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Thread: What are you reading?

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    Custom Title skateluvr's Avatar
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    What are you reading?

    What fiction or non-fiction books have you read this year? What can you share with us-at a time where we look for gifts or upliftment? In another thread, I mentioned the best sellers by Imaculee Illibigaza- they are all non-fiction regarding the amazing things that happened in Rwanda- before, during and after the genocide in 1994. I hope you will consider reading some of her work. I expect more books to come from her. I just wish she'd write more, as I find her books amazing.

    What is everyone reading? I know there isn't anything about skating out there-too bad. I'd love to read a juicy tell -all by Dick Button. But skaters are very careful what they say-the small community at the top are very tight lipped.

    I read Dorothy Hamill's autobiography. I never read Scott's of Johnny's. Anyone have a review of their books?

    Lastly, I did not know what the "Shades of Grey" thing was about. I am sheltered and have constant problems-so I see little TV, don't watch talk shows. I prefer internet and like a few forums, and watch a lot of skating videos. That seems to take up time. Sometimes I think I watch too many skating videos. The GPF series went so fast, I decided who I'd watch, unless someone mentioned a fifth place finish that was good.

    You can't watch everything. I find myself going back to Kwan videos as people still post lists of her better skates (all of them). One can get lost for hours surfing youtube. I lose sleep due to having to watch (OCD I know) the GP medalists.

    With so little on TV...I admit I am not even into Dancing with the Stars anymore. I watched Kristi and Evan on Youtube.

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    Non-Fiction books:
    Jen Lancaster- it's chick lit, she writes about her everyday life, she is very sarcastic- so if you don't like that kind of humor stay away. But I have read all of her Memoirs and they are hilarious. I suggest starting with her first: Bitter is the new black, she references things in this book in her later books, so if you read them out of order things might not make sense. + The older the book (generally speaking) the cheaper it is.

    Titanic Hero: The Autobiography of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia; I like cruise/ocean liner books, small confession- I have a small obsession with the Titanic, so I read a lot on it. Arthur Rostron was the Captain of the Carpathia when it saved the Titanic survivors, but the book is on his entire career at sea not just the Titanic.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I have been going back & reading all the Agatha Christie mysteries lately...I pick them up at the used book store for a buck or two.
    In non-fiction, I particularly liked those of Nathanial Philbrick's books that I've read:
    Mayflower (about the Plymouth colony)
    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
    and Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island & Its People

    I'm hoping I'll get his Bunker Hill book for Christmas.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amei View Post

    Titanic Hero: The Autobiography of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia; I like cruise/ocean liner books, small confession- I have a small obsession with the Titanic, so I read a lot on it. Arthur Rostron was the Captain of the Carpathia when it saved the Titanic survivors, but the book is on his entire career at sea not just the Titanic.
    Oh wow, that is one book I have not read on the subject (like you I enjoy reading that history, though I am not a fan of James Cameron's "work" with the Titanic... I think he's nothing more than a grave robber for personal gain).

    I have been reading a biography on George Washington for over a year. It's a fairly large book and I have gotten sidetracked numerous times with other books. I have a biography on Walt Disney that still needs to be read. With everything going on this year I haven't done too much of "real" reading.

    On the fiction side, I have a friend in Christian book publishing that sends me books based in Alaska (by authors not from here most of the time lol) that she wants to see what I think of them. Right now it's a series called the "Alaskan Courage" series by Dani Pettrey. It's somewhat of a "Christian Romance" novel (so no Shades of Grey, just a lot of courting... still totally not reality lol). They are HORRIBLE if you look at it from Alaskan standards (the setting is a fictional island that seems to have magical properties as the space and time rules do not seem to apply lol) but it's well written and not your typical romance novel... and the characters are well written for this genre.

    But really for the last couple of months all I've read are cookbooks.

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    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    On the fiction side, I have a friend in Christian book publishing that sends me books based in Alaska (by authors not from here most of the time lol) that she wants to see what I think of them. Right now it's a series called the "Alaskan Courage" series by Dani Pettrey. It's somewhat of a "Christian Romance" novel (so no Shades of Grey, just a lot of courting... still totally not reality lol). They are HORRIBLE if you look at it from Alaskan standards (the setting is a fictional island that seems to have magical properties as the space and time rules do not seem to apply lol) but it's well written and not your typical romance novel... and the characters are well written for this genre.
    I read romance novels, among other things, and I'm going to object to the characterization of the genre as necessarily removed from reality and romance novels as featuring characters that are not well-written. This is true for some romance novels, just as it is true for some sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries or thrillers, but it is certainly not true for all of them. I'll admit I'm less familiar with inspirational romances, however, so maybe that's why we arrived at different impressions.

