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Sunday Morning Book Thread 07-27-2014: Pain and Pleasure [OregonMuse]


Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately and prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread.

All non-book discussion should go into NDH's Open Thread below, thanks.

I Feel Your Pain

Well, actually, I don't. But I can at least read about it in The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers by Joanna Burke. This is a book that

tells the story of pain since the eighteenth century, addressing fundamental questions about the experience and nature of suffering over the last three centuries. How have those in pain interpreted their suffering - and how have these interpretations changed over time? How have people learnt to conduct themselves when suffering? How do friends and family react? And what about medical professionals: should they immerse themselves in the suffering person or is the best response a kind of professional detachment?

What continually amazes me is the amount of pain I see many people enduring and yet remaining sane and even functional. Me, I'm such a big crybaby, I can't stand even a sore tooth without making a huge deal over it, like it's the end of the world.

On the one hand, pain relief is good, and alleviating the suffering of others is unquestionably virtuous. Nobody wants to experience pain. But on the other hand, "for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Heb 12:6). So sometimes pain is a good thing. And this is another thing that amazes me, the innocent, ordinary people who are wrenched from their homes, locked away in some hellish prison, humiliated, tortured, raped, starved, brutalized, day after day for months and even years, and at the end of it, after all the pain they've endured, they enthusiastically and without a hint of irony say bless you, prison.

But Enough About Pain...

The music performer who goes by the name of Marilyn Manson supposedly once said "it's up to the parents to raise their children, if they don't, I will." That's kind of the idea behind Michael Rittenhouse's new book Sex: What Your Parents Didn't Tell You. The author's parents didn't discuss sexual matters with him, and also he discovered that his friends' parents didn't discuss sex with them, either. So they had to get their information from somewhere else, and in those days, it was mainly each other, so they were, and remained, a bunch of clueless boneheads. Of course nowadays, we have the the internet, which means that a child's first exposure to hardcore porn occurs around age 10(!).

If parents don't discuss sexuality with their children, the internet will do it for them.

So Rittenhouse's book is meant to help tongue-tied parents fill that gap, and provide good information to their children. He explains it a lot better here.

I suspect the gender warriors on the progressive side of the aisle will hate this book. Look at the cover. It has a man, a woman, and a baby on it. This implies that normal sex involves (a) a man, (b) a woman, and which may result in (c) a baby. Got that? I can already hear the shrieking.

Word Crimes

So the #1 album on the Billboard charts right now is "Weird Al" Yankovic's latest, "Mandatory Fun". Well, who cares? What's that got to be with books? I mention this because one of the songs is a catchy, upbeat little number called "Word Crimes" wherein various errors of English grammar and usage are amusingly illustrated. Here's the video:

Warning: not being at all familiar with modern pop music, I had no idea what song Weird Al was parodying. So I eventually found out it was 'Blurred Lines' by Robin Thicke, and so naturally I had to watch the video and holy crap, talk about NSFW! Of course, most of you probably already knew this and are now laughing at me.

Children's Bookstores

Here's a fun list of 14 Best Kid's Bookstores. I think The Wild Rumpus should be my favorite.

Kindle Unlimited

Any of you morons sign up for this service yet? For $9.95, you get access to 600,000 eBooks, but hold on a minute:

The so-called Big Five publishers - Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster - don't appear to be participating in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's new e-book subscription service.

So, if they're not, who is?

While titles from the Big Five publishers seem to be missing, those from publishers like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Algonquin, and of course, Amazon's own self-published titles, are available.


Compare that with similar services like Oyster Books, which offers about 500,000 for $9.95 per month, and Scribd, which offers about 400,000 books for $8.99 per month. (According to the AP, both of these services offer extensive libraries from two of the largest publishers, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.)

Also, audio books:

It's bundling its Audible audiobook library into the Kindle Unlimited subscription service, so users can access more than 2,000 digital audio titles in Kindle Unlimited.

Hmmm... 2,000 sounds like awfully small pickings to me. I'm not sure this is the big selling point Amazon thinks it is.

Me, I think I'll pass. In order to make it cost effective, I'd have to buy one "full-priced" ebook per month, and by full-priced, I mean best-sellers and other high-demand books they charge you $9.99 to $14.99 for. Or, a bunch of cheaper ones. I'm not sure I could do this.


Yeah, I suck. I only got 53% on this American literature quiz.

What I'm Reading

I just finished the first book in the Bill the Vampire series by Rick Gaultieri, and I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that the author sounds like he could be a Moron, so much so that I keep wondering if he hangs out on the ONT. So the book is fun for that reason. But the problem I had with it is that the dialogue isn't very good. He wants clever snark and witty repartee going on between the characters, but it sounds so wordy, laborious and forced. So if Sally wants to tell Bill that he's an idiot, she just doesn't say "you're an idiot" or even "all the leading experts agree that you're an idiot", but it's usually something like, "if I'm not mistaken, all the leading indicators point in the direction of you being an idiot." It just sounds so ponderous. Especially when the characters find themselves in tense situations where conversation is usually terse, having to read these long, drawn-out expostulations had me rolling my eyes more often than Sally.

And another thing I didn't like about this book which is probably not objectively bad, just one of my pet peeves, is the parenthetical narration constantly being delivered by the main character. That sort of thing just irritates me. My kids used to watch the TV show Arrested Development, which I grew to hate, not because I ever watched an episode, but because they'd be watching with the TV volume up kind of loud, and I'd be in another room working and I kept hearing this voice speaking over (and sometimes under) the actual dialogue, and to me it sounded like some idiot was just constantly yammering and I wished he'd just shut up. Turns out that the narration is an integral part of AD, which makes me not want to ever watch it. I always think it sounds like weak writing, having a voice that just explains everything for you as you're going along, what to think and how to feel about the story. There are more subtle and beautiful ways to do this rather than to have some guy constantly be spelling out everything for the audience.

So, in short, Vampire Bill is a fun book, but the author needs to tighten up the dialogue.

