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What are you reading at the moment?

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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

#1201

Post by Leopardi » February 16th, 2020, 1:53 am

mightysparks wrote:
February 15th, 2020, 11:58 pm
Well I started reading Les Misérables last month but haven’t read anything in weeks. I couldn’t find the translations mentioned above so I’ve continued with the one I had (Julie Rose). I had read beforehand that the first ‘book’ wasn’t the main story and though I thought it was good, it wasn’t gripping me. I started reading it again a couple days ago and read the chapter with the line about constellations and ducks feet and was like holy crap every line is beautiful and I was a little more interested. Then last night I got to the ‘actual’ story. And oh damn. Seriously the writing is just so beautiful. I’ve had to reread a few lines here and there, and check definitions a lot, because I don’t understand stuff but I’m also rereading parts just because of the way it makes me feel to read it. I didn’t want to put it down but had to sleep. Already looking forward to going to bed tonight so I can read more.
(l) (l) (l)

My favourite novel of all time - I'm so glad you're enjoying it! Notre Dame of Paris is also in my top five, he captures that same magic again, in my opinion. I read it while visiting Paris and it's about as perfect a pairing as you can imagine - you should try to do the same if you can!

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#1202

Post by mightysparks » February 16th, 2020, 5:48 am

I'll save it in case I ever go to Paris again..

Wasn't really sure what to expect from Les Mis, the terrible musical version from a few years ago is the only film adaptation I'd seen (which I've now forgotten), and I knew the plot was something to do with some guy stealing some bread so it didn't sound like it was going to be too interesting. But I just love 'listening' to the author, everything he says just.. idk.. hits me right in the soul. I don't even know how to explain it. But I really love it so far and I hope it doesn't disappoint later.
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#1203

Post by mightysparks » February 19th, 2020, 3:28 pm

I gave my boyfriend the chapter ‘Deep Waters, Dark Shadows’ to read and now even he wants to read this book lol. He liked it so much that he’s (finally) going out tomorrow to buy his own Kindle. He wasn’t totally convinced about Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but I did convince him that Les Mis is probably not where he wants to start, so he settled again on 1984. I also rec’d Lord of the Flies and suggested classics that people study in highschool would be more accessible for him to begin with. He said he wanted ‘more things like that chapter’ but I haven’t really read anything else like this.

He said when he tries to read he often finds himself reading the same line over and over again and finds it hard to remember what he’s read, but he loved reading that chapter.
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#1204

Post by mightysparks » February 24th, 2020, 2:29 pm

First day back at uni today. Since I’m doing a writing major, it was a writing class and the lecturer asked about what people liked to read. Ok so I get that 99% of the class is made up of 19/20 year old women but only 2, besides myself, didn’t primarily read young adult fiction. One girl with fairly floss colored hair said that adult fiction was dull, slow and too dry/had no sense of humour, and the others agreed. I was surprised that none of them were into classics and either only read fantasy or random new books. Sad times.

Bf decided to read some short stories before hitting the novels. Sandkings was the chosen first one and he really enjoyed it. We have a family of cockroaches living in one of our bathrooms and he said at one point after reading it ‘I’m really glad I’m nice to those roaches’ lol.

I’m still slowly getting through Les Mis. Often too tired at night to read :(
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#1205

Post by fakeusername2 » March 1st, 2020, 7:22 pm

mightysparks wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 2:29 pm
First day back at uni today. Since I’m doing a writing major, it was a writing class and the lecturer asked about what people liked to read. Ok so I get that 99% of the class is made up of 19/20 year old women but only 2, besides myself, didn’t primarily read young adult fiction. One girl with fairly floss colored hair said that adult fiction was dull, slow and too dry/had no sense of humour, and the others agreed. I was surprised that none of them were into classics and either only read fantasy or random new books. Sad times.
I need to interrupt just because reading this post makes me sad. I wasn't a literature or writing major but I went to graduate school at a place with a supposedly elite "creative writing MFA" or something and the students were all into children's books (I'm not accepting "young adult fiction" as a proper literary category). You can imagine that they weren't able to hold even basic conversation about classic or contemporary literature.

