Author Topic: What book(s) are you reading?  (Read 702220 times)

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Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3960 on: July 27, 2023, 11:38:38 PM »
House of Windows by John Langan (The Fisherman, lit-horror short story collections).

Finished up John Langan's first book from 2009. Like The Fisherman and his short stories, it's very much a high-lit book. A haunted house story where the two main characters are English Professors. It's pretty lengthy and a good deal ambiguous, and falls much further on the lit genre side than the horror genre side, but in exchange you get a very well written book with well developed interesting characters. It's creepy at parts, but it's more a drama about relationships, family, etc... that has some creepypasta mixed in.

I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite horror books, but it was worth the page count and always enjoyable to read thanks to Langan's excellent writing. Very good 3/4 book. I'll definitely check out the couple of remaining short story collections of Langan's that I haven't read at some point. I very much enjoy his output.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3961 on: August 08, 2023, 01:25:46 PM »
The Frugal Wizard's Guide to Medieval England - Sanderon's 2nd standalone book in his four book kickstarter project.

I...really liked this one. It was closer to Scalzi's Kaiju Preservation Society than Sanderson's Cosmere universe stuff. Was a fun isekai mashup of sci-fi and fantasy told in first person through an amnesiac MC figuring out who they were. Lots of fun stuff. Between the first Skyward book and this, I'm starting to feel that Sanderson writes better without the weight of like 15 books/novellas of Cosmere world lore that everything has to fit into and slowly advance.

So of course, it seems like most Sanderson/Cosmere fans don't like this one :derp

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3962 on: August 11, 2023, 03:08:11 AM »


This is fine (and long) but there are some strange things about it. The title is very misleading, as it's not about any of this, it's a biography of three people somewhat related to the Plessy case and covers their lives since birth including their romances, careers, etc. The entire thing is a prelude to the Supreme Court case which takes place entirely in the last chapter and quickly covers over the decision on a couple pages. Then it ends immediately. Also strange is the guy seems to have used very few secondary sources at all, he instead went to the archives and read diary entries and newspaper articles to construct his narrative with almost no content from what anyone else has published about this. Maybe it's because he's a journalist instead of a historian but it is a bit odd, though he didn't make too many historical errors just a couple that I recall. He especially enjoys making "images of how location were" that he footnotes by noting that he "synthesized" them from reading newspaper articles from the time, which okay, whatever you tell yourself buddy.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3963 on: August 20, 2023, 04:51:29 AM »


Not necessarily terrible but there's some things about this, the biggest one is that the guy (writer of Forrest Gump) read only a handful of biographies about the three and then abridged them into this. Which is fine I guess but a bit odd for a book. He also organizes each chapter by person, which again is fine but the way he does it is that he redescribes events in each chapter. So for example he talks about things that led to the Boston Tea Party and how Hamilton reacted. Then he does it again for Adams and again for Jefferson, could have just mentioned the event again! Lastly it has a number of temporal oddities, my favorite is that George Washington leaves Philadelphia for Boston on July 3rd. He then spends some pages describing events that happen as Washington travels before Washington arrives in Boston on July 2nd. Now, we know George Washington was a time traveler who could also move faster than light, but he never gets into how Washington solved the resulting time paradox.

HardcoreRetro

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3964 on: August 23, 2023, 12:44:50 PM »
The Malazan Book of the Fallen is on Humble Bundle. Like 18 dollars for all the Steven Erikson books. Pretty good deal if you're a digital reader.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3965 on: August 23, 2023, 12:47:38 PM »
The Malazan Book of the Fallen is on Humble Bundle. Like 18 dollars for all the Steven Erikson books. Pretty good deal if you're a digital reader.

Yeah, I want to read Malazan and that's a steal.

But...I don't like reading big books digitally. I'm more ok with digital for short stuff, but with larger books I'm going to spend weeks/months on I prefer the physical book.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3966 on: August 27, 2023, 11:56:31 PM »

Liked this a lot, but I've got some problems AND NOW YOU'RE GONNA HEAR ABOUT EM. First, the book is supposed to be about the supposedly timeless wisdom of the classical era that the Founders tapped into but the entire book is framed as the authors personal existential crisis about Donald Trump winning in 2016. Along these lines the final chapter is about what we can do to stop Trump which is even worse than that part. (Even more so by the fact that the book came out after Trump lost in 2020.) The author spent 300 pages on how brilliant the Founders were and then says they were so stupid they would shocked and appalled at modern politicians and society for its self-serving focus on personal or factional benefit. Buddy, did you even read any of the shit you wrote let alone the sources you used?

He makes a list of ten things we can do against Trump but two of them contradict, #2 says the state needs to suppress freedom of speech, press and assembly to the point that any organization of individuals needs to be outlawed and the corporate form to be abolished entirely since the Founders wouldn't have recognized it even though it was a central component of common law for centuries and two of the four in the book were actual trained lawyers and a third simply did not pass the bar. As if this was not bad enough then #8 says that in the time of Trump's evil ways we need to defend freedom of speech and press more than ever before. Pal, buddy, friend, you just said the state needs to suppress it and borderline totally.

Lastly, he uses "First Peoples" for Native Americans, cites a source that does not at all remotely speak for all of them to justify this as he claims, is ahistorical and erases their tribal individualities, which I bring up mostly because he erases actual tribe names to insert First Peoples. The founding generation understood the tribes were separate and distinct rather than a homogenous "Indigenous" and this was important to basically all their dealings with them. (Something the author comes close to accidentally stumbling upon when he mentions the different ways the French and British treated them and how it determined what side they fought on in the numerous wars.) Tribes today absolutely do not consider themselves to be one large demographic group outside of the shared (yet still distinct, look at how the different tribes in different locations were treated) experience, they even less did back then.

