Books: high-brow, low-brow, and in between

MFDoom

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I was raised on Mousterpiece Theatre and I was captivated by the wall of books that line the studies of Great Learned Men (and George Plimpton). I then proceeded to acquire all manners of books to line my walls, and once in a while I even read the fuckers. So, I inaugurate this thread with the mention of a book that might be worth your time to read if you haven't already. Maybe you have an opinion of it, or read it and wondered wtf is all the love about? Or perhaps you have a different book and want to discuss that - all cool. Anyway, I'll start this off with a biography that I loved for many reasons.
http://smile.amazon.com/Last-Lion-W...09529188&sr=8-2&keywords=manchester+churchill

I loved this bio of WC's dark years on the back benches. The lone terrier, fighting for England's interests. I've ordered the last volume.
 

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The Great Gatsby was the greatest book I ever read, I was 19. Its economy impacted me greatly.

Smart thread.
 
Aw thanks guise. I never quite understood the elevation of Gatsby - though now that I spin through it mentally I recall the revulsion I felt at the Buchanans and realize that it probably took enormous skill to elicit that kind of response (and I remain grateful to heismatt for cluing me in on that)
 
I need to read a new book. Its literally been months as I've just been watching tons of TV shows.
 
Well, a second book I'll throw out there is Lolita, one of a small number of books I've re-read.

OR, if you want the surreal, there's Pale Fire, also by Nabokov. It took two tries to get through it, including footnotes, and the best advice I got for reading it was this: mix a drink. Read the poem straight through. Get another drink. Start the notes. Halfway through the notes, skim the poem again, get another drink, and finish the book. That worked well for me.
 
The Great Gatsby was the greatest book I ever read, I was 19. Its economy impacted me greatly.

I actually just reread it for kicks not too long ago. I was surprised to find I still quite enjoy it.

I need to read a new book. Its literally been months as I've just been watching tons of TV shows.

Philistine.



I have been on a historical bent lately (which is generally my MO anyway). Reading Peter Ackroyd's London: A Biography which is pretty entertaining. Knocked back a few of David Cannadine's books beginning of the year, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy and Rise and Fall of Class in Britain. They are both pretty dry historical tomes, but very good depth for anyone interested in history or British society from the late 19th through mid 20th Centuries.

Of course I fill in with nonsense from Cussler and the like between serious reading.
 
Gatsby is a good read but I am less impressed as I have re-read as I've aged.

Three works of fiction that readily come to mind that I continue to re-read - there are many others - are On the Beach, Brideshead Revisited and the Eighth Day.

ee cummings poetry is always close at hand.

Most books that I read are non-fiction now. Astronomy, cosmology and theoretical physics as it pertains to the shape of the universe (the self-importance exhibited by these scientists are only rivalled by iGents) histories on intelligence services (Body of Secrets by Bamford about the NSA & Enemies - A History of the FBI by Weiner were both sobering reads on how fucked up these two organizations are), as well as a variety of anything that might catch my eye.
 
Brideshead is good but a wee bit self indulgent.

If you want some good intelligence reads, try Legacy of Ashes (Weiner) and Wizards of Langley.
 
Brideshead is good but a wee bit self indulgent.

If you want some good intelligence reads, try Legacy of Ashes (Weiner) and Wizards of Langley.

Waugh even poo-pooed himself over that saying that it was a product of where his head was at when writing it.

+1 to Legacy of Ashes & Wizards of Langley. Enjoyed both.
 
Brideshead is on my 'someday' list. Wodehouse usually jumps in front when I'm in the mood for British Humour.

As to Hemingway I loved his books in college but the only ones I re-visit are A Moveable Feast and the bullfighting books. I should re-read Old Man.
 
I love Hemingway as a life story. I also enjoy A Farewell to Arms and The Sun also Rises.
 
Some solid books by reporters:

Ryszard Kapuściński

Really, anything by him but:

Shah of Shahs
imperium
The Shadow of the Sun
TheEmperor
The Soccer War

One of the greatest reporters in history and especially his time in Africa when independence was dawning

Philip J Caputo

A Rumor of War
Means of Escape

Michael Herr

Dispatches
 
Also really enjoying Dan Simmons resurgence. From the Terror on. Just finished The Abominable, great read.

Dan Simmons has a website and will actually engage posters in conversation. Frequently. He's got a really good catalogue of books. I loved the Olympus and Endymion books, but even Flashback and the Dar.... I forget the guy's last name, but he's an accident scene reconstructor...books are enjoyable. I found Terror (and the book about the Crazy Horse memorial) to be interminable, but to each his own.

I need to read a new book. Its literally been months as I've just been watching tons of TV shows.

Get rid of your tv. You're not going to be on your deathbed wishing you watched one more Tosh 2.0 rerun. You can watch any "must-watch" show on your computer anyway.
 
I've always heard Malcolm Gladwell labeled as the king of middlebrow, as it's an accessible restating of higher minded intellectual stuff.
I always recommend Democracy: The God That Failed by Hans Hermann-Hoppe. It's a big ponderous book and essentially about economics. But it's higher level worldview variant of freakonomics. It expounds on my democracy is flawed, and allows you to go railing on about government being a territorial monopoly on law and the like.
 
What's good lowbrow?

James Lee Burke's crime mysteries featuring Dave Robicheaux. I mean how can you not like characters like this:

Once an officer for the New Orleanspolice department, Robicheaux constantly breaches the ethical code over the course of just about every case he works on and currently pursues cases in New Iberia, Louisiana as sheriff's deputy. He is a recoveringalcoholic whose demons stem from his service in the Vietnam War and his impoverished difficult childhood in rural Louisiana; his mother abandoned the family (and was later murdered) and his father died in an oil rig explosion.

