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Thread: The Book Thread

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    The Book Thread

    I could have sworn we already had one of these for the new board, unless we have and I'm just a thick twat who can't user the search function/ type.

    Anyway, I'm reading Memories of Ice, the third Malazan book, and it's bloody brilliant. Unless something like Game of Thrones is about as fantasy-ish as you want to get you'd be a fool not to read it. I'm only halfway through the third of ten books but thus far I'm happily putting Erikson as my favourite fantasy author behind Pratchett (not that the two are comparable in style, really, but I imagine they count as the same genre.)

    What are you chaps reading?

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    Senior Member Boydy's Avatar
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    The Crying of Lot 49. I don't know if I like it or not. It's just weird.

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    Senior Member Demerit's Avatar
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    I'm halfway through Deadhouse Gates (the second Malazan book) but I haven't picked it up in about two months..

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    Senior Member Spoonsky's Avatar
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    I just read The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer for school. It was pretty good, very good in places. Next up is Italo Calvino, which I'm excited about.

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    Hip Hop Dude Alex Ferguson's Avatar
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    Currently reading Michael Jackson's Dangerous (33 1/3) by Susan Fast. Great critique of one of my favourite albums.

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    Senior Member Boydy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spoonsky View Post
    I just read The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer for school. It was pretty good, very good in places. Next up is Italo Calvino, which I'm excited about.
    Which Calvino?

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    Still reading ASOIAF, only get to read a chapter or 2 each night usually, so I'm still only on Book 3, though it's nearly done. I've found it to be comfortably the best so far. I loved Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings but it's like he's somehow managed to raise the series to a new level. Unfortunately, anyone I speak to seems to say this is the high point and the others aren't quite as good, but we'll see.

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    Senior Member Lee's Avatar
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    I was looking for this thread earlier and decided I couldn't be arsed starting it when I realised it wasn't here.

    I started reading Clive Woodward's autobiography last week but I can't get past thinking he's a massive wanker so I've knocked it on the head. I've started on Bill Bryson's 'The Road to Little Dribbling' today. It's a sequel to 'Notes from a Small Island' and a couple of chapters in I'm pissing myself already. Such a shame he has spent so many years away from the travel genre.

    After this I'll finish off Halldor Laxness' 'Independent People' which I stopped reading for no good reason given I was really enjoying it. I think it might be that summer got in the way. It's a bleak book set in a dreary Iceland and I struggled to stay in the mood for it. Now the seasons are turning I fancy it again.

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    Senior Member Spoonsky's Avatar
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    Halldor Laxness has a decent book about Mormonism, I think one of my parents read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Boydy View Post
    Which Calvino?
    The Nonexistant Knight.

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    Won the Old Board Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    I started reading Clive Woodward's autobiography last week but I can't get past thinking he's a massive wanker so I've knocked it on the head.
    Please tell me somebody bought you that because they thought it might be good for work.

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    I've started on Bill Bryson's 'The Road to Little Dribbling' today. It's a sequel to 'Notes from a Small Island' and a couple of chapters in I'm pissing myself already. Such a shame he has spent so many years away from the travel genre.
    Want that. His non-travel books are belting too, though.

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    Senior Member Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis View Post
    Please tell me somebody bought you that because they thought it might be good for work.
    Nah, I've had it for ages and never bothered with it. I just got interested when the rugby world cup started. One of the reasons he comes across as a wanker is because he obviously sees himself as some kind of management guru and regularly dishes out advice such as "don't be a cunt to people" and "don't be shit at your job".

    I don't read anything because it might be "good for work" anyway. I couldn't think of a shitter way to spend my time.

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    Just Luca, but still a DJ Luca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boydy View Post
    The Crying of Lot 49. I don't know if I like it or not. It's just weird.
    I liked it, but you get what you pay for with Pynchon. It's brilliant, beautifully written stuff, but he's off-the-wall bonkers.

