What have you read recently?

"The Ferryman" by Justin Cronin. A dystopian science fiction novel. A multi-layered complex plot with several prominent themes, probably the most obvious one was the difference between economic classes and its effect on people. I can't really delve into the plot too much but I can give the basic setup of the story. All of this is learned in the first 10 or 15 pages so not really spoiling anything. Also, the book is over 500 pages long but at no time did it lag or become tedious. In fact, I had a hard time putting it down.

People live on a couple of islands in the middle of the ocean, far from the horrors of the rest of the world. One island, Prospera, is inhabited by the upper class people. Prospera is connected to The Annex, an island where the workers live. These workers service the people on Prospera--mostly working the blue collar jobs to support Prospera's economy. There is another separate island called The Nursery.

When the upper class people become old or sick, they are transported to The Nursery where their memories are wiped and they are reborn as teenagers with the equivalent of a sixth grade education. These reborn "wards" are then adopted by the rich people living on Prospera. The main character in the book, Proctor, is a ferryman. He brings the old people to The Nursery to be reborn. One particularly bad day at work turns his entire life upside down.

Then things get really weird...

Very interesting read.
 
I have read Scott Adams and was surprised how prescient and lucid the writing style was. Much better than I expected.

Meanwhile, I just finished the third book in the Charles Marohn, StrongTowns series, Escaping the Housing Crisis.

Somehow he and Daniel Herriges manage to thread the controversy and blame to put together a solid book on fundamentals, the history of what went wrong and why, plus a path forward. All US housing, with real successes in action.

In addition, I read Rainier Zitelman's How Nations Escape Poverty. Its a summary of the past 30 years of Poland and Vietnam's escape from grinding socialist corruption. He put the cliffs notes in the Foreword for folks that don't want to read the book.

Then he does grand overview of Vietnam, followed by the charts and graphs and references. He repeats the process for Poland. All the gritty details and personalities that helped make the transition to markets and wealth possible. No punches pulled, there are some real warts and problems remaining. Its a realist book, no utopias here.

Well written, with a nice preview from George Gilder.
 
I'm about 3/4 of the way through "War Beneath the Sea" by Peter Padfield, a British naval and military historian. If you're interested in the topic it's an excellent read about the development (and in many cases, the non-development) of submarines, tactics, and anti-submarine warfare during WWII.
 
I'm currently reading " When the Sea Came Alive, An Oral History of D-Day". I'm only a few chapters in but it is written in a fascinating style. It tells the story of how World War II started, how America got drawn into the war and the years of planning the landing on D-Day as told through personal quotes of hundreds of individuals, from the famous (Churchill, Roosevelt, etc.) to the average soldier and citizens involved. Its a brand new book by the Pulitzer Prize Finalist Garrett M. Graff.
 
I read Sooley by John Grisham. I enjoyed this novel which combined basketball with the South Sudanese war.
 
I'm currently reading The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. Great book, I miss Dr. Sagan and worry for, and about, the human race.
 
I'm currently reading The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. Great book, I miss Dr. Sagan and worry for, and about, the human race.
One of my favorite books by Sagan, although I might place "The Varieties of Scientific Experience" as my absolute favorite only because of the Q & A section in the back of the book. Even during debate of differing positions, Carl was always so respectful of others and their thoughts. This is a quality almost no one has anymore, including myself.
 
One of my favorite books by Sagan, although I might place "The Varieties of Scientific Experience" as my absolute favorite only because of the Q & A section in the back of the book. Even during debate of differing positions, Carl was always so respectful of others and their thoughts. This is a quality almost no one has anymore, including myself.
Thank you, I was not aware of that title.
 
Two that I have read recently and recommend are Salman Rushdie's memoir Knife: Meditations After An Attempted Murder and James by Percival Everett. James is a retelling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from Jim's/James's perspective. Huck Finn is a book I've long debated internally whether to read or not. When I heard that James was coming out I decided to read them back-to-back and that is what I did. I'm glad I chose to do it that way.
 
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A Monstrous Regiment of Women.

