Suggestions For A Good Read

Frasier Buddolph

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I think folks here would appreciate THE MINISTRY OF TRUTH: The biography of George Orwell's 1984 by Dorian Lynskey.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/...try-of-truth-by-dorian-lynskey/9780385544054/

Part One of this book delves into the utopian literature that influenced Orwell's (and others') thinking on the nature of totalitarianism and the fading of objective truth. Part Two looks at the influence Nineteen Eighty-Four (Yes, that's the way Orwell preferred to see the title) has had on culture and literature since its publication in 1949. Not surprisingly for a book about the manipulation and distortion of truth, people have only taken away from it confirmation and reinforcement of their own beliefs about communism, socialism, and capitalism. Even people who have not read the book have very strongly-held opinions about it. Those opinions are often diametrically opposed.

Lynskey's book is very timely, given the current furor over "fake news", "alternative facts", deep-fake videos, etc., but, as it points out, this is nothing new. Totalitarian regimes have always relied on the inability of the masses to distinguish between truth and fiction. The situation we are in today is only the logical and inevitable outcome of a long and very overt attack on Western liberal society. The internet and social media are merely the latest and most potent weapons in this attack.

At this point in history and in my life, I'm not sure it matters all that much. Freedom of thought has never (IMHO) been important to the vast majority of people. So long as there's food in the market, the power stays on, and people are reasonably secure in their homes, they are willing to tolerate oligarchy, corruption, inequality, and all the rest. Are they wrong?
 
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Spudrick68

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When I got an e-mail from Waterstones offering a pre-order autographed edition of Underland by Robert MacFarlane, I read the description of the book and suspect that I will enjoy it immensely. So I have order two previous books and shall read them first.

I am just about to start his book 'The Old Ways'.
 

Tempest63

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I need to find Supernature and Lifetide both by Lyall Watson. Great books which I appear to have misplaced.

Also we had a book in the School Library titled “You Be The Judge”. It was one of my introductory books to a lot of paranormal subjects and where I first read about the Chase Vault which I visited many years later when in Barbados. Got a few piccies of me in the vault. Nothing spooky happened and it was much smaller than I anticipated.
 

Eponastill

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I'm mad keen on Andrew Lang at the moment, he's very readable. I'd like to go down the pub with him. He's Victorian though, so I can't.
You can read The Book of Dreams and Ghosts and Cock Lane and Common Sense amongst others at the Internet Archive.

Tempest - did you know you can borrow Supernature and Lifetide at the Internet Archive too, if you're desperate to read them. (It's always worth logging in and trying to take them out - sometimes it says they're on loan when they're not really). They're definitely in my list of 'early fortean influences'!
 
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titch

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"Endurance, the true story of Shackleton's incredible voyage to the Antarctic " by Alfred Lansing, an amazing story very well told. Shackleton and his men must have been made of steel, I would have laid down and died after a fraction of what they went through, this book is worth trekking over impassable mountains and sailing over 500 miles of the stormiest seas in a little boat too read.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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I'm around halfway through a collection of rather unsettling short stories by the late Robert Aickman.
"Cold Hand in Mine" is well worth checking out.
So far, I've encountered a truly disturbing fairground attraction, something nasty in a lake, a hefty dose of voodoo and a gradual and eerily convincing transformation into a vampire.

Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentleman) is a big Aickman fan and wrote the forward for the book. I can see faint echoes of some of Aickman's ideas in TLOG's character-driven grotesquery.
 

Min Bannister

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I've just finished Old Bones by Preston and Child which is based on the Donner party. It involves a fictional Lost Camp where things got even scarier than with the other camps. I read all their books and while it is not their best, it is strange and intriguing and still way better than most other stuff that is out there. Plus it features my favourite character, Corrie Swanson. :nods:
 

uair01

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I'm reading the third book of short horror stories by J.R. Hamantaschen (a pseudonym I assume) and I'm stuck in the third story not daring to read further! Not because it's bloody, but because of the psychological tension he builds up. That's some strong stuff! I'm a fan of his and his books are dirt cheap on Amazon Kindle:
https://www.amazon.de/Deep-Horror-That-Nearly-English-ebook/dp/B07HNBTBND/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_de_DE=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&keywords=j.r.+hamantaschen&qid=1567273370&s=gateway&sr=8-1

NOTE: I've now finished the third story and it has a very satisfying plot twist. The ending is horror-conventional and predictably bloody, but the way towards that ending is original and surprising.

