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Author Topic: 50 Books in 2012  (Read 19364 times)

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Poolio

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2012, 11:28:53 PM »

1. Secret mistress - Mary Balogh : Don't judge me!
2. Well-tempered clavicle - Piers Anthony : Another entry in his Xanth series. And it is funnier and wittier than the last 2 books. I enjoyed the goofiness but also the sweetness. Be warned, if you can't tolerate puns you won't enjoy these books.
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Ella Minnow Pea

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2012, 12:10:41 AM »

I love Mary Balogh - no judgement from me.  ;D
I'm so behind on my Xanth books. I was current until about 10 years ago, but I lost track of where I stopped. :(
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Poolio

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2012, 11:52:36 AM »

I love Mary Balogh - no judgement from me.  ;D
I'm so behind on my Xanth books. I was current until about 10 years ago, but I lost track of where I stopped. :(
Yeah, I never know where I left off so I just skip around and read whatever one I find that's new to me.
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Bubba McBubba

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2012, 10:39:55 AM »

3: “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel

20% off sales at Half Price Books may be the death of me one day, if cholesterol doesn't get me first.

At the most recent of such sales, I performed a much more thorough perusal of the graphic novels than usual, trying to find new and interesting reads in that genre I find to have so few dizzying highs amongst so many abysmal lows.  And so I came to pick up “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic”, with its dark green and reflective silver cover wrapped in a bright orange obi-style strip.  This strip featured such critic quotes as “Does the graphic novel format proud” (New York Times) and “If David Sedaris could draw, and if Bleak House had been a little funnier, you'd have Alison Bechdel's Fun Home” (Amy Bloom).

Bechdel exhibits a high amount of wit here, but did wring so much as a chuckle from me, so I think the Sedaris comparison is partly inaccurate.  I also probably should have read the author bio on the inside back flap, where she is described as “a careful archivist of her own life”.  Such a pompous description does not bode well.

Bechdel (at least as represented by this book) is incredibly self-absorbed, but somehow I still found myself engaged in her recollections of a youth spent under the laser gaze of an overbearing father who later reveals himself to be a self-repressed homosexual, revealing this around the same time as the author's own sexual awakening.

A curious aspect of this extensive self-chronicling is that Bechdel frequently reveals herself as a bit of a jerk, and yet I suspect she is not fully aware of this aspect of her personality.  For somebody who obviously spends a lot of time on introspection, I find it odd that she has a bit of myopia in this regard.

And yet, when all is said and done, I found myself fondly remembering much of what happens in “Fun Home”.  Bechdel may not have the laugh-out-loud quality of Sedaris's best work, but she does have many similarly bizarre true-life stories and a curious talent for spinning an excessive self-absorption, that would be so annoying in real-life, into an intriguing form of storytelling.

Recommended? Yes
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Bubba McBubba

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2012, 03:16:02 PM »

4: “The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways” by Earl Swift

Urban myths are a tricky thing.

They somehow end up lodged in the collective consciousness and are like a cold that repeatedly circulates around a population so that everybody who just got over it gets it all over again.

I was harboring one such widely-shared falsehood, which I used to freely drop into conversation, that the federal interstate system required at least one mile of straight, ungraded road every five miles, for use as emergency runways during a national crisis.  This “fact” was lodged in my memory courtesy of Mental Floss magazine, which I will now read with a grain of salt. 

The real truth is the armed forces wanted such a requirement but it just wasn't practical.  “The Big Roads” contains a great many such revelations about something we completely take for granted even though it completely changed we way we travel, shop and live.  The book takes slight detours to explore those themes as it explains the history of suburban sprawl and the explosion of fast food restaurant and chain hotels. 

But what I found most interesting in this book Swift's pre-history of interstate construction, going all the way to the import of the first cars into the U.S. in the late 1800's.  The story of Indianapolis bicycle-retailer-turned-auto-czar Carl Fisher surely warrants a book of his own, as the man rides a bicycle across a tightrope strung between two buildings, pushes a car off the roof of a similarly-sized building and then drives it away, founds the Indianapolis Raceway and fills in some marshes in Florida to establish the city of Miami Beach.

Then there's the lengthy detailing of travel in America prior to paved roads.  I was previously unaware of how recently paved roads were put into place, and also how it was nearly impossible to get from most cities to any other burg except by train.

Although the creation of the interstate system is widely attributed to Dwight Eisenhower, the president simply initiated construction work from plans that had already been in development and refinement for the past half-century.  This book goes to great pains to give credit to Thomas MacDonald, who is truly the father of the interstate system, and to Frank Turner, who tactfully handled many large issues during construction and afterwards.  Not that Eisenhower does not deserve some credit, but it is good to see another urban myth corrected.

