The Book Thread 2023

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The Book Thread 2023

#1  Postby UncertainSloth » Dec 31, 2022 1:41 pm

A new year, a new record of people's reads - always something to discover, enjoy and recommend on here. Obviously, set yourself a target should you so desire - think i'll go for 50 on the goodreads challenge this year, been a while since I've hit that number.
Speaking of which, if anyone's on GR and not added me yet, this is my link - https://www.goodreads.com/tony_p

'Rules' copied and pasted for those not familiar with the thread. 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 2022 and finish in 2023 count on the 2023 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, & happy new year, folks! :cheers:
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Tolkein
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#2  Postby Blip » Jan 04, 2023 7:29 am

And we're off...

1. The Moose Paradox by Antti Tuomainen

Another good yarn from the master of darkly funny Finnish noir, following on from The Rabbit Factor.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#3  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 08, 2023 2:15 pm

1. the reading list - sara nisha adams - 8/10

went into this one with no preconceptions but really rather enjoyed it - very much about the love and poer of reading and how what we read can relate to our lives...a nice surprise

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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#4  Postby don't get me started » Jan 09, 2023 12:39 am

1. The Linguistics Wars: Chomsky, Lakoff and the Battle over Deep Structure - Randy Allen Harris

547 pp.

Well, here was a cracking start to the new year. For those who are outside the field of linguistics the name of Chomsky is probably familiar and his status and genius linguist is a given. Within the field, things are not so simple. This is not based on some minor quibble about a part of his program. For many professional linguists, the whole thing stinks to high heaven. There is no baby, only bathwater, and the viewpoint taken in generative grammar holds the status for many of not even being wrong.

We get a good overview of the ever shifting sands that underlie the good professor's pronouncements, the constant reframing, re-labeling, reconfiguing that is the pattern of over six decades of theorizing. Harris meticulously details the various shifts and reversals that have taken place with ample quotations, along side the selective memory misrepresentation of other scholars' critiques, ample evidence of intellectual dishonesty, hubris, arrogance and blithe dismissal of entire fields of research as 'uninteresting', frivolous and deeply misguided.

The picture that emerges is of something like a Trumpian figure in his absolute commitment to never be wrong on any issue, never apologize, never concede and inch, characterize his opponents as evil, foolish, to monopolize every interaction,to denigrate all opponents as unable to appreciate his genius, endless self promotion and an insatiable desire to be the center of attention. Clearly a lot more intelligent than Trump, but displaying many of the same character traits.

Now, to be fair, Harris also peels back the skin of some of Chomsky's opponents (Especially George Lakoff) and there is plenty to bemoan here as well. The rancour and incivility that characterized the peak of the linguistics wars was not confined to one side only and plenty of the competing theories fell by the wayside under repeated assaults from the Chomskyan side.

The author finishes up by asking if the legacy of the good professor is cemented and he will take his place in the pantheon, or whether in future decades the whole Chomskyan program will be subject to ridicule and obscurity like phrenology and phlogiston theories. Of course, predicting the future is a fraught endeavor but the fact that the whole thing might be just a case of the imperial tailors being busy is interesting.

This was a very lengthy, detailed and complex book, but the author writes with an engaging, almost conversational style that makes it an easier read than it should be and laugh out loud in places.

(There is mention aplenty of Chomsky's political activism and his staunch opposition to the Vietnam war. And here we are in 2022 with him sharing the same stance as - of all people- Henry Kissinger over the war in Ukraine and urging accommodation of Russian sensitivities. For shame Noam, for shame!)

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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#5  Postby NamelessFaceless » Jan 10, 2023 2:25 pm

Wow. That’s really interesting about Chomsky.

My goal for the year is 52. And I’m also hoping to tackle War and Peace this year, so wish me luck!

1. The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder (started with something short).
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#6  Postby don't get me started » Jan 12, 2023 5:47 am

NamelessFaceless wrote:Wow. That’s really interesting about Chomsky.


Yep, academics often have a lot of ego invested in their work.
It took me quite a while to get round to the fact that peer review is not meant to be personal. Sometimes the comments from reviewers can sting. Sometimes I am just flat out wrong and my work is not up to the standard of publication. All part of the process...

My goal for the year is 52. And I’m also hoping to tackle War and Peace this year, so wish me luck!


Wow, that's a task indeed. Took me about a month of solid reading to get through W&P. Best of luck!
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#7  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 12, 2023 7:05 am

don't get me started wrote:
NamelessFaceless wrote:Wow. That’s really interesting about Chomsky.


Yep, academics often have a lot of ego invested in their work.

It took me quite a while to get round to the fact that peer review is not meant to be personal.


But on the other side, it often can actually be, particularly when they're reviewing papers that aim to leave a large footprint in their own niche. My field's history often seems like one long familial feud exemplifying that there's a difference between kicking the tyres to see if they're up to standard, and kicking them until they're no longer up to standard. Still, robust criticism - even when it's motivated - is generally beneficial to knowledge acquisition!
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#8  Postby Blip » Jan 12, 2023 1:18 pm

1. The Moose Paradox by Antti Tuomainen
2. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

A marvellous paean to the power of literature and how it connects readers through time and across space. An ancient Greek text, gradually revealed as the novel progresses, links numerous central characters from the past, present and future, whose tales are also told. I really did find this hard to put down.

