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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in The League of Extraordinary Gentlereaders' LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
2:38 am
[thorkell]
Book #1 of 2008
I'm going to try writing a bit about each book I read after I finish it. Since I've finished the first book of 2008 this seems like a good time to start. Or is this community dead?

Collapse by Jared Diamond
Or to give the full title Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. This is a book I bought in 2005 but somehow I've never bothered to read it. I think it's because at the same time I bought one of his other books, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, and I gave up reading that book after about 200 pages because the man just would not get past writing about plants and agriculture. But as my pile of unread books started to get smaller I took another look at this book. I had previously read the chapter about Iceland in the book and found it interesting Some of the things he pointed out in the chapter about Iceland were pretty obvious, but I guess I'm not the audience Diamond had in mind when he wrote that chapter.

As for the rest of the book, it's well written and interesting. There are plenty of cases where you tend to think that the people of the societies Diamond writes about weren't really thinking at all. A lot of the time I was thinking "How could they do that?" Later in the book Diamond explains how people can behave in a way that's wrong in hindsight. 

Of course some of the societies written about collapsed through no fault of their own (Henderson Island and Pitcairn Island spring to mind here). 

There were some things I found a bit surprising in the book. I had no idea Australia was as fragile as Diamond claims it to be. In fact he claims has the most fragile environment of any First World country apart from Iceland. Considering where I am I think I have a small idea about how fragile that is.

Many of the chapters talk about societies that have failed, however the entire book is not about collapsed societies. A few of them are societies that have faced difficulties or are facing difficulties. In those chapters Diamond takes a look at what they did or are doing to work their way out of the difficulties they found themselves in.

The most interesting part of the book was for me the chapters spent on Greenland, and how the society of the Norse (being Icelandic I really have to say that they were Icelandic) failed there. Almost nothing about that gets taught at school here, you only learn that the settlements lasted for some years and then they were all gone and nobody knows why. With that in mind most of the information there was new to me and I found it interesting. What I found sad about it was that the people in Greenland had plenty of chances to save themselves, but the chances involved abandoning some if not all of their cultural values as European Christians and they didn't do it. In effect they chose to live and die as European Christians.

In the last section of the book Diamond focuses on twelve problems that face the world today. He lists them and talks about what's contributing to the problems. After reading about all that you get the feeling that the people on Earth are in deep trouble. Yet Diamond claims the problems he's listed are problems that can be overcome, and really must be overcome if humans are to live on this planet for much longer. So he ends the book on a cautiously optimistic note.

Current Mood: accomplished
Thursday, January 26th, 2006
2:45 pm
[jhghendriks]
The Books I read in 2005
It's been a while since I posted here, although I haven't stopped read.

