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 book recommendations
XANDER
 Posted: Jun 17 2015, 06:17 PM
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    hello barbermonger! do you read books? of course you do! what are you reading right now? what's something you've read in the past that you'd like to pass on? share some book titles, synopses, and reviews!

    feel free to post even if this topic looks dead, because i am always on the prowl for books.

    i would currently recommend the bell jar by sylvia plath, which has a very poetic style and is one of those tastemakers as far as lady reading goes. it's only about 250 pages, so you won't strain yourself reading it, and plath has a very vivid, beautiful style. i picked up the harper perennial edition, which also includes a little history of plath's life - the book was very autobiographical (spoiler: it's about a girl who comes down with a mental illness and gets sent to an asylum.) it almost wasn't published while her mother was still alive.

    recommend away!

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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jun 17 2015, 09:06 PM
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I would like to recommend Wool by Hugh Howey. I've read every single thing he has ever written, this series was the first of my reads and still my favorite. He writes wonderful female leads and weaves a great story. It's definitely an interesting concept, my only complaint being that the ending seemed rushed. It is very much a sci-fi story, set in a post apocalyptic world. If that's even slightly your jive I recommend it.


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And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
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bird
 Posted: Jun 20 2015, 05:21 AM
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Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer was pretty fun and my favourite genre fiction thing I've read lately. it's about an expedition of four anonymous women who go into area X, a strange desolate place that no one understands or has really come back from. the series (three books) is generally good but the first book is by far the best. the best i can describe it as is lovecraft meets spy fiction, narrated by a fairly clinical unreliable narrator

also read read read read THE ORENDA by Joseph Boyden. it is well written historical fiction about an Iroquois girl who is kidnapped, a Huron warrior, and a Jesuit missionary and it is basically an epic told from each of their perspectives. it's great and brutal and totally compelling and it won some prizes up here in Canadaland recently

currently I have just finished Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart which was pretty okay but not my favourite??? and now I am working on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.
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knox
 Posted: Jun 22 2015, 12:09 PM
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LET'S SEE WHAT K HAS TO RECOMMEND. may and june have been very successful reading months for me. i absolutely recommend willa cather's heart wrenching novel about lucy gayheart- a young piano player who falls in love with an aging singer and dashiell hammett's hard boiled detective story the thin man which is gr8 if you enjoy snappy dialogue and fast paced action. i semi-recommend chuck palahniuk's new-ish novel beautiful you. certainly not his best, but still a fun read. i don't want to give away too much for the sake of those who love chuck and have been wanting to pick this one up so i'll just say that there are of sex toys and power struggles involved.

i recently completed the nonfiction novel forever barbie: the unauthorized biography of a real doll written by investigative journalist m.g. lord which charts the barbie doll from her roots in Germany and Japan in the 1960's all the way to... 1994. the book looks at the implications barbie has had on american culture through various lenses. the chapter on mattel's partnership with shindana toys and the ongoing battle between people of color and the toy industry was especially interesting to me. my only qualm is that, being published in the 90's, the book is unable to offer up a fresh look at barbie/mattel. if you want something more recent and if, like me, you're really into pop culture its impact on the general public (especially women) i RECOMMEND peggy orenstein's cinderella ate my daughter.

right now i am in the middle of vonnegut's sirens of titan which is obviously something you should read if you can because HELL it's kurt.

i actually still haven't cracked slaughterhouse five. i have a tendency to approach the big works by saving them for last. i mean, i have probably read everything truman capote has ever published EXCEPT for in cold blood because you can only read a book for the first time once and... actually you know what?

TL;DR- go read the the grass harp by truman capote. it's a short novel, if you get into it it will take you less than a day to read, and you will get into it because it is incredible.
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bird
 Posted: Apr 11 2016, 03:18 PM
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reviving this thread because 1. i've been reading more and 2. these recommendations are great! i am definitely going to check out basically all the books in this thread. i will also second the thin man which i read recently and looooooved


other stuff:
  • silently and very fast by catherynne m. valente. a short novella - i read this in a day - about an AI and its symbiotic human hosts and identity and personhood. dreamlike and phantasmagoric and weird and mythical and very cool.
    QUOTE
    “I do not want to be human. I want to be myself. They think I’m a lion, that I will chase them. I will not deny that I have lions in me. I am the monster in the wood. I have wonders in my house of sugar. I have parts of myself I do not yet understand.

    I am not a Good Robot. To tell a story about a robot who wants to be human is a distraction. There is no difference. Alive is alive.

    There is only one verb that matters: to be.”



  • the fifth season by n.k. jemisin. great worldbuilding. great heart-rending. not only is this great science fiction (more like science fantasy -- there's a lot of FUTURE WIZARDS) but it's just a great fucking book all around. it is pretty brutal: the central plot of the story centers around essun, a mother who comes home to find that her husband has brutally beaten her son to death and kidnapped her daughter, and her consequent apocalyptic roaring rampage of revenge.

