This is a nice thread. Let's have a book edition.
I just read my first book by Haruki Murakami, "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle". Murakami gets a lot of praise in these parts, and after reading this book, I can confirm that it isn't unfounded. The book to me felt a bit weaker towards the end, but I really liked hearing the stories of Nomonhan, Siberia, and such.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Has some interesting ideas that are statistically accurate, but won't convince anyone. A short read with very interesting ideas. If you're into controversy, it turns out that abortion is actually a very good thing from a very limited economic perspective. Then again, Rhodesia was a very good thing from a very limited economic perspective (but also made no one happy).
The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens
Not sure when my mother got all super atheist, but it was right around the time she retired and didn't have to be polite to anyone ever again. So I got this book (or long essay?) shoved in my face.
Hitchens never has anything nice to say, not even about Mother (Fucking) Teresa. Turns out she was cool with terrible right-wing dictators and misappropriated donations. Then again, that's the Catholic hierarchy in general. If you're looking for a reason to hate a saint, go for it. If you prefer to believe she was a generally good person, or that anyone can ever be anything approaching any Christian definition of good, I'd ignore it.
Rossiya: Voices from the Brezhnev Era by Alex Shinshin
A slightly interesting memoir of a trek across the USSR and the Eastern Bloc in the 1970s. Traveling from Vladivostok to Poland, Shinshin most-memorably notes subtle instances of Soviet rebellion in an era when supposedly no such thing existed. If you're into this sort of thing, you'll like it. Otherwise, you'll wonder why I'm even bothering to type so many (72) words about it.
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris
OM[Undefined], we get it. Christian/Islamic fundamentalism is awful. We know. This book seems to insist we can be "spiritual" without any god and that mostly involves Buddhism. Sure, whatever dude. The Buddha gets his oranges and incense as part of my personal superstition, and I live your dream or not, or whatever. In the meantime, my adopted gods have obviously acquired a taste for Clif Crunchy Peanut Butter Energy Bars in addition to their favorite bananas, as evidenced by my good fortune in traveling the South Pacific. Watch me fail to give a fuck and continue to leave offerings for the good of my wayward traveling companions who give their offerings to the wrong piles of rocks. I guess this might appeal to you if you have never once heard of an alternative worldview. Otherwise: atheism, yadda, yadda, yadda, the most-logical option.
Sorry, I can't believe there's such a market for these books.
The Russia House by John le Carré
Imagine James Bond told from the perspective of his accountants. It's kind of like that. Except imagine that the James Bond in question fell into spying after his career in banking fell through. Not sure why this was forced on me, but hey, it offers some highly fictionalized accounts of the everyday early Perestroika-era Soviet lifestyle and I dig that for some reason. An entirely bureaucratic spy novel.
The Vast Unknown by Broughton Coburn
It's about the first American expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. After having been beaten in the race to #1 in nearly everyone else by 1963, Americans seek to play catch up in mountaineering too. Notable for a few technical firsts, the expedition was otherwise routine, including the death of one member. As far as these books go, it's OK. The best part is mention of the Camel cigarettes tie-in promotion. Oh, 1963, you so silly.
The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley
Difficult to read if only because everyone has a difficult name. Gives a highly-fictionalized account of the many trials of the Norse Greenlanders in a style sort-of reminiscent of the sagas. Greenlanders were the hardest of Viking remnants, who managed to eke out an existence through primitive pastoralism in the worst theoretically-habitable place on earth. They did this for close to five hundred (miserable) years. They died out due to isolation, climate change, and invasion on two fronts. Take note, Western World! Or read about Rapa Nui, I guess.
Otherwise, cherish hilarious (in the Icelandic-sense, so not particularly) tales of St. Olaf the Greenlander and the various drawn-out stories of so-and-so's-dottir living a full and detailed life before suddenly dying by falling through thin ice while seeking out her lost sheep. If you're into misery porn, you might as well learn something from it! Read it!
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Taken from a series of magazine articles, it sure has that feel to it. Interesting stuff, most of which is plastic is bad, m'kay. If you deny the human influence on climate change, then buy six copies, have them delivered overnight air, burn them, read it on your good iPad and have a good laugh. Otherwise, it might make you a little nervous about the future.
