelves. Flash forward at least 10 years and I'm a freshman English Lit major at a snobby New England liberal arts college. I walk up to a group of classmates having a discussion about "Burroughs." Astonished that such a group of tweedy self-proclaimed literary intelligentsia are talking animatedly about my boyhood hero, I'm this close to jumping into the conversation with a comment about Tarzan when I realize they are talking about another "Burroughs," who had written some book called "Naked Lunch."

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For the David Foster Wallace fans in the bunch, the first book of scholarly literary criticism about his work is coming out at the end of May:

The Legacy of David Foster Wallace.

It's being edited by Samuel Cohen who teaches twentieth-century American literature and literary theory at Missouri and is the author of After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s (University of Iowa Press, 2009) and Series Editor of The New American Canon: The Iowa Series in Contemporary Literature and Culture.

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Last posting on this spree - I'm currently reading "The Art of Fielding" which my wife gave me for Christmas and I'm finding very readable and enjoyable. Kind of a combination coming-of-age, campus comedy, sports novel.

And, speaking of books that combine coming-of-age, sports (if that's what you consider bare-knuckled street brawling), dark humor and an absentee college professor father, the best book I read last year might have been the memoir by Andre Dubus III, "Townie." I really, really recommend this book.

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Gave up on Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Just too ridiculous with all the characters coincidentally meeting each other and major historical figures. Think Forrest Gump, but taking itself seriously.

I'm in my early 40s, which means that as a precocious reader in my tween and early teen years, there just wasn't much for me to read. Girls had Judy Blume, and boys had Stephen King, which wasn't aimed at us, but was pretty much the closest thing we had to Young Adult fiction.

Then one summer my aunt gave me a Ken Follett book. "Triple," about the efforts of a Mossad super-agent to steal the uranium Israel needed to build an A-bomb, without the rest of the world knowing it happened. It was great, for the action and for a couple of harder-than-soft-core-but-not-quite-pron sex scenes that blew my mind. I read all his stuff: Eye of the Needle, Key to Rebecca, and his real-life Iran story "On Wings of Eagles." So I've always had a soft spot for him, and enjoyed Pillars of the Earth when I read it a few years ago.

So when I picked up "Fall of Giants," I was predisposed to find the good in it. About 800 pages later, I was still looking. It was really horrible crap.

On a related note, my other favorite inadvertent Young Adult author was Clive Cussler, whose Dirk Pitt novels (like Follett's) combined action, historical references, and geopolitics with steamy sex scenes. I loved "Raise the Titanic!" as well as the less-renowned "Night Probe!" which had one sex scene I remember bringing to school to share with my seventh grade classmates. It wasn't until much later that I realized novels with exclamation points in their titles maybe weren't necessarily awesome.

You know, in thinking back about these books, I just remembered the other author who completed my youthful Holy Trinity: Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, the Pellucidar series (which started with "At the Earth's Core" and later featured an incredible crossover installment - "Tarzan at the Earth's Core"). I spent summers growing up with my grandparents in their cabin in New Hampshire, and paperback editions of Burroughs novels lined the shelves. Flash forward at least 10 years and I'm a freshman English Lit major at a snobby New England liberal arts college. I walk up to a group of classmates having a discussion about "Burroughs." Astonished that such a group of tweedy self-proclaimed literary intelligentsia are talking animatedly about my boyhood hero, I'm this close to jumping into the conversation with a comment about Tarzan when I realize they are talking about another "Burroughs," who had written some book called "Naked Lunch."

I'm now 34 and still think Dirk Pitt is awesome.

That is, until they reveal he has children.

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