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Re: Books you're reading

I'm re-reading the novel _Stoner_ by John Williams, first published in 1965 and re-issued more recently in paperback and as an audible book.  It's a jewel of a novel--beautifully written in a direct, unpretentious, yet elegant style.  The main character, William Stoner, is a Missouri farm boy whose life is changed in unanticipated ways by his enrolling and then teaching at the University of Missouri.  Some find Stoner's life sad, but most readers are moved by the stoicism, integrity, and dignity with which he lives out his ordinary life.  Williams wrote several novels that were under-appreciated in his lifetime.  Belated recognition has come for his books, especially  _Stoner_.  More than 1,300 people have reviewed the novel on Amazon, giving it an average of 4.5 stars.

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Re: Books you're reading

@rubirosaGood to hear that "South of Nowhere" was also good.  By the way, both it and "Nine Days" can be purchased new in hardback for under $10 at Amazon.  I have an extensive personal library, but for the last few years I've been much more selective about what I buy.  I generally read everything for free from the public library first, and that has helped me spend my book money much more selectively.  A lot of books I will enjoy reading once, but will not want to ever read them again.  But a good work of fiction that I'll want to read again at a later date, I'll keep an eye out for it at a good price and pounce when it's on sale (I'm weird in that I don't mind a book from the library (as long as it's clean and not written in) but I will not buy a used book for my library.  New or not at all.

Non-fiction, I might buy a good history or biography, but a lot of the non-fiction is more of a read once and then move on.  Current events and political situations go stale quickly, so I'm more selective in the non-fiction area.  

I imagine that I will get the Bagehot book shortly, I don't think there were any holds on the one copy that is in the Delaware library system.  The few books I have currently checked out don't have holds on them, so I can take my time with them and renew a couple of times if I need to.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading a book about the huge private company Cargill (the first of three volumes about the company, this one published in 1992).  Text weighs in at 877 pages, and I'm up around to page 360.  I have no idea why I find this book so interesting, but I do.  I'll usually pick in up at least once a day in between reading something else and knock out a few pages.  

ADDED: I lived in San Antonio for five years in the mid-eighties and several times almost made it out to Marfa to check out the famous "Marfa Ghost Lights".  They've been mostly explained away as being generated by car headlights, but it's interesting that they were talked about since the 1880's...

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Re: Books you're reading

@franks  - Loved “Peace Like a River.” Thanks!

Brian

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BREAKFAST WITH LUCIAN: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter -- by Geordie Greig.

The book wasn’t what I expected, but it turned out to be a good buy anyway. I had hoped for some thoughts about Lucian Freud’s portrait of Elizabeth II. Why did he age her unnecessarily? Why the waxen flesh, the muscles and wrinkles, the dull expressionless face, the glum, tired, bored look?  Creative genius or a deliberate calculated insult? Art or hateful caricature, etc.?Author Geordie Greig says nary a word on the subject. Not a mumbling word. So, there's a minor disappointment on that count.

On a more positive note, though, Greig was an intimate, and we’re not likely to learn much more from other sources about the everyday life of Lucian Freud. He was obsessively private. Even his children seldom knew where he was living at a given time, nor did they or their mothers have access to his telephone numbers. Even his very small circle of friends gained access only by secret knocks and coded telephone rings. Yes, eccentric. Not very well-equipped for everyday life. Very much like his grandfather, Sigmund.

And not just eccentric and unconventional. Lucian was a compulsive womanizer (and manizer). A scamp. A hedonist. A serial seducer.  Of his fourteen acknowledged children, only two were born in wedlock. Maybe thirty or forty children in all. Three children by three different mistresses in the year 1961 alone. More than Brando?

 If you don’t care much for Lucian’s fathering behaviors, he did at least leave his children £100,000,000.  

That oughta count for something, right?  He'd have left more but he  lost million£ at the race track. And yes, that's the correct number of zeros.

AKA recoveringdprof and rubirosa.
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Re: Books you're reading

Not new treatises, but dusting off my old paperback copies and  re-reading Crime and Punishment and Thus Spake Zarathustra simultaneously, to compare the respective predicate ethical axioms  underlying the respective philosophies of  Rashkolnikov and The Ubermensch. Not that disparate I'm finding.

