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What are you reading?

DBT

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Finished Book 6 of The Expanse series. So apparently these are written in trilogies. So Book 6 ends the second trilogy which was bigger and better than the first, and the first was pretty good. I felt the resolution at the end felt a little anti-climatic or unsatisfying but not because the author was cheating. Corey plants things well in advance and plucks them from the ground later on.

Onto Book Seven.

People were discussing this series here and I wanted to give it a try. The sixth was the only one available. Sometimes you can read series out of order.

Not this one.

But I got a sense of how good it is and will persevere in getting the first, so thanks.


I am constantly surprised and amused by the way the books I am independently reading seem connected.

Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe. Examining pre-colonisation modes of indigenous life.

And

World Engines. Destroyer. Stephen Baxter. Which coincidentally bases its society on much the same ethos.

Loving both.

Bruce Pascoe copped a lot of flak over his book.
 

spikepipsqueak

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Disbelief flak?

He seems to support his claims well enough.

When I did a bit of anthropology, 30ish years ago, the fish trap evidence and the fire farming stuff was fairly well accepted then.


To add. When a friend of mine offered to fund a class set for the local High School, she was turned down.

Is it that people won't be separated from their prejudices for anything?
 

Politesse

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I just got a ton of books, it being the gifting time of year. Planning to start working on:

Patricia Limerick's "Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West"
Kevin O'Neill's ""City of God: Christian Citizenship in Postwar Guatemala"
Michael Kearney's "Winds of Ixtepeji: Worldview and Society in a Zapotec Town"
Jacqueline Copeland-Carson's "Creating Africa in America: Translocal Identity in an Emerging World City:"​

Not sure in what order, perhaps they'll all just sit on my reading table for a while.


I had the day off due to Remembrance day and checked out my two favourite locals. At the hippie shop I pillaged a new collection of poetry they just acquired, picked up a book by Phil Hall, Kathryn Mockler, and Denise Levertov. At the learned man sipping Scotch shop I did my usual check of the Africa and Sociology sections - happily walked away with Africa in History by Basil Davidson, which I've been going through tonight.

Davidson laid the foundation for European historians to start telling the truth about African history. Too few answered the call, but I respect the hell out of him.

spikepipsqueak said:
Is it that people won't be separated from their prejudices for anything?

Aw man, you have no idea.
 

rousseau

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Davidson laid the foundation for European historians to start telling the truth about African history. Too few answered the call, but I respect the hell out of him

Yea I saw on Goodreads that you'd read that exact title. I wasn't too familiar with his place in scholarship on Africa, but had checked out some of his books before and knew he was a well respected historian on the subject. I now see a few reviews mentioning similar to what you're saying.

I'm looking forward to a complete African history in a single volume that's a bit more up to date. The only similar title I owned previously is 'Africa from Early Times to 1800' and 'Nineteenth Century Africa' by P.J.M MaCewan. They seem to have been stripped of bias but are both ancient.
 

Politesse

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Davidson laid the foundation for European historians to start telling the truth about African history. Too few answered the call, but I respect the hell out of him

Yea I saw on Goodreads that you'd read that exact title. I wasn't too familiar with his place in scholarship on Africa, but had checked out some of his books before and knew he was a well respected historian on the subject. I now see a few reviews mentioning similar to what you're saying.

I'm looking forward to a complete African history in a single volume that's a bit more up to date. The only similar title I owned previously is 'Africa from Early Times to 1800' and 'Nineteenth Century Africa' by P.J.M MaCewan. They seem to have been stripped of bias but are both ancient.

If you're ever in the mood for a televised version, Davidson produced an excellent documentary series as well, just titled "Africa". I am hopeful that the establishment of the new museum complex in Benin City will spur some academic interest and publication on West Africa once it opens.

Macro-scale histories of entire continents are not as popular as they once were!
 

rousseau

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Macro-scale histories of entire continents are not as popular as they once were!

I wouldn't have guessed, but this type of book is my forte - I've read many macro-histories over the past five or so years. Which reminds me, I still own Europe: A History by Norman Davies, which was actually one of the first history books I ever owned (but never really went through). I should give it a look.

