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Discussion in 'The Clown Café' started by V, Jan 23, 2016.

  1. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Anyone reading anything good at the moment? Just looking for recommendations. (No 'Rush Revere'!)

    I'm guilty of being a horror, scifi, fantasy fiction fan and in a few 'book clubs' that represent that. Also a non-fiction club or three but always looking for recommendations for a good read.

    Going through some Tolkien stuff currently with my 8 year old and being a fan, I always enjoy a read through them..

    Favorites list anyone? (any genre)
  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Most of my listening comes from the YFIC or JFIC sections of the library. The How to Train Your Dragon series is pretty good, although it doesn't really match the movie as Toothless of the books is nothing like Toothless of the movies.
  3. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Haven't read them (or saw past the first film). I haven't read much Y/JFIC past the Harry Potter series, although I a a fan of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (sadly their Spiderwick Chronicles arc was butchered during it's to film transition)....
  4. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I happen to have just started the Beyond Spiderwick series... not sure if I remember seeing a movie.
  5. V

    V Well-Known Member

    I liked the 'Beyond' series. It's been some time since I'd read it. Goes away from the standard hero/good guy thing with one of the protagonists 'Laurie' as far as character and such (lying to get her way, etc) while still making a likable character. Both series really, Spiderwick and Beyond was relatively entertaining..

    Movie - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416236/
  6. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    Man, I used to be all about fantasy/sci-fi, but after overdosing it on my teen and college years I've decided to lay off on it. My shelves are clogged with those books, and I can't remember the plot of 90% of them. Or rather... I do remember the plot, but they're so similar (especially after the Tolkien imitators that arose after Terry Brooks make wholesale imitation a popular thing) that they all tend to blend together.

    Most recently, I went through a bit of a Genghis Khan phase, so I was all into Conn Iggulden's historical fiction (but based on history) "Genghis: Birth of an Empire". It had some cool insights into the tribal customs and the political pressures that the Great Khan had to deal with. (Basically, the Mongolian Empire was born out of Genghis uniting the tribes to take down the Chinese Empire, which was forcing most everyone in the region to pay tribute.)

    EDIT: Another recommendation. About a year or two ago, I'd read "The Magician," which is now a show on SyFy. It's basically structured like Harry Potter, only all of the protagonists (save one) are horrible people... which kinda makes it a little more realistic. It reads like a kid's book, but the situation is more adult. It's about a bunch of kids in a magic school, their screwed up family lives, and their scheme to become kings and queens of what is basically Narnia. While Hogwarts feels more like a place out of time (like, shouldn't that take place at least 100 years ago?), the Magicians of the title act like snooty college kids, and their flaws are what make them interesting.

    (I wouldn't read this one with your 8 year old, though.)

    I'm tempted to read the sequels, by the way, but the conclusion of the first book was so devastating that I'm actually really hesitant to pick up the series again. My emotions can only take so much.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
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  7. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I did listen to The Magicians by Lev Grossman on Audio CD a few years ago. Strange book. A lot of alcohol abuse if I remember correctly. I wasn't aware of the new series on SyFy... I don't watch enough TV to know what all is on until it is too late.
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  8. V

    V Well-Known Member

    'I am Legend' by Robert Matheson, if you're a horror fan is a good read. Quite a bit different than movie adaptations and a lot better. Only 100ish pages but reads like 300.

    I've seen commercials for The Magicians but haven't watched it. TV tends to ruin novels in most cases.
  9. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I haven't watched it either, mainly because I don't want it to ... ahem ... ruin the magic of reading the book.