    QUOTE

    “A commandment,” the man says, spreading his arms, “is set in stone.”

    Imagine that his face aches from smiling. He’s been smiling for hours: teeth clenched, lips drawn back, eyes crinkled so the crow’s feet show. There is an art to smiling in a way that others will believe. It is always important to include the eyes; otherwise, people will know you hate them.




  • three day road by joseph boyden - this guy's first novel which is sort of unbelievable. it's the story of niska, one of the last women of the oji-cree living off of the land, and her nephew after he comes back from WWI. beautifully written, dream-like, and goes through some really rough stuff - WWI, ptsd, becoming a monster, residential schools, wendigos, addiction and trauma - but it's beautiful and i couldn't put it down. i like this a lot better than the orenda, which i recommended previously.
    QUOTE
    We all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what we do to the enemy.
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bird
 Posted: May 9 2016, 06:11 AM
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THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT by seth dickinson

i finished this book in one night and it fucked me RIGHT UP and i think it would be totally up the alleys of a bunch of folks here.

basically: epic geopolitical low-magic fantasy that turns almost everything you think you know about "epic geopolitical low-magic fantasy" on its head. the sheer blind terror of imperialism and colonialism and hegemony. the horror of cultural narratives and the power of the stories we tell ourselves. intrigue, spies, and betrayal. a lot of thought given to the logistics and economies of war and conquering. asking the question: what is the line between subversion and complicity? hot lady sailors. manipulation. heartbreak. treachery. queer ladies who are heroes and monsters and everything in between. plus worldbuilding. worldbuilding!

basically it takes your lame sexist racist shitty game of thrones-y shit, lulls it into a false sense of security, then slits its goddamn throat and burns it to the ground along with everything it has ever loved

it is tense as fuck and i heartily recommend it and i will probably never stop screaming



eta: minor possible spoilers but i know people care about this stuff so
  there is some queer death in it which is generally something i hate!! but i do feel like it's not cheap here.

that said if you don't want to pick up a book with that in mind i totally get you and i understand completely
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bird
 Posted: Nov 16 2016, 03:23 AM
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return of the necrothread!!




i would like to request some of your favourite non-fiction reads, s'il vous plait!

doesn't seem right not to leave a few recommendations, though, so check out green grass running water by thomas king, perdido street station ... or... like honestly most things by china mieville, and homicide: a year on the killing streets by david simon, which is about homicide detectives in the 80's and how generally fucked up the police are, generally, but reads like true crime while simultaneously skewering it all to hell

i am also reading debt: the first 5,000 years by david graeber and so far it is pretty great and engrossing. that's all i got tho since i've been a pretty bad reader these past few weeks.
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Poette
 Posted: Dec 26 2016, 07:31 PM
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Hurry Home, Candy by Meindert DeJong

I feel like this Amazon Reviewer encapsulates the reasons I have this book on order:

QUOTE
Hurry Home Candy will make you cry. It will change the way you look at your dog. It will change the way you speak to your dog. If you don't have one, the first chapter will make you never want to take a puppy away from it's mother. Ever. I first read Hurry Home Candy when I was 7 - I'm now 23 - and the feelings and emotions which this little dog's story stirred in me then, are triggered even now.


In similar fashion, it's one of the few books I haven't been able to forget, the iconic brown and green front. I haven't read it since elementary school but I empathize with the reviewer that it left an impact. Yes, it's a 256 page "children's book," but go ahead and read the sampler on Amazon. Children's books can be profound in their own right.

It begins:

QUOTE
The dog had no name. For a dog to have a name someone must have him and someone must love him, and a dog must have someone. The dog had no one, and no one had the dog.


long story short it will arrive some time in january and i am looking forward to it!

spoiler: this book is sad and heart-wrenching from what I recall.
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XANDER
 Posted: Dec 27 2016, 01:48 AM
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tiefling bard
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if you're raring for some non-fiction and you're ready to do some deep thinking on the history of american oppression, might i offer you the black lives matter syllabus? it includes:
  • Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond - Marc Lamont Hill
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? - Angela Davis

other non-fiction books that are on my to-read list for 2017
  • All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation - Rebecca Traister
  • Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right - Jane Mayer
  • Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Keep Out-of-Control Emotions from Destroying Your Relationship - Shari Y. Manning

and finally, some fiction to-reads:
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace (THIS BOOK WILL NOT BEAT ME AGAIN. IT BEAT ME IN 2015 BUT I AIN'T PLAYIN' THIS TIME.)
  • Commonwealth - Ann Patchett
  • Six Four - Hideo Yokoyama
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