INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

The original book thread

Enter here to talk about books, art, literature, film, TV and anything else to do with popular culture.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The original book thread

#141 Post by Alan H » June 21st, 2008, 11:50 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Maria wrote:I get the impression people here enjoy doing most of the silly and fun quizzes that get posted and I can wholeheartedly recommend Julian Baggini's and Jeremy Stangroom's book full of not-so-silly quizzes, "Do you think what you think you think?"
I'm reading it next!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Thomas
Posts: 459
Joined: July 21st, 2007, 3:54 pm

Re: The original book thread

#142 Post by Thomas » July 6th, 2008, 5:27 pm

I'm very much enjoying The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers at present.

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: The original book thread

#143 Post by Nick » July 7th, 2008, 9:58 am

I've just acquired a copy of The Riddle of the Sands on the recommendation of a work colleague, so I'll have to give it a go and see what I think.

Beki
Posts: 710
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 8:43 am

Re: The original book thread

#144 Post by Beki » July 13th, 2008, 10:50 am

Has anyone else read Chris Brookmyre's "Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks"?

It is dedicated to James Randi and Richard Dawkins so the content can be guessed. Psychics and Creationists abound with our super-cynic Jack Parlabane hot in tow. I thought it was really funny but then I love most of CB's books. And I think that it is a great title. It describes all the people that still believe in Spiritulism and 'New Age' mysticism, horoscopes etc in spite of everything in this age of reason. He also made me think about it on a deeper level. Why do people persist in believing this cr@p when it is shown beyond all reasonable doubt that it is all codswallop? What is it in the human psyche that makes us want to believe? Good question........ answers on the back of a postcard please!

Or you can just read it on the 'damn funny book' level! Which is great too! :wink:
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. - M Ghandi

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: The original book thread

#145 Post by Alan H » July 13th, 2008, 3:54 pm

Beki wrote:Why do people persist in believing this cr@p when it is shown beyond all reasonable doubt that it is all codswallop?
If only we knew!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Felicia
Posts: 495
Joined: August 3rd, 2007, 9:16 am

Re: The original book thread

#146 Post by Felicia » July 13th, 2008, 6:16 pm

Alan H wrote:
Beki wrote:Why do people persist in believing this cr@p when it is shown beyond all reasonable doubt that it is all codswallop?
If only we knew!
It's because religious faith is emotionally based. Arguing with logic and reason misses the point, it's on the wrong vertex. Worse luck.

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9300
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: The original book thread

#147 Post by Maria Mac » August 17th, 2008, 3:43 pm

I've almost finished reading The Islamist by Ed Hussain and strongly recommend it. For me, at least, it was an eye-opener.

The author, a child of Indian Muslim immigrant parents, grew up in the East End of London in the late 70s and 80s when the NF/BNP were becoming strong in the area. His parents were very religious but respectful of British culture and they were horrified when their son became heavily involved in 'Islamism' (aka 'political Islam') in his teens. His father's insistence that Islam was a faith, not a political system, and that if he was interested in politics he should join the Labour Party, fell on deaf ears as Hussain moved from one Islamist group to another, ending up in the fanatical Hizb_ut-Tahrir. (Anyone who, while at uni was either involved in or was bewildered by the 'People's Front of Judea syndrome' because of the plethora of tiny ultra-left wing groups competing for members will get a sense of deja vu when reading about the similar competition between Islamist groups.) Hussain writes convincingly of the psychological damage being visited on a generation of young Muslims in Britain and everywhere else by groups like Hizb which, according to Wiki, boasts a million members worldwide and he is clearly dismayed at the gutlessness of the British government in failing to do as most Muslim countries have already done i.e. ban it.

Interestingly, he describes how many of his fellow Islamists in Hizb were not nearly as well-versed in the Muslim faith as he, were not particularly observant, did not know how to pray and would ask him for a suitable verse from the Qu'ran to round off a political speech they were planning to deliver at one college campus or another. His gradual realisation that his original aim of becoming more immersed in his faith had backfired and actually made him more distanced from it was one of the things that started his process of moving away from the Islamism that had dominated his life for five years; falling in love with the woman who was to become his wife and who was devoutly Muslim but who refused to be drawn into political Islam was another. Then there was 9/11 and how his instinctive reaction was to celebrate it but how he was made to feel thoroughly ashamed of himself by the gentle, spiritual Muslims with whom he'd begun to associate....

