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22 March 2010

What are you reading? [More:]I'm reading American Pastoral. He's a great storyteller but I'm irritated by the ideology. I think I'd like Philip Roth better if I could have an argument with him after every few chapters.
Currently reading Furies of Calderon, first book in a fantasy series by Jim Butcher. Pretty decent action-packed fantasy. Don't like it as much as his Dresden Files books, but the first one in that series wasn't that great either. Has some nice gimmicks, but a few dreadful fantasy clichés like swords stuck through belts and what looks like a Missing Heir.

Before that I read Squeaking Cleopatras: The Elizabethan Boy Player. Short review on my blog: interesting non-fiction.
posted by TheophileEscargot 22 March | 13:36
Just finished reading The Privileges. It's... ok. It's beautifully written. I wanted to like it more than I did. I found it hard to ascertain exactly what story the author wanted to tell.
posted by gaspode 22 March | 13:41
I had to pick a book from the paperback exchange at work today because I didn't have anything to read. I picked The Lovely Bones, to re-read. It's been a few years since I read it.
posted by essexjan 22 March | 13:48
The Greek Myths and Intercourse. Finished The Crystal World over the weekend, really lovely. I've only read it and Concrete Island by Ballard so far so I'm excited about finding a new-to-me novelist who was somewhat prolific.
posted by birdie 22 March | 13:52
Ooo - Graves' version! I have been slowly working my way through one of his poetry collections. It's in my bathroom so I only read a couple a day.
posted by serazin 22 March | 13:55
(I loved Dworkin's first couple books of essays but I couldn't make it very far into Intercourse. ):
posted by serazin 22 March | 13:57
I just started Every Book Its Reader for my InfoProf class and it's looking to be quite dull, which is disappointing. (I have to write a 2 page paper on it that's due in 2 weeks.)

I randomly put Fat is a Feminist Issue on my library hold list and it came in at the same time as my other book and it looks decent although I'm on the fence about whether or not I'll finish it and be able to not get sucked into bad food habits.

No books out from work at the moment, but I just finished reading the Feeling Good handbook from there and was disappointed at just how much of a rehash it was.
posted by sperose 22 March | 13:58
I am almost done with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It is terrific.
posted by futz 22 March | 14:17
Just read Austen's Northanger Abbey and Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm over the weekend. I liked both but can't say I would add them to my list of favorite books ever. I am a little scared of the rest of Austen's stuff, apart from Pride and Prejudice (which I love), because I think they'll be grim and depressing. I was told Northanger Abbey is not like that and it's not, but it's not half as funny or satisfying to read as Pride and Prejudice and I don't think Austen was a fully mature writer when writing it.
Cold Comfort Farm was good, but I didn't find it nearly as funny as I'd been told I might, maybe because apart from a little D. H. Laurence, I'm not really familiar with the agricultural genre of novels it makes fun of. Still I'm a sucker for romantic makeover books, where the heroine comes in and rearranges everyone's lives satisfactorily. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer is another book of this type that I love.
Now the question is, what next to read?
posted by peacheater 22 March | 14:18
I'm nearing the end of my memorial re-read of A People's History of the United States. I'm being extremely insufferable about it.

Still I'm a sucker for romantic makeover books, where the heroine comes in and rearranges everyone's lives satisfactorily.

