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What are you reading?

Toni

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He might like Tad William's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy (first book in the series is called The DragonBone Chair). It's similar to Tolkien in that the dragons are rarely seen but are powerful agents of change (which is how I prefer my dragons, if at all.). If Martin's series is R-rated, then William's is definitely PG, but Martin cited it as inspiration for Game of Thrones.

An older series (might not be in print) is Guardians of the Flame by Joel Rosenberg, which showcases a dragon. Later books in the series, the dragon even takes on a sense of humor which might or might not appeal.

I've never bothered with McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. Same with Paolini's Eragon series. But of course, they both feature dragons heavily.

Here's a long list of Dragon Lovers books, almost none of which I've read.

Thanks. The Williams series sounds like something he might enjoy. He has read all the GoT to date. I don't remember if he has avoided the series or not. He was for a while to avoid spoilers plus it can be weird to watch when a series really diverges from the books...
 

James Brown

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The DragonBone Chair

The Stone of Farewell

To Green Angel Tower

I warn everyone when I recommend this series--it's a slow-building story. The first few chapters are mostly character introductions, and very understated conflict building. I've heard a lot of people give up on the series early on because they think that nothing is happening. And I agree with that. But when I hit about page 200 or so, a key event occurs that's like the removal of a keystone that causes an avalanche. After that, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
 

Toni

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The DragonBone Chair

The Stone of Farewell

To Green Angel Tower

I warn everyone when I recommend this series--it's a slow-building story. The first few chapters are mostly character introductions, and very understated conflict building. I've heard a lot of people give up on the series early on because they think that nothing is happening. And I agree with that. But when I hit about page 200 or so, a key event occurs that's like the removal of a keystone that causes an avalanche. After that, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

Very much appreciated!
 

spikepipsqueak

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1947: Where Now Begins by Elizabeth Asbrink

Will in the world. by Stephen Greenblatt

Winter's Bone. Danial Woodrell

A Boy and his dog at the end of the world by C A Fletcher

Posting to thank the people who recommended these books.
 

ideologyhunter

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Rosemary's Baby -- a fun read. And perfect for the season, with the birth of a miraculous baby who may grow up to transform this world.
 

Politesse

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Right now, a review article (Vilchis 2019) on the plausibility of the old hypothesis that humans were responsible for the death of North American megafauna at the end of the Pleistocene.

Later, planning to dig into Zora Neale Hurston's "Barracoon", paired with the fictional (it's vacation time!) "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
 

ideologyhunter

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What the Negro Thinks by Robert Moton (1929), written deep in the swamp of old-style Jim Crow by a black author. He sees glimmers of hope but states that real change is elusive where blacks cannot vote. The title is somewhat deceptive. I am just past the halfway point in the book, but wherever he starts a sentence with "The thinking Negro.." (which is frequent) and then says what the race is thinking, he does it without any indication of how he came by his insight. The thinking Negro is really a phrase indicating his own gut reactions.
 

4321lynx

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Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and it's Tributaries by David Livingstone, originally published in 1865.

I got a new, hardcover version of this for Christmas. I'd had it on my e-reader but thought a physical copy might be nice. Very interesting read.

If you found that interesting then you should read The Life and Labours of David Livingstone by J.E.Chambliss. There is a 1875 edition for sale on Amazon.com for $50 USD and some 1970 edition paperback edition for $26 and change. Other editions are on line but all of them are of American old and new editions and, no offence to our American friends, it would somehow grate on me to read copies of an1875 book about a 19C Scottish explorer in Africa written in "American" starting with Labors for Labours right on the cover and title pages. OK guys, I'd be quite comfortable reading about Stanley in Africa in 19C, written in "American". :)

I say explorer and not missionary advisedly, as he personally only "converted" one single African to Xtianity. He did start a massive missionary effort in Africa to fight slavery through his example and writings and speeches on his return from his first voyage.
 

rousseau

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Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and it's Tributaries by David Livingstone, originally published in 1865.

I got a new, hardcover version of this for Christmas. I'd had it on my e-reader but thought a physical copy might be nice. Very interesting read.

