Book Recommendations

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Book Recommendations

Post  naughty zoot on Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:15 pm

Can anyone recommend a really good biography of Queen Victoria?
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Genevieve on Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:56 pm

"We Two" is a pretty good biography about Queen Victoria's early years and marriage to Albert. (you also get his biography) and "Queen Victoria" by Christopher Hibbert gives a full view of her life.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  naughty zoot on Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:21 am

Thank you. I just caught a few minutes of "The Young Victoria" and realized that I really know very little about her life.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  rivki8699 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:36 pm

Hey guys, any good recommendations? I'm trying to fill up a wishlist, so my family will actually buy me stuff for the holidays. I'd love recs for good biographies and non-fiction related to history and science (especially history of science, which I think is really interesting).
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  particle_person on Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:54 pm

I really want to read that new James Gleick book, "The Information." He's done great work in the past and that book was one of the Pub Weekly best non-fiction books of the year. (In fact one of the two science books on the list of 30 books.)

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Instant Monkeys on Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:00 pm

I just finished The Lost City of Z, which is sort of all of those things -- it's about an explorer in the '20s who goes into the Amazon to find El Dorado (the mystical lost city), and never comes out. Since then the disappearance of this guy, Fawcett, has been an enduring mystery. Part of the book is the story of Fawcett and his expedition(s) -- reconstructed from diaries, letters, and what sounds like zillions of other documents -- and part is the story of the author's own expedition, first in looking for clues to what happened to Fawcett and then in going into the jungle himself.

It's pretty awesome, and Fawcett sounds like a fairly modern guy for his time -- when everyone else was basically shooting natives on sight he made a rule that no one in his party should ever shoot no matter what -- because that would show them to be the enemy and he wanted to be friends, because he was actually interested in their culture (and in having them tell him where the lost city was of course). And he did get to be on good terms with several tribes.

It also has a good bit of detail about what was going on down there at the time, about the Royal Geographical Society and the whole culture of amateur explorers from that era, a lot about spiritualism (mediums and so on), etc. It does have a few somewhat gross parts as they describe various grody ailments of the Amazon, most often that involve being invaded some way or other by bugs.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  choubetcha on Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:31 pm

I am so far completely in love with The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes, which is a broad history of science in the Romantic era (which I have not actually finished yet, cursed library holds). It starts with Captain Cook's expedition to Tahiti and ends with Darwin at the Galapagos and in between covers everything from medicine to astronomy to ballooning. It all feels very immediate and exciting, and I now have a huge crush on many dead British scientists. I have spent the whole time reading it chasing down friends and family to read them excerpts, and they mostly haven't found it annoying because it's THAT interesting. The subtitle is "How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science" and I think it really does an excellent job conveying the awesomeness (in the original sense) of the discoveries.

If I had one disclaimer, a lot of the book is spent discussing how easily art and science mixed, and the discussions of poetry get a little lengthy at times for my taste.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Jasmine on Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:21 pm

rivki8699 wrote:Hey guys, any good recommendations? I'm trying to fill up a wishlist, so my family will actually buy me stuff for the holidays. I'd love recs for good biographies and non-fiction related to history and science (especially history of science, which I think is really interesting).

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is awesome, but if you've already read it, you should dig around the author's website, I think I've seen her recommend other books. I've heard good things about the new Cleopatra biography, and The Warmth of Other Suns is wonderful.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Putli Bai on Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:30 pm

rivki, have you read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson? It's one of my go-to "comfort books," for when I need something to keep me company, but not keep me up. At Home is just as good, just not as science-heavy.

And now I'm going to have to track down The Age of Wonder, because it sounds very similar. Thanks!
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  mialoubug on Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:09 pm

Jasmine wrote:
rivki8699 wrote:Hey guys, any good recommendations? I'm trying to fill up a wishlist, so my family will actually buy me stuff for the holidays. I'd love recs for good biographies and non-fiction related to history and science (especially history of science, which I think is really interesting).

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is awesome, but if you've already read it, you should dig around the author's website, I think I've seen her recommend other books. I've heard good things about the new Cleopatra biography, and The Warmth of Other Suns is wonderful.

The Cleopatra biography by Stacey Schiff is very good. I am just now reading Sybil: Exposed which is interesting. It drags a bit, but looking at the whole situation within the context of the time, and with the three very important players, is fascinating.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  big chicken on Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:14 am

rivki8699 wrote:Hey guys, any good recommendations? I'm trying to fill up a wishlist, so my family will actually buy me stuff for the holidays. I'd love recs for good biographies and non-fiction related to history and science (especially history of science, which I think is really interesting).

How about Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon?

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Raksha on Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:35 am

Thirding the rec for Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: A Life. I liked that one.