    I'm currently reading The Signal and The Noise by Nate Silver (the guy behind FiveThirtyEight) - it's about our inability, as a society, to make reasonable forecasts and how we can go about improving.

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    Romulus Augustulus ItalAussie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    I'm currently reading The Signal and The Noise by Nate Silver (the guy behind FiveThirtyEight) - it's about our inability, as a society, to make reasonable forecasts and how we can go about improving.
    I really enjoyed that book, although I did start to flag towards the end.

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    Rude Kids: The Story of Viz - Decent read so far.

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    Senior Member Mazuuurk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    I could have sworn we already had one of these for the new board, unless we have and I'm just a thick twat who can't user the search function/ type.

    Anyway, I'm reading Memories of Ice, the third Malazan book, and it's bloody brilliant. Unless something like Game of Thrones is about as fantasy-ish as you want to get you'd be a fool not to read it. I'm only halfway through the third of ten books but thus far I'm happily putting Erikson as my favourite fantasy author behind Pratchett (not that the two are comparable in style, really, but I imagine they count as the same genre.)

    What are you chaps reading?
    Ah, I'd like to hear more about that series. I came in here intending to post about the Kingkiller Chronicles byt Patrick Rothfuss, that I read the first two books of this past summer (third, and supposedly final, one isn't out yet).

    Those were so, SO, SO good. So good I'd definitely choose them above ASoFaI series. I just love a fantasy book that has that personal angle, it just follows one character. I read an old trilogy of Robin Hobb ages ago that was a bit like that, but the Kingkiller books were better I think.

    Anyway, I'm looking for a new fantasy series to read and the Malazan ones is what's been mostly catching my eye.
    Convince me, please.

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    Just Luca, but still a DJ Luca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItalAussie View Post
    I really enjoyed that book, although I did start to flag towards the end.
    His insight into the Financial Crisis (MK '08) is more or less bang-on. It's refreshing to see someone write about it from an educated, dispassionate perspective, instead of the usual BUT THE EVIL BANKERS drivel. He appropriates blame evenly and precisely where it's due.

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mazuuurk View Post
    Ah, I'd like to hear more about that series. I came in here intending to post about the Kingkiller Chronicles byt Patrick Rothfuss, that I read the first two books of this past summer (third, and supposedly final, one isn't out yet).

    Those were so, SO, SO good. So good I'd definitely choose them above ASoFaI series. I just love a fantasy book that has that personal angle, it just follows one character. I read an old trilogy of Robin Hobb ages ago that was a bit like that, but the Kingkiller books were better I think.

    Anyway, I'm looking for a new fantasy series to read and the Malazan ones is what's been mostly catching my eye.
    Convince me, please.
    The Malazan books don't follow one individual character, they're very different on that front. I don't know if this is going to continue throughout the whole series but the first one had one set of characters and then the second one had a different set. There were a few mentioned and it's all part of the same overall story which ties in together and happens at the same time, or close enough, to the events of the third book. And now the third one is back to the same characters as the first one. He handles it really well though and he doesn't come across as as much of a weird old perv as George R R Martin does which is a bonus as well.

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    Senior Member Mazuuurk's Avatar
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    What makes you think GRR Martin is an old perv? The sex? Because I quite appreciate the addition of the crudeness around that, I don't care to much for the sort of very american kind of embellishing of anything sexual happening (even, almost, when they are depicting some negative sexual experience as well).

    Anyway, that does sound quite a lot like GRR Martin in a way. Or is it more like how the Tolkien books are structured?

    The series is finished, right? I'm definitely not starting another unfinished fantasy series, as I'm already waiting on the Kingkiller Crhonicle book 3 and Winds of Winter from ASoFaI

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    I just find the sex-related stuff he writes a bit weird is all.

    The structure is similar to ASOIAF, I'd say. It doesn't dedicate entire chapters to following a specific character, or at least not rigidly. You might jump between characters in one location to characters elsewhere or you might have a few pages of one character and then another related character, etc. It's a bit more fluid like that I guess.

