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What Are You Reading?


John_Brian_K

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So we had a thread like this in the old forum (RIP) and I wanted to bring it back to get some recommendations.  I feel like I am in a rut.  I have started and almost finished about 3-4 different books the past few months and get soooo bored with them because the outcomes seem so obvious or the characters are just so poorly written I do not care what happens to them.  I have literally stopped listening with only an hour or so left in a couple books because I just did not care what happened to the characters.

I did that with the Traveler series, New York 2140, 2312 & Awaken Online.

I end up going back to a story I know I love and just re-listening to it.

According to Audible I have 275 hours of listening so far this year and I would say at least half of that is listening to something I already read at least once before.

Currently re-listening to the Stand for at least the 5th time.

I like good character driven stories.  Maybe someone can give me a recommendation that will open my eyes to a whole new author.

 

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I am halfway through "A Legacy of Spies", having finished "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" a couple of days ago.  They are both John LeCarre, written 50 years apart, about the same "failed" operation in East Germany in 1961.  I've read them both before, but long enough ago to enjoy them again.

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27 minutes ago, Jim Cowan said:

I am halfway through "A Legacy of Spies", having finished "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" a couple of days ago.  They are both John LeCarre, written 50 years apart, about the same "failed" operation in East Germany in 1961.  I've read them both before, but long enough ago to enjoy them again.

LeCarre was pleased enough to have been catapulted to literary stardom by TSTCIFTC, but with the heroic Richard Burton movie and all, in the end he was not pleased that his cynicism about the spy world was being lost, so his next novel was a total downer called "the Looking Glass War." Needless to say 60's Hollywood was less interested! Of course the Brits did their own completely forgettable film which wasted a rather promising cast.

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Working my way through LeCarre’s A Delicate  Truth. LeCarre’s outrage over corporations taking over the intelligence gathering of nations is coming thru here.

Has anyone gotten into the Gabriel Allon series of “spy novels” written by Daniel Silva. They’ve become a yearly treat since they come out near my birthday…

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1 hour ago, CMRivdogs said:

Working my way through LeCarre’s A Delicate  Truth. LeCarre’s outrage over corporations taking over the intelligence gathering of nations is coming thru here.

Has anyone gotten into the Gabriel Allon series of “spy novels” written by Daniel Silva. They’ve become a yearly treat since they come out near my birthday…

I'm not familiar with Gabriel Allon...sounds worth looking into.

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I tend to read a lot of stuff from authors I stumble upon by accident. I spent a lot of time reading Mary Doria Russell. A friend recommended The Sparrow. The local library’s copy was not available so I picked up Doc, a historical novel based on Doc Holiday and the events around the OK Corral. That lead to Epitaph, Wyatt Earp following the Tombstone shootout, another well researched novel. 
 

My favorite Russell novel is A Thread of Grace. It’s centered around WWII Jewish refugees and the Italian Resistance Movement. The novel is based upon account of survivors.

I finally found The Sparrow, it was probably better that I read the others first. The novel is quite thought provoking.

One final recommendation from Ms Russell, Women of Copper Country. It’s based on the Copper Country Strikes of 1913-14 in the UP. A good look at the Labor Movement and the mine operations.

 

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I’m into history and current events of a non political bent.  I read Mercury Rising about Glenn’s flight.  I had read almost everything on Mercury at that point and still learned some things.  Now I am reading about Apollo 8 which really saved the moon program and technically represented our first adventure to the moon. A very ambitious flight at the time considering the state of the program and timing with regard to kennedys deadline. They leapfrogged several objectives and used a rocket that had not yet been successful.  What’s amazing about the famous earth rise photo is when you consider that the photo of earth represents some remnant of every human that ever existed, even if a speck of dust,  except for the 3 men behind the camera who are in lunar orbit. 

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I like cultural and sociological topics, so I am re-reading Colin Woodard’s American Nations; and a book about the lives of ordinary people in North Korea entitled Nothing to Envy. I am also awaiting two books from my library I have on hold: The Generation Myth by Bobby Duffy, and Highly Irregular, a book about the oddities of the English Language, by Akira Okrent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am still not ready to start in on the historical/cultural stuff.  I enjoy my reading as a means of escape not for further education, but I know a day will come where I will get caught up in them.  I have tried maybe a dozen or so over the years and finished some, but for the most part I never finish them and go back to something more for entertainment.

Those Cork O'Conner books sound interesting...there are soo many of them.  I think I will give the first one a try and see if it catches me.  Thanks for the recommendation.

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On 10/28/2021 at 3:11 PM, John_Brian_K said:

So we had a thread like this in the old forum (RIP) and I wanted to bring it back to get some recommendations.  I feel like I am in a rut.  I have started and almost finished about 3-4 different books the past few months and get soooo bored with them because the outcomes seem so obvious or the characters are just so poorly written I do not care what happens to them.  I have literally stopped listening with only an hour or so left in a couple books because I just did not care what happened to the characters.

I did that with the Traveler series, New York 2140, 2312 & Awaken Online.

I end up going back to a story I know I love and just re-listening to it.

According to Audible I have 275 hours of listening so far this year and I would say at least half of that is listening to something I already read at least once before.

Currently re-listening to the Stand for at least the 5th time.

I like good character driven stories.  Maybe someone can give me a recommendation that will open my eyes to a whole new author.

 

Almost an hour and a half a day average listening and still not done...this is the unabridged version that is like 1200 pages.  I can see the end in sight though!

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  • 1 year later...

