What are you reading right now?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    What are you reading--or have finished reading?
    What kind of book is it (fiction, nonfiction, biography, comic book, TV guide, cereal boxes, etc.)?
    Would your recommend your book to others? If you're not up to reading right now, what's a book that you read in the past that really made an impression on you?

    Please keep your review fairly short so it's easy to read.

    Just got my copy from the library of The Monk Downstairs for the Book Club, but haven't started it yet.

    I put off Michael Crichton's NEXT (is it any good, Rockgor?)

    Right now, I'm reading, in a kind of haphazard fashion:

    You've Got to Read This Book! 55 People Tell the Story of the Book that Changed their Life. Inspirational stories with lots of good titles; sort of a Chicken Soup for avid readers. I'm reading a couple of entries every morning. It's got me putting even more books on hold at the library.

    Son of a Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows, by Jay Bakker. Interesting account of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker scandal, from their prodigal son's point of view. Hard to put down.

    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clark. This was a Christmas present from one of my former students. It's a highly touted tale in the fantasy genre; sort of an adult Hairy Potter tale about magicians during the age of Napoleon. Just started it (it's 800 pages long!).

    [This Message was Edited on 01/05/2007]
  2. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    The book, Night, is sure powerful, isn't it?

    I read David Burns's Feeling Good years ago, and greatly benefited from it.
  3. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    That's not laziness; that's everybody's problem on here!

  4. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    Marta - Did you like Night and Angela's Ashes? I read those both last year and thought they were very good.

    At the moment, I've just finished War & Peace, so I am starting to compile a list of the books I already have in my possession that I want to read, so I haven't decided on my next title yet. I'll let you guys know when I choose though! :)
  5. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Congrats on finishing War and Peace.

    How was it?
  6. chickadee

    chickadee New Member

    Has anybody read "The Power of Now"? I received this one for a Christmas gift and just can' seem to get into it.
    My son gave it to me and really wants to discuss it with me but if I can't read it, I can't discuss it.

  7. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    Kholmes - War & Peace was an interesting read. Even after finishing it, I feel like I need to do some more research on the Napoleonic warswas that were going on at the time, that Tolstoy commentated on. The portions talking about war were very involved, so I believe that it would be best appreciated if you had a basic knowledge of the history of the time, so you could balance your own judgements of the time and happenings, with Tolstoy's take on them. And, as always, reading a bio of Tolstoy helps a lot in seeing where he was coming from, both in W & P and Anna Karenina. His personal idealogy is very much a part of the book. But the characters he weaves, and the changes in all of them having been through a time of war, whether at home, or on the battlefield (which I think was the point of the story, how war changes people and how life moves on) is the center of the story that all of the wars circle around.

    So, to sum things up, yes I would recommend it to someone who was looking for a challenge, looking for a better understanding of Russian culture during that time, looking to further understand the causes and effects of war on soldiers and civilians.. in all those aspects, it is worth the time. So I feel it was worth the effort I put into finishing it.

    There is one particular passage that I absolutely love.. I'll try to find the text to post here. Tolstoy uses the illustration of a bee hive, and how the bees behave when their world is shaken. It's very detailed and poignent, and it seems spot on to me, describing what people are like after a war or a tragedy has come through their lives.

  8. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    For anyone who is interested. This is the passage from War & Peace that really got my attention. It's an excellent use of illustration to show people's reaction to such a trauma, and I thought relating it to the workings of honey bees was particularly brilliant. That could be because my mother is a bee keeper, so I have seen all that Tolstoy describes firsthand, but you can be the judge on whether it is a well written and well illustrated point.


    Meanwhile Moscow was empty. There were still people in it, perhaps a fiftieth part of its former inhabitants had remained, but it was empty. It was empty in the sense that a dying queenless hive is empty.

    In a queenless hive no life is left though to a superficial glance it seems as much alive as other hives.

    The bees circle round a queenless hive in the hot beams of the midday sun as gaily as around the living hives; from a distance it smells of honey like the others, and bees fly in and out in the same way.

    But one has only to observe that hive to realize that there is no longer any life in it. The bees do not fly in the same way, the smell and the sound that meet the beekeeper are not the same. To the beekeeper's tap on the wall of the sick hive, instead of the former instant unanimous humming of tens of thousands of bees with their abdomens threateningly compressed, and producing by the rapid vibration of their wings an aerial living sound, the only reply is a disconnected buzzing from different parts of the deserted hive.

