What book are you reading at the moment?

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bindeweede
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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by bindeweede » Sun Nov 08, 2015 1:58 pm

I've just finished reading "The Hound of the Baskervilles", which I very much enjoyed - a "ripping yarn". I have now moved on to "The Sussex Vampire", the second item in a collection called "Sherlock Holmes - The Dark Mysteries", and one which I've not come across before. Apparently, Doyle and Bram Stoker were good friends and they both shared an interest in elements of the supernatural, so I am looking forward to more absorbing reading.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by bindeweede » Mon Dec 07, 2015 12:33 am

Just finished "To Kill a Mockingbird". Absolutely loved it in so many ways. I've ordered, "Go Set a Watchman", published earlier this year to very mixed reviews.


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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by OfficialFarsideMoon » Fri Dec 25, 2015 11:34 pm

The first Robert Galbraith book, not sure I'm enjoying it but will probably persevere.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by bindeweede » Fri Dec 25, 2015 11:37 pm

Good to see you back, OFM.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by OfficialFarsideMoon » Fri Dec 25, 2015 11:46 pm

Thanks, it's been a while. xxx

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by OfficialFarsideMoon » Fri Dec 25, 2015 11:51 pm

I don't get time to read a lot, but recently finished this (it's fairly longish).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shredded-Inside ... 1780271387

Should be required reading to understand just how f**king clueless the people are that got us into the financial mess we have been in for the last 10+ years.

Great level of research and you can totally appreciate the effort put in to piece together such a complex story. Lots of baddies, and not really any goodies.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Tony Williams » Sat Dec 26, 2015 1:19 pm

I've just finished Oliver Kamm's Accidence Will Happen: the non-pedantic guide to English.

He has a lot of fun at the expense of language pedants, pointing out that a lot of the grammatical and vocabulary rules they get worked up about are frequently not as clear-cut as they think; he includes lots of quotes from classic writers down the ages who have cheerfully broken the "rules" to illustrate his points. Furthermore, he points out that it isn't the job of the OED or any other dictionary to lay down rules - they just keep the score, noting new uses in a steadily evolving language. What matters most, he says, is clarity of understanding, so some rules are important, but many of them are purely artificial.

It's an interesting and entertaining read. As a one who has form as a pedant, I read this with some embarrassment... :oops:

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by bindeweede » Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:00 pm

I am about a quarter of the way through "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee. It was only published last year, but was actually written before the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird", and is set about twenty years later, in the Alabama of the 1950s. Some reviews were rather negative, though I am enjoying it as much as Mockingbird, so far at least.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Tony Williams » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:33 am

Currently engrossed in British Battleships 1906-46 by Norman Friedman, my favourite naval historian because he's strong on the technology, spends as much time explaining why as he does describing what, and is an easy read.

Also dipping into Chance, a New Scientist anthology on probability.

This is a short break from SFF, but I'm still posting a book or TV/film review every week: http://sciencefictionfantasy.blogspot.co.uk

Also I've recently read Peter May's Lewis trilogy, a brilliant series which mixes detective stories with life in the Outer Hebrides.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by bindeweede » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:26 pm

I am currently about one third of the way through the recently published "The Idiot Brain" by Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist at Cardiff University's Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences. He also writes for The Guardian and does some stand-up comedy.

Early on in the book, he writes about a condition called "apophenia", which I'd not come across before, although like many here, I'd come across paredolia, which apparently is a type of visual apophenia.

Doing a little digging, I came across this.
Computers can be trained to do it. Pattern recognition is what a computer does the moment you login with a userid. Higher tech versions include digitally processed recognition of speech, faces, and even such individual and intimate traits as patterns in irises and fingerprints. However, apophenia is not just recognizing patterns. It's interpreting patterns in meaningless data as if it were meaningful.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/re ... aning-life

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Tony Williams » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:09 am

Good article. I must admit I was unaware of the term, although familiar with the condition. Apophenia is responsible for a lot of silliness so should be much more widely known.

I've been reading a variety of books lately and am currently halfway through Peter Millar's All Gone to Look for America. First published in 2009, this is a travelogue by a journalist who decided to circumnavigate the USA via its sadly neglected railway system, visiting microbreweries on the way. As I am an enthusiast for both railways and microbreweries, and have visited the US several times over the past few years, this proved irresistible when I happened to spot it in a bookshop.

It is a very good book indeed, thoughtful and perceptive as well as frequently amusing. It makes an interesting contrast with (or complement to) Michael Portillo's recent TV series on railway journeys along the US east coast, especially since there is some overlap in the routes followed and places visited. The TV series is of course more superficial and gives a glossy, touristy view, the book is grittier and provides a far better insight into what the USA and its ordinary people are really like. Highly recommended.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by chaggle » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:20 am

Yes - very interesting.

I remember many years ago (before I knew that people like me existed and called themselves skeptics) having a conversation with a lady who firmly believed in numerology and I remember thinking that it sounded like guff. I didn't at that time have the tools to have a proper conversation with her about it. Now, thanks to skepticism, I know that it's practically a medical condition. I would love to have that conversation with her now...
Don't blame me - I voted remain :con

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:47 pm

Just finished The Gilded Age by Mark Twain.
Like Bonfire of the Vanities set in the 1870s and better written.

Just started The Once and Future King by TH White, which I previously read as a teenager.
Yes, that one.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Tony Williams » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:11 am

The Naked Shore of the North Sea, by Tom Blass, a newly published and idiosyncratic travelogue. The author has visited all sorts of obscure and unusual places and talked to the residents there. I particularly liked the German Halligen - the "almost islands" on the south-west side of the Jutland peninsula close to Denmark, where the few residents speak an incomprehensible Friesian dialect and live in very compact little hamlets which are raised several metres over the rest of the island, which frequently floods leaving the hamlets as isolated little islets - it reminds me of the Dutch Terpen (IIRC) which I remember from my student days.

While I read this fascinating book, I kept my iPad next to me in order to follow where he went on Google Earth, occasionally dropping down to Streetview to get a clearer impression of what he saw - that really adds another dimension to enjoying travel stories.

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Re: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Tony Williams » Sat May 21, 2016 8:39 am

I am currently reading The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan, a well-reviewed study of the years leading up to the start of WW1.

What surprised and rather shocked me was that there was widespread recognition before 1914 of just how horrible a European war would be, with some accurate descriptions of future trench warfare gaining considerable readership, plus grim predictors of economic disaster for Europe if it happened. It was widely believed that the interrelated economies of Europe would make warfare unthinkable, effectively international suicide. Even the Kaiser read such works, and apparently approved. None of it did any good.

There was of course a similar feeling in Europe after the end of the Cold War, but the apparently civilised Yugoslavia still managed to tear itself apart in the most horrible fashion.

I am uncomfortably reminded of something I read about the end of the Roman Empire. The inhabitants of Rome simply couldn't believe that it was happening to them. They were Romans, for heaven's sake, with the greatest empire the world had ever seen and its most advanced civilisation. Of course they couldn't fall to barbarians!

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