b3ta.com qotw
You are not logged in. Login or Signup
Home » Question of the Week » Books » Page 1 | Search
This is a question Books

We love books. Tell us about your favourite books and authors, and why they are so good. And while you're at it - having dined out for years on the time I threw Dan Brown out of a train window - tell us who to avoid.

(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:40)
Pages: Latest, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, ... 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

I have a book at home.
Its spine is straight and steadfast, and its words are gilt. Many times the voices of its characters have sung to me from the smudgy half-sunlight of a hungover morning, telling me of diabetic princesses, rich and gravy-laden chieftains and the fact that I am about to miss the 07:28 to London Bridge.

It squeezes its Falstaffian calfskinned bulk into a gap on my bookshelf that is always curiously warm, even when the Daily Mail is mentioned within earshot. It likes milk of magnesia, essential oil of sandalwood and the string quartets of David Blunkett, but spurns the company of Wisden, silicone-based lubricant and ferrets. When I dine alone, the two calligraphed globes on its cover spin in the cosmic winds to the rhythm of Daft Punk; when in company, the dust of its pages blows as a monsoon over the neighbours so that their ears can no longer even tell them who wants to be a millionaire.

This book has saved my life: when stationed in El Alamein I took a stray bullet to the crotch from a passing regiment of the Afrika Korps, but at that very moment the book was pouring out the wealth of its knowledge to massage and soothe my blistered testicles, and the bullet melted upon contact and dripped onto the sand, setting in the form of a tiny Paschal Lamb. The enemy snatched me up and roasted me for my name and number, but the book told them nothing, for its pages are Plasticine.

When I am hungry, my book holds the recipe for the finest turnip martini known to man. When the wind howls and I tear at my Wallace and Gromit nightshirt from lack of sleep, the book breaks forth into throat-song and lulls my aching limbs to rest. That famous night when I was almost burgled, I awoke to find the finest red trace along the book’s pages, and an undigested sock.

I have not yet read the book. We are waiting until I have made it an honest book, with a ring on its binder.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:37, 8 replies)
"Interesting Times", "Nightwatch",
"Monstrous Regiment" and also "Good Omens"

Cheers Sar Pratchett.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:36, 9 replies)
I read a book, once.
It was green.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:28, 9 replies)
I’ve taken the same route with books as I did with my vinyl and de cluttered as I get digital copies.

When I reached that realisation that I was never going to play my vinyl again I spent the afternoon shooting the records, all in one go. Didn’t feel one seconds of remorse for the loss of the crackly, rumbling, warpable mofos.

With books I just burn the paper copy each time I get the kindle version. The book shelves are starting to look a little bare though. I might have to start collecting porcelain figurines or something.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:21, 5 replies)
I've been trying to get through the same book for about 6 months now.
It's really hard going. Still, I don't feel too bad about it, it says on the cover 5-6 years.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:20, 1 reply)
The worst book I ever read
...was by an author who I have blanked from memory. Perhaps someone knows: all the stories (it was an anthology, broadly SF) involved bodily mutilation - chopping off fingers, for example. The dude was clearly obsessed.

Now I'll normally finish a book even if it's bad, then simply go "Oh well," and move on. But this book was SO bad - badly written, annoying and unsympathetic characters, and irritating storylines - that I felt compelled to set fire to it then throw it flaming out of a third-floor window.

Yes, I have committed the sin of book-burning. And I'm glad I tell you, glad!
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:16, 11 replies)
"Middlemarch" changed my life.
I changed from being someone who hadn't read Middlemarch to someone who had.

I want the old me back.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:15, 6 replies)
gerald's game.
it was this book that helped me to realise that stephen king had long since become a dull, repetitive cunt and that i shouldn't bother reading any more of his books.

lords and ladies
first discworld book i ever read and i've loved them ever since. a new book tends to come out about a week before my birthday, so i always get the latest one off my sister.

my favourite book and my favourite film, both about my favourite creature.

kevin the kitten
the books we were given to read in school. such utter shite that i was determined to find something better to read myself. i learned far more from the books i wasn't supposed to read than i ever would have from books about a stupid bloody kitten.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:14, 14 replies)
Desert solitaire
A repost from the 'books that changed my life' QOTW

This is the story of how two books changed my life: Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang both by Edward Abbey.

