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Old 07-19-2006, 02:23 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Recommend your favorite books!

Some books are just so good that people need to know about them and read them. The kind of book that you stay up all night to read, and then you immediately go out and buy another book from that author because you just can't get enough. You know, the kind that makes you want to grab strangers on the street and emphatically say to them, "You must read this book!"

As a public service, and to prevent you from grabbing strangers on the street, this is now the opening post of a discussion thread designed to provide a place to share your good fortune when you've read an e-book that we all should know about. Just add your comment to join the discussion. Whether it's a free book or expensive. Fiction or non-fiction. Serious or fun. Even science fiction. (Actually, that's probably the favorite genre of gadget fans!)

Or, if you recently had the displeasure of reading a book that you don't recommend, feel free to play the critic here also. If you're a book reader, you probably know what I mean ab out reading a book you don't like. Common sense would say that you should put it down if you don't like the beginning. But we book readers are not always the most logical of people. Sometimes it's hard to put a book down even when you don't like it. I suppose we always have hope it will suddenly become good, and no matter how uninteresting, we just have to find out what happens to those imaginary characters that we don't even care about!

Be sure to tell us something about what kind of book it is, and why you liked it so much and what device you read it on. All the more if you used one of those new-fangled e-ink readers. Even simple instructions for acquiring and converting, if appropriate. Plus, if you like, a link to an online store page from a site like Amazon, Fictionwise, or eReader is fine also (but set up just to generate sales partner revenues), and will allow us quick access to a review.

Important note: No ads from authors and booksellers please! They will probably be moderated anyway. This is a casual thread intended for the fun and pleasure of all of us ordinary readers.

Many thanks to yvanleterrible for the suggestion.

Last edited by Bob Russell; 07-20-2006 at 06:50 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 07-19-2006, 02:55 PM   #2
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Two choices come to mind straight away.

Book 1

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/031...lance&n=283155

The first of 2 books I read from cover to cover in a heart beat recently.. Like the Da Vinci code, but better. An not everyone is talking about it (hidden cost you might end up visiting Eastern Europe like I did)

Book 2

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/014...lance&n=283155

Think Barcelona, Think a Hidden Cemetry of Books, Think (another expensive trip)

.stu

p.s. used amazon for ease. HB and PB should be available.
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:11 PM   #3
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any of the david gemmell druss or waylander books
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:33 PM   #4
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I'm not sure I have accosted strangers in the street over this book, but I must confess to recommending it whenever I can:

Charles Dickens: The Uncommercial Traveller

It's a collection of short social reportages, showing off Dickens as a reporter, rather than a novelist or author, and throwing quite a lot of light over Victorian England, some amusing, some nostalgic, and some as scathingly critical as anything by a modern writer.

Don't read the first story: The Shipwreck: it's Dickens as his most pathetical, and feels quite a bit tacky today -- at least to me. But already the next (Wapping Workhouse) is a decided improvement. The one everyone should read who read Dickens is number 8: The Great Tasmania's Cargo.


The ghost stories of M. R. James are also favourites: short enough to be read in one go, and long enough to be interesting.


Look for these texts at the Online Books pages: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/books/. I prefer reading them in printed form, but I expect the iLiad or the Sony will alter that.

(I see that www.eserver.org is not listed as a source of the Dickens text ... you'll find it there, too.)

Last edited by ath; 07-19-2006 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:34 PM   #5
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C. J. Cherry's "Foreigner" series of eight marvelously written sci-fi, in a human slowpaced flawlessly composed picture. I'm on novel 7 (Destroyer) and have to work hard to put it down.
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:57 PM   #6
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ath> The Uncommercial Traveller> is this available as an ebook
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Old 07-19-2006, 04:19 PM   #7
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I started volunteering for Project Gutenberg in around 2003, if I am not mistaken. May have been late 2002. Just before I attended GimpCon in August 2003, I had bought a Palm Zire, that I still use to read e-books with. The basic idea was to read the classics; I don't think I have ever bought an e-book.

My recommendation:

Father Brown, by G.K. Chesterton

I recommend against same.

Father Brown is a detective series in the same vein as Max Carrados, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and of course the grand-daddy of them all, Dupin. He is a consulting detective, or, as the police in these sort of books inevitably conclude, a nuisance and a busybody.

OK, but most of these characters star in the classics too--there is even a Hercule Poirot book that is in the public domain in the US in the form of Christie's first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles; so why pick Father Brown?

A lot of the classics have ideas in them, and plots, and narratives that haven't been surpassed until today. Yet when I download the shallowest sci-fi booklet from Baen, the author's ability to use language to evoke emotion and to present ideas is better than almost anything written before 1923. The ideas may be non-existant, but they are presented better than those of the classics. The authors of the classics on the other hand seemed to have felt an unquenchable need for exposé.

With the exception of Father Brown. Which just feels fresh. (And Multatuli, but he's Dutch, so I won't bother you with him.)

I must also recommend against Father Brown. These books are filled with extreme bigotry. Chesterton was an English Catholic who wrote whodunnits. The answer to that question is always simple: if there are two white English suspects and one of them is Catholic, the other guy did it. If there are several suspects of which one is a black muslim, not only did the black muslim do it, but Satan himself had made sure that he hatched the egg that produced him. OK, so now I am exaggerating, but that is what it sometimes feels like Chesterton is trying to say.