I also own Asia: A Concise History in which the author prefaces - the concept of this book is a bad idea, that might be worth looking at too while my library access is unavailable.

I'm starting to enjoy re-visiting my own collection - I thought I'd read all the history I needed, but I find I'm picking up more detail, and even qualities of the books themselves, that I hadn't seen before. For example, going through some Scottish History by T.C. Smout and wondering why not a single mention of the printing press. Wouldn't have given that a second thought when I originally bought the book.

Anyway I'll have to track down that documentary, sounds like something I'd enjoy.
 

Szuchow

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Michał Rauszer Bastards of serfdom. History of Peasants Rebellions. Despite the title book is more about passive than active resistance and multitude of ways in which it was perpetrated.
 

ideologyhunter

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The Real Cool Killers (1958) by Chester Himes, a celebrated pulp crime novel collected in The Library of America's Crime Novels anthology. In chapter one, a wild-eyed drunk starts a bar fight with a springblade knife. He slashes the bartender, who retaliates with a fireman's axe and severs the man's knife-wielding arm below the elbow. The man is so drunk that he continues to make slashing motions with his half-arm, then sees what has happened and says, "Wait a minute, you big mother-raper, 'til Ah find my arm! It got my knife in his hand."
I can't imagine what comes next, but I'm on board.
Himes was an African-American novelist and grew up near my old hometown, in Cleveland.
 

prideandfall

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The Powder Mage trilogy and Blood of Empire trilogy (which is a follow up trilogy)
pretty decent mid-tier fantasy, mostly actiony breezy, as with a lot (most) fantasy it's at its best in the beginning where it's dealing with the ground-level human experience and world building and then sort of goes into a bit of a skid later on when all the gods and magic and blahblahblah starts to take over the story.
but if you like fantasy novels in general and especially stories that aren't a rehashed Hero's Journey cliche, you could do worse.

Gideon The Ninth
did you ever think to yourself "you know i really like the grimdark aesthetic and retro-future vibe of warhammer 40k with necromancers wielding swords in a giant galactic caste system based empire, but really wish that there could be a book written in that kind of world done by a 14 year old girl who just watched Community for the first time and is aping that dialogue style in everything she does"?
if you ever did, this book is for you. if you've never longed for a grimdark world where the lead character fires off witty rejoinders like "stick it up your butt", this is a muddled load of crap.
 

Mediancat

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Just finished a recently released draft version of Robert Heinlein's The Number of the Beast, given the name The Pursuit of the Pankera. About 2/5 of the books are nearly identical; the original draft has better plot resolution but spends about 110 pages in Burroughs' Barsoom and about 60 in E.E. Smith's Lensman series, with Heinlein writing everyone as though they were a Heinlein character. The Barsoom section is mostly the plot spinning its wheels while going nowhere, as well. Pankera has a better ending, but isn't actually as good overall.

Rob
 

spikepipsqueak

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In the middle of The Four Legged Lottery, Frank Hardy.

I've never actually read Power Without Glory, to my shame. I'll have to, now.
 

ideologyhunter

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Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece by Ashley Kahn. Just what it says. An intelligent account of Miles' 50s career, leading up to the sessions that created the five hypnotically captivating tracks that make up Kind of Blue. Almost anything/everything you'd want to know is here.
 

spikepipsqueak

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Reading Gravity, Tess Gerritsen.

Infinitely better than the bits of the film I've seen. The two don't seem to be more than superficially related.


Just finished The Awakening, Kate Chopin.

Madame Bovary set in the south of the US with more beautiful language and a character I can care about.
 

ideologyhunter

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All We Are Saying (2000) is an updated edition of The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which were taped around September, 1980. The interviewer was David Sheff. It's a good, fast read, with all of the sorrow that hindsight provides. One drawback: Sheff can't let go of the needless questions about a Beatles reunion; he bugs Lennon about that for a couple of pages, despite mentioning early in the book that a fan had yelled to John on the street, "When will you get back with the Beatles?" and John replied, "When are you going back to high school?" Major plus: Lennon's take on dozens of Beatles songs. Essential reading if you're into the Beatles or John/Yoko.
 