 Getting ready to Retire in 4 years, then spending my SS, 403b,  457 and Pension $ by returning  to graduate school to get my PhD, I chickened out of way back in 1982, by running away to Law School.

Never had the Bug to take up Golf, always accepted Twain's retort that " Golf was a Beautiful Walk Ruined."

 

Signed,

 

NoFriends1

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Re: Books you're reading

Some books I've read recently, a mixture of fiction and nonfiction presented in no particular order:

KILL CREEK by Scott Thomas (2017).  I don't read as much horror as I used to, although I do still enjoy the occasional spooky read.  This is a first novel by the author, and it is remarkably good.  I should mention here that when it comes to fiction, I don't get into the plot very much, I'm always afraid of giving away too much.  Anyway, this is a very good book in the horror/supernatural genre.  A story with a bit of a twist, and it seemed like a fresh approach, imaginative and well-written.

DEAR MONEY by Martha McPhee (2010).  A novelist turns into a bond trader.  I'm a sucker for what I think of as financial fiction, and this was a great book, enjoyed it from beginning to end.

LIKE LIONS by Brian Panowich (2019).  A stand-alone book, but it also continues the storyline in Panowich's book, Bull Mountain, which is also an excellent work of fiction.  Set in the North Georgia mountains, the main character is a law enforcement official who comes from a family whose main occupation is crime.  Bull Mountain got some critical acclaim, and Like Lions is a great follow-up, and the way the story finishes up - well, I didn't see that coming! A great twist at the end.

THE BANK THAT LIVED A LITTLE: Barclays in the Age of the Very Free Market, by Philip Auger (2018).  The title describes the book very well.  A very interesting look behind the curtain at a large international bank, blended in with the history of the bank.  Lots of interesting tidbits throughout the book, and reading about Barclays attempt to buy Lehmann Brothers as it was going under during The Financial Crisis was highly interesting and instructive.  

Some upcoming books that might be of interest:

THE MAN WHO SOLVED THE MARKET: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution, coming out 5 November.  I forgot to jot down the author's name, sorry.  

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION by Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson (12 Nov 2019).  I'm a bit apprehensive about this one, as I was not impressed by the two books put out after Crichton passed away, but hopefully this one will be better.  I like the premise, a follow-up to a classic.  

THE GUARDIANS by John Grisham (15 Oct 2019)

DREAMS OF EL DORADO: A History of the American West by H. W. Brands (22 Oct 2019).  Brands is an excellent historian and I'm looking forward to this one.

TWISTED TWENTY SIX by Janet Evanovich (12 Nov 2019).  She has a couple of other series going on, more or less, but this book is a continuation of her main series featuring that fearless (well, maybe some fear) bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum.  I love these books!

 

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Re: Books you're reading


@mlott1 wrote:

 

TWISTED TWENTY SIX by Janet Evanovich (12 Nov 2019).  She has a couple of other series going on, more or less, but this book is a continuation of her main series featuring that fearless (well, maybe some fear) bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum.  I love these books!


You may then also like (and have read?) the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb?  Written more seriously in tone, but similarly interesting characters.  Latest is "Vendetta In Death"; with "Golden In Death" to follow.  There's nothing quite like Evanovich's quirky characters that I've found, however!

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Re: Books you're reading

This is a long thread, so my apologies if someone has mentioned this title: Audience of One.

It's the best analysis I have read of how Donald Trump made "Donald Trump."

Bob

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"THE GUARDIANS by John Grisham (15 Oct 2019)"  mlott1

Thanks for the heads-up.

 

AKA recoveringdprof and rubirosa.
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@rubirosaI'm pretty sure I've read one or two Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb books a while back, but for whatever reason she just didn't resonate with me.  Just one of those things.  

I hardly ever read science fiction these days but I'm working on a sci-fi book that's proving to be interesting.  "A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe" by Alex White (2018).  It's subtitled "The Salvagers: Book One" and there is a second volume.  I read a lot of science fiction in my younger days, and I think I burned myself out on the genre.  

