December 2022 Reading Thread

Status
Not open for further replies.

Danny McG

"Kree kruh vergo gebba kalto kree!"
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
7,483
Location
Cumbria UK
Now I'm reading a novel by Celia Rees
Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook
A very interesting (so far) gripping spy yarn about a hunt for a British traitor during WW2, this jumps back and forth from pre war to the 1950s.
 

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2004
Messages
15,601
Location
California
"The German" was a forerunner of the waltz, and though I'd have thought was passe by the 1880s, perhaps by then it was the name of another dance/waltz. So I'd parse the expression that the fair-haired chap was such a good dancer that he led off events among American high society in Newport.
Dancing the German was mentioned in several of Louisa May Alcott's books, which would indicate it was a popular dance in the US for some period of time following our Civil War.

I was always under the impression that it was danced late in the evening, after things got rather boisterous, and therefore Alcott's more virtuous heroines often left beforehand. Not that the dance itself was scandalous, but that good girls like Rose Campbell* (her guardian was a doctor) who didn't want to ruin their health or their morals by keeping late hours (and dancing with gentlemen who had perhaps made a few too many trips to the punchbowl) disappointed their prospective suitors by going home early.

And yes, leading off that particular dance was also mentioned, which indicates a quadrille or cotillion or reel or the like, where there is a head couple to dance the figures first, before the others took their turns.

____

*I recall that Rose did dance it on at least one occasion, but gave it up afterwards because the doctor disapproved.
 

Danny McG

"Kree kruh vergo gebba kalto kree!"
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
7,483
Location
Cumbria UK
The very first image that came into my head when I read leading the German was (thanks to a childhood of War Story pulp comics) a big guy in a Wehrmacht uniform giving it "So vere are you taking me Britischer?"
 

Hugh

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
2,188
Marco Pallis "Peaks and Lamas" (1939)
A remarkable book, providing wonderful insight into the Tibetan cultures in Ladakh and Sikkim at that time. The author, already well versed in Christian mysticism, finds himself increasingly drawn to the parallels at the heart of Tibetan Buddhism, learning Tibetan and studying with Lamas. In addition he writes persuasively and rigorously on the effects of Western culture on traditional ways of life throughout Asia. Sadly, he was writing just before WWII, and this context feels unhappily similar to that of today.
Something of a surprise for me as I thought I was going to be reading a book of travel and mountaineering exploits.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
9,160
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
I have started Ad Astra: 20 Years of Newspaper Ads for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films (2019) by Michael Gingold. Just what the title says, covering the years 1980 to 1999. Besides all the reproductions of newspaper ads, there are quotes for reviews of some of the films at the time of release.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
12,095
Location
Iowa
Marco Pallis "Peaks and Lamas" (1939)
A remarkable book, providing wonderful insight into the Tibetan cultures in Ladakh and Sikkim at that time. The author, already well versed in Christian mysticism, finds himself increasingly drawn to the parallels at the heart of Tibetan Buddhism, learning Tibetan and studying with Lamas. In addition he writes persuasively and rigorously on the effects of Western culture on traditional ways of life throughout Asia. Sadly, he was writing just before WWII, and this context feels unhappily similar to that of today.
Something of a surprise for me as I thought I was going to be reading a book of travel and mountaineering exploits.
When I read the title I thought it was about something going on in the Andes. I was really confuddled when I read Tibet. --- What are lamas doing in Tibet? --- And then I read "studying with Lamas" and the light flows into my dim one track mind.
 

Danny McG

"Kree kruh vergo gebba kalto kree!"
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
7,483
Location
Cumbria UK
When I read the title I thought it was about something going on in the Andes. I was really confuddled when I read Tibet. --- What are lamas doing in Tibet? --- And then I read "studying with Lamas" and the light flows into my dim one track mind.
ECe4WxpXkAEucJz.jpg
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
10,361
Location
Scotland
Apollo Remastered. It wasn't cheap but it is a great pictorial history of the Apollo series with digitally remastered photos I can only describe as incredible.
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
8,614
Location
Scottish Highlands
Probably the last book this year and, sadly, a flop. I might finish Clarke's The City and the Stars before midnight but regardless I'm loving it so far, so it's saved be from a disappointing finale to 2022!

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington
I have no memory of what motivated me to buy this, my first book from Wellington and, sadly, it was very disappointing and won’t be encouraging me to try him again. I get endlessly frustrated by the amount of SF books involving some important mission, frequently critical to the survival of Earth (or wherever/whomever), that gets a crew of incompatible misfits assigned to it. Sure, it might give good narrative drama but it’s about as likely as achieving world peace by locking all the world's leaders into a single room! This book is as bad on that front as they come. Couple that with numerous gaping plot holes; just why does this alien ‘starship’ even have an airlock? (More on that can't be said without massive spoilers.) Who, on their way to explore an unknown alien starship, is going to carry over 7000 metres of climbing rope and pitons with them? I mean…really; could three people even carry 7 kilometres of rope? Add to that decisions being made by the protagonists that are completely and obviously stupid and senseless, except, of course, as plot devices to get things where the author wants them. A shame really, as the basic premise was interesting and could have provided a good story. 2/5 stars

I really don't know why I picked this book up. I don't generally tackle an unknown author without at least a recommendation from someone I trust but I have no memory or note of such for Wellington. So no one to blame but myself!
 
