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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 10th, 2019, 5:27 am
by blocho
mightysparks wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 4:30 am
My boyfriend has never read a book apparently (he said he’s possibly read 1-2 but doesn’t remember), and now he wants to start reading. He doesn’t know what he likes or what he’s looking for. I suggested 1984 which he was happy with, though he had the plot confused with Animal Farm at first lol.
Kudos to someone developing an interest in reading. I'm wondering, though, how he's never read a book. Not in school? Was he what we in the education game call a SIFE (Student with Interrupted Formal Education). I had a couple of SIFEs when I was a teacher.

When I was much younger and working at a newspaper, I learned at one point that my editor had not read a single book since college. He had graduated six years earlier. I said it was strange to be a professional writer and refuse to read books. He countered that he read plenty of newspapers and magazines. So I bought him a book on a topic that interested him as a birthday present. He didn't read it. Looking back, I guess it was a passive-aggressive gift.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 10th, 2019, 5:34 am
by mightysparks
blocho wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 5:27 am
mightysparks wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 4:30 am
My boyfriend has never read a book apparently (he said he’s possibly read 1-2 but doesn’t remember), and now he wants to start reading. He doesn’t know what he likes or what he’s looking for. I suggested 1984 which he was happy with, though he had the plot confused with Animal Farm at first lol.
Kudos to someone developing an interest in reading. I'm wondering, though, how he's never read a book. Not in school? Was he what we in the education game call a SIFE (Student with Interrupted Formal Education). I had a couple of SIFEs when I was a teacher.

When I was much younger and working at a newspaper, I learned at one point that my editor had not read a single book since college. He had graduated six years earlier. I said it was strange to be a professional writer and refuse to read books. He countered that he read plenty of newspapers and magazines. So I bought him a book on a topic that interested him as a birthday present. He didn't read it. Looking back, I guess it was a passive-aggressive gift.
He homeschooled himself from around age 9/10 until his teens, he never went to highschool (his family was homeless for a while). I'm assuming he read a couple of kids books prior to that age but he doesn't remember anything in particular.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 10th, 2019, 11:29 am
by Cippenham
1984 is really depressing as a first book though a great book.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 10th, 2019, 6:52 pm
by blocho
mightysparks wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 5:34 am
He homeschooled himself from around age 9/10 until his teens, he never went to highschool (his family was homeless for a while). I'm assuming he read a couple of kids books prior to that age but he doesn't remember anything in particular.
Wow that's tough. I agree with Cippy. 1984 is one of my all-time favorites, but maybe ease into reading with something a little lighter.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 10th, 2019, 11:41 pm
by mightysparks
blocho wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 6:52 pm
mightysparks wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 5:34 am
He homeschooled himself from around age 9/10 until his teens, he never went to highschool (his family was homeless for a while). I'm assuming he read a couple of kids books prior to that age but he doesn't remember anything in particular.
Wow that's tough. I agree with Cippy. 1984 is one of my all-time favorites, but maybe ease into reading with something a little lighter.
It’s hard to know what to recommend for him. The themes of 1984 seem like they’d appeal to him because we discuss that kind of thing a lot. He didn’t seem too interested in straight drama or anything too long. I thought anything too old is going to be too hard, I remembered 1984 being a pretty easy, gripping read that feels like it could’ve been written today so seemed like a good choice (plus he was already interested in reading it). But idk, I’m not particularly that well read myself.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 11th, 2019, 12:48 am
by funkybusiness
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? it's short, funny, and if he gets hooked, there's four sequels.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 11th, 2019, 3:07 am
by mightysparks
funkybusiness wrote:
October 11th, 2019, 12:48 am
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? it's short, funny, and if he gets hooked, there's four sequels.
Might be a bit 'fluffy' for him, but it's a great book so you never know! I'll recommend that to him too.

His birthday is coming up and I was trying to convince him to let me take him to Rottnest for a day but he's umming and ahhing about it. Then I thought I could buy him a Kindle but I'm not sure if he'll get enough use out of it to justify it. Maybe I'll just buy him a couple of books instead.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 12th, 2019, 5:05 am
by Knaldskalle
1984 is one hell of a first book ever! I hope he likes it!

