What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

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Psamathe
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What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby Psamathe » 25 Feb 2017, 11:01pm

As a compliment to the "What Are You Currently Listening To" thread I thought might be interesting similar thread but about books being read.

For me (as a bit of a complete Science Fiction Geek) "Foreigner by C J Cherryh"
Actually not particularly Science Fiction as the technology level is just where they have just "released" technology to the jet aircraft level, bullets using gunpowder cartridges, etc., trying to avoid too much road building, etc. and it's more of exploration of cultural contamination (rather than possible futures) plus some good adventure.

Set at some time where humans leave Earth to find new planets but spaceship goes wrong, emergency recovery and they manage to get to a habitable planet ... except it is already inhabited by low tech humanoid (but significantly different) species at the steam train technology level. (It's a book exploring cultural contamination NOT about the probability of humanoid like other races in the Universe). So humans go down, take-up residence and naturally, within a short time have a war with the resident species. And despite all their technology the humans lose the war. (1st few pages gone).

So the resident species decide they will vacate a good sized island and allow the humans to have that, but that humans will pass their technology to the resident species but that it will be passed over/released at a rate that their culture and society can tolerate without destroying itself. To that end one human is allowed to live with the resident species government, to advice on technology transfer, to participate in development planning, etc. all strictly regulated, etc. Basically, managed technology transfer

And there are significant cultural differences e.g. the resident species has no concept of love and cannot appreciate what it means but instead are driven by loyalty bond that somehow develops at an early age.

And there are elements within the resident species who do not trust humanity, feel they have no need for the technology and want nothing to do with them (or even to exterminate them).

Wikipedia has a far better summary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreigner_universe#Introduction

I find it a fascinating book (that has enough adventure to keep it exciting) - but it's not so much a book as a sequence of about 18 books. Not really high tech and spaceships (beyond setting the scene for what happens - at least not until much further into the later books). Easy reading as well (not hard work unlike some Science Fiction).

Ian

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby brynpoeth » 26 Feb 2017, 7:08am

The Ways of My Grandmothers by Beverly Hungry Wolf, it is about the wisdom and history of the Blood People of the Blackfoot nation in the Blood Indian Reserve, the largest in Canada. It describes customs from the time before the immigrants arrived from Europe and started changing the country

We are so lucky, there are so many books published in English and many more translated from other languages. Numerous books are translated from German into English for example but relatively few from E to G
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby fausto copy » 26 Feb 2017, 10:13am

Just finished reading Barkskins, an epic by Annie Proux.
It's about the first settlers in Canada and North America from the fur trade to logging companies desecrating the land.
It's seen from both the settlers and indigenous viewpoints and continues right through to the early 1960's when the environmental issues really come to the fore. A totally different direction from most of her novels (The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain for instance) but an engrossing read.

Also recently read Where my Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks and Headhunters by Jo Nesbo. All three totally different but gripping in their own ways.

edit: And why? Erm, I just like reading good books and don't go in for deep analysis. :roll:
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby squeaker » 26 Feb 2017, 10:55am

'Pratchett's The Light Fantastic'. Why? It's been a while and I was nudged by the recent biopic. Fortunately I'd forgotten the story (and yes I did start with The Colour of Magic).
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby Mick F » 26 Feb 2017, 11:07am

I was thinking about me and reading the other day after listening to the radio and hearing someone saying the reading is fun.

I tried to think about all the books I've ever read. I'm in my mid 60s, and I reckon I've read maybe 25 books in my whole life. I don't get much pleasure out of it and never really have. As a child, I found it hard work, not because I have difficulty reading, but I find it hard going, and get put off by thick books.

Highlights of my reading life were some the Famous Five stories and one of two of the Adventure series. Later, I was captured by HG Wells and read all his short stories plus First Men in the Moon, Invisible Man and War of the Worlds.

I laughed out loud reading a few Tom Sharp farces, and was bitten by the Dan Brown bug. I enjoyed Pillars of the Earth and World without end. Also, I picked up Hunt for Red October and quite liked that.