These are the novels I read in 2005:
01 - [03-01-2005] Dr. Ernest Drake's Drakologie [NL] by Steer, Dugald A.
02 - [07-01-2005] Shadowheart by Barclay, James
03 - [14-01-2005] Demonstorm by Barclay, James
04 - [19-01-2005] Utopia by Child, Lincoln
05 - [31-01-2005] The Dragon Never Sleeps by Cook, Glen
06 - [08-02-2005] Newton's Wake by MacLeod, Ken
07 - [14-02-2005] New Spring by Jordan, Robert
08 - [22-02-2005] Pattern Recognition by Gibson, William
09 - [25-02-2005] Cartomancy by Gentle, Mary
10 - [07-03-2005] Innocents Aboard by Wolfe, Gene
11 - [17-03-2005] 1610, A Sundial in a Grave by Gentle, Mary
12 - [20-03-2005] Mothership by Broshnan, John
13 - [10-04-2005] The Firework-Maker's Daughter by Pullman, Philip
14 - [18-04-2005] Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Clarke, Susanna
15 - [20-04-2005] Just a Geek by Wheaton, Wil
16 - [23-04-2005] Howl's Moving Castle by Jones, Diana Wynne
17 - [27-04-2005] Castle in the Air by Jones, Diana Wynne
18 - [03-05-2005] Ringworld's Children by Niven, Larry
19 - [05-05-2005] A Hat Full of Sky by Pratchett, Terry
20 - [09-05-2005] Charmed by Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant by Jones, Diana Wynne
21 - [11-05-2005] The Magicians of Caprona / Witch Week by Jones, Diana Wynne
22 - [17-05-2005] The Opal Deception by Colfer, Eoin
23 - [18-05-2005] The Artemis Fowl Files by Colfer, Eoin
24 - [05-06-2005] The Year of Our War by Swainston, Steph
25 - [10-06-2005] No Present Like Time by Swainston, Steph
26 - [12-06-2005] Cart and Cwidder / Drowned Amment by Jones, Diana Wynne
27 - [16-06-2005] The Spellcoats / The Crown of Dalemark by Jones, Diana Wynne
28 - [23-06-2005] Jailbird by Vonnegut jr, Kurt
29 - [14-07-2005] Iron Council by Mieville, China
30 - [16-07-2005] Archer's Goon by Jones, Diana Wynne
31 - [21-07-2005] Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by Rowling, J. K.
32 - [26-07-2005] Knees up Mother Earth by Rankin, Robert
33 - [30-07-2005] The Magician's Guild by Canavan, Trudi
34 - [03-08-2005] The Novice by Canavan, Trudi
35 - [06-08-2005] The High Lord by Canavan, Trudi
36 - [13-08-2005] The Last Light of the Sun by Kay, Guy Gavriel
37 - [24-08-2005] The Algebraist by Banks, Iain
38 - [31-08-2005] Coyote Rising by Steele, Allen
39 - [02-09-2005] Mixed Magics by Jones, Diana Wynne
40 - [07-09-2005] State of Fear by Crichton, Michael
41 - [08-09-2005] Witch's Business by Jones, Diana Wynne
42 - [12-09-2005] Dark Lord of Derkholm by Jones, Diana Wynne
43 - [13-09-2005] Year of the Griffin by Jones, Diana Wynne
44 - [22-09-2005] Pride and Predjudice by Austen, Jane
45 - [01-10-2005] White Devils by McAuley, Paul J.
46 - [03-10-2005] Power of Three by Jones, Diana Wynne
47 - [31-10-2005] The Penultimate Peril by Snicket, Lemony
48 - [04-11-2005] Quicksilver by Stephenson, Neal
49 - [20-11-2005] The Confusion by Stephenson, Neal
50 - [08-12-2005] The System of the World by Stephenson, Neal
51 - [14-12-2005] Fitzpatrick's War by Judson, Theodore
52 - [21-12-2005] Hunter's Oath by West, Michelle
53 - [30-12-2005] Hunter's Death by West, Michelle
Saturday, August 6th, 2005
10:14 pm
[jhghendriks]
Fifty Book Challenge - Part 39 and 40
The League of Extraordinary Gentlereaders has declared that 2005 will be the year we will read at least 50 books for the betterment of ourselves, and the people surounding us.

Each time I finish a book I will note it here, with a little description, my opinion and the lessons I drew from it, which I can use for the betterment of myself and world around me.

Book(s) I am currently reading
- The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay

Book(s) I have recently finished reading
39. The Novice, by Trudi Canavan
40. The High Lord, by Trudi Canavan

Lessons learned
39. Sometimes some people are better then you though they'd be.
40. Sometimes can be be right, while others say you are wrong.

OpinionsCollapse )

Book(s) I have already read, and reviewed earlierCollapse )

I started reading on: 01-01-2005.
Saturday, July 30th, 2005
8:45 pm
[jhghendriks]
Fifty Book Challenge - Part 29 thru 38
The League of Extraordinary Gentlereaders has declared that 2005 will be the year we will read at least 50 books for the betterment of ourselves, and the people surounding us.

Each time I finish a book I will note it here, with a little description, my opinion and the lessons I drew from it, which I can use for the betterment of myself and world around me.

Haven't posted in a while, so here are a lot of them at once.