That's irrelevant, though. Are you early in your university career? If so, or even if not, you have an excellent opportunity on the horizon if you play your cards right. First step, change majors immediately. Obviously your university isn't serious about the things you care about anyway and, besides, one can't make all their avocational interests vocational ones. Physics, math, electrical engineering--anything that's worth the opportunity cost. Graduate school in one of these areas is a plus but not necessary. Second step, turn your major into five solid years of business experience. No more, no less. Any more and you're wasting your life, any less and step three will be difficult. Third step, start your own consulting firm that specializes in creative content. Hire people to take care of the boring logistics even if it means taking a pay cut; you don't want to remain in the drudgery of step two forever and you'll have saved some money from previously. Fourth step, become a rising star in the consultancy world in your country; in a few years, it should be known as the premier institution for generating creative content across the spectrum of media, although with a specialty in literary content. And, more importantly, you become known for catapulting the underemployed arts and literature majors into solid professional careers, a beacon of hope for those who erroneously thought the world always fails to recognize erudition, beauty, and aspiration. Fifth step, utterly decimate the phonies whose wasted the precious moments of their creative writing degrees indulging in infantile fantasies about wizards and warlocks. They reach your desk--it goes without saying that, as principal creator, the sole area where you still actively participate in your firm's life is in screening the potential talent that gives hope to an otherwise decaying culture--and, when they do, you slightly prod them about their studies, their grand explorations into the pinnacle of human emotional life we call literature, their retreat into the dark recesses of their minds that momentarily flicker alight in pale understanding as they traverse the contours of the human literary soul, their confrontation with the inner mental Siberia that one finds when drawn into the timeless human grappling with guilt, longing, tragedy, loneliness, nihilism, and suffering, those fictional struggles that recreate in more whimsical form what the Greeks could only personify as dieties. "Uhhhh," the newly minted writing BA interjects. "What are you talking about? I like stories about wizards." It's just then that you shut their file and start them on the long shuffle out the door and into well deserved destitution. "How," you begin patiently, "can I possibly hire you when you haven't begun to appreciate or understand the one area to which you dedicated those precious, fleeting few years where curiosity and exploration were rewarded? I cannot in good faith hire someone like that." As you escort the prospective (and now failed) hire down the long hallways she's introduced to those who excelled where they have have failed: John Viereck, creative marketing manager, who during his graduate studies created the largest conceptual map of Jungian archetypes in Western literature and Sarah Liu, VP, whose published undergraduate thesis explicated the hitherto unexplored independent invention of a Sartrean existentialism in China through the lens of A Dream of Red Mansions and Lust, Caution. As you the approach the door to the cold, uninviting exterior world, the student realizes that this was a pivot point, that they had wasted 25 plus years of life on trivialities and that, quite rightly, the world doesn't reward trivialities, despite what their parents, teachers, and the media had taught them. This scenario will play out dozens, if not hundreds, of times over your prosperous career. Sometimes, however, you will face a last-ditch rebellion. "I don't care," the failed hire will exclaim at you but to the heavens. "You're all phonies, anyway. I won't work for the 'man', I'm going to be a great novelist." Now here comes the real beauty of surprise, a hidden step I omitted previously. You open your purse and pull out one weighty volume. It's A Tale of Spoons and -- Oh. My. God., the student is floored -- you are the author. How could they not have realized? A Tale of Spoons? Probably the sole contemporary novel universally hailed as a modern masterpiece, a novel that has made hardened killers weep and sane men mad? "But . . but," they stammer; "people with jobs are supposed to be phonies." But you don't hear the last words, the door slowly having crept shut before their awestruck immobility. They turn around and feel the frigid air of a long winter before them. Weak-kneed and wobbly, a cold world within and without extends into the visible distance, and they lurch quietly forward without even the solace of literature to comfort them.

. . . Sorry I think I got carried away.

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#1206

Post by mightysparks » March 1st, 2020, 11:42 pm

Lol. I’m not doing creative writing and I don’t want to be a novelist, I’m just trying to learn how to formulate my thoughts and arguments better. I’m not at all well read and not very knowledgeable about literature, I was just really surprised at how little variation there was between the students and how negatively they talked about ‘adult’ fiction. In some cultural studies units I did a few years ago, everyone seemed really into the classics and had clearly read a lot all over the board. It was really exciting hearing them discuss things, but I don’t feel nearly as excited to learn about, what they describe as ‘trashy’, YA fiction.
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#1207

Post by dinah » March 11th, 2020, 9:09 am

mightysparks wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 2:29 pm
I was surprised that none of them were into classics and either only read fantasy or random new books. Sad times.
The same goes for the few people I hang out with a couple times a month, and they're all approaching their thirties. That is, if they even read (much) at all.
Though to be fair, I'm not entirely innocent in this regard as I just finished re-reading Harry Potter (most of them for the first time since I read them when they were initially released), only to realize that, in terms of writing style, they really are written for children (shocking revelation, I know). It does get better as the series progresses, but the first two/three books were painful to read at times.