    And yes, the series is complete. Ten books in ten or eleven years, job done. There is a second series by the guy who co-created the setting with Erikson but I've no idea if those are meant to be any good.

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    Just finished the third Malazan book, Memories of Ice. Properly raced through the last hundred pages or so because there was so much going on and it had properly big changes involving major characters. Crikey.

    Next up will be The Long Mars, which I will be interested to see if it has a proper story after the second book sort of ambled along.

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    Senior Member Boydy's Avatar
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    Just finished this:



    Some info about it here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Station_Eleven

    Won the Arthur C. Clarke award this year.

    It's so fucking good. If you like dystopian futures or post-apocalyptic settings, get it get it get it.

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    The Yiddish Policeman's Union

    What does an author do after finding both a bizarre WW II State Department plan to create a Jewish refuge in Alaska and a thoroughly unusable Yiddish travel phrasebook in a bookstore with phrases like "I'd like to book a flight."? Apparently the answer is to create a fake Jewish homeland in Sitka Alaska with a Dan Brown style murder mystery. Funny book about identity that never forgets it needs to be a good murder mystery, but Chabon's made up Sitka Alaska with Hasidic gangsters and jewish / Indian land disputes is the real star. Pleasantly surprising.

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    I've recently started reading a book written by 4 survivors of the Titanic.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Story-Titani...anic+survivors

    It's gripping stuff. Would recommend it.

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    Senior Member Boydy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikem View Post
    The Yiddish Policeman's Union

    What does an author do after finding both a bizarre WW II State Department plan to create a Jewish refuge in Alaska and a thoroughly unusable Yiddish travel phrasebook in a bookstore with phrases like "I'd like to book a flight."? Apparently the answer is to create a fake Jewish homeland in Sitka Alaska with a Dan Brown style murder mystery. Funny book about identity that never forgets it needs to be a good murder mystery, but Chabon's made up Sitka Alaska with Hasidic gangsters and jewish / Indian land disputes is the real star. Pleasantly surprising.
    I've just started this.

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    Better Than You Henry's Avatar
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    I'm still plodding through Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution and Stephen King's Different Seasons. Both are long, so I fear I bit off more than I could chew at once. Still, nearly there.

    Anyone read Trotsky before? Boydy?

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    The Long Mars is following a very similar pattern to the previous two books. It still feels like an extended what-if as much as a novel and like they had more ideas than they had room for. Very readable and things are coming together again for the ending but a bit strange.

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    Won the Old Board Lewis's Avatar
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    I read a collection of Trotsky's military writings before. They were a bit crap.

    'There's only one way to win a campaign; shout, shout and shout again!'

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    Custom User Title phonics's Avatar
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    I'm onto SuperFreakonomics after spending far too long on the first one. They're great reads and perfect anecdote material.

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    Senior Member Andrew's Avatar
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    Malazan Book Of The Fallen is a great read currently on book five (Midnight Tides) and can not recommend it highly enough.

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    You finding that the quality has stayed consistent to the point you're are, @Andrew? I'm keen to get stuck into the fourth soon.

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    Senior Member Boydy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
    I'm still plodding through Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution and Stephen King's Different Seasons. Both are long, so I fear I bit off more than I could chew at once. Still, nearly there.

    Anyone read Trotsky before? Boydy?
    Nope.

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    Senior Member Andrew's Avatar
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    @Ian half way through the fifth book now mate, still as gripped reading this now as I was reading the first.

    My old man went through all 10 books in a matter of weeks and reckons it's the best set of books he has ever read.

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    Lofty and Towns (have either of them made it here, yet?) had both read ASOIAF, Wheel of Time, etc. and were both adamant Malazan was the best so I'm pleased to hear further confirmation.

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    Senior Member Spoonsky's Avatar
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    The Nonexistent Knight is good. Very enjoyable and short, perfect school reading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    I could have sworn we already had one of these for the new board, unless we have and I'm just a thick twat who can't user the search function/ type.