DrZoidberg

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I've embarked on the mammoth task of reading everything published of H. P. Lovecraft. It's hard to put my finger on why it is so good. Because he breaks all the rules. Lots of purple prose. He tells and doesn't show. He has questionable moral values (read The Street if you need convincing). There's zero uplifting feel good. It's all despair. His descriptions often make no sense. It's still amazing. Nobody can string together a sentence as masterfully as good ol' ultra racist H. P. L.
 

DrZoidberg

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I just had a realisation about the Cthulhu mythos. Lovecraft talking about atheism. Just like Nietzsche he was raised Christian, was scientificaly minded and saw how Christianity had lost its magic. Not only did he not believe, but it didn't inspire him anymore. The universe isn't guided by benevolence. Its out to get us. The Cthulhu mythos is his "For God is dead and we have killed him". Both Nietzsche and Lovecraft were atheists and hated it.

These were of course thoughts very much in the minds of people of that era. The intellectuals could see God and religion dying. Some rejoiced and could see the dawn of a new man. Some were mostly just terrified of what was about to come
 

WAB

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Othello

Holy Fuck whoever wrote that could write!

For a lover of poetry, it's like say you're a hetero guy and you get to have sex with Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Cheryl Ladd, Ginger and Mary Ann, all the moms on all the classic sitcoms, AND Salma Hayek, all at the same time, while having a manicure and a haircut, eating prime rib, and listening to your own personal symphony orchestra on a beach in the Caribbean, all at the same time.

:joy:
 

rousseau

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An interesting one I'm reading right now - A History of China by Wolfram Eberhard. It's a complete history of China that I picked up at one of our locals a number of months ago. Originally published in 1950, and apparently considered an important work.

It's interesting seeing such a long history stuffed into a small volume, also interesting given the published date. At the moment I've been skipping through and reading the cultural / social oriented sections.
 

DBT

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The Eerie Silence - Paul Davies.

A good summary of the question: Are We Alone in the Universe?
 

rousseau

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Pinker "The Better Angels of our Nature Why Violence has Declined", again. Nothing like an apparent exception to the rule to force reconsideration of drivers to social direction of behavior.

I own and enjoyed The Blank Slate, but have hesitated to read the above. Does it boil down to much more than 'we've leveraged massive amounts of energy to create lawful, organized, abundant societies'?
 

rousseau

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I've been flipping through The Moral Animal by Robert Wright lately, which is a book on evolutionary psychology published in 1994. I read a digital version a few years ago, and found a hard copy recently to add to my collection. It's a surprisingly enjoyable read. Lately I'm finding myself drawn back to the precision of the natural sciences, and am taking another look at old ideas through a new perspective.
 

James Brown

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Pinker "The Better Angels of our Nature Why Violence has Declined", again. Nothing like an apparent exception to the rule to force reconsideration of drivers to social direction of behavior.

I own and enjoyed The Blank Slate, but have hesitated to read the above. Does it boil down to much more than 'we've leveraged massive amounts of energy to create lawful, organized, abundant societies'?

It's a bit more than that. Pinker ties in elements you've never thought of to explain why violence has declined. Such as the rising popularity of fiction, and why it's considered bad manners to eat peas with a knife.

As you would expect, he has to spend a lot of pages explaining why his thesis stands in the face of the 20th-century atrocities.
 

ideologyhunter

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For holiday reading, Otto Rothert's The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock, a reprint of a 1924 history of the highwaymen of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, at the end of the 18th and start of the 19th centuries. A good (and grisly) retelling of the saga of the Harpe brothers, who were perhaps America's first serial killers. They roamed through KY, TN, and MS, with three debauched women, killing and robbing -- sometimes just killing. They were apparently possessed of a real blood lust, because their victims included infants and children. (Their first arrest -- of several -- was Christmas Day, 1798!) Noel.
 

ideologyhunter

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I'm now in the middle of Etta James' autobiography, Rage to Survive, a salty, downhome memoir. Tons of stories of early r&b show biz tours, including a lot about her tours of the Jim Crow South. In one episode, she uses the white restroom at a Texas gas station, and the owner confronts her in a cold fury. Etta says, "Fuck you," to him, and he pulls out a pistol. No spoilers here -- you'll have to read pg. 59 of the book to find out how it ended.
 
