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The Idiot Board Readers Corner - General Discussion

Discussion in 'Books' started by ReverendGodless, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. ReverendGodless

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    Dual Foci:

    1. What are you currently reading?

    2. What are your favorite and/or most recommended books?

    Don't just list books; please write a short synopsis and/or review highlighting why we should or should not be reading them.
     
  2. ReverendGodless

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I read a lot this summer. Mostly non-fiction. I can’t seem to take fiction seriously anymore, with the exceptions of Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins and Chuck Palahniuk. I still get along with these three primarily because I find the underlying social commentaries interesting… and Robbins and Palahniuk’s prose is always fun to decipher. Keeps you on your toes. Robbins reminds me a little of John Kennedy Toole.

    On to this summer’s books up until today:

    Reverse Chronological Order:


    ‘Greatest Show on Earth: Evidence for Evolution’ by Richard Dawkins. I’m only a third of the way through this one. I’ll provide a final review when I’m done. But, my initial impression is: This book should be required reading for all high school kids (since evolution is too ‘religious’ a topic for public schools) and for the stubborn young-earth crowd. I get the impression that the writing is dumbed down for precisely that reason.

    ‘Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium’ by Carl Sagan: Carl’s last book; the last few chapters were written in his hospital bed, or summarized by his wife. I’m not going to lie to you… this book choked me up. All it was was Carl saying what he needed to say before he died. He lays it all out on the subjects of climate change, nuclear weapons, war, abortion and population control, energy, and science education. I was thrilled to see that Carl shared my opinion that the Pro-Life crowd would be much more effective in their goal to stop abortion if, instead of shuffling around and mumbling in front of abortion clinics, they spent their time passing out condoms at high schools. Treat the illness, not the symptom.

    ’When You Are Engulfed in Flames’ by David Sedaris: My first foray into Sedaris’ collection. Some stories are very funny. Some are not. I read this book when I’m too tired to think.

    ’God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything’ by Christopher Hitchens:
    Hitchens is hilarious. He eviscerates religion and to a lesser extent, god. He doesn’t employ logic and reason as much as Dawkins; instead he just makes fun of religion and the arguments for it. I’ll read more Hitchens books based on my enjoyment of this one.

    ’Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation’ by Joseph J Ellis:
    The preface for this book was one of the most painfully boring couple of pages I have ever laid eyes on. I muddled through and it picked up nicely after that. This book was a good reminder that we’ve been arguing about the direction in which our country should travel literally from the beginning.

    ’Pygmy’ by Chuck Palahniuk: Written entirely from the point of view of an undercover operative from an unnamed Asian country posing as an exchange student in the US. The prose is fucking great - it’s written entirely in broken, Chinese-trying-to-speak-English style. It takes you 15 min to read the first page, but once you warm up to it, you can surprisingly read at your usual rate. Sharp commentary on American culture. Like most of Chuck’s books, the ending falls apart.

    ’Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith’ by Jon Krakauer.
    Holy shit. I wanted to put this book down within two chapters. Not because it wasn’t an excellent book, but because of the description of the way fundamentalist Mormons live and their treatment of women as property. Horrifying. Apparently, Krakauer set out on simply writing a Mormon history. But based on the objective history he uncovered and the events that occurred as he was writing it, the book can’t help but shine a negative light on Mormonism.

    ’A Man Without A Country’ by Kurt Vonnegut:
    Quick read. I think this was Vonnegut’s last book. Includes some great Bush-bashing.

    ’The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Flame in the Dark’ by Carl Sagan:
    First half was painful. It dealt with UFOs, abductions, ghosts, and all that other stuff that people swear exist despite not a shred of conclusive evidence. I don’t care about any of that. The second half was much better. It dealt with increasing credulousness and lack of skepticism in the US, our shitty public education system and our general reproach toward learning. Made me want to get my teachers’ license.