Amusingly, in the preface of the next book I'm reading the author muses about the insatiable modern need for historians to engage in presentism to show they're on the right side of history and that he won't be doing it so suck it up.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2023, 03:09:42 AM by benjipwns »

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3967 on: August 30, 2023, 02:30:44 AM »
Finished Discworld #8 - Guards!Guards! - Fun book. It's very much divided into two halves with the first being the evil brotherhood summoning a dragon plot and the watch, second half being terror dragon king, and the first half is the better and more fun for sure, but the ending/epilogue are great and overall it's solid and the Watch characters are great.

I read Men at Arms a few years back before starting this Discworld read, and I think I liked that one better. Will re-read it when I get to it in sequence.

So far, I'd rank the first 8 books:

Pyramids > Equal Rites > Mort > The Light Fantastic > Wyrd Sisters > Guards!Guards! > Colour of Magic > Sorcery.

I guess next up is Eric/Moving Pictures/Reaper Man. Looking forward to Reaper Man, don't know anything about the Death books after Mort.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3968 on: September 13, 2023, 04:29:03 AM »
Finished Arc of Scythe #2 - Thunderhead by Neil Shusterman.

Was entertaining, YA but read well and quickly, but wtf this is the worst cliffhanger ending I've seen in a book. Guess I need to read the final book next.

team filler

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3969 on: September 13, 2023, 05:07:54 AM »
about to start reading dune for the first time
*****

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3970 on: September 24, 2023, 05:50:40 PM »
A Profound Waste of Time #2 - Great issue, though I think the first one was better. What mostly stands out about APWOT vs. other zines is most of the articles are very game developers or industry people, vs. zines where the articles are mostly written by players and journalists. Just gives it a different feel.

Discworld #9 - Eric - The novella sized one about the dorky demonologist kid and his three genie wishes and the demons of hell. Cute story, fun and quick read. Nothing really stood out, but wasn't bad either. Just a fun novella. The parrot was fun. Next up is Moving Pictures...

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3971 on: September 24, 2023, 05:56:14 PM »
Also had one of my favorite Death gags so far

Quote
[at the end of the universe and all things]
ďHave you seen anybody?Ē
YES.
ďWho?Ē
EVERYONE.
Astfgl sighed. ďI mean anyone recently.Ē

chronovore

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3972 on: October 01, 2023, 07:58:32 AM »
Finished KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY by John Scalzi and moved directly into A LIFE OF THE MIND, which is set the the Old Manís War continuity. Both are good, but probably need to switch away from Scalzi for a bit afterwards.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3973 on: October 01, 2023, 03:04:56 PM »
Finished Between Two Fires by Christopher Bhuelman.

Ya, was well written in kind of an Abercrombie way, and ya, was basically a western writer doing Berserk/Souls with a more biblical angle. Great characters, some gnarly good episodic adventures, cool monsters.

spoiler (click to show/hide)
Ending was just kind of ok.
[close]

Liked it enough that it's an easy recommend. Audiobook was fantastic.

Picked up Bhuelman's most recent book The Black Tongued Thief to see how he's writing these days.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3974 on: October 01, 2023, 04:20:22 PM »
Also I need to pick up some books with my audiobook credits. I glanced at my book library and this is basically my general backlog of books. I go through physical books quick, audiobooks slowly.

Physical Book backlog:

Abercrombie - The Heroes and onward
Sanderson - Yumi and the Nightmare Painter, Sunlit Man
Pratchett - Discworld #10 (Moving Pictures) - #41
Jordan - Wheel of Time #3 on onward
Schultzman - Scythe #3
Lock-On Gaming Zine Vol #3-5
Malazan book #1
The Belgaraid #1
Inkheart #1

Audiobook backlog:

Project Hail Mary
Dresden #3
Murderbot #3-6
Bobiverse #2-4

Plan to pickup/read at some point:

-Rest of John Langan I haven't read (I think just 2 short story collections)
-Some more Scalzi
-Dresden #4+ if Dresden #3 makes me like the series again

chronovore

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3975 on: October 06, 2023, 07:38:33 PM »
Are you Old Man War centered, or are you up for The Collapsing Empire? (which I liked)

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3976 on: October 07, 2023, 02:58:34 AM »
Are you Old Man War centered, or are you up for The Collapsing Empire? (which I liked)

The only Scalzi I've read is that Kaiju book. I'm open to other books of his since I enjoyed his writing style. Old Man's War just sounded like the most well known of his works?

chronovore

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3977 on: October 10, 2023, 10:03:10 AM »
It was his first novel and won a Hugo or something. Itís basically Heinlein without the Korean-War-influenced fascism. Itís great.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3978 on: October 10, 2023, 10:13:14 AM »
God, Dresden Files books are so dull. Thought I was at the end of book 3 Grave Peril, snoring through the audiobook on a road trip but Iím only halfway and have six hours left??

I think Iím going to switch over to Murderbot #3 and come back to Grave Peril later. Iíll finish it up but then Iím out on the series.