I'd managed to swing a few months working in the USA, courtesy of my university course. I was working in Tennessee but with the money I was earning I decided to spend a few weeks sightseeing once work had finished. I had booked onto a rafting trip in Utah so I got hold of some books about the place, one of them being Desert Solitaire.

Well this book just blew my mind with its descriptions of solitude, beauty, danger and death in the canyon country, also with its scathing attacks on tourism and how national parks are managed. While I was on the rafting trip I talked about this book to anyone who would listen, and one guy recommended The Monkey Wrench Gang. I bought it as soon as I got off the raft and into a town big enough to have a book shop.

If Desert Solitaire blew my mind, Monkey Wrench fired me up for action. It's about a gang of people fighting to retain the unspoilt beauty of the desert states, including acts of what we would now call eco-terrorism such as burning down advertising hoardings, spiking trees to prevent logging, etc. I wanted to be one of those people: I'd seen the beauty of the place and I wanted to keep it that way.

So I phoned my parents and my university tutor, telling them that I would stay in the US as long as my money and student visa would let me, then I dumped everything I didn't need, bought some basic camping stuff and set off to find the right people. After some days of hanging round increasingly dodgy bars I met up with people who looked (and smelt) right and sure enough once I mentioned the magical Monkey Wrench words they suggested they were up for some radical action and would I care to join them?

They were living in a camp in the desert: a few trailers parked around huge red rocks. Finally I felt like I was in the right place! For a few weeks they showed me the secret places in the desert, ancient Indian dwellings and rock art, narrow sinewy canyons, hidden plunge pools... In return I seemed to buy them a lot of beer as they'd worked out that I had money.

After I while I realised that what I was missing was the action - striking a blow for the environment and against the National Parks management, against stupid fat tourists in their cars, and against industry. I was mentioning this more and more, asking when we'd do something, prodding the others into action, rather than just recounting their past exploits.

Eventually I decided I'd just go ahead myself, and I proposed chainsawing a few advertising poles. To my surprise Chad (the closest thing to a leader in the group) suggested going for a bigger target: the pumps sucking water out of the river to provide irrigation for the water melon farms in the region. It sounded good to me so I put the plan together, roping in my new friends and setting a date.

On the appointed night we chugged a load of beers then crept out into the dark. The others were surprisingly cheery: I was shit scared and feeling hyper. We all headed off to our various planned locations. I was on my own with just a giant wrench for company. With trembling hands I bypassed the filter system on the pump then opened up an inspection cover and dropped in some rocks. The pump ground to a halt with a satisfying crunch.

With my heart pumping I started back towards the trailers, but was shocked to see blue and red lights flashing brightly around them. The cops! How had they found out so soon? I panicked, turned tail and headed towards the canyon. In the dark I stumbled across the desert until I found the side canyon which allowed me in. I slithered down the steep slick rock, splashing into pools and scrambling back out. Eventually I reached an old ranch building I knew on the broad canyon floor and threw myself down, breathing hard. I stayed there until dawn, expecting to hear my friends arriving any minute, but no one came.

As the sun came up I took stock of the situation: I was alone, in a ruined shack in a canyon with no food, and only the clothes I stood up in. I stayed there a couple of days, starving, trying unsuccessfully to catch fish, and not at all feeling the beauty of being alone in this environment which Abbey had described so engagingly. Then I decided I had to move - I climbed up to the edge of the canyon, and after dark started to walk back to the trailers. It all seemed quiet: I approached carefully, listening out for any noise. There were voices coming from one trailer and a flickering candle light. I pushed open the door - there was most of the rest of the group, sat drinking beer. I walked in, relieved, then saw a policeman sitting drinking beer with them. I was stunned and didn't move as he stood up, looking grim, and moved towards me. Then he burst into a big grin, saying to the others 'But he's just a kid!', and told me I was under arrest for criminal damage.

