What are you reading now?

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I know we have a lot of readers here. I'd like to know what you're reading now, what you would suggest for future reads, what you would suggest avoiding, etc.

I don't mean technical manuals or brewing-related stuff. Novels, biographies, histories, etc.

I bring this up because I'm nearing the end of the best book I've ever read. It's called "The Given Day" by Dennis Lehane, the man behind "Mystic River" and "Gone Baby Gone."

It is phenomenal. A bit hefty at 700+ pages but worth the time it takes. It has much of the moral ambiguity that punctuates Lehane's novels, but also goes far deeper into exploring families and the choices people make.
 

Beerthoven

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Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

EDIT for detail: This is by the author of The English Patient. Anil's Ghost is beautifully written but driven more by character development and emotional/mental exploration than by plot. If you're looking for a page-burner, then this not the book for you. If you want something more subtle, this is a great book. It takes place in Sri Lanka during the civil war. The main character is a forensic anthropologist documenting potential war crimes. Some of it is pretty bleak.
 

flyangler18

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I'm rereading LoTR for about the 20th time, and I find myself opening my copy of the Riverside Chaucer a lot these days.

I'm a dedicated Philip Roth fan and I just finished The Human Stain. Phenomenal.
 

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0202

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I'm reading "Freedom Evolves" by Daniel Dennett

It's about free will and it's evolution as a process and implications
for the future and ideas regarding determinism, etc.
 
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I just finished reading Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock. It's about the hollers in my the outskirts of my town. Collection of shorts that all kind of intermingle with plot lines and characters.
 

Madman

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Ishmael was an awesome book!

I'm reading World War Z and Parenting Beyond Belief.
 

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Boerderij_Kabouter

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I am reading a Biography of Ben Franklin. Best recent read was "Pillars of the Earth". That was an incredible book that I highly recommend.

EDIT for Detail: The bio is interesting but a standard bio... if you like them you would like this one, he was an interesting dude in a turbulent time.

Pillars is an incredible epic that spans 3 generations in Feudal England. It follows multiple story lines and characters that are all involved in each other's lives and the main glue that holds the story together is the building of the Cathedral at Kingsbridge. This book brought out true emotion and the character development is second to none IMHO. Epic in scale and detail it is a great read, and fast considering its impressive length.
 
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Thanks for the input all. One suggestion: if you recommend something, or even if you just feel like it, add a shred of detail to help out a bit. If you're like me, you spend hours at the library just looking at titles and deciding whether you want it.

Some detail might turn the hunt into a mission.
 

flyangler18

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I do enjoy these threads but if I may offer a suggestion:

Be conversational in these threads. Don't just rattle off a title(s). Actually engage your fellow HBT bookworms and inquire about their choices, etc. ;)

I'll get off my soapbox now. We now return to our regular scheduled inanity.

EDIT: Ed must have been reading my mind. Get outta there! ;)
 
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I am reading a Biography of Ben Franklin. Best recent read was "Pillars of the Earth". That was an incredible book that I highly recommend.

EDIT for Detail: The bio is interesting but a standard bio... if you like them you would like this one, he was an interesting dude in a turbulent time.

Pillars is an incredible epic that spans 3 generations in Feudal England. It follows multiple story lines and characters that are all involved in each other's lives and the main glue that holds the story together is the building of the Cathedral at Kingsbridge. This book brought out true emotion and the character development is second to none IMHO. Epic in scale and detail it is a great read, and fast considering its impressive length.
This reminds me of a series that I would like to recommend by C.J. Sansom: Dark Fire, Dissolution and Sovereign. Main character is Matthew Shardlake, English lawyer in the 1500s. It would by your typical crime novel if not for the setting, the detail and the pace. They're mini history lessons wrapped into compelling stories.

He wrote one outside of the series, Winter in Madrid, that I couldn't get into. I may give it another shot.
 

flyangler18

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BK and Ed,

If you enjoy English historical fiction, I'll make a recommendation for Sarum. I first read it in high school as an introductory work to British Literature. Written by Edward Rutherford, it is an expansive epic novel that charts the path of English history through the experiences of five families from the Stone Age through modern England. He was clearly influenced by the style of Michener and applies it to the peculiar circumstances of the UK.
 
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jmulligan

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Glad to hear so many recommendations for "Ishmael" and the other Daniel Quinn books - HWMO has been trying to get me to read those for a while.

I am currently reading "Omnivore's Dilemma" - which has basically made me paranoid about labels on my food and seeing how much corn I actually consume in a day. YIKES.

