Author Topic: Now reading  (Read 94425 times)

Antdude

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #220 on: January 24, 2010, 02:13:40 PM »
The Real George Washington - Jay A. Perry  An excellent biography. A history of Washington is really a history of the founding of America. And good God, do we have it easy today. These men risked everything for freedom and we take it for granted now.
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hdibrell

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #221 on: January 31, 2010, 04:25:27 PM »
Whale Music - Paul Quarrington . Entertaining book about a reclusive, eccentric, genius, former rock star (based loosely on Brian Wilson) who quits the music business and lives alone in his mansion by the sea working on his music for whales. He doesn't want any contact with the outside world , living on whiskey, drugs and jelly donuts. He gets an unexpected ,uninvited young female visitor from Toronto who believes in his music. It's a fun story to read. Not anything heavy, but entertaining. I know I want to get his main instrument, a seven keyboard emulator, the Yamaha 666 that makes sounds even when it is turned off 8) .
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APK

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #222 on: January 31, 2010, 08:06:34 PM »
Harry: the movie of Whale Music was very good.
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hdibrell

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #223 on: January 31, 2010, 10:01:29 PM »
That's good to hear , Anthony. I ordered it used while ago. Look forward to seeing it.
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cromag

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #224 on: February 25, 2010, 11:41:42 PM »
Recently I really, really enjoyed a book called Born to Run which is mostly about a tribe called the Tarahumara in Mexico who live hidden in the canyons and whose culture involves extremely long-distance running, for hunting and for entertainment.

The author is an American magazine writer who keeps getting injuries while running relatively modest distances and he becomes curious about why so many modern, urban runners are hurt all the time, despite fancy, expensive running shoes, while relatively primitive runners running in the mountains in bare feet or hand-made sandals, can run 50 or 100 miles at a time without injuries.

So it's partly an exploration of the Tarahumara, with insight into the American running scene, particularly the niches of ultramarathoning and trail running, culminating in a "challenge" race between top American ultramarathoners like Scott Jurek and Jenn Shelton, against a handful of Tarahumara runners in their weird garb and sandals.



http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303

This really was one of the most interesting and inspiring books I've read in a long time, and made me question a lot of our assumptions about physical limitations.




The current issue of Science News has an article on the subject of barefoot running.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/55708/title/Running_barefoot_blunts_foot%E2%80%99s_force


I'm more of a walker than a runner -- although I haven't been out for a decent walk since the sequential snows started hitting us up here in the mid-Atlantic -- and I'm not ready to give up my shoes yet, but it was an interesting read.
Science News, Vol. 175, No. 9, April 25, 2009, page 1 -- "New mapping of the human genome shows none of us are normal."

mgriffin

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #225 on: February 26, 2010, 09:48:43 AM »
Though I'm not as serious about running as I was last summer (I've been mixing in more stationary bike and more strength-focused exercises), I still follow the running community as a fan of track and field, and road racing.  This book has become a sensation in that world, and barefoot running has become a huge topic of debate.  Very few people go all the way toward barefoot running, but "minimalism" in the sense of running in very minimal footwear -- lightweight and barely protective, lacking most of the stability and cushioning of expensive running shoes -- has become quite popular.  Most of the major running shoe companies have started releasing minimal variations like the Nike Free series, which fulfill only the most basic functions of a shoe.  

I guess it remains to be seen if this is a genuine evolution of running footwear, or just a short-term trend.

Interestingly perhaps the best-known "minimalist" runner, ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka, has been injured frequently in recent years which to me sort of argues against the whole thing.
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Wayne Higgins

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #226 on: February 26, 2010, 09:57:52 AM »
Lately I've been totally engrossed reading any thing about, as well as studying the artwork of Gustave Dore.  He was a French illustration artist in the 19th century.

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #227 on: February 26, 2010, 10:07:47 AM »
Dore is so great!  The illustrations for Dante's Inferno are the ones you see over and over, but the Paradise Lost images, and Gargantua and Pantagruel are cool.  I even like his paintings.
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Hypnagogue

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #228 on: February 26, 2010, 11:56:26 AM »
Whale Music - Paul Quarrington . Entertaining book about a reclusive, eccentric, genius, former rock star (based loosely on Brian Wilson) who quits the music business and lives alone in his mansion by the sea working on his music for whales. He doesn't want any contact with the outside world , living on whiskey, drugs and jelly donuts. He gets an unexpected ,uninvited young female visitor from Toronto who believes in his music. It's a fun story to read. Not anything heavy, but entertaining. I know I want to get his main instrument, a seven keyboard emulator, the Yamaha 666 that makes sounds even when it is turned off 8) .

