The Book Thread 2021

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#61  Postby don't get me started » Feb 17, 2021 1:38 pm

1. Pragmatic Meaning and Cognition – Sophia S.A. Marmaridou
2. Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany and Japan - Randall Hansen
3. Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics – René Dirven and Marjolijn Verspoor (Eds.)
4. Age of Static: How TV Explains Modern Britain – Phil Harrison
5. The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species and Making us Smarter – Joseph Henrich

6. Heroic Failure and the British - Stephanie Barczewski

267 pp.

An interesting take on the British love of heroic failure, featuring failed expeditions like Scott in the Antarctic, and Franklin in the search for the Northwest passage, tragic last stands like Islandwahana and Maiwand, and glorious but wrongheaded episodes like the charge of the light brigade along with other moral exemplars from the age of empire. The author sees the British devotion to these failures as a way of dealing with the moral consequences of empire. The focus on these tales of 'against the odds', devotion to duty', 'plucky determination' helped to convince the British that they were a moral and civilizing force, exporting our best sorts for the betterment of the benighted foreigners. This helped to distract attention away from the inherent violence and oppression that empire building entailed.

I'm not in major disagreement with the author's main points here, but it is interesting to me that the empire builders saw any need to construct a moral exemplar narrative, instead of the Vae victis and Oderint dum metuant rationale that was commonplace in earlier empires. Probably connected to an increasingly literate, educated and politically aware populace that has access to newspapers and the like.

One more point that I think the author missed was the existence of heroic failure narratives well before the days of empire. For those who know their Anglo-Sazon literature, the Battle of Maldon is a fine example of the genre, as the Anglo-Saxon warrior Byrhtnoth goes down fighting in a glorious last stand against Norse raiders in August 991. Empire was far in the future (and in fact, it was the island of Britain that had been subject to invasion, conquest, massacre, ethnic cleansing, exploitation and cultural suppression for the first 1,000 years of it's recorded history.) Celebrating heroic failure seems to be a deep-baked part of the British psyche. (Not just the English- the Scots were also prone to this - consider 'Flowers of the Forest', and the Welsh take up the theme in Y Gododdin)

Anyways, and interesting thesis written in a readable style.

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#62  Postby NamelessFaceless » Feb 18, 2021 2:14 pm

Audiobooks in Italics

1. Lying Next To Me - Gregg Olsen
2. I Can't Make This Up - Kevin Hart
3. Beloved - Toni Morrison
4. In Our Time - Ernest Hemingway
5. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway is actually a "re-read" for me. I read it a few years ago, but Amazon Prime had the audiobook available for free, so of course I took advantage.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#63  Postby Blip » Feb 18, 2021 4:55 pm

1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
2. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Thrush Green by Miss Read
4. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read
The Shortest Day by Colm Tóibín
6. The Binding by Bridget Collins
7. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
8. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu translated by Joel Martinsen
9. Death's End by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
10. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

Subtitled 'In Search of America': the great man describes a campervan trip round his native land. Showing its age in terms of attitudes, including the author's own, but wonderful writing, of course.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#64  Postby UncertainSloth » Feb 19, 2021 9:14 pm

1. james brogden - the narrows - 8/10
2. nora roberts - of blood and bone - 8/10
3. nora roberts - the rise of magicks - 8/10
4. karen thompsn walker - the dreamers - 7/10
5. sophie draper - cuckoo - 7/10
6. laura carlin - the wicked cometh - 7/10
7. vikram palakar - the night theatre - 7/10
8. m r carey - the trials of koli - 9/10 - really enjoying this trilogy, for many reasons

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#65  Postby don't get me started » Feb 22, 2021 12:36 pm

1. Pragmatic Meaning and Cognition – Sophia S.A. Marmaridou
2. Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany and Japan - Randall Hansen
3. Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics – René Dirven and Marjolijn Verspoor (Eds.)
4. Age of Static: How TV Explains Modern Britain – Phil Harrison
5. The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species and Making us Smarter – Joseph Henrich
6. Heroic Failure and the British - Stephanie Barczewski

7. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain - Maryanne Wolf
320 pp.