To keep myself from going nuts, I am also re-reading Harry Potter 7 (Deathly Hallows) for fun.
 

flyangler18

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hmmmm...... methinks this thread is a gold mine. Although, I was going to read Tolkien again..... decisions:mug:
If you're anything like me(and I suspect you are just based on our conversations here on HBT), you'll start reading two or three things at the same time. :D

This actually brings up a related topic- who do you find yourself rereading time and time again? For me, it's Tolkien and Philip Roth.
 

Professor Frink

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Just finished "You don't love me yet" by Jonathan Lethem, and I've started "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama.
 
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If you're anything like me(and I suspect you are just based on our conversations here on HBT), you'll start reading two or three things at the same time. :D

This actually brings up a related topic- who do you find yourself rereading time and time again? For me, it's Tolkien and Philip Roth.
I'm reading 'The Given Day' and 'John Adams' at the same time, though I must say the former is taking up most of my time.

My re-reads are Robert B. Parker (frivolous but good) and John Lescroart.
 

adrock

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I'm spending most of my reading time now on brewing related stuff, but when I need a break I'm in the middle of "The Politics of Freedom: Taking on The Left, The Right, and Threats to Our Liberties" by David Boaz. It's a collection of Boaz's essays over the years that he's compiled to make the case for libertarianism.

Also, when I need fiction (more fiction than the idea of a libertarian society :fro:) I read Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" series. They center around a modern day wizard -- Harry Dresden -- that lives in Chicago and makes his living as a private investigator. Well written books, though formulaic. The SciFi channel made a short-lived series out of it, but I heard it was not so good.
 

flyangler18

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Man, this thread has me poring over my bookshelves to give recommendations!

American Pastoral (Philip Roth). Plays the personal struggles of a Jewish-American protagonist to 'fit' into the American Dream against the social upheaval of the 1960s and early 70s (the race riots in Newark, the Weathermen, Angela Davis, the self-immolation of the Buddhist monk).
 

Revvy

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I'm on a Circus novel kick right now, for some strange reason...

I am reading,



Lewis Tully, the proud, resilient protagonist of Raleigh's rollicking, warmhearted seventh novel, ekes out a living managing a circus in Oklahoma circa 1919, even though his Blue Moon Circus and Menagerie is prone to hardships devastating enough to shut down show after show. A catastrophic flood is the latest disaster, forcing Tully to retire permanently. Fast-forward to 1926, when Tully is being tried in court for gambling at a speakeasy. The judge (a family friend) suspends his jail sentence with the stipulation that Lewis return to circus life for one more try. With confidence that mounts as the story gains momentum, Tully manages to round up most of his original group of performers, including an aging but agile posse of clowns, a pack of feisty animal acts, a terrifyingly unique snake charmer, a red-haired ape, and mind reader Harley Fitzroy, "the greatest magician there ever was." Along for the ride is nine-year-old Charlie, a new arrival in Tully's life since Tully's sister Alma can no longer care for the boy. Despite the threats of a rival circus owner, vindictive Hector Blaney, and the memory of past failures, Lewis bravely takes his show on the road. Dozens of successful performances across the Western states buoy his spirits, but then Hector Blaney's henchmen try to sabotage the campground. It is another natural disaster, however, that delivers the final blow to Lewis's circus career. As dramatic and engaging as a high-wire act, the novel combines honest storytelling with down-home wit. There's plenty of smartly written, feel-good fun under this big top.

I just finished;



Day's debut collection spins graceful, elegant circles around the inhabitants of Lima, Ind.—especially the acrobats, clowns and circus folk of the Great Porter Circus who spent their winters there from 1884 to 1939. The poignant opening tale reveals how Wallace Porter, distraught by the death of his beloved wife, came to own his eponymous menagerie. The second, "Jennie Dixianna," introduces the dazzling, tricky Jennie, who wears her wound from her Spin of Death act "like a talisman bracelet, a secret treasure" and plots her way into Wallace's heart. Other stories tell of the young black man who plays at being an African pinhead; the son of a trainer killed by his circus elephant; the flood that devastated the circus. Thanks to finely observed details and lovely prose, each of these stories is a convincing world in miniature, filled with longing and fueled by doubt. Day, who grew up in a town like Lima and descends from circus folk herself, uses family stories, historical research and archival photographs to weave these enchantments. Though her stories often contain tragedy and violence—death in childbirth or from floodwater, cancer, circus mishap—they're also full of beauty. In "The Bullhook," Ollie, a retired clown, spends long decades with his frigid wife, waiting, armed with his father's bullhook, for death to come for him. In "Circus People," Ollie's granddaughter reflects on her fellow itinerant academics, "my latest circus family," and muses about people all over America who leave the place they grew up: "when the weather and the frequency are just right, we can all hear our hometowns talking softly to us in the back of our dreams."
The Circus in winter was really melancholy, but reminded me of the Magical Realism style of South American writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez...it really reminded me of one of my favorite novels, written by Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude. Which I think I'd due for my every few years re-read.