You might want to give him something a little lighter for his next one.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 13th, 2019, 2:24 pm
by mightysparks
I finished reading Dark Matter the other night. Apparently I’d marked it as ‘to read’ on Goodreads and my dad saw it, got interested and read it and then recommended it back to me. The concept is interesting; a man finds himself in a parallel universe and finds his other self created a box allowing for travel across an infinite universes. He tries to find his way back to his universe and finds his state of mind/feelings can influence which universes he wanders into. But the writing is so bad. His wife is ‘stunning’ and nothing more. The narrator has a really basic and lame existential crisis every now and then to make sure you know exactly how he feels, but it never shows you how he feels. It’s like yeah this is entertaining but you’re offering nothing new.

Anyway, so now I’m reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. It’s interesting, it goes into detail about what happens to the body after we die. It also talks about how our bodies are used for study and what kind of knowledge has been gained. I don’t find the humour stuff particularly funny though, and while I think keeping it light hearted and easy to read is good, she’s just not funny and it feels awkward.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 14th, 2019, 1:29 am
by Leopardi
Coincidentally, we were just talking about this book (Stiff) at Thanksgiving dinner tonight, plus another book by Roach I finished a few weeks ago (Spook), and I mentioned her humour didn't always work for me (although it sounds like I didn't mind it as much as you did). One similar book that I found more engrossing was Corpse which (if I remember correctly) was a little more scientific in its approach and not so corny. It might be a good alternative to Stiff, if you're looking for one.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 14th, 2019, 3:25 am
by mightysparks
I don't hate the comedy stuff, but it's just like ugh groan every time she makes a joke. Corpse sounds pretty cool, I'll definitely check it out at some point. It sounds like it expands on all the stuff I really like about Stiff, so seems like a good read.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 15th, 2019, 12:59 am
by mightysparks
I finished Stiff last night; the last third of the book was kind of disappointing and went off on tangents.

Then I read about half of The Shining; I’ve only read about 3 Stephen King books (plus some short story ones) and none of the ones that all my favourite films are based on. With most of his works, I find his writing to be.. messy. The Stand is probably the best example of all his strengths and weaknesses. Anyway, I’m quite liking The Shining. It’s hard to not see Kubrick’s film and the miniseries’ but it is starting to take on a life of its own in my mind. Danny and Wendy have more to do and say and are more interesting characters, whereas in both films they’re just sidelined and really bad. Jack is interesting but a better writer could do more justice to his internal anger problems. Every time I see the numbers 217 I get a chill, and there are some lines that are really creepy. Nothing scary has really happened yet but you can feel it pulsing towards something.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 18th, 2019, 10:56 am
by mightysparks
Finished The Shining last night. It was pretty enjoyable, but the film does the whole thing much better. I also read The Hellbound Heart which I really liked, particularly Barker's style of writing, so I might not keep putting off his work now.. Next, I will be reading Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted (sticking with a horror theme for this month).

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 19th, 2019, 3:38 am
by 3eyes
Michael Lewis - The fifth risk (about DJT's utter disregard for, and decimation of, the career civil service

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 21st, 2019, 12:41 am
by blocho
3eyes wrote:
October 19th, 2019, 3:38 am
Michael Lewis - The fifth risk (about DJT's utter disregard for, and decimation of, the career civil service
That was a good one. Since I read it, I stopped using weather.com and now only look at forecasts directly from the National Weather Service.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: October 30th, 2019, 11:54 pm
by mightysparks
I finally finished reading Haunted a few days ago. It was ok and some of the stories had interesting ideas and worlds but overall it wasn’t that great or interesting.

Then I read Haunting of Hill House. I liked the writing style and there were some subdued creepy moments but I think every adaptation has done it more justice.

Last night I started reading The Diary of a Young Girl. For some reason I had always assumed the diary was started when she was already in ‘the attic’ and that she was alone. I’m finding it pretty fascinating, especially as it sounds so unreal. I feel like I’m reading a dystopian novel not a real teenager’s diary. It’s a bizarre and really sad experience. I plan to read Kershaw’s biography of Hitler next; I don’t really have much interest in Hitler and his doings but it was recommended somewhere and after starting the diary I really want to find out more about the other side.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: November 10th, 2019, 9:24 am
by Grunge Rock & Ally McBeal
The Coming Insurrection.

Anyone else read it?

