A Good Read: Your Book Suggestions

CALGACUS03

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I'm a historian by nature and education (although I don't work in that field). The best history book I've ever read is The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes.

I can recommend it unreservedly. I've read it several times and it's description of crime and punishment in 18th/19th century Britain and the concerns that made the decision to found a penal colony on the opposite side of the world seem sensible are fascinating.

The growing pains of fledging Australia, the way in which it struggled to balance it's role as a place of punisment as well as a colony for free settlers (the 'Sterling') and the Australian-born children of convicts (the 'Currency') is described wonderfully.

As an additional bonus; for Forteans - there's a full account of the actions of Alexander Pierce the cannibal!
 
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SimonBurchell

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Just bought mary rose barringtons book called JOTT (just one of those things) fascinating stories just wondering how many of us lot have had them
I just bought that on my Kindle a few days ago - I think some snippets I had read before in The Anomalist or something, but the book is very readable and interesting. It made me realise that some of my experiences that I have posted on the board would counts as JOTTs, such as:

Disappearing screw followed by its strange reappearance
Disappearing and reappearing coins
Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy borrowed by ghost

There may be more, but those are the ones that immediately sprang to mind.
 

Zeke Newbold

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EVE OF DESTRUCTION: The Inside Story of Our Dangerous Nuclear World by Colonel John Hughes-Wilson (UK: Bonnier Books, 2021/2022)

How cyclical life is! I recall reading Jonathan Schnell's The Fate of the Earth - a key text about the danger of nuclear war - back in the early Eighties. This book is sort of a Fate of the Earth for a new generation - but concerns nuclear power in general not just nuclear weapons.

In the time between the two books we have been turning our attention away from things nuclear and focusing on climate change, pandemics and even asteroid collisions as the main threat to humanity. This is a timely reality check reminding us that nuclear war is still a possibilty - as are nuclear accidents of various kinds. (It was penned just before the Ukraine crisis and has gained even more urgency as a result of that).

To be honest, I am not much of a one for Populasr Science journalism (which I suppose what this is) but, as a military historian Hughes can tell a rale and there is enough human interest/socioploitical background here to keep me awake during the technical parts, some of which lost me a bit.

Hughes Wilson takes you on a guided tour of a whole load of stuff you though you knew about but fleshes out the details: Hiroshima, the Bay of Pigs, the Kursk submarine disaster. Rainbow Warrior, Bikini Atoll, Windscale and of course Chernobyl .He also introduces to to a whole litany of accidents and near nuclear exchanges that you didn't know about - in many cases because they were blatantly covered up at the time. Who needs conspiracy theories when a military man is on hand who can calmly give you chapter and verse on how cock-ups in the use of nuclear weapons and reactors have been whitewashed again and again?

There is not much comfort here either for the `swords into ploughshares` brigade who think:` nuclear weapons bad - nuclear power good`. What becomes evident is just how intertwined civilian and military uses of nuclear energy are. Many civilian nuclear plants have been used as source material for nuclear bombs - and of course terrorists can use nuclear plants as targets. In any case civilian nuclear mishaps are much more common than we think.

There are plenty of `Well fancy that!`~ moments to be found in this book. Did you know that in the early days of radiation use they talked of manufacturing `radiation candy`? Did you know that Jimmy Carter once left the numbers to activate a nuclear strilke in a jacket pocket that was then sent to the dry cleaners? Did you know that what triggered the initial blast at Chernobyl was a safety drill? There's plenty more where that comes from.

Hughes-Wilson is even handed: - so no nation comes out of this particularly well: the Russians have a terrible track record on nuclear submarine accidents, for example, and the French have got up to shocking shenanigans in their desire to become an independent nuclear power --- and so on.

Likewise Hughes-Wilson holds no brief. He mentions the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament once in passing, with apparent respect, but betrays no allegiance and offers no suggestions for action. It does seem clear that he wishes that humanity had never learnt to split the atom. The old cliche about kids being given a box of matches and some petrol to play with springs from every page.

Read it and weep.
 

uair01

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All very good, otherwise I wouldn't bother ...

Psychiatry:

From the Edge of the Couch: Bizarre Psychiatric Cases and What They Teach Us About Ourselves
by Raj Persaud (Goodreads Author)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...h?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=TzxZwgYXVo&rank=1

Psychiatrist Persaud describes various patients who, as the title says, are 'bizarre': the people who genuinely believe that they are vampires or werewolves; the man who can only get sexual gratification by being crushed in garbage trucks; the man who stuck hundreds of needles in his body to try and become a robot. This is more than just an exposition of the weird though - Persaud uses the case studies to hypothesise about human nature and free will.

Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes
by David Enoch, William Trethowan
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...arch=true&from_srp=true&qid=I56t8xaWdM&rank=1

On Goodreads there are just two reviews in Turkish :)
I'm sure psychiatrists or psychology experts will enjoy it more. It was an interesting reading experience though. The author's reference to classical works for each syndrome as well as cases made the book interesting. What really interesting and difficult syndromes there were. Those who work in the field may particularly enjoy it, otherwise it may sound very technical.
1 Capgras’ syndrome
2 de Clérambault’s syndrome
3 Othello syndrome
4 Ganser’s syndrome
5 Couvade syndrome
6 Munchausen’s syndrome and related factitious disorders
7 Gilles de la Tourette’s syndrome
8 Cotard’s syndrome (le délire de négation)
9 Folie à deux (et folie à plusiers)
10 Ekbom’s syndrome (delusional infestation) and body dysmorphic disorder
11 Possession states and allied syndromes
12 Other uncommon psychiatric syndromes

Sometimes Amazing Things Happen: Heartbreak and Hope on the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward
by Elizabeth Ford
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...arch=true&from_srp=true&qid=e236A243Ua&rank=1

Dr Ford relates her experiences with patients, who were inmates at Riker's Island prison, as well as her interactions with staff, and the families of those she treated. It takes a special kind of person to work under the situation and conditions that Dr Ford did. Oftentimes her tales were one of heartbreak, abuse, and the misunderstandings of mental health and the horror it invokes in many.

Real conspiracy:

Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao
by Joseph Torigian
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...arch=true&from_srp=true&qid=1lbl4ZuNDH&rank=1

Here, Joseph Torigian argues that the post-cult of personality power struggles in history’s two greatest Leninist regimes were instead shaped by the politics of personal prestige, historical antagonisms, backhanded political maneuvering, and violence. Mining newly discovered material from Russia and China, Torigian challenges the established historiography and suggests a new way of thinking about the nature of power in authoritarian regimes.

Turkey's July 15th Coup: What Happened and Why
(Utah Series in Middle East Studies) by M. Hakan Yavuz (Editor)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37572924-turkey-s-july-15th-coup

On July 15, 2016, a faction of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish government blamed the unsuccessful coup attempt on Gülenists, adherents of an Islamist movement led by Fethullah Gülen. They had helped elect Erdoğan and his AK Party, with the goal of bringing an ostensibly “soft” version of Islam into the secular Turkish government. In alliance with the AK Party, Gülenists steadfastly increased their representation in various government institutions, including the military, the police, and the judiciary.

Witchcraft and conspiracy:

Europe's Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom
by Norman Cohn
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...arch=true&from_srp=true&qid=7dUKj32t17&rank=1

Cohn's main concern here is to trace how the great witch-hunts began and, more importantly, how they did not. He demolishes past theses, most famously Margaret Murray's contention that there was a European cult of fertility magic at work, and shows how other documents were fake, documents that historians made use of for various arguments.

Strange books:

Hotel Iris
by Yōko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (Translator)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6713015-hotel-iris?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=EkD4rL8f5G&rank=1

This book is beautifully written, but totally fucked (#). You can see all the little wormies wriggling around inside teency-cutesy Ogawa's creeptastic, hall-of-mirrors nightmare skull, and you rightly squirm. A BDSM tale with hints of murder mystery, contrasted with scenes of total sweetness. Our Christian Grey is an unattractive, aging translator, clumsy and unassuming out in the wider world, but pretty much psychotic when you dim the lights.

# Agree and that's why I skipped half of it. But the beginning is very, very good!
 

JamesWhitehead

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Messages
13,917
I am enjoying this volume.

The Victorian City - Everyday Life in Dickens' London, by Judith Flanders, 2012

I bought it to dip into, as and when questions arose but I have found myself wolfing-down whole chapters, without skipping.

Some of it will, of course, be familiar to Dickens buffs. He was, however, such a prolific writer that we might wonder how bufferish we really are. It digs into the world he dramatized and explores the systems that kept the great machine of London running. It was hectically busy, noisy and smelly - unless you had the means to insulate yourself from the working parts of the Great Wen. :nods:
 

Yithian

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Again, I have not read this, but it's on my to-order list. Those in the know are saying it's a very good introduction to mediaeval history and a lyrical look at the people's relationship with the natural world.

