Suggestions For A Good Read

GNC

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80s horror retro read: Stinger by Robert R. McCammon. Seems to have been inspired by the beginning of the Heavy Metal movie, but your basic alien bounty hunter after an innocent fugitive freedom fighter type thing. Bit of a dog's breakfast, but it rattles along and interestingly features a small town cut off from the outside world by a huge dome, or grid as it's called in the book. McCammon was accused of being a Stephen King wannabe, but he has a case for the opposite here!

Anyway, the only reason I read it was because a friend of mine fondly recalls the ridiculous radio ads for it, so this is his Christmas present. Or more likely, the charity shop's Christmas present...
 

JamesWhitehead

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I'm engrossed in Mark Kurlansky's Cod.. 1997

A reviewer on the Smithsonian site has described it well!

I feel guilty now about the packs of salt cod in my larder. But waste-not, want-not. I wonder why it is turning pink? It ought to last decades, regardless of the sell-by date! :?:

To answer my own question, the reddening is down to halophilic bacteria - a curious salt-loving thing. Probably best discarded, then! :(

Seems they make the Red Sea red and flamingos pink. The condition of my cod is called "pinkeye."

Halophilic bacteria are responsible for the Swedish fermented herring called Surstrômming, entertainingly described here

So I suppose the discoloured cod is spoiled but not necessarily poisonous. 8)
 

Mythopoeika

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JamesWhitehead said:
I'm engrossed in Mark Kurlansky's Cod.. 1997

A reviewer on the Smithsonian site has described it well!

I feel guilty now about the packs of salt cod in my larder. But waste-not, want-not. I wonder why it is turning pink? It ought to last decades, regardless of the sell-by date! :?:

To answer my own question, the reddening is down to halophilic bacteria - a curious salt-loving thing. Probably best discarded, then! :(

Seems they make the Red Sea red and flamingos pink. The condition of my cod is called "pinkeye."
Wikipedia says:

The fermentation of salty foods (such as soy sauce, Chinese fermented beans, salted cod, salted anchovies, sauerkraut etc.) often involves halobacteria, as either essential ingredients or accidental contaminants. One example is Chromohalobacter beijerinckii, found in salted beans preserved in brine and in salted herring. Tetragenococcus halophilus is found in salted anchovies and soy sauce.
...so it's an expected effect for salt cod. Don't throw it away!
 

JamesWhitehead

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I'm still researching it. Seems it is a sign the cod has been kept at too high a temperature. It is unlikely to be harmful but there is an unholy whiff around the packs, which do not appear to be punctured.

The smell of salt cod diminishes as it is rehydrated but these are pinker than any I have had before. :?
 

escargot

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Aye. In the words of Private James Frazer, nae gude can come of a man's cod turrrning pink and smelling.
 
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It's probably a delicacy in Sweden or Finland. But, if you're not sure, don´t eat it. Throw it out. Noses are there for many reasons, one of which is for smelling if food has gone bad.

For example, I won´t eat soft French cheeses if they´ve started smelling like open drains. It´s not just a matter of principle or aesthetics. ;)
 
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Slightly more on topic. A possible scientific explanation as to why a good read might really be good for you.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/s...d-for-days-after-reading-a-novel-9028302.html

Brain function 'boosted for days after reading a novel'

Reading a gripping novel causes biological changes in the brain which last for days as the mind is transported into the body of the protagonist

Independent. Tomas Jivanda. 28 December 2013


Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition - for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

21 students took part in the study, with all participants reading the same book - Pompeii, a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris, which was chosen for its page turning plot.

“The story follows a protagonist, who is outside the city of Pompeii and notices steam and strange things happening around the volcano,” said Prof Berns. “It depicts true events in a fictional and dramatic way. It was important to us that the book had a strong narrative line.”

Over 19 days the students read a portion of the book in the evening then had fMRI scans the following morning. Once the book was finished, their brains were scanned for five days after.

The neurological changes were found to have continued for all the five days after finishing, proving that the impact was not just an immediate reaction but has a lasting influence.

“Even though the participants were not actually reading the novel while they were in the scanner, they retained this heightened connectivity,” added Prof Berns. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory.”
I'd recommend something a bit better written than by the likes of Dan Brown or Jeffrey Archer, of course. I've always found the work of Michael Moorcock to be quite mind expanding. Something along the lines of, Mother London, perhaps, or The Final Programme, or The Brothel in Rosenstrasse. However, a good Lovejoy, by Jonathan Gash, or a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, seems to work almost as well.
 

Novena

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I have embarked (he he) upon Moby Dick as my Christmas reading. Never read it before and I must say it's a beautifully written novel and also quite funny in places. I have an old Penguin edition which has notes by a chap called Harold Beaver, and they're very good for teasing out some of the more obscure allusions in the novel. The only thing is that good old Harold seems to be a might obsessed with gay references, some of which are a little tenuous to say the least...!
 

