So, What Are You Freakin' Well Reading Now?

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Tommy_Paine
So, What Are You Freakin' Well Reading Now?

 

For a person who has enjoyed a life long addiction to books, I usually write suprisingly crappy book reviews, comments on books, etc.  But bear with me on this one.

My shnoogly woogly bought be Doris Kearns-Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" for my birfday earlier this month. 

What an excellent gift.

This book is an examination of how Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet functioned.  Of course, the focal point is Lincoln himself, however the true focus is how these different individuals-- a most unlikely selection for team work-- delivered their best under Lincoln's unique direction.

I don't doubt that there are more complete biographies of Lincoln, Seward, Chase, Stanton and Bates in existance.  And of course we have Nicolay's and Hay's first hand accounts from the period.  And, for civil war military buffs, this book will probably add little to their encylopedic knowledge of military campaigns.  However, it will doubtless add background and a fuller understanding of the political and social dynamics behind men like Grant, Sherman, Fremont, McClellan and Lee, to name a few.  I think the book is singularly unique in that it examines the interaction of these people in orbit around Lincoln.

Of particular interest to many babblers is the difference between what the media and various political factions thought was going on in the Cabinet, and their assumptions about the members of it, and what was actually happening in the Cabinet.  Examinations like this might prove instructive on interpreting current events.

Goodwin also gives the proper due to the women around these men, and how they impacted their careers. Mary Todd Lincoln in particular gets a better treatment than other historians have been willing to impart.  I wouldn't call it sympathetic-- just, for a change, more complete, which leads the reader to see her as something more complicated than a confrontational spend thrift.  And, I doubt many historians have paid attention to someone as interesting and impressive as Kate Chase before.

For those who have little or no background in the U.S. Civil War, don't be afraid that this book will leave you behind.  Kearns--Goodwin supplies the necessary background without being tedious or pedantic. And, for those that are familiar with this time, there is bound to be new to the reader information.

For those who like to observe or participate in politics, the book provides a pretty good-- though I suspect not comprehensive-- study in the dynamics of the coalition of Whigs, Know Nothings,  pro-Union Democrats and Abolitionists that founded the Republican Party.  And, we get to see how the minority view of Abolitionists finally carried the day.

 

 

 

 

 

remind remind's picture

People of the Weeping Eye,  to be followed by People of the Nightlands.

Bookish Agrarian

My partner and I have recently gotten into Canadian author Kelley Armstrong.   I kept having people tell me to give them a chance and we both found them surprisingly fun even though we would usually never pick up anything from her genre.

G. Muffin

William Trevor.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I'm reading Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy with my daughters - we read some aloud every night and then talk about the themes, story, character, etc.  Great discussions coming out of it!

Ze

[url=http://megaprojects.fims.uwo.ca/asbestos/]Best flash graphic novel i've seen in a while, on the Asbestos mine.[/url]

melovesproles

Hey Ze, that was quite cool. 

I find I swing between non-fiction and fiction binges, been on a bit of a novel kick as of late.

Read 'Warlock' by Oakley Hall, really enjoyed it.  A western which does an incredible job at building anticipation before each outbreak of violence and then frustrating your expectations while making the story increasingly complex and interesting. 

Also read 'Star Named Henry' by Roddy Doyle, thought it was pretty decent, I'm not an expert on Irish history but I got some of the satire and the narrator had a pretty engaging voice.  'Paddy Clarke Hahahaha' is one of my favorites.

And read 'Three Day Road', pretty dark book, I liked it but not sure how I feel about the 'message' which might be taken away from the story's resolution.

Reading 'The Jungle' the uncensored edition that was originally published in socialist magazines originally before being cut down by six chapters and given a more reformist style.  I spent half a year after highschool working in a hide plant in Alberta, which was by far the most awful job I've ever had, and while it clearly wasn't as bad as conditions in the novel, the essential character of the business hasn't changed much in my opinion.

al-Qa'bong

 Rites of Spring: the Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age by Modris Ecksteins

So far it's an interesting blend of ballet, warm summer nights' mass hysteria, trench warfare and assembly-line technology.

