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Which book are you reading now? Volume XIII

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Takhisis, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. Takhisis

    Takhisis poit! dopamine troz

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    This thread was re-serialised for some reason instead of just letting it run up to XI for all eternity, so here goes.

    My first contribution: I'm about to finish Ivan Bunin's A Village and should get started on The Economy of the Greek Cities from the Archaic period to the earl Roman Empire by Léopold Migeotte, translated into English by Janet Lloyd. I need some light reading.

    Earlier editions:
    Volume XII
    Volume XI
     
  2. JohannaK

    JohannaK Careless Whisperer

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    I am reading The Big Sleep. I saw Altman's The Long Goodbye recently and it was pretty interesting, though I'm aware it was more of a subversion of the hard-boiled genre than an adaptation, but so far so good.
     
  3. peter grimes

    peter grimes ... Moderator

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    I used to rarely read fiction, but for the past few months I've been devouring science fiction.

    Specifically, Iain M. Banks. His writing is very precise, it's important to pay attention to each word. It's thoughtful and complex, not the sort of thing to read to fall asleep.

    I've also been using a Pandora station as a sort of sound track, something I've never done while reading before, but it really enhances the experience for me.

    I've read, in order:
    Consider Phlebas
    Transition
    The Algebraist
    The Hydrogen Sonata
    Turn to Windward
    Against a Dark Background

    They tend to be adventure mysteries. So far my favorite is likely Transition, in fact I started to reread it immediately upon completion. Next time I read it I will have to use colored sticky tabs to refer back to characters, events, and seemingly inconsequential details.
     
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  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Nice!! The first one I read was The Algebraist, which hooked me, and then Consider Phlebas. I don't remember how I feel about CP and I thought the first 100 pages of Algebraist were insanely amazing and innovating. But then the way the story wrapped up felt unifinished. I loved Transition but didn't like how the story wrapped up. I guess the first couple chapters left me hanging with expectations of a different conclusion. I haven't read THS or ADB yet. Player of Games was interesting but not as 'large scope' as the other novels. Use of Weapons felt cliched but with Banks the premise is always interesting. I loved the setup and flow/mystery of Inversions, if that's the one I'm thinking of. I found Feerless Endjin to be as a story incoherent and hard to read, but that's by design I guess. I like the story a lot but just don't enjoy stories that are not easy to read. I love Banks' style but after reading like 8 of his books one after the other I felt like I needed a break. Let me also add:

    I started reading Surface Detail a while ago and it was incredible. Then life took over and I never finished it. But I really want to. I am also intrigued by the premise of Matter. Was ADB good?
     
  5. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo https://thespacecadetblog.com/

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    The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku.

    It's a prediction about where he thinks the human race is going both in the immediate term and in deep time. He starts with a brief one-chapter history lesson on space exploration. And follows it up with another chapter on much more recent developments in the industry. This is the set up for most of the rest of the book as he is going to cover a wide range of space exploration activities he thinks humans will engage in from asteroid mining to Mars colonies. There are some sections on genetic engineering, AI, human-machine melding and how these things will come together to give us a sort of immortality.
     
  6. peter grimes

    peter grimes ... Moderator

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    I'm in it right now. Yes, good. More linear, in that it's sort of a heist premise adventure mystery. But I still have a quarter of the book to go, so things may change drastically from where I expect them to go.

    That's what I simply LOVED about CP. It was cynical and gritty. And not a happy story. The architecture of the climax was amazing.
     
  7. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Read some garbage short story by lovecraft. Something about a house with a cannibal. Not sure how one can even write such crap after having written a few good stories :/
     
  8. tjs282

    tjs282 Un(a)bashed immigrant

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    Agree. Transitions was kind of disappointing for me, too.
    You should, though for me the best bits of SD are the political machinations in the background, the exploration of the Hells, and the discussion of their 'morality': I found the 'central' revenge-quest actually kind of boring, and too glibly/easily resolved.
    Matter has one great idea -- the Shellworlds -- but doesn't really do anything with that supercool setting/idea that he hadn't already done in, say, Excession (which is great fun, not least because it's basically an excuse for him to use all the cool/funny Ship-names he'd ever thought of up to that point!) or Inversions (another of my favourites).
    It's good, but fairly bleak, similar to CP.
     
  9. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Warlord

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    With the possibility of having my own boat in a foreseeable future I am reading some nautical literature to put myself in situation. I am now with Youth, Heart of Darkness, The End of the Tether. Joseph Konrad is the best. Sometimes it is hard to follow because all the marine jibberish in English though.
     
  10. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Will you be sailing to the congo? :D
     
  11. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Warlord

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    Yep. I will go upriver into the heart of darkness and become Kurtz 2.0 (or 3.0). I am as bald as a coot, so it should work.
     
