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Reading for pleasure! What are you reading now? 
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Post Reading for pleasure! What are you reading now?
What's on your nightstand? Next to your easy-chair? A novel? Non-fiction? Are you enjoying it? What are you reading currently?

I'm reading a novel, The Second Coming, by Walker Percy. This is an older book, written in the 80's, I think, and is an unusual, interesting and extremely well-written book. Two wounded people come together at climactic times in their lives - and that's as far as I've gotten. But so far, I'm enjoying it a lot.

Someone, somewhere, mentioned Sho-Gun by James Clavell. Isn't this a part of a series? I have this and Noble House, but would like to read Clavell's Japanese novels in the correct order - first to last. Does anyone know what the books are in the series and the order in which they should be read?

And what are you reading and enjoying?

Ralph



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Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:43 am
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I am reading a book called 'Useful Toil'. It is composed of short diaries of working people from 1840's to 1922. The diaries of Coal Miners, Cotton Weavers and Spinners, Shop Assistants and Servants, Footmen, Ladies maids etc....

It is absolutely absorbing. That is my upstairs by my bed book.

My downstairs book is Geisha of Gion - The True Story of Japan's foremost Geisha - by Mineko Iwasaki.



Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:28 am
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Ralph wrote:

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Someone, somewhere, mentioned Sho-Gun by James Clavell. Isn't this a part of a series? I have this and Noble House, but would like to read Clavell's Japanese novels in the correct order - first to last.


Shogun is independent and the only one taking place in Japan (17th C).

Noble House is part of a group of 2 or 3 (Rat something) that take place in Hong Kong, from the 19th C to the present.

I adored Shogun, the novel as well as the TV series.

I found the other books I tried by James Clavell to be very different, and I gave them up after a few pages.


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Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:51 am
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Ralpalinos,
I don't know if you've had the horrible feeling of not being sure whether you read a certain book. I like Walker Percy a great deal and know the title but am not sure if I read The Second coming. Isn't that terrible? It would have been well over 20 years ago if I had. I will check it out of the library and then will surely be able to tell!

I am not really a voracious reader (as you seem to be). I read a lot relative to the average person, is all. I can highly recommend Percy's The Moviegoer, Love in the Ruins, and The Thanatos Syndrome. Percy reminds me a bit of the British writer Iris Murdoch, I think because both were philosophers who infused their fiction somehow with their ideas while being perfectly entertaining.

By my bedside, by the way, I have H.D. Thoreau's A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers.



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James Clavell is the man. I haven't yet read Noble House or Whirlwind. Shogun is by far his best novel but Tai-Pan is right up there. If you like Tai-Pan, you'll like Gai-Jin. It's a sequel that continues the family/company feuds.

King rat is a good read if you like his writing style. It's about a guy that's stuck in a Japanese prison camp. He is able to wheel&deal really well and gets luxuries that the other prisoners don't. In the end the prison camp is set free by American G.I.s. He is accused of being a traitor because he's so well fed while the other prisoners are starved.

Right now I'm reading Out of Chaos by Halle and Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. Both books are really dry so far. Out of Chaos isn't as intellectually stimulating as Men and Nations. I think it's just too over my head. :clown:



Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:54 am
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Currently I am reading Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes, which is a short story collection by Peter Watts. I really like Peter Watts science fiction; in particular Starfish is one of my favourite novels. Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes has an excerpt from Starfish as the first story, and I read it again despite the fact that I've read the novel three times in the past few years.

I intend to turn my blog here into a mini-review sort of thing, so hopefully I'll be posting about the book in more length there when I finish it. I read four books in three days, the day after I made this decision about my BT blog, so I'm a bit backlogged....

I just finished reading Naked Lunch, which I was reading for a book club I go to once a month. It was ... very interesting and horribly unpleasant. I can't even say whether or not I would recommend it to others!

When I am done Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes I was thinking of reading something by Martin Amis... I have a few of his books that I picked up at the local used bookstore, and I really enjoyed Night Train, which I read a few months ago.


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Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:07 am
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Hi everyone -

It's good to see that lot's of us are reading because we like to read; not because we're supposed to read a particular novel or because we want to learn more of the philosophy of Kant. A good story is a good reason to pick up a book.

