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DB forum "what books are you reading" thread

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm a big fan of reading, and have lately been getting into more classics with a few lighter things thrown in for variety's sake. Since you DB castle dwellers are part of the everyday hang, I thought it might be fun to find out what kinds of books you guys read and/or recommend.

    In the past year, here are some of the highlights:

    * Literature *
    Ignorance - Milan Kundera
    The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot - Dostoyevsky
    Catcher in the Rye - Salinger
    Siddhartha - Hesse
    The Beautiful and the Damned - Fitzgerald
    Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
    To Kill A Mockingbird - Lee

    * Fiction *
    The Book Of Aire and Shadows, Tropic of Night*, and The Forgery of Venus - Michael Gruber
    A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini **
    The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón **

    * Biography *
    Oscar Peterson - Gene Lees

    * Nonfiction *
    Become What You Are and The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are - Alan Watts (Toad recommendations)
    A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living - Diane Osbon
    Healing and the Mind - Bill Moyers

    Anyway, if anybody's into this kind of thing, please share your reading list and any recommendations in any category. I'm looking for more biographies of musicians (jazz or "legit") and quite enjoyed Gene Lees' writing style. Also looking for the next couple of "literature" entries. Maybe some Steinbeck? I dunno yet.

    My faves: The Kundera and Davies books were rereads, and both of these authors are kind of talismanic for me. Some people don't like them, which is cool. Kundera speaks to me with no filters, especially in the later books translated from French, and his insights into human motivation and behaviors are both wonderful and terrifying. I sometimes wonder if I'm actually some screwed-up (in a natural bumbling human sort of way) character in one of his novels that I read a page of every day as I live it.

    The Hosseini and Zafón entries were both excellent in very different ways. The Gruber books manage to be both highly intelligent and remarkably stupid at the same time (intelligent and insightful writing combined with transparent and just downright unnecessary "made for the movies" plot twists which annoy the living crap out of me). Still, I read 'em, didn't I?

    Harper Lee's Mockingbird is simply mind blowing. I can't believe I never read this before now (it's the current book). And how is it that she could write this and never write another? Wow.

    Anybody else wanna play, or did I just waste 20 minutes further proving (as if such proof were needed) what a total hopeless nerd I am?

    * (Compelling, but very dumb and manipulative...not recommended)

    ** (excellent, really belongs in "Literature" IMO)
    amusicalperson likes this.
  2. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    brain health food -

    Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
    The Music Lesson by Victor Lemonte Wooten
    Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectic of Poodle Play by Ben Watson

    brain candy -

    Digital Fortress by Dan Brown

    there were others but I'm drawing a blank and I'm not at home.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    If you are looking for Jazz books - I realy liked Ashley Kahn's books about the making of "Kind of Blue" and "A Love Supreme" - it might sound like a narrow focus, but he expands outwards and it feels like you really get to know how Miles and Trane were living and developing at probably the "classic" period for Jazz innovation...?
    marcox likes this.
  4. This may be the first time I gave you the ole' thumbs up, DURRL. Nice idea....
    I don't have much to add to your list. Some of your stuff I've read/re-read. Some of it, though, is a bit unfamiliar to me. I'm gonna check on that

    I've recommended the Gene Lees "Cats of any Color" here before. Good stuff. Especially for jazz bassists, the chapter on Red Mitchell, where Red explains the reasons why/ how and in a ridiculously short 9 days:eek:, he made the switch to 5ths tuning on the bass.
    Your list...17.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Pee Dub - I think you'd really like Ignorance. Like so many of Kundera's works, it deals with the subjects of subjective experience/perspective and how it colors real experience in the outer world, memory and how it changes as we age and how it fades to a kernel of reduced essence (which may or may not be what actually happened at all), and the idea of personal and geographical expatriation and what it is to "start over" in both senses. I've read this book about 5 times now, and I find that it gains meaning and depth as I get older and can understand it better. Plus, it's short and reads like a poetic fairy tale or parable for intelligent adults who have lived a while. If you read it and hate it, you can send some of your "boyz" to find me.
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Great to see this thread pop up -- I tried starting a reading thread years ago, not long after I showed up here, but it fell a bit flat...