  12. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    I've been keeping up with the books and recently finished another stash, among them:

    Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge (absolute bonkers, probably my favorite novel of the 21st century yet, it's all over the place, but at the same time incredibly coherent)
    Osamu Dazai - No Longer Human (not at all what I expected, I thought more of a philosophical treatise, but this is simply a book about a character who simply doesn't function as a human or a part of society. still pretty enjoyable, albeit quite dark)

    the latter I read in the span of two days I think, it's pretty short.

    here is my reading list for 2k19

    Fiction

    • Vladimir Nabokov – Pale Fire
    • Charles Baudelaire – Les Fleurs du Mal
    • Thomas Mann – Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain)
    • Arno Schmidt – Sitara und der Weg dorthin (I don’t even know if this was ever translated into English)
    • Jonathan Franzen – Purity
    • John Barth – Lost in the Funhouse
    Philosophy

    • Friedrich Nietzsche – Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
    • Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle
    • Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer – Kulturindustrie & Dialektik der Aufklärung (The Culture Industry & Dialectic of Enlightenment)
    • Ezra Pound – Retrospect (The Essay as preparation for his poems)
    Scientific Texts

    • Marshall McLuhan – The Gutenberg Galaxy
    • David Reich – Who We Are and How We Got Here
    • Rodolfo Llinas – I of the Vortex
    Poetry

    • Georg Trakl – Gedichte, 1913 (Poems, 1913)
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – West-Östlicher Diwan (East-West Diwan)
    • Rainer Maria Rilke – Gesammelte Gedichte (Collected Poems)
    Re-reads

    • Thomas Pynchon – V.
    • Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy
    • Fjodor Dostoevski – The Idiot
     
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  13. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I gave up mann's magic mountain, twice. First at 17,5, when i had read 2/3 of it and decided to have abreak and read dostoevsky. I could never return to mann's desert :)
    I liked death in venice, though.
     
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  14. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    similiarly, when I was 17 I gave up on Dosto's "Brothers Karamazov" halfway thru, but actually came back and finished the book. First time I read it it was a book of perhaps 100 years, perhaps older, with a beat gold lining on the cover, a real rome. 2nd time I read it on my kindle :lol:
     
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  15. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    "Marine jibberish" as in nautical terms, or as in, like, Newfies?
     
  16. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    I don't know how I could do that, with the sheer amount of stuff out there that needs to be read.
     
  17. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    I am the same as you, I completely dread repeating any experience, so much that I get paranoid about watching a YouTube video twice. But that's really dumb. See, many books or other words of art were clearly intended for multiple readings. Some, like the Bible, the Odyssee, the Divine Comedy and so forth, only allow you to extrapolate their meaning with repeated readings/listens. That is why the bible was so important in medieval households for example, because stories were told and re-told and through that repetition people managed to delve deeper into the texts without needing a secondary text or google scholar. I really think the first experience is always primarily an emotional and aesthetic one, especially in regards to books. No matter whether you want it or not, on first reading you will probably pay most attention to both prose and plot, and not towards the underlying meaning of a text. Novelty hunters like us are in constant danger of falling into the trap of superficiality, when really what we (sorry, I should speak for myself) desire is the opposite of superficial, it is detailed, highly specific knowledge and meaning.

    I think to some smaller degree you are already doing the re-reading anyway, because I am sure with all the challenging books you read, you end up having to read a certain passage two or even three times to really "get it", that was the case for me with Thus Spoke Zarathustra, where I had to read many passages up to five times, or with Simulacra and Simulation, where the style is a little too continental and too obscure thus forcing me to deconstruct and reexamine certain passages.

    That being said I have only re-read three books in my entire life, one being The Little Prince, the other Alice in Wonderland and the third Brother's Karamazov.
     
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  18. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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  19. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I have reread a few books, but mostly smaller ones. Eg i read the metamorphoses (the kafka one) at least 14 times. The trial and the castle at east two or three times. Also the diaries two times but possibly three and had been reading them daily for a decade in the past.
    I also reread some borges stuff and gogol. But i read very few writers anyway (likely less than 15, not counting one-offs), so i end up rereading :)
     
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  20. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    That's one way to interpret it. But sometime understanding a work can be facilitated by reading other things: preceding and succeeding works (to see the evolution and development of a writer's thought), comparable and/or contemporary works (e.g. Kierkegaard and Sartre as two different takes on existentialism), critiques of a work by other writers, etc.

    Ah, true. For me it's only rereading when you come back to the book again to read it cover to cover. I've only done that for books I consider entertainment like Red Storm Rising. When I still had my book collection I would occasionally reread passages, but I don't count that.

    Side-note: I love when you go over a passage in a current read and then everything clicks into place. Happened to me with Zarathustra, and I immediately went from skepticism to praising it.

    ---
    Anyway, finished Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman, the first step in protecting myself from accusations of complaining about thought systems I haven't read about. It's mainly about the proper role of government in a capitalistic society that protects freedom. Friedman acknowledges the role of government in certain areas like money and education, and begrudgingly accepts the presence of externalities and monopolies. A lot is the usual neoliberal talking points of low taxes (with flat income tax, abolished corporate tax), the virtues of deregulation, the evils of unions, IP protection, private better than public (even the monopolies), free market solves nearly anything (even discrimination), and misrepresenting socialism. There are some interesting ideas like a negative income tax (and some hints of basic income) and privatized pensions. Some of the content is outdated due to the age of the book like concerns about the USD gold standard and teacher's salaries rising disproportionately.

    Overall it's decidedly underwhelming for all the adulation it's gotten. In the space of 200 pages the various subjects are poorly covered with writing unsupported by proper citations, good analysis, or even a modicum of research. It attributes all good to the market while ignoring that created by public institutions, and likewise for disadvantages. There are some glaring omissions of important topics such as pollution mitigation, food stamps, or unemployment insurance. Barely-disguised polemics without enough justification.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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