Appropriately enough for this thread, an investigation into how the brain goes about the task of reading. Wolf reminds us that spoken language is part of our genetic heritage, but there is no gene for reading.
Instead, the reading faculty bootstraps on other aspects of our brain architecture -visual, phonological, limbic, and short and long term memory, and over the course of a fairly intensive educational effort creates a reading brain.
It was mentioned in book 5 above and stated again here that the brain of a reader is structurally different from the brain of a person who has never learned to read. (E.g. the Corpus Callosum which connects the hemispheres of the brain is thicker in readers.)

Wolf intersperses the neuroscience with personal and anecdotal passages on her own reading life and quotes extensively from great writers on what it means to be a reader, describing how the act of reading is dialogic, between the reader and the text and also between the reader and him/herself.

There is also an extensive section on the spectrum of traits that we label as dyslexia. Given the different parts of the brain that have to coordinate to do reading, it is not surprising that different brain architecture in any one of the modules involved can lead to difficulty in reading. What surprised me, but made sense in retrospect, was that dyslexia can be manifested differently in different languages. Because of the often loose connection between spelling and pronunciation in English, a differently structured phonological faculty in the brains of English readers may manifest itself as reading difficulty. In languages that have a more regular letter-sound correspondence the same structured phonological module has to work less against the stream and reading will pose less of a problem. In languages like Chinese, it is visual pattern recognition parts of the brain that may be wired differently that cause reading problems. All very interesting. The Author notes that many famous and accomplished people have been dyslexic and that the wiring of the brain that interferes with learning to read may have benefits in other cognitive domains.

Wolf closes with some thoughts on how the digital age is fundamentally altering what it means to be a reader. Given the plasticity of the human brain, it is bound to be an interesting journey.

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#66  Postby Blip » Feb 23, 2021 8:36 am

1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
2. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Thrush Green by Miss Read
4. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read
The Shortest Day by Colm Tóibín
6. The Binding by Bridget Collins
7. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
8. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu translated by Joel Martinsen
9. Death's End by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
10. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
11. The Ebony Tower by John Fowles

Short stories from another master: I'd read all his novels but somehow missed this little collection along the way.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#67  Postby Beatrice » Feb 24, 2021 12:21 am

1. The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin (10/10)
2. Bullshit Jobs - David Graeber
3. The Mothers - Brit Bennett
4. Caste - Isabel Wilkerson (10/10)
5. Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes.

No. Just no. Abuse porn/trauma porn on a bed of romance novel.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#68  Postby don't get me started » Feb 24, 2021 3:22 pm

1. Pragmatic Meaning and Cognition – Sophia S.A. Marmaridou
2. Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany and Japan - Randall Hansen
3. Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics – René Dirven and Marjolijn Verspoor (Eds.)
4. Age of Static: How TV Explains Modern Britain – Phil Harrison
5. The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species and Making us Smarter – Joseph Henrich
6. Heroic Failure and the British - Stephanie Barczewski
7. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain - Maryanne Wolf

8. Language Soup: A Taste of How Diverse People Around the World Communicate - Kathryn A. T. knox

218 pp.

A book designed for young adults as a quick intro to language and languages, the book lays out some basics about grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, writing systems and more in an accessible manner. Each chapter deals with a different language and in addition to the linguistics includes things like common names in the language, the calendar and days of the week and some cultural info. Although it is designed for younger readers with no presumption of any prior linguistic knowledge, I found it immensely readable and containing some useful info - the chapters on Navaho and Arapaho were especially interesting for me. (July in Arapaho is Ko'eikoohuniisiis - 'The month of running in circles...well quite!)

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#69  Postby Blip » Feb 27, 2021 8:29 am

1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
2. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Thrush Green by Miss Read
4. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read
The Shortest Day by Colm Tóibín
6. The Binding by Bridget Collins
7. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
8. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu translated by Joel Martinsen
9. Death's End by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
10. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
11. The Ebony Tower by John Fowles
12. The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) by Henri Alain-Fournier translated by Robin Buss

This is a novel I've been intending to read since I was 15 and my next-door neighbour studied it as her first set text for French A Level. It was, of course, the homophone that caught my attention.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#70  Postby UncertainSloth » Feb 27, 2021 5:35 pm

