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What Are You All Reading?  RSS feed

 
Dave Burton
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Hi! We have threads about specific novels, permaculture novels, and threads like what's for dinner that talk about active and ongoing things and tons of project threads, though I haven't found a thread for in general what are you reading, so I'll start one here!

I went to a one-dollar book sale yesterday, and I came across so many good finds. It was hard to decide which one to start reading.

Right now, I am currently reading The Clan of The Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel which is part of the Earth's Children Series. It is a series of speculative historical fiction novels based in prehistoric times. The first one in the series is The Clan of The Cave Bear, and it was written in 1980. I was surprised when my mom told me that she read the book some time ago, but I guess I shouldn't be that surprised because she was a biochemistry major- as I plan to be, too- and just being family, there are going to some shared interests. I really enjoy novels that teach, have good research, and are interesting without sounding like a lecture. This novel seems to have all those qualities, so I'll be have fun reading it! I am already! I'm on page 40, and it's really good.

Here are some of the other books I found and bought at the sale:
The Earth is All That Lasts by Catherine Wells
Winkie by Clifford Chase
Frisco Pigeon Mambo by C.D. Payne
It's Kind of a Funny Story by ned Vizzini
In Our Defense by Ellen Alderman <-- I recently took an interest in government after my AP Gov. course because our required readings were actually pretty good
Government by The People- Brief Texas Edition: 7th Edition by by David B. Magleby, Paul C. Light, David M. O'Brien, Thomas E. Cronin, J. W. Peltason
^--- This one caught my eye because I'd like to know more about how Texas state and local governments work. I already have a partial understanding from what I read, hear, and see in the news, but I'd like to learn more about how my state works.
Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Some Novels I Already Have That I Plan on Reading this summer:
Permaculture A Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison
The Earth Care Manual by Patrick Whitefield

Please check out the How Many Acorns Woudl You Give This Novel to check if any of the novels you are reading can be reviewed at permies.com and see a listing of novels to rate.
 
Judith Browning
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I'm not reading as much as usual...looking for more short stories for my short attention span lately.

"Babylon Revisited and Other Stories" by F. Scott Fitzgerald is it at the moment. I'm on the last story in the book 'The Long Way Out' but my all time favorite in the book is 'The Diamond as Big as the Ritz'. I've read them all maybe thirty years ago so there is some familiarity but good enough stories to reread.

I'd like to find some more books by Alice Hoffman....I've read most everything by her. I love her characters and her 'just slightly off enough' into fantasy stories.


I am currently reading The Clan of The Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel which is part of the Earth's Children Series. It is a series of speculative historical fiction novels based in prehistoric times. The first one in the series is The Clan of The Cave Bear, and it was written in 1980.

I read The Clan of the Cave Bear many years ago and loved it....the book to follow, not so much and I didn't try to read the others....maybe I'm not much for 'series'.
 
Vera Stewart
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I second Judith Browning on The Clan on the Cave Bear. I also found the second book in the series disappointing, and haven't tried the third...but do remember enjoying The Clan. If you really enjoy it, I don't see how it would hurt trying the second anyway, because the worst that can happen is that you give it up!

Right now I'm reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I read her Poisonwood Bible about a decade ago, and didn't really dig it, but then I read Prodigal Summer last summer, and it was one of my favourite reads of the year. The Bean Trees was a first novel, and I'm finding it less subtle then her later books, but really, that's only to expected.

I'm also slowly reading a little book I picked up at the local thrift store for 25 cents - a copy of "On The Way Home - The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, with notes and introduction by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who was seven in 1894. It is really fascinating, and I'm reading it slowly so that I can savour the descriptions of the land. I've driven through the Dakotas and Nebraska many times, stopping in some of the towns mentioned, although I've never been very far into Missouri. I've just read a note of their last view of South Dakota, with dust clouds building on the other side of the Missouri River, coming towards a line of wagons waiting to cross on the ferry.
I'm sure the diary was heavily edited, but it's still very interesting history, to me, and written in a very accessible way.

 
Jay Grace
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Earth's children series was great.

Louis L'amour had a series that followed a family, The Sacketts. All of his books are great. But the Sacketts books are especially good.

I have cases and cases of 1950's to the 1970's scifi novels most by authors that I've never heard of. All of which are good. Titles such as. Farmers in the Sky and Redbeard.


Every thing by Edgar Rice Burroughs. If you enjoyed stuff along the lines of Dune, and Star Wars.
Well, everyone ripped Burroughs off. He was writing about this stuff in the early 1900's.
He wrote the Barsoom series ( John Carter of Mars) and Tarzan.