    Chris, I'm a big Robertson Davies fan and was intrigued to see the Deptford Trilogy on your list.... Been reading him for decades and probably have too much boring **** to say about him. I'll only say that his older writing is on quite different themes and can be quite hilarious... The Samuel Marchbanks stuff is like a Canadian Samuel Clemens. Read any of that and I guarantee you'll get plenty of laughs, but you'll also basically get a marvelous portrait of the old Ontario WASPy society of the mid-20th century, battling their furnaces all winter long...

    I read musical biography like it's a drug addiction. I'll read all kinds of trashy stuff just trolling for data, but I really do prefer a well-done piece of work. Lately I've been relatively off my jazz side -- musically and otherwise -- and more working my older sort of country-hippie-pop-music side, indulging myself in old songs I can't let go of. I can recommend almost anything by my fellow Winnipegger, the musical historian John Einarson, but recently I've particularly enjoyed his new biography of the Burrito Brothers, Hot Burritos, written with Chris Hillman. Also, John's biography of the Byrd's beautiful song-diviner Gene Clark -- Mr. Tambourine Man -- is really solid and might be John's best piece of work. Sad story, though. John's got that genre of music covered seventeen ways to Sunday.

    Right now I'm well-started into the gargantuan 2005 work of Bob Spitz, The Beatles: The Biography. Seems like a landmark, professional piece of biographical work.

    A person into musical biography should have Peter Guralnick on his list. His two-volume biography of Elvis Presley -- particularly the first volume -- is a real piece of musicology and musical history in addition to first-rate biography. Memphis in the fifties jumps to life... Guralnick's recent Sam Cooke biography was similarly epic -- perhaps too much so...

    These haven't been quite so recent reading, but amongst the best music biographies I have ever read, no matter the genre, are Gary Giddins' Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, and Richard D. Smith's Can't You Hear Me Calling: The Life of Bill Monroe.

    Fiction: It's been a few months since my last fiction jag. Last fall I was deep into a Cormac McCarthy bag. His The Road is quite possibly the most vivid portrayal of total desolation ever put to words. Sounds like a drag -- and really, it ain't fun to read that novel -- but wow, what a piece of work. The three "border" novels completely drew me in, too...
  7. Great list, I'm going to think about this some more. Just wanted to add:

    "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera

    "In Cold Blood" Truman Capote

    Just about Anything by great American writers like: Thomas Wolfe,
    E. Hemingway, Mark Twain, Aurther Miller, Eugene O'neil ect.
    J.D. Salinger is. of course, also great
    Joseph Heller "Catch 22"

    The Miles Davis Biography by Ian Carr?
    This was an eye opening, harsh, gritty, funny and at times very sad look at Mr. Davis.

    To Kill A Mockingbird - Lee; Harper Lee was evidently a very good friend of Truman Capote and actually worked with him at some point. An amazing book, not a bad movie.

    I don't read as much during the school as year as too much of my time is taken up with reading student work; some good and lots, not so good. I do spend the summers reading all the time and I hope to get a few good ideas from this thread. Personal note: by choice, we don't own a TV. It seems a bit like having an open sewer inside your home.
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    DURRL... your "literature" list looks like something I've been meaning to do for some time.... revisit some of the classics that I haven't read since my youth. My Dad was a world literature teacher, so he has a comprehensive library in the basement.... I spent a lot of time down there, reading anything that he recommended. I also had a great-uncle who lived across the road, who used to spend whatever spare money he had on books, and then send them over to me after reading them. I was lucky! Now, my kids are voracious readers as well.

    As far as recent stuff... I just finished "Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim", by David Sedaris. Funny/tragic mofo.

    Great thread.... keep it going!

    Slight sidetrack... anybody here sprung for an Ebook reader? I personally like to get books free at the library, and maybe help keep some county library employees working for a few more months.... but I can really see the appeal of an Ebook collection on the road.
  9. drew_bassmore

    drew_bassmore Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2000
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Nice idea!

    I agree with Bruce with regards to the Ashley Kahn books. I am looking forward to his new one regarding the Blue Note story.