Now, I'm re-reading The Awakening because it's just too good not to. It was assigned reading in one of the courses I took in uni, and I enjoyed it immensely.
After that, I'll have to look for something I haven't read before for a change. Got my eye pegged on Berlin Alexanderplatz (having seen the new film recently, maybe I'd find the motivation to finally finish watching the RWF series) and/or Menschen im Hotel (having been to an excellent theater production that actually plays in a hotel for the most part).

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#1208

Post by clemmetarey » March 16th, 2020, 12:06 pm

I started Madame Bovary last night, it should keep me busy for a few days. In the meantime, I found this list of 15 books about plagues and epidemics, in case anyone is looking for some suggestions on how to spend the next few days/weeks.

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#1209

Post by Pretentious Hipster » March 24th, 2020, 4:08 am

Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism by Lenin might be the most dense thing I've ever read. I can only read a few pages at a time before I get too exhausted.

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#1210

Post by funkybusiness » March 24th, 2020, 4:46 am

probably his Irish accent that's doing you in.

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#1211

Post by mightysparks » March 24th, 2020, 4:51 am

Haven't been in the mood for Les Mis for a while, but hopefully can get back into that soon. In the mean time, I read Stephen King's On Writing. As much as I love his stories, he's a pretty meh writer (I've not read much of his work, though) and I actually think this is the most well-written thing he's done. I don't agree with all his suggestions, but it's engaging and it did give me some useful tips I can apply to my own writing.

Most of my classes have been focusing on creative non-fiction, so I was trying to read some more memoirs and things of that nature but I haven't found any others that interest me yet.
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#1212

Post by mightysparks » April 24th, 2020, 7:34 am

Was in the mood for reading yesterday but needed another break from Les Mis (about 30% through, but it’s a bit heavy sometimes). Wanted to read some sci-fi so started reading Ringworld. Quite liking it so far. The world and characters are interesting, though the writing is sorta average.
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#1213

Post by Melvelet » June 2nd, 2020, 11:09 am

This year I seem to finally manage to spend more time reading (and watching movies) again.
After I finished The Silent Cry by Oe Kenzaburo in May (after reading the first 100 pages over the course of 1.5 years), I bought a Tolino e-reader and really start to appreciate it after all the reservations I had towards these devices.
This year so far:

1. Oe Kenzaburo - The Silent Cry
2. John Steinbeck - Of Mice and men
3. J.G. Ballard - High-Rise
4. Albert Camus - The Stranger
5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez - No One Writes to the Colonel
6. Albert Camus - The Plague

I'm mostly focussing on books on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list(s).
I think I'll be doing a country challenge (5 books or so) for India now. My 'readlist':
Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things
Salman Rushdie - Midnight's Children [six others by Rushdie on the 1001 list]
Aravind Adiga - The White Tiger
Jhumpa Lahiri - The Namesake [or a different one by Lahiri?]
Rohinton Mistry - A Fine Balance
The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
The Guide – R.K.Narayan
Home and the World – Rabindranath Tagore
The Shadow Lines – Amitav Ghosh
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth [probably too long]

Now I just need to figure out a selection/prioritization and actually go through with it :D

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#1214

Post by mightysparks » June 3rd, 2020, 5:41 am

I want to work on the 1001 list as well, but there's so much stuff I want to read in general and it takes me ages to get through a book. I am also trying to get into editing so I want to read more contemporary stuff to stay up to date with the industry but I prefer reading older stuff. I've only read 34/1001 of the 2018 book so yea.. gonna take me a while. My spreadsheet tells me that if I read 3 a month, I could finish all versions of the list when I'm 64 lol.
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#1215

Post by matthewscott8 » June 3rd, 2020, 9:10 am

mightysparks wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 5:41 am
I want to work on the 1001 list as well, but there's so much stuff I want to read in general and it takes me ages to get through a book. I am also trying to get into editing so I want to read more contemporary stuff to stay up to date with the industry but I prefer reading older stuff. I've only read 34/1001 of the 2018 book so yea.. gonna take me a while. My spreadsheet tells me that if I read 3 a month, I could finish all versions of the list when I'm 64 lol.
list completion is not for books. If you have to sruggle through Battleship Potemkin to get a check, at least it only cost you 66 minutes.

