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    • I haven’t read much of late besides a random article from The New Yorker, but @paulduplantis ’s recent conversation on the ebook embargo on libraries by McMillan has got me thinking about finding a good book to curl up with on a wintry night. So like the restaurant patron who looks over at the next table and remarks, “That looks good, what are you having?” I’d like to know what’s by the nightstand or on the coffee table at the current moment.

    • I just finished reading Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw and followed it up with a novella from The Expanse series - Auberon. Mogworld is a hilarious take on the fantasy genre and it sort of reminded me of The Lego movie (Can't say more without spoilers).

      I want to get on to a quick short read to push up the number of books I have read this year (19 unique books not counting a reread of the Artemis Fowl series), but the next interesting book on my to read list is Fall, or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson. Neal Stephenson is known for writing huge tomes so looks like I am going to be reading this well into next year. 🤷‍♂️

    • I'm halfway through the book called Mindf*ck by Christopher Wylie. It is a firsthand account of the origin of Cambridge Analytica and how it changed the world of politics by intersecting Big Data, AI, and social media.

      The tactics employed by Cambridge Analytica were initially developed for the British military to infiltrate extremist groups online via social media and turn them on each other.

      What keeps the book interesting for me is not the political agendas but the mechanics of the human mind. The enormous amount of data freely collected on social media (at least at the time) provided deep insights into people's behavior and ways to influence it.

      This cautionary tale is leaving a permanent impression on me to take online privacy seriously. It also highlights the effectiveness of influencing people with targeted disinformation strategically pointed at their inner doubts and character flaws.

    • I just finished reading Clair North’s The Gameshouse, a book @Victoria recommended in another thread. It’s actually three novellas strung together. The stories are quite different, but have a common thread. The second story was a bit slow and I got a little bogged down there, but glad I got through it because it paid off when I got into the third story.

      It is a bit of a mind-boggler, given the events of the real world right now. I found it quite thought-provoking. Thanks for the recommendation, Victoria!

    • I’m currently so pressed for time prepping talks I have to give, I chose a book that gives me short breaks. I picked this one because it’s a collection of short stories about adventure photography — my things! 🧗‍♂️

      I’m a long-time admirer of Corey Rich and his photos & films.

    • I am currently reading Paul Theroux's "On the Plain of Snakes" about his travels in, around and south of the Mexican-American border with extensive interviews with border patrol and Mexican citizens about the border and Mexican-American relations.

      I recently finished Tony Horowitz's "Spying on the South" about his travels through the southern US along the route passed by Frederick Law Olmstead who wrote several volumes about travelling through the American South in the years before the Civil War. From Horowitz, I learned what G.T.T. meant in the 1850's. Horowitz's book is a great read as are most of his works - I love his humor and irony. GTT -> Gone To Texas!! perhaps running from the law....

      Both "A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States" and "A Journey in the Back Country - 1860" by Olmstead are easily found on the Kindle store on Amazon for free- and they are worth far more than that. Interesting reading the actual thoughts of someone who travelled on foot and horseback across the South in the years just before the Civil War.

      I also just purchased L P Hartley's "The Go-Between", published in 1953, because the opening line is so enigmatic - "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there".

    • I will be quite interested to hear your impressions of Fall, or Dodge in Hell by N Stepehnson.

      I loved Reamde: A Novel, and learning more about Dodge, one of the protagaonists in Reamde, was appealing, but I found Fall or Dodge in Hell a long, wordy fantasy without great interest to me even after I stuck with it the whole way.

      I love many of Mr Stephenson's works, The Diamond Age, Seveneves, Reamde was a great ride, Snow Crash, but Fall or Dodge didn't ever really grab my interest, nor did the language engage me like in The Diamond Age.

    • "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold. It's a 1949 non-fiction collection of essays by Aldo Leopold, the book is considered to be one of the classics of modern conservation science.

    • Just started reading Age of Assassins, by RJ Barker. This will be my 12th book of the year, which would mean I achieved my goal of reading one book a month this year 😁

    • I'm only two chapters in, but from what I gather from the synopsis is that the main character, a 15 year old assassin in training is tasked with protecting a prince from assassination, which means he has to go up against his own kind, which is kinda breaking the law of assassin-ship (a real word?).

    • 👏👏👏!! Aldo Leopold is one of my great heroes. It's amazing to see this book selling in the millions, a best seller on Amazon, considering its published date and that Aldo didn't live to see it in print.