Even his copyrigt statement is a thing of beauty:

All rights reserved. Except as permitted by the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this work may be reproduced, transmitted, or distributed in any printed, electronic, or other form without the prior written permission of the author, although permission may easily be obtained upon receipt of compliments and winky-glances while you lick your lips and make suggestive motions with a straw.
To the extent these stories may be reproduced, they shall be reproduced only like cancer cells, until they crowd out and destroy all other stories they appear alongside of; to the extent they may be transmitted, they shall be transmitted without words, without thoughts, and without consent, appearing in the mind as if they’ve always been there, just waiting to be unearthed; and to the extent these stories shall be distributed, they shall be distributed surreptitiously and with some degree of shame, a hushed secret, an ignoble pact.
 
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uair01

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I'm having a small reading binge about addiction. I have no such problem (thank Heavens!, it really sucks to be addicted to anything) but it's a fascinating subject.

It started with this book, where I realized, for the first time, that not everyone can have *just one glass* of wine at dinner. This fascinated me:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35959632-the-recovering?from_search=true
The Recovering is an intelligent, thorough book about addiction that includes cultural history, literary criticism, journalistic reportage, and memoir.

Then I wanted to know how addiction works neurologically. So I bought this audiobook:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23214265-the-biology-of-desire
The strength of this book lies in how well it ties various strands together - it is part introduction to neuroscience, part polemic and part compelling storytelling.

Then I found an even better lecture series that also covers biology, genetics and chemistry. And it also covers gambling, porn and junk-food as "supernormal stimuli":
https://www.audible.de/pd/The-Addic...4E8YJ3314F74D5NK&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1
Also, it seems that falling in love uses the same brain mechanisms and processes as getting addicted :oops:

A few years before I had read this book, also very good:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13748038-addiction-by-design?from_search=true
The book is thorough yet covers a lot of topics, including the environmental design of casinos, the design and ergonomics of machines, how electronic slot machines are mapped so it looks like the odds are better, why people gamble, the way games adapt to players, the massive amount of data collected by player reward cards, the actions of gaming industry lobby groups and impact on government policies, and theories and issues related to recovery from gambling addiction.

But it's only now that I get a feeling for the mechanisms behind addiction. And now don't start telling me that binge reading books on addiction is also an addiction :)
 

GNC

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As I mentioned on the Stuff You Just Bought thread, I can recommend William Fowler and Vic Pratt's The Bodies Beneath. It's a series of essays on various film and TV oddities that say a lot about Britain, maybe more than the obvious classics. This is the one with the drug-dealing Sooty in it. It's worth buying for the hilarious section on Vincent Price's cookery show alone, but there's lots of weirdness here, experimental, deliberate and accidental, that will have you searching YouTube or Amazon for nuggets of strangeness.
 
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Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan. Alternate-History, it's 1982 but Alan Turing is still alive (a character in the book) and the computer revolution came earlier. Some events are common to both timelines but happen somewhat out of synch. Britain loses the Falklands War. Electric powered cars have been commonplace for decades. This is a love story, a sort of a menage a trois involving a couple and an android. It's about the search for true machine intelligence. The more things change the more they stay the same. But pay close attention or you might miss some of the difference in the new timeline as they are casually alluded to. A powerful, moving novel.
 
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uair01

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This is great:

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...w-over-the-bones-of-the-dead?from_search=true
 

James_H

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It started with this book, where I realized, for the first time, that not everyone can have *just one glass* of wine at dinner.
I had this explained to me the other way round by a friend: 'you know when you've had enough food, so you stop? Some people have that but for alcohol.'
 
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This is great:

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances...
I read this back in the spring, and loved it. Janina Duszejko is a fabulous hero (as is her author).

It's probably worth pointing out to those who think they might be interested that this is not really a standard genre novel (and I'm not being snobby - I love crime fiction), but it's beautiful, and sometimes quite funny, and, like her idol, Janina is quite the philosopher.

