What Are You Reading

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Thank you for the recommendation - just order a "very good" condition "Not By A Long Shot" copy for $4.69 tax and shipping included.
     
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  2. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    I know I mentioned this earlier, but my sisters came in and cleaned my apartment, throwing all my
    books out to the local public library; including all my thoroughbred turf, while I was away
    for cataract surgery. My sight restored, when I returned I wanted to touch base with Cicero and revisit
    Scipio's Dream. But, of course, the shelves were barren. And this was the winter to reread Thornton,
    I love hosses and all things track. So, I will also hit Amazon Books for another copy. And all the bet books
    that I regularly read and reread. Ditto. Gone. I do have a recent acquisition: Rank Analysis Handicapping
    by A.O. Abbott, a pro's take on exacta and trifecta placement. Since I favor the exotics Abbott is an
    exact focus on this style of play. An excellent book if the exotics appeal.
     
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  3. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

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    Why do I stay away from the Lounge for so long? I don't know! Pandemic, school, writing, life...but I really love it here!

    What am I reading? What am I NOT reading?

    So, I'm starting my PhD in history, and my first class was last night. We had to read Collingwood's The Idea of History and it was quite the slog. He dissects the "history of history" and delves a lot into philosophy. I didn't enjoy it all that much.

    Now, though, we're reading The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in History and Theory, and I'm enjoying it a lot more because it's easier to read, AND because my MA degree in history did NOT thoroughly cover historical methodology and theory, I feel like I'm finally figuring this stuff out.

    And to keep me sane, I'm reading a contemporary thriller called Winter Counts by Indigenous author David Heska Wanbli Weiden. Heroin has been introduced to "The Rez" (the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota) and half-Lakota, half-white Virgil Wounded Horse has to track down who's bringing the poison to kill Native youth.
     
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  4. Just Jim

    Just Jim A-List Customer

    I had a history professor who would assign Collingwood to students who wanted credit for late assignments: the student was to read and apply the book to analyzing yet another book (pre-approved by the professor). He claimed it was the best method he'd found for discouraging late assignments.

    Having some spare time that semester I persuaded him to let me complete the assignment, with Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions as the text to be analyzed. Going back and forth between the two really helped in understanding what Collingwoood was writing about.
     
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  5. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Listening and reading all the spin: Afghanistan; Kabul Airport; inadequate US armed forces deployment
    in country-according to administration directive with Secretary of Defense; Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
    concurrence.

    This is not a political comment but as a combat veteran this withdrawl was all ass-end backward.
    Heads should roll in the sawdust over this. :mad:
     
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  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    If you haven't read Barzun's From Dawn To Decadence; 500 years of Western Cultural Life by all means
    please do so and slake your thirst with extraordinary scholarship germane to doctoral pursuit; whatever
    area of focus. A master historian and wonderful guide with whom to drink the smoke from
    the scholar's lamp. Absolutely delightful fascinating reading.

    Another book, The Hall of Uselessness by Simon Leys is first rank scholarly raconteur.
    The book is replete with wisdom and Leys cast a shrewd eye toward History. A leading Sinologist,
    his unsparing critical analysis of Mao and the revolution's horrid wake set a standard for scholarly
    exactitude and objective detachment unequaled in present-day academe.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2021
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  7. Alex Oviatt

    Alex Oviatt Practically Family

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    Wall of Noise sounds great--like a darker Dick Francis. I have been loving James Hilton's Lost Horizon. I had only ever seen the movie. The book is really great.
     
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  8. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Haven't read "Lost Horizon" in years, but love it and love the movie - enjoy.

    I have a Dick Francis book on the bookshelf, but for some reason have never cracked it open.
     
  9. Alex Oviatt

    Alex Oviatt Practically Family

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    Crack it! The first one is free but after that....
     
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  10. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    51uMqiWGOwL.jpg
    Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand published in 2019


    Summer of '69 is an enjoyable beach read that would have been unmitigated fun if author Elin Hilderbrand hadn't, as almost all authors today do, jammed a lot of virtue-signalling modern politics into her period novel.

    1969 was a jarring year in America that saw the flower-power, hippie movement finally break the traditional culture that had reigned in the country since the end of WWII. With the Vietnam War tearing America apart, conventional beliefs in politics, religion, sex, race relations and gender roles were all being challenge by and, often, losing out to the new ideas of the "youth movement."

    Rock and roll, drugs and "free love" were some of the new memes and norms shoving the old values and customs out the window. Whether you embraced the new or stood on the ramparts defending the old, the ground beneath everyone was shifting quickly.

