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It’s been a month since we last did this, and I always enjoy these threads. What are you reading? Finished anything good lately?

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    The Design of OS/2

    I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it’s about the design of OS/2.

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      You left out the most important part: why do you read it? :-)

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        I like operating systems.

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        Does it get into the Warp era at all? I miss warping, it was my favorite era of personal computing. So many options…

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          No it stops at about 1.2 I think, and regardless focuses mostly on low-level kernel stuff.

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        Recently started Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian.’

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          Oh, that’s on my bookshelf. I look at it all the time and think I should start it. My friend said it’s one of the darkest books he’s ever read.

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            Heh yah the writing style makes it a bit tricky to follow, I think. Maybe it’s cause I always start reading at 2 in the morning lol…

            on that doom country vibe lately

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            Yeah that’s… that’s a read right there. I’ve read some dark stuff over the years, and that tops 90% of it. Good stuff once you get used to the writing style.

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              That’s one of my favorite books. Have you read anything else by McCarthy?

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                nope first one

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                  The Road is my favorite.

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                    That’s a fantastic one, and quite different from Blood Meridian. Much quicker read, easier to digest, but so emotionally evocative and moving. He’s such a great writer, definitely one of my favorites. Everything I’ve read by him has stuck with me big time, particularly:

                    Blood Meridian

                    The Border Trilogy

                    The Road

                    No Country for Old Men

                    Outer Dark

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                I’m reading ‘Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style’, which I find awesome.

                My family think that I’ve gone crazy reading books on English grammar for by choice. But it’s awesome:)

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                  Haha, I’ve gotten the same reaction for reading math books in my spare time.

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                  The Master and Margarita, which I believe I picked as a recommendation from one of these threads.

                  I recently finished Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

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                    I’m re-reading The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, and I’m on Oathbringer at the moment

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                      I recently started his book Mistborn. The first of his books I’ve read, and I’m quite liking it so far.

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                        Mistborn is great, and I’m going to revisit that subseries because I didn’t know about this (spoilers) novella: The Secret History

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                      For work: The Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno

                      Personal: Thus spake Zarathustra, by Nieztches

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                        “The Confusion”, by Neal Stephenson. The nerd version of Tristram Shandy continues. Very much a middle book so far for all that it does move the plot on.

                        “DIfference and Repetition”, by Gilles Deleuze. A notorious philosophical mind-bender. I am reading it sloooowly and thinking through its ideas with help from examples I’ve found in the history of pop music.

                        “A Cultural History of Early Modern English Cryptography Manuals”, by Katherine Ellison. A wonderful deep dive into the era when the terms of the crypto wars were first set. Not the 1990s, the 1640s… An earlier short article on the same subject by Ellison is available online -

                        https://www.northernrenaissance.org/1144000727777607680000-wayes-early-modern-cryptography-as-fashionable-reading/

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                          Yeah, “The Confusion” is definitely a middle book. Some of the more fun nuggets to connect the various plotlines and stuff that later happens in Cryptonomicon happen in there, but definitely less standalone.

                          On that note, totally going to bookmark that Katherine Ellison book.

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                          Been reading Designing Data Intensive Applications for a bit. Slowed down in the chapter on replication, but overall I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

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                            This is on my bookshelf but I haven’t opened it yet. I’m moving it up in the queue.

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                              Yeah, I’ve got a lot of those. Looking through the table of contents got me pretty jazzed though. I’d recommend having a look, it might give you the motivational boost to crack it open.

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                            I have read 79 books since last month’s thread on about August 1st.
                            Here are the few I would recommend.

                            • Prisoners of Geography - 5 stars This book explains a lot of international relations in terms of geography.
                            • Dead Water Creek and Cold Dark Matter - Alex Brett, 4 stars. This is a two book mystery series. The first book has the main character investigating scientific grant fraud in Vancouver, BC.
                            • Katie - Michael McDowell, 4 stars. This is quite dark historical horror.
                            • Blood Rubies - Michael McDowell, 4 stars. Horror.
                            • Antique Dust - Robert Westall, 4 stars. Horror short stories.
                            • Gideon the Ninth - Tamsyn Muir, 4 stars. I can’t do justice to this book but karen’s review is excellent.
                            • The Survivor - Dennis Parry, 4 stars. Horror.
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                              That’s amazing. How much time do you spend reading? How did you learn fast reading? Do you always read fast?

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                                How?! :o How do you read so fast?! I’ve only managed to read 29 since the beginning of the year! Any tips/tutorials you can point us to?

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                                  As someone who loves horror I’m always looking for good recommendations. Thanks for this.