    From the alighting board, instead of the former spirituous fragrant smell of honey and venom, and the warm whiffs of crowded life, comes an odor of emptiness and decay mingling with the smell of honey. There are no longer sentinels sounding the alarm with their abdomens raised, and ready to die in defense of the hive.

    There is no longer the measured quiet sound of throbbing activity, like the sound of boiling water, but diverse discordant sounds of disorder. In and out of the hive long black robber bees smeared with honey fly timidly and shiftily. They do not sting, but crawl away from danger. Formerly only bees laden with honey flew into the hive, and they flew out empty; now they fly out laden.

    The beekeeper opens the lower part of the hive and peers in. Instead of black, glossy bees- tamed by toil, clinging to one another's legs and drawing out the wax, with a ceaseless hum of labor- that used to hang in long clusters down to the floor of the hive, drowsy shriveled bees crawl about separately in various directions on the floor and walls of the hive. Instead of a neatly glued floor, swept by the bees with the fanning of their wings, there is a floor littered with bits of wax, excrement, dying bees scarcely moving their legs, and dead ones that have not been cleared away.

    The beekeeper opens the upper part of the hive and examines the super. Instead of serried rows of bees sealing up every gap in the combs and keeping the brood warm, he sees the skillful complex structures of the combs, but no longer in their former state of purity. All is neglected and foul. Black robber bees are swiftly and stealthily prowling about the combs, and the short home bees, shriveled and listless as if they were old, creep slowly about without trying to hinder the robbers, having lost all motive and all sense of life. Drones, bumblebees, wasps, and butterflies knock awkwardly against the walls of the hive in their flight. Here and there among the cells containing dead brood and honey an angry buzzing can sometimes be heard.

    Here and there a couple of bees, by force of habit and custom cleaning out the brood cells, with efforts beyond their strength laboriously drag away a dead bee or bumblebee without knowing why they do it. In another corner two old bees are languidly fighting, or cleaning themselves, or feeding one another, without themselves knowing whether they do it with friendly or hostile intent. In a third place a crowd of bees, crushing one another, attack some victim and fight and smother it, and the victim, enfeebled or killed, drops from above slowly and lightly as a feather, among the heap of corpses.

    The keeper opens the two center partitions to examine the brood cells. In place of the former close dark circles formed by thousands of bees sitting back to back and guarding the high mystery of generation, he sees hundreds of dull, listless, and sleepy shells of bees. They have almost all died unawares, sitting in the sanctuary they had guarded and which is now no more. They reek of decay and death. Only a few of them still move, rise, and feebly fly to settle on the enemy's hand, lacking the spirit to die stinging him; the rest are dead and fall as lightly as fish scales.

    The beekeeper closes the hive, chalks a mark on it, and when he has time tears out its contents and burns it clean.

    So in the same way Moscow was empty when Napoleon, weary, uneasy, and morose, paced up and down in front of the Kammer-Kollezski rampart, awaiting what to his mind was a necessary, if but formal, observance of the proprieties- a deputation.

    In various corners of Moscow there still remained a few people aimlessly moving about, following their old habits and hardly aware of what they were doing.

    When with due circumspection Napoleon was informed that Moscow was empty, he looked angrily at his informant, turned away, and silently continued to walk to and fro.
  9. Callum

    Callum New Member

    I've read:

    -"Predator" by Patricia Cornwell (Like all her Kay Scarpetta series)

    -"Cry Wolf" by Tami Hoag: "In the rural parishes of Lousiana's French Triangle, youn women are disappearing one by one, only to turn up on the banks of the bayou, strangles and cast aside where they are sure to be found. But there is one trophy the killer prizes above all others, one woman who must be silenced forever..." Wasn't too crazy about this one, but it was a gift.

    -"Faithless" by Karin Slaughter: "Internationally bestselling crime writer Karin Slaughter brings back her two most fascinating and complex characters - medical examiner Sara Linton and her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver - in a heart-pounding tale of faith, doubt and murder." I did not find it fascinating, complex or heart-pounding. Again, it was a gift...

    -"A Walk to Remember" by Nicholas Sparks. Again, it was a gift.

    -"The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt: "The author of 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' unveils the enigmatic Venice." Really liked it - much more than "Midnight", actually.

    -"Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville: "No better study of a nation's institutions and culture than 'Democracy in America' has ever been written by a foreign observer; none perhaps as good." Amazing how well it stands up 170 years later.

