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Sgt Hartman

Best and worst books you've ever read.

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So, here's one for our readers out there. 

I used to be a voracious reader but since having kids, my reading has dropped off a cliff. My last holiday in the Lakes was mostly me sitting in front the fire with a bottle of red and a book. It was wonderful. Anyway:

BEST.

Lord of the rings.

Lord of the flies.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver.

Most things by Bill Bryson

Airframe by Micheal Crichton.

WORST.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. Victorian Eastenders.

Anything by Clive Cussler. I used to hoover this guy up when I was younger. I picked one up after a ten year lull and dear God it was shit. Jingoistic, hoo-rah American bollocks. I was actually a bit embarrassed that I'd been such a fan.

Books of Blood by Clive Barker - Something about this guys writing style just irritates me. Also, I'm not squeamish but I thought some of the stories in this were just obnoxiously unpleasant. Hostel for readers.

 

 

 

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Lord of the Flies, we've all done that school trip at some point. Fatty, the conche, small boys for goal posts.

BEST:

Conrad Heart of Darkness.

Fight Club

WORST

The Dice Man - never got into it

On the road - booooring.

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12 minutes ago, davidg said:

Lord of the Flies, we've all done that school trip at some point. Fatty, the conche, small boys for goal posts.

BEST:

Conrad Heart of Darkness.

Fight Club

WORST

The Dice Man - never got into it

On the road - booooring.

 

I was gutted for Piggy :CryBaby:

I struggled with On the Road. Wispy navel-gazing guff. I don't think I finished it.

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It's difficult for me to pick  a "best" and "worst" book I've ever read sar'nt - but I can easily pick my "amazingly good when I expected it to be shite" book of all-time.

I read a lot of autobiographies, and a while back - after "Frank Skinner" by Frank Skinner had me wetting my pants - I sought-out those of TV Comedians whenever I was in the library.

Many of them were really good - Bob Monkhouse and Jim Bowen to name but two. Monkhouse's tale about Frankie Howerd trying to bum him in a hotel lift is worth the price of the book alone. And the lucky bastard shagged Diana Dors - well before she got all fat and wrinkly in her "Adam and the Ants" period.

But the one that stood out was by the totally un-funny Scouse "comedian" Tom O'Connor - with his effort "Take A Funny Turn".

To my astonishment, it was - and still is - among the funniest biographies I've ever read. 

I can only think that it must've been ghost-written by Les Dawson...

;)

 

 

XYY

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1 minute ago, The XYY Man said:

It's difficult for me to pick  a "best" and "worst" book I've ever read sar'nt - but I can easily pick my "amazingly good when I expected it to be shite" book of all-time.

I read a lot of autobiographies, and a while back - after "Frank Skinner" by Frank Skinner had me wetting my pants - I sought-out those of TV Comedians whenever I was in the library.

Many of them were really good - Bob Monkhouse and Jim Bowen to name but two. Monkhouse's tale about Frankie Howerd trying to bum him in a hotel lift is worth the price of the book alone. And the lucky bastard shagged Diana Dors - well before she got all fat and wrinkly in her "Adam and the Ants" period.

But the one that stood out was by the totally un-funny Scouse "comedian" Tom O'Connor - with his effort "Take A Funny Turn".

To my astonishment, it was - and still is - among the funniest biographies I've ever read. 

I can only think that it must've been ghost-written by Les Dawson...

;)

 

 

XYY

I've heard from quite a few folk that Frank Skinners book is very good. I'll have to give it a shot which will be a new thing for me. I don't think I've ever read an autobiography (unless you count Adrian Mole).

Bob Monkhouse fending off a Howerd bumming!? I've an image of uncle Monty attempting to bugger Marwood in Withnail and I. xD

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22 minutes ago, davidg said:

WORST

The Dice Man - never got into it

On the road - booooring.

I've read both.

The Dice man I really enjoyed. Read it a couple of times. 
the On the Road I don't really remember anythign about apart from reading it but suspect it was in the period shortly after uni where I have quite big memory gaps. 
 

Really difficult.
Best recent:
The Biology of the Honeybee by Ml Winston

 

Worst.
War and Peace. Couldn't read it. Ex-husband ruined a bookshelf the way alkies do, and bought me it as a replacement. 