So, um, where to begin? A while ago some Google ads next to a GMail conversation about my reading material (mostly about David Weber and other Baen Books authors) led me to a site advertising a German alternative-history series of military SF called "Kaiserfront 1949". The basic premise is that Germany narrowly won WWI against France and is a major world power with its own military alliance by the year 1949 (WWII did not happen, nor did the Nazi regime or the Weimar republic - the Kaiser is still in power). It is also the only country owning nuclear weapons and wants to keep it that way. The publisher's site provides the first book as a free PDF download, so that's all I've read so far.
Apparently these books aren't self-contained stories, they literally end with a German "to be continued". What I read was not too awful, but a bit boring. The author seems to have decided that German technology roolz, all other tech droolz, so German planes can often simply fly above the maximum range of their enemies, German tanks are unharmed by a direct hit from a Russian shell, but fire one shot at the Russian from the same range and the tank is reduced to molten metal, etc etc. What did annoy me a bit was the way almost all German soldiers were portrayed as honorable people, whereas the Americans like torturing their prisoners, the British lack any troop morale, and the Russians love attacking without any formal declaration of war.
When I looked at the publisher's other offerings, it quickly became apparent that their books are largely aimed at the German-speaking right-wing xenophobe market. One novel set in the mid-21st century, for example, depicts Europe as firmly under the yoke of Islamic oppressors, who have instituted sharia law everywhere but the Vatican, with just a few valiant Germans to resist them.
If you like them, go ahead and buy them. And if anything it encourages them to publish more alternative history novels rather than political ones.
Hell, I would read a Dianetics book if I were ever curious about the body of theory Xenu's followers covet so dearly. You shouldn't let your world-view limit your view of the world.
There was a very talented punk rock group in the US called Skrewdriver. But, because they were white supremicists, all revenue from album sales went to a variety of sinister causes. To that end, I would encourage OP to find as much information as possible on the publishers and authors before considering a purchase
>>1 here, thanks for the advice! Will cautiously order vol. 2 for now.
Or buy them used?
Did you know that there is a story by Haruki Murakami in this week's New Yorker? (feb. 13-20)
I won't spoil it for you, but I can see how someone would hate him now!
I think some sort of thing that represents the national anthem is going away nationally. We Japanese people can imagine that scene easily because that was everyday routine before. Maybe it had been true roughly, even Murakami remade it a little.
I personally love Murakami, he is probably one of my favourite authors. I've read most of his books and am looking for similar authors. So far on my list of books to read are:
The Crimson Labyrinth
Salmonella Men on Planet Porno
If you can recommend any others, please do!
>If you can recommend any others, please do!
Also by Yoko Ogawa: The Diving Pool. A must-read.
Metamorphosis was totally metaphors and shit. I personally feel it was about the inhumanity of living your life exclusively for work. But I had a Lit teacher who made a pretty compelling argument about how Gregor Samsa wants to fuck his sister.
Anybody read 1Q84 yet?
Maybe I'll read some of these books. I got a nice new nook for Christmas so ebooks are a bit more pleasant to read.
Thriller / Mystery / Suspense
It's probably my favorite genre next to science fiction and I was wondering if anyone knew of any good books that are easy to get (@ Barnes and Noble, Borders or something of the sort; nothing out of print).
I'm currently reading "Out" by Natsuo Kirino and I finished the translated Short Novels by Nisioisin "Zaregoto" and "Death Note: BB Murders"
Note: It doesn't have to be translated Japanese novels, it just so happens those are the most recent books that I have read because a friend recommended them.
Sherlock Holmes, I'm not even kidding they're fucking good. Start with "A Study in Scarlet", it's the first one.
What about agatha christie?
Edgar Allan Poe
Perry Mason novels are great. Especially if you like "Phoenix Wright" games.
Did the Empire ever end?
Best. Series. Ever.
Am I wrong?
It was alright, I don't remember much of it, the last time I read it was when I was in elementary school I think. I recently reread the Hobbit and that was pretty good though.
I read it first in elementary school, then I reread it last year and realized how fucking awesome it actually is.
i caught parts of a documentary on this book. it seemed 'interesting' to say the least. i was wondering if anyone here has read it? and is there an english tranlation?
I have and there are indeed english translations; I'm aware of one 1981 and one 1998 traduction. I've only read the original and the 1998 Hand trad., so I can't really give comments about the earlier one.
Would you recommend it?
Yes, I read it. In all honesty, I thought it was kind of boring.
Is it better than Gor?