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Book review: Shotgun Lovesongs

by Kevin @, Sunday, May 22, 2016, 15:48

Chick lit that doesn't know it's chick lit. Rubbish.

After finishing 75% of it and throwing it in the garbage even though it's a library book, I checked more reviews. It turns out one of the characters, the singer who wrote the album that doubles as the book's name, was based on a real indie singer.

Bon Iver.



need a book rec

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 08:35 @ Kevin

I'm tired of looking at this stack of half-started books sitting in my office. I am giving up on those. Need something fresh.

Something lively and engaging. Fiction or nonfiction, either okay. Hit me.


Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics.

by nedhead, Thursday, May 26, 2016, 07:39 @ Jay

RIP, John David Jackson, age 91. I was fortunate enough to have never taken a class where I needed to read it. But if there are any other physics-types here, we all know what we mean when we say "Jackson" - just that one name.


I read Coates' "Between the World and Me" recently

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 06:04 @ Jay

I have to say that I was kind of disappointed in it. I think his shorter articles and essays have been much tighter and stronger. I was genuinely affected by his reparations piece; the book left me a little aimless, and it bums me out because I actually bought a hard copy (something I rarely do these days because of Kindle and access to a great library system). Really felt like reading a graduate student thesis rather than a powerful personal story.

Also, he's not done any favors by this "New Baldwin" stuff. I've been reading Baldwin recently, and no one has picked up that flag (and no one likely will--it's not Coates' fault, either. Just hold off, Toni Morrison).


Somewhat related: "The Classics"

by Jim (OFD) @, Naptown, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 18:25 @ Jay

I am between books and contemplating reading some of "the classics" that I haven't read. Which ones do everyone recommend?


Peak Chernow: The House of Morgan

by JPH, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 07:23 @ Jay

Echo other recs for Titan and Washington, not to mention Hamilton. But found this tome -- and we're talking a tome here, folks -- to be oddly engaging. It chronicles the rise of the Morgan banking empire, largely through the rise of JP Morgan, but along the way goes into a lot of illuminating detail about how shaky the country was in mid 1800s onward, dependent on foreign investment, boom bust cycles on repeat, speculative railroads that make dot coms look tame, etc. It's another cut at how America came into prominence, just told through the finance side. I don't think I ever finished the last 100 pages, but sure learned a lot in the first 300.

Another evergreen rec: 'Lawrence in Arabia' by Scott Anderson. Fascinating period in world history, the fall of the Ottoman empire, European machinations in the Middle East, and the creation of Sykes-Picot. Shines new light on all the baggage and complexity of present day Iraq and Syria.


Bill Gates recommends SevenEves by Neal Stepherson

by Bill, Southern California, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 06:07 @ Jay

So I decided that's how I'm going to spend my week in Cabo in a couple of weeks.


Yes, Seveneves is a pretty great novel + a novella

by KelleyCook @, quite pleased with Nov 8th, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 11:03 @ Bill
edited by KelleyCook, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 11:08

I read it when it came out. Unlike most Stephenson books, you don't have to plow through the first few 100 pages before you find out whats going on. Its very upfront with that great opening line "The moon blew up with no warning and with no apparent reason"

And it turned out to be an awesome two part book chock full of orbital mechanics, overcoming destructive human behavior, the world coming together ... and apart. World Creation at its finest. Then about 2/3rd of the way it ends in a spectacular fashion all while revealing what the title actually meant (Note: the title wasn't written in CamelCase and Neal intentionally pronounced it wrong during his promo tour). It was in Great Story bliss.

And then the last third of the book turned out to be a passable novella placed into the results of that future world creation. It adds a little, but not much to the story. It quite frankly irritated me when I first read it.

But now a year later, I understand that combining the three books was a basically a publishing decision and I'm now fine with it. I'm mentioning this so you don't mind putting the volume down after part II for a while.

Also, I have a Hugo vote and put Seveneves as part of my nomination list.

providing less clarification since 1991


Stephenson is a great author.

by PAK, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 06:23 @ Bill

I've read almost all of his stuff, but I haven't gotten to SevenEves yet.