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#1216

Post by mightysparks » June 3rd, 2020, 10:32 am

matthewscott8 wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 9:10 am
mightysparks wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 5:41 am
I want to work on the 1001 list as well, but there's so much stuff I want to read in general and it takes me ages to get through a book. I am also trying to get into editing so I want to read more contemporary stuff to stay up to date with the industry but I prefer reading older stuff. I've only read 34/1001 of the 2018 book so yea.. gonna take me a while. My spreadsheet tells me that if I read 3 a month, I could finish all versions of the list when I'm 64 lol.
list completion is not for books. If you have to sruggle through Battleship Potemkin to get a check, at least it only cost you 66 minutes.
Well, it’s not really about list completion, it’s just going through some recommendations. I don’t really know what I like with books yet and I’m still in noob exploring stages. These lists are useful starter points.
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#1217

Post by Melvelet » June 3rd, 2020, 11:11 am

I guess we have the same spreadsheet, mine says something similar and I'm at 32 now. A top 1000 would really be a lifetime task, especially because "book" can also mean something like 5000 pages of In Search of Lost Time and there's probably gonna be some good books within the next 40 years :D But from looking around, the 1001 book list seems to be really good and they've put a lot of effort to include stuff from a lot of cultures although I find it interesting that later editions barely used any books that were published since the first edition (at least way fewer per year).

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#1218

Post by Lammetje » June 6th, 2020, 5:35 pm

Pretentious Hipster wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 3:29 pm
Read The Communist Manifesto. Some of the wording didn't age well and it wasn't life changing like Discipline and Punish, but it was still relevant to this day and was inspiring.

Gonna start reading more Marx and Engels.
I just started reading this too (the English translation from Penguin).
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#1219

Post by mightysparks » July 3rd, 2020, 3:38 pm

Took a break from reading for quite a while, but started thinking about Les Mis and started it up again and got hooked instantly again. I’m up to ‘Marius’ now, and nearly 40% through so it is taking me a while.. Some of the tangents can be a bit of a slog, and I did get put off some of the sexist crap about how girls play with dolls to prepare for their only purpose in life and a woman without kids is miserable and worthless (ugh I wanted to punch him in the face), but I otherwise am still enjoying it a lot.
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#1220

Post by Lammetje » July 3rd, 2020, 7:26 pm

Lammetje wrote:
June 6th, 2020, 5:35 pm
Pretentious Hipster wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 3:29 pm
Read The Communist Manifesto. Some of the wording didn't age well and it wasn't life changing like Discipline and Punish, but it was still relevant to this day and was inspiring.

Gonna start reading more Marx and Engels.
I just started reading this too (the English translation from Penguin).
I almost forgot about this thread. Anywho, I liked the Manifesto, but more from a historical than a political perspective. I guess there's still some relevance to it, but for the most part it's outdated in my opinion.

I've started reading a biography of Frank Sinatra. Good stuff so far. :)

mightysparks wrote:
July 3rd, 2020, 3:38 pm
Some of the tangents can be a bit of a slog, and I did get put off some of the sexist crap about how girls play with dolls to prepare for their only purpose in life and a woman without kids is miserable and worthless (ugh I wanted to punch him in the face), but I otherwise am still enjoying it a lot.
I perfectly understand how you feel. You still don't have any children of your own, which is a shame because it's the most beautiful thing in the world and it's what God intended for all non-nun women. Naturally this makes you unhappy. So while your first impulse is to punch this man in the face, this is only a way to release your frustration about being childless. Deep down you know he is right.
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maxwelldeux wrote:If you asked me to kill my wife and pets OR watch Minions, I'd check the runtime and inquire about sobriety requirements before providing an answer.
flaiky wrote::o :satstunned: :guns: :down: :facepalm: :yucky: :mw_confused: :pinch: :ph43r: :ermm: :sweat: :folded: tehe :cowbow: :think: :finger: :rip:
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#1221