But there is more. I could argue that Chesterton was able to convey meaning better than his contemperaries because his writing style was of today; it wasn't. But he managed to convey meaning through almost iconographic descriptions.

The closest modern author I know who could do that was comics artist Hergé. He managed to push so many of my subconscious buttons with his iconographic art (the fact that folks like Warhol, Liechtenstein and Spielberg quoted him as an influence seems to indicate that I am not alone in this), that sometimes I conjure up new Tintin stories in my dreams.

Chesterton manages to push similar buttons, when he describes locations for instance. I can see them before me, dream like.

Speaking of dreams, a novel in which he fair keeps a lid on the bigotry and manages to dilute the dream-like quality over an entire novel is The Man Who Was Thursday. Even ccel.org carries it, but that's probably because it is a deeply religious novel. Not that you will necessarily notice; like the Lord of the Rings, and like the Narnia novels it is an allegory ... and a dream.

The surface story is accidentally modern, in that it is about the terrorists of days gone by, anarchists.

If you can stomach the vile racism that sometimes oozes from its protagonists, I recommend you read the Father Brown series. If you cannot, The Man Who Was Thursday is still very much worth your attention.

Last edited by branko; 07-19-2006 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 07-19-2006, 04:27 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Stuart Young
ath> The Uncommercial Traveller> is this available as an ebook
Not as far as I know -- but then I would insist that an eBook of this title have a fully functioning table of content. Check http://manybooks.net/ - has many formats that are halfway there (no toc though). I see there seem to be some PDF versions elsewhere -- Google picks them up, but few seem to be much more than a straight dump of Gutenberg text to PDF file ... yuck.

ADDED: Well, www.ebookmall.com lists it ... though at a price.

Last edited by ath; 07-19-2006 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 07-19-2006, 04:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ath
Not as far as I know -- but then I would insist that an eBook of this title have a fully functioning table of content. Check http://manybooks.net/ - has many formats that are halfway there (no toc though). I see there seem to be some PDF versions elsewhere -- Google picks them up, but few seem to be much more than a straight dump of Gutenberg text to PDF file ... yuck.

ADDED: Well, www.ebookmall.com lists it ... though at a price.
Project Gutenberg has an HTML version. If it is too hard to add a ToC to it, let me know and I'll produce a version with ToC. Do you want PDF or HTML?
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Old 07-19-2006, 05:27 PM   #10
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C. J. Cherry's "Foreigner" series of eight marvelously written sci-fi, in a human slowpaced flawlessly composed picture. I'm on novel 7 (Destroyer) and have to work hard to put it down.

The Foreigner series is fantastic. It really gives a good sense of the pressure and intricacies of diplomacy. Very few other books can rely simply on the tension created by cultural clashes, and succesful negotiation, but Cherryh pulls it off. Any of her other series are fantastic, too - I especially like the Alliance-Union books, but they're more conventional in plot and conflict.
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Old 07-19-2006, 05:38 PM   #11
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I recently read the third of Lois McMaster Bujold's "Chalion" series, The Hallowed Hunt. That whole series (starting with The Curse of Chalion) has a very interesting take on the interaction between gods and humans in a fantasy universe.
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Old 07-19-2006, 08:34 PM   #12
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I've just got off of a stint of reading 'heavy' books, including 'The Historian' (Evocative but a smidgen overwritten).
I decided I needed a light read, and plucked off the shelves a book that 'I liked the cover of' (I just gotta try and bust a cliche every now and a again)
I picked the Dresden files by Jim Butcher., If ever there was a masterclass in pacing then this series is it. Granted the prose is workmanlike, but the structuring and pace as well as likable characters are like geek crack. Trust me if you want a 'fun' read then this is a great series.
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Old 07-19-2006, 08:58 PM   #13
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"Short stories" by Jack London.
Even though it was written in the 1800s he really nailed human nature spot on.
I heard a writer say once that if you want to learn how to write a story, read one of London's. He was bloody right in all senses. London was kind of cruel to his heroes, most of the time killing them. If you read it in one pass you'll be a case for depression since the book is also fairly long.
But if like me you cherish the beauty of words and the quest for intelligent "propos", London's the master. It is the only book out of which (aside from poetry) I will reread a story.
Bingle I'm happy to find someone else who likes Cherryh.
There are many sites dedicated to fans of her creations. Some of them have gone berserk.
http://www.shejidan.com/
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:40 AM   #14
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I would recommend "Cryptonomicon" by Neil Stephenson.
Available on various ebook formats, I got mine from Powels. It's a fantastic read and got me started reading most of his other work. By turns exciting, funny and compellingly interesting, it's long but very hard to put down.
Once you've read this you'll need to then read his recent historically set trilogy.
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:03 AM   #15
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+ "Snowcrash" from Neil Stephenson is also a good read.
+ "DarkTower" from Stephan King (Warning: 7 Book's) The end is a little bit dissapointing but it is ok.
+ "The Swarm" from Frank Schatzing. I read it in German. I'dont now how good the translated version is.
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