I've got two in my stack right now

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 05:02 @ Jay

Nick Lane's The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life is a fascinating take on the origins and evolution of life. Lane suggests there are some major holes in evolutionary and biological theory. Essentially, life is an organizational system for energy and information.

Wife is also reading Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting after a poster here brought it up in another forum. Great news, we got our first great night of sleep last night! Woot!


Hey Jay are you tagging book rec threads?

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, May 23, 2016, 19:53 @ Jay

Would be appreciated. Thanks.


Here you go

by Pat, Right behind you, Monday, May 23, 2016, 21:02 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

Thanks Pat!

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 08:32 @ Pat

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Someone else did it. I just linked to it.

by Pat, Right behind you, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 12:27 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

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Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown

by KelleyCook @, quite pleased with Nov 8th, Monday, May 23, 2016, 19:05 @ Jay

Here's your hook: book 1 is Lord of the Flies … on Mars.

And then unlike 95% of trilogys each book makes the story even better.

providing less clarification since 1991


Forever by Pete Hamill

by Crehart @, Hermosa Beach, CA, Monday, May 23, 2016, 18:22 @ Jay

A beautiful book that reads like a love letter to New York. A bit of fantasy, a bit of historical fiction. I loved it.

It's a stand-alone novel so if you want a single book that breaks the mold rather than jumping into a series, this could be the one.


From the bestselling author of Snow in August and A Drinking Life comes this magical, epic tale of an extraordinary man who arrives in New York City in 1740 and remains... forever.

Departing the shores of Ireland, Cormac O'Connor sets out on a fateful journey to avenge the deaths of his parents and honor the code of his ancestors.
His quest brings him to the settlement of New York, seething with tensions between English and Irish, whites and blacks, British and "Americans," where he is swept up in a tide of conspiracy and violence. In return for aiding an African shaman who was brought to America in chains, Cormac is given an otherworldly gift: He will live forever—as long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan.
So unfolds the story of the intertwined lives of a man and a city. Cormac comes to know all the buried secrets of Manhattan—the way it has been shaped by greed, race, and waves of immigration, by the unleashing of enormous human energies, and above all, by hope. Through Cormac's eyes, we watch the city grow from a tiny community on the tip of an untamed wilderness to become the thriving metropolis of the present day.


The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

by nedhead, Monday, May 23, 2016, 16:25 @ Jay

I'm on the third book of the 4-book trilogy. It's pretty good sci-fi, with a reasonably realistic approach to how Mars will be settled (with one glaring, very unrealistic exception) and future Earth politics. Enjoyable reading so far.

If you are into SciFi, the Iain Banks Culture Series is a lot of fun.



by Ben @, Monday, May 23, 2016, 20:49 @ nedhead

I have recommended those books to several people - exceptional and largely realistic sci-fi. I am curious to know what your glaring exception was. I thought there were a few things that seemed to really stretch. But I don't remember an obvious one and I thought that he worked pretty hard to build a complete world.

I also really liked the Otherland series by Tad Williams. But it was GoT long at roughly 4,000 pages.

On a totally different note, I am currently reading Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock. I generally don't like many business books. But I am finding this one useful and interesting enough that I bought copies for a few of my team.


Just one (spoiler):

by nedhead, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 01:16 @ Ben

to me, the immortality treatment is just totally unrealistic. It worked well as a plot device, probably much better than what would be more realistic (expensive health treatments that extends useful/comfortable lives by 20%, but I just don't find it realistic (in a world where everything else makes sense). The space elevator and other technological advances seemed not-totally outlandish to me. I also liked the metanats taking control from nations, that seems very realistic to me.

I liked the criticism of The Martian - the most unrealistic thing was that NASA had the money for a Mars mission.


Great thriller-I am Pilgrim. Fluffy & fun-Crazy Rich Asians

by LT, Monday, May 23, 2016, 14:41 @ Jay

I am Pilgrim: starts a bit slow but my favorite thriller I've read in ages. (Great for fans of Olen Steinhauer's Tourist series, I think, my other favorite thrillers.)

