What Book Are You Reading Now, Round 2.


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Oct 11, 2018 - 02:05pm PT
The Paranoid Style in American Politics, by R. Hofstatder

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Oct 11, 2018 - 02:30pm PT
Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson -I like the way this guy thinks.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Oct 11, 2018 - 02:43pm PT
Right now I'm reading two books on and off, Catcher in the Rye and Madame Bovary.

I picked up the former after learning a bit more about J.D. Salinger's involvement in WWII. I had always heard that he committed himself to an institution in his earlier years, which does him a great disservice unless you learn of its context, i.e., he did it shortly after returning stateside from the war in Europe. First day in Europe was Utah Beach on D-Day, then up to the Battle of the Hurtigen Forest, Battle of the Bulge and then eastward to liberate Nazi Death camps. I would question my sanity after living through all of that. I'm enjoying Catcher quite a bit, funnier than I remember, but now find the protagonist a bit too worldly for someone who's supposed to be an awkward teenager in prep school.

I started rereading Madam Bovary on a lark and had totally forgotten was a consummate story teller Flaubert is. It's also interesting in that, while Flaubert penned it to demonstrate Emma Bovary's constraint by marriage and society, as someone who's been married for nearly 20 yrs., I find her husband Charles to be a far more sympathetic figure than I previously remembered. Is that bad I wonder?

Trad climber
Oct 11, 2018 - 02:46pm PT
I just finished Infinite Jest last night. Took me nearly 3 months. What a journey. No regrets.

Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
Oct 11, 2018 - 07:15pm PT
Another vote for Bad Blood. I work in the Valley and drove past the Theranos headquarters a few times a week until it went up for lease a few months ago. It was even worse than you think. Great schadenfreude. I also just finished Man of Constant Sorrow by Dr. Ralph Stanley - a really nice read if you are interested in bluegrass/traditional country, and rural life before electricity and plumbing.

I'm part way through The Inner Life of Animals (pretty good, not the best I've read on the topic), The Invention of Nature - Alexander Von Humboldt's New World (great), The New Jim Crow (illuminating, but hard to read more than one chapter at a time), The Underground Railroad (brilliant, but also hard to read more than one story at a time), and The Book on Rental Property Investing (thinking I need more cash flow in retirement, but not convinced yet that this is the solution for me. Although my guitar instructor is doing very well for himself.)

Trad climber
Oct 12, 2018 - 05:49am PT
Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger.
Classic book about trips crossing the Empty Quarter in Southern Arabia in the 1940's. Good source about traditional Bedu life.

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Oct 12, 2018 - 06:26am PT
Catcher in the Rye

I went back a re-read that book and Grapes of Wrath after I iron-legged my way through those two in HS. Glad I went back for another round.

Ice climber
great white north
Oct 18, 2018 - 02:33pm PT
The situation we're in is like that of a young couple who buy a new house and can't afford the mortgage payment, so they just don't open the bills. That works for a while, but meanwhile the interest and penalties are accruing."



mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 18, 2018 - 11:37pm PT
Credit: mouse from merced
"Some antics" here, all right.

Recommended by Attila the Pun, among others.

Also reading The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yesdi in trans. by Richard Burton from 1880.

And Jack London describes his visit to London's East End in "The People of the Abyss."

Grabbed a vol. of Wilfred Noyes' poetry at the used bookstore, too, this morning.

Oct 19, 2018 - 06:02am PT
The Making of The President - 1960.

It is not nostalgia - politics and politicians have become exponentially worse in the past few decades. Even Nixon thought so.

Sport climber
Oct 21, 2018 - 10:03am PT

Al Alvarez, Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal

Al Alvarez: Pondlife - A Swimmer's Journal
Al Alvarez: Pondlife - A Swimmer's Journal

Albert Alvarez (A or Al Alvarez) is known mainly as a poetry critic, anthologist and novelist, but none of this would be apparent from this recent journal, which deals with his daily routine of swimming in the Hampstead and Highgate ponds. We learn a good deal about the vagaries of English weather, the various waterfowl that visit or are resident on the ponds and the fact that our author is an ardent poker player, but literary talk is kept to a minimum. The prose is disarmingly simple, largely restricted to facts about wildlife, the changing seasons and their effect on the writer. Hence on Saturday 10 May, 2008, after recuperating from a stroke: `A beautiful summer day - almost a week of them in fact - but better than summer because it's the beginning of May and everything is suddenly in bloom. The mayflowers are heavy with blossom and the chestnuts with candles, Queen Anne's lace is waist high, the great copper beech shines and shimmers with light, the air smells sweet and the whole world is green and young and fresh.'

