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  1. #1

    What are you reading?

    Since there's a "what are you listening to?" thread, I figured it was about time to start one for reading. I'll start with a couple of books that I recently finished.

    Go Set a Watchman

    As soon as I discovered that this book existed, I wanted to read it. I'm sorry I did. It's one of the worst books I've read in my life! It's so bad that it basically shits all over To Kill a Mockingbird and then wipes its ass with Atticus's face. It could so easily have been written by a third wave feminist. It's set 20 years after Mockingbird and is broken into 7 parts, of which the first 5 parts are basically rambling on about nothing and has many sections which directly contradict the original.

    Jean Louise Finch, aka "Scout", is 26 now, visiting her aged father Atticus on a trip back from her current home in New York. She's basically the only character in the entire book who has any depth of character at all and can do no wrong. Atticus has pretty much been crippled by arthritis and has been turned into a typical cliche Southern racist stereotype, so much so that he might as well be a card carrying member of the KKK, or at the very least a semi-moderate supporter of them. Her uncle has been turned into a cloud cuckoolander and her beloved brother Jem... is dead.

    He wasn't even given the dignity of a death with cause. He could have died in battle after being drafted into WWII, he could have died from pneumonia, a work place accident, drowned while saving someone's life at the creek, but no, he simply stopped dead in his tracks at the age of 28. The first time he's even mentioned in this book is on page 15 (large print edition) where we find out that he'd died for no reason and he isn't even mentioned by name. All we know at this point is that it's "Jean Louise's older brother" who died and we don't even find out that it's Jem instead of some previously unnamed other brother of hers until several chapters later.

    According to the copy on the book, you'd quite reasonably assume that this was intended as a true sequel to Mockingbird, but you'd be wrong. This book is the FIRST draft of what Mockingbird was to become. When Harper Lee first submitted this to her publisher back in the 50's, she was told to make several changes to the book, including focusing more on the children and bringing the rape trial to the forefront, which is only given a brief mention in passing here. 2-3 years worth of editing later and it was turned into the masterpiece that's known and loved around the world.

    This version was left to rot in an attic somewhere and there it should have stayed, but no... Harper Collins just had to dredge it out from wherever it was buried and publish it as is. Although its existence and whereabouts were known about by them for years, they waited until about 3 months AFTER the death of Harper's lawyer/sister before they claimed they'd "just discovered" it. Harper herself is approaching 90 and is not currently in her right mind. She's gone on record many times in the past saying that she would never publish anything again after Mockingbird and that Watchman was never to see the light of day, so this book was basically published without her knowledge or consent and against her will.

    Given its history, I don't begrudge Harper for this book at all. As far as I'm concerned, she's still only published one book. Harper Collins has just recently announce that they've found "another lost manuscript" of hers, so we'll probably go through the same thing all over again in a year or two. As far as I'm concerned, the only people who should read this book are those who are forced to read it for class, masochists, students of literary history and people who want to know how NOT to write a book. For those of you who have already read this, you have my sincere condolences. For those who haven't, good. Don't waste your money. If you find that you absolutely have to anyway, if, for example, someone was holding a gun to your head and told you to read it or the shooter would kill you, your friends and your entire family, then check it out from the library instead.

    Don't Try To Find Me

    Now THIS is a book! It's basically about a 14 year old girl who goes missing and her parents attempts to find her before their worst fears are realised. What makes this especially notable is that instead of focusing solely on the search, this book alternates between the viewpoints of the parents and the missing girl. As an added bonus, everyone in the book is a well fleshed out character. There's no superwomen or bumbling idiot fathers in this one. Every single character here has strong points to their personality (yes, including the men), and EVERYONE has weaknesses, including the women. I spent the longest time waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. Yes, there are people in the book the do some pretty scuzzy things, but the motivations behind each and every one of them are completely relateable. You may not like them in the end, but you can easily understand where they're coming from. It's a nice, fast read and will definitely keep you turning to find out what happens next. I won't say what the end result of the book is, but I definitely highly recommend it.
    When a woman says to a man 'IF you really love me you would (INSERT VERB HERE)... 'IF you really love me you should buy/give/take/do X, Y, Z'... That's using...that's testing. And my answer to that is always; 'IF you loved me you wouldn't have asked that fucking question, now pack your shit and get the fuck out of my house.' - Maxx


    Asking a feminist about men's rights is like asking a cattle rancher about veganism.

  2. #2
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    Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle)

    Historical fiction about the intertwined events from the end of the English Civil War to the ascent of the House of Hanover to the English throne, focusing on the Calculus dispute between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Liebniz, with a picaroon romance between an escaped harem slave-girl turned French noblewoman and a notorious English vagabond and world traveler thrown in for flavor.

    Not for the faint of heart, the series consists of 6 books in 3 volumes spanning some 2600 pages.