I trudged through Mollisons book this winter as it read like the text book it is.


Currently, reading a plethora of home birthing books.
 
Chris Waldon
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Folks This Aint Normal and The Sheer Ecstasy of Being A Lunatic Farmer by Joel Salatin.

While both are easy going reads, I feel that Folks is more of a comprehensive, controlled diatribe of material Joel has already poured out or at least touched on in his previous books. I'm getting a lot of useful info out of Sheer Ecstasy as I learn more about this whole farming thing.

Here's one that really surprised me: Off On Our Own by Ted Carns. This one's about he and his wife's off grid lifestyle at the Stone Camp in Southwest Pennsylvania. Indeed, even as I type this up I googled the author and found the website for the book, thestonecamp.com. Now I need to take in that content. The author is a handyman at heart and goes into a lot of detail of the jobs, tasks, and innovations he's put into action at the camp, including wood gasifier tractors, total and complete recycling, and trash compacting cleaned junk plastics into bricks for framing an out building. He goes into a lot of philosophy behind his approach to self-sufficiency (note, he never says permaculture)

For fiction, I got a lot of entertainment out of Dan Simmons' Hyperion books, a 4 part sci-fi series.
 
Judith Browning
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Right now I'm reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I read her Poisonwood Bible about a decade ago, and didn't really dig it, but then I read Prodigal Summer last summer, and it was one of my favourite reads of the year. The Bean Trees was a first novel, and I'm finding it less subtle then her later books, but really, that's only to expected.


She's right up there with my favorite authors......I've read all of her books unless there is one my library doesn't have Try 'High Tide in Tucson'.
 
Vera Stewart
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Judith Browning wrote:
Right now I'm reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I read her Poisonwood Bible about a decade ago, and didn't really dig it, but then I read Prodigal Summer last summer, and it was one of my favourite reads of the year. The Bean Trees was a first novel, and I'm finding it less subtle then her later books, but really, that's only to expected.


She's right up there with my favorite authors......I've read all of her books unless there is one my library doesn't have Try 'High Tide in Tucson'.


Actually, I plan on re-reading The Poisonwood Bible, since I suspect I've matured a little bit in my thinking since the first time. But maybe I haven't.
 
Chris Waldon
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Vera Stewart wrote:
Actually, I plan on re-reading The Poisonwood Bible, since I suspect I've matured a little bit in my thinking since the first time. But maybe I haven't.


This is something I've wondered myself regarding The Poisonwood Bible. It was assigned reading in English class my senior year 13 years ago. Back then I had an over developed antipathy for the books we were made to read. I judged Kingsolver as being too high on herself to be taken seriously. I think it was the character who only spoke in palindromes. "This author's A showoff," I thought. But since Vera brought it up, I recall an early section of the book where the locals were trying to convince the missionary father to read the landscape and plant his crop accordingly. He would have none of it and insisted on his perfectly straight, ground level annuals that ended up getting washed out when the rains came. This book is probably worth another look.

What I'd most likely give a second reading though, just in case some maturing has allowed me to understand it better, is Thoreau's Walden.
 
Rhys Firth
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I'm reading my way through Terry Pratchett at the moment. RIP Terry...


Currently on Nation. last book was The Science of Discworld III and before that Thud!.
 
Dave Burton
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I just finished reading The Clan of the Cave Bear. The very ending of the book was so gripping, I was curled up reading the final hundred pages in a three hour reading finale of the book. I absolutely loved the book. It was a thrill, a scare, and kept me wanting to read more the entire time. it was a surperbly well written book, and I loved the archaeological details, suppositions of what the Clan might have been like. The details about plants, food, and the medicines were great. I kept wanting to look stuff up that were mentioned in the book. OOH! And when they went on the mammoth hunt, they talked about making a food similar to pemmican. The author did her research well which made the book all the more fun, informative, and enjoyable to read.

At times the novel got a little traumatizing because I was thinking, "No! How could that happen?" and almost got upset enough that I didn't want to read what was goign to happen next. Ayla is such a strong and amazing character.

Now, I'm going to start reading a little bit more light-hearted fare.

I have now started to read Frisco Pigeon Mambo by C.D. Payne. I'm still so happy about all the good finds I found at the sale! These books are goign to bring me so much joy and open my mind even more. F.P.M. and Winkie are going to great! They're both satire books. F.P.M. is a satire on self awareness and the lack thereof in society. Winkie is a satire on the USA's war on terror.
 
Dave Burton
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Hi all! Another fantastic read finished!