610dhM8E4iL._AC_SL1500_.jpg


Reviews and blurb:

'In this wonderfully poetic journey through the Anglo-Saxon year, Eleanor Parker offers a profound meditation on time and the world, nature and its seasons. Plunging the reader into the glorious cadences of Old English poetry with her supple translations, Parker brings to vivid life the terrors of winter, spring's promise, the joyful warmth of summer and the melancholy of autumn, powerfully connecting us with a rich and vital past that we have not quite lost.' --Carolyne Larrington, Professor of Medieval European Literature, University of Oxford

'Eleanor Parker's Winters in the World is a lyrical journey through the Anglo-Saxon year, witnessing the major festivals and the turning of the seasons through the eyes of the poets . . . we approach an appreciation of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors as we dive into the rhythms of their lives and language, their turns of phrase, and the force of their habits. It is a beautiful, charming, and evocative voyage into what, to many of us, seems a very distant past . . . Parker shows herself to be a master of her subject. Her knowledge is superb; her writing a form of poetry itself . . . Through her enchanting prose, her analogies, her eloquence, Parker convinces her audience of the intelligence, imagination and immense beauty of her subject. No-one can come away from this book still believing the Anglo-Saxons to have lived through the "Dark Ages".' --Get History

'This book is a treasure and a delight, full of beautiful poetry and prose from the treasure-house of Anglo-Saxon culture. Lucid translations, accessible introductions and explanation, all combine to lead us through the cycle of the seasons . . . Eleanor Parker offers us a vision of time itself made sacred, each month hallowed, and full of unexpected beauty and wisdom.' --Malcolm Guite, poet and life fellow of Girton College, University of Cambridge


Product Description


'Both an accessible introduction to the Anglo-Saxon age and an evocative celebration of its seasonal rhythms and links with nature.' - History Revealed
'A beautiful, charming, and evocative voyage into what, to many of us, seems a very distant past . . . Parker shows herself to be a master of her subject.' - Get History
'A fascinating, informative and hauntingly authentic account of the Anglo-Saxon experience of time.' - Francis Young, author of Magic in Merlin's Realm
Winters in the World is a beautifully observed journey through the cycle of the year in Anglo-Saxon England, exploring the festivals, customs and traditions linked to the different seasons. Drawing on a wide variety of source material, including poetry, histories and religious literature, Eleanor Parker investigates how Anglo-Saxons felt about the annual passing of the seasons and the profound relationship they saw between human life and the rhythms of nature.
Many of the festivals we celebrate in Britain today have their roots in the Anglo-Saxon period, and this book traces their surprising history, as well as unearthing traditions now long forgotten. It celebrates some of the finest treasures of medieval literature and provides an imaginative connection to the Anglo-Saxon world.



About the Author

Eleanor Parker is Lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford. She has a doctorate from the University of Oxford and is a specialist in the literature of medieval England and Scandinavia. She writes regularly for publications including History Today and BBC History Magazine, and is the author of Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England (2018) and Conquered: The Last Children of Anglo-Saxon England (2022).

Source:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winters-World-Journey-through-Anglo-Saxon/dp/1789146720/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=15B2HAR3ZI930&keywords=winters+in+the+world&qid=1660797878&sprefix=winters+i,aps,334&sr=8-1
 

uair01

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There's a book of aphorisms by Franz Kafka!!!

45 The more horses you employ, the faster it goes – namely, not the tearing of the block from the foundation, which is impossible, but the tearing of the straps and thus the empty happy ride.

47 They were given the choice of becoming kings or couriers of kings. In the manner of the children, everyone wanted to be couriers. That is why there are all the couriers, they chase through the world and, since there are no kings, shout to each other the reports that have become meaningless. They would like to put an end to their miserable lives, but they do not dare to do so because of the oath of service.

50 Man cannot live without a constant trust in something indestructible in himself, whereby both the indestructible and the trust can remain permanently hidden from him. One of the expressions of this obscurity is the belief in a personal God.
 

Spookdaddy

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Just got a promotional email to say that they're down to the last few signed hardbacks of this:

City of the Beast presents an enthralling psychogeography of a London that is irrevocably lost...

Just gobbled this up in very quick time.

To be honest, Crowley as a subject has always left me a bit cold, but the addition of the London side of things - geography both simple and psycho - made it kind of irresistible, and has maybe given me a bit more of an interest in the old sot himself.

I wonder - has anyone done a Crowley cookbook? I had no idea he was a bit of a chef, and some of his recipes look quite intriguing - he seems to have been a master of the posh snack. (None of his special sauces though - Christ on a bike, doesn't bear thinking about.)

