What are you reading continued

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What are you reading continued



I'm on a Minette Walters spree. At the moment it is Acid Row.

Erstwhile Erstwhile's picture

Currently, the third book in George R.R. Martin's [i]Song of Ice and Fire[/i] series. Or more accurately re-reading it; I read it when it first came out a few years ago, and then got the fourth book for my birthday this year...except ol' George doesn't believe in "what has gone before" prologues and therefore I'm reading the series again to refresh my memory.

Of course the [i]fifth[/i] book probably won't be out for a couple of years so I may just end up re-reading the bloody things in 2008. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


'Brandenburg' by Henry Porter, a spy novel set around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is the third Porter novel I have read. Some people are calling him the new Le Carre. Speaking of which Le Carre has a novel due out this month!


Thanks for the heads up on the new LeCarre. I have read them all. When he wrote "Our Game" about the tribal areas of Russia , it was amazingly insightful about the culture and customs especially considering recent events. But thats the beauty of LeCarre.

I did catch The Constant Gardener as a movie on TV last week. I loved the book and the movie was suprisingly good.


Memoirs of a Geisha at the moment. Before that it was A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick, but none of them can beat Jonothan Strange & Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke.


I've mostly been reading magazines lately. I have two subscriptions and one I get from the newsstand, and they seem to take up most of my reading time. That, and occasionally vegan cookbooks when I want to try something new.


P.S. If you don't mind, clersal, I think I'm going to move this to the babble book lounge forum, since it's about what people are reading rather than about what they're writing.


[ 18 September 2006: Message edited by: jas ]


P.S. Michelle: just wondering why the Book Lounge comes under Rabble Content, since most of the books here have nothing to do with rabble content.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I've just gotten into "A Brief History of the Birth of the Nazis", by Nigel Jones. I've read enough to understand how the Nazis came to power, but thought this might help explain how they actually came to be such people. Jones traces the Nazis to their roots in the Kaiser's Freikorps, and explains their evermore violent opposition to the nearly successful communist and socialist revolutionaries that grew more and more powerful in the post-WW1 republic.

I'm just a few chapters in, but so far it's fascinating reading.

[ 17 September 2006: Message edited by: Lard Tunderin' Jeezus ]


has anyone read 'cosmos and the psyche' by richard tarnas? it was published in feb by viking but copies are difficult to find.


I have just finished reading Don't Believe It! How Lies Become News by Alexandra Kitty. It teaches one how to deconstruct a news story, shows how hoaxes, rumours, mistakes and propaganda could spread through reporter's or editor's laziness, lack of ethics or their personal agendas and biases. Consumer complacency is also blasted. I will never look at a news article or report the same way again. This is the kind of media literacy that kids need to be taught in schools in North America.



Originally posted by jas:
[b]P.S. Michelle: just wondering why the Book Lounge comes under Rabble Content, since most of the books here have nothing to do with rabble content.[/b]

Because rabble actually has a book lounge! With book reviews and everything! I've even written a couple of them! [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] It's actually a lot more prominent on the front page now than it used to be, which is good, because there's a lot of really good, original rabble content in that section, and I'm glad it's got its own front page section instead of being hidden in back pages of babble.

However, I think Lisa (our book reviews editor, otherwise known as "Rundler" on babble) won't mind at all if we have book talks on books other than the ones featured in the book reviews section.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I just went on a graphic novel kick, and here are some that blew my mind:

Paul Auster's [i]City of Glass[/i], one of my all-time favourite "normal" novels (and a classic detective story to boot) adapted by Paul Karasick and David Mazzucchelli (who did some art for Frank Miller's Batman years)

[url=http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/riel/comics.html]Louis Riel[/url] by Chester Brown. What a great way to learn about (kind of) Canadian History and a great figure. Not to mention how Sir John A. screwed the mйtis out of everything they had.

[url=http://www.randomhouse.com/pantheon/graphicnovels/persepolis.html]Persep..., by Marjane Satrapi. An amazing and compelling look at the recent cultural history of Iran, [i]Persepolis 2[/i] is just as great.

Cameron W

[url=http://www.adbusters.org/home/]Adbusters Magazine[/url] and The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler.