Penelope, I read something similar to the diaries you are reading, years ago. If I remember correctly, it was a sort of an oral history of the poor during the Great Depression in the United States. Stories of sacrifice and heroism in the face of enormous deprivation and want. And I remember something about a WPA project in which writers, during and after the Depression, were paid a stipend to write about the people of that time. Maybe DWill knows more about this. Also, the American author, Studs Turkel, is a great source if you're interested in how the people really lived during the 20th century - all of his books are worth reading.

Speaking of diaries, my daughter gave me diaries of both Noel Coward and Andy Warhol when they first came out - both big books and both interesting lives to read about. Unfortunately, I went through a flood and lost everything. I'd like to e-read these two, especially the Coward.

The last book I read about the life of a geisha was written by a man; Memoirs of a Geisha, remember?

Thanks, Ophelia. I thought that Sho-Gun was a part of a series. Good to know that I can go ahead and read it now.

I saw the movie of King Rat, starring George Segal. I think Tom Courtenay, one of my favorites. was also in it.

DWill, yes, I know exactly what you mean. I am constantly finding a book, bringing it home, and then finding that I have already read it. I think that comes from being a life-long reader and, as I discussed with someone another time, the older I get and the less I remember, I will be able to re-read everything with a sense of wonder. Aren't there literally dozens of books you wish you hadn't already read, so you could have the pleasure of reading them for the first time?

I don't believe I've read any of the Walker Percy books which you mention, although I have heard good things of each. Mr. Percy certainly has a way with words; there are so many lines and passages I find myself stopping and re-reading. Excellent writer.

And Thoreau is always an entertaining companion, isn't he?

But I have a new Dave Robicheaux novel by James Lee Burke waiting for me after I finish The Second Coming; I like Burke's writing and his detective Robicheaux a lot.

Theomanic - I don't know if you are male or female, but I think Naked Lunch has been kept alive all these years and even become a minor classic because of male readers. Does that make any sense? I think there are many books which appeal to one gender more than to the other. Jane Austen probably appeals more to women than to men, as do Patricia Cornwall and Nora Roberts. David Morrell and James Ellroy probably appeal more to men than to women. Stephen King seems to appeal to both men and women (when he's good, that is). So do John Grisham and Ruth Rendall. It's late here, am I making any sense?

President Camacho (sounds like a Filipino to me) - I'm glad to hear that you liked Sho-Gun, I look forward to reading it. And I'll have to keep an eye open for Tai-Pan and Gai-Jin.

Happy reading, everyone.

Ralph



Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:04 am
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Ralph: I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure that my gender (female) has affected my opinion of Naked Lunch very much. I do like a lot of novels and authors more aimed at men, for one thing. Also, Naked Lunch seemed to have a pretty high quotient of gay sex, which I would imagine would make a lot of male readers uncomfortable.... maybe not as often these days, but definitely upon its release in the late 50's. I think the main off-putting fact of the book is the cut-up technique which makes a crazy story all the more discombobulated. I don't know that either gender would react better to that sort of style.

I have been thinking of reading Memoirs of a Geisha for some time, but (this sounds crazy) so many people I know who I really dislike love that book. It's like, anyone in my life who I have a strong antipathy towards will have that book on their top ten. It makes me rather disinclined to try it out.


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Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:18 am
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Theo - Memoirs of a Geisha was just a good read and came top of the poles a few years ago when one of our TV channels did 'The Nation's Favourite Read'.

I wouldn't say it was a great book, but I enjoyed it.

Ralph - The diaries I am reading do not always describe terrible hardship. The people mostly do not think of themselves as hard done by anyway. They describe their day-to-day lives, what they ate etc.

One of the men was an apprentice chef to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace and accompanied her to Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral. I find it fascinating to read about the mundane lives and peoples' attitudes to what was happening at the time. It is unusual to find the writings of ordinary folk and I think we get a skewed picture if we only read about the rich and famous.

There is a wonderful one called 'The Diary of a Village Shopkeeper' by Thomas Taylor. He writes from his shop in East Hoatley, Sussex in the 1750's. I have bought no less than four copies of this book, published by Folio Society, to give to friends. We all went to see his shop and pub at East Hoatley early this year. Once you have read his diaries, you keep referring to them for years afterwards. He was an amazing man and I do recommend this book.