    And now I'm in the middle of "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk: "An exiled poet names Ka returns to Turkey and travels to the forlorn city of Kars. His ostensible purpose is to rpeort on a wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head scarves. But Ka is also drawn by his memories of the radiant Ipek, now recently divorced. Amid blanketing snowfall and universal suspicion, Ka finds himself pursued by figures ranging from Ipek's ex-husband to a charismatic terrorist. A lost gift returns with ecstatic suddenness. A theatrical evening climaxes into a massacre. And finding God may be the prelude to losing everything else. Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, "Snow" is of immense relevance to our present moment." Enjoying it thus far.

    Rehearsals allow much down time for reading...


  10. Callum

    Callum New Member

    You have to let me know what you think of "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell." I didn't think I would like it after the first twenty pages, but I ended up liking it alot...

  11. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    Nobody Loves A Ginger Baby and

    No Wonder I Take A Drink

    by Laura Marney, a Scottish writer. These books are absolutely hilarious.

    Havent started anything since Xmas though.

  12. Lynna62

    Lynna62 New Member

    I have been lurking here and soaking up the warmth. Hope you don't mind if I join you. My head is spinning from the "other side", I think I need a break.

    I have been reading "Songs of the Humpback Whale" by Jodi Picoult. I discovered her in mid-2006 and I have read all of her books except 2. I love her writing style and she writes about such thought-provoking, real-life things.

    My favorite book of hers so far is "My Sister's Keeper", it is about a couple who decide to have a second child because their first child is gravely ill, bone marrow transplants, etc follow. At age 13 the second child decides to refuse to allow herself to be used for any further treatment of her sister.

    In some of her books she writes from the perspective of each of the main characters, each character even has their own font. I really enjoy that.

    Hope you all have a great day and don't mind me "butting in".

  13. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Lynna, there is no such thing as butting in. Anybody and everybody are welcome. Mindbender wanted to know if it was necessary to read a book first.

    No, not really.

    Ken, I finished "Next" by Michael Crighton. It was ok but not one of his best. It's about animals (an ape and a parrot) that are part human.

    Has one of the dumbest covers in the history of printing; A silloutte of a monkey (not an ape) w/ a price code superimposed on him. Is this a rebus for: if you monkey around it will cost you?

    W/ re: to Jim Baker, he was sort of a neighbor of my aunt and uncle in Rochester, Minnesota. The federal prision where he was a guest was just a few blocks from their house.

    Butterfly, have you listened to the opera War and Peace by Prokokiev? Same guy what wrote Peter and the Woof. One time I had guests at my house and a Prokokiev paino concerto was playing in the background.

    One of them said, "What is that awful music? Sounds like Peter and the Wolf." I said, "Well, of course. Same compoer." My guest was very surprised and even a little pleased since he didn't think he knew anything about classical music.

    I tried reading War and Peace when I was 12. Couldn't even keep track of the characters. Seemed like they all had 3 names.

    Tried again a few decades later. Still didn't like it.
    But I liked the movie directed by King Vidor who had directed silent films decades earlier. Good score by Nino Rota. (Nino also wrote an opera. Terrible! Better he stuck to movies.)

    Callum, Tami Hoag, best selling author, is my sister in law. Or more accurately, she is from my home town and she married Dan Hoag. Dan's sister married my brother. Tami is the only famous person from Harmony, Minnesota.

    (Of course there is still time for me to change that.)

    I am not a big fan of her books, but have to get her credit. She created a new genre by merging the romance novel w/ the thriller.

    Tried to read Alex de Tocqueville. More recently tried to read Charles Dickens' account of his visit to America in the 1840s. The writing in both was just too old-fashioned for me.

    Mamapepp, Read David Burns book decades ago. It has sold millions. He also has a workbook w/ exercises. I got it from the library, but had to take it back before I got very far w/ it. I have found cognitive therapy very helpful.

    Gordon brought home a bag of books from the library this afternoon including the latest on everybody's favorite monster, Hannibal Lector.
  14. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I see there's another Marta in the club! Welcome MartaP!

    Would you believe I can't remember the names of the books I just returned to the library?? Of course you would.

    I'm about ready to begin a Stuart Woods book to clear my head. Except for my frequent mutterings about how chauvinistic Woods is they're simple reads. I can zoom through one in a few evenings without any brain strain. I seem to have to do that occasionally. In fact, most of my book selections are now less complex than they once were.

    Oh! Memory dawns. I read "A Girl In A Box" by someone about a young woman working for a secret branch of the CIA in Japan. While I did learn a lot of things I didn't know about Japanese culture, I don't recommend the book.