 

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My mate from work Bob raved about "The Dice Man" - and he'd given me three previous recommendations that were spot-on.

The plot summary he gave me strongly suggested that I would thoroughly enjoy it.

Gave him it back after reading less than 100 pages. Utter shite.

In fact, "The Dice Man" is probably my "book I expected to be amazing but was totally shite in reality" of all-time....

 

XYY

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Worst: six cans of Pepsi

 

Oops, sorry, wrong thread.

 

Gerald Seymour's books are excellent, adventure stories but with character development. Harry's Game would be his most famous but The Journeyman Tailor edged it for me.

Also Tom Sharpe, the earlier the better, and anything by Bernard Cornwell.

I thoroughly enjoyed Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, Sherlock Holmes are good reads if not great literature.

 

Worst: excluding obvious trash like Fifty Shades of Grey I have always been disappointed by Charles Dickens' works:  silly names, Golden Syrup thick sentimentality, implausible plots.

 

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Best books:

Lord of the Rings

Far from the Madding Crowd

The Mayor of Casterbridge

Various HP Lovecraft stories

I enjoyed most Dickens that I've read but for some reason I can't get past the first few chapters of A Tale of Two Cities.

Worst books:

Far and away the worst book of all time is The World According to Garp. If you see this book, burn it on the spot, even if you destroy the whole library in the process. I very nearly joined IS so that I could lead a jihad to purge the world of that shite book. I gave up after about 150 pages even though i had no other English books to read, being confined to a cellar drinking cold beers and eating ice lollies during the 2003 heatwave in France. I couldn't care if any of the characters lived or died and what the fuck were the dancing bears about. Don't tell me, I don't fucking care.

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Down and out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia (Orwell) are both interesting reads about an interesting time in the world.

The Fountainhead (Rand) is a good read, and better than Atlas Shrugged, which does ramble on a bit (IMO).

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2 minutes ago, the gardener said:

Best books:

Lord of the Rings

Far from the Madding Crowd

The Mayor of Casterbridge

Various HP Lovecraft stories

I enjoyed most Dickens that I've read but for some reason I can't get past the first few chapters of A Tale of Two Cities.

Worst books:

Far and away the worst book of all time is The World According to Garp. If you see this book, burn it on the spot, even if you destroy the whole library in the process. I very nearly joined IS so that I could lead a jihad to purge the world of that white book. I gave up after about 150 pages even though i had no other English books to read, being confined to a cellar drinking cokd beers and eating ice lollies during the 2003 heatwave in France. I couldn't care if any of the characters lived or died and what the duck were the dancing bears about. Don't tell me, I don't fucking care.

Made a good film with Robin Williams nonetheless, predicting contemporary SJW nuttiness.

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1 hour ago, The XYY Man said:

It's difficult for me to pick  a "best" and "worst" book I've ever read sar'nt - but I can easily pick my "amazingly good when I expected it to be shite" book of all-time.

I read a lot of autobiographies, and a while back - after "Frank Skinner" by Frank Skinner had me wetting my pants - I sought-out those of TV Comedians whenever I was in the library.

Many of them were really good - Bob Monkhouse and Jim Bowen to name but two. Monkhouse's tale about Frankie Howerd trying to bum him in a hotel lift is worth the price of the book alone. And the lucky bastard shagged Diana Dors - well before she got all fat and wrinkly in her "Adam and the Ants" period.

But the one that stood out was by the totally un-funny Scouse "comedian" Tom O'Connor - with his effort "Take A Funny Turn".

To my astonishment, it was - and still is - among the funniest biographies I've ever read. 

I can only think that it must've been ghost-written by Les Dawson...

;)

 

 

XYY

Back in the late nineties/early noughties Tom O'Connor seemed to compere endless corporate dos. Spoke to him at length a couple of times and he did have some great tales and gags (although a bit in the Monkhouse way of recalling a stock gag relevant to whatever is being discussed). Seem to think he said he was originally a school teacher. Gets looked down by the alternative comedy crowd and a mostly remembered for the latter bland telly stuff but he is a talented comedian/entertainer.