    The Three Body Problem

    A Chinese science-fiction novel set during the Cultural Revolution about a secret project to communicate with aliens leading to an existential threat against the human race. Interesting, but disappointing as the science is decidedly unrealistic.


    The Particle at the End of the Universe

    A rather technical history and analysis of the hunt for the Higgs Boson, including an excellent primer on subatomic physics.

  3. #3
    been doing very light reading lately.. trying to get my mind off of some things happening in my life, i've recently spent a bit of coin, buying books i read younger to re-read the ones i had enjoyed, some are asimov some are heinlein, the ones im reading currently are Zahn, and two follow.

    Shogun

    highly recommend this book, one of the books ive most enjoyed in my life actually.

    Feudal Japan in 1600 is in a precarious peace. The heir to the Taiko is too young to rule, and the most powerful five overlords of the land hold power as a council of regents. Portugal, with its vast sea power, and the Catholic Church, mainly through the Order of the Jesuits, have gained a foothold in Japan and seek to extend their power. But Japanese society is insular and xenophobic. Guns and Europe's modern military capabilities are still a novelty and despised as a threat to Japan's traditional samurai warrior culture.


    Conquerors Pride

    rather good series even upon re-reading years later, many of the books i read when 14-16 my memory contained so many misconceptions, but upon reading this one i guess i was old enough that it's 100% what i remember and still enjoy it, a big factor in reading this novel is.. make sure you read the sequel.. #2 is the one that makes the series so worth reading

    The book begins with the invasion of unknown aliens who, after a brutally efficient battle, take with them a prisoner: Commander Pheylan Cavanagh. Adam Quinn, under orders from Lord Stewart Cavanagh, later leads a team of elite fighter pilots to embark on a perilous mission to rescue Commander Cavanagh.

    Heir to the Empire

    hehe, it's a starwars novel. although it's THE starwars novel. this series is responsible (along with a comic book called dark empire) is responsible for the fans being revitalized and many a novel would not have been written if this one had not set the precedent.. the fact that almost all all the novels written later suck.. is too bad.

    the first book opens, the Rebellion, now known as the New Republic, is still fighting to mop up final Imperial resistance and set up a functional government. Out in the fringes of the galaxy, the most brilliant of all the hand-picked Grand Admirals is gaining strength and preparing to attack the New Republic. After convincing a Dark Jedi to join his side, Grand Admiral Thrawn is confident in his victory.
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    where were you before you put yourself last?
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    Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit. Shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They're single-serving friends.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mifune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beour3rd View Post
    Shogun

    highly recommend this book, one of the books ive most enjoyed in my life actually.

    Feudal Japan in 1600 is in a precarious peace. The heir to the Taiko is too young to rule, and the most powerful five overlords of the land hold power as a council of regents. Portugal, with its vast sea power, and the Catholic Church, mainly through the Order of the Jesuits, have gained a foothold in Japan and seek to extend their power. But Japanese society is insular and xenophobic. Guns and Europe's modern military capabilities are still a novelty and despised as a threat to Japan's traditional samurai warrior culture.
    I have the paperback on my shelf, but I've been putting off reading it because the scope seems daunting.
    "...but when she goes off you, she will not just walk away, she will walk away with your fucking skin in a jar." ~~ DoctorRandomercam
    "The laws of man, they don't apply when blood gets in a woman's eye" - The Black Keys

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mifune View Post
    I have the paperback on my shelf, but I've been putting off reading it because the scope seems daunting.
    it grabbed me so fast i read it in a flash
    Quote Originally Posted by MatrixTransform View Post
    where were you before you put yourself last?
    Quote Originally Posted by TheNarrator View Post
    Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit. Shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They're single-serving friends.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mifune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrongSilentType View Post
    Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle)

    Historical fiction about the intertwined events from the end of the English Civil War to the ascent of the House of Hanover to the English throne, focusing on the Calculus dispute between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Liebniz, with a picaroon romance between an escaped harem slave-girl turned French noblewoman and a notorious English vagabond and world traveler thrown in for flavor.

    Not for the faint of heart, the series consists of 6 books in 3 volumes spanning some 2600 pages.
    Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite authors. Half-cocked Jack is hilarious in those books. They do take forever to read though.
    "...but when she goes off you, she will not just walk away, she will walk away with your fucking skin in a jar." ~~ DoctorRandomercam
    "The laws of man, they don't apply when blood gets in a woman's eye" - The Black Keys

  7. #7
    'rise of the warrior cop, the militarization of America's police forces' radley balko

    blurb from amazon:

    The last days of colonialism taught America's revolutionaries that soldiers in the streets bring conflict and tyranny. As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America's cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other--an enemy. Today's armored-up policemen are a far cry from the constables of early America. The unrest of the 1960s brought about the invention of the SWAT unit--which in turn led to the debut of military tactics in the ranks of police officers. Nixon's War on Drugs, Reagan's War on Poverty, Clinton's COPS program, the post--9/11 security state under Bush and Obama: by degrees, each of these innovations expanded and empowered police forces, always at the expense of civil liberties. And these are just four among a slew of reckless programs. In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Balko shows how politicians' ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society.

