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What book are you reading?

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What book are you reading?

Post  Bunnies on Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:32 pm

What book are y'all currently reading?

I'm juggling between Albert Soboul's La Revolution Francaise which I haven't read before for some unfathomable reason and Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed.. So Communist historiography and Christian literature. Sums me up nicely. I have tastes that will guarantee my ostracism no matter who I speak to, hurray!

So far, I'm enjoying Soboul. I've read some of his work before and generally found it too dry for my tastes but he has more of a bounce here. My main complaint is that he punctuates every chapter with a great exegesis on class conflict and class this and class that while simultaneously admitting that the proletariat and co. as we understand them today didn't exist. So he really does some mental gymnastics to press his class-oriented points but otherwise he's better than your average historian when it comes to the Revolution, whether we're weighing him against other Marxists, Revisionists, Royalists - he's still read today for a reason, I suppose. (Really, it's silly for me to complain if a Marxist historian talks too much about class. It's like, I dunno, complaining that your Peanut butter has too many nuts. You get what it says on the tin.)

Meanwhile Wally Lamb is being all poignant and heavy and beautiful and perfect. Like always. I read his I Know This Much To Be True three or four years ago now (wow) and it stuck with me so I decided to FINALLY get around to reading his other work. So far so fantastic. It's about a teacher whose wife survives the Columbine Massacre of '99 and their emotional journey from there. I'm...I'm really oversimplifying it, unfortunately, because I can't do it justice no matter what I write. It's just brilliant. All around brilliant. Lamb earns his awards.

What about you guys?


Last edited by Bunnies on Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What book are you reading?

Post  princess garnet on Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:15 pm

Thanks for starting this!  Very Happy 

The other day I finished reading Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon.  It's the follow up to her first book about Lady Almina and Highclere Castle.  The book came out late last month.  Lots of photos included of the Castle and the family.

Up next: A Rose for Virtue by Norah Lofts, a novel about Josephine's daughter Hortense.  I borrowed this from the library.
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Re: What book are you reading?

Post  Elena on Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:39 pm

I am reading The King's Grave by Philippa Langley, the lady who found Richard III in a car park. It is utterly fascinating and has all kinds of details about the search for Richard.

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Currently reading

Post  Susan Abernethy on Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:09 am

I'm reading a couple of books at the moment. Really loving a biography of Julian of Norwich by Amy Frykholm. Julian is a revelation! And reading a biography of King Canute: King Cnut: England's Viking King by M.K. Lawson.
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Re: What book are you reading?

Post  Sophie on Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:49 am

I'm struggling with some university things, as usual, so I had to find something else to read for these long and dark evenings...  Rolling Eyes I chose an enchanted little novel about Sophie of Bavaria, cousin of the Bavarian king Louis II (who has an important role in the story, too). Exactly this: http://www.amazon.de/Sisis-kleine-Schwester-Natalie-Scharf/dp/3548250696

It's an enjoyable novel so far (I'm halfway through), but the narrative itself disturbs me a little bit. It's like a written documentary film. The author keeps a distance from all of her characters, including the "protagonist" Sophie, and she really wants to show and explain everything what they think, feel or do. Too many points of view, too many rough-and-ready scenes, especially when it comes to Sophie's love life and the "romantic" subplot...

Nevertheless, I would say it's a good work. If someone is slightly interested in Empress Elisabeth's life but doesn't know so much about her family, here they can get to know them better. The daily routine of a royal court and the superficial, intriguing world of nobility is presented very well. One can feel how hard a princess' life in the 19th century could have been, struggling between the desire for freedom and the duty of obedience.

I don't think the novel will ever be translated in English, but if yes, I can recommend it for cold winter nights together with a cup of tea and soft music in the background  Very Happy 

*literature geek was here*
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Re: What book are you reading?

Post  Bunnies on Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:16 am

Elena wrote:I am reading The King's Grave by Philippa Langley, the lady who found Richard III in a car park. It is utterly fascinating and has all kinds of details about the search for Richard.

