Books you've read in 2012

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Ockeghem, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Finished Red Shirts this week.
    I found the beginning ok; riffing off the idea that a Star Trek-ian universe has fatality-prone redshirts was funny for a few pages, but I found it quickly tedious and wanting. It was a poor man's Galaxy Quest. Then it twisted and went to an unexpected meta place, and that I really liked. Then the story ended with something of a dumb-funny joke. The Codas...the first felt, well, cheap. Isn't it the worst cliche, a writer writing about writing? And it went on. But the second coda was good, and the third was quite touching.
    A mixed read. The weakest of Scalzi's books; an yet I've heard it's his best selling.
    For a novella that wrings out everything from a simple concept, I much preferred his God Engines.
    As a reader, I'm worried Scalzi is leaving his great strengths shown in Old Mans War.
     
  2. Jason_V

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    Ironically, I finished reading The Virgin Billionaire this morning before I got my day started. Fairly easy read with quick chapters. It's basically a romance hitting on some social issues but nothing too terrible. It took a while for me to get into it and I'm not at all enamored with one of the main characters because he's much more naive than I actually like. There's a part of me that wants to know what happens to the main characters after this story but there's another part that wants to leave them. The romance develops far too quickly and the "problem" is resolved too quickly to be reasonable.

    Anyway...I have to start a book called Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business for a work book club. It should be a huge departure from what I've been reading.
     
  3. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    Just finished Orson Scott Card's "Ruins" the second book in the pathfinder series. It's a murky time travel series, but wildly unpredictable. Mixed feelings about this until the very end, and then it absolutely comes roaring down the pike and summarizes up in a pretty great way. Enjoyed it.
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    "Born Standing Up" - Steve Martin (Audible). The auto-biographical story of Martin's childhood and rise to fame through early adulthood. It's a mild book, best suited for strong fans, and those who remember well the 60s and 70s. It's focused more on his process, relationsips, and growth as a comedian; the arrow-in-head prop is mentioned in passing and I don't recall anything on "King-Tut". But it brings the lesson that refinement, refinement, refinement is the key to success. I also liked that it was a short book; it told the story without padding or inflation. It was a nice change of pace after several fantasy novels. This is no Bossypants; it's a serious reflection on a silver-maned entertainers early life.

    "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn.
    Gone Girl is a twisted love story, told in dual narrative story, present tense by Nick Dunne and past-tense diary by his wife, Amy. On their fifth anniversary, Amazing Amy goes missing, Nick becomes the prime suspect. The dual narrative tells the rise and decline of their relationship, romance, and lives. And to start, the book seems as seemingly plain as my synopsis. But then the story twists. And folds in on itself. And in an incredible way, resolves to the bitter, necessary, end. This cynical, unhappy book I recommend. I've got Gillian Flynn on my reading list now.


    "Snowcrash", Neal Stephenson. (Audible) Not recommended.
    Snowcrash begins terrifically, with an absurdly satirical look at the future of America -- like an angry Douglas Adams meets Robocop. Words are being invented and tossed out every paragraph. The story is unpredictably careening in unknown directions. But about a third through, it grinds to a halt, bogged down in tedious exposition, shoving out a data dump of history and legends, attempting but failing at Neil Gaiman-esque myth reinvention. The last two thirds it hobbles back to a partial recovery, but there's no new absurdisms to surprise the reader, and the story reveals itself as something less novel than the beginning suggested. Perhaps it would be better read than listened. And when first published in 2000 1992, it would have felt vibrantly predictive of the dot-com world nascent world-wide-web. Now, it's both impressive in its prescience, but also silly in how wrong it is (in the way that scifi can get badly dated, with its 1960s predictions of super-speed tape data transfers).

    ...am I underrating Snowcrash? No. Because of Snowcrash, I don't foresee trying Stephenson again for a long time.
     
  5. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    For the Dresden Files reader:
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-dresden-files-reread
     
  6. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    The first book, "Pathfinder" is probably my favorite book from Card since "Speaker of the Dead". The sequel continues as the best sort of wild, really speculative science fiction. But where the first book told a pretty clean hero's journey with a primary protagonist and brought things to a satisfying conclusion, "Ruins" gets pretty bogged down in the endlessly circular squabbling within the group. It's also shares the unfortunate tendency of the post-stroke Card novels to simply end rather that have a proper culmination.
     
  7. mattCR

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    I'd agree with a lot of this. Pathfinder to me is a real success; this book is far more difficult and it appears obvious that it's a 'middle book'. He's done this repeatedly (think Xenocide) where you get a feeling as though he rights a middle section and you just have to get through it. As time has past, I've come to really enjoy Xenocide in a different way, but it's not nearly the book "Speaker" is. Pathfinder for me is a home run. It's speculative fiction at it's best with a rich environment and it plays out a unique storyline. I was more bothered by the internal envy present in this book, but I think it sets up a next book very well. The problem is, that means for most people you'd want to pause on reading this book until the final book is out.
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Cards audiobooks seem to be really well narrated, so I put Pathfinder into my Audible wish list for future listening. I'm a little wary still, since Card has been hit and miss for me. I thought Xenocide and especially Children of the Mind got bogged down in tedious arm-chair philosophizing. But Enders Game and Speaker for the Dead were fantastic.
     