                                  Also…79 books in roughly two months? Impressive.

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                                    That’s impressive! I have Gideon the Ninth waiting to be read, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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                                    The Outlaw Ocean by Ian Urbina. All about modern-day traffickers, pirates, smugglers and mercenaries.

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                                      ‘Coders at Work’. Fantastic Book

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                                        Fiction: Jerusalem, by Alan Moore. I’m about 1000 pages in (of 1500).

                                        Non-fiction: Permanent Record, by Edward Snowden

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                                          Fiction: Jerusalem, by Alan Moore. I’m about 1000 pages in (of 1500).

                                          Ah yes, one of Moore’s shorter works…

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                                            Non-fiction: Permanent Record, by Edward Snowden

                                            same here

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                                            I’m currently listening to “She Said” by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, two New York Times reporter who broke the Harvey Weinstein investigation. It’s a riveting read and would recommend it to anyone curious on how reporters do their jobs. It’s the modern “All The President’s Men.”

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                                                After a lot of praise for it in tech circles on the internets, I’m reading The Soul of a New Machine.

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                                                  The praise is warranted. It’s a fantastic book.

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                                                  David Harvey’s A Companion to Marx’s Capital. I’ve been reading more about the history of economics and political philosophy which has been very interesting. Obviously the works of Marx play massively into that, but reading the actual primary sources seems like a bit much. This isn’t a short book (just under 800 pages), but it covers all three volumes of Capital and provides a commentary from a modern perspective.

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                                                    The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff

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                                                      I’m about half way through this one. It, and the original paper, are eye opening, even if you’re already familiar with how money is made off data.

                                                      I think one is the biggest takeaways I’ve had so far if the concept of behavioral futures.

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                                                      Finishing up “Common Lisp: A gentle introduction to symbolic computation”, and getting half-way done with “Predator at the Chessboard I”.

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                                                        What’s your impression of the CL book?

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                                                          It’s pretty good. I found jumping straight into Practical Common Lisp a little confusing as it jumps right in the deep end with the ‘practical’ aspects, but after having read ~6 chapters of CL book + exercises, I feel comfortable reading the hyperspec and taking it from there. #lisp is a great resource to understand the idiosyncrasies of common lisp and you won’t read about in the book.

                                                          Overall, highly recommended as a first CL book.

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                                                        About to finish Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman and starting Beloved by Toni Morrison. Permanent Record is on the line next.

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                                                          Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman looks interesting! That will be next on my list!

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                                                          Now I am reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

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                                                            Finished Talleyrand by Duff Cooper, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Now back to Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel. Also still reading Designing Data Intensive Applications

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                                                              If you haven’t read it already, I can recommend Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety.

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                                                                Thanks! It’s on my list, I am going through a bit of a French Revolution phase, right now :)

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                                                              Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano describing the global cocaine market. Famously the book was found in one of El Chapo hideouts.

                                                              Had they asked, authorities might have learned that Guzmán, leader of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, would have preferred Zero Zero Zero, the 2013 book by Roberto Saviano that explored the world of drugs and dirty money. That was the book he left on his bedside table last October when he was forced to flee his hideout in Las Piedrosas, in the heart of Sinaloa Cartel country in the Golden Triangle.

                                                              source: https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/a-depressed-el-chapo-gets-to-enjoy-a-book/

                                                              I also started reading on the bus to work. Should have done that ages ago. I didn’t before as the trip is very short (roughly 8 minutes) but it’s still enough to make progress and spend the time better and sometimes with increased traffic it is a quality of life change :)

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                                                                • Les Amnésiques, Géraldine Schwarz: how ordinary people like her grand-parents helped and participated in nazi’s rise in “going with the flow”. A good read, but a bit short for the topic. Most of it is history. A third on the difference of memorial work conducted in european conutries. A quarter about present politics, which is shit and shows her “bourgeois” origins (I’m not the only one saying).
                                                                • just started Zomia - or, the art of not being governed, by James C. Scott. Looks like a good and thorough revision of our idea that “societies without state” were salvages and a step towards our full-state civilisation, by studying an enormous region of hills and mountains in asia -the new called Zomia: Zo: out, Mi: mountain, in many asian dialects. No, his thesis is that they did choose to not be part of the states of the valleys (bringing slavery, taxes, wars etc along the settlement) and adopted a political organization and a culture to not be governed.
                                                                • also started the Little Typer.
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                                                                  I’ve been reading Casanova’s “History of my life” during my daily commute for about a month or two. It consists of 1200 pages of dense, old-fashioned English (it’s translated from Italianized French). Best known for his seductions, he was also a great con man.

