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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)
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On the subject of half-remembered stories, can anybody place these?
A series of short SF stories (written in the late 70s I think) by different writers, but featuring the same character. He was a hedonistic time-jumper toting a variety of made-up weapons who tended to kill people who got on his nerves and wasn't averse to exploiting people when bored, but he generally rocked up on the ethical side in a conflict.

I can't recall whether I enjoyed the stories or not, but they left an impression on me, as I was intrigued by the idea of a collaborative character. The stories were set in the near future and featured boats, helicopters and Manchester quite a lot.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 21:01, 6 replies)
Not very cryptic.

W-hite Swans
I-nvisible Man
S-ons and Lovers
H-enderson the Rain King

I-ndecent exposure
T-he Way of all flesh

W-atership down
A-room with a view
S-laughterhouse five

T-arzan the magnificent
H-eart of darkness
U-nder the volcano
R-emembrance Of Things Past
S-ophie's choice
A-nimal Farm
Y-ou only live twice
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 21:00, 13 replies)
Oh, and...
Dispatches, by Michael Herr. Changed my understanding of how writing works.

He went on to do the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket.

Read all abaaaaaht it
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 20:47, 3 replies)
Anyone like fabulously amoral historical fiction? Read Dorothy Dunnett
She wrote two series of books. The first, the Lymond Chronicles, were my favourite by far.

I won't harp on about them (much), but I will say that as well as being a writer by trade now and having studied medieval history for far too long than was sensible, they are not only beautifully written but also impeccably researched. And she writes very convincing characters, both male and female, so there's no Jilly Cooper touches. Just glittering Machiavelli types.

You'll learn as well as being entertained. The story kicks off in Scotland but goes all over Europe. They're nourishing, dark, believable...all that jazz. Puts the Bernard Cornwells of this world to shame.

She died a few years back, but there's tons of stuff on the web about her. She's one of the few writers of the genre worth evangelising, I reckon.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 20:44, Reply)
Anyone else had this problem?
Many years ago I read a sci fi book that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately I lost the book shortly after. Cut to current times and I've tried desperately to find it again. I can't remember the title or author and only a smattering of the plot. I've tried everywhere online to find it, even joining sci fi book forums and asking there, giving the little details of what I remember to see if anyone knows of it. No luck so far.

I've probably over emphasized how much I enjoyed it just by the fact I can't find it, and would probably be underwhelmed should I find it and re-read it but it's driven me crazy.

All I remember is that a new alien species visits earth and one man is sent to their planet. The spaceship is a living, breathing thing, like plant life, and their world and homes are all plant life and all connected to each other. It was about at least twenty years ago when I read the book and still I need to find it.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 19:38, 2 replies)
For the fantasy/scifi mob
Anyone remember Karl Edward Wagner's "Kane" books?
I must have read Bloodstone a dozen times before I realised there were more books featuring the same ginger, sword wielding psychopath.
I was a bit youthful though so they may have been shit and I didn't know any better.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 19:21, Reply)

So the book I'm most excited about at the moment is the one I just published. In 2004 - about the same time I signed up to the B3ta newsletter - I finally got struck by the idea that would work for the novel I'd always wanted to write. Eight years later, at 11.45pm on the last day of 2010 I finally uploaded it to Amazon. It's set around the lost rivers of London, and the amazing peeps at SilentUK - who break into sewers and take pictures - let me use one of their images for the cover. Publishing your own novel is an awesome feeling - I recommend it.

(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 19:16, 5 replies)
Best Series of Books
The Serge A. Storms novels by Tim Dorsey. Serge is a amateur historian, tour guide and ingenius serial killer with various alcoholic, drugaholic, idiotic sidekicks. I read the Triggerfish Twist book on someone else's recommendation and laughed so hard at a joke involving a torch with sentimental value that I got off the train a stop early from the embarassment.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 18:34, 1 reply)
My favourite book
...is about an aardvark called Aaron, who ends up playing the xylophone at a zoo.

No, hang on a minute, that was a dictionary.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 16:05, 6 replies)
The A-Z
Not much of a plot, but the locations are so realistic..

(copyright Paul Merton)
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 15:05, 4 replies)
The Good Soldier Svejk
Sincere, simple, brilliant! One of the less heavy anti-war tomes.

On the flip side - B. Bryson - as enriching as candyfloss.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 15:03, 7 replies)
i luff books
of all sorts. My most recent treasure find was "Machinists & Millwrights Guide", c. 1975. Either that, or "Hop On Pop". Not sure which is the more entertaining read.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 14:37, Reply)
i'm about to start reading the book about wojtek the war bear. he sounds immense, so hopefully his story will be. I mean a drinking, fighting nazi killing war bear.... what's not to like?
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 14:31, Reply)
Reading books to your kids can be a right pain in arse....

especially when it's the same one over and over, and even worse when it's not particularly well written.

As a father, what I really like are books that either let you get into character (getting laughs off the kids is brilliant) or ones that really flow.

I personally think there are few finer things than reading a book by Dr. Seuss at a fast pace while using a variety of funny voices. Green Eggs and Ham is a particular favourite.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 13:59, 10 replies)
I'd have to say I'll read anything and everything ..the back of shampoo bottles and the Arabic on the back of Johnsons arse wipes included..
But my favorite humorous writer would have been Spike Milligan,in particular his war memoirs ,as a child they were my first introduction to what could be termed an adult writing.
William Manchester's Arms of Krupps is a good insight into the German war machine and industrial superiority.