 

Quote:

Reading 'The Jungle' the uncensored edition that was originally published in socialist magazines originally before being cut down by six chapters and given a more reformist style.  I spent half a year after highschool working in a hide plant in Alberta, which was by far the most awful job I've ever had, and while it clearly wasn't as bad as conditions in the novel, the essential character of the business hasn't changed much in my opinion

I read Fast Food Nation last week, and its author said much the same. I just put a hold on Sinclair's book at the Library.

Caissa

I'm 2/3 of the way through Laxer's In search of a New Left. Just in the chapter on the Waffle.

ennir

I've just started reading Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon, I haven't quite found my way into it yet but I am intrigued.  One of the themes of the book is a state of "permanent siege" in which government practices unending degradation and starvation on the population in order to maintain control.  Sound familiar. LOL

Schadenfreude Junkie

Almost finished "In the Footsteps of Mr.Kurtz" by Michela Wrong. Fascinating account of one of Africa's most corrupt rulers, Mobutu. One of the things that is left open-ended for the reader to ruminate upon - is who was worse - the Belgian colonial masters of Congo or the new generation of post-independence African rulers whose rampant corruption, tribalism and nepotism destroyed whatever utopian ideals those nations initially desired.

oldgoat

The directions for the Multnoma Community Ability Scale (Revised), which I have to score x17.

Quite a number of things I'd rather be reading just now.

#%%^*&# waste of time.

Unionist

The Gathering, by Anne Enright.

Noise

Just picked up Choke and Lullaby...two works of fiction by Chuck Palahniuk.  After reading Rant, I couldn't wait to get my hands on more of his books.

Tommy_Paine

I finished "The Way the Crow Flies" by Ann-Marie  Macdonald.  A murder mystery/spy novel set in Centralia Ontario in the early 1960's.  The murder mystery being losely based on the Lynne Harper murder in Clinton, for which Steven Truscott was wrongfully convicted.  

An entertaining read for boomers, and particularly for boomers who live in S/W. Ontario.

Ghislaine

Great thread for reading ideas!

I am currently reading pieces from my huge Norton's Anthology of literature by women. Fantomina by Eliza Haywood and The Disappointment by Aphra Behn were last night's reads. From the 18th and 17th centuries and fantastic! The Behn poem was actually an erotic poem about male impotence and Fantomina details a woman's attempts to discover sex before marriage, however in quite original ways. I am continuing with Behn's novella Oroonoko (1688) tonight, which is a semi autobiographical description of her time spent in "The New World" and her encounters with black slaves. It is fascinating.

al-Qa'bong

I'm in the midst of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

 

I've read a lot of accounts of working class life in 19th-century England and France - literary and non-literary - and this book is right up there in describing the suffering wrought by industrialisation.  The Jungle has the added twist of being about immigrants, another thing it shares with those who populate the meat-packing houses of Fast Food Nation.

Caissa

Just finished Kosinski's "Being There."

al-Qa'bong

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I'm in the midst of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

 

 

There's a corrupt politician in the novel named "Bush" Harper. 

 

I just read the part where a Socialist gives an eerily prescient speech about war.  He speaks about Manchuria (this was the 1905 Russo-Japanese War) but sounds as if he could be talking about the 14-18 war.

Farmpunk

Just in time.  I thought about restarting this thread then saw it had already been done. 

Thanks for the tips. I'm in really bad need of fresh reading material, especially good Canuck fiction. 

To kill time inbetween reads, I've re-read some William Gibson, "All Tomorrow's Parties."  I love Gibson.  A lean style that's fun.  If I could propose to a fictional character it would be Chevette Washington.