Amerian Rose by Karen Abbott is a great biography of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous burlesque dancer. Karen Abbott also wrote Sin in the Second City, which I posted about in the current reads thread. It covers many more people and is more of a history book, but it's also a pretty thorough biography of Ada and Minna Everleigh as well.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  rivki8699 on Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:18 pm

Thanks for all the recs guys!
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Auroura76 on Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:19 am

I don't really have the patience for chick-lit/obvious rom-com books anymore, but I do love a good love story. I prefer when it's the B or C plot to something else, or when it's secondary or tertiary characters that fall in love as opposed to the protagonist(s). That's kind of a random description, but does anyone have any favorite books (in any kind of genre, really) that might fit this bill? Sometimes I feel my favorite romantic stories are ones that come out of nowhere and that you don't even expect. So I guess my asking for them sort of defeats the purpose, but I hope you know what I mean.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Jasmine on Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:46 am

This is not exactly what you were asking for, but The Blue Castle is one of my favorite love stories out there.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  whatthedeuce on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:24 am

Any recs for a good Johnny Cash bio? I've been listening to the Walk the Line soundtrack a lot this week, and it's reminded me of how the movie piqued my curiosity about the guy. Up until then, I never knew a single thing about him.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Red Wolf on Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:06 am

The book or movie Walk the Line? Though in the movie at least, he comes off as rather unlikeable.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  whatthedeuce on Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:37 am

I actually really liked him in the film, flawed as he was. I felt horrible for his first wife and how he neglected her (and to chase after another woman, no less), but I sympathized with his alienation from his dad and his guilt over his brother's tragic death. I want to read more about his childhood and the personal demons that he overcame.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  tothemax on Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:35 pm

NPR has a list of the year's best sci-fi/fantasy novels. Do you guys think there's anything on the list that's a must read or avoid (other than A Dance with Dragons, which I'm planning on reading anyway).

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Red Wolf on Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:42 pm

I've read Rule 34. It's good, but I recognise half the material from reading Charlie's blog on a daily basis.

Also, I read a Joe Abercrombie book once. There was one good moment, only one. When a barbarian from the north encounters the big city for the first time. Other than that, I found all the characters completely unlikeable. I read an extract from this latest one, and found the characters just as unlikeable, except one who was possibly worse. And he has the nerve to call this realistic! Unlike some people, apparently, I like most of the people I interact with on a daily basis.

The short version? Stay away.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  naughty zoot on Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:23 pm

I've heard nothing but raves for The Girl Who Circumnavigated A Really Long Title, though I haven't read it myself.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  Raksha on Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:11 am

I've read it and it's absolutely delightful. Such a sweet, imaginative book. Highly recommended!

If you like her writing style, but want something darker, she also published a book called Deathless which was excellent.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  draco vulgaris on Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:35 am

Red Wolf wrote:
Also, I read a Joe Abercrombie book once. There was one good moment, only one. When a barbarian from the north encounters the big city for the first time. Other than that, I found all the characters completely unlikeable. I read an extract from this latest one, and found the characters just as unlikeable, except one who was possibly worse. And he has the nerve to call this realistic! Unlike some people, apparently, I like most of the people I interact with on a daily basis.

The short version? Stay away.

I thought most of the characters in the First Law trilogy (which is what I assume you're referring to) were, if not likable, at least reasonably interesting to read about. The overwhelmingly grimdark story, on the other hand... When I finished the series, I thought, "This must be what A Song of Ice and Fire is like for normal people." So yeah, stay away.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  katesti on Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:41 am

Okay, I'm working on a gift for my cousin - she's 14 and in 8th grade. I'm definitely getting her A Tree Grows In Brooklyn - there will be a nice inscription about how much the book means to me, blah blah - but I also want to get her something more modern. Any ideas for an age-appropriate YA that doesn't revolve around the protagonist's relationships with a boy? I feel like I am super-overthinking this.

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Re: Book Recommendations

Post  big chicken on Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:17 pm

Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls or Heist Society books. The Gallagher Girls books revolve around a super secret boarding school for teenage girl spies. They are rather ridiculous but really fun. There are four books so far and while the series starts out fluffy the overall story arc gets darker in the sense it becomes less about boys and more about Cammie figuring out what really happened to her father. What I love about these books is how matter of fact it treats the idea that girls can do anything.

The Heist Society books is about a teenager named Katarina Bishop who comes from a family of thieves. She got herself out of the game and into boarding school but gets pulled back in when her father is captured by a criminal overlord who wants his painting back. So Kat assembles of crew of her own (all teens) and they set out to free her father. It's a mix of Ocean's 11 and Leverage if they were in high school. There are two books--Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals--out so far.

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Re: Book Recommendations

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