    The last book I read was The Devil in the Grove, which won the Pulitzer for non-fiction this year. It's about Thurgood Marshall and the "Groveland Four" case, and I'd definitely recommend it. Before that I read some mature YA books (by Katie McGarry and Simone Elkeles).

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    It's just been my experience that well written characters are not the norm for the vast amount of books out there in the genre of "romance" - my mom had a huge collection of non religious romance novels... they were lame IMO way too focused on the "romance"... and they were the top sellers.

    I agree all genres have this problem... not just romance, but again it's the volume of books as a whole (no I've not read every single one, just a large sample )

    I prefer non-fiction or fiction based on history more than other genres...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    It's just been my experience that well written characters are not the norm for the vast amount of books out there in the genre of "romance" - my mom had a huge collection of non religious romance novels... they were lame IMO way too focused on the "romance"... and they were the top sellers.
    Well, without access to your mom's collection I can't offer an informed opinion, but my experience has been that the stuff on the bestseller lists isn't always the best the genre has to offer

    Although it does make sense that a romance novel would focus on a romantic relationship. Obviously that's not a focus that will appeal to everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amei View Post
    Non-Fiction books:

    Titanic Hero: The Autobiography of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia; I like cruise/ocean liner books, small confession- I have a small obsession with the Titanic, so I read a lot on it. Arthur Rostron was the Captain of the Carpathia when it saved the Titanic survivors, but the book is on his entire career at sea not just the Titanic.
    How exciting to know there's a book about Rostron! He's one of my great heroes. We got to research and write about him and what he did on the night the Titanic sank. When you realize how carefully he planned the rescue journey, at a moment's notice--things like diverting steam power from heating the cabins to stoking the engines so he could put on speed--you realize what a wonderful leader he was. He was the farthest away of the ships that were within signaling range, but no one else responded. In those days, the Marconi men (the radio operators--Marconi's company still had the monopoly) turned off the equipment around midnight. Rostron absolutely was the man responsible for any and all of the lives saved. The survivors wouldn't have lasted much longer in the cold early spring weather.

    Congress gave him a special medal for his deeds that night. He's one of those cool-under-pressure guys that you always hope are in the right place at the right time, like Sully Sullenberger, who landed the plane on the Hudson River. Not an adrenaline junkie, but if danger comes calling, ready to respond.

    The other suggestions here sound tantalizing. Doris, I too am reading a lot of Agatha Christies these days. They just reprinted a paperback edition of all the Poirot short stories, and I'm working through those after having read the Marple stories (collected in another paperback). As for romances, I used to read a lot of Regency romances, by people like Mary Jo Putney, Carla Kelly, and Georgette Heyer, but they seem out of fashion these days and therefore not being printed. Fortunately, I've saved my copies. Carla Kelly is very interesting: she's an American (living out West, in fact) who tends to have heroes who are not the Duke of This or the Earl of That but ordinary folk. Her writing is more realistic, though with just enough escapism, and it has a lot of compassion. I'm not as fond of the Harlequin ones Kelly has written lately--I think that company has constraints that don't suit her talent--but the earlier Signet ones are splendid. Heyer is of course the queen of the field, and she's available from booksellers and in libraries. Putney varies, but her book The Rake has tremendous dimension and character development. In fact, it's one of the rare Regencies outside of Heyer's output that's reprinted periodically. Its original form was called The Rake and the Reformer, and then she revised it under the shorter name. Not much difference in story or in quality.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Olympia, I love Georgette Heyer! Her books are in print again, and are also available for e-reader. Unfortunately, they want too much! The used bookseller is the better shopping spot. Did you know that for years, science fiction conventions had a Georgette Heyer fans group as well? Apparently, the two go together. I always love the sly humor of Heyer. Last year, I was rereading my stock of Heyers and Jane Austen.

    And yes, I just bought & read the book of all the Marple short stories.

    Another another from the old time murder genre that I was reading this year, Dorothy Sayers-I particularly like Gaudy Night & Busman's Honeymoon & Nine Tailors.

    And another murder writer from the modern era, Julia Spencer Fleming-the combination of the local chief of police Russ van Alstyne and a combat veteran turned Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson, makes for some interesting and unique polot lines. Plus the upstate fictional New York setting, "Millers Kill" reminds me of a a little town we lived in in upstate New York for some years.