Tommy_Paine

Thanks for the tips. I'm in really bad need of fresh reading material, especially good Canuck fiction.

 

Then "The Way the Crow Flies" might be what you are looking for, Farmpunk.   There's also "The View from Castle Rock" by Alice Munroe, though this one is non-fiction.   Both deal with our stomping grounds.

Farmpunk

I'll check out Crow.  But I steer clear of Munroe.  I've never been a fan. 

Due to weather conditions, I had a free morning.  So I went to Chapters, feeling the need.  I was going to grab a couple Brad Smith novels.  Smith writes neat, hill-billy redneck fiction.  His characters would be Munroe's pool cleaners. 

Not a single Smith in the stacks.  Back to the library, I guess, or order online.  I would like to own all Smith's novels. 

Is there any current, non-academic styled non-fiction out there about South America?

Tommy_Paine

  But I steer clear of Munroe.  I've never been a fan.

I'm sympathetic to that point of view.  In fact, I'm not a fan of "Can Lit" in general, and Munroe is one of the icons of Can Lit.  However, "View from Castle Rock" is a blend of family history, autobiography and South Western Ontario History.  I don't have enough background in Munroe to say this isn't a typical "Alice Munroe" book, but I'm willing to bet that it is.

 

 

Farmpunk

She's what I call a "cold" writer.  It's very technical prose.  But I'll check it out, T-P.

There's some really good CanLit.  I do try and read current Canuck writers, because a bunch who don't get the recognition they deserve.  Ray Robertson's "Home Movies" is one of the best novels written about Canada, especially SWOnt.

al-Qa'bong

Tender is the Night, by Scott Fitzgerald.

 

"This western-front business couldn't be done again, not for a long time. The young men think they could do it but they couldn't. They could fight the first Marne again but not this. This took religion and years of plenty and tremendous sureties and the exact relation that existed between the classes. The Russians and Italians weren't any good on this front. You had to have a whole-souled sentimental equipment going back further than you could remember. You had to remember Christmas, and postcards of the Crown Prince and his fiancée, and little cafés in Valence and beer gardens in Unter den Linden and weddings at the mairie, and going to the Derby, and your grandfather's whiskers."

Caissa

I have a chance to buy Catherine Dunphy's biography of Morgentler on sale. Has anyone read it? Thoughts?

Stargazer

I'm reading Scott Heim's "We Disappear" the same authour who did the amazing Mysterious Skin, which was make into a movie directed by Gregg Araki.

 

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Just got my copy of The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy by Yves Engler. Engler is in Victoria (BC) today and was in Nanaimo last night. 

I'm also reading Did I Miss Anything?: Selected Poems 1973-1993 by Tom Wayman. Another babble thread noted work SONGS. Wayman is a work poet ... at least the subject matter of many of his poems is work.

jrose

Just finished Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Freidman. Now I'm on to Revolutionary Road, so I can read it before I watch the movie.

fiidel_castro

Currently reading Dr. Helen Caldicott's Nuclear Power is Not the Answer. This is a must read if nuclear power corporations are breathing down the necks of your political parties and your communities. Right now there is huge debate in Sask. regarding the "benefits" of a nuclear reactor. I happen to rabidly disagree with nuclear power and this intelligent book is good for strengthening an argument regarding truly 'sustainable' sources of power. 

al-Qa'bong

I'm reading Ernie's War, which is a collection of Ernie Pyle's articles form the Second World War.  He loves the dogfaces, but by today's standards would be considered a thoroughgoing racist for his depictions of Arabs, Sicilians and Italians.

al-Qa'bong

I'm reading Ernie's War, which is a collection of Ernie Pyle's articles form the Second World War.  He loves the dogfaces, but by today's standards would be considered a thoroughgoing racist for his depictions of Arabs, Sicilians and Italians.

jrose

I just finished Revolutionary Road, which delves into the tragedy of suburbia, as shown in the recent film by the same name (which reunited Kate and Leo). Since then I've moved on to another book by Jessica Valenti called He's a Stud, She's a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know About.

