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Author Topic: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)  (Read 739631 times)

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4020 on: March 18, 2021, 06:42:40 PM »
The Secret Chord, by Geraldine Brooks.

The book follows the story of the life of King David. It's structured by the events told in the Bible, but this is not a religious book. It's a novel, and it treats the story of David as historical  fiction, in much the same way that Mary Renault treated the myths and legends about Theseus in The King Must Die.

An interesting aspect of the book is that the author chose to render people and place names as they appear in Hebrew scripture rather than as we might know them from an English Bible. David is David, but, for example, Bethlehem is Beit Lehem, Saul is Shaul, Samuel is Shmuel, Bathsheba is Batsheva, Solomon is Schlomo, and so forth.

The story is told by and from the perspective of Natan (Nathan the Prophet in the Bible), the figure who calls out David for taking Batsheva and arranging for the death of her husband.

This is also not a sex book--no sex acts are portrayed--but nevertheless, it portrays the great love of David's life as Shaul's son Yonatan (Jonathan), and the relationship is sexual as well as emotional. This is made completely clear by David's first wife, Mikal, Shaul's daughter and Yonatan's sister. She tells Natan that on their wedding night, David came to her "hot from my brother, reeking of sweat." She also says that he made no pretense about it that it was Yonatan he loved, and that "he asked me to do things in the dark that recalled my brother."

(That reminded me of a small plot point in BBM, where we are told that Ennis "rolled [Alma] over, did quickly what she hated.")

For me this is a compelling read.

The title is a reference to David's famed musicianship.


I do agree, Jeff

I've enjoyed some. of Geraldine Brooks' other novels.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4021 on: March 19, 2021, 11:08:18 AM »
I do agree, Jeff

I've enjoyed some. of Geraldine Brooks' other novels.

Are there any in particular that you would recommend?

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4022 on: May 14, 2021, 02:03:58 AM »
Are there any in particular that you would recommend?

Year of Wonders

People of the Book

Caleb's Crossing

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4023 on: May 14, 2021, 02:31:16 AM »
Demystifying one of the major traditional views of sex, '...we think through the same flesh we fuck with', writes Damon Young in his fascinating book On Getting Off: Sex and Philosophy.

The author is Associate in the School of Philosophy in the University of Melbourne.

He finds that most of the canonical philosophers in history said nothing about sex, or condemned it as bad, immoral, dangerous or dismissed it as trivial.

Challenging the paper that found we think about sex all the time, he suggests that it is often in simplistic ways or too neat abstractions. He asks what is going on, what we do actually think and stimulates us to really think about what sex is, what role it plays in our lives, what its value is and what it can offer us beyond the obvious.

Damon Young writes in a lively, witty, down-to-earth voice, drawing on a very wide range of ideas and sources: his personal experience, literature, myth, science, art, psychology, sociology, theology and philosophy.

He is very open minded and the book is very humane in its understanding and insights into the lives of other people. He argues that sex is ethical and political. He acknowledges the spectrum of sexualities and genders.

The book was published by Scribe Publications in Australia and the UK and electronically in 2020. It comes out in the US in June.

Offline ingmarnicebbmt

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4024 on: May 14, 2021, 03:29:21 AM »

Sounds very intriguing. I'll put it on my wish-to-read-list.
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And maybe, he thought, they'd never got much farther than that.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4025 on: May 23, 2021, 12:51:40 AM »
Pip Williams' historical novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, a book about the power of words, was inspired by her discovery of a single word that was accidentally left out of the original Oxford English Dictionary.

The slip with the loaded word is picked up by Esme, the curious, motherless little daughter of one of the team of lexicographers working with the real James Murray in the Scriptorium, his old garden shed in Oxford. She spends her days under the sorting table. She hides the lost slip in a trunk under the bed of Lizzie, the Murrays' illiterate live-in maid of all work.

Esme's real life godmother, Edith Thompson, was one of many women who volunteered and contributed to the dictionary.

Over the years, Esme collects more and more words, particularly women's words, especially those excluded from the dictionary by the male lexicographers, despite their antiquity and widespread use because there are no written sources. She documents the words of the various women she meets.  She decides to put them into a dictionary of lost words relating to women's experiences which were unrecorded.
 
Pip Williams writes so well that I was often very worried as I read of what Esme confronts as a child and woman..

The novel ingeniously interweaves the fictional story of Esme with the history of the OED, the campaign for women's suffrage and World War I.

Simon Winchester,, the author of The Surgeon of Crawthorne has welcomed the book and admitted he was wrong to write only about white English men developing the OED.

Offline Lyle (Mooska)

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4026 on: May 23, 2021, 01:09:04 PM »

That book sounds really fascinating.

Simon Winchester, the author of The Surgeon of Crawthorne has welcomed the book and admitted he was wrong to write only about white English men developing the OED.

There is an adage for writers to "write what you know", but I heard an experienced author once say to "write what you want to know," is a better one.

I do wish, though, people would stop the current vogue of assigning "right or wrong" to  e v e r y t h i n g .  You end up with everything being assigned standards that can not possibly be kept and then no one is satisfied.  S.W. could have welcomed the new book without saying he was wrong in his approach. An encompassing idea!  That statement alone makes me think I'd be wrong to read his book, then, and it was really well received when it came out in 1998.

