33 votes

What are you reading this week? #1

What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk a bit about.

Edit: I have two "votes" currently, including mine, for the questions below. Currently I have 2 votes for bi-weekly, two for on Fridays, and the other voter has agreed that I keep making these posts. So, I've scheduled the next "What are you reading this week?" discussion for the 14th Sep Fri.

P.S.: This is the first instance of what I want to make a weekly recurring topic. I've asked here yesterday whether would people like it, and because that suggestion was supported w/ upvotes and comments, I decided to go ahead and start doing this. Because this is the first such topic, I'd be glad if you could answer these questions too: (1) weekly, biweekly or monthly; (2) on fridays or on mondays; (3) who should post these topics, me, or someone else? Any suggestions and objections are welcome!

My intention is that I post this topic every Friday from now on, with these contents (w/o the postcriptum here), and usually start it out with a comment on what I'm reading. IDK if the discussion on moderators is concluded and what sort of a decision has been made, but in any way if you think someone other than me would be a better fit for doing this, please tell me.

61 comments

  1. DesertGeo Link
    Working on getting through the first half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. I'm in love with this book so far despite needing to be constantly looking up archaic and esoteric words....

    Working on getting through the first half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. I'm in love with this book so far despite needing to be constantly looking up archaic and esoteric words. Personally, I think it adds to the beauty and realism to the book. Anyways, the series is set during the end of our Sun's life in the ludacrisly far future (Dying Earth genre) where science has advanced so far that it's indistinguishable from magic. The science aspect of this series is much more apparent than that of the original Jack Vance series of Dying Earth. There's rocket ships, mentions of aliens and warp drives, a museum going between different dimensions, but it all has a gritty fantasy feel. There's witches, magic, river god (or something?), a long quest, Kings, peasants, etc.

    The story follows and is narrated by a torturer named Severain who was banished from the guild for showing mercy (side note, their torture chamber is in the fucking engine room of a space ship). So he's banished to a small town to the North and he has a bunch of bizzare and fun adventures along the way. I know it gets more complicated than that further into the series, but that's where I'm at not.

    I'd recommend this book to anyone that finds this all interesting and doesn't mind slow reading due to odd words and minimalistic prose. The story moves quickly in comparison to the slow reading. I dunno, maybe I'm just bad at vocab. Maybe that's why I'm a geologist. I'd also recommend this to anyone that likes reading very well written books in general, even if you don't like the story. Gene Wolfe (and the Book of the New Sun) has been thrown up there in lists of the best English writers of the century, regardless of genre.

    7 votes
  2. Kom Link
    I finally finished "What the hell did I just read" by David Wong. it's the third book in the John dies at the end, series and it did not disappoint. I watched the movie years ago and loved every...

    I finally finished "What the hell did I just read" by David Wong. it's the third book in the John dies at the end, series and it did not disappoint.
    I watched the movie years ago and loved every minute of it and needed the book, that became a fast favourite and I've been following / waiting for the next book by David Wong to come out.

    I don't really know how to explain the books to give them justice, other than they are off the wall crazy. I personally got a hitchhikers guide feel from parts of them (the improbability drive)

    I'm about to start Gardens of the moon by Steven Erickson. I've heard only good things

    7 votes
  3. [14]
    retr0 Link
    A friend gave me the first 3 volumes of One Piece to read. I'm not particularly into manga, or even Western comics in general, but I've been enjoying it. It's a really light read and mostly just a...

    A friend gave me the first 3 volumes of One Piece to read. I'm not particularly into manga, or even Western comics in general, but I've been enjoying it. It's a really light read and mostly just a bit of fun. I've got a pretty short deadline before that friend moves for work/school and so I'm trying to rush and read as much of it as I can so I can return it. Definitely not my usual read, but it's enjoyable.

    Prior to that (other than the numerous articles I read online) I've been reading Zizek's The Sublime Object of Ideology. Certainly much denser material than One Piece! I'm relatively familiar with Zizek already so I'm familiar with where the book is heading and what it's trying to get at. I think it'd be very useful for anyone thinking of picking it up to brush up on their Lacan, at least, before reading. Otherwise I highly suggest!

    I think up next I might re-read Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia. It's been 5+ years since my last read through and I've been regularly thinking of it lately.

    5 votes
    1. [11]
      cadadr Link Parent
      What a transition! I didn't expect that :) Given it seems that you're into modern philosophy, do you know of a good text to start with in order to get into it? I'm very ignorant of recent/current...

      What a transition! I didn't expect that :)

      Given it seems that you're into modern philosophy, do you know of a good text to start with in order to get into it? I'm very ignorant of recent/current philosophy and want desperately to cure that (can't allocate time unfortunately).

      3 votes
      1. [10]
        retr0 Link Parent
        What's your philosophical background like? And beyond that, what are some of your interests? I'm definitely into modern philosophy, but it all stems from my interest in Anthropology, so a lot of...

        What's your philosophical background like? And beyond that, what are some of your interests? I'm definitely into modern philosophy, but it all stems from my interest in Anthropology, so a lot of the material I would have to suggest stems from an Anthropological/Sociological background.

        If you're into podcasts at all, I have to recommend Philosophize This! It's a good starting point for getting into a particular philosopher or philosophy, and from there you could always pick up their work and read it for yourself.

        1 vote
        1. [9]
          cadadr Link Parent
          My background is, well, rather scattered readings and lots of thinking myself. I've read almost all dialogues of Plato, which is more of a literary endeavour than philosophical, some more ancient...

          My background is, well, rather scattered readings and lots of thinking myself. I've read almost all dialogues of Plato, which is more of a literary endeavour than philosophical, some more ancient philosophy, then I've read some from Schopenhauer and Freud; the rest of my knowledge comes indirectly from studying literature mainly (philosophical views contemporaneous with the authors always come up, then, criticism and theory are always hand in hand with philosophy), so I know some about Aristotle, Aquinas, Marx, Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Barthes etc., but mostly superficially.

