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Books you've read in 2010


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#1 of 81 DaveF

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Posted December 25 2009 - 12:07 PM

For easy reference:
Books you've read in 2009
Books you've read in 2008
Books you've read in 2007

Books were received today :) See you all here in a short while.


#2 of 81 Lucia Duran

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Posted December 28 2009 - 08:05 AM

I have quite the list of books for the new year. I am looking forward to it.
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#3 of 81 DaveF

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Posted January 01 2010 - 06:49 AM

Astro City: The Tarnished Angel

I'm not a regular comic book reader, but I've been introduced to some of the greats by friends. Astro City is my favorite, and I've erratically bought the compilations over the past 10 plus years. This morning I finished The Tarnished Angel. I'll be honest: I ignorantly thought this was to be the tale of the Silver Agent, a story promised but seemingly never realized in the sporadic term of Astro City. So partway through, I had some initial disappointment. Putting that aside, and accepting the story for what it is, this is another fine story arc from Busiek, Ross and Anderson. The story of Steeljack, and two-bit, former supervillain, out of prison, trying to make something of the fragments of his wasted, broken life. The story is standard stuff -- bad guy trying to reform himself -- but is infused with the wonder of the Astro City mythos. Yet again I'm amazed by the artistry and writing of Astro City comics. It has a Tolkien-esque feel, as well; the sense that this place has histories and characters far beyond what is shown on the pages.

If you're even a modest fan of comics, or even fantasy / adventure fiction, or just enjoying  the comic-book movies of recent years, I recommend without hesitation Astro City.


#4 of 81 Edwin-S

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Posted January 03 2010 - 08:14 PM

I'm reading an old one by Frederik Pohl: Black Star Rising. I have tried reading it several times but never got that far into it. Started reading it a few days ago, and it finally interested me enough to keep going. I'm about half way through it, but I'm reading it in fits and starts. I haven't been able to sit down and read it in a long stretch. I'm finding the premise of a Chinese-controlled North America rather interesting. His extrapolation on how they eventually control North America is outdated: Soviet/American nuclear war. Personally, I think they will eventually just own it, because they are owed so much money that the only way to pay it will be to give them the Western half of the continent.  
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#5 of 81 DaveF

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Posted January 04 2010 - 02:02 PM

Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card
Sequel to Ender's Game, and two of the four in the quartet box set.

Ender, an adult and out of the military, winds his way to a new planet with a human colony kept separate from the aboriginal "piggies" -- . The piggies are inexplicable, the colonists a nest of lies and secrets and personal shame, and all are prevented from understand each other by social law. And Ender is seeking to atone for his genocide of the buggers. It brings an interesting mix of of social, religious, and scientific dynamics. And quite different from but every bit as interesting as Ender's Game.


#6 of 81 DaveF

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Posted January 30 2010 - 03:08 AM

Xenocide,  Orson Scott Card
Part three in the Ender's Quartet continues the story from Speaker for the Dead. The 100-Planets Council is sending an armada to Lusitania to take to trial Ender and others, as well as contain the potential spread of the Descolada virus. The fear is the Little Doctor will be used to destroy Lusitania. The piggies are working with the Hive Queen to get ships and escape, making real the threat of the Descolada escaping and ultimately dooming humanity. The humans are working to contain or even destroy the Descolada, which could doom the piggies. And if the Hive Queen does not send a new Queen off the planet, the buggers could, finally, be destroyed. It might be xenocide for one or more races. And Ender is struggling to help everyone survive.

Building on the first two books, Xenocide is an ambitious book. It tells perhaps five tales simultaneously. The excursions into philosophical and religious discourse are lengthier and more in depth than the past two books. And a grand effort is made to define the very nature of life and the cosmos, putting the Ender's Game into its own novel framework.

Remarkably, it succeeds on all counts. And while the philosophical discussions can be skimmable, the book is on the whole engaging.

But be prepared to start on the fourth big on finishing this one.


Astro City: Local Heroes, Kurt Busiek
Ah, Astro City. I've lionized it enough. Local Heroes is an anthology of six stories, five on a different characters in the AC world. If you like AC, you'll like this.

The Magicians, Lev Grossman
This book does almost everything wrong. If you must read it, start past the half-way point. The first half is especially bad. It commits my five  great literary sins (the fourth is new to me with this book)

1) Telling me, not showing me: Especially the first third, we are repeatably told of the brilliance of the characters. They are said to have friendships, emotional bonds with others. But these are stated by the third-person narrator. The real evidence of this is but dimly demonstrated through the characters actions and dialog. Rather than showing me that someone is loyal through appropriate actions, they are described as loyal with minimal, if any, support evidence.

2) Not making me believe: In a world of magic and magicians, I never really believed these characters could do magic.

3) Not making me care: There was no hero. Not anti-hero. No sympathetic characters. The protagonist was tedious from the start, and only gained some emotional resonance in the last quarter of the overlong story.

