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

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

  1. btkong

    btkong Administrator Staff Member

    I've been reading a lot of fantasy the past couple months, my most recent which is The Wheel of Oshiem by Mark Lawrence.
     
  2. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    I did read 'The Last Question' with them in class. It went down well with some of them. I love I, Robot but I think Robot Dreams was better. The idea of the rules of robotics standing as a metaphor to the principals of human behaviour was a piece of utter genius.

    There's a piece towards the end of the DUFF - SPOILERS -

    It compares itself quite cleverly through one of the characters to 'Wuthering Heights' and then another character berates the story and makes a comment to how the characters were all spoiled and unlikeable. It's as if the book, or the editor was poking fun at itself. I have to say, it's largely garbage but I actually didn't hate it.
     
  3. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I started reading The King's Daughter by Suzanne Martel last night. It follows a brash, intelligent, very capable young French orphan who sails to New France in the late 17th century as a 'King's Daughter' to be wed to a colonist near Ville-Marie (present day Montreal). I love this young character - I love her strength of will, her endurance, her goodness, her zest for life and her willingness to sacrifice for the happiness for others. She is one of the truly strong female characters I've come across recently, not jaded and full of an innocence that propels her to make the best of the situation she finds herself in. Her adventures and acclimation in this wild new frontier territory had me enthralled, and I finished more than half the book in one go. It's a short novel at less than 250 pages. There are some very moving passages, especially concerning death as a transitory state. It's an easy to read juvenile novel; good for ages 10+, maybe even 8+. Will likely finish it tonight.
     
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  4. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Last evening I started reading Bomarzo by M Mujica Láinez(Argentinian author)
    This is the story of Pier Francesco Orsini during the Italian Renaissance burdened with the asimetry of his hump and obsessed by Benedetto's prophesy, which foretells his immortality.
    Magic Realism mixed with a historical background, all delivered, so far, with a beautiful mastery. This has been recommended to me by my mother, and regarding her literary tastes she is top, well you too @Boreas ...:)
     
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  5. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I'm really suffering these days when it comes to choosing what to read next. There are so many SF books I want to get through, but at the same time my mood for SF has been on the wane the last many months and I've been itching to read more crime and historical fiction and more literary classics.

    Here are some of the novels I've got lined up and I'm having a hard time choosing amongst them:

    King Coffiin by Conrad Aiken (psychological realism/crime thriller)
    Die Trying by Lee Child (#2 of the Jack Reacher action-thrillers)
    The Other by David Guterson (contemporary literary fiction/naturalism)
    In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa (Latin American magic realism/erotica)
    Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore (magic realist historical fiction)

    + there's a couple of post-modern Don DeLilo books waiting and one of Australia's most famous authors, Thomas Keneally, that I've been dying to try out for a while now. Plus re-reads. Gah, it's impossible to choose. Sometimes I wish I didn't have the Kindle and the internet.
     
  6. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I haven't read this particular one by Vargas Llosa, but I have read many others by him: he is a formidable author. It is difficult to go wrong with him.
     
  7. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Death in the Andes was one of my favourites when I initially started exploring some of the Latin magic-realist authors.
     
  8. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I see, I had to look it up as the translation differs from the original tittle. I not sure whether all his work is available in English. My favorites by V Llosa: The Time of the Hero, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, The Feast of the Goat.
    Have you read García Márquez or Cortázar?
     
  9. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I finished it. This is a book that made me feel happy as I went to bed last night. The heroine got all that she deserved. She's a wonderful role model for children (and adults). It's as if she's touched by the grace of God with the joy and love she radiates from within herself. That strength allows her to make do with anything and work through difficult situations without complaint. As an orphan in a convent in Troyes, France, she was admonished for her laxity concerning prayer. But as the Sister escorting her to New France points out, her nature is to help others, and that is as valid a form of prayer as adherence to any formal canon or catechism. And this service to others is her driving strength. That can-do attitude is strong within her so she's perfectly suited to be a pioneering woman of a wild new frontier with its both intense beauty and danger. Wonderful, wonderful little book with a perfectly happy ending. I loved it. A book I would recommend for children without reserve.
    I've read Feast of the Goat and it was an extremely skilful novel, but Death in the Andes I have an especial fondness for because of the older world it depicts and its more isolated, less metropolitan setting. I'm afraid I haven't read Cortázar at all and García Márquez I never finished the one book I attempted.
     