    In Summer of '69, an old Boston family comprising matriarch "Exalta" Nichols, her daughter Katie, Katie's second husband and Katie's four children from her two marriages face the challenges of the times. From their Nantucket summer outpost - Exalta's in-town old house on the "best" street - her family is buffeted by all of the summer of 1969's cultural and political crosscurrents.

    Katie and second husband David's thirteen year old daughter, Jessie, has a coming-of-age-summer as she has to survive having her heart broken by her first crush, Exalta's required tennis lessons, the embarrassment of shopping for her first bra (with her very pregnant sister), the perceived disapproval of her Jewish heritage at Exalta's very Waspy Nantucket tennis and boating club and being caught at her occasional shoplifting habit.

    The bra-buying sister, in-her-early-twenties Blair, is pregnant with twins while her college professor and NASA technical advisor husband appears to be having an affair that throws Blair into the arms of her husband's brother whom she dated before marrying her husband. Hey, it's a beach read.

    Late-teen middle sister Kirby is the required "rebel" (you can't be a family during the summer in 1969 without having one kid in full rebel mode) who decamps from Nantucket to the "horrors!," according to Exalta, of Martha Vineyard to gain some independence. There, she engages in an interracial relationship, while she nearly crosses paths with the famous senator Ted Kennedy on the night of Chappaquiddick.

    Also required for accurate reflection of the summer of 1969 is Kate's eighteen-year-old son "Tiger," the handsome, high school star athlete and kid everyone likes who has just been drafted and sent to the front lines in Vietnam.

    This fractious summer for Exalta's family is one of trying to keep up a surface appearance of normal (that's her culture), despite the body blows they all are absorbing. Author Hilderbrand portrays this family as a microcosm of the country in that turbulent summer.

    Kate, unable to find a place for her fear about her son fighting in Vietnam, escapes into the bottle, something the family does its best to ignore (once again, that's their culture). How many in the country in 1969 were burying their fears in some sort of mind-altering substance?

    Thirteen-year-old Jessie's emotions almost bubble over when she wants to scream "I'm Jewish" (she's half Jewish) to force the Nantucket club and her grandmother to face her heritage. But she learns later from her Jewish father she has exaggerated the issues as he has been, basically, accepted by all but a few at the club.

    Nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes it's good enough, for now anyway. Yet, like thirteen-year-old Jessie, many in the country couldn't accept that in 1969; whereas, those who could felt that they were under assault.

    Kirby, loving her status as the family rebel and ready to become a political science major, has the scales fall from her eyes when she learns what a drunk Ted Kennedy did that night in Chappaquiddick.

    After that, she's looking to turn her summer job as a front desk clerk at a small inn into a career in hotel management, including an Exalta-funded semester studying abroad in Geneva. Like many in the country, as the sixties ended, idealism gave way to pragmatism, especially as many rebels saw they were being played by politicians like the famous Senator.

    Pregnant Blair learns her husband wasn't cheating, but was so embarrassed that he was seeing a psychiatrist that he let his wife think he was having an affair rather than admit the truth. Once the truth is out, they begin to repair their relationship.

    It's an early embrace of therapy for the masses, which, along with many former personal failings being redefined as "diseases," would change how America judged itself and its fellow citizens in the ensuing decades.

    Finally, son Tiger, after a brief appearance early, effectively haunts the book as a looming death stalking Exalta's clan, an experience familiar to many families in 1969. In a dramatic moment, Tiger rejects his mother-maneuvered non-combat assignment as he's proud of his soldiering ability. He did not want to be "the fortunate son," from one of that era's defining songs.

    The war is shown as the confused disaster it was, but adumbrating today's view, in Summer of '69, the soldiers are respected even when their political leaders are denounced. That was not a universal view in angry 1969, when returning soldiers were sometimes called "baby-killers" and spat on.

    Summer of '69 often captures the feel of that tumultuous period. Occasionally, it even uses restraint and perspective looking at 1969 through a 2019 lens. But as is the wont of modern authors, Hilderbrand can't help stuffing too-many modern political tics and narratives into her period novel.

    "Progressive," "diversity," "privilege," "cultural appropriation" and "patriarchal power structure" were all words and phrases that existed in 1969, but none of them were on the tip of the tongue of the average person or even political rebels in that period.

    There are plenty of books, movies and newspapers from then to confirm that those were not the words or framing that liberals or others of that generation generally used.

    Yet, it just feels so good to today's authors to virtue signal their modern political pieties that they can't help undermining the verisimilitude of their period novels by having their characters speak as if they were time travelers from today. Or maybe the authors need to do it to get the elitist (read uber-liberal) New York City editors interested in their books.

    Perhaps it's because of this political bent that so many of the men in the book are serial cheaters or sexual predators who physically abuse their girlfriends or molest teen and pre-teen girls, while most of the women are caring, giving and kind - and often unappreciated by the Neanderthal men in their lives. The men who are good in the book are so epicene and deferential to women, most women (and normal men), in real life, couldn't stand them.

