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      Moving Day Coming Soon   01/11/2021

      As many of you know, we've been looking at changing hosts for a while now. This will allow us to access the tech support we need for the site and should speed up the forum as well as ironing out a few issues we've been having recently.    We are now signed up to the new hosting plan and can go ahead with the move as soon as the new hosts have everything they need (which is currently being sorted!). The forum should not be offline for more than a day during the switch and hopefully it won't even take that long. I don't have an exact time or day for the move yet but this is an early warning to expect some downtime soon.   When we are offline, no matter how briefly, you can follow the forum twitter page (@bookclubforum) for updates.  


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Everything posted by KEV67

  1. Seafaring books

    I have read a few, including: Moby Dick, Herman Melville The Sea Wolf. Jack London The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemmingway Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad The Nigger of Narcissus, Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe Aubrey-Maturin series, Patrick o' Brian Hornblower series 1-5, C.S. Forester Moby Dick was the best, although it is very long, with frequent digressions into all things cetological, for instance, whether a whale is an animal or a fish. I am currently half way through the Hornblower series. C.S. Forester started his first book with Horatio Hornblower already a post captain of a ship. He made the same mistake as Patrick o' Brian after him. He set the first book too late in the Napoleonic Wars and ran out of war, but then Forester went back to the beginning of Hornblower's career. Captain Ahab hunted whales; Wolf Larson (Sea Wolf) hunted seals; the old man caught big fish; Kurtz collected ivory; Robinson Crusoe was on a mission to buy slaves; Jim tried to escape his shame; James Waite just tried to stay alive, while Captains Aubrey and Hornblower fought French, Spanish and Dutch men-of-war all over the high seas. Does anyone have any other suggestions?
  2. Thomas Hardy

    I think I will read Tess of the d'Urbervilles again. I read it quite a few years ago, but I read the Oxford World Classic edition, which included most of Hardy's later alterations to the story. I would read the Penguin edition next, which is based on the first book version of the story. I did like a lot of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. but I thought there was also something sick about it. I have not read Jude the Obscure but I watched the film with Kate Winslet and Christopher Ecclestone. That was a good film, but that story also had a very sick episode in it. So sick, I resolved not to read it, although it is supposed to be one of his best written books. I have also read Far From the Madding Crowd, The Woodlanders, and The Return of the Native. I liked how each book had a different landscape. The Woodlanders was in a forest. The Return of the Native was on a heath. Far From the Madding Crowd was set in mixed farmland although sheep play a large part. I suppose Tess is set on farms too, although three different sorts. I like all the agricultural details/
  3. Your Favourite Book when a Child?

    The Hobbit, followed closely by Watership Down.
  4. To The Lighthouse

    I am not a fan of Virginia Woolf and do not understand why her books are so highly rated. I do not like her books. I do not agree with her long-winded essays. In the BBC Culture top 100 British books list, To the Lighthouse came 3rd and Mrs Dalloway came 2nd. In To the Lighthouse there was a character who kept trying to paint a landscape or a seascape, but she was never satisfied until the end, because a tree was in the wrong place or something. Move your flipping easel then, is what I thought. I sometimes worry about my inability to understand and like Shakespeare and Woolf. In Oscar Wilde's De Profundis he tells his ex-boyfriend, Lord Alfred Douglas, that his cup is too small to comprehend sublime art. I think that must be my problem too.
  5. Ulysses by James Joyce

