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[Archived] Holiday Reading


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As Colin mentioned 'One hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez on another thread I will recommend it on here. An awesome book by one of the greatest writers in the world. It is in a genre described as 'magical realism' and is a pleasure to read.

Overrated.

Just finishing up Pompeii by Robert Harris. I like his stuff a lot, but it's usually slow to get going. This one is a good read from the start. At the part of the eruption now and it's interesting. As always, he does a good job of mixing history with fiction.

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As Colin mentioned 'One hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez on another thread I will recommend it on here. An awesome book by one of the greatest writers in the world. It is in a genre described as 'magical realism' and is a pleasure to read.

Huge Marquez fan. I finished "Strange Pilgrims" just last night.

I'd also recommend another Latin American titan: Mario Vargas Llosa. Personally I prefer his books to GGM, especially his more recent works.

To follow "Strange Pilgrims" I borrowed "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman off the lodger for a bit of light relief.

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I've now moved onto The Good German by Joseph Kanon. It's very good if a little hard-going.

I tend to go for a little lighter reading when on holiday but I've read The Good German, and yes it is quite hard going, not that great a read for me.

Last years holiday reads included:

Penguins Stopped Play - Harry Thompson

Where the hell is Tuvalu? - Phillip Ellis

Yes Man - Danny Wallace

Highly recommend all three, all humourous.

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Overrated.

Just finishing up Pompeii by Robert Harris. I like his stuff a lot, but it's usually slow to get going. This one is a good read from the start. At the part of the eruption now and it's interesting. As always, he does a good job of mixing history with fiction.

Robert Harris wrote "Up Pompeii"?

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Penguins Stopped Play - Harry Thompson

Brilliant book - lighthearted and very funny. It's all about cricket & I don't particularly like cricket.

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  • 1 month later...

Right boys and girls, it's almost holiday season so I figured I'd throw a few recommendations and warnings your way. Among the tomes I have been reading of late there have been...

Pompeii by Robert Harris - 200 pages of information about how to design, build and repair a large aqueduct, followed by less than 200 pages about a somewhat weedy eruption, a bit of intrigue and loads of 2D characters. Easily Harris's worst book "by a country mile" as some members of this board are wont to say. Read it in a couple of days and still fell asleep several times. Absolutely bobbins.

Three's Company by Alfred Duggan - for those in need of proper historical fiction that requires an IQ in triple figures, unlike that Pompeii nonsense, you could always give this a whirl. A bit slow to start but worth the perseverence for a tale of ineptitude and vanity and one man being promoted way beyond his ability. I think we all know someone like that. An engrossing tale that is often laugh out loud funny with totally believeable characters and a rather touching ending. Yes, it's set in ancient Rome but the themes it explores are easily transferable to the modern world. As I have stated before, Conscience Of The King by the same author is a gem as well.

Rising Sun by Michael Crichton - written in the early 90s when much of the technology written about in the book would have seemed totally revolutionary to its readers then. The thriller element is well handled, the characters a bit thin but much of the revolutionary technology mentioned now seems somewhat dated. Digital photography, eh! What will they think of next? That said, it's worth a read and ideal flight fodder.

The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne - I read this at the insistence of a work colleague and found it to be a surprisingly good read. Yes, it's a kids' book but it explores adult themes and is a moving tale of absolute innocence in the presence of absolute evil. For those who don't know it's about the unlikely friendship between the very young son of a concentration camp commandant and a boy on the "wrong side" of the wire. A bittersweet tale with a vicious sting in the tale. Anyone who read The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime and enjoyed it will probably like this too.

City of God by Paulo Lins - I had high hopes for this as I had seen the film and loved it. The book is somewhat different and is far from easy to get into as it just appears to be a collection of seemingly unconnected short stories. And when I say short, some are just a couple of paragraphs long. Anyway, it eventually settles down into some sort of order and it's a good read, but it takes a lot of effort and left me thinking it could have been so much better. Read it if you have a lot of time to spare.

