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John Crichton

What's The Last Book You Read?

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Internet and ethics. A "riveting" read for an exam I have this week.

Taistelu keisarivallasta (Battle for the Imperial Throne), a Finnish translation of Tacitus' Historiae.

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A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

A much lighter read than I had expected. Good fun and pretty tense at some points. I've already started The Sign of the Four, which features Sherlock Holmes injecting cocaine into his arm on the very first page. Fun!

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Internet and ethics. A "riveting" read for an exam I have this week.

Are you attending Mod School?

Perhaps, perhaps. ;)

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

As my wife said, this may have been the 20,000th time I've read it, but it remains one of my favorite books ever. Very rich in atmosphere.

That book changed my life, I might not be into literature at all if it hadn't found this book in my grandfather's house during a boring Winter evening. I was 11 and it left and indelible mark (so great that I actually pursued a degree in Oceanography in University, which I never got around to finish).

And there isn't much of a plot, as the novel really is episodic, but the atmosphere, as you said, is so rich, it becomes one of the most imersive (no pun intended) things I have ever read.

To build a very detailed LEGO replica of the Nautilus (not necessarily the Disney version) is on my to-do list of future LEGO projects

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Beautiful sentiments. I had a period of obsession with designing my own version of the sub, including the luxurious interiors.

Though Disney's version is special to me, I still want a strict adaptation to be made. It could be very great.

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"The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed"

Entertaining and informative. Man, could those guys hold their liquor.

Glad to see you got a hold of it. This being the book with the Lazenby/Reed incident. All could hold their liquor and still have a decent conversation.

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Last book I read was Gerald Donaldson's biography of James Hunt. Admittedly the film Rush had something to do with me finding out more on Hunt but as a kid I liked F1, had matchbox cars etc and I vaguely remember Hunt's death in the news. All that aside, it was a good book of a fascinating man that I find myself wishing was still around.

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The Book of Alfred Kantor: An Artist's Journal of the Holocaust

http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Alfred-Kantor-Holocaust/dp/B0018OFYTE

A book featuring the reminiscences, both in text and in a few 100 beautiful and evocative sketches or the young Jewish Czech Alfred Kantor and his experiences in several Concentration camps including Auschwitz.

Grim reading, but it taught me a few things I didn't know about the Holocaust. Even in Auschwitz, prisoners occasionally could send and receive post for instance.

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The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

A book I read in fifth grade or so and had always wanted to read again. I got it for Christmas and read it shortly after. It's a light-hearted murder mystery about a wealthy business owner who summons several people to come stay at an apartment complex near his mansion. They come to a reading of his will and find out that whoever among them can solve who killed him, they will inherit his money. There are twists and turns throughout and I can see why I liked it so much as a kid; It was probably the first of these types of books I ever read. I found it to be fairly predictable reading again as an adult (of course that could be due to me remembering a few key facts), but still had some good twists and turns at the very end.

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My father recently gave me an old volume of his, A Guide To The Planets by Patrick Moore. Moore was not only an astronomer and science popularizer, but a composer, and seems to have led quite a colorfully diverse and interesting life, including, for example, ties to both Einstein and Queen's Brian May (himself an accomplished astrophysicist). He also was apparently possessed of some classically grumpy 60s political ideas.

Anyway, it's a bit funny to read actually, dating from 1960 - he's pretty pessimistic about the then-future of humanity in space. Guess he was in for a surprising decade.