GNC

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I'm reading Joe Hill's NOS4R2 which was a Christmas present, about two hundred pages in and it's really good, up to the standard of his dad's best stuff. Incidentally, I thought they'd put the wrong author photo on the back, until I realised Joe really is the clone of his father circa 1980, the resemblance is uncanny.
 
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Zoffre said:
...The only thing is that good old Harold seems to be a might obsessed with gay references, some of which are a little tenuous to say the least...!
Just don't let him loose on Billy Budd.

Just read John Ajvide Lindqvist's, Harbour.

Modern horror isn't really my thing (although I loved the film version of Let The Right One In, and enjoyed his novel Handling the Undead - worth reading if only for the different direction it took to most others on the subject) - and that lack of reference might be the reason that this feels a bit more like magical realism to me.

I've enjoyed it, and thought it well written and translated (very evocative and atmospheric, great sense of place), but I suspect that it's one of those books that's going to take me a while to work out what I really thought of it.

Now reading the bits of the Penguin Classics edition of The Sagas of the Icelanders that I didn't get around to over the summer.

All the subjects, plots and preoccupations contained in the books mentioned on this thread - the Icelanders had them covered nearly 800 years ago. Fantastic stuff.
 

henry

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the last good kiss by james crumley must be the furthest ive got through a book in 5 years or more sad to say as i had read my entire life until sometime around then ... i have the long lost woody guthrie novel lined up next, who knows if i ll get there ... crumley is still aces though
 
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HenryFort said:
the last good kiss by james crumley must be the furthest ive got through a book in 5 years or more sad to say...
I think I've posted elsewhere that the beginning of The Last Good Kiss contains my favourite opening lines of any novel.

In my opinion Crumley never put a foot wrong (although I may be being a little partisan with The Right Madness - which I recall being a bit of a bun fight, and one maybe more for hardened fans rather than newcomers). His entire catalogue is worth reading - (there are only seven detective novels so it's not a major project).

If you like Crumley I'd also recommend the work of James Lee Burke - especially the earlier stuff.
 

henry

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Spookdaddy said:
HenryFort said:
the last good kiss by james crumley must be the furthest ive got through a book in 5 years or more sad to say...
I think I've posted elsewhere that the beginning of The Last Good Kiss contains my favourite opening lines of any novel.

In my opinion Crumley never put a foot wrong (although I may be being a little partisan with The Right Madness - which I recall being a bit of a bun fight, and one maybe more for hardened fans rather than newcomers). His entire catalogue is worth reading - (there are only seven detective novels so it's not a major project).

If you like Crumley I'd also recommend the work of James Lee Burke - especially the earlier stuff.
funny ... a friend loaned me the wrong case maybe 10 years ago and it has a rival opening 3 paragraphs to anything ive ever read ... up there with factotum ... i still hold that book very dear ... even down to the harcourt courants one-liner on the back - a very perfect novel ... hence my recommendation of the last good kiss to fortean daughter ( 9 ) as a christmas present to get me reading again ...

i read in the electric mist with confederate dead ( along with a ton of hiassen and leonard etc etc ellroy and the big guys ) around that time but i didnt get particularly involved in it and crumley is several shades deeper, for me ... mind you i read that burke in hardback which is somehow always harder work for me ... along with omnibuses which i find impenetrable
 

Peripart

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HenryFort said:
i read in the electric mist with confederate dead ( along with a ton of hiassen and leonard etc etc ellroy and the big guys ) around that time but i didnt get particularly involved in it and crumley is several shades deeper, for me ...
In The Electric Mist... was made into a not-too-terrible film with Tommy Lee Jones a few years back - almost captured the tone of the book, despite the inevitable slashing of the story.

I read quite a few James Lee Burke stories a few years ago, but found them to suffer from the law of diminishing returns - the more I read, the less involved I felt.

One author whose work has never disappointed me is Michael Marshall (who also writes as Michael Marshall Smith, but I've not read any published under that name yet). His Straw Men trilogy, as I've written here before, gripped me from the get-go. I've just bought Killer Move, and will report on that in due course!
 

GNC

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Well, it took me a month but I finished Joe Hill's NOS4R2 (big book) and it's a cracking read. Really good, old fashioned horror novel like his dad writes with a satisfying ending (which his dad doesn't always write). Recommended if you want a doorstep of a book to lose yourself in. Read it before they make it into a movie (like they've done with his previous, Horns).
 

JamesWhitehead

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I am enjoying The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France by Robert Darnton.

Darnton is an academic but the book is written in a spendidly direct way which draws the general reader into matters which may seem arcane. Darnton had access to the extensive records of STN, a publishing house of the period. Miraculously, their files remained untouched in an attic. The relationship between legitimate book-dealers and the more profitable world of forbidden "philosophical works" is explored in great detail.