One detail I noticed - to quote myself quoting myself from another thread:

To quote myself - from too many years back to think comfortably about:

Apropos of nothing (sorry to butt in) a nice story about Crowley - probably apocryphal, but I like it.

Dylan Thomas was drinking and doodling aimlessly on a napkin in a pub on The Strand in London when he noticed the "Great Beast" himself staring at him across the soggy carpet and discarded dog ends. Crowley had also been drawing on a note pad and when he left he dropped a sheet of paper on the world-champion endurance drinker and Welsh poet’s table. When Thomas finally screwed up the courage to look at the paper he found an exact replica of his own doodle...

According to Peter Bushell’s book, London’s Secret History, the above incident took place at the Coal Hole - and as I was passing the place a couple of weekends ago I decided to do some forensic drinking.

The Coal Hole is high, narrow and L shaped, with the front door, which opens onto the Strand, at the top end of the long part of the L. Crowley would want to be seen, but also to observe - and he'd want a bit of distance between himself and the subject. The seats opposite the bar would potentially involve having his field of vision restricted by punters, and leave him with his back to the audience. He could have sat in the short bit of the L but that would mean he wouldn't see who was coming in and going out.

I reckon the great beast sat where I did, right here - by the door, looking along the bar. And I'd take a guess that Thomas was sat doodling at that bar, or at the seats on the right along the opposite wall.

View attachment 6841

I did not feel the presence of Crowley's bottom - which is probably just as well; however, some unseen thing did disappear my tipple over the course of twenty minutes or so.

A double Auchentoshan with a splash of water - by the way.

Baker has the incident happening at either the Fitzroy Tavern, The French House or the Swiss Pub (on Old Compton Street - now called something else) - he doesn't even mention the Coal Hole, where Peter Bushell firmly places the location. That said, as a probably apocryphal story you can probably take your pick. Possibly more forensic drinking is called for. (I note, with a certain nervousness, that many of Crowley's old drinking haunts are now my own when I'm in London. And also, that a room above my favourite London boozer - The Princess Louise on High Holborn - has been more recently used for occult speaker-meetings...whatever they are.)

Edited - for very stupidly getting the authors Rob Baker and Phil Baker completely mixed up.
 
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gordonrutter

Within reason
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Just gobbled this up in very quick time.

To be honest, Crowley as a subject has always left me a bit cold, but the addition of the London side of things - geography both simple and psycho - made it kind of irresistible, and has maybe given me a bit more of an interest in the old sot himself.

I wonder - has anyone done a Crowley cookbook? I had no idea he was a bit of a chef, and some of his recipes look quite intriguing - he seems to have been a master of the posh snack. (None of his special sauces though - Christ on a bike, doesn't bear thinking about.)

One detail I noticed - to quote myself quoting myself from another thread:



Baker has the incident happening at either the Fitzroy Tavern, The French House or the Swiss Pub (on Old Compton Street - now called something else) - he doesn't even mention the Coal Hole, where Peter Bushell firmly places the location. That said, as a probably apocryphal story you can probably take your pick. Possibly more forensic drinking is called for. (I note, with a certain nervousness, that many of Crowley's old drinking haunts are now my own when I'm in London. And also, that a room above my favourite London boozer - The Princess Louise on High Holborn - has been more recently used for occult speaker-meetings...whatever they are.)

Edited - for very stupidly getting the authors Rob Baker and Phil Baker completely mixed up.
The Princess Louise has long hosted talks of a Fortean interest, the Moot With No Name used to meet there and I saw David Farrant give a talk there once upon a time.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
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…the Swiss Pub (on Old Compton Street - now called something else)…

“Swiss Hotel & Tavern, 53 Old Compton street, Soho W1​

The earlier name for this address is the Grapes, until at least 1851. The earlier address is at 21 & 22 Old Compton Street and by 1856 this is named the Swiss Tavern ; and at 53 Old Compton Street by 1901. The address is at 21 Old Compton Street prior to 1899, in which year the street was renumbered. ***

Rebuilt in 1890. Known since at least the late 1980s as The Compton Arms?/Compton's and is arguably Soho's most famous gay pub.”

https://pubwiki.co.uk/LondonPubs/Soho/SwissHotel.shtml

maximus otter
 

Spookdaddy

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The Princess Louise has long hosted talks of a Fortean interest, the Moot With No Name used to meet there and I saw David Farrant give a talk there once upon a time.

