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Book Books: What Are You Reading?

Scepticalscribe

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A thread for those who read books, to describe, discuss and debate the wonders of the written word in book form.

Recently, I have been reading Naomi Novik's simply superb Temeraire series: An alternative (fantasy) history set during the Napoleonic Wars: the flavour is a kind of Patrick O'Brian meets Jane Austen meets Eragon - with an exquisite mastery of the language and manners of the time, suitably reimagined to include aerial warfare with dragons (some breeds will only tolerate female captains), and very, very witty (and politically sharp) at times; wonderful.
 
Ok before I head off to supper, must say I just got both the just released audio and ebook versions of Lessons from the Edge. It's a memoir by the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Can't put the book down, even though there are tons of stuff on my chores list right now. As for the audiobook narration, she's an exception to my opinion that most authors should not narrate their own work. And, this is a book I'll take upstairs to doze off on. This one I'm listening to downstairs, fully conscious.

EDIT: fixed the title of the book, gee. Anyway it's a good read.
 
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I have embarked on a rereading of Cormac McCarthy — and a couple I have not yet read.

So far, ankle deep in blood and dust with No Country For Old Men.

1648308219792.png

Next up — and rereading it for the umpteenth time, Blood Meridian.

I am not from the USA, but his work — violent and upsetting as it is — prose that makes my world stand still… or at least slow down. Just to savour the written word.
In the same way I love the music of Friends of Dean Martinez, Calexico et al.
Probably because I was born in a dusty, rural country.

I will still leave The Crossing for last. I just find it really difficult to deal with animals suffering. I know… weird. 😬


 
I have embarked on a rereading of Cormac McCarthy — and a couple I have not yet read.

So far, ankle deep in blood and dust with No Country For Old Men.

View attachment 39

Next up — and rereading it for the umpteenth time, Blood Meridian.

I am not from the USA, but his work — violent and upsetting as it is — prose that makes my world stand still… or at least slow down. Just to savour the written word.
In the same way I love the music of Friends of Dean Martinez, Calexico et al.
Probably because I was born in a dusty, rural country.

I will still leave The Crossing for last. I just find it really difficult to deal with animals suffering. I know… weird. 😬



A fellow fan of the music of Friends Of Dean Martinez; how wonderful.
 
Finished the Jared Diamond book - definitely going to have to read that one again to fully absorb what was written. It’s pretty heavy.

Starting Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance - been wanting to read this for awhile (even more so now that we have a Tesla).

Next? Life in a Medieval Village.
 
I have embarked on a rereading of Cormac McCarthy — and a couple I have not yet read.

So far, ankle deep in blood and dust with No Country For Old Men.

Strange, I had just bumped No Country for Old Men up to the homebrew "current" collection in my ebooks library, meaning to re-read it after finishing Yovanovitch's Lessons from the Edge. I have not read anything else of his,

As for the music references in rest of your post, I was reminded how fond I have been of Calexico's album Algeria, so just redownloaded that onto my phone to put back into rotation for awhile. When I hit on that I realized they've issued a lot of music since then. Time flies...
 
Finished the Jared Diamond book - definitely going to have to read that one again to fully absorb what was written. It’s pretty heavy.

Starting Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance - been wanting to read this for awhile (even more so now that we have a Tesla).

Next? Life in a Medieval Village.

What a set of contrasting times, moods, themes. Great idea to mix it up a little, especially after the Diamond one.
 
A fellow fan of the music of Friends Of Dean Martinez; how wonderful.
Excellent! Just a pity they stopped releasing new albums a while ago… *sigh*.

Strange, I had just bumped No Country for Old Men up to the homebrew "current" collection in my ebooks library, meaning to re-read it after finishing Yovanovitch's Lessons from the Edge. I have not read anything else of his,
If you have the stomach for it, try Blood Meridian: The Evening Redness in the West.

He does create some astonishing characters. Anton Chigurh, The Judge…

Blood Meridian is still my, oh god, I hate to say favourite — but it is his definitive novel for me.

I don't know if the film The Missing ever crossed your path? El Brujo comes close to The Judge. A character that makes my blood run cold. Makes me look away from the page or screen.
As for the music references in rest of your post, I was reminded how fond I have been of Calexico's album Algeria, so just redownloaded that onto my phone to put back into rotation for awhile. When I hit on that I realized they've issued a lot of music since then. Time flies...
Ha! The wonder of discovering a whole back catalogue. 👍
 
I don't know if the film The Missing ever crossed your path? El Brujo comes close to The Judge. A character that makes my blood run cold. Makes me look away from the page or screen.

I made the mistake long ago of reading a film review that had harshly panned The Missing, although a few other people have since recommended it to me for assorted reasons. Might have to give it a fair shot. Interesting to have a comparison made to a character from that and one in McCormac's novel The Meridian.

With a book I can more readily step back from something too intense. The immediacy of video always makes that more difficult.
 
I made the mistake long ago of reading a film review that had harshly panned The Missing, although a few other people have since recommended it to me for assorted reasons. Might have to give it a fair shot. Interesting to have a comparison made to a character from that and one in McCormac's novel The Meridian.