4) Mocking the greats: It's as if Lev Grossman decided that Narnia and Harry Potter would be much better if those worlds were filled with vulgar, cynical, angsty, young adults. So it creates its own version of Narnia, Filory, that the characters all read as children:  young British kids escape through their uncle's furniture into a magical land, have adventures, and return home. He then reworks the Potter world where high-school kids with hidden magical talent are sent off to a special school, where they are hidden away for 5 years learning magic, completely unknown the outside, non-magical world. But being "real", they smoke and curse and have sex and do nothing of value with their lives. And for the first many chapters, it creates a constant comparison with far greater books, and looks all the worse for it.

5) Goes nowhere, Does nothing: The story is a string of essentially random events, culminating in nothing.


#7 of 81 mattCR

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Posted January 31 2010 - 10:42 AM

Dave-

Glad you liked Xenocide (I did too) in fact, I found some of the philisophical ideas in that incredibly engaging and pretty life-affriming stuff.  I enjoyed that book a great deal.  It starts out almost as a confusion to those who finish Speaker but wow does it roll after that.  I admit, I always find "Speaker" to be the masterwork, as I think the entire second half to that book is one of the best reveals in any scifi story I've ever read, but Xenocide/Children of the Mind are both very good.

I just started reading "The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove", a Christopher Moore novel. Christopher Moore is hit and miss for me, but I admit, the beginning has a great grab and I'm really enjoying it.

Just finished: "Game Change: Obamas and Clintons, McCain & Palin and the Race.."  I'd make more commentary, but it'd violate forum rules.  The book is a pretty interesting read.  I had hoped for something a bit like "The Late Shift" and found this to be in that style, but not quite as good.




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#8 of 81 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted January 31 2010 - 01:46 PM

Just finished, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (M.S. Merwyn's translation.)  I may have read it in high school, but didn't really remember the poem, only the various movie versions.  None of them really do it justice.  Currently reading Pride and Prejudice, which I tend to do about once a year.  (And you can keep your comments to yourself.  /img/vbsmilies/htf/smiley_wink.gif)  In this case I picked it up again because I just got the amazing Blu Ray version of the 1995 BBC version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth that aired here on A&E and watched it last week. 

Regards,

Joe


#9 of 81 DaveF

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Posted January 31 2010 - 01:51 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattCR 

Matt

Glad you liked Xenocide (I did too) in fact, I found some of the philisophical ideas in that incredibly engaging and pretty life-affriming stuff.  I enjoyed that book a great deal.
It was quite the story; especially with regards to the deeper characterizations of Jane, Piggies, and Hive Queen. I read the first three in a blitz, so I'm taking a breather before I read Children of the Mind. But I look forward to it.

It's about time to get back to Super Freakonomics :)



#10 of 81 Patrick Sun

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Posted February 01 2010 - 05:53 AM

I wasn't crazy about Xenocide when I read it in the mid-1990s, and wasn't too impressed with the 4th Ender book, but that didn't stop me from reading the first 3 Bean-related Shadow novels, though for the life of me, I can't remember if I read the 4th Shadow novel yet...
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#11 of 81 mattCR

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Posted February 01 2010 - 11:36 AM

First time I read Xenocide I hated it.  Really hated it.  I read it again a few years ago, and I guess time has changed me some and some of the story hit me differently.  I think it worked much better for me after having read "Children of the Mind" which really played out that entire philosophy, which I admit, I really think was a pretty uplifting view of the universe.

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#12 of 81 nolesrule

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Posted February 01 2010 - 12:21 PM

Those of you who have read or are reading the Ender's books might get a kick out of this...

http://xkcd.com/635/

Wish I still had time to read books. I haven't even bought a comic book in almost 2 years.


#13 of 81 DanielKellmii

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Posted February 01 2010 - 12:57 PM

I love all of the Ender books. "Speaker for the Dead" is one of my favorite books. As for the books I read this year I have been rereading some of my favorites, making attempts at reading books that I have never finished and reading some new stuff.
I read "World Without End" by Ken Follet. It seemed like the book without end. I think the hardcover edition is 900+ pages. The book was OK, I did finish it. It is a follow up to "Pillars of the Earth" which is a great book.
I read all the "Bean" books a few months ago. Those were fun and easy reads with just the right amount of Cards ideology thrown in.
Once again, I tried to read "Hero with a Thousand Faces" by J Campbell. I still can't finish it.
I just re-read the "Lord of the Ring" books. This is the first time I am reading it since I finished reading the Silmarillion. (OK, I read the Silmarillion and listened to it on tape.) It is great to finally understand the background of the series. I finally understand how Gandalf came back from the dead!
I keep on picking up the additions to the "DUNE" books that are written by his son. Frank Herbert died before finishing his last DUNE book so his son finished the series. Ehhhh, it was nice to have a sense of completion, but it so-so.
I know there is a non-fiction book in there somewhere that I am forgetting, :(

#14 of 81 Yee-Ming

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Posted February 01 2010 - 06:21 PM

I didn't read Ender's Game until just a few years ago (maybe 3 or so), which on its own doesn't sound so remarkable, except that I'm now 40 and have always been a sci-fi geek.  How I "missed" the Ender series when in school/college is beyond me.  Then again, I didn't read the Foundation series until college either.