I've recently finished reading Frisco Pigeon Mambo by C.D. Payne. It was a wonderful read that made me think a lot while I was reading it. At times, it got a little confusing because the story is told from the perspective of a pigeon with an identity crisis, and he would get things mixed up for the reader- letting us figure out what is actually going on. I like books that make me think when reading them. Overall, it was good read that addresses many important issues in society, subtlety of course, while intriguing and confusing the reader enough to look within oneself. Also, the ending was satisfactory and complete.

Now, I am starting to read Winkie by Clifford Chase.
 
Dave Burton
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Aloha! I just finished reading Winkie by Clifford Chase. It was an amazing satire that addressed and poked a little fun at so many good issues in the world. I enjoyed how it made fun the USA's War on Terror. The trial scenes were amazing. What caught me a little by surprise was how Chase chose to develop the character Winkie. Winkie was developed mainly through flashbacks which is something I don't come across too much in the types of novels that I like to read. It was a pleasant change of writing style.

I am now starting In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy.
 
Vera Stewart
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I'm glad you enjoyed Winkie. I recently read it, too, and have to admit that it wasn't really my style. That's the great thing about books - there are so many, and so many different readers, that nearly any book will find at least a few happy readers!

I'm about to start reading Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun - Vikings seem like good companions for the summer solstice.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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I must say lately I'm a bit monotonous just reading through perma-related books. Now I'm getting on with chicken tractor, Lee and Foreman, wanted to meak a review for it, Dry it you'll like it, Gen MacManiman (who knows why Judith ) and market farming success, Byczynski.
I've never been the novel type, I still have to finish the slave ship, Rediker, I love his researchs, and Cod the biography of a fish that changed the world, Kurlansky, but those are couch read for passing time, its just I don't reallt have any and they're staying next to my bed.
got antoher few coming in: farmers for forty centuries, growing green, ans some others on the wish list.
but land reclaims my attention, and my actual job too, so reading a bit slower.
My brother loved all the books of Jane Auel, I think they are seven
 
Dave Burton
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I'm back again! Just got through reading another book during the process of living life.

I found reading In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action to be thoroughly well-worth my time. It has given me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the nation that I live in right now. The authors of the novel did extremely well with the thought-provoking and emotional court cases chosen for each Amendment. And when there are few cases with which to interpret the Amendment, the authors took the time to analyze the historical and modern contexts in which the Amendments exist. I hope to find more novels in the future that discuss law, government, and politics in less of just words on paper but as living documents that affect us each and everyday.

I am now reading I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. In addition, I am starting Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison.

Noting the finds from the book sale and the enjoyment the books are bringing me, I cannot help but reflect on the organics of life and my attempts to find a balance between structure and flow. I seized the moment of going to a book sale even though I was fully well aware that I knew absolutely nothing of what books were going to be sold there. I just knew there would be books. There is a degree of uncertainty and risk with which life exists in, and each day we must choose how much uncertainty and risk we are willing to live with.
 
Vera Stewart
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Thank-you for starting this thread - I'm adding some of the books people have discussed to my (long) list of books to order from the library. I feel very lucky to have a local branch of a well run library system, even though I live in a small town. They're having a book sale next week, which I'm planning on attending and buying from, if for no other reason then to support the branch. I find that I can get most books, even very recent titles, if I'm willing to wait a bit.

Plus the librarians do a good job of displaying topical books prominently - today I went in to pick up a book I had on order, and also decided to take out Robert Glennon's "Unquenchable - America's Water Crisis and What to Do About It" as it was sitting highly visible right by the request-pick-up shelving. It's about six years old, and about a different country then mine, but from all I read it should provide significant insight, regardless.

I completed reading The Last Light of the Sun - which was, for me, a fun novel, but I can't say I really learned anything from it. It was "historical fantasy" with Vikings, Welsh and ?English reacting to a raid on a particular Welsh farm, with it's repercussions, and to change in technology (the English have started to use bow and arrow as a weapon of war) There were also fairies, which I found a bit distracting. It was fast paced, sometimes quite violent, and kept me entertained for a number of hours. I found some of the hype misleading - one of the quotations about the book I'd read indicated it would provide a look at women in Viking society, and farm life, but these things were only mentioned lightly. Still, for an "action movie" type read, you could do worse then pick up this one.

 
Dave Burton
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You're welcome! I'm happy to hear you're enjoying this thread and have found some new books that interest you!