Y'know, it's inexcusable that I haven't read any of the books published since Richard III's discovery. I call myself a Ricardian but then I look at my bookshelf and Philippa Langley's The King's Grave is conspicuously absent!

Susan Abernethy wrote:I'm reading a couple of books at the moment.  Really loving a biography of Julian of Norwich by Amy Frykholm.  Julian is a revelation!  And reading a biography of King Canute:  King Cnut: England's Viking King by M.K. Lawson.

Oi, anything pre-1066 completely alludes me. It all blends together in a vague, "Not biblical but not quite properly medieval" cloud for me.  Embarassed I deeply admire how you manage to string together a coherent timeline of these figures who are generally swept aside by --- well, ignoramuses like me!

Sophie wrote:I'm struggling with some university things, as usual, so I had to find something else to read for these long and dark evenings...  Rolling Eyes I chose an enchanted little novel about Sophie of Bavaria,  cousin of the Bavarian king Louis II (who has an important role in the story, too). Exactly this: http://www.amazon.de/Sisis-kleine-Schwester-Natalie-Scharf/dp/3548250696

It's an enjoyable novel so far (I'm halfway through), but the narrative itself disturbs me a little bit. It's like a written documentary film. The author keeps a distance from all of her characters, including the "protagonist" Sophie, and she really wants to show and explain everything what they think, feel or do. Too many points of view, too many rough-and-ready scenes, especially when it comes to Sophie's love life and the "romantic" subplot...

Nevertheless, I would say it's a good work. If someone is slightly interested in Empress Elisabeth's life but doesn't know so much about her family, here they can get to know them better. The daily routine of a royal court and the superficial, intriguing world of nobility is presented very well. One can feel how hard a princess' life in the 19th century could have been, struggling between the desire for freedom and the duty of obedience.

I don't think the novel will ever be translated in English, but if yes, I can recommend it for cold winter nights together with a cup of tea and soft music in the background  Very Happy 

*literature geek was here*

Oi. I think it was a particular fad in the 1970s to have multi-perspectives in a novel. I remember I read one such novel on Richard III and as much as I enjoy the subject (see above) the constant flutter of point of view made it difficult for me to connect with any of the characters; the moment I invested sympathy in one they would be forced out of the narratives for any number of chapters and my tenuous connection with them would fade. It's one of those styles that can be executed brilliantly...but more often than not falls limp.

I'm glad you still managed to enjoy the book though, despite its flaws!
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Re: What book are you reading?

Post  Bunnies on Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:35 am

Wow, did I say "oi" a lot in my last post.

Anyway, I just finished a brief excursion in a research project that I would have been happier had I not engaged with. I read a few books on Ted Bundy one of America's more infamous serial killers. My reasons were threefold: 1.) I'm a fan of NBC's Hannibal and was interested in learning about one of Hannibal Lecter's real-life counterparts 2.) My sister was writing a psychological/theological paper on psychopathy and I volunteered to help and 3.) Morbid curiosity.

It was a foolish decision. I'm a paranoid person at the best of times but after reading about Bundy? I altered my route home from work which had involved a shortcut which in turn involved dipping through a rather dark alley -- too spooky for me. Later, when a friend of mine from high school saw me in the city he tried to get my attention by shouting and scurrying after me -- I responded poorly. And just last week I almost got into a fight with my gas repair man because I thought he seemed too suspicious -- and to be fair to me on that one, I don't think it's common for gas repair men to just show up in your yard with a flashlight in the middle of the night when you didn't call them, so maybe that was less paranoia and more reasonable alarm.

Predictably, the story of Bundy is a pit of hate. Bundy apparently hated women, spurring himto kill dozens, and then he deservedly earned the hatred of the world at large post-capture. The story of a serial killer is inevitably going to be hateful and violent and it is understandable when the society they victimized reacts in a similar way. It's natural to respond to aggression with aggression. But it is awe-inspiring when people respond to aggression with love. The families of Bundy's victims displayed quiet dignity and strength. They crafted a web of support for one another. They had been hurt, lost a loved one in the cusp of her youth, but they managed to endure and help one another despite their own personal loss.

