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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 12:52   #1
Edward woodwood
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What are you reading?

Hi folks

this was a fairly popular thread before the big crash. Thought i'd resurrect it as it's nice to get recommendations for future reading and share great books.

This year i'm trying to read a book a week. Should just about manage it I think.

best so far include
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
Fierce invalids home from warm climates by Tom Robbins
Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
Cosmopolis by Don Delillo

The Best book i have ever read by a country mile is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Moby Dick by Herman Melville is second and The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy third

http://www.epinions.com/content_32231034500 for a review

Blood Meridian is an amazingly intense book, grand, bibical, apocolyptic, epic, very scholarly and unremittingly dark. It deals with huge themes and is not for the sqeamish. Some of the characters are based on real people and that of 'Judge' Holden is the most frightening literary creation ever for me. This is what you're in for if you read it:

The judge cracked with the back of an axe the shinbone on an antelope and the hot marrow dripped smoking on the stones. They watched him. The subject was war.

The good book says that he that lives by the sword shall perish by the sword, said the black.

The judge smiled, his face shining with grease. What right man would have it any other way? he said.

The good book does indeed count war an evil, said Irving. Yet there’s many a bloody tale of war inside it.

It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.

He turned to Brown, from whom he’d heard some whispered slur or demurrer. Ah Davy, he said. It’s your own trade we honor here. Why not rather take a small bow. Let each acknowledge each.

My trade?

Certainly.

What is my trade?

War. War is your trade. Is it not?

And it ain’t yours?

Mine too. Very much so.

What about all them notebooks and bones and stuff?

All other trades are contained in that of war.

Is that why war endures?

No. It endures because young men love it and old men love it in them. Those that fought, those that did not. . . . War is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god.


How good is that?

Tim
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 13:05   #2
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Just finished reading: Arrivals and Rivals: A Birding Oddity by Adrian Riley. Clumsily written and full of both sycophancy and self importance, this is basically a complete pile of crap. Saying that it is very enjoyable - so enjoyable that I read it twice! If you want to read about a descent into madness, and just plain weird goings on amongst saddo birders, then this is for you!

Also read The Witches of Chiswick by Robert Rankin. Mad mad mad. If you like stories about time-travelling sprouts, HG Wells & Arnold Schwarzenegger/Terminator then this is probably for you. I'm into all those things and as a result loved it!
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 13:15   #3
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A book a week Tim - I wish I had the time. I am currently reading the Wizard of OZ! Just finished Roald Dahl's The Witches which was preceded by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twit's (Bird Pie anyone) and fantastic Mr Fox.

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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 13:17   #4
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top stuff Mark

teachers' holidays you know!

not read The Witches though. One for a wet afternoon....

Tim
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 13:47   #5
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I get hooked on an author and read everything they wrote. Now it's William Wharton. I watched the movie "Birdie" that was based on one of his novels. Brilliant movie and book. I just finished "Midnight clear" and "Dad." I'm now starting on "Scrumbler". What a great book! Written in a existentialistic way. Even the shape of the book is strange. It's very long and narrow. He reminds me a lot of Anthony Burgess; every novel is different. I love it when a writer can change their voice.

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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 15:24   #6
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Not reading anything heavy at the mo.....just a slim volume picked up a couple of weeks ago at Barter Books in Alnwick - Bully and The Badger by Wickham Malins.
It's about a badger cub (obviously!) who is fostered by a Bull Terrier and eventually returned to the wild. I'm halfway through and it's ok...nothig special but enjoyable light reading all the same.

Good luck with your venture Tim.... once made a note of every book I read in the course of a year and it worked out at 45 books....would probably have been more but for one wasted MONTH when I was persevering with a book which I just couldn't get into!
Nowadays I'm lucky if I get the latest copies of BBC Wildlife and BirdWatching read before the next ones are due - just don't know WHERE the time goes!!! Must be doing something wrong somewhere?

GILL
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 15:55   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Allwood
top stuff Mark

teachers' holidays you know!

not read The Witches though. One for a wet afternoon....

Tim
I think it only fair to point put that I was reading all of these to my 6 year old daughter,although I must confess to choosing the Roald Dahl ones myself

Mark
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 18:40   #8
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Reading David Attenboroughs Life on Air at the moment and just bought Jack Higgins latest paper back Dark Justice.
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 18:41   #9
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I've just read 'A bird in the Bush'. If anyone hasn't read this then don't delay. It is the best book about birding I've read since BOLBBB. It knock's 'Tales of a Tribe' in to a cocked hat. No pun intended.
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 19:52   #10
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Half way through A Bird in the Bush - great stuff, easy to pick up and put down.

Also just started 'The Complete Idiots Guide to World Religions' (Brandon Toporov) and I can't put this down. Fantastic book, it covers all the major religions plus a few of the minor ones, and it's written in language that even I can understand.
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 19:57   #11
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Crikey a book a week ...