When I got started, a friend who's a die-hard 'warned' me not to read beyond EG itself.  I ignored him, and while I can see why some might think the latter three are far more philosophical, I enjoyed them nonetheless.  The Bean/Shadow series returned to being more 'romps' like the original EG was, and those were great fun and less 'deep'.

I read Ender in Exile last year, which fills the gap between EG itself and Speaker.  Another interesting tale, but somehow not as satisfying as any of the earlier books.

#15 of 81 DaveF

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Posted March 27 2010 - 02:04 PM

SuperFreakonomics by Levitt and Dubner.
The followup to Freakonomics follows the same pattern: an intimate view of some fascinating microeconomics in life. It's a fair book; certainly enjoyable to anyone who liked Freakonomics. But I found Freakonomics much fresher -- not surprising being the first of its kind -- but the stories and topics were more interesting and felt more solid.

In SuperFreakonomics, I enjoyed most the discussion on medical matters, particularly the discovery of infection during childbirth in the Middle Ages.

The weakest portion was on Global Warming, as it simply didn't fit the Freakonomics model: it was purely speculative, not drawing on actual data to prove its point.

If you've not read either, start with Freakonomics. If you enjoyed Freaknomics, give SuperFreakonomics a try.

#16 of 81 Ockeghem

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Posted March 27 2010 - 03:25 PM

Dave,

Thanks for the heads-up on the 2010 thread.

Agatha Christie is one of my wife's favorite authors.  Twice she has tried to join a book club that is offering all of Christie's works, and both times the club has not completed the set.

I'm currently reading Canon and Canonicity: the Formation and Use of Scripture, ed. by Einar Thomassen (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum, 2010).

Precisely which books (and why) constitute the canonical books in the Hebrew bible and the various Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox) bibles has fascinated me for many years, as has the exclusion of various pseudepigraphal works.

I'm also reading Music and Medieval Manuscripts: Paleography and Performance: Essays Dedicated to Andrew Hughes, ed. by John Haines and Randall Rosenfeld (Adershot, Hants, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, c2004).

#17 of 81 DavidJ

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Posted March 27 2010 - 05:57 PM

Speaking of Christie, I've been reading a lot of her stuff over the last couple of years and recently finished And Then There Were None and tonight I picked up Masterpieces in Miniature, a collection of her detective short stories. 

I've also listened to Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford, How Doctors Think by Jerome E. Groopman and the somewhat controversial The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss.  I'd recommend anyone dealing with illness or undergoing medical care read Groopman's book.

There have been others as well, both this year and last, that I never got around to posting about.




#18 of 81 mattCR

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Posted March 27 2010 - 06:21 PM

Just finished "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and "The Help" this week, both pretty good reads.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a cute, fun read that can be finished in one sitting, it's breezy, straight forward, and relatively short.

"The Help" is a book I'm fairly conflicted on.  Some of the writing is truly superlative.  There is a basic story here that is both interesting and pretty compelling.  At the same time, there is something "wrong" with the story that I just can't put my fingers on.  As I read it, I kept thinking that something was not right.  I'm still not sure what that is.  But the more I read it, the more it really bothered me that something about the story just hit me wrong.  Still, a very good read.

I always keep an audio book going, but mostly books that are old friends, for when I drive.  I just finished "The Testament" which is my favorite Grisham book.  Although I'm one of those non-religious, the book is inventive, fun, and has a real suspense element.  It's something that's missing from a lot of newer Grisham books, which unfortunately all seem to have no real ending.  :(

I'm going to start "Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove" tomorrow and since it's Christopher Moore, I should be able to finish it quickly.

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#19 of 81 Ockeghem

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Posted March 29 2010 - 11:32 AM

I am reading B. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Palaeography (Oxford, 1981).  I ordered this for our university library as well.  The abstract sounded quite interesting, in that it mentions musical neumes among other distinctive features of Greek palaeography.  Metzger's work in the apocryphal literature is first-rate, and is always interesting.

Just ordered: P. Longerich, Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews (Oxford, 2010); and M. Hirshman, The Stabilization of Rabbinic Culture, 100 C.E. -350 C.E. (Oxford, 2009).



#20 of 81 mattCR

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Posted April 03 2010 - 02:20 AM

Grabbed and finished "Bite Me" by Christopher Moore.  Great, great book.  Definitely a read, I'll go back for the audiobook later, as I often find them to be good stuff.



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