Knights of the cross by Tom Harper (I think) - hmm, an okay yarn about murder and conquest at the time of the first crusade. Lots of gory detail about battles, famine, cannibalism and skullduggery but a bit too predictable for my liking. The subplot of religious heresy should have yielded more surprises and revelations than it does and to me it seems like the author ran out of ideas. Fine for no-brainer beach reading, but don't expect to learn much about the period of history it is set in.

The interpretation of murder by Jed Rubenfeld - book of the year at that ghastly awards ceremony hosted by Pinch & Judy and having heard glowing testimonies from colleagues at work I figured it might have something going for it. All I can say is don't believe the hype. Utter trash from front to back. It has the most ridiculously complicated murder plot with lashings of pseudo-intellectual psychological claptrap layered on. By the end the murder mystery, easily the best bit but even then not that good, descends into a sub-Scooby Doo plot of secret passages and false identities. Avoid like the plague.

The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman - the final instalment of the His Dark Materials trilogy and for my money it was the weakest. Having said that, it's still a corking story and thoroughly recommended trio of engaging characters, high adventure (come on, the mortals are taking on God!) and coming of age. By the end I felt like there were a couple of things missing from my life which I think say a lot about how much I enjoyed these books - a subtle knife and my own daemon. Well, them and Salma Hayek, obviously.

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The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman - the final instalment of the His Dark Materials trilogy and for my money it was the weakest.

My thoughts exactly. Actually, I thought both the second and third were fairly rushed. The first was definitely the best one. Saying that, it is a brilliant trilogy and I recommend it to any bookworm. I read the trilogy years ago (about six years ago in my estimation) and I no doubt will probably read it once again in years to come.

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Pompeii by Robert Harris - 200 pages of information about how to design, build and repair a large aqueduct, followed by less than 200 pages about a somewhat weedy eruption, a bit of intrigue and loads of 2D characters. Easily Harris's worst book "by a country mile" as some members of this board are wont to say. Read it in a couple of days and still fell asleep several times. Absolutely bobbins.

Rising Sun by Michael Crichton - written in the early 90s when much of the technology written about in the book would have seemed totally revolutionary to its readers then. The thriller element is well handled, the characters a bit thin but much of the revolutionary technology mentioned now seems somewhat dated. Digital photography, eh! What will they think of next? That said, it's worth a read and ideal flight fodder.

I actually quite liked Pompeii. Thought most of his books take a while to get into and to get moving, but this one was pretty gripping from the get-go.

Agree with the recommendation on Rising Sun. One of Mrs American's favorite books.

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I've just finished Royal Flash, one of the Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser. Very entertaining and historically humourous. The way he works the chararcter into actual historic events is brilliant.

I've also jsut finished Stephen Fry's autobiography - Moab is my Washpot. A very open and frank account of his childhood, his sexuality and his criminality. Did you know he served time for credit card fraud? It is very well written and never even begins to wallow in self pity or make excuses. It is also quite funny in places.

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Overrated.

Maybe you should try Love in The Time of Cholera. That's an interesting read and maybe a bit more linear than One Hundred Years of Solitude in which there were so many people in a family through the generations that they seemed to get mixed up into one.

I've just finished Royal Flash, one of the Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser. Very entertaining and historically humourous. The way he works the chararcter into actual historic events is brilliant.

I'd actually say that is one of the weaker ones in the series with its allusions to Prisoner of Zenda. Personal favourites are Flash at the Charge! and Flashman and the Dragon.

Edited by FourLaneBlue
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Pompeii by Robert Harris - 200 pages of information about how to design, build and repair a large aqueduct, followed by less than 200 pages about a somewhat weedy eruption, a bit of intrigue and loads of 2D characters. Easily Harris's worst book "by a country mile" as some members of this board are wont to say. Read it in a couple of days and still fell asleep

This bloke only got going IMO because of the generous reviews given by his fellow hacks . Fatherland and Archangel are the two I've read ; both very put-downable . A half decent columnist on the Sunday Times though in his time .....

