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It's the ohmygosh it's Tuesday reading thread!
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Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 7 2014, 9:32pm

Post #1 of 55 (297 views)
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It's the ohmygosh it's Tuesday reading thread! Can't Post

Well, I finally did it---I went on my merry way this morning without posting the reading thread. Blush Better late than never, I hope.

I'll weigh in with comments on my own reading when I get a chance to catch my breath, but for now---what have you been reading?




Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 7 2014, 9:54pm

Post #2 of 55 (195 views)
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Nightfall, by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg. [In reply to] Can't Post

I first read this about 20 years ago and was reminded of it recently, so bought a copy for a re-read. I remembered the book ending *very* differently! What a faulty thing memory is.

This is the novelisation of Asimov's original short story. On a planet with six suns, there is no night - until a rogue planet causes an eclipse on a one-sun day that lasts for hours. This story is about how the civilisation handles the lead-up and aftermath of the eclipse with some sobering commentary on how fragile a society really is.

This is a really accessible science-fiction story for anyone who might be a bit leery of the genre. A superb story, told really well.

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


Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jan 7 2014, 10:02pm

Post #3 of 55 (188 views)
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more Pratchett and some other things [In reply to] Can't Post

I found a lovely chair, some hot cocoa, and a blanket this week and didn't get much done. But I did read 4 books over the week.

More Discworld. Soul Music & Interesting Times this week. Both were expectedly fun, though I'm afraid that Rincewind may be losing his luster for me. I was a big fan of his earlier novels but I didn't have as much fun with Interesting Times. Though Death and the Luggage still remain two of my favorite characters.

Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion by Michael Levy. It's the story of an American man who joined the Peace Corps and was assigned as an ESL teacher in one of China's poorer cities, Guiyang. He talks about everything from teaching to playing basketball and Wal-mart. I'm a big fan of memoirs and this one gave me a look into Chinese life that I hadn't seen before.

Zero History by William Gibson. I grabbed this on a whim from the bargain books section because I knew William Gibson from his SF works. This one is a mystery/thriller novel that I didn't realize was part of a series until I was well into it. I don't feel like I missed much from not reading the previous two. It's one of those books that I look back on and realize not much happened. But it was still an enjoyable way to spend some time on a cold weekend.



Warning: the preceding message may contain satire, sarcasm, irony, puns, and other attempts at humor.
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silneldor
Half-elven


Jan 7 2014, 11:03pm

Post #4 of 55 (192 views)
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Removing tongue from flagpoles, for Dummies [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course i am kidding, although i am surely glad i do not have to use the outhouse in winterAngelic.

Just reading same stuff as last week except a little bit concerning medicare supplement plans. That, is not too far away...

" 'Fair lady Goldberry!' said Frodo at last, feeling his heart move with a joy that he did not understand. He stood as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange."

Chapter VII: In the House of Tom Bombadil; FOTR's

Faerie contains many things besides elves and fays and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are one in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted."
— J.R.R. Tolkien














Annael
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 12:26am

Post #5 of 55 (187 views)
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"Among Others" by Jo Walton [In reply to] Can't Post

Which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. LOVING it. I would call it more "magical realism" than fantasy but the line's pretty blurred.

Still working through LOTR. Pippin's just offered his sword to Denethor.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


acheron
Gondor


Jan 8 2014, 4:40am

Post #6 of 55 (174 views)
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Neal Stephenson again [In reply to] Can't Post

The Diamond Age, first. I understand it now. It can be confusing.

I used to mainly enjoy the speculation about nanotechnology; now I find the more interesting parts of the book are related to societal organization and commentary (with the "neo-Victorians" in particular).

Also Anathem again. My favorite book, save LOTR. I've written long posts about it before, so I'll refrain now, other than one thing I noticed this time: Stephenson explicitly invokes translation convention, but he's not very "good" at it. There are a lot of invented words, but they're all based on English or its closer relatives (e.g. "anathem" = "anthem" + "anathema"), the idea being that the word in Orth has similar connotations to native speakers as what an English speaker understands. (Something we're all familiar with here.) Mostly I don't buy it though; the connotations in English are too good to have ever evolved the same way in another language as well. (Of course -- uh, major spoilers -- the world of Arbre is in a parallel universe from Earth, kind of, and ideas can "flow" between universes. It's implied Arbre is "upstream" from Earth, so that ideas from Arbre can flow to Earth, so maybe it works out that English and Greek and Latin have the right connotations because the ideas came in from the languages of Orth and Fluccish on Arbre...)

