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The Idiot Board Readers Corner - General Discussion

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

  1. sociallyinept

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I must definitely recommend the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It is a fantasy series with about 14 books and a prequel. Unfortunately, Robert Jordan died while writing the last book, so it is being finished by his wife and another author.

    The series is very in-depth with many character perspectives as it progresses. But basically, it starts out with a group of characters from a small farming town who are on the run from the devil (The Dark One), who basically is after the person who is prophesied to be "The Dragon Reborn", the person who will battle "The Dark One" to save humanity. The series progresses with the growth of each character, and how each of them become a "hero" of sorts.

    A better synopsis can be viewed here...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wheel_of_Time.

    My favorite aspect of the series is how deep the author delves into politics, and how intricate characters plot and scheme. A must read.
     
  2. Kittie

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'm reading a collection of essays by Ander Monson called Neck Deep and Other Predicaments for my creative non-fiction course. He explores different formats for his narratives that are very interesting. Basically, some of the essays look like art. He recently came to my university for a reading and is quite interesting. Had I not been required to read his book, I more than likely would not have picked it up, but I am now glad I did.


    He's won several awards (including the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize) for non-fiction and runs a website http://www.otherelectricities.com

    Side Note: My professor brought up Tucker Max today. She apparently was not a fan. She made several references to the immaturity of dick, sex, and fart jokes and referenced something that occurred on the RMMB. I plan on busting her out about it Wednesday.
     
  3. AKSB

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    The books that I've read in the last two months:

    Into the Wild
    Loved it. I'm still in college -- so right around McCandless's age -- and found him very relatable, albeit a bit extreme and self-centered. I really liked Krakauer's prose.

    Sway
    Kind of picked this up on a whim in Borders when there was a "buy one get one half off" deal. Cool book. Primarily about why we act irrationally. Think Gladwell, but not as insistent on pushing a theme down your throat. Some really illuminating anecdotes and examples.

    Bringing Down the House
    This is about the group of MIT students that mastered blackjack -- the movie "21" with Kevin Spacey was based on it. I was skeptical initially because the movie sucked a huge dick, but Jesus this was a quick read. Although it's not entirely factually correct, it's one of the most entertaining books I've read in awhile.

    Scratch Beginnings
    I read this one over the summer, but I'm throwing it in here because it's my favorite book that I've read in the last year. It's by a guy named Adam Shepherd, who upon graduating college, set out to prove if the American Dream was still achievable. Basically, he moves to a random city (Charleston, West Virginia), with 20 dollars, the clothes on his back, and a sleeping bag. He gives himself one year to have a furnished apartment, a working car, and 2500 dollars in savings, with the corollary that he can't use his college degree or any connections to land him a job. Essentially starts in a homeless shelter, and goes from there. Fucking awesome book -- if you're in college or have graduating recently, you need to read this.


    I'm reading High Fidelity right now, mainly just to balance out all the non-fiction I read with some fiction, and mildly liking it so far.
     
  4. Kampf Trinker

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club


    Seconded. My roommate's a huge fan and recommended the series to me. I'm a little over halfway through the first book and I think it might be the best fantasy I've ever read. It started out with a group of adolescents who haven't traveled far from their home village being taken down the rabbit hole. The whole ignorant villager starting out on an extraordinary adventure is formulaic of fantasy, but Jordan pulls it off so well. He allows the reader to learn about his world slowly and each step makes the story more intriguing. The 12th book in the series just came out and we're going to a signing in Minneapolis on Friday (not Jordan though, he passed away and this is the author finishing the series).

    It's been a hard book to put down and I'd say the best thing about it is that through some 500 pages I've been in constant anticipation of what happens next.
     
  5. Spacesatan

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    One book I read recently is Bluebeardby Kurt Vonnegut. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. It's a fictional autobiography/journal of an old Armenian-American WWII Veteran and former Abstract artist. It's funny, intelligent, and really hard to put down. And there is a central mystery in it that, despite all the buildup, still blows you away when it pays off.

    Diary by Chuck Palahniuk. It was pretty good, I guess. I was interested to see what happened next, Chuck's style of writing was up to standard. I think Choke and Fight Club, the only other two I've read by the author, were better. BUt if you like anything by Palahniuk, you wouldn't do bad by checking this one out.
     
  6. JGold

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'm coming down off a non-fiction kick, and now I'm delving into some classics I've been meaning to read for years. The last five books I've read:

    Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
    The story of the 1996 Everest disaster. I consider it Krakauer's (who, along with Mark Bowden, is the best long-form journalist currently practicing) best work. It's compelling, well-researched, and lacks the political bias of Under the Banner of Heaven and (I've heard) Where Men Win Glory. Also, I read this as I was just beginning my own foray into mountaineering. Which brings me to...