Adbusters magazine is always excellent, and the Long Emergency so far has been a great book.

[ 20 September 2006: Message edited by: Cameron W ]

Paul Gross

James Howard Kunstler will be speaking in Ottawa on Friday.

Imagining a City Without Oil:
Friday, September 22nd, 7:00 pm
Adult High School, 300 Rochester

A talk by James Howard Kunstler, author of the Long Emergency and The Geography of Nowhere,

This event is co-sponsored with Councillor Clive Doucet and others. Cost. $10.00

Info: [url=http://www.imagineottawa.ca]http://www.imagineottawa.ca[/url]


eau, You're right about Le Carre, there is often great political criticism in the 'spy' genre. Its not all Clancy blow 'em up! Have you read Le Carre's non-fiction piece critiquing UK involvement in Iraq?

For those looking for some topical poetry: There is a new poetry anthology on 9/11 put out by nthposition.com poetry editor, Todd Swift. Link below. People might remember nthposition and Todd Swift from the collection '100 Poets Against the War'. There is a babbler in both collections.



Hey! Just responding to Michelle's post -- absolutely! I'm so excited that this forum is sometimes about reviews we've done, sometimes just about what people are reading like this one, sometimes about exciting book world scandals and such. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Just a reminder that if there are books you'd like to see reviewed, you can send suggestions to me at [email protected]. We have pretty limited space but it's always excellent to know what might tickle your fancy.

Just about graphic novels (or fat comics), people might want to check out these two rabble reviews, both really helpful on the genre:

Six fat comics [url=http://rabble.ca/reviews/review.shtml?x=50361]http://rabble.ca/reviews/r...

Show and tell [url=http://rabble.ca/reviews/review.shtml?x=42183]http://rabble.ca/reviews/r...


"The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology", Ray Kurzweil

[i]The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. I wish I could believe that.[/i] -- John Connor, a character from the sci-fi movie, "T3"


I have been reading the "new" Gibbs translation of War and Peace over the last month or so. I know the last hundred years has been packed with people who've been thrusting this book in everyone else's face, but I'd like to be the latest: Read this book! It's so really rare to find a book that is so absolutely satisfactory on every level.

(Alright: Tolstoy has his moments of long-windedness about the nature of history or the spiritual condition of man, but that's very little to tolerate in exchange for everything else.)

I don't even know what to read next. It seems like anything fictional would just feel shallow and pale in comparison. I am considering Dumas' Voyage en Russie as a sort of W&P hangover cure, followed maybe by something non-fictional (Jared Diamond's Collapse has been taking up too much shelf space) so that I won't be tempted to make comparisons.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

The Greatest [i]War & Peace[/i] hangover cure is [i]The Master & Margarita[/i] by Mikhail Bulgakov. Satan comes to Moscow and starts a magic show. It's hilarious, touching, tragic and magnificent. Read this book!

Lawrence Day

I'm working through Fletcher Prouty's "The Secret Team" which was surpressed when it came out but is now available free on the net at:
Col. Prouty is the Mr. X in Oliver Stone's JFK movie.

jeff house

Charlotte mentions uncertainty over what to read after War and Peace.

After I read it, I read Resurrection, which I really liked.

Ten years later, I enjoyed Anna Karenina.

Take yer pick, they're both good.


I'm reading my fourth book by Lisa Carey. This one is called Every Visible Thing. She writes wonderful, character driven stories and seems to be preoccupied with death, craziness and the afterlife. This one is about a family whose 15-year-old son gets up in the middle of the night and disappears, never to be seen again. The main story is about how the other siblings cope with this constantly "invisible" presence, trauma and loss. It's really good.


Bobolink Bobolink's picture

Rereading [url=http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/item/books-978031611704/0316117048/D...'The+day+the+Universe+Changed']The Day the Universe Changed[/url] by James Burke. Written as a companion to the BBC television series, it explores how our perception of relaity changes as knowledge changes. Although it was written in 1985, it is still relevent.

[ 30 September 2006: Message edited by: Bobolink ]


I just finished reading _Farewell, My Lovely_ by Raymond Chandler - I picked it up on a whim, because it was small, simple and wouldn't be comparable to _War and Peace_ (see: above).