Anyway, even Tolkien, the undisputed master of translation convention, screwed up at least once*, so it's not really a bad thing, just something I thought of.

* The book mentions "Orthanc" is a double language pun, but it's a pun in Sindarin and Anglo-Saxon Old English. When the Rohirrim say a word in Old English, you are supposed to assume they "really" said it in their own language, but then the pun wouldn't exist.

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man, for precisely the same reasons. -- Douglas Adams


Greenwood Hobbit
Gondor


Jan 8 2014, 9:30am

Post #7 of 55 (157 views)
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Terry Pratchett's 'A Bllnk of the Screen' [In reply to] Can't Post

was a recent surprise discovery at my local library; it contains short pieces he's written on various themes, some Discworld, some not. If you like Pratchett it's an interesting look at other ideas of his. I agree with Arwen's Daughter that Rincewind is a bit of a one-trick pony once you've seen him a few times. I enjoy books centring on the Guards and the Witches, also the Tiffany Aching series of books featuring the Nac Mac Feegle (Wee Free Men, Hatful of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight); these were written for younger readers but contain plenty to enthral older ones too.


demnation
Rohan


Jan 8 2014, 10:17am

Post #8 of 55 (157 views)
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Still LOTR [In reply to] Can't Post

Just got to the Council of Elrond. Information Overload! Still, the Council is one of the few times in any book I've read where massive amounts of exposition works well.

Without the high and noble the simple and vulgar is utterly mean; and without the simple and ordinary the noble and heroic is meaningless

As far as any character is 'like me' it is Faramir–except that I lack what all my characters possess: Courage.

A small knowledge of history depresses one with the sense of the everlasting mass and weight of human iniquity


Elberbeth
Tol Eressea


Jan 8 2014, 5:16pm

Post #9 of 55 (143 views)
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The Harem of Aman Akbar [In reply to] Can't Post

No, it's not an erotic tale. But it is hard to describe in a few words. It's a whimsical tale of the three aforesaid wives, previously unknown to each other, who find that their husband, in pursuit of a fourth wife, had been accidently transformed into an ass. They set out to lift his enchantment, with the help of a wise woman, a saint's relic, a reluctant djinn, and his bad-tempered mother. I enjoyed it.
Also reading Academ's Fury, book two in another series by Jim Butcher. I would have understood more about it more quickly had I read the first one, this is the second one. But I am engrossed in it, I might even venture to say I like it better than the Dresden Files. Will definitely be looking for others in the series.

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:30pm

Post #10 of 55 (156 views)
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My own reading... [In reply to] Can't Post

...this week consisted of The Natural History of Unicorns, by Chris Lavers, and The Virgin in the Ice, by Ellis Peters.

Unicorns is a small book devoted to exploring the history of the myth of the unicorn and considering which real animals contributed to the myth. It's less whimsical than I assumed when I picked it up off a remainder table. Lavers loses me in quotes from ancient texts and subtleties of symbolism a time or two---I enjoyed the bits about the real animals better. But it was informative, entertaining, and short.

Virgin is my favorite of the Brother Cadfael mysteries. I should have waited until August to re-read it, since it takes place in December amid lots of ice and snow. On the other hand, reading about the 12th-century characters braving all that ice and snow in no more than cloaks and the like did make me feel a bit warmer during our own cold weather!

The Cadfael stories take place during a struggle between two claimants for the throne in England. Cadfael's Shrewsbury, on the Welsh border, is mostly (but not always) free of conflict. At the beginning of this installment, two teenage nobles, brother and sister, have fled with their nun-governess from an attack on Worcester and disappeared near Shrewsbury. Meanwhile, a monk of Cadfael's order has been found almost dead on the road, having been beaten and robbed.

The book is beautifully plotted, with all the pieces brought together for an almost inspirational ending. The characters (including a very special new one!) are presented vividly, and Peters describes the characters moving through the landscape with the skill of Tolkien himself. The book was originally published in 1982 and isn't all that fast a read compared to one of today's mystery thrillers. But every page is a delight.




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:36pm

Post #11 of 55 (142 views)
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Asimov was a genius [In reply to] Can't Post

As many books as he wrote, you'd think he wouldn't have done very good work. But no. He was a master. And Silverberg, too---erudite in many areas as well as SF.




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:37pm

Post #12 of 55 (137 views)
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4 books IS getting a lot done! [In reply to] Can't Post

Obviously the chair, the cocoa, and the blanket were very beneficial. I, too, enjoy looks into cultures I'm unfamiliar with.