I was taken to the police station, given a good ticking off and then soon enough put on a plane back to England with my tail between my legs. The massive pumps used for drawing water were not seriously damaged by the small rocks I'd dropped in. The guys in the trailers were just looking for a good time: they'd seen me as a source of beer and amusement for a while and were happy to get rid of me. My plan to sabotage something had been a good excuse. Bastards.

While I'm still keen on protecting and defending the environment I'm a lot more wary of extremist groups and their aims, given what my own slightly extreme views got me into. I'm also a lot more careful about who I call my friends and who I fall in with. I guess some of this comes with increasing age and maturity. I still read those 2 books occasionally, although the memories they bring back are more embarassing than anything else.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:12, 4 replies)
I fucking love books.
Not just reading them, but the smell and the texture of paperbacks. I've often bought a book just because I like the cover and I get quite anxious if I haven't got another book ready when I've finished the current one. I'm not particulary well read or literary but I just love books.

I got two new bookcases for Christmas this year. Yay!

Kindles can fuck right off.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:11, 18 replies)
I read that awful, simplistic pamphlet "A Brief History Of Time" by that silly little children's writer Stephen Hawking.
God it's so basic. Really. I mean - talk about rudimentary concepts, hackneyed ideas, and bog-standard reasoning! Christ!

It must be nice to be stupid, I suppose - the world must seem so much more simple, straightforward, and pretty.

Sadly I'm cursed with an absolutely ENORMOUS brain, and have already forgotten more than most people will ever know. To me, the world is a vast, complex, beautiful thing, but you wouldn't understand how I percieve it because you're too thick to understand my thought processes.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:10, Reply)
shut up. all of you.
just shut up.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:08, 3 replies)
An honest, brutal, beautiful look at one of histories greatest tragedies.
Putting graphic novels on a new level and talking about such a difficult true story in a way you almost enjoy just for the fact that it feels like you're reading a comic book. Incredible book.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:08, 1 reply)
Any Flashy fans out there?

If you like your books full of adventure, casual Victorian racism, running away from danger, and the tupping of voluptuous wenches whilst singing "Garryowen", then Flashy's yer man.

Halfway through reading the series the second time and seriously considering growing a set of whiskers (but don't bother with McDonald Fraser's 'The Reavers' as it's utterly awful).
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:06, 6 replies)
I'm feeling lazy so I might just copy and paste some reviews from amazon.

(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:01, 4 replies)
On the plus side... PG Wodehouse
...I am nearly forty-six years of age, and for the first time in my life some two weeks ago picked up a PG Wodehouse 'Jeeves' book. I was in fits of laughter by the end of the introduction, and hooked several pages later. My God, why have I denied myself such joy for so long?

Also, it has the word "SPANG" on page 179, which means that Wodehouse is an author every B3TAN should read, particularly if you imagine all the action to be between Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, as decreed in the prophecies.

WODEHOUSE, everybody!
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:00, 5 replies)
I'm halfway through a sudoku book at the moment
My record; solved two full puzzles from scratch during one shit.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:59, 3 replies)
Patrick O'Brian
I'm sure there must be a few people on here with similar tastes.

Patrick O'Brian was a novelist most noted for his Aubrey-Maturin Series, set during the Napoleonic Wars and after. The film 'Master and Commander: Far Side of the World' a few years back was based on these books: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubrey%E2%80%93Maturin_series

Now, you might think that 21 novels about two men serving together in the Navy during the early nineteenth-century, replete with detailed descriptions of the weather, naval politics, the logistics situation, Admiralty politics, etc. would get a bit dull. You'd be wrong. I'm going to try and persuade you to at least give them a try. Here's my reasons:

1) They're really very well written. You feel with a lot of historical novels that the author is torn between creating a believable world and creating an accurate world. Explanations of the historical context are clumsily forced into the story. Whole episodes happen for no other reason than to give you a scene with a particular historical figure, etc. O'Brian's not like that at all. He drops you straight into this World with very little explanation of what's happening - the books are best read with a Lexicon of Naval Terms by your side - but it's much more immersive as a result, and it makes his stories and characters incredibly believable. Over the course of the series, the characters develop - very gradually - in subtler and better drawn ways than an author would be likely to achieve in a single novel.

