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What book are you reading atm?? CHAPTER TWO



  • Registered Users Posts: 14,408 ✭✭✭✭Arghus

    So, the most recent reads:

    No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood: This one sat on the shelf for a while. I dunno why: it's a pretty thin book, but, three years after I bought it, I finally got around to reading it. 

    It is pretty good, but I think a lot of readers would struggle with the first half of the novel, which is essentially plotless. It takes the form of an episodic stream of consciousness type of vignettes of the observations of a woman who has achieved some level of social media fame and her interactions with the internet and how that's informed and influenced every part of her life. It's distracting, scattershot, permanently aware and ironically arch. It nails a lot of the sense of everything being a giant connected, but ultimately weightless information mush that we're all bulldozed with everyday. I enjoyed it, but I could see a lot of people saying "what the hell is this?"

    The second half of the novel deals with a family tragedy - which is clearly autobiographical. The structure of the novel here is still episodic and elliptical, but a lot of it really hits and some of it is properly devastating. The first half was playful. The second purposely takes the rug out from under you, using a repurposed version of the style from earlier. Lockwood is a poet by trade and it's obvious in her turn of phrase, ability to nail a specific feeling in a new and unexpected way, unusual imagery... and so on. A decent read, often excellent - the second half is beautiful.

    Breast & Eggs by Mieko Kawakami : Thirty something single woman in Japan struggles with the options available to her, financially and around the thorny issue of motherhood - mainly whether to have a child, or if it's even ethical to do so in the first place.

    To be honest, while this novel has some good things going for it - it was an eye opener for me to be brought into that world of the desire to be a mother, irrespective of whether any guy needs to be involved - I found the novel itself to be a pretty flat reading experience. 

    Maybe it's an issue with the translation, but everything was a bit inert and grey: even when it was about some of the more real than real aspects of life. There was a soporific dreamy distance to a good proportion of the novel. Character interactions didn't ring true and parts of the narrative felt unnecessary and disconnected. Not bad, but not my entire cup of tea. But I'm an Irish guy in his thirties, maybe it might resonate a bit more with someone else. I picked it up because it had been feted as being in the same vein as Elena Ferrante's stuff and I was hoping it would be similarity absolutely mind-blowing. Not quite - but not much is.

  • Registered Users Posts: 43,311 ✭✭✭✭K-9

    I gave up on No one is talking about this, wouldn't be a fan of stream of consciousness type stuff. Might try it again going on what you said Arghus as it seems to be worth sticking with it.

    Finished Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent, really enjoyed it. She does a good job in making a character who you are obviously meant to hate at the start, quite sympathetic as the story goes on.

    About two thirds through April in Spain by John Banville. Love the Quirke series of books and this is the best yet. He has finally married and "settled down". The writing about mundane married life stuff, about a guy who thought he never would get married, is just very touching and funny.

    Mad Men's Don Draper : What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons.

  • Registered Users Posts: 135 ✭✭AMTE_21

    The Close by Jane Casey. I’ve read all the books in the series with Maeve and Josh. I thought this was the weakest and it dealt more with their relationship, a will they won’t they scenario. The plot was a bit weak. They go under cover as a couple in a small estate to catch modern day slave owners. Will continue with series as I like Maeve as a character.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,946 ✭✭✭pavb2

    I’m in the middle of A Tale of Two Cities, it’s very descriptive which I think slows things down so much I’ve had to refer to study guides as I’ve missed a number of critical plot points and their significance

    Such as Gaspard outside the cafe at the beginning, his killing of Monsignor, him hiding under the carriage and Defarge being a subversive and the meaning of the wife and her knitting

    Post edited by pavb2 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 IdrisRinatovLinfieldFC

    The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson, the chapter about prejudices. It has some interesting points on how prejudices come about. Some facts there are quite shocking. Yes, I would recommend it so far.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,229 ✭✭✭bullpost

    Palace of Shadows Ray Celestin

    Read one of his other books and enjoyed it. Just started this one.

  • Registered Users Posts: 135 ✭✭AMTE_21

    My Sister the Serial Killer by Nigerian writer Oyinkan Braithwaite. Originally published as an e book so it’s very short. About two sisters, one of whom is very beautiful and men all fall in love with her, but unfortunately she has a habit of stabbing them and killing them. She then contacts her sister to get rid of the body! Funny in places and a bit different.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,946 ✭✭✭Did you smash it

    Replay by Ken Grimwood; 100 or so pages left. Story of a man who dies young but wakes up many years before hand and repeats that cycle over and over again.

    It was released in 1986. Looking forward to seeing how he ends the story. Surprised it’s never being made into a movie or tv series.

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,403 ✭✭✭✭Tauriel

    Abandon Ship: Shipwreck in Art by Carl Douglas, Bjorn Hagberg and Martin Widman

    Lovely book which shows some of the most critically acclaimed artworks over the past 500 years on the theme of shipwrecks. Each painting/photograph is accompanied with a description of the shipwreck or a particular incident which inspired the artist to put paint to canvas. Notable ships included in this edition are the HMS Victory, the Lusitania and the Bismarck.