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Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

I'm a HUGE fan of Palaniuk's first 6 novels (Fight Club, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Choke, Lullaby, and Diary). Each of them had very similar writing style and structure, which I loved. They reminded me of Michael Crichton books in a way, in the sense that besides the main stories of the characters, you learn all this other ancillary stuff along the way too. By Diary he was starting to almost repeat himself somewhat, but it was still good. So I was not surprised that his next book, Haunted, mixed things up and was quite different from the "original six" - and not as good. Some of the individual stories within were brilliant, but many were forgettable, and the main connecting story was pretty bad. I approached Rant with trepidation and ended up REALLY liking it by the end, even wishing he would return to that world (typical of Palaniuk's works, you feel like you get 3 stories for the price of one, but this time I feel the ideas were strong enough to actually fashion a franchise out of it. He really created quite a world here). Despite that, I hadn't continued reading his novels for years now, even though I kept buying them (I own Snuff, Pygmy, Doomed, and Tell-All, and haven't cracked any of them open - until now!)

So that brings us to Snuff. It's the story of a past-her-prime porn star Cassie Wright who wants to break the world's record of number of partners in a gang bang, as a way to return her back to the limelight - or is it for other reasons? She is not the main character though - the story is narrated by 4 different viewpoints - 3 of the guys in the waiting room waiting for their turn to be filmed with her (No 72, No 137, and No 600) plus Sheila, Cassie's assistance and male performer wrangler. Typical of Palaniuk's works, you get a lot of stories of the porn industry and old Hollywood along the way, as you learn more about the character's pasts and the shoot as well. It is proposed that one of the volunteers could be her long-lost son, the someone could try to kill her, or that she could be trying to kill herself. I was with the story the whole time, and found the ending satisfying. Any Palahniuk fans should like it, but if you are a Palahniuk virign I'd still recommend starting with one of the "original six", whichever one sounds the most intriguing to you. They are all good!

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Iron Coffins- Herbert A. Werner

an account of an U-Boat commander who managed to survive start to end. All the more remarkable considering after 1943 the U-Boats were barely making it out from the French coast without being sunk. A man who at times seemed to believe in 'the Final Victory' but also faced with the lunacy of it all such as the order from on high for U-Boats at Brest to go and attack the D-Day fleet -and if possible, ram the ships. A man faced with the death of his family in a RAF bombing raid whilst trying to get his boat out to Norway and in the end planning an escape to South America but foiled.

Though similar to Das Boot, and Das Boot being based in reality, this was more affecting somehow. Maybe because it was a 'real' U-Boat commander as opposed to a composite, I don't know but a powerful read in places.

As for Herr Werner, he died a year ago aged 93. Good innings compared to the tens of thousands who never returned.

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Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

I absolutely loved that. Leave it to Palahniuk to come up with a seriously offbeat plot set in a controversial world, frame it with a skilful narrative device and actually tell an engaging story at the same time.

I have to catch up with those Palahniuks I don't know yet - I have Fight Club, Snuff, Diary, Choke, Lullaby and Rant, and they're all great. How Rant seemingly starts out as one thing and then continuously transforms itself while you figure out how to read between the lines is mesmerizing. And I'd love to see a film version of Diary (though I actually still haven't seen Choke).

But for now I have to finish Irving's Hotel New Hampshire, which I just started after finishing his Water Method Man (which I loved).

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Fight Club was my first, and actually a slight disappointment - but only because except for one or two short chapters and the alternate ending, the film seemingly contained the entire rest exactly as it was in the book. Reading it didn't offer anything new. Which of course is praise for the film rather than criticism for the book.

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Apart from a scene or two that are transposed, the movie is exactly like the book with the exception of one extremely crucial part. The ending. I felt the filmmakers were too scared to end it that way. My enjoyment of the movie has depreciated over time, but I still love the book. Works much better on the page.

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Iron Coffins- Herbert A. Werner

an account of an U-Boat commander who managed to survive start to end. All the more remarkable considering after 1943 the U-Boats were barely making it out from the French coast without being sunk. A man who at times seemed to believe in 'the Final Victory' but also faced with the lunacy of it all such as the order from on high for U-Boats at Brest to go and attack the D-Day fleet -and if possible, ram the ships. A man faced with the death of his family in a RAF bombing raid whilst trying to get his boat out to Norway and in the end planning an escape to South America but foiled.

