What are you reading?

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by Emma, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. Kingster

    Kingster Well-Known Member

    Just finished Son of Hamas, autobiography of the son of one of the seven founders of the terrorist group that originated on the West Bank. Whew! That's an interesting one. I'm now reading Looming Tower, which traces the roots of the 911 al-Qaeda going back to the 1930s; Pulitizer Prize winner, and deserving of it. I would recommend to every American to read this book.

    Also, I am re-reading Dune. I read it in my teens/early 20s, and am finding it better now than then. I'm planning to read the entire series (I never did in my early years).
  2. pdxKingsFan

    pdxKingsFan Well-Known Member

    I finished The Alchemist, which a friend had started reading to me in October. I started over a few weeks ago and worked on it a few nights a week. I am not a huge reader but am trying to read more during a little sabbatical I am taking. I've had a ton of life changes in the past year and I guess I'm trying to open my mind a bit. The Alchemist wasn't a real fun/easy read for me but I think it was a bit thought provoking given everything I've had going on.

    I think I am going to re-read Hunter S. Thompson's book on the Hell's Angels this week. I got through that one in a few days but it was probably close to 20 years ago.

    Would like to read some books on music or arts. Maybe in the vein of Please Kill Me, which is another book I found easy reading and got through in a few days. If anyone has thoughts I'd appreciate them.
  3. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    Just finished "Last Call, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" by Daniel Okrent - interesting book on a topic I knew little about. A bit long /slow about 2/3 of the way through for a bit, but otherwise a well-documented and enjoyable read about, well, prohibition.
  4. jalfa

    jalfa Well-Known Member

    eight books deep into Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen and still quite a few to go. immensely captivating and his ruthlessness makes A Song of Ice and Fire look like child's play at times (a tad hyperbolic here, but still). if you are into Fantasy Epics and have...let's say...half a year or so to spare, there's little else I could recommend more.
  5. Uncia03

    Uncia03 Well-Known Member

    I doubt I could like this post any more than I do right now.

    I have a policy now to only start reading a series once it's completed. There is too much to read to have re-read a few books every half decade while keeping up with a longer series.
    As to Erikson's Malazan I wasn't following this practice and the last book I read was the 8th. (Toll the Hounds) (Phenomenal book by the way, the last few hundred pages are outstanding)

    The series is now complete so I'll be starting from Book one sometime later this year. I've been told that the story concludes satisfactorily, so I doubt I'll change my tune on what I'm about to say next.

    At the moment, I'd say this is 1A or 1B as the best epic fantasy series of all time.
    It's absolutely incredible. It's characters are utterly fascinating, the plot incredibly complex, the intrigue and mystery unrivaled.
    If you love the intricacies between Gods and Gods, and Gods and Man, and Man trying to survive the scheming of the Gods, and the pursuit of Man to attain Godhood, and the folly of both Gods and Man, then you'll find this series riveting.
    In this story there are no little man, even the very ordinary possess strength of spirit, heart, and courage to rival the greater powers that are encountered.

    A couple of warnings.
    This is a dark series. People die, dreams are crushed, and sometimes in the most callous of manner a single whim brutally ends a monumental effort to survive.
    If you're someone who constantly is rooting for the underdog to win and hate it if even once the underdog fails, then this series isn't for you. This story can be quite brutal and ruthless.

    This series is incredibly complex and it's not a series that you can read off and on again between TV shows or dinner and think that you'll be able to comprehend what's going on. The series requires serious time and devotion, and in return it represents what I consider the current apex of epic fantasy literature. With that said, this series is also not remotely boring. I find Tolkien a bit boring and tedious (Yes, yes, I know he started it all so I'll give him his due, don't worry, but there is a reason why no author decided to steal his hobbits...because hobbits are sad little creatures), along with other series such as Williams' Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn (Loved Otherlands though) or J.V. Jones Book of Words.
    This story is not in the least boring and is well worth the investment made to read it.

    And the biggest word of warning I can give is this: This series is high level reading. And it's high level reading for the reasons I'll outline below.

    1.) First the entire 10 book series is a giant jig-saw puzzle. As you read, Erikson will reveal a puzzle piece and it will be up to you, as the reader, to understand how that piece fits into the overall story being woven. He does not hold your hand and guide you through things, explaining every little detail on how the world works or what is happening, which authors do too often these days. He'll have a conversation or event happen between two characters/factions and though you'll understand the words or actions, and acknowledge that something important is being said/done, their meaning won't be entirely clear. Then perhaps 300 pages later or in the next book, or in a few later books, suddenly he'll add some context and you'll have this 'light bulb moment' which will bring that event, that you knew was important, into a whole new light. It's the only series where I literally had all of the previous books in front of me so I could re-read conversations or revisit actions made because finally enough context was given to make those actions relevant.

