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Old 31st December 2010, 06:24 PM
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Praxis Praxis is offline
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Thumbs up The Book/Reading Thread!

It's not a reading challenge this year, it's just a what are you reading/book review/discussion thread for our many bibliophiles.

Thanks to everyone who participated in and contributed to the 50 Book Reading Challenge thread in 2010. I think a lot of people got a lot out of that thread.


Now get reading!
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Old 31st December 2010, 08:22 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

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Praxis said View Post
...
Now get reading!
OK boss, I've just started Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel, so that will be my first book for 2011.
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Old 31st December 2010, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

Excellent, im a prolific reader, with at least one book going at all times, so i think i'll enjoy this thread alot

But i might not admit to some of my "fluff" reads, eg Charlaine Harris' True blood series and the occassional chick lit, i like to take breaks with an easy read every now and again.

Im currently struggling through "snow falling on cedars" by David Guterson, really does he have to describe everything 3 times with little variation on each description??!! But ive been sucked in enough to want to see it to the end.
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Old 31st December 2010, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

Currently reading:

Australian Planner (2010) Vol. 47, No. 4

All articles are devoted to 'Cities and Oil Vulnerability'. The first two of which are quite well researched, and easy to read.

Urry, J. (2007) Mobilities. London: Polity

Just started. Interesting enough. Typical sociological text on the topic of the same name.

Richards, K. (2010) Life. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

About 1/4 of the way through. Autobiographical, of course. Lots of references to his guitar playing. One for the fans, I suspect, but I will finish it (just for now though it has gone to the bottom of the pile).

Gat, A. (2006) War in Human Civilization. London: Oxford Uni Press

2 chapters in. Heavy going, but very interesting as I enjoy sweeping historical texts.

Mackay, H. (2008) Advance Australia Where? Sydney: Hachette

I thought I'd better read this earlier work of Mackay's after just having finished What Makes Us Tick? The Ten Desires That Drive Us (2010). I wish I had not started, as a lot of the latter is rehashed from the former.

Currently thumbing:

Bates, G. (2010) Environmental Law in Australia 7th edition. Sydney: Lexis Nexis

Thomas, I (2007) Environmental Policy: Australian Practice in the Context of Theory. Sydney: Federation Press
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Old 1st January 2011, 01:17 AM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

I used to read a lot but this forum has pinched some of my reading time.
At the moment I am alternating between Defending my god-given right to not be a christian by Jimmy D. Kuratz and God's Funeral by A.N. Wilson. The first is easy to read and interesting and tends to poke fun at religion (always a fun sport) and the second is much heavier going but very educational regarding the wealth of literature from the 19Th century tsunami of atheist Intellectuals.
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Old 1st January 2011, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

I was going to post "not so fast" in the other thread but you locked it! Due to being in ED with a family member (all has worked out OK for the time being) I got another 5 hours of reading time before midnight and finished another (taking my total to 51, I think, btw).

It was The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War by James Hider. Hider was the (UK) Times Iraq correspondent, and later Middle East bureaux chief, 2003. The book is mainly about Iraq 2003-2007, bookended by stories of reporting from Palestine. Thus the book covers the period from beginnings of sectarian and then anti-US violence, to the complete breakdown of society and random and arbitrary daily bit by bit mutual genocide of Sunni vs Shi'ah.

It was horrifying, shocking, and I think one of the most important books I have ever read on the insanity of religion. This isn't my atheist reading into it, either; one can chart Hider's own progression through the book from casual external observer of odd behaviour to someone who sees religion as a malign activity.

I think it worth quoting a couple of sections at length.

This section just in respect of how well (at least I think) Hider is at painting pictures with words - marines having taken over a soda factory as a base:

Quote:
Communications centre and command posts were squeezed into every nook and outhouse. Wiry young men stripped to the waist milled around, baring huge tattoos of crosses, demons and busty blondes on their backs, arms and chests, the sooty night-camouflage still smudged across their drawn, youthful faces. Hooches had been strung up all over, rifles stacked in black metal stooks. The place reeked of body odour and Coca-Cola. One skinny man, wrapped in only a towel, hopped awkwardly about as he tried to pull on his underpants, an odd touch of modesty in the teeming display of virulent, beef-fed American manhood.
...In between times they lounged on their packs in whatever shade they could find, comparing porn mags their girlfriends had sent them.
'Any girl who sends you Butt Man is a girl you can marry', sagely reflected one bespectacled trooper. Another lamented that the women in the magazine his girlfriend had sent were, in fact, lady boys. 'Chicks with fuckin' dicks', he spat, as his comrades hooted with laughter.
getting down to business:

Quote:
The American girl looked young, maybe twenty-one or twenty-two ... She was bouncy and extroverted, and giggled with excitement as she came up to me, standing near the Strykers parked inside the gate of a military outpost in Mosul.
'I made a grown man cry yesterday', she boasted, with a happy chuckle.
'How?', I asked her, and she looked at me coyly, a look that journalists often get around soldiers. Wouldn't you like to know? the looks says.
'I work in the interrogations', she said, as chipper as if she'd announced she worked in the mergers and acquisitions department of a successful corporation.
And now into the depths of insanity:

Quote:
Now here's an important question. Think carefully about it, as you life may depend on the answer one day. Should a goat wear underpants?
As crazy as this may sound, this was a policy point for the newly declared Islamic State of Iraq in early 2006, whose main policy goal was to take the Sunni lands of central Iraq back to the good old days of the Prophet Mohammed in seventh-century Arabia ... when Mohammed and his neighbours were fighting over which imaginary deity should be revered as ruler of the universe...

