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Andrew

What we're reading

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I've recently finished Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington. A scary yet surprising empathetic look at people at snake handling churches in southern Appalachia. A fascinating and well-written account.

Right now I'm reading Sects, Love, and Rock n Roll by Joel Hartse, and am enjoying it a lot.

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SNOW CRASH by Neal Stephenson.

Crazy, crazy book.

Absolutely. I knew you'd listen to Reason.

Oh, and how'd you like Quicksilver?

My current books:

-The Idea of A University - John Henry Newman. Read for my Great Issues in Higher Education Class. Fantastic.

-Higher Education and the New Society - George Keller. Our final book of the semester. I'm looking forward to it.

-Fool Moon (Dresden Files book 2) - Jim Butcher. I'm definitely enjoying this series, enough that I might make a thread here dedicated to pulpy sci-fi and fantasy. If you aren't familiar, this series is about a hard-boiled PI...who is also a wizard. Harry Dresden is dealing with a werewolf loose in Chicago in this one.

-The Corrections - Jonathan Frazen. I haven't read any Frazen before. I love his prose.

-The Grey King (Dark is Rising Sequence) - Susan Cooper. Second to last book in a great (children's?) fantasy series from the '70s/'80s. Read them when I was younger and loved them, but I'm appreciating them more now.

-Sweetsmoke - Brian Fuller. An advanced copy...this is from a screenwriter-turned-novelist, and it's...not really interesting so far. Hopefully it picks up. He writes like he's bumping around a pawn shop in the dark.

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We've dropped Sin in the Second City as our after dinner book and replaced it with On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It has very little dialogue.

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SNOW CRASH by Neal Stephenson.

Crazy, crazy book.

Absolutely. I knew you'd listen to Reason.

Oh, and how'd you like Quicksilver?

It was okay. It had enough good points to inspire me to keep going with Stephenson, but I'm not sure I'll bother with the rest of the Baroque Cycle. I am, however, really digging SNOW CRASH.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Oh, and how'd you like Quicksilver?

It was okay. It had enough good points to inspire me to keep going with Stephenson, but I'm not sure I'll bother with the rest of the Baroque Cycle. I am, however, really digging SNOW CRASH.

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Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward. Highly recommended.

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Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward. Highly recommended.

Is it like Planet Hollywood?

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Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward. Highly recommended.

Is it like Planet Hollywood?

Oh man. NO. Ward's hypothesis revolutionizes Narnia studies. Seriously. Read it. (Also some rambling debate on it a while ago here.)

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I finished How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu earlier this week, and now I'm reading Franzen's Freedom. (A bit of sports-geek lore: early in the book, Franzen writes about a college basketball player losing a jump ball in the middle of a game, which I thought was a mistake because college uses an alternating possession system for jump balls [the NBA doesn't]. It turns out, however, that college didn't adopt alternating possessions until 1981, and the scene in question happens in 1978.)

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Reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, and it's as good as everybody has been telling me it is.

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Reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, and it's as good as everybody has been telling me it is.

With your online name, I guess it's about time you read it! (And I agree, it is a terrific book - one of my favorite Berry books.)

My family in Maryland and Virginia sent me three books for Christmas that I can't wait to read:

- And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris, by Alan Riding

- At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman's Journey of Discovery, by Rebecca Otowa - I started this one today, and so far, it's been a pleasing, informative look at daily life in rural Japan, from the point of view of an American woman who married a Japanese husband in 1981, managing his family's 350 year old farmhouse and raising a family of her own in the meantime

- In Ghostly Japan, by Lafcadio Hearn - a collection of Japanese tales of the supernatural, a classic from the late 1800's-early 1900's

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Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester. I ended up skimming/skipping the first half, which was more of a lesson in the history of geology pre-explosion.

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I'm diving in to Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark, given to me in hardback as a Christmas gift.

I thought I remembered the book being panned fairly recently, maybe in the Atlantic, but the copyright is 2007, which means my memory is incorrect or accurate but much more distant than I think. Funny how, as I get older, the things that happened years ago can seem like they took place months ago, and sometimes vice versa.

I read 60 pages of the book yesterday and found it compulsively readable -- consumable like a good cup of Starbucks coffee. I didn't learn much -- OK, I did enjoy the bit of history about how coffee consumption replaced beer consumption centuries ago in England among workers.

