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 What are you reading Thread

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Athrun888
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Fri 13 Jan 2017 - 13:36

Drunkalilly wrote:
Not sure. I'm gonna take another crack at reading some of the Tolkien stuff this year.

That said, I loved this book so much I don't think I'll be able to resist if I see The Alloy of Law in the shops. It would also be nice to finish them in time to read one when it's released.

Good luck with that!   Grin I'll admit I never got on with Tolkien when I tried to read it years ago though.  Too dry and long-winded for me, although I very much respect what he did for the genre trailblazing.  Pretty much everything nowadays owes something to what Tolkien did, even if I'm not a fan of actually reading his works I have utmost respect for them.  Keep the thread updated!



And speaking of high-fantasy epics and Mistborn, finally finished Sanderson's Elantris this morning.  Like with other Cosmere works this had the classic hallmarks seen in Sanderson's Mistborn and Stormlight series, but again with its own unique takes.  This time religion was at the forefront of the story, with a religious empire making moves on the last two nations to hold out against conversion.  

Another three protagonists from all walks of life provided the readers their window in to the world of this epic, a widowed princess doomed to holding faithful to a marriage to preserve a pact with her homeland, a fallen prince forced to live in a fallen country of dead magic, and a religious general sent to convert a nation before his leader sends in his armada to raze it and its heretic population to the ground.  

It never ceases to amaze me how good Sanderson is at writing female characters, so many books I've read end up falling in to one of several incredibly obnoxious stereotypes or fail to portray them in a warm enough way to make them feel totally genuine, yet he seems to have mastered it.  Sarene was easily the highlight perspective character in this yarn, and it was entirely because of the sincerity of both her character and its portrayal.  Hrathen and his struggle to control the zealot Dilaf was also fascinating to watch, as was Hrathen's various inner conflicts.  Quiet possibly one of my favourite protagonists from the Cosmere, and considering how much I love Vin and Kaladin that's saying a lot.  


When I went in to this one I expected a rather rusty novel, this being Sanderson's first solo fantasy epic.  That concern seems to have been unwarranted, most of what made Mistborn and Stormlight sing were already present even in Elantris.  Upon reaching the climax plot twists started to fly, plots came together like a puzzle being slotted in to place, and the s*** hit the fan in a very dramatic and un-put-downable way.  I love the way he's left things open for a sequel too, the conclusion was strong and yet he resisted the temptation to wrap up everything instead allowing room for a sequel should one ever be written (which, thankfully, it will).  



Overall another quality fantasy epic from Sanderson that I can only recommend with extreme vigour to those who like the genre and want a good yet satisfying and meaty stand-alone novel or like Sanderson's other works such as Mistborn and Stormlight Archive.  

Up next: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, very eager to read this one, back when I was a child Goblet of Fire was my favourite novel in the series.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Fri 13 Jan 2017 - 16:25

Athrun888 wrote:

Good luck with that!   Grin I'll admit I never got on with Tolkien when I tried to read it years ago though.  Too dry and long-winded for me, although I very much respect what he did for the genre trailblazing.  Pretty much everything nowadays owes something to what Tolkien did, even if I'm not a fan of actually reading his works I have utmost respect for them.  Keep the thread updated!

My dad read me The Hobbit when I was young, but Lord of the Rings was too much of a slog. I loved the film trilogy to bits, but the books were all a bit too weird and waffley. I feel like there's more room in my life for that now. I read Hobbit again while the films were coming out (let's not talk too much about them . . .) and I feel like I'm ready for the rest.

And like you said, our modern idea of what fantasy even is we owe to Tolkien and his reimagining and interpreting of centuries of myth and legend.


Quote :
And speaking of high-fantasy epics and Mistborn, finally finished Sanderson's Elantris this morning.

I'm definitely going to end up reading the whole Cosmere. My understanding is they're all unrelated on the surface, but at the level of the gods and whatnot, there's a multiverse cosmology thang? I might start at Elantris and read in publication order, in that case.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Fri 13 Jan 2017 - 18:01

Yeah on the surface they don't seem connected (that'll change by the end according to Sanderson, we're still likely a few decades away before that however) but the Ars Arcanum at the end of each book helps connect the dots, and Stormlight Archive seems to be very important in the grand scheme of the Cosmere.  It's all one big individual universe, the Shard gods seem to be connected to the original power that created the universe.  

And yeah, publication order sounds like a good idea, makes the references easier to pick up on. I'm sort of doing it myself right now! 

