The Book Thread 2020

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The Book Thread 2020

#1  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 01, 2020 12:32 am

Here we go again, folkies...

I've dropped the 'challenge' bit...we seem to have moved away from that somewhat into an interesting record of people's reading habits and books that we might not have come across otherwise...

'Rules' copied and pasted for those not familiar with the thread, though I think this thread is the domain of the faithful few these days - though I'd love to see others get involved!

1. A book must be at least 50 pages long.
2. Books you started in 2019 and finish in 2020 count on the 2020 list.
3. Re-reads and audio books count.
4. If a book has two books in it, it counts as two (Eg. An Orwell book with the animal farm and 1984, counts as two.)
5. No rules on what to read, besides what's listed.
6. This is for fun so enjoy yourself...

If you have time, please post a brief review or comment about the book - I love reading these and it helps me, for one, decide whether I want to explore something further or not - I'm also partial to covers of books, as you may have noticed...happy reading, folks!

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#2  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 02, 2020 9:12 am

1. new orleans vampires: history and legend - marita woywod crandle - 7/10

an interesting read, exploring the truth behind key legends of new orleans - couple of things hold it back: it's a fairly slight tome, some proofreading problems & I can't help but feel at some points it was a bit of an advert for her conveniently-placed-in-new-orleans vampire shop...;)
a good start to one of my reading resolutions, though, to explore more fiction and non-fiction focussing on that area, so any recommendations welcomed

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#3  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 02, 2020 2:06 pm

1. Knife - Jo Nesbo

Another Harry Hole, the Alki Oslo detective, thriller. I like Nesbo because he not only gives a good plot but we get under the skin of the principles. There’s nothing shallow about his books and this is a belter.

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#4  Postby NamelessFaceless » Jan 02, 2020 3:05 pm

Audiobooks in Italics

1. I, Claudius - Robert Graves

This one is #14 on Modern Library's List of 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century, which I challenged myself to reading every book on the list several years ago. I had been putting off reading it because it just didn't sound like something that would interest me. I'm happy to report how wrong I've been. It's so wonderfully written I still can't quite believe it. It's based on historical facts (with occasional date references), but written as a first person account. I can't think of a better way to learn Roman history.

2. Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll - :dopey: I know, I know, but the Audible version was free on Amazon Prime, so I figured " . . . eh. why not?"
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#5  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 02, 2020 5:08 pm

I, Claudius is awesome
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#6  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 02, 2020 7:40 pm

The follow up Claudius the God is also a good read
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#7  Postby don't get me started » Jan 05, 2020 1:51 pm

Well, here we are; a new year and the counter set back to 1. Let's get started.

1. The Bilingual Mind and What it Tells us About language and Thought - Aneta Pavlenko

382 pp.

Well, this was an absolutely fascinating book. The author is a fluent bilingual (Russian L1 and English L2) and takes a VERY comprehensive overview of where we are regarding the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The scholarship is outstanding and I don't think I have ever looked up as many references from a single book while I was still reading it. The first point that the author is at pains to address is that the hypothesis (SWH) as it has come down to us is a fairly bad misrepresentation or what Sapir-Whorf actually thought. There were fascinating chapters on how different languages go about imposing order on 'the kaleidoscopic flux of impressions' that constitute our ongoing perception of reality. The differences in colour concepts, object categorizations, movement and motion events was very thorough, although somewhat overrepresentitive of 'big' Indo-European languages.

The latter half of the book dealt with bilinguals own thought processes and 'inner speech'. The non-transferability of many emotion terms was demonstrated in depth and I now know a lot more about Russian emotional verbs and frames. (I must say that the author, in contrasting Russian fatalism with English tends of to assume that American English and its sunny optimism is the standard for the Anglo-speaking world...The sardonic, wry and fatalistic outlook of the English of my dialectal background seems closer to the Russian than the American.)

The author ends with some pretty harsh criticisms of the Chomsky and Pinker approach to language ( Mentalese and universals are the only focus of the 'serious' linguist.) She also makes some good observations on the nature of fluency that rang true with me. My own Japanese is still littered with rudimentary grammar errors and vocabulary shortcomings, but my oral, interactive skills have fluency markers and local knowledge that make it hard to reconcile my test scores with my day to day operations in the language.

I'm going to go through the reference list with a highlighter and try to pick out some of the books and papers that I have a realistic chance of getting around to.

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#8  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 05, 2020 3:46 pm

don't get me started wrote:The first point that the author is at pains to address is that the hypothesis (SWH) as it has come down to us is a fairly bad misrepresentation or what Sapir-Whorf actually thought. There were fascinating chapters on how different languages go about imposing order on 'the kaleidoscopic flux of impressions' that constitute our ongoing perception of reality. The differences in colour concepts, object categorizations, movement and motion events was very thorough, although somewhat overrepresentitive of 'big' Indo-European languages.