Post by AdamH » July 4th, 2020, 9:40 am

matthewscott8 wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 9:10 am
mightysparks wrote:
June 3rd, 2020, 5:41 am
I want to work on the 1001 list as well, but there's so much stuff I want to read in general and it takes me ages to get through a book. I am also trying to get into editing so I want to read more contemporary stuff to stay up to date with the industry but I prefer reading older stuff. I've only read 34/1001 of the 2018 book so yea.. gonna take me a while. My spreadsheet tells me that if I read 3 a month, I could finish all versions of the list when I'm 64 lol.
list completion is not for books. If you have to sruggle through Battleship Potemkin to get a check, at least it only cost you 66 minutes.
I actually think an iCheckBooks has potential. Not for "list completion" but just to help people find books that are acclaimed. Not everyone uses iCM to complete lists and struggle through films they hate. It's a good resource simply for finding films that are considered the best of all time, for example, and I think and iCB could work well too. If you're someone who likes list (like I am and like many iCM users I'd imagine), I think it would be very useful.

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#1222

Post by frbrown » July 4th, 2020, 4:40 pm

AdamH wrote:
July 4th, 2020, 9:40 am
just to help people find books that are acclaimed.
Have you seen this thread about just such a topic (no checkable lists, though)

viewtopic.php?p=647040#p647040

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#1223

Post by AdamH » July 4th, 2020, 5:08 pm

frbrown wrote:
July 4th, 2020, 4:40 pm
AdamH wrote:
July 4th, 2020, 9:40 am
just to help people find books that are acclaimed.
Have you seen this thread about just such a topic (no checkable lists, though)

viewtopic.php?p=647040#p647040
Thanks, hadn't looked at it before. Looks good.

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#1224

Post by brokenface » July 4th, 2020, 5:55 pm

I'm on Bukowski's Hollywood. Haven't read any of his for years, he can be very misanthropic but also funny. This one's a lighter read I've blazed through in a couple of days, nothing great, but quite fun. It's all based around the making of Barfly & there's plenty of very thinly disguised cameos of film people that are fun to spot (Godard, Lynch, Sean Penn, Dennis Hopper, etc).

Here's my log for first half of 2020. Lockdown obviously helped with getting through some long sat-on-the-shelf targets like Gravity's Rainbow and Herzog (note I log them when I finish, I actually started Gravity's Rainbow at the start of lockdown and read various other things alongside as that one takes a bit of time!):
SpoilerShow
Jan 2020
Joan Lindsay - Picnic at Hanging Rock
Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending
Julian Green - Paris
Vladimir Sorokin - The Blizzard

Feb
Frank Herbert - Dune
Alfred Hayes - My Face for the World to See
Richard Brautigan - Trout Fishing in America

Mar
Jeff Vandermeer - Annihilation
Clarice Lispector - Hour of the Star
Simon Armitage - Walking Away
Erin Morgenstern - The Starless Sea

Apr
Keri Hulme - The Bone People
Aldous Huxley - Jesting Pilate
Arthur Conan Doyle - Favourite Sherlock Holmes Stories
Jean Rhys - The Collected Short Stories

May
Haruki Murakami - After the Quake
Ernest Hemingway - The Snows of Kilimanjaro & Other Stories
Thomas Pynchon - Gravity's Rainbow
Andrea Camilleri - The Voice of the Violin
John Le Carre - Our Game
Philip Kerr - March Violets

Jun
Philip K Dick - A Maze of Death
Saul Bellow - Herzog

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#1225

Post by mightysparks » July 8th, 2020, 2:23 pm

Been making good progress with Les Mis, but man is it getting problematic. Creepy ass ‘nice guy’ Marius, in his 20s getting all flustered over a 15 year old girl (or according to the author, a ‘woman’) and then stalking her. And the gross sexism and descriptions of the blossoming Cosette are just ugh. I know at the time women were just useless incubators and all men were pedophiles but that doesn’t make it any less gross to read now. C’mon Hugo what happened to the brilliance of the earlier chapters?
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#1226

Post by mightysparks » July 17th, 2020, 4:27 pm

Finally finished Les Mis yesterday. I did like the book a lot, but it was a letdown after the amazing start. Found all the Napoleon, politics and war talk, and the riot stuff really boring, but there were also so many things that got me hooked. I hated Cosette and Marius (and his grandfather ugh), and Jean just pissed me off by the end, but I still liked the writing style and the way ideas and thoughts were communicated. I felt Javert suffered from being flat for most of the book and then only becoming really interesting at the end.

