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Somewhat Off-Topic: What have you been reading lately?


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This is the one thread which I would look at and say to myself I will never never ever ever participate because I do not do much book reading.  I do most of my reading off of the Internet. 

I was reminded of this thread as I was reading a book the other night.  I have been reading this particular book for a few weeks now. I ordered this book a few years ago and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I am reading this book for sheer pleasure as I become better acquainted and knowledgeable in my hobby, film history. 

I do not have the time nor do I want to read through 20 plus pages of threads starting in 2010 so forgive me if this particular title has been mention.  I have been reading with great joy a book titled "85 Years of the Oscar" by Robert Osborne.  Just a fascinating opus chock full of yearly listings of nominees and winners for all of the numerous Oscar categories.  The little stories sprinkled throughout the book of the actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers and others talking about what winning the Oscar means to them is must reading. 

This is a great read and I am enjoying it.  Undoubtedly most citizens of TCM Nation already have this book in their library. 

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I've been reading End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World, by Bryan Walsh. It takes a look at various potential catastrophic end-of-the-world scenarios, as well as how we can prepare for them and potentially survive them (as a species, not necessarily on an individual level - this isn't a prepper how-to guide). I've only read the first two chapters thus far, covering asteroid strikes and supervolcano eruptions. Next up is nuclear war/accidents. It's been a fun, light read so far.

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I took 100 books to Books-A-Million and they bought 15 for $9.00.  I took the other 85 to Goodwill since I passed by them.  According to the guy at Goodwill, they try to sell books there and after a while ship them to a "central" location where they try to sell them on e-bay or some internet site.

My local BAM has a fairly large number of Used Books and DVD's for sale.  They also send some "buy backs" to a central location.  They buy books regardless of where you purchased them.  For large numbers you need an appointment.  Also buy DVD's.

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On 11/4/2019 at 3:18 PM, thomasterryjr said:

Undoubtedly most citizens of TCM Nation already have this book in their library. 

Not me. Not a Robt Osborne fan.

Books-A-Million is ok, they offer few books in my preferred genres. I love McKays & visit every location when traveling south. Our car is often loaded down with books on the way home. But Powell's in Oregon is the mother lode. It's actually a good thing I have to fly home.

I just finished Sally Field's auto biography IN PIECES.

9781538763032.jpg

I really enjoyed it. It was a light breezy easy read, much like Sally herself. A dark undertone is present, something somehow translated through her acting.

I've always liked Sally Field and she plays charactors my age so I feel like we grew up together. I enjoyed reading her take on her career, Hollywood and how to cope with what life throws you.

I've always been put off by Lee Strasberg actor's stuff, but Sally described how she found him and the Studio's teachings were fascinating. Learning "art" does have to be kind of "out there" and feel a bit less judgmental about it now-thanks Sally!

There's no real surprises here, but this book definitely reads in Sally's voice. I was not aware her Mom was an actress, Margaret Field. I pulled out season 2 Twilight Zone disk to see her in "The New Exhibit" and while uncredited, you instantly recognize her!

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Next Saturday, Ye Olde Booke Club, we are discussing Sister Carrie. Dreiser's soporific (for me) novel from 1900. I had a hard time getting through it. The style seems to me a bit out out of date. I wish I were a scholar so I would know that for sure. Everything that happens is in real time and the inner thoughts and motivations are meticulously catalogued every step of the way. It gets tedious. It is easier to accept the novel when it is realized that it is considered a naturalistic novel. Story and character are being related as if being observed scientifically rather than emotionally.   It didn't help I guess that the story was already clear in my mind. The 1952 movie with Jennifer Jones and Lawrence Olivier. The second half of the novel is relatively uneventful compared to the first half and it is no wonder that Hollywood  had to spruce it up a bit. Hollywood often gets flack for this sort of thing but here is sorely needed.

