The Book Thread 2021

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The Book Thread 2021

#1  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 01, 2021 7:18 pm

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 2020 and finish in 2021 count on the 2021 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 2021

#2  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 01, 2021 10:03 pm

1. james brogden - the narrows - 8/10

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#3  Postby Blip » Jan 02, 2021 9:25 am

1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh

Here's my review from my other club.

This is a convoluted and confusing work spanning three different times: the late 19th century, the late 20th century, when the novel was written, and an unspecified time in the then future. It mixes early research into malaria, a mystical Indian cult involved in the transmigration of souls, and a spot of digital sleuthing.

I read a review on Amazon which suggested the novel was rescued by Ghosh's characteristically marvellous story-telling but that there were too many plots which didn't really join up. That's about right.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#4  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 02, 2021 12:14 pm

gawd, sounds a tad too brain-burny for me...;)
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#5  Postby I'm With Stupid » Jan 04, 2021 2:19 pm

1. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

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A novel inspired by the family of Shakespeare (who is a character in the book but never explicitly named). It's absolutely fantastic. The first part of the novel is split into two storylines: the first the initial meeting and marriage of the couple, and the second the lead up to the death of one of the children (not a spoiler, it says it on the back cover). The second part of the book is then the aftermath of the death. Highly recommended.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#6  Postby Beatrice » Jan 05, 2021 12:29 am

Blip wrote:1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh

Here's my review from my other club.

This is a convoluted and confusing work spanning three different times: the late 19th century, the late 20th century, when the novel was written, and an unspecified time in the then future. It mixes early research into malaria, a mystical Indian cult involved in the transmigration of souls, and a spot of digital sleuthing.

I read a review on Amazon which suggested the novel was rescued by Ghosh's characteristically marvellous story-telling but that there were too many plots which didn't really join up. That's about right.


I really enjoyed The Calcutta Chromosome, the plot is deliberately confusing to engender a feeling of being lost in a web of conspiracy. Then again I love anything by Gosh especially The Hungry Tides series.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#7  Postby Beatrice » Jan 05, 2021 12:38 am

1. The Obelisk Gate N.K. Jemisin (10/10)

Completing the Broken Earth trilogy. Amazing. One of the most solid, consistent world-building I've ever read, plus very complex characters and a fantastic story. Loved it.

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#8  Postby Animavore » Jan 05, 2021 12:42 am

Probably the only book I've ever read in the second person. :this:
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#9  Postby Blip » Jan 05, 2021 9:49 am

Beatrice wrote:
Blip wrote:1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh

Here's my review from my other club.

This is a convoluted and confusing work spanning three different times: the late 19th century, the late 20th century, when the novel was written, and an unspecified time in the then future. It mixes early research into malaria, a mystical Indian cult involved in the transmigration of souls, and a spot of digital sleuthing.

I read a review on Amazon which suggested the novel was rescued by Ghosh's characteristically marvellous story-telling but that there were too many plots which didn't really join up. That's about right.


I really enjoyed The Calcutta Chromosome, the plot is deliberately confusing to engender a feeling of being lost in a web of conspiracy. Then again I love anything by Gosh especially The Hungry Tides series.


I too love Ghosh's work, but this didn't quite work for me. I'm with you on The Hungry Tides though.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#10  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 05, 2021 7:05 pm

Beatrice wrote:1. The Obelisk Gate N.K. Jemisin (10/10)

Completing the Broken Earth trilogy. Amazing. One of the most solid, consistent world-building I've ever read, plus very complex characters and a fantastic story. Loved it.

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i'd forgotten we had these- fallible read them, i haven't yet
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Breaking boundaries and chasing fire
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#11  Postby I'm With Stupid » Jan 06, 2021 6:55 pm

1. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
2. Don't Believe a Word by David Shariatmadari

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I bought this a while back when Don't Get Me Started had it on his list, but I've only just got round to it. A bit technical in places (felt like I was doing reading for my job) but generally an entertaining debunking of a lot of popular language myths and an overview of how languages work. Particularly interesting for me was the final chapter arguing against Chomsky's Universal Grammar, which I've not read about at great length, but has always seemed like a bit of a convenient get out for the apparent problems in how kids acquire language and how languages are structured.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#12  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 09, 2021 2:07 pm

1. A Game of Thrones - George RR Martin
The slap in the face that is offered by anti-rationalist, pseudo-scientists and anti-intellectuals that infest much of public discourse is a sad coda to what has been achieved these centuries past by the scientific method - don’t get me started
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#13  Postby Blip » Jan 10, 2021 8:57 am

1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
2. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

Again, here's my review from my other club.