1. james brogden - the narrows - 8/10
2. nora roberts - of blood and bone - 8/10
3. nora roberts - the rise of magicks - 8/10
4. karen thompsn walker - the dreamers - 7/10
5. sophie draper - cuckoo - 7/10
6. laura carlin - the wicked cometh - 7/10
7. vikram palakar - the night theatre - 7/10
8. m r carey - the trials of koli - 9/10
9. bridget collins - the binding - 9/10 - excellent recommendation, blip, you know my tastes well :cheers:

thoroughly enjoyed this one

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#71  Postby Keep It Real » Feb 27, 2021 5:48 pm

I'm c 350 pages into this and am...well, not overly impressed, to say the least. Nasty, myopic characters suffering cataclysmic misfortunes...bleak.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#72  Postby UncertainSloth » Feb 27, 2021 6:19 pm

got that somewhere, never read it...
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#73  Postby Blip » Feb 28, 2021 8:44 am

UncertainSloth wrote:[...]
9. bridget collins - the binding - 9/10 - excellent recommendation, blip, you know my tastes well :cheers:

thoroughly enjoyed this one


Excellent. Glad you enjoyed it. :cheers:
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#74  Postby crazyfitter » Feb 28, 2021 9:37 pm

1. A Game of Thrones - George RR Martin
2. A Clash of Kings - George RR Martin. I’m enjoying this series more than LotR
3. A Storm of Swords - George RR Martin
4. Master and Commander - Patrick O’Brian
5. A Feast for Crows - George RR Martin.
6. Extraterrestrial - Avi Loab
7. A Dance with Dragons - George RR Martin
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#75  Postby UncertainSloth » Mar 01, 2021 8:17 pm

1. james brogden - the narrows - 8/10
2. nora roberts - of blood and bone - 8/10
3. nora roberts - the rise of magicks - 8/10
4. karen thompsn walker - the dreamers - 7/10
5. sophie draper - cuckoo - 7/10
6. laura carlin - the wicked cometh - 7/10
7. vikram palakar - the night theatre - 7/10
8. m r carey - the trials of koli - 9/10
9. bridget collins - the binding - 9/10
10. jac jemc - the grip of it - 7/10 - boded well, interesting take on a 'haunting' but spirals a little out of the author's control towards the end

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#76  Postby don't get me started » Mar 02, 2021 2:42 am

1. Pragmatic Meaning and Cognition – Sophia S.A. Marmaridou
2. Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany and Japan - Randall Hansen
3. Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics – René Dirven and Marjolijn Verspoor (Eds.)
4. Age of Static: How TV Explains Modern Britain – Phil Harrison
5. The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species and Making us Smarter – Joseph Henrich
6. Heroic Failure and the British - Stephanie Barczewski
7. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain - Maryanne Wolf

8. A Place for everything: The curious History of Alphabetical order – Judith Flanders

342 pp.

I bought this book thinking it would be a more general history of this interesting topic, but it was much more than a popular history. The author’s research is impressive and there are copious foot and endnotes. Even so, it is immensely readable and accessible.

Flanders details the ways in which people in ancient times tried to organize their material. It was all pretty chaotic by modern standards and often relied on the memory of librarians and custodians. Texts were often organized by topic precedence, with bibles first, works of the church fathers next, then other categories like lives of the saints and what not. The arrangement of catalogues seems odd to us…Deus comes before Angelus because God is superior to angels…this all serves to remind the modern reader of the dominance of religion in those days. Flanders also reminds us of the paucity of written material in dark ages Europe – even so-called extensive libraries in monasteries would perhaps number a few dozen works. Books were indeed rare things in a way that our 21st century minds cannot fully grasp.

With the onset of printing, the need for a more rational system of organization became pressing, but even though alphabetization started to emerge, there were hold outs against this seemingly random order. Also, it took a while for true alphabetization to take hold. It took multiple starts to get beyond mere first letter alphabetization. Catullus would come before Homer and Hesiod, but within the ‘C’ listing, Catullus, Cicero and Cato the Elder would appear in any order. (It also took some time for authors to be listed alphabetically by family name, not given name….)

