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Books Read a good book recently? Travelers are always looking for good books to enjoy on vacation, on the beach, enjoying the breezes on the veranda, or on that long flight. Give us your recommendation and a review.

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Old 11-30-2009, 02:22 PM   #1
trvlagt4u
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Default Some good reading!

Hey All!

Been reading way too much lately, and not working as hard as I should. :-)

Just finished Jeffrey Archer's, Paths of Glory! A very fast, and uber fascinating book about George Mallory, who was possibly the first man to climb Everest. I've always been a huge Archer fan, all the way back to Kane and Abel days. This one will not disappoint!

"A real-life mountaineering mystery serves as the springboard for bestseller Archer's abysmal latest. The plot begins promisingly with the body of mountaineer George Mallory discovered on the slopes of Mt. Everest in 1999, possibly having been the first man to have reached the summit. But hopes of an adventurous yarn are soon dashed as the novel becomes a long flashback, offering stock vignettes of Mallory's childhood, Cambridge days and mountaineering adventures. These passages are hampered by phoned-in writing, clumsy attempts at verisimilitude and a notable lack of psychological depth. Along the way, Mallory marries, becomes a father, serves in WWI and finds himself pitted against Australian mountaineer George Finch as a potential leader of Britain's push to conquer Everest. Archer does eventually offer his opinion as to whether Mallory summited Everest, but by that point all but his most devoted fans will have fled the icy crags of this lifeless novel. (Mar.)"
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Vince Flynn's, Pursuit of Honor - If you are a Mitch Rapp fan, this one is one of the best ones in awhile. It's like Flynn has a crystal ball, and see's the world's events before they happen. I love his writing style, and I LOVE Mitch Rapp. He doesn't take any crap from anybody, Congressmen or Terrorist. Don't miss this one either.

Dan Brown's - The Lost Symbol
What can I say? This book was contrived and a rework of Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code. I know he had to get something out there to stay forefront in the public eye, and also pay for his 7 year legal battle, but this book was a bit of a disappointment to me. For me, nothing of his will ever live up to the initial excitement of DaVinci Code or Digital Fortress. It was okay, but I'd wait until you can get it in paperback, and save the cash.
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:17 PM   #2
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It was okay, but I'd wait until you can get it in paperback, and save the cash.
Thanks for the reviews, Tracee. We're back in reading season so I'm always looking for new fodder.

AFA the above, that's why I usually do things a little backwards with my reading. I read a copy from the library first, then if I really like the book I go out and buy it. That way I know I'm only investing in novels that I may wish to read again some day, or just share with friends and family.

I'm just getting my investment back. Over the years I've donated a lot of crappy novels to the local library because I purchased them for the first read. Sorry about that if you live in my area.
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:36 PM   #3
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That's exactly what I do, Deano. I don't want to buy a book unless I know I will want to read it over and over again. And with Dan Brown, you KNOW your library will have it.

You realize, of course, that your library probably takes your crappy novels and sells them for $1 a bag at a Friends of the Library sale and uses that money to buy better books, right? That way, somebody who may enjoy your crappy books gets them and the library gets money. And if the buyer thinks they're still crappy after perusing them, they'll probably donate them back to the library and they'll get another round in the Friends sale, so the library wins again. No apologies necessary. I'm sure your library thanks you.

And by the way, thanks for the reviews. I've gotten some great ideas for library purchases the library where I work from this portion of the forum. World Without End was one. Travia was another. We already had Pillars of the Earth, The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns (dang...it's lost now) or I would have bought those.
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Old 12-01-2009, 06:05 AM   #4
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You realize, of course, that your library probably takes your crappy novels and sells them for $1 a bag at a Friends of the Library sale and uses that money to buy better books, right? That way, somebody who may enjoy your crappy books gets them and the library gets money. And if the buyer thinks they're still crappy after perusing them, they'll probably donate them back to the library and they'll get another round in the Friends sale, so the library wins again. No apologies necessary. I'm sure your library thanks you.
Indeed I do know that most of the novels will end up in the book sale. I would be one of those folks who buy the cheap used books by the bagful.

Those who might have a problem with that will donate a nice hard cover (or a few) as an honorarium for a dead relative or friend which means the book will hit the shelves for at least some period of time. Of course the library absolutely prefers that you sponsor their own planned purchases for that sort of thing (and your dollar goes farther) but I know that my small, terribly underfunded library will take most anything they can get. When I owned the retail store I was at least able to beef up their travel section quite a bit. But sadly the facility has a problem of empty shelves syndrome. Fortunately I can order most anything I want to read from other area libraries in the regional co-op.

BTW, can you believe I have yet to read anything by Dan Brown? I've had The Da Vinci code checked out and in my house twice now and for whatever reasons never cracked the novel. Bad timing I guess, or perhaps I have a subconscious mental block because I read everything else I checked out at the same time, both times. Perhaps soon since it's supposed to start snowing heavily here late tomorrow, then every day until about the next Memorial Day. (It gets almost that bad in these parts. )
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:49 AM   #5
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I am ashamed to tell you guys that I have NEVER paid full price for a book in a long time. I discovered www.half.com, and have never looked back! You must try it. I have even resold books on that site. IT is very easy and all through Paypal. Love it!!!!

As far as Dan Brown, G you just try and get through DaVinci Code and try Digital Fortress too. Very timely even though it was written several years ago, and quite interesting!

Please let me know what you two on your beside table for reading right now. I'm in the mood for something good!

Lata!
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:47 AM   #6
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Please let me know what you two on your beside table for reading right now. I'm in the mood for something good!

