Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Annual Reading Challenge

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Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby gibbs » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:48 pm

I'm ready to start this again this year, with the aim being this time to read as many as possible I've nearly finished my first for this year and I think I should do better this year as I've been taking a book to read during my break at work so I've had 15 minutes or so most days. although my new toy has been taking up alot of my time at home I'm hoping to work my way through some of the new ones I got for christmas
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Frank » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:23 am

Its surprising how just an extra 15 minutes a day can add up. I have read a few of the Clarksons myself and just being his collected articles are ideal for a spare few minutes. He might be one of those people you either love or hate but i think he usually writes a lot of sense, usually in a fairly controversiol way, and is also funny.

I have watched a fair few of Nigel Slaters programmes but have never read any of his books.
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:38 pm

My first full-time job was one just out of college, was in a woodworking/millworking shop, working on 'the floor' on saws, glue machines and such. Incredibly boring and horrible job! (...more about the employers, than the actual work). Anyway, to get away from the drudgery of the work, without slicing my wrists of course, I had a half hour of pure escapism and bliss (known as lunch) to propel me far away from that horrid experience. That place withdrawn to was my car (my faithful Dodge Challenger, as I recall), where I'd munch on my sandwich and read Star Trek novels (I was BIG into them, at the time). That was probably a good 20 minutes 5-days a week to read, and I poured through those paperbacks like water!!!!

Haven't thought of *that* place in a long time!

I need a hug :cry:
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby gibbs » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:08 pm

Book 1

Mao's Great Famine
by Frank Dikötter

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This was not an easy book to read at times, and is certainly not one for the faint of heart as a quick glance at some of the chapter titles will tell you what you are in for.

the history of these four years of horror is largely by detailed anecdote, interspersed with dense lists of statistics help create a sense of the scale of this man made disaster, and while the vivid descriptions of the enforced starvation, torture, child abuse and cannibalism that took place some times made it hard to read, I feel they are important as these anecdotes put it in perspective in regards to the people who suffered through this, by this I mean that while some books just recount figures and stories and while there is a human element to this as you know there were people involved.

Through Dikötter's use of anecdotes he not only puts a human element it but by being able to put the individual names of the people who suffered it really hammers it home to a point that you are able to almost flesh out the scene in your mind by coupling the names with the deeply descriptive anecdotes.

When I first started to read this it didn't seem to have a great deal of structure. as it starts with a deluge of names of party officials and descriptions of their arguments, and discussion of the production targets being set by the party.

But the structure of the book is to move from this to its human consequences. As the chapters progress, they become more vivid (and more difficult to read) as the consequences in terms human misery of these decisions are played out.

Overall I fell it was worth reading and one I would want to read again as I feel some areas would make more sense if I had more understanding of the subject at hand, and despite it being hard going I would be happy to read more of Dikötter's works in the future, to some it up while it is not easy going at times I would recommend this to people even if only as a way to put things into perspective.
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby gibbs » Sun Jan 24, 2016 10:11 pm

Book 2

Bushido: The Way of the Samurai
byTsunetomo Yamamoto

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The title means "hidden leaves" and is great for people who are trying to learn Japanese culture. The book is great at expressing the arts of the Samurai in times of peace. It was written during the Edo period of Japan which was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate. The idea of the book is not exactly rare, as there are many books written on the Bushido, the way of the Samurai. But it is still a great book, as most other bushido books are written during times of war. This makes Hagakure more useful than most other Bushido books, because people are more likely to relate to this book with their struggles, as it is often used metaphorically by shrewd businessmen and and even military figures in Japan to this day

The Hagakure was dictated by Yamamoto and later scribed verbatim by Tsuramoto Tashiro over a period of seven years (1710-1716) in which they lived together in a far off mountain retreat in Japan. Tashiro was sworn to secrecy over the texts contents because the author believed the teachings to be far too radical and too militaristic for the then peaceful times during the Shogunate Rule (1603-1867). During this time of unusual calmness, the teachings of Buddhism and the ethical codes of Confucius permeated Japan, enriching every aspect of her culture from arts to politics. But the old Samurai, Yamamoto, believed (though acknowledging the Buddha and the tenets of Confucius) that the Samurai, as a class, had become effeminate and weak. Yamamoto's basic premise was that the Samurai could not serve two masters (religion and the Clan) and by doing so had become less effective. The service of the lord and the clan should come first, and once this was done, one could then amuse oneself with the studies of the humanities. In writing the Hagakura, Yamamoto hoped that someday the Samurai would return to the purity of its strong and compassionate past. More than this, however, he wanted to create a class of super-men.