    I read Ulysses this Summer. I read it ten pages a day and got through it in three months. It reminded me of books on engineering and technology that I thought I would understand, but didn't. There were some sections I did understand and even enjoy. Didn't they go to a brothel at one point? I liked that scene. Other sections just annoyed me. All the changes in style seemed arbitrary to me. No doubt they were not arbitrary, but I have not ready the original Ulysses myth, which I suspect provides the clues. Even Molly Bloom's soliloquy at the end: was it really better for not having any punctuation? One of the things I disliked about the book is that it is not enough to read what is already a long book. Other readers say you should read Dubliners first to get you up to speed. Then you ought to read the Greek Ulysses myth in order to understand the references in the James Joyce version. Then you have to read a book that explains what Ulysses is about and why it is so good. My suspicion is that James Joyce was writing a text book for English Literature university undergraduates.
  6. I thought Wuthering Heights was great. I actually liked The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I did not think much of Shirley. We studied Jane Eyre at school for O level and that poisoned that book for me. I think it is a bad idea teaching books like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice to schoolboys. Oops, looks like I already replied to this thread. Well, I have not changed my mind.
  7. I have read all six of her novels. I have not read Lady Susan. I liked Pride and Prejudice and Emma the most. The others i did not think as good. All the same, I do not think men enjoy her books as much as women. I thought The History of Tom Jones was a better book than any of Austen's.
  8. The Victorian attitude was spare the rod and spoil the child. Corporal punishment only started to fall out of fashion in the latter half of the 20th century.
  9. Looking for Crime thriller

    The best crime thriller I have read for a long time is G.B.H. by Ted Lewis. Ted Lewis wrote the book Get Carter was based on. G.B.H. is better than that.
  10. Which are the best stream-of-consciousness novels. I have only read two: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. I think Trainspotting was stream-of-consciousness. It has been a long time since I read it.
  11. Best stream-of-consciousness novels

    I have recently finished Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry. It is about a British consul in Mexico around 1938. He is a hopeless alcoholic. It is not an easy read, but the writing is very lyrical. It was like a stream-of-consciousness Graham Greene novel. I read Ulysses by James Joyce earlier this year. Most of it was beyond my reading age, but I liked the bits I understood.
  12. Pubs in books

    I am currently reading Our Mutual Friend (Charles Dickens), which has a pub called The Six Jolly Fellowships, which made me think about this. I always thought Keith Talent's favourite pub, The Black Cross, in London Fields (Martin Amis) had an appropriate name. George Elliot often had pubs in her books. There were four in Middlemarch, including The Tankard and The Green Dragon, I think. My favourite pub name of hers was The Hand and Banner in Daniel Deronda. Sadly there is no Hand and Banner pub in Britain at the moment. I've noticed that The Wetherspoons chain sometimes uses literary pub names, for example, there is now a Moon Under Water in Milton Keynes, which was George Orwell's ideal pub.
  13. I watched a lecture about Charles Dickens on YouTube by an American academic. In his introduction, he said Charles Dickens was regarded as Britain's second greatest writer after Shakespeare, or possibly Jane Austen was second. Anyway, that made me wonder who number four and five were. Thinking about C20th authors, I could not really think of anyone in that class: Evelyn Waugh - no, Graham Greene - not for me. I thought possibly George Orwell might be up there. He only wrote two great works of fiction, Animal Farm and 1984, but he wrote several important non-fiction books and many great essays. Shakespeare did not actually write any novels. Then I wondered who number five might be. I have not actually read any of her books, but I wonder if it might be J. K. Rowling.
  14. I wonder if it's Mrs Gaskell. I don't think she is the most miserable of the Victorian authors, but her mortality rate is similar to a World War I novel.
  15. That's a bit different. Those people weren't named characters on the whole. There was the curate and one or two scientific types at the start. Otherwise the victims were just part of an anonymous mass.
  16. I recently finished Tau Zero by Poul Anderson. It had a great premise for a sci-fi book: spaceship gets closer and closer to light speed, while time slows down on board accordingly. It was described as a hard science sci-fi book. I was really disappointed with it. I can't say how good the science was for the time; it was written (approx 1970), but it is definitely out of date now. I think it was a bit cobblers then. What I really didn't like was the inter-personal stuff. The characters were either flat, or I did not like them. The attitudes were a bit out of date. The science in science fiction is nearly always wrong. Some sci-fi books are just plain fantasy. Some use a bit of science, e.g. nuclear war, space travel to another planet, just to get to another world, which either resembles a fantasy world or an historic world. Some use a bit of science to set up a plot and make it sound plausible, but don't really pretend that the science is perfect. Occasionally, you get a sci-fi book that tries to be as scientific as possible. The Martian is a decent example of that, but Andy Weir a) had to use a scientifically impossible device to strand his hero on Mars, and b) made the odd mistake, despite all his online readers pointing out his errors. Sci-fi books are books of ideas. I think H.G. Well's sci-fi books are interesting because they say something about the fears of the time. For instance, The Time Machine commented on the social divides in late Victorian Britain, Darwinian ideas, and there must have been something in the air about space-time, although Einstein had not got there yet. I remember The Day of the Triffids had a real Cold War feel about it. Unless a sci-fi book alludes to the concerns of society at the time it was written, it's probably a bit pointless.
  17. Some excellent suggestions so far. How Green Was My Valley - Richard Llewellyn Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf The Island of the Day Before - Umberto Eco
  18. I have just read E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops. It's a bit like The Matrix and a bit like Brave New World. It seems to predict something like the internet.
  19. I am working through H.G. Wells' science fiction books. I wondered who Well's sci-fi contemporaries were. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton is not exactly science fiction, but it has its steampunk chapters. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a little bit science fiction.
  20. What makes sci-fi interesting?