    No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs
    Viesturs is the first American to have climbed all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks, and this is his own account of that feat. At some points Viesturs comes off extremely arrogant, but hell, I guess you have to be to do what he does. Anyone interested in high-altitude mountaineering or adventure books in general should read this.

    Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer
    Unlike Krakauer's other works, this is a collection of essays. They range from his personal account of climbing the Devil's Thumb (also discussed in Into the Wild), to canyoneering, to a profile of the founder of bouldering. Again, this is a must-read for anyone interested in mountaineering, rock climbing or adventure books.

    The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    I finally got around to finishing the Fitzgerald canon. The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise are two of my favorite books. While The Beautiful and Damned doesn't rank up there with them, it's still a fantastic novel. It's also depressing at times, as it chronicles an ill-advised marriage and the false romance that led to it. Fitzgerald uses a great metaphor with curtains, but I won't spoil it.

    Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    I didn't like this book, but only because I detested the main character. He's creepy and I couldn't identify with him or his motives. Marquez is a great writer, though, and I wish I knew Spanish because I'm sure a lot is lost in translation. I'll definitely be checking out some of his other works. Mostly because my girlfriend is a Spanish teacher and in love with him.

    In my to-read pile: The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Sirens of Titan, K2 (Viesturs' new book), The Confederacy of Dunces, East of Eden
     
  7. PenetrationStation

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I have to respectfully disagree. I think the Wheel of Time is very over hyped, even moreso since what you call Jordan's "unfortunate" death. To preface my post, let me say that I have read everything up to the Knife of Dreams, the 11th book if you include the prequel. To put that in perspective, wikipedia tells me I've read almost 8500 pages written by Robert Jordan. There's a few stipulations with which I recommend this series.

    1) The books represent a huge timesink. 14 sequels ( 2 planned) and a prequel? Its hard to fault the second endorser of the books, because s/he is only 500 pages through the first one. However, by the time you're slogging through the sixth or seventh book and Rand has been trapped in a box for four or five chapters, its hard to pay attention. If you're reading these books for their literary merit, you could have consumed four times the skill and authorship by reading 14 books off the 100 greatest book lists. If, on the other hand, you are reading them for fun, you can find better series on shorter timelines. Jordan is not even in the same league as Herbert or Tolkien.

    2) The thread of the main story becomes subordinated to the development of the literally hundreds of sub plots within the book. Even the most ardent WoT fans cannot claim that they enjoyed every one of these rambling adventures. This writing strategy means you will occasionally suffer through not just chapters but literally hundreds of pages in which you don't give a shit about what's happening in a particular subplot. If you, as I did, actually find yourself bored or put off by a character, then god help you. You're going to read vast tracts of drivel following the character you wish had been beheaded back in book 3.

    3) The romantic plots in the story are contrived and Jordan's apparent endorsement of polygamy is just perplexing. Because the main character occupies a special role in history, he is justified in being serviced by no less than three women. Jordan develops the characters of each of Rand's lovers well, but the interaction between Rand and the women becomes formulaic and stilted. These scenes became my least favorite parts of the books, eventually.

    4) Repetition. Actions, character tics, plot lines, political stances, prophecy. Enough said.

    Ultimately if you are willing to tackle 10,000 pages of pulpy fantasy novel, complete with mechanisms to retard the plot, you should read these books. I regret the time I spent reading these books and actually resent Jordan for teasing my adolescent self with visions of a climactic denoument anytime in the near future. A ghostwriter is finishing the series for him. For those who have read some of these books, I'll quote a response from Rrama to the digg.com thread that announced jordan's death. (-26 diggs)

    "Wonder if the bastard had one last glimpse of Nynaeve tugging her damned braid on his way to hell. This mans death was no tragedy. It was divine retribution."

    Whew. With WoT hate off my chest, here a few books I've read in the past year and enjoyed:

    Infinite Jestby David Foster Wallace. Wow. Now here is an author whose suicide earlier this year really affected me. I started reading his essays a few years ago with Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Infinite jest is in Time's 100 Greatest books of all time list, which seems like a pretty decent starting point for a reading list. The book runs over 1000 pages in most editions, so to preempt denigrations of my attention span re: Jordan, I can wait for a payoff. This book is a tour de force. David Foster Wallace was a genius in many areas. For a synopsis, imagine a dysfunctional family, a tennis academy, underground drug culture and Boston AA, and a plot to end the world. What other book has such lengthy and dry mathematical expositions in the middle of beautifully crafted pose? Please read this book. Hell, just read part of it. You will thank yourself.