2) The hugeness of the series actually helps to make it a joy to read. The early novels work perfectly well as self-contained stories, but as the series develops, O'Brian uses the vast canvas he's given himself to stretch out plots and character-developments. There's key characters from one novel who crop up as peripheral characters several books later. Incidents on one voyage that are remembered years later in another. Whole sub-plots (particular rivalries, betrayals, love affairs, etc.) might run through ten novels before any resolution... it's a very different and rewarding reading experience.

3) You will learn lots. Especially about Naval History, but also the politics of the time, social history, and - due to the interests of Dr Maturin - Science and Anatomy in the period. Not to mention Geography - they cover pretty much the whole globe over the course of the series.

I'm on number 18 of 21 at the moment. I only started reading them last January. I've had to impose a rule whereby I can't read the next O'Brian book until I've read something different in between, to slow me down.

When I finish them, I think I'll give it a year off and then start again...
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:57, 8 replies)
Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code
I might as well get this one off my chest.

A few years ago, when I was commuting by train between Reading and Weymouth on a regular basis, I got through more books that you can shake a shitty stick at. Having seen a fair few fellow passengers reading The Da Vinci Code, and having heard the buzz about it, I thought I'd spend eight of the Queen's Pounds and give it a go myself.

I got on the train at Weymouth, and let out my first "What the ACTUAL fuck?!" by the time we were in Dorchester.

By the time the train had reached Poole, I had already become quite sick of the hackneyed dialogue, the dreadful telegraphed cliff-hangers and the fact that every single important plot point is italicized, just in case you were too stupid to notice.

As we reached Southampton, it was quite clear that this was a book that could have been written as part of some kid's GCSE coursework, and the final straw came as we accelerated away from Southampton Airport Parkway as the final puzzle (which had defeated the finest minds this civilisation has ever produced for 500 years) was revealed.

"APPLE!" I roared at the Take A Break simplicity of it, "It's a fucking APPLE!", and I opened the window and flung the book onto the trackside. Somebody got up and moved several seats further away.

Don't read The Da Vinci Code. It's fucking awful. But if you want a free book, I dare say it is still there now.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:52, 19 replies)
Just in case you can't work it out for yourself (and lets face it, you're all so thick you probably won't be able to)
This is going to be a smug, self-congratulatory circle-jerk QOTW, peppered intermitently with one-upmanship, condescension, and will be entirely boring, apart from that B3tan's repost of his story about the Dangerous Book For Boys and what he did to his kitchen.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:52, 4 replies)
I read ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ over Christmas.
I liked it. And I liked that there was a some of it I didn’t really understand, and I’ll have to come back to.

True story.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:51, 4 replies)
The Hairy Bikers' Perfect Pies: The Ultimate Pie Bible is quite good
It's got recipes for pies in it which you can make and that.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:51, 12 replies)
James Hutchings wrote a book.
According to the Amazon reviews, it's not very good though.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:46, 4 replies)
Personally, I think it should be against the law to slag off a book or author without first saying which ones you love first.

Takes the wind out of the tedious cunts who are too cool to admit liking anything

I shall link to this post 200 times this week.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:44, Reply)
i like some books that other people probably don't.
other people probably like books that i don't. let the battle of pseuds corner commence!
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:44, Reply)
Having meant to read it for years,
and only having heard good things about it, I finally got around to reading WG Sebald's The Rings of Saturn a few months ago.

It utterly lives up to the hype. It's brilliant.

No funnies: just a genuine recommendation.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:43, 1 reply)
Oh shit
edit: You threw your unwanted rubbish out of a train window? Tell me more of your littering adventures
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:40, 1 reply)

(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:40, Reply)

This question is now closed.

Pages: Latest, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, ... 4, 3, 2, 1