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Everything posted by KEV67

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    I am about a third of the way through. I think it is the detail that makes it. Early on there is a battle at Schöngraben. The battle is so fully described. I thought Tolstoy must have been drawing on his own experiences fighting in the Crimean War. I was beginning to think the war bits were better than the peace bits, but I have just read several chapters describing a ball from a perspective of a pretty, sixteen-year-old girl who loves dancing. I have never been a pretty, sixteen-year-old girl who loves dancing, but it seemed like a pretty good stab at describing one.
  2. Things in books that annoy you

    Another thing I don't like is when detective fiction piles it on too thick. For example, there's a spree of seemingly unrelated disappearances. It turns out the killer is a taxidermist who's a Shakespeare nut. He's trying to stuff a person to represent each character from a scene in a Shakespeare play. So if there's an Earl of Sussex in the play he murders someone from Sussex. If King Edward III's in the play, he kills a boy called Edward whose father and grandfather are both called Edward. Meanwhile, it turns out the village postmistress is Herman Göring's secret love child, and she is killing fellow members of the parish council she does not like by giving them tea boiled with heavy water from a secret vat her father bequeathed her. Meanwhile, it turns out the gruff detective used to be a woman before she transitioned. She was raped as a girl and the resulting child was put up for adoption. Now the child has grown up and is progressing up the ranks of most notorious organised crime syndicate in the country.
  3. This is taking up a lot of my thinking time. I have renamed the top shelf from Seafaring to Maritime so I could put Huckleberry Finn in place of N***** of Narcissus. I reckon the boss would be leery of having that book title prominent on a shelf, notwithstanding that the same word is used over a hundred times in Huckleberry Finn. N***** of Narcissus is a shortish story and usually comes bound up with other seafaring tales. There is only so much Conradian misey I would want to inflict on a reader. I've renamed the second shelf and added New Grub Street. I've renamed my third shelf too, and replaced Watership Down with Lionel Asbo. I loved Watership Down as a child, but found it difficult to read as an adult. Lionel Asbo made me laugh out loud. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ | Maritime | | Moby Dick | Midshipman Hornblower | The Sea Wolf | Master and Commander| Huckleberry Finn | | Herman Melville | C.S. Forester | Jack London | Patrick O' Brian | Mark Twain | | British Classics | | Great Expectations | New Grub Street |Tom Jones | Wuthering Heights | Mary Barton | | Charles Dickens | George Gissing | Richard Fielding | Emily Brontë | Mrs Gaskell | | British Literary Fiction | | I Claudius | Nice Work | Winged Victory | Mr American | Lionel Asbo | | Robert Graves | David Lodge | V.M. Yeates | George MacDonald Fraser| Martin Amis | | Food for thought | | Lamb of God | Eating Animals | Homicide |Why Nations Fail | The Bottomless Well | | Ralph R. Wilson | Jonathon Safron Foer | David Simon |Acemoglu & Robinson | Mills & Huber | I am considering taking out Homicide. It is a great book, but I might hold it back for another set of shelves. I might substitute The Sea Wolf too.
  4. Best seafaring books

    Is there a genre that covers both sea and river sailing? I cannot think of one. I want to move Huckleberry Finn to the seafaring shelf in bookshop staff challenge thread, but a river is not a sea. Maritime means sea. Nautical pertains to the sea. Boating would exclude ships. Sailing would not be accurate for Huckleberry Finn; drifting would be more accurate. Edit: Wikipedia says maritime pertains to any sort of water transport. There are several great river stories: Huckleberry Finn, Heart of Darkness, Three Men in a Boat, Wind and the Willows and Death on the Nile. However, I have not read Death on the Nile and I never managed to finish Wind in the Willows. Something about the book puts me off. I read that The Odyssey counts as seafaring, as does Sinbad the Sailor. Thing is I am not sure how good the sailing is in those books. Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville were both sailors. Jack London was a sailor for a while. I don't think C.S. Forester was, but he spent a lot of time reading back issues of the Naval Gazette.
  5. I am struggling a bit with my last food for thought book.I am interested in climate change and alternative energy. In that category the books that struck me the most were Sustainability Without the Hot Air by David Mackay, which takes you through the simple maths and physics of coming up with a sustainable energy plan for a nation, and The Bottomless Well by Mark P. Wells and Peter W. Huber. This is a book about energy, and why they think we will never run out. If I cannot decide between those, I could go for Alone in the Universe by John Gribbin. It is why he thinks there may not be much intelligent life out there. I am struggling with the seafaring books too. If I liked Heart of Darkness more I would have chosen that over the Naughty word of Narcissus (a really rubbish title). The Naughty word of Narcissus is a good seafaring book, but it is not epic enough to be great. Lord Jim is just too miserable. There is The Old Man and the Sea. My father loved that, but I am not sure about Hemingway. I am not sure about The Sea Wolf neither. I am struggling with Pre-20th century. I want to include New Grub Street by George Gissing, but who would I leave out. Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn are going nowhere. If I changed it to 19th century classics I would have to leave out Tom Jones, but that is a great book. Wuthering Heights is a great book. It's like a long prose poem. I really like Mary Barton too.
  6. The Pickwick Papers