Your description made me want to read this, so I started Googling. Apparently Mr. Quarrington lost a battle with cancer just last month.
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cromag

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #229 on: February 26, 2010, 02:00:40 PM »
...
Interestingly perhaps the best-known "minimalist" runner, ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka, has been injured frequently in recent years which to me sort of argues against the whole thing.

The study notes that barefoot runners strike the ground with their forefeet while "shod" runners strike with their heels.  What the study doesn't address, as far as I saw, is whether learned behavior carries through.  Would a person who has always run while wearing shoes, and thus strikes the ground with his/her heel, change styles when running barefoot.  I would guess that it takes a while (or longer) to relearn how to run, and I assume the runner would be much more susceptible to injury.
Science News, Vol. 175, No. 9, April 25, 2009, page 1 -- "New mapping of the human genome shows none of us are normal."

mgriffin

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #230 on: February 26, 2010, 02:07:08 PM »
Even advocates of minimalist or barefoot running say that people whose feet and ankles aren't accustomed to running that way should transition really slowly.

I tried running on the treadmill in some minimalist shoes a few times and after 5-10 minutes the soles of my feet, my ankles and especially my calves were extremely sore.  This was at a time when I was running 10-13 mile long runs every weekend and more moderate runs through the week.  Running on your forefoot basically uses the muscles of your lower leg and foot to cushion your landing, instead of just jamming your heel out there and striking full-force, and counting on your shoe to not only cushion but stabilize your foot and ankle.

Even if you've been running in cushioned shoes your whole life, if you try running in bare feet, your body immediately adjusts without any intentional change.  Try running down the sidewalk in bare feet and see.  You'll strike with your forefoot, not your heel, and your footstrike will happen directly under your center of gravity instead of way out in front.
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mgriffin

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #231 on: February 26, 2010, 02:43:00 PM »
I've been reading a ton but haven't been posting my "now reading" stuff here in a while.


Elmore Leonard - Split Images

Over the years I've heard various people praise Elmore Leonard, saying "don't dismiss him just because he writes bestsellers," and finally when Lena and I were at the beach a couple weekends ago I picked up this paperback.  The writing is ultra-simple, the characters are clever, knowing and cool, and the story is perfectly clear, with just the right mix of surprise, and logical progression.  It's not especially "deep" in the end, but it's an easy, fun read and I defininitely intend to check out more Elmore Leonard when I'm in the mood for something entertaining, with a bit of smart-ass humor.    It's a story about a wealthy businessman who kills somebody (maybe in self-defense) and finds he enjoys killing so much that he'd like to keep on doing it.
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Re: Now reading
« Reply #232 on: February 26, 2010, 02:43:38 PM »


Stephen King - Lisey's Story

I enjoyed King's Under the Dome quite a bit when it came out last year, and it convinced me to give some of his other more recent books a try.  This is a sort of flip side to Bag of Bones, in which a writer who resembled King tries to deal with his wife unexpectedly dying.  In this one, a wife tries to deal with her husband, a writer who slightly resembles King, unexpectedly dying.  That's not giving anything away -- Scott Landon is dead when the book starts.  As his wife Lisey finally digs through his office, which she's left alone for the two years since he died, she starts diving back into memories of things she went through with her husband, as well as increasingly strange recollections of things Scott told her about his early life.  It's not just recollection, though, as she gets entangled with a couple of people who start hassling her about getting access to her husband's unpublished papers.  The book relies very heavily on familiar catch-phrases shared by the couple, most of which are a sort of invented language from Scott's childhood.  The retelling is very stream-of-consciousness, and at times the flavor of the unusual language can become irritating, but mostly it's intimate and
engrossing.  The overt "horror" elements here are muted, and there's a bit of fantasy or supernatural element, but it mostly feels like real life.  I think a lot of people who don't normally enjoy King's work would like this one.
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Re: Now reading
« Reply #233 on: February 26, 2010, 02:51:43 PM »


Jeff Hawkins - On Intelligence

I read a lot of non-fiction but normally wouldn't post it here unless I think it might interest people who don't share my specific interests.  I know most people aren't going to want to read Wiley's PHP and MySQL bible...  But this one is a really interesting take on how human intelligence works, and why most attempts at creating artificial intelligence systems are going about it the wrong way.  The author is best-known as the inventor of the Palm Pilot, but he's also long had an interest in the human brain and artificial intelligence theory.  Here he does a great job explaining how the brain stores and accesses memories (which, he asserts, are a huge part of how we're able to do things like catch a ball, or tell a cat from a dog).  His theory is that most AI researchers, who assert we'll be able to easily put together an equivalent to the human brain as soon as computing power has expanded a bit further, are misguided and chasing in the wrong direction.  If you have any interest in either the nuts and bolts workings of the brain and mind, or especially the subject of artificial intelligence, this book is not to be missed.
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mgriffin

