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Book recommendations, The literate TSM. For literate TSMers
Guest_Sylvan Grenier_*
post Apr 15 2006, 11:27 PM
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Let's share some of our favorite books here, or ones that we're currently working on. This would die in Comics & Literature under the crushing weight of manga shit and the lack of traffic, so it's here.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace:
Since my short attention span has heretofore prevented me from completing Infinite Jest (it's been almost ten months), I've picked this collection of essays as my favorite Wallace book of the four that I own so far. Seven essays here: the mathematical properties of tennis, downstate Illinois, and tennis in dsIL; a stylistically disparate piece on irony in television (it's much more scholarly); his trip back home for the 1993 IL State Fair; a 7-night Caribbean cruise, in which the author's Midwestern deferentialism is completely unsuited for a week of pampering, and more. You get all the vocabulary, footnotes, and abbreviations that you'd expect-nay-demand from DFW, without being as much of an undertaking as Infinite Jest, or as annoying postmodern as Brief Interviews With Hideous Men can get at times.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
We're just talking 11th grade required reading here for me, but if you haven't tackled this already in high school, it's worth it now, if you're any fan of Vietnam War fiction. It's a collection of stories about a loose group of soldiers in Vietnam, taking place either in SE Asia or back home, which is usually Minnesota, I believe. Spoiler, I guess: The big catch here is that the author steps in about midway through to let you know that though yes, he did personally serve in Vietnam, we're still technically reading a work of fiction, and he may have taken some creative license here and there. Or not. That's his secret. The book culminates in an anecdote about O'Brien's childhood in which he recounts his first girlfriend, so to speak, who is eight years old and terminally ill with cancer. It's a sad story, and you feel awful for little Timmy, whose life would only get worse, but then you realize he may have pulled the whole story out of his ass anyway. It's good, and not a difficult read. I initially read it in autumn 2002 and still have my copy that I'll read from time to time.

Songwriters on Songwriting compiled by Paul Zollo
Huge book of interviews with almost every significant songwriter and composer that you can think of. I think everyone's represented but McCartney. Some are better than others, naturally--I have gained nothing whatsoever from that two-page talk with Loudon Wainwright--but the good ones are fantastic, e.g. Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Dave Brubeck, Frank Zappa, Brian Wilson, Pete Seeger, and more. I was hoping he'd get a little more out of Lou Reed, but given who we're dealing with, it could've gone much worse. It's more of a reference book that you just kinda cherry-pick at your leisure than one you read from cover to cover, of course, and I still haven't read every single interview, but I'm very satisfied thus far.

No Logo by Naomi Klein
This is very out of character for someone like me, a libertarian who isn't really up in arms over globalization. However, I'm bothered by the bombardment of branding (4!) in modern marketing (2), so I'm taking a cautious interest in this one, which I just bought only three or four hours ago. I'm about 75 pages in, and she makes some good points about how destructive the pervasiveness of advertising can be, but I've been warned that it's gonna descend into little more than collegiate ranting about Reclaim The Streets and Make Trade Fair. This comes as no surprise; it's a favorite of Thom Yorke's, and he read it whilst working on Kid A. I'll have more to say when I finish it.

Speaking of being at Borders, just a quick political sidenote here from what I noticed in the social science section:
Is it just me, or is this whole "liberal revanchism" subgenre of political science books bigger than it's ever been in my lifetime? A quick scan of the shelf reveals titles of a very formulaic nature, generally along these lines:
Elephants in the Pews: How The Republicans Stole Christianity For Themselves, And How We Can Take It Back
Red States in Blue Shops: How The Republicans Infiltrated Organized Labor, And How We Can Take It Back
The Working Man's Song: How The Republican Party Hijacked Country Music, And How We Can Take It Back
Foxes in the Newsroom: How The Republican Party Created A Conservative Media Bias, And How We Can Take It Back
Sleeping Under the Cactus: How Republicans Captured The Latino Vote, And How We Can Take It Back
Weevils in the Cotton: How The Republican Party Spoiled The South, And How We Can Take It Back

It goes on like this. It's almost as bad as the cottage industry of ancillary bullshit for The Da Vinci Code. Geez, from looking, you'd think that nobody could possibly vote Republican by one's own volition, and the party has built its formidable base only by absorbing a motley assortment of unrelated blocs that, like all other blocs, are quite naturally the birthright of an omnipotent benevolent Democratic Party. What troubles me is that of all the Takin' It Backs, I couldn't find one book in stock that proposed wresting control of the GOP away from Texans and neoconservatives, which is the most realistic and necessary change of all.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend anything in that vein, naturally. I can't imagine that any of them can be any good, and that's a fairly objective conjecture.