    The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer.Mailer has been a favorite author of mine for a long time. If you are interested in the CIA at all, try Harlot's Ghost. Anyway, The Executioner's Song is a novel based on the life of serial murderer Gary Gilmore, who was executed in Utah I think sometime in the 1970s. The story was pretty sensational at the time because his was the first execution performed in the state in several decades, mostly because he refused to appeal his decision. The book is a deep look into the psyche of a person with antisocial personality disorder; I found the insight into Gilmore's mind in his early years just as gripping as the tense lead up to the murders.

    Neuromancer by William Gibson. This novel tied all the disparate strands of cyberpunk together for the first time. Amazing to read his predictions for the future of technology in today's world.

    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway's first book and for me his greatest. Someone mentioned it earlier on here I think as a to-read, but the sense of powerlessness he develops in the protagonist is really impressive. Moves quickly, can be read in one day. Enjoy.


    I've been reading a lot more short stories and poetry collections lately, so I'm not sure if this is the appropriate forum for them. Maybe another topic for that? Short stories and poems can be a great alternative for those short on time or commuters.

    (P.S. sorry first post, not sure how to do quotations which include authors name. Will have to go check that out.)
     
  8. Omegaham

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    What's interesting is that when I was in school, I read voraciously; just not what the teacher was assigning. Now that I'm out of school and free from all the demands of teachers demanding that I read Great Expectations, (which could have been good, but after the teacher vivisected it in front of our eyes it became awful) I haven't picked up anything decent in a while.

    A couple good books - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, is amazingly good. The more academic look at the gulags, The Gulag Archipelago, is also good. However, the latter gets very boring when he starts talking about his own story. The first part of the book is a look at the entire machinery of the Soviet purging system, the second (the boring part) consists of him talking about his own stay in the prison system, and the third describes a failed gulag revolt where the prisoners all revolt, make their demands, and get slaughtered by tanks.

    Ivan Denisovich is about 150 pages long; it can be read in two hours if you're a reasonably fast reader.

    Anything by Thomas Sowell is a must-read. Most of his books are specialized toward smaller aspects of culture, but a couple of his books, Basic Economics and The Vision of the Anointed, are excellent for just about anyone. The language is lucid, interesting, and filled with literally hundreds of real-world examples that prove his points. It's a pity he's almost eighty; if we could put his brain into a robot, that robot could rule the world.
     
  9. JGold

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I can't agree more. The series starts strong -- very strong -- and The Eye of the World (Book 1) is probably my favorite non-Tolkien fantasy book. But if you can get to Book 10, you're a better man than me. I got as far as Winter's Heart before giving up. And I skipped whole clumps of chapters about those fucking boring ass Aes Sedai to get there.
     
  10. PoppaBear

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    Ian Fleming's James Bond Series

    Have any of you guys read Ian Fleming's James Bond Series? I have the whole series sitting on my shelf right next to me, but am afraid to start the books as they could be a huge timesink (just like the World of Time you guys have been talking about. I feel bad for you guys with the dead author and all). Any recommendations? I absolutely love the character, and I'm sure he's portrayed much better in the series.
     
  11. PeaMan

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    The book I have been reading is ' The Metamagical Themus' by Douglas R Hofstadter. He is probably better known for his book 'Godel Escher Bach, The Eternal Golden Braid' but this is a collection of articles that he wrote for Scientific American and easier to dip in and out of.

    He covers pretty much every topic of possible mathematical curiosity you could think of. Last night I read a chapter on games with self modifying rules and another one on so called 'meta-fonts'. If you are interested in abstract thinking in a pretty intellectual way I would highly recommend it.
     
  12. Nettdata

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    Re: Ian Fleming's James Bond Series

    The series is awesome. Totally different than the pussified representation in most of the movies, he was a bad-ass, womanizing agent that got the job done. The Daniel Craig character in the last two Bond flicks is much closer, but has a ways to go before he'll be close to the original literary version.
     
  13. Bird

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'm currently reading The Stand by Stephen King. I've read It, Misery, Pet Semetary and Salem's Lot and The Stand seemed the most interesting one after those. I'm about three-quarters of the way through the Uncut Edition and, despite dragging a little in places (Trashcan Man backstory, the entire first section "The Circle Opens"), I'm really enjoying it. I find almost all the characters engaging, especially Flagg and Nick Andros, but I feel absolutely no sympathy for Frannie Goldsmith even with her being preggers and all. She's just so whiny.

    I also recently read and loved David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster. Can anyone recommend any similar essay collections? Obviously DFW's other one(s?), but aside from him I can't really pinpoint any. Christopher Hitchens did a great one called Love, Poverty and War which was lit-crit as well as political commentary and critical travelogue to places like North Korea and Pakistan. Any recommendations would be much appreciated.
     
  14. Captain Apathy

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'm about halfway through In Cold Blood. There's something about Capote's prose that makes him far more engrossing and readable than 99.9% of authors. He really makes you feel like you're a part of the scene, whether it's with the murderers on their post-crime getaway, or the paranoid townspeople ready to blame the next person who walks through the door.