  9. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Card is a real connoisseur of audio books -- he's done a lot of writing about what makes any given example successful or unsuccessful -- so it's not a surprised to me that his audio books turn out well. He's successful enough to have input into the production, and invested enough in the medium to have worthwhile input.
    There is definitely some armchair philosophizing in this series -- far more in "Ruins" than in "Pathfinder" -- but there are other elements that he gets so right that it doesn't matter. I find his political commentary cringeworthy bordering on offensive, and it's ruined some other series like the "Empire" duology. Except for some very light satire of communism there's none of that in either of these books.
     
  10. mattCR

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    Yeah, I normally have to leave out a lot of author politics (if I didn't, there would be a lot of classics I would miss), but if you haven't heard "Speaker for the Dead" "Xenocide" and "Children of the Mind" in audiobook, it's such a different experience that it took me aback. I have always found Speaker his strongest work and it's not even close from there; that book hits on so many tricky scifi issues and creates a whole mess of characters you root for in a complex, drama situation. But listening to it on in an audiobook is just amazing; it takes the concept to a different level.
    I didn't care for Xenocide the first time I read it. I realize it's problem is that it's clearly written as "the middle", but if you go through all three, straight through as narrated, it works significantly better then just reading it. Frankly, having actors provide voices for the characters is a boon, and I've found that some characters are so well done in the audiobooks (Ella and Miro especially) that I enjoy listening to them, and probably every other year I go back and go back through them in the car. There are moments in "Children of the Mind" that I think approach Speaker, but it's only true in audiobook form; that book is written so heavily with dialogue that listening to it said aloud makes that book a totally different experience.
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I've listened to the Ender's Shadow and Lost Boys, and both were very well read. My impression is that he had some regular narrators for his books, bringing consistency to characters.

    It's hard to find time to go back to books I've already read, but it would be interesting to re-"read" Ender's quadrilogy on audio. And checking, I see they've got a special 20th anniversary edition of Ender's Game.
     
  12. mattCR

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    Yeah. They redid all of the Enders quadrilogy a few years ago.. six seperate readers rotate, though some take on specific dialog of characters. I tend to go back and revisit favorite books often. I'm going back through 'The Hobbit' now. It's another one that is very different on audiobook; it just came available on Audible, and I knew that the song production was one that Tolkien was supposedly a part of, so I was very interested to hear it. It's.. interesting. I hadn't read the Hobbit since I was in middle school.
     
  13. Patrick Sun

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    I thought Michael Savage narrated "Ender's Game" and "Speaker For the Dead" when I listened to the audiobooks a few years ago. :) That narrator had a really distinctive voice.
     
  14. Jason_V

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    I haven't talked about this book here yet, but I finished "Setting the Table" by Danny Meyer a little while ago. He explains how he started one, then two, then either 9 or 11 restaurants in New York City, all with their own flavor, motif and clientele. A few items I've incorporated into my every day include:


    • a new definition of empathy: it's not just sympathizing with someone; it's being aware of, sensitive to and caring about how your behavior affects others.

    • the proper response to "thank you" is "you're welcome," not "no problem." No problem implies there is a "problem" in delivery quality service. I've been telling everyone at work about this and they continually hold me to it.

    • ABCD: always be connecting dots. This sounds obvious, but the more you know about someone, the more you can relate and tailor the experience to their likes/dislikes/wants/interests.

    I would highly recommend the book. Fairly quick read and Danny spends a lot of time telling stories about how his management style has developed over time.
     
  15. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I know I've used "No problemo" as a reply to "thank you", but I intended to mean that it was not an imposition to help someone out. But maybe that's just me.
     
  16. mattCR

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    Hah ;) I know just a few years ago they redid all of them to a big cast ensemble. Scott Brick does most of them now, and I admit, I will listen through most stuff he reads, he's pretty fantastic.

    The cast of the Ender's Quadrilogy is:

    David Birney, Scott Brick, Gabrielle De Cuir, Amanda Karr, Lisa Nemacheck, John Rubinstein, Stefan Rudnicki, Don Schlossman.

    It's a fantastic cast and they absolutely make it one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. Speaker for the Dead in audiobook format sets the bar so high there are very few others that get close (the only other series that has this kind of treatment is The Golden Compass trilogy, which is also excellent)
     
  17. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    So many books, so little time... :)
    I also have American Gods on my list. It got a big cast treatment last year.
     
  18. Jason_V

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    I used it all the time as well and never thought anything of it, to be honest. I think the problem with knowing what you mean/intend and what other people hear is just that: we can't be in each others minds and figure it all out.
     
  19. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Anyone on GoodReads? I just discovered and joined it this weekend :) (I'm still confused on how to look up people in it.)
     
  20. DavidJ

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    I am. It seems like a cool app and community, but I'm not connected to anyone that's really very active and I'm pretty new to it myself. I've used Facebook to connect, but not sure how we'd connect, for example.
     

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