Books By Morons

Sabrina Chase has finally released Dragonhunters, the long-awaited sequel to her fantasy novel The Last Mage Guardian, which incidentally the Kindle edition is on sale for $1.99 until Tuesday. Concerning her new one, Sabrina says:

Dragonhunters features magic, explosions, exotic locales, mysterious and abandoned ancient cities, evil plots, and just a bit of dangerous romance. And a dragon.

What, no pastries?

Only $3.99 on Kindle. Also on B&N for the same price, if you prefer the epub format.


Moron Wesley Morrison (author of I Would Like My Bailout in Bacon) has released a new novel, which is actually an unfilmed screenplay, A Piece of Eternity.

The Amazon blurb:

A premium human in a genetically enhanced future, Rylen Weir was bred for a life of harmony and balance...An unknowing test subject for the Traveller Enhancement, allowing him to send his consciousness back through time among his own ancestors, Rylen can possess the one man who set this future in motion. Which gives Rylen the power to save everyone, and everything, that he has ever known—or to prevent his world from ever happening.

Only neither side knows what Rylen will choose, because Rylen Weir is flawed.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books

Posted by: Open Blogger at 10:05 AM


(Jump to bottom of comments)

1 Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Posted by: Insomniac at July 27, 2014 10:09 AM (mx5oN)

2 I read Pegasus Bridge by Stephen Ambrose on the way to the UK a few weeks ago. He is always a good choice for WWII history buffs.

Posted by: Get yer ya ya's out at July 27, 2014 10:09 AM (6kUg3)

3 Wasn't Ambrose caught plagiarizing or am I thinking of someone else?

Posted by: steevy at July 27, 2014 10:16 AM (zqvg6)

4 Bibi Netanyahu is a warrior -- Obama is a landing strip for East Room flies.

Thought that was funny and correct.

Posted by: Pug the Boneless at July 27, 2014 10:17 AM (58ht/)

5 So I'm currently reading a book called 'Rumo', by Walter Moers. It's this weird fantasy novel, sort of set in our world far in the past which is populated with all sorts or different creatures. Very hard to explain, but it's quite a fun read. And the author also does the illustrations throughout the book.

He's from Germany, so it's a translation.

But again, fun and sort of whimsical, which is something I could use right now.

Posted by: HH at July 27, 2014 10:18 AM (XXwdv)

6 Woohoo, Sabrina! I've been waiting for the next installment. I'm off to make my purchase.

Posted by: no good deed at July 27, 2014 10:18 AM (w3a0Z)

7 Is this where we talk about leg cramps?

Pain? Lemme tell you may rheumatiz is actin up something fierce.

Plus, I got the wind and ma bunions, oh Gaia!, mah bunions.

But I hadn't no ways tarred.

Posted by: Hillary! at July 27, 2014 10:19 AM (KBvAm)

8 from NYPost by Josh Saul

75-yr old Pakistani immigrant convicted in Brooklyn of beating his wife to death for serving lentils instead of goat "should get the minimum sentence" his lawyer argued, because the lack of Pakistani food in prison will be a hardship.

...misogyny on a tax funded silver platter

/I feel your outrage.

Posted by: John Stewart? at July 27, 2014 10:19 AM (TfAS/)

9 As usual, the Weird Al song is more clever than the original song. You can tell he put a lot of thought into it. Blurred Lines, on the other hand, is putrid and lazy. Weird Al might be the smartest pop singer working today. I hesitate to say "musical genius" since it's one of the most overused phrases ever. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven were musical geniuses. [Fill in any pop singer] is not.

Posted by: Naes1984 at July 27, 2014 10:22 AM (YhayY)

10 Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I'm listening on audiobook, and it's totally engrossing! Society based on color coded class system, a "gold" class dictating to all the other, amassing power, lying and giving out little "gifts" to keep the lower classes just happy enough not to riot.....sound familiar? Can't wait to find out what happens.

Posted by: Pat at July 27, 2014 10:22 AM (cHCVR)

11 Reading "The Goldfinch," and I cannot say I understand all of the hype. It's nicely written, but overlong and without significant character development. Although....the characters themselves are interesting.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo at July 27, 2014 10:25 AM (QFxY5)

12 Great thing about most Yankovick, familiarity with whatever he's parodying is not only unnecessary to appreciate his version, it's sometimes detrimental. I watched Royals all the way through, waiting for ... anything redeeming, even though I'd been warned. Then I watched Foil, which is a masterpiece. No relation.

Posted by: mindful webworker in mylar cowboy hat at July 27, 2014 10:27 AM (IB5Rb)

13 9
As usual, the Weird Al song is more clever than the original song. You
can tell he put a lot of thought into it. Blurred Lines, on the other
hand, is putrid and lazy. Weird Al might be the smartest pop singer
working today. I hesitate to say "musical genius" since it's one of the
most overused phrases ever. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven were musical
geniuses. [Fill in any pop singer] is not.

Posted by: Naes1984

My late wife- Miss Emily-- was a musical genius-- started playing keyboards and guitar at 10. Mastered about a dozen instruments- professional level, at the Jacksonville Symphony.

It was not until after her death I started putting things together and concluded this was coincidentally related to a childhood rape.

The things we learn-- too late to do anything about....

Posted by: backhoe at July 27, 2014 10:29 AM (ULH4o)

14 Pain, in the neck. Headache pain, tell me about pain. Ya, I want to read about it when what I want is MAX-ALT 10 milligram at thirty bucks a pill. Like I can afford that averaging six a month.

Ooops, we, the poor commentators at Ace are not supposed to complain about content. Sorry. I have a headache.

So where are all the good Science Fiction/Action Adventure books?

Wait, is that pain book about inflicting pain on others? Emotional distress, psywarops? News media propaganda war on conservatives? Obama trolling the GOP trying to start a civil war, AND WWIII at the same time?

Well, excuse me but I have to go soak my head as my dear mother used to say. Actually I won't 'soak' it as much as stand in the hot shower until the hot water runs out.