    I think a decent stab at the science is important; otherwise it is just fantasy. SF books are often books of ideas, but if they break known scientific limits, such as travelling faster than lightspeed with no plausible explanation of how they do it, then to me they are fantasy or adventure books. Technology shapes society. A lot of SF books imagine what that society will be like, which pointless if the technology is unrealistic. Many SF books are projections of the fears of the time of writing, particularly dystopias. I am trying to think of some of my favourite SF books: The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell - A first contact book. Basically it was a book about over-population. Ringworld, by Larry Niven - not sure if it fits my thesis about SF being a projection of modern fears, but it is an interesting idea, which sounded plausible when I read it. Larry Niven often wrote about criminal who killed people for their organs, but I can't remember if he was in the book. Dune by Fank Herbert - eugenics, a planet of inscrutable machine makers reminiscent of Japan, the control of spice needed throughout the galaxy reminiscent of oil. The Left Hand of Darkness , by Ursula Le Guin - quite a bit about gender, quite political. An envoy tries to persuade an isolated civilisation to join the community of planets. The science was pretty good. The Martian, by Andy Weir - not really a projection of modern society or fears at all, but the science was strong. Makes Mars colonisation seem plausible (although difficult). The Gods Themselves - the Earth has found a cheap and abundant source of energy, unfortunately it is damaging the environment in a big way.
  21. Favourite books from childhood?

    My favourite book was The Hobbit followed by Watership Down, which had similar plots. I read all Enid Blyton's Famous Five books. I never bothered with her Secret Seven. I liked the Willard Price Adventure series. They were about two lads who helped their father catch wild animals for a zoo. I liked the Dragonfall 5 books too when I was younger. They were about a family who flew an obsolete cargo spaceship.
  22. What makes sci-fi interesting?

    I read three of Iain Banks' books, two of which were science fiction. I can't remember what they were called. In one, the hero flits around the galaxy, offing people and trying not to get offed. The other takes place on Planet Medievalland. There's a king who has counsellor, or possibly a doctor, who is obviously from off-world. The neighbouring kingdom was usurped by a Oliver Cromwell type. He has a bodyguard who is in love with one of his harem. I thought it was a pretty good book, but there was not much science fiction in it. I have read one Arthur C Clarke book, The City and the Stars. I did not think it was that good. I hear Rendevous with Rama is better, but not to bother with the sequels. I read one Issac Asimov book: The Gods Themselves. I did like that, and it had some pretty hard science. Aliens from a parallel universe were tinkering with the strong atomic force.
  23. Skulduggery Pleasant perhaps, the dead detective. I haven't actually read any of the series but someone I follow on YouTube raves about them. The autistic boy in The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time has to do a bit of detective work. That's a good book and not particularly difficult to read. Father Brown is like a religious Sherlock Holmes. It's about as far away from real crime as it is possible to get.
  24. Pubs in books

    Thinking about Orwell, although more a café than a pub, they serve alcohol in the Chestnut Tree.
  25. Britain's all time top five authors

    It looks like the international critics agree with you about Virginia Woolf. She has three books in the top 25, including 2nd and 3rd. http://www.bbc.co.uk/culture/story/20151204-the-25-greatest-british-novels Still wouldn't have her in my top 5.