If you found that interesting then you should read The Life and Labours of David Livingstone by J.E.Chambliss. There is a 1875 edition for sale on Amazon.com for $50 USD and some 1970 edition paperback edition for $26 and change. Other editions are on line but all of them are of American old and new editions and, no offence to our American friends, it would somehow grate on me to read copies of an1875 book about a 19C Scottish explorer in Africa written in "American" starting with Labors for Labours right on the cover and title pages. OK guys, I'd be quite comfortable reading about Stanley in Africa in 19C, written in "American". :)

I say explorer and not missionary advisedly, as he personally only "converted" one single African to Xtianity. He did start a massive missionary effort in Africa to fight slavery through his example and writings and speeches on his return from his first voyage.

I am interested in the early editions. I checked out an old version from the library a number of months ago and it was a beautiful book. Unfortunately I was trying to fit the copy I got over Christmas within a 75 dollar secret santa limit, along with a title by Crawford Young.

As far as I can tell all of these titles exist at Gutenberg, though, so hard to justify spending 75 - 100 on an old physical copy when you can get the text itself for free.
 

Goodchild

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The End of All Things - John Scalzi

I was hesitant to get this book at first, reviews had led me to believe it was quite a departure in content from previous Old Man's War books but as it turns out I just really enjoy Scalzi's writing style so I'm enjoying the book quite well even though it's a very different type of book.
 

ideologyhunter

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Oscar Peterson's autobiography, A Jazz Odyssey -- not a perfect book, but it includes insights and personal reflections that a 'magisterial' bio by a seasoned jazz writer would have missed. The book has the same class and seriousness that OP's music has. Most valuable, for me, are the anecdotes about his peers in the jazz world, and he met and worked with almost everyone in that world as it existed in the 50s (with his JATP tours) and later in the 60s and beyond (with his many appearances at Montreux and on world tours.) He also describes some experiences with racism that he found searing -- he is unsparing in his descriptions of the rage and despair he felt when he was assaulted with racist epithets. A few drawbacks: he doesn't give the years in which events occur...he doesn't name many specific recordings that a reader might then acquire...he refers obliquely to several marriages and to children but is unwilling to write in a personal vein on this part of his life. (I'm halfway through the book, so there may be passages coming up that address those last two caveats.)
 

rousseau

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Records of the Grand Historian - Qian Sima, translated by Burton Watson

I went to the library for this one, a translation of historical records from the Han Dynasty in China, in and around the 1st and 2nd century B.C.. I've only given it the briefest of looks so far.

The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: from early times to the thirteenth century, translated by Burton Watson

I also did some searching for other works Watson had translated and found this. Of course the first poem had some guy lusting after a woman.

The Confucian Analects, translated by Simon Leys

This was in the general vicinity of the poetry book, and I'd been wanting to read it too. I spent the most time on this one last night and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
 

DBT

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Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield

“A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men's loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them...A king does not expend his substance to enslave men, but by his conduct and example makes them free.”
 

spikepipsqueak

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I'm reading a kids' series, Wings of Fire, and I hope Jimmy Higgins spots this because he was looking for good books for this age group a while back.
 

rousseau

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Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. I did some research a few weeks ago and stumbled on this book, which is considered a classic. It describes how to discipline kids in a win-win way that actually works, while maintaining their self-esteem.

I've struggled to get through the past few parenting books I read, mostly because they tend to be light on ideas, and heavy on explanation. This one seems like it'll be a critical read, though.

I've also finally cleared my house of library books - this might be the first time in a couple years that's happened.
 

ideologyhunter

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Lake Wobegon Days, by Garrison Keillor -- mainly because I've owned a copy for 20 years and want to get it off my shelf. It has its moments, but it is hardly a novel, as Wikipedia terms it -- it's more like fictional social history. Keillor invents a small Minnesota town and tells you about its people and their doings over a century's time. There are dull patches, and there are some earthy comedic stories. It is taking me longer to read than I predicted (it's around 340 pp. and I still have 100 to go.) In a nutshell, this is the PG-13 version of Mayberry RFD.
 

rousseau

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Politics in the Congo: Decolonization and Independence by Crawford Young.

I finally caved and went back to the library to check this title out, Young's first work. I likely won't give it a ton of attention, but plan to browse through it a bit this weekend.
 

hurtinbuckaroo

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Hearing a couple weeks ago about the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden got me to finally pick up Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. I should have read more of his books years ago.
 

rousseau

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Hearing a couple weeks ago about the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden got me to finally pick up Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. I should have read more of his books years ago.

