What are you reading (non-SF)? (2015-16)

Discussion in 'Other Literature' started by Boreas, May 2, 2015.

  1. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    What are you reading besides science fiction? Anything from other genres such as fantasy & horror, historical, crime and thriller fiction to more mainstream, literary fiction and also non-fiction.
     
  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I have just started on The Straight Razor Cure, the first instalment in Daniel Polansky's Low Town trilogy.
     
  3. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Finished The Straight Razor Cure. Still on Banks' Consider Phlebas and have also started the first of Carol Berg's Rai Kirath trilogy, Transformation.
     
  4. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Now started the second instalment of Daniel Polansky's Low Town trilogy, Tomorrow, the Killing.
     
  5. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Reading the wonderful and fantastic Shattered Sea books by Joe Abercrombie. Eagerly waiting for the final book in the series to be released in the next few weeks ..
     
  6. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    I've read a couple of good Horror books recently.
    The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates and
    The Litter by Kevin R. Doyle

    I'd recommend both to anyone who likes reading about scary things lurking in dark places.
     
  7. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I had wanted to reassess Jane Austen this year (having read 5 of her novels when I was 18-19). I was mostly ambivalent towards her works except for Pride and Prejudice, which was the first work of hers I read and really liked, and I kept reading more of her works hoping for the same kind of delight I felt with P&P, but it was not really to be. The one work I positively disliked was Emma. At someone's instigation over at BFB, I decided to re-read Austen and finished Sense and Sensibility earlier this year. I have now started a re-read of Pride and Prejudice and think I will like it as much as I did the first time around.
     
  8. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    I've been amusing myself with sequels to Oliver Twist, mostly about The Artful Dodger. There seems to have been an explosion of them since 2010. Some are really good!
     
  9. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Oliver Twist sequels? First I'm hearing of this. It was never my favourite Dickens in any case.
     
  10. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    The books about the Artful Dodger range from some authors trying to imitate Dickens to more original styles, which I think work out best. Some take him on his exile to Australia, one not very good one takes him to America, and most have him returning to England. The best one, IMO, was Jack Dawkins by Charlton Daines. I liked his portrayal of the character and that he allowed for amturity to have an effect on his outlook. Next best of those I think was Dodger by James Benmore, but he exceeds believability a couple of times.

    Another very good Dickens related book was Havisham by Ronald Frame. It gives a backgrouns story for what made Miss Havisham from Great Expectations how she was. There's also one about Magwitch but I haven't read it yet.
     
  11. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Interesting. All these sequels have been coming out in recent years? I'd heard of different takes of Jane Austen's novels in recent times, some with very silly titles, but nothing about these Dickens sequels. Besides rereading Jane Austen, one of the authors I want to explore is Elizabeth Gaskell. I've heard she manages to find a good balance between social interactions and satire of the country gentry in Austen's works, and the gloomy severity and industrial critique of Dickens. Have you read any Gaskell? I was thinking of starting with her most well known work, North and South.
     
  12. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    I tried reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and found it terminally slow. Maybe you'll think differently though. A lot of people love it.

    Yes, 2010 seems to have been the beginning of a deluge of Dickens sequels. A couple of them got silly, shoehorning other Dickens characters in and Dickens himself in ways that didn't really work. Mostly I think they were serious efforts though. Not like Pride and prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

    I highly recommend both the Daines and the Frame books. Both authors know their Victorian settings well.
     
  13. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Finished my reread of Pride and Prejudice. I'm beginning to appreciate Austen's depiction of her heroines much more this time around. Whilst the romance element is part of the book's appeal on one level, the steady progression of the heroine's realisation of her faults (which, like with Darcy, actually stems from pride rather than the misleading 'prejudice' of the title - prejudice is the consequence of such pride) and their correction through the utility of her excellent hindsight is the true strength of novel. P&P is definitely the most sparkly of Austen's novels I've read: the most humorous of her satires, and with quite a bit of action giving it a rather brisker pace than Sense & Sensibility. Next Austen on my list (after a break) will be Northanger Abbey, one I've not read before.
     
  14. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    I must read that one one of these days. I have a few Classics to catch up with.
     
  15. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Do read it soon if you can. Besides all the commentary and satire of the period's various social norms and interactions, it's ultimately feels like her most fun book. Eliza is my favourite heroine Austen's come up with so far, full of easy wit and playfulness that gives her such charm. Although this same wit and playful nature ends up working against her in many cases. The novel definitely contains a lot of choice lines.
     
  16. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    I've just picked up a new release that is technically a Mystery, but it's circus themed which makes it rather fun. It's called A Spark of Justice and is about a lion tamer who got killed by a tiger, but whether someone set up the tiger with an electrical spark to agitate him is in question. Loads of dodgy characters in this one who become suspects, including a scary clown.
     
  17. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Still on Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, but I also picked up Peter Newman's The Vagrant. I didn't expect it to be written in the present tense. Still, the post-apocalyptic premise, the protagonist and all the little tidbits of information that has been sprinkled in the narrative thus far has me intrigued (I'm only 4 chapters in). It seems like a science fiction/fantasy hybrid.
     
  18. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    Currently reading Phantom by Susan Kay and pre-ordered A Halloween Tale by Austin Crawley, which is released on the 13th.

    I love the sound of the premise of the latter. Somebody has a seance to raise the Christmas ghosts from Dickens' Christmas Carol and it all goes horribly wrong.
     
  19. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Picked up a few of Georgette Heyer's historical novels from a friend. I figured it was high time to read her since she's quite acclaimed. There are a few Regency romances (she's the progenitor of the historical romance novel) and some straight up adventure works in the pile, and I read Regency Buck.

    Easy to read, lots of detail on fashion and architecture and many objects of vertu and other curios, but the plot of the romance was fairly formulaic and predictable. No real satire or any insightful commentary, though there were some passages that were rather funny. She's known for her humour, but this quality wasn't as pervasive with this work as I thought it might be. I checked the date and it's one of her earlier works (1935), so maybe the later ones will be better. A fast read, though I skimmed through the over-long details on fashion and mode, which I'm inclined to think must be quite accurate given the care she's put into the descriptions. What I didn't expect and rather liked were the allusions and cameo appearances of actual historical figures: Lord Byron (described as an insufferable, haughty eccentric), Jane Austen (quoted with no reference), Lenny Lade, the Prince Regent, the Duke of York, etc. This was fun. Most of the individuals making up 'polite society' are described as unusually eccentric and as just plain dandies (metrosexuals have existed in every era, though they were probably at their height in 17th and 18th century Paris). Not so different from now, I gather.

    I can definitely understand why her novels were super popular during the economically depressed period in 1920's UK and Depression-era America. Overall, Regency Buck was just average fluff, but I'll sample more of her novels so that I glean a better impression of her works from the 1920s-1970s of this fairly significant, popular British writer. Michael Dirda thinks highly of Heyer and that's usually enough of an incentive for me to give an author a second and a third try. Especially looking forward to her adventure thrillers and I hope they're a little like the works of Stendhal or Dumas, père.

    Now, back to the two speculative works I put on hold...
     
  20. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    Just read a good ghost story for Halloween, just 80 pages. A Halloween Tale by Austin Crawley.

    Supposed to be a new author but I suspect someone well known trying indie publishing with an alternate pen name, like JK Rowling did. Apparently it's a growing trend.
     

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