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What Will You Be Reading This Summer? July 31, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Any good books on the list for people? I’ve started on a couple myself. The late Michael Brooks ‘Against the Web’ from Zero Books (hat tip to An Sionnach Fionn for that). Pig City, a book on the Brisbane musical scene in the 1980s under the Bjelke-Petersen government. I’m also rereading the completely ridiculous but highly entertaining pseudohistory, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail which I haven’t looked at in thirty odd years. Philip K. Dick on Film is another title and thanks to JM for that. And more locally getting through the updated version of Our Rising : Cabra and Phibsborough in Easter 1916, released a few years back.

Finally reading in sequence all the Asimov ‘robot’ books, plus a couple of the spin off novels. Started at the outset of the pandemic and keeping on keeping on. Very very much of their time and the question is do I now go into the Empire novels given the crossover or skip across to the Dorsai sequence by Gordon Dickinson? And there I was intending this summer to read the second sequence of Amber novels by Zelazny that he wrote in the 1980s having got through the first sequence last Summer. Must be in a nostalgic mood for old SF.

Any other good ones people are intending to read?

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1. EWI - July 31, 2020

And more locally getting through the updated version of Our Rising : Cabra and Phibsborough in Easter 1916, released a few years back.

The realisation that this book (and most of the rest of the 1916 publications) are now four years in the past is a rather depressing reminder of my chronic inability to organise myself enough to publish…

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2020

🙂

One other recommendation, though not necessarily a summer reading book as such, earlier in the pandemic was dippping in and out of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I liked it.

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2. alanmyler - July 31, 2020

I’ve three weeks holidays from work starting this weekend so I was just organising the packing of reading material as a priority there yesterday. I’ve been struggling with Kotkin’s Stalin: Waiting For Hitler 1929-1941 for the past while so I think I’ll park that for the holidays. It’s good, almost forensic in the level of detail, none of the ideologically charged nonsense that permeates other books that I’ve read on the subject, but it’s just a bit dry. His first volume, Stalin: Paradoxes of Power which covers up to 1929 seemed to fliw better as a book. So since parking that I’d read Maurice Coakleys boom about Ireland’s eneven development, which was really interesting, opening up all sorts of stuff about the middle ages and so on that I hadn’t read about since school. He gave Ireland the world systems treatment, so after that I started Wallersteins Historical Capitalism, but again it’s a bit dry so I’m going to park that too. For the holidays I’m bringing the autobiography of Marlene Hobsbawm, Eric’s wife, Meet Me In Buenos Aries, which I’m really looking forward to. Eric’s own memoir was excellent and I really liked the biography written by what’s his name too, Evans, A Life In History, so more on a similar theme but from his other half’s perspective. After that I’m hoping to read Simone de Beauvoir’s second part of her memoir, The Prime Of Life. Then a bit of a diversion into the world of science and Marxism, Christopher Caudwells The Crisis In Physics and Helena Sheehan’s Marxism And The Philosophy of Science, which as an engineer I feel I should read to give me a more broad view of what I’ve been basing my daily work on for the past 35 years. I won’t finish all of those in 3 weeks but hopefully I’ll make a good start into them anyhow. With the weather as it is I’m expecting there will be plenty of time for reading and not so much for cycling and walking, unfortunately.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2020

Wow, for three weeks, that’s quite the challenge. Talking of dipping in and out of books, I konw what you mean re Kotkin (BTW I liked the first volume) and putting books down. I’m not as afraid to do that as I used to be.

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3. Joe - July 31, 2020

Since the son the poet got a couple of poems published in it, I took out a subscription to the Stinging Fly. It comes out a couple of times a year – new writing, short stories, reportage sort of stuff, lots of poems. I’m more into the stories than the poems but I enjoy it always, there’s always plenty of good stuff in it. I like anthologies and collections you can dip in and out of. They don’t need the commitment required for a biography of Stalin for example.

Anyway the current edition of the Stinging Fly (Summer 2020) has a story by a writer called Robin Fuller. It’s very funny. At least I giggled quite a bit through it – it might have been the coffee, you know how one person’s funny is another’s not funny. The story is called Chinese Whispers and it’s a piss-take on left activity and left politics in Dublin among students and say people in their twenties. Hits a few raw nerves for sure if a bit juvenile maybe too. I like juvenile.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2020

The son the poets poetry is very good Joe. That is a great idea.

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Joe - July 31, 2020

🙂 . His poetry is very good yes. His politics? Meh!

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4. Jim Monaghan - July 31, 2020

“I’ve been struggling with Kotkin’s Stalin: Waiting For Hitler 1929-1941”. Just borrowed from the library. While I am reasonably, or unreasonably, familiar with the USSR in the Thirties, I find it incredibly depressing. I will bear with it. Got a Furst book, spy fiction WW2, for a bit of lighter relief.
Just finished Derek Raymond, very noir, fascism in Britain with a Farage/Johnstone Prime Minister, again depressing. A State of Denmark, c. 1964, Oh borrowed a Harlan Corben as well.
I have to find some light fiction, with happy endings.
Could I suggest a review post in three weeks time? I regret wasting what’s left of my time on reading badly written stuff. Oh Kotin is going to take me months.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2020

I’ve a collection of dystopian British political fiction – that’s one I’ve heard of though, A State of Denmark, but never got. Must add it to list. Thanks Jim

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2020

BTW that’s a great idea re a post in a few weeks time reviewing the books.