    I also just finished Goodbye to all that, a WWI memoir by Robert Graves. It's a unsentimental account of the time he spent in the trenches, and a scathing indictment of the complete idiots who sent men to their deaths by the hundreds of thousands. When the war ends and he briefly flirts with Bolshevism, my reaction was basically, "Well, you can't blame him."
     
  15. Guy Fawkes

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    I'm a series reader so once I find an author I like I read everything they've written. I also fly a lot so I take down 2-3 books a week. I'm an addict and I don't care.

    I'm a bit of a history buff so I love historical fiction. Over the summer I found Wilbur Smith and his various series.

    He is highly acclaimed for his historical accuracy and I would have to say that I've never read an author that is as vividly descriptive without being wordy.

    I wouldn't be able to do any of his series justice so I'll just link him instead

    http://www.wilbursmithbooks.com/
     
  16. KIMaster

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    Re: Ian Fleming's James Bond Series

    I read every single Ian Fleming Bond book back in high school except for "Dr. No" and "From Russia with Love", so here's my take;

    1. Some books are much better than others, but in general, Fleming's short stories are very weak. Skip the short story collections "Octopussy and the Living Daylights" and "For Your Eyes Only". Among the novels, "The Spy Who Loved Me" is lame and boring, and has very little Bond in it. I thought "Casino Royale" was fairly lousy, too.

    2. Don't expect a literary masterpiece. These were entertaining, pulp action books from the 50's and 60's, no more, no less. Something to read when you're bored.

    3. Among the books I liked the most, there was

    You Only Live Twice
    In Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Goldfinger
    Diamonds are Forever
    Moonraker
    The Man with the Golden Gun

    Thunderball and Live and Let Die were alright, but rather forgettable. In fact, I disagree with nettdata about the movies; the Connery/Moore films were usually much, much better than their source material.

    I've only read one of his books, "Men of Men", but I enjoyed it a lot. He has a lot of series, so which one would you recommend? The rest of the Ballantyne books, the Courtney Saga, or his Egyptian series?
     
  17. GrinAndBearIt

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    In Cold Blood is one of my favorite books.

    Lately I've been reading Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda by Gretchen Peters, I'm only 100 pages in, but so far, I've found it lacking. I thought to myself after a number of pages "well, no shit sherlock" as she makes points like "drugs are bad" and "Pakistan is a supporter of the drug trade" and "The DEA and CIA are massive government organizations that can't keep their shit straight". Granted, I'm only 100 pages in.

    My fiction piece right now is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and it has been different, although excellent so far.

    This summer I killed A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin which was an excellent insight into the Middle East. I read it in Jordan, so it was a little too much Middle East for me at that point, and is a bit dry, but is a great primer on how the Middle East grew to be what we know it as today.

    Also read Jailbird by Vonnegut this summer it was just okay, not the best Vonnegut book I've read. Also read The Prince by Machavielli (sp?) which was an interesting look at power, which I think still has a lot of application today, even in light of it being looked down upon as morally corrupt. Also knocked out The Road and No Country for Old Men, by McCarthy, both of which I would recommend highly.
     
  18. PewPewPow

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

     
  19. Guy Fawkes

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    Re: Ian Fleming's James Bond Series

    Depends what you like.

    The Egyptian series followers a slave who is also a master inventor, magician, and warrior through the time of the Pharaohs. Lots of treasure hunting, mysticism, and adventure. Great series.

    The Courtney saga deals with an industrialist family in South Africa and goes through 2-3 generations of them forming the wild land of Africa to fit their purpose all while fighting in world wars and dealing with issues of segregation, conservation, etc. The series jumps around a little as the later books focus on the earliest Courtney's being shipping magnates fighting off rival captains to protect their sea routes and business interests in Egypt and India.

    The Ballantyne books follow the family of big game hunters that later become gold and diamond prospectors in inner Rhodesia which are almost completely unexplored at that time. The family becomes fractured as some of them exploit the natives for profit as other try to help them. The middle of the series deals with the uprisings of the Black Africans of Rhodesia as they fight back against the government and eventually overthrow it running the white land owners out of the country.

    Like I said, I found one great Smith book and then read them all. Back to back to back. He's just that good.
     
  20. hubadub6

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    Re: The Idiot Board Book Club

    Just finished Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk. I got a headache from the writing style, but it was hilarious once I eventually learned to read it. I'd recommend it to Palahniuk fans, but start with Fight Club if you haven't read him before.

    Also, Glenn Beck's Common Sense is hilarious. Filled with unintentional comedy, hypocrisy, and everything else you expect from the fat-faced savant. I got it as a joke gift, but at $7 it's almost worth it.