Posted by: J.T. Grungtherd at July 27, 2014 10:31 AM (fBXZ0)

15 Reading "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" with my book group; I wanted to read "August 1914" but everybody bitched that it was too fucking long so this was my reluctant compromise. It's pretty bleak but oddly optimistic on people dealing with an oppressive situation. I'm a big fan of samizdat literature and find this a lot more dour than what I've previously read; that's just an observation and not a criticism of what is obviously a classic.

In Asbridge's "The First Crusade" I've reached the point where the Crusaders got inside the walls of Antioch thanks to somebody on the inside assisting them. The emotional ebbs and flows during the siege were very well described.

Posted by: Captain Hate on an iPad at July 27, 2014 10:32 AM (omwZV)

16 Re #8

"What do you mean it's lentils, breakfast, lunch, and dinner again today? What kind of prison is this?"

When Justice is served...

Posted by: mindful webworker - click link for stuffed lentil recipe at July 27, 2014 10:34 AM (IB5Rb)

17 I have two words about pain: sciatic nerve.

Posted by: Captain Hate on an iPad at July 27, 2014 10:34 AM (omwZV)

18 I only got 53% myself - IMHO, it was weighed too heavily towards the modern and/or trendy. Which since I abominate anything labeled 'great literature' written after about 1930, puts me at a disadvantage. I had to guess at most of those anyway.

I've ordered some books from Amazon, which were mentioned in previous book threads - "Sarum" and some others, which won't arrive until next week, since I'm a skinflint and ordered them used from secondary Amazon sellers. Also a biography of Charles Goodnight, the cattleman, since he features as a walk-on character in the current work in progress. I've posted some chapters at my website, This is the picaresque Gold Rush adventure ... and speaking of this, can anyone recommend a good local history of San Diego, focusing on the 1840s-1850s? Something entertaining and gossipy, and doesn't have to be the latest.

Posted by: Sgt. Mom at July 27, 2014 10:35 AM (Asjr7)

19 And Word Crimes is hilarious!

Posted by: Sgt. Mom at July 27, 2014 10:36 AM (Asjr7)

20 They have halal and vegetarian meals in prisons/jails. It will do.

Posted by: Pug the Boneless at July 27, 2014 10:36 AM (58ht/)

21 Sciatic nerve, it's the bitch.

I scored a 43 on the quiz. I guess I better get with reading the classics a quit spending so much time penning poems on bathroom walls.

Posted by: fairweatherbill at July 27, 2014 10:38 AM (9eAbl)

22 Pain=Kidney stone

Posted by: lindafell at July 27, 2014 10:40 AM (nKVlf)

23 "Of course, most of you probably already knew this and are now laughing at me."

And we are pointing at you too.

Posted by: Blake MacBain at July 27, 2014 10:44 AM (gieH4)

24 Finished Landmoor by Jeff Wheeler, pretty good fantasy for his first novel, and ends with some cliff-hangers, so I'll have to pick up on the next book in the series pretty soon.

Finished World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III, also pretty good, maybe not as interesting as book 2 but the ending was satisfying.

Since Sabrina Chase has given us a sequel to The Last Mage Guardian I'm re-reading that book before starting the new one. Still a very enjoyable tale, enjoy the characters and story.

Posted by: waelse1 at July 27, 2014 10:44 AM (x+P8L)

25 The pain book looks worth a read, thanks for pointing it out. Addiction is a fascination of a mine, and the overlap between chronic pain and addiction is especially interesting. I've been following the podcasts of a doctor who specializes in addiction treatment and he constantly pounds the theory that painkillers cause/exacerbate chronic pain. Not that they're the only cause, but still.

Posted by: Jenny Hates Her Phone at July 27, 2014 10:46 AM (QULHk)

26 "God's Battalions" by Rodney Stark tells the story of the Crusades for what they actually were--a reaction against Islamic encroachment. The more things change...

Posted by: Libra at July 27, 2014 10:46 AM (GblmV)

27 "Screaming To Be Heard" if you are a female and have issues with migraines and other such things. For years I was told I was too young to have hormonal migraines, and the pain impacted my life by limiting the number of pain free days. IMHO, doctors who are not interested in solving pain issues should be banned like Obamacare. If you are in pain, no matter what the cause, believe in yourself, believe it is real, (never let anyone convince you it is in your head), and push the hell out of medical resources you encounter. Speaking of Obamacare, I have to pay out of 100% of migraine Rx costs because they have deemed at the insurance company, due to Obamacare rules, my migraines are not often enough for them to pay for them meds, and this includes generic as well.

My husbat is a drug rep and sold pain drugs at one time. It is a minefield, and a dangerous ordeal for reps and their families. Your have lunatic doctors selling some pain drugs illegally, which causes many lawsuits over the drug because the purchaser of the drug, (oxycontin), believes it is A-okay to take pain drugs along with Jack Daniels, Mad Dog 20/20, vodka, etc., and nothing will happen to them. Water I guess was not an option. All of this lunacy eventually leads to papers being served calling one to court because the surviving family members, (who notably were almost always welfare recipients), believe YOU, and your company should pay massive ass damages. Then a rep can find himself held up at gunpoint because morons believe reps carry pain drugs around as samples in their cars, OR will break into their homes thinking pain drugs can be found in their homes. We were very relieved to transition to heart and diabetes drugs!

FYI- Thanks to all for the book threads!!!!! The whole family loves them!!!!

Posted by: freeus at July 27, 2014 10:47 AM (caDgg)

28 I should clarify, I'm talking about chronic pain being made worse by painkillers---possibly. For acute pain like kidney stones, painkillers all around.