    I have watched the first episode of "Shannara Chronicles" though. It is pretty, but boring. But I was ok with that show ruining Terry Brooks for me because I was only a lukewarm fan to begin with. (I remember liking the "Kingdom of Sale" book though.)
  10. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Sometimes, I am amazed how much a book changes when it is made into a movie. A good example is the movie Seventh Son which is based on the book The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney. The two have characters in common but totally different stories.
  11. Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft)

    Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft) Old Bucket Spitter

    Alongside good food, uninhibited sex, high grade opium, meaningful friendships and vigorous exercise, I consider reading to be one of the greatest pleasures in life. All the main rooms of my house have over filled bookshelves and there are are stacks and piles on furniture, windowsills and floors. I don't keep TV's in the main rooms because of the distraction they cause. I have so many books I instituted a strict five in four out regime to try and inhibit their encroachment. The local charity shops must love me.


    I've read six books this month which is about normal and dipped into three or four more. I bought twenty three, so should have enough to last me through winter and into spring.

    Tim Moore, "Gironimo: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy". Tim Moore is a wonderful writer, fast becoming one of my favourites. This is the third book of his that I've read and it was laugh out loud hilarious. Easily the most pleasurable read of the month. I couldn't put this one down and read it in three days.

    A.C. Grayling, "Ideas That Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century: Key Concepts for the 21st Century" A.C. Grayling is my current favourite writer. I have duplicate copies of his books in my bathroom, bedroom, toilet and works canteen. I like to dip in to his books pretty much at random and sample his wit and wisdom. I bought a copy of his, "The Choice Of Hercules: Pleasure, Duty And The Good Life In The 21st Century".

    Professor Anthony Barnosky and Professor Elizabeth Hadly, "End Game: Tipping Point for Planet Earth?" I read this during lunch breaks at work. I didn't enjoy it much. These people might know a lot but they aren't great writers. Also the subject matter is pretty depressing. Life will be very different for the inhabitants of Earth in two generations time and it wont be very nice. I read a couple of Al Gore's books on similar subjects and they are far more readable.

    Frank Ledwidge, "Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan." I got pretty angry reading this book and for much of it felt nobody in the history of the world was more deserving of an assassin's bullet than Tony Blair. I felt exactly the same about George W. Bush when last year I read Thomas E. Ricks', "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq".

    Tim Butcher, "Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart" This was a fascinating book that again, I couldn't put down. Tim Butcher decided to follow in the footsteps of 19th Century explorer, Henry Morton Stanley though the Congo and this is his account of that adventure. It is the first book I have read by Butcher but on the strength of it, have just bought a second entitled "Chasing the Dragon" his account of adventures on foot in Sierra Leone

    Gen. Sir Peter de la Billière, "Looking for Trouble: SAS to Gulf Command". The autobiography of a General I served under in the Falkland Islands. He was know to be an unconventional maverick and I had been looking forward to reading his memoirs for some time but was disappointed with this book. Soldiers rarely make good authors and de la Billiere is no exception. A boring and dull read that left me thinking he was a bit of a dickhead who got to the top not by personal brilliance but by being in the right place at the right time and taking credit for all the the good things his troops achieved while blaming subordinates for his own cock ups and failures.

    I move through little fads of subject matter the military ones of this month were inspired by Punkin's "Veterans", thread. Now I'm going back towards weird travel writing. I have just started Tony Hawks, "Round Ireland With A Fridge", this promises to be another funny read. An account of a man who decided to hitch hike around the circumference of Ireland with a fridge.

    The books I dipped into this month were on origami and cooking.

    Here is shelf of magic, performance and clowning books.

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
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  12. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Do they have libraries in the UK? Here in the states, that is a good way to have access to books without having them make a permanent home in the house.

    I have a large used book store about 10 miles from my home. I check it each month for books on acting, magic, clowning, improv, costuming, and a few other topics. In addition to selling books, they also buy books. I can't say what they pay, but it is probably better than going to a thrift store to sell them.
  13. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Barry - nice library. I'm all but 100% digital - mostly my kid's books are the only print things I have currently. Some old stuff that maybe laying around in paper for me, but like the comic book thread - my surface holds thousand of titles in the space of a notebook. Not to say I wouldn't like a paper gallery - maybe a project soon, but my 1 and a half year old would be devastating to anything he could reach and a new kid on the way - a print library seems some time off for me unless I can rig something out ina cabin or cottage sometime...

