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What are you Reading Now?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Mythopoet, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Reading Stacy Schiff's biography of Cleopatra.
     
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  2. Rogue

    Rogue Dreamer

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    Do you read a lot of biographies? Especially of less recent historical figures. I ask because I'd like get into more historical bios but I'm always overly skeptical of sources that I've just started turning to individual referrals.
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Not many. I read a fair amount of history, but not as many biographies. Sourcing is an issue, especially when you're going back to Cleopatra's time, for example. I think Schiff does a decent job of talking about sources and where they contradict, and also making clear when she is making suppositions. She is clearly enamored of Cleopatra, though. So far, it is a very favorable depiction.
     
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  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    With biographies it's more subtle than merely are the facts right. A biography is like a portrait. By it's nature it cannot be a perfect likeness, yet it can be more revealing than a photograph. The best way to get into biographies is the same as getting into other genre of literature: read, and develop your own taste.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Right now I'm reading The Dragon's Path, by Daniel Abraham. It's pretty good, though I confess I'm getting tired of court drama in fantasy. Still, Abraham does it better than most. And other plot lines hold my interest better (he has multiple).

    But I also want to note that Abraham is one half of the writing team that is James S.A. Corey (The Expanse). I love that series. Best SF I've read in a very, very long time. What strikes me is writer voice. On one side it's SF, on the other it's traditional fantasy. On one side it's a writing team, on the other it's the one author. Can one hear the writer's voice?

    I think I do, but it's very difficult to say exactly what. There's something about the pacing of sentences. There's a curious blend of hard-eyed coldness layered over genuinely deep emotions. There's a sense I get that somehow Abraham himself is in there, down in individual scenes and certain emotions. There's definitely a use of small moments to add depth and pacing.

    Surely all those things can be said of other authors, yet somehow once you total them you come to a different sum for Abraham than you would for another author. It's something akin to being able to recognize a painter's style, or how you know that different musicians have each their own style, and you'd be able to pick them out even if they were all playing the same song.

    Art is weird.
     
  6. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    I just listened to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on audio. Loved it.
     
  7. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Troubadour

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    The grand strategy of the Byzantine empire by Edward Luttwak. It's nice to learn more about historical things on the edge of the public consciousness. I knew the Byzantine empire existed. But nothing more than that. It was always sort of the lesser child of the roman empire which just existed and slowly withered away. It's nice to be corrected and learn there was (a lot) more to it. Also, it's useful from a writing perspective to learn a bit about strategy, war and so on.
     
  8. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Read Jeff VanderMeer's Dead Astronauts -- was very disappointed...2 stars....too weird, no real story flow, disjoint with long boring sections (blue fox in particular) looks more like his 'notes and thoughts' supporting his writing of Borne which I'm reading now and Loving!!
     
  9. Speranza

    Speranza Dreamer

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    I'm reading Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicles Book 1) by Jay Kristoff. I did start it last year, but had a hissy fit with his use of footnotes. I picked it up again, have ignored the footnotes and am really enjoying the story and the characters, particularly Mia the main character. Have you ever seen footnotes in fiction before? I'm used to them in Academic and some non fiction but never in fiction, it takes me away from the story, which is not a good thing, not in my book (pardon the pun) anyway.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Reading Nevil Shute again. This time it's An Old Captivity. It's not fantasy but I suppose modern book shelvers might say it has an element of magical realism. Shute is easily the most unusual author I've ever read. His books are memorable, each one quite different from the other, and each one hard to describe what makes it so extraordinary. Also, curiously, each one I've read so far would make a good movie.
     
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    This one has turned out to be good. There is limited information on Cleopatra, so educated speculation is of course woven in, and the author takes a definite pro-Cleopatra viewpoint, but on the whole it is entertaining and informative.
     
  12. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I had forgotten Nevil Shute. My father was a fan so they were always around the house. And I don't think you are alone in thinking they make good films. Much of his work has been adapted for TV or Film and sometimes both and more than once. I will look out for him again.
     
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    On the Beach is the one everyone knows, but I would hesitate to recommend it as a Shute first novel. It is the bleakest thing I've ever read.

    Very different is A Town Called Alice, which is almost like two separate books, except that it follows the main character in both parts.

    But my introduction to Shute was Pied Piper. I recommend it, if you're looking to return to the author. As with every book of his I've read, it's such an odd choice of story and perspective, yet such a gratifying one.
     
  14. Black Cat

    Black Cat Acolyte

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    I've been re-reading Dresden Files in anticipation of Peace Talks' final release. I'm on Proven Guilty and it's been interesting. Butcher does the technical aspects of writing well - he can spin a yarn, his dialogue usually pops and his descriptions are colorful - but it feels like he's trying to write two different genres simultaneously. Not an impossible task by any means, but sometimes it gives me whiplash.

    For example, he tries to write Molly at the end in a humorous way despite her at least nominally feeling guilty about the brainwashing she's done, an act of black magic that she was going to be executed for until a combination of Harry and literal divine intervention saved her. This is on top of the usual beating Harry takes over the course of the book. Then she complains about... having to do wizard homework... maybe Butcher just wanted to end it on a lighter note? It wouldn't be the first time a competent author dropped the ball that way, it just bugs me.

    Or maybe I'm just forgetting something that contextualizes it later. Either way, it's still been an enjoyable ride so far (y)
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Started The Library at Mount Char. So far, a strange and interesting book.
     
  16. AMObst

    AMObst Dreamer

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    I've just finished book 7 of the Professor Croft series by Brad Magnarella, which is a great urban fantasy series set in New York, and I highly recommend for its tense plotting and interesting twists as well as good character development. Number 8 is about to be released.
    Now I'm starting on Agatha Christie's 'Murder is Easy', which might be the only one of hers I haven't read. The plots can be formulaic but she has an amusing way of describing characters in a less than flattering light.
     
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