  10. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Well, this Iberoamerican mostly Magial Realism genre, is a kind of a rabbit hole. Once you get your head in, it might take you a while to get out of it. I went through this particular hole during my late teens and early twenties. There are truly master pieces to be picked up, as long as you are in this MR mood...
     
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  11. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    So here's me wondering why you aren't reading The Baroque Cycle.
     
  12. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I will! But first I'd liked to read his single volume techno-thriller Reamde.
     
  13. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've decided to start the second instalment in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series of novels, Die Trying. I feel that a relaxed, easy to read crime-action-thriller is in order, and I quite enjoyed the first volume I read earlier this year.
     
  14. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Finished Die Trying, the second Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. It was entertaining like I expected, but I didn't like it quite as much as his début. This one was a slightly more politically tinged thriller. That mysterious, almost oppressive quality from the previous novel that I really enjoyed was missing, but it certainly made more headway with action sequences. Lee is a good writer and maintains a fine line between some good descriptive prose and with what seems to me an economy with words that has carried over from his previous novel. It’s clean, efficient writing. The passage describing the mechanics and processes of a sniper shot is one of the most memorable I've recently read; likewise for a vividly claustrophobic struggle through a mine shaft.

    However, there was one scene that stretched credulity nearly to breaking point, and whilst it didn't hamper my overall enjoyment of the novel, it did temporarily break the sustained tension by spiralling down into farce for a brief moment. And again, this is unlike the first novel, where the almost malevolent tension was tautly wound all the way through till the action-packed finale and where no element severely tested my suspension of disbelief.

    The difference between Killing Floor and Die Trying is that KF kept a limited perspective throughout the narrative, whereas DT switches back and forth between more numerous perspectives until they converge as they approach the climax. The switches from perspective to perspective are fast-paced and well done, but that also made it slightly more impersonal compared to the first novel. And whilst the tone of the first novel leans more towards noire (without being so) with its mystery and crime elements, like one of the slightly more surreal films by the Cohen Brothers, this second novel is decidedly an action-thriller. One advantage that DT has over KF is that Jack Reacher is an increasingly realised character. In KF, he was essentially a tough-guy. Here, while he's as tough as ever, he's also more deductive. That's growth of a kind.

    All in all, an entertaining read. Not too much depth to the overall narratives as of yet, but it almost feels like Child is attempting to create a new mythos with Jack Reacher, an ex-army drifter-cum-vigilante who seems to innocently get caught up in problems of a serious nature. And he always gets the job done, whatever it is that needs doing. That’s how it’s been for both these novels and while it is a simplistic formula so far, it works well and it's entertaining. Good, very light reading. There’s also a strong element of romance through Jack Reacher’s journey through the United States, but it’s strangely focused through the nation’s underbelly, where the viciousness (and stupidity) depicted paradoxically highlights some of the core attitudes and even virtues of the land. A rather strange journey, or perhaps a twisted exploration of manifest destiny? Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to the next one.
     
  15. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    @Boreas, have you read any books by Fred Vargas? if you are in the mood for some entertaining crime novel with a quirky je ne sais quoi, you might enjoy Commissaire Adamsberg.
     
  16. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Never even heard of him. Elvira, as I might have mentioned before, my experience with crime fiction is almost zero. I read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories as a child; read some of Crichton's crime novels, and a couple of thrillers by Wilbur Smith and a few more by Robert Ludlum as a teenager. I think that's about it. Oh, maybe an Agatha Christie book or two as a kid after I saw some of the Poirot movies (though I can hardly remember anything about them).

    I've definitely noted down Vargas to look into later, plus the Italian fellow you mentioned last time.
     
  17. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    I never read Sherlock Holmes as a kid but read most of the James Bond novels. I was pretty young but seem to remember being quite impressed, they were surprisingly well written, massively different to the movies and pleasantly so. I more recently read 'Casino Royale' which was not impressive at all. I can accept that, given that the character was completely different to how he ended up and that it was a raw first novel.
    How do you feel the screen adaptations compare to the Holmes stories?
     
  18. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I haven't read them, nor have I been a great fan of Bond's film. So I couldn't possibly comment on the screen adaptations...

    Ah! Il commissario Montalbano and le commissaire Adamsberg are two characters I would love to invite over for dinner. I hope you enjoy them when you get to read their stories.
     
  19. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    I know it will never happen but I'd like to see the next James Bond movie be a period piece, set in the 50s when it was originally written. That would be a very welcome break. They're just action movies now, nothing like the books.
     
  20. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    I've started listening to Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Really enjoying it so far, pretty spooky now the nights are drawing in! First horror book I've picked up in a long time.
     
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