Books/What are you reading?

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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby gbruin » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:56 pm

I just read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.

I think it's one of the most important books I've read in years, and maybe ever. It's a reasonably enjoyable read, but the real value in this book is its insightful look into a part of American culture which has been overlooked by what many would consider mainstream society and which probably isn't taken very seriously based on history and stereotypes. However, the recent election proved that silent culture to be incredibly influential in the current direction of this country.

The memoir is Vance's story of his own upbringing in a very poor and impoverished rural Kentucky and the migration over the last several decades of his and similar "Hillbilly" families to the industrial rust belt across Pennslyvania and Ohio and Indiana in a search for a better way of life, only to see the decline of much of that industry compromise the improved quality of life those families sought. Their expected upward mobility was further compromised by ongoing poverty, poor educational systems, and drugs and alcohol. Left with severe disillusionment and anger towards the government and upper classes that they felt betrayed their dreams while clinging to their devotion to traditional family values and religion, a large segment of the American population became primed to reject the establishment in favor of an outsider who promised them a different path.

Though published before the 2016 election, in this memoir you can easily see the basis of Trump's upset in the presidential race. These people cared far less about issues of racism or misogyny or anti-immigrant rhetoric when offered a reality show personality with a dubious business record and a nondescript promise to Make America Great Again. These people felt the American Dream had left them behind and they were willing to grasp at the perceived possibility that Trump offered them a second chance, and that Hillbilly vote was enough to turn the tide in just a few key states to alter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

It's a fascinating book, and whether you agree or disagree with the beliefs and conclusions within the Hillbilly culture, you can't ignore their existence, their sense of disenfranchisement, and their effect on current American politics. For all the people around the world and for over half of us here in America who could not understand how anyone could vote for someone like Donald Trump, this book reveals a lot of the reasons - for better or worse - why. It is a brilliant, fascinating, and ultimately very discouraging sociological microscope, and thus a book everyone should read.
Last edited by gbruin on Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Andy92 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:01 pm

Sounds like an interesting read. I've grown up in West Virginia, so I understood (while not necessarily always agreeing with) why a lot of people in this area gravitated towards a figure like Trump. But you raise an interesting point that I think was overlooked in this election cycle and has been overlooked for a long time. A lot of people around the United States seem to ignore the existence of a mass amount of people in my home state and its surrounding areas.

We tend to joke that coming to this state is like stepping into a time machine. Technology doesn't progress as quickly, industry doesn't progress as quickly, and most people's values are consistent to what the rest of the US looked like decades ago. I do think the culture is largely overlooked by most of America. Part of the reason the election results were so shocking comes back to that fact as well.

Sometimes it's difficult to understand others when their opinions and beliefs contrast so differently from your own. But there's a quote from a book I read recently that sticks out to me that said, "never let your opinions of a society blind your understanding of the individual." I think trying to understand others, even when our opinions differ so much, is the best chance we have at building a successful future.

Sorry for the derailing, but that topic interests me pretty well.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby gbruin » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:33 pm

Andy92 wrote: I think trying to understand others, even when our opinions differ so much, is the best chance we have at building a successful future.

Perfect. Not derailing at all.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby One Drew Remains » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:29 pm

Finishing The Dark Tower book 1 right now. Might start Misery next.
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Re: I read it for the pictures

Postby zazthespaz » Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:06 am

One Drew Remains wrote:Finishing The Dark Tower book 1 right now. Might start Misery next.

In the middle of rereading #4 now. Such a great series.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby One Drew Remains » Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:23 am

4 is great. That gunfight in the storm with the Big Coffin Hunters is a series standout.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Timotheus » Wed Feb 15, 2017 6:13 pm

Just started The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby One Drew Remains » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:44 pm

The Wind Through the Keyhole - Stephen King
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Re: im a well known influencer

Postby zazthespaz » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:50 am

One Drew Remains wrote:The Wind Through the Keyhole - Stephen King

Lol really? :lol Did my previous post have anything to do with that?
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby One Drew Remains » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:12 am

Lol. Honestly no. Strange coincidence.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby gbruin » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:38 pm

I'm finishing The Guns At Last Light by Rick Atkinson. It's the third book in his three-part series on the growth of the US Army and the Allied efforts in WW2, with each book focussing on each of the major campaigns in the war against the Axis. The first book, An Army At Dawn, covered the campaign in North Africa in 1942 and won the Pulitzer Prize for History. Book 2, The Day of Battle, covered the campaigns through Sicily and Italy in 1943-44, and Book 3 began with the invasions in France and march to Germany from 1944-45. The series is fantastic, equivalent to Shelby Foote's classic 3 volume series on the US Civil War, and is as good a war history read as anything I've read short of Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Andy92 » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:45 pm

I read all these fantasy stories for fun and over here Greg just keeps getting smarter. With that being said...