I checked my library account today and I have some books in transit, one of which is "Bagehot", so I should be able to start on that one in a few days.  Looking forward to it. 

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@mlott1 wrote:

@rubirosaI'm pretty sure I've read one or two Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb books a while back, but for whatever reason she just didn't resonate with me.  Just one of those things.  


Actually, I was the one who mentioned Roberts/Robb, and I can appreciate that it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.


@mlott1 wrote:

 

I hardly ever read science fiction these days but I'm working on a sci-fi book that's proving to be interesting.  "A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe" by Alex White (2018).  It's subtitled "The Salvagers: Book One" and there is a second volume.  I read a lot of science fiction in my younger days, and I think I burned myself out on the genre.  


That's a large area of interest for me.  One of my favorites was: Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card.  Not as popular as his Ender series of books, but an interesting/unique premise.

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Somerset Maugham isn't read much these days, but I've always loved his novels and plays, and especially his short stories. I just noticed maybe a dozen of his books free or  and  just $2 or $3 at Kindle. Just a heads-up. 

AKA recoveringdprof and rubirosa.
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When it comes to the classics, it's a mixed bag with me.  A few years ago, after saying to myself for about forty years that I should try an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, I decided to go with (what else?) The Great Gatsby.  I just could not get into it, and finally gave it up a little past midway.  Later I tried John Steinbeck's Cannery Row and really enjoyed that one.  And about a year ago I read "Giant" by Edna Ferber and enjoyed it, although her writing style tended to annoy me just a little bit.  Overall I'm a bit light on early to mid-twentieth century literature, just can't get to everything!

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One of the very best historical fiction novels that I've ever read is "Stone's Fall" by Ian Pears.  An interesting financial angle drives the story, but what most stays in my mind is how the story ends - one of the most unexpected twists I've ever read anywhere.  The ending is simply amazing.  

And while I'm throwing out random books that I liked very much, "The Business" by Iain Banks comes to mind.  The premise of the book is a transnational corporation that predates the Christian church, and the book is just flat-out good.  If the author sounds familiar, he got some critical acclaim for an earlier book, "The Wasp Factory", but I'll have to confess that I was not nearly as enamored with that effort and couldn't make it all the way through.  

"14" and "The Fold" by Peter Clines.  Both can be read and enjoyed as stand-alone novels, but there is a bit of a tie-in at the end of "The Fold" that will be missed if you haven't read the earlier "14".  "14" is a reference to Apartment 14 in a rather unusual apartment building.  More than a touch of H. P. Lovecraft here, in a good way.  "The Fold" I guess you could call a science fiction/thriller type book and deals with teleportation.  I really liked both books, bought them for my library, and intend to read both again.

'The Ballad of Black Tom" by Victor LaValle.  Definitely Lovecraft inspired, but with his own voice, an imaginative story (more novella length than standard novel).  I've went back and read it a couple of times already.

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IN PRAISE OF JOHN GRISHAM

For some unknown reason, I lost interest in JG after his first six or seven books, and just as mysteriously that interest has recently returned. JG is a popular fiction guy, of course; he says he’s “a pretty good
story teller, no more,” and that he harbors no ambition to win over the literary establishment. Good on him!  We need more good story tellers.

It bothers some of the lettered and well-schooled, for example, that JG often plows the same furrow twice, serves up similar plots. Two of the books I just read feature billionaire characters who draw up
holographic wills cutting out their families entirely and giving away their fortunes to lone, unknown individuals. Then the billionaires commit suicide and leave the lawyers to sort it all out. [Sycamore Row
and The Testament]. Very similar plotting. Doesn’t bother me that much, but yes, there are nits aplenty to pick with JG if you‘re of a mind.

But outweighing all that (to me) is his social conscience - his views on environmental degradation, corporate greed, wrongful convictions, big pharma, the plight of the homeless, health insurance, prison conditions, etc. You don't have to buy all his messages, but he's on the right track. Reaching some people who really need to be reached.

Then, throw in humor aplenty. Jackleg constables, ear wigging lawyers, ham-and-eggers, stealth jurors, hard-drinking judges. There’d be more humor, he says, but his wife edits it out.

