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It's the end-of-January reading thread
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Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 3:25pm

Post #1 of 72 (635 views)
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It's the end-of-January reading thread Can't Post

End of January? Wasn't it New Year's Day, like, yesterday?

I've been reading the usual magazines, and I started a mystery novel that I didn't care for and put into the give-to-the-library box, so I won't mention it here. I tend to be very, very picky about fiction, I'm afraid, and am well aware that even though I don't care for a novel, someone else may like it a lot.

I read a delightful and informative non-fiction book titled Death by Petticoat, by Mary Miley Theobald. It's a series of very short essays exploding various historical myths, mostly from the 18th century. Theobald often writes for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and her book is illustrated by photos of interpreters and sites there.

The title comes from the myth that many colonial women died when their petticoats caught fire. Not so! These women grew up cooking over an open fire, and so forth, and knew how to avoid the danger. Not that it didn't occasionally happen---I'm trying to think of the wife of a prominent Victorian literary figure who died when her skirts caught fire---but disease was the number one cause of death.

What have you been reading?

PS to One Ringer: I haven't yet obtained a copy of Kidnapped, but it's on my list.




Angharad73
Rohan

Jan 29 2013, 3:49pm

Post #2 of 72 (263 views)
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Lots of reading... [In reply to] Can't Post

... as usual...

Actually, about the petticoats catching fire, I stumbled across an article in a Victorian magazine once, that warned of the dangers of getting too close to open fires when wearing crinolines etc., citing the deaths of a few women, whose voluminous skirts caught fire when they got too close to open fireplaces or similar. And I have also read somewhere that the half-sisters of Oscar Wilde died like that - the skirt of one caught fire, the other one wanted to help...

Anyway. I'm still reading some of the books I got for Christmas, most of all "Men of Steel" by Michael Crumplin. It's non-fiction about field surgery during the Napoleonic Wars. It details just about everything from the organisation of medical staff to the various treatments the wounded received. It's absolutely fascinating, even though I do sometimes wonder how anyone ever managed to survive the treatment of their wounds.

On the fiction side, I have started "The Sherlockian" by Graham Moore. I'm not quite sure yet what to make of it, though.


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Jan 29 2013, 4:52pm

Post #3 of 72 (255 views)
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Frankenstein (ugh) and Pearls Blows Up [In reply to] Can't Post

Finished Frankenstein. As mentioned last week, it was not an enjoyable read. The language was just too flowery and the main character just too emotionally overwrought for my tastes. Nevertheless, I'm glad I read it as there were aspects to the story that I didn't know. Sure, I was aware that the "monster" didn't start out that way, but once he turned bad, well, the rest of the story was news to me.

And then for something completely different (and some might say more my speed), I've dived into Pearls Blows Up by Stephan Pastis, a collection of Pearls Before Swine cartoons in which the cartoonist comments on many of the cartoons. I always love those kind of cartoon treasuries where we hear from the creator (Prehistory of the Far Side being the iconic and still the best of them, in my opinion). The book was a gift from the youngest Nottette, who definitely knows how to get on Dad's good side.

Notta

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 4:53pm

Post #4 of 72 (257 views)
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I imagine a death by petticoat... [In reply to] Can't Post

...would be much more spectacular than a death by, say, smallpox! Odd how the instances of this actually occurring seem to date to the 19th rather than the 18th century.

As for field surgery during the Napoleonic Wars (or during any war before World War One or so), you have a strong stomach! I imagine more soldiers died from the treatment (and the ensuing infections) than died on the actual field.

I've heard mixed reviews of The Sherlockian. Please report back in when you've finished and let us know your opinion Smile




BoromirOfWinterfell
Rohan


Jan 29 2013, 5:05pm

Post #5 of 72 (270 views)
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Lord of the... [In reply to] Can't Post

Flies. For the second time. I'm enjoying more than the first. Golding's descriptions are beautiful.

Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg - that has passed, so may this.