I read a lot of Vonnegut a number of years ago, I had quite the affinity for Mother Night.

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

“It was not the thought that I was so unloved that froze me. I had taught myself to do without love.
It was not the thought that God was cruel that froze me. I had taught myself never to expect anything from Him.
What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity.
Now even that had flickered out.
How long I stood frozen there, I cannot say. If I was ever going to move again, someone else was going to have to furnish the reason for moving.
Somebody did.
A policeman watched me for a while, and then he came over to me, and he said, "You alright?"
Yes," I said.
You've been standing here a long time," he said.
I know," I said.
You waiting for somebody?" he said.
No," I said.
Better move on, don't you think?" he said.
Yes, sir," I said.
And I moved on.”

In retrospect one sees hints of Vonnegut's chronic depression in these words.
 

Politesse

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In a history mood of late. I've picked up a pair of related works, both attempts at a general history of Native American nations coping with US policies, in adjoining time periods: Brit expat historian Colin Calloway's "One Vast Winter Count; the Native American West before Lewis and Clark", and former BIA legal expert Charles Wilkinson's "Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations".

I can already highly recommend both as organized and professional presentations of complex issues. Americans should be especially interested in the latter work, as it both explains the present situation well and fills in some major gaps in almost all state history curricula. British folks would be more naturally interested in the former volume, which likewise contradicts many supposed truisms about the Colonial era.

I also recently finished a slightly older work, Ronald Hutton's "The Witch, a history of fear from ancient times to the present". Characteristically of its author, it is long and dense, and I wouldn't recommend it as anyone's first book on witchcraft. But it filled in some gaps in my own knowledge, and his summary thoughts were compelling enough that I think they'll be making it in to my witch trials lecture next term.
 

rousseau

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I couldn't resist and checked out a few titles by Rupert Emerson today, who was Crawford Young's PhD advisor and mentor. From Empire to Nation: The Rise to Self-Assertion of Asian and African Peoples and Africa and United States Policy.

Emerson, born in 1899, was a famous scholar who had quite a bit of influence on Young, who is my favourite writer to date. I don't expect to absorb too much of these titles, just giving them a browse.
 

DrZoidberg

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Dataclysm. An awesome book about stuff about relationships and dating learned by the guy who ran Okcupid. It's an analysis of big data
 

Tharmas

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I’m reading Antimony Gold and Jupiter’s Wolf, how the elements were named. I’m finding it quite enjoyable. Written by Peter Wothers, a chemist at Cambridge, it’s a leisurely history of chemistry, starting with the ancients and the four element theory. I’m about a third of the way through and we still haven’t gotten to the modern concept of a chemical element, although we’re getting close. It contains a good pocket history of medieval mining, the gradual acceptance of the fact that there were more than seven metals (there had to be just seven to correspond to the seven known planets), and the gradual appearance of semi-experimental chemists from the ranks of alchemists.

I posted on another thread at some point that my avatar is a depiction of the alchemist Hennig Brandt discovering phosphorous. Apparently he developed a process for distilling urine to yield the element. Well it turns out that he required something on the order of 30 gallons of urine (that’s over 110 liters) to get an appreciable amount of phosphorous. He enlisted a local regiment to provide it for him. Now that’s dedication to experiment! His main problem was when he demonstrated his discovery the ladies in the audience objected strongly to the noxious odor.
 

rousseau

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I couldn't resist and checked out a few titles by Rupert Emerson today, who was Crawford Young's PhD advisor and mentor. From Empire to Nation: The Rise to Self-Assertion of Asian and African Peoples and Africa and United States Policy.

Emerson, born in 1899, was a famous scholar who had quite a bit of influence on Young, who is my favourite writer to date. I don't expect to absorb too much of these titles, just giving them a browse.

I finally managed to go through most of 'Africa and United States Policy', and a bit of 'From Empire to Nation'. The former is actually very good, and I believe originally intended as a journal entry rather than a book. Emerson adds some perspective that I've never heard from Young, mainly in the realm of international politics and how the U.S. was kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't regarding Africa. Too little aid to Africa and they don't care, too much aid and they're accused of neo-colonialism. Very interesting perspectives. Not quite done it yet, but looking forward to the rest.