This one might be up your street, Evolving.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#9  Postby UncertainSloth » Jan 12, 2023 5:27 pm

oooooooh, like the sound of that!
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#10  Postby Blip » Jan 15, 2023 1:07 pm

1. The Moose Paradox by Antti Tuomainen
2. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
3. French Braid by Anne Tyler

Snapshots of several generations of a rather dysfunctional family. I don't normally enjoy this sort of thing, but Anne Tyler is such a perceptive writer.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#11  Postby TopCat » Jan 15, 2023 2:30 pm

I'm off to a great start this year... within the next day or so I'll be up to five already.

I've re-read the entire HHGTTG trilogy, for the first time in decades. I picked up the whole lot as a boxed set for £22 around Christmas, bargain.

Douglas Adams was such a clever guy.

Next up will be Sean Carroll's 'From Eternity to here', followed by his 'Biggest ideas in the Universe', so progress will slow somewhat.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#12  Postby Evolving » Jan 15, 2023 6:44 pm

Blip wrote:1. The Moose Paradox by Antti Tuomainen
2. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

A marvellous paean to the power of literature and how it connects readers through time and across space. An ancient Greek text, gradually revealed as the novel progresses, links numerous central characters from the past, present and future, whose tales are also told. I really did find this hard to put down.

This one might be up your street, Evolving.


I suppose the ancient Greek text is The Birds?

Anyway, here goes with my list for this year.

1. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.

Obviously I've read this before (in fact I vaguely remember first reading it at school). I had a few days off after Christmas, the small one was in England with her grandparents, and I used the opportunity to watch a couple of old films on YouTube, including A Tale of Two Cities with Dirk Bogarde as Sydney Carton. And that made me want to re-read the novel.

It evidently was a while since I read it before, because while watching the film I had the impression that it was quite true to the book; but reading the book again now, I realised that that impression was in error! It was still a good film, though.

We've talked about Dickens before, and I do understand why some people don't like him. I myself tend to skim through certain passages, including in this book. In fact it was one of the strengths of the film, that it hasn't got those turgid passages.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#13  Postby don't get me started » Jan 15, 2023 11:30 pm

Evolving wrote:

1. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.


And one of the best openings of any novel in English.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. (Bold mine)
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#14  Postby Blip » Jan 16, 2023 7:41 am

Evolving wrote:
Blip wrote:[...]
2. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

A marvellous paean to the power of literature and how it connects readers through time and across space. An ancient Greek text, gradually revealed as the novel progresses, links numerous central characters from the past, present and future, whose tales are also told. I really did find this hard to put down.

This one might be up your street, Evolving.


I suppose the ancient Greek text is The Birds?

[...]


It's an imagined work, but owes a debt to The Birds, yes.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#15  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 16, 2023 11:17 am

Evolving wrote:
Obviously I've read this before...


I have to admit that this is a question that I've always had for the people of these book threads: do you never re-read books? I read books over and over - if it's good enough to finish reading it all the way through once, it's good enough for me to read it again a year or two later, and again a year or two later than that, and so on. Some books I've read dozens of times. Any book list I made would inevitably have multiple instances of the same books.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#16  Postby don't get me started » Jan 16, 2023 12:24 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
Evolving wrote:
Obviously I've read this before...


I have to admit that this is a question that I've always had for the people of these book threads: do you never re-read books? I read books over and over - if it's good enough to finish reading it all the way through once, it's good enough for me to read it again a year or two later, and again a year or two later than that, and so on. Some books I've read dozens of times. Any book list I made would inevitably have multiple instances of the same books.



Yes, I do some rereading. My default books for a nice revisit are the Culture SF novels of Iain M. Banks, the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser and any of Tim Moore's hilarious travelogues. The SF novels that got made into the Netflix series 'Altered Carbon' have also had a few rereads.
Of course, in my academic reading I am always going back and looking over sections and chapters from key books and papers.

I'm stepping back from the 50 book challenge a bit this year because I realized I was kind of racing for the finish line a bit and not being as diligent and focused as I should. I took a look at some of the books in my library and realized that although I had read them, the contents were a bit vague. (In some cases zero recollection!) So, I'm bashing away at selected chapters from selected books. Last weekend I read a chapter in one book on a fairly abstract linguistic topic. Finished it and immediately went back to the beginning and re-read it. Then went back and skimmed/scanned it for a third time and took notes and underlined key quotes.

Oh, and while we are on the topic of rereads, my bragging rights come into play regarding Joyce's Ulysses: Three times cover to cover over about ten years. Got funnier with each reread.

As the (probably apocryphal) anecdote goes.
"What did you do in the great war Mr. Joyce?"
"I wrote Ulysses. What did you do?"
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#17  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 16, 2023 12:48 pm

My default books for a nice revisit are the Culture SF novels of Iain M. Banks...


Although the human parts of the story are less interesting for me, Excession is one of the books I am sure I will read every couple of years for the remainder of my life.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#18  Postby Evolving » Jan 16, 2023 2:23 pm

Spearthrower wrote:...if it's good enough to finish reading it all the way through once, it's good enough for me to read it again a year or two later, and again a year or two later than that, and so on...


Agreed.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#19  Postby Evolving » Jan 16, 2023 2:30 pm

I don't get Ulysses. Tried, failed.

The first few chapters are OK, while it's still making normal sense, but once the stream of consciousness starts: no. Can't get into it.

I don't necessarily need everything to be literal and commonsensical, I'm perfectly at home with figurative poetry (denizens of these book challenge threads know that I'm very fond of The Waste Land), but Ulysses just doesn't find an entrance into my brain.
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Re: The Book Thread 2023

#20  Postby NamelessFaceless » Jan 17, 2023 12:54 am

1. The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder
2. Basil - Wilkie Collins
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