With a book I can more readily step back from something too intense. The immediacy of video always makes that more difficult.
Just saw your post.
Give it a go. 🙂 Kate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones. In my book, that's a fabulous pairing.
 
Just saw your post.
Give it a go. 🙂 Kate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones. In my book, that's a fabulous pairing.

I do like those actors, so no real reason not to scout up The Missing and give it a go.

Bu at the moment as a distraction from lingering winter weather, I'm into Pixar shorts, of which I own a few (e.g., the terminally sweet Piper), but have been streaming some of the myriad more there are, so my escapism has a ways to run. Today I watched Pixar's Lift -- it's beyond hilarious, especially for anyone who ever worked in either music production or the back end of anything in infotech.

EDIT: didn't mean to turn books thread into movie thread, duh. Carry on!
 
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Currently revisiting Howard French's China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa.

cover art Howard French - China's Second Continent.jpg

It's a 2014 book and a lot has changed since then, not least because of China's burgeoning debt loads, but it's a great point from which to launch my effort to finalize a 2022 "deep dive" summer reading project: both Africa and China are of interest to me, and this book sits at a kind of intersection in terms of commerce, trade and cultural considerations. I put a longer post with some excerpts from this book into the Books thread over at the more recent one of "those other places".

It's a compelling book and I recommend it. Here is a bit about an emigrant originally from China's Chengdu province who went to Zambia:

“People of my age either become laborers without knowledge, or they decide to learn something new by themselves,” Yang told me early in our conversation. He was speaking English, very rare for the Chinese people I had been encountering in Africa. He spoke it slowly, almost painfully so, and not at all well. At first I thought, uncharitably, that this might have been intended to impress his Chinese subordinates who roamed in and out of listening range during the hours we spent together at his plant. But as his story unfolded, I understood why he might cling so fiercely to his acquired tongue. As a teenager during the Cultural Revolution, he had been “sent down” to the countryside from his native Chengdu and placed in the care of a teacher who had also been banished from the city. The older man spoke English and was a closet Christian, and at considerable risk to himself he secretly got Yang started in the language by giving him three pages torn from a Bible every day to commit to memory before burning them.

“I would spend fourteen hours a day studying, hiding in the mountains so that I could learn without getting into trouble,” he told me. “These many years later, people ask me, ‘Do you believe in Jesus? How did you manage to do these things?’ And I tell them that all along I have only believed in myself. I have no theory, no education beyond two weeks of middle school. Everything else, including the English, I have learned by myself.”

Yang’s Bible studies in the rugged mountains of Sichuan would utterly change the trajectory of his life, but their effect wouldn’t be clear until two decades later when, in the early days of the “go out” policy, English speakers were suddenly at a premium. This won him work with engineering and construction companies, and he spent several years in the Middle East translating technical plans and presentations on big projects.
 
Currently revisiting Howard French's China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa.


It's a 2014 book and a lot has changed since then, not least because of China's burgeoning debt loads, but it's a great point from which to launch my effort to finalize a 2022 "deep dive" summer reading project: both Africa and China are of interest to me, and this book sits at a kind of intersection in terms of commerce, trade and cultural considerations. I put a longer post with some excerpts from this book into the Books thread over at the more recent one of "those other places".

It's a compelling book and I recommend it. Here is a bit about an emigrant originally from China's Chengdu province who went to Zambia:
Both posts (I paid a fleeting visit to "the more recent one of Those Other Places" in order to check it out) are absolutely fascinating and make me want to order this book and read it for myself.
 
Both posts (I paid a fleeting visit to "the more recent one of Those Other Places" in order to check it out) are absolutely fascinating and make me want to order this book and read it for myself.

It's definitely worth a read. Howard French also writes about some of the ecological devastation that has been resulting from haphazard Chinese ventures by independent entrepreneurs, particularly in the smelting of African copper ore. Some Chinese indies have made fantastic sums of money, but many more went bust and meanwhile have left deforested areas and toxic sludge. He also writes of the casual but pervasive racial animosity between Chinese and local workers, despite whatever gloss gets applied in public and diplomatic interactions. So there's plenty of downside that was being documented almost a decade ago, even before China's state-supported larger projects in Africa started causing some problems in bookkeeping at home.
 
Finished Inverting the Pyramid, a book that is highly featured in Ted Lasso. I was surprised by all the stuff I had no idea about, and it is very interesting to see how soccer tactics is linked to a country’s history and mentality. The progress from 2-3-5 to more modern tactics such as 5-3-2 or 4-3-3, by the way of other tactics such as M-W was quite interesting.

D68B8201-0CA0-4F0C-A834-B8F7E2E32083.jpeg
 
Read an article about the history of Swiss watches.
As it turns out we can thank the Huguenots.

Having said that, I started to read again Robert Merle's Fortune de France (13 books).
👍 I will look out for the series.

My own distant ancestors were Huguenots — Cloth traders.
They emigrated/fled from Cambrai, Artois region in the mid 16th Century… crossed the Channel and settled in Norwich, England, pretty much swopping one mode of persecution for another.
So the family soon left for Leiden, Netherlands.
From there they spread to the Americas and Africa.
And here I am, back in England. 🙂
 
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