About a month ago I was the only one of the group (about 15) who was over-the-top enthusiastic about Hugo's The Man Who Laughs. It was criticized for it's digressions, emphatically extended descriptions, and prolonged historical detail. I loved the novel so much in the overall that I was able to accept these potential downfalls. I appreciate Hugo's enthusiasm and the fearlessness in not compromising his inclination for prolixity. And the writing is terrific. There is, to my seeming, something modern about it. It had an angry-young-man tone to it and it actually reminded me of the scathing and misanthropic intensity of Celine (esp, Journey to the End of the Night). Not to over emphasize the similarity of the two novels, but it's weird to think that the Hugo was written in the 1860s. And compared to what was being written across the Channel at that time, it was in a different world. The Man Who Laughs is a beautifully constructed novel and can be quite gripping, even.

We have a Jane Austen society here and I got a notice that Northanger Abbey was up for a discussion. There was only a week notice but thankfully this is more of novella length. This is not my usual group. My group is limited to 15 because of the space provided but here there were about twice of many. This was one of her first works that she sold off early in her career but then bought it back at the end of her life and amended some parts. It was published posthumously, I believe. She informs us early on (in so many words, and beautiful words they are) that her main character is not a "heroine" and then from there takes a few shots at the Gothic Novel, which was so in vogue at the time. Northanger Abbey is sometimes taken as a satire on the Gothic novel, but is only partly so. But her treatment is so brilliant. Oh, how these young ladies get so carried away with them But Austen is not a muckraker, she is very even-handed. She doesn't really denounce anything. Novels are good, even Gothic ones, but watch out. When our "heroine" gets to the Abbey she concocts all kinds of fantastical notions that she got from the Gothic that ... (spoiler avoided). Amusing, amusing, amusing. The principal example of that genre that grips our heroine is The Mysteries of Udolpho by Radcliffe, which I hear from my fellow readers in the group is all but unreadable by a modern. Austen's writing here is pleasing beyond belief. Her use of language makes me write down certain passages. Some of the are quite complicated, for me anyway. I just have to read some of them a few times. But overall, it reads comfortably and beautifully. Austen writes with a seeming high-minded fastidiousness but without an ounce of pretension. She might be my favorite of all.

 

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On 11/10/2019 at 4:54 AM, TikiSoo said:

Not me. Not a Robt Osborne fan.

Books-A-Million is ok, they offer few books in my preferred genres. I love McKays & visit every location when traveling south. Our car is often loaded down with books on the way home. But Powell's in Oregon is the mother lode. It's actually a good thing I have to fly home.

I just finished Sally Field's auto biography IN PIECES.

9781538763032.jpg

I really enjoyed it. It was a light breezy easy read, much like Sally herself. A dark undertone is present, something somehow translated through her acting.

I've always liked Sally Field and she plays charactors my age so I feel like we grew up together. I enjoyed reading her take on her career, Hollywood and how to cope with what life throws you.

I've always been put off by Lee Strasberg actor's stuff, but Sally described how she found him and the Studio's teachings were fascinating. Learning "art" does have to be kind of "out there" and feel a bit less judgmental about it now-thanks Sally!

There's no real surprises here, but this book definitely reads in Sally's voice. I was not aware her Mom was an actress, Margaret Field. I pulled out season 2 Twilight Zone disk to see her in "The New Exhibit" and while uncredited, you instantly recognize her!

I’m glad you enjoyed this book! I have Sally’s book, autographed no less, when I saw her at Powell’s! I haven’t read her book yet, but I very much enjoy her performances in the films of hers that I’ve seen. I especially love her in the “Gidget” TV series. 
 

I also love Powell’s. If you make it back again, you’ll see that they’ve remodeled. It’s more open and there’s a new room! They’re also closing the attached parking garage (which I loathed because it was so small and cramped. Thus I’d park elsewhere). I’m wondering if they’re going to expand. 