Next week we are off to Chester Races - first day on Wednesday. We go on this one day every year - for the last upteen years. Wish me luck.

The week after we are going to France to visit Ypres, so if I am quiet on the forums.....don't worry I will be back as opinionated as usual. :smile:



Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:38 am
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First, on my night table are too many books! Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, Your Inner Fish, Word of Mouth (Poems Featured on NPR), The whistling Season (book club book) by Ivan Doig, and always there is a book by Pema Chodron (today it is The places That Scare You); hardly enough room for the lamp. This is not to mention the small book self next to my bed (a Mary Oliver or two, Walden, Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, Sex on the Brain by Deborah Blum, The Balance Within by Esther Sternberg and I'm afraid the list goes on. I think I am one of those people who does not know how big her stomach is. I am actually reading a few of these!


I'd like to chime in on the diary recommendations. I have one:A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

I read it years ago and loved the detailed descriptions of the weather and landscape - an important skill given available modes of transportation in the late 1700's and the nature of birthing.


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Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:32 pm
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Ooooh I LIKE the sound of that one......A Midwife's Tale.

Thank you for recommending it. I will get a copy and read it whether it is the forum choice or not.

Nice One Saffron!!!

I have just started 'The Bad Mother's Handbook' by Kate Long - fun, fun, fun....



Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:16 am
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Memoirs of a Geisha is a really fascinating novel, I have read it twice...

Right now I am reading a detective fiction: The Falls, by Ian Rankin. I had never read any Rankin novels before and I am enjoying it, the plot is complex and intriguing...



Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:57 am
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I haven't ever found the time to read even the most 'masterpiece' twice.

There are so many books to read.

wrt Ian Rankin - The Wasp Factory. I haven't read it.......but my kids were mightily impressed.......

Of course, what appeals to one generation doesn't always/usually appeal to another. We inhabit different worlds with different priorities....most of the time....but not ALL the time.

Maybe that is what makes a great book....one that can speak to different generations in different countries. We do live in different Worlds.

Nostalgia is a bit of a sickness with me......maybe I should try to keep up.



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I'm currently reading The Terror by Dan Simmons and next up is the Whole World Over by Julia Glass, which is one of the last books I got for Christmas.


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Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:21 am
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Hello everyone -

I haven't been reading so much recently; I get caught up in crosswords and everything else goes out the window. I'm still reading The Second Coming by Walker Percy - excellent book.

I don't think I've ever heard of Ian Rankin. Is he British? From what you write, he seems to be an author I would enjoy. It's strange, isn't it, how some authors travel well and some don't. I mean, I suppose Stephen King and John Grisham and Ruth Rendall are read around the world - this is just supposition on my part, I don't know if it's true or not. But I would imagine that many novels never make it past the shores of the country in which they are published, for whatever reason. Or maybe in this day and age, everything is published everywhere. What do you think? Is Garrison Keillor read outside the United States?

Penny, I do hope that someday you will find something by Studs Turkel and read it; he's been an American icon for decades, but is still around. He writes about the masses, the people who go to work everyday to jobs many of us would abhor, their struggles and triumphs. He's written so many - all of them good.

Perhaps you could put some of your winnings from the races toward a good book!

Yes, Theomanic, Naked Lunch was a shocker in it's day - is it still? I haven't read it in years, but I did pick up a copy of Grace Metalious' Peyton Place a couple of months ago and it's still a pretty amazing book for it's time and, IMHO, very well written.

And Constance, my daughter told me that she loved The Terror - are you enjoying it? I haven't been able to find it yet.

Now, here's a question for everyone. I have heard about a current, popular lady novelist who, when a young girl, together with her girl-friend, committed a crime (I think it was murder). I think they both spent time in prison. Anyway, when she got out of prison, she changed her name and became a best-selling novelist. I'd really like to know more about this; does anyone know if a book was ever written about this case? I do know that their was a movie made of the incident wherein she and her friend committed the crime. It was quite a popular movie when it was released (I think it was an English film - or maybe from Ireland). I can't remembr the name of the movie - but maybe it was based on a book. Anyone ever hear of this?

Have a great holiday, Penny. I see on the BBC that Gone With the Wind, the musical, has just opened in the West End - to horrendous reviews; I'd love to see it.

Ralph



Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:03 am
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