Finally, it’s refreshing (and in the Southern tradition) that JG never slaps you with coarse language  and jarring crudities --  a real turn-off to me. Two thirds of his readers are women, by the way.

He’s a fun read, and I’m glad to re-find him.

AKA recoveringdprof and rubirosa.
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@rubirosaGreat take on John Grisham.  I've been a big fan for a long time, and except for him, I don't much care for the legal thriller novel.  Years ago, I stopped after work at a bookmobile that was parked at a fire station close to my house, went in and looked around.  "The Firm" caught my eye.  Wasn't familiar with the author, but after reading the flyleaf synopsis, I checked it out (I am a sucker for financial fiction).  Was immediately hooked, finished the book in a couple of days, mainly reading well into the night before going to work the next day.  Went to a bookstore at the mall that weekend, and there were absolutely tons of the book on display.  "Number One Best Seller!" and so on and so forth.  I had no idea that the book was a best seller until then.

I really have not been disappointed in any of his books, although there are a few that I won't go back and reread.  If I had to pick a very favorite, I would be going back and forth over probably half of his books, but if pressed I would give the nod to "The Last Juror".  "Sycamore Row" was a great story, I've already read that one again.  And I'll stop there, because I could just keep going, talking about his books.

On another topic, "Baggehot" by James Grant, is an absolute delight so far.  I got the book yesterday from the library along with some others I'm looking forward to (among them, "South of Nowhere").  But all other books will now take a backseat to "Bagehot".  As indicated, I'm in the process of reading it, and I was originally going to wait until I finished before talking about it, but it is so unexpectedly good that I have to give in a preliminary thumbs-up.  I had forgotten what a good writer James Grant is.  "The Forgotten Depression", and his biography of Bernard Baruch are the two other books that I've read by him, although he has authored some others as well.  The writing is both concise and engaging at the same time.  Early in the book he talked about the great financial panic in England in 1825, and in just a few paragraphs I understood what had happened and why.  

I was just hoping that "Bagehot" would be readable enough that I could make it through, as I have long heard and read about the man but really knew next to nothing about him.  James Grant may have done something extraordinary with this book, and I'm already looking forward to reading more of it.  

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For all you baseball fans out there, and in anticipation of the World Series next month, consider reading K:A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner. 

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@franks wrote:

For all you baseball fans out there, and in anticipation of the World Series next month, consider reading K:A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner. 


I might have to get that for Darling Daughter  for Christmas. She pitched four years through college.

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Just finished "South of Nowhere", by Minerva Koenig, a follow-up to "Nine Days", mentioned earlier in this thread.  Both are excellent mystery novels.

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Thank you Aquinas for recommending STONER  recently.  I think you described the book wonderfully, and thanks also for the book's interesting history. (It came out in 1965, sold 2000 copies and was promptly forgotten for 40 years. Then the NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS reissued it  as a classic, it became a commercial success, and now it's sometimes referred to as "the greatest American novel you've never heard of.")

STONER is the story of the life and long career of a professor of medieval and renaissance English literature at the University of
Missouri. A good man. A quiet, studious man. A serious man. And an entirely capable man in his field. Nevertheless, William Stoner leads an undistinguished and quite uneventful life. He never advances beyond the lowly rank of assistant professor.

Life finds Professor Stoner locked in a loveless marriage with a mentally unstable wife. She’s selfish and manipulative and she detests physical intimacy. Except for the birth of a daughter (whom the professor loves unconditionally and, alas, who turns out badly), and a brief love affair with an English instructor at Mizzou (perhaps the most beautiful part of the novel), there’s little joy in the professor’s life. He’s picked on by his department head, assigned semester loads of twelve hours of freshman comp and sophomore lit surveys scheduled at widely separated hours and leaving little uninterrupted time for scholarly writing.

The infuriating thing is that Stoner won’t fight back; you want to throttle him as he stoically endures. And the triumph of the novel is that despite his passivity you somehow come to care deeply for him, especially when, amongst the ruins of his life, he finds love. So tender, so deeply moving.

This is a brutally honest portrait of a man who, despite his faults, you‘ll come to truly care for. Load up on hankies for the ending.

 



AKA recoveringdprof and rubirosa.
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