That said things got a bit muddled with Stormlight Archive and Mistborn series 2 as most of Mistborn 2 was released between Stormlight novels, so you might want to break direct publication order when you hit those two and either read all of Stormlight or Mistborn 2 depending on your preferences.  Also keep in mind Arcanum Unbounded, a Cosmere short story collection, is best read last due to the nature of the short stories, some are self-contained but the biggest ones are for reading after their main series current instalments.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Thu 19 Jan 2017 - 15:02

Just finished reading Death by Video Games, by Simon Parkin, courtesy of my not-so-secret Santa Zero Jones.

Really good book! The stories of deaths in Thai internet cafes, caused by excessive gaming marathons, are a framing device but not really the subject of the book. What the book is actually about is why people play games. Each chapter examines, with brilliant knowledge and depth, a concept like getting lost in a game's world, experiencing another person's point of view, challenging oneself or developing communities. It paints an expert picture of the medium and the players who enjoy it, with knowledge and insight about a phenomenal spectrum of games. It touches on things from Gamergate and the early development of online gaming, to the Columbine massacre and the games children developed in the Nazi camps.

Will it convince older generations that games are a worthwhile passion? Probably not.
Does it satisfactorily answer why people are willing to play games for so long it kills them, unlike watching or reading something? Not really, no.

What it does do is offer a longform exploration of the value of play, along with the impact and potential of the gaming medium, that answers questions gamers might not have realised they wanted answered. Anyone into videogames, this is a book I can't recommend highly enough.

Thumbs Up!
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Thu 19 Jan 2017 - 15:55

I could not be more delighted that you've enjoyed it. Really. Cool
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 14:31

Finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in the wee hours of the morning today.  Even better than I remember, and considering this book always held the title of "Favourite Harry Potter Book" in my childhood that says a lot.  

The series finally shrugged off the shackles of the "child novel" genre and entered full blown young adult with this one, while I'm sure many would immediately point to that scene as the turning point, for me the entire book was one gigantic turning point culminating in that scene ("Kill the spare", not just the incident but how ruthless it all was).  Starts off cheerful enough after the prologue, but things get very dark very early on with the Death Eaters tormenting the muggles.  Scenes like those, while infrequent, immediately make one realise this book isn't going to be as kind as the previous adventures with Harry and co.  


Characterisation was on point with everyone getting explored in new and interesting ways, the world was expanded upon as the first real hints of a global wizarding community were introduced, and some great parallels to real life were kicked off, many of which are as relevant today as they were when the book came out, perhaps even more-so.  


Despite my reading plan being "Cosmere > Potter > Cosmere" after that ending I can't help but dive straight in to Order of the Phoenix.  The potter-bug has sunk its teeth in to me bigtime now and I suspect I'll find it very hard to stop until the end now.  


Incidentally where Azkaban's movie was the last movie I actively went out of my way to see Goblet of Fire was the last one I actually saw. I seem to remember they dumped pretty much everything outside the tournament from the story from that one. Meh
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 15:00

Athrun888 wrote:
Incidentally where Azkaban's movie was the last movie I actively went out of my way to see Goblet of Fire was the last one I actually saw.  I seem to remember they dumped pretty much everything outside the tournament from the story from that one.  Meh

Alas, yep.

No NEWT, lots of coincidences and Harry stumbling on solutions, Dumbledore being directed all wrong, over-simplified love stories . . . It's a watchable film but this marks the point the books became too big and at the same time small to be filmed.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Thu 26 Jan 2017 - 14:14

Sounds about right, I recall Voldemort's casting and performance being absolutely spot on though.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Thu 26 Jan 2017 - 18:14

Definitely; he's on the list with Snape and Hagrid as characters I can't see or hear any other way now.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Sat 11 Feb 2017 - 0:43

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was dusted off this morning.  Honestly my views of it today are remarkably close to the views I had back when I first read the book age 12, albeit slightly tempered by age (also can't type for s*** today, made at least twenty errors already Meh ).  I still maintain the book was probably a good hundred, perhaps two hundred pages too long.  Its length was essentially both its biggest asset and its biggest flaw.  The pacing at times was so slow due to redundant and/or unneeded sections it made The Way of Kings seem lightening fast, yet on the other hand the length allowed a lot of previously underutilised side-characters to step up, an undeniable good thing.  