    2.) The story is not linear. The first book takes place at a certain period of time. Then the next book later, though it reveals some odd things. Then another book starts a millennia prior and ties elements to certain aspects taking place during the 'current' period. Then another book will be at a point where you think it's current time, but it is in reality prior to the first book, until certain elements finally reach the 'current' timeline. So all the characters are interwoven into the picture, but not necessarily all in the same timeline. This can be a bit confusing to readers who are used to 1-2-3 straight-line stories. For instance there is something that you see in the 2nd book, that is just strange and weird and just 'out there'. Then in the 5th book you're following a completely different set of characters and as they progress you see the actions which conclude in what was seen in the 2nd book, and of course if you've been paying attention, it all makes sense.

    3.) Because the story is not linear, the first book just plops you right into the middle of the action and it's up to you to play catch-up and figure out what is going on, who is who, and why people are doing the things they are doing. For readers who like a story starting off with a young boy and follow that boy getting thrust into a situation until a hero emerges, this is not how this series works. You might run into a player who was at the peak of their power a 1000 years ago and might be there to witness their fall, or watch as two factions clash again in a useless struggle to achieve supremacy.

    A good example would be if Lucas had The Empire Strikes Back as the very first movie. And then he filled in details by having a 20 minute movie through the eyes of Grand Moff Tarkin who was commander of the 1st Death Star, so through his eyes you'd see how things played out in regards to the destruction of Alderaan, the death of Obi Wan, ect. And even though he is dead by the time the Empire Strikes Back takes place, you'd know what essentially what happened in the previous movie.


    4.) There are a lot of players and factions. Unlike some series where you might have a 1-2 protagonist factions and 1-2 antagonist factions and maybe a neutral faction, this story is incredibly complex. Much of the time you don't have any idea of the motives of half of the players/factions and to assign words such as antagonist or protagonist is usually useless. And there are so many different characters and factions, some with agendas, and some just trying to survive that it can get very complicated.

    5.) Finally, it's a ten book series, and each book continues to get bigger. The last 3 books are all over 1100 pages long. (Mass Market Paperback) So it's a huge story.

    So, anyway, if what I've just outlined intrigues you and you enjoy the fantasy authors (listed in alphabetical order to avoid bias, though I've enjoyed at least one work from each of these authors) such as Bertin, Brooks, Butcher, Clemens, Coe, Eddings, Farland, Feist, Friedman, Goodkind, Jordan, Martin, McCaffrey, Modesitt, Rawn, Rowley, Sanderson, Stackpole, Weeks, & Weis, then this series should sit sit at pretty much the top of all of these other author's works.

    A final word. If you ever read Glen Cook's the Black Company series (and I don't really advise that you do), but if you have ever read it, one of Erikson's primary factions is a company of warriors, so there are some parallels between Cooks Black Company and Erikson's Bridgeburners. So if you even remotely enjoyed Cook, then you'll love Erikson, as Cooks the Black Company I'd rate around a 5.5 out of 10 with Erikson being a 10 out of 10.

    For all of you who end up reading this series, all I can say is Enjoy the Ride!
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  6. Uncia03

    Uncia03 Well-Known Member

    As to what I'm personally reading, I just finished Piers Anthony's Mode series.
    I had read the first 2 books about 20 years ago and found the last 2 in a used book store and decided to finish the series.
    It was absolute garbage and I shouldn't have wasted my time.
    Especially since I gagged my way through his Adept series not more than a year ago. But as I mentioned I only read a series once I've collected all the books, so I got all those books and was determined to finish the series, despite how awful the first book was. *mutter*

    So my next book will be WarBreaker by Sanderson (which I finally found a used copy of a couple of weeks ago at the library for a quarter). I'll be reading this book to wash the bad taste of Anthony's series out of my mouth. Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy was phenomenal and I heard he did a great job to complete Jordan's Wheel of Time. His stand-alone Elantris wasn't very good, but it wasn't horrible, so I'm expecting a bit better out of Warbreaker, though I don't expect it to rival Mistborn.

    Once I finish with WarBreaker, which is a stand alone book, then I'm going to either start book 1 of the Wheel of Time to complete that series or Book 1 of Malazan to complete that series.

    I started Wheel of Time back in 1995 and have read the first 6 books at least 3 times, but I haven't read the last 3 books while waiting for Sanderson to finish it. Now that it's done, I can finally finish it, but to properly enjoy it I want to start from the beginning and read all the way through.

    If I don't start Eye of the World, then I'll start Gardens of the Moon(1st book) and then read all ten books to complete Erickson's Malazan series first. Regardless, I'm planning on reading both series back to back, and that should take up quite a bit of time.