A famous pianist has come to a central European city to perform a concert; over the course of three days he becomes entangled in problems and commitments that arise from nowhere and distract him from any formal schedule he might have.
The narrative logic is that of dreams; the sense of existential waste and missed opportunities is strongly reminiscent of Kafka.

It's a masterpiece. The Guardian has a good review.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#14  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 11, 2021 1:40 pm

1. james brogden - the narrows - 8/10
2. nora roberts - of blood and bone - 8/10 - enjoying this trilogy, even if it veers close to my comfort 'magick' zone

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#15  Postby Blip » Jan 14, 2021 11:01 am

1. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
2. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Thrush Green by Miss Read*

*Described accurately by Bella Fortuna as being like 'a hot cuppa tea on a cold day'. Tales from a sleepy Cotswold village in gentler times.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#16  Postby I'm With Stupid » Jan 16, 2021 6:49 pm

1. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
2. Don't Believe a Word by David Shariatmadari
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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I don't know if any of you have heard of this one. It's pretty rare.

My first time reading this one. Obviously a masterpiece. My only complaint would be that it took me until about two-thirds of the way through the book to remember who all the characters were because she keeps referring to everyone by about four different names and then sharing names between characters.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#17  Postby don't get me started » Jan 17, 2021 2:14 am

Okay, let’s kick off the new year and reset the counter at one. Here goes.

1. Pragmatic Meaning and Cognition – Sophia S.A. Marmaridou

322.pp

This was a very challenging read. The text is written in a heavy academic style and the book is clearly not meant for non-specialist readers. I found it hard going at times but am glad that I persisted. The arguments are too complex to summarize in full here, but the basic idea is that meaning is not some oven ready thing baked into any given utterance and sent on its way by the speaker. As the author states (p.278) ‘understanding [is] by definition contextual, […]is a process of meaning construction rather than meaning recovery.’

The ways that we construct meaning is deeply tied to our experience of the world. For example, all languages have words that locate items in space relative to the speaker – words like ‘this’ (close to the speaker) and ‘that’ (not close to the speaker). It seems to be the case that languages transfer these physical indicators to the dimension of time. In language after language the proximal word + time expression generally refers to the future (this weekend, this Summer), while the distal word + time expression generally refers to the past (That summer, that Tuesday). It seems based on the notion that the future is approaching, thus getting closer, while the past is receding, and becoming ever more distant. It therefore makes sense to refer to the past with distal terms and the future with proximal terms. (p.96).

The author deals with four areas of pragmatics 1) deixis 2) presupposition, 3) speech acts and 4) implicature and in each case makes the case that our way of using language to create meaning is deeply tied to our experience of the world, our shared understanding of how things are, or at least usually are. This underlies our ability to make sense of each other, even though language use is replete with metaphor and metonymy, under specification, irony, presuppositions, tautologies and implicatures. It is the kind of thing that humans are good at and that computers are really, really bad at.

As the author describes (p.201) the utterance ‘I’ll sleep on the floor” is easily decipherable as a propositional statement, but what it is performing as a speech act is hopelessly under-determined. If that statement is met with ‘It might not be necessary’, it is performing the speech act of predicting, but if it is met by the response ‘Thanks, that’s very kind’ it is performing the speech act of offering. People are really good (mostly) at unpacking these kinds of meanings, and indeed, it is the second turn that validates (or cancels) the intent of the first utterance. In effect, the speakers create meaning in the here and now of the unfolding interaction by their reactive and mutually convergent communicative practices.

A good book that I have littered with post it notes to guide me towards passages I might want to refer to. But it did push me hard and it took me about a month to read. Perhaps something a little more accessible for number two on this year’s list.

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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#18  Postby crazyfitter » Jan 18, 2021 1:04 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
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#19  Postby Blip » Jan 18, 2021 2:56 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

This novel is narrated by Etsuko who, along with her elder daughter, Keiko, left her home town of Nagasaki to be with an English man in England.

We learn at the start that Keiko has committed suicide; Etsuko has another daughter, Niki, from her second relationship, but now lives alone.

The bulk of the narrative takes place in Nagasaki. To say more would be to reveal too much, so I'll restrict myself to declaring this a very good book indeed and to warn prospective readers that it does contain some upsetting scenes.
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Re: The Book Thread 2021

#20  Postby NamelessFaceless » Jan 19, 2021 3:35 pm

1. Lying Next To Me - Gregg Olsen

I've read several True Crime books by this author and thought that's what this was when I downloaded it. It was actually fiction and it was ok, but I prefer his True Crime work.
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