    If you can put all that political preening aside - and you have to if you read modern fiction - Summer of '69 is a darn good beach read that often takes you back to that chaotic and defining summer. The end of the book isn't surprising, as a change in summer houses for Exalta's offspring symbolizes the period's generational schism, while foreshadowing the long-term impact the summer of 1969 would have on the country.
     
  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    All politics aside, I gotta say my first reaction is that anybody who goes around calling themselves "Exalta" deserves everything that they get.
     
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  12. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    The odd thing, that nickname - which clearly stands out - is never explained (or I missed it). To be fair, she wasn't portrayed as a stereotype - old evil prejudice Wasp, period - but as a women of her era who adjusted somewhat to changing times as much as her past would allow. She's no angel, but I thought she was interesting.

    I knew women like her who weren't horrible people at all, but someone born in 1890, was probably not going to embrace 1969 the same way a seventeen year old would. In general, for a giant soap opera, a lot of the characters felt real, it's just a shame that the author clearly "adjusted" some characters and language in her period novel to perfectly align to current views.
     
  13. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Such align may have reached a terminus after these past few weeks.
    CRT, Wokeness, Classical White Men and all the kit and kaboodle corrective revisionism has met Truth.

    Philosophy writes her cruel truth in blood whether across Boethius' prison cell floor or upon an air base tarmac.



     
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  14. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Taylor v Northam; Supreme Court of Virginia 09/02/2021

    Remove of Richmond's Robert E Lee statue focused upon valid restrictive covenant deed issuance
    and state constitutional restriction emanating therefrom upon the Governor; or, absence entirely thereof,
    thus allowing unfettered statuary removal free of constitutional restriction.
    Cut and dried. And Virginia's Court declared sufficient circuit judicial error for good measure to dress opinion.
    And there is nothing better than a well dressed opinion.

    Sartorial jurisprudence aside the gist of Taylor centers 'governmental speech' as righteous indignant cause,
    pick your poison not dealer's choice and a dime a dozen free for the asking.

    The rhyme behind the reason. Perhaps its all rhyme, just rhyme. And no reason.
     
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  15. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    A continued visit with Anna Karenina. It has been awhile since this mercurial girl and I first met,
    some dalliance occasionally, but a recent discussion of Tolstoy with a Russian lady of my acquaintance
    led to Anna with some difference of opinion as I admire Tolstoy's title namesake; while Marina most definitely
    does not and considers her a weakling. Admonished to reread the novel in its entirety, I assured my
    lovely adversary that I would, and, in fact would take Anna to bed; to which gave rejoin that Vronsky
    join Anna and I, a literary menage a trois. Wicked smile, raised eyebrows, and her fingers caressing her
    beautiful face and black hair, eyes a man could drown in. Wink, wink.
     
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  16. mikepara

    mikepara Practically Family

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    I've just re-read Seven Pillars Of Wisdom by T.E Lawrence. Lawrence of Arabia, one of the first Special Forces operatives, working with the indigenous people to overthrow the ruling tyrants. I love all sorts of books but this one is a superb read.
     
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  17. crawlinkingsnake

    crawlinkingsnake A-List Customer

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    The Battle of Charleston (WV) & the Kanawha Valley Campaign of 1862 by Terry Lowery. Mr Lowery is a wonderful historian on the eastern theater of the Civil War. In particular western (West) Virginia. His book details Gen Albert Jenkins 1862 raid into western Virginia and planting the first Confederate flag in the state of Ohio at Racine in Meigs County.
     
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  18. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Sibley's strike inside New Mexico 2-4/62 with his Texan cavalry comes to mind, a classic textbook
    instance of ambition far exceeding grasp. Jenkins, audacious without doubt and superb commander,
    nevertheless ventured foray absent clearly defined objective other than the ride into Ohio itself,
    lost a man during entrance river ford, and accomplishing nothing concrete except impulsive whim.
    Were it not for the fatality, Jenkins would be seen in better historic light.
     
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  19. Alex Oviatt

    Alex Oviatt Practically Family

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    I love the hunting scene with Levin and Stiva--as a hunter myself it rings so true. Which translation are you reading? I am a Constance Garnett fan, myself.....
     
  20. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    The Maude translation. Anna invariably invites comparison to Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil,
    and, of course Flaubert's Madame Bovary. I find Levin slightly more intriguing as literary character,
    a more interesting Charles Bovary perhaps. Revisiting certain books, renewed acquaintance can revise
    one's previous opinion, cast through maturity's practiced eye and time's focused loupe.:)
     
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