That all said some aspects, naturally, came off better now than they did back when I was twelve.  The parallels to politics, while obviously on the simpler side of things, is far more appreciable to a person in their mid-twenties who keeps up with it than it is to a twelve year old whose sole knowledge of the political scene is the name of the current leader, and having gone through my own teenage angst period long ago Harry's dosage is far more relatable than it was.  

The final two hundred or so pages were the strongest of the novel, and quite possibly the strongest in the series so far.  I've always stood by the ideal that an ending is one of the most important parts of any story, capable of making a decent story in to an ultimately excellent one, or dooming what had been an excellent story to mediocrity.  Order of the Phoenix is one of the best examples of a decent-but-not-spectacular story being made spectacular by the quality of its ending and how it closed out the journey.  From the glorious downfall of Umbridge to the harrowing encounter with the Death Eaters to the Voldemort duel to the brilliant and absolutely perfect epilogue/fallout, the entire ending was nothing short of perfection.  


I'll be taking a brief break and returning to the Cosmere with Sanderson's Warbreaker, then it'll be on to the one-two punch of the last two Harry Potter novels!
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Sat 11 Feb 2017 - 9:35

Order of the Phoenix was quite bloated, wasn't it? Y'know, I'm slowly turning to the idea of doing an HP reread myself, with the fun all of you guys are having. Grin However, I also have to recognise that I've plenty of stuff that I should actually be reading too... Embarrassed
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Sat 11 Feb 2017 - 13:05

Must admit, I have no desire to revisit the world of HP.  Even though it was a great world, I'll always remember that being offset against mediocre writing and mediocre characterisation.  Not that it didn't all pick up a bit at the end, but you have to get to that part. The only phoenix I'm interested in doesn't order, he objects.

Instead, I'm reading:



It's a graphic novel, and it's about as silly as it looks. Grin
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Wed 22 Feb 2017 - 15:04

Another Sanderson Cosmere novel, another brilliantly built world filled with gods and religions, unique magic systems, well developed cast, good twists, and a fulfilling ending. Warbreaker hit all the right notes for a standalone-first-act-that-sets-the-stage-for-big-sequels.

The long and short of it: a small kingdom's king finds himself sending one of his daughters to marry a tyrannical monarch of their far larger neighbouring kingdom as part of a treaty made years prior in a desperate attempt to prevent a war their colossal neighbour would crush them in. The youngest is deliberately sent to be married off leaving the eldest sister (the original betrothed) departs to rescue her younger sister from the evil "God King". Much political wrangling and adventuring ensues.

I'd say more but at this point it's all either redundant or verging far too much in to spoiler territory. The Cosmere is a must-read for people who even remotely enjoy fantasy, and this title is a must-read of the must-read, although definitely not the ideal jumping-on point. Those remain Mistborn's Final Empire, Elantris, or Stormlight's Way of Kings.

Speaking of spoilers, I'd advise anybody who checks the book out (so probably nobody given how everything I write typically falls on deaf ears Wink ) to avoid the spoilerific blurb.

----------------

And speaking of spoilerific blurbs holy crud am I glad I'm already well aware of the major twists and turns of Harry Potter's late-game, because jeez do they spoil the ever-living-heck out of Goblet of Fire onwards. Especially book six, which flat out spoils the invasion of Hogwarts by the Death Eaters at the end of the book. Book five as well, killing the mystery/twist that the book spends a good five hundred pages building up to. The original editions weren't even remotely as bad as this, in fact I recall the later ones being positively cagey!

I'm at the point where I don't even look at blurbs any more, because they seem so intent on spoiling the hell out of things nowadays. Meh
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Wed 22 Feb 2017 - 15:35

Any reason it's not a good jumping on point? I'm currently about halfway through Elantris and have read the Mistborn Trilogy, so guessing I'll be alright, but wondered why?
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Wed 22 Feb 2017 - 16:28

Athrun888 wrote:
Speaking of spoilers, I'd advise anybody who checks the book out (so probably nobody given how everything I write typically falls on deaf ears Wink ) to avoid the spoilerific blurb.  