Iím even liking Wheel of Time far better than Dresden. Dresden is just boring cliche Saturday night fantasy x-files and Harry Dresden is an boring ass character. Itís too bad because I liked the first book and thought it was a good setup for a new series.

chronovore

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3979 on: October 11, 2023, 09:48:57 PM »
Your reaction to Dresden is just about the polar opposite of what everyone else does. I couldnít stand the first book, it looked borderline incel to me, and I was accurately told from the second book forward he begins shifting the character away from that. I have read through book 5 or six and enjoyed it, but havenít been in a hurry to keep up.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3980 on: October 12, 2023, 02:16:29 AM »
I forgot to post some last month so I have a number to inflict on friends here as well:

Amusingly, in the preface of this book, the author muses about the insatiable modern need for historians to engage in presentism to show they're on the right side of history and that he won't be doing it so suck it up. It's also a lie as he drops in a number of them, but nobody's perfect. That's not one of my serious complaints about this book, of which I basically have none, though there are a few errors related to these. My only real complaint is that the endnotes are one after another on the same line which makes it really hard to look at them. This was a necessity since even doing this left like 100 pages of them. :lol


Pretty meh, especially after the first few as they increasingly become less friends and more like staff aides or something. The author worked for Bill Clinton and was able to talk to Bill, Hillary and Vernon Jordan and the extent of the "friendship" we learn about Bill and Jordan is that they liked to play golf and Vernon gave him advice a few times. Amazing stuff! They're just like me except for the golf thing! It's pretty trite in general but the chapter about Woodrow Wilson doesn't dance around how much of a weirdo asshole he was and I don't want to be too critical now that people are finally catching up to me on that.


This was okay but it feels like he abridged a longer book or two. But too much because it starts repeating itself and skipping over events as it goes on after spending way too much time on earlier ones. I didn't necessarily set out to learn an extended description of the Battle of New York but that's what I did since it's a central part of this. I thought there'd be more about the conflict with Loyalists based on the subtitle but he spends like two pages on it. Funniest part is he opens a chapter by talking about the importance of looking at maps and how one of the British war planners didn't do this, then later on in the chapters wonder why a British general didn't take a route through Delaware. If you look at a map you'd see that he could have been locked on a peninsula if he went that way and Washington had merely moved south. The British may have had sea superiority but it still would not have been a great idea since the goal was to get back up to NYC. :derp


Since I obviously believe that "social justice" is a conservative and regressive reactionary ideology to justify oppression I intended to savage this book on principle alone. But he tricked me and legitimately looked at the literature on the original Puritans. While he gives too much of a pass to many Republicans in the conclusion, in a form of "less worse", the bulk of the book was limited in this regard and the conclusion avoided (though maybe not enough) endorsing them as the alternative so I unfortunately cannot rage about it. Another trick on me. If I have a major complaint it's that he didn't put enough of the big picture together on the original Progressive Era, he hits on a number of examples including the Temperance movement but he didn't delve into it like he did the Puritans so he missed the connecting tissues you can trace from the New England colonies through that period and on. I guess I can't entirely complain since he didn't promise to do this.

Since it's a "modern" politik book I looked at the negative reviews on Goodreads and laughed about all the people who missed the point and got very angry because it hit too close to home. Almost all of them completely bent out of shape about a single specific thing he mentioned to the exclusion of the overall thesis. Lots of opportunities to drink at the "it's called being a decent person" justifications for oppressing others. Best one attacked him for being "porn sick" and obsessed with "degrading pornography" because he mentioned on two pages feminist efforts to ban pornography. And one of those pages was merely contrasting those feminists with other social justice people who uphold sex work and everything related to it as revolutionary and important. I bet the sick freak was masturbating while he wrote it! The pervert!
« Last Edit: November 16, 2023, 03:09:29 AM by benjipwns »

Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3981 on: October 12, 2023, 09:06:32 AM »


MichŤle Barrett and Mary McIntosh argue in The Anti-Social Family that while everyone deserves "love, kinship, and nice things to eat," the (mid-20th Century Western [British] concept of the) family is not necessarily the ideal way to obtain them. In four parts, they argue that the more a society depends on the family to provide these things, the weaker the society becomes at providing these things for all in an equitable way.

First published in 1982, the argument -- at times -- feels as modern and controversial as any contemporary leftist writing: "Marx and Engels may have called . . . for the abolition of the family, but socialists have long regarded this as a flight of utopian fancy." They acknowledge from the start that the book concentrates on a white, hetero-normative understanding of family and that this decision is both purposeful and yet lacking.

The next two parts are about defining this concept of family. They describe both how it only exists as a construct (i.e. the idea of the family as a natural phenomenon) and how that construct fails many -- especially those oppressed by it through unequal cultural and political means by the ideology of famialism -- namely women and children.

The third section is devoted to analysis of then-contemporary philosophy on family. This is in reference to Jacques Donzelot's "The Policing of Families" and Christopher Lasch's critique of it, but also references Freud and Focault. Having never read any of the texts I found this section difficult, but I appreciated the authors' style of critique -- naming both what they saw as flawed and what they felt should be praised despite those flaws.

The final section on strategies for change might be what most readers are eager to get to. In summation, they are that we should work toward any change that gives people choice in their living arrangements but that we should also be striving toward collectivism and away from individualism.

With that in mind, the personal politics they prescribe are thus:

1. Encourage variety. The authors take care here to list some alternative family structures that will likely not end familialism outright (like open marriages and women's separatism) but remind the reader that while it may be easy to dream up alternatives to the family, "it is even easier to ridicule other people's dreams."

2. Avoid oppressive relationships. Here they name what it seemed to me they were orbiting the whole book. "We believe socialists and feminists should not get married themselves and should not attend or support the marriages of any who can be convinced of our critique of family," (They make an exception for paper marriages as immigration loopholes.) Married myself, I still appreciated the point that "nobody, man, child, invalid, or woman needs a long-term 'house-wife' or has a right to one." After all, exploitative unpaid labor by any other name is still just that.