And you haven't read Emma???
posted by muddgirl 22 March | 14:22
Well, I read I think five books over the weekend and I can't remember any of them very well, although the last one, which I thought was called Jill Bloodstone Hunter because that's what it said on the cover actually turns out to be called Bloodstone and the author is Jill Hunter. It is highly awesome in that it is set around here and features a jewelry designer and in fact it opens at the Asheville wholesale gem and mineral show, where I have been, so, yay! Also yay, incredibly hunky sweet men and incredibly evil rotten no good bad villains and totally unbelievable people in general with lavish clothes and lots of gunfire and whooo, psychics and a Sekrit Guvvermint Project complete with Eeevil Guvvermint agent and, um, what else? Did I mention the firefights and the kissing? It came and went quite quickly.
posted by mygothlaundry 22 March | 14:27
I'm reading Making Money. But actually I'm just glad to be reading anything, since I was too tired to do so during the dark days of winter.
posted by FishBike 22 March | 14:36
Cod. Completely and utterly fascinating.
posted by Specklet 22 March | 14:44
And you haven't read Emma???
No I have not! Think I've found what I'm going to read next. Thanks!
posted by peacheater 22 March | 14:44
About two thirds into Pynchon's Inherent Vice.
posted by tangerine 22 March | 14:45
I'm learning lines, which is more like studying than reading. Stressful. I can't wait till I can read again.

"In Defense of Food" and "Wolf Hall" were recent reads.
posted by rainbaby 22 March | 15:10
I forgot to mention, my kid and I are listening to Swiss Family Robinson on tape and it may be the WORST kids book I have ever encountered:
a patriarchical narrator who apparently knows everything and spends the entire book endlessly lecturing his wife and kids about natural history, a distractingly hard-to-believe concept where one family can supposedly survive a shipwreck and flourish alone on an island populated by monkeys, buffalo(!), kangaroos(!!), and penguins(!!!), zero conflict (or plot) because everything the family tries works perfectly, with casual 19th century style racism and Christian propaganda sauce drizzled over the top. Plus it's openly a rip off of Robinson Crusoe. It is painfully dull, constantly scientifically inaccurate, completely implausible, and sexist and racist. How has this book remained popular for two centuries?!
posted by serazin 22 March | 15:12
Girl Who Played With Fire comes out in paperback tomorrow :)
posted by Madamina 22 March | 15:13
I just finished No Impact Man, which I strongly disliked. The author needs to take a page from AJ Jacob's book on how to write about torturing the people in your life for the sake of a stunt. The book was broken down neatly into him telling readers how they should live their lives, and telling story after story about how his wife came to see things his way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 22 March | 15:15
Oh, and I read Game Change, which was fun.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 22 March | 15:16
Ew, that sounds really irritating.
posted by serazin 22 March | 15:17
(No Impact Man that is)
posted by serazin 22 March | 15:18
Airships by Barry Hannah. I'd never heard of him until he died recently, and Fresh Air re-aired an old interview with him. He sounded intriguing so I picked up this book (a short story collection) because I saw it mentioned several places as a good intro to his work.

I like his writing style- a LOT- though it remains to be seen if I'll look for any more of his stuff, or if this book will satisfy my curiosity and that'll be it.
posted by BoringPostcards 22 March | 15:24
The Great Warming by Brian Fagan. Eating it up. Love this sort of stuff.

Specklet's book looks great, also. I may have to find it.
posted by danf 22 March | 16:03
I am STILL trying to struggle through the remainder of Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" :P I put it down a couple weeks ago and so far, can't be arsed to finish it. I've read several of the mister's other "engineering" books tho, including the highly-recommended "Skunk Works".

In rebellion against Tom's tortured prose, and just general non-fiction "improving my literary diet" kinda shit in general, I am now eagerly tearing my way through a trashy fantasy novel via Kindle for iPhone. It's called "Best Served Cold" by Joe Abercrombie and it's awesomely gory and scary and gritty and trashy and full of cliches and by Jove that's how I like it.

I say again: :P
posted by lonefrontranger 22 March | 16:06
"Best Served Cold" is fantastic! If you haven't already, read the First Law trilogy by the same author.
posted by TheophileEscargot 22 March | 16:10
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
posted by Ardiril 22 March | 16:20
I just started Villa Incognito last night. The first chapter was pretty entertaining.
posted by fogovonslack 22 March | 16:32
...swords stuck through belts and what looks like a Missing Heir.

This phrase made me laugh much more than it should have, TheophileEscargot.

I am reading Howl's Moving Castle and really enjoying it. I'm not sure how I missed it until now. I'm definitely going to read the sequels.