Lata!
Believe it not, my latest have been repeats. It's pretty rare that I'm in the mood to reread a novel, especially this soon after the first go around, but I found myself checking out The Highest Tide again last weekend. There's something about the story that just haunts me. I did a quick report on it last February here.

It's in the junior section at my library, kind of odd since it's quite an adult story. I found out about it after purchasing Edgar Sawtelle on amazon.com, one of those "if you liked that you'll like this" sort of deals. They were right. Edgar Sawtelle blew me away but it was so wrenching that I don't think I can revisit that story any time soon.

On Sunday I reread a novel I own, The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder. It's really a novella, written in the 30s, one of the classics that holds up through subsequent readings over the years. It's one of my absolute favorites and I've read it a number of times.

When I'm really in the mood to get into reading I generally follow authors. (Will reschedule Dan Brown, again, for that this winter.) Even though I've covered everything they've written, I'll repeat a couple of my old stand-bys in the travel related mode, including Bill Bryson who is one of my absolute favorite contemporary American authors and is usually laugh out loud funny. However, his best work in my opinion is titled A Short History of Nearly Everything, is a bit more serious (most of the time), not really short and one of the most compelling reads I've had. It covers pretty much everything you learned about the world then probably forgot from high school and college, explained and discussed in a manner that will make you go "wow" one minute and chuckle the next.

Plan B is to read pretty much anything written by Paul Theroux. Some of it is a little dark but always engaging.

Plan C is that if you haven't read Ken Follett's A Place Called Freedom, do it now. I think it's his most underrated novel, too often overshadowed by the Pillars/World duo.

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Old 12-01-2009, 10:24 PM   #7
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I haven't been anxious to read A Place Called Freedom because that time period in history just isn't my favorite. But I may stick it on my Ruby list for library purchases and try to read it after it gets processed in February (my turn to hit the bookstore for the library).

I'm on my second reading of World Without End, and I normally wouldn't reread a book so soon after the first round either (wow, Deano, we're like on some kinda cosmic plane or something) but it's already in my Palm and I didn't feel like trying to find something new to download. The Palm bookstore desperately needs more books. Plus, I was thinking of writing a review for our library website. But I'm debating the wisdom of that. It seems like it might be too much book to try to review. I'm not sure I can really summarize the plot. But I saw a clue I missed on the first reading...the lead-in to the Black Death. Science has said the prolonged cool. rainy weather was a contributor to the pandemic. He wrote it into the book. Ken Follett is awesome. What a minor detail, but if you're up on that sort of thing, it really makes a difference.

I have tried multiple times to read Bill Bryson, but he just doesn't ring my bell, I guess. I tried Short History, A Walk in the Woods, and it seems like a couple of others, but I never could get past the first chapter. Too bad. The reviews and the things people have to say about him always sound so promising.

As for me, count me out of the Dan Brown frenzy. I have seen the movie and found it interesting, but I don't think I'm going to bother with the books. I have far too many stacked up around my house waiting for me to catch up as it is. I just finished another Fletch book, Fletch Too. It was another hit-or-miss, mostly miss IMO, but Fletch and Fletch Won have both been excellent reads. The new V.I. Warshawski book Hardball is next on the list. It's so new, I didn't even consider the possibility it might not be available yet in paperback. Whoops! It's now one of the very few hardcover books I own. Right up there with my Lewis Grizzard collection.
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Old 12-01-2009, 10:52 PM   #8
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I just finished reading "Do Travel Writers Go to Hell." It's by Lonely Planet author Thomas Kohnstamm who apparently fabricated his research for LP's travel guides and had now written this tell-all book. Talk about the seedy side of writing. I thought it was very interesting book by a guy who was highly conflicted about what he was doing, and the enormous pressure he felt about the job. I liked it, but it didn't overwhelm me.

I've also just finished "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. This book tells the story of the times and incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Larson tells the stories of two men, Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. This is a terrific book I highly recommend. You'll love it.
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Old 12-01-2009, 11:00 PM   #9
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I haven't been anxious to read A Place Called Freedom because that time period in history just isn't my favorite. But I may stick it on my Ruby list for library purchases and try to read it after it gets processed in February (my turn to hit the bookstore for the library).
If your hangup is thinking that the setting is primarily colonial America, set that aside. I had the same thought, read the dust cover and put it back on the shelf about three times before I finally took the plunge and checked it out. A good two thirds of the novel unwinds in Wales and England before circumstances lead the protagonists to end up on a ship headed for America. The general tone is quite similar to World Without End, even after they make the crossing. It certainly illustrates why so many were eager to escape to a new world. To be honest, when the protagonists hit these shores I found my curiosity about that period of American history being really piqued for the first time in my adult life. Only Follett was capable of making early American history so compelling to me by the end.

I don't know how to respond to your reaction to Bryson other than to say that if we all reacted equally to different authors that the world would be boring indeed. Short History was the only contemporary novel that inspired me to actually take notes and I have a number of copied passages stored in files on my PC so that I can refer to them at will. Now that you mention it, at the beginning I was feeling a bit nonplussed, thinking that the novel might be lame. I think I was solidly transfixed and hooked about the time we got into quantum physics, string theory and the 11th dimension as explained by Bryson. Go figure.
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Old 12-01-2009, 11:37 PM   #10
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Chalk up another who reads a library copy first and, occasionally, buys one to keep/lend/re-read. Our shelves are so full of much loved volumes that I really hesitate to add to the collection. Fortunately, my family shares books in an enormous lending loop, to which I'm always happy to contribute.

Gesualdo, if you don't enjoy reading Bill Bryson, try listening to his books on tape sometime. He reads terrifically well (in my opinion) and we've enjoyed many a road trip listening to him. Check your library (or ILL) so you don't need to invest upfront. Let us know what you think.
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