The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

(I don't think it's based on a true story.)
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Re: It'll be Gregducational?

Postby Ubik » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:22 pm

At one point I do intend to go through the thread and acquire Greg's recommendations.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Andy92 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:28 pm

In case if anyone wants to try this series out, you can download the first book of The Stormlight Archives for free on March 23-24.

http://www.tor.com/2017/03/20/march-201 ... -of-kings/
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Re: More Roosevelt stuff, but this one is the best so far.

Postby gbruin » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:01 pm

A friend recommended The River Of Doubt by Candice Millard. It focuses on an expedition down a previously uncharted and unnavigated river in the Amazon (previously, Rio da Dúvida, now Rio Roosevelt) that former US President Theodore Roosevelt took in 1913 (after losing his bid for reelection to the presidency as an independent). I've been on this Roosevelt kick for a while for no real apparent reason, having read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex, parts 1 and 2 of a trilogy that is pretty much the definitive biography of Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. There is a third volume called Colonel Roosevelt that I'll get to soon, but as I wrote before when reviewing Theodore Rex, Morris's unabashed fanboy crush on Roosevelt does question the bio's credibility on occasion.

But The River Of Doubt questions Roosevelt's motives and sanity without remorse. Roosevelt did a lot of quirky and reckless things in his life, but this Amazonian expedition was totally insane, especially considering the technology, or lack of it, at the time. Led by Brazil's most famous explorer Cândido Rondon and a team of his military subordinates, Roosevelt, his son, a naturalist friend, and a couple other westerners disappeared into the jungle on the mysterious river in heavy clumsy dugout canoes with little to no idea what lay ahead of them, and certainly with no idea where the river eventually emptied out. They encountered hostile native tribes, most got malaria or other illnesses, they nearly starved to death, one guy murdered another, and 3 people ultimately died. It was totally nuts.

It is a beautifully written and fantastically researched narrative and, unlike a formal biography that attempts to cover an entire lifetime, this one event is focused enough that the book can delve into important details and background that make the personalities and the motives for the journey really fascinating without bogging down the actual course of the story. The book also goes into some important issues regarding the native Amazonian peoples and their struggles with expansion from the east as well as the complicated and fascinating ecosystem that is the Amazon rain forest. By picking out one small but poignant slice of time from a historical figure who was super accomplished and super complicated, the book really breathes and envelops and tells an incredible story.

Fantastic book. Couldn't put it down.
Last edited by gbruin on Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: wait for it...

Postby gbruin » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:02 pm

Gah. double post. :facepalm

Maybe this slot will still be here when I finish my current book: A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko and Russia's War with the West, by British journalist Luke Harding.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Merinda » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:05 pm

A History Of Violence. About the Kray twins. I have a fascination with them at the moment.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Andy92 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:56 pm

I think I'm going to start Rothfuss's second book next even though there seems to be this outrage amongst his fans due to the amount of time they've been waiting for the 3rd one. So I guess I'll be joining that club when I finish this book.

I have ambitions of starting the Wheel of Time series after that. I think I'll enjoy it more if I read some different books between each one so I'm not reading 14 books in a row in the same world. But it's a modern classic fantasy series, and I heard Sony recently purchased the rights to make a TV series for Wheel of Time, so now seems to be as good a time as ever to start working my way through it.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Timotheus » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:41 am

Reading Stephen King's '11/22/63' at the moment. Literally everything I read from this guy is gold.
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Re: Books/What are you reading?

Postby Nicklord » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:50 am

Andy92 wrote:I think I'm going to start Rothfuss's second book next even though there seems to be this outrage amongst his fans due to the amount of time they've been waiting for the 3rd one. So I guess I'll be joining that club when I finish this book.

I have ambitions of starting the Wheel of Time series after that. I think I'll enjoy it more if I read some different books between each one so I'm not reading 14 books in a row in the same world. But it's a modern classic fantasy series, and I heard Sony recently purchased the rights to make a TV series for Wheel of Time, so now seems to be as good a time as ever to start working my way through it.

Rothfuss made a world big in the second book. He want to finish everything in one book and that's not easy, there are more than 10 storylines going on. It's no wonder it's taking him that long to finish it

About The Wheel of Time, well it's a great story, great characters, but it's slow and going through several books in the middle is a real task. Reading between those books is mandatory :lol
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