    I read it earlier this year. The thing that struck me the most were how many of the themes would be developed in his later books, particularly in Bleak House and Little Dorrit. I also sympathised with the young man who was rubbish at all sports, and glad he got his young lady.
  7. Best seafaring books

    Other seafaring books I have read include Robinson Crusoe, Kidnapped, possibly Nostromo, but I don not really consider them seafaring. The best bits of Robinson Crusoe are when he is stuck on the island. The best bits of Kidnapped are when David Balfour and Alan Breck are trying to get from West Scotland to East Scotland without getting captured by the red coats. Nostromo has a little bit of seafaring, but it is mainly about politics in an unstable South American country. I am not even sure Heart of Darkness is seafaring, because the main events take place on a river. Other seafaring books I would like to get to eventually: Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson) The Riddle of the Sands (Erskine Childers) The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (Yukio Mishima)
  8. Best seafaring books

    I would almost consider Persuasion by Jane Austen a seafaring book. Alright, I wouldn't really, but it is the most naval of her books. It is like when Captain Jack Aubrey is back on shore leave and trying to negotiate his romantic, domestic and financial difficulties, but written from Sophie's point of view. I think Jane Austen had two brothers in the Royal Navy and one ended up Admiral of the Fleet.
  9. I meant that I saw there was a challenges forum and I posted this in General Book Discussions, not that no one had replied. Is there any chance it can be moved?
  10. In some books the authors inserts phrases from foreign languages. French, Spanish, German, Italian and Latin phrases are the most frequent I suppose. Personally, I did not mind when it was French or German as I could have a stab at translating those. I did not like Latin phrases so much. I rarely understood those, which annoyed me as I attended Latin classes for three years at school.
  11. Looks like I posted this in the wrong sub-forum.
  12. I am going to put Lamb of God by Ralph F. Wilson on shelf 4. I think that is the book I read. I went through a phase of reading origins of Christianity books. This is not one of those, but it is a beautifully researched book. Also religious and spiritual. I have decided seafaring books are my favourite genre, so that is going to include Moby Dick, Midshipman Hornblower, and I am not sure what else. The pre-20th century literary fiction shelf is going to include Great Expectations, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Jones, probably Wuthering Heights. I am not sure what my third shelf is going to be. It might be 20th century British, in which case it would include I Claudius, Nice Work by David Lodge and something by George MacDonald Fraser. Might include Winged Victory by V.M. Yeates. Edit: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ | Seafaring | | Moby Dick | Midshipman Hornblower | The Sea Wolf | Master and Commander| The N****** of Narcissus | | Herman Melville | C.S. Forester | Jack London | Patrick O' Brian | Joseph Conrad | | Pre 20th Century | | Great Expectations | Huckleberry Finn |Tom Jones | Wuthering Heights | Mary Barton | | Charles Dickens | Mark Twain | Richard Fielding | Emily Brontë | Mrs Gaskell | | 20th Century British | | I Claudius | Nice Work | Winged Victory | Mr American | Watership Down | | Robert Graves | David Lodge | V.M. Yeates | George MacDonald Fraser| Richard Adams | | Food for thought | | Lamb of God | Eating Animals | Homicide |Why Nations Fail | The Bottomless Well | | Ralph R. Wilson | Jonathon Safron Foer | David Simon |Acemoglu & Robinson | Mills & Huber | I am bit worried that my bookshelf is a bit British and on the male, pale and stale side. But then I am British, male, pale and stale. Edit: Pity the Mississippi isn't salt water. Then I would move it to seafaring. Then I could add New Grub Street to Pre-20th Century.
  13. Foreign phrases in books

    War and Peace has started interposing more German, as the Russians and the Austrians were allies against Bonaparte. Quite large chunks are still in French. One of the Russian nobles even thinks in French. It is mad. I never thought I would be able to read Tolstoy in the original language. Despite George Orwell having written an essay on the use of plain English, he did used to use Latin phrases in some of his earlier books. For some reason I do not understand, I find Latin a much harder language to understand than French, German or even Italian. Why should Italian be so much easier than Latin? I have been studying Latin for about a year, and it is still not getting much clearer. I read Waverley by Sir Walter Scott last year, which was a great book. There was a character in it called Baron Bradwardine. He was always quoting Latin. I do not know if Scott thought at the time that anyone who might read Waverley would have a classical education. I don't think girls were taught Latin.
  14. Best stream-of-consciousness novels

    I have not read any Faulkner. I hear he's good, but I have concluded I do not like stream of consciousness books. I can put up with a bit of free indirect discourse. Is there a book of his you could recommend so I could tick him off the list?
  15. Best seafaring books

    I just posted it as seafaring books before. I like seafaring books. If they have a failing is that they tend to be a bit female light. Moby Dick is the best.
  16. Best seafaring books

    Oops, I see I have posted this thread before.
  17. WWI Historical Fiction

    One of my favourite books ever is Winged Victory by V.M. Yates. It is mainly about an RFC Sopwith Camel pilot. He is having a hard time keeping it together as his friends keep getting killed. What makes it different was that the author was an RFC pilot, although the book was written in the 1930's.
  18. What makes sci-fi interesting?