      There was a film about him in 2011 that won an Emmy, but I can't find it to stream. Here's the trailer:

    • I'd love to know what you think. The only issue I take with the title is the word secret. Now that America has grown in some ways anti science it feels like China is making a go of it.

    • I recently finished The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker which was a pretty good read. It's described as 'A book of H.P. Lovecraft', which begs the question, does that mean a book BY H.P. Lovecraft or ABOUT H.P. Lovecraft? The answer is complicated, but the label totally fits. I quite enjoyed it.

      Also recently finished Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler, and this is shaping up to be my favourite read of the year. It's a sort of SF/not SF set in the late 1800s in Washington Territory. A mysterious woman shows up in a Chinese Railworkers camp and this encounter leads a man named Chin on a surprising and picaresque journey. He's soon joined by a mental patient, a suffragette, and a side-show huckster. For a short book, it's many things. Its a feminist novel. It's a retelling of the Wizard of Oz. It's a novel of first contact. It's a novel about finding yourself by reflecting how you interact with others. It's an American version of Roadside Picnic, or a western version of Moby Dick. I can't stop thinking about it.

    • I haven't read Stephenson yet but I have been meaning to because I've heard good things about his writing style. About the only negative thing I've heard about him is that his books are quite lengthy, but I don't really consider that a bad thing. I've read long books relatively quickly and some short books have taken a long time to finish. I think it depends on the book itself and not the actual length.

    • I agree, long books that are interesting and engaging are never too long. Stephenson always stretches my vocabulary and encourages me to read with a dictionary nearby. But some of his more fantastical books don't hold my interest, but I tend to favor hard sci-fi over fantasy.

      Another author that I enjoy, like Stephenson, who is not always the easiest to read, but is engaging and thought provoking, is David Mitchell, author of "Cloud Atlas", "The Bone Clocks" and my favorite "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet".

    • The only David Mitchell I have read is "Cloud Atlas". I was very disappointed in the book. Maybe I missed something, but to me the book felt like four different, unrelated stories. I kept waiting for some "a-ha" moment where all the stories came together, but other than catching some references to the previous story in the current one, I didn't see the connection. But as I said, maybe I missed something.

      I did enjoy his writing style, though, and would read some of his other stuff if I have the chance.

    • Read the opening chapter in the Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and see what you think of the scenes he creates.

      I loved Cloud Atlas, but I confess, I saw the movie first ( what a strange visual feast ) and so I had some idea about what was coming in the book.

    • I loved Reamde: A Novel

      So did I! That was my second Neal Stephenson book after Snow Crash. I loved how Reamde seemed to stretch all across the globe and it was fascinating to read about the Chinese sweatshops dedicated to levelling up video game characters. The story had a lot of threads but I felt they were woven together very well. I did see that people on Goodreads have mixed feelings about Fall, but from the blurb the premise seems very interesting. I will definitely share my thoughts here when I finish the book. :)

    • I've read Cloud Atlas and De Zoet. I didn't read Bone Clocks, but I did read the associated novel, Slade House. Of these, Cloud Atlas is definitely the masterpiece. My reading was memorable, as I started it on vacation and while the first part was set on a creaking ship of sail, I was lodged in a handmade wooden hut with a grass roof that creaked in the night wind while the surf rolled in on the nearby beach. In that book, Mitchell demonstrated different styles in each of the different nested stories, and the way the characters and themes arched across time was impressive.

      De Zoet was also very good, though we read it with my book club and several members pointed out that the climactic rescue at the temple was really out of place in the culture and people felt Mitchell was guilty of orientalism. We subsequently found an interview with Mitchell in which he revealed the scene was inspired by Ursula K. LeGuin's fantasy novel, The Tombs of Atuan, rather than by history, so I guess they were justified. Orientalism doesn't bother me very much, so I thought it was a great read.

      Slade House was an ambitious attempt at a haunted house mystery with a sci-fi twist. I feel he wasn't quite able to pull it off, and there's a little too much exposition. It was certainly worth the read, though, and I gave it 4 stars (bumped up from 3.5) on Goodreads.

    • I would love to see Reamde as a good film or a good series streaming somewhere. I read about Chris and Paul Weitz planning to serialize it from a link back in 2013 but I haven't found anything more about it.

      @Apocryphal - what a great setting to read Cloud Atlas!