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    1. What are you reading these days?

      What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction or poetry, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk about it a bit. Previous topics Previous topics are listed in the wiki.

      15 votes
    2. International alternatives...

      I've recently realised I read a lot of American literature. I'd like to broaden my horizons so I'm wondering for fun if anyone out there can suggest an international (i.e non-US) counterpart for...

      I've recently realised I read a lot of American literature. I'd like to broaden my horizons so I'm wondering for fun if anyone out there can suggest an international (i.e non-US) counterpart for any of the following or just general non-US recommendations?

      • Denis Johnson
      • David Foster Wallace
      • Flannery O'Conner
      • Carson McCullers
      8 votes
    3. What authors do you recommend on the basis of writing style?

      I'm in the middle of writing my thesis and I've been (re)reading some excellent, unconventional style guides (The Sense of Style by Stephen Pinker and Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword). I'm...

      I'm in the middle of writing my thesis and I've been (re)reading some excellent, unconventional style guides (The Sense of Style by Stephen Pinker and Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword). I'm also rereading Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrichs, which is less about style but is essentially a guide for effective communication.

      In reading these books and applying their teachings to my writing, I've been reinvigorated with a passion for writing, namely for the craftsmanship of prose. All three books analyze excerpts from examples of great (and sometimes poor) writing. But, I'm now looking for a more immersive experience in good (i.e. stylish, evocative, concise etc.) writing in the hopes that, with my newly refined perspective and sensitivity, I can improve my own writing even more. Good writers read good writing.

      Now, starting new books now won't help my current cause (my thesis) but my academic career will call for much more writing in the future. And I'm hoping that maybe the suggestions I get here will help me prioritize my current queue of books and articles—I know they're all great books but I'd like to read the ones with better writing, first.

      So, I would love some recommendations on authors who you would consider as masters of writing. It can be either books or articles. Preferably non-fiction and modern (20 years?), only because fiction and older books have different standards (FWIW I love old-school sci-fi, but that's definitely not the style I'm after). My current shortcut is to read basically any "longread" on WIRED, as most of the time they are high quality and often explain complex topics.

      Any other resources are also welcome! Though maybe no more style guides...

      12 votes
    4. Sci Fi trends over the decades

      I've just finished The Sirens of Titan from 1959 (after seeing it recommended here, actually) and something struck me compared to more recent books. A lot of the more technical stuff is kind of...

      I've just finished The Sirens of Titan from 1959 (after seeing it recommended here, actually) and something struck me compared to more recent books. A lot of the more technical stuff is kind of hand-waved away. It's not a criticism, just something that stuck out as I was reading. Is this a trend? Do readers demand more details these days? I've read a bunch of sci fi from the 60s until the present day, but I've only really gotten back into it more recently with Sirens.

      Perhaps I've read too much Neal Stephenson, who has likely never hand-waved anything away! The Martian also springs to mind, but that's very deliberately focused on the details and keeping it realistic, IIRC.

      Spoilers

      I'm mostly thinking about the radio-controlling of the Martian army beyond "there is a little box in their pocket" and most of the atmospheric questions beyond how they breathe.

      13 votes
    5. What are you reading these days?

      What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction or poetry, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk about it a bit. Previous topics Previous topics are listed in the wiki.

      11 votes
    6. My 2020 Book Challenge: "Reading the Alphabet"

      Here's a little setup I'm going to try out with my reading habits this year. I figured I'd share the idea, in case anyone else is interested in running it (or something similar) for themselves....

      Here's a little setup I'm going to try out with my reading habits this year. I figured I'd share the idea, in case anyone else is interested in running it (or something similar) for themselves.

      Rules

      • I must complete one book for each letter of the English alphabet (26 total).
      • A book fulfills a letter by having the title or any part of the author's name start with that letter.
      • I do not have to go in alphabetical order.
      • I CAN rearrange entries at will.

      Example

      I realize that's hard to visualize, so here's how the first few letters might look once completed (these books are placeholders):

      A: Jeff VanderMeer - Annihilation
      B: Tina Fey - Bossypants
      C: Arthur C. Clarke - Rendezvous with Rama
      D: Dava Sobel - Longitude

      Explanations/Clarifications

      Let's say the first book I read is Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. I could have that count for K (Kurt), V (Vonnegut), or S (Slaughterhouse).

      I'm choosing to ignore articles in titles. The Martian would thus count for M (Martian) rather than T (The).

      If an author has a single name (e.g. Voltaire), I can only use that one letter (V). If an author commonly uses more than first and last names (e.g. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hunter S. Thompson), I can use any parts (C N or A, and H S or T, respectively).

      If the book title is/begins with a number or symbol, I can count it under the letter that corresponds to the name/pronunciation of the number or symbol (e.g. 1984 would be N (Nineteen) while 1Q84 would be O (One)).