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #234 on: February 26, 2010, 03:04:20 PM »


Elmore Leonard - Tishomingo Blues

I moved on directly from Split Images (above) to this one, because I read it was the author's favorite of his own books, and this one was even better.  It follows a traveling high diver who arrives at a Mississippi casino and convinces the manager to let him do a daily dive show outside to draw people to the casino all summer.  Right at the beginning he witnesses a murder from his perch at the top of the eighty-foot ladder, and that gets him involved in a bunch of complication.  The most interesting character is not the protagonist, Dennis, but this smooth guy he meets named Robert, from Detroit, whose own reasons for being in Mississippi emerge gradually.  A bunch of characters converge from the various story threads in a big Civil War reenactment, not a subject that would normally interest me, but by the time that event arrives the swirl of odd people and their alliances, grudges and conflicting agendas had me hooked.
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mgriffin

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #235 on: February 26, 2010, 03:26:53 PM »


Iain M. Banks - Consider Phlebas

The first novel in Banks's highly-regarded "Culture" series.  I've been meaning to jump into these books for a while but when you look at them all stacked up next to each other the book store, all those thousands of pages, it can be daunting.  Banks is known not only for his science fiction but for some edgy-but-mainstream books (which he differentiates by going as Iain Banks, without the middle initial), and the writing here is at a high level, but this is definitely not a case of a "literary" writer slumming in sci-fi and just throwing a few spaceships and alien planets into the mix.  The story has quite a bit of action and violence, and covers a very broad swath of space.  In the "Culture" series, at least at the beginning, there's a war between The Culture (a very advanced race, or collective of races, who rely on powerful artificial minds to make live in the Culture one of utopic leisure) and the Idirans, which are a strange race of very large, shell-covered, three-legged beings who don't age (but can be killed).  The war arose due to the Idirans expansion or empire-building (driven by religious fanatacism), which the Culture determined to stop.  Though the author makes clear which side he believes to be morally justified, and his dislike for religion comes through pretty clearly, the main character (a member of a shape-changing race) is actually working for the Idirans.

The novel has a few flat spots, and there were times I set it down and didn't pick it back up for several weeks.  Overall, though, the story's world is compelling and its scope is truly impressive.  I look forward to taking the next several steps in this series, especially as I understand the second book, The Use of Weapons, to be considered the best installment.
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Dave Michuda

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #236 on: February 26, 2010, 07:22:18 PM »
Mike,

Thanks for all the recommendations.  I've picked up a few books from reviews in this thread over the years.

I am currently diving back into the "Polity" universe of Neal Asher.  Quoting from his wikipedia page..."most of his novels are all set within one future history, known as the "Polity" universe. The Polity encompasses many classic science fiction tropes including world-ruling artificial intelligences, androids, hive minds, aliens and time travel. His novels are characterized by fast paced action and violent encounters. While his work is frequently epic in scope and thus nominally space opera, its graphic and aggressive tone is more akin to cyberpunk."

I read 3 Polity books(Gridlinked, Line of Polity, Brass Man) a couple of years ago & just finished "The Skinner", which is a unique mash-up of cyberpunk & pirate stories(they're not really pirates but it's tough guys on sailing ships on the high seas, close enough).  I have 4 or 5 more Polity novels to read & can't wait.

Mike, I know you're a fan of Robert Charles Wilson & was wondering if you've read his latest "Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America"?  I enjoyed it but wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.  It was a nice change of pace.

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #237 on: February 26, 2010, 07:57:56 PM »
Dave, I haven't read Julian Comstock yet, and I have to admit alternate history stuff doesn't really excite me.  But I did just pick up a copy of Wilson's earlier book, Blind Lake, and I plan to read that next.  I think this is a horrible, ugly cover but I plan to just ignore it and enjoy the words!



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Dave Michuda

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #238 on: February 27, 2010, 07:28:14 AM »
Blind Lake is good, I think you'll enjoy it.

Brian Bieniowski

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Re: Now reading
« Reply #239 on: February 27, 2010, 12:31:49 PM »
I've always liked Neal Asher's stuff, but I have to admit I didn't catch The Skinner—sounds like fun.