I have very little to say about the book itself. I don't see any real value in it except as a cultural artefact, a snapshot of what might have appealed to people seventy years ago. The "political incorrectness" by today's standards was absolutely jarring (offhand remarks about how "killing a nigger is just a misdemeanor", or the "Indian" character who speaks in stilted pseudo-english "Me Big Red. You come car now, huh.") But it did set me to thinking about another book-related incident a few years ago.

A gave my mother a copy of David Suzuki's _Good News For A Change_ years ago, and was saddened to find over the months that the book just sat on the shelf and my mother never really read it. When I asked her why, she told me that she didn't really see the point. her generation, she said, had fought all these battles already, and lost. They tried to exact cultural, social and environmental change and in the end - well, look where we are? It was all for nothing!

But reading Chandler, I see that she's absolutely wrong. Whatever fights still need to be fought now, the world is NOT, thank goodness, what it was 70 years ago. And it was my mother's generation that made the difference. Chandler wrote his racial stereotypes without a hint of cheek or self awareness. It wasn't something to think about, then. All I can say about this book is - I'm glad I wasn't then. I'm glad I am *now*.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Oh, youv'e picked the wrong author to attack here, Charlotte. No flame against Chandler will be allowed to stand.

Chandler's novels are definitely not mere escapist fiction. He is a master craftsman when it comes to prose. He's tight, musical and unapologetic. Youre wrong when you say he "wrote his racial stereotypes without a hint of cheek or self awareness." He knew exactly what he was doing, and probably was more aware than his more famous modernist contemporaries like F. Scott Fitzgerald.

His writing his urban, working class, ironic and deeply cynical about a changing modern landscape. He's one of the first to see America as an undeniably urban geography, and he's already articulating the alienation that accompanies urban sprawl, the social anxieties that touch women in public, and the cultural dperavities that result from homophobia and racism. You always make mistakes when you judge an author's morals by his work, and while difficult, it's important to understand that Raymond Chandler and Phillip Marlowe are not the same person.

I will defend Raymond Chandler to the death, even though, as the dick Marlowe would say, "It's not a game for Knights."



Originally posted by Catchfire:
[b]Oh, youv'e picked the wrong author to attack here, Charlotte. No flame against Chandler will be allowed to stand.

His writing his urban, working class, ironic and deeply cynical about a changing modern landscape. He's one of the first to see America as an undeniably urban geography, and he's already articulating the alienation that accompanies urban sprawl, the social anxieties that touch women in public, and the cultural dperavities that result from homophobia and racism. You always make mistakes when you judge an author's morals by his work, and while difficult, it's important to understand that Raymond Chandler and Phillip Marlowe are not the same person.

Of course... I didn't mean to post a critique of the Chandler or even of the book - I simply wondered at how far our cultural values have come since this book was published. Whether Chandler shared the opinions of his characters, or whether he was simply painting a portrait of a place and time, the society he describes (even aside from the stylized "noir") bears no resemblance to the one I know.

Even the most hard-boiled character in a story taking place in the 21st century won't run into pseudo-legal murders and earthy-smelling Indians being used as spiritual mediums. Or even black-only clubs or women who won't be convicted on account of their looks. Different world, we got here. Thank goodness.



I just read Chandler's [i]Long Goodbye[/i] again, one of my all-time favorites. Still haven't seen the movie.

Right now I'm reading [i]Secrets of the SuperOptimist[/i] by W.R. Morton and Nathaniel Whitten. It falls somewhere in the Venn Diagram of Dave Eggers, Nietsche, Steven Covey and Stephen Colbert. It's structured as a series of "secret" ways to reframe your thinking and turn any negative into a positive. It's hilarious, but each of the "secrets" also ends up having an underlying truth to it.

The book is part parody of self-help books, and part fully-fleshed-out philosophy combining existentialism, objectivism, Tony Robbins-ism, and.. clearly I don't know philosophy. I do know that I found it really funny and thought-provoking.

It's a quick read. I don't know if I've described it well but I recommend it highly.