If you have anything you'd like to recommend, share it here. If you invoke comic books or manga, you're a fag, get out.
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Guest_Vitamin X_*
post Apr 16 2006, 12:32 AM
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How about Youth in Revolt?
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Guest_Sylvan Grenier_*
post Apr 16 2006, 01:13 AM
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I like it a lot, even though it does become ridiculously surreal at times, and Nick Twisp is impossibly precocious. It's like a pre-Infinite Jest in that you need a thesaurus at your side and it's a fairly large tome. Vernon God Little is another good novel along the lines of YiR.
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USC Wuz Robbed!
post Apr 16 2006, 08:55 AM
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I'm currently reading Conn Iggulden's "The Death of Kings". It's part of a 4-book series about Julius Caesar and Rome. It's a pretty decent read.
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Guest_Arnold_OldSchool_*
post Apr 16 2006, 09:43 AM
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Wal-mart's selling "There's a monster at the end of this book" for a mere $2.50

Chocked full of twists and turns and narrated by the cute, lovable, furry Grover.

I finished it in 3 days flat!
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The Mandarin
post Apr 16 2006, 10:11 AM
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Comments that don't warrant a thread


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I perused Claude Simon's Georgics yesterday, succeeded by The Art of War and Mishima's drab The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, before beginning Paul Rusesabagina's autobiography. I also smoked cigarettes and enjoyed the music of Tom Waits as I changed my MySpace display name to a verse from a Neutral Milk Hotel song.
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Gert T
post Apr 16 2006, 11:47 AM
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I just read Season of Life by Jeffery Marx. Real quick easy read if you're into inspirational type stuff or sports.

Currently I'm reading Wooden on Leadership.
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snuffbox
post Apr 16 2006, 12:38 PM
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Has a weird obsession with Barry Goldwater


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Chester/Hodson/Page - An American Melodrama, the Presidential Campaign of 1968
Art Schlesinger Jr - Robert Kennedy & His Times
Hunter S Thompson - Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972
Hermann Hesse - Narcissus & Goldmund
Francis Russell - The Shadow of Blooming Grove, Warren G Harding & His Times
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Edwin MacPhisto
post Apr 16 2006, 02:03 PM
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It's time we all reached out for something new.


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Only four posts till a stupid book by a wrestler came up, but the rest of the thread seems to be in surprisingly good shape. Czech must be happy.

I've been terrible about reading lately. Working on a thesis for the past few months has left me with absolutely no desire to read for pleasure during down time. Now that I'm done, though, I'm getting back in to it. While working on the thesis, I did finally read Ian McEwan's Atonement, which is wonderful in most ways and which I feel comfortable recommending to most people.

On Tim O'Brien: I read several excerpts from The Things They Carried in the course of fiction workshops and agree with that assessment. I read all of his novel Going After Cacciato, which is just okay but departs from the Vietnam stuff about a third of the way through to become a weird sort of Steppenwolf-esque journey. Not bad if you're looking for more of him.

I read Youth in Revolt in 9th grade. It was a big deal at my school, because the administration didn't want people reading it on the school grounds. So, of course, we kept one copy circulating through our class, and then eventually onto the county crew team and into another district school, with everyone who read it signing the inside cover. Everyone went through it very, very quickly. By the end of sophomore year, when the project had mostly run its course, there were about 120 names, well onto the second title page. Oh, 15-year-old rebellion.
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The Mandarin
post Apr 16 2006, 02:19 PM
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Comments that don't warrant a thread


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Fixed.
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USC Wuz Robbed!
post Apr 16 2006, 02:22 PM
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QUOTE(Edwin MacPhisto @ Apr 16 2006, 01:03 PM) *
Only four posts till a stupid book by a wrestler came up


What are you talking about? (Since I'm the 4th post, the book had nothing to do with wrestling)
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Big Ol' Smitty
post Apr 16 2006, 02:27 PM
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Emily Fucking Post.