Currently reading An Embarrassment Of Mangoes ... about a couple who left their jobs in Canada and took 2 years time out sailing to the Caribbean and back. This is a great book and i'm now far too close to the end !

A few recent ones .... Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, The Big Year, Greece On My Wheels by Edward Enfield (Harrys dad) and White Wolf by David Gemmell ... enjoyed them all

Can't decide whats next, probably another travellers tale if i can find a good one ..... anyone know any ?
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 20:07   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl J
Can't decide whats next, probably another travellers tale if i can find a good one ..... anyone know any ?
Have you tried any Bill Bryson books "Notes From A Small Island" for instance or maybe "Down Under", I liked them both.

Mick
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 20:16   #13
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Currently

'The Birds of Bedfordshire' by Paul Trodd and David Kramer. Only picked it up from the co-author on friday and already on my second read. A masterpiece- the result of diligent patch-working, careful research and superb fieldcraft. DK is a birding colossus. I am a little biased but a 'must-read' for any budding ornithologist.

Strangely.....'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy. Similar to Tim I can't get enough of this guy. His prose is packed full of easy metaphor and is superbly melancholic in places but is seldom morose. He also demonstrates that you don't need to punctuate to write a brilliant novel. Check out 'All the Pretty Horses' first. Quite possibly the best book I have ever read.

And

'Around the World with a 1000 Birds' by Russell Boyman- yawntastic.
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 20:33   #14
Edward woodwood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinyras
Strangely.....'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy. Similar to Tim I can't get enough of this guy. His prose is packed full of easy metaphor and is superbly melancholic in places but is seldom morose. He also demonstrates that you don't need to punctuate to write a brilliant novel. Check out 'All the Pretty Horses' first. Quite possibly the best book I have ever read.
yes, my number three Dazza.
did you know Blevins (the kid who goes across the border with JG Cole and Rawlins) means Little Wolf in Welsh?

he's certainly the best living American writer for me

Tim
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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 23:17   #15
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Don and Lillian Stokes Bird Behaviour Vol 3 .Great info on what to look for while trying to figure out what certain calls,songs and postures mean.25 species covered.
Sam
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 08:48   #16
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Just read "Tibet, Tibet" by Patrick French, which is outstanding - good background reading for the OBC trip,Tim.

Rob
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 10:07   #17
Roy Ledgerton
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Hi Tim

If you are into books dealing with huge themes try 'Don Quixote' by Cervantes.

Best wishes
Roy
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 11:32   #18
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Yes, I really liked this thread! To contribute:
read "Darwin's Radio" by Greg Bear (Science Fiction) - entertaining but a bit of a struggle suspending disbelief.

Reading - "Handbook of Bird Biology" (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) and "Population Limitation in Birds" (Ian Newton) - not book a week stuff, but well worth it - I plan to comment properly when I have finished them.
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 12:17   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
Just finished reading: Arrivals and Rivals: A Birding Oddity by Adrian Riley. Clumsily written and full of both sycophancy and self importance, this is basically a complete pile of crap. Saying that it is very enjoyable - so enjoyable that I read it twice! If you want to read about a descent into madness, and just plain weird goings on amongst saddo birders, then this is for you!
Yeah, it really is a crock of shit. Still, lots of us have gone out and bought it, so I'm guessing Adrian Riley really won't give a toss what anyone thinks.

Read Ken Kaufmann's "Kingbird Highway" a few weeks ago - a far better written and more entertaining story of yearlisting.

Meanwhile, back in the real world of literature...

At long last (after 2 years stored in cardboard boxes) I've finally unpacked all my books; it's like meeting long-lost friends. I don't mind telling you all I got quite emotional at walking into a room lined with shelves of books I haven't seen for ages.

So have been indulging in an orgy of reading recently.

Old favourites I've either re-read or plan on getting to in the near future:

"White Male Heart", by Ruaridh Nicoll - visceral story of friendship, manipulation, relationships, pipe bombs, butchery and murder set in the Scottish Highlands. Very, very intense stuff, and stunningly well told.

"The Love of Stones" by Tobias Hill - three stories interwoven in one book, all centring around three medieval rubies. Sounds a bit Mills & Boony, but isn't at all - a really rich and tangled novel.

"The Last King of Scotland" by Giles Foden - his first and easily his best novel, the fictional story of a doctors experiences as the personal aide to Idi Amin, set around the factual framework of Amin's dictatorship. Evocative descriptions of Africa in the 70's under a despotic, lunatic ruler. Amin himself read the book in exile in Saudi, and complained that the cover photo of himself "makes me look like an overstuffed monkey". What more recommendation do you need?

"Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain. You'll never eat fish on a Monday ever again... low down and gritty real-life experiences as a druggy, boozing fornicating chef in New York. The best book written about food ever...

...apart from "The Moro Cookbook" by Samuel and Samantha Clark, a great collection of Moorish and Spanish recipes - having lived in Spain, I'll vouch for the authenticity of these. Spot on.