Book(s) I am currently reading
- The Novice, by Trudi Canavan

Book(s) I have recently finished reading
29. The Year of Our War, by Steph Swainston
30. No Present Like Time, by Steph Swainston
31. Cart and Cwidder / Drowned Amment, by Diana Wynne Jones
32. The Spellcoats / The Crown of Dalemark, by Diana Wynne Jones
33. Jailbird, by Kurt Vonnegut jr
34. Iron Council, by China Mieville
35. Archer's Goon, by Diana Wynne Jones
36. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, by JK Rowling
37. Knees up Mother Earth, by Robert Rankin
38. The Black Magician, by Trudi Canavan

Lessons learned
29. An addict can be the main character of a fantasy novel.
30. Doubt can drive one to back to one's addiction.
31. Power can reside in a musical intrument and in one's self or in the dieties.
32. Power can even reside in weaving or in railroad tracks.
33. Socialism leads to Capitalism.
34. You can hijack a train and run with it.
35. Appearance can decieve.
36. The obvious can not be.
37. With enough magic even sleeping carnies can win.
38. Sometimes some people are as bad as you think they would be.

OpinionsCollapse )

Book(s) I have already read, and reviewed earlierCollapse )

I started reading on: 01-01-2005.
Sunday, July 10th, 2005
8:28 am
[jhubert]
Eighteenth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Iron Kingdoms Character Guide
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
City of Splendors: Waterdeep (for the Forgotten Realms/D&D)

Lessons learned
You can write books on the same topic over and over again without being redundant.

Opinion
This densely written book gave me plenty of material on the various organizations, power groups, dungeons, and other aspects of the city of Waterdeep. It didn't have nearly as much information on individual locales as I expected, but that's what I have the old "Waterdeep and the North" and "Volo's Guide to Waterdeep" for. So if you have these two books and still want more information on Waterdeep, don't hesitate to buy this - you won't feel that you have been cheated out of your money.

Books read and reviewed
Read more...Collapse )
Thursday, June 30th, 2005
8:53 am
[jhubert]
Seventeenth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Iron Kingdoms Character Guide
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
True20 Adventure Roleplaying

Lessons learned
How to cut down d20 to 96 pages and still have a fun RPG left over

Opinion
This is an even more streamlined system than the one in Blue Rose, and fully worth the $11 price of admission. It lacks a few of the mechanics of Blue Rose (such as Corruption and the Known/Favored Skills distinction), but it also works out some bugs evident in Blue Rose (such as escalating Toughness saves). Strongly recommended!

Books read and reviewed
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Tuesday, June 28th, 2005
9:30 am
[jhubert]
Sixteenth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Iron Kingdoms Character Guide
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Blue Rose RPG

Lessons learned
It is possible to streamline the d20 system!

Opinion
I only borrowed the book from a friend, and was primarily interested in the game system, and not the setting. I originally intended to give it back sooner since I bought the True20 PDF from RPGNow - and the setting didn't seem like my kind of thing. However, a truly horrible review over on RPGNet prompted me to read it all the way through, so that I could give it a review that was actually fair.

And indeed, while the setting still isn't what I normally prefer, it's not nowhere near as bad as that reviewer makes it out to be. And the system, despite a few bugs, seems to be a very good system to run Fading Suns with...

Books read and reviewed
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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005
4:12 pm
[jhubert]
Fifteenth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Iron Kingdoms Character Guide
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Races of Eberron (Eberron supplement)

Lessons learned
I'm getting increasingly annoyed with D&D rules crunch.

Opinion
The writeup of the various Eberron races was very well done (kalashtar = Jedi!), and will help me a lot with my ongoing Eberron campaign. On the other hand, the rules portion left me cold. And indeed, I am beginning to think that D&D has recently jumped the shark with entirely new mechanics like Racial Substitution Levels and Mindset spells. Well, good thing that I am using GURPS for Eberron instead...

Books read and reviewed
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Tuesday, June 14th, 2005
10:46 am
[jhubert]
Fourteenth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Iron Kingdoms Character Guide
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Marked for Death (Eberron novel)

Lessons learned
Paladins can be real jerks.

Opinion
Not as good as "City of Towers", though maybe that's because I didn't care much for extended wilderness trecks through the same type of wildnerness - even if it is as deadly as the Mournlands. Huge cities simply have better opportunities for great scenery and interaction between different characters, in my opinion.