The auto biography of Dame Vera Lynne was fantastic, and also the Kenneth Wiiliams diaries.

I struggle to think of any other books I've read, but give me a map, and I'll pour over it for hours! :D
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby al_yrpal » 26 Feb 2017, 11:29am

Just finished reading a series of books by Robert Harris. The Imperium trilogy (Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator) which follows the life of Cicero the Roman orator and the rise of the dictator Caesar. Finally Pompeii, a story following the experiences of the Engineer in charge of the massive 140 km aqueduct and the destruction that followed the eruption of Vesuvius. Fiction, but based on fact and a fascinating glimpse into Roman life and politics. All gripping fast paced books that are hard to put down.

I am now reading SPQR, Mary Beard's history of Rome which is obviously carefully researched but rather turgid.

Edit: Forgot to say why… - I have always been fascinated by the Romans. I am full of admiration for people who in ancient times could build things like that 140km aqueduct, virtually by hand, albeit with slave labour. And, when they returned to Rome after a conquest having a triumph which ended with their prisoners as Lion fodder for entertainment of the Plebs. Clever yet barbaric.

I do prefer fact based books. This one which describes the building of Kenya's Lunatic Line is my all time favourite - "The Lunatic Express: An Entertainment In Imperialism by Charles Miller" A book of Derring Do…

Al
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby Psamathe » 26 Feb 2017, 11:37am

al_yrpal wrote:...The Imperium trilogy (Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator)...

I find I have a preference for books where there are more than one in the series (more the better). Read the 1st and if it is really good you've got more to continue. If not great, then you've read the book, got the story and don't worry about the other books. But to get to the end of a good book and there are more in the series I find great.

I do have immense difficulty in giving up on a book I don't enjoy. I seem to have some built-in personality trait that drives me to finish even if I'm finding it hard work. I should be more prepared to give-up and move on. Out of the hundreds of books I've read in teh last few years there have been several that I've hated but only given up on 2 half way through, labouring through the other disasters with grim determination - really stupid thing to do!

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby 661-Pete » 26 Feb 2017, 11:44am

Psamathe wrote:For me (as a bit of a complete Science Fiction Geek)...
Me too. Well, seeing as I'm (like Psamathe) a bit of an astronomy buff, not surprising that SF - in my case mostly Hard SF - figures largely. In my case it's mostly Larry Niven, with a fair bit of Arthur C Clarke too.

I've not come across Cherryh before (displaying my ignorance here :oops: ) perhaps I should give her a try. The odd book won't break the bank...

For me the decisive judgement about a book is, 'is it a page-turner?' I.e. a book I can't put down until I've finished it - and often enough, once finishing it, I go back to the start and read it right through a second time! :lol: There have been books like that, for me. But - in the opposite corner - there are plenty of books I have put down after reading, say, a quarter or third of the way through, and see no prospect of picking them up again.

Amongst the Hard SF genre that I mentioned, one page-turner that I recently gave the full treatment: read and re-read, was the Rama tetralogy by Arthur C Clarke. OK it may not do that for some readers, but it did it for me. Incidentally only the first book is pure Arthur C, the other three were co-authored by another writer (Gentry Lee) - and it shows! Nevertheless a series that I found hard to put down at any point.

Another hard SF page-turner: Niven's Fleet of Worlds series (also co-authored). If you want a bit of amazingly intricate detective work worthy of the great Holmes himself, embedded in an interstellar-space universe, look no further than the first book of the series (unsurprisingly, titled Fleet of Worlds)! I mean, if you're curious as to how, knowing the number of petals on a fuchsia flower could conceivably be a key plot-element in interstellar space, you're hooked! Read on!

What am I reading at the moment? Several books in tandem. Which goes to show, I'm not really hooked on any of them. Trouble is, with this-here Kindle thingummy, it's so easy to flip from one book to another with a swipe of the finger. Yes I need another page-turner to show up....
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby Mick F » 26 Feb 2017, 12:49pm

Life is too short to be wasting time reading.
I like dipping in and of here and having a chat, but the idea of sitting down with a book bores me rigid.