Very neat, I might have to read "Unquenchable", too! In Katy (a subarb of Houston), the drought and flood-like rains have been a major hit in the newspapers. On that note, there are also occasionally articles run talking about how all the water allocated by the different treaties and land rights amounts to more water than there is actually physically available in any form- sea, river, lake, etc. That's definitely a problem that needs to be fixed. Also, for learning more about the USA, I highly advise reading "In Our Defense." I really enjoyed the book a lot, and it taught me so much about legal stuff in the USA that I might not have otherwise considered reading up on. One of the things I found interesting was when the novel had a brief discussion about "Tort Law."

I haven't read much historical fantasy except for steampunk novels and medieval fantasies. The latest historical fantasy I read was "Clan of the Cave Bear".

I'm also starting to find that I like nonfiction books a lot more than I expected I would. That is probably because I had the preconception that all of them are just boring biographies and textbooks. Well, that wasn't true, as I'm finding out. There are good nonfiction writers out there for my tastes and preferences- preferring a story that conveys information in both a useable, readable, and fixed with the right balance of emotion, objectiveness, and fairness in displaying all views on a subject. "In Our Defense" did a pretty good job of this, andI really liked my AP United States Textbook because the author knew his audience was a bunch of high schoolers. He was sure to include a lot of good bits which made remebering everything a bit easier and more fun to swallow all that information. It was worth my time and effective since I got a 5 on the APUSH exam last year!

Here are some nonfiction books I enjoyed from school:
Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
 
Dave Burton
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I am now reading Life on Earth by David Attenborough and Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison.

I decided to drop reading I Capture The Castle right now because I recently have started to like nonfiction books more and want to explore them more. The even more thrilling thing I enjoy about nonfiction is books is, well, they're about the real world! I kind of take this change in taste to the good books I read in school for AP Bio. (listed in the previous post) and a more optimistic outlook on the world. And, well, also, it's just good to be informed, too!
 
Crt Jakhel
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In fiction, the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr. Classic hardboiled detective stories like from Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald etc, only it's by a modern writer and it's taking place in Germany (and other countries) around World War II. http://berniegunther.com/thebooks/ Very very good stuff if you enjoy the genre.

In non-fiction, Lords of finance - the bankers who broke the world which is not about the present financial crisis but rather about the time of the great depression. Gets better on every reading and shows how little new ever happens. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lords_of_Finance

In permaculture, I'm trying to read The resilient homestead but it's not going smoothly since I somehow can't plug into the way it's written. Just a matter of personal preference. When I force myself a bit to keep on reading I'm usually happy about it in the end.
 
Adam Hoar
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Just finished reading the lord of the rings trilogy, but now I am rereading "How not to go broke ranching" by Walt Davis. It talks about his transition from the ranching the gov't wants you to do into a grass fed operation. I really enjoyed the book last time I read it and am hoping to pick up more info this time as I hope to add cows to the farmstead in the spring.
 
Vera Stewart
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A little review of The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds one $25 Kiva Loan at a Time by Bob Harris

I decided to order this book from the library as I've been a Kiva lender for a couple of years. I have some philosophical misgivings about Kiva, and microlending in general, and am in the process of reducing the amount of money I have in various microlending programs, but as I've been "hearing" about The International Bank of Bob for awhile, I finally decided to read it.

As expected of a book advertised on Kiva.org, the overall message was that Kiva is a force for good. There was some discussion about problems with other microfinancing organizations, but not a lot. There was no discussion that I recall about the underlying idea of lending/borrowing money at interest, it was presented as a given requirement for "advancement." However there was acknowledgment that microcredit alone can not solve all the world's problems.

The premise is that Mr. Harris has a "road to Damascus" type revelation about how he can help some of the world's most impoverished which he encounters as a travel writer, through microcredit. He then discovers Kiva.org, makes a great many loans, and visits some of the people he has lent to. He makes a point of stating that he made these visits without revealing that he was a lender, and often without the presence of Kiva/Kiva partner representatives present, allowing (in theory) for the borrowers to express their true feelings about how the Kiva loan system works for them. (I found this premise a little hard to swallow - if I had borrowed some money from an organization based in another country, and a while later some guy from that country showed up at my business asking about it, I would be pretty suspicious that they were involved in the program in some way.) Mr. Harris also writes a little about the history and general state of the various countries that he visits, and there are many "human interest" stories along the way.

Because I'm not a newcomer to microcredit or Kiva.org, I didn't really learn very much about how it works - and I certainly didn't always agree with Mr. Harris and his view of the world, but I did enjoy his sense of humour. I also enjoyed the little tidbits about various "exotic" places around the world - as an example, I learned about how in Rwanda, one day a month is set aside for everyone to get together and work on civic improvements - which sounds really great, until you inquire further and discover that if you don't participate, you could be arrested on the spot!