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:38pm

Post #13 of 55 (131 views)
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LOL! [In reply to] Can't Post

Hard to imagine what people once had to go through in weather like this---although I got a taste of it in my own reading (see above). Those supplement plans are landing on our desks, too, unfortunately....




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:40pm

Post #14 of 55 (139 views)
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Walton is great, isn't she? [In reply to] Can't Post

Those rewards were well-deserved. As for Pippin, every now and then his impulsiveness leads him to do the right thing, doesn't it?




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:43pm

Post #15 of 55 (134 views)
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Sounds very subtle [In reply to] Can't Post

But then, Tolkien's conceit that his writing is only a translation from other languages is also subtle and complex.

I haven't read Stephenson, so can only raise a brow at "the world of Arbre". I suppose the fact that "arbre" is "tree" in French ties in with a lot of tree mythology?




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:45pm

Post #16 of 55 (128 views)
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Oh yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm a fan of the Nac Mac Feegle, too, especially with the bards being called mcgonagalls (I may not be spelling it a la Pratchett but like the original poet). I notice J.K. Rowling evoking the same poet in naming a major professor at Hogwarts. Fun!




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:46pm

Post #17 of 55 (129 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

It's amazing how absorbing The Council of Elrond is, considering it's a massive data-dump. But then, Tolkien was without peer!




Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 5:47pm

Post #18 of 55 (129 views)
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Elizabeth Scarborough! [In reply to] Can't Post

I have this book on my shelves and well remember enjoying it when I first read it. I'll have to recommend the new Butcher series to my husband, who loves the Dresden books.




Belegdir
Bree


Jan 8 2014, 7:36pm

Post #19 of 55 (126 views)
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Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm working my way through the Culture books again.


Erewen
The Shire

Jan 8 2014, 8:09pm

Post #20 of 55 (124 views)
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The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't go very far but it looks promising

In dreams I will find my way.


Annael
Half-elven


Jan 8 2014, 8:57pm

Post #21 of 55 (125 views)
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Pippin is the George Bailey of LOTR [In reply to] Can't Post

I've amused myself on these boards before with a discussion of what WOULDN'T have happened if Pippin hadn't come along.

1. He dropped the stone in Moria that alerted the orcs & Balrog to their presence, leading to Gandalf's fall and rebirth as the White Wizard who could defeat Saruman and heal Theoden, who then rode to the aid of Minas Tirith.

2. He dropped his brooch while being abducted by Orcs, giving Aragorn et al. the heart to keep chasing them, meet up with Eomer, and then meet Gandalf again and go with him to Helm's Deep.

3. He got himself and Merry free from the Orcs so that they could crawl into Fangorn Forest and meet Treebeard - and inspire the Ents to attack Isengard.

4. He looked in the Palantir, which got Aragorn to do it too, and that provoked Sauron to strike sooner than later and drew his Eye away from his own lands just when Frodo was trying to get in.

5. He saved Faramir's life.

6. He found Merry after the Battle of the Pelennor; Merry might well have died of his wounds but for Pippin.

7. He raised the Tooks in the Scouring of the Shire.

Basically, if it weren't for Pippin, Sauron and Saruman would won every battle and Theoden, Faramir, and Merry would be dead. The Quest would fail.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Jan 8 2014, 9:04pm)


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Jan 9 2014, 2:38am

Post #22 of 55 (105 views)
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Elfstones of Shannara is a much better book, IMO. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I haven't go very far but it looks promising

His writing got much better, and he stopped copying Tolkien's plots.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Jan 9 2014, 2:44am

Post #23 of 55 (113 views)
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Now about 2/3 through Pillars of the Earth. [In reply to] Can't Post

One of my favorite characters died. :(

I have to say I'm getting tired of the way Follett reminds us that the villain is Evil (TM) by writing a graphic rape scene every 200 pages or so. Yes, we get it, so can we please dispense with the in-your-face ugliness and just imply the next ones? Enough already.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Jan 9 2014, 9:58am

Post #24 of 55 (89 views)
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*mods up* // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Jan 9 2014, 9:59am

Post #25 of 55 (108 views)
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Oh, man. [In reply to] Can't Post

I read that when it first came out, and it made me so mad I never read another of his books. Which apparently is a pity, because people have told me they get better. And my sister, who met him at a conference, said he's a very nice man.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Jan 9 2014, 10:01am)

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