Posted by: Jenny Hates Her Phone at July 27, 2014 10:47 AM (QULHk)

29 After reading about "Bill the Vampire" here recently, I grabbed it on Kindle, finished it and then got the rest and finished them too. I actually grinned at the "flowery language" used for snark.
One nice thing about being retired is I don't need to put a book down in the evening ... frequently turn off the lights about 2AM. Now if I could only learn NOT to spped read.
Looked at the Kindle premium service but didn't really like the model. I spend much more than 9.99 a month on reading materials ... but I choose from all books and not just their "pool"

Posted by: WingNut at July 27, 2014 10:49 AM (jZADz)

30 Finished "The Rhesus Chart" by Charles Stross.

I'm glad to say he's back on track. You know, actually writing a plot, with characters who act plausibly instead of rampaging through a slew of lefttard strawmen. This may be one of his best novels.

The main monsters in this "Laundry" novel are vampires. Rolling your eyes? Yeah, me too.

But, this being Stross, first he uses thermodynamics, calorie requirements, and nutritional content of blood to show why vampires can't possibly exist, then-

shows how they exist in the Lovecraftian world of the Laundry.

Also, "everyone knows that vampires don't exist" becomes proof that they may exist.

Fun book, well written with some surprising twists and deaths.

You'll pretty much know who the main villain is by the middle of the book. but the reveal is done so well it's still creepy.

While fun, the novel's general tone is increasingly grim as "Case Nightmare Green"- the return of the old gods to Earth and potentially the end of all things human - grows close.

Our hero, Bob Howard's maturation in his job, allows him to see just how thin the wall is growing between our world and that of the non-Euclidean elder gods'.

I hope Stross has a good endgame in mind and wraps things up satisfactorily within the next few novels.

Posted by: naturalfake at July 27, 2014 10:51 AM (KBvAm)

31 It is the fault of AoSHQ that I knew which song Weird Al was parodying.

Much of what I now know is the fault of AoSHQ. My brain has become cluttered with hobo pelts and Valu-Rite bottles.

Posted by: Mindy at July 27, 2014 10:52 AM (EPLnx)

32 To date, after leaving C2C given the stuck in the rut programming repetitions of Sitchens, having thought better of Sitchens critic's interpretation of the text than gets popularly propagandized for show ratings, I heard John Wells interview on the subject anyway because I knew of the interviewee...

...because of a coincidental acquaintance with the author, and wondering what he thinks in order to have a better idea of the man after he gave an interview on Caravan to Midnight,

I've been glancing through his poorly documented and speculative projection of ancient script by an electrical engineer/Rolf masseuse, Gerald Clark, a dabbler:

The Anunnaki of Nibiru: Mankind's Forgotten Creators, Enslavers, Saviors, and Hidden Architects of the New World Order

If I hadn't been interested in getting a better idea of the author, I would have (and recommend) begun reading Sumerian history from a true Sumerian scholar. Which I may do, as it is a great story recorded in the original documents leading to Gilgamesh.

I confess only scanning through online Cliffs Notes of the Epic/Gilgamesh. Unlike Clark, the beginning of that epic was more interesting to me than the ending (quest for eternal life). But I have yet to actually read the entire Sumerian text (English transl).

The approach I take regarding cosmology or mythology is that metaphor is the language, not the literal or materialization subsequently applied. For instance, Jesus always taught in parable; and his disciples were always demanding he give them the literal meaning -- oft times remaining confused (ex: if you've seen me, you've seen the Father). Then again, it is interesting to read history prior to what the subsequent victors wrote, taking Nietzsche's observation on interpretation into account.

Posted by: panzernashorn at July 27, 2014 10:55 AM (TfAS/)

33 17 I have two words about pain: sciatic nerve.

Posted by: Captain Hate on an iPad at July 27, 2014 10:34 AM (omwZV)

To relieve sciatic pain, look up 'figure 4 stretch' or 'piriformis stretch'. Really, really helps.

Posted by: Tami at July 27, 2014 10:56 AM (v0/PR)

34 I think I have read the problem with Amazon Prime is you are basically paying for a library service. Sure one gets to read many books for such a low fee, but get to own none of the books.

Well back to writing.

Posted by: Anna Puma (+SmuD) at July 27, 2014 10:56 AM (RIuQv)

35 I think maybe ace should put together a post or something on that Blurred Lines video so all the readers are forewarned before stumbling upon it...

Plagiarist or not, Ambrose has some great stuff -- and not just WWII related. That said he is drawing from the same pot of research so in parts of D-Day, Band of Brothers, etc. he is copying himself if not others. And I have a relative who was on faculty with him at some point in their respective careers and is not a fan...

Posted by: Fritz (not Fritz) at July 27, 2014 10:59 AM (U0t2o)

36 I have two words about pain: sciatic nerve.

Posted by: Captain Hate on an iPad at July 27, 2014 10:34 AM (omwZV)

To relieve sciatic pain, look up 'figure 4 stretch' or 'piriformis stretch'. Really, really helps.

Posted by: Tami at July 27, 2014 10:56 AM (v0/PR)

Also check your mattress- and look into a Temperpedic preferably with the air cushion firmness option.

I've had two people I know who were complaining of sciatica tell me their sciatic pain completely disappeared simply by getting that mattress.

YMMV - but they have a pretty good return policy, so...

And Roman chair exercise helps as well. But, not a physician so, take that for what it's worth.

Posted by: naturalfake at July 27, 2014 11:01 AM (KBvAm)

37 Ace did do a post on Blurred Lines when the video came out.He was quite a fan of one of the women in particular.

Posted by: steevy at July 27, 2014 11:03 AM (zqvg6)

38 I got 18 out of 30 on the quiz but the stupid fucking software acted like I got nothin right so that's 60%.

Tami, I've gone to physical therapists about sciatic problems and they were very helpful. The pain before that was incredibly miserable.

Posted by: Captain Hate on an iPad at July 27, 2014 11:04 AM (omwZV)

39 Pain, Pus and Poison

A good documentary series. I highly recommend it if it makes it to your PBS affiliate. I don't know but there's probably a book too.

Posted by: andycanuck at July 27, 2014 11:04 AM (GsmA5)

40 Went into the AmLit test knowing nothing because the only lit I really read is SciFi. Educated guessing got me 57%.

This week not much reading and picked up a bio of Thomas Paine, we'll see how that one goes.