I was a little disappointed at the lack of "nitty gritty" discussion - no numbers about the typical increase in profits at a street side cafe in Bogota after receiving a loan, or anything like that - all anecdotal tales about life improving with access to credit, and an emphasis on cow ownership that I found a little mystifying, but - it wasn't that kind of book. This book is to encourage Kiva use, and to make Kiva users feel good about continued lending, and it shows, for better or worse.

 
Vera Stewart
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Crt Jakhel wrote:In fiction, the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr. Classic hardboiled detective stories like from Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald etc, only it's by a modern writer and it's taking place in Germany (and other countries) around World War II. http://berniegunther.com/thebooks/ Very very good stuff if you enjoy the genre.


You might like to read Alan Furst's work, too, if you like historical spies. Alan Furst's books are also set in the era including and leading up to the second world war.

For a contemporary writer on spying in that era, my favourite is Eric Ambler. You can also watch a number of films based on his stories - in my opinion one of his best is Journey into Fear. (and the movie is pretty good too. Uncommon Danger/Background to Danger stands out for me because of it's portrayal of Soviet good guys.
Unfortunately I've found it hard to find copies of many of his works, so my opinion is necessarily based on a small sampling.
 
Crt Jakhel
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Thanks Vera, I'll have a look.
 
chip sanft
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I just finished re-reading _The Secret Garden_, a book I've read and enjoyed many times. It's not perfect but it's very very good. And the fact that it's out of copyright and available for free, legally, is icing on the cake. THE SECRET GARDEN https://www.gutenberg.org/files/17396/17396-h/17396-h.htm
Now if only the characters had made a secret permaculture garden... but at least it was organic.
 
Dave Burton
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Crt Jakhel wrote:
In permaculture, I'm trying to read The resilient homestead but it's not going smoothly since I somehow can't plug into the way it's written. Just a matter of personal preference. When I force myself a bit to keep on reading I'm usually happy about it in the end.


Lords of Finance sounds interesting! Yeah, Permaculture: A Designer's Manual is kind of a slow read for me for a similar reason. Gaia' Garden was a bit easier of a read because it was written a bit more like a narrative. So, I'm just reading small segments at a time which what i did with gaia's garden, too. I read Gaia's Garden while traveling in North Carolina last summer in 2014. It was read bit by bit to fill in the car rides.
 
Judith Browning
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I just finished a group of short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin 'The Compass Rose' and now I am reading 'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss that a good friend just sent me...a nice long fantasy story that I might enjoy for the rest of the summer and it turns out it is just the first of a trilogy............
 
Crt Jakhel
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Oh, that's excellent stuff... Part 2 is The wise man's fear and it's an improvement yet on the original. Part 3 has not been completed yet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kingkiller_Chronicle
 
Judith Browning
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Crt Jakhel wrote:Oh, that's excellent stuff... Part 2 is The wise man's fear and it's an improvement yet on the original. Part 3 has not been completed yet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kingkiller_Chronicle


I'm glad to hear part three isn't out yet...I won't feel rushed I haven't got caught up in a good longgggggg fantesy since the Thomas Covenent (the unbeliever) Chronicles......I read the original first three and found just recently that the author later wrote SEVEN more in the series. Now I'll have to wait until I've finished the Rothfuss trilogy before I go back to Thomas Covenent...not sure I would still like them so well now as it was thirty five years ago since I read the first ones..........so many books...so little time
 
Amber Samandulugu
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I'm a non-fiction reader so my list is void of novels, but I did read the Clan of the Cave Bear series in 1989 and I fully enjoyed it.
This year's books I am studying are:

solar electricity Handbook 2015 Edition by Michael Boxwell
Mini-Farming by Brett L. Markham
Worm Farming by Brian Grant
Methane Production Guide by Richard Jemmett
How to Purify Water by Daniel McKay

My list of future reads:

Top Bar Bee Hives
A Complete Permaculture book - I haven't decided which authors yet
The Permaculuture Student by Matt Powers
A Hausa Language Series
African Plants and Uses
(I'm still shopping for these books so please mention if you have any suggestions. Thanks and Happy reading!)
 
Dave Burton
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I recently finished reading Life on Earth by David Attenborough. It was a wonderful book that went through the evolution the life on earth in a nice and fun manner. I learned about many species that I had not heard about before, and I gained a greater appreciation for the complexity of life from reading this novel.