3. Beware of domesticity. They argue against making the home and the child-rearing life the sources of your deepest satisfaction. Homes should have private spaces for all occupants (including children who might be considered occupants with "full-membership rights.") If dad has an office, mom deserves one too (before devoting an empty room to the idea of future guests). Fight the idea that public spaces are simply places you shop for commodities to bring back to your private space. And what would a leftist book be without a hint to attend public meetings?

They list some things they think you should fight for, e.g. good wages for women and young people, much more robust social security, better housing for all, and parents' rights -- by which they mean not simply the limited choice to raise your child in a way that benefits the state (by producing a mild-mannered worker) but more that all parents should have the same choices for raising their child that the wealthy do.

There are as many great points in this book as there are less strong, outdated arguments by the nature of this book being 40 years old. The post-script, written in 1991, can be perhaps be summarized as "oops, we forgot about racism." But if we critique this book in the way they show how to critique interesting yet problematic texts, I think we will find much to appreciate even as we acknowledge what is missing or no longer relevant.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3982 on: October 12, 2023, 06:08:38 PM »
Your reaction to Dresden is just about the polar opposite of what everyone else does. I couldnít stand the first book, it looked borderline incel to me, and I was accurately told from the second book forward he begins shifting the character away from that. I have read through book 5 or six and enjoyed it, but havenít been in a hurry to keep up.

Ya, I hear this, but I don't see it.

All 3 books have these mysterious lady's that show up and are playing Harry, and all three books he very detailedly description's of every woman's physique.

But at least book 1 had an avenging angel with a sword over his shoulder wanting to kill him if he steps out of line, gruesome horror murders, mafia showdowns and police stuff, fairy circles and wizard battles. It setup a lot of different lore things and executed them all together pretty well. The first book was more a horror noir and I like my horror.

Now it's just CW fantasy and the bad guys shout "I'm going to make you pay Dresden! (shakes vampire fist)" before they leave. Michael and his holy sword in book 3 is like no personality robot, but most of all Harry just sucks. Terrible lead and extremely unlikeable, plus a mi'lady type.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3983 on: October 16, 2023, 06:01:10 PM »
I finished Dresden #3
The back half was better for sure, but man, I do not like this series and am getting out now for good.

#1 - I don't really enjoy Jim Butcher's writing style
#2 - I dislike how everything always constantly goes wrong and Harry's plans always fail and he almost dies like 42 times per book but LUCKILY somehow deus ex machina's out everytime until the very end 20 pages when his plan works and he wins
#3 - I just seriously hate the character of Harry Dresden. I hate that Butcher writes him as if he is some COOL BADASS WHITE KNIGHT DUDE ALL THE LADIES LOVE. Like his character feels like what the internet M'lady redditors want to be. Some dorky gumshoe who never backs down and is secretly a total badass saving the day every time. He's just kind of a gross unlikeable person. He's way too goodie two shoes and moral high points while being a total grandizing asshole. I don't want to read any more stories told from this character's point of view. In the back half Michael was a better character slightly (still has the same issue of moral high point and infallible, only this time with FAITH POWER) and Tom the vampire bastard was more fun than either of them but still pretty generic. Everyone in these stories is generic.

So my only remaining question about Dresden Files as a series is which came first? Bob or Planescape's Mort? Because one of them was obviously based on the other.

chronovore

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3984 on: October 16, 2023, 09:49:02 PM »
I need to read more Pratchett. I don't know which was first.

I suggest you also avoid Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim. I made it 3 books in before the deus ex machina hit me so hard my head rang like a bell.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3985 on: October 19, 2023, 03:04:25 AM »
Listening to Murderbot #3 Rogue Protocol and this is the funniest shit ever. I like how the novellas are getting more humor/less story.

I love Murderbot.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3986 on: October 23, 2023, 02:49:57 AM »


It's not exactly a straight forward history but each chapter has something more like a theme that ties in certain years or awards. For example there's chapters that involve the transition into talkies, Weinstein's campaigns to win awards, the Blacklist or New Hollywood. Only a couple chapters focus on any one Oscars award show, though only one really covers the presentation and show itself with the other focusing on the wrong winner getting named. Some of the reviews on Goodreads bitched that he provided too much background information to where the setup sometimes swamps the actual "Oscars drama" but I had no problem with that at all, many of those same reviews complained about the length of the book but that's also not something I generally complain about but yeah, it's almost 600 pages. I think the general aspect he takes of the Oscars within the context of the industry is the proper way to go and I don't really give a shit about it ruining the "mystique" and "drama" like who seriously thinks the Oscars are some kind of pure merit awards or some grand cultural event. The funniest part is that one of the worst and most cynical movie moguls of all time, Louis B. Mayer, was maybe the most serious of all the founders about it actually being that. He thought maintaining the legitimacy of the awards would help justify film as art which would ward off the attacks that began in the silent era (and have never left us) from conservatives worried about social justice that film was corrupting and from Satan unlike books or music or stage plays. All of which was bad for business.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3987 on: October 25, 2023, 02:02:30 AM »
Finished Wheel of Time #3. Long fucking book where not much story happened and I still have no idea what the story of the series actually is.

It's kind of crazy to me that three huge long books in, the reader still has no idea what the plot of the series is. Obviously the "Dragon fights and defeats the Dark One" thing is a red herring, as evidenced by the end of every book having some bad guy go "you have no idea what's really going on", but like, again, asking an audience to go 90 hours of audiobooks in, with no real idea what the actual plot of the series is...sure, is something.

I give book #3 some credit for cutting the main character out of the book, that's kind of ballsy. Also since Rand was very whiney and annoying, removing him actually improved the book! Perrin was a much better lead and probably the best and most interesting character in the main PoV group.

