What Are You Reading? (8)
This is a continuation of the topic What Are You Reading? (7).
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Not currently reading any FS but am currently reading The Book of Memory, Fom Achilles to Christ and Queen of Fire.
I have finally gotten around to reading Cloudstreet. It is such a fascinating read. I am so glad that I'm reading this after moving to Australia and that I had the wisdom to get the FS edition!
I've been making my way through The Deeds of the English Kings. Not something I'm sitting down to binge read, but the book is a real treasure and I give props to this group for pointing it out (in a long-ago thread).
Spent the past few days enjoying my 1996 edition of Cold Comfort Farm. The excellent illustrations are by Quentin Blake. I didn't expect to enjoy this novel as much as I have.
I only have two books working right now:
The Second World Wars - Victor Davis Hanson. He takes a different approach to the war(s), which is quite welcome and has provided some interesting insights.
How Jesus Became God - Bart Ehrman. I just started this one, but it's clear that he's taking a quite skeptical historical approach rather than a religious one.
And >6 colinindublin: - yes, it is a fun book, even for an American like me. The film version is enjoyable as well.
The Historical Illuminatus Trilogy, Volume One: The Earth Will Shake.
I'm really enjoying this so far. Much more linear than the original Illuminatus Trilogy (or, and very much so, the Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, which jumps from universe to universe in a way that would confuse even Jerry Cornelius).
Religion, politics, philosophy, gang warfare, assassinations, it's all good, clean fun.
On the other hand, the original Illuminatus, and Schrodinger's Cat, were much funnier.
I guess you can't have everything.
I just finished Tom Holland’s Rubicon. Not in the beautiful FS edition as I got a great deal on this book and Dynasty, the follow up (both American hardcover editions). Impressive read, very well narrated and nowhere did it get forced. Beautiful flow in the prose and a real accomplishment! It took me slightly less than two months to complete, as it is very easy to pick up and let of the story. Heartily recommended!
Nearly finished Three Men On The Bummel and am enjoying it just as much as Three Men in A Boat It is just as funny and joyful. The characterisation of human behaviour is as recognisable now as ever. Jerome K Jerome is a wonderful writer and the FS edition adds to the pleasure
Just finished my FS edition of Mrs Dalloway. I've hardly read any Woolf, but I thought this was very fine. I have the FS Orlando as well, which I liked but which kind of lost me towards the end.
Have just started on Miracles of Life by JG Ballard.
Last night I finished The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. I wanted to know what this classic spy thriller was all about and acquired it in paperback. It’s a well written story, but I wasn’t blown away by it. Distance in time and setting probably doesn’t help. Good one to have in the bag, on to the next book!
A good book. It kicked off Le Carre’s career and I can see why. It persuaded me to get the recent sequel (A Legacy of Spies) and it was horrendously disappointing - avoid at all costs.
Just completed Minae Mizumura's A True Novel (translated into English by Juliet Winters Carpenter). Read all 880 pages in three (long) nights. I cannot remember the last time I was so engaged in a story. Its narrative style brought to mind Junichiro Tanizaki (its scope and characterisation in particular reminded me of The Makioka Sisters) and Banana Yoshimoto. Fans of Haruki Murakami, Tanizaki, Hiromi Kawakami, Yoko Ogawa, just to name a few, should check this book out. Highly recommended.
>16 tkerod: - That has been on my TBR list for a while now, just waiting for the time I'm ready to tackle a book of such length. Thanks for the positive report - maybe I'll just have to bite the bullet and allocate some time to it, though it'll certainly take me much longer to finish than three nights!
I finished a reread of my FS edition of Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert and now reading The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 years old, by Hendrik Groen. It says it is fiction, but my goodness it is accurate! Charming, heartwarming, heartbreaking, witty, hilarious, you name it! Delightful read.