He still experiences periods of savagedepression and nightmares, which are only exacerbated by the murder of his wife Annie Ballard, a social worker. He married a mobster's widow Bootsie, alupus sufferer, and adopted the El Salvadorean orphan Alafair (the namesake of Burke's own daughter), after he saves her from the wreckage of an airplane. After Bootsie's death he weds a strong minded former Maryknoll nun by the name of Molly .

His best friend is the violent, alcoholic ex-police officer and private investigator / bail-bondsman Cletus Purcel.
 
Dan Simmons has a website and will actually engage posters in conversation. Frequently. He's got a really good catalogue of books. I loved the Olympus and Endymion books, but even Flashback and the Dar.... I forget the guy's last name, but he's an accident scene reconstructor...books are enjoyable. I found Terror (and the book about the Crazy Horse memorial) to be interminable, but to each his own.

For a moment there I thought I might have read one of his books but it turned out to be California Fire and Life (about an arson investigator) by Don Winslow. I was on a Winslow kick for a few books (Death and Life of Bobby Z was fun) and then moved on.
 
I've always heard Malcolm Gladwell labeled as the king of middlebrow, as it's an accessible restating of higher minded intellectual stuff.
I always recommend Democracy: The God That Failed by Hans Hermann-Hoppe. It's a big ponderous book and essentially about economics. But it's higher level worldview variant of freakonomics. It expounds on my democracy is flawed, and allows you to go railing on about government being a territorial monopoly on law and the like.

Gladwell is a fucking dope.
 
James Lee Burke's crime mysteries featuring Dave Robicheaux. I mean how can you not like characters like this:
.

Nice, I might have to check that out.

Olen Steinauer has been doing some good crime thriller stuff over the last decade, though his newer stuff is more espionage (which I prefer anyway). I love Charles Cumming's stuff too, but he takes forever to get a book out.
 
Nice, I might have to check that out.

Olen Steinauer has been doing some good crime thriller stuff over the last decade, though his newer stuff is more espionage (which I prefer anyway). I love Charles Cumming's stuff too, but he takes forever to get a book out.

I will have to check those two authors out - not aware of them.
 
Since we're including nonfiction as well - I immediately dismiss people who quote Jared Diamond (especially Guns, Germs, and Steel). It's like quoting Rush Limbaugh. The guy's got some good ideas, but, as a whole, his ideas fail any sort of rigorous critical thinking. They're far more ideology or, at best, philosophy, than actual science.
 
Anyone read Iain Banks' stuff? Working through his novels chronologically. Pretty good reading. Wasp Factory is probably in my top twenty books.
 
Since we're including nonfiction as well - I immediately dismiss people who quote Jared Diamond (especially Guns, Germs, and Steel). It's like quoting Rush Limbaugh. The guy's got some good ideas, but, as a whole, his ideas fail any sort of rigorous critical thinking. They're far more ideology or, at best, philosophy, than actual science.

Thank you for that. That book pissed me off for the reasons you state.
 
Anyone read Iain Banks' stuff? Working through his novels chronologically. Pretty good reading. Wasp Factory is probably in my top twenty books.

I've had The Algebraist on my shelf for like 3 years and have yet to read it. I can't stay awake no matter how good the book is.
 
Has anyone successfully read the Life of Pi? For the life of me I have never, ever been able to get beyond the first few pages.
 
Anyone read Iain Banks' stuff? Working through his novels chronologically. Pretty good reading. Wasp Factory is probably in my top twenty books.

Ah, now we are getting in my wheelhouse. Yes, I have. And I most agree with OfficePants on the effectiveness of his writing, but the factory was a great novel.

And, for the record, I don't own a tv.

Has anyone successfully read the Life of Pi? For the life of me I have never, ever been able to get beyond the first few pages.

I have. It's a really great book. You've got to give it past the first few chapters of background. Once he gets on the boat it's smooth sailing from there.

Also, watching the movie in 3D should be required viewing. It's fantastically done.
 
You should really consider writing a book. You can call it "How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Forum Thread".
 
OR, if you want the surreal, there's Pale Fire, also by Nabokov. It took two tries to get through it, including footnotes, and the best advice I got for reading it was this: mix a drink. Read the poem straight through. Get another drink. Start the notes. Halfway through the notes, skim the poem again, get another drink, and finish the book. That worked well for me.

Absolutely loved Pale Fire. Read it at university while wasting time in the library when I should have been at a lecture and rushed and bought a copy.

Once you've read it through a couple of times, it's a great book to dip into from time to time. Pick it up, open it up at almost any page and you'll strike gold. Read a few pages, enjoy the poetry or prose, the multi-layered meanings, the mysteries in the text, and then put it down again for a while.

Has anyone successfully read the Life of Pi? For the life of me I have never, ever been able to get beyond the first few pages.

I really enjoyed it. I must admit that I thought that the ending could have been a bit better, as it got a bit too surreal near the end, but still a thoroughly enjoyable book.
 
Charlie LeDuff Detroit - An American Autopsy. Part reportage, part history, part memoir. Very interesting read.
 
I was reminded today of the simple magnificence of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. If you go for Marquez, Calvino, or Rushdie this might be in your wheelhouse, and even though I can't bear to slog through another 500 pages of Magical Realism, I will make time for this one again.
 
Alright fellas, I'm getting the itch to read a good book. Give me a few recommendations in the science fiction/fantasy department. Going to charge my kindle to prepare.
 
Alright fellas, I'm getting the itch to read a good book. Give me a few recommendations in the science fiction/fantasy department. Going to charge my kindle to prepare.

Have you read Simmons' Hyperion Cantos? Also, I kinda like Walter Moseley's sci-fi. It's very afrocentric, which is kind of a unique perspective. I read something really good a few weeks ago, but can't fucking remember it. I read too much.
 

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