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On 11/10/2019 at 11:16 AM, laffite said:

Next Saturday, Ye Olde Booke Club, we are discussing Sister Carrie. Dreiser's soporific (for me) novel from 1900. I had a hard time getting through it. The style seems to me a bit out out of date. I wish I were a scholar so I would know that for sure. Everything that happens is in real time and the inner thoughts and motivations are meticulously catalogued every step of the way. It gets tedious. It is easier to accept the novel when it is realized that it is considered a naturalistic novel. Story and character are being related as if being observed scientifically rather than emotionally.   It didn't help I guess that the story was already clear in my mind. The 1952 movie with Jennifer Jones and Lawrence Olivier. The second half of the novel is relatively uneventful compared to the first half and it is no wonder that Hollywood  had to spruce it up a bit. Hollywood often gets flack for this sort of thing but here is sorely needed.

About a month ago I was the only one of the group (about 15) who was over-the-top enthusiastic about Hugo's The Man Who Laughs. It was criticized for it's digressions, emphatically extended descriptions, and prolonged historical detail. I loved the novel so much in the overall that I was able to accept these potential downfalls. I appreciate Hugo's enthusiasm and the fearlessness in not compromising his inclination for prolixity. And the writing is terrific. There is, to my seeming, something modern about it. It had an angry-young-man tone to it and it actually reminded me of the scathing and misanthropic intensity of Celine (esp, Journey to the End of the Night). Not to over emphasize the similarity of the two novels, but it's weird to think that the Hugo was written in the 1860s. And compared to what was being written across the Channel at that time, it was in a different world. The Man Who Laughs is a beautifully constructed novel and can be quite gripping, even.

We have a Jane Austen society here and I got a notice that Northanger Abbey was up for a discussion. There was only a week notice but thankfully this is more of novella length. This is not my usual group. My group is limited to 15 because of the space provided but here there were about twice of many. This was one of her first works that she sold off early in her career but then bought it back at the end of her life and amended some parts. It was published posthumously, I believe. She informs us early on (in so many words, and beautiful words they are) that her main character is not a "heroine" and then from there takes a few shots at the Gothic Novel, which was so in vogue at the time. Northanger Abbey is sometimes taken as a satire on the Gothic novel, but is only partly so. But her treatment is so brilliant. Oh, how these young ladies get so carried away with them But Austen is not a muckraker, she is very even-handed. She doesn't really denounce anything. Novels are good, even Gothic ones, but watch out. When our "heroine" gets to the Abbey she concocts all kinds of fantastical notions that she got from the Gothic that ... (spoiler avoided). Amusing, amusing, amusing. The principal example of that genre that grips our heroine is The Mysteries of Udolpho by Radcliffe, which I hear from my fellow readers in the group is all but unreadable by a modern. Austen's writing here is pleasing beyond belief. Her use of language makes me write down certain passages. Some of the are quite complicated, for me anyway. I just have to read some of them a few times. But overall, it reads comfortably and beautifully. Austen writes with a seeming high-minded fastidiousness but without an ounce of pretension. She might be my favorite of all.

 

I always dreaded reading Austen. Best of luck to you.

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17 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I have Sally’s book, autographed no less, when I saw her at Powell’s!

Yeah, you live a gifted life in many ways.

Read it-it's a quick & easy one. (although not as quick/easy as Carrie Fisher's books. Those are 4 days tops)

5 hours ago, Gershwin fan said:

I always dreaded reading Austen.

ME TOO! But I very much enjoy good film adaptations, they are great stories. But I must be totally engrossed in a period picture, better for me if seen in a theater. I even like CLUELESS.

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7 hours ago, Gershwin fan said:

I always dreaded reading Austen. Best of luck to you.

But as you have read, I need none. Austin elicits no dread in me. Therefore luck is of no use to me. My own enthusiasm serves me well. I wouldn't mind borrowing a few of your IQ points to help with some of those toughie sentences of Miss Austen, haha (for those who don't know, Gershwin's IQ is off the charts). But your cast of mind is probably more of the philosopher rather than the reader of mere fiction (I make you sound like a snob but I'm sure you're not). Thanks for responding. I thought my post was invisible. 