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Jan 29 2013, 6:04pm

Post #6 of 72 (245 views)
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Like many, I'm sure, that book changed a lot between my youth and, uh, adulthood [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, I'm not so sure the book changed as maybe I changed. Wink

I read it multiple times growing up, always as a wild romp with some sickening aspects to it. More recently, I saw much more depth (and sickness) in it.

Notta

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 6:07pm

Post #7 of 72 (246 views)
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It 's good to occasionally re-visit the classics [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially one like Frankenstein, which has been altered almost beyond recognition by all the different versions over---my goodness, I guess it's been 200 years!

The Prehistory of the Far Side is one of my favorites, too. It's enjoyable getting into the mind of the creator.




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 6:09pm

Post #8 of 72 (243 views)
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I probably had to read that in school, way back when [In reply to] Can't Post

It's probably a good thing I've forgotten most of it, since some scenes will haunt me for years, especially when described by a great writer like Golding.




One Ringer
Tol Eressea


Jan 29 2013, 6:17pm

Post #9 of 72 (245 views)
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Just finished Kidnapped yesterday... [In reply to] Can't Post

I still have yet to go back in search of specific passages that stuck out, but it didn't seem to appear as much in the last hundred pages or so. It did happen again once or twice, but I'm also starting to wonder whether or not I was reading it correctly. Stevenson makes use of certain words that can easily throw the tense off, but on second viewing it's not the case. It's purely uncommon usage (for me, that is), but he pulls it off well.

Just off the top of my head I'll give an example of the sort of shifts I'm talking about:

~We had different opinions of which route to take, but I decide to agree.~

Now, there's some phrases that were often more definitely present tense, unlike this which could easily be a spelling error (as I previously suggested), but many times this sort of writing would pop up here and there. On the other hand though, it might be what you were talking about (L. Fairbairn) in terms of Stevenson's perspe ctive as "editor" of the story. It might be meant to sound like (in terms of my example) talking to a friend casually, such as: "Y'know, we had different thoughts on where we should go, but then I decide to agree with him." Once again it might be possible that there's words missing, or poor spelling, but it also could be the dialect of the time as well (considering the writing in this book is much different from Stevenson's other works).

I'll try to remind myself to retrieve some direct quotes from the book to better dissect this. Tongue

BUT, having said all that - the book was FANTASTIC. It really picked up towards the end as David and Alan made their trek across the Highlands (especially the "quarrel" chapter). I also enjoyed the full circle effect it had (as do most great adventure stories), but my only gripe was the abrupt ending, despite its slowing down. It definitely left me wanting more, and I only wish I could find a copy of the sequel, but it doesn't appear to be available anywhere (in my immediate searches). Regardless, a stellar story by Stevenson. If I was unsure before, I'm certain now that he's one of my favorite writers. Smile

FOTR 10th Anniversary Music Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33xJU3AIwsg

"You do not let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life is not of account to you. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain."


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 29 2013, 6:33pm

Post #10 of 72 (251 views)
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Re-reading The Hunger Games trilogy. [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm nearing the end of book two and things are about to get truly horrible for Katniss and Peeta. Unsure

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 29 2013, 6:49pm

Post #11 of 72 (273 views)
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Blaze of Glory [In reply to] Can't Post

Blaze of Glory by Jeff Shaara...American Civil War/Western Theater focusing on Shiloh.

It was all right as these things go, telloing the story through the eyes of historical characters and a few cyphers. Sometimes I don't think he quite gets the 'voices' of the historical characters quite right, but they were interesting.


arithmancer
Grey Havens

Jan 29 2013, 7:38pm

Post #12 of 72 (262 views)
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Petticoat danger... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The title comes from the myth that many colonial women died when their petticoats caught fire. Not so! These women grew up cooking over an open fire, and so forth, and knew how to avoid the danger.


I visit a place called Old Sturbridge Village (which recreates a "typical" New England village of 1830 or so, right on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution). On a hot July day I commented to one of the female staff there that on days like that I was grateful I could wear shorts. She shared that she actually prefers the long skirts because it protects her legs from the sparks the fire sometimes throws off. (She was demonstrating the cooking that a farmer's wife of the era might do over her fireplace). That was a different take on period costume for me!