Half way through The Surgeon of Crowthorne. Really interesting story. Has been sat on my tbr shelf far too long
Started the FS edition of The World of Late Antiquity, which is a fascinating overview of a period of history about which I know too little. I appreciate that it may now be dated (first published 1971), but a great starting place. The slightly oversized Folio edition is lovely to hold and well illustrated, with a useful map showing the Roman Empire and the Middle East on the endpapers and a 4-page pull-out chronology (although I have not yet dared to open this out as integral to the book).
>11 shdunne: Thank you for the good things said about Three Men On The Bummel, which inches up my list to be acquired.
That is an excellent history. And while published nearly 50 years ago it revolutionized our understanding of a crucial period that too often was written off as part and parcel of the “dark ages.” Studied it in college a *few* decades ago. Bought immediately when FS published it and thrilled to have it in a splendid edition in my library.
For someone to dismiss its value (and clearly you are not), it would be a little like someone suggesting Gibbon is not still a worthwhile read because of a few centuries of historiographical advance.
Just finished the FS Period Piece by Gwen Raverat and it is a delight!
Am currently reading some Maigret short stories by Georges Simenon (in paperback by the French publisher Gallimard) and finding his writing superb.
>24 cronshaw:. Couldn’t agree more. I’m really enjoying the FS Maigret
LOA's volume on Reconstruction, which tends to make me angry, tempered by my wonderful new copy of The Snow Leopard.
The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. FS edition. We need more FS Bradbury!!
Slaughterhouse 5 - a completely different experience reading this in my mid-forties compared to my late teens... the snappy lines, the science fiction elements and the compelling supporting characters are all still there, yet I realise so much texture and layering had passed me by the first time. The broken family relationships, the PTSD, the chaotic randomness of events, the blank passivity of Billy Pilgrim... and poor old Edgar Derby...
So it goes.
(Also the Folio treatment is top quality)
>28 KeithDBowman: It’s nice to return to something as an adult and find it better and more nuanced then when you were young. As opposed to what usually happens when you return and wonder why you loved it in the first place!
Just finished Uncle Silas. I'm not sure quite what I think about the novel itself - there were aspects I enjoyed but others that were tiresome, confusing or overdone -- but the production was certainly excellent. Amazing period-style illustrations.
>29 Sorion: That’s so very true, one does tend to view the past nostalgically through rose-tinted specs...
Funnily enough, that was brought home to me by my previous read. I remember my mum watching a TV adaptation of Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar in the mid-eighties. On a whim, I bought the FS book a month ago...
...and loved it! An easy, light read on the train, it was an interesting plot variation on the Tichborne Claimant theme with a couple of twists and I ripped through it.
So I then looked up the TV series on YouTube. Awful! Terrible sub-Vangelis synth-pop soundtrack, wooden acting, small budget... if I’d remembered that in any detail, I’d never have picked up the book in the first place...!
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro – finished recently, in the wonderful FS edition. I found the book to have been almost too skillfully written, to the point that I often thought of that fact rather than the events of the story. Ishiguro’s subtle ability to portray so much of Mr. Stevens’ thought process with only a few words is marvelous.
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, Age 83 ¼, by Hendrik Groen – recommended on this board by Lay19thC, and a treat. I hope that Old But Not Dead Clubs have been started in old age homes around the world.
Dawn of the New Everything, by Jaron Lanier – I must admit that I gave up on it. It has been highly praised, but it’s not for me.
Florida, by Lauren Groff – just started, good so far.
Maigret Loses His Temper, by Georges Simenon – will start it tomorrow, looking forward to it.
And a few others I'm not recalling at the moment - they obviously didn't make great impressions on me, whatever they were.
Florida, by Lauren Groff - good, the main characters are fairly similar in many respects so the stories are not as diverse as with some books of short stories. Still, a worthwhile read.
Maigret Loses His Temper, by Georges Simenon - maybe it's not his best effort, or maybe I'm just not into crime fiction (I read little of it). It was enjoyable enough, but it didn't make me want to read more Maigret books.