I have now finished reading the first chapter of The Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien. It is a required summer reading for the honors college at the university I am going to, and after that I am going to be reading The Tiger by John Valiant- another required summer reading. I don't like war novels which is why I am reading it first so I can get onto the more exciting book!

I recently got through reading the introduction and preface of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison. I am going to be reading Chapter 1 of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual tomorrow. I know! I've been very distracted! I'm trying to focus.... We'll see tomorrow if I get through Chapter 1, finally!
 
Vera Stewart
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I recently got to order a book on a topic I've long hard a strange fascination for - Locusts!
Now "Locust- The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier" by Jeffrey Lockwood is in my pile of books to be read. At the same time, I ordered a book about the historical medicinal and culinary uses of native plants in the area. It's informative, but not entirely helpful in identifications. I saw mention somewhere in the permies forum of a book designed to help identify wild plants with special attention to identifying the difference between poisonous plants and non-poisonous, which sounds exactly like what I need, but I'm having trouble finding the reference to it now.

I have a long standing tradition of reading at least one western novel in July or August - so I randomly grabbed what I thought was going to be a traditional Zane Grey western off the thrift store shelves the other day, only to discover "Wilderness Trek" is actually set in Australia! Well, okay. But now I "have to" pick up another western. This is the only time in the year that I actually read in the western genre, although it seems that I'm picking up non-fiction that might sort of be related. Frontier shaping insects might count, right?

I finished reading Unquenchable by Robert Glennon and returned it to the library. It was interesting, and reminded me of how much river flow in particular has been altered for our societies.

And I've just finished reading Cry, The Beloved Country. I would classify it as a "nice" read. I was for some reason expecting something rather strident, as I had thought it was written during official apartheid, but instead found what is really a gently-told story, set in a pre-apartheid but troubled South Africa. Unexpectedly I found that it addresses issues of land degradation and restoration. I had thought it was primarily about social injustice, which does indeed feature, but it was nice to be surprised by ecological awareness as well.

If anyone has any suggestions for quick-read western novels I might read in the next little while, they'd be welcome. I've read a lot of Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey already.
 
Dave Burton
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Today, I read through Chapter 1 of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual and read through Chapter Two of The Things They Carried. This post is kind of late b/c they needed me at work and called for me which was unexpected, but welcomed! So I'm just getting around to posting this and my analysis of Chapter 1 now.
 
Dave Burton
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Today, I just finished reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. As much as I dislike war novels, I think this book is reasonably palatable. It begins like a war novel, telling a story about people out at war, but then it slowly changes from a story into a dialogue. The author discussed the meaning of stories, in his view, and how the stories can be more true than what actually happened. It was mildly touching, and I cried at a few points in the novel. I was intrigued that the reason the author did not run from the draft was because he felt shame in trying to run away. I will say that reading this book has given me more respect for the people who do go to war and what is at stake for them, but I still cling to my childish dream that just saying no is all we need to do to end wars: to just keep calm, carry on, and not fight. However, as Tim O'Brien points out in his novel, the Vietnam War was nobody's fault and everybody's fault all at once. War is war, but there are several points at which the entire thing could have been avoided and each opportunity to shift the course of action was not given the due effort that it could have received. Our veterans do need our help, but stories like the one that Tim O'Brien wrote remind us that we want it would be nice if no more veterans were ever made.

Stories, both those that are true and not true, give us a chance to realize to what is, was, and could have been. From stories and news, we can create a vision for the future, and the only thing left to do is to act.

**I'm almost done with Chapter 3 of the PDM by Bill Mollison. I like his thought that information is one of the largest potential resources, and his statement that the only thing stopping information from being reality is action. I like this quote because it is completely true.**
 
Vera Stewart
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Chris Waldon wrote:

This is something I've wondered myself regarding The Poisonwood Bible. It was assigned reading in English class my senior year 13 years ago. Back then I had an over developed antipathy for the books we were made to read. I judged Kingsolver as being too high on herself to be taken seriously. I think it was the character who only spoke in palindromes. "This author's A showoff," I thought. But since Vera brought it up, I recall an early section of the book where the locals were trying to convince the missionary father to read the landscape and plant his crop accordingly. He would have none of it and insisted on his perfectly straight, ground level annuals that ended up getting washed out when the rains came. This book is probably worth another look.