    At that point I'll probably have to switch to something sci-fi and pulpy. Perhaps Kent's Clone series or Green's Drood series which I understand to be fairly light reading. Then I might tackle Hamilton's Void series for a bit more heavy sci-fi action or the Foundations 2nd trilogy written by Benford, Bear, & Brin which I finally picked up the last book I was missing.

    So much to read, and college basketball scouting, and NBA basketball watching really interferes with my ability to devour the large quantities of literature that I'd like to.

    As my wife's friend likes to say, "These are terrible 1st world problems to have."
  7. jalfa

    jalfa Well-Known Member

    well, great, now I feel shabby for spending so little effort on recommending the series :p but yeah, cosigned to everything you just said, especially the warnings about complexity and brutality. when they start using corpses as building material during the siege of Capustan, it does make you feel a little queasy at times. in fairness, that whole book ended up making me feel queasy. the only thing I might want to add to your fairly exhaustive description is that one of the things I've enjoyed the most about these books so far, is the way Erikson subverts genre conventions, stereotypes, and even gender roles. well, that and the way he allows his characters to grow. the story of Karsa Orlong is a great example of that, for instance.

    edit: just stole your post to get a friend of mine to read the series, hope you don't mind ;)
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  8. pdxKingsFan

    pdxKingsFan Well-Known Member

    I started Our Band Could Be Your Life over Christmas but haven't finished it. Also grabbed the Hell's Angels book and put it aside. Not doing a very good job on my commitment to read more. :(
  9. Uncia03

    Uncia03 Well-Known Member

    I hope your friend enjoys the series.

    I just finished Sanderson's Warbreaker.
    After reading the Mode Quartet by Anthony (garbage), this was just the book I needed to enjoy fantasy literature again.
    For those of you who enjoy Fantasy literature trilogy's, Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy is one of the best ones out there.

    Warbreaker is a stand-alone book, and it turned out to be an excellent one. His other stand-alone, Elantris, wasn't very good.

    Warbreaker was much, much better, and it would definitely be a book I'd recommend to someone who just wanted a single stand-alone fantasy book to read, to see if it was a genre that they might like.
    By and large, the fantasy genre isn't full of great stand-alone fantasy novels. Most fantasy authors seem to be unable to limit themselves to a single book when they have a great concept or great characters. After just finishing it, Warbreaker is going to be one of my top stand-alone fantasy recommendations going forward.

    Other recommended fantasy stand-alone's would be: Stackpole's Talion: Revenant, Stackpoles's Once a Hero, and Piers Anthony's Killobyte (Only Anthony book I've really enjoyed)

    I've decided I'm going to begin reading Erickson's Malazan series, mostly because I saw Jalfa's post. My initial plan was to read all the Wheel of Time books first, then followed by Malazan, but writing the review here made me want to read Malazan first, so that's what I'm going to do.

    So up next: Garden's of the Moon (Which, while great, is oddly and debatably the worst of the Malazan books, just like Eye of the World is debatably the worst of Jordan's Wheel of Time. (The last hundred pages or so of Eye of the World is really rushed and hectic...which is very counter to the rest of the 14,000+ pages of the story)
  10. arwen undomiel

    arwen undomiel Active Member Contributor

    Zodiac: Unmasked by Robert Graysmith. I watched the film based on the book, and it rekindled my interest in the Zodiac murders. I was only 7-8 years old when some of these murders occurred here in Solano County and nearby Lake Berryessa. My father was with the California Highway Patrol, and I remember him being on edge over these incidents.
  11. Prophetess

    Prophetess Gallifrayain

    I'm currently reading Neil Gaiman's Stardust. I recently finished Mercedes Lackey's Home From the Sea, apparently the 8th book in her elemental mage series. It did not matter that I hadn't read the other 7, it was a stand alone story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also just finished Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, a love story but not your typical love story and well written. Yes, I'm playing catch up on my fun reading,!
  12. Padrino

    Padrino Well-Known Member

    currently reading matthew zoller seitz's The Wes Anderson Collection, which is a wonderfully in-depth exploration of anderson's filmography from Bottle Rocket to Moonrise Kingdom. i'm not normally one for "coffee table" reading, but it's an absolute joy for me to traverse the idiosyncrasies of one of my favorite american filmmakers...
  13. Kingster

    Kingster Well-Known Member

    Wow. You got my attention. It's definitely on my list. Thanks for the tip.
  14. Turgenev

    Turgenev Active Member

    Refusing heaven by jack Gilbert. And damballah by john Edgar wideman.
  15. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    Read through Blue Labyrinth in one day - another Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child book based on Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. The setup was good and the story interesting, however I just don't think they executed it quite as well as some others. I enjoyed it overall, and still one of those books you just can't put down easily.
  16. Telemachus

    Telemachus Well-Known Member

    Is that their latest? I have read the whole series so far.