Though similar to Das Boot, and Das Boot being based in reality, this was more affecting somehow. Maybe because it was a 'real' U-Boat commander as opposed to a composite, I don't know but a powerful read in places.

As for Herr Werner, he died a year ago aged 93. Good innings compared to the tens of thousands who never returned.

I used to read that one as a lad, during my submarine-obsessed phase. Should pick it up again to get all of the depth out of it that I surely missed back then.

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Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Mystery and Imagination

I finally got around to reading Poe and he doesn't disappoint. :)

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Star wars Knight errant by John Jackson Miller. Rather meh. I don't really like much when they make books about a new character out of the blue. (Same with SW Scourge) And I dont like much of the old republic weird sith lords... No wonder Darth Bane did what needed to be done...

I'm now into 'Star wars Soundrels' by Zahn, which promises to be a lot more fun.

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Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

I absolutely loved that. Leave it to Palahniuk to come up with a seriously offbeat plot set in a controversial world, frame it with a skilful narrative device and actually tell an engaging story at the same time.

Yup! Fully agreed!

I have to catch up with those Palahniuks I don't know yet - I have Fight Club, Snuff, Diary, Choke, Lullaby and Rant, and they're all great.

Definitely check out Survivor or Invisible Monsters next - two of his very best!

How Rant seemingly starts out as one thing and then continuously transforms itself while you figure out how to read between the lines is mesmerizing.

Mesmerizing is a good way to put it. Did you feel like I did when it was over, that you wish it was longer, or would have sequels, or whatever? I'd love to spend more time in that world. So creative.

And I'd love to see a film version of Diary (though I actually still haven't seen Choke).

A film version of any of his original 6 would be awesome. Heck, even Snuff could work as a film. The Choke film is OK, it has a good cast for sure, but they only adapted part of the book, they left out the entire ending!

I really liked Choke, the film, bummed that it never got a blu release. Only Palahniuk I've read is Fight Club. Need to continue with the others one day.

It's on Blu, just not in the USA. Yea, if you liked Fight Club definitely read more! They are all very similar, yet all wildly different :)

Fight Club was my first, and actually a slight disappointment - but only because except for one or two short chapters and the alternate ending, the film seemingly contained the entire rest exactly as it was in the book. Reading it didn't offer anything new. Which of course is praise for the film rather than criticism for the book.

Fight Club goes on my very short list of films that are better than the book. The book is great, fantastic, but the film is damn near perfect. Kind of rounds off a few edges and streamlines a few things, in completely satisfying ways. I like the film's intro of Tyler better than the books. But I did wish the film kept some of the Marla details intact. Overall I'm glad both exist.

Apart from a scene or two that are transposed, the movie is exactly like the book with the exception of one extremely crucial part. The ending. I felt the filmmakers were too scared to end it that way. My enjoyment of the movie has depreciated over time, but I still love the book. Works much better on the page.

MUCH better? Really? The film was so successful at adapting Chuck's world, I think!

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Definitely check out Survivor or Invisible Monsters next - two of his very best!

Will do.

Mesmerizing is a good way to put it. Did you feel like I did when it was over, that you wish it was longer, or would have sequels, or whatever? I'd love to spend more time in that world. So creative.

I don't remember the details (it was I believe only the 2nd Palahniuk I'd read, and I found it tedious for the first half or so, until I started getting the hang of how to "read" it). But I think I rather had the feeling that expanding any more on it would probably just lessen the whole thing.

Heck, even Snuff could work as a film.

There were at least rumours that a Snuff film was or is actually in the making. I think it could make a great film - the only problem is, I don't see how it could be made without an X rating.

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I think you could do it with an R rating. When you think about it, Cassie and the gang bang video is really only barely in the story. It'd mostly be guys standing around the waiting room with cut aways to the stories they are telling, and you could have the guys in the room all be in their underwear or something.