***

... Ali was giggling at my question. 'You know, you'll think this is crazy, but I have heard the Mujahedin have issued a fatwa that tomatoes and cucumbers can't be displayed together'.
'No way! Why? Because cucumbers look a bit like cock and tomatoes look like breasts?'
'Yeah, basically', he said. 'Tomatoes represent femininity and cucumbers; well, you said it,' he laughed.

...But the granddaddy of all the crazy edicts concerned the goats. Our man in Diyala confirmed a persistent rumour that goatherds had been put underpants on their animals for modesty's sake, as clearly an inflamed young jihadist who had never seen an unveiled woman might be inflamed by the sight of a goat's nether regions. Sheep, it seemed, were exempt since they have big flat tales that cover their genitals.
It sounds rather ridiculously funny, and Hider described the vegetable edict as being a juvenile attitude to sex at a Benny Hill level. However: text I elided at the "***":

Quote:
I first came across this brand of off-the-chart extremism in 2005, while reading a local news report in Baghdad about a grocer's shop that had been blown up. The four people who worked there had been executed in front of their vegetables before the TNT was set off. I didn't realise they had been murdered because of their vegetables.
'Now what in hell have people got against greengrocers?' I aksed Ali ...
The title of the book, btw, relates to the camel spiders of the region Praxis don't click this link. They had been the subject of urban legends in the west, but Iraqi fights spun even greater stories about them, claiming they had been sent by Allah:

Quote:
... As the spider picture spread among the tribal fighters - many of whom had never left their town, and believed implicitly every word of their ferocious preachers - so did the stories of human-sized arachnids, whose poisoned hairs could make a human body turn blue and explode in a shower of corrupted blood. The Spiders were clearly allies sent by Allah to see off the evil infidels.
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Old 1st January 2011, 06:42 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

@TwoDogs - good to see you got in early!

Quote:
PyroShel said View Post
Excellent, im a prolific reader, with at least one book going at all times, so i think i'll enjoy this thread alot

But i might not admit to some of my "fluff" reads, eg Charlaine Harris' True blood series and the occassional chick lit, i like to take breaks with an easy read every now and again.
Dont worry about it at all PyroShel. If you followed the 2010 thread at all you may have noticed that I often read 'fluff' and some rather low-brow stuff while all around me were ingesting lofty tomes. I don't recall anyone giving me any stick about it - so admit away and be proud!

As for Charlaine Harris stuff, I think you'll find that our esteemed Wearestardust is a big fan and wrote several posts about the books in last year's thread. WAS also reads a lot of books that I just couldn't and give wonderful reviews of them (like the one above).

I'd possibly draw the line at Mills & Boon but other than that, it's all good!

@Was - terrifying. No words. And thanks for the link warning, always appreciated mate

Now. What am I reading? Well, I'm still dipping in and out of The Greatest Show on Earth and really loving it. I started (really briefly, a week before Mythmas) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but haven't kept going with it. Maybe because I've seen the movie but I'll probably pick it up again.

Otherwise, I've been really engaged in my two issues of New Humanist magazine, to be perfectly honest. Some really fantastic articles. I'm always impressed when I read something that touches on things I've thought or wondered about but wasn't able to articulate properly. NH seems to have a knack for publishing serious but very accessible articles on important topics.

I've got a Fay Weldon to read at some stage as well.
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Old 1st January 2011, 08:38 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

Just started David Rollins's Ghost Watch, the latest Vin Cooper testosterone-filled laughitup.

Lightweight in the present company, but then I asked for The Expendables on DVD for YuleSaturnaliaHanukkahSolsticeXmas...
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Old 1st January 2011, 09:01 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

Quote:
PyroShel said View Post
But i might not admit to some of my "fluff" reads, eg Charlaine Harris' True blood series and the occassional chick lit, i like to take breaks with an easy read every now and again.
I included the first four or so books in my 2010 reading. I really liked them, but unfortunately they got a bit shaded by the TV series which is, unusually, better than the books.

I absolutely loved Snow Falling on Cedars when I read it quite a few years ago now.
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Old 1st January 2011, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: The 2011 Book/Reading Thread!

I'm currently reading The Ancestors Tale by Richard Dawkins. I enjoyed the first few sections about human evolution, which I haven't read that much about, and I enjoy all the stuff with specific content (for example about hippos and their relationship to whales), but find a lot of the more general stuff boring, as it is covered in his other books and other people's work. Sometimes there are additional stuff that I didn't know, but I feel like most of this book I do already know.
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