Another aspect of African history I didn't realize is that their independence was kind of swept up with that of Asia and had no natural emergence. It just happened because it was starting to happen more legitimately in other regions in the world. I had an inkling that this is what happened, but I didn't realize that there was a relationship with developing Asian countries.
 

Wiploc

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Started A Gentleman In Moscow again. It is sublime.
 

GenesisNemesis

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Started reading The Riyria Revelations series after I recently finished The Riyria Chronicles, by Michael J. Sullivan. Very entertaining reads.
 

rousseau

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The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective by Crawford Young, for which he won a Luebbert Book Award.

This is one of few books I have on hand right now that I have some interest in reading, went through about one hundred pages of it yesterday, and it's very, very good so far. I've read pretty much everything Young has put out, and this is one of his later books. You can definitely tell his expertise and awareness as a writer had grown exponentially since some of his earlier work. Very good book on colonialism, interest in Africa or not.

I also have his title called Politics in the Congo: Decolonization and Independence checked out, which he wrote thirty years earlier. His first book. I've read enough about the topic that I likely won't go through it in it's entirety, but it's fun to browse through. Also a pretty good forward to his advisor, Rupert Emerson, in it.
 
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spikepipsqueak

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I am so happy.

Thought i should reread Good Omens, since they're making a series of it.

Found I hadn't actually read it. :joy:
 

bilby

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Network Effect the fifth book in the Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells.

Murderbot is a rogue SecUnit, who has hacked its own programming to break free of its enslavement. This is somewhat problematic, as it is highly intelligent, extremely capable in the field of killing humans, and thoroughly irritated by humanity. But all it really wants is to be left alone to watch soap operas.
 

rousseau

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A Red Carpet for the Sun - a compilation of Irving Layton's early poetry.

I enjoyed some of it, and some of Layton's later work is pretty good, but much of what's contained in this book is what gives poetry it's bad reputation. Writers who are purposely obtuse, verbose, and who come across as a bit arrogant and condescending. That feeling permeates much of Layton's work, but at least some of his later poetry is coherent and interesting.

That's a big part of what distinguishes Cohen from many for me. He managed to write in a human way that included everyone, under every circumstance, even other poets who are a bit arrogant.
 

Goodchild

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I remembered a book I once loved and mentioned it to my wife tonight. She promptly found me an ebook version of it and now I'm happily once again reading Legends of the Ferengi. Such a fun book!
 

Horatio Parker

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For Civil War fans, I read and recommend two books by Elizabeth Brown Pryor.

One about RE Lee, Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters and the other about Lincoln: Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and Its Demons.

Both books deal with the complete person, which is I guess another way of saying their weaknesses are explored more than their strengths. Lee was a rigid, authoritarian, moralizing white supremacist who sometimes left his friends in the lurch. He was nevertheless highly regarded for his camaraderie and appearance. Besides of course being a brilliant tactician (I'm not as sure he was as able a strategist).

Lincoln's glaring fault in managing the war was his undermining of the chain of command. Lincoln was not a military man, and the military outlook was alien to him. He therefore preferred to deal with individuals regardless of their rank. The General of the Army Winfield Scott and others deplored and attempted to halt the practice, but since Lincoln tolerated it, nothing was accomplished. This enabled flatterers like Pope and Hooker to worm their way into commands they weren't equal to.
 

rousseau

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Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Rilke was a famous German poet from the early twentieth century. This book compiled some correspondence from him to an 18 year old aspiring poet. Enjoying it quite a bit so far when I get the time and energy to read it. So far I've read the first two letters. In the initial one where Rilke is asked for his criticism, he tells the young man to look inward, at his desires, his sorrows, and to understand if he must write, to stop looking outward for validation. That writing should be something he needs to do for himself, not others.
 

rousseau

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With the university library's closure and my non-fiction interests drying up a bit I've been diving into the poetry and music of Leonard Cohen since starting my paternity leave. A few years ago I bought the compilation of his early poetry, Selected Poems: 1956 - 1968, and didn't get too far into it. The first book of his 'Let Us Compare Mythologies' was released early enough in his life, and unrealized enough that it caused me to write off the brunt of his early poetry (I've already read his later work).