    Chickadee, The Power of Now has been recommended to me but I have trouble getting into more self-help stuff. I want some good outside help!

    Callum, I envy you friends who give you books!

    Happy reading.


    [This Message was Edited on 01/07/2007]
  15. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Butterfly: Beautiful bee analogy from Tolstoy. Wouldn't it be neat to read the original Russian? We had a bee theme going for a while; The Beekeeper's Apprentice and The Secret Life of Bees were two books that the Book Club read. I have a book by Jay Parini called The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's last year, but I haven't read it yet. I travelled with some students in Siberia in '99 and the native author, Scott Momaday went with us. He had just finished it and recommended the book to all of us.

    Callum: I'm having a little trouble getting into Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but maybe I'll start getting into it like you did after p. 20 or so. The City of Falling Angels looks excellent. I wonder if they'll adapt it to film also.

    Chickadee, MartaP and Marta608: I actually got a lot out of The Power of Now, but I found it a bit repetitious, and I have a hard time living out his philosophy of living completely in the present. Much easier said than done!

    TwinofDar: Did Mollystwin finish Osler's Web finally? You'll make it! It just takes a long time to read. The Medugorje book you're reading sounds interesting.

    [This Message was Edited on 01/07/2007]
  16. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    The cover of "Next" is pretty horrible. I think the message is: Don't monkey around with genetic cross-breeding (I've been trying to avoid that in my spare time)!

    But I love Michael Crichton's disclaimer at the beginning:

    "This novel is fiction, except for the parts that aren't."

    [This Message was Edited on 01/07/2007]
  17. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Like Dorothy Parker I am a "Constant Reader". America's wittiest lady. Alas, not a very happy one.

    And Marta you get a star.

    (We actually used to get little gold stars in grade school. They went on a big chart. For scholarship? No. For good behavior? No. They were for being clean. I don't know if that was a good idea or not.

    Certainly kids should be taught to be clean. On the other hand some kids came from home w/o bathrooms. I remember when I was small we had a tub, but no hot water heater. My mother heated up water on the stove.)

    Well, I see the gnat has swallowed the dog. Or as we used to say in law school, the exception has swallowed the rule. Particularly w/ regard to the rule of hearsay.)

    But gettting back to my original point, or as my Psychology Prof said, "I will now digress back to the point I started from."

    Marta you get a star for being clean. Also for being witty. Also for your clean humor as opposed to dirty wit.

    Will someone please tell me what this man is rambling on about! Doesn't matter. There won't be a quiz. Remember Tom Paxton's song "Rambling Boy"? He wrote is about 35 years ago, but I just heard it for the first time a year or two ago.

    Well, anyhoo, regarding "The Power of Now" and self-help books, Marta wants some outside help. A very good idea. I can recommend a book just out: The Power of Now, Now. I hear it's very soothing.

    And Now, foresooth, I must run.

  18. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    I finished The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve. It was a quick read - one of Oprah's book club. It was worth the few days time it took to read. It's about a the wife of a pilot who's plane goes down, and the mysteries of his life that are unraveled after his death.

    I'm trying to get a few quick reads out of the way early this year, since I want to do that '50 books in 2007' challenge. I'm thinking of starting Posession by A.S. Byatt next, since that's been on my To Read list for a long time.
  19. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Hi Ken,

    Years ago after watching the movie "Schindler's List", I read the book as well as "Schindler's Jews" which gave accounts of some of the survivors and what life was like for them at the time the book was written (I think it was around 1990ish), when most were in their 60s and 70s.

    Although an interesting book, "Schindler's Jews" was rather sad and touching because many of the survivors were still suffering terribly from the brutal effects of the Holocaust and living quite meagerly because they were so traumatized, having lots of health problems, and therefore could not work and make money.

    Some were doing well though and it was inspiring to see those who were so noticeably resilient. Although one has to think that any survivor that made it to their twilight years and could endure tragedy on such a massive scale was resilient as well.

    All the best, Erika

  20. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    After This by Alice McDermott. I swear somehow I thought she was a good writer but I'm not thrilled with this book.
    It's one of those that's not quite uninteresting (disinteresting?) enough to quit reading but drags on...........and on........and on. Kinda like CFS.

    I've reserved a few at the library that should be better - and you watch; they'll all come in at once.

    Now, I'm signing off. (Maybe if I say it often enough I won't need to read the Power of Now. Suppose?)


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