    I'll grab the very terrible tour of Italy soon - it sounds good..
  14. Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft)

    Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft) Old Bucket Spitter

    Well of course we have libraries in the UK and I've got to say judging by the literary standards on this forum they're a lot better used than American ones. In fact a quick Google search shows the UK does better than the US for public libraries with one for every 15,000 people, as opposed to one to every 20,000 in the US. I don't know how that translates into use though. Library card ownership is higher in the US than here. I have to confess from my own experience in my travels around the US, American public libraries have much better funding, a greater depth and range of both books and various other facilities. Also the service culture in the US is much stronger. I always found your library staff far more helpful.

    I am a huge fan of public libraries. But using public libraries does miss the point Sir Toony. Many of the books in my own library are specialist reference books and they just would not be available from public libraries. If they are available, it would be through ordering from some central storage facility. I challenge you to get any of the books shown in the close up picture of one of my three shelves of magic books, from your own public library.

    As for having small children and toddlers around book collections, Brandon, I really don't understand the hesitation and reservation. I grew up surrounded by books. And yes, some of my mother's beautiful and valuable book collection, heirlooms from her mother and uncle, have got indelible felt tip scribbles and torn bindings from my own and my two siblings destructive toddler's hands. But throughout my young childhood, I don't ever remember access to those books being restricted. I just asked my mum and she confirms this. I have nothing but pleasurable memories of my childhood, immersed in volumes of dusty tomes, which were great sources of knowledge, wonder and inspiration.

    My first post on this thread, on reflection, slightly missed the point. I just listed what I'd been reading in the month of January, rather than describing what good books, I'd read recently. Here are a few that have stood out over the last couple of months.

    Pete Mccarthy, "McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland". I enjoy whimsical travel type books, descriptions of adventures in places often exotic or far away or maybe places close to hand but written in a manner that transports me to another place. This is one such book. Written by a man called McCarthy who decided to travel around Ireland and never pass a bar with his name on it. It's a lovely, often hilarious account of a place I now want to follow in his footsteps. Actually, it was reading this book that inspired me to buy Tony Hawks, "Round Ireland With A Fridge". I'm halfway through this book now and will possibly finish it tomorrow. It's hilarious I'd easily recommend both these books, if you want a chuckle.

    Noam Chomsky, "Hegemony or Survival : America's Quest for Global Dominance". This is a lot more serious. Possibly the most important book I've read in a decade. There are a lot of people on this forum, who I think could benefit from reading Chomsky. He is a "must read", for anyone wishing to know what is really going on in the world.

    Any book written by A. C. Grayling. Grayling is a British Socratic philosopher asking questions revolving around morality and ethics and how one should live a good life in a good society. I have found Grayling to be a fabulous teacher who has opened up my mind to all sorts of notions previously unimagined. I would absolutely recommend any of his series of books about "things". My own first Grayling book was called, "The Reason of Things", and I don't think it a bad place to start within his oeuvre.

    I like to stretch myself from time to time, reading something outside my comfort zone or in areas that are not my natural first choice. Recently I read Stephen Hawkins' "The Universe in a Nutshell". It was written with the lay person in mind but even so, I can't honestly say I fully understood all of it or that it was the easiest book to digest. But it did have an abundance of beautiful colour illustrations, that helped me a great deal to understand many of the, either difficult or utterly illogical theories. Without the pictures, I would have been totally lost, however I do feel I now have a much better understanding of the origins and properties of this and other universes and our tiny and ultimately meaningless, inconsequential place within them.