    my evaluation: i'm most of the way through although this quote always makes me laugh:

    '"blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God"- Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County, South Carolina, quoting Mathew 5:9 in a press release announcing his acquisition of a track-propelled armored personnel carrier with a belt-fed rotating machine gun turret capable of firing .50-caliber rounds of ammunition'

    yeah a lot of peacemaking is going to be made with the police going around with track propelled APC's with belt fed rotating 50cal machine guns on it isn't it? those things are bastions of peace and civility, I'm aware this isn't the same chapter but I'm sure Jesus would have had one when driving out the money lenders, no need to tell them their sins and show them they're turning a house of god in to a place of mammonry; nah just tear em to shreds with a 50 cal rotating machine gun XD

    in all seriousness though it's a great read and a must for understanding how those there to serve the community have become in a lot of places feared military teams that can turn up at 3am, pay no attention to the castle doctrine by knocking and giving you time to get out of bed and answer and talk in a civilized manner but instead break down your door, smash through the front window, shoot your dog as your children watch in terror and cuff you for hours shouting at you (also known as 'interrogation') in your pajamas, that is until they realize they've gone to the wrong place, and just leave you terrorized and with about £1000 of property damage and traumatized children (where's the compensation for the trauma of both adults and children (who may need therapy), recompense for the family dog and paying for the property damage they've done?).

    In fact because many swat departments were being payed on commission by how many raids they did they started raiding people they knew were innocent and in some years the number of peoples dogs killed as just standard swat practice reached 250,000.

    It's got everything in it: from how the supreme court has eroded the sanctity of the castle doctrine (look it up, it used to be the idea that your home is your castle and whoever it is be they law enforcement or not if a man smashed your door down or simply entered without knocking you had no idea of his intentions and had every right to shoot the guy; you don't know what the intention of a person invading your home are...there was one case of a sheriff who wasn't wearing his badge and menacingly just opened a man's door and ran at him and the man shot the officer; he just looked like some guy invading his home and attacking him and the castle doctrine was upheld as part of common law and the defendant was found innocent of shooting and killing a police officer....that wouldn't happen today though.

    the days where you had rights are long gone, there was one case inn 1966 where the police had no warrant, did not knock and just stormed in, the man had 1000 capsules of heroin in his house but walked free when he took this to the supreme court because the police both entered without a warrant and weren't respecting the castle doctrine, the supreme court actually used to uphold correct legal procedure but that was the last time the supreme court supported the castle doctrine and cases where the trial was not valid due to police misconduct and began to allow cases where the police had not followed correct legal procedures and/or had not respected the rights of those they were arresting to how the semiotics, symbology and signifiers used by the police force shapes how they see themselves, how the public sees them and reacts to them and how both parties behave eg: military titles, military style uniforms, military equipment and procedures, effectively the language and symbology was setting the police up in that kind of environment to have the attitude of a kind of 'invading force' that is there to keep 'the enemy' in line rather than a community service, experiments were conducted in the 70's (this being a small part of one of them, it gives you the basic idea: https://improvingpolice.wordpress.co...nt-themselves/ )with less military style uniforms, dropping of military titles, a newly built station without the military stying usually present and positive relations with the community increased, the reporting of crime increased (i guess those who don't like the militarized police would be too nervy about coming forward)
    Last edited by simeon the crushed; 10-30-2015 at 01:36 AM.
    "There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."
    Mario Savio

    "A single, seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of truth
    and to stand behind it with all his person and all his life, ready to pay a
    high price, has, surprisingly, greater power, though formally disfranchised,
    than do thousands of anonymous voters."
    Vaclav Havel
    'if you want to know who rules you, look at who you're not allowed to criticise' Voltaire

  8. #8
    Senior Member Deidre's Avatar
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    The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. CS Lewis went from being a staunch atheist to a strong believer in Christ. I find him very easy to relate to, these days. Have read this book a few times, but coming back to some classics. (I don't read modern literature, as it just lacks what the classics seem to have)

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Deidre View Post
    CS Lewis went from being a staunch atheist to a strong believer in Christ.
    loads of old people do that ;]

    and... ive never liked his fiction much, narnia is probably one of my least liked series out there and ive read a LOT of stupid fantasy/sci fi series.

    but his non fiction is quite good.
    Quote Originally Posted by MatrixTransform View Post
    where were you before you put yourself last?
    Quote Originally Posted by TheNarrator View Post
    Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit. Shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They're single-serving friends.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Deidre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beour3rd View Post
    loads of old people do that ;]

    and... ive never liked his fiction much, narnia is probably one of my least liked series out there and ive read a LOT of stupid fantasy/sci fi series.

    but his non fiction is quite good.
    The ST Letters is fiction, but it's based on Truth. ^_^

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