But a few weeks ago the title of his 1978 release - Death of a Lady's Man - caught my eye so I picked it up. Noticing that it was a marked departure from what I read in the selection of his early work, I moved past my biases and bought the remaining 5 titles. My opinion on them works out something like this:

Let us Compare Mythologies (1956) - Well crafted poetry, but obviously the work of an early twenty-something
The Spice-Box of Earth (1961) - Surprising departure from the former book, and decent
Flowers for Hitler (1964) - Cohen gets a sense of humor, gets a bit darker, and is becoming a pretty strong poet
Parasites of Heaven (1966) - If I understand correctly he was doing plenty of drugs while writing this. Interesting book in that light, but seems odd, and experimental
The Energy of Slaves (1972) - Written after he started his music career, enjoyed this one quite a lot
Death of a Lady's Man (1978) - Hard to describe, but absolutely phenomenal writing

To boot I picked up a biography of Cohen's life titled 'I'm Your Man', which is very good so far. And to push my credit card bill even higher I have the collected works of Federico Garcia Lorca on the way today, who was the initial poet that inspired Cohen, and who he named his daughter after (Lorca).
 

Tharmas

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Thanks to Kindle and the quarantine, I am reading several books right now, two by  Burton_L._Mack: The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth and Who Wrote the New Testament?.

Christian Myth is Mack’s response to 9/11. He includes a ten page summary of his career in the Introduction, and man, he has the chops. His main interests have become ethnography – the social construction of myth and ritual, starting from Rene Girard’s work, of whom I am guessing Poli has heard.

New Testament is I think Mack’s most popular work. I read it years ago when it first came out, and had forgotten most of it. He sees a definite evolution in the mythic constructions of the New Testament as different Christian communities evolved socially and politically. The different layers in the story that eventually became the Christ Myth explain how different readers can have such different interpretations of what that myth is all about. He has been criticized for claiming that Jesus was a Cynic, but I think that overstates what he actually says.

I am also reading Allen Brent, at Poli’s recommendation. I selected A Political History of Early Christianity which is very interesting. I’ll have more to comment later.

My bedside reading is The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter. I only get 3-5 pages read each night before it puts me to sleep, which is the point. Not that I don’t find it interesting, but it’s rather dense.
 

ideologyhunter

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Jaco, the biography of Jaco Pastorius by Bill Milkowski. I don't listen to a lot of Jaco's music and don't care much for the fusion scene, but the book is so well-written and well-considered that I'm in for the whole story. I'm not quite halfway through, so I'm still reading about the happier, healthier part of Jaco's life. He was as much a crash-and-burn figure as Billie, Bird, Chet, and probably a couple hundred celebrity musicians. The amount of waste and destruction in jazz history is appalling, and the rockers of the 60's certainly didn't learn from it. Milkowski knows enough about jazz instrumentation to give a convincing case for Jaco's greatness in playing and composing.
 

rousseau

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I finished 'I'm Your Man', Cohen's biography a few days ago. It was hard to put down once I got started, he had an absolutely fascinating life. I also gained far more perspective about who he was, and the path he took to becoming such a big name later in his life. From what I can gather he was a kind of 'Jeff Bezos' of poetry, the world conspired in just the right way, including family wealth, to get his career off the ground. Of course coupled with real talent and persistence.

I've also realized that one of the reasons I have such a hard time finding poetry I like more than Cohen, is because I have a very similar world-view to him. He was open-minded and very forward-thinking, but still a bit of a traditionalist with a healthy respect for the divine - a centrist in a way. Where most poets seem to be firmly encamped in some kind of pole that colors everything they write. Cohen was a shape-shifter, and deliberately ambiguous.
 

ideologyhunter

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This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, on its centenary. If his career had ended with this, he and the book would be forgotten. It's the classic first novel, the one where the writer must tell you who he is, and how he went from a tumultuous adolescence to young manhood. The characters are superficial and the allure and status they aspire to is trivial. (That's actually Fitzgerald's point, to some extent, but callow youth isn't much on which to hang a book-length narrative.) The writing is on the lumpy side; FSF's mid-career use of supple, sinuous language isn't in view. I'm at the halfway point and will finish it, but it's disappointing so far.
 

Mediancat

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Peter Longerich's biography of Goebbels. The author's also done biographies of Himmler and Hitler. They are all excellent, detailed works.

Rob
 

Wiploc

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I've started The Princess Bride again, the best read-aloud book in the world.
 
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