Author Topic: Rate the latest book you've read.  (Read 12175 times)

Offline Mr.Obvious (OP)

Rate the latest book you've read.
« on: July 14, 2014, 05:29:28 AM »
I tried to find a thread that rated the latest book you read, like we have one for the latest movie you've seen. But I could only find one about which is your favorite book. If there is already a propper thread for this, be sure to point it out so I can move my post and delete this one.
P.S. Just read the the first and the last paragraph if you find the text too long all in all.

I'm a little behind on my reading, a few parties in which I've been given a lot of books combined with seemingly having less and less free time to read them have made it so that a number of books accumelated on my shelf. When I went on vacation last week I saw an opportunity to take with me one of those neglected books. "The girl who played with fire." If you're not familiar with this book, it's the sequal to "The girl with the dragon tattoo" and is the second book in the 'Millenium' trilogy. Which has already been made into a movie starring Daniël Craig and an earlier movie from Sweden that I haven't watched yet. (Though the first book and the Craig-flic are pretty darn good.)

Off the bat this book is great. Without giving away too much the place where the main characters find themselves in, be it in the world, in the media or in relationship to eachother, is totally in line with their personalities and the events from the last book. This may seem like a dead-give-away for a sequel, but I disagree. It's a necessity, but not a given. Too often a sequel reverts the characters back to a previous state so that the dynamic between the personalities in the book can grow again. Or they change the parameters of the story too much and leave a gap that makes us whonder what happened and how these characters turned out the way they did in the sequel. In the 'Girl who played with fire' there is none of that; the transition is smooth and totally in line.

And regarding the characters themselves; we have the great continuation of the protagonist Salander and the dueteragonist Blomkvist. These grew into great and interesting characters in the first book. Salander is perhaps the best heroïne I've ever seen in books. She's been compared to Laura Croft for adults, but that is doing her short. She is quite unique, hard to describe, intruiging and has a completely different attitude. I would describe her as 'super-sane' rather than insane as most of her antagonists do. However it's this mystery's Watson that I find myself most closely connected to. Blomkvist is less smart but has as much integrity as Salander, his resourcefullness and drive can also be put on par with Salander. Though it's the fact that we get to reflect on Salander through his eyes, that makes the reader bond with this fictional persona. Like Blomkvist we feel Salander is from another world, that she won't let us in. (Even when reading her own thoughts in the book.) But reading Blomkvist's opinion about the girl makes us understand how we feel.
Their dynamic was enjoyable and touching in the first installment. However in the second there has been a fall out and most of the second book revolves around the deuteragonist searching for Salander and trying to prove her innocence from a spoiler that I won't go into here. This in my opinion is a clear metaphor for how Blomkvist is the one who seeks out Salander's companionship and friendship while Salander has never learned to express such emotional links properly and hides behind her own walls. The metaphor may be a bit overtranscendent, but it does not bother the reader at all. Because it fits in the storyline, and the storyline is simply amazing. It takes the lock-in murder case of the first book and turns it into a much faster paced tale. Again, I can't go too much into this for spoiler's sake, but I enjoyed it (even) more than the more 'dark' and 'eerie' sphere of Hedeby Island.

Perhaps my experience differs from that of the average female reader. This is a point I feel should be adressed. As this book can, I think, be categorized as a feminist thriller. At first, I admitt, this put me off to the series. In Dutch, my native language, the first of the books I saw was titled 'Mannen die vrouwen haten'. Which translates into 'Men who hate women'. Which is a pretty prominent part of the series, it would seem. I was afraid that if I'd start reading the book I would find that had pictured all men as disgusting and immoral pigs. (Which is a strawman-vision of feminism I admitt. But not one that I’ve not encountered by some ‘modern feminists’.)  And I didn't want to suffer through all that for three entire books. But after seeing the movie, I realized I'd been judging the book by it's cover and that my prejudice was unwarranted. At least, mostly unwarranted.
Men are depicted as both villains and heroes in this series. Stieg Larsson, the deceased author, makes it very painstakingly clear which is which about as soon as we get to know a new persona. From the get-go we know if a character is an immoral creep or if (s)he is one of the good guys/girls. With perhaps the exception of officer Bublanski who is at first portrayed rather vague, but later turns into a more decisive good guy. When the good side’s thoughts are shown we are clearly shown a broad and wide way of thinking and analyzing. With liberal views surfacing quite a lot. While the thoughts of the bad guys are much more focused (on bad things) and much more narrow. This is a good technique to write, but I could have done without all the distracting lines popping in in the bad guy’s brain saying stuff like ‘fucking whore’ and ‘slut’. I get it, they hate women. But I think even most mysagonist assholes won’t think of how a gangster enrolled him semi-against-his-will into a gang for over a page and then blame it on the girl they raped together. Even a mysagonist would in that instance, I think, be more likely to think ‘it’s all the fault of that asshole’ than ‘it’s all the fault of that whore.’ The only exception to this is the blond giant who’se identity I can’t reveal. And that’s pretty much only because his thoughtpattern is quite necessary to be explained in the climax of the book.
For the most part it’s quite clear: either the guy is a clear white knight, or he is an immoral and quite probably criminal bastard. There is no grey area in the ‘Millenium trilogy’ which sounds more drastic than it feels when you read it. It actually works well with Salander’s vision on morality, which is pretty strong. I only wish the same dichotomy could be placed on the female characters.  So far in two books I’ve only encountered four unlikeable female characters while unlikeable male and likeable female characters keep piling on. One is one of the women of the Vanger family in the first book, one is old teacher of Salander only mentioned in one paragraph (I think), one is a foster-mom who is also only excplicitly mentioned in one paragraph and one is a relative of Salander that isn’t even shown by the second book, just talked about. For all the other female characters we are to grow sympathy, empathy and respect for their strive. Which we do effectively, Larsson certainly succeeds and shows his great writing skills in this. But I would have thought it a more ‘empowered’ book if women could also have been more prominent as Salander’s adversaries.  I’m not saying all should be women, or even most.  But the lack of female antagonists is striking and I think a bit unfair. And ultimately, I feel, that’s too bad. Because while the book seems to try and get across the sensible and justified message that society should treat women as full and equal human beings and that we should recognize them and be harsh on mysogany, it dabbles at putting women on a pedestal. It excludes them from parts of human behavior that women, like men, are capable of. It ignores the ‘dark side’ that is in every human being and portrays most women as either morally-high-functioning or as victims of mysogany or both.