I enjoyed it enough to keep reading and no one annoyed me greatly, even if there were definitely instances of Mat or the girls being annoying. I feel like Book #2 had more plot and was more exciting, but Book #3 had better character stuff. Book #3 has so little story. Basically just everyone finding their way to Tear, so the finale can happen.

Was a decent book. I was kind of iffy on continuing after book 1/2, but I'm at least enjoying it enough to be non-hate train onboard with it, even if I find it kind of really slow paced and a bit dull in the writing. I'm curious at where the real story is going. Hopefully books 4-6 which are supposedly the "great ones" go more into the bigger plot and get me more onboard.

Was doing one book per year, which means a 14/15 year read time, since they take me like a whole goddamn month to get through since they're so slow and long, but I guess if it picks up at book #4, maybe I'll start reading at least like two a year, so I can get through the series in 6-7 years.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3988 on: October 27, 2023, 04:58:36 PM »
I got WoT #4 in the mail and started laughing hysterically

WoT #1-3 were BIG BOOKS, like 900-1,000 page books that took me a month to read and are like 30 hour+ audiobooks.
WoT #4 just grew another 30% page count. It's a fucking tome.

This series is scary  :lol

team filler

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3989 on: October 27, 2023, 08:10:51 PM »
Have you seen the show? I know someone who read the books and they don't care for the show at all.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2023, 12:45:45 PM by team filler »
*****

Olivia Wilde Homo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3990 on: October 28, 2023, 06:33:00 AM »
I didnít want to quote the whole benjipwns post but the Goodreads community is utterly cancerous in terms of comments and reviews. However there are some occasional insightful reviews and the books people have read in their profiles are fascinating at times, so itís still worth participating in.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2023, 06:44:39 AM by Olivia Wilde Homo »
🍆🍆

HardcoreRetro

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3991 on: October 28, 2023, 06:37:52 AM »
I just use the site as a reading list. When you look at the ratings it'd seem like some shitty flavour of the week young adult novel is the best book of all time.

The site is basically useless on that front.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3992 on: October 28, 2023, 03:06:18 PM »
Have you seen the show? I know someone who read the books and they don't care for the show at all.

From what I get, the show isn't the books. Because the books are insanely long and they don't have 30 years to adapt it in 15-20 seasons. So the show is it's own story picking plots/sub-plots/characters from the books and doing its own thing.

Because of this, some people who really like the books, hate it. And people who don't like the books see this as an improvement.

S1 of the show just on its own merits was a pretty mediocre CW kind of show. Not well directed, some iffy casting and story was kind of meh. I read the first book afterwards and the book, which had a pretty different story, was a lot better in comparison.

But I hear S2 was a big improvement in the show.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3993 on: October 28, 2023, 03:41:49 PM »
Ok, finally spent me damn Audible credits so I can cancel this recurring charge until I catch up on audiobooks.

Grabbed:

Scalzi - Old Man's War + Starter Villain
Gaiman - Stardust (only novel of his I haven't read, though I've seen the movie version)
Illluminae - Some YA series that has good reviews and full cast audiobook
A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T.Kingfisher - Since I just finished The Twisted Ones by her and really enjoyed the light humor writing and want to read more of her stuff and that's a great title.

Was tempted to grab Hyperion and King's 2008 Duma Key, but both are super fucking long and I'd rather read physical for super fucking long because I get like 20 mins every few days maybe in audiobook progress (hence why the 3-4 hour Murderbot novellas still take me 2-3 weeks to get through).


I think I'm good on audiobooks for like 3 years now lol. Will resub to audible then.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3994 on: October 28, 2023, 03:45:25 PM »
And yeah, I guess I forgot to give my write up of The Twisted Ones because I finished it in 2 days while on vacation.

Great fast fun horror/dark fantasy fan-fiction take on Arthur Machen's "The White People" with a bit of Lovecraft influence (Lovecraft made a comment about Machen's story and this book expands that comment into the basis for an original novel). Good lead character, great lead doggo  :doge, some creepy stuff, not too scary/horror overall, but just a quick enjoyable macabre tale. Reminds me of bit of Amensia a Machine for Pigs but if it was YA and told through a light humor lead.

It looks like all T.Kingfisher's novels are basically fan-fiction takes on established classics. Like she just won the 2023 Hugo for best novel for a book that's a re-telling of The Fall of the House of Usher. Will give that a read after I watch the latest show take on that story.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3995 on: October 28, 2023, 04:23:56 PM »
I didn't even realize the final Skyward book is out in less than a month. Will be interesting to see that story to a conclusion soon.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3996 on: November 04, 2023, 03:46:39 AM »


Meh. It was okay to start when LeBron is a kid and then becomes a high school star, though the book explains everything with NO FATHER and curiously never mentioning the far more unique ONLY CHILD. But when he hits the NBA it basically becomes about the Business of LeBron and less and less basketball as it goes on. Trump gets more pages than the Cavs 2016 title run. There's essentially no criticism of LeBron in the book, Maverick Carter takes the fall for The Decision but generally his inner circle is treated as perfect too. The most insane thing is that this book came out this year but it ends with LeBron signing with the Lakers. The basketball talk is highly questionable at times, suggesting that the Cavs did nothing to surround LeBron with talent (except getting Shaq) when the 2010 team was pretty clearly better than the 2011 Heat. It took another year for the Heat to figure out how to surround LeBron and Wade with multi-position 3 and D guys rather than ancient veteran names. My favorite parts were mentioning a since deleted Marco Rubio tweet where he says Cleveland is never getting LeBron back a couple weeks before he went back and some classic Stephen A. Smith takes about how LeBron wasn't a leader and even that the Heat needed to break up the Big Three right before they won their title too.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3997 on: November 12, 2023, 11:21:34 PM »
After enjoying T.Kingfisher's The Twisted Ones in her "adult" lineup (which still basically read like YA), I listened to the audiobook of one of her YA books, A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking



I guess her YA line of books are for little kids. Like it was ok, but there was zero depth to anything and it was just kind of boring. Bad guys were bad, good guys were good, nameless bad scary barbarian army, pretty boy perfect general is just pretty boy perfect general, etc... there weren't any twists and there was very little defensive magic baking despite the title.