    Anyway, I'm reading Memories of Ice, the third Malazan book, and it's bloody brilliant. Unless something like Game of Thrones is about as fantasy-ish as you want to get you'd be a fool not to read it. I'm only halfway through the third of ten books but thus far I'm happily putting Erikson as my favourite fantasy author behind Pratchett (not that the two are comparable in style, really, but I imagine they count as the same genre.)

    What are you chaps reading?
    I got the first 3 Malazan books for Christmas years ago and I've not started them yet.

    I've just finished The Wheel of Time series (14 fucking novels and a prequel) which was a massive drag in parts (pretty much all of books 5-10) but overall pretty decent. Might get started on Malazan next.

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    Yeah, WoT dragged in the middle quite a bit as Jordan spent too much time building up a not-especially-interesting fantasy world and not enough spending time with Rand, Perrin and Mat. And what time was spent with Rand he inevitably moping and complaining about all the beautiful women who were gagging to engage in some bedtop wrestling with him, the poor mite.

    Sanderson did an unbelievable job of the last three books, and the ending to his first (Gathering Storm) in particular, when Rand finally got to stop being miserable a fantastic moment.

    Get stuck into Malazan, I don't think you'll regret it.

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    Senior Member Andrew's Avatar
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    Some of the characters you come across in the Malazan books are great.

    Karsa "No fucks given" Orlong
    Kruppe
    Pust

    What's your favourites so far?

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    Webly Ian's Avatar
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    Kruppe is good. Quite liked Heboric as well.

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    Blankets. Just finished it. A graphic novel it is.

    Holy shit.

    Did someone say they were reading it a while back?

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    Better Than You Henry's Avatar
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    Different Seasons by Stephen King

    This is a collection of (non-horror) short stories from King's early career. Three of them have since been made into movies, of which I'd seen two.

    • The Shawshank Redemption: The prison story, a little different here - the characters are a little rougher and the prison staff aren't as well defined. Familiarity probably robs it of some impact.
    • Apt Pupil: A young boy gets mixed up with a Nazi war criminal. Dark, intriguing stuff that keeps you guessing.
    • The Body: A group of twelve year olds go on an adventure along the railways lines to find a dead body. (Stand by Me is the movie.) I found it a bit long-winded.
    • The Breathing Method: A man joins a gentlemans club at which odd tales are told. The shortest and probably the best of the four. Quite unsettling - there's something just under the surface that isn't explained.

    In general, I remain of the view that King is better writing about the real world than the supernatural (those have always been the least interesting parts of his writing to me) but also that he has a tendency to ramble such that some of his writing could do with more editing.

  42. #42
    Senior Member randomlegend's Avatar
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    I know they are 'kids' books, but the Edge Chronicles really are great.

    I've just finished the second book of the most recent saga and am genuinely looking forward to the next one coming out. Just realised I've been reading them since Primary School

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    Better Than You Henry's Avatar
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    The History of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky