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59 minutes ago, Sgt Hartman said:

I've heard from quite a few folk that Frank Skinners book is very good. I'll have to give it a shot which will be a new thing for me. I don't think I've ever read an autobiography (unless you count Adrian Mole).

Bob Monkhouse fending off a Howerd bumming!? I've an image of uncle Monty attempting to bugger Marwood in Withnail and I. xD

If you are a combination of:

1) New to autobiographies.

And 

2) Old enough to remember the British actor David Niven.

Then I can recommend his book "The Moon's A Balloon" as a damn fine place to start...

 

 

XYY

 

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1 hour ago, Sgt Hartman said:

So, here's one for our readers out there. 

I used to be a voracious reader but since having kids, my reading has dropped off a cliff. My last holiday in the Lakes was mostly me sitting in front the fire with a bottle of red and a book. It was wonderful. Anyway:

BEST.

Lord of the rings.

Lord of the flies.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver.

Most things by Bill Bryson

Airframe by Micheal Crichton.

WORST.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. Victorian Eastenders.

Anything by Clive Cussler. I used to hoover this guy up when I was younger. I picked one up after a ten year lull and dear God it was shit. Jingoistic, hoo-rah American bollocks. I was actually a bit embarrassed that I'd been such a fan.

Books of Blood by Clive Barker - Something about this guys writing style just irritates me. Also, I'm not squeamish but I thought some of the stories in this were just obnoxiously unpleasant. Hostel for readers.

 

 

 

Criminally, due to refusing to jump on the climate change bandwagon, Michael Crichton's work was never really celebrated as much as it should have been particularly after his death. Possibly the concept has got dated but, without Tom Clancy also, it seems like the techo-thriller genre seems to have died having been the backbone of nineties cinema.

 

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23 minutes ago, the gardener said:

 

Far and away the worst book of all time is The World According to Garp. If you see this book, burn it on the spot, even if you destroy the whole library in the process. I very nearly joined IS so that I could lead a jihad to purge the world of that shite book. I gave up after about 150 pages even though i had no other English books to read, being confined to a cellar drinking cold beers and eating ice lollies during the 2003 heatwave in France. I couldn't care if any of the characters lived or died and what the fuck were the dancing bears about. Don't tell me, I don't fucking care.

Not a fan then? :D

13 minutes ago, Cunning Plan said:

Since this is clearly an intellectual Willy waving thread it is going to take some thought....

I think 'Sex' by Madonna is a seminal work.

I'm sure I biffed one out to that many years ago.

Outstanding tome.

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5 minutes ago, SNACR said:

Back in the late nineties/early noughties Tom O'Connor seemed to compere endless corporate dos. Spoke to him at length a couple of times and he did have some great tales and gags (although a bit in the Monkhouse way of recalling a stock gag relevant to whatever is being discussed). Seem to think he said he was originally a school teacher. Gets looked down by the alternative comedy crowd and a mostly remembered for the latter bland telly stuff but he is a talented comedian/entertainer.

I never found him funny, until I read his book.

I did chuckle - or maybe smiled a bit more - when I saw him on TV after I'd read the book.

Yet he was in the big-league of British comedian/game-show hosts for quite a while - the likes of Monkhouse, Tarbuck and Dawson were his contemporaries - and that is deserving of some respect as he must've been doing something right. 

It's all subjective mate - I love Reeves and Mortimer, but they turn-off many people.

Comedy - like so many things - is indeed in the eye of the beholder SNACKS...

 

 

XYY

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The standout book, for me, would have to be 1984.

Don't really have a worst just a whole list of meh rather than something that springs to mind as uniquely awful.

I also can't really think of many books, I've read as an adult, that I particularly remember fondly or would want to revisit. I certainly do remember lots of childrens' books fondly, I'm not sure if this is necessarily tied up with childhood or rather they were actually better more memorable books. 

A few authors/books that stand out, and seem slightly forgotten now, would be

The Uncle books by JP Martin

Many of the books by BB/Denys Watkins Pitchford

Joan Aiken's books - particularly the one where they work in the sewers and a carpet factory.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, SNACR said:

Criminally, due to refusing to jump on the climate change bandwagon, Michael Crichton's work was never really celebrated as much as it should have been particularly after his death. Possibly the concept has got dated but, without Tom Clancy also, it seems like the techo-thriller genre seems to have died having been the backbone of nineties cinema.