Crazy Rich Asians: I love any novel of manners/examination of the gradations of class and wealth. I have prescribed it to get a few people out of reading ruts and it's 100% effective.

I assume you've read All the Light We Cannot See, but it's one of the most beautifully done books I've ever read.

The Neapolitan novels were a bit of a slog, although I thought they eventually delivered.

I've heard good things about The Romanovs, but I'm not sure I'm up for 750 pages of it.

Love book threads here.


Agreed on All the Light We Cannot See

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, May 23, 2016, 15:11 @ LT

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How many times have you read A Game of Thrones?

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Monday, May 23, 2016, 13:15 @ Jay

If it is less that 17, you probably should read the entire series at least 12 more times.

At night, the ice weasels come.


Anyone else annoyed with GRR Martin today? (no spoilers)

by HCE, Monday, May 23, 2016, 13:25 @ Jeff (BGS)

I think I would have enjoyed reading last night's episode.


It was a good one

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Monday, May 23, 2016, 18:24 @ HCE

Hopefully, the setup is now done and we're in for a great ride to the finish.

At night, the ice weasels come.


Stark Team: Assemble!

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 08:59 @ Jeff (BGS)

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The board is set, the pieces are moving...

by Jim (OFD) @, Naptown, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 05:47 @ Jeff (BGS)

this has to be a sprint to the finish line, right. Too many story lines to wrap up in 15 episodes (the remainder of this season plus next season).

Also, I am not sure there is any possible matter of death that is worthy of the way they built up Ramsay Bolton. Anything I can think of just doesn't seem...fitting.


Possibly 18 episodes left: 5 + two shorter seasons of 7 & 6

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 07:25 @ Jim (OFD)

episodes, respectively.




by Jim (OFD) @, Naptown, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 10:52 @ Buck Mulligan

Good to know. I thought I read recently that there was only one more season.

Regardless, lots of things to resolve in a short amount of time.


Yes, regardless, now it's a sprint.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 12:28 @ Jim (OFD)

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They feel liberated now

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Monday, May 23, 2016, 19:24 @ Jeff (BGS)

since they don't feel the need to obey everything in the books.


I rarely say this but I think it worked really well visually

by LT, Monday, May 23, 2016, 14:29 @ HCE

Although I think the adult Hodor actor is very good, especially given the parameters of the character's script, and that helped. But I could see writing that getting very clunky.


it sounds promising

by Pat, Right behind you, Monday, May 23, 2016, 12:30 @ Jay

but I'd give "Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship" a pass. It sort of fizzled in the last few chapters.

Man, I really need to unpack my non-work books.


I'm re-reading the Night Manager

by Bryan (IrishCavan), Howth Castle and Environs, Monday, May 23, 2016, 11:03 @ Jay

before watching the AMC production. I read it when it came out but had forgotten much of it.


Erik Larson's Lusitania book is very interesting

by DEM, Chicago, Monday, May 23, 2016, 11:03 @ Jay

Also if you're going to pick up Chernow, make it Titan. The definitive biography of JD rockefeller Sr. Also a great peek into the gilded age, the birth of modern philanthropy, the birth of muckraking, the birth of the US oil industry etc., etc.

That book is stacked.


Go full-on short story, brah.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:47 @ Jay

That's a great lit refresher strategy.

China Miéville - Three Moments of an Explosion

T. C. Boyle - Tooth and Claw


A few non-fiction ideas

by Coach Gillespie, Omaha, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:41 @ Jay

"Hunting Eichmann" was a fascinating read on Nazi hunters that I tore through in a couple days. Don't F with the Israeli Mossad.

I know Ron Chernow is getting a lot of publicity due to his Hamilton biography. Haven't read that but I thought his "Washington" was as easy-to-read as any historical biography.

"Guests of the Ayatollah" was hard to put down. Full of interesting stories and anecdotes from the Iran hostage crisis. Made "Argo" a lot more fun to watch.

Currently plodding through "The Best and the Brightest." Keep hoping it gets better. Halberstam knows his shit but it seems like for every one paragraph on Vietnam there are three anecdotes about McGeorge Bundy's Harvard days.