    I've always been fascinated by Russian history, and how tragic it is. The revolution and the subsequent civil war are perhaps the most tragic episodes. As a key player in these events, Trotsky has a unique perspective writing as a historian 15 years later.
    Trotksy is an impressive figure who deserves to be taken seriously, in spite of my thorough ideological disagreement. This is a long, well-written and exacting work which appears to possess factual reliability even as it dispenses with any veneer or objectivity. Its high level of detail is at times absorbing and at times ponderous, and while the overbearing tone and bias in favour of the Bolsheviks grows wearing, it also provides a useful perspective.
    The narrative begins with the February Revolution and ends with the October Revolution (or coup?) taking in all intermediate episodes including the April Days, July Days and the Kornilov Revolt. Throughout, the position of the Bolsheviks with the Russian people improves, from a minor fringe grouping to one capable of seizing power. It does appear however that Trotsky continually overstates the popularity of the Bolsheviks. Their eminent position among the industrial workers and soldiers by October was decisive, but it was hardly as unchallenged as presented here, and in an all-Russian context was still a small minority, the population being comprised mostly of peasants. Trotsky (following Lenin) excuses this by appointing the Bolsheviks as the "vanguard" of the revolution, but the inevitable (and real) end-point of that is one-party rule.
    Unexamined, in fact, is Trotsky's own opposition to this principle pre-1917 (he didn't join the Bolshviks until that year), describing it as "Bonapartism". Here his fanatical enthusiasm for the idea, and for the principles of dialectic materialism (also extremely questionable) lead to all sorts of historical conclusions that I find indefensible.
    Unexamined also are the extent to which Lenin's own positions taken in 1917 are a divergence from those expressed both before and after, not to mention his actions in power, which expose him in my view as an opportunist.
    Yes, power to the soviets in 1917 was probably a noble aim, if something that was going to prove difficult in the heat of wartime. The problem with the Bolsheviks is that they identified soviet power with their own power, and with it would very quickly move to build the first totalitarian state and to rebuild the Tsarist machinery of repression in a much more severe form (see the Cheka, Red Terror, war communism, the closure of the Constituent Assembly, the progressive outlawing of opposition parties, the subjugation of the soviets to the party...)
    All said, these are criticisms of the Leninist doctrines found in the book, but it's an intriguing read for all that.

  44. #44
    Hip Hop Dude Alex Ferguson's Avatar
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    Got this cheap on Amazon.

    Toggle Spoiler

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    Isn't he banned? Baz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammer View Post
    Blankets. Just finished it. A graphic novel it is.

    Holy shit.

    Did someone say they were reading it a while back?
    I've read it.

    The childhood stories of him and Phil were epic, but the actual story and all the Jesus tripe really put me off.

    Honestly wouldn't have finished it if I wasn't on holiday and the only other book available was something called NYPD Red.
    I'm a twit

  46. #46
    Senior Member Jimmy Floyd's Avatar
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    'Where My Heart Used To Beat' by Sebastian Faulks.

    I hit about one novel a year, so tend to make it a heavy one and this definitely is that. Old Seb likes a bit of psychiatry and mental illness - there's a lot of that, but there's also a vivid and brilliant few passages of war experience fighting in Italy which alone make the book worth reading. The rest of it veers between intriguing and occasionally wittering on a bit, but all in all I'm very glad I read it and would recommend to anyone with an interest in 20th century history. There was also an absolutely laughable little piece of fourth wall levity at the end in what is otherwise a deadly serious book, which was bizarre and probably out of place but I liked it.

  47. #47
    Better Than You Henry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Floyd View Post
    I hit about one novel a year
    Don't I remember you being one of those who had read a very high proportion of the Top 100 list?

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    Senior Member Jimmy Floyd's Avatar
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    Nah. I can't remember but I've probably done 20-30 tops, many of them some time ago.

    I'd like to read more fiction really but I'm quite closed-minded about it, so often need to be dragged in by the synopsis.

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    Senior Member Spoonsky's Avatar
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    You might like W.G. Sebald, Jimmy. A bizarre mix of fiction, memoir and history that somehow works perfectly. Nausea in particularly is actually my favorite book but they all seem to fit my description pretty well.

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    Better Than You Henry's Avatar
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    The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

    I've been curious for some time about the phenomenon of psychopaths, particularly the difference between those who commit crimes and those who function more normally. Here, Jon Ronson (of The Men Who Star at Goats) explores the issue in its various forms, chatting with patients in mental institutes, CEO's who exhibit the traits, psychiatrists, conspiracy theorists and Scientologists. It's a fairly easy read in a conversational style. Unfortunately the issue is explored in little depth and ends up trivialising the whole thing, with the take-away message that there are "degrees" of madness and that psychiatry isn't a particularly developed or reliable discipline are hardly world-shaking. I'll probably look elsewhere for something better on the subject before long.

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