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QUOTE(Arnold_OldSchool @ Apr 16 2006, 11:43 AM) *
Wal-mart's selling "There's a monster at the end of this book" for a mere $2.50

Chocked full of twists and turns and narrated by the cute, lovable, furry Grover.

I finished it in 3 days flat!


That was my "staff pick" at the bookstore where I used to work.
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Giuseppe Zangara
post Apr 16 2006, 02:32 PM
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Enough.


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I have spent the last few months fighting my way through William Gaddis' The Recognitions, an extremely exhausting, almost comically dense novel that, for me, suffers from one very big flaw: it's not good enough to where I want to plow through its 900+ pages as much as possible, but it's not bad enough to where I want to put it down. Especially now, when I only have 200 pages to go.

I wish I had my copy on me. A number of times throughout the novel, Gaddis will drop one of his erudite references to describe a perfectly mundane moment. I've highlighted a number of these; later, if I remember, I'll type up some. They go something like "with Otto very much on her mind, Esme reached for a pen and sat down to compose a letter, much like that Queen Heirosyphius, who drove the Moors out of Prussia and made servants out of the Visigoths."
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Masked Man of My...
post Apr 16 2006, 07:06 PM
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I don't read a lot of high end stuff, honestly, I find it harder and harder to read a legtimate all text book these days when I have the 'net constantly and good manga and such. But I am ever so slowly working through the Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind, which is good as far as I'm concerned, and I have a ton of stuff on my bookshelf, enough to keep me busy for years on end. I don't read much non fiction, I prefer sci fi, usually Star Wars or Star Trek, but I prefer Star Wars these days. Only the stuff set in the original trilogy setting, though. I will give one recomendation: give Casino Royale a shot. I think it shows how Bond became the Bond we know and sometimes love.
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Guest_Sylvan Grenier_*
post Apr 16 2006, 08:28 PM
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QUOTE('Masked Man of Mystery')
I have the 'net constantly and good manga and such.


QUOTE(Me)
If you invoke comic books or manga, you're a fag, get out.
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Masked Man of My...
post Apr 16 2006, 08:31 PM
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QUOTE(Sylvan Grenier @ Apr 16 2006, 10:28 PM) *
QUOTE('Masked Man of Mystery')
I have the 'net constantly and good manga and such.


QUOTE(Me)
If you invoke comic books or manga, you're a fag, get out.


I am not gay, nor do I have a problem with them. I never made any reccomendations about manga or such, so call them an outside influence on my reading habits. Chill out, dude.
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Edwin MacPhisto
post Apr 16 2006, 08:52 PM
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It's time we all reached out for something new.


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QUOTE(Porter @ Apr 16 2006, 04:22 PM) *
QUOTE(Edwin MacPhisto @ Apr 16 2006, 01:03 PM) *

Only four posts till a stupid book by a wrestler came up


What are you talking about? (Since I'm the 4th post, the book had nothing to do with wrestling)

Badly phrased; I meant four posts passed, and the 5th post was the offender. It was CM Punk's note about Tietam Brown, by Mick Foley, which he edited to be joking on various pretentious/hipster things. Mishima, Tom Waits, and Neutral Milk Hotel are all great though, jokes aside.
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Guest_Sylvan Grenier_*
post Apr 16 2006, 09:11 PM
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Aeroplane . . . did nothing for me. I really wanted to co-opt you guys on that one ever so badly but I couldn't get into it. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Also, I heard Tietam Brown was mediocre, and Foley is better suited to autobiographies.