I've been outside strimming the high banks in the garden, then up in the woods picking daffodils, and presently drinking a well-earned beer. Soon off into the kitchen and preparing the Sunday meal. Then it's tinkering with the bikes, and thinking about this week's riding.

Reading?
Maps and route planning.
That'll do me.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby rjb » 26 Feb 2017, 1:02pm

I'm with Mick F on this. I prefer to listen to music rather than read a book. My reading is generally limited to non fiction technical manuals and descriptions of how things work. My favourite book is "Engineering Thermodynamics Work and Heat Transfer" by Rogers and Mayhew :wink:

And i enjoy looking at maps. :D
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby Si » 26 Feb 2017, 2:05pm

I have to say that i geel sorry for anyone who cant benefit from losing your self in a good book. For me reading is a bit like cycle touring - you get completely away from the niggles of every day life for a while, discover new places and stories, and when you finish you feel revamped and ready to go again. Leastways thats how it works for me, ymmv.

Recently read two fictional accounts of willian grover williams and the missing bugatti atlantic...:id never heard about him before but its an amazing story even when the fictionalised bits are taken away.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby Psamathe » 26 Feb 2017, 3:05pm

661-Pete wrote:
Psamathe wrote:For me (as a bit of a complete Science Fiction Geek)...
Me too. Well, seeing as I'm (like Psamathe) a bit of an astronomy buff, not surprising that SF - in my case mostly Hard SF - figures largely. In my case it's mostly Larry Niven, with a fair bit of Arthur C Clarke too.

I've not come across Cherryh before (displaying my ignorance here :oops: ) perhaps I should give her a try. The odd book won't break the bank...
....

She does two "sets" of books the "Foreigner" ones and "Alliance-Union" I read a few of the "Alliance-Union" (some had lots of pages (and no pictures!)) and they were hard work and not particularly great. The foreigner ones are easy to read, quite adventure oriented without any Sci-Fi'y super technology - all down to earth low-tech stuff about difference and when difference meets (but with adventure). I enjoy them (and have just started re-reading them ) but you MUST start with the 1st book in the series (starting part way through and you'll lose the context of the situation) called Foreigner.

661-Pete wrote:.....
Amongst the Hard SF genre that I mentioned, one page-turner that I recently gave the full treatment: read and re-read, was the Rama tetralogy by Arthur C Clarke. OK it may not do that for some readers, but it did it for me. Incidentally only the first book is pure Arthur C, the other three were co-authored by another writer (Gentry Lee) - and it shows! Nevertheless a series that I found hard to put down at any point.

Another hard SF page-turner: Niven's Fleet of Worlds series (also co-authored). If you want a bit of amazingly intricate detective work worthy of the great Holmes himself, embedded in an interstellar-space universe, look no further than the first book of the series (unsurprisingly, titled Fleet of Worlds)! I mean, if you're curious as to how, knowing the number of petals on a fuchsia flower could conceivably be a key plot-element in interstellar space, you're hooked! Read on!....

It's strange how I find some book great to re-read after a bit, others terrible. And it does not seem to be related to the "quality" of the book. I loved the Asimov Foundation series which I originally read a few years ago. Recently decided to re-read them and 1st book seemed "empty" sort of "going through the motions". 2nd book I stopped part way through. I loved them and would still highly recommend them but they just don't seem to be ones to be re-read. But others the Frank Herbert Dune novels (and Cherryh Foreigner and others) are great to be re-read.

Other authors I enjoy (Science Fiction again) are e.g. Alastair Reynolds, Iain M Banks (The Culture series), Peter F Hamilton, Frank Herbert, and many others.

Iain M Banks Culture series are another I find brilliant (some people enjoy them, other don't get on with them) but if you've not tried them do consider it (start with the 1st again (Consider Phlebas) - very futuristic but more about exploring what do people do when they have no need to work, are very unlikely to die and lifespan is not a consideration, etc. And the spaceships ... fantastic (and for those who had not appreciated it, SpaceX autonomous landing barge names are taken from the Banks Culture spaceship names. Interesting idea when you have amazingly intelligent AI spaceships wandering around deciding what they want to do, some showing an interest in humanity, others not ... Some interesting ideas.