I wanted to resurrect this thread. Just finished S A Cosby's latest novel, All Sinners Bleed. Cosby has written 3 crime novels dealing with life in rural SE Virginia. I've seen a couple of interviews with him and he's just delightful. I also had a chance to briefly meet him today at the National Book Fair in DC (part of my wife's job). The kind of guy you want to drink bourbon from a mason jar with.

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I'm reading a book about Blockbuster.  Really eye opening.  The main thesis is that it wasn't Netflix that did them in and if what this guy says is true he's right.  Written by an executive from a former competitor that beat them in every market they competed in, he later went on to run some franchises who did things their own way.

All Blockbuster cared about was opening more stores.  Management was not interested in learning about customer habits, what sold well, etc.  They had all of this consumer data and it was never curated.  By opening more stores it created the cash flow that wall st loved.  That was the only goal.   Hollywood Video, and their forerunner company, would simply open up a store near an existing Blockbuster, then beat them.  One thing stood out.  Rentals are divided into two categories.  New Releases and Catalog.  Blockbuster would rent all their moves for $3 and you got it 2 nights.   Tapes cost around $65 so obviously you knew how many times you needed to rent for it to pay for itself.  By far the busiest night was Friday.  In Blockbuster they'd rent a new release for $3 and it's not back until Sunday.  The other places would rent it for $2 for one night, and get it back Saturday.  So that tape brings in $4 for a weekend, and two happy customers. Other places would also rent the catalog movies for $1.  Not at blockbuster.

And their lack of interest in customer habits meant they bungled the transition to DVD.  They couldn't even tell you what movies rented best in certain locations.  Franchisees would build their own systems from .csv files and do it themselves.  This isn't in 1985 either, it's 1997.   So when the time came that DVD was king, Blockbuster was stuck with a bunch of VHS tapes.  Their CEO figured customers would just take whatever was on the shelf. DVD was a gift to retail.  Smaller to ship, cheaper to produce... it was a no brainer.

It's common knowledge that Netflix offered to sell to them, with the idea being those guys would run mail order (Streaming wasn't a thing yet) and Blockbuster would take over the physical side.  Blockbuster not only declined, but the CEO gave them an eye roll.  That just ticked them off and motivated them. They were almost religious in their data and algorithms so off they went.

Just an interesting business book.  It rambles on a bit and probably could have fit into a 20 page term paper but whatever. 

 

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1 hour ago, oblong said:

I'm reading a book about Blockbuster.  Really eye opening.  The main thesis is that it wasn't Netflix that did them in and if what this guy says is true he's right.  Written by an executive from a former competitor that beat them in every market they competed in, he later went on to run some franchises who did things their own way.

All Blockbuster cared about was opening more stores.  Management was not interested in learning about customer habits, what sold well, etc.  They had all of this consumer data and it was never curated.  By opening more stores it created the cash flow that wall st loved.  That was the only goal.   Hollywood Video, and their forerunner company, would simply open up a store near an existing Blockbuster, then beat them.  One thing stood out.  Rentals are divided into two categories.  New Releases and Catalog.  Blockbuster would rent all their moves for $3 and you got it 2 nights.   Tapes cost around $65 so obviously you knew how many times you needed to rent for it to pay for itself.  By far the busiest night was Friday.  In Blockbuster they'd rent a new release for $3 and it's not back until Sunday.  The other places would rent it for $2 for one night, and get it back Saturday.  So that tape brings in $4 for a weekend, and two happy customers. Other places would also rent the catalog movies for $1.  Not at blockbuster.

And their lack of interest in customer habits meant they bungled the transition to DVD.  They couldn't even tell you what movies rented best in certain locations.  Franchisees would build their own systems from .csv files and do it themselves.  This isn't in 1985 either, it's 1997.   So when the time came that DVD was king, Blockbuster was stuck with a bunch of VHS tapes.  Their CEO figured customers would just take whatever was on the shelf. DVD was a gift to retail.  Smaller to ship, cheaper to produce... it was a no brainer.

It's common knowledge that Netflix offered to sell to them, with the idea being those guys would run mail order (Streaming wasn't a thing yet) and Blockbuster would take over the physical side.  Blockbuster not only declined, but the CEO gave them an eye roll.  That just ticked them off and motivated them. They were almost religious in their data and algorithms so off they went.

Just an interesting business book.  It rambles on a bit and probably could have fit into a 20 page term paper but whatever. 

 

Good overview, and makes a lot of sense.

Family Video was sort of the downscale/small-town pre-Redbox version of Blockbuster. I interviewed for the digital marketing director job at their HQ here. They told me during the interview that they did not see themselves as an entertainment delivery vehicle. Their core business model was real estate acquisition and management. They would buy the land to build the store on and use the revenue from renting videos to pay the mortgage and get free and clear on it. Then, were the rental business to go upside down somehow, they would still be sitting on nine figures worth of land and buildings they could rent out to other chains like pizza and fast food and still be a going concern.

I didn't end up working for them. Three reasons: (1) the idea of the video business going upside down suggested to me I wouldn't be there long even if i wanted to be, since that's what they wanted me to manage the digital marketing for; (2) they told me they run their business "like a family", complete with paternalistic aspects like funding college educations for some employees' children. Sounds good, right? I see that as a huge red flag—I wouldn't want to work for a family where such paternalism obligates me to them beyond my job, and where work culture is malleable and subject to owner fiat, and where I'm expected to let things slide as you are expected to with family members; and (3) I got an offer for a better job for more money with a major company before I could get the offer from FV, anyway.

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