If I had a kid it'd probably be an ok read for them. It's not a bad book, but it's too simple and boring to enjoy as an adult. Will stick to her adult lineup of books.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3998 on: November 18, 2023, 04:10:34 AM »


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.

Was ok, had a good setup but the actual plot in the back half was pretty by the books and shallow. The whole book also felt really inspired by Sanderson's Mistborn series to the point where it actually felt kind of derivative. I peeked around online about books 2/3 in this trilogy and I don't think I'm interested enough to read them.

I might read one of her other books though as I enjoyed the writing. Just need something a bit more adult or with some depth. It's weird to me when authors do this whole "I have one penname for my YA and one for my adult books" and I read the adult book and it's 100% YA. It's like there needs to be 3 levels of writing: kids, YA, adult.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #3999 on: November 21, 2023, 06:37:17 PM »


It only gets worse. First of all, this guy writes like you'd expect an upper class British journalist named Simon Winchester to, especially constant personal digressions about conversations he's had that add nothing. It starts as an entirely superficial brief history of writing and schools before spending the entire second half worrying that we're at the end of knowledge itself. He refers to absolutely nothing from epistemology or the philosophy of knowledge or anything like it except an early reference to Marshall McLuhan's most widely known phrase. Essentially he reasons that thanks to Google there's no need to ever learn anything ever again since you can just type whatever you want in and it'll give it to you. As a result nobody will ever bother to learn anything. And so this is how history finally ends.

He laments the loss of elites who knew everything there is to know though he can't come up with any examples. He fears that allowing anyone to publish whatever they want will undo all the great achievements of the BBC forcing people to enjoy opera, that without elites giving people what they need to know people will only enjoy what they want to rather than what's best for them. The result will be an endless spiral to nothing. He laments the loss of polymaths preceding to give examples of some half of which he describes as learned in only a single thing and the rest who are reduced like Richard Feynman to the "guy who solved Challenger" (something he would have objected to) ignoring everything he himself wrote about philosophy of knowledge.

All this is despite opening the book with Socrates famous remark on knowledge that he seems ignorant of what it means. Additionally early on he absent mindedly mentions the most obvious objection, along similar lines as Socrates, to his thesis while fearing libraries will go away. Namely the curiosity of wandering the stacks and finding something you didn't know you wanted. How can you look up something on Google if you don't know what to look up? How can you know how to use what it tells you? Never does he ponder this in any way. His entire conception of how we "know what we know" is that someone tells us, learning is almost an entirely passive process in his imagination. He barely even approaches the idea that freeing up "knowledge" like using calculators frees you to know even more than you knew before, instead he only laments the "loss" of knowledge from being able to do math instantly whenever you want. He's excessively fascinated by how people navigated on the ocean and laments the knowledge that GPS has forever "destroyed", literally worrying that that the men moving shipping containers around the globe will no longer know how to find land as if everyone on the ships has always learned it and could use it at any moment. (He explains at length how he once went on a boat trip in the early 1980's in the Indian Ocean and the boat had a problem and needed to find the closest land so they got out the ancient Greenwich Mean Time Rolex watches and ancient up-to-date yearly ocean maps, you see.)

Finally, perfectly so, his conclusion ends with some classic conservative racism (though he identifies as a proper procrustean progressive including taking pains to introduce Trump and Brexit for no reason simply to explain that he doesn't approve of either) where he name drops a bunch of so-called backwards tribes from around the world (though curiously not the Amish despite their lack of calculators and Google) then imagines them remembering life "before white people began the slow but ever accelerating process of ruining our planet" and admonishing us that "the Earth is in peril; moderate your behavior and help maintain it in the condition that we inherited, long before you came." That ancient wisdom that says never advance out of step with the elite's divine knowing, it's sinful and we'll all pay for your sins. Though it makes you wonder why he laments all those unwashed out there who won't know anything but what Google tells them since we could just have the elite run Google so it gives people opera and ship navigation courses like they fucking deserve.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4000 on: December 02, 2023, 03:50:32 AM »


I liked it but it's basically about all the infighting of The New York Times from 1976-2016. Almost everybody in this book is both a journalist and a petty back stabber who is constantly plotting against everyone else. Except Arthur Sulzberger Jr. who seemed to think he was in charge of a newspaper for some odd reason. Every story about some journalism they do is really a setup for some drama that leads to people being forced to resign or something. Especially the failures like Jayson Blair and WMDs but even the successes are part of somebody's powerplay at some point. I liked the part where one of the guys who fails to catch Jayson Blair (who apparently was known to have a cocaine habit) worries about the internet allowing people to post stuff without oversight from editors and so wants the NYT to not really have a website except for telling people how to buy the print edition.

Like the LeBron book I mentioned above, this is a (late) 2023 book but it stops in 2016. Stuff like the 2020 revolt or how the NYT became financially viable on subscriptions from a self-described far-left audience is just mentioned in the epilogue.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4001 on: December 06, 2023, 04:44:47 AM »
Finished Skyward #4 and yeah, I think Stormlight Archives #5 is fucked.

Skyward #4 was pretty junk. Maybe the worst book Sanderson's put out and Skyward #3 was already mediocre filler.