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Wiploc

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Some people -- in this thread, I'm thinking -- have been recommending The Expanse, so I'm listening to the audio book.

Thank you for recommending it. It's beautiful.
 

spikepipsqueak

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I happened on the 6th one in the library and read it out of order - and that was a bad idea, but having just finished the first, I agree.
 

rousseau

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The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. An American psychologist ca 1900 discusses religion in a series of lectures made at the University of Edinburgh. I'm enjoying it mainly because of the period it came from - the early twentieth century was an interesting time for science.
 

Toni

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Lovely writing and good story.

Also reading The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante with such a different voice but one that is entirely hers. I recognize this voice inside me.
 

DBT

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Reading pulp fiction, John D MacDonald's Travis McGee series. The author certainly had an interesting perspective on life.
 

rousseau

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For something a little different I tracked down Discovering the Universe by Comins this week. It's an introductory, undergraduate text on all things space. I've been looking for something more advanced than popular books, and it's a little lighter than I was aiming for, but it might be about the best I can do for a a broad overview.

I was looking for comprehensiveness and depth, but it only has a touch of the latter. I bought the ninth, rather than the most recent, edition as it was a lot cheaper.
 

Tharmas

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I just finished Prime Green, a memoir of the sixties by the late novelist Robert Stone (Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers, etc.). I thought it was rather flat, considering the material he had to work with. For instance, he hung with Baba Ram Das, Timothy Leary, Paul Newman and Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. He actually became good friends with Kesey, and spent a lot of time with the Keseys, including when Kesey was on the lamb in Mexico, but he doesn’t seem to want to communicate anything about who Kesey really was – personality, sense of humor, or not, philosophy, whatever.

He doesn’t try to describe what it’s like taking psychedelic drugs, for which I commend him, as that would be almost certainly a disaster. I didn’t find his remarks on writing to be particularly compelling. The most notable writing in the book was a description, accompanied by many mea culpas and expressions of guilt, of doing NO2, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), sucking it from condom balloons, with children among others. I identified with that passage because I remember, from the 60s and 70s, a lot of drugs being done around children, and I feel similar guilt for my part in that.

Of course my parents thought it was sophisticated to give their kids wine (albeit mixed with water) with dinner.

Anyway, next up is something local, the Pulitzer Prize winning Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne. It’s about the Comanches and the war with them in the U.S. southern plains. It focuses on Quanah Parker, the half-white warrior chief.
 

WAB

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I've just read a very small play called The Stronger, by Strindberg. Two characters, both women. One married, one unmarried. One of the characters does not utter a single syllable. Not one tittle, not one jot.

It is a good piece of work, and I'd love to see it performed.

SPOILER ALERT just below...













watch out...















tread carefully now...











there you are, madam...
















very well sir, we're almost there...












Oh yeah, the hide thingy!



Good points made about the importance of listening to the person one is having a discussion with, oral or verbal.

 

Tharmas

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I've just read a very small play called The Stronger, by Strindberg. Two characters, both women. One married, one unmarried. One of the characters does not utter a single syllable. Not one tittle, not one jot.

It is a good piece of work, and I'd love to see it performed.

Your description reminds me of Bergman's 1966 movie  Persona_(1966_film).
 

ideologyhunter

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The True Gen by Denis Brian (1988)
I've read tons about the major players of the Lost Generation, but this may be my favorite book on the period. It's an oral biography of Ernest Hemingway, consisting of hundreds of comments and memories by Papa's friends, enemies, family members, and people who knew him only briefly (including the doctor who treated him in his last horrible days.) Brian talked to nearly everyone who knew Hemingway and who was still alive in the 1970s and 80s. Whatever you think of Hemingway's work (which in my mind runs from the brilliant Sun Also Rises and the peerless short stories to the spottier stuff that started to predominate in the mid-30s), he was one hellacious character with contradictory qualities. Brian starts with the thesis that Hemingway was good at projecting a persona, and that by digging into the details with those who knew him, we can at least appreciate the complexity of the man and his life. One more thing I like about the book: behind Hemingway's ruddy energy and the need to be the ultimate man, there was a vein of humor, often sly and sarcastic. Even those who fell afoul of Hem's bad temper or ill use could look back on him with a laugh. He was an astounding person to be around. (The four wives especially were in for the adventure of their lives.)
 