I'm also reading The C++ Primer Plus and am feeling super weird about it because it's pretty well written and I'm enjoying the humor in it. But it's a tech book, you aren't supposed to enjoy reading those in your spare time!

posted by Sil 22 March | 16:56
I also started a journal to write the names of books that I've read and what I thought about them because I just bought a book yet again that I've already read (and I was pretty meh about it).
posted by Sil 22 March | 16:57
Ardiril, I loved that book, and The Fall of Hyperion.
posted by Specklet 22 March | 16:59
This thread is adding a lot to my library queue.
posted by Sil 22 March | 17:51
I'm also reading The C++ Primer Plus and am feeling super weird about it because it's pretty well written and I'm enjoying the humor in it. But it's a tech book, you aren't supposed to enjoy reading those in your spare time!

If enjoying technical reading is wrong, I don't want to be right! Seriously, I've been doing that for most of my childhood and my entire adult life so far. Have you tried any of the Scott Meyers C++ books? They're also really well written and a good read.
posted by FishBike 22 March | 17:55
I also recently read The Zenith Angle by Bruce Sterling. And I didn't like it, which is weird because I like everything else I've read of his.

There were a couple of problems with it for me. It covers some subject matter that I know fairly well, and the characters in the book are way too impressed by some fairly mundane stuff. And their dialog is used to impress upon the reader how awesome they are, rather than making the concepts actually awesome.

I felt like the major plot was more or less omitted, and was then tacked on at the very end in a sort of "oh yeah, I forgot, this is what this book was all about, neat huh?" sort of fashion.

So either I was in the wrong mood to enjoy the book, or I was too stupid to figure out the main plot from the little clues hidden among the boring relationship drama, or... it actually just wasn't that good.

Anybody else have opinions about that book?
posted by FishBike 22 March | 18:02
I read The Zenith Angle soon after it was published so my memory is hazy. So hazy that reading your review and those on Amazon could not bring back a shred of memory of that book, only that it immediately went on the trade-in pile when I finished it.

Specklet: I almost gave up on Hyperion three pages in, but I am glad I stuck with it. I am about half way through now. I know Simmons for his horror and dark fantasy. This is the the first SF book of his I have read.
posted by Ardiril 22 March | 18:18
The Zenith Angle is atrocious and I say this as a Sterling fan since nearly the beginning. In fact I haven't been able to read his new(ish) one due to how bad it was.

On the issue at hand I read Never Let Me Go on my flight back east and have been reading and will continue reading on the flight home, The Roaring Silence
posted by kodama 22 March | 18:20
Just finished The Elegant Universe and Rapt. Tenatively started Collapse, but may decide to switch over to some fiction since I'm feeling a need for a change of pace.

I'm also reading The C++ Primer Plus and am feeling super weird about it because it's pretty well written and I'm enjoying the humor in it.

Really? I've had that on my shelf for years and years after picking it up in a sale bin and then never looking at it. I'll have to give it a look.
posted by DarkForest 22 March | 18:20
Was feeling dreary several weeks ago, churned through McCarthy's _The Road_, and _Dexter in the Dark_ by Lindsay. The Dexter book SUCKED, was extremely repetitiveand very juvenile. If you want to read a really poor yet overpriced book, it is the one. Can't speak of the other Dexter books.

Bought the V for Vendetta comic book (illustrated adult novel for those that like lotsa syllables). Having only seen the movie it was like; Moore detail (Ha! punny!) and the pictures help me to sort out difficult and hard to read words.

Of the Dexter book, I felt exactly this way. I felt like the major plot was more or less omitted, and was then tacked on at the very end in a sort of "oh yeah, I forgot, this is what this book was all about, neat huh?" sort of fashion. It was as if the author reached the word/page/chapter count they had been contracted for and spewed a bunch of last minute crap. Cheap.