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: November 10th, 2019, 7:36 pm
by blueboybob
Almost finished "Omnivore's Delima"

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: November 13th, 2019, 7:41 pm
by Prat
Lately, I read "Les météores" (in english, the title seems to be "Gemini"), a french novel by Michel Tournier. It's about twins brothers and their perception of this bond, one of them trying to escape a sort of "twins fatality" but, in fact, the main character for the reader is obviously the uncle, a gay dandy, cynical and... well he's just awesome.
I really liked this novel because it's a bit different of what I'm used to read in French litterature. French classics are mostly about the writing style and "Gemini" has this incredible style of classics but it seems close to German litterature because of the philosophical aspect of the book. It reminded me of "The Magic Moutain" (Thomas Mann) in its kind of "philosophy and ideas first" way.
It was a really good read and not complicated or boring (despite my note above about philosophy). Catching story even, and beautifully executed.

So, after that, I wanted to read more books of that style, so I decided to start "The man without qualities" by the Austrian author Robert Musil. I read just the beginning of this very, very long novel (read 300 pages and the first book of two is 900 pages long). And it's great. It's about a man, Ulrich, who tried to be someone in the end of the Austrian Empire (so, just before WW I) ; he tried to be a soldier, was good but average, then a mathematician, still good but average, and it's all about the ending (imaginary or not) of an era. The era of a possible "absolute knowledge", of a man who can be a savior, and the start of the era of experts in very very specific fields, of desillusion and the triumph of modernity. And this character, Ulrich, with others (nobility, politicians, bourgeois, priests), will try to find the Idea that will change the world forever and ensure the power and enlightenment of the Austrian Empire. The absurdity of all of it, the fact that they're are thinking, in meetings, of ideas in order to find the Idea, it's delightful. The dawn of this era, before the war, just as in Proust's novel.
We also have the chance, in France, to have this book translated by a famous poet, Philippe Jaccottet.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: November 16th, 2019, 2:36 am
by blocho
I just finished reading Harlan Ellison's Vic and Blood, which is a compilation he published late in life of three short stories: A Boy and His Dog, the brief prequel Eggsucker, and the brief sequel See Spot Run. If this sounds familiar to anyone it's because the main story was adapted by LQ Jones (still alive at 91!) into the post-apocalyptic cult movie A Boy and his Dog. It was the only movie that Jones, a longtime bit player in Westerns, ever made.

I first saw the movie about 12 or 13 years ago. I knew nothing about it other than that it was a cult favorite, and it certainly made an impression. I think that was the first time I knew I really liked the whole post-apocalyptic genre. The stories by Ellison were OK, though the prequel and sequel were both unnecessary. They conjure an intriguing world but don't do much with it. The movie was certainly more interesting, especially in its gonzo bizarre depiction of the underground city of Topeka.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 6th, 2020, 5:20 am
by blocho
I tried reading Russell Banks' Affliction and had to quit a fifth of the way through. It has a good story and characters, but wow does Banks like long-winded description of meaningless things. Made into a good movie, though.

I did read Edmund Morris' Colonel Roosevelt, the third volume of his Theodore Roosevelt biography. I read the second volume in high school about twenty years ago and the first volume in college. It was nice to complete the trilogy.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 3:18 am
by mightysparks
I came across this again recently: https://thegreatestbooks.org/

I've been trying to find a decent 'Top 100 Classics' kinda list to work through, but I only have basic knowledge of literature so it's difficult to find a list that I trust and is accessible enough for a relative newbie. I've read 12 of the top 100 (fiction). What do the more well-read around here think of this one?

Edit: I stumbled across the 1001 Books You Must Read book, and downloaded a spreadsheet for it. I haven't started filling it all in yet, but it has this little cool, but scary, statistic thing:

