Recommend a Book

Firefly

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"Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight about Nike. Very well written and I really enjoyed it. 8/10
Also well written is Red Notice by Bill Browder, which was a fascinating insight into Russian corruption and a highly recommended read. 9/10
 

odyssey06

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Just finished a 'travelogue' type book by Lawrence Osborne, The Wet and the Dry - A Drinker's Journey, about the author's travels through 'dry' Muslim countries in search of a drink. An easy read, as each chapter stands alone so you can dip in and out of it. Osborne is more well known as a novelist and I think his skill with the language takes this up a level.

Osborne has been asked by the Raymond Chandler estate to write the next Philip Marlowe novel which is out this summer, so I look forward to that.
 

michaelm

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I quite enjoyed Prisoners of Geography. "If you've ever wondered why Putin is so obsessed with Crimea, why the USA was destined to become a global superpower, or why China's power base continues to expand ever outwards, the answers are all here."
 

Purple

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Just started "Guns, Steel and Germs". I'm reading it at the same time as Rousseau's "Social Contract and Discourse" which is hard going for a pleb like me.
 

odyssey06

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Just started "Guns, Steel and Germs". I'm reading it at the same time as Rousseau's "Social Contract and Discourse" which is hard going for a pleb like me.
Guns, Germs and Steel is one of my favourite books of all times, epic scope and vision... I think I've read about half a dozen of the books it referenced subsequently as it touched upon so many topics I wanted to dig into each of them e.g. the populating of Polynesia, the mega fauna of North America pre the arrival of humans, the books of Marvin Harris.
 

odyssey06

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I've been reading a lot of magazines lately rather than books, if I have a spare hour I can get through a magazine without worrying about when will get to read rest ofit.

I signed up to this service through Dublin library system, gives free access to recent magazines like New Scientist, National Geographic, even Decanter wine magazine.
There is an app for mobiles or you can read through browser (hint - select text mode once you have opened the magazine):
https://librariesireland.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/articles/19000014779-how-do-i-access-emagazines-
 

odyssey06

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Osborne has been asked by the Raymond Chandler estate to write the next Philip Marlowe novel which is out this summer, so I look forward to that.
My copy finally arrived from the Library... intriguing so far, some lovely dialogue and narration e.g. arriving at a Mexican hotel room which "doubled as a temporary sauna".

My appreciation is heightened by having Los Panchos on Spotify (was playing in a Mexican bar Marlowe "soaks up") and sipping a scotch and soda.
 

Marion

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Just got my pre-order today.

‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama.

I’ve just started it. Love it already!

Marion
 

DB74

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Just finished All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and I can't recommend highly enough. Superb book that I couldn't put down, one of those where you wish there were another couple of hundred pages. Winner of several prizes, including Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2015
Anyone who enjoyed this book should get The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason. Loved it
 

odyssey06

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I had seen the "Making of the Mob" docudrama on Investigation Discovery. I'm usually not a fan of docudrama format but this did a great job of telling the story of the rise of the Mob in New York and then Chicago. One of the "talking heads" in the show was TJ English.

So I picked up this book through Dublin library system, "Old Bones and Shallow Graves" by TJ English which focuses specifically on Irish-American mobsters.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Old-Bones-Shallow-Graves-Irish-American/dp/1840189959

I liked the way he would talk in dollar amounts about what different rackets brought in what revenues, how mobsters would get protection money from unions in the form of "no show" union jobs and cards. So the mobsters would show up on systems as dock workers but never actually do any work on the docks unless some heads needed a knocking.
I know there is a certain 'glamour' to the 1920s - 1950s era, bootleggers and rat pack and all that, but the book shows things warts and all and how in the last generation people like Whitey Bulger would disappear not just loan sharks or rival mobsters but mistresses, in gruesome fashion.
 

odyssey06

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John McGahern - The Collected Stories.

This is a collection of short stories from the late Irish author. I think he lived and worked for a time in Clontarf.
As a resident of Dublin 3, it is strange to find so many places I am familiar with name checked, pubs, streets, churches...

One of the characters when asked if he believed in anything said that he believes in "honour, decency, affection, in pleasure" ... and that comes through in the best of the stories:
  • Parachutes
  • Doorways
  • My Love, My Umbrella
  • Bank Holiday
  • Sierra Leone
  • Korea
  • The Wine Breath
  • Old Fashioned
  • Annie May & The Conversion of William Kirkwood
  • A Country Funeral
And this line from Gold Watch reminded me of a time in my own life so much...
It was she who found the flat in Hume Street, on the top floor of
one of those old Georgian houses in off the Green, within walking
distance of both our places of work. There was extraordinary peace and
loveliness in those first weeks together that I will always link with
those high-ceilinged rooms – the eager rush of excitement I felt as I
left the office at the end of the day; the lingering in the streets to
buy some offering of flowers or fruit or wine or a bowl and, once, one
copper pan; and then rushing up the stairs to call her name, the
emptiness of those same rooms when I’d find she hadn’t got home yet.