Voyages to the Moon and the Sun, by Cyrano de Bergerac - unfortunately not in the lovely FS edition - I can imagine that Quentin Blake is the ideal illustrator of this book. I've read the moon part and found it very entertaining; I can also see why it was not published during his lifetime. The habit of the time of scientific-analysis-by-analogy is well illustrated here, with some analogies far off the mark and others surprisingly close, and I must admit that I would be hard pressed to argue well against a person of that time using such a process, given the huge disparity of base knowledge between the mid-1600's and our current day.
I read about two thirds of Victor Davis Hanson's Second World Wars before having to return it to the library (someone else had requested it), and I should get it back within the week or so, so I plan to finish that as my next book. After that, I'm tempted to read the FS Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.
Just finished reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, FS edition. First time reading it and such a pleasant surprise at the depth involved and the message. I had no idea it would be this good, thus having avoided it decade after decade!
Now for a fun reread of 84 Charing Cross Road...
Rereading the FS 2004 'Pickwick Papers'.
Like meeting up with old friends - just lovely.
>36 Lady19thC: I have been thinking about that title for a while. With your recommendation I think I’ll pull the trigger on it.
Have just started ‘The Classical world’ by R.L. Fox (bought it on sale, thanks to Pontus’s video review) and like it so far. Here’s a quote: ‘The Greeks prized liberty but never retained peace, the Romans confined liberty but brought peace, and the Christians attained both peace and liberty, but not in this world’.
In the middle of ‘The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter’ found second-hand after a long search (a very enjoyable read: heavy green thing with lots of images, the subject I happen to like covered in depth by a truly dedicated author).
*Edited for touchstones.
Pity they didn't do the Golding for both: it's absolutely marvellous & a classic in itself.
In the middle of The Martian Chronicles (FS edition) - am not a massive fan of golden age SF but the variety of the stories is keeping me engaged.
Just started a PB of Bernard Malamud's The Fixer. Very fine so far.
On the 3rd FS Maigret "Maigret and the Wine Merchant". Very enjoyable. Simenon's descriptions of Paris moods and times are a treat. Great characters.
I'm currently working my way through Penguin Classics' complete collection of 1001 Nights, translated by Malcolm and Ursula Lyons. I love the story-within-a-story spiraling, but I have to say - I've never before encountered such prevalent themes of cuckoldry/infidelity. It's amusing to read through. The stories themselves are quite fantastical though, with most so far being epic in scope. Characters soar across distant lands, find secret tombs full of magical hazard, and haggle for their lives with their words. I can see why it's considered a masterpiece and I've yet to get through the first volume! Very much enjoying the read.
Also, I'm very glad to be a part of this group. I've just discovered FS today after falling in love with their print of The Master and Margarita and immediately signed up for this group. I look forward to adding many of their works to my collection. Just ordered Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (brilliant deal at 50% off). Looking forward to reading everyone's thoughts. Seems like a lovely group. :)
Starting to read all the Little House on the Prairie books! That should keep me busy for a wee bit! :)
Welcome to Faddiction, and an incurable desire to have more and more beautiful FS books.
Make sure you check out the FSD wiki and its hundreds of links here :-
>47 PatsChoice: You wouldn’t happen to have the beautiful boxed set of this, would you?
I was on Runciman's History of the Crusades, but my reading has been rather curtailed (inconsiderately, I should add) by the delivery of my second son on Friday night. Farewell, free time.
>49 wcarter: Thanks for the link. What a rabbit hole.
>50 St._Troy: I do not - I went with the Oxford paperbacks so I could riffle through the pages without worrying too much about damage or cost. Once I'm finished with the series, I'll consider buying the Borders' Classics set, which uses Payne's translations (often considered the most academic, if I'm not mistaken). It's one of the few alternative prints that has the complete collection of Arabian Nights and, for my money, might be the most gorgeous. You can see the first book here and access the others from the same page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1587264714/
>51 gmacaree: Congrats! Maybe you can get a few pages in whenever you're not on diaper duty, haha.
