The Next Best Book Club discussion

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Every Sunday I read the NY Times book reviews and get all excited. I can't be the only one, right?

This week I'm excited about: Holy Warriors - A Modern History of the Crusades. I've been looking for a new book on that period. What're you excited about?


message 2: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) I usually only get really excited about new books that come out by my favourite authors. Then I feel pretty confident the book is going to rock and I can't wait to try it.

Right now the only one I'm waiting for is a nerd fest, Under Heaven by my favourite Canadian fantasy author.

Or else it's books that come out with a lot of hype so I want to see what all the fuss is about. Unless I know the person and the kind of books they like, then I don't usually trust reviews.


message 3: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I don't get the NYT, and I rarely remember to check the site. But today, for you, Alex, I did. :P LOL

I would love to read Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades and Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death and So Much for That looks interesting too.


message 4: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) I took a look at the reviews and the only thing that caught my eye was the children's section (pretty pictures distract me). There's 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up that I think would be fun to look through, just to get nostalgic about all the stuff you read as a kid.


message 5: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) That would be cute. I wonder how many of them I've actually read. I might have to take a look at that one. :)


message 6: by Bhumi (new)

Bhumi | 524 comments I'm pretty sure there was this NYT article about Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation by Ellen Fitzpatrick, and I was super excited because I already owned the book from First Reads!


message 7: by Alex (new)

Alex I also saw two new children's books in this article that I'm gonna buy for my niece:

Bubble Trouble
and In the Town All Year 'Round.

You're the best friend I've ever had, Becky.


message 8: by LDB (new)

LDB | 45 comments Every weekend I read the book review sections in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post (I love the NYT ones too but I have to draw a line somewhere... I find myself spending more time reading GR and reviews than I do actually reading!).

The ones that I liked from this weekend's reviews are:
- Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir a Kenyan memoir by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
- The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis
- Blackout by Connie Willis - a scifi/historical novel (actually reviewed on Thursday)

Each attracts different parts of me - my Africa lover, my MBA persona, and my fiction lover. Of course, who knows when I would ever get around to actually reading any of them...


message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) It's a tough job, Alex, but somebody's got to do it. ;)


message 10: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) Blackout looks good, LDB!


message 11: by Alex (new)

Alex Hey LDB! I was just saying hi to you over on the Africa group. Yeah, I know what you mean, I'll suddenly realize I've been reading about and talking about books for like an hour...when I could've been reading a book. That Kenyan book looks very cool.


message 12: by Marti (new)

Marti (marjay) | 985 comments I have seen this book in several places recently - not just the NYT. I think The Solitude of Prime Numbers By PAOLO GIORDANO sounds interesting. I have to see books in more than one place before I get excited about them unless they are by an author I know already. SO MANY BOOKS AND SO LITTLE TIME.


message 13: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10089 comments Mod
I really want to get my hands on Saramagos new translations for "Cain" and "Notebook"... as well as bolano's two newest "Monsiour Pain" and "Antwerp".


message 14: by El (new)

El I think The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage looks pretty fantastic. I'll be checking that one out as soon as I can.


message 15: by Alex (new)


message 16: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) Ha, it's funny cause it's true! I wonder how many of those words are in my pathetic little reviews...


message 17: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 94 comments Alex wrote: "Also: book review bingo."

Alex, a rollicking page turner. LMAO


message 18: by Alex (new)

Alex Happy Sunday, everyone! Yo El, this seems up your alley. Russians and stuff.


message 19: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) Occupied City and Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History sound really neat this week.

The best-seller lists always make me puke. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter...gross.


message 20: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 94 comments McNovels


message 21: by El (new)

El Thanks, Alex, that's a great article. And it reminded me that I haven't even read Dostoyevsky's The Possessed, so I feel like I'm missing some vital piece of information in this article. I do want to read Elif Batuman's book, too. (But I think I'm about due for a break on the Russians again.)


message 22: by Alex (new)

Alex I realize "this sounds like a good thing to read along with Moby Dick" isn't exactly the most exciting recommendation, but The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea sounds awesome.

Check this out: "Unlike any other known substance, sperm whale oil works as a lubricant in the extra­ordinarily cold temperatures of outer space." How do you even discover that?


message 23: by Alex (new)

Alex Excerpt from Mathilda Savitch, when the narrator ends up in a church: "I give Jesus the up down, since he’s basically flaunting himself. He doesn’t have a bad body. Skinny but there’s muscles. You could imagine his routine was jogging or swimming. He’s dressed pretty skimpily in like baggy Speedos. It’s not a great look, it’s a little diapery." That's funny.


message 24: by Jayme (last edited Mar 28, 2010 11:49AM) (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) I totally thought I had The Whale on my to-read list, but I guess I missed it. Thanks for reminding me about that book.