I'm gonna! I'm really having to force myself to get through the Iliad at the moment, and I can see the Odyssey and Lord of the Rings being similar experiences, so picking up some more guaranteed enjoyable page turners might be in my near future.
My mum has recently read my copy of Final Empire, and is keen for books 2 and 3, so that's another fan!
Quote :
I'm at the point where I don't even look at blurbs any more, because they seem so intent on spoiling the hell out of things nowadays.  Meh  
They're awful. See also: next time on segments, trailers, netflix write-ups. I guess with so much media available these days, nobody is willing to risk a customer not picking something up because they didn't know about some excellent late-game twist.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Wed 22 Feb 2017 - 20:05

Sorry about this - it's not as classy as what you lot were reading, but I have to recommend:

I know half of it is pictures, so It doesn't really count. Sport-based humour is usually dumb, entry-level or cringe-worthy; however David Squires is an absolute genius - everything is much cleverer than the topic of football should normally be. If nothing else, I'd recommend reading his weekly Guardian strips; he throws some ace topical references in there.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Thu 23 Feb 2017 - 14:00

Crumpy Andy wrote:
Any reason it's not a good jumping on point? I'm currently about halfway through Elantris and have read the Mistborn Trilogy, so guessing I'll be alright, but wondered why?

My phrasing probably overstated things, all the non-direct-sequel Cosmere books so far can basically be read in any order, it's more that while it was a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read it's not the book that'll make a newcomer go "holy s*** that was awesome!", rather it's more a book I'd rec to those who've already started the Cosmere and want more.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Fri 24 Feb 2017 - 20:59

Today, I finally finished reading The Iliad. As essentially the source of the Epic format, and all Western storytelling for the last 3,000 years, it has  had more than a few words written about it. Scholars, historians, authors and filmmakers have dedicated their lives to the discussion and study and appreciation of this book. Nonetheless, I'll have a pop at reviewing it.

The Iliad
Homer, 1194bc

The Iliad is a book about a period in the Trojan war, during which Achilleus turns away from the fighting after Agamemnon offers him insult. After lots of horrible war, he goes back to the fighting and kills Hektor. It begins in media res, then it uses flashbacks and foreshadowing to pretty much tell the story of the whole war.

Graphics 8
Homer uses lots of metaphor to describe the many buff soldiers and their armour and stuff. Top work.

Sound 6
A lot of the time, characters will say a whole paragraph to a messenger then like two lines later the messenger will recount it verbatim. One of them could probably be skipped.

Longevity 7
It is a long ass book, and there are lots of scenes where it laboriously names everyone involved in a battle, each with a little backstory, like the very worst chapters of a George RR Martin novel. Unnecessary padding.

Replayability 10
People are still going on about it after 3,000 years, and every piece of storytelling you've ever enjoyed owes it a debt.

Gameplay 6
There are lots of fights and they have a fair bit of variety, but it's a shame the story ends before the actual sacking of Troy because the horse is the best bit.

Pros:

  • The "epic" format, of a small cast of characters' whose story mirrors, and is backdropped by, a larger narrative is the basis for everything from Star Wars to the Godfather. It works.
  • Initially, I was put off by the constant intervention of the gods but the way their petty, laughable conflict mirrors the tragic plight of mortal men feels like it really says something about the powerful and those who serve them.
  • Although it tells heroic stories about war, it doesn't shy away from the pointless tragedy of it.
  • The story, being set in Ancient Greece, obviously focuses on men and their wars, with women often treated as possessions and prizes. This was the actual case, so I can't be too annoyed, and among the Gods who are not so bound by rules, the male and female characters are treated really well.


Cons

  • Repeated lines
  • Goes on and on about who was in what battle and where they're from. Both of these complaints probably stem from its origin as an oral poem
  • Stops before the horse bit and Achilleus getting shot in the heel, which are the best bits.


Overall: 9
Good if you like this sort of thing.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Sat 25 Feb 2017 - 12:53

You're tougher than I, those cons, especially the slowness, would absolutely kill me if I sat down and tried to read it.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Fri 3 Mar 2017 - 15:24

So I clocked off game of the year a few minutes ago after at least six hours of gaming today and was all set to head to bed for some reading and shut-eye when I remembered I hadn't yet jotted down my meandering thoughts on the book I finished last night: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  

A vast improvement over its predecessor ootp, where ootp had fat hbp distilled the best of the franchise.  The mysteries had a different bend to them here, where in previous books you didn't really understand what was really going on behind the scenes until the final act here it was more about alliegences, with the real mystery being where people would fall in when the s*** hit the fan.  And boy does the s*** hit the fan in this one, every scene involving the half-blood prince at the end oozed tension and drama, and the status-quo comes to a crushing and brilliantly tear-jerking end.  