                                                                  A couple of things stand out:

                                                                  1. The guy is an asshole. People like him and grant him a lot of favors, which allows him to basically do whatever he wants without worrying about money. He draws his sword or pistol over any small dispute. He’s also talented in most things he does, and never afraid to end up in a fight (which he usually wins).

                                                                  2. The memoirs have been investigated and the facts that could be checked seemed historically accurate. Still many things seem too much of a coincidence to be true. The things that are most mysterious are the least explained by him. He often uses a ‘cabala’ to do predictions, and often says random things (you will be cured within 24 hours, X only pretends to have cancer) which he does not know but are then confirmed. On one occasion, he predicts a word that “madame d’Urfé” has thought of without written it down, without explaining how this is possible.

                                                                  All in all, it seems that acting with great confidence, and bluffing now and then seems to go a long way.

                                                                  (I’m reading an English version, which I think is shortened to around 1200 pages. The original spans around 3500 pages over 12 volumes).

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                                                                    All in all, it seems that acting with great confidence, and bluffing now and then seems to go a long way.

                                                                    I’ve seen this work enough times IRL; seems likely it would’ve worked even better back when people couldn’t google your name and find out about the trail of wreckage.

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                                                                      Yup. It also helps when everyone believes in mystical higher powers (and I don’t necessarily mean religion here). At the same time, these days there are still self-proclaimed magicians who scam people out of money in similar ways.

                                                                      Casanova also seemed to have a great intuition about people. For example, when someone asked him to use his ‘cabala’ to tell him who in France has a certain medicine. He immediately realizes that she is the only one and answers such (and he pretends to be amazed by this prediction), and indeed she agrees. Another time, when asked if he had any ideas how to enrich the king of France (if I remember correctly), he asserts that he has (but he doesn’t). Someone then remarks that he knows what Casanova is thinking of; it is surely a lottery (like some others have proposed before Casanova). He agrees and continues to advocate for a lottery, takes the lead and profits enormously.

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                                                                    I’m slowly working my way through Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. It lives up to the lofty title.

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                                                                      I finished Tribe. It’s about the connections in small groups, particularly tribes and combat units. It was a pretty good, but very short read.

                                                                      I just started Bowling Alone, which is supposed to be about the decay and revival of American communities.

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                                                                        For a while I have been reading Unix & Linux System Administration Handbook. So far I love how they included very opinionated statements about the technologies that are available. It is really refreshing to see the practical side exposed instead of the hype alone, which unfortunately is not what’s often found in various web sources (or other books for that matter). I also like the answer to the why question that’s included in most of the chapters. It is in my opinion very useful, especially when reading about some more obscure topic (or something that isn’t used at the day job).

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                                                                            Rereading Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle books, because I wanted to reread Cryptonomicon and couldn’t find the book anywhere in my apartment.

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                                                                              Just started “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Dr. Robert Glover, yesterday. Purchased on recommendation of Mark Manson. Very interesting so far (a couple chapters in).

                                                                              Also just finished “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” by Jason M. Satterfield, The Great Courses. I found it extremely interesting. It contains a lot of great tools for breaking unhelpful cognitive and behavioural habits and patterns.

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                                                                                Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots by William Cook.

                                                                                I work with procedural narrative generation, and Plotto is super interesting in that it’s an attempt at that from the 1920s! It’s sort of a mix between a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, and an algebraic grammar for western narrative structure.

                                                                                You don’t read it end to end, you choose a starting point and then choose which branch to take from there. Mostly I’m trying to see if I can learn anything from it’s implementation, or if it’s been subsumed by other attempts at the same thing.

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                                                                                  Personal

                                                                                  I am reading The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich. It’s what it sounds like - a chronological survey of art history. It’s not a dry textbook. Gombrich’s prose is easy to read but sufficiently dense to understand why a certain culture or artist created the works they did. The book is thick, so don’t take it on your commute.

                                                                                  There’s a pocket edition of the book for you to take to a museum, but I have the regular version.

                                                                                  Career/Work

                                                                                  Not for work, but I have been going through Programming Phoenix by Chris McCord, Bruce Tate, and José Valim. I’m planning on building a small personal project using Phoenix.

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                                                                                    • The Hobbit, by a certain J.R.R. Tolkien.

                                                                                    It is my first time reading it in its native language. I did not remember how much the tone is different than in LOTR.

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                                                                                      Well, it’s a children’s/YA work.

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                                                                                        Yes I know, but I guess it didn’t show as much in the translated version.

