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New on my list...

Chartwork & Pilotage, level 2

Meteorology, level 1

Ship Construction and Stability, level 3

General Ship Knowledge, level 3

Oral Examination on General Seamanship

Good stuff. My first encounter with such material was in the 1970's (The American Practical Navigator - Nathaniel Bowditch)....a timeless work.

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Currently reading:

The Lives of The Great Composers by Harold C. Schonberg

Baudolino by Umberto Eco

Recommend:

The Last Jew by Noah Gordon - story of a young Jewish boy who flees his home during the Spanish Inquisition

The Physician by Noah Gordon - orphaned boy in medieval England is apprenticed to a barber surgeon and later travels to Persia to study under Avicenna and become a real physician.

A Leaven of Malice - Robertson Davies

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I recently read "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.

It is a work of fantasy set mostly in present-day small-town middle America. The premise is that gods exist as long as people believe in them. These range from figures from old folklore and superstition and mythology to "new gods": technology is personified as a snivelling fat teenager and media as a smarmy blonde, for example.

The story follows a man named Shadow as he helps an elderly con-man named Mr Wednesday. Mr Wednesday is -- quite obviously -- an incarnation of Odin, and he's attempting to rally the other "old gods" together to make one last stand against "the new gods" before they all fade out of memory completely.

The story itself is pretty fanciful. I enjoyed the depiction of the mythological figures and their reminisces and reflections on history. Mixed in with Shadow's adventures are some vignettes that I found quite thought-provoking. I also enjoyed the depiction of the small town that Shadow spends much of the story in: a little oasis, almost.

-k

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I recently read "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.

It is a work of fantasy set mostly in present-day small-town middle America. The premise is that gods exist as long as people believe in them. These range from figures from old folklore and superstition and mythology to "new gods": technology is personified as a snivelling fat teenager and media as a smarmy blonde, for example.

The story follows a man named Shadow as he helps an elderly con-man named Mr Wednesday. Mr Wednesday is -- quite obviously -- an incarnation of Odin, and he's attempting to rally the other "old gods" together to make one last stand against "the new gods" before they all fade out of memory completely.

The story itself is pretty fanciful. I enjoyed the depiction of the mythological figures and their reminisces and reflections on history. Mixed in with Shadow's adventures are some vignettes that I found quite thought-provoking. I also enjoyed the depiction of the small town that Shadow spends much of the story in: a little oasis, almost.

-k

It's really well-written, too. I liked it a lot.

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A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. (2nd time)

Great book if you like the Middle-Ages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Distant_Mirror

I noticed this title at the library this morning and passed over it. Seems like something I might like. I'll have to check it out.

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I recently read "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. -k

I have read one or two by Gaiman.

I highly reccoment Good Omens co-authored with Terry Prachett.

It is basically a nature vs nurture story..satan's child is mixed up at the hospital, (run by an addled group of satanic nurses) and is sent to a normal english family instead of an evil one...and alongside are two angels, one heavenly, one working for the other team....they come to realize that if the final battle occurs they will both be out of jobs...

Soundtrack provided by Queen..

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yep there's a shocker :P

-k

Shocker? On second thought, I like movies - and in many ways, that's modern fiction. If Shakespeare or more certainly Molière or Hugo or Dickens were alive today, there is no doubt in my mind that they would be in Hollywood. Victor Hugo was born to write scenarios.

IOW, the best fiction today is in movies. Now then, if you haven't read Germinal, you don't know what a good read is...

----

Sorry for the thread hijack.

I recently finished Karl Rove's book, and Hank Paulsen's book. As Kimmy would post in Facebookese, "like". I started and then stopped Life of Pi. (See below.) I'm currently meandering through a biography of George Perkins Marsh. It's an eye opener.

-----

Yann Martel's Life of Pi. I got to about page 60 or so on my Kobo eReader, and then I gave the eReader while abroad to a friend as a gift. At p. 60, I think Martel's main character was still in India because I don't recall any boat with a tiger. When I got back to Canada, I was tempted/felt obliged to continue to read the story but I quickly realized, stumbling on reviews, that the story just got sillier and more whimsical - while at the same time spending inordinate paragraphs on technical details. Enough for me.

Yann Martel? You're history. Life is too short.

My theory of reading is that if it's not fun or clear, you should give it a page or two more, then stop. There's no point in reading something that you don't like, or don't understand. (BTW, my theory also applies to technical papers and even textbooks.)

Later, I stumbled on an interview/article with Jonathan Frantzen where he stated his 10 rules for writing. Now, I happen to know of Frantzen because, years ago, I read his novel "Twentieth-Seventh City". IMHO, it was an amateurish mish-mash in serious need of a rewrite. (Rewrite? We are far, far from Flaubert and Madame Bovary.) I have never read any other Frantzen novel. I am surprised/amazed that publishers give him money.