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 8:49pm

Post #13 of 72 (230 views)
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Interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

As I said above, I have yet get a copy of this, but I'm looking forward to re-reading it---it's been a long time even though it's one of my favorite stories. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for these odd verb uses. Some of it could be, as you say, dialect.

In any event, thank you for reminding me about Kidnapped. I'm not sure I've read the sequel myself, come to think of it. I gather it's a different book, less adventure.




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 8:49pm

Post #14 of 72 (219 views)
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Well, at least you know what to expect! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 8:50pm

Post #15 of 72 (224 views)
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It's hard to get historical voices right [In reply to] Can't Post

For one thing, words change meanings and connotations over the years. Although I trust Shaara to have done his research properly Smile




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 29 2013, 8:54pm

Post #16 of 72 (226 views)
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Well yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I imagine you could tell who had been doing the cooking by who had little burned holes in her skirts!

All this reminds me of a comment I made way back in the Two Towers/Return of the King days, pondering those long sleeves the costume designer put on Eowyn. Since those sleeves would surely be a danger around a fire, it showed Eowyn's rank that she could leave the fire-tending and cooking to someone else. (The point about someone else doing the cooking being hammered home much too forcefully in the "stew" scene in the EE, of course.)




Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 29 2013, 9:19pm

Post #17 of 72 (227 views)
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Yup [In reply to] Can't Post

He makes them quite readable. It's hard to know what these people wold say in a specific situation, but he does make them seem more human, and less portrait-like.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 29 2013, 9:33pm

Post #18 of 72 (215 views)
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Always had troubling believing the burning-dress-death stats. Glad it's been refuted./ [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 29 2013, 9:36pm

Post #19 of 72 (220 views)
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"about to get truly horrible"? [In reply to] Can't Post

when were they ever good? :)

Buy I've only read the 1st one; need to tackle the next two.


kiwifan
Rohan

Jan 29 2013, 9:42pm

Post #20 of 72 (218 views)
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@ One Ringer and Lily Fairbairn [In reply to] Can't Post

The sequel to 'Kidnapped' is called 'Catriona' and should be obtainable via amazon.com --- can you order from amazon.com as a Canadian resident?

I haven't read either book yet but know that often they're published together, in one volume. Surely a library would have them?

Good luck finding it/them!


kiwifan
Rohan

Jan 29 2013, 9:51pm

Post #21 of 72 (213 views)
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And I haven't even mustered the courage to read the first one yet... [In reply to] Can't Post

I picked it up at a secondhand-books shop but am so terrified of it causing me nightmares that I just eye it warily whenever I have to withdraw some other volume from that particular pile of 'to be read' books. Perhaps I'll end up selling it at a flea market in May because I'm really not sure I can deal with that subject. Unsure

As long as that trilogy is not making your holidays hideous... enjoy! Wink


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 29 2013, 9:53pm

Post #22 of 72 (212 views)
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3 books [In reply to] Can't Post

Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer. I read a sci-fi short story of hers, which was excellent in several ways, so bought this fantasy book of hers. It started off well, about girls living in music conservatory in a post-apocalyptic future in a world ruled by magic and quasi-Christians. The relationships between the teenage girls were authentic--friends are frenemies at that age, and the description of the subtleties of music in its technical, emotional, and interpersonal aspects were all good.

Then the writing felt pretty fake after she leaves the conservatory; I got to the point of skimming the rest of it.

Totally for history/poli sci geeks: Brotherhood of Kings, a history of international relations in the ancient Middle East. I'm enjoying it: well-written and a view of history that you don't normally see, including the personal things people said in letters 4000 years ago. But you have to like the subject to get into it.

Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher. Very amusing book, but it got a little too bogged down in the incessant discussion of words for colors in languages around the world. His sense of humor kept me reading, but I hoped he'd move on to other issues about language, culture, and perception than just whether people have a color for "blue" or not. But if you ever want to make small talk at a cocktail party full of linguists, bring up how "blue" came very late to every language, whereas red, white, and black were always the first words.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 29 2013, 9:57pm

Post #23 of 72 (207 views)
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I don't think it would cause nightmares. [In reply to] Can't Post

It's bleak, and there's violence and sadness, but not more violent than is common in TV and lit these days. It was never scary; maybe suspenseful at times. It's mostly about a struggle to survive in a harsh world. Crudely put (very), it might be similar to a Dickens novel where people struggle against a harsh society with the odds stacked against them. I say that about the theme and tone, not about any parallel plot items or other connections.


kiwifan
Rohan

Jan 29 2013, 10:33pm

Post #24 of 72 (234 views)
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Mixed bag, as usual... [In reply to] Can't Post

In a roundabout way, the 'Hobbit' film is responsible for my widening my horizons Wink:

namely, in Brian Sibley's companion book 'TH: AUJ The Official Movie Guide' , in the chapter on Kili, he mentions that Aidan Turner had played Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Pre-Raphaelite painter and poet, in a BBC series called 'Desperate Romantics' --- which I duly borrowed from the library and watched (in wide-eyed amazement at times because one gets to see quite a lot more of A.T. than I had expected Blush --- not that I minded, really Tongue ) --- and that somewhat frivolous romp then caused me to return to the library for Tim Barringer's non-fiction book 'The Pre-Raphaelites', in the German translation, which I rather enjoyed. I had had a fairly hazy idea of that movement but now was motivated to acquire some proper knowledge, and indeed it is a good read, with plenty of pictures, and definitely a good introduction to the PRB, their ideals and works, and to a lesser degree, their lives. Fairly easy reading, even if you have a sinus headache like I did.

The second discovery I joyfully made thanks to the 'Hobbit' film is the fact that by reading up in wikipedia on one of its stars I found that the wonderful Richard Armitage has done audiobooks of three of my beloved Georgette Heyer novels, and our library (where would I be without that admirable institution) has one of them, 'Venetia', which of course, flu or no flu, I had to go and get as soon as I discovered its existence and the fact that it was actually available that very day (one copy only in the entire system, and available at the branch library nearest to me, just when I wanted it --- fate, wasn't it?). So I spent two afternoons, snug in bed with a hot-water bottle at my feet, hot herbal tea and a packet of cough drops, listening to R.A.'s lovely and expressive voice giving life to these familiar characters in flawless, crystal-clear English. An almost sensual delight for my fastidious ears Smile. Certainly, the audiobook is much abridged which is a shame since very many of what I call the little 'Austenish' bits of gentle satire in the description of secondary characters are omitted. However, it's still very enjoyable. And now I'm reading the novel again, for the umpteenth time, to catch the bits that were left out in the audiobook. And I also submitted a so-called 'Leserwunsch' which means 'reader's wish' (literally) and is a polite request to the library to purchase something one wants, in this case the other two Heyer novel audiobooks recorded by Richard Armitage ('The Convenient Marriage' and 'Sylvester'). I hope the librarian will decide in favour of doing so ... And of course there are two more Heyer novels recorded as audiobooks in the same series, 'Cotillion' and 'The Grand Sophy', read by Clare Wille, whoever she is, but I didn't dare overwhelm the librarian!

I also want to compare the English originals of the two 'Hobbit AUJ' companion books (which I own), Brian Sibley's aforementioned Official Movie Guide, and Jude Fisher's Visual Companion, to their German translations which I got (guess where) temporarily. About those two works in general I just want to say briefly: the Visual Companion contains almost the same photographs as Official Movie Guide so one doesn't really need both of them.

So all of this is in some way due to TH AUJ!


Laerasëa
Tol Eressea


Jan 29 2013, 10:51pm

Post #25 of 72 (201 views)
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I think it actually [In reply to] Can't Post

functions pretty well as a book on it's own. It's not a light book, but it's certainly not as horrific as the second two. It's not that everything is resolved at the end, but I actually think, after finishing the first book, I could have seen that as a story on its own.

‎"When we can take green from grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter's power—upon one plane; and the desire to wield that power in the world
external to our minds awakes."
--J. R. R. Tolkien


Mozart and Chocolate

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