    Here is an informal list from the last 18 months:

    (Wilderness Adventure)
    The Last Season - Eric Blehm
    Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite's Half Dome - Bob Madgic (I've hiked it twice, and am gearing up again later this year.)
    Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
    Into The Wilderness - Jon Krakauer (The movie does a really good job of translating the book)
    Miracle in the Andes - Nando Parrado
    (General Non-Fiction)
    A Long Way Gone: Story of a Boy Soldier - Ismeal Beah
    LEFT TO TELL: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
    by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin

    Spiritual Narratives and Parables (this is going to look SOOOO California!):
    Paulo Coelho
    -The Alchemist (Highly Recommended)
    -The Devil and Miss Prym
    -11 Minutes
    -The Witch of Portobello

    The Joy of Living- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
    The Four Agreements- Don Miguel Ruiz (Highly Recommended- a common sense way to experience life.)
    The Accidental Buddhist- Dinty W. Moore (Entertaining)
    The Reluctant Buddhist- William Woolard
    The Buddha, Geoff and Me- Edward Canfor-Dumas
    (Are you noticing a trend?) (The above book is highly entertaining and is also available in a Podcast version)
    Encountering the Dharma - Richard Seager
    The Last Lecture- Randy Pausch (Also a fun watch on YouTube under the Carnegie Mellon channel)
    The Power of Silence- Carlos Castaneda
    The Music Lesson- Victor L. Wooten
    etc., etc.

    Khaled Hosseini
    -The Kite Runenr
    -A Thousand Splendid Suns
    (Both books I found to be very descriptive and engaging)

    Music Biography
    Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter- Michelle Mercer
    (I can honestly say, the above book was life changing for me personally.)
    Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life- Wynton Marsalis
    Castles Made of Sand: The Story of Gil Evans - Larry Hicock
    (I found the narrative to be rather slow, and put it down after 2/3 of the way through.)
    Delightfulee: The Life and Music of Lee Morgan- Jeffery S. McMillian

    Currently reading: Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes- Dan Ouellette
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Oh, man.... I think I just found my next bio read. Thanks, Drew.
  11. drew_bassmore

    drew_bassmore Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2000
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I remember the above as being high school reads for me. I think I will take another stab at the Harper Lee book. It will be good to refresh. Thanks for doing this!

    Marcus- For me, the Wayne Shorter book does an imaginative job of seeing things from the artist's perspective. Enjoy.
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I hoped to hear from a real Canuck about this! I love everything from "Deptford" on. I've tried to read the "Salterton Trilogy" about three times, and the flame never catches. I bet if I lived where you do, it would catch!

    Probably one of the most personally important books I've ever read (and I've read every word Kundera ever wrote multiple times). The three main characters represent (to little old hillwilliam me, anyway) the three basic polarities of human existence and desire. The way they interact blows my mind. Heck, I even think of my bass as "Tereza", and I'll expect FOGHORN to rag my sorry behind mercilessly for that at some point. Another book on my reading list is "Anna Karenina", if only so I can understand the references in "Unbearable Lightness" better.

    It does indeed, and I try to avoid it. I like watching DVD's, though, and the occasional pro football game. Otherwise, I'm right with you. You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din...

    I'm going to keep this thread "bookmarked" for reference when I need new library fodder.
  13. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    Time to get a Kindle, maybe?

    When do you dads/husbands find the time to read? Every time I want to start a book, I feel guilty about what a selfish and entirely solitary passtime it is. Then I have to remind myself that reading is not necessarily a recreational activity.

    I'll add all the above to my reading list. One really fun book that I'll rec is "The Bear Comes Home" by Rafi Zabor. Its about a brown bear who lives in NYC, can think, speak and play alto like a MF. Lots of real-life jazz stars make cameos throughout the book.
  14. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    At the end of the sixties, when he was about 50 years old and had already been a professional writer for 20-odd years, Davies' parents died. He has said that he could never have touched on the themes you find in the Deptford pieces and later when his folks were alive. Not that they were lurid themes or anything, but all the stuff about fate and intuition and magic and sexuality and Jungian archetypes: not exactly the stuff of your average 1940's Toronto dining table and I guess he felt he was venturing into risque territory. The Salterton things are dry indeed in comparison, but I do rather like the the last one, A Mixture of Frailties, the story of the musical (and worldly) education of a young Ontario girl who goes on to become an accomplished singer on the world stage. Some corny stuff in there, but some stuff that will ring home with anybody who has pursued an artistic career... The Marchbanks stuff, on the other hand, is purely for fun and entertainment, Marchbanks being a curmudgeonly old gentleman-buffoon WASP character Davies assumed in his Peterborough newspaper columns in the late 40's. Damned funny stuff.