      As the process goes on and more letters get filled, my choices will get narrower. I am allowed to swap around books in order to accommodate new choices, but only within the parameters of the rules above. So if I initially had Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five down for S but then I decide to read Stanley Schmidt's The Sins of the Fathers, I can move Slaughterhouse-Five to V for Vonnegut since Sins can only work for S.

      Purpose

      I came up with this for a couple of reasons:

      • It's a semi-fun way to jazz up my regular reading habits.
      • It gives me a goal to work towards.
      • It will help me narrow down choices from my immense backlog and interest list, especially when I have only a few spots left to fill.
      • It's free-form enough that I don't feel boxed-in, but it's restrictive enough that it'll likely force me to read some stuff I wouldn't usually choose.
      • 26 books for 26 letters is coincidentally perfect for an average of one book every two weeks, which feels like the right pace for me.

      Process Note

      I'm only going to count books I read with my eyes rather than books I listen to. This isn't because I have anything against audiobooks (I love them!) but because I've actually gotten TOO dependent on them and am not sitting down to read books like I used to. I'm hoping this can restart my reading habit. I put this here rather than in the rules because I don't want to restrict anyone else should they choose to do this exercise.


      I plan to post updates on my "alphabet progress" in the scheduled "What are you reading these days?" threads.

      Anyway, feel free to share your thoughts on this process. This is entirely theory-based at the moment, as I've never actually attempted it, so if there's anything I've failed to account for or any potential hiccups you see, let me know.

      Also, if you're wanting to steal the idea, whether wholesale or in part, go for it! It is ripe for modding or tweaking. I'm considering doing a second, separate alphabet for myself that's limited only to graphic novels, for example. I also think it would be neat for people to do it in other alphabets, in languages other than English.

      Furthermore, it's a generic enough setup that you could do it for more than just reading too. You could use the ruleset as written with music (using artist and album names) or movies (using titles and directors). Games are a bit tougher since you really only have the title to work with (since there's often not an identifiable "author"), but with some tweaks I think it could still happen.

      10 votes
    7. I'm starting a friends' book club and looking for pointers

      For any of you who have been in a book club before. Any lessons learned? Nice to haves? Things to avoid? This is going to be limited to a fairly small group (4-6 people), so I feel like I don't...

      For any of you who have been in a book club before. Any lessons learned? Nice to haves? Things to avoid? This is going to be limited to a fairly small group (4-6 people), so I feel like I don't need to get too formal with anything. But at the same time, I know that a good structure goes a long way to a successful regular reading club.

      We have pretty a varied reading pace between us. One of us can read a book a day. I'm more at the book (300~ pages) every week or two pace myself. I'm sure that others may read faster or slower than that still. So I figure a book a month is decent for keeping to a casual-but-intentional reading pace for most of us.

      Part of this is intended to be a way to keep in touch with friends I don't get to talk to as often anymore, and part of it is just reading new books I wouldn't even think to read.

      16 votes
    8. Out of all the books you read this year, which ones were your favorites?

      What are your favorite books that you read this year? What made them so noteworthy? Who would you recommend them to? Note: the books do NOT have to be from this year (i.e. published in 2019). Any...
      • What are your favorite books that you read this year?
      • What made them so noteworthy?
      • Who would you recommend them to?

      Note: the books do NOT have to be from this year (i.e. published in 2019). Any book you read this year regardless of publication date counts.

      22 votes
    9. What are you reading these days?

      What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction or poetry, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk about it a bit. Previous topics Previous topics are listed in the wiki.

      14 votes
    10. Which books are the "bible" of your discipline?

      I recall when I took biology in high school, we used the well-regarded Biology textbook, written by Campbell. Another example might be Kernighan & Ritchie's The C Programming Language. My...

      I recall when I took biology in high school, we used the well-regarded Biology textbook, written by Campbell. Another example might be Kernighan & Ritchie's The C Programming Language.

      My discipline is Electrical Engineering, focused in integrated circuit design. I find that there are often a few competing textbooks, and some of them are stronger in their explanations. Razavi's Design of Analog CMOS Integrated Circuits for example, is considered the best at explaining complex topologies using intuition, rather than complete mathematical rigor.

      A book you find many junior electrical engineering students posessing is Sedra & Smith's Microelectronics, which in my honest opinion, is great for explaining operational amplifiers and simple topologies of single transistor amplifiers, but the latter chapters are much better explained (and notated) by a multitude of other authors, Razavi included.

      The reason I ask is because I was considering taking a biochemistry course, and they use a hefty looking text that also has a highly descriptive name as other "bibles," simply called Principles of Biochemistry.

      16 votes
    11. What are you reading these days?

      What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction or poetry, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk about it a bit. Previous topics Previous topics are listed in the wiki.

      8 votes