Politics: Observations & Arguments, 1966-2004 by Hendrik Hertzberg
Okay, not gonna lie: I didn't know what I was getting into with this when I bought it. Didn't know who Rick Hertzberg was. Plain white cover, just says POLITICS in big letters. I figured I couldn't go wrong! Turns out the author is a former Jimmy Carter speechwriter and current New Yorker columnist. In spite of the fact that he's a liberal of the most annoying sort, he still has a lot of interesting things to say, and he says them well. Proposing that we change our national anthem to a Negro spiritual was kind of funny in that boy-did-you-ever-see-THAT-one-coming way, and the attack on 80s yuppies hasn't aged well, but it's still a good read for the left and the right. Where Hertzberg's writing really really nosedives is anything from 2000 and onward, in which like so many of his ilk, he has abandoned any sort of eloquence or individual thought in favor of just barfing out the party line: Bushstoletheelection, Republicans=Nazis, we >you @ Christianity because Jesus was a Democrat. Ugh. Cautious recommendation here, because for all the good writing, there's still too much lockstep liberal rhetoric, and he seems like somebody that I could not sit in a room with for long because he probably speaks in that muted affected "I am an educated liberal" voice when he prattles on about how he's such a secular humanist and because one parent is Jewish and one is Christian, he's a Judeo-Christian and Republicans are full of crap.
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snuffbox
post Apr 16 2006, 09:30 PM
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Best book on politics/campaigning/elections that Ive read thus far - Theodore H White's Making of the President, 1960. His 'Making Ofs' get progressively weaker after that. Hunter Thompson's '72 book is an almost equal work of brilliance...a look inside the campaign universe, some keen observations, and hilarious eviscerations of Nixon/Humphrey/Muskie.
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vivalaultra
post Apr 16 2006, 09:59 PM
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Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel


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I've got lots of book recommendations. People I know don't read, so I have all these recommendations built up and I've had nary a place to use them. Most of these are Latin American authors, because that's who I've been reading lately.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez-if more people read Garcia Marquez, the world would be a better place. This is easily the best book ever written. Seriously, this book is so magical and fantastic and wonderful. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me a better person.

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges-a collection of short stories and non-fictions about the nature of time and infinity. Seriously, everything in this book takes a while to "get", but damned if they don't make you go "Wow."

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende- Another "magical realism" text. Similar to Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. This one's about political turmoil in Chile. It's very feminist and wonderfully moving.

Those are the three books that I've read this week by Latin American authors. I've read "Solitude" several times and it's always great to re-read. There's just so much depth. Other good authors are Louise Erdrich (who writes about love in a gushy way which is extremely poetic), Tim O'Brien (as mentioned before. My personal favorite O'Brien novel is In the Lake of the Woods), Stephen King (his "Dark Tower" series is great.), Nabokov, Chekov, and most other writers whose names end in "ov", William Trevor, James Joyce, Frank McCourt to fill out the Irish contingent, and everyone could use a little more Faulkner.
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Guest_Brian_*
post Apr 17 2006, 12:53 AM
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QUOTE(Masked Man of Mystery @ Apr 17 2006, 01:06 AM) *
I don't read a lot of high end stuff, honestly, I find it harder and harder to read a legtimate all text book these days when I have the 'net constantly and good manga and such. But I am ever so slowly working through the Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind, which is good as far as I'm concerned, and I have a ton of stuff on my bookshelf, enough to keep me busy for years on end. I don't read much non fiction, I prefer sci fi, usually Star Wars or Star Trek, but I prefer Star Wars these days. Only the stuff set in the original trilogy setting, though. I will give one recomendation: give Casino Royale a shot. I think it shows how Bond became the Bond we know and sometimes love.


Ever read Reilly: Ace of Spies? This guy during World War I, I believe, who was basically king of spies, and was basically one of the inspirations for Bond.

"James Bond is just a piece of nonsense I dreamed up. He's not a Sidney Reilly, you know!" - Ian Fleming
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FroGG_NeaL
post Apr 17 2006, 01:25 AM
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I'm currently read The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

The last good book I read was Motley Crue's Autobiography. Highly recommended shit.

I'll be back later, I like this thread. I've read some of the books listed, but some that I haven't sound intriguing.

I'll mos def check some of them out.
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jwest27
post Apr 17 2006, 02:04 AM
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some guy


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I would definitely reccomend the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin. If you are at all interested in fantasy type stuff, this is the best I've ever read. He does have a penchant for killing off characters, but that's actually welcome after all the fantasy books I have read where all the main characters are nigh invincible, which makes for a pretty boring story.
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FroGG_NeaL
post Apr 17 2006, 05:00 AM
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My boy recommended those and I have them on my to read list.

They sound very good, and he loves them and he's way big into the whole fantasy genre.
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Guest_The Satanic Angel_*
post Apr 17 2006, 07:06 AM
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I'll second the Song of Ice and Fire nomination as a good read. I have all four books and they are a very intriguing read. I love fantasy.