The latter is a quick read, but sadly I'm kind of bored of it. It's a well-written worthwhile read, but having read all of Jessica Valenti's books, I find it repetitive. Plus, being a young woman myself, I've come face to face with the majority of these double standards ("He's a bachelor/She's a Spinster; He's an Activist/She's a Pain in the Ass; He's Childless; She's Selfish). 

It's a quick, concise read revealing all the different forms of sexism women face daily.

clersal

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden.

Cueball Cueball's picture
500_Apples

I'm ashamed to say I'm reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer.

jrose

I gave the Twilight series a try, 500 Apples, but I gave up on the first book, about forty pages in. Everyone at work told me to keep going, it gets better from there, but my effort was less than valiant. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, there were just so many other things I wanted to read, so I put it aside.

jrose

Oh, and what's with people being "ashamed" of what they read, especially when it comes to Twilight? Smile One peer of mine actually had one book he would read at home (Twilight) and another to read on the train, so not to be judged.

Caissa
Unionist

Re-reading Not Wanted on the Voyage, by Timothy Findley. I'm hot and cold on Findley (love some, indifferent to some) but this is a great feminist pro-LGBT anti-God retelling of the story of Noah's ark.

I'm thinking of re-reading Genesis next. Might as well go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong...

Caissa

I've been meaning to read that book Unionist. I'll probably pull it off the shelve now. You might like the Humphreys book. Many of the issues you raised in the rugby manslaughter case are echoed in the book.

Merowe

Just finished Wilfrid Thesiger's 'The Marsh Arabs', close on the heels of the equally brilliant 'Arabian Sands', pageturners both, read each in a single gulp. Writing in the 1930s, an erudite and sympathetic observer of non-western cultures, Thesiger immersed himself in the last traces of ancient nomads and pastoralists fast disappearing before modernity and his accounts put a great deal of flesh on the bones of our generally poor understanding of Arab culture and values. His work and observation display just that humanity so absent in for example our government's fucking about in Afghanistan. He was quite the opposite of the modern feet on the ground Canadian soldier so often pictured in the press, who look like they have just stepped out of a suburban backyard and might be going for a Sunday walk in fancy dress. This man lived and felt as the people he describes, as near as anyone can and his observations are sometimes profound.

 

Policywonk

I'm reading "Sea Sick", by Alanna Mitchell. Having already read "Under a Green Sky" by Peter Ward (on mass extinctions), I'm not particularly optimistic for the future of higher life forms on Earth (I question whether there is truly intelligent life, based on the lack of action on climate change and the slowness to appreciate the changes in the oceans).

500_Apples

jrose wrote:

Oh, and what's with people being "ashamed" of what they read, especially when it comes to Twilight? Smile One peer of mine actually had one book he would read at home (Twilight) and another to read on the train, so not to be judged.

It's the lowest form of chick lit, teenage chick lit.

Tongue out

It's good, not great, I'm curious what happens to the characters. I like that she respects the werewolves. In the recent vampire craze werewolves are often just an afterthought, here they get almost as much attention as vampires.

500_Apples

Unionist wrote:

Re-reading Not Wanted on the Voyage, by Timothy Findley. I'm hot and cold on Findley (love some, indifferent to some) but this is a great feminist pro-LGBT anti-God retelling of the story of Noah's ark.

I'm thinking of re-reading Genesis next. Might as well go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong...

That sounds interesting.

The idea anyway, a few years ago I read The Wars and it was boring.

melovesproles

Yeah, Not Wanted on the Voyage is one I've always meant to check out too.  I liked The Wars though.  As far as WW1 novels go, it had the most impact on me.  I just finished Waiting for the Barbarians, the first I've read by Coetzee, I'm going to have to try another.  I'm now reading Mason and Dixon by Pynchon.