Has anyone read Shlaes Coolidge?

Posted by: Mustbequantum at July 27, 2014 11:04 AM (MIKMs)

41 I definitely could use a new mattress too.

Posted by: Captain Hate on an iPad at July 27, 2014 11:05 AM (omwZV)

42 Of course if anyone wants to throw a buck at the Sluggor project...

Or buy The Princess Who Caused Fear via Amazon.

Posted by: Anna Puma (+SmuD) at July 27, 2014 11:10 AM (RIuQv)

43 Nood.

Posted by: Y-not, fugitive at July 27, 2014 11:10 AM (zDsvJ)

44 Wow! Don't think I've ever seen the book thread make it to less than 45 posts before a nood.

Posted by: Tami at July 27, 2014 11:13 AM (v0/PR)

45 I'm reading Eye of God, the latest Sigma Force thriller by James Rollins.

Quoth the publisher:

A satellite crashes in Mongolia, but before it does, it transmits what appears to be an image of Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., in ruins. The image, it turns out, is time-shifted from the very near future by about 90 hours.

So yeah, another one of those books: the world will end in four days, and only the Sigma Force can save it. That doesn't mean, though, that Rollins doesn't have time to hop around from Attila the Hun to quantum mechanics to the Smithsonian Castle to space-time distortions to the Vatican to Genghis Khan to ... well, you get the idea.

Like Crichton's old books, Rollins' stories are implausible in the extreme if you dissect them. Fortunately, something crazy, interesting, or crazy-interesting is happening every page or two so you seldom do.

Great travel or bedside ebook.

Posted by: Blacksheep at July 27, 2014 11:13 AM (bS6uW)

46 You couldn't be more wrong about Arrested Decelopment. The narration is not an indication of weak writing. The show has the best writing of any show in the league of Seinfeld in how everything ties together not just over an episode but over all the seasons.

Posted by: FishUnderTheSea at July 27, 2014 11:19 AM (AG7wa)

47 I didn't do well on the quiz; I only got 57% as I have never read anything by Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow or a few others.

Posted by: FenelonSpoke at July 27, 2014 11:20 AM (oyOpn)

48 "47 I didn't do well on the quiz; I only got 57% as I have never read anything by Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow or a few others."

Have you read Faulkner? Then you've read Toni Morrison. She doesn't have an original bone in her body.

Posted by: Naes1984 at July 27, 2014 11:23 AM (YhayY)

49 I've been reading, in fits and starts, Matthew Bracken's first Enemies book, Enemies Foreign and Domestic. I.m reading it intermittently not because it isn't good, it is, but because I found it scarily plausible. Ten years ago when he wrote it I'm sure that the plot was "Sure. No way. Oh, I suppose it COULD happen, but there's just no way it would." Today? I don't THINK it would happen, but if it did I wouldn't be surprised*. A rogue ATF paramilitary unit engineers a mass shooting at a football game to cause a backlash so that Congress can outlaw semi-automatic rifles, Congress does, and this unit keeps staging domestic "terrorist" attacks, both supposedly by and aimed at "right wing terrorists". Basically an activist Fast 'n Furious aimed at US citizens. The push back from gun owners is impressive, I just wish that I had the confidence that it would be that impressive if this ever came to pass.

*Know what's really scary? The reason I don't think this could happen is because if it was going to, it would have already.

Posted by: Weirddave at July 27, 2014 11:23 AM (N/cFh)

50 Happy 60th anniversary on Tuesday for the 1st installment of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Posted by: perdogg at July 27, 2014 11:26 AM (o6/Pl)

51 A friend that spent a lot of time in the local jail told us that he'd ask for the kosher meals. It did not have as much variety, but there was more food. Oh and crushed up Cheetos will improve any meals.

Posted by: Notsothoreau at July 27, 2014 11:27 AM (Lqy/e)

52 11 Reading "The Goldfinch," and I cannot say I understand all of the hype. It's nicely written, but overlong and without significant character development. Although....the characters themselves are interesting.
Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo at July 27, 2014 10:25 AM (QFxY5)

I read it too a while back. I couldn't believe how depressing it was. I wanted to slit my wrists by the end. It was way, way overhyped!

Posted by: 'Ette in training, a striving wannabe at July 27, 2014 11:31 AM (rkJ6p)

53 I was sailing along and acing that literature quiz until I got to the Maya Angelou-Toni Morrison-Alice Walker block and I just gave up. I've read exactly one book by Morrison and while it wasn't bad, she is waaaay over-rated. That Nobel she received should have gone to Philip Roth or John Updike, but, you know, di-ver-si-ty......

Posted by: JoeyBagels at July 27, 2014 11:33 AM (sGTRy)

54 Posted by: perdogg at July 27, 2014 11:26 AM (o6/Pl)

Spoiler Alert!

Frodo failed....Obama got the ring.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo at July 27, 2014 11:35 AM (QFxY5)

55 @40, I've read Coolidge. It's well written and it's a different slant on American history. I did find the first part more interesting than the last third, but that could be just me.

I had to give up on Lawrence In Arabia for now. I think I'll buy a copy so I don't have to get it back to the library by a certain time. I'm tackling The Great Deformation by David Stockman. It's a sizeable book and he seems pissed off at Republicans. That's what I have so far.

Posted by: Notsothoreau at July 27, 2014 11:36 AM (Lqy/e)

56 Someone mentioned Stephen Ambrose. I read an essay by Victor Davis Hanson, which I can't find right now, where he ripped Ambrose a new asshole--and this was when Ambrose was already dead. Funny thing is, Hanson was cagey about the exact reasons, but they added up to the fact that Ambrose was a big phony...

Posted by: JoeyBagels at July 27, 2014 11:37 AM (sGTRy)

57 Every time someone mentions "Gilgamesh" which isn't really all that often, I immediately think "Gilgalad was elven king ...."

I re-read "Midnight Mass" by F . Paul Wilson. That's my favorite vampire story, partly because the vamps are not hunky or cuddly, and partly because Wilson does not blow off why crosses and crucifixes work.

