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Book thread: what are you reading?


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On 2/2/2018 at 1:18 PM, Route66 said:

First look at this thread and it's given me plenty of ideas of potential reeds,just finished Stephen Frys Mythos,Greek stories you knew but forgotten took me less than a week and absolutely loved it.Reading Orwells Down and out in Paris and London (2 for £5 section of HMV)and also got books by Bernard Cornwall,William Mcilvanney and James Kelman lined up for next couple of weeks.

Can anyone remember the old Sven Hassel paperbacks, found some while clearing out an ex work colleagues locker a few years ago,all the rage back in the day

Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London is one of my favourite books. Homage to Catalonia and Keep the Aspidistra Flying are really good too (looking past his obvious choices). 

Of the books I've read (or attempted to read - why persevere with a book you don't enjoy?) in January:

Conscious Coaching - The Art and Science of Building Buy-In by Brett Bartholomew. Really interesting book, he's a strength and conditioning coach who has worked with elite athletes such as NFL players. It's focused on the soft skills around coaching and how you would interact differently with different types of athletes and so on. Interesting to think about even if a lot of it isn't necessarily applicable. He has since published a 'field guide' aimed at making some of the theory more easy to put into practice. 

Supercapitalism - The Battle for Democracy in the Age of Big Business by Robert Reich. I liked this book but found it a bit short on solutions, while a good summary of the lead up to our current position with regards to the role of the market. More depth in my post here - http://www.totalrl.com/forums/index.php?/topic/281202-those-nice-tories/&page=135&tab=comments#comment-3719787

How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb. A good summary of behavioural economics and psychology, similar to books like Thinking Fast and Slow though with less content. This means that there can be a much greater emphasis on application. This tends to differentiate it slightly from a lot of behavioural economics books that I have read. 

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Brilliant book, written by a pair of former Navy SEALs, taking leadership and management lessons derived from their service and then applying it to the world of business. Really easy read while also being insightful. 

Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps... and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind by Nick Littlehales. I thought this book was alright though I had already heard a lot of it. Nick Littlehales is a 'sleep guru' who has worked with Manchester United and Olympians and I felt this was mentioned a bit too much. Some interesting stuff on circadian rhythm and sleep hygeine, but I struggled to not be sceptical about the emphasis on sleep cycles (i.e. 4 full 90 minute sleep cycles so 6 hours is preferable to 7 hours sleep because then you have an incomplete sleep cycle). 

Courage - The Joy of Living Dangerously by Osho. Plenty of people speak highly of this book but I found it to be just pages after pages saying nothing. I gave up 40 pages in, unenlightened. 

Currently reading Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. Fascinating book while less life-changing than some of the others mentioned above. It looks at the opiate epidemic from a few different angles, so the growth of the pharmaceutical and medical marketing industries but also the proliferation of salaried Mexicans selling heroin from cars in the 1990s significantly distorting the existing drug markets - I haven't reached the discussion about the present yet. 

Next couple of books lined up are The Speechwriter - A Brief Education in Politics by Barton Swaim; Grit by Angela Duckworth; Good Cop, Bad War by Neil Woods and ReWork by David Hansson. I'd also like to revisit Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky at some point.

Edited by Saint 1
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  • 2 weeks later...

The Real Britannia by Colin Brown.  "Our ten proudest years, the glory and the spin."  So far we've had Magna Carta, the Spanish Armada, the Glorious Revolution and Waterloo myths all debunked.  Quite good if you're an iconoclast.

“Few thought him even a starter.There were many who thought themselves smarter. But he ended PM, CH and OM. An Earl and a Knight of the Garter.”

Clement Attlee.

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On 2/16/2018 at 9:45 AM, Trojan said:

The Real Britannia by Colin Brown.  "Our ten proudest years, the glory and the spin."  So far we've had Magna Carta, the Spanish Armada, the Glorious Revolution and Waterloo myths all debunked.  Quite good if you're an iconoclast.

Imaginary glory v very real gory, all heroes have clay feet sadly and all of it is fantastically funny like Richard the Lion-heart outside Parliament ... the king who would have sold London if it meant he could afford to go and kill people somewhere else!

In the meantime The Ascent of Man J Bronowski & Al la Reserche du Temps Perdu  Marcel Proust.

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I finished The Speechwriter last night and it was pretty funny, quite interesting to hear about quite how many imperfections a man who was being spoken about as a potential VP had (and seemingly just a general lack of competence sometimes). It wasn't quite as illustrative about politics as I expected though, probably because the poltician in question was a Governor rather than a Congressman.

I've just bought my next five books which should last me a few weeks:

  • Rework - Change the Way You Work Forever 
  • How to Stay Sane - The School of Life
  • Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success

  • Good Cop, Bad War

  • The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just finished Mask of Dimitrios by Ambler and have bought Sapiens as i was passing by a book shop this morning.

Much prefer paper books to kindle and as bookstores are a hassle to get to, i tend not to bother reading anymore. Sad really.

Edit - Its a book shop not store. Shop!!