Last edited:

Simbelmynë

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
Messages
117
Location
Birmingham, UK
Finished. I would consider myself mostly an unemotional reader who keeps his distance. I am incapable of reading this book without crying at the ending - or just about any other GGK book now.

Been intending to read GGK for years. 'Children of Earth and Sky' or 'Tigana' for my first one?
It has been a few years since I read the Watch books, but I think that Pratchett’s satire of positive discrimination is both reasonable and safe. I haven’t heard anyone call it out, and the Watch books are regarded very highly in the main.
I'd agree it's reasonable, but the fact that I'm uncertain how to express my opinion about positive discrimination shows how much more highly charged with controversy the issue has become. And my opinion isn't even particularly strong, it's just hard to articulate it. I think an author writing about this issue now would just have to be more sensitive than Pratchett, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

A change for the worse, surely. One of the key jobs of 'art' is to question current thinking. I should very much hope books are still 'allowed' to satirize whatever they like, though sadly you may be right that this occurs less readily now.

Yes, 'art' should question current thinking. Perhaps people are less bold though because in the past comedy has got things so catastrophically wrong. I suggested an episode of the Gervais/Merchant comedy Extras when spending time with my family over Christmas, something we used to enjoy. My god, I'll just say I'm glad the gay member of my immediate family was not present...
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
3,649
Been intending to read GGK for years. 'Children of Earth and Sky' or 'Tigana' for my first one?

Pick whichever tickles your fancy more. I would point out that A Brightness Long Ago is technically a prequel to A Children of Earth and Sky, but you don't lose out for going with that first.

I'd agree it's reasonable, but the fact that I'm uncertain how to express my opinion about positive discrimination shows how much more highly charged with controversy the issue has become. And my opinion isn't even particularly strong, it's just hard to articulate it. I think an author writing about this issue now would just have to be more sensitive than Pratchett, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

While Pratchett does poke a lot of fun at positive discrimination, he pokes fun at the way its set up a lot more than the idea, shows the people given chances as a result as highly worthy, and pokes at discrimination in general more. I think if the world is unable to accept that, then there is a bad thing happening.

I would add that in general authors today seem to go after their topics with a great deal less sensitivity than Pratchett in general showed those days.
 

Danny McG

"Kree kruh vergo gebba kalto kree!"
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
7,483
Location
Cumbria UK

Bick

Luddite Curmudgeon
Supporter
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
4,257
Location
Auckland, NZ
Ursula Le Guin’s Planet of Exile in my Ace Double was excellent. Really well written, and artfully explores what is important and unimportant in defining what it is to be human. One of her Hainish novels.

I’m now starting the other story in the Ace Double, Mankind Under the Leash, by Thomas M. Disch. Given Disch’s reputation for thoughtful or ‘literary’ SF, this Ace book would appear to buck the common impression that these were essentially pulp fiction of low standing. (Not that I have much experience of Ace Doubles, but that’s certainly been my impression up until this week).
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
8,988
Marco Pallis "Peaks and Lamas" (1939)
A remarkable book, providing wonderful insight into the Tibetan cultures in Ladakh and Sikkim at that time. The author, already well versed in Christian mysticism, finds himself increasingly drawn to the parallels at the heart of Tibetan Buddhism, learning Tibetan and studying with Lamas. In addition he writes persuasively and rigorously on the effects of Western culture on traditional ways of life throughout Asia. Sadly, he was writing just before WWII, and this context feels unhappily similar to that of today.
Something of a surprise for me as I thought I was going to be reading a book of travel and mountaineering exploits.
I read much of the book while it was (as I recall) largely that. When it became more of an exposition of Tibetan art, I didn't persist. The edition I have has lots of photos of mountains, cedars (I suppose), etc.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
12,095
Location
Iowa
I finished Hide by Tracy Clark, book one of the Detective Harriet Foster books. Solid enough, "Foster" as she's called is a detective in Chicago who has been gutted by her son's murder many years ago, and her partner's suicide six months ago. She is now trying to find her emotional balance, and a serial killer puts her and the her Chicago precinct into overdrive. Tracy Clark is a multiple winner of crime writing contests. I found nothing wrong with it, but not a lot that made me sit up and take notice either.

Avoid --- Not Recommended --- Flawed --- Okay --- Good --- Recommended --- Shouldn’t be Missed
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top