Quote:
I've just started reading Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon, I haven't quite found my way into it yet but I am intrigued.  One of the themes of the book is a state of "permanent siege" in which government practices unending degradation and starvation on the population in order to maintain control.  Sound familiar. LOL

How'd you like it?  I was on a Pynchon binge last year, after I finish M & D I'll have read all his novels except for V.  I really enjoyed the Chums of Chance sections but if I was recommending Pynchon novels to friends(haven't been too sucessful with this as it is) it would probably be last on my list.

Sven Sven's picture

After sitting on my bookshelf for too long, I finally pulled down the first volume of The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell.  A brilliant man.  Troubled but brilliant.

So far, so good.  I'm looking forward to many good nights of reading.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Cueball Cueball's picture

500_Apples wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Re-reading Not Wanted on the Voyage, by Timothy Findley. I'm hot and cold on Findley (love some, indifferent to some) but this is a great feminist pro-LGBT anti-God retelling of the story of Noah's ark.

I'm thinking of re-reading Genesis next. Might as well go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong...

That sounds interesting.

The idea anyway, a few years ago I read The Wars and it was boring.

World War One was boring.

The best Timothy Findley book really is Famous Last Words, which is about a strange autobiography and suicide note found written on the walls of a chateau at Hitler's Eagles nest, which outlines the trials and tribulations Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, a fictious characher invented by Ezra Pound for his poetry who Findley brings again to fictional life to shadow the twisted dealings of the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor and Rudolph Hess.... if you like that kind of thing.

sweesh

I finally got around to reading Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road', and I highly recommend it. McCarthy's minimalist approach made for a quick (day-and-a-half) read, but was no less affecting. Now that I've finished that, I'm officially qualified to bitch about all the things done wrong/omitted when the film adaptation comes out later this year.

Also, wanted to mention, that I've recently started in on another that's been on my "Must Read" list for sometime: David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest'.

I'm only on page 83, and already I feel as if I've read two or three times that many pages of someone else's work; and this is the first time I've had to use two bookmarks for one novel. The man was a word savant.

Caissa

Eric Hobsbawm, On the Edge of the New Century. Intersting to see what he says about the financial crisis of 1998 and how it appears the US did not learn any lessons from it.

George Victor

 

Just getting into Gwynne Dyer's Climate Wars.  Took some time in opening it because his monotonal rendering of it on CBCs Ideas, recently, left one in less than optimistic mood. And I had heard the guy at a public lecture at U of W about three years back in whiich he told us how his military connections around the world had made him privy to ...well, pretty much what he says in Climate Wars.

The p;ublic lecture was more fun, because he did not let us down in presenting his persona, walking casually to the lecturn, dressed in the same brown leather  jacket that  TV viewers had recognized as trademark a couple of decades back. The voice was also the worse for wear, but the polished verbal performace, the careful timing in releasing statistics and confidential chats with unidentified military figures who had told such and such to government ministers and which explained..i.e. Britain's retention of the Trident program.  The starving millions to the south will want to come aboard the island nation where the surrounding sea has made agriculture possible, longer.

Like others, he is in long-time debt to James Lovelock, who, it seems, is listened to by social and military planners elsewhere.

Just a tiny bit more optimistic than Lovelock the scientist, perhaps, Dwyer ends with the thought: "How fortunate that we should be set such a test (of carbon emission and population controls) at a point in our history where we have at least some chance of passing it. And how interesting the long future that stretches out beyond it will be, if we do pass."

Lovelock would call that a bit anthropocentric, but we can't all chuck our opiates and our deniers and just go cold turkey overnight.

(And someone had left a "happy uncle's day" bookmark from A&W between the pages of this library book, offering a "FREE regular fries and regular A&W Root Beer if you bought an Uncle Burget at the regular price, by May 3, 2009.  An ironic reminder emblematic  of the difficulty of cultural transition that we face .) 

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