Edited by MattSantos
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In the last few weeks I've read a few more books:

Grit - Really good pop psychology book. It presents the idea of 'Grit' being the strongest predictor of success in various fields from music to West Point. Interesting concept for anyone interested in talent development.

Good Cop, Bad War - A book from an undercover cop who was one of the pioneers of undercover drug work. He brings you round to the conclusion that the 'War on Drugs' leads to an arms race, with police tactics becoming more advanced and consequently drug dealers tactics more brutal. He also makes the argument that this ends up harming the vulnerable people right at the bottom i.e. homeless addicts rather than the actual drug dealers. A real page turner (I read it in one sitting) but also a great argument for the legalisation of drugs.

The Education of a Coach - A biography of Bill Belichick. The insight into his mind and the level of detail required to be a successful NFL coach was great, even if I didn't understand some of the tactical intricacies.

Rework - Essentially a list of rules for new businesses that defies a lot of conventional logic. It seems to draw a lot on the concepts of via negativa and antifragility without explicitly mentioning those. However, it did feel like it didn't really justify a whole book - I finished it in 90 minutes.

That takes me up to 12 books for the year, with 3 more on the go currently.  

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I have just started A Sort of Life, the autobiography of Graham Greene. It is a pretty short book, for someone who lived a long and fascinating life.

One line that already stands out is "My sister Molly fell off a mountain and married the man who photographed her fall - perhaps she admired his presence of mind." :biggrin: 

"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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  • 1 month later...

I came to a realisation last night that I now prefer audiobooks when the book is written in the first person and regular books when it's written in the third person.  All depending on the quality of narrator though.  First person audiobooks seem like someone telling you THEIR personal story, third person seem like someone telling A story and it becomes impersonal.

I base that primarily on The Martian and the Dresden Files books I've just ploughed through on Audible.

"When in deadly danger, when beset by doubt; run in little circles, wave your arms and shout"

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've finished another 7 books since my last post, the pick of which is The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. It's a book looking at what makes a successful team across a range of fields, really interesting stuff. Homicide by David Simon (the writer of The Wire) was really good too. Just bought another 16 books so stocked up for a couple of months now! 

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On 16/04/2018 at 3:41 PM, ckn said:

I came to a realisation last night that I now prefer audiobooks when the book is written in the first person and regular books when it's written in the third person.  All depending on the quality of narrator though.  First person audiobooks seem like someone telling you THEIR personal story, third person seem like someone telling A story and it becomes impersonal.

I base that primarily on The Martian and the Dresden Files books I've just ploughed through on Audible.

Due to time constraints, I virtually exclusively get my reading from Audiobooks. The narrator makes a huge difference. 

I decided to give a Bill Bryson a go based on everyone saying they are great and I really haven't taken to it, I put that down to the narrator. 

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I am nearing the end of Graham Greene's autobiography, A Sort of Life.

A slim volume; he could have given readers more than 160 pages, considering his life story. Still, an interesting read.

Edited by Futtocks

"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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Just finished Dombey and Sons. Got to be the worst book that Charlie D ever wrote. Turgid in tbe extreme. Good story, great characterisations spoiled by making them use 1000 words when one would have sufficed. One for avoiding.

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

Isaac Asimov

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I recently finished Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson and it was decent enough, the ending scenes were pretty exciting. 

That said I think I've reached a point where I want my main characters to be a bit more multi-dimensional. 

Often in these action thrillers the main protagonist can not only best anyone in a fight, they bed literally every woman they come into contact with and never make a wrong move when it comes to the plot. In addition in this book the hero could speak virtually any language at a level that could pass with locals. In my life I can only think of one person who learnt English without living here who speaks without a noticeable accent. 

In this respect I'm much more George Smiley than James Bond. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jack London - White Fang. Re-reading it for the first time in at least 10 years. Still good.

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"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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I've been working my way through the 2014 Booker Prize shortlist. Read so far How to be Both (Ali Smith), We are all Completely Besides Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler), To Rise Again At A Decent Hour (Joshua Ferris) and J (Howard Jacobson). The latter two about Jewish identity.

Still to go,  The Lives of Others (Neel Mukherjee) and  the eventual winner, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan.)

Edited by JonM
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I am currently in the middle of the Weeping Women Hotel by Alexei Sayle.  Thought I would hate it.  Instead I find it hilarious.  A few easy punches landed but very funny nonetheless. 

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19 hours ago, marklaspalmas said:

Has this thread..

http://www.totalrl.com/forums/index.php?/topic/325612-first-world-problems/

replaced this one?

#sadday #signofthetimes #TRLaintwhatitusedtobe

Nah, that one is meant to be a random place people can stick their first world problems.  We're just such a sociable and friendly lot that people can't help chat about stuff. :P

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"When in deadly danger, when beset by doubt; run in little circles, wave your arms and shout"

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I’ve nearly finished James Holland’s second volume on the Second World War . Fascinating , and the amount of detail and insight he has just amazes me . He must be challenging the paramount authorities now , and loses nothing alongside Hastings ,Roberts and Beevors tones 

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I started watching the recent X-Files series and it prompted me to drag out an Indonesian language edition of an X-Files novel. It’s good fun.

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