I wish I could say the entire book is an engaging read, but there are moments where Swift seems to aimlessly circle a subject.  Other times, the subject matter is  so academical  I felt my eyes glaze over as I determinedly plowed through such passages, not unlike Swift's description of early drivers getting repeatedly stuck in wagon wheel ruts in our early nation's dirt roads.

All that said, I enjoyed “The Big Roads”.  It is not the easiest or most readable non-fiction I have encountered, but it corrected some falsehoods that have pervaded the collective consciousness.  It also made me appreciate the scope of the interstate project, the largest construction effort of all time.  So large, in fact, that we probably do not have the resources to build them all over again if we had to.

Recommended? Yes
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c-lando

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2012, 09:19:19 AM »

1. "Eight Million Ways to Die" (a Matthew Scudder novel) - Lawrence Block
2. "Legend" - Marie Lu
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daytime drinking

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2012, 10:03:10 AM »

1.  around the world in 80 days- jules verne ***  


2.  grapes of wrath- john steinbeck ****  i'd like to drop a copy of this on every occupier.  this book made me angry.  i was angry at steinbeck for making it, i was angry at myself for having read it, and i was angry at our country.  jesus, what a depressing book.  fuck you steinbeck for making me cry
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Jen

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2012, 11:47:13 AM »

1. Secret mistress - Mary Balogh : Don't judge me!

That is a name I haven't seen in a while. I used to love her too. ;)
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va-vacious

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2012, 09:36:22 PM »

I love Mary Balogh - no judgement from me.  ;D
I'm so behind on my Xanth books. I was current until about 10 years ago, but I lost track of where I stopped. :(
x2! I Introduced Ella to the Balogh books, fwiw. And I gave up on Xanth ages ago, but I loved the first ones.
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va-vacious

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2012, 09:42:26 PM »

My attempt for this year, not including trashy novels. :)

1. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

I can't believe January is half way over and I've only read one book. This was a nice one to start the year with. It's about a family of performance artists, and starts with the grown children having to return home to live with the parents. I thought the writing was beautiful- lovely turns of phrase, but the overall gist of the story was hard to take sometimes. The situations characters get put into were cringe-inducing, and I had to put the book down a few times to stop being stressed.

As an aside, I could not identify or even like the parents in the story. Their idea of how to produce art (creating situations in public settings and creating discomfort for those around them) felt like meanness.  I felt that every situation only produced agony, anger, and embarrassment for the innocent bystanders, and the parents were the only ones to feel happiness, enjoyment, or glee at the results.  I felt Wilson did an excellent job of building the tension in these situations, and I wanted to smack the parents in every scene.
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Bubba McBubba

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2012, 08:12:50 PM »

5: “Humor Me” edited by Ian Frazier

Though he predominately writes rather dry non-fiction, Ian Frazier can also be very, very absurdly funny.  I treasure the two slim collections of his short humor pieces, and so I was intrigued by a collection of humorous pieces he has assembled with proceeds going to a charity.

Pity the charity that is supposed to benefit from this collection.  Not only did the vast majority of the allegedly hilarious pieces here fail to draw so much as a chuckle from me, but many of the stories here are extremely somber, serious tales.  I can't help but wonder if some of those pieces are works of sly and subtle humor, but I don't think so.  At least, I failed to see currents of subversive humor running through the one about the Vietnam soldier who reflects upon all the lives that were saved by the friendly-fire death of an incompetent lieutenant, or the real-life recollection of a suburban housewife's six days in a house of detention for protesting that same war.

Perhaps I should have read the fine print a bit more clearly, as it does say it is a collection of works by humorists, and not necessarily humorous pieces.  But, frankly, that is misleading, and a disservice to some works of serious fiction that I would recommend, but not in this collection.  The best I can hope for is readers will go on to seek more by those authors.

A bizarre collection that combines unfunny serious fiction with unfunny pieces that were meant to be humorous, “Humor Me” left me feeling cheated, though surely not as much as the people at that charity probably do.

Recommended?  No
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daytime drinking

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #26 on: January 24, 2012, 09:04:03 AM »

4: “The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways” by Earl Swift

Urban myths are a tricky thing.

They somehow end up lodged in the collective consciousness and are like a cold that repeatedly circulates around a population so that everybody who just got over it gets it all over again.

I was harboring one such widely-shared falsehood, which I used to freely drop into conversation, that the federal interstate system required at least one mile of straight, ungraded road every five miles, for use as emergency runways during a national crisis.  This “fact” was lodged in my memory courtesy of Mental Floss magazine, which I will now read with a grain of salt. 