Image

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 4:21 am
by fori
I think it’s a pretty good introduction to the canon, though certainly not definitive. Not what I personally (or the schools of thought on literature I subscribe to) might hold in highest esteem, but more broadly paints an accurate picture. I’m not much of a reader though, I’ve only read 66 of the 100 all the way through.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 5:33 am
by blocho
I have read 29 of the top 100. Of those 29, there were some that were great, some that were OK, and some I hated. I can't imagine working through a list like this. I think it's far more enjoyable and conducive to actual reading to find the things one likes in literature, whether they be genre, style, era, or region, and base your reading choices on that.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 5:54 am
by mightysparks
Yea, I probably won't read through an entire list, just wanted a starting point to find good stuff. I mostly only read sci-fi and horror but wanted to dip my toes into 'normal' books.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 13th, 2020, 9:49 am
by mightysparks
I'm a little under 50% through Little Women. I don't mind it, tbh, but goddamn is it eye-rolling. It's hard to believe this was written by a woman because the characters are pretty generic female stereotypes (the "not-like-the-other-girls tomboy", the smart one, the nice one, the young one) and they are all so over the top goody-goody religious nut empty shells of people. Ergh, and the mother is the worst of all. THERE'S NO GREATER JOY THAN THE SMILE OF YOUR CHILD. Laurie sucks ass too. I find the writing kind of warm and welcoming though, and the characters have developed slightly since the start so perhaps they do become more interesting later but they all kind of just blur into each other and sometimes there's exchanges without explicitly naming the character and I've got no idea what's happening and to whom. Even though I hate every character, it's still kind of enjoyable.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 16th, 2020, 3:29 pm
by Pretentious Hipster
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.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 16th, 2020, 4:30 pm
by GruesomeTwosome
I'm trying to finally finish Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy. Loved Annihilation, wasn't as enthralled with Authority and it took me quite a while to make it through, but now I'm on the final book Acceptance and so far so good, it makes for some very exciting reading again.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 23rd, 2020, 3:20 pm
by Cinepolis
Currently reading "Origin: Wolf Creek #1" in addition to watching the tv series. I really dig the character of Mick Taylor.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 23rd, 2020, 4:08 pm
by mightysparks
Finished Little Women a few days ago. The second half of the book was totally awful. Settled for a 5/10.

Read A Christmas Carol, which I really liked. I’ve seen a couple of film versions, but the only one that I like is the Mickey Mouse one. I saw it as a kid and the Tiny Tim stuff always made me feel sad and stuff like that usually doesn’t. That part is was my favourite in the book as well.

Now I’m reading Les Miserables. I’m guessing this is going to take me a while...

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 24th, 2020, 1:28 am
by Leopardi
mightysparks wrote:
January 23rd, 2020, 4:08 pm
Now I’m reading Les Miserables. I’m guessing this is going to take me a while...
On Goodreads it mentions the translation you're reading is by Norman MacAfee. I don't know anything about that one, to be honest, but I would strongly recommend Norman Denny's translation (available in Penguin and probably other editions), I thought it was miles ahead of the others available at the time I read it (back in the 90s).

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 24th, 2020, 1:31 am
by mightysparks
Leopardi wrote:
January 24th, 2020, 1:28 am
mightysparks wrote:
January 23rd, 2020, 4:08 pm
Now I’m reading Les Miserables. I’m guessing this is going to take me a while...
On Goodreads it mentions the translation you're reading is by Norman MacAfee. I don't know anything about that one, to be honest, but I would strongly recommend Norman Denny's translation (available in Penguin and probably other editions), I thought it was miles ahead of the others available at the time I read it (back in the 90s).
I just picked the first one that came up in search on Goodreads. My translation is by someone else (a woman), but it was the only well-formatted version I could find. The first version I started reading had Digne censored like D____ so I just scrambled to find another. I'll see if I can find the Denny version though. I'm only 5% in so far.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: January 25th, 2020, 4:20 am
by PGonzalez
Finishing "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter", which is my first non-essay Vargas Llosa. Very surprised with this one, found it vastly superior to his non-fiction stuff.
Afterwards I'll either start "Summer Without Men" or "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (James Baldwin, one of my biggest blind spots, finally got published in Portugal after Barry Jenkins's film, as if I needed another reason to love the man).

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: February 1st, 2020, 4:04 am
by Pretentious Hipster
Started The New Jim Crow. Judging from its description it takes Foucault's Discipline and Punish a step further and calls it a modern version of slavery which I already agree with. Foucault took the more power dynamic route while Michelle takes the more race and capitalist route. A great combination when reading both.

The first chapter mentions Nathaniel Bacon. Went down the rabbit hole and saw some youtube summaries of him and his rebellion. He wanted to continue the native genocide though which sucks. Still it was quite fascinating.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: February 1st, 2020, 7:48 pm
by maxwelldeux
Pretentious Hipster wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 4:04 am
Started The New Jim Crow. Judging from its description it takes Foucault's Discipline and Punish a step further and calls it a modern version of slavery which I already agree with. Foucault took the more power dynamic route while Michelle takes the more race and capitalist route. A great combination when reading both.