It was in Syria and Saudi Arabia where he finally shed the all remnants of the Islamist mindset and, it seems, discovered a latent pride in the country he was born and raised in for its tolerance and liberalism. By this time he was drawn to Sufism and was horrified by the racism, sexism and homophobia of the Wahhabis he met in the Gulf. In fact, a chapter devoted to Saudi Arabia reveals it to be a far more brutal and barbaric place than we are inclined to think. (An extract from the chapter can be found here.) Referring to African Muslim immigrants to Saudi who are condemned to a life of misery, squalor, prostitution and disease, he writes that Muslims live better in non-Muslim Britain than they do in that oil-rich country.

He writes despairingly of how the monstrosity being spawned by the marriage between political Islam and the ultra-literalist Islam that is Wahhabism is being exported to the West: countless young Muslims - many of them converts - visit the Gulf to become immersed in Islam and that is what they take home with them. Make no mistake: according to the islamist way of thinking democracy and humanistic values count for less than nothing (you probably already knew that, of course).

Hussain writes a bit about his life as an Islamist here.

A recent interview with him the Times can be read here.

This book has convinced me that Islamism has much greater stranglehold on the Muslim youth of Britain than I previously realised. I also feel far less repulsed by Islam as a faith - in fact, I feel a strange sense of warmth towards that generation of older Muslims who see their faith as nothing more nor less than what it is - a faith, not a 'way' nor a political system. I'd be interested to know if anyone else reading this book emerges feeling the same.

Felicia
Posts: 495
Joined: August 3rd, 2007, 9:16 am

Re: The original book thread

#148 Post by Felicia » August 17th, 2008, 5:34 pm

How extremely interesting, Maria. My new home is in a culturally mixed area and I've found myself irritated by the number of mosques around, especially the one at the end of the road which is being extended over the only little bit of green ground left. Often I see women in full black garb, which the unreconstructured feminist from the 70s in me feels like a huge betrayal of what we fought for. BUT the islamic men who run the hardware shop and the green grocery are so kind, so polite, so twinkly that I can't resist going back.... but the other side of me thinks, is this a con? Do they really hate us, are they just tempting us to get at our money? I obviously need to read Ed Hussein's book to try and make sense of the diversity of everyday inner city life. It's all so bloody complicated.

Moonbeam
Posts: 617
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:44 pm

Re: The original book thread

#149 Post by Moonbeam » August 19th, 2008, 11:03 am

You can read an extract from the first chapter of The Islamist here. I read it when it first came out and found it gripping. I'm sorry it didn't win the Orwell prize - it was on the shortlist but the shortlist looked extremely strong and I am now reading the winner, Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape, with much enjoyment, .

Talking of Saudi Arabia, I came across this news story recently:

Saudi king appeals for tolerance
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has called on followers of the world's main religions to turn away from extremism and embrace a spirit of reconciliation.

The king was opening a conference in Madrid which brings together Muslims, Christians, Jews and Buddhists.

He said the great conflicts of history were not caused by religion, but by the misinterpretation of religion.

(snip)

Wahhabism, the strain of Sunni Islam that is officially practised in Saudi Arabia, is considered one of the religion's most conservative and intolerant forms.

"The tragedies we have experienced throughout history were not the fault of religion but because of the extremism that has been adopted by some followers of all the religions, and of all political systems."
Is this supremely hopeful or supremely ironic?

User avatar
Alan C.
Posts: 10356
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 3:35 pm

Re: The original book thread

#150 Post by Alan C. » August 19th, 2008, 5:25 pm

"The tragedies we have experienced throughout history were not the fault of religion but because of the extremism that has been adopted by some followers of all the religions, and of all political systems."
That's bloody rich! Coming from the King of the most extremist country on Earth.
I believe it all went pear shaped in the end.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Zoe
Posts: 564
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 4:08 pm

Re: The original book thread

#151 Post by Zoe » August 21st, 2008, 11:28 pm

Moonbeam wrote:
Talking of Saudi Arabia, I came across this news story recently:

Saudi king appeals for tolerance
I think this calls for a reading from the Bible.

*flicks through King James version*

Ah yes, here we are - Matthew 7:5.
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Glad to be of service. :)

Oh and I've just finished de Berniere's Bird without Wings. Superb!

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: The original book thread

#152 Post by Nick » September 5th, 2008, 10:04 am

According to the Today Programme, The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year in 1986 was Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality (Brunner/Mazel).