I also finished reading Ringworld. I found the concepts of future Earth, and the Ringworld itself really interesting, but it was let down by one dimensional characters, awful female characters existing only for sex, a fairly dull plot, and a lack of a descriptive and interesting writing style.

Next up is One Hundred Years of Solitude.
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#1227

Post by OldAle1 » July 17th, 2020, 4:35 pm

mightysparks wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 4:27 pm

I also finished reading Ringworld. I found the concepts of future Earth, and the Ringworld itself really interesting, but it was let down by one dimensional characters, awful female characters existing only for sex, a fairly dull plot, and a lack of a descriptive and interesting writing style.
That's Larry Niven for ya. And his oft-times writing pal Jerry Pournelle as well. And lots of sci-fi writers from the "Golden Age" (late 30s-50s) and on into the 60s-70s and unfortunately even later. Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke couldn't write women either; then again none of them were really strong on characterizations. For a genre that is (theoretically) about looking forward, and progress, there are a huge number of regressive MRA types in the field, always have been (though it's definitely better now overall).

I do like most of what I've read from Niven though, despite his very far right-wing politics (more noticeable in the later stuff and some of the stuff with Pournelle), and a lot of the other cheesy writers from his era and earlier; Jack Chalker is a guy I really like for his ideas and fast pacing but he's really got nothing else. The big ideas - time travel, or a ring around a sun, or a galactic civilization, or a planet where all of life is created to send out in the universe - are what got me into science fiction and fantasy in the first place; I grew up on that stuff as well as a lot of much earlier stuff like Edgar Rice Burroughs, it's comfort food to me even if I recognize how badly written much of it is, and how racist and/or sexist it seems now.

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#1228

Post by mightysparks » July 17th, 2020, 4:39 pm

Yeah sci-fi, especially golden age stuff, is the main stuff I’m interested in but 99% of the time it’s the damn female characters that let it down. I think this was my first Niven book, but the worst is Heinlein. Almost every one of his stories interests me until I read them and they’re just godawful and sexist. Every time they write about women I picture a fat bearded nerd in a dimly lit dank basement getting all sweaty and puffed out with glee and excitement. Haven’t read anything from Chalker or Burroughs.
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#1229

Post by OldAle1 » July 17th, 2020, 5:02 pm

Well, from before 1970 or so you have very few female writers in the US (I don't know much about UK SF apart from the most famous writers, and next to nothing about any other countries' outputs) - Ursula K. LeGuin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Zenna Henderson, C.L. Moore and maybe a couple of others. And they mostly didn't write primarily about women, because that wasn't what was going to sell and they were all commercial writers. Bradley started to focus on women very strongly in the early 70s with the Darkover series but she has become persona non grata since her death when all kinds of abuse allegations came out about her; don't know how much of that is apparent in her work cuz I've only read maybe one book 20+ years ago. I think Philip K. Dick wasn't so bad towards women, he mostly just didn't have a lot of women in his books, but he was a weird mix of progressive and regressive traits in any case.

re: Chalker. An interesting writer, if very, very pulpy - much more than anybody else I'm mentioning besides Burroughs and the other really early writers. I've read his (first) Well World series several times over the last 40 years and that is probably his big achievement. And it has a great female lead character - at least by the low standards of pulp SF she's great - the main character or one of the two in the 2nd-5th of the five books. She does get abused a fair amount - so do most of the characters; there's maybe a bit too much of a sadistic streak in Chalker or maybe that's just how he saw the world, the books could be seen as pretty misanthropic I guess. And to be fair his male characters tend to get abused, tortured, maimed plenty too though I'll add he's not really explicit in his descriptions - it's all pretty PG or PG13. But probably the female characters suffer more sexual abuse. In any case this isn't the major thing going in these books and some of it seems to come out of this fascination he had with body-switching; in all three of the series I've read or partly read you have characters switching genders, or switching species. So a lot of times you have a character that gets tortured or beaten almost to death, and then they get put in a different body somehow, whether through magic or science. Chalker was a seriously unhealthy guy for much of his life and maybe some of this was wish-fulfillment on his part. Anyway I love his ideas but I totally wouldn't recommend him to anybody who isn't prepared for a certain amount of unpleasantness, and who can't handle bad writing.