    Post edited by Tauriel on

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 11,197 Mod ✭✭✭✭Say Your Number

    The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin.

    Written in 1971 based in 2002, themes of climate change, overpopulation, global hunger and war in the middle east, it's like she had a crystal ball.

    The story is about a man whose dreams alter reality and the doctor who takes advantage of this.

    It's well written and a bit mad, thought it was alright.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 135 ✭✭AMTE_21

    Dear Little Corpses by Nicola Upson. This was set at the start of the Second World War and the evacuation of children from London. When they arrive at the village, a child goes missing. Jacqueline Tey is a crime writer who lives in the village and her friend, a policeman visiting from London set out to find her. It was a good story when it got going but was very slow to start. Reminded me of an Agatha Christie, ye olde English village with friendly and not too friendly locals

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,579 ✭✭✭Tombo2001

    I'd disagree with your point on Claire Keegan & mid-1980s. Bear in mind the timing, 1979 a million people are in the Phoenix Park to see the pope. Mid-1980s nearly everyone in Ireland is still attending Mass every week. Maybe the institutions themselves ( the industrial schools and magdalene laundaries and so on would have had much greater numbers in the 1970s or 1960s, thats probably true).

    But there is also the symbolism of the timing - you'd probably agree with me that the biggest social change in our lifetimes took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s (I'd be roughly the same age, whatever that is 😊). Thats when the country first became richer, when the troubles eased off, when the church scandals really broke with a vengeance and when the country became more liberal and outward looking.

    The mid-1980s was the time of the Kerry babies, of Ann Lovett in the grotto in Granard - which is far more outlandish than what happens in this book and remains absolutely shocking to me today.

    The point of this book for me - a book that condemns the church institutions for children is completely in tune with how this country currently thinks - you wont find many people who will disagree with that point of view. However I think the point of this book is to project people back to when it would not have been a mainstream view at all.

    The comparison I'd make is with Berlin in the late 1980s just before the wall came down. The country was still in the icy grip of the Church/ State depending on which country you are talking about and it was a brave person at that point who would go against the flow. We can all be brave after the event. Somebody has to be the first to do it. The mid-1980s was the tipping point; when it was all about to change in a big way.

    I read Small Things Like these a few weeks back, and read So Late in the Day over the weekend. There is no doubting she is a brilliant writer - her sentences are so well crafted. Never too dense, never too wordy, beautifully written and worth re-reading. By far my favourite Irish writer at the moment.

    The theme of the second book - I wondered the same as the first - is she just picking easy targets here. With the me-too movement and so on, there is a very wide discourse in society about gender. Again, she has a subtle take on it; but one which cuts to the heart of the issue in a way in which a lot of the sensationalist social media discourse absolutely does not do. People were giving out on goodreads that the book was too short. For me a good book is one that stays with you. The anecdote (memory) within this about the mother/ pancakes (read it) has so much depth, and so many layers to it, it really hits home.

    Post edited by Tombo2001 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,579 ✭✭✭Tombo2001


    The other good books I've read recently:

    Poor - Katriona O'Sullivan. Stunning.

    One Hundred Miracles - Memoir of a Czech lady who is famous Harpsichord player, sent to Auchwitz, survived, then lived under communism, became quite famous. Its a brilliant book, highly recommend.

    John Giles and Liam Brady biographies, both very good.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,069 ✭✭✭Jack Daw

    Last week I finished reading Dead Mans Walk by Larry McMurtry, it's a western and the 3rd of 4 part series (Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo being the first 2 books in the series) and the first prequel novel.Lonesome Dove is probably my favourite book of all time.

    It's a brilliant western and shows how incredibly tough life in the west was and how courageous /foolish the people who eventually tamed the west were.Full of adventure and action yet also captures how incredibly dangerous life was back them for them in the west.

  • Registered Users Posts: 574 ✭✭✭Tigerbaby

    May I thank all of you who espoused "Flashman" over the years. I just finished the first book. What a Cad and a bounder !

    Very enjoyable reading thus far, and very historically informative.

    Reminds me of Bernie Gunther ( by Philip Kerr). another ficticious character set amongst real events and real people.

    But Nothing can match Herr Gunther ! Bernie was a "water-washed diamond in a river of sin", whereas Flashman is the opposite!

    thanks again all.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,579 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    Currently switching between Tales of the Other World, which is an anthology of Irish ghost stories collected by Anne Doyle (yes, the former newsreader), and a re-read of Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box, which is also a most excellent ghost story.

