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Thursday 15 July 2004

Goddamned book recommendations again! [brit]

Right chums, three stonkers for you.
First up, that tube commuter's perennial - 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown. Quite simply awesome, and one of the best new authors to come on the scene for a long time in my view; gripping stuff, cleverly written, combining ancient history, The Roman Catholic Church (boo, hiss!), secret sects, and code breaking...
Then we've got 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' by Greg Palast; truly not a book to read if you worship the ground Ronald McDonald walks on - a series of investigative reports by one of the world's most hated investigative reporters; think Michael Moore, but with a clue and some seriously sharp penmanship. Uncomfortable reading!
And finally, and I can't recommend this enough because it just blows me away every time I read it - 'Decipher' by Stel Pavlou; the story is nonsense (something underneath Antarctica which has come alive to stop earth being wiped out by a planet killing event) but the style of writing and the science; my god the science.. it makes me want to become an epigraphist specialising in super string theory and zero point energy. Marvellous.
God I'm exhausted - and all outta books right now (I also recently read Patrick Robinson's new ones, both submarine based and so full of flag waving patriotic fervor that I nearly blushed just reading them), so recommend me some!


  1. Private. Every single part of series is absolutely mindblowing.

  2. In a Palast-following way my only recent read comes well recommended, it is : Into The Buzzsaw credited to Kristina Borjesson - it's 20 short stories by various investigative reporters and their accounts how hard it was to get true, factual reports printed, or how they were retaliated against for printing such... careers ruined etc. etc.The majority of the stories are from the USA, and not only are some of the stories themselves fascinating (many never went mainstream) the methods used by rich families and government departments to supress stories and careers is truly awesome.

  3. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
    A great read if you ever like eating out or fancied being a chef.

  4. read my blog from last week on this subject to see what I think on the books Ive read in the alst while..
    Read Angels and Deamons, Dan Browns last book, better than Da Vinci

  5. Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson.
    Historical SF set around the end of the 17th century would probably be the easiest way of describing the book.

  6. I'm not really sure what elements of Quicksilver you'd describe as SF - it's a pretty straightforward, albeit brilliantly written and researched, historical novel which only strays from the beaten path by introducing three non-historical central characters to allow the action to flow around them. Excellent book though (I'm sure I've waxed on about it here before) and a real eye-opener to the history of certain parts of London which I for one used to take for granted...

  7. Alright, its fiction involving scientists then if you want to be picky. ;-)
    As far as it being mentioned before, theres a good chance of that with these blogs. I was going to mention the second one in that trilogy since its only come out recently, but thought i'd remind people about the first in the series instead.Have you started the second book yet, I bought it the other week, but have been too busy with work etc. to make a start on it yet. :-(

  8. Terry Pratchett + 2 others - Science of the Discworld II
    I've always liked the silly side of psuedo science Pratchett does, but here with two people who know a bit more about things it works even better. Yeah, yeah, I know all the time travel shite must be bollocks, I know there are too many paradoxes and time loops, but its funny alright ?

  9. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey - the best book I've read for ages - and the closest I've ever been to understanding why people abuse their bodies!

  10. No, I haven't started on the second volume of the Baroque Cycle yet; I got distracted by the Night's Dawn trilogy, which was... Um. It was good, no question, but hardly the sci-fi landmark it had been made out to be. I think my expectations were somewhat too high thanks to Muz and Lurks waxing eloquent about the series to me on many occasions :)
    I'll probably pick up the Quicksilver sequel from Amazon this week, I need to buy some other stuff as well. Oh, by the way, in my guise as resident Japanophile, I should point out that the original novel that Ring was based on has been translated into English now; that's some deeply fucked up shit right there. Good read though, if very short. And anyone who remotely enjoyed Battle Royale REALLY ought to pick up the novel it was based on, now out in paperback; it's fascinating, delving much deeper into the individual motivations and back stories of the characters (the movie sacrificed a lot of that in favour of a schoolkid-splatterfest) and also taking the time to build up the background to the Battle Royale program in terms of political and social context. Cracking read.

  11. I liked Nights Dawn but I don't remember raving about it. Pandora's Star is his best.

  12. When babysitting at home over the weekend I was looking over my brother in laws bookshelf, and I spotted two books that took my fancy, after flicking through them I have picked them both up now for my Holidays in France at the end of the week!
    A People's History of the United States - The Key events in the History of America told from the POV of the minority/oppressed people, be they Native Americans, Blacks/Slaves, Immigrants, Poor Workers etc – I like stories told from the POV of ‘real people’ so in this regard it looks good, rather than the usual blinkered 'were great we are' history you normally read.
    Second is a book on the Gulags, a cheerful looking history of before, during and after of the life and times of the Russian series of work/death camps. I was going to pick it up before, but didn’t – but 3 people who’s judgement I would respect have now told me I would like it. So, that will make for cheerful poolside reading :)

  13. I really liked Kitchen Confidential too. Very funny book.
    I've never eaten swordfish again tho :(

  14. I feel compelled to point you all in the direction of The Bachman Books, a collection of four short novels that Stephen King wrote in the 70s under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman.
    Three of the four are absolute corking books in their own right, and it's something of a minor tradgedy that they were underexposed and unsuccesful when released as Bachman (King himself points out in the foreward that he released them under his name when he realised that they would sell ten times the number previously).
    First up, you've got Rage - about a high school student who loses it one day and takes his class hostage, after killing two teachers. Lots of nice turnabout writing as the hostage taker gradually wins his class around to his way of thinking.
    Next, there's The Running Man - yep, the book that the film was based on. But if you're expecting to read about Arnie running round in a spandex leotard, then think again. The original running man is far darker, far larger in scope and (obviously) far better.
    Best of all, you've got The Long Walk. It's based on a frankly ludicrous premise - in an ultra conservative future America, 16 year old boys take part in the national pastime, 'The Long Walk'. In this event, participants must keep walking until there's only one left standing... fall below 4mph and you get a warning, get three warnings and you get a bullet in the head. It sounds bizarre, but it is probably one of the finest stories I've ever read. I've never read a more convincing depiction of exhaustion and mental collapse, never felt so genuinely affected as one by one, the characters start to fall.
    Go buy!

  15. "I really liked Kitchen Confidential too. Very funny book"
    Picked it up for 50p at a book fair down by the tate modern after remembering people talking about it here, great book!
    Now to finish dark tower 6 so I can read seven and put that to bed :)