I did not know that - and I've been popping in for years. Downstairs really does have the feel of a place where you could easily find yourself in a timeslip without at first noticing - a quite appropriate venue for such meetings, I feel.
 

uair01

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I really liked this book:
Heaven’s Gate
America’s UFO Religion
Benjamin E. Zeller
Foreword by Robert W. Balch
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...te?from_search=true&from_srp=YirJCg2ACN&qid=3


From the conclusion:
One could posit many other ways in which Heaven’s Gate modeled, prefigured, or reflected developments in American religious culture and society more broadly. The manner in which members of Heaven’s Gate incorporated elements drawn from popular culture—science fiction in their case—into a meaningful religious worldview reveals the breakdown between high and low culture, entertainment, and religion. Collectively, these and other manners in which Heaven’s Gate was embedded within American culture demonstrate how and why this new religion is not the aberration that some might think.

Heaven’s Gate is a religious movement worth serious study. Members may have gone beyond what most Americans do, believe, and think about in their religious lives, but in many ways the adherents of this new religion were no different from other Americans. They engaged in spiritual quests, seeking a more meaningful and accessible relationship with what functioned for them as the divine. They looked to heavenly salvation, and asked what relationship bodily human existence could have to that otherworldly salvation. They delved into the Bible, and from it they created and lived within a religious worldview. They built homes and a meaningful social and physical world around that worldview. They formed a community and tried to live (and die) with meaning. In doing all this, they looked to the physical heavens in outer space and the beings and vehicles of that “Next Level.”

Like many Americans, they believed in UFOs, extraterrestrials, and superhuman intelligence. They merely fused those beliefs with their religious ones. Heaven’s Gate was, in this sense, a UFO religion. But it was a particular kind. It was America’s UFO religion.
 

Lord Lucan

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I really liked this book:
Heaven’s Gate
America’s UFO Religion
Benjamin E. Zeller
Foreword by Robert W. Balch
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...te?from_search=true&from_srp=YirJCg2ACN&qid=3


From the conclusion:
One could posit many other ways in which Heaven’s Gate modeled, prefigured, or reflected developments in American religious culture and society more broadly. The manner in which members of Heaven’s Gate incorporated elements drawn from popular culture—science fiction in their case—into a meaningful religious worldview reveals the breakdown between high and low culture, entertainment, and religion. Collectively, these and other manners in which Heaven’s Gate was embedded within American culture demonstrate how and why this new religion is not the aberration that some might think.

Heaven’s Gate is a religious movement worth serious study. Members may have gone beyond what most Americans do, believe, and think about in their religious lives, but in many ways the adherents of this new religion were no different from other Americans. They engaged in spiritual quests, seeking a more meaningful and accessible relationship with what functioned for them as the divine. They looked to heavenly salvation, and asked what relationship bodily human existence could have to that otherworldly salvation. They delved into the Bible, and from it they created and lived within a religious worldview. They built homes and a meaningful social and physical world around that worldview. They formed a community and tried to live (and die) with meaning. In doing all this, they looked to the physical heavens in outer space and the beings and vehicles of that “Next Level.”

Like many Americans, they believed in UFOs, extraterrestrials, and superhuman intelligence. They merely fused those beliefs with their religious ones. Heaven’s Gate was, in this sense, a UFO religion. But it was a particular kind. It was America’s UFO religion.

Their website still exists (and looks rather cosmic):

https://www.heavensgate.com/
 

TangletwigsDeux

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I just finished Stephen Kings latest "Fairy Tale" and loved every page of it. Haven't read one of his for ages, but this was excellent. Now back to Richard Osman (I know I know....). Also bought that one reviewed in FT "Giants of Stonehenge", very interesting but a bit 'gazettery'. Hoping the last third gets to some theories or such.
 

uair01

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I can recommend this for the philosophically inclined. And it's free online:

The Weirdness of the World
Eric Schwitzgebel
in draft
In this book, I argue that the world is fundamentally weird. By this I mean that with regard to foundational matters in cosmology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind, one or another of various bizarre possibilities must be true, but our best science and philosophy don't put us in a position to know which of those bizarre possibilities is in fact correct.

http://faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/SchwitzAbs/Weirdness.htm

I have put it on my TTS-app and it's being read to me. Nice!

This is his Twitter, also interesting. He's the guy who taught an AI to make Daniel Dennet quotes, and then asked philosophers to tell the difference. They failed :)
 

Kondoru

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Dec 5, 2003
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9,334
<Bows>

Got a copy of Bored of the Rings.

(The modern GB edition, not the original, which I do have)

Possibly the funniest book in the English language.
 
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