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                                                                                      Not-work: The Weapons of Rhetoric: A guide for musicians and audiences by Judy Tarling

                                                                                      Work: Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests by Steve Freeman and Nat Pryce

                                                                                      Fiction: Georgette Heyer historical fiction (The Grand Sophy) that a friend wants me to read.

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                                                                                        The Holacracy constitution. It just feels like a commercialized version of any given tech cooperative guideline, but my boss wants to go in that direction so better be ready.

                                                                                        I’m also continuing my reading of “The New Human Rights Movement” and I picked up “The History of Taste”

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                                                                                          The Lies of Locke Lamora, which is an entertaining novel about thieves in a semi-fantasy settings (trending towards the gritty side of fantasy.) I’m listening to it as an audiobook, and I find that the author likes to jump around in the timeline, which makes it a bit harder to follow in the 30 minute commute chunks I have.

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                                                                                            I haven’t actually read a book with my eyes in a while but I have been a big fan of Audible since getting a subscription and right now I’m going through the classic LA Noir Hardboiled novel The Big Sleep.

                                                                                            Nothing technical at the moment but I’m always down for some suggestions (I like DSP as a topic).

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                                                                                              Im listening to ‘Surface detail’ by Iain M Banks. I’m a fan of listening to the culture series. It’s science fiction without the tropes im tired of. I’m hoping Amazon does good job turning it into TV.

                                                                                              Im reading ‘Elixir in action’ by Sasa Juric. I’ve been wanting to use functional programming on a side project and I’m planning on using Elixir to get my feet wet thinking about problems in a different way. Problem is Elixir is different enough from what I’m used to that I need a more structured guide to avoid getting stuck on the trivial things.

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                                                                                                I love the Culture series. Surface Detail and Player of Games are my favorites. Excession is up there too.

                                                                                                I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so I’ll just say that the plot of Surface Detail is Banks at his best.

                                                                                                I’m hoping Amazon does good job turning it into TV.

                                                                                                WHAT?? Is this a real thing?

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                                                                                                  Since last time:

                                                                                                  Still reading Figuring & PoC||GTFO; read a bunch of books about games (It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan, which is well-written but may have let a good story override the facts in some places; The Maze: A Labyrinthine Compendium, which is a beautiful book with pictures of mazes from around the world; Birth of the Chess Queen, very well-researched; and Pub Games, likewise); and finished the Akira series.

                                                                                                  Software-wise the only thing I’ve read is Mr Babbage’s Secret: The Tale of a Cypher and APL, which was wonderfully broad. There are a lot of tidbits about old encryption schemes, such as those used with the runic alphabets. I also read The Design of Everyday Things which could really be called “minimizing errors in software use”.

                                                                                                  Otherwise The Mere Wife was a fun re-take of Beowulf, and As the Earth Turns Silver taught me about a side of Wellington (NZ)’s history I didn’t know about previously. I used to live in an area that was Wellington’s “Chinatown” and didn’t even know it!

                                                                                                  Edit: Oh, I forgot that I’m currently reading Luke O’Neil’s Hell World, which is a very important book.

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                                                                                                    American Kingpin - The story of The Silk Road founder and its rise / fall

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                                                                                                      The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard J. Davidson with Sharon Begley.

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                                                                                                        I recently finished Machiavelli’s Art of War. Some parts were pretty boring but overall it was interesting. The historical aspects about the Roman military were neat to read.

                                                                                                        Currently reading Thucydides. It’s been far more interesting than I expected, it reads like a novel.

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                                                                                                          I am about 300 pages into ‘The First Man In Rome’ by Colleen McCoullough from the ‘Masters of Rome’ series. It’s great so far! Somehow I have learned way too much about the Roman political system without actively trying to learn about it.

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                                                                                                            I took a break from The War Against Boys about 1/3 of the way through (got sick of some of the bad sources and exaggeration .. still interesting; do intend to finish it).

                                                                                                            I’m about 200 pages into Tiamat’s Wrath, the final (for now) book of The Expanse.

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                                                                                                              Didn’t get round to adding mine earlier.

                                                                                                              Citizens to Lords: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages - Somebody here recommended The Origin of Capitalism by the same author and it was excellent, albeit dense. This one is promising but similarly slow going.

                                                                                                              Aseff the Spy, Russian Terrorist and Police Stool - Still non-fiction, but much easier reading. Ievno Aseff (to use the book’s transliteration) was the head of the Socialist Revolutionary Party’s terrorist Combat Wing, responsible for many political attacks and assassinations. He was also a police informer the entire time…

                                                                                                              I bought my copy secondhand online and the book turned out to be a first English edition from 1934 (!) - it’s not rare or anything but I think it makes it a bit special nonetheless.