Essential reading, I'd say. :hilarity:

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9300
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: The original book thread

#153 Post by Maria Mac » September 6th, 2008, 1:45 pm

I finished Ernst and Singh's excellent Trick or Treatment? on alternative medicine and feel a lot better informed. I recommend it, together with Rose Shapiro's Suckers to anyone with even a passing interest in the subject. Suckers is enjoyable for its witty, irreverent style while Trick or Treatment left me feeling somehow better educated. Both are easy to read and hard to put down.

I am now on Julian Baggini's 'The Duck that Won the Lottery' which is full of examples of fallacious arguments taken from real life with Julian's concise and easily understood explanations of exactly why they are fallacious. A useful contribution to the literature on critical thinking that's already out there.

DougS
Posts: 737
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:48 am

Re: The original book thread

#154 Post by DougS » September 27th, 2008, 4:37 pm

If anyone fancies an intelligent space opera set in the 24th century, I highly recommend Peter F Hamilton's Pandora's Star, which I'm having trouble putting down.

User avatar
coledavis
Posts: 369
Joined: August 17th, 2008, 6:29 pm

Re: The original book thread

#155 Post by coledavis » September 28th, 2008, 9:32 pm

Moonbeam wrote:I'm sorry it didn't win the Orwell prize
I'm sorry Orwell didn't win the Orwell prize. :smile:
http://www.coledavis.org - insight analyst, specialist in the interpretation of surveys for charities and education

http://www.careersteer.org - careers quiz helping people to choose their career direction

Diane
Posts: 441
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 9:07 am

Re: The original book thread

#156 Post by Diane » October 1st, 2008, 10:19 am

DougS wrote:If anyone fancies an intelligent space opera set in the 24th century,
I'd rather stick pins in my eyes. Sorry.

I finally got round to reading Ian McEwan's Atonement, which I really enjoyed. Will watch the film now. I've just started his On Chesil Beach.

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9300
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: The original book thread

#157 Post by Maria Mac » October 12th, 2008, 12:13 pm

The last non-fiction book I read was Ben Goldacre's Bad Science, which is superb. He's really funny and some of the stories in it beggar belief. An eye-operner.


Now I'm reading Monica Ali's gripping first novel, Brick Lane, which I love for the quality of the writing, the way she can bring a character to life through a unique and inventive turn of phrase and the insight into the lives of Bengali immigrants in East London. And which I hate for the unmitigated misery of the story. Sometimes I wish I hadn't started it but I want to know how it ends too much to abandon it now.

Also want to see the film, of course.

User avatar
coledavis
Posts: 369
Joined: August 17th, 2008, 6:29 pm

Re: The original book thread

#158 Post by coledavis » October 12th, 2008, 12:30 pm

I've just read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court for the first time in 30 years. The first two-thirds are even better than I remember them; the last third doesn't quite work. A pity, as he could have made what appears to be a complex satirical adventure story into something truly great. But that's Twain for you.
http://www.coledavis.org - insight analyst, specialist in the interpretation of surveys for charities and education

http://www.careersteer.org - careers quiz helping people to choose their career direction

Ted Harvey
Posts: 172
Joined: September 10th, 2007, 4:41 pm

Re: The original book thread

#159 Post by Ted Harvey » October 12th, 2008, 10:09 pm

Oooh! Isn’t it a bind when you are really, really impressed by a book that is from an author you really dislike? I have waded through Niall Ferguson’s ‘War of the World’. I find him to be a poseur of a particular type of celeb academic, far too much in adulation of the USA for a supposedly serious historian, and with an awful Scottish cringe that does come out in his writing. (He is Scottish-born but now based at Harvard University)

Nevertheless, his reprise of just why did the 20th century become such a bloodbath is masterful and persuasive. There is a lengthy trick at the start of one chapter concerning President Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler. I completely fell for it, and laughed out loud when I realised it.

If you want a demanding, but highly intelligent, top quality tutorial on the bloody wars and ethnicity of the 20th century this is a must-read book.

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: The original book thread

#160 Post by Nick » October 15th, 2008, 8:27 pm

Interesting, Ted. I've just been given a copy of his book Empire, which has come highly recommended. I'm feeling a bit of guilt for some reason, but let's see how it goes.

Thomas
Posts: 459
Joined: July 21st, 2007, 3:54 pm

Re: The original book thread

#161 Post by Thomas » October 23rd, 2008, 10:32 am

In the recent period I've read The Islamist and agree with Maria's comments on it - highly recommended; The Evolution Man (Or, How I Ate My Father), by Roy Lewis. about a family of early homids learning to become civilised. Hilarious!

Now I'm onto To Be A European Muslim by Tariq Ramadan, which so far is proving surprisingly readable and enjoyable.

Post Reply