I would also recommend River God by Wilbur Smith. It's a historical fiction novel about Ancient Egypt. A grand Vizier schemes for power while his most trusted slave, a eunuch, accidentally puts the Vizier's daughter in line for Pharaoh. I have read it multiple times. Smith wrote a sequel, Warlock, but I have yet to read it.
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Masked Man of My...
post Apr 17 2006, 04:05 PM
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QUOTE(Brian @ Apr 17 2006, 02:53 AM) *
QUOTE(Masked Man of Mystery @ Apr 17 2006, 01:06 AM) *

I don't read a lot of high end stuff, honestly, I find it harder and harder to read a legtimate all text book these days when I have the 'net constantly and good manga and such. But I am ever so slowly working through the Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind, which is good as far as I'm concerned, and I have a ton of stuff on my bookshelf, enough to keep me busy for years on end. I don't read much non fiction, I prefer sci fi, usually Star Wars or Star Trek, but I prefer Star Wars these days. Only the stuff set in the original trilogy setting, though. I will give one recomendation: give Casino Royale a shot. I think it shows how Bond became the Bond we know and sometimes love.


Ever read Reilly: Ace of Spies? This guy during World War I, I believe, who was basically king of spies, and was basically one of the inspirations for Bond.

"James Bond is just a piece of nonsense I dreamed up. He's not a Sidney Reilly, you know!" - Ian Fleming

No, I hadn't, but thank you for the reccomendation. I'll have to check that out at some point. By the way, while I have a a post to use, what do people think of Tom Clancy? I used to read his stuff, loved Rainbow Six to death, but I haven't read him in a while and I've never heard anyone's opinion on him other than the folks who appear on his covers.
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CanadianChris
post Apr 17 2006, 04:27 PM
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I find Clancy impossible to read. Every time I try, I get bogged down in all the minute details he insists on putting in that have nothing to do with the story.

Books I'm reading:

Lance Armstrong's War by Daniel Coyle - A look inside LA's 6th Tour de France win, and all the shit he had to endure leading up to it. Interesting read so far, but your interest in this book will likely be determined by your level of interest in Armstrong himself.

No Logo by Naomi Klein - see Sylvan's comments above.

The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - I received this for Christmas two years ago, and I'm finally getting around to reading it with all the hype for the movie. Not too impressed so far.
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Guest_Sylvan Grenier_*
post Apr 17 2006, 04:29 PM
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QUOTE(Masked Man of Mystery @ Apr 17 2006, 07:05 PM) *
what do people think of Tom Clancy?

Mercenaries devise a scheme to take over a generic industrial compound for ransom under the watchful eye of Afghani rebels. The plot twists when the Mercenaries hijack a shipment of nuclear warheads even after their demands are met, unless a sassy cop with street smarts can quell his pride long enough to stop the Mercenaries once and for all. The movie ends with a mildly comical and/or ironic scene in which the Mercenaries blow up or go to prison. Another satisfying tale of political intrigue and personal redemption closes, and we all walk away from this movie a little wiser.

Communists devise a scheme to blackmail a congressman for ransom under the watchful eye of corrupt US diplomats. The plot twists when the Communists hijack a shipment of life-saving drugs for ransom even after their original demands are met, unless an ex-con with a big heart can learn to trust humanity again and stop the Communists once and for all. The movie ends with a mildly comical and/or ironic scene in which the Communists blow up or go to prison. Another satisfying tale of political intrigue and personal redemption closes, and we all walk away from this movie a little wiser.

Anyway.

A History of Knowledge by Charles Van Doren
It's basically just a rundown of all of mankind's greatest achievements in the arts, science, philosophy, and literature. A lot of it is a review if you paid attention in class, but there's always new stuff to pick up, and Charles Van Doren is exceptionally brilliant, even if his reign of terror on Twenty-One was rigged by the producers.
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Gert T
post Apr 17 2006, 07:15 PM
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Hey Chris, does it focus on the drug testing and doping allegations leading up to the 6th one, or more of a background on him battling the cancer? Or both?
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CanadianChris
post Apr 17 2006, 07:22 PM
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So far it's pretty much exclusively on the doping allegations. Coyle probably assumed that anyone interested in the cancer stuff would read Armstrong's autobiography.

It looks like he got a lot of info from Dr. Michele Ferrari (who's been accused of distributing illegal substances to other athletes), but he stated up front that he interviewed Ferrari on the condition that he not bring up anything about the illegal substances.
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