    ’Snuff’ by Chuck Palahniuk: My least favorite of Chuck’s books. However, Chuck is like Stephen King: Even when the book sucks, the writing is still hugely entertaining.

    ’The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins: I was a godless heathen long before I cracked this book, but it was good, logical look at the argument against religion and god, nonetheless. Although, using logic and reason in debating the existence of an entity that openly defies logic and reason is kind of pointless… Also, I’m clueless as to why Dawkins is trying to employ the term ‘brights’.

    ’Slaughterhouse Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut:
    mentioned previously. Best anti-war book I’ve read. Vonnegut recalls the bombing of Dresden and his time as a POW.

    ’Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey’ by Chuck Palahniuk:
    Keeps you guessing most of the time. As usual with Chuck’s books, the end fails miserably. Overall I enjoyed it and would rank it in Chuck’s top 5 despite the shitting ending.
     
  3. DrinksOnTheHouse

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club



    I am currently reading Paper Lion by George Plimpton. It is a 45 year old about George Plimpton playing with the Detroit Lions. Right now, it is pre-season, so I don't know if he actually takes a snap during the season, but will find out soon enough. I always pictured Plimpton as the prep-school, blazer wearing, upper-crust accent type of guy, and he readily admits to that, including getting shit from the teammates for the pseudo-english affect he puts on the snap count.

    I thought this book would be mildly interesting to a fan of the game but show how primitive football was in the 60s. It actually seems not that far off from what you see by watching Hard Knocks on HBO (minus the OchoCinco). So far, so good.
     
  4. Misanthropic

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I just finished torturing myself with Texas by James Michener.

    To say Michener is wordy is like saying that Robert Downey Jr liked cocaine. In case you aren't familiar with his writing, its kind of a historic/geographic fiction. He'll take a topic, usually a place (Alaska, Texas, Mexico, Hawaii, etc.) and weave a very thin continuity, through the history of that place, often by following a largely fictional family tree.

    Alaska was interesting, providing background and facts about this immense state. Texas was simply - long. Michener seemingly reduces the grand history of Texas to a series of romantic involvements and expositions on why Texans act like, well, Texans. There is no plot per se, and frankly, if I were to judge Texas and Texans by what he wrote, I'd despise both.

    This book falls into what I'll call the category of "Old Folks literature" - likely to be serialized in Readers Digest or made into a miniseries, it can be read without having to think too hard, yet is thick enough to be a handy resting place for your water glass or dentures. If you happen to find this on your grandpas bookshelf, pass.
     
  5. The Skirt

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. My brother bought me this book as a joke but I ended up loving it. I'm a HUGE English nerd - it's what I got my degree in (which is why I manage a concrete leveling company; it's a pretty useless degree in and of itself) so my brother thought it would offend me that someone had bastardized a Jane Austin classic. Haha, I showed him! I thought it was actually really well done. The new author managed to keep pretty closely with the style and attitude of Jane Austin's times while expressing a modern spin. The balance between the Victorian sensibilities and the Ninja code of honor worked surprisingly well together in the context of love and prejudices. The overt sexual double entendres were cheap, silly, and a bit off putting since they would occur in neither a Victorian nor a Ninja code of conduct. The additions also managed to not be as "spliced" as I thought they would be. It flowed naturally from anxiety over parlor room etiquette to battling zombies in evening gowns pretty convincingly. The characters became extreme, action figure caricatures of their original selves, and though it was a bit heavy handed, I enjoyed the overall humor it brought to situations. Reading the internal monologue of a Victorian woman who’s slowly turning into a zombie was one of the more amusing pieces of originality in the book. On the surface, her debate on whether a man would be a good husband because he loves her friend or because he has a large head and therefore a large yummy brain, seems like juvenile humor. And it's funny because it seems like such an absurd scale on which to judge someone's worthiness for marriage. But the zombie angle actually helps make the Victorian ideals of what was propper and what made a man suitable for marage seem even more absurd. While the book/ author doesn’t take itself too seriously, it does still manage to provide a good critique - through parody - of the Victorian views of social class, propriety, and their ordering of priorities.
     