Best and the Brightest is the ur-text of USA foreign policy

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:51 @ Coach Gillespie

It's long, and it's detailed, but oh so well written. It really explains the entire 20th century.

Depending on your stamina, I would say A Bright and Shining Lie is also essential reading.


Agree, but I like The Fifties much more.

by Kevin @, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:58 @ HullieAndMikes

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I agree, that is a great one

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:59 @ Kevin

I think The Coldest Winter (on the Korean War) is his best.


'Coldest Winter' is the best Korean war book I've read.

by hobbs, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:05 @ HullieAndMikes
edited by hobbs, Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:17

Its funny how little we know about that conflict. In high school I think my history teacher went from Nagasaki straight to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Oh, he might have referenced Korea in passing and as a nod to D. MacArthur but we did not spend any time on that conflict at all.


'The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel'

by hobbs, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:24 @ Jay
edited by hobbs, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:41

I'm currently about 1/2 way through this audiobook and it is outstanding. 4 stars.

Winner of the CWA Nonfiction Dagger Award, the definitive account of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai

Mumbai, 2008. On the night of November 26, Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists attacked targets throughout the city, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the world’s most exclusive luxury hotels. For sixty-eight hours, hundreds were held hostage as shots rang out and an enormous fire raged. When the smoke cleared, thirty-one people were dead and many more had been injured. Only the courageous actions of staff and guests—including Mallika Jagad, Bob Nichols, and Taj general manager Binny Kang—prevented a much higher death toll.

As I said I'm only half way through but what strikes me is that India has fought a couple of wars with their neighbor Pakistan and yet they were almost completely unprepared to handle a terrorist incident on their own soil.

Even more nutty is the fact that not only did the CIA had one of the main terrorists (A US citizen with dual Pakistani citizenship) on their own payroll, but the guys own wife told them that his loyalty was not to them but to the terrorists.

Man, that whole area of the globe is just one dangerous neighborhood.


OT - Since you are a Mamet fan, I figure I'd throw this one your way. Although you've probably already seen it. Its a spanish effort called Nueve reinas (2000) US title - 'Nine Queens'. If you like Mamet you'll love this film. Its really good and keeps you guessing right up until the end.


When Eco died, I reread Name of the Rose

by HCE, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:11 @ Jay

If you haven't read it, it's well worth your time. If I'm ever stranded on a desert island, I'm bringing it with me. A few other recent reads:

A Brief History of Seven Killings (Marlon James): A great, if very messy read. You'll have Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic" and "Rat Race" running through your head for months.

Dissolution (C.J. Sansom): A less dense version of Name of the Rose, set in an English monastery during the reign of Henry VIII. It doesn't compare to Eco, but I really enjoyed it.

I, Claudius (Robert Graves): Finally got around to reading it, and it's delightful.

Fifth Business (Robertson Davies): This one fell flat for me. Not unpleasant, but I don't see myself reading the rest of the trilogy any time soon.

I'm currently reading Ken Follett's The Man from St. Petersburg. It's a bit clunky in spots, but I like it so far.


we read I, Claudius in Latin class

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:27 @ HCE

It was great. We also watched the Derek Jacobi television adaptation of it. The Caligula orgy scenes were shockingly graphic for a 16 year old. Also I think there was a scene where Caligula cuts a fetus out of a woman, which is seared in my memory.


Graves is a magnificent writer

by HCE, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:45 @ Jay

I can actually take or leave his poetry, but I love his prose. His books about mythology--The White Goddess, Greek Myths I and II--are phenomenal, even if the theories behind them are categorically false.

I'm looking forward to watching the series this summer. My parents were obsessed with it when it first aired, but I somehow have never seen it.


The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:04 @ Jay

It's a history of the Great Migration of African Americans from WWI to the 1970s. It's told primarily through three people's stories which occur at different time frames.

Just brilliant. A beautiful history of a chapter in American life I didn't know enough about.