And since my RCIA classes proceed apace, I decided to re-open Paul Johnson's "History of the Jews" which will be follows by "History of Christianity." I keep finding it odd that this class is the think I look forward to most in the week, given how long it took me ot finally start because I kept thinking 4:00 on Sunday would be an awfully inconvenient time for anything.

Posted by: Tonestaple at July 27, 2014 11:38 AM (B7YN4)

58 If the cheetos have any dairy at all, they won't be kosher if sprinkled on meat, assuming prison meals have real meat.

Well never mind then.

Posted by: boulder t'hobo at July 27, 2014 11:40 AM (3kZUM)

59 Frodo failed....Obama got the ring.

Tolkien said as much, that over the 20th century either Saruman got the ring or else Gandalf got it and was corrupted.

Currently I suspect Putin has it.

Posted by: boulder t'hobo at July 27, 2014 11:41 AM (3kZUM)

60 I also recently finished that new Charles Stross laundry novel, and agree with naturalfake's take.

My problem this weekend is that Mrs. Chronda (who, thanks to freeus referring to her husband as her husbat, I am now thinking of as the batcave) knows the password to my Amazon account and went nuts with the free books the other other day. Next time I dare turn the wireless of my Kindle on, 100 free books (mostly cookbooks; neither of us cooks) will pounce.

Currently working my way through John Stevens Cabot Abbot's "History of Prussia" because Mrs. Chronda sucked me into genealogy a little while ago and a big chunk of my mother's side of the family comes from Prussian-occupied Poland. His histories of Austria and Russia (the other occupiers of Poland at the time) are available over at Project Gutenberg, but I had to pony up some cash for his history of Prussia.

The book was written in the 1880s and every now and then I come across a reference to some item of recent history about which he assumes his readers are familiar.

Since the records for the particular group of mid-19th-century Polish farmers from which I spring are not available online, I've been spending a few hours a week poking through microfilms of Catholic parish records. My Latin instructor was startled the other day when I mentioned that the Latin I had taken had come in handy.

Posted by: Anachronda at July 27, 2014 11:44 AM (o78gS)

61 Oh right. Book thread. Books.

I've been trying to read Niven's Ringworld to no great success. It starts out with an incredibly contrived setup to get a diverse crew of explorers onto a scout-ship. I have literally written better introductions to homebrewed D-and-D modules... when I was twelve. ("So, an elf, a dwarf and a few humans meet at a bar . . .") Also it felt like there was a huge universe of "Known Space" events behind the scenes which I don't think we needed for the actual, you know, plot; unless the plot brings some of these factions back to fight over the booty.

Our party of player charact- er, explorers get on the scout ship, finally, and proceed to deliver exposition. At least this was readable in that the ringworld concept is admittedly kind of cool.

Don't know that I'll be able to finish. How did this book get such great press?

Posted by: boulder t'hobo at July 27, 2014 11:48 AM (3kZUM)

62 "Conquests and Cultures" by Thomas Sowell is a very well researched take on how civilizations develop and a direct shot across the bows of the "all cultures are equal crowd". He focuses on the British, the Slavs, the Africans and Western Hemisphere Indians. The huge importance of navigable rivers to facilitate trade and mountain barriers is stressed along with the importance of domestic animals. It's one of a trilogy, the other 2 are "Migrations and Cultures" and "Race and Culture".

Posted by: JHW at July 27, 2014 11:49 AM (5G4F7)

63 Looking forward to getting "Shots Fired," a collection of short stories from C. J. Box. Number 20 on PW hardcover fiction. Box delivers consistently excellent stuff.
Reading James Lee Burke's "Light of the World." Not on board with his populism, but he sure can write.
A qualified recommendation for Glenn Greenwald's "No Place to Hide." (The Snowden NSA disclosures.)

I'm not a fan of Greenwald's politics, but I checked it out from the library. Much better than I expected. A few lefty bits, easily ignored, don't interfere with getting value from the book.

Starts with a chapter warning about the dangers of government spying on citizens over the years, in many countries. Next, a description of the process of acquiring the Snowden disclosures in Hong Kong. Followed by a fairly detailed description of the major NSA spying operations. Ends with a section explaining why governments can not be trusted with this kind of power.

My biases: I'm a retired IT guy who was interested in seeing if Greenwald described the spying tech accurately (he did). I don't trust *any* government with that sort of surveillance power. It will *always* be abused for political and financial reasons.

So, I'd recommend the book for anyone interested in the spying tech or the danger of unchecked government surveillance.
For a truly chilling look at Stasi surveillance in East Germany, I highly recommend the movie "The Lives of Others" (2006). I rented it from Netflix. More in IMDB and Wikipedia.

Posted by: doug at July 27, 2014 11:51 AM (Lbtl/)

64 I was just thinking about Ring World last night, that's odd.

I read Awake in the Night Lands by John C. Wright. I really enjoyed it. It also reminded me of bits of Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, I'll check out more by Wright in the future.

Also read Leviathan Wakes by some penname of a couple of guys, one of who is a subwriter for George RR Martin or something. Meh, it was uneven.

Posted by: .87c at July 27, 2014 11:59 AM (qZPXs)

65 Try "The Cutting Room" by Edward W. Robertson .

Time travel told well.

Posted by: eman at July 27, 2014 11:59 AM (MQEz6)

66 #60 Anachronda
Are you familiar with the Poznan Project? It's a database of Polish marriage records from Prussian occupied Poland, additions being periodically made. You can order copies of marriage certificates from some dioceses in Poland. Latinate forms of some Polish names can help you locate some of your Polish ancestors also.

Posted by: JHW at July 27, 2014 11:59 AM (5G4F7)

67 66
#60 Anachronda
Are you familiar with the Poznan Project?

I am. That's how I discovered which particular mid-19th-century Polish parish records I needed to poke through.

