Simpli Book Club

I love reading, and I read kind of a lot (1-3 books per month; a lot of fiction, but I don’t discriminate against any particular genre, except maybe romance). I’m sure there are enough of us who enjoy a good book here and there to keep up a discussion, so I’ll kick it off.

I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time back in December and loved it. I felt it was a great commentary about “engineer-type” people and the societal repercussions of taking ideologies to extremes. It is definitely long and drawn out, but I also found it very personal and engaging even through the parts that seem, at the time, superfluous to the plot. I would warn anyone that there are several very long monologues (I think the longest is around 60 pages), so if you aren’t interested in a lot of ideological and societal commentaries, it might not be the book for you.

Spoiler alert


I felt that Galt’s view was certainly jaded, but the alternative direction the world was heading toward in the book was a compounding disaster so it makes it understandable to the reader. I felt that Rand did a disservice to “The Valley” though by basically ignoring the details of reality such as the young or infirm. I don’t recall a single mention of where children fit in “The Valley” or what would happen when someone wanted to retire, or simply could not work anymore for whatever reason. Would they be expelled?

The stance of either produce something of value to others or be forgotten/left to die/excluded is just too black and white and I think it would have been a more relatable dream if it addressed some of those basic realities.

Dagney’s hunt for “the motor” and her resistance against Galt’s actions was great though. I did love how they just kept making a fool of James Taggart with every move he made. Whenever people like Taggart would say “but it isn’t my fault!” I would have a chuckle to myself because it took no stretch of my imagination to assign those characters to people I have the displeasure of working with.

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I have recently enjoyed Rich Hobson’s books,
Grass Beyond The Mountains
Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy.
The Author, Rich Hobson and his partner, pan (Panhandle) Phillips traveled into a remote area of British Columbia in the 1930s by saddle and pack horse and founded what was at the time the largest ranch in the world.
They overcame incredible hardships and eventually controlled 3 million acres.
They were 200 miles from the nearest town.
Still to locate and re-read
The Rancher Takes a Wife by Rich Hobson.
To re-read, By Diane Phillips, Pan’s daughter;
Beyond the Chilcotin.
Beyond the Home Ranch.
I worked in William’s lake, BC in the late 60s.
The radio station in Quesnel BC featured a message broadcast several times a day.
They broadcast short messages to isolated ranches out in the wilderness to the west of us.
I remember hearing massages going out to Pan Phillips at the Home Ranch on the public service broadcasts.
Some of the adventures were incredible.

SuperSalad: Have you read any of Robert Heinlein’s books? He’s definitely a fan of using monologue’s in his sci-fi to comment on society/government. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land are two of my favorites by him, although I admit there is a lot of his work that I still need to read.

No I haven’t read Heinlein before. I’ll add to my list though. Thanks.

I’ve been trying to work through “The Great American Read” list since summer of 2018. I have 29/100 done, but I am reading a lot of other books too, so it is going pretty slow. I also re-read a lot of my favorite books pretty often so that doesn’t help much with my progress either.

For Christmas, my wife gave me and each child Best Self, Be You, Only Better by Life Coach Mike Bayer. I haven’t cracked it open yet. Anyone read it? Should I open it and read or stow it away?

If you are interested in old time cattle drives, you may like this.
“Trailing to Nazko.” This CBC documentary was shot in 1969 during Pan Phillips’ last cattle drive.

Candide by Voltaire… one of my favourites.


I read Altas Shrugged as a young teenager and I must say it had a profound effect on my life. Since then I always wanted to own my own company. I maintained that attitude at any job I had, which served my career well until the corporation I worked for grew so large and bureaucratic, with back stabbing politics, that I could not stay there. By then I was well prepared to start my own company. I had developed the needed skills, experience, contacts, and saved enough money. I’ve now had my company for 20 years and am doing well, and don’t even have to worry much about how COVID-19 will affect the economy.

Since leaving college, I have pretty much stopped reading fiction because of the lack of time and energy. I would read in bed and could not get through more than a few pages before nodding off.
I did just finish reading Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. There just is no other experience like reading a great book. It shapes our mind and character in so many positive ways.

I recently read an article about the history of the book “The Great Gatsby”. I read it in school and it was okay. Apparently this book was a big flop in the market and got many terrible reviews when it first came out. Then during WWII the US Army had a program to give free books to soldiers. Gatsby was one of them. This established a generation of book readers.

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Atlas Shrugged is one of those books I would like to read, just there always seems to be something else in front of the queue.

I’m currently working through the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. Epic fantasy like Lord of the Rings, but vast in terms of scope and world building. The first book is hard work, but it gets much better thereafter .

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Yeah, for several years now all books I read are basically filling time between new releases of the Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson and the Expanse series by SA Corey. Those are easily my two favorite ongoing series at the moment.

Great topic.
My book list is very very long.