Grand Illusions: American Art and the First World War

by PMan, The Banks of the Spokane River, Monday, May 23, 2016, 08:56 @ Jay

Professor Lubin gives context for the Uncle Sam poster, Childe Hassam's "Flag" paintings, a new reading of Duchamp's "Fountain," Bellows and Sargent, facial prostheses vs. Greta Garbo, and more.


My recent attempts have been up and down.

by Kevin @, Monday, May 23, 2016, 08:47 @ Jay

I really liked the Langdon family trilogy, by Jane Smiley -- Some Luck, Early Warning, Golden Age.

Everything Elizabeth Strout writes is great. My Name is Lucy Barton is the most recent, but the Burgess Boys is probably my favorite.

Tinkers by Paul Harding was quick, as are any Kent Haruf books.

Don't read the new Franzen book. It was miserable.


I recently finished Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Many times started, but this was the first time I went all the way to the end. I know historians don't love it as much as other readers do, but it's just perfect to me.

I have the final Last Lion book on audio. The preamble, about Churchill's general nature and relationship with booze, is magnificent. He used to drink wine for breakfast because he hated skim milk.

Charlie LeDuff's "Detroit" was a good one.

I feel like I'm batting about .500 lately. Too many choices aren't working out -- Eggers' "The Circle" was shit. I couldn't get into "Shadow Country," which a lot of people liked. I didn't like the Erik Larson book about the US ambassador in early 30's Germany.

I'm trying Moby Dick for the first time. I think this one will take.


Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 08:58 @ Kevin

What a great book. Probably the first "dense" history book I ever read. I read it sophomore year in Innsbruck, and it illuminated our visits to Munich, Berchtesgaden, Vienna, Nuremburg, Dachau, etc, etc.

With Hofer going down just narrowly in Austria, you realize that all that sentiment is still alive and well in the cradle of Naziism.


Great history books always seem relevant

by Flann, Central New Jersey, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:49 @ Jay
edited by Flann, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:56

I am working my way through Caro's LBJ books. Pappy O'Daniel, the only man ever to defeat Johnson in an election, reminds me of Trump in some ways. The Coen Brothers have a cartoonish version of O'Daniel in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" As is often the case, the real version was more fascinating.

I'd highly recommend the Caro books if you have not read them. The first, Path to Power, goes from the beginning to the Senate race against O'Daniel.


HBO just premiered the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 09:52 @ Flann

I haven't watched it yet, but it's getting excellent reviews.


I saw a lot of middling reviews; anyone here see it?

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:19 @ Jay

Granted, the ads certainly looked better than the presidential cos-play of The Butler (sure, let's have John Cusack as Richard Nixon).


The Butler was weak.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:26 @ HullieAndMikes

[ No text ]


pretty solid reviews across the board

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:22 @ HullieAndMikes

HBO did another LBJ/Vietnam biopic about 15 years ago

by hobbs, San Diego, Monday, May 23, 2016, 10:12 @ Jay
edited by hobbs, Monday, May 23, 2016, 15:02

called 'Path to War' (w/Alec Baldwin) that was outstanding.


LBJ gives filmmakers and actors a lot of material

by Flann, Central New Jersey, Monday, May 23, 2016, 12:35 @ hobbs
edited by Flann, Monday, May 23, 2016, 12:41

There were a lot of facets to his personality.

It gives me some hope that the country survived the two psychological case studies that were LBJ and Nixon. Of course we didn't come through unscathed.


I think you would love Paul Murray's 'Skippy Dies'.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Monday, May 23, 2016, 08:49 @ Kevin

It is fucking hilarious and raunchy as hell.


Just finished Jeff Passan's "The Arm"

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, May 23, 2016, 08:37 @ Jay

All about Tommy John surgery and the efforts to try to learn what's going on in the pitching elbow. Really, really well done.


my my my. my my my.

by JN @, Seattle, Monday, May 23, 2016, 07:03 @ Kevin

my my


Saw a guy at a farmer's market today with a Bon Iver t shirt

by Mike (bart), Sunday, May 22, 2016, 16:40 @ Kevin

Reminded me of you


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