>51 gmacaree: - Congratulations! Just think of the many wonderful FS children's books you'll read to your son in future years.
Over the last month I finished reading 3 titles that are often requested on the "needs to be done by Folio" lists.
Neuromancer, A Canticle for Liebowitz and Lost Horizon.
I would agree that all three are worthy of Folio treatment. If I could only vote for one it would be Lost Horizon.
For such a short book it is very compelling.
I recently finished reading the FS Beowulf aloud. Still deciding what to read next.
>51 gmacaree: Congratulations on the birth of your son!
>54 devilsisland: I agree about Lost Horizon - with the appropriate illustrations it would make a fine Fine edition.
I just finished reading 1984. Somehow I thought I had read it many years ago in school, but after I got into the book I realized I had never read it. Quite a compelling read!
Finished last week reading Big Chief Elizabeth, which I got last year as an FS mystery book, and I'm surprised I've not read here any special comment. I found the book very well written and incredibly informative on the first colonization of Virginia. I did not know much on the subject—I avow that I did not even know where Chesapeake Bay was—and I must thank the FS for having once more widened my horizons. And with a free book.
I have had Big Chief Elizabeth staring at me from my bookshelves for years--thanks for the incentive to finally pick it up.
I concur. It is a fascinating history of the early settlements in North America. The title is rather misleading.
I just finished reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series and now starting a reread of Dandelion Green, by Ray Bradbury. Such a perfect summer read!
Currently reading IQ84 by Murakami and The Consolation of Philosophy FS edition. Also possibly some R.A. Salvatore that I don't want to fully admit too!
I just completed "Never Mind" the second of the five Patrick Melrose novels. I was inspired by the Cumberbatch Patrick Melrose television series. That started up with the second book and I am not ready for that one yet!
About halfway through The Widow's Son, or volume 2 of The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles. It's similar to volume one but very different at the same time. The difference is mainly down to the extensive footnotes referring to academic literature, some of which are real, some of which the author has made up, some of which I don't know yet if they are real or not.
Our hero is becoming ever more drawn in to the mysterious and mystical world of Freemasonry, except he doesn't exactly know what Freemasonry is or whether he wants to be part of it. He does know that he has to escape from the Bastille where he has been imprisoned by person or persons unknown. He also knows that lots of people are trying to either kill him or keep him away from knowing things he 'shouldn't wot of'. Or something.
I'm not sure how to sum it up so far. He's not a medieval Bond because, although he is very skilled in certain mental techniques, he doesn't really have a clue what he's doing - he actually wanted to be a composer - he's a novice who got in above his head and is having to deal with this possible global conspiracy?
What I do know is that I am enjoying it very much and will definitely be trying to track down the third volume.
My H2G2 odyssey continues. Glorious. Hilarious. Thoughts fly hither, thither, every which way. I never met him but I miss him. He made the world a better place.
A little internet searching tells me that the bits the author has made up are, to some (as yet unknown) extent, owed to Flann O'Brien, author of the 2006 Folio title: The Third Policeman.
Everything is, indeed, interconnected.
(Anyone read the O'Brien?)
Having just finished with the 2000ish pages comprising the first two vols of Outlander (verdict - Dragonfly in Amber is a little less like fan fiction than Outlander), and needing a break before tackling the next behemoth in the series, I've decided to revisit Zafon's Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The concluding volume, The Labyrinth of the Spirits, has just been published (in translation by Lucia Graves) and in preparation I'm going to re-read the first three of the series in the lovely Subterranean Press editions. A rare three day weekend to myself (check), a very large block of chocolate (check), a couple of bottles of Rioja on the rack (check): see you next week, I'm off to Barcelona.
P.S. For fellow collectors, Bill has confirmed SubPress "are already at work on the Zafon."