Second book in a series that has a retired Sherlock Holmes teaming up with a young woman to fight the forces of evil.
 
I just finished "The Court at War," a book by Cliff Sloan about the United States Supreme Court during the years of World War II (early 1940s).

Franklin Roosevelt was the president during these war years until he died in 1945, just before the end of the war. FDR had appointed 7 of the 9 justices and elevated another (Stone) to Chief Justice.

Sloan writes a lot about the many cases the Court handled in those years, giving the book the feel of "The Brethren," a book about the early 1970s Court during the Nixon years. Sloan also writes a lot about other events besides the war such as the 1944 presidential election in which Justice Douglas was highly considered to be FDR's running mate.

Sloan often writes very long sentences, some of them 70-80 words, so it's a chore trying to get through them. I often had to go back to the start of the sentence 9 lines back to figure out what he was referring to at the end of the paragraph-long sentence. So, make sure your thinking cap is on if you read this otherwise fine book.
 
Just finished "Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths" by Natalie Haynes. An insightful and well-researched book that delves into the histories behind the women in many well-known Greek myths. The author does this with humor and myriad references to modern and ancient retellings. If you like classic Greek plays and epics or enjoy reading the modern retellings that have recently become popular, you might like this. I listened to the audiobook version from my library -- it was very engaging and was read by the author.

I've added her more recent "Divine Might: Goddesses in Greek Myth" to my to-read list.
 
Just finished reading Dune (again... probably the third time, I guess). Never went on to the next books in the series, but just started Messiah. Recently re-watched the original movie and the two new movies. Meh on the new movies. Liberties taken, but entertaining enough.
 
Just finished this, and couldn't put it down - but I've followed tech all my life.

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Table for Two is the superb latest book by Amor Towles. The book is an unusual combination of 6 short stories and 1 novella. However, the "novella" is 215 pages long, so IMO it's a novel. The 6 short stories, set mostly in NYC, are extremely varied and are great tales. The novella, set in 1930s Los Angeles, is wonderful, too. This is one of the best books of fiction I've read in a while.

While on a recent trip, I quickly read 5 mysteries by Agatha Christie, a mix of Hercule Poirot & Miss Marple. Very enjoyable reading. It had been decades since I had read any of her mysteries.
 
The NY Times recently published a list of "The Top 100 Books of the 21st Century", "as voted on by 503 novelists, nonfiction writers, poets, critics and other book lovers — with a little help from the staff of The New York Times Book Review."


One novel on the Times list which I had previously avoided reading because of its 900 page length is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I finally decided to tackle it. It's an impressive tale which rarely dragged. Wonderful writing and some memorable characters and events.

Another novel I recented read and enjoyed is titled Hotel Cuba by Aaron Hamburger. It's the story of an eastern European Jewish woman who tries to immigrate to the USA with her sister in the 1920s. However, immigration laws had changed in the USA and she and her sister end up in Cuba instead.
 
Noticed some of my old college books on a shelf, and have been rereading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the original. Surprisingly enjoyable. My edition has the vocabulary glosses on the same line with the text, on the opposite page, so it's very easy to follow.
 
"The Ministry of Time" by Kaliane Bradley.

Story starts out about the discovery of time travel by the British government and the establishment of The Ministry of Time. People from the past are brought into the present and studied as to the effects that time travel has on the bodies and minds of these people. Employees of the Ministry are assigned "refugees" from the past to observe them. These employees are called "bridges" because they are supposed to help the refugees transition to modern day life.

Very interesting start, loved the premise, especially the descriptions of how people from 100, 150, 200 years and more had trouble adapting to the year 2024. But then the story got somewhat cliched and turned into a love story. In other words, the fantastic premise of time travel's effects and the refugee's adjustments were abandoned and a romance replaced it. This is where the book got boring.

The writer can turn a good phrase, very clever with words, almost too clever because she keeps on trying and about halfway through they started to fall flat. She's also very politically correct (and I'll leave it at that.)

7 out of 10, could have been so much better.
 
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