Still, it is not a complete loss - it gave me some good examples on how to run paladins as villains (or at least a huge pain in the butt), and the fight scenes at the end of the book are pretty cool as well.

Books read and reviewed
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Monday, June 13th, 2005
8:50 pm
[jhubert]
Thirteenth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Iron Kingdoms Character Guide
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Exalted: The Autocthonians

Lessons learned
I really got to run Exalted some day...

Opinion
Another cool fatsplat from the Exalted line, and it's got my brain brimming with ideas on how to use it in an Exalted campaign (which my current players do have some interest in - just not now, when our D&D campaign is running so smoothly). It's also possibly the most "dynamic" of the fatsplats - if you are going to use the book in your campaign, the world will change in rather drastic ways. Whether in a good way or a bad way is up to your player characters...

Still, I'm somewhat glad that this seems to be the last of the fatsplats for Exalted - reading though long lists of Charms, no matter how cool, does get tiresome after some time...

Books read and reviewed
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Wednesday, June 1st, 2005
10:05 am
[jhubert]
Twelth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Exalted: The Autocthonians
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Old World Bestiary (for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying)

Lessons learned
How to do a bestiary even more right.

Opinion
This is easily the second best "monster manual" I have ever read (the best being, of course, "Malleus Monstrorum", the German version of Call of Cthulhu's "Creature Companion" - a book that is so good that Ken Hite reccomends buying it even if you can't read German). The in-character manuscripts and quotes that form the bulk of the material give a good idea how the people of the Warhammer World view those creatures, and the game stats, which come in a seperate chapter, are coming with WFRP's own version of the d20 "Challenge Rating" - a "Slaughter Margin" that tells you how an experienced Imperial soldier (whose stats are provided) will fare against it.

The only downside is that the book focuses too much on creatures that tend to march with armies (i.e., for which Warhammer miniatures already exist), and not enough on individual monsters small groups of adventurers might encounter. I mean, where the hell is the Jabberwock? Still, the basic concept of the book is sound - something I might want to steal for Urbis if I ever get to write a "Monster Manual" for it...

Books read and reviewed
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Sunday, May 22nd, 2005
1:19 pm
[jhubert]
Eleventh Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Old World Bestiary
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
GURPS Infinite Worlds

Lessons learned
How to make even the weirdest setting gameable.

Opinion
Ken Hite does it again - he turned a setting that I until now had regarded with a resounding "Meh" into something that I must shoehorn into my Yrth campaign somehow...

Oh, and the Nazis have gotten more interesting, too.

Books read and reviewed
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1:05 pm
[jhubert]
Tenth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Old World Bestiary
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

Lessons learned
Totgesagte leben länger.

Opinion
It's good to have an old classic back, and all in all it is an improvement over the old one. Old bugs were smoothed out, the magic system sounds like a lot of fun (for the Kind and Generous Game Master, of course), and it makes me want to run it again. That being said, the description of the Old World and the Bestiary are a bit skimpy, but all in all I am fairly happy with it.

Books read and reviewed
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12:59 pm
[jhubert]
Ninth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Old World Bestiary
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Dagon and other Macabre Tales (H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus Collection II)

Lessons learned
It's good to revisit the Classics now and then.

Opinion
It's Lovecraft. Do I need to say anything more? ;-)

Books read and reviewed
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12:48 pm
[jhubert]
Eighth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Old World Bestiary
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Sharn: City of Towers (Eberron sourcebook)

Lessons learned
City sourcebooks are fun!

Opinion
The iconic city of the Eberron setting - in exhausting detail. Just what a GM needs who currently runs an Eberron campaign. Now all I have to do is to figure out how to get my PCs (who have just conquered a tropical island with a small yuan-ti population) there...

Books read and reviewed
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12:46 pm
[jhubert]
Seventh Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Old World Bestiary
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
City of Towers (Eberron novel, Keith Baker)

Lessons learned
A gaming novel that doesn't suck! Who knew?

Opinion
Gives a nice introduction to Eberron in general, and Sharn, the biggest city on the main continent, in particular. Good reading for anyone interested in the setting.