Polly B Polly B's picture

I am reading my Grandmas journal/diary, what an amazing woman. Grandma died fourteen years ago, but apparently no one had the heart to go through all her things till now, and when they found the journal they thought I might like it. Wow...now I know where the female side of my family gets their strength from.

Grandma was "aristocracy" in Austria, emigrated to Canada with the man she loved that her family couldn't stand, had ten children (the ones who lived), raised them all in a three bedroom house on a stationmasters income---I swear, I will never again complain about the shitty water pressure here.

I am just blown away.


I am reading Sherry Simon's 'Translating Montreal'. I am on the section where she talks about one of my favourite poets AM Klein. Though this is an academic text I understand it has been selling quite well on the island of More-real.

Bobolink Bobolink's picture

I have just finished [url=http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/11/15/bib/981115.rv054401.html][b]Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms[/b][/url] by Stephen Jay Gould which is a collection of essays from [url=http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/index_lowres.html][b]Natural History[/b][/url] magazine. Wonderful essays on life and evolution.


I like historical stuff and just finished a book called "Cresent and Cross - The Battle of Lepanto 1571" by H Bicheno. It covers the events and social conditions leading up to the actual battle.

The conflicts and extreme intolerance in Europe, driven by religion, are a key part of the setting.

Deciding I didn't know much about the 1500s in Europe, I followed this book by "Spanish Rome 1500-1700". It covers the relationship between what was probably the high point of the Spanish empire and it's relationship to the Papal State.

A comment on Christian fundies, the present day guys are really nice compared to the guys in the 1500s.


Currently I am reading Viktor E. Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning. It's a very eye opening book and the so many quotes from this book that are relevant to everyday life.....bottom line I like the book. READ IT people.


I am reading "A History of God", by Karen Armstrong. About how the three monotheistic religions altered the conception of God and how they refashioned "The one God" to suit the social and political needs of their followers.

I am only a few pages into the 460 pages book.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I'm reading [i]A History of Capitalism: a longer view,[/i] by Ellen M. Wood. This is a longer (Verso) version of her book published by Monthly Review Press. Wood is a former editor of Monthly Review (preceding John Bellamy Foster), a Canadian, and an interesting writer. She wrote a fine book about social class which is also on my reading list.


First Post - I am in!

I am reading [b]The Metaphysical Club[/b] by Louis Menand (2001).
For modern history buffs, it is pretty gripping stuff. It explains the enormous contributions made to the American psyche by four key American thinkers: Oliver Wendell Holmes, William James, Charles Sanders Pierce (all part of a short-lived Cambridge MA - based informal discussion group for uber eggheads)and John Dewey. The threads that wove them together - the civil war, reactions to and interpretations of Darwinism, race, labour the rights of women for example, are made fresh and relevant by the writer.

[ 16 March 2007: Message edited by: Lumpyprole ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture


Lumpyprole: First Post - I am in!

Ha ha. Another victim. You'll live to regret it. However, before we give you the keys to the virtual bar ... a skill-testing question:

What young Russian formalist wrote [i]Art as Device[/i] in 1917? Was it...

(a) Eugene Zamyatin;
(b) Ivan Bunin;
(c) Georgi Plekhanov, or
(d) Anna Akmatova ?

The correct answer is (e) Viktor Shklovsky. ahahahaha! Seriously, welcome lumpy.


Wow N.Beltov, thanks for the intense hazing.
I almost answered, without reading carefully, that the answer was Pyotr Pavlenko. His short story “Arm as Device”, written about his co-scenarist Sergei Eisenstein’s infamous arm-wrestling contest with an old and ailing Prince Kropotkin.

You will recall, I’m sure, that the original insult that precipitated the “Rostov Rassle” was about whether Eisenstein was hairier than Kropotkin was bald. Or perhaps not, I wasn't there. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 16 March 2007: Message edited by: Lumpyprole ]


David Baldacci - The Winner - A great read
I just finished Night Fall by Nelson Demille - an interesting book, with a lot of twists.


My dad's been trying to convince me to read Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow for years,
so I finally picked it up a couple of weeks ago. What a fucked up book. After some chapters, I come close to putting it down for good. After others, I'm convinced it's the greatest novel of the 20th century.