The first chapter mentions Nathaniel Bacon. Went down the rabbit hole and saw some youtube summaries of him and his rebellion. He wanted to continue the native genocide though which sucks. Still it was quite fascinating.
That is a good book - some great detail on systemic oppression in there. :thumbsup:

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: February 2nd, 2020, 5:19 pm
by Pretentious Hipster
maxwelldeux wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 7:48 pm
Pretentious Hipster wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 4:04 am
Started The New Jim Crow. Judging from its description it takes Foucault's Discipline and Punish a step further and calls it a modern version of slavery which I already agree with. Foucault took the more power dynamic route while Michelle takes the more race and capitalist route. A great combination when reading both.

The first chapter mentions Nathaniel Bacon. Went down the rabbit hole and saw some youtube summaries of him and his rebellion. He wanted to continue the native genocide though which sucks. Still it was quite fascinating.
That is a good book - some great detail on systemic oppression in there. :thumbsup:
I might need a break from reading it. It's making me too angry.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: February 2nd, 2020, 6:48 pm
by maxwelldeux
Pretentious Hipster wrote:
February 2nd, 2020, 5:19 pm
maxwelldeux wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 7:48 pm
Pretentious Hipster wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 4:04 am
Started The New Jim Crow. Judging from its description it takes Foucault's Discipline and Punish a step further and calls it a modern version of slavery which I already agree with. Foucault took the more power dynamic route while Michelle takes the more race and capitalist route. A great combination when reading both.

The first chapter mentions Nathaniel Bacon. Went down the rabbit hole and saw some youtube summaries of him and his rebellion. He wanted to continue the native genocide though which sucks. Still it was quite fascinating.
That is a good book - some great detail on systemic oppression in there. :thumbsup:
I might need a break from reading it. It's making me too angry.
It's certainly that type of book - I listened to the audio book during my commute, so I could handle 30-40 minutes at a time of it.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: February 2nd, 2020, 11:38 pm
by Pretentious Hipster
Will take a few days off from the book. I spent a few minutes reading about asset forfeiture and just... ahhhhh. This makes me hate America even more.

I decided as a break to try out The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey instead, but this makes me just as angry, just about the oppression of religion instead of oppression by the government. You know how ISIS was recently? Those were the Catholics when they came into power.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: February 3rd, 2020, 3:39 pm
by blocho
Just finished reading The Path to Power, the first volume of Robert Caro's projected five-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson. The most remarkable thing is that if this book was published today rather than in 1982, I'm sure every reviewer would see it as a veiled attack on Trump. The temperamental similarities, at least in LBJ's childhood, are uncanny. The best way to describe young LBJ was as a liar, bully, braggart, and coward. After childhood, though, there was divergence, because while LBJ grew up comfortable, his family hit poverty in his teen years. LBJ barely got any inheritance from his father, much less the hundreds of millions of dollars that Trump got. As adults, there are further parallels. Like Trump, LBJ was ruthlessly ambitious, amoral, and driven by immense self-regard mixed with gnawing insecurity. But there were differences. LBJ was an indefatigable worker, driven by his teenage poverty to always try harder. And because he couldn't rest on a fortune like Trump, he did have to do good things for a lot of people to amass the power he eventually held. Of course, none of this comparison is intended. Trump was a minor figure in 1982. But it goes to show that the ingredients of an authoritarian personality are universal.

The book overall is fantastic. It's fluidly written, extensively researched, and an exemplary biography. I think the best biographies give a portrait not only of a life but also a social milieu. And in this case, readers not only understand LBJ thoroughly, but also the Texas hill country he came from, and the enormous corruption of the Texas and national political scenes he traversed. That corruption is perhaps my biggest takeaway from this book. Of course, I knew American politics was overwhelmingly corrupt in the early 20th century (I read Plunkitt of Tammany Hall for a poli sci class in college). But with this book, it's possible to see the extent of that corruption in a new way. Big money controlled politics back then, and it controls politics now. And it does so in the same way, not with the naked illegality of the Tammany era but with the legalized corruption that is in plain sight. If there was a time when American politics wasn't bought and sold, I don't when it was.

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Posted: February 15th, 2020, 11:58 pm
by mightysparks
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.