I just finished 'Sitting Bull And The Indian War Of 1890-91' (Easton Press) and am now reading Agatha Christie's 'The Mysterious Affair At Styles' (Folio Society). I had read some Poirot short stories previously, but this is my first novel.
(Anyone read the O'Brien?)
One of the first Folios I'd acquired and read, it's fab and fantastical and contains hidden dimensions. :)
If you like weird, chances are good you'll love this.
Currently reading the "All the King's men" LEC edition. Love it. Prose as poetry, on par with Nabokov if not better.
And the letterpress on this edition is crisp and wonderful to behold.
Thanks, Lola. I am partial to a bit of weird so O'Brien has joined my wanted list :-)
I usually have two or three books going at any time, but right now I have four:
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami - terrific so far and I'm closing in on the finish. I'm very curious about how it will end.
- Principles, Ray Dalio - he had a very interesting life and seems to have an interesting outlook.
- Small Country, Gael Faye - also a small book, which I'll probably finish today. Very good, and a look into a world I'm not familiar with.
- Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World, George Gilder - I'm an economics/finance nerd and this is right up my alley. I just started it though, so I don't have an opinion on it yet.
As N11284 says, the FS edition of The Third Policeman is very attractive, but even if you don't chase it down, keep O'Brien on your radar, he's a very special writer and really ought to be better known (outside Ireland, I suppose). The chic-intellectual publisher The Dalkey Archive took that name from one of his novels, if you're familiar with them (the publisher! Interesting and usually more or less obscure stuff.)
I actually bought the FS Third Policeman when it was published, but have never managed to read it (or even try). Sounds like I need to push it up much higher on my TBR list.
Wish I had a copy of the Third Policeman, it seems right up my alley.
Currently making an attack on Hugh Thomas's The Spanish Civil War, a subject about which I am appallingly ignorant.
The Spanish Civil War was a bit of an unplanned purchase and sits fairly low on my TBR list but I do intend to read it. Your thoughts and comments on it may very well bump its priority in line. What do you think so far?
>80 treereader: About a third of the way through now. It's very readable and my impression (as noted earlier, a naive one) is that it's a serious, comprehensive and more or less unpartial work of scholarship. Certainly not light reading though!
Half way through " A Writer at War", Vasily Grossman's writings from the Russian-German front, 1941,42. This edition edited by Antony Beevor and translated by Lyuba Vinogradova. Wonderful writing from some of the most horrific battles imaginable. Grossman captured the details, large and small and provided wonderful anecdotes. Even the communist bosses in Moscow at the time read his material, not to mention the "frontoviki" or front line soldiers, for whom he was often the only source of reliable information. A beautiful folio edition with many photographs. Thoroughly liking this!
Have been working on my non-Folio pile. Recently finished and greatly enjoyed Son of the Morning Star, an old-fashioned narrative history of the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Followed that up with There There, the title a tongue-in-cheek homage to Gertrude Stein's famous quote on Oakland, California. The novel describes the various paths characters trod on their way to Native Powwow at the Oakland Coliseum that ends in a violent shoot out. Very well done.
Now enjoying Football for a Buck, a history of the star-crossed USFL American Football League in the early 80s.
>83 kcshankd: Thanks for the info on 'Son Of The Morning Star'. I have an Easton Press copy that I need to read.
Currently reading the Brothers Karamazov and enjoying it immensely. Next up is One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The Mill on the Floss. When she gets going Eliot comes up with some lovely passages.
Currently reading The Canterbury Tales in the 1986 edition. Love almost everything about this edition. It is one of FS best books.
I finished Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth and enjoyed it, so I’m following it up with Mark of the Horse Lord.
Just read The Left Hand of Darkness and posted about it here:
Excellent review. I too have just finished the book, my first time. Very thought provoking. Her writing is as you say "always finely and thoughtfully crafted".