The NY Times has a good review.

Extracts from the "philosophical works" are given. :shock:

edit: Darnton may be familiar to some as the author of The Great Cat Massacre - which I know of in excerpted form but have not seen in full.
 

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I finished the last good kiss, which was a downright pleasure and a privilege from start to end ... house of earth by woody Guthrie got too dustbowl too soon for my tastes ... currently awaiting delivery of slow birds and others by ian Watson after mythop mentioned it on the fortean tikes thread
 

Yithian

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I feel as if I've spent a month on holiday, taken a focused history class and listened to several nights of tragic confession from old friends.

In other words, I've just finished The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott and feel drained yet enlarged by the whole experience.

It was wonderful in both the literal and figurative senses; I'm just placing an order for Day of the Scorpion.
 
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Tracking the Weretiger - Supernatural Man-Eaters of India, China and Southeast Asia, by Patrick Newman.

I've been slightly obsessed with man-eaters since I was very young and an old ex Indian Army friend of my dad's family told me some hair-raising stories and gave me a terrifying wooden tiger puppet (which might actually be a leopard).

So, although this is ridiculously expensive for a paperback - it's been worth every penny (I actually managed to track down a relatively less pricey copy). An absolutely enthralling and very readable read. The book was thoroughly reviewed in FT 309 and got a banging and totally deserved 10/10.

I can't really add anything to the FT review, or the other unanimously favourable reviews I can find online - so I'm not really going to try. All I would say is that Newman's treatment of both native peoples and their colonial masters is relatively non-judgemental and sympathetic and suggests a complex relationship the mechanics of which are lost to many on both the pro and anti sides of the Empire argument. It also effectively conjures up the heart-stopping nature of those sudden interactions between man and potential man-killer - well, maybe that's just me remembering those stories I was told, or maybe we all have some kind of primal memory which relates to that moment when, alone in the forest and in the gathering night, we realise that we are being stalked; whatever the case I occasionally found myself a little breathless, seemingly recalling memories I don't actually have.

Seriously, if you're interested in the subject buy it and just don't eat for a couple of days - come on, what's more important books or dinner?
 

sherbetbizarre

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Looking forward to this, Headpress putting out some good stuff lately.

(although it's worth pointing out this will probably slip into conspiracy theories...:) )

WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE CANYON
Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream

Author: David McGowan

The very strange but nevertheless true story of the dark underbelly of a 1960s hippie utopia.

Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and early 1970s was a magical place where a dizzying array of musical artists congregated to create much of the music that provided the soundtrack to those turbulent times.Members of bands like the Byrds, the Doors, Buffalo Springfield, the Monkees,the Beach Boys, the Turtles, the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Steppenwolf, CSN, Three Dog Night and Love,along with such singer/songwriters as Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, James Taylor and Carole King, lived together and jammed together in the bucolic community nestled in the Hollywood Hills.

But there was a dark side to that scene as well. Many didn’t make it out alive, and many of those deaths remain shrouded in mystery to this day. Far more integrated into the scene than most would like to admit was a guy by the name of Charles Manson, along with his murderous entourage. Also floating about the periphery were various political operatives, up-and-coming politicians and intelligence personnel – the same sort of people who gave birth to many of the rock stars populating the canyon. And all the canyon’s colorful characters – rock stars,hippies, murderers and politicos – happily coexisted alongside a covert military installation.
http://www.headpress.com/ShowProduct.aspx?ID=131

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmB99c5mPTg
 

Stillill

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'Keep the aspidistra flying ' by George Orwell. My favourite work of fiction even though I was disappointed with the ending.
 
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Stillill said:
'Keep the aspidistra flying ' by George Orwell. My favourite work of fiction even though I was disappointed with the ending.
I like it. My favourite Orwell work is Homage To Catalonia. Favourite novel by him would be 1984.
 

Stillill

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I haven't read 'Homage to Catalonia' yet but I do have a copy. Will definitely read it this year.
I always thought 'Aspidistra' would make a great film, not sure who I'd pick to play Gordon though. Helena Bonham Carter would be great as Rosemary.
 
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Stillill said:
I haven't read 'Homage to Catalonia' yet but I do have a copy. Will definitely read it this year.
I always thought 'Aspidistra' would make a great film, not sure who I'd pick to play Gordon though. Helena Bonham Carter would be great as Rosemary.
It did make a great film! With Richard E. Grant as Gordon.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/merry_war/
 

Mythopoeika

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ramonmercado said:
Stillill said:
I haven't read 'Homage to Catalonia' yet but I do have a copy. Will definitely read it this year.
I always thought 'Aspidistra' would make a great film, not sure who I'd pick to play Gordon though. Helena Bonham Carter would be great as Rosemary.
It did make a great film! With Richard E. Grant as Gordon.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/merry_war/
I think any film with Richard E. Grant in it would be a great film.
 
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