Oh, I figured it out. They combined the editions. I guess it had a different title for a different edition?

Anyway, you're supposed to link to the review section so I don't have to look it up, Alex. Can't you do anything?


message 25: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) The History of White People looks pretty interesting. Except even saying that makes me feel like I'm in a Seinfeld episode, "Should we be talking about this?".


message 26: by Alex (last edited May 13, 2010 06:27AM) (new)

Alex I did link to the review section, twatfritter. It's the "sounds awesome" link.

I'm torn on History of White People. (Review.) I'm interested from a scientific view, but not a social one.


message 27: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) That's too tricky for me. You gotta spell it out or I won't get it.

Well duh, you'd be a Nazi if you were interested from a social one.


message 28: by El (new)

El Jayme, The History of White People does look interesting. But yeah... I think I would cause a riot on the bus if I was seen reading it. I remember the time my friend tried to read The Satanic Verses on the bus on our way to work. He was nearly run out on a rail. They just saw the title and assumed it was BAD.


Alex, glad you're able to throw "twatfritter" into conversation. I'm still trying to use it in my daily life. It's not really appropriate for work-conversation, and most of my daily conversations are of the work variety these days. Except when I'm babbling about 90210 or some such.


message 29: by Alex (new)

Alex I've recently been self-conscious about reading Heart of Darkness and the Communist Manifesto. Honestly though, I'm always hoping someone will call me out just so I can argue with them. No one ever does. I'm so sad.

Yeah, I was pleased to have twatfritter at my disposal for this conversation.


message 30: by El (new)

El Would it help if I just randomly call you a douche for reading those books? I don't really believe it, but I don't want you to be sad. (BTW, try reading that other Conrad novel in public. You might at least get dirty looks.)


message 31: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) I just noticed that History of White people is not written by a white person. This makes me me happy, at least you know for sure there won't be anything...iffy about the reason for writing it! But you're right, El, I definitely wouldn't read it on the bus, or at work, or anywhere but my home. And I would order it online rather than buy it at the bookstore. This makes it sound more like a dirty movie than a history book.


message 32: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) Oh my god, I had no idea he had a book called that, El!!!


message 33: by Alex (new)

Alex Maybe there's a huge photo of the author on the back and we could attach a sticky note with an arrow that says SEE? NOT RACIST, SRSLY.

It's been a douchey couplea months between those two, Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. But hey, now I know what the fuss is. Sortof.


message 34: by El (new)

El Speaking of potentially douchey people, The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful and, Sometimes, Lonely Man Who Created "Alice in Wonderland" looks sort of interesting. And it has a long title (and a lot of commas!) which I always think is fun. SLATE REVIEW.


message 35: by Alex (last edited Mar 29, 2010 01:41PM) (new)

Alex Yeah, I've seen a couple of reviews of that...it does look a little interesting. But what we all really want to know is whether he was a perv or not, right? And from what I know, nobody knows or ever will because there's no evidence about what caused his estrangement from Alice and her family.


message 36: by El (new)

El The real estrangement was probably something super lame, like Carroll wouldn't let Alice get a pony or something.



So for those of us who are NPR-nerds (and proud of it!), I saw this list which includes The Line. I'm sort of geeking out over that one now.


message 37: by Alex (new)

Alex Pony deprivation is serious business, El. I didn't get a pony either, and look how I turned out. Geeking out over NPR book lists on the internet.

The Line does look pretty cool. And I'm intrigued by All the Tea in China too.


message 38: by Kaion (last edited Mar 31, 2010 09:54AM) (new)

Kaion (kaionvin) Jayme wrote: "I just noticed that History of White people is not written by a white person. This makes me me happy, at least you know for sure there won't be anything...iffy about the reason for writing it! But ..."

Actually, I learned something about the history of "blackness" and "whiteness" in social psychology. It's really interesting, so I think I'm definitely going to check it out in the future.* (Replacement of class level with "skin color", indentured servitude with slavery, and how opening the vote/more freedoms to more property-less "white" men = fewer freedoms for "nonwhites", Thomas Jefferson as one the first "racial" thinkers.) It's really amazing how much we think along racial lines when it could easily be by other factors.

*But you know, I'm also not white ( ;) ) so maybe I'll just look like a self-hater/ white-majority-suck-up and not a supremacist.