She's one of the greats in my opinion! So glad Folio is finally publishing her. (I wish for The Dispossessed though, my favorite.)
After just over a month in Franco's Spain, I have completed the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series which completely lived up to memory and expectation. From there I will soon be catching up with Master Shardlake in Tudor England, which is my most eagerly anticipated read of the year by far.
Finished a few very enjoyable reads.
The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky.
The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway.
To Room Nineteen by Lessing.
Just started Lord of the Flies. I previously read it almost thirty years ago, and I thought I’d appreciate it more today.
Montaigne, in the antiquated translation by Florio used in the 2006 Folio release. Not enjoying him nearly as much as I had hoped.
The problem is John Florio's antiquated translation published in 1603, not Michel de Montaigne. The situation is analogous to the antiquated translations of 'Don Quixote' that persisted for centuries, making it unreadable to generations of curious readers who simply threw up their hands in frustration. It was not until Edith Grossman's landmark modern translation in 2003 that it became accessible to modern readers, who could now finally appreciate its wry, sardonic humour.
A much better modern translation of Montaigne's Essays is by Charles Cotton in 1877 which was edited and annotated by William Carew Hazlitt, adding extensive annotation and modern translations of the numerous foreign language quotes throughout the books. The best edition of this translation to look for was published privately for the Navarre Society in 1923 as a five-volume set. It was published as a limitation of 1000 copies - 850 standard with either tan or cream cloth bindings and 150 Edition de Luxe copies.
The Deluxe copies are a league apart and this is what you should search for. It is a larger paper edition and the type is from a fount that was specially cast. Type-setting was done by hand at the Riverside Press Ltd., Edinburgh, and printed on Arnold's British hand-made paper, specially made and watermarked for the Navarre Society. Binding is full vellum over stiff boards with gilt decoration. Photos below, including the first two pages of Chapter I so that you can compare this modern translation to Florio's.
>97 dlphcoracl: I rather suspected it was Florio to blame. Thank you for the advice; I'll hunt the Navarre Society edition down and give Montaigne another shot.
Just finished the Owen J Blum translated The Letters 1-30 of Peter Damian published by CUA press. A fascinating glimpse back to the Mediaeval world of the 11th Century.
So far this year....
Titus Groan~Mervyn Peake FS edition
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase~Joan Aiken FS edition
Brigid~Morgan Daimler Pagan Portals
Starting Brigid; History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess~Courtney Weber
I have been reading non-FS mysteries and a George Saunders short story collection, but I was enabled by one of wcarter's archive threads to buy the FS edition of The Scarlet Letter and expect to start it this weekend. I have read it once before, but quite a long time ago.
Pandora's Box: A History of the First World War by Jorn Leonhard.
Excellent one-volume account of the global conflict. Brits will be happy to note that he basically absolves Great Britain from any responsibility for starting the war (while laying the blame, in almost equal measures, on Germany, Austro-Hungary, Russia and France)--but, on the other hand, he is very harsh regarding Douglas Haig (as he should be).
>104 gmacaree: Also reading Russell's History of Western Philosophy , it really is good and he has great wit!
Currently, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Isiguro. The Remains of the Day is one of my favorites and this FS edition has been looking down at me from it's place on the shelf for quite a long time.
Following an undesired break, I finally completed the Hitchiker Quintilogy (Pentalogy?).
So Long and Thanks is lovely, it's the human side of Arthur, in which he falls in love and has, for perhaps the first time in the series, a fully life-affirming episode in his much-screwed-about-with life. It's a beautiful book.
Mostly Harmless is a strange mixture of harsh and bitter (miserable bog beasts who communicate by biting each other); cynical (Trillian and Ford's careers); and good old Adams weirdness (the Perfectly Ordinary Beasts among lots of other things).
Not to mention Random, a child born into a world she did not create and does not understand and is unbelievably pissed-off about.
Perhaps she speaks for much of the human condition?
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