If you don't count Sanderson's 4 self-contained kickstarter books he wrote in 2020 and released this year, his output has been:

2020 - Stormlight #4 - weak
2021 - Skyward #3 - mediocre
2022 - Mistborn2 final book - bland and unambitious
2023 - Skyward final book - bland and tropey

I really think Sanderson is off his game and past his peak and unless something turns around his stuff is just going to keep getting worse and worse until it's not even worth reading. I think all his other stuff with running conventions and working on film/tv and other projects have really knocked down his writing ability.

Forget the prose, he's just not telling interesting stories anymore. Very disappointing.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4002 on: December 09, 2023, 01:51:33 AM »
Murderbot #4 - Exit Strategy

Very good finish to the four novella series. Not much to say other than Murderbot is great. Give me more Murderbot any day.


I hope they are making a TV series out of this. And the TV series better have a narrator.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4003 on: December 09, 2023, 01:58:18 AM »
I also appreciate that Murderbot #1-4's run is pretty much flawless. Not a bad story/cast in any of them. The first novella is the weakest for me because it took me a while to get into the style.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4004 on: December 12, 2023, 06:06:42 AM »


This was a good idea but is really bad execution. Although the thesis isn't really no mindblowing, Hong Kong worked because it wasn't China and allowed immigrants to get ahead because everybody was immigrants, especially the British who thought they ruled but really just held dinner parties and did little that was important. The problem is that half of it is about family trees of people that read like the begets in the Bible. And another good chunk involves referencing things in Hong Kong like the reader lives there and knows what the streets are or even where things used to be until recent construction. Lady, I'm trying to learn about Hong Kong so I obviously don't know any of this and your map in the book has like two things labeled! Also sounds like you could do a Deadwood like series on early Hong Kong where all the characters are brothel or bar operators plus smugglers and a bunch of British elite (many of whom are failures dumped there because of what they did back home or in the more important colony of India) who think they run the place.



I liked this but it's not too entirely exciting if you want to hear about the technologies. It's written entertainingly at least and the guy talked to lots of people and unlike the other recent 2023 books I read didn't stop five years ago. Basically Walmart is slowly becoming Amazon and vice versa. In many cases literally as they've been poaching each others executives for a long time. My favorite part was how every single story about one of the companies buying some startup is the same, the owners want to cash out and not fight with bureaucracy, none of the bureaucracy knows what to do with the company now that they own it, it loses money and gets shut down or folded into existing operations with some executive giving an epigraph of "I think it still has value we can use down the road" and nobody ever hears from it again. It pairs fairly well with that Amazon Unbound book I read a bit back especially because it's one of the main sources but also because the book leans a bit more towards Walmart in its focus, presumably because those are the sources who were more willing to talk to him. Even as it's short it repeats a few things, one woman gets introduced twice just so she can semi-paranoid complain about Amazon trying to sell her stuff she's searched for. :lol

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4005 on: January 28, 2024, 11:45:24 PM »


finished Discworld #10 - Moving Pictures

Overall was good. I think I was going to be so-so on this until the end because it's kind of a long book for discworld and the middle, while entertaining, takes a while for much to happen and tend to
be just short riffs on Hollywood.

I do think it all ties together pretty well in the end, and the book is even a bit abstract in concept and Holy Wood dreams..., but there's some great characters in there like taking sausage seller
Dibbler from Guards!Guards! and making him a major characters as Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler here. And the talking animals. The opening was also a good hook. Overall solid book.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4006 on: February 01, 2024, 08:56:06 PM »


This is kind of like a slightly more lively textbook. It covers stuff with a few paragraphs, some things get a few pages. It's just sort of general history too, nothing too specific though the source list could be used for that since he claims basically every popular history work for the period as a source. That's fine but still somewhat disappointing because of the lack of any thesis or argument really.



Exactly what it says on the tin and written fairly short for a "film fan" type of audience rather than history or business or whatever. As much as Hollywood is known for stuff like the casting couch, some of the stories in this struck me as possibly embellished legends and myths of Hollywood versus literally true. I'm not saying Darryl Zanuck didn't stand up from behind his desk to show his erect penis to people, I'm saying that from the person described in the rest of the book the skeptic in me wonders if this story was "improved" like the scripts he was famous for improving.



I liked this well enough but the title is a complete lie. This book has almost nothing about anything in the title. Unless by Patriots vs. Loyalists you mean Ben Franklin and his loyalist son. And by "civil war" you mean them writing letters to each other until they stopped during the Revolution. There's an actual story here about this stuff, especially things like the illegal seizing of loyalist property, but the book sort of summarizes it on a few pages and spends the rest of its time talking about Ben Franklin, John Adams and George Washington doing the things you can read in any history about the Revolution.



Great for me, horrifying for the normal type of person. I, of course, loved many of the descriptions of the kafka-esque system of doublespeak of the paranoid totalitarian state. One small section made me laugh because it sounded like it was describing the ResetERA.com staff rather than a real world totalitarian bureaucracy in terms of its obsession with irrelevancies over the proper purpose of the job.