But all in all, this is a fantastic book and deserves a 9/10. The writing is swell, the story draws you in. The characters are, for the most part, interesting. The dynamic between Blomkvist and Salander is precious due to it’s scarcity in this installment but both show to be determined and powerfull players in the story even without eachother, though they’ve grown dependend (even if they won’t admit it) through the first book. This sequal was enough to make me dive straight into the third book as soon as I got home.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 05:31:01 AM by Mr.Obvious »
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline AllPurposeAtheist

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2014, 05:45:32 AM »
Geeez.. You seemingly rewrote the book here, huh?
Last book I read was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
I've got a copy of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I may or may not read it, but probably not till winter sets in. I don't read much in the summer except The Nation magazine
All hail my new signature!

Admit it. You're secretly green with envy.

Offline SGOS

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2014, 06:25:41 AM »
Homeland by John Jakes 8/10

One of those epic thousand page historical fictions reminiscent of James Michener.  Set in the beginning of the 20th Century, and follows the life of a young German immigrant making his way in Chicago, who gets involved in the politics of class struggle.  I enjoy historical fiction and usually feel like I've actually learned something about history, while at the same time, immersing myself in an interesting read.

Offline SGOS

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2014, 06:39:11 AM »

Last book I read was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Many years ago, I bought a paperback copy off a revolving book rack at a gas station, and started reading it, but half way through I lost it on a hunting/camping trip.  I went to our small town library and found it in the card catalog, but not in the stacks.  I enquired with the old lady librarian when the book might be back on the shelf, and she said in hushed tones like we were discussing pornography or something, "Oh, the book is in, but we keep it behind the counter because... Well, you know."

Know what?  Was the book not fit for human consumption?  I asked if I could check it out, and she said, "No, we don't lend it out because... Well..."

So I agreed to finish the book in the library.  I would stop by every afternoon, and she would give me the book, which I would take to a private corner and read.  The library staff apparently had a discussion in her office, and one day she said, I could take the book home.  But I was almost finished, and told her I didn't mind reading it in the library.  Actually, it was kind of cool to go to a quiet public place for no purpose other than relaxing and reading.

After I had finished Of Mice and Men, I noticed it was back on the main shelf along with Steinbeck's other books.  So someone in the library must have given it an "OK".  Actually, I think it was Steinbeck's best writing.  I read many of his other books afterwards, but none compared to Of Mice and Men.

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2014, 10:20:07 AM »
John Steinbeck wrote some terrific books. My last read was The Poincare Conjecture--- In Search of the Shape of the Universe by Donal O'shea. A heavy read that I think JP would like. It not only explains the conjecture that was unsolved for a long time, it shows how the Russian mathematician Grigory Pereman solved it. If you don't know what topology means, or can think in four dimensions, you probably won't like it.
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Offline Green Bottle

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2014, 11:55:10 AM »
Iv'e just recently finished reading, ''The Last Dark, which is the final book in the 3rd Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson.
Dont know if anyone on here has read any of books but i have enjoyed every last one.
If anybody has read them id appreciate ur opinion....
Also recently read The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M Banks..
God doesnt exist, but if he did id tell him to ''Fuck Off''

Offline SGOS

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2014, 01:26:50 PM »