My only gripes, or gripe really, is superficial, but I'll mention it nevertheless.  I dislike the romantic pairings.  Less so Ginny and Harry and more-so Ron and Hermione.  While the latter has been simmering for three books at this point I just don't agree with the pairing long-term, Ron and Hermione just feel like a mismatched couple.  To put it bluntly I just don't feel the chemistry for that type of relationship between them.  


As an aside, watched the scene between Harry and the half-blood prince from the movie, I think I'll be sticking to the explosive encounter in the book. Meh
Spoiler:
 

And with that time to hit the hay and begin The Deathly Hallows!
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Fri 3 Mar 2017 - 15:53

I liked the way it was shot at the end, with the burning hut and Hogwarts on the horizon. Overall though, I do agree with you about the films messing stuff up.

I was rooting for Harry and Ginny right from Chamber, but I can see where you're coming from with Ron and Hermione. For me, I can definitely see them getting together when they do, but I'm not so sure I believe they'd be happy after a couple of decades.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Wed 22 Mar 2017 - 14:27

Its been a week or so since I finished it, but I finally concluded Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Honestly there probably isn't much to be said here that hasn't been said about the book millions of times, it's a roaring conclusion to the series. Whether it was planned from the start or not honestly becomes irrelevant, because the book is just that blasted good. Easily up there with The Hero of Ages as one of my favourite conclusions to a serial ever, it ties almost everything off in exactly the right way, and aside from the rather dull Tent Arc (which had a few splashes of extremely exciting events like Godric Hollow though) the book is borderline perfection for what it is.


Had a good laugh at how

Ending battle spoilers:
 

Not to mention that moment was pure awesome/badass too.

The book made good use of the concept of the power of love too, from the intangible magic that produced miracles like Harry surviving the killing curse through to Voldemort being utterly undermined by his subordinates.


So yeah, only gripes would be the bloated tent section and Ron x Hermione in the epilogue. So really it was just a damn good book.


Moving on I've decided to revisit the series that was my first foray outside the realm of YA fiction when I pilfered my parents bookshelf one day for something to read: the Deverry cycle's first book; Daggerspell.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Mon 10 Apr 2017 - 9:05

So, after what feels like years of my family and everyone else I know telling me "you're gonna love this book, it's right up your street, it's like it was written for you" I finally got around to reading Ready Player One. It was okay. Alright. So-so.

For the first couple of chapters, I hated it. The crap dialogue and use of internet hax0rz slang that nobody ever used made it seem like a book by a 40 year old man trying desperately to be down with the kids. The main characters came across well Gamergate in the way they were so proud of their knowledge of a load  of old shite. After the first scene with Ir0k, the characters start talking more like real people and it isn't so infuriating.

Then there's all the references. I'm a fan of sci-fi and fantasy and videogames, and I appreciate an in-joke or canonically nerdy characters being into stuff I recognise. This game just piled it on, more and more, without ever using it to make any kind of point or anything. At times it felt like whole pages of the book were copied and pasted from wikipedia. Like The Big Bang Theory, I never felt like these were clever in-jokes for me, or that they were being used to express the themes or anything. They were thrown in there and then immediately thoroughly explained, with no passion from the writer or respect for the audience.

This is all a shame, because the overall story of a dystopian society that has retreated into a virtual world was excellent and relevant, as was the anti-capitalist plot and the journey of self-discovery. If the book had concentrated a little more on its own thing and less on trying to mimic modern online culture, it would have been more believable. If it hadn't gone out of its way to mention the use of lots of references, and had just peppered them in and trusted people to pick up on it, it wouldn't have been so obnoxious.

I guess this is about the ending but it's not a shocker:
 

I guess in the end, the irony is that it was a good book but it absolutely wasn't for me. I'm too l33t to appreciate these poseurs.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Mon 10 Apr 2017 - 13:08

Sounds like shite to me Laughing

I would not be able to carry on for the whole book after being subjected to constant references, especially of the kind which are presented as The Big Bang Theory does.

It'd be interesting to know how well it would sell/if it would even have been recommended to you in an alternate universe where all that shite was toned down significantly. I'm guessing it would be a much better book but fewer people would notice it because it would be less overt.
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PostSubject: Re: What are you reading Thread   Mon 10 Apr 2017 - 13:24

I bought 1984 and that should hopefully get read at some-point, might even take it to work with me.

On Ready Player One also been recommend to me but not got around to reading it and with a film coming, I'd thought I'd just watch that.
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