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Jim Monaghan - July 31, 2020

Warning, it is depressing.

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5. Tomboktu - July 31, 2020

I have had two novels on the go, but have lacked the concentration to keep with them, though I want to. One is The Devil’s Dance by Hamid Ismailov and the other is One Clear, Ice-cold Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century by Roland Schimmelpfenning.

Maybe typing this comment will give me a push to finish one of them if you’re doing a post for comments reviewing the books we’ve read!

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crocodileshoes - July 31, 2020

A couple of really satisfying recent novels by Irish women, both with very well researched historical backgrounds, are ‘The Narrow Land’ by Christine Dwyer Hickey and ‘The Tainted’ by Cauvery Madhavan.

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Cauvery Madhavan - August 1, 2020

Thank you!!

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6. CL - July 31, 2020

Right now I’m engrossed in one of Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder’ novels, ‘Nobody’s Perfect’
“Very little is known of Dortmunder’s childhood. It is mentioned in more than one book that he was abandoned at birth and raised in an orphanage in the fictional town of Dead Indian, Illinois, run by the Bleeding Heart Sisters of Eternal Misery.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dortmunder

Next, ‘The Assassin’, a novel by Liam O’Flaherty reportedly loosely based on the assassination of Kevin O’Higgins.

“None of the three assassins was ever apprehended or charged, but Coughlan, a member of Fianna Fáil as well as the IRA, was killed in strange circumstances in Dublin, in 1928, by a police undercover agent whom he was attempting to murder. The other two (Doyle and Gannon) benefited from the amnesty to IRA members issued by Éamon de Valera, upon his assumption of power in 1932. Gannon, who died in 1965, joined the Communist Party of Ireland and played a central role in organising Irish volunteers for the Spanish Civil War.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_O%27Higgins#Assassination

Then, for something lighter, Perry Anderson’s ‘In the Tracks of Historical Materialism’

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7. Colm B - July 31, 2020

For escapism I read wilderness/wildlife books and I’ve just finished The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, a beautifully written book, though nothing beats my all time favourite, Fire Season by Phillip Connor – it’s just a masterpiece. Makes you want to drop out and become a fire-lookout for the rest of your life.

I tend to read a number of books at the same time just to avoid boredom so my other summer read was Peasant Revolution in Ethiopia by John Young. It’s a detailed account of the long and successful struggle of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front against the Derg, a brutal Soviet-backed military dictatorship that ruled Ethiopia in the 70s and 80s. It’s a fascinating account of how a small bunch of student revolutionaries built a guerilla army and mass movement in an overwhelmingly peasant society without any external support other than from their fellow revolutionaries in Eritrea. It was like a textbook revolution.
Which I guess makes it my fantasy read for the summer, seeing as revolutions are not on the menu lately and my favourite fantasy author, Joe Abercrombie’s next book in the second First Law trilogy is not out until September.

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alanmyler - July 31, 2020

Speaking of fire lookouts I presume you’ve read Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels? Sounds like the sort of job for someone who’s really got into the lockdown social isolation thing.

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Colm B - July 31, 2020

Nope haven’t read it, another one on the never-ending must read lists.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2020

I’ve been meaning to get around to Abercrombie’s books – read a few short stories I really liked – a bit like Richard Morgan, though bar Vance and Zelazny and McCaffrey I’m more a science fiction fan.

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Colm B - July 31, 2020

I think Abercrombie is better than GRR Martin even though I really liked the Game of Thrones books. Abercrombie combines humour, social commentary, great characters, brilliant storylines etc. Like Martin, you find yourself liking some fairly dodgy characters, not always easy to distinguish the goodies from the baddies. You know it’s a good writer when your favourite character the chief torturer of the kingdom!

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2020

That’s for sure! I never got into GOT either written or television. Though he wrote a fantastic book called Tuf Voyaging.

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8. Starkadder - August 2, 2020

I am reading loads of the Oxford “Very Short Introductions” series.

Going through two fine history titles, (“Magna Carta: AVSI” by
Nicholas Vincent, and “The Renaissance: AVSI” by Jerry Brotton ).

The volume “Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction” by Christian W. McMillen also turned out to be very relevant and informative.

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9. gypsybhoy69 - August 4, 2020

Currently reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
Mostly this year (must be said in a Jesse’s diets voice) I’ve been reading Maggie O’Farrell novels. I have a tendency to binge if I like a writer. The most recent examples being Ian Rankin (rereading) and Hilary Mantel.

As mentioned elsewhere I thought I’d read much more than I did. Months of LRB to read as I usually read on the bus going to work but I’ve found that next to impossible as I don’t relax on the bus anymore.

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tafkaGW - August 4, 2020

The LRB is very good value, I find. I can understand fully not being able to relax on the bus these days.

I’ve embarked on Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob in the German translation (the English comes out next year I believe.)

The good news: I’m past Page 1000! The bad news: the book counts the pages backwards. Actually I’m happy having much more to read.

I recently discovered that the book Gershom Scholem (best mate with Walter Benjamin) was most proud of was his work on the late Jewish Messiah Sabbatai Z[e]vi, who is central to the historical context of the book.

Highly recommended, if you’re at all interested in central European and near Eastern history and culture. Tokarczuk’s a supreme story-teller.

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