So reading this book, the Dublin stories, was a trip down memory lane in more senses than one.
 

Ceist Beag

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Two recent reads that I found very enjoyable.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman. The story revolves around a small town struggling in economic terms but obsessed with ice hockey and the local team. It easily translates to any rural town around the world, e.g. small towns in Ireland and their local GAA team. For me the beauty in this book was the empathy and understanding shown by Backman in the characters of the town. Everyone is flawed but he showed a real understanding of people in how they are portrayed. It also described quite well for me how a town might be split by an event where one of the local heroes is under question. I really liked this and will definitely pick up the sequel and other novels by Backman.

Where the Crawdads sing by Delia Owens. A story about a young girl in 1950s/60s America who grew up pretty much on her own from the age of 7, having been abandoned by her mother and siblings due to an abusive husband/father and then by her father. The story covers two timelines, one following the girl as she comes to terms with her abandonment and how she survives, the other dealing with a murder. The story ticks a lot of boxes, such as prejudice, survival in the face of adversity, the kindness of strangers and of course all wrapped in a murder mystery. It was all done in an interesting angle involving nature. Very enjoyable read.
 

Leper

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A Perfect Spy by John le Carré - A 600 + page blockbuster and having completed one tenth of the book I have come to the opinion that this is one of the worst books I have ever taken to hand. The plot seems to be going nowhere. The actual volume of the book appears to be way beyond of what is necessary. The style of writing is pedantic at best. It was first published in 1986 and perhaps it is an insight into the thinking of Brits in Britain. So now, how could I have been surprised at their crazy vote for Brexit?

If there was ever an item to break the laws of advertising, it is this book. "A first-rate espionage novel, perhaps his best" from the New York Times and "Without doubt his masterpiece" from the Sunday Times. I cannot say I agree in any way with these newspapers book critics.

What I read jumps in and out of the life of Magnus Pym at various stages of his life. He is the hero of the novel and has been "controlled" since his teens by some eastern block secret agents. He disappears into thin air while serving in Vienna. The search for him gets underway. I got so bored by page 102 that I threw the paperback into a pile and to be inflicted on some Charity Shop bookworm.

A drunken James Joyce wouldn't come up with some of the boring narrative and dialogues. In fact, earlier this year I picked my way through Ulysses with less effort than Le Carré's "masterpiece." The two or three hours of my life in which I wasted reading the novel, I will never get back. I bought Tinker, Tailor, Soldier . . . Spy the same day I purchased A Perfect Spy. That too has been banished to the Charity Shop bag even without reading the first page.
 

Ceist Beag

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I managed to finish Tinker, Tailor.... and agree Leper that I really didn't enjoy the writing of le Carré. I found it complex for the sake of complexity and really did not enjoy it, it was a real struggle to complete it in the hope that it might improve ... it didn't.
 

odyssey06

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A Perfect Spy by John le Carré - A 600 + page blockbuster and having completed one tenth of the book I have come to the opinion that this is one of the worst books I have ever taken to hand. The plot seems to be going nowhere. The actual volume of the book appears to be way beyond of what is necessary. The style of writing is pedantic at best. It was first published in 1986 and perhaps it is an insight into the thinking of Brits in Britain. So now, how could I have been surprised at their crazy vote for Brexit?
Slight flaw in your theory is that Le Carre is a well known Remainer!

I watched The Little Drummer Girl adaptation on BBC1, so slow, think a 2 hour movie would have zipped along nicely if you can accept the implausibility of the premise.
But that bloat seems to affect a lot of adaptations lately. The market seems to have fallen out of the once-off 2 hour TV movie and now it's all about mini-series.
Death and Nightingales was the same. What should have been an intense 90 minute movie stretched out to a languid 3 hour miniseries.

For me, The Sandbaggers TV show from the 70s remains the best espionage fiction I have come across.
 

cremeegg

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I think that the point of Le Carré's writing is honourable Englishmen trying to do the right thing in challenging circumstances. You probably have to accept the basic premise that being a spy is not essentially a dirty business.
 

odyssey06

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Actually Sandbaggers can mean a few different things, but nothing like that!

I would know it from poker, where it is basically the opposite of bluffing i.e. you have a v good hand but try not to show it to lure other people into betting so you can win a bigger pot.

Other meanings...
Sandbagging (grappling), competing in a skill-bracket or being ranked lower than one is deemed capable of.
Sandbagging (racing), deliberately qualifying slower than what the car can actually perform.
Verb. In the 19th century, the verb sandbag began to be used to describe the act of bludgeoning someone with a small, sand-filled bag - a tactic employed by ruffians, usually as a prelude to robbing their victims. The verb went on to develop metaphorical extensions, such as "to coerce by crude means."

And even more here...
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sandbag
 
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