    After these I think I'll finally tackle The Bee Sting.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,229 ✭✭✭bullpost

    Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas

    Book about incident in Spanish civil war where a senior Falangist non-combatant faces a firing squad but supposedly lives. fiction but based on a true story I believe.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,579 ✭✭✭Tombo2001

    Started and didnt finish Shuggie Bain last week - found some of the violence in it to be just a bit gratuitous/ a bit indulgent almost ('not afraid to tackle strong themes') - maybe a completely wrong take by me but anyways….

    One that I really enjoyed a few weeks back was Butchers Crossing by John Williams. Written in late 50s I think, very clear precursor to Cormac McCarthy. Brilliant description of a snowstorm contained within.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,946 ✭✭✭pavb2

    Finished ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and found that characters and incidents that seem innocuous become very significant later on so you have to read slowly to take everything in or even read again. I ended up watching the Peter Cushing film version which added more clarity.

    I then started watching ‘The Hunger Games’ which was entertaining but stopped halfway through as I remembered my daughter had downloaded the trilogy to my Kindle. I enjoyed the story which flowed and was an easier read than Dickens. I’ll return to the film and then start on the 2nd book.

  • Registered Users Posts: 135 ✭✭AMTE_21

    The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. This is a Harry Bosch and Renee Ballard book. I enjoyed it but it was set during the pandemic which was a bit of a downer, who wants to be reminded of those days! It didn’t impede on the storyline which was the murder of an ex gang member, and the assault and rape of women in their homes. It was more a Renee Ballard investigation with Harry giving her a “dig out”.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 30,403 ✭✭✭✭Tauriel

    Everest 1922: The Epic Story of the First Attempt on the World's Highest Mountain by Mick Conefrey

    Interesting retelling of the initial reconnaissance mission in 1921 and the proper first attempt in 1922, which ended in disaster.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,229 ✭✭✭bullpost

    The Thrill of It All - Joseph O`Connor

    Story of a rock band during the '80s.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,069 ✭✭✭Jack Daw

    Seeing as they've just released the TV series of The Tattooist of Auschwitz I thought I;d give my opinion on the book which I read a few months ago.

    Great story and It's very touching and easy to read. However I get the feeling that the writer Heather Morris is not actually a novelist/creative writer and more of a journalist/historian as I wouldn't say the writing is brilliant (although adequate) the reason I say this is that I don't think she manages to fully capture the horror of Auschwitz properly as you don't really get the sense of how bad it must be, maybe because Lale Skoklov's life in Auschwitz was someone privileged (compared to others) and she wanted to capture this aspect more . Also maybe I've been desensitized by reading so many books and seeing so many films and documentaries about the holocaust and it just doesn't quite have the impact anymore as I 100% know what to expect.

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,403 ✭✭✭✭Tauriel

    Road To Surrender: Three Men and the Countdown to the End of World War II by Evan Thomas

    Fascinating insight into the minds of both the Americans and Japanese in the lead up to the surrender of the Japanese to end WWII, with particular emphasis on the impact that dropping the two atomic bombs had on both sides.

  • Registered Users Posts: 135 ✭✭AMTE_21

    The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad. This was a good read. It was set in Pakistan just after partition. There was also flashbacks to the Second World War. It was about a policeman, Faraz Ali who was born in the red light district in Lahore, his mother was a prostitute who became pregnant by a wealthy man who returned and took the boy away to be raised by his cousins. He returns to the red light district when a young girl is murdered, he’s sent by his father who wants him to “bury” the crime. While he is there he tries to track down his mother. It was an interesting book about a place and a time I didn’t know much about. It finished up in the 1970s.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 76,725 Mod ✭✭✭✭New Home

    If you liked that setting and period, do read Kamila Shamsie's books, esp. Salt and Saffron, Kartography and In the City by the Sea. She's an amazing writer.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,036 ✭✭✭BraveDonut

    I have not read the book, but did watch the TV series.
    It confirmed that I am becoming more and more fascinated with the holocaust.
    Does anyone have a recommendation for a non-fiction book that covers that period of history?

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,403 ✭✭✭✭Tauriel

    Night by Elie Wiesel is a must imo. Very short book at barely over 100 pages but he went through a lot more than what Lale experienced.

    I know the Auschwitz Memorial highly recommend Primo Levi's "If This Is A Man" and Viktor E. Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" and I've read both but didn't like either. If you want the gory details Wiesel is the better option.

    I have also read "The Commandant of Auschwitz: The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess" written by Hoess himself as he awaited trial and execution for his crimes. It was basically him alleging that he had no idea of the atrocities that were carried out in Auschwitz despite him being the senior SS officer of Auschwitz.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,451 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice

    Im rereading Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid it's very funny.

    Its also a reminder of why we should read history its the story of his boyhood interspersed with random news stories.

    One was about a book written by a psychiatrist warning that comics were the cause of delinquency and were turning young boys into sex maniacs and instead of being seen for the moral panic it was and laughed at, it was a popular book and taken very seriously.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,069 ✭✭✭Jack Daw

    Not directly linked with Auschwitz but The Book Thief is a brilliant book which concerns that period.