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    Doris, I didn't know that about Heyer and science fiction. A delightful thought. The way she uses archaic-sounding language to increase characterization or for humorous effect, such as "she uttered, in frozen accents," rather than just dropping in phrases to show how much research she's done, is delicate but assured. She's like Mozart. Astonishing to realize that her first novel, The Black Moth, was published when she was about nineteen. (By the way, you can read that one for free online, because it's the only one that's entered public domain.) My favorite: The Grand Sophy. ("Rivenhall audibly ground his teeth.")

    Your favorite Wimseys are my favorite Wimseys. I was just recommending them on a bookworm site I'm a member of. I also love several of the other "golden age" mystery writers who aren't so well known these days, including Margery Allingham (probably the most novelistic in style next to Sayers), Ngaio Marsh (closer to Christie in structure--less storytelling and more the mystery itself), Josephine Tey, and the early non-Cadfael Ellis Peters books (I like the Cadfael ones too, of course).

    I'll look into the Julia Spencer Fleming ones when I have a chance.

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    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    I used to read a lot of Regency romances, by people like Mary Jo Putney, Carla Kelly, and Georgette Heyer, but they seem out of fashion these days and therefore not being printed. Fortunately, I've saved my copies. Carla Kelly is very interesting: she's an American (living out West, in fact) who tends to have heroes who are not the Duke of This or the Earl of That but ordinary folk. Her writing is more realistic, though with just enough escapism, and it has a lot of compassion. I'm not as fond of the Harlequin ones Kelly has written lately--I think that company has constraints that don't suit her talent--but the earlier Signet ones are splendid. Heyer is of course the queen of the field, and she's available from booksellers and in libraries. Putney varies, but her book The Rake has tremendous dimension and character development. In fact, it's one of the rare Regencies outside of Heyer's output that's reprinted periodically. Its original form was called The Rake and the Reformer, and then she revised it under the shorter name. Not much difference in story or in quality.
    Early MJP novels are usually very good - The Rake and also some of the Fallen Angels ones. Loretta Chase is another good one, and her earlier books are trad regencies so not very explicit; Mary Balogh is hit or miss for me but I feel like she should mentioned as well. Eva Ibbotson didn't write regencies, but I think she'd be a good choice for people who enjoyed those authors.

    I tried Heyer once and there was some antisemitic that bothered me, so I haven't done so again.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    Although it does make sense that a romance novel would focus on a romantic relationship. Obviously that's not a focus that will appeal to everyone.
    Very true, but the type of "romance" that is normally in those books are not what I consider true romance.

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    The last book I've read was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I thought it was an interesting book it was interesting to see how being introverted was a great asset in many cases. But as a total extrovert, I didn't like how the author sometimes tended to prevent a very extreme, even at times caricature, view of extroverts, i.e. that extroverts were all style and no substance.

    Still an interesting read and definitely provided some good tips on on how to maintain good relationships with introverts.

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    Buttercup, thanks for bringing up Eva Ibbotson. She's little known and charming. Her kids' books are a bit too whimsical for me, but her romances, such as Magic Flutes and A Company of Swans, are lovely. Actually, two of her children's books are very different from the others: The Star of Kazan and Journey to the River Sea, and I found them splendid. She has two "fantasy lands"--dream versions of a real-world setting in which she places most of her books. One is the Amazon River region from years ago, and one is the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both are unusual milieus for American and British stories.

    As I was citing The Grand Sophy, I thought of the one sequence I could recall in her works that was antisemitic, a scene with a money lender in this very book. Yes, I didn't like that at all, and I doubt she would have thought that way if she had been born later. I never reread that scene. I can't persuade you to give her another chance, because that is a personal decision, but it is my recollection that such scenes are rare. Her eighteenth-century books, as opposed to her Regency ones, don't have anything like that. Well...principally because everyone in the story is either a member of the English aristocracy, a servant, or French. Her world is narrow but beautifully depicted.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Another book on my "to read" list is Dan Seavey's "The First Great Race". Dan (or Bappa as we call him) was one of the mushers who helped Joe Redington achieve his dream of creating the Iditarod, Dan also ran in the first race (he was a history teacher in Seward, Alaska and a hobbyist musher) coming in third (though he was second to cross the finishline, but the winner was based on time from start to finish, not placement. The rules and race have been tweaked now to make it so they don't have to do the math and can declare the winner easier and fairer now).

    Dan is my absolute favorite Seavey. I could listen to the man talk for hours! He is so wise, funny, and just darn SMART! I am excited to read his story, it was a long time in coming.

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