The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell ,given to me by my Dad as a kid as an introduction to Socialism and the importance of the trade union movement.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 13:52, 3 replies)
part 8

Fairly short as most "humourous" books are just not funny. Tom Sharpe sold tons and it's as funny as bowel cancer if you ask me.

Sellars and Yeatman- 1066 and All That.
A Memorable History of England,
comprising all the parts you can remember,
including 103 Good Things,
5 Bad Kings, and
2 Genuine Dates

Hunter Thompson- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

How can you resist a book that starts like this

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?” Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. “What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

P.G Wodehouse- read any of them. Already had a shout so I won't dwell

Spine Millingtune of course although the stuff towards the end gets a bit woolly and lazy the early war biographies are spiffing

Terry Pratchett has already at a shout so again I'll pass over quickly. Makes me laugh though.

Franz Kafka
Not usually noted as a humourist but for my money that's usually his critics fault. There's a lot of very black comedy in there if you read it with that idea in mind

Not including plays as they are performances, the book is just the framework, but if I were then Stoppard, Beckett, Ionescu and Ben Johnson, to name but a few, would get a shout. Not many yucks in Beckett's novels apart from Murphy and I don't really love it that much.

Passing mentions of Tom Holt and Robert Rankin who both have their moments, Douglas Adams but it was better on the radio and that's about it
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 13:39, 21 replies)
I have no idea if anyone has mentioned Asterix yet, and I can't be bothered to search through the QOTW. Asterix definitely belongs here, for several reasons. Brilliant, painstaking graphic detail and imagination. Most of all, the sheer humour. So many jokes that a child won't get; I think every time I've read one of the books I've found something funny I missed earlier. Love all the classical allusions. I couldn't conceive of having children without giving them Asterix to read.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 13:38, 32 replies)
The Diary of Anne Frank
I decided not to read it as that would just be plain rude.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 12:57, 11 replies)
I read the 'how to read this book' book
Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar.
Multiple endings, only the first 36 chapters, just the last 52 chapters (or something) every other chapter, every other paragraph, every other page... Christ its bloody stupid/clever/poncey.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 12:50, 2 replies)
The Master and Margarita
Read this on a flight to Kuala Lumpur last year and really enjoyed.

Gogol's Dead Souls was equally impressive on the return.

Incidentally, don't ever stop over in Dubai. It's just a shit hole full of shiny wank in the desert.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 12:48, 5 replies)
the Argos catalogue
the 1998 edition was the best one I thought.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 12:37, 2 replies)
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Yes I know it’s a kid’s book but it is the one that I have spent the last few years reading every sodding night of the week to my kids when they go to bed. Most parents are usually tearing their hair out at having to read the same thing over and over again but not me, I could say that I have mentioned this because it has started the eldest two onto reading other books or that it gives me a chance to sit down with my kids and spend a little time with them all to myself but it’s a bit more than that, I also love this book because they like me to do special voices for each character.

Thanks to this I have created an Terry Thomas sounding fox, an owl who sounds like he has an obvious drug problem and a Gruffalo that sounds like a character from a Guy Ritchie film. No matter how crap a day I have at work or how much other stuff I have to do I know that once I open the first page I get a chance to act like an idiot and have fun with my kids and by the time I reach the part where everything is quiet in the deep dark wood I will always be feeling happy.

I will also note that it has also taught my kids that you can use your brains to get you out of tricky situations, not all lies are bad and that you should kill a mouse at the first opportunity.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 12:34, 10 replies)
Samsung Plasma TV instruction guide – Author unknown.
A cracking good read. Granted, it may have been a little difficult to get into initially, and it helps if you can speak several languages…but the happy ending is totally worth it because after I finished reading it I finally understood how to work my telly.

How many of your literary giants can offer that?
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 12:29, 2 replies)
Microsoft Macro Assembler Bible - Nabajyoti Barkakati &Randall Hyde
Totally fucking worth it.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 12:03, 2 replies)
the hungry caterpillar
they made a meal of that one didn't they.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 8:54, 1 reply)
I read dead good books loads.
and thats why im now so clevver and do gramma brilliant.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 8:28, 2 replies)
i wrote a book.
true story.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 7:53, 3 replies)
When I was about 5
if I was naughty mu mum would send me to my room. Once there I would do the only logical thing and absolutely trash it. I think my reasoning was such that she will stop sending me to my room if I totally fuck it up.

On one of these occassions I decided a dirty protest was in order (or maybe I just needed a shit - my memory is a bit vague now) but of course I needed something to wipe with and because my brother was such a massise, dribbling cock I decided to use his favourite book.

Flat Stanley.

Mum wasn't best pleased, nor was my brother - mostly because we shared a room.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 5:30, 1 reply)
Peter F Hamiltons Nights Dawn Trilogy.
Sci-fi or space opera as some like to call it (Although I'd even class it as horror).
Living bitek space ships, cyborgs, tonnes of sex and violence, zombies and weapons of mass destruction. Labourious at times just due to the sheer volume of the books but well worth the effort.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 5:19, 9 replies)

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