re: Burroughs. Burroughs gets a bad rap for being sexist and especially racist, much like H.P. Lovecraft who came along a few years later, but in Burroughs' case it's not entirely deserved. The Mars series in particular while not exactly progressive or modern in it's take on things does offer lots of female and non-white male characters who are presented as the equals (or very close to it - John Carter is basically a superman) of the white main character, and the notion that race especially doesn't really matter is definitely a part of that series. Completely cardboard characters all around though; you read these solely for the stories and his descriptions of alien flora and fauna, which were pretty inventive for stuff written 110 years ago.

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#1230

Post by cinephage » July 17th, 2020, 5:06 pm

mightysparks wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 4:39 pm
Yeah sci-fi, especially golden age stuff, is the main stuff I’m interested in but 99% of the time it’s the damn female characters that let it down. I think this was my first Niven book, but the worst is Heinlein. Almost every one of his stories interests me until I read them and they’re just godawful and sexist. Every time they write about women I picture a fat bearded nerd in a dimly lit dank basement getting all sweaty and puffed out with glee and excitement. Haven’t read anything from Chalker or Burroughs.
I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy Robert Scheckley's short stories. Crazy and funny, yet though-provoking ideas. He wrote a few good novels, too, but I still feel his short stories are just unique. I don't think any of his women were that bad, but my memory may be playing tricks on me.

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#1231

Post by OldAle1 » July 17th, 2020, 5:10 pm

Oh I should add I was reading Sisters of Tomorrow from the library right before COVID hit and it's a good overview of women in American science fiction between roughly the 1920s and 1940s. Several short stories, author bios, poems, science articles, editorials, etc, from the women who worked in magazine fiction at the time. Apart from C.L. Moore whose most famous short story "Shambleau" is included, these are all people who have totally faded from history (along with most of their male counterparts to be fair) and this book is a good reminder that women were writing in the field from the very beginning. I mean, Frankenstein... kind of sad how as with film, women often got lots of chances early on in the genre when it wasn't a big money thing, but as soon as men could put a label on it and say "ah ha see this 'science fiction' thinks is a big seller and we can promote it", women were relegated to the back rooms so to speak. Although I guess it was easier for writers because they could just use pseudonyms or initials.

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#1232

Post by mightysparks » July 17th, 2020, 5:24 pm

Added a bunch of these to my reading list (but with all my ‘watchlists’ they are endless lol). Will try to check them out at some stage. The Chalker and Scheckley stuff in particular seem pretty fun to me.
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#1233

Post by mightysparks » July 20th, 2020, 9:24 am

So, I'm trying to complete my 'books' spreadsheet and I'm struggling with getting a nice, concise list of book genres. They suck, man. So many books are listed with the genre 'classic' and that's it. That's not a genre! A massive issue I've noticed is that they don't like to label books as a 'drama'. I used a list off Wikipedia and whittled it down to these ones:

SpoilerShow
Adventure
Allegorical
Biography
Children's
Classic
Coming of Age
Crime
Cyberpunk
Epic
Essay
Fantasy
Gothic
Historical fiction
Horror
Humour
Magical realism
Memoir
Mystery
Play
Poetry
Postmodern
Realism
Romance
Satire
Science fiction
Southern Gothic
Thriller
Tragedy
Western
Young Adult

I didn't really want to add too many subgenres, but it's really hard to not separate some of them. Also there's annoying things like, Lord of the Flies is categorised as an 'Allegorical novel', Stoner is a 'campus' novel... Stupidest genres ever. So I don't know how to classify them accurately. Has anyone made up or know of a similar list of novel genres that isn't just endlessly nitpicky? When is it ok to call a book a 'drama'? Why is this genre suspiciously absent?
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#1234

Post by brokenface » July 20th, 2020, 11:14 am

Drama in literature would imply a stage play.