    I suppose I have a bit but not much. Thinking of Dune, that is science fiction because it has space travel, cultures devoted to industry, carefully designed desert suits, and alien lifeforms. OTOH, the giant worms could be dragons, the Bene Genesset sisterhood could be witches instead of experts in body control, and so on. It is difficult to call it fantasy, but it is not exactly science. I have not read it, but Never Let Me Go by Kasuo Ishiguro is often described as science fiction, because of the clones. However, it is not what you think of as science fiction. I wondered whether Ian McEwan's book Solar could be described as science fiction because its science is quite strong. When watching Star Trek and its various iterations and series like it, I remember that Gene Roddenberry was supposed to have sold the concept to the TV channel as like Horatio Hornblower in space. I have read some Hornblower books, and it struck me that Hornblower's captaining of his ship was much better described than anything a captain of a starship might do. How a sailing ship reacts to different weather and geography is well understood. The technology is understood. In space that all has to be invented and laws of physics distorted so as to make it dramatic. Space travel would probably be very boring. What form would space combat take? For example, in on Hornblower book, Hornblower's ship was being chased by a larger French ship which was making up distance because it was less effected by rough seas. Just as the French ship was about to overtake, Hornblower feinted to tack to starboard, but then doubled back to port, which was made quicker by moving all the cannons to one side of the ship. Writing something like that set in space would just seem very contrived.
  19. What makes sci-fi interesting?

    Alright, because you say so, I'll give him a go.
  20. Val McDermid

    I read one of her books, Broken Ground. She seems to be an equal opportunities crime writer. The goodies may be male or female; so might the baddies, whether they be the right side of the law or not. Unfortunately she's an SNP supporter so I won't read any more of her stuff.
  21. What makes sci-fi interesting?

    I would like to like science fiction more. 1984 and Brave New World can both be classified as science fiction and they are both superb. They are both classic dystopias too. If the function of SF is to extrapolate current sociological fears then perhaps it does not matter if the science is credible. After all, if you need a PhD in quantum gravity from the Max Planck Institute to assess the plausibility of the science, that makes for a small readership, and maybe it's missing the point anyway. Another good SF book I read was Flowers for Algernon. It was about this educationally subnormal man who given some treatment to improve his intelligence. It was a bit pedagogical, but a good book. I have read some of Kurt Vonnegut's books. I found them political. In Cat's Cradle a scientist discovers another state of water, i.e. not ice, water, water vapour, but something else. It ends badly. Slaughterhouse Five was even more political. Despite the aliens and the time travel, it was not really scientific at all. I have read all four of H.G. Wells's Victorian science fiction books. The Time Machine was an extrapolation of contemporary scientific thinking and social fears. The War of the Worlds was about invasion. War with Germany was in the air. The Island of Doctor Moreau was about playing God and the division between humans and animals, if there was one. I don't know where that came from. The Invisible Man was about a mad scientist whose experiments got out of control. Think Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Think Frankenstein. I have been watching Nerd Cookies on YouTube and her analyses of Dune are incredible. Frank Herbert's world building is amazing, but it is not really scientific. I have watched other YouTube analyses of Lord of the Rings, and they are equally amazing analyses of the world building, but LotR does not pretend to be scientific. So over all it is a genre I don't know what to make of.
  22. Marquis de sade

    Watched the Pasolini film. If the book is like the film then it's pretty horrible.
  23. Foreign phrases in books

    I have started reading War and Peace. It's the greatest novel in the world by reputation, or maybe Ulysses is, but I read that last year and did not understand it. I was rather surprised to find so much French in War and Peace. The translators have translated all the Russian, but not the French (well, they have, but as footnotes). I understand most of it, so all those evening school courses were not in vain. Ulysses had quotes from Latin, Italian, French, and a sentence in Irish. I had particular difficulty with the Latin.
  24. What are your top three classics?

    I've updated my preferences: 1) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 2) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 3) Moby Dick by Herman Melville I wanted to pick The Adventures of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Richard Fielding at 3, but in honesty I had difficulty in picking between Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick for 2.
  25. Novels That Shaped Our World

    Interesting. Elizabeth Gaskell got in a bit of hot water, because in her biography of Charlotte Brontë, she repeated her criticisms of the school on which Lowood School was based (Cowen Bridge). When Jane Eyre came out former pupils quickly recognised the school and some of the staff. One of the problems was that the school was located in an unhealthy place. Another problem was the cook was very bad. IIRC, the reverend at the school wrote a defence, and I think his son-in-law did too. Jane Eyre contained a feminist outburst at one point. She complained about the lack of opportunities for women. I wonder if that had an effect.