But then every now and again (normally after a "heavier" novel I'll spend a day reading some trashy military type Science Fiction novel.

I've never read any Larry Niven and an getting low on unread books so I'll try them.

Ian

Update: Went looking for Larry Niven books on Amazon and some titles sort of rang a bell in my mind so I checked my bookshelves and I have read some The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand. Enjoyed them as well (so unsure quite why they slipped my mind so much).
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Psamathe
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby Psamathe » 26 Feb 2017, 3:11pm

Si wrote:I have to say that i geel sorry for anyone who cant benefit from losing your self in a good book. For me reading is a bit like cycle touring - you get completely away from the niggles of every day life for a while, discover new places and stories, and when you finish you feel revamped and ready to go again. Leastways thats how it works for me, ymmv.

Recently read two fictional accounts of willian grover williams and the missing bugatti atlantic...:id never heard about him before but its an amazing story even when the fictionalised bits are taken away.

I agree. It was only after I retired that I really started reading again (I had read prior to that but not that much). But after retiring I re-discovered the pleasure of books.

Not yet gone for e-books, mainly because I find I'm sometimes re-reading paperbacks I've had for 30+ years and I cannot see the e-book I pay for today being still available to me in 30 years time. And with manufacturers trying to tie you to them for all your e-book purchases through encryption, etc. you can end-up with a real mess, some e-books on some devices (that whose battery wears out and needs replacing, different e-books on a different device, but you want to re-read one you purchased from a company that has since dropped out of the market place ...). Recipe for having to re-purchace books whereas my paperbacks seem to last for years and still work after extended time. Market needs some interoperability which means retailers having to accept they cannot restrict you to them as a supplier on their device for what they sell at the price they want to sell at.

Ian

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby 661-Pete » 26 Feb 2017, 3:35pm

Psamathe wrote:Not yet gone for e-books, mainly because I find I'm sometimes re-reading paperbacks I've had for 30+ years and I cannot see the e-book I pay for today being still available to me in 30 years time. And with manufacturers trying to tie you to them for all your e-book purchases through encryption, etc. you can end-up with a real mess, some e-books on some devices (that whose battery wears out and needs replacing, different e-books on a different device, but you want to re-read one you purchased from a company that has since dropped out of the market place ...).
Last thing I want to do is post up a plug for Am**on :evil: :evil: - but I have to say, if you do equip yourself with a Kindle, I believe the stuff you buy for it is pretty secure. If you lose your Kindle, or if it dies on you (that happened to my wife's recently) and you get yourself a replacement, you can simply connect it to any WiFI and re-download all the books you had on the old one, from the Cloud.

As to out-of-copyright books (in practice that means, anything by an author who died more than 70 years ago) - many of them you can access for free in the public domain (try Gutenberg.org for example). Simply copy the downloads to the kindle via a USB lead. Of course, then, it's your look-out to keep backups!

Of course, you won't be able to read Am**on purchases on any third party E-reader. And, if the said Am**on were ever to go under (in my dreams!), I don't know how your E-books would be covered. Rather an unlikely scenario, I fear.

...whereas my paperbacks seem to last for years and still work after extended time.
Some do, but I've had plenty of paperbacks completely fall apart after a few years' use. Maybe it's my habit of re-reading that does it. Penguins seem to be particularly bad for this. Cheapo binding is the main reason.

Market needs some interoperability which means retailers having to accept they cannot restrict you to them as a supplier on their device for what they sell at the price they want to sell at.
Agreed. It's somewhat analogous to mobile phone companies locking you into their network to the exclusion of all others. Perhaps one day legislation will come along.....
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading ... (And Why)?

Postby landsurfer » 26 Feb 2017, 3:52pm

Just re-read "City" by Clifford D Simak ....Outstanding SI-FI.
My children ( now in their 30's) and grandchildren know all about "The Cobblies" and they always form part of any scary stories around the fire pit on a winters night .....
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