  6. goodfornothing

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I am currently reading:
    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
    It is the story of how the author survived on the run once he escaped from prison in Australia. I believe most of it is fiction, but the overarching theme is real. The book itself is entertaining and captivating. It has held my attention for more than half of the 900 some pages. Very good so far and recommended.

    Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstader
    A book I am excited to read. I've only just started. I have always been disappointed with the education system and went out in search of why and was eventually pointed to this book. It won the Pulitzer for non-fiction.

    Just finished:
    All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
    I went on to read this book after reading McCarthy's The Road, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It really is a great book with solid themes and motifs. It is a "coming of age" book that takes place in the hell of Mexico back in the early 1900's.
     
  7. ReverendGodless

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    Keep me posted on that one. I have it on my to-read list, along with Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles Pierce and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum
    (although I may nix the latter; it's not supposed to be that great).
     
  8. $100T2

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    Atlas Shrugged. Fuck the whole "objectivism" theory and whether or not it's realistic, just look at the behavior of the whiners, and you will understand exactly what is wrong with society today.

    Anyone who hasn't read Atlas Shrugged needs to unplug the computer, go to the bookstore or library, and read it from cover to cover. If you haven't read it, it must be your next book.
     
  9. dabeetrus

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    What a great book, it was written in the '50s (maybe 60's it's been a while since I've read it) so it is a little dated but it is a fascinating survey of anti-intellectualism from the beginning of our nation to the mid twentieth century.

    It's strange how you guys mention this book. A few years ago I was wandering aimlessly through my schools library and spotted this book randomly; I had never heard anything about it but decided to check it out. It ended up sparking my interest in academics and in some ways my eventual shift from a pragmatic business major, to a useless, but intellectually stimulating liberal arts degree. Never thought I'd see it discussed on the Idiot board though.
     
  10. Timo

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I really liked Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, so I just read a few of Klosterman's other books Killing Yourself to Live and IV, and I wasn't as impressed. KYTL was a pretty good story but in the end it never really seemed to have a point. There were a few good essays in IV, but he should have seriously edited it down.

    I never read In Cold Blood in high school or college, and I thought I would give it a try. I'm really impressed with how well Capote can write. The book does drag on in the final chapter where he offers a look inside the personal lives of the killers, but other than that its a solid book.
     
  11. Cope

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent

    This one is definitely different from his previous works. I think it's a bit more approachable, being shorter and smaller, the quotes in the margins are also gone. It basically lays the foundation for success in all the topics covered in Power, Seduction and War into one thing, that you must show fearlessness. 50 Cent's purpose in the book is to basically tie all the chapters together, and while the 50 Cent stuff did start to get repetitive it kept the overall book really focused. The book also just looks really cool.

    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

    I've been working on this since the beginning of September, and I'm only 250 pages into. Part of that is because of school and work, but a large reason is that it is just simply a slow read. That doesn't mean it's bad though, I'm really enjoying it. It's hard to explain what it's about, but I can say that I think this is the most well written book I've ever read. You might not necessarily LIKE the book, but you can still see that the actual words on the page are put together very well.
     
  12. doctorgonzo

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I read The Fountainhead in 9th grade and fucking hated it. Even at that young, idiot age I thought it was predictable and long-winded. I'm willing to give Rand another shot but I'm wondering whether there's much difference between Fountainhead and Shrugged. Is there any reason to read the one when you've already read the other?

    I'm currently reading Philalawyer's book, I'm about 80 pages in. It's disorienting to see familiar stories put together in a coherent story arc, but I'm enjoying it so far. If you're a fan of the site I'm sure you'll have fun reading it. However, I'm not enjoying it quite as much as I usually enjoy a new PL post, so I'm going to reserve final judgment until I'm finished.
     