For current books I am up-to-date on the Expanse and Stormlight is coming soon. My 19-yo son has already infected my wife with Sanderson’s books and I don’t think I will be given a choice but MUST read them too.
In my time I have consumed the entirety of many book series, by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Patrick O’Brian, Robert Sawyer, Spider Robinson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Douglas Adams and many more.

I read a lot of non-fiction, too. Just samples:

  • Jon McWhorter - The Power of Babel (linguistics)
  • James Gleick - The Information (a history of knowledge vs. data)
  • Nassim Taleb - Black Swan (preparing for the unpredictable)


  • First Man - Neil Armstrong (much better than the movie)
  • Roald Amundsen (better than R.F Scott or Shackleton combined)
  • Chasing the Wind - Steve Fossett (he died a year later)

Then there’s other stuff that belongs in no category.
Sometimes there are things on your mind and you need to go on a chautauqua:

  • Michael Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Douglas Hofstader - Goedel, Escher, Bach
  • Carl Sagan - Cosmos
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Stormlight Archive, I haven’t heard of it but a quick look online suggests it might be my kind of reading matter. I’ll add it to the list for after the Malazan series.

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Dr. Phil thinks it is pretty good. He has featured it more than once on his TV program.

Yeah, he wrote the Foreword in it.


Didn’t know that, but he has Mike Bayer on his TV show on a pretty regular basis. On a couple of occasions, he has presented a copy of Mike’s book to everyone in the audience.

So following a brief foray through Sanderson’s second Mistborn series, I just finished Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov. A collection of sci-fi short stories from throughout his years. This was my first experience with Asimov and I was very impressed. I’m much more interested in getting into the Foundation series now which I’ve heard so much about.

Robot Dreams was great though. Plenty of variety and interesting concepts from one story to the next. I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of short story collections lately. I never gave them much time or attention before, but I am really enjoying them. I went through an HP Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories about two months ago and was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Plain and simple; I loved it. It reminded me a lot of Angela’s Ashes, which I read in high school, except I think I could appreciate a story like this much more at this stage in my life. I kinda hated Angela’s Ashes back then, so maybe I’ll have to give it another try.

I really liked the perspective and the era. The family dynamic is so relatable and the way it displays the complicated nature of love between family members. To me, it was a book full of protagonists with no antagonist in sight. It wasn’t because there was no hardship or obstacles, but because Frannie and the family just didn’t let anything stop them, so the antagonistic nature of their surroundings became what made them good. They kept on moving no matter what. Frannie’s growth and development felt so natural and real as the story progressed. What a story! Absolutely recommend for anyone who hasn’t read it.

I have not read the book, but the 1945 movie was very good. Stories in a similar vein about families dealing with poverty in a hopeful way are “I Remember Mama”, and " The Vines Have Tender Grapes".

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An excellent thread indeed. I’ve probably netted enough new reading list entries to last me 5yr.

I enjoyed the Stormlight series as well. Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy stepping back into series if more than a year or so has passed since the last installment. GOT taught me that in spades.

My favorite book ever is the fantasy / sci-fi series by Patrick Rothfuss that begins with The Name of the Wind. It’s just tight story writing with a first rate romance tucked in and supernatural stuff that stays true to some alternate universe physics principles established early on (like Star Trek). Unfortunately, this series is meant to be a trilogy and I very much get the sense that the third installment may not be forthcoming. Both of the first two books very much work as stand alone stories though.

I’m currently reading The Three Body Problem trilogy by Liu Cixin and translated into English by another of my favorite sci-fi authors, Ken Liu. When a successful writer takes time off to translate somebody else’s book, you just know that’s got to be good stuff. And it is. It’s my first foray into what seems to be termed “hard science fiction”. Most of the action is based on real world, rather sophisticated, physics. I’m loving it so far. Astrophysics, space elevators, radiation propulsion, virtual existences, interstellar sociology principles… it’s a rich tapestry of nerdy kick-assery.

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Quick turnaround: Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire

My opinion is middling on this one. I hated the movie about 10 years ago when I saw it.

I was invested and interested in how the story progressed and I wanted to know how she ended it, but I didn’t find myself invested in the characters at all. I thought they were very flat and boring. Their “humanity” or lack thereof was uninteresting to me and I really didn’t feel the urge to root for anyone’s success or happiness by the end of it. I thought the very end scene was exceedingly predictable and disappointing too.

The saving grace is that it didn’t really drag on. It kept moving without too much idling through scenes and plot-points. It is also a fairly short book, so it didn’t feel like a chore to finish it despite not liking it that much.

I’d give it a 3/5; worth reading if you haven’t but not something I’ll likely pick up again to re-read. I recall hearing the rest of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were very good. I doubt I’ll get into them after reading this, but maybe one day I’ll get the urge.

As an aside; while reading this I have come to the conclusion that I will read the Twilight series sometime soon. I have shunned them since they came out and swore I wouldn’t, but for some reason, reading this book changed my mind and will read them probably before the end of this year. My wife has always described them as cool vampire books with a corny romance in the background, so I’ll give it a shot soon.