rousseau

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Counterpanes by Gaston Miron. Miron was the most well known Quebecois poet, and in his day was a defender of French-Canadian language and culture. When I was in Montreal in 2016 a bookshop owner pointed me to L'Homme rapaillé, which is his most famous work. Despite my grand aspirations I soon discovered that you just can't grasp French poetry unless you're fluent in French. But recently I learned that Counterpanes offers English translations, so I picked it up.

I was also sent a modern, involved Astrobiology textbook by one of my younger cousins this week. The text looks phenomenal, but at this point I'm buried under so many books it might be a while before I give it a serious look.
 

rousseau

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My copy of Waiting for the Angel: A Biography finally showed up from across the Atlantic, it looks like I had ordered it on Dec. 14th. It covers the life of George Seferis who won the Nobel for literature in 1963. I'm fully expecting it to be a fascinating book, I've seen nothing but great reviews and Seferis was one of a kind. This one will actually be getting my attention for a while.
 

ideologyhunter

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A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway's memoir of being a young husband and father and finding his voice as a writer is set in 1920s Paris and contains some of his most evocative writing. This is my third time through the book. It was one of the last manuscripts that he left in complete (or nearly complete) form, and we are lucky to have it. There are some harsh notes in it -- he hated Zelda Fitzgerald, and she hated him. In Hemingway's view, Zelda resented Scott's early success and sabotaged his work habits. I had forgotten the title he gave to his chapter about Zelda: Hawks Do Not Share.
Highly recommended; every Hemingway buff needs to read it. If you're interested in the 1920s scene in art, literature, and sport, you should read it.
 

Keith&Co.

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A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway's memoir of being a young husband and father and finding his voice as a writer is set in 1920s Paris and contains some of his most evocative writing. This is my third time through the book. It was one of the last manuscripts that he left in complete (or nearly complete) form, and we are lucky to have it. There are some harsh notes in it -- he hated Zelda Fitzgerald, and she hated him. In Hemingway's view, Zelda resented Scott's early success and sabotaged his work habits. I had forgotten the title he gave to his chapter about Zelda: Hawks Do Not Share.
Highly recommended; every Hemingway buff needs to read it. If you're interested in the 1920s scene in art, literature, and sport, you should read it.

I know someone who considers himself a writer. One book to his credit, twenty years effort.
He read Moveable Feast and all he got out of it was, 'Geez, what a lot of nane-dropping.'
 

ideologyhunter

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A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway's memoir of being a young husband and father and finding his voice as a writer is set in 1920s Paris and contains some of his most evocative writing. This is my third time through the book. It was one of the last manuscripts that he left in complete (or nearly complete) form, and we are lucky to have it. There are some harsh notes in it -- he hated Zelda Fitzgerald, and she hated him. In Hemingway's view, Zelda resented Scott's early success and sabotaged his work habits. I had forgotten the title he gave to his chapter about Zelda: Hawks Do Not Share.
Highly recommended; every Hemingway buff needs to read it. If you're interested in the 1920s scene in art, literature, and sport, you should read it.

I know someone who considers himself a writer. One book to his credit, twenty years effort.
He read Moveable Feast and all he got out of it was, 'Geez, what a lot of nane-dropping.'

I would say he missed the dominant tone of the work, which is Hemingway's aching regret that he left his first wife, the sweetest and most unassuming of his four wives. Hemingway is clearly trying to relive the fresh, youthful experience of sharing the wonder of his emerging powers as a writer who had a new voice with a sympathetic mate, whom he would ditch in a callous manner.
In Paris, in the 20s, Hemingway knew all the key expatriot writers, and he left us sharp impressions of a good half dozen of them, plus glimpses of painters and society figures. I can't sympathize with a reader who sees that as name-dropping, which implies shallowness and ego-stroking. It was one of the most significant cultural scenes of the century, and Hemingway captures a lot of it with his own witty slant. Anyway, there's no accounting for taste. Feast came out in '64, I believe, and has stood the test of time.
 