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Three Michael Crichton novels: Disclosure, Airframe, and The Andromeda Strain.

I think Crichton was at his best with the corporate thrillers, even more than with his science-heavy stuff. Disclosure was one of his best books.

Interesting to read Andromeda again. It clearly comes from a time when he was more restrained as a writer. It's too short; the crisis is over just as you're starting to get into it. It's sometimes accused of ending with a major deus ex machina, but the people who say this miss the central point of the story. Crichton was using the Piedmont incident to make a commentary about scientific control. The purpose of Wildfire was to control the situation, but from beginning to end they never had control.

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He didn't really hit his stride until the trifecta of Congo, Sphere and Jurassic Park. I lump The Andromeda Strain in with his other early novels like The Terminal Man. Good enough reads, but not much there. I stopped reading his novels after The Lost World so I can't speak about his later works.

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Sphere was pretty much his peak work. His later stuff really fell off in quality, and became very cookie-cutter in nature. State of Fear was really bad--almost felt like a bad Crichton imitator at work.

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Just bought Aaron Copland's "What to Listen For in Music". Has anyone read it? Sharky?

Edit: Finished this. A short book, but pretty interesting for someone who knows nothing about how music is composed. He also refers to Mr. Herrmann as "ingenious" towards the end, which was nice to see.

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I've been ploughing through John Gardner's James Bond books. As a kid I read my dad's copies of the first three a lot, almost as much as the Fleming's but going beyond the first three it's been at times a good ride. I liked Bond 'returning' to the RN in Win, Lose or Die though it was just weird having him talk with Thatcher however briefly. Just conjured the climax of For Your Eyes Only to the mind.

The one that felt off perhaps because of what it was, was Licence to Kill. Felix of the literary world is just plain unlucky. Mauled by a shark in Live & Let Die and then again here in LTK.

Got a few left though lacking Brokenclaw and COLD. When picturing Bond in my mind I seem to veer between Dalton and a slightly older Lazenby.

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The Water Method Man and The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. The only Irving I'd read before was Garp, years ago, so it was time for some more. Water Method Man was great and hilarious, but Hotel was fantastic. Irving has a knack for creating memorable characters and putting them in haunting long term situations (after many years, I barely remember anything from Garp, but I do remember the dread of the "undertoad"). Blurring the lines between historical facts and fiction (and I guess between autobiography and the fictional quasi biographies his novels represent) probably has a lot to do with it as well.

Now I'm re-reading one of my favourite Palahniuks, Diary, while waiting for my first Lovecraft to arrive.

I'll have to return to Irving again before long though. Until I Find You and A Widow for One Year have been recommended to me.

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To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck

This is Steinbeck's second novel and I still think some of his best writing full of similar imagery and locales, people and times he would describe in his later works but here the strongly suprahuman feeling that I often sense from his writing is enhanced by the subject of the novel itself, which is the intermingling of the forces of Man, Nature and Divine and their eternal cycle and struggle with each other. There is a simplicity to the characters, certain purity and quiet truth that rings true and in true Steinbeckian way humor glimmers through here and there amidst this epic yet intimate tale of a single man. Just as powerful experience as when I first read it, perhaps even more.

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I'm tackling the Brother Cadfael novels again, my favorite historical mysteries of all time. Already on the third on (Monk's Hood). These are a set that simply cannot be overread.

The Water Method Man and The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. The only Irving I'd read before was Garp, years ago, so it was time for some more. Water Method Man was great and hilarious, but Hotel was fantastic. Irving has a knack for creating memorable characters and putting them in haunting long term situations (after many years, I barely remember anything from Garp, but I do remember the dread of the "undertoad"). Blurring the lines between historical facts and fiction (and I guess between autobiography and the fictional quasi biographies his novels represent) probably has a lot to do with it as well.

Far and away my wife's favorite author. We actually got to meet him a few years ago at a local bookstore when Last Night in Twisted River came out.

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