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I have a semi-amusing story about Jane Austen or rather her novels. As a lazy high school student I spent my freshman year in college at a Christian school out in the great American heartland. Between the fall and spring semesters this college had an about month long study program where a student could chose a course that concentrated on one specific topic. As the offerings were rather limited, I chose a course on the novels of Jane Austen taught by an old English professor. I knew very little about JA so I thought I could learn a bit about her. The class was assigned three or four Austen novels to read in that short amount of time, so one really had to bear down with ol' Jane. The funniest part was a farmboy I had made friends with also decided to take the course since I was taking it. I doubt he completed any of the novels as he was constantly asking me questions about the plots of the books. I guess he got through it with a gentlemanly C. I found Austen to be a bit on the dull side as I didn't have much knowledge of the 18th century background of the novels which led to some puzzlement about the books. I've read Austen since and in general like her. I've never found her novels particularly difficult to read. Of course she's no Henry James, but then who is. :)

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Reel 'em in, Henry.

 

James’s repressions and evasions are many, varied and exhausting. Why more people are not seen rushing shrieking from libraries, shredding James novels in their hands, I cannot say. I used to wonder whether enthusiasm for him was based on identification, since his passive, tentative heroes resemble many academics. Perhaps what is intolerable is his enshrinement in a soporific criticism. So much must be overlooked to crown him with laurel.

Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), p. 622.

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20 hours ago, laffite said:

But as you have read, I need none. Austin elicits no dread in me. Therefore luck is of no use to me. My own enthusiasm serves me well. I wouldn't mind borrowing a few of your IQ points to help with some of those toughie sentences of Miss Austen, haha (for those who don't know, Gershwin's IQ is off the charts). But your cast of mind is probably more of the philosopher rather than the reader of mere fiction (I make you sound like a snob but I'm sure you're not). Thanks for responding. I thought my post was invisible. 

I''m glad you can get in to Austen while I couldn't. She just doesn't interest me very much. Some philosophers did use narrative to express their work ("Thus Spoke Zarathustra" is probably the most famous). I don't have a problem with narrative fiction, just a specific problem getting into Austen ( though like you I probably prefer her to Henry James- some of his work anyways).

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I just finished reading THE PRINCESS DIARIST by fave Carrie Fisher. She was cleaning out and discovered that she had kept a journal of her time filming Star Wars and knowing the cultural significance, wanted to share it with the public. 

The_Princess_Diarist_cover.jpg

Doe eyed jaded at 19.

Truth is, most of the book is her glib musings of the rocky road to being cast in Star Wars. Very little is transcript pages of said journal. But no matter-Carrie Fisher is a fascinating person who has a delicious, sometimes cruel sense of humor. I enjoy how she honestly describes Hollywood reality.

There's an entire segment of just things people have said upon meeting her. I am empathetic to both sides, but just skipped over it. I feel sad she's gone. No more books.

Some gem quotes:

"The only exercise guru then was Richard Simmons-a flamboyant fuzzy haired creature who vaguely resembled a gay Bozo The Clown, unless that's redundant."

Describing her make up man, she was 19: "He appeared to me to be about 80, so he was probably about fifty five to sixty."

"Yeah but when I was young it looked so great to me-people standing around in clusters, drinks in hand, heads thrown back in wild laughter-and I just couldn't wait for that to happen for me." 

and my favorite:

"Not that I'm a big fan of my face, but still-it's mine, whichever way you tilt it. I didn't like my face when I should have and now that it's melted, I look back on that face fondly. People send me pictures of my young pre melted face all the time"

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm sorry this thread seems to have lost it's legs. I read a LOT of Hollywood non fiction and love to hear what others think. Currently reading Oscar Lavant's autobiography after others talked about it here.

Before that I read Gary Cooper American Hero by Jeffrey Meyers. There must be this new writing "style" that eludes me- a biographer inserting his/her opinion and referring to the subject as if old buddies. I almost threw my copy of Busby Berkeley against the wall, the writer's injections & ineptitude were so maddening. Sorry, I'm not interested in "your voice",  but the subject you're supposed to be writing about.

9780688154943_p0_v1_s.gif

This Jeffrey Meyers peppers his book with not only his opinion, but nonsensical sentences and repeated entire passages. Sure, William Shatner repeats his stories, but it's the ramblings of an 89 year old actor. A professional WRITER should proof his book better. I chalk that up to the digital age, where it's too easy to copy n paste paragraphs trying to decide where they should go...but some miss deleting the redundant section!