Those were the days, eh?

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Just finished Franzen's Freedom. The last chapter was excellent, but I could have done without a lot of the rest of the book. (And I think the last chapter would work fine as a standalone story.)

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My wife and I just started My Antonia by Willa Cather for our post-dinner read.

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Just finished Franzen's Freedom. The last chapter was excellent, but I could have done without a lot of the rest of the book. (And I think the last chapter would work fine as a standalone story.)

I just finished Franzen's The Corrections, which I liked a lot. It made me cringe constantly, sure, but it was pretty incredible.

Also finished Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising Sequence with the final book, Silver on the Tree. Fantastic writing here, though many of the climatic events in the book hinge on remembering and capitalizing on (what I think is) minutia in Welsh Arthurian folklore. Still, a good read, and a nice end to a great series.

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Got "Matterhorn" for Christmas. What an uncomfortable first chapter.

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Got "Matterhorn" for Christmas. What an uncomfortable first chapter.

Ah, one I've been meaning to get.

Two I started reading this past weekend:

-Neal Stephenson - In the Beginning...Was the Command Line. This is a fairly short, novella-length essay Stephenson wrote about the culture surrounding computer operating system communities, and how free OSes are the way to go. Much of the information is obsolete, since this was written in 1999, but it's still an enjoyable and informative read.

-James Lowder - Knight of the Black Rose (Ravenloft #2). The second pulpy novel in the Dungeons & Dragons-based gothic horror setting. I was pleasantly surprised with how good the first novel in this series was. This one is, so far, pretty awful. There were several pages that made absolutely no sense, at all. I guess it's a toss-up when you have various entries in a series by different authors. Hopefully it gets better.

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I'm reading FINISHING THE HAT by Stephen Sondheim, a collection of his lyrics, complete with anecdotes and musings on good lyric writing. A very fine volume, if I do say so, full of wit and good advice.

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Currently reading The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson. It is splendid. More witty, ironic undertone than you might expect from such a swashbuckling tale.

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-Creation Regained, Al Wolters. I read for one of my core classes during my undergrad, but I'm re-reading it now for one of my graduate classes. It's a wonderful book about reformational worldview, and while it's nothing new to me, it's sinking in even more the second time around.

-Telling Secrets, Fredrick Buechner. A brief memoir, and Buechner's third. It touches on a number of things, including his father's suicide, and it's beautifully written.

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Has anyone read Haruki Murakami's <i>South of the Border, West of the Sun</i>? Honestly, I picked it up because I wanted to try out a Murakami novel but wanted to start with something short. I'm enjoying the story, but the writing is really unimpressive, which is surprising considering the quality of his stories that I've read. Does Philip Gabriel translate all of his English publications, or could my disappointment be with Gabriel's work?

I don't know if Gabriel translates all of Murakami's works, but he's the translator also of <i>Kafka on the Shore</i>, which I'm reading presently and enjoying greatly. The quality of the writing seems tip-top to me - an engrossing tale of entwined lives, with more humor than I recall from Murakami's other book that I've read, <i>The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle</i>.

I grabbed these two posts, although there are others about Murakami, to highlight [url=http://murakamichallenge.blogspot.com/2010/12/haruki-murakami-reading-challenge-2011.html]the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge[,url]. Best part about it? You have to read only one book. That's challenging!

I'm currently weighing which Murakami book to read in 2011.

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I've just started Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle. I've been looking forward to this.

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Recently finished Freedom by Franzen. Thought it was pretty darn good, very absorbing and easy to read.

However, I've now started the first part of Proust's 6 volume novel bonanza; In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way. In a slightly comedic way, I didn't realise it was the 6-volume novel but now that I am a few chapters in, I am so happy it is. I can not begin to describe its beauty, I can only encourage everyone to pick it up and start reading and I promise you will not be disappointed. It's astounding. Aside from a very limited number of exceptions, all books I have read pale in comparison.

A happy accident. If I had known what it was I would never have embarked on this 'project' in the final year of writing my thesis. As is, I expect it will keep me sane and give me much needed perspective.

See further comments in Proust thread.

Edited by gigi

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Just read MANTISSA by John Fowles. A far too indulgent, gratuitous literary exercise. But I was never bored; its sense of humor kept things afloat.

Now, I'm moving on to A MAGGOT (also by Fowles).

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