The ponds, especially in winter, are frequently seen as a Paradise, and the daily swim, which becomes increasingly difficult for the geriatric Alvarez, is essential to his bodily and spiritual well-being. But this is a story not only about the delights of moving in water, but about the process of growing old, of facing up to failing powers and the author's ultimate demise.. With his eye open and his senses alert, Alvarez has described the water, the air and the natural world supported by these elements with precision and accuracy. Nature, especially water, has kept Alvarez literally and spiritually afloat in a world that is beautiful but sad - at least to we humans. As he struggles to swim a few yards, flanked by two faithful lifeguards who will help him to dress and hobble to his car, Alvarez begins to lose interest in reviewing, finds life literally a pain (he has been a cripple for years, after suffering from a mountaineering accident) and has to admit, `the truth is I really am falling apart depressingly fast.'

The reader, however, comes to admire the author's scrupulous honesty in recording this gradual process of decline and his heroic determination to carry on. We understand his anguish and anger - as when he is refused renewal of a disabled sticker because he can still walk. The getting into a car before a swim and doing up buttons after it become huge challenges. Thankfully the author still has a devoted wife, loyal friends, and, one trusts, many readers rooting for him.

Poem read some years ago:


Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Oct 24, 2018 - 09:57am PT
just finished

Very enjoyable read. I found myself rooting for this kid all the way to the end.

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Oct 24, 2018 - 09:59am PT
next up for the commuter train reading time...


Ice climber
Berkeley, CA
Oct 24, 2018 - 12:45pm PT
Fear and the Muse Kept Watch: The Russian Masters--from Akhmatova and Pasternak to Shostakovich and Eisenstein--under Stalin.

Fun fact: the teen-aged Sergei Eisenstein figured out he was gay when he came across his parents' copy of Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of his Childhood. So at least one thing Freud wrote turned out to be useful for at least one person.
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
Oct 24, 2018 - 12:52pm PT
Credit: Mike Friedrichs
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 7, 2018 - 06:52pm PT
Bruce Holsinger's "The Invention of Fire."

The author of the acclaimed medieval mystery "A Burnable Book" once again brings fourteenth-century London alive in all its color and detail in this riveting thriller featuring medieval poet and fixer John Gower--a twisty tale rife with intrigue, danger mystery, and murder.

Though he is one of England’s most acclaimed intellectuals, John Gower is no stranger to London’s wretched slums and dark corners, and he knows how to trade on the secrets of the kingdom’s most powerful men. When the bodies of sixteen unknown men are found in a privy, the Sheriff of London seeks Gower’s help. The men’s wounds--ragged holes created by an unknown object--are unlike anything the sheriff’s men have ever seen. Tossed into the sewer, the bodies were meant to be found. Gower believes the men may have been used in an experiment--a test for a fearsome new war weapon his informants call the “handgonne,” claiming it will be the “future of death” if its design can be perfected.

Propelled by questions of his own, Gower turns to courtier and civil servant Geoffrey Chaucer, who is working on some poems about pilgrims that Gower finds rather vulgar. Chaucer thinks he just may know who commissioned this new weapon, an extremely valuable piece of information that some will pay a high price for--and others will kill to conceal...until Marlow shows up, claiming to be Prince of the Fishes, that is...

Four candles from The Flames Literary and Cheese Tasting Society.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2018 - 05:44am PT
I've been on a medication that makes it difficult to read. I have started several books, only to give up because I found myself having to read the same page over and over.

I'm weening myself off the poison now. I have a stack of books to begin reading again and a whole lot more to pick from that interest me that are posted above.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 8, 2018 - 10:04am PT
Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project
Interesting read on decision-making theory, human "intuition" and risk assessment.


Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Nov 8, 2018 - 01:25pm PT
I'm gonna bring this a little low-brow...

"The Rooster Bar" by John Grisham. Impulse purchase last time I was in the airport.

Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Nov 8, 2018 - 02:43pm PT
Have to get that A. Alvarez book, Pondlife, that Marlow mentioned above.

Alvarez wrote a climbing book in the 1970s, Feeding the Rat, about the llfe and climbs of Mo Antoine.

Alvarez was both a serious climber and a famous poet, a very rare combination.

My last book was The War Lovers by Evan Thomas. I visited Hearst Castle last month and picked it up in the gift shop. An excellent read about Teddy Roosevelt, W R Hearst, and Henry Cabot Lodge: the principal advocates for expanding the American empire by ginning up the Spanish American War.

It also profiles the leaders of the vanquished opposition to the war, Speaker of the House, Thomas Reed and philosopher, William James.
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