Another skim over is every plot  of every movie is a written out synopsis. Excuse me, this is a biography not a movie review. Most annoying is the author writes, "...then Cooper stands at the ledge of the skyscraper..." no, it's the character who is doing the action in the movie.  The author's writing confuses the actors with  characters.

A few examples of Meyers writing:

"Coopers eloquent eyes and gestures could register the very slightest change of expression on his sexy and likable face." (author's opinion)

"In the  third disconnected section of the movie - trains collide and explode, the dwarf is badly beaten and Cooper carries the loyal little fellow into the hotel ballroom. The mindless movie was much more enjoyable for the principle actors than for the audience."

Speaking of Jesse Laskey: "He became an independent producer at Warner's, and by 1940 he was on his uppers." (Whaa?)

I realize not everyone agrees with my opinion on this, but like I said, I read a LOT of Hollywood biographies. I love the "easy read" that engages me to not put the book down. I know biographies written by Peter Bogdanovich, Roman Flamini, Charlotte Chandler and Gerald Clarke will be thoroughly researched with facts presented in well structured, easy to comprehend sentences/paragraphs. 

And I do urge readers here to give some of Leonard Maltin's books a look. Unlike his movie "guides" they are well researched, well written and he knows how to unobtrusively & intelligently include his personal "take". MOVIE CRAZY is my favorite.

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I have about 500 books on movies,75% bios, I collect McFarland books in movies,actors ,genres etc,i buy them in hard cover only,they used to be done in library binding style,all these books are excellent, mostly done by scholars.Otherwise many,many good bios,Gloria Grahame Suicide Blonde is one I suggest-hard to find-I just love reading and collecting classic Hollywood hc bios.

 

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

"Coopers eloquent eyes and gestures could register the very slightest change of expression on his sexy and likable face." (author's opinion)

The opinion factor set aside for a moment, this seems just a terrible sentence. Or a very immature one. Eloquent eyes? Sexy and likable face? This is rather bland and hackneyed for a professional writer. He has written (as I see on Wiki) many biographies, including such intellectual heavy hitters as Edmund Wilson, D.H. Lawrence, and Joseph Conrad, among others. These may be very good for all I know but it's scary to think how such material could be handled with such sophomoric modes of expression as is evidenced above.

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18 hours ago, nakano said:

all these books are excellent, mostly done by scholars.Otherwise many,many good bios,Gloria Grahame Suicide Blonde is one I suggest-hard to find-I just love reading and collecting classic Hollywood hc bios.

I got a Gary Cooper one for you 😜

Are the McFarland books contemporary? Does SUICIDE BLONDE cover Grahame's marriage to her step-son?

I own several Hollywood biographies from the 70's-80's and they're horribly inaccurate. Especially sad since many golden age stars were still alive & agreeable to interviews.

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I really like esoteric OLD FASHIONEDY novels, especially BRITISH ONES, but I recently purchased two that I were just too damned esoteric and OLD FASHIONEDY even for me to make it deep into.

UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE by THOMAS HARDY  of which I understood every fifth word and EAST LYNNE by ELLEN WOOD- which was just a bit silly.

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  • 1 month later...

I finished the Tibetan Book of the Dead recently.

41MLNyP6jWL.jpg

This one is a good look into the Buddhist theology. It includes a foreword from the Dalai Lama and Graham Coleman. I must say that the descriptions of the "benevolent" Gods are extremely disturbing in this (holding dead corpses and entrails). Coleman's documentary on Tibet is also worth checking out.

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This is the 60th anniversary of the death of French writer Albert Camus.

In 1957 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I've been reading his acceptance speech for the prize.

His most honored work was a novelette called

"L' Etranger". It can be translated into English as the stranger or the outsider.

I read the book in French in high school, but I often review my CD of him reading it and acting out all the parts, recorded from a French radio broadcast.

You can get an intimate take on a work by listening to the author perform it.

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