And finally, on the subject of Clarks, "The Alan Clark Diaries" (all 3 volumes) - you may not like the Tories, but this is a fascinating, acerbic, snobby record of the rise and fall of the last Conservative administration, warts and all. Alan Clark was a brilliant diarist, and is never less than entertaining.

I could go on!

Jon
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 12:51   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy Ledgerton
Hi Tim

If you are into books dealing with huge themes try 'Don Quixote' by Cervantes.

Best wishes
Roy
A top three all-time book for me Roy (along with Tim's no. 2 Moby-Dick), it's got everything. People had told me it was boring and unreadable. I don't think I've ever read a less boring book. It's savage, hilarious, tragic and always hugely entertaining.

I always have several books on the go and open books are littered around my house and are very much part of the way I live. I'm always suspicious of anybody who lives in a house where you actually have to look hard to find books.

Just finished André Brink's 1964 novel "The Ambassador", one which he wrote in Afrikaans but later translated into English (nowadays he writes his books in both English and Afrikaans simultaneously). Not his best novel by any stretch of the imagination but I think Brink is probably my favourite living novelist. Start with Rumours of Rain, A Dry White Season or Looking on Darkness.

I'm also reading the Iliad (hugely interested in the ancient world) and have Max Hastings' Armageddon by the bedside (got that down off the shelf after seeing the magnificent German film Downfall last week) as well as For Your Eyes Alone: The Letters of Robertson Davies. Davies is my favourite modern writer I suppose. As a keen Germanophile I have a collection of 19th century German novellas by the bed as well.

Read All the Pretty Horses years ago when it came out. Enjoyed it, perhaps I should move on to his others.

E
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 14:17   #21
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Ok...I finished William Wharton's "Scrumbler." Now...I like a hard read, Gunter Grass-"Dog Years" is one of my favorites to read on a cold, snowy evening, I had a little trouble finishing this "Scrumbler." It just didn't keep my attention. The next one I want by Wharton is "Last Lovers." I had to order a copy and it won't be here for a week to 10 days. So, I'm going back to some tried and true old friends. Robert Cormier-"I am the cheese." When I first met my wife, 23 years ago and we started talking about marriage, I reminded her about how messed-up I was in the head. I ran out and got her "I am the cheese." I told her to think of it as a marriage manual for anyone who wants to marry me...

Mike
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 18:24   #22
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Have read.

1. My life Bill clinton.

2. Russia's heroes, 1941-45.

3. Mikhail Gorbachev, the August Coup. (the truth & the lessons)

4. Raisa Gorbachev, biography.

5. Mark cocker, Birders, tales of a tribe.

6. Half way through this book, Russian's, (the people)

Due to start sometime!!

7. A history of Jerusalem, one city, (three faiths)

8. Picking up the pieces, (paul Britton) Britains foremost criminal psychologist.

Should finish sometime this year!
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 19:22   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickymouse
Have you tried any Bill Bryson books "Notes From A Small Island" for instance or maybe "Down Under", I liked them both.

Mick
No i haven't, actually i often pick one up in the library and have a look (just like i did today) but they never seem to stand out above other books and i end with something else (just like i did today !)

Settled for Johnny Gingers Last Ride, about a bloke who cycled from England through Europe, the Middle & Far East and onto Australia

On the serious literature front i've also got Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco on the go ... but this is hard work and i've really got to be in the mood for it. Which i'm often not !
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Old Tuesday 26th April 2005, 08:01   #24
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Have you tried any Bill Bryson books "Notes From A Small Island" for instance or maybe "Down Under", I liked them both.

Mick
If you enjoyed those Mick you'll probably enjoy a series by another American travel writer, Tim Cahill. They rejoice under absurd titles like "Pecked to death by ducks" or "A wolverine is eating my leg", which can be offputting, but they're great travel literature and somewhat less self-consciously 'trying to be funny' than Bryson.

I think my favourite travel book is Nicholas Crane's "Clear Waters Rising", an account of his non-stop walk across the mountainous spine of Europe, from the Basque country to Istanbul. It's not your gritty picking-leeches-off-your-genitals style of travel book, but has great character and prose once you get into it. Unlike his other book, "Two Degrees West", an account of a walk through the UK, which is just dull dull dull.

Jon
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Old Thursday 28th April 2005, 23:51   #25
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Currently reading The Dust Diaries by Owen Sheers after I heard the author read an excerpt at the Baylit festival in Cardiff a couple of weeks back. Liked what I heard as it's a story about the author's great great uncle who was an independent missionary in what was southern Rhodesia. The book charts Arthur Shearly Cripps life as a sort of biography with a fictional narrative if that makes sense. In other words Sheers connects the dots from old writings and through talking to those whose collective memory of Arthur still lingers.

I haven't made that much progress with the book as yet to let you know my full thoughts on it.
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