Posted by: Anachronda at July 27, 2014 12:02 PM (o78gS)

68 Boulder t'hobo:

It doesn't get any better. Very light, pulpy, reminds me of light seventies scifi or something. I don't think a plot can handle an infinitely lucky character.

JHW: Race and Culture is a great book. The man's a genius, and everything he says makes sense and makes sense of the world around us. It says things clearly and exactly and shreds the shrouds of political correctness that web up our minds. Very much worth reading to anyone interested in anything.

Posted by: .87c at July 27, 2014 12:04 PM (qZPXs)

69 Good morning, Horde!

I was on vacation this weekend and got to spend time with an old high school friend who'd make a great Moron. He's written his first book, a fantasy novel, that's available now on Kindle for 99 cents. If that's your thing, here's the link.

Posted by: Captain Whitebread (Face For Radio, Voice For Print) at July 27, 2014 12:05 PM (Pd9h2)

70 Perhaps I should expound.

The Poznan project is very nice, but it's only marriage records and limited by the information in those records. In the case of my ggggparents' wedding, their parents weren't noted. But I did discover that they were married in Juncewo, so I ordered the microfilm via my local Mormon famly history center.

Turns out that Juncewo was a bit spotty about recording parents' names. At the time of my interest, they were recording whether or not the couple had the permission of their parents, but not who the parents were.

So I had to start poking around the microfilm looking for possible siblings that might give me clues. Along the way, I discovered that my ggggmother's family had a particularly fluid approach to surnames, but I managed to get a handle on quite a number of the variants they used through a single fellow who married a woman with an unusual name and had a lot of children that got married at a time that Juncewo *was* recording parents names.

Using *that* information about possible variants of her surname, I was able to locate something in the Poznan project that looked like *her* parents getting married. Ordered the microfilm for *that* parish (Gorzyce, a neighboring parish) and see that he is noted as coming from the town she is from and (thanks to strip-mining the Juncewo records) I have only one person by his name in play at the time, so I'm very confident he is, in fact, her father.

And Gorzyce recorded his parents name, so that gives me a line on his family, back in Juncewo. And also blows me right through the Poznan project's focus on the 19th century; I'm now interested in 18th century records for her family.

So, yeah, Poznan project is very useful, but it's more as breadcrumbs leading me to where I should be looking than as an end in itself.

Posted by: Anachronda at July 27, 2014 12:19 PM (o78gS)

71 In regards to Ringworld it was the concept that came first. Plot and characters second. But the book does serve as a good entry into Niven's Known Universe without reading all the other short stories and books.

Captain Whitebread, good for your friend on writing and publishing - looks at open Scrivener - but why is it called Book One? Was it a larger novel that was split? If not, for a first time published writer, it strikes me as pretentious and like an overused trope banal to say its Book One of a series. It seems everyone wants to have a trilogy from the starting gate nowadays when such things were a rarity before. Thus speaketh myself who just pruned a personal trilogy project down to a duology because I can't justify the third book except as word padding.

Posted by: Anna Puma (+SmuD) at July 27, 2014 12:21 PM (s7A5W)

72 Forty Days at Kamas by Preston Fleming which I found on Book Bub for free. So engrossing I had to stay up late to finish it. Story of a world 10 years in the future when the USA represents the Unionist States of America after President Barry made himself president for life. All wealth was confiscated. The story is of a man who was put in a labor camp for the crime of wanting to leave the country with his family. There is a side story of his 12 year old daughter who tries to find him and his struggle as the camp tries to revolt and gain freedom.

Posted by: bossy barbara at July 27, 2014 12:22 PM (73mB5)

73 @58, you are right. George really wasn't looking for Kosher meals, just trying to get the largest amount of food.

Posted by: Notsothoreau at July 27, 2014 12:25 PM (Lqy/e)

74 The show has the best writing of any show in the league of Seinfeld in how everything ties together not just over an episode but over all the seasons.

Well maybe so, but having to listen to that constant yammering narration from an adjoining room while I was trying to work was driving me bugsh*t crazy.

Posted by: OregonMuse at July 27, 2014 12:27 PM (yRdR4)

75 I started the literary quiz, and got as far as this little gem;

"Dover Beach" is a short lyric poem that describes the English port of Dover, where Matthew Arnold spent his honeymoon. It also deals with the thoughtlessness of war, which is appropriate in light of the war brewing in "Fahrenheit 451."

Anyone who imagines "Dover Beach" is about "the thoughtlessness of war", or even imagines that war is thoughtless -- words fail me, which they seldom do. I do recommend Dover Beach, especially to atheists like myself. Check it out, it's not long;

"the thoughtlessness of war". What an idiot!

Posted by: Jerome at July 27, 2014 12:29 PM (eQa5p)

76 Anachronda, thanks for that. Most of my ancestors were from Nottinghamshire in England, bit spotty on records but very full compared to what I've been able to find for gggfather from Poznan, additionally I fairly common surname, I gather, (Michalak). Your post is useful to me for suggesting possible approaches.

Posted by: JHW at July 27, 2014 12:31 PM (5G4F7)

77 Another helpful website is which includes more than just marriages and frequently has pointers to on-line scans of the records.

There's a Polish Genealogy group on Facebook that has helpful and knowledgeable folks in it.

Posted by: Anachronda at July 27, 2014 12:39 PM (o78gS)

78 75, true. The guy who read Arnold's poem probably didn't understand it, but then saw the last line about "ignorant armies" and went with the "thoughtlessness of war" and figured he had it nailed...

Posted by: JoeyBagels at July 27, 2014 01:20 PM (sGTRy)

79 Ringworld is going to be one of those books like Game of Thrones which is better at inspiring other work than as a work in its own right. For Known Space, space-exploration games and RPGs would probably be best.

Actually I recall that Star Control 2 did, exactly, lift a stack of ideas from Niven's work. . .

Posted by: boulder t'hobo at July 27, 2014 01:29 PM (3kZUM)


Through July 29th Marvel is offering a one month subscription to their digital archives for 99 cents, what they call Marvel Unlimited.