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#1235

Post by mightysparks » July 21st, 2020, 3:57 pm

cinephage wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 5:06 pm
mightysparks wrote:
July 17th, 2020, 4:39 pm
Yeah sci-fi, especially golden age stuff, is the main stuff I’m interested in but 99% of the time it’s the damn female characters that let it down. I think this was my first Niven book, but the worst is Heinlein. Almost every one of his stories interests me until I read them and they’re just godawful and sexist. Every time they write about women I picture a fat bearded nerd in a dimly lit dank basement getting all sweaty and puffed out with glee and excitement. Haven’t read anything from Chalker or Burroughs.
I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy Robert Scheckley's short stories. Crazy and funny, yet though-provoking ideas. He wrote a few good novels, too, but I still feel his short stories are just unique. I don't think any of his women were that bad, but my memory may be playing tricks on me.
I’ve started reading the collection ‘Untouched by Human Hands’ and loving it so far. Really short and sweet, no fluff and really fun ideas. Thanks for the rec!
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#1236

Post by cinephage » July 21st, 2020, 4:12 pm

I'm glad you enjoy it. This a writer I automatically think of whenever classic sci-fi is mentionned...

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#1237

Post by weirdboy » July 22nd, 2020, 1:09 pm

mightysparks wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 9:24 am
So, I'm trying to complete my 'books' spreadsheet and I'm struggling with getting a nice, concise list of book genres. They suck, man. So many books are listed with the genre 'classic' and that's it. That's not a genre! A massive issue I've noticed is that they don't like to label books as a 'drama'. I used a list off Wikipedia and whittled it down to these ones:

SpoilerShow
Adventure
Allegorical
Biography
Children's
Classic
Coming of Age
Crime
Cyberpunk
Epic
Essay
Fantasy
Gothic
Historical fiction
Horror
Humour
Magical realism
Memoir
Mystery
Play
Poetry
Postmodern
Realism
Romance
Satire
Science fiction
Southern Gothic
Thriller
Tragedy
Western
Young Adult

I didn't really want to add too many subgenres, but it's really hard to not separate some of them. Also there's annoying things like, Lord of the Flies is categorised as an 'Allegorical novel', Stoner is a 'campus' novel... Stupidest genres ever. So I don't know how to classify them accurately. Has anyone made up or know of a similar list of novel genres that isn't just endlessly nitpicky? When is it ok to call a book a 'drama'? Why is this genre suspiciously absent?
I would say most stuff under "Classic" would actually be one of the other categories.

Cyberpunk seems like an oddly specific genre. By which I mean, if you are going to make a category just for that, then you would also have to consider other specific categories like hard-boiled detective thrillers. Or is that crime? And if it is then where would you put In Cold Blood or Helter Skelter?

Also I do not see categories for stuff like philosophy, history, science, mathematics, etc.

If you go to a library you will likely find sections for those things, plus another section called something like "general fiction".

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#1238

Post by mightysparks » July 22nd, 2020, 1:16 pm

Yeah I do actually have some marked as philosophy but didn’t add to my list. I haven’t read and am not planning to read anything related to those others but I was thinking of making a general nonfiction category for anything like that. I usually have more than one genre per book so something like in cold blood I think is listed as memoir and I’d probably include it in NF too. Cyberpunk I’ll probably ditch and stick with sci-fi but originally I was just using whatever Wikipedia classified books as so some are weirdly specific and others broad and others don’t even have one making this harder than it should be...
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#1239

Post by mightysparks » July 29th, 2020, 3:28 pm

Been reading a lot recently. I finished Aesop’s Fables which was fine, there were a couple of really good stories/messages and some absolutely pointless ones.

I read the first two volumes of the manga Berserk, and have nearly finished the third. The first four were lent to me by my friend when we moved out of our old place and I’ve had them sitting around for ages. It started off slow and meh but has really grown on me. I’m enjoying discovering the lore and the Count villain was quite good fun. I find Guts to be a bit dumb and generic emo teenage boy but hopefully he develops more.

I read Hamlet which sucked. The play format is kind of strange and combined with the old fashioned language, I found it difficult to understand the tone or find any emotion in it. I’ve had the same issue with Shakespeare adapted films and the few (student) plays of his works I’ve seen. Just really don’t find his writing or stories very interesting.

I am now reading The Left Hand of Darkness. Another that started slow but has me hooked now. Really great world building, the writing is fantastic, and lots of interesting ideas.
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