Advertisement
Boards Golf Society are looking for new members for 2022...read about the society and their planned outings here!
How to add spoiler tags, edit posts, add images etc. How to - a user's guide to the new version of Boards

corblimey has got too many books

1456810

Comments



  • 40. Yes Prime Minister (Lynn, Jay). This could so easily have been a lazy tv tie-in script book, but it's raised to a new level with the wonderful framing devices that are used: Hacker's diaries, Bernard's conversations, Humphrey's private papers. In the end you're still left with the scripts but performed in a first person way from each character that really makes a difference. And almost 30 years later, still one of the funniest sitcoms on telly.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFF




  • 41. I Am Pilgrim (Hayes). Extremely dull spy novel. Poorly written, overly long, flashback-heavy (the writer's equivalent of that lazy TV device, "3 weeks earlier) and utterly implausible. I stopped reading the Reacher novels because the protagonist was too good, and this has the same problem. Avoid.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFf




  • 42. And the Mountains Echoed (Hosseini). I really enjoyed the other 2 Hosseini books I've read, but this one less so. It has less of the cultural anchoring evident in the previous 2 books, and most of it takes place outside of Afghanistan. So you end up with a banal tale about a brother and sister who are parted early in life and the paths their lives take. Not my cup of tea.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFff




  • 43. The Boys in the Boat (Brown). Fairly interesting tale of the Washington collegiate rowing crew who "boated" in the 1936 Olympics. It's quite bloated - the repeated jump-cuts to Hitler and what he's up to is unnecessary, documented better in other more focussed titles - and it's a bit difficult to get any sort of tension out of 8 men rowing a boat, considering the subtitle of the book. But once they get to Germany, the final few chapters are quite gripping. I had no idea that rowing was such a popular college sport!

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffN




  • 44. The Wolf of Wall Street (Belfort). Self deluded pr*ck gets rich, gets indicted, writes a terrible book. Ugh.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNn


  • Advertisement


  • 45. Fawlty Towers (McCann). From the same guy who brought the brilliant Spike and Co, comes this less than stellar effort at one of the best sitcoms to ever grace the tv screen. Seeing at its focus is so tiny, it's perhaps not surprising that there's an awful lot of filler in here, full plot recaps along with several chunks of dialogue, lists and lists of what the stars did before and since, and an entirely ridiculous chapter which basically imagines a back story for the characters. Not good

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnn




  • 46. Cubed: The Secret History of the Workplace (Saval). Hmm, I'm not sure what to make of this one. It "explains" the genesis of the office, which is quite a fuzzy concept to begin with, so it doesn't really know what to do with itself until office buildings start coming into play around the turn of the 20th century. It takes all sorts of faintly interesting diversions along the way, but it's not just very interesting, maybe it's the subject, maybe it's the writing style, it's just a bit bland.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnn




  • 47. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic (Lansing). Wow, what a book to break a bad run. I was surprised as I started to read it how little I actually knew about Shackleton's voyage, and the hardship the men put up with. Lansing wastes no time in getting to the part where teh crew abandon ship after it becomes beset by ice and starts to break apart and then spends time cataloguing their quite miserable days, months and years. Its aided throughout by diary entries which lend an air of banality to the whole unbelievable situation. The final few chapters are absolutely gripping.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnnN




  • 48. Berlin: The Downfall (Beevor). The somewhat-sequel to Stalingrad (which is still on my shelf) tells the story of the Red Army sweeping across Eastern Europe. It's a fairly grim tale, the talk of rape starts around page 25, and contains lots of human misery and killing, interspersed with the spiralling events in Berlin as the Bolsheviks approached. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the period, but I won't say I enjoyed it.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnnNn




  • 49. The Uncollected David Rakoff (Rakoff). A new author for me, and I thought I'd try with a collection, but maybe this is the wrong collection. Maybe this is the bottom of the barrel stuff, writings not considered good enough to have been 'collected' previously. Whatever it is, it's not very good, sub-Sedaris for the most part, and not in the least bit amusing. The 75 page poem closing out the book feels a bit self indulgent too.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnnNnn


  • Advertisement


  • 50. The Great Bridge (McCullough). If you didn't think it was possible to describe the building of one bridge in 600+ pages, this is the book that will change your mind. In fairness, it covers a potted history of bridge building, the people involved, the political shenanigans, etc. But for the most part, it's long technical descriptions of how to build an actual bridge. Unfortunately, I'm not in the least bit architecturally minded, so I tended to glaze over during these long narratives. I'm giving it a pass for the story around the bridge.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnnNnnN




  • 51. The Santaland Diaries (Sedaris). Fast becoming a festive tradition now -- I first read it in 2012, then last year listened to the radio version, and this year, got the full book. It's a slim volume and the Santaland Diaries only take up less than half the book, but the rest of the offerings are pretty good, if not on a par with the feature story.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnnNnnNN




  • 52. Defending Jacob (Landay). I've gone completely off fiction this year, so when I do wade back into its murky waters, it's usually for a book that has been sitting on my to-read list for quite some time. According to Amazon, I bought this in June 2013, so what better time to read it than St Stephen's day 2015. It's not great, really, it's one of those books where you're expecting twists & turns and a satisfying ending that brings it all back around, but it mostly fails to deliver.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnnNnnNNf




  • 53. Human Transit (Walker). My final book of 2015 is a quite interesting study of public transit, and the planning and decisions that are involved along the way. I would've preferred a few more real-world examples sprinkled throughout particularly of the 'what is wrong vs what is right' variety, and some of the diagrams feel like space filler, but if you're at all interested in public mobility, it's a darn good book. Nice way to end the year.

    FnNnnnNFNNNNfNnnFNnNNFNNNFNFnNnFNnnnnfFFffNnnnNnnNNfN




  • And that's it for 2015: 53 books read, 39 (74%) of them non-fiction. Just over half of what I read in 2014, but this was due to doing something else for the first 4 months of the year. Back to reading full time next (this) year, and I'm considering getting even more done on Saturdays instead of watching the idiot box. Here's my personal top 10 for 2015:

    Title|Author
    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic |Lansing
    Armchair Nation|Moran
    Yes Prime Minister|Lynn
    Survival in the Killing Fields|Ngor
    Santaland Diaries |Sedaris
    A Thousand Splendid Suns|Hosseini
    Console Wars|Harris
    Wiseguy|Pileggi
    Human Transit|Walker
    The Devil in the White City|Larson




  • 1. Made in America (Bryson). Nothing like starting the year off with a bang, and they don't come much bangier than this. I was expecting a deep dive into the American language and traditions, much along the lines of Melvyn Bragg's Adventure of English, but this is so much more. I don't (yet) know too much about American history, so some of the myths Bryson blows up weren't too familiar to me, but a lot of it blew my mind is a sort of 'but... hey!' kind of way. A huge selection of themes and a sweeping timeline means that this will be difficult to beat for book of the year, already!

    N




  • 2. Easily Distracted (Coogan). Well the one good thing about reading so many books is that you can quickly form opinions of entire genres. I've decided I don't like memoirs/autobiogs, based on this and the Roy Keane one from last year. I'm just not interested in celebrities enough to make it worthwhile. This one also suffers from hearing Alan Partridge's voice throughout, especially when Coogan is preening which he does quite a bit. It stops just before his "drugs hell" and "whirlwind of drug fueled parties" to quote Daily Mail, so expect a sequel, which I'll be avoiding.

    Nn




  • corblimey wrote: »
    And that's it for 2015: 53 books read, 39 (74%) of them non-fiction. Just over half of what I read in 2014, but this was due to doing something else for the first 4 months of the year. Back to reading full time next (this) year, and I'm considering getting even more done on Saturdays instead of watching the idiot box. Here's my personal top 10 for 2015:

    Title|Author
    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic |Lansing
    Armchair Nation|Moran
    Yes Prime Minister|Lynn
    Survival in the Killing Fields|Ngor
    Santaland Diaries |Sedaris
    A Thousand Splendid Suns|Hosseini
    Console Wars|Harris
    Wiseguy|Pileggi
    Human Transit|Walker
    The Devil in the White City|Larson

    I got Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic as a Christmas present based on your review. Looking forward to reading it.




  • 3. Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country (Bryson). Australia is not on my list of places to visit (although unluckily New Zealand is, so I'll probably go to Australia by default) and this brilliant travelogue really spelled out to me why not. It's too big, too depopulated and too full of things that want to kill you. Bryson's travel writing has gone down somewhat in my estimation after his great history-based books, but this is a top choice, even for those of us who's Australia experience is best confined to re-runs of Neighbours.

    NnN




  • 4. The Mark Inside (Reading). There are 2 books at play here, the main one is about a 'character' called Norfleet who (twice) gets swindled and then exacts his own revenge on the gang by hinting them down and getting them sent to jail. This is far less interesting that the second book which details the history of the 'con' from small time confidence men up to the stock market of the 1920s. Very interesting, but it does suffer from the main story which is fantastical to the point of disbelief in places.