Little by little the full system of alphabetization as we know it today emerged and we now hardly think that there can be any other way of ordering large amounts of data. However, the author reminds us that non-alphabetic languages don’t see it this way. (In my case, my student lists come to me not in Alpha order, but in Japanese Kana order…A,I,U,E,O, Ka, Ki, Ku, Ke, Ko, Sa, Shi, Su, Se, So… This means that Maya Uneo comes before Emi Kimura and Yosuke Kubo comes before Shin Kobayashi…)

To give an idea of how ordering might have been done in previous times, I’ll give this extract from page 145. A rector of the university of Paris in the 15th century wrote and “extraordinary compilation of extracts, superficially organized by affinity or opposition, but in reality almost random, beginning cheerfully enough with exempla of famous deaths, ordered by method: suicides, parricides, death by drowning (with a detour to consider bodies of water that had been named after those who had drowned); those killed by horses (with a subsection on those killed specifically by falling horses), or by snakes, by boars, by lions, by dogs and other animals; those struck by lightning, killed by hanging, by crucifixion, by starvation or thirst, by falling off a cliff, down stairs or in earthquakes, or by poison or even by ‘sudden death.” (Footnote reads: ‘The scholar who translated this does not fail to note the inadvertent humour in ‘sudden death’ being given a separate category after all that has come before’).

I thought a bit about my own ordering system…I have a fairly extensive library, including over a thousand linguistics books in my office that I have to access regularly to cite in my research work, so I have to be able to locate them. The books are ordered kind of by genre: Conversation Analysis together, Cognitive Linguistics together, ESL together, etc.. But there is also a parallel system based loosely by date of acquisition, and, of course, a separate section for outsize books like language atlases and the like that need extra shelf height.

At home, with all my nonacademic books it is all a lot more chaotic. Partially by genre (History, Military History, Science Fiction, Classic Literature etc, but also in some cases by author if I have a large number of books by a single author – Iain M. Banks, George McDonald Fraser, Tim Moore are all together. Also by size with the hefty hardbacks all on lower shelves…

Anyways, a really enjoyable book…will be placed on the ‘general linguistics’ shelf I think…



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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#77  Postby NamelessFaceless » Mar 02, 2021 1:20 pm

Audiobooks in Italics

1. Lying Next To Me - Gregg Olsen
2. I Can't Make This Up - Kevin Hart
3. Beloved - Toni Morrison
4. In Our Time - Ernest Hemingway
5. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
6. Hollywood - Charles Bukowski
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#78  Postby Blip » Mar 04, 2021 12:05 pm

1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
2. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Thrush Green by Miss Read
4. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read
The Shortest Day by Colm Tóibín
6. The Binding by Bridget Collins
7. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
8. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu translated by Joel Martinsen
9. Death's End by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
10. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
11. The Ebony Tower by John Fowles
12. The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) by Henri Alain-Fournier translated by Robin Buss
13. Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan

I have a love affair with Irish literature; this lyrical novel exemplifies why. Wonderful sense of place, great characterisation, lovely writing. It's about love and acceptance, on several levels.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#79  Postby NamelessFaceless » Mar 04, 2021 1:34 pm

Audiobooks in Italics

1. Lying Next To Me - Gregg Olsen
2. I Can't Make This Up - Kevin Hart
3. Beloved - Toni Morrison
4. In Our Time - Ernest Hemingway
5. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
6. Hollywood - Charles Bukowski
7. The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#80  Postby UncertainSloth » Mar 06, 2021 12:34 am

1. james brogden - the narrows - 8/10
2. nora roberts - of blood and bone - 8/10
3. nora roberts - the rise of magicks - 8/10
4. karen thompsn walker - the dreamers - 7/10
5. sophie draper - cuckoo - 7/10
6. laura carlin - the wicked cometh - 7/10
7. vikram palakar - the night theatre - 7/10
8. m r carey - the trials of koli - 9/10
9. bridget collins - the binding - 9/10
10. jac jemc - the grip of it - 7/10
11. carolyn jess-cooke - the boy who could see demons - 9/10 - i approached this with some trepidation due to some references to curious incident of the dog in the reviews but this was a much darker, disturbing study of mental health, interwoven with the troubles...really quite enjoyed it

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