 

True, his books did make excellent films too. Jurassic Park was a brilliant book and much nastier than the film, he also didn't receive the credit he should have done for Westworld. 

A fiercely intelligent guy, probably quite hard work in real life but he was certainly one of the generations top writers.

One thing that is bugging me is since his death, his agents seem to be trolling through his hard drive to cobble together any unfinished work they can find. They released one previously called Micro and I swear you could tell exactly where Crichton died and his replacement took over. It should never have been published as a Crichton novel as it doesn't read anything like his previous ones (and I read them all) and was actually pretty bad.

Miraculously, Crichton, or his ever-busy agents, are bringing out another book soon which ain't bad going considering he's been dead a good few years. 

8 minutes ago, SNACR said:

The standout book, for me, would have to be 1984.

Don't really have a worst just a whole list of meh rather than something that springs to mind as uniquely awful.

I also can't really think of many books, I've read as an adult, that I particularly remember fondly or would want to revisit. I certainly do remember lots of childrens' books fondly, I'm not sure if this is necessarily tied up with childhood or rather they were actually better more memorable books. 

A few authors/books that stand out, and seem slightly forgotten now, would be

The Uncle books by JP Martin

Many of the books by BB/Denys Watkins Pitchford

Joan Aiken's books - particularly the one where they work in the sewers and a carpet factory.

 

 

Appalling omission on the Sargent's best of list.

1984. Incredible book. 

The foresight in it is genuinely creepy.

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I'm a voracious reader, i absolutely have to read before i can sleep.

Currently working my way through Stephen Baxter's back catalogue.

Mostly i stick to comedy, fantasy and science fiction books.

Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Robert Rankin are all brilliant. 

One of the finest books i have ever read, and also the hardest to get into, was focaults pendulum by Umberto eco, it must have taken me a third of the book to get into it but then, wow, what a story.

 

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Two books are very personal to me.

Waterrship Down. I guess I was about 10 and staying on a very small camp site in Kent. I sat in an orchard and read this from almost dawn til dusk in one sitting. The emotional roller coaster, along with the setting, is still a very strong memory.

Second is Saigon by Antony Grey. I first read this in 1986 aged 19 and was so intrigued by the history I flew to vietnam the following year on my own. The book moves around various parts of Vietnam and I used it as a guide book, reading each chapter in the place it was set. Reading the part set in the rooftop bar of the Ipmperial hotel, and noticing the pot plants were still in the same location, was quite weird.

 

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6 minutes ago, Sgt Hartman said:

True, his books did make excellent films too. Jurassic Park was a brilliant book and much nastier than the film, he also didn't receive the credit he should have done for Westworld. 

A fiercely intelligent guy, probably quite hard work in real life but he was certainly one of the generations top writers.

One thing that is bugging me is since his death, his agents seem to be trolling through his hard drive to cobble together any unfinished work they can find. They released one previously called Micro and I swear you could tell exactly where Crichton died and his replacement took over. It should never have been published as a Crichton novel as it doesn't read anything like his previous ones (and I read them all) and was actually pretty bad.

Miraculously, Crichton, or his ever-busy agents, are bringing out another book soon which ain't bad going considering he's been dead a good few years. 

Appalling omission on the Sargent's best of list.

1984. Incredible book. 

The foresight in it is genuinely creepy.

Memory serves that Jurassic park was as much about maths chaos theory as it was dinosaurs?  Brilliant book, as was Airframe which was the book that got my father in law, aged 65, to find a love of reading.

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3 minutes ago, Cunning Plan said:

 

Second is Saigon by Antony Grey. I first read this in 1986 aged 19 and was so intrigued by the history I flew to vietnam the following year on my own. The book moves around various parts of Vietnam and I used it as a guide book, reading each chapter in the place it was set. Reading the part set in the rooftop bar of the Ipmperial hotel, and noticing the pot plants were still in the same location, was quite weird.

 

That's really rather cool. :)

 

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