Ok, you sold me as I always found this hypothesis intriguing and full of vital insights into how thoughts constitute our reality, and thus how our language constrains and delineates that perception. I often talk of the 'grammar of our thoughts' and always think of Sapir & Whorf when I do. However, most people seem to focus on what is basically superfluous crap, like the number of Inuit words for snow.
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#9  Postby Fallible » Jan 05, 2020 11:11 pm

1. The Wych Elm - Tana French.

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#10  Postby I'm With Stupid » Jan 06, 2020 3:02 am

1. Sex Power Money by Sara Pascoe.
Another great comedy look at human biology in relation to sex. It explores the biological reasons why, for example, men are still expected to pay on a date despite women having their own income and how evolutionary factors affect our modern sexual behaviour, choice of partners, etc. It talks a fair bit about prostitution, pornography and other forms of sex work too.

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There's also a great accompanying podcast series.
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#11  Postby Fallible » Jan 06, 2020 4:52 pm

Love her.
She battled through in every kind of tribulation,
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She never listened to no hater, liar,
Breaking boundaries and chasing fire.
Oh, my my! Oh my, she flies!
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#12  Postby Blip » Jan 07, 2020 8:12 am

1. Daughters of Jerusalem by Charlotte Mendelson
Evolving wrote:Blip, intrepid pilot of light aircraft and wrangler with alligators.
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#13  Postby Fallible » Jan 09, 2020 9:39 pm

1. The Wych Elm - Tana French.
2. Starve Acre - Andrew Michael Hurley.

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#14  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 09, 2020 11:21 pm

1. Knife - Jo Nesbo

Another Harry Hole, the Alki Oslo detective, thriller. I like Nesbo because he not only gives a good plot but we get under the skin of the principles. There’s nothing shallow about his books and this is a belter.


2. Unnatural Causes - Dr Richard Shepherd

I was never fascinated by the endless reporting of murders, tragic accidents and natural disasters that seemed to occupy so much of my colleagues time and I only read this book because it was a present. However it’s a terrific read about the activities of the professionals behind a host of murders and accidents including famous ones like the Hungerford massacre, 9/11, 7/7, Harold Shipman, the Marchioness, Steven Lawrence and Princess Diana.
He also covers the privatisation of the pathology service and it’s consequences. Not a happy situation at all.

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#15  Postby Blip » Jan 15, 2020 2:55 pm

1. Daughters of Jerusalem by Charlotte Mendelson
2. The Melody by Jim Crace
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#16  Postby don't get me started » Jan 16, 2020 1:07 am

1. The Bilingual Mind and What it Tells us About language and Thought - Aneta Pavlenko

2. Social Interaction and L2 Classroom Discourse - Olcay Sert

The author uses the analytical framework of Conversation Analysis (CA) to examine the ways in which learning occurs in L2 classrooms. CA takes as its foundation that notion that the primary locus of human sociality is the participation in interaction. Meaning, in the CA view, is not stand-alone, emprical and head-internal. Rather, interactants create meaning in the here and now of the interaction through a process of negotiation and co-construction. Each utterance is context relevant and content renewing.

I use CA in my research and its strength, in my view, is that it is based solely on very accurate transcription of data. Every uhm, and eh, and y, know, like, the, the, fine detail of how people actually tal, er -speak is faithfully transcribed. The analyst takes an emic approach to the data (rather than etic). This means that we look at the processes by which the participants make themselves understood to each other, instead of imposing the researcher's 'god's eye' interpretation of what is going on.

Sert uses the CA methodological framework to examine the ways in which learning can be seen to take place in L2 classroom. The author asserts (rightly in my view) that language learning is best achieved by interaction in the language, instead of viewing language learning as a transfer of units of knowledge from the head of the teacher to the head of the learner. (A top-down view that still underpins a lot of attitudes to language learning in Japan.) Sert investigates ways in which turns are allocated, displays of knowledge and understanding (or lack thereof) are carried out, (on the part of both students and teachers), the centrality of gesture and gaze in sustaining progressivity and the ways in which other languages apart from the target language can be deployed in support of learning outcomes.

I usually use CA to analyze learner peer talk to investigate the development of interactional competence in students, and this book was interesting in using the methodology to closely analyze the interactions that take place between teachers and learners in the institutional setting of the language classroom. Some good takeaways for my own classroom practices here.


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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#17  Postby Fallible » Jan 18, 2020 6:21 pm

1. The Wych Elm - Tana French.
2. Starve Acre - Andrew Michael Hurley.
3. Assassin’s Apprentice - Robin Hobb. Re-read.

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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#18  Postby Blip » Jan 22, 2020 10:50 am

1. Daughters of Jerusalem by Charlotte Mendelson
2. The Melody by Jim Crace
3. Old Filth by Jane Gardam
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#19  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 23, 2020 11:47 pm

1. Knife - Jo Nesbo
2. Unnatural Causes - Dr Richard Shepherd
3. Pravda Ha Ha - Rory MacLean. Great book, I’ve written a review in What’cha Readin.
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Re: The Book Thread 2020

#20  Postby Fallible » Jan 26, 2020 7:29 pm

1. The Wych Elm - Tana French.
2. Starve Acre - Andrew Michael Hurley.
3. Assassin’s Apprentice - Robin Hobb. Re-read.
4. Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb.


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