There's some enjoyable Fox News personalities gossip in this, especially about Hannity (while Tucker Carlson comes off as almost too normal to work there), but the overall thing is amusing in the negative way. First, did you know that the hit TV show Succession is based on the Murdochs? It is, and this is like a real life version of the hit TV show Succession. Second, it proudly talks about how they rushed this book to get it out in a "timely" fashion. The bulk of the book is focused around what will happen when Rupert Murdoch gives up control, which he literally did a couple weeks after the book was published lmao. Third, you may have noticed that Fox News did not end and still exists, the book never explains this or even attempts to suggest what it could allude to except for a brief mention of The Daily Wire raising $100 million and Tucker signing with Twitter. Which I think would argue less for Fox News being pushed out of a market and more that there's a market for 24/7 conservative and/or MAGA programming to an extent that even Fox wouldn't ever go to. Something that's not exclusive to Fox News but any cable news network in a more general way about how we all consume news, much as cable news both displaced and added onto the network news. Anyway, you know this Murdoch family drama sure is like hit TV show Succession. That makes sense since it's based on them, the hit TV show Succession that is, and the Murdochs. Lastly, this guy seemingly gets paid by the comma based on how many tortured overwrought sentences that are in this thing. His book about the Murdochs who were the basis for the hit TV show Succession.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4007 on: February 26, 2024, 11:45:12 PM »


This was a great novella. Mashup retelling of The Fall of The House of Usher and the Prisoner of Zenda and a few other bits.

Anyone that likes fun books with some macabre should give this a read.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4008 on: February 29, 2024, 09:06:11 PM »


Finished John Langan's Corpsemouth and other Autobiographies.

Pretty solid collection of weird horror. I preferred his other collection The Wide and Carnivorous Sky as well as his two novels The Fisherman and The House of Windows, but this was a solid B+ collection with some A- stories. His writing is a bit wordy, but his concept ideas are cool and all his writing is very well written.

There's a neat Dark Tower short story in there too.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4009 on: March 01, 2024, 04:15:13 PM »


Hide - A friend in my bookclub got this as a gift and recommended it for horror books. Read the whole thing in a single 4-5 hour session. It's alright. It's basically a 2 hour slasher Death Game kind of movie in book form. Bunch of kids in a shady "hide and seek" contest in an abandoned amusement park.

The kids are all shallow like your average horror flick, and the lore is solid but ending is a bit abrupt. Writing is mostly YA level. Was entertaining but pretty popcorn throwaway.

Bebpo

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4010 on: March 14, 2024, 09:30:21 PM »
I finished Scalzi's Old Man's War

I don't know if I just don't like Sci-fi or I just don't like Scalzi writing sci-fi.

This book was weird. It felt like it was directionless with no point other than to be a horror book about all the ways humans can die in space. The end swerve in the last quarter to give the book an ending point felt really fucking weird and I didn't like it. Basically main character runs into someone who was grown in the body of his dead wife's DNA clone, but is not his wife and it becomes this whole romance story about him basically putting his vision of his dead wife on her and her accepting that and wanting to be his wife and it was all kinds of gross and nonsense and then it ends.

Like the whole concept sorta bothers me and I don't get where Scalzi was coming from. If you took my DNA and made a clone and it lived its own life separately, it would be its own person. Maybe I'm the only one that just sees a body as a physical thing. Scalzi basically trying to make it like a person's personality is in their physical body, which I find really weird.

chronovore

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4011 on: March 21, 2024, 05:59:38 AM »
Well, the clone of his wife uses portions of her personality as the substrate for the Ghost Brigade specialist that uses it.

Sad you didn't enjoy it. I just re-read it recently and found it as charming as ever. An update on Heinlein's aesthetic, without all the pesky fascism.

benjipwns

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Re: What book(s) are you reading?
« Reply #4012 on: March 25, 2024, 11:59:14 PM »


I'll keep my remarks shorter than normal about these except one because they were fine. The Amazon book is the first part of the one I read last year or year before. Founding of Amazon up through Kindle or so. I just read it to be complete. A short comment about the Apocalypse Never book is this is from pre-pandemic, Shellenberger lost his mind and interest in the environment to be a lunatic about homeless people and drugs. It makes the one chapter ironic because he doesn't see how he's slipped into the very thinking he was condemning in it.

The book I have to comment on is the Buffy one which is just terrible. Dude writes endlessly about himself in that obsessed media writer style like people should care. He gives an overly long yet full of gaps summary of every season of the show where you learn nothing except which episodes he likes even if he only names them not tell you which they were. The main chunk of the book is dedicated to either whining about how Buffy fails to meet 2020s Twitter social justice standards for anything or handwringing about whether or not you can like Buffy considering Joss Whedon exists.

All the actors/show writers/set designers/etc. interviewed say "yes, of course you can, TV shows are not a single person." While everyone else media writers/podcasters/PhDs/politicians/etc. struggle with the idea that Buffy and Joss Whedon are not the exact same thing in every way. If you want to read this book to find out what Joss Whedon did that's so awful you won't learn it either because every single person says "it's not my story to tell." Which, great, thanks. The closest you get is someone recounting that Joss once said a mean joke about somebody during season five. The most absurd is that James Marsters mentions that Joss once got in his face during a discussion about a character point. Marsters immediately frames this as passion for the material and that he respected it and it helped him understand the point. The author asserts that Marsters is sympathizing with his dangerous abuser and likely has Stockholm Syndrome from how terrible Joss was to him. Which ignores not only what Marsters directly said but also earlier when Marsters talked about how before doing Buffy (and Angel) he thought TV work was just a paycheck, that the only real place you could do the craft of acting and have passion was on stage, so he did TV and Spike just for the money. But it was in doing Buffy that he realized just how much there could be in acting on TV. So to me, not the author, it sounds like Joss and James were connecting over shared passion for the work even if Joss may have been a bit of a jerk about it. The author denigrates this into James being abused by Joss.

The book actually never makes any kind of resolution about whether or not you can like Buffy since Joss Whedon exists. After pages and pages of this the author just simply says it means too much to him so he's not going to stop loving Buffy (although it sounds more like a stalker obsession with Sarah Michelle Geller) but he can't answer for anyone else. Wonderful, it was all useless.