You have a very good memory - there is indeed a segment about how to plant a garden in Congo, and a character with palindromes. I reread The Poisonwood Bible the last week - I did get more enjoyment out of it this time then the first time, but I have to admit that like Chris Waldon I found the palindromes a bit much - I got in to the habit of skipping over the palidrome-y parts. I also had a hard time believing in a few of the characters, but others did strike me as "true." The garden that is washed away in the rains is replanted, and then thrives - but refuses to set fruit - because, as the father character eventually realizes - the native pollinators don't recognize the transplanted "American" flowers.

I wonder about this. This seems a bit questionable. Dosen't Europe get a lot of it's fresh vegtables and fruit from Africa in the winter? Traditional European or American varieties?

I think I'll read "Wilderness Trek" next. I really am looking forward to reading the Locust book on my shelf, but I'm "saving" it as a special treat.
 
Olga Booker
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Hi, Dave

Thank you for starting this thread, I love reading (whenever I have time) and I love to find out about new books, well new to me anyway. I did read all 5 of J. Auel's books and I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3. It was years before she wrote the last 2 and I think she ran out of steam because personally I've found them repetitive, predictable and quite boring. Such a shame really.

I have just finished re-reading an old James Michener: "Hawaii" and if you like stories with a lot of research, you'll be thrilled with his books. Chesapeake and Centennial are fantastic chunks of American history. I very much enjoyed Caravans also and many others of his books. There are so many other books that I have enjoyed in the past that it would take a whole day to make a list!!!

At the moment, I have just started: "Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari. It sounds a bit boring but actually it is so very light and easy to read, even a bit thrilling - I can't put it down.

As for the permaculture shelf, well, my other half firmly believes that we should get all the useful books we can get our hands on, just in case one day we have no Internet, so I guess he'll have to build me a new bookshelf!

Thanks again
Olga
 
Dave Burton
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You're welcome!

I recently finished reading The Tiger by John Vallaint. The book was a very good read, faster and more fun than The Things They Carried! The book was fast-paced, mostly; however, at times, it got slower because it had to go into extreme detail about everything. It got slightly repetitive in Part 1, because by the end of Part 1, I felt like I had heard the story of his death several times. Since Inspection Tiger is a detective-ish group, they do need to analyze the facts several times. I did find the digressions into Russian and Chinese history to be quite interesting, and I have a much greater respect for Russians, now that I know more about their history and culture.

I'm about a little over halfway done with Chapter 5 of the PDM.
 
Judith Browning
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Finally finding the time to read 'The Crown of Life' by Kirpal Singh and rereading 'Taking the Leap' Freeing ourselves from Old Habits and Fears' by Pema Chodron for the third time...it's a powerful little book

and I'm waiting on our library to find the second book in the trilogy the Kingkiller Chronicle 'The Wise Man's Fear'.
 
Vera Stewart
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So i didn't read Wilderness Trek. After the first few pages heavily littered with "pardners" (approximately a dozen per speech) I just couldn't take the corniness anymore. I'm sorry, it just wasn't working for me at this time.

Instead I've read The Town that Food Saved by Ben Hewitt, which I picked up at the closest independent bookstore's bargain shelf a few weeks back.

"The Town that Food Saved" starts off promisingly, but it became apparent that it was written to take advantage of a surge in publicity for the author's home region, and seems a bit incomplete, I found one of the main questions he asks "Can alternative agriculture products be affordable for those who live on small incomes and don't farm?" is never properly addressed. Obviously it's a big debate, and the "solution" is elusive, but I felt a bit cheated that Mr. Hewitt dosen't get into it very much.
I'm afraid it's not really a keeper book for me. I might be able to sell it to the second-hand store across the street from the independent first-run book store. They might be a bit used to people trying that.

I placed "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing" by Marie Kondo on order from the library a few months ago, expecting that I would come to the top of the wait list sometime next year, but it seems the library has been adding copies of this book given it's wild popularity, and I now have one in my hands for a short-term lend. I ordered it not because I feel particularly in need of tidying advice, but more because I was curious what makes a bestseller out of a home economics advice manual. And I'm hopeful there will be some hints that I can try implementing.
 
Mike Feddersen
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As a over the road driver I spend most of my time driving so even though there
is down time to read, I prefer to listen to audiobook while driving down the road.
I originally bought books from audible.com but that got spendy. I discovered a neat
way to get audiobooks while searching for a way to bring Stampy Longnose videos
home to my 8 year old.

While searching for ways to save Youtube videos I found one that talked about
using a download add-on while using Mozilla Firefox's web browser. You can save
a rather large video file in a smaller megabyte MB size, this works perfect for
auidiobooks that have been uploaded to Youtube. I do a search on Youtube
with "full audiobook" in the search function and up comes hundreds of books,
some are old classics and some have been released recently.