But I did read his 10 rules. Here they are:

1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.

2. Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money.

3. Never use the word "then" as a conjunction – we have "and" for this purpose. Substituting "then" is the lazy or tone-deaf writer's non-solution to the problem of too many "ands" on the page.

4. Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.

5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.

6. The most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more auto biographical story than "The Metamorphosis".

7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.

8. It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction (the TIME magazine cover story detailed how Franzen physically disables the Net portal on his writing laptop).

9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.

10. You have to love before you can be relentless.

Random Link

Don't you just love the American obsession with Top Ten lists?

Anyway, I was struck by Rule #5. Why? Because Yann Martel doesn't understand it. Extensive research, arcane references, are no replacement for good writing or a good story. Certainly not in a world of Google and the Internet.

Edited by August1991
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My theory of reading is that if it's not fun or clear, you should give it a page or two more, then stop. There's no point in reading something that you don't like, or don't understand.

This is an interesting idea for another thread - books you couldn't bring yourself to finish. The one that sticks out for me is "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". I remember feeling obligated to finish it, because I had already read 2/3 of it, and then deciding it just wasn't worth my time to continue on with. I never did finish it, but when I was in Savannah a few years later I still made a point of having my picture taken in front of the fountain that is shown on the dust jacket of the book. The fountain was the most interesting thing about the book.

A picture of the fountain without me in it

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I didn't read the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil but I saw the Kevin Spacey movie. I can imagine that the novel would be good, if you like that sort of thing. In the past few years, I have had reason to go to the US South for the first time in my life and I must say that it has pleasantly surprised me. The so-called old south still exists, and I don't mean that in a pejorative way. I particularly liked the streets of Savannah and Charleston.

Without you? Or are you the one on the left, or the right? Edited by August1991
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Skygod Fiction

I just read the new testament again, and I want to read the Koran. But a friend from work sent me the Book Of Mormon, which Im also dying to read.

Academic/Work

Im also reading "Information theory, inference, and learning algorithms", which covers among other things Bayes theorum, and bayesian inference.

Fiction

I recently read The Road as well (mentioned by someone else) and like that a lot.

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Im also reading "Information theory, inference, and learning algorithms", which covers among other things Bayes theorum, and bayesian inference.
Bayesian inference, hmm.

IMHO, most people are Bayesian.

----

If you hear that cars built on Fridays are more likely to be lemons, you may ask the salesman whether the car you are about to buy was built on a Friday. (Of course the salesman will lie.) A Bayesian would buy the car and then, discovering that it's a lemon, wonder whether it was built on a Friday.

It's a curious way to live, sometimes appropriate, but I am amazed that many people lead their entire life according to Bayesian inference.

Edited by August1991
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Bayesian inference, hmm.

IMHO, most people are Bayesian.

----

If you hear that cars built on Fridays are more likely to be lemons, you may ask the salesman whether the car you are about to buy was built on a Friday. (Of course the salesman will lie.) A Bayesian would buy the car and then, discovering that it's a lemon, wonder whether it was built on a Friday.

It's a curious way to live, sometimes appropriate, but I am amazed that many people lead their entire life according to Bayesian inference.

Not sure if I live my life according to it or not. But I suppose a lot of the actual logic you use inside your brain to determine probably is abstracted away from you, and you dont fully understand why you find something probable or improbable.

My interest is related to using bayes theorum for latent semantic analysis to cluster large collections of documents.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Reading Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follett right now. About halfway through. Really enjoying this book.

I read this over the summer. It was interesting, but not what I expected. I felt like I needed to be an architect to really understand the technical descriptions of the building of the cathedral, and I never found a character that I actually liked. I'm not sure I would read another book by him - maybe it was just overhyped for me.

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I read this over the summer. It was interesting, but not what I expected. I felt like I needed to be an architect to really understand the technical descriptions of the building of the cathedral, and I never found a character that I actually liked. I'm not sure I would read another book by him - maybe it was just overhyped for me.

Well I know what you mean about the architecture stuff. I don't understand it and I have a hard time picturing it. I usually find writing which is spacially descriptive (even if it requires no expertise) to be hard to convert to an image in my head. I don't skip reading those parts, but I don't bother about it when I can't grasp it.

I actually do like the characters, though I suppose that they are pretty harsh, but you know those were tough times.

I think what I really like about this book is its structure (well so far). It's got several story lines which all support one another in the grand scheme. Like counterpoint in music. Not only that but each of those story lines is made up of smaller stories. So that even if I just read a little bit everyday I feel like I have read a short story. And I also kinda like historical fiction.

Edited by jefferiah
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