ideologyhunter

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The Rainbow Book of American History (1955) by Earl Schenck Miers, ill. by James Daugherty
This was my favorite book when I was about 8, 9, or 10, and I bought a nice copy when I was in my thirties. Reading it now before sending it off to my second cousin's kids. The text is good, if starchy in places, but the Daugherty illustrations in pencil and chalk, full of rippling motion and musculature, make the book a classic. Each time I look at one of his illustrations, it's a picture I knew and loved as a kid. I've discovered from on-line searches that this book is now back in paperback, and is popular with the home school crowd as a basic U.S. history. But anyone who is curious about this book -- or better yet, remembers it and seeks a reunion, should find it in the out-of-print market in its original hardcover version from World Publishing Co. (Full disclaimer: I have two copies, one being the updated edition from 1968, and my copy of that edition will stay on my shelf.)
 

rousseau

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And also I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who followed Advaita Hinduism. Very good, if not a bit repetitive.

I got about 60 pages into this one then realized I needed to start it again and slow down. It is repetitive since the central idea isn't very complicated, but if there was a secular religion to pay attention to Advaita is the one. Throughout the book you get different angles and phrasings on Advaita, and tons of great insight. But it's very easy to glaze over it and miss the central points.

The book can be found online here

So slowly picking away at it. Every few nights I read another section or two, and I'm just about back at my old bookmark!
 

rousseau

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My copy of Waiting for the Angel: A Biography finally showed up from across the Atlantic, it looks like I had ordered it on Dec. 14th. It covers the life of George Seferis who won the Nobel for literature in 1963. I'm fully expecting it to be a fascinating book, I've seen nothing but great reviews and Seferis was one of a kind. This one will actually be getting my attention for a while.

This book has turned out to be a bit of a let down. Very detailed, but it's too detailed on less important parts of Seferis' life, and not detailed enough on the stuff I'm actually interested in (mainly his writing). It seems like the author used Seferis' diary, and outlined a near exact, year by year account of his life. It's the best I can do to understand the guy, but it's a bit of a slog to get through.

And now I'm waiting on a second biography of Leonard Cohen titled Various Positions to arrive in the mail. Apparently it's author unearthed a lot of interesting detail that wasn't found in the biography I read last year. Stuff that Cohen wasn't happy about being revealed, and I imagine I won't find it too surprising, but I'm interested in taking a look.
 

Politesse

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I've just picked up two new books that I'm pretty excited about. The Silva and Browne's "A Most Interesting Problem: What Darwin's Descent of Man Got Right and Wrong About Human Evolution".Edited by a professional acquaintance, but that isn't a downside in this case, as I am never not up for a bit of Darwinia and I was too young to have a properly critical view of Darwinism when I first encountered it. We need more sensible but unashamed critiques of race theory in the public eye, so I hope the book does well. And it seems from initial reports that it is doing well. The other new one is Michael Hunter's "The Decline of Magic: Britain in the Enlightenment". So I guess I'm having a little unofficial Philosophy of Science Month!
 
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Tharmas

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I'm reading Nomadland, Jessica Bruder's journalistic study of American middle class migrant workers. I watched the movie on Hulu but haven't reviewed it in the movie thread. The movie actually ended up romanticizing the subject in an odd way, so I got interested in reading the book to find out the actual details of these people's lives.
 

rousseau

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And now I'm waiting on a second biography of Leonard Cohen titled Various Positions to arrive in the mail. Apparently it's author unearthed a lot of interesting detail that wasn't found in the biography I read last year. Stuff that Cohen wasn't happy about being revealed, and I imagine I won't find it too surprising, but I'm interested in taking a look.

This arrived a few days ago and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I was surprised as some of it's reviews weren't great, but after taking a look I disagree with many of them. In counter to I'm Your Man it's much shorter, and more of a character piece than a biography. It seems like the author (Ira Nadel) had a better sense of revealing who Cohen was as an artist and man. Where Simmons' version had enormous detail but kind of skimmed over the surface of his life.

The two books actually complement each other quite well. I wonder if Simmons' approach had anything to do with what Nadel had already done.
 
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