Technically I have been reading about HVAC. Boring is boring; but climate controlled bliss and ones own EPA Universal is a nicely conditioned state.
posted by buzzman 22 March | 18:21
I'm reading Japanese for Busy People.
posted by Obscure Reference 22 March | 18:23
I haven't read his stuff, FishBike, I'll have to go check him out.

DarkForest, I'm not very far into yet - just about Chapter 5 so it's covering really basic stuff I already know. But he writes well and there's a good number of hidden jokes that you pick up as you go which keeps it pretty interesting. It's also nice to go back and review basic stuff because Stephen Prata is really good about pointing out why you do something (or why something works the way it does).

I also think it's interesting that he teaches astronomy, physics and computer science at a college level - I'd think it'd be hard to keep up on such diverse fields on that level.
posted by Sil 22 March | 18:54
Just finished Jack McDevitt's The Devil's Eye, a satisfyingly breezy sci-fi, and I'm casting about for what to read next. Maybe the new Nancy Kress novel. Maybe E.O. Wilson's Anthill. I also downloaded free chapters of several of the "Very Short Introduction" books, so I might nibble around the edges of statistics, Islamic history, and mathematics, three subjects about which I know diddley-squat.
posted by BitterOldPunk 22 March | 19:23
Specklet, if you like that cod book, you might consider reading Richard Scheid's Consider the Eel.

I've been reading chapters from the Shiji of Sima Qian, collected and translated by Burton Watson.
posted by Hugh Janus 22 March | 19:40
Oops, I misspelled Schweid. Shame on me.
posted by Hugh Janus 22 March | 19:47
Here's everything I've read recently (it's my book blog--short entries on all the books I read and there are a lot). Right now I'm rereading Anne of Avonlea b/c I ust reread Anne of Green Gables and can't remember when she actually gets with Gilbert. And I'm also now trying to decide which to start next--Jo Nesbo's the Devil's Star is in my library pile but I kind of want to reread the Last Unicorn. I did start Angelology but find it vaguely annoying so probably won't pick it back up.
posted by leesh 22 March | 20:10
I just finished A Companion to Wolves and enjoyed it.

We discussed Wolf Hall a while back here at Metachat. It took months, but I finally got a copy of it through interlibrary loan and found it a difficult read. I think I got about 100 pages and gave up.

Next up is Toddlers Gone Wild. I previously read Wiped. Although I don't have kids, Eckler's a funny writer.
posted by deborah 23 March | 00:58
Rereading Margaret Laurence's Manawaka series in the proper order...I discovered her when Rachel, Rachel screened at BAM, so I read A Jest of God (3) and The Fire Dwellers (4) first, then The Stone Angel (2), A Bird in the House (1) and The Diviners(5).

The Fire Dwellers is on the long list for the "lost" Booker prize.
posted by brujita 23 March | 01:10
I just finished Broken by Daniel Clay and really enjoyed it, likely because I don't really remember To Kill A Mockingbird all that well, so most of the intentional parallels were lost on me. I couldn't put the book down through the last third, and ended up balling my eyes out.
posted by rhapsodie 23 March | 01:14
Sil, I stole the phrase "Missing Heir" from Diana Wynne Jones' spoof The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which is worth looking out for.
posted by TheophileEscargot 23 March | 01:55
leesh, I really like Jo Nesbo! I have been reading a lot of Norwegian and Scandinavian thrillers this past year.
posted by futz 23 March | 09:51
I'm reading Marcus Aurelius's Meditations.
posted by halonine 23 March | 11:37
I read American Pastoral about 10 years ago and was underwhelmed for about the same reasons you seem to be.
posted by terrapin 25 March | 07:21
Well, I got to a story in Airships last night that has made me a definite Barry Hannah fan. It's called "Dragged Fighting From His Tomb" and it's a Civil War story that reads like it was written by Franz Kafka. Very feverish and surreal. Quite the nightmare with its gore and dream logic.
posted by BoringPostcards 25 March | 20:02
Several-point Monday update: || Cauliflower Swan