I read that the Pulitzer Prize committee was split down the middle about it, half voting
to award it the prize, the other half steadfastedly refusing on the grounds that it was un-readable. So no Pulitzer was awarded that year.

I also just finished reading Blindness and Seeing, both by Jose Saramago. Unforgettable,
I can't recommend either enough.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture


kingblake: I also just finished reading Blindness and Seeing, both by Jose Saramago. Unforgettable,
I can't recommend either enough.

Saramago's [i]Balthasar and Bluminda[/i] is a great read as well. It's a love story set against the backdrop of the Inquisition and a (fictional) pre-Montgolfier brothers balloon adventure. Balthasar and Bluminda find some interesting uses for a balloon. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]


I have just finished 'Lost or Found' by Fimo Mitchell and I am reading 'The Rent Collector' by B. Glen Rotchin. Two powerful first novels by Montrealers. Mitchell's book is about growing up black in Montreal and Rotchin's is about the Jewish community. I will not attempt a synopsis because I don't believe I can convey the importance of these books in a few words. To paraphrase Michael Turner, often the best and most challenging literature comes out of the small presses.


I just finished Charles Bukowski's "Women". I've read all his novels. "Post Office" is my favourite. Definitely not for everyone.

But right now I'm into Brad Smith's "Big Man Coming Down The Road." I'm torn on Smith's writing. He has this label of "country noir", and he writes about rural southern Ontario. Still, his books have a genre feel.

I'm going to check out those two books, Mayakovsky. You ever read Danny Laferriere? Haitian Montrealer.

I like small press fiction. It's the difference between Micheal Turner and Russell Smith.


I've just cracked Sidney Poitier's autobiography- and no, not because it's Oprah's pick of the month! Being a massive Katharine Hepburn fan, I fell in love with Sidney Poitier in [i]Guess Who's Coming to Dinner[/i] as a child. And I must admit, instead of reading trashy celebrity magazines or reading the latest [i]Shopoholic[/i] my guiltiest pleasure is old Hollywood autobiographies and biographies.


I'm about half done a novel called [i]number9dream[/i], by David Mitchell, a brilliant (IMO) young British writer. I've also read [i]Cloud Atlas[/i] and [i]ghostwritten[/i] by the same author. Try [i]Cloud Atlas[/i] - you've never read anything quite like it - guaranteed.

[ 18 March 2007: Message edited by: unionist ]


Franzen's "The Corrections." The wittiest novel that I've read in a few years. It's about a family so dysfunctional that it makes ours look almost normal. Franzen writes pieces for the New Yorker and I've always admired him but this is his first novel (that I've read, anyway). Highly recommended.

In other news, I'd recommend a PASS on Messaud's "The Emperor's Children." I think she must have got distracted because some of her story lines wander off and never really come back.

Just my opinion.


I have just read Nick Cohen's 'Whats Left?' A most important book for anyone who is of the 'democratic' left.

Papal Bull

Would you consider the Nick Cohen book particularly well written? I went into a bookstore and was giving it a look over and wasn't too interested.

I just dove into (and read in the course of a few days) Thomas Homer-Dixon's "The Upside of Down". Absolutely frightening read, despite being fiercly optimistic. It almost reminded me of some of Nietzsche's ideas being forced into reality. Creepy.

As for "The Master and Margarita" it is one of my favourite books. Clearly anyone who thinks otherwise is second-grade fish. On the point of Russian literature (is Bulgakov Russian or Soviet? It is hard to say with him) I picked up an interesting tome called "The Women's Decameron" which chronicles the life of women during the dying days of the Soviet regime in Leningrad. It is emigre literature, but it has been thoroughly enjoyable. For those interested it is by Julia Voznesenskaya, although I think that it is out of print.


Just finished "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. It interupted my slow re-re- reading of Carl Sagan's "Demon Haunted World" which I have since loaned out to someone.

Currently, I am reading David Suzuki's updated version of "Naked Ape to Superspecies" ( ahem-- a signed copy, no less) and enjoying it.

And during this I also read volume one a very entertaining graphic novel called "Ranma 1/2" by Rumiko Takahashi.


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