Am I the only one who doesn't like reading reviews? I like not going in with expectations (plus I chronically read like 3 years behind the times).


message 39: by El (new)

El Kaion, I tend to skim a lot of reviews. Otherwise I want to punch someone if I feel like they've told me too much.

I do like to write them though. Go figure.


message 40: by Alex (new)

Alex I read reviews because I really, really hate getting into a book and realizing I don't like it. It makes me mad because there are so many awesome books I could be reading, and instead I'm wasting my life on whatever this is. It's overwhelmingly important to me. Too bad in a way though, 'cause I definitely see your point: it's nice to go into books without having any idea, too.

What ethnicity are you? I hope it's something really weird.


message 41: by Alex (new)

Alex I dunno...Mongolian? That'd be pretty weird. Or if you were from Papua New Guinea! That'd be awesome. There's a kid from Bahrain around here somewhere, that's pretty cool. Vietnam...eh. Whatever.

I kid. That's awesome. Coincidentally, that's exactly at the top of my next-to-visit list. My wife and I have never been anywhere in Asia. I've always had a thing for Vietnam; it looks so beautiful, and I really like Vietnamese food. Like, a lot.

Have you been there?


message 42: by JenniferD (last edited Mar 31, 2010 02:30PM) (new)

JenniferD (jooniperd) Kaion wrote: "Am I the only one who doesn't like reading reviews? I like not going in with expectations (plus I chronically read like 3 years behind the times). "

Hi Kaion. No, you're not the only one. With fiction, I don't mind a brief premise/overview of the novel but I don't want to know the nitty gritty beforehand. I read reviews after I have finished a book so I can be all judgey-judgerson on the lame-o's who have a different opinion than mine. I use the reviews for new ideas then add books to my unruly monstrosity of a reading list. Like El, I enjoy writing reviews. There is some weird dichotomy at play. I also seem to be perpetually behind the times with my reading. For example, I just finished reading The Sea by John Banville. It came out in 2005.

Having said all of that, I do look forward to the Sunday NYT - particularly the book section.


message 43: by Loretta (new)

Loretta El wrote: "I think The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage looks pretty fantastic. I'll be checking that one out as soon as I can."

If you're interested in that, you might also want to check outLady Franklin's Revenge, which tells the story of Franklin's relationship with his wife and her ongoing search for him - I found it fascinating. Although it looks like there would be a some overlap between the two books, the different perspectives would be interesting, if you're generally interested in Northwest Passage history.


message 44: by Loretta (new)

Loretta I'm a Canadian so I usually check out the Globe and Mail book section on the weekend, although I haven't even been doing that lately. If it's a review of a book I already know about and want to read - I might skip the review (like reviews of Kay's new book Under Heaven - I know enough to know I already want to read it.

I do enjoy reading reviews in the paper though to discover things I might not otherwise come across.


message 45: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) Yay! You're the second person I've seen here who's excited about Under Heaven! I'm so psyched to read it. Two more days til it comes out and I'm 1 on the library list to get it!


message 46: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jayme-reads) I didn't see anything interesting in todays reviews...


message 47: by Christy (new)

Christy Stewart (christyleighstewart) | 166 comments I've started to do reviews on Youtube...

http://www.youtube.com/user/MissHGiel

But, most of the time I just talk about personal stuff about me or gossip about authors.

.....And show a lot of slash fanart.


message 48: by Mary (new)

Mary (madamefifi) | 358 comments I have found some interesting books via The New Yorker. Best seller lists are notoriously disappointing, in my experience, especially the one on Amazon with its heavy concentration of vampire romance and chick-lit-lite.

Speaking of books that would get you dirty looks on the bus...I heard from a Canadian GR member about a book published in the US under the title Someone Knows My Name, only she used the Canadian title--The Book of Negroes, so I, not knowing about the more PC title, tracked down and bought The Book of Negroes. Needless to say, it was not a book I whipped out to read in public.


message 49: by Alex (new)

Alex Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris sounds weird and interesting. I might give it a shot.

God knows we don't need another freakin' zombie book, but Feed sounds like sortof an interesting take. Zombie stories are by nature apocalyptic; this one looks like it takes the approach that life is moving right along, just with a new hassle.

Coincidentally, I just started Holy Warriors, the book I opened this thread with. It's good!


message 50: by Jessika (new)

Jessika (jessalittlenerdy) So glad I spotted this thread! While, I don't read the times, I love love love the NY Times Book Review podcast. Does anyone else listen?


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