After I had finished Of Mice and Men, I noticed it was back on the main shelf along with Steinbeck's other books.
I'm getting old and confused.  When APA said he read of Mice and Men, I went into my Grapes of Wrath story.  I don't know if the library even had Of Mice and Men.  The book the Library wasn't keeping on the shelf was Grapes of Wrath.
 :redface:  :biggrin:

Offline Mr.Obvious (OP)

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2014, 05:40:09 AM »
"The girl who kicked the hornet's nest."
It's the last in the millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. When I say it's the least one of the series, don't get me wrong. It's still a fine and immensly enjoyable read.
8.5/10
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Online Mermaid

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2014, 11:55:06 AM »
Geeez.. You seemingly rewrote the book here, huh?
Last book I read was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
I've got a copy of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I may or may not read it, but probably not till winter sets in. I don't read much in the summer except The Nation magazine
The Poisonwood Bible is a great book, that one gets a 9 from me. The father is such a gigantic douchebag that it's fun to hate him. I love Barbara Kingsolver because she's a biologist, and apparently thinks exactly like I do.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was hard for me to get through because it was so upsetting and violent. It was so well-written and the characters so interesting that it was hard to remember that it is a work of fiction.

My most recent book is And The Band Played On about the dawn of HIV in the Western world. It was very long and interesting, I liked it a lot. I give it an 8.

I am about 2/3 of the way through The Devil in White City. The only reason I'm reading it is because of the book club I'm in. It is a very well-received book, but I am just not into history, which is what 90% of the book is about. I'd give it a 7.

Also recently finished: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys. Great. gets a 9.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King, shitty, gets a 5. Some of his books are great, some really suck. This is not the suckiest of them, but it's definitely not one of the good ones.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, very good, gets an 8.

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2014, 01:10:04 PM »
I have been re-reading the books by Yahtzee Croshaw.




Both are humor books and I appreciate the attempt to actually structure the stories humorously. Too many comedies could be a serious story if the tone was just changed and there a fewer one-liners. Of the two, I think I like Mogworld better. Maybe it's just a safer story or a sounder concept. Jam is also a darker, more sour story that may have hit a little close to home. In one scene, the POV character was risking his life to help the others and he got to hear them give unfavorable personal commentary on him when they thought he couldn't hear them because he was probably dead. It kind of reminded me of my family.

Jam has other problems. The story involves an apocalypse and the survivors waste no time developing Lord of the Flies-styled new societies. We only meet two of them, of course. It's a novel, not an epic. But I found the humor of these societies a bit lacking, especially the one that was based on an internet forum. The humor was already weak and then he ruins even that by baldly pointing out that it's an internet forum society. He leaned a bit too heavily on these but they aren't very funny and they take up the bulk of the middle of the book. Things pick up a bit when the main characters leave that shit behind, but my interest was already sapped. Not enough to stop reading. I leave that to anything written by Anne Rice or Melanie Rawn. But enough that I enjoyed Jam less than Mogworld

I have already re-read Mogworld, and it was still fun. I have only just started Jam again. I mainly wanted to re-read Jam because I have read it first when I decided to look at Croshaw's novels (and it mysteriously showed up in my local Barnes & Noble) and after reading Mogworld, I realized the stories were related and shared a character in common. It make me sad to think Double Bill from Mogworld had died. The surviving character turned out to be Don Sunderland, who was kind of a prick and that carries over to Jam nicely.

In any case, we'll see what a second read does to my perspective on Jam.

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2014, 02:43:59 PM »
Historicity of Jesus by Richard Carrier. Don't buy it unless you are seriously into research or a serious historian. I'm nearly 200 pages in and have 10 pages of notes. One of the reasons I decided to stick around is because i promised Josephpalazzo a report. Pretty damning of the Jesus myth, imo.

Online Shiranu

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2014, 04:07:44 PM »


Only a couple stories in, but 10/10. Love it.
Om Mani Padme Hum

Offline Mr.Obvious (OP)

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2014, 06:24:15 PM »
(Image removed from quote.)

Only a couple stories in, but 10/10. Love it.
I have the complete collection; but have only read the first story (a study in scarlet). Thanks for giving me a good idea on which book to read next!
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2014, 07:21:08 PM »
(Image removed from quote.)

Only a couple stories in, but 10/10. Love it.

Read it. Used to be a big Holmes fan. The new versions, not so much.

Online Shiranu

Re: Rate the latest book you've read.
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2014, 07:57:23 PM »
Read it. Used to be a big Holmes fan. The new versions, not so much.

I definitely don't plan on reading any Holmes not written by Doyle. The only series I really care for is the Cumberbatch/Freeman one on BBC, though it definitely deviates from the original stories.

Quote
Thanks for giving me a good idea on which book to read next!

No problem :P. I have had a hard time reading any book for more than 80 or so pages lately before moving on to the next, this is the first one in awhile that has hold my attention.

There is one other, but I'll wait till I read more of it before I post it. Great book though.
Om Mani Padme Hum