  13. stcardsfan

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I will add more to this thread later, but I wanted to throw out the idea that everyone join Shelfari (http://www.shelfari.com). It is basically an online bookshelf that will show everyone what you are reading, what you want to read in the future, and what you have read in the past. I just joined yesterday and I love it.

    p.s. I am not affiliated with the site in any way, just think the site is awesome. With all of the intelligent posters on this board, I think it can be a great resource for us. Here is my shelf: http://www.shelfari.com/o1514457098/shelf
     
  14. Kerbunked

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'm currently reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. I got put onto it by you guys after No Country for Old Men came out as a movie and I'm absolutely in love with it.

    Confederacy of Dunces is going to be on my next "to read" list.
     
  15. Mike Ness

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    Ok, Ok, it is not regarded as good literature but I read Dan Browns "The Lost Symbol."


    Is it ridiculous? Yes. However I love Robert Langdon, and the book reads quickly. If you liked the other two you will enjoy it, not as much, but enjoy it none-the-less.
     
  16. dabeetrus

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I just finished reading "Where Men Win Glory" by Jon Krakauer who you may know from his other books "into the wild" or "Into Thin Air". It's an in-depth semi-biography (only because the last 1/4 of the book is more of a political rant) of Pat Tillman.

    Overall the book was good, it was pretty engrossing in parts especially near the beginning. Krakauer is a solid writer but I don't think his prose in this book is particularly inspired. I think I mainly enjoyed the book so quickly because I've always been fascinated by Tillman rather than the author's writing.

    If you can get past the obvious bias JK has about the Bush Administration, even if his attacks are mostly warranted, it's a decent read. The ending is quite poignant, and leaves you truly saddened that such a fascinating person ended up dying so tragically.
     
  17. Brokenhats

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'm currently reading "Nation," by Terry Pratchett. It has a lot to do with growing up and learning to question established beliefs. If you're too American to have heard of Pratchett, he is a very good (Knighted) British author of fantasy novels. His style is similar to that of Douglas Adams, and his works are full of wry witticisms and clever observations.
     
  18. mikebegood

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    If you're enjoying Paper Lion you should definitely check out A Few Seconds of Panic By Stefan Fatsis. Same premise different position/era. Paper Lion is the only thing of Plimpton's I'm familiar with, but Fatsis contributes pretty regularly on Deadspin and the book contains the same type of humor.

    I already hate the new quote system.
     
  19. DrinksOnTheHouse

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    Funny, I just read about that on wikipedia last night and thought it may be worth checking out. Not sure if I want to read another amateur does football book so soon after this (and I also picked up some Sedaris collection of stories when I got this), but will put it on my reading list. I also want to read the book that came out last year about the '90s Cowboys (I think, Boys Will Be Boys).
     
  20. swood

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'd tried to read Pride and Prejudice a few years back and stopped after the first few pages. Reading P & P & Z made me want to actually read Pride and Prejudice, and I enjoyed it so much it's now one of my favorite books.
    At the moment I'm half way through Sense and Sensibility, and then I have Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters to read once I'm finished.

    I read a shit-load of books on holiday this summer, mostly bad, some good.

    'Fight Club' by Chuck Palahniuk; I don't really think I need to give a synopsis of this book. I remember Fight Club being recommended on RMMB a lot, I was expecting it be life changing, but to me it was just a good book.

    A lot of Jodi Picoult books, My Sister's Keeper, Vanishing Act, Perfect Match, 19 minutes, Second Glance. I'm not proud of myself as I don't think Picoult is that great of an author, but they were easy reads and some of the twists were interesting (I particularly was interested by the twist in Perfect Match). And a recipe for cystal meth in one of the books, which I'm pretty sure was accurate, was surprising.

    'Thinner' by Richard Bachman/Stephen King. Man gets cursed by gypsy, hunts gypsy down. Not one of my favorite Stephen King but I enjoyed it.

    'Twilight' by Stephanie Meyer. Just kidding, I wouldn't touch that book with gloves and protective eye gear on.