    Finally I'd recommend Octave Mirbeau's "Torture Garden". This is a classic of French 19th Century erotica. I'd had a copy of this sat around on a bookshelf for perhaps ten years before I got around to reading it. Once started, I read it very quickly in a matter of three days. It is a classic that really pushed the boundaries in it's day and is still despite me being quite well read in such areas, still utterly disgusting. Not for the faint hearted but a thoroughly engrossing and fascinating account of something you'd never want to experience for yourself.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
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  15. Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft)

    Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft) Old Bucket Spitter

    I got to thinking about what was the best book I read in the whole of 2015. It's not easy. But one book in particular does keep coming to the forefront of my mind. Partly I suspect because of current news events in your country. Johann Hari's "Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs". Non of the views expressed and arguments made, were new to me. So I can't say I learned a great deal from reading it. But it is very well written and I found it thoroughly engrossing. I imagine for a lot of people though, this book will offer new and fresh insights.

    I might like to re-title this book, "The Reason Why Anyone Who Votes For Senator Marco Rubio, Earns My Total And Utter Contempt".
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  16. azzy

    azzy Yes, We Have No Bananas

    One of the things that I hide most about myself is that I very rarely read books. Generally I hide this because the people who I admire read heavily, my personality and social status encourages reading, I have friends who are aspiring authors, and I am truly interested in so many varied topics that I really should read.

    I find it insanely difficult to do so. I have extreme difficulty focusing on a large block of text for extended periods of time, and while I can generally flick through a web article (even a long read), on my computer or phone, doing so on paper is a chore.

    I read a ton of short stories, news and articles online, but books are my kryptonite.
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  17. Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft)

    Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft) Old Bucket Spitter

    Perhaps it's what you know Azzy. I grew up with books. My mother had many and each room of our house as I grew up, was filled with all manner of interesting volumes. I found it easy to immerse myself in them and it's been a habit that's lasted all my life. Conversely, I struggle to stay awake when watching a film. My mind turns to mush after about half an hour and I completely loose the plot. I can only see films if I buy DVDs and take time over a number of sittings. I thinks it's all about brain activity. Watching TV is really passive in comparison with reading.

    And that's not to say that I don't enjoy films and TV, I do. Nor is it saying reading is somehow better or intellectually more rewarding. The activity and subject matter are not related.
  18. Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft)

    Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft) Old Bucket Spitter

    I've just read a fascinating book, Nick Bostrom's "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies".

    Super intelligence is a subject I've heard Stephen Hawkins issue warnings about but had no idea what his fear was grounded in. This book explains how artificial super intelligence could pose a threat to all life on Earth and by accident or design, threatens to cause a possible existential catastrophic extermination event. This is technology we are at present working very hard to acquire and is in all likelihood, something we will achieve within the next few decades. Nick Bostrum introduced me to some very interesting concepts, which the human race now has to consider, as a matter of urgency. It is densely written with a great deal of information and is not the easiest of reads, English is not Bostrom's first language. Regardless of that, it has been an eye opening and astonishing read. The subject of this book is at the very forefront of human technology, science and philosophy. It poses questions, we as a race need to answer and place in advance strategies to deal with the coming intelligence explosion. I whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the future of humanity.

    This is the Amazon review blurb.

    The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. Other animals have stronger muscles or sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains.

    If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of our species then would come to depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.

    But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed AI or otherwise to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?

    To get closer to an answer to this question, we must make our way through a fascinating landscape of topics and considerations. Read the book and learn about oracles, genies, singletons; about boxing methods, tripwires, and mind crime; about humanity's cosmic endowment and differential technological development; indirect normativity, instrumental convergence, whole brain emulation and technology couplings; Malthusian economics and dystopian evolution; artificial intelligence, and biological cognitive enhancement, and collective intelligence.

    This profoundly ambitious and original book picks its way carefully through a vast tract of forbiddingly difficult intellectual terrain. Yet the writing is so lucid that it somehow makes it all seem easy. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom's work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
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  19. Grandpa Weatherbie

    Grandpa Weatherbie Well-Known Member

    Singlehanded Sailing, 2nd edition, by Richard Henderson

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