    Right now, I am in the process of reading The Game of Thrones series.
  17. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    Yep, I think it is. I've been so busy at work over the past few months I haven't even gone on Amazon to see if some of the authors I read have more recent stuff out!
  18. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    Currently reading a very interesting "The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story" by Douglas Preston - the story of a previously undiscovered ancient city in the Honduran jungle hinted at by legend but initially verified using LIDAR technology and then "ground-truthed" by an expedition that included the author. Fascinating stuff.
  19. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    You do realize that the series is now about 20 books deep, don't you?

    Edit: That includes the following: six original books by Frank Herbert (which I am assuming you are referring to) and thirteen by Brian Herbert (his son) and Kevin J. Anderson. I've got/read them all. The 20 was a guess, looks like 19 at this point and I am sure more are coming!
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  20. Kingster

    Kingster Well-Known Member

    Holy Moly! I had no idea. I don't think I like it well enough to embark on that journey!
  21. Kingster

    Kingster Well-Known Member

    Books that I am reading:

    Plato's The Republic (2nd reading) and Allan Bloom's essay on it in his translation. I have to put this work as the best non-fiction book I've ever read. The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker I rank second. If you're looking to go deep, deep, into the problems of human existence, I can't think of any works better, other than The Bible, which comes at those problems from the direction of faith and revelation as compared to reason (and the two are not mutually exclusive in my view).

    The Tempest, Shakespeare
    Lord of the Rings, part 1 - the idea of the golden ring was taken from Plato's myth of Gyges in the Republic.
    John Adams, by McCullough

    Other books I've completed over the past three months:

    All the Pretty Horses - loved it. A sixteen year old's journey into Mexico in 1949 and his journey into manhood.
    The White Tiger, by Adiga - dark comedy concerning an Indian peasant and his solution for breaking out of his "cultural prison." Very well written and entertaining.
    Tarzan of the Apes, by Burroughs. Entertaining read and a good book to give to youngins to feed their desire to read.
    Hamlet, Shakespeare (a second reading).
    Macbeth, " -- I haven't read Shakespeare since I was sixteen years old. But after reading Hamlet a couple of times I've got the bug in me.
  22. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    Yeah, I enjoy them. :D

    The ones NOT written by Frank are easier to read and not nearly as "in-depth" as the original 6. So if that helps, maybe it would encourage you to try them. I originally read them (non-Frank) in the order published, but if you were to tackle them at this point I would say use the order in the Dune timeline, found here (from wiki, excluding short stories):

    The Butlerian Jihad

    The Machine Crusade

    The Battle of Corrin

    Sisterhood of Dune

    Mentats of Dune

    Navigators of Dune

    House Atreides

    House Harkonnen

    House Corrino

    Paul of Dune(Parts II, IV, VI)

    The Winds of Dune(Part II)

    Dune

    Paul of Dune(Parts I, III, V, VII)

    The Winds of Dune(Part IV)

    Dune Messiah

    The Winds of Dune(Parts I, III, V)

    Children of Dune

    God Emperor of Dune

    Heretics of Dune

    Chapterhouse: Dune

    Hunters of Dune

    Sandworms of Dune

    At some point I will likely tackle them in order, re-reading the original 6 as well since it has been a long time.

    I did the same thing with Tom Clancy - I had read a couple of his books (20+ years ago) but when I found out that they were all a series, I went back and started from the beginning. ;)
  23. HndsmCelt

    HndsmCelt Well-Known Member

    I am current with the books, just waiting for Martin to get the next one done!
  24. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor

    I disagree with Warhawk to some extent. I actually think the original six by Frank Herbert present the real Dune. Read them and you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to expand to the others. :)
  25. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    Since the original post was from 2013, I kinda assumed that any reading of the original 6 would have been done by now!

    Edit: And I agree that the original 6 are most important to read, the others are just embellishments to the universe.
  26. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor

    Hey, it's not my fault you bumped a thread to respond to a 4-year old post. :p I'm old, remember. I can't be expected to see all that itsy-tiny fine print, like post dates.
  27. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor

    There's a 42-page "sample" of "The Operator (by Robert O'Neill) on Nook right now. I devoured it last night and just ordered the complete book.
  28. Warhawk

    Warhawk The cake is a lie. Staff Member Contributor

    Acutally, I bumped the two year old thread to add to it, then responded to a four year old post. ;)
  29. VF21

    VF21 #KingsFansForever Staff Member Contributor

    Oh, okay. Never mind... ;)
  30. Wren

    Wren New Member

    I had insomnia and went dredging through my past, just to find one of my old threads on my fav old forum resurrected. Holy wow. Hi people :)

    <------- Emma four years later
    What an odd tide of time I am on.

    In the spirit of the thread, "Paddle Your Own Canoe..." by Nick Offerman. Funny book. Self indulgant, but still funny.
    VF21 likes this.

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