The real truth is the armed forces wanted such a requirement but it just wasn't practical.  “The Big Roads” contains a great many such revelations about something we completely take for granted even though it completely changed we way we travel, shop and live.  The book takes slight detours to explore those themes as it explains the history of suburban sprawl and the explosion of fast food restaurant and chain hotels. 

But what I found most interesting in this book Swift's pre-history of interstate construction, going all the way to the import of the first cars into the U.S. in the late 1800's.  The story of Indianapolis bicycle-retailer-turned-auto-czar Carl Fisher surely warrants a book of his own, as the man rides a bicycle across a tightrope strung between two buildings, pushes a car off the roof of a similarly-sized building and then drives it away, founds the Indianapolis Raceway and fills in some marshes in Florida to establish the city of Miami Beach.

Then there's the lengthy detailing of travel in America prior to paved roads.  I was previously unaware of how recently paved roads were put into place, and also how it was nearly impossible to get from most cities to any other burg except by train.

Although the creation of the interstate system is widely attributed to Dwight Eisenhower, the president simply initiated construction work from plans that had already been in development and refinement for the past half-century.  This book goes to great pains to give credit to Thomas MacDonald, who is truly the father of the interstate system, and to Frank Turner, who tactfully handled many large issues during construction and afterwards.  Not that Eisenhower does not deserve some credit, but it is good to see another urban myth corrected.

I wish I could say the entire book is an engaging read, but there are moments where Swift seems to aimlessly circle a subject.  Other times, the subject matter is  so academical  I felt my eyes glaze over as I determinedly plowed through such passages, not unlike Swift's description of early drivers getting repeatedly stuck in wagon wheel ruts in our early nation's dirt roads.

All that said, I enjoyed “The Big Roads”.  It is not the easiest or most readable non-fiction I have encountered, but it corrected some falsehoods that have pervaded the collective consciousness.  It also made me appreciate the scope of the interstate project, the largest construction effort of all time.  So large, in fact, that we probably do not have the resources to build them all over again if we had to.

Recommended? Yes

this subject matter fascinates me.  i'm going to have to to remember to look this up some day.  tnx for bringing it to my attention. 

Quote
1.  around the world in 80 days- jules verne *** 
2.  grapes of wrath- john steinbeck **** 

3.  sideways- rex pickett ****  riotous!  my favorite film also.  i really can relate to this book :P.  i'm sure there are many males like jack in the world, but one of my best friends is him to a tee. 

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Bubba McBubba

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2012, 07:55:47 PM »

6: “The Fourth Bear” by Jasper Fforde

I am still on the fence about Fforde, despite having now read both of his “Nursery Crime” books and his “Thursday Next” series to date.

His writing is consistently witty and self-aware, but I often find he pushes both of those elements to the point of annoyance.  At his best, his books manage to combine deeply bizarre humor with an intriguing plot.  At this worst, he's like an overly precocious child, trying to impress every adult within earshot with jokes only he thinks are clever and sophisticated.

But I can happily say the second “Nursery Crime” title, “The Fourth Bear” is Fforde at his best, and this is my favorite of what I have read of his oeuvre so far (I have yet to tackle “Shades of Grey”, and have little interest in doing so).  I am not entirely sure why his irreverent, outside-the-box humor did not annoy me in “Bear”, but I suspect it is largely due to an absorbing and energetic plot that is somehow both good noir and a parody of that genre. 

It was good enough to leave me wondering: when can we get that third “Nursery Crime” book?

Recommended? Highly
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Cockney Rebel

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2012, 08:43:43 AM »

1• Patti Smith - Just Kids
2• Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymous - Air Babylon
Her fictional tales of what goes on behind the hotel industry in "Hotel Babylon" was pretty good so I was intrigued to discover what she's uncovered about the airline industry. She uncovered a lot but crammed it ALL into a nonsensical story about 24 hours in the life of an airport duty manager. Result = hodgepodge mess. I should've taken the hint when I noticed that the thrift store (charity shop) I bought it from in England had already marked it down from 75p to 50p to 25p!
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va-vacious

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Re: 50 Books in 2012
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2012, 08:33:15 PM »

"Shades of Grey" is great- completely different than the others, and completely warped. It is about colors.  The characters see certain shades of color (only blue or purple etc), and it's post-apocolyptic so the world is odd- odder than the Thursday or Nursery Crime worlds.
I loved it, and want to re-read it, since I think I've missed out on some of the parts.
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