Books read and reviewed
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12:33 pm
[jhubert]
Sixth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Old World Bestiary
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
"Collapse - How Societies choose to succeed or fail" (Jared Diamond)

Lessons learned
Things are bad, but not hopeless.

Opinion
I enjoyed Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel", and I wasn't disappointed by his latest work. It examines a number of civilizations, both past and present, that have collapsed thanks to bad ecological management (and examines just why the ecological resources were managed badly). But it also mentions societies that didn't collapse, and shows encouraging trends (including in the corporate world) that exist today.

Recommended for anyone with interest in ecological issues (Iceland gets mentioned, too... ;) ).

Books read and reviewed

01. GURPS Fantasy (SJGames)
02. Orphaned Races: Ascorbites & Hironem (Fading Suns, HDI)
03. Exalted: The Fair Folk (White Wolf)
04. GURPS Fantasy: Harkwood
05. Lord Erbian's Stellar Bestiary (Fading Suns, HDI)
12:17 pm
[jhubert]
Fifth Book
Book(s) I am currently reading
Old World Bestiary
Talislanta 4e

Book I have recently finished reading
Lord Erbian's Stellar Bestiary (Fading Suns, HDI)

Lessons learned
How to do a bestiary right.

Opinion
While I'm no longer the fan of "Monster Books" that I used to (compare my collection of AD&D2E monster manuals to that of D&D3E), I am a raving Fading Suns fan boy, and so this book was a must. And it didn't disappoint - the various in-character descriptions really helped bring the creatures to life (or whatever the specific equivalent is for the creature). I can recommend this to anyone interested in monsters for science fiction, fantasy, and science fantasy campaigns, even though the d20 stats are a bit dodgy at times...

Books read and reviewed

01. GURPS Fantasy (SJGames)
02. Orphaned Races: Ascorbites & Hironem (Fading Suns, HDI)
03. Exalted: The Fair Folk (White Wolf)
04. GURPS Fantasy: Harkwood
Saturday, May 21st, 2005
12:04 am
[jhghendriks]
Fifty Book Challenge - Part 28
The League of Extraordinary Gentlereaders has declared that 2005 will be the year we will read at least 50 books for the betterment of ourselves, and the people surounding us.

Each time I finish a book I will note it here, with a little description, my opinion and the lessons I drew from it, which I can use for the betterment of myself and world around me.

Book(s) I am currently reading
- Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig
- The Year of Our War, by Steph Swainston
- GURPS Magic, by Steve Jackson Games
- GURPS Infinite Worlds, by Steve Jackson Games
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game, by Black Industries

Book(s) I have recently finished reading
The Artemis Fowl Files, by Eion Colfer

Lessons learned
Never make promises you don't want to keep.

Opinion
The Artemis Fowl Files contains 2 short stories and some extras (like interviews).
LEPRecon is a new story telling us how Holly's joined LEPRecon,
The Seventh Dwarf was earlier published seperatly. It is a story about Mulch who
infiltrates a circus act to 'retrieve' something.

Delightfull stories.

Book(s) I have already read, and reviewed earlierCollapse )

I started reading on: 01-01-2005.
12:03 am
[jhghendriks]
Fifty Book Challenge - Part 27
The League of Extraordinary Gentlereaders has declared that 2005 will be the year we will read at least 50 books for the betterment of ourselves, and the people surounding us.

Each time I finish a book I will note it here, with a little description, my opinion and the lessons I drew from it, which I can use for the betterment of myself and world around me.

Book(s) I am currently reading
- Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig
- The Artemis Fowl Files, by Eion Colfer
- GURPS Magic, by Steve Jackson Games
- GURPS Infinite Worlds, by Steve Jackson Games
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game, by Black Industries

Book(s) I have recently finished reading
The Opal Deception, by Eion Colfer

Lessons learned
The best laid plans of Pixie and man..........

Opinion
Opal is a pixie, who is confined to a mental institution.
Or is she?

A very nice addition to the Artemis Fowl series.

Book(s) I have already read, and reviewed earlierCollapse )

I started reading on: 01-01-2005.
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