Here is a link to Youtube with the search already in progress:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=full+audiobook[/youtube]

I recently listened to "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. I am going to include the description
as a quote

In Outlander, a 600-page time-travel romance, strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don't let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It's one of the fastest reads you'll have in your library.

While on her second honeymoon in the British Isles, Claire touches a boulder that hurls her back in time to the forbidden Castle Leoch with the MacKenzie clan. Not understanding the forces that brought her there, she becomes ensnared in life-threatening situations with a Scots warrior named James Fraser. But it isn't all spies and drudgery that she must endure. For amid her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she's never known before.

I was lame and sore in every muscle when I woke next morning. I shuffled to the privy closet, then to the wash basin. My innards felt like churned butter. It felt as though I had been beaten with a blunt object, I reflected, then thought that that was very near the truth. The blunt object in question was visible as I came back to bed, looking now relatively harmless. Its possessor [Jamie] woke as I sat next to him, and examined me with something that looked very much like male smugness."


Having listened to the audiobook, all 34 hours I must say it is a very nice audio. I loved how she was using herbs and plants to doctor her patients when transported back to 1743. I wonder how good
the Marigold Salve worked for healing wounds?

 
Vera Stewart
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Thought I might revive this thread to share my end-of-the-year book list!
(Yes, I know the year isn't quite over yet, but I throw a book list into some of my Christmas cards, which are being sent next week.)

Top 15 Reads in 2015
This is not a list of my top picks of books published in North America in English in the year 2015, but rather a top picks of the books I happened to read in English in North America in the year 2015. They are not arranged by personal preference, but rather chronologically through my reading year.

1. The Dying Light by Henry Porter – a dystopian/mystery novel set in near future Britain at the time it was published, it seems a bit less relevant today, since we know what has and hasn’t come true. Still, it’s a decent thriller-style read.

2. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris – this story crept up on me, at first not wanting to read on, I kept going to discover a sneakily funny and eventually redeeming tale of a dentist, a religious cult, and an insistently upbeat receptionist.


3. The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville – ridiculously grim and violent alternative history – what happens if the world powers compromised with Hitler and divided Africa up with him? Hint – there are highways built from ground up bones, amongst other things. The bad guys are just so over the top evil you have to start lovin’ it.

4. The Third Woman by Mark Burnell – if you like stories with modern day female assassins, you might like this one.

5. All Day Breakfast by Adam Lewis Schroeder – Ordered this from the library as the local author got a plug in the regional news. Turned out to be a lot of gory, crazy fun, with a high school class of zombies (with a craving for bacon instead of human flesh) heading out on a road trip with their teacher to find out who is responsible for their zombification. Can’t wait to see what else this guy comes up with.


6. Decoded by Mai Jai – this makes the list basically because I’ve never read a novel translated from Chinese before, and it was interesting to struggle through to try and get a better sense of mainland China culture. It was a difficult, complex read about a code-breaker, and I’m still not sure what exactly happens.

7. The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay – alternative/fictionalized history with some fantasy thrown in. It’s got Vikings, fairies, and Welsh warlords.


8. Wool by Hugh Howey – hard to explain post-apocalyptic science fiction, with a world surviving in an authoritarian underground silo, where the ultimate taboo is to say you want to go outside. And one day, that’s exactly what the sheriff decides to do. Part mystery, part thriller, and apparently the first in a series.

9. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton – a classic for good reason.

10. Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell – eco-disaster-tourism.


11. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – you want to tidy up? Maybe this will help you. Just don’t you dare follow the “throw it out in the garbage” rule – surely you can find a better way to dispose of your unwanted items then that? (Don’t they at least recycle in Japan?)

12. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography – by Laura Ingalls Wilder and A LOT of researchers and other writers – this is a big, information-packed book, which, as a library loan, I didn’t have time to delve into fully. But if you read The Little House on the Prairie books as a child and wanted to know more, this will certainly scratch that itch. It might also surprise you a little, as some of the facts of Laura’s life differ from her fiction!

13. Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh – the final entry in Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy – telling the story of the Opium Wars from various fictional perspectives. If you have an interest in history and don’t mind sex in your novels, you should have a go at this series. But start at the beginning!

14. Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier. by Jeffrey Lockwood – probably only interesting to people with a weird fascination for giant swarms of flying grasshoppers.


15. The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith – part of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which IA’ve been following for a long time now. There are no zombies in this one. It is just a nice gentle story set in a Botswana that probably doesn’t really exist, but you like to hope it does.
 
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