Posted by: BornLib at July 27, 2014 02:11 PM (zpNwC)

81 Jerome: Yeah, reminds me of the commentaries I read on Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" that described the satire and irony Kipling was employing in that poem.

Kipling wrote that poem dead straight, just the way he wanted it.

Posted by: Viridian at July 27, 2014 02:45 PM (yiKn+)

82 Regard Ringworld, there were a lot of accumulated unanswered questions built up over the decades. Larry teamed with Edward Lerner to write a five volume Worlds series that tells the secret history of Known Space and resolves a lot of loose threads. Of central concern is just how much the Puppeteers were manipulating other species and why the Ringworld expedition was assembled the way it was.

This starts with Fleet of Worlds, continues in Juggler of Worlds, then Destroyer of Worlds, then Betrayer of Worlds, and finally Fate of Worlds. Of course, it works best if you've read all of the Known Space works, since it isn't very interesting to uncover a conspiracy about people and events that mean nothing to you.

Ringworld, the original novel, is best regarded as a travelogue. The idea had been out there for a while in articles Niven wrote but demanded to figure into a story. But plot and characters aren't Niven's strengths, which is why he often works with collaborators like Jerry Pournelle, to produce works stronger than either would produce separately.

Posted by: Epobirs at July 27, 2014 02:46 PM (NLEgK)

83 boulder t'hobo: Not just books: the alien Kilrathi from the Wing Commander series of games was ripped straight from the Larry Niven's Kzinti.

Posted by: Viridian at July 27, 2014 02:47 PM (yiKn+)

84 78 75, true. The guy who read Arnold's poem probably didn't understand it, but then saw the last line about "ignorant armies" and went with the "thoughtlessness of war" and figured he had it nailed...

Posted by: JoeyBagels at July 27, 2014 01:20 PM (sGTRy)

Wow. Just read "Dover Cliff".

That guy couldn't be more wrong if he was throwing darts randomly at a newspaper for an interpretation.

Christian Science Monitor - Bringing the Stupid to Literature


Posted by: naturalfake at July 27, 2014 02:59 PM (KBvAm)

85 Finished The Golden Age by John Wright. Excellent. Fully recommend. My only complaint is that the story just stops and leaves the rest for book two. But I see that book two and three are already in print. I look forward to finishing the trilogy. Check out Wright's stuff.

Posted by: Achilles at July 27, 2014 03:12 PM (V9dzw)

86 Re: Ringworld. Don't forget the Man-Kzin wars books written by a large number of writers. Also, Predator.

Posted by: Incoming at July 27, 2014 03:34 PM (Ct0JF)

87 If it's witty repartee ye be after, try some prehistoric Harlan Coben, specifically his "Myron Bolitar" series. Definitely Moron-worthy.

Posted by: RushBabe at July 27, 2014 04:29 PM (hrIP5)

88 Forgot to add that "Drop Shot" is the first in the series, IIRC. Myron Bolitar is a washed-up pro-basketball player who goes to law school and becomes a professional sports rep. There's not much sport involved, but the dialogue is primo.

Posted by: RushBabe at July 27, 2014 04:31 PM (hrIP5)

89 May I please be clued in about who did the artwork featured on the top? Pretty sure I saw that person's work in Rue Morgue magazine once and it's been driving me nuts not knowing where to look for more. Thankyouthankyou.

Posted by: SplatticusFinch at July 27, 2014 06:09 PM (8o1pP)

90 (it's Kris Kuksi)

Posted by: SplatticusFinch at July 27, 2014 08:24 PM (8o1pP)

91 pain is not therapeutic, and one does not need pain to "learn." pain is a signal the body gives off to let us know that something is wrong, and emotional pain is a signal that something is likewise wrong. perhaps we do not understand something about the universe, or perhaps we have someone in our lives that is making us miserable. but everything does not "happen for a reason," and sometimes people are crushed by loss, grief, and pain. the idea that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is another cliched lie. scar tissue, whether emotional or the actual physical kind, does not function like normal tissue. likewise the idea that "god doesn't give you more than you can handle" is also another lie. look around you, and you will see people that have been broken by pain that they weren't strong enough to endure. why do you think people end up medicating or trying to escape their inner heart break via alcohol or drugs? why do you see people who have lost their minds wandering the streets talking to themselves? it's because of pain. as civilized people we don't pick on those that are physically weaker than we are, so we also need to realize that some people are not emotionally as strong as others. we should also stop perpetuating this idea that pain is good for us, and cast of this asceticism. we've been sold this bill of goods for centuries, and I am sure that the so-called Saint Augustine would be quite thrilled to see this self-purging hatred alive and well even amongst those that would not consider themselves religious or devout.

Posted by: Mistress Overdone at July 28, 2014 10:52 AM (2/oBD)

92 I read the Wright novella "Awake in the Night", and went back to read The Night Lands before reading the other Wright novellas comprising Awake in the Night Lands. It's... challenging. Purple, purple prose - and deeply weird. Like endless references to "brain-elements" weird. Reminds me unfortunately of Ace's old gag about crazed lefties' "mind-thoughts".

I've also been re-reading Wen Spencer's Elfhome books because they're easy, pulpy reads, and it's summer, damnit! Although I've been playing around with maps, and I'm pretty sure her geography of her fictional Pittsburgh Rim is way off - only way I can make all of the locales fit is if the circumference is over 115 miles, definitely not the 50 miles she repeatedly states as canonical. Admittedly, it has to be some sort of oddball conic section rather than a proper circle (it's created by a projection from a geostationary satellite) but first order of approximation and all that...

Posted by: Mitch H. at July 28, 2014 12:48 PM (jwKxK)

93 Been reading "Feed" by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) on the recommendation of a couple of my friends and boy do I hate it. It's every Liberal cliche in the world held together by a thin twine of zombie fiction. I almost feel insulted that they thought I would like this novel.

I'm a third of the way into it and it has no redeeming qualities so far.

Posted by: BornLib at July 29, 2014 01:05 PM (zpNwC)

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