For those wanting very light holiday reading they could do worse than the old James Herriot books . Picked up one the other day and re-read it for the umpteenth time - still made me laugh ... :)

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I've just currently finished reading Penguins Stopped Play:Eleven Village Cricketers take on the World

Its written by Harry Thompson, who used to write Have I Got News For You, before he died of cancer

Its about a team of village cricketers who at the start play just for fun and not seriously, but eventually go on tour together then embark on a world tour as a side

Its a brilliantly humourous book and i recommend it to all

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This bloke only got going IMO because of the generous reviews given by his fellow hacks . Fatherland and Archangel are the two I've read ; both very put-downable . A half decent columnist on the Sunday Times though in his time .....

For those wanting very light holiday reading they could do worse than the old James Herriot books . Picked up one the other day and re-read it for the umpteenth time - still made me laugh ... :)

Disagree, I thought Fatherland was brilliant (and more good fodder for an anti-Kennedy living in Mass).

His other books I would say are decently written, with good plots.

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Fatherland is very good, I've not been so sold on Archangel or Pompeii I thought they were let downs after FL and Enigma.

I find Enigma is utterly absorbing and one of the best books I've ever read.

Someone lent me a few Nelson DeMile's a few months ago, if you like thriller type stuff, they aint half bad.

Gordon Steven's (if you can find any by him) books are all engrossing and extreamly well written and if you like crime whodunnits Mark Billingham's well worth having a gander at.

Armagedon by Max Hastings is also well worth the time and effort to read through, it tells a storey that most of us on this side of Germany know very little about

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I've been reading the Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin. Some of the best hard-boiled detective fiction I've ever read. I'd put him up there with Laurence Block, Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos.

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I like Rankin because there's no staid plot like a number of authors, who after reading a few of their books you can usually work out who's going to be the murderer after about 20 pages.

If you like Techno Thriller types ( ie future war stuff ) Eric L Harry's Arc Light and Larry Bond's Red Phoenix are some of the best that I know of.

For those sad sci fi geeks like myself, you know who you are, the Horus Heresay series are very hard to put down.

If I can wan you off one book though, avoid at all costs the Samurillion by Tolkin. Its JRR's notes on the back storey and a more impenatrable, badly written book that I have ever had the misfortune to read. Bar anything by Irvine Welsh that is

Edited by Flopsy
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Disagree, I thought Fatherland was brilliant (and more good fodder for an anti-Kennedy living in Mass).

I remember reading a book by the young President Kennedy when I was a lad (Why England Slept) . Years later it turned out he never wrote a word of it ........somebody did the job for him - paid for , no doubt , by his daddy :blink:

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Maybe you should try Love in The Time of Cholera. That's an interesting read and maybe a bit more linear than One Hundred Years of Solitude in which there were so many people in a family through the generations that they seemed to get mixed up into one.

Absolutely superb, although I also enjoyed the latter.

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An interesting story of true crime I have been reading is 'Killing Pablo' by Mark Bowden (who also wrote 'Black Hawk Down' which I also enjoyed) which is all about the huge manhunt for what was, probably, the world's richest ever criminal Pablo Escobar the Colombian drug lord. At his height was said to be among the richest men in the world and worth £5billion or something ridiculous. Apparently at one stage he was supplying 80% of the cocaine going into the US.

It's an interesting tale of a villain whose sheer scope of power brought a country to its knees and involves President Bush (the first one) trying - and failing - to bring him down before his running for re-election. Also Pablo was a bit of a character and had the knack of PR down perfectly. Journalists sent to grill him would end up fawning over his wit and erudition before giggling along like star-stuck schoolgirls.

Recommended.

Edited by FourLaneBlue
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If I can wan you off one book though, avoid at all costs the Samurillion by Tolkin. Its JRR's notes on the back storey and a more impenatrable, badly written book that I have ever had the misfortune to read. Bar anything by Irvine Welsh that is

I think you mean 'The Silmarillion' by Tolkien. I'd agree it's not for anything other than big fans of Tolkien and for that reason I thought it was great although I can see why many would be put off. It certainly isn't as accessible as 'The Hobbit' or 'The Lord of the Rings'.

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