    Davies was a huge, huge influence on John Irving. A Prayer For Owen Meany -- a novel that made me weep like a baby at its end, even though I could see it coming like a freight train -- is heavily indebted to Davies' themes and styles. They were pals, too.

    Not everybody in Canada loved Rob Davies. He had a kind of bogus English accent that a lot of us associate with an old, departed Canada, and he could easily come across as an arch-WASP snob. Maybe he even was, but the humanism in his fiction runs very, very deep.

    Post-it-note: Oh yeah, I guess he wrote at least two other novels with strong musical themes: The Rebel Angels has a strong theme involving gypsies and the violin; The Lyre of Orpheus, one of his last novels, deals with the creation and production of an opera.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  15. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    All I'll say is I can't really exist comfortably without some reading going on. Bed-time, bathroom time, commuting time, a fair bit of stolen time. It has to happen or I go mental...
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  16. drew_bassmore

    drew_bassmore Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2000
    San Francisco Bay Area
    They call those "Stolen Moments"

    I wonder what Oliver Nelson would read...

    and did he read while, "Taking Care of Business"

  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I hear ya. My reading time is bed time, every night. I allow myself 30 minutes of "personal sanity/self enrichment time", and anything after that comes off of my SQ (sleep quotient).

    DEMON - I'm with you on this. I have a number of "quotients" (exercise, practice, and reading) that everybody around me is better off when I get them, since I'm a cranky basstid when I don't. Exercise is first thing in the morning, practice is either after the little one is in bed (when I put him to bed), or right after dinner (when my wife puts him to bed). And thanks for the tasty Davies morsels... certainly food for thought. If you enjoyed the Cornish Trilogy in part because of the art forgery theme, you might enjoy the "Forgery of Venus" guilty pleasure I mentioned above. It has the least amount of what Kate and I call "BIG STUPID" of the three Gruber books.
  18. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I read almost every day. Sometimes around 9:30 pm after the kid's in bed and dishes are done. Almost always around 10 or 10:30 when I go to bed.

    Right now I've got about three books going:
    "The First American" -- bio of Ben Franklin. This is PRECISELY what I don't usually read -- factual, historical, quasi-academic. It's surprisingly fascinating; I keep picking it up. I'm really glad I picked it up at the dump.

    "Murder at the Library of Congress" by Margaret Truman. Light diversion, which is where I'm usually at.

    "Brasyl" by Ian MacDonald. Edgy, up-to-the-minute science fiction in the classic William Gibson mode. Pretty thick reading.

    "The Time of Our Singing" by Richard Powers. The tale of two bi-racial Boomer brothers who become performers of European classical music, dealing with racism, the classical music world, and the events which alert citizens of the US have experienced in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. I suspect that this book has more resonance to me than to many, given my involvement in music and the fact that I'm raising a Black daughter in an overwhelmingly white town. Some of the fiction runs a little thin at the end but I know I'll read it again sometimes.

    "The Music Lesson" by Victor LaMonte Wooten. Dug it so much I bought it.

    "Spook Country" by William Gibson. I adore Gibson's early stuff; "Neuromancer" is biblical around here. His last book, "Pattern Recognition," was amazing -- it's the impossible-to-pull-off trick of "science present" rather than "future." "Spook Country" is the same way; I don't think it reached the bar set by "Pattern Recognition" but it is might fine.

    "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" by Salman Roushdie. Easy-to-read book suitable for youth or adults which was the first thing Mr. Roushdie wrote while in hiding from the Ayotollah after "The Satanic Verses." "Haroun" is just astounding.

    "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. Yes, again.

    Gotta run.
  19. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    Ha ha.
  20. Joshua

    Joshua WJWJr Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2000
    I read primarily 3 genres; music, finance, and baseball.

    Currently reading Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball .

    Just finished This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band.

    Not sure what's next, but y'all have shared some great suggestions!

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