That's moving enough, their display of love for one another. But then a few of them turned around and showed love to the murderer who had so delighted in ravaging their lives. It had me floored. One bereaved mother wrote Bundy a touching letter while he was on death row, confessing that she had struggled with mental illness too and had only found help due to the intervention of her loved ones. She went on to beg him to repent of his sins, noting that while God hated what he had done He still loved Bundy as one of His children. No threats of fire or brimstone, just a touching display of compassion for a man who had no right to ask it from anyone.

I mean --- wow. I absolutely do not begrudge anyone who chooses to hold a grudge against someone who so violently murdered a loved one, but seeing someone respond to hatred with such love....it touched me. That's power.

On the other end of the scale, the Bundy family also culled my admiration (not including Ted himself). Particularly his mother, Louise Bundy. This woman has all my sympathy; I can't even imagine what it would be like to learn your son was so evil. I know we often learn of how serial killers were abused by their parents or some such nonsense, but Louise, by all accounts, appears to have been a good mother. She had him out of wedlock and kept it ambiguous to Ted whether or not she was his mother or his sister (because the family story was that Ted had been Louise's mother's new baby) but these are forgivable sins and certainly understandable given the views of society in the 40s-50s towards the unwed and illegitimate. I mean, the woman did her best. There's evidence that Bundy was abused by his grandfather in his very early toddler years but Louise sprinted him away so quickly that Bundy couldn't even remember what happened when he was grown. S-she was a good mother, y'know? A good person. And then she gets saddled with a child who had such an inclination towards evil. It appears she tried to deny i for years, acting as her son's defender, but when she heard that he had confessed she finally was confronted with the truth. She apologized to the victim's families for her son's actions as best she could.

But she didn't stop loving him. Before his execution, Ted Bundy called her to say good-bye and she told him that she still loved him, the family still loved him. Again, it's one of those deals where had she refused his call, or picked up the phone to give him a verbal barrage of abuse, I would have understood. And maybe some people would say that that's what she should've done - disowned him. But I'm impressed that she comforted him, who caused her and so many others so much grief.

I wonder if continuing to love him was the hardest or easiest part of what she had to endure.

Tl;dr: I read a few books on Ted Bundy but found myself drawn to the families of his victims and Louise Bundy because they were an impressive group of people and I wish Survivors would get more attention in the media than the perpetrators. Love is stronger than hate, and all that jazz.
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Re: What book are you reading?

Post  princess garnet on Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:53 pm

Two biographies I read this month:
Queen Anne by Lady Anne Somerset
Well-written and interesting biography about the last Stuart monarch.  I knew a few things about Anne prior to reading this book.  This book was released here in the US in the fall.  Winner of the 2013 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography (UK).

Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
Concise and absorbing story about the Tudor family beginning with Catherine de Valois and Owen Tudor.  I borrowed a library copy of the book.


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Re: What book are you reading?

Post  Bunnies on Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:25 pm

princess garnet wrote:Two biographies I read this month:
Queen Anne by Lady Anne Somerset
Well-written and interesting biography about the last Stuart monarch.  I knew a few things about Anne prior to reading this book.  This book was released here in the US in the fall.

Queen Anne is one of those who tends to get thrown by the wayside - or worse . I have a work by Nora Lofts which details the lives of every queen of England from the Conqueror's Matilda to Elizabeth II. It's sympathetic to the lives of every one of its subjects from the rebellious Isabeau to the controversial Anne Boleyn...every one of its subjects, that is, except for the Stuart Queen Anne. It dismisses her as boring, inconsequential, and even derides her abilities as a mother by virtue of one anecdote which has her acting impatiently with her toddler child. Bother, I think every parent on earth is guilty of a least one such faux pas.

Unfortunately, all I know about Queen Anne really comes from Lofts...

Tudor by Leanda de Lisle
Concise and absorbing story about the Tudor family beginning with Catherine de Valois and Owen Tudor.  I borrowed a library copy of the book.

The "origin" of the Tudor dynasty, with the clandestine union between Catherine and Owen is often omitted from the histories so I'm pleased to learn that someone concocted a more complete portrait of the family.
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