Speaking for the U.S., it seems as a culture we have two extremes now at odds with each other, at least in politics: The liberals are trying to have impossibly high standards for everything, judging the past as though it's the present and judging the present as though everyone should be what is currently considered perfect, while the conservatives have just basically thrown up their hands, don't care about facts and are comforted in conspiracy theories.

How's all this working out for everyone?

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4027 on: May 23, 2021, 06:19:59 PM »
That book sounds really fascinating.

There is an adage for writers to "write what you know", but I heard an experienced author once say to "write what you want to know," is a better one.

I do wish, though, people would stop the current vogue of assigning "right or wrong" to  e v e r y t h i n g .  You end up with everything being assigned standards that can not possibly be kept and then no one is satisfied.  S.W. could have welcomed the new book without saying he was wrong in his approach. An encompassing idea!  That statement alone makes me think I'd be wrong to read his book, then, and it was really well received when it came out in 1998.

Speaking for the U.S., it seems as a culture we have two extremes now at odds with each other, at least in politics: The liberals are trying to have impossibly high standards for everything, judging the past as though it's the present and judging the present as though everyone should be what is currently considered perfect, while the conservatives have just basically thrown up their hands, don't care about facts and are comforted in conspiracy theories.

How's all this working out for everyone?

The tone of The Dictionary of Lost Words is not aggressively polemical and the protagonist Esme is rather modest.

I paraphrased Simon Winchester's comment. Here is the actual quote:

'In the annals of lexicography, no more imaginative, delightful, charming and clever book has yet been written. And if by writing it Pip Williams has gently rapped my knuckles for wrongly supposing that only white English men led the effort to corral and codify our language, then I happily accept the scolding. Her wonderfully constructed story has helped entirely change my mind."

« Last Edit: May 23, 2021, 06:29:13 PM by tfferg »

Offline rmperalta

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4028 on: May 24, 2021, 05:42:50 AM »
Currently reading Outlander. I started the series a couple of months ago. :) Since I like being able to do two hobbies at once, I put it on text-to-speech so I can crochet while "reading".

Offline Lyle (Mooska)

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4029 on: May 24, 2021, 11:48:31 AM »

Thanks for the full quote, Tony! That softens my initial reaction!

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4030 on: May 24, 2021, 01:12:34 PM »
"Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge"--Samuel Johnson.  :D

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4031 on: May 24, 2021, 06:43:16 PM »
"Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge"--Samuel Johnson.  :D
Methinks he doth protest too much.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4032 on: May 31, 2021, 07:50:24 AM »
The Boy from the Mish is a very engaging debut novel by queer Yuin writer Gary Lonesborough who grew up in a big family in Bega on the far south coast of New South Wales.

The novel is not autobiographical, but aspects of it reflect the author's experiences as a youth. The story is told from the point of view of Jackson Barley, a 17 year old who lives with his mother and little brother in a close-knit community in what was an Aboriginal mission outside a fictional seaside town north of Sydney.

In the long, hot Christmas summer holidays, Aunty Pam comes with Jackson's many noisy little cousins to stay. She also brings the mysterious teenager Tomas who has been bailed from juvenile detention into her care because his family is missing. Jackson has to share his bedroom with the loud snorer. As Jackson, like his mother, is a talented artist, Aunty Pam instructs him to help Tomas out with the art he has to do as part of his bail conditions.

Jackson is already trying to work out his relationship with his girlfriend Tesha, his extended local family and friends and the community who represent his support system in the white town where they all face overpolicing, individual and institutional racism, white privilege and prejudice and are involved in violent incidents. He is questioning who he really is, whether he will still be accepted by the community where there are no gays he knows of and what he wants to do after the holidays. He and Tomas become closer and closer as he introduces him to his cousin Kalyn and mates, guides him around the Mish and the bush and as they work together on Tomas's idea for a graphic novel.

The book reads as authentically realistic, funny and very relatable. Unlike many gay coming-of-age novels, Jackson and Tomas do not endure trauma because of their sexuality. The clear writing focuses on feelings. The scenes of intimacy are warmly erotic rather than very explicit.

Gary Lonesborough has said that he was always put off by young adult fiction because none of the books reflected gay First Nations people like himself or the community he grew up in. He was driven to write The Boy from the Mish by his frustration with Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (the book that was adapted for the Love, Simon movie).

The Boy from the Mish embodies in a natural, undidactic way the living culture of the particular First Nations community. One of a number of features which distinguish it from typical white coming-of-age novels is the close connection of the young characters on the Mish with the elders.

There were several moments when I dreaded what would happen in the next chapter and Jackson and Tomas do face challenges but the novel ends in a warmly positive chapter.

Gay and First Nations readers have acclaimed The Boy from the Mish as the book they wish was available in their teen years. Although  I am not a First Nations man, I would have found the book much more relatable in my younger days than anything I came across because of its focus on emotions and physical feelings.

The rights have already been sold in the US, Canada and Mexico so far. There is an audio book read by the Yamatji actor Meyne watt
« Last Edit: May 31, 2021, 08:50:57 AM by tfferg »

Offline rmperalta

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4033 on: June 01, 2021, 12:54:11 AM »
Currently reading the first Outlander novel. Been watching the series on Netflix recently and I like it! I prefer to read it via a text-to-speech website though so I can read and crochet at the same time.

Offline rmperalta

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #4034 on: June 13, 2021, 10:04:43 PM »
Sharing this old poem that I suddenly remembered. It has a J+E vibe to it (at least, in my opinion). Let me know what you think!

You Who Never Arrived
by Rainier Maria Rilke

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods--
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...