It actually has my favorite opening line of any book (no it ain't "it was a dark and stormy night.")

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will be many pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before the hero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before the firing squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struck with insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:

A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.
"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.


The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whom José Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man's shade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with which to clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "the next time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what he was looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about the house."

With One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez introduced Latin American literature to a world-wide readership. Translated into more than two dozen languages, his brilliant novel of love and loss in Macondo stands at the apex of 20th-century literature. --Alix Wilber
 

Beerthoven

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Thanks for the input all. One suggestion: if you recommend something, or even if you just feel like it, add a shred of detail to help out a bit. If you're like me, you spend hours at the library just looking at titles and deciding whether you want it.

Some detail might turn the hunt into a mission.
Added some detail to my original post for ya.
 
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Added some detail to my original post for ya.
Thanks. I might pick that one up, though I must say I saw "The English Patient" and was bored out of my mind. I'm sure the book is far better than the movie.

Sorta OT, do you guys buy books or hit the library? I used to buy but between me and my wife (she reads about 5 per week) it became a waste of money to buy. Plus, we have floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room and they can't handle any more.

My library card is my most prized possession.
 

Parker36

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I'm reading 'The Given Day' and 'John Adams' at the same time, though I must say the former is taking up most of my time.
Have you seen the HBO mini-series "John Adams" that is based on the book? Very good.

I'm on a Circus novel kick right now, for some strange reason...
As long as you are on a Circus Novel kick, pick up "Water for Elephants" its about a kid who is in vet school during the 1920, both parents die, can't afford school, so joins the circus as its vet. Really good book.

edit: damn, beat me to it

And a general suggestion for all: "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". It is coming out as a movie fairly soon, so pick it up before it gets ruined for you by the commercials. I would give a better description of it, but the whole point is seeing everything through a first hand-account by an 8-year-old, so I don't want to ruin the surprises, but it is a short read
 

flyangler18

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Sorta OT, do you guys buy books or hit the library? I used to buy but between me and my wife (she reads about 5 per week) it became a waste of money to buy. Plus, we have floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room and they can't handle any more.

My library card is my most prized possession.
Well, as usual, my answer is 'it depends.' ;)

Books that come highly recommended by those who share my tastes are usually promptly purchased. Picking through book sales and used book shops is a simple pleasure of mine.

I have put a lot of miles on my library card just the same!
 

Beerthoven

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Thanks. I might pick that one up, though I must say I saw "The English Patient" and was bored out of my mind. I'm sure the book is far better than the movie.

Sorta OT, do you guys buy books or hit the library? I used to buy but between me and my wife (she reads about 5 per week) it became a waste of money to buy. Plus, we have floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room and they can't handle any more.

My library card is my most prized possession.
I liked "The English Patient" the movie, but never read the book. Anil's Ghost could make a compelling movie in the hands of the right director.

I either trade with friends or get them from the used book store, of which there are several large ones in the area. Most books I don't keep for long after reading them, so I don't have a lot on my shelves. I should use the library more, but I don't.
 

Parker36

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Sorta OT, do you guys buy books or hit the library? I used to buy but between me and my wife (she reads about 5 per week) it became a waste of money to buy. Plus, we have floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room and they can't handle any more.
Mostly trade/borrow with friends. I have to get a real library card now since I am no longer a student, which is turning into a pain in the ass since I have an out of state license.
 

Revvy

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Thanks. I might pick that one up, though I must say I saw "The English Patient" and was bored out of my mind. I'm sure the book is far better than the movie.

Sorta OT, do you guys buy books or hit the library? I used to buy but between me and my wife (she reads about 5 per week) it became a waste of money to buy. Plus, we have floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room and they can't handle any more.

My library card is my most prized possession.
I tend to buy a lot more than I check out....but I'm such a voracious reader, and will read everything by one author that the only section of the library that ends up interesting me these days is the new book section.

I tend to support used books stores, especially papaerback stores....There's one that I've been going to for over 30 years.

ANother thing I look forward to is library used book sales...we have on every year in town...Last year it was fill a plastic grocery bag for a buck...I walked home with 4 or 5 bags crammed with hardcovers for like 5 bucks..that's where the circu novels came from.
 
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