'Impossible to categorise', as the Guardian review had it. And often, that's the best kind of book.
 
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I have just read Pete Dexter's Train again.

It's just struck me that of my top five crime fiction novels of all time, one is largely centred on a golf caddy (Train), and the main protagonist of another is an insurance claims investigator (California Fire and Life - Don Winslow); maybe not the first jobs you'd think of when imagining who might be the main characters in a list of top five crime novels.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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As recommended on one of the other threads, I found an old copy of Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword in my local Oxfam shop and finished it on my train commute home last night.

With its dramatis personae of men, shield maidens, elves, trolls, goblins, shape-shifters etc. magic aplenty, massive battles, characters breaking into verse and, of course, the eponymous broken sword, comparisons with Tolkien are inevitable.
This though is far darker, with elements of sex (notably incestual), torture, madness and despair which Tolkien tended to skirt around.
The style is very archaic and written much like an Icelandic saga - I had to look up the meaning of a few medieval terms.
Along with the fantasy and elements of Norse mythology - The Wild Hunt, Changelings, Odin and Loki manipulating events on Earth like a chess game etc. the challenge to the old ways and the world of faerie from the spread of Christianity is a recurring theme.
Not an easy read, but undeniably powerful and memorable.
 

Ogdred Weary

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As recommended on one of the other threads, I found an old copy of Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword in my local Oxfam shop and finished it on my train commute home last night.

With its dramatis personae of men, shield maidens, elves, trolls, goblins, shape-shifters etc. magic aplenty, massive battles, characters breaking into verse and, of course, the eponymous broken sword, comparisons with Tolkien are inevitable.
This though is far darker, with elements of sex (notably incestual), torture, madness and despair which Tolkien tended to skirt around.
The style is very archaic and written much like an Icelandic saga - I had to look up the meaning of a few medieval terms.
Along with the fantasy and elements of Norse mythology - The Wild Hunt, Changelings, Odin and Loki manipulating events on Earth like a chess game etc. the challenge to the old ways and the world of faerie from the spread of Christianity is a recurring theme.
Not an easy read, but undeniably powerful and memorable.
I read that and was taken aback by the sex and violence - it was published at the same time as LOTR. I found it a little flat and didn't really care about the characters.
 

uair01

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While I searched for something else, Amazon served me this. I have not read it, but the comments are interesting:

Set in Paris after the Millenium, the narrator is a part-time perfume employee/masseuse, offering wide-ranging and much appreciated ‘extended services’, who is transformed, incrementally into a pig that her clients cannot resist. She revels in their attention and so is able to save up enough money for a new dress. Her transition to her animal state has its social and psychological consequences even before she encounters a werewolf lover.
The book is capable of many different readings - its various targets include the beauty industry (more specifically, what Naomi Wolf has called "the Beauty Myth"); capitalist consumerism; tabloid television and "dumbing down"; intense farming methods; political correctness (consider the terrifying storm-troopers of the "Society for the Protection of Animals")...the list is almost endless.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pig-Tales-...AYMRMZRZNER&psc=1&refRID=AC6J16V1ZAYMRMZRZNER
 
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uair01

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Found in the same manner, but I immediately bought this book:

During one night shift, an unnamed, middle-aged pharmacist in Taxham, an isolated suburb of Salzburg, tells his story to a narrator. The pharmacist is known and well-respected, but lonely and estranged from his wife. He feels most comfortable wandering about in nature, collecting and eating hallucinogenic mushrooms. One day he receives a blow to the head that leaves him unable to speak, and the narrative is transformed from ironic description into a collection of sensual impressions, observations and reflections.

The pharmacist, who is now called the driver, sets out on a quest, travelling into the Alps with two companions—a former Olympic skiing champion and a formerly famous poet--where he is beaten and later stalked by a woman. He drives through a tunnel and has a premonition of death, then finds himself in a surreal, foreign land. In a final series of bizarre, cathartic events, the driver regains his speech and is taken back to his pharmacy—back to his former life, but forever changed.


https://www.amazon.de/Dark-Night-Le...+handke&qid=1571599216&s=digital-text&sr=1-17
 
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