Overall it makes a great introductory text however if one can get hold of a translation of the Hagakura as I intend to it's well worth doing as it helps build a more complete picture
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Sat Jan 30, 2016 7:52 pm

OMG, Book 2 sounds fascinating! great books so far!!!
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby gibbs » Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:42 pm

Book 3

Sons of Guns - Straight-Shootin stories from the star of the hit discovery series
by Will Hayden
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Now while understand there is controversy surround the author this is as much as I'm going to acknowledge it, i.e. I know there is, I don't know the specifics so it isn't my area to comment on.

In terms of the book while it may have been disjointed in a few areas generally it flows well, and it has provided an insight into not only the history of Red Jacket Firearms but also into the staff that made the company and the show possible and in the case of 2 of them the rebirth of the company.
It also provided more of a background into some of the weapons that appeared on the show.

So that's number three down onto the next one
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby gibbs » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:49 pm

Book

Tea Sommelier
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by Fabio Petroni & Gabriella Lombardi

Today's tea is not one you drink with your mouth, but one you drink with your mind. Ok, you can drink your tea book if you really want to, but as much as I love the smell of paper, I do not think it tastes the best, now while many people have a thing for fine Wines or Beers for me it's tea to a point that I've got 15 different ones on the go at the moment although I am considering binning as I'm sure they gave me a bad batch as I don't remember the proper stuff tasting like dirt lesson learned use a reputable supplier next time.

Anyway on to the book, when I first saw this book last Christmas while browsing at Waterstones it seemed to call to me and I knew I had to add it to my collection, I flipped through it every time I visited the bookstore (which is a lot, I have a thing for books) and waited till the price on Amazon dropped to something I could afford.

Looks alone do not make a book unless it's about visuals, which this one is not. Even though it has the look and incredible photography of a coffee table book (as the attached photo's show), it is loaded with useful information while treating the art of sipping tea very much so like it is an art and from a professional taster's perspective. Borrowing much of the jargon from the Wine Sommelier world and shaping it to fit the world of tea.

A gripe I have with this book is the whole language and approach to tea in this book does feel daunting, similar to the way gourmet cuisine and wine tasting can seem very daunting to someone not already in the know. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for someone who is already into tea , but if you are new to the tea world it might seem a but imposing. I suppose this is part of a greater rant that certain aspects of the tea world (lovingly and not so lovingly at times call tea snobbery) tend to come off as unwelcoming to newcomers, which is something I am strongly against. I am very much in the 'oh hey, want to try tea, let me shower you with yummies until you find your favourite' mindset.

Do I recommend it? definitely If you are new to the world of tea just approach with caution...the tea world is not all fancy teas (although I am now tempted to get some Da Hong Po at somepoint but at £11 for 50g or £177.40 a kilo I think it'll be a while), elegant teapots, and lofty concepts...we are also lovers of quirky blends, teabags, herbal teas, and re-purposed coffee mugs. Don't feel intimidated by tasting terms and Grand Cru teas. If you are a well seasoned sipper (or a well seasoned Yixing Teapot that has gained sentience) then this book is a great reference tool. Either way, the overwhelming prettiness of this book is certainly a plus!
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby gibbs » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:09 pm

Book 4

The book of five rings
by Musashi Miyamoto
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Written in 1643 The Book of Five Rings, was a manifesto on swordsmanship, strategy, and winning for his students and generations of samurai to come, he created one of the most perceptive and incisive texts on strategic thinking ever to come from Asia. Musashi gives timeless advice on defeating an adversary, throwing an opponent off-guard, creating confusion, and other techniques for overpowering an assailant that will resonate with both martial artists and everyone else interested in skillfully dealing with conflict. For Musashi, the way of the martial arts was a mastery of the mind rather than simply technical prowess—and it is this path to mastery that is the core teaching in The Book of Five Rings.

Overall while I found the book to contain some interesting concepts, it is evident that it was written with his students in mind as in many places I felt that there where bits missing almost like he expected them to know something and therefore didn't write it down.
This made it difficult to read at times meaning this fairly short book to a while to get through as I'd seem to reach a point where my brain couldn't process anymore.

This is a book that I will definitely have to go over again or maybe a few more times to hopefully get what's going on
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Re: Gibb's 2016 Reading Challenge Log

Postby gibbs » Sat Apr 09, 2016 11:51 pm

Book 5

The Art of War

by Sun Tzu & Tom Butler-Bowdon

This is the second version of this book I have read and my first impression of this version is it felt like something was missing from the translation but that may have been the result of it being a different translator from the previous version

And while the forward by Bowden helped put some of the teachings in perspective you can certianly see his back ground is 'self help' literature that kind of this is the path to success mentality showed in places whereas in my opinion the art of war should be used as a guide to creating ones path opposed to something to copy with out considering it's application.

However there is so much you can learn from this. Although primarily referenced to war, the way in the art of war i written is on philosophical terms rather than direct mechanisms, which make it applicable to many things in life.

So this is a book that overall I recommend and will reread in the future however I'd probably look for a different analysis
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