    NnNN


  • Advertisement


  • 5. The Martian (Weir). Fun (attention Golden Globes: not "funny" per se, just "fun") book although the sciencey bits scattered throughout were a bit above my pay grade. What I liked most about it was how mundane it made being trapped on Mars seem. On the other side, mere light minutes away, the story around NASA's side of the situation is quite cleverly told, albeit just conference calls and team meetings. Easy to see why it was snapped up so quickly by Hollywood.

    NnNNF




  • 6. Cool Tools (Kelly). I have no idea why I even bought this, and its size and composition makes it difficult to read anywhere except sitting up at a table. Add to that the fact that 98% of it has no bearing on my interests or life (carpentry, baby care, mulching) and I'm surprised I made it all the way through (well I skipped several hundred non-interesting pages on the way). I'm also not sure of its function, seeing as it would by definition be out of date as soon as it was printed - the internet has a lot to answer for.

    NnNNFn




  • 7. Yes Prime Minister (Lynn, Jay). It took me a while to realise that I had only read half of the Yes Prime Minister scripts last year and even longer to find a copy of the book online. I finally got a second hand Americanized version of the full series, so started halfway through. Unfortunately, the second half can't touch the first half, the last few episodes get quite preachy and they seem to contain political manifestos from the writers who were taking themselves a bit too seriously by this point. This never happened on The Thick of It. It still has its moments, and perhaps the fact that it turns out I've not seen most of the episodes either makes it hard to imagine the words coming from the brilliant cast, slightly lessening the impact. We'll see, I plan on addressing that last point this weekend.

    NnNNFnn




  • 8. The Knowledge (Dartnell). I was expecting a bit more of a sociological experiment in how to 'rebuild our world after an apocalypse', something along the lines of a reversal of Alan Wesiman's The World Without Us. What I got instead was a sort of survivalist's to do list. Since I'm pretty sure when the world comes to an end in a zombie apocalypse, I'll be one of the legless ones trying to drag himself towards Andrew Lincoln, I won't really have much use for knowing how to smelt iron from scratch.

    NnNNFnfn




  • thejaguar wrote: »
    I got Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic as a Christmas present based on your review. Looking forward to reading it.

    Just finished this over the weekend - excellent book - thanks for the recommendation.




  • 9. The Genius (Harris): I consider myself a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, and their 4 Superbowl wins in the 1980s are the only episodes of America's Game I've watched repeatedly. So to read the "inside story" of those wins is pretty compelling. It deals with the off season (draft, training camp and whatnot) and then each season of headcoach Bill Walsh's career in alternate chapters. It's well written and if you don't know the results beforehand, quite interesting. Recommended

    NnNNFnfnN




  • 10. You Are Awful - But I Like You (Moore). The author buys a terrible car, travels to terrible towns in the UK, stays in terrible places, eats terrible food, etc etc. The question one might raise would be "why?", and the answer could well be "cos I wanted to write a book". It's miserable all the way down, really, with some very brief glimmers of humour or hope buried in the morass.

    NnNNFnfnNn




  • 11. Human Universe (Cox). The keyboardist from D:Ream has some wacky ideas about space, time and spacetime. Like most books of its ilk, I follow things along nicely but at some point, my brain starts leaking out of my ears as the difficulty spike ramps up. Some nice ideas, and maybe one day when I'm smartier, I'll understand most of it.

    NnNNFnfnNnN




  • 12. Penguin Lessons (Michell). A very short book (c200 pages) about a guy who finds a penguin on an Argentine beach filled with dead brethren due to an ecological 'mishap'. He takes it in and ... they solve crimes. No, they don't. It's quite slight actually, nothing much happens, but it's a nice enough tale, mostly containing penguin-led anecdotes. P-p-p-pick it up today (sorry).

    NnNNFnfnNnNN


  • Advertisement


  • 13. Transit Maps of the World (Ovenden). My transformation from cool dude into train nerd is almost complete :D. This is a fascinating look at the urban train systems of "every" city in the world. Some of the maps come with no commentary making them far less interesting to me, and I was surprised at how many cities are expanding their systems (an awful lot of them due for completion next year for some reason), but 90% of the book is one of those where you could lose 15 minutes just looking at a subway map.

    NnNNFnfnNnNNN


Advertisement