          I have been forming my philosophical ideas since some years, and I want to study historical and recent philosophy in order to compare and contrast my ideas with those of reknowned thinkers, so that I can ameliorate mine. I'm interested particularly in ontological arguments, and those on ethical, aesthetic and social topics.

          Thanks for the podcast, I'll check it out!

          2 votes
          1. [4]
            MotherIrony Link Parent
            Are you still studying literature or was that something in your past? One fascinating text I just picked up myself is Meeting the Universe Halfway by Karen Barad (from 2007). She has a background...

            Are you still studying literature or was that something in your past?

            One fascinating text I just picked up myself is Meeting the Universe Halfway by Karen Barad (from 2007). She has a background in quantum physics but writes philosophy, attempting to create an "onto-ethico-epistemology" by incorporating quantum theory into philosophy. Anyway, I can't say much more yet, but it looks crazy (in the good way).

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              cadadr Link Parent
              I'm always studying literature one way or another, and also write. But I'lve decided to do linguistics for my academical career. I also like studying other stuff in humanities, mainly arts and...

              I'm always studying literature one way or another, and also write. But I'lve decided to do linguistics for my academical career. I also like studying other stuff in humanities, mainly arts and history.

              The book sounds interesting indeed! I'm interested in deriving philosophical views from facts about the universe (for me the idea that matter and energy are essentially the same thing, but diversely condensed is very interesting, though I have to reinvigorate my knowledge on these topics). An example in the similar vein was an article by Grigori M. Kruzkov where the quantum theory is applied to translation of poetry, where basically the idea is that the most important factor in such translation is retaining the "energy" of the original, and various parallels between quantum processes and how that might happen are driven, See here for the paper if youre interested, it's a very intellectually-stimulating read.

              1. [2]
                MotherIrony Link Parent
                Thanks for the article recommendation, I will check it out. Here is a link to a more recent article by Barad that is easier to get into because of its brevity, on the entanglement of time / memory...

                Thanks for the article recommendation, I will check it out. Here is a link to a more recent article by Barad that is easier to get into because of its brevity, on the entanglement of time / memory in wake of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

                1 vote
                1. cadadr Link Parent
                  You're welcome, and thanks!

                  You're welcome, and thanks!

          2. [4]
            retr0 Link Parent
            Hmm, well, there are so many options! A name you haven't mentioned that I would have immediately thought to suggest is Nietzsche. If you wanted to do some "pre-reading" before you got to Nietzsche...

            Hmm, well, there are so many options!

            A name you haven't mentioned that I would have immediately thought to suggest is Nietzsche. If you wanted to do some "pre-reading" before you got to Nietzsche I would recommend Schopenhauer, and perhaps Kant. Nietzsche is notoriously subject to bad readings - far too often people walk away from reading him having become full blown angsty teenage nihilists, which is almost exactly the opposite of the message Nietzsche has. Pre-reading might help contextualize some of his work and help avoid some of the usual pitfalls with his work. However, I think you could also easily just be mindful when reading him and be sure to check in with some of the mainstream understandings and interpretations.

            I think good starting points for Nietzsche are either Twilight of The Idols or Beyond Good and Evil, I think I'd recommend the latter as your first read. From there you'll have gotten used to how he writes and thinks and can check out On the Genealogy of Morals, and Human, All Too Human. Finally, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is incredible, but you'll need to have read some of the stuff from before it to really grasp what's happening.

            Honestly, there isn't a bad Nietzsche book to pick up and parse through if you've got the time and a desire to learn. Take all my advice above only as suggestion, and if it all seems too complicated then please ignore every word of it and just pick up the first copy of something by Nietzsche that you see and read it! So much of later philosophy builds or uses Nietzsche. He really shook up philosophy and changed things!

            If you're looking for other suggestions, just a few quick ones of the top of my head:

            Discipline & Punish by Michel Foucault
            The Death of The Author by Roland Barthes
            The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
            Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              cadadr Link Parent
              Thanks a lot for your suggestions! People like Wittgenstein, Barthes, Sartre, Derrida, Zizek, etc. are those who I want to arrive at, not only because I like philosophy but also because they are...

              Thanks a lot for your suggestions! People like Wittgenstein, Barthes, Sartre, Derrida, Zizek, etc. are those who I want to arrive at, not only because I like philosophy but also because they are the backbone of literary theory, among other things in humanities. So learning them is not only interesting, but also useful. But indeed starting with earlier philosophers that were influential should be more useful. I know some little bits about Hegel, Kant and Schopenhauer, among a bunch of others, from a couple of philosophy lectures I had during the university. I guess I can start with these three and go on to Nietzsche. I indeed had the views you described about him, guess that was kind of a prejudice produced because of the "angsty teenage (or not) nihilists", and thus used to avoid him.

              1 vote
              1. [2]
                retr0 Link Parent
                Don't feel like you have to read around too much prior to reading any particular philosopher. If you find something you're interested in, pick it up and give it a read - you can Google/Wikipedia...

                Don't feel like you have to read around too much prior to reading any particular philosopher. If you find something you're interested in, pick it up and give it a read - you can Google/Wikipedia anything that you're not 100% on and work your way through. You won't understand everything but you will pick up some things. And then if you want to touch base with mainstream interpretations for reassurance (and further learning) I'd recommend that pod (Philosophize This!) or a similar YouTube video that explains generally the ideas being discussed.

                Good luck! Wanting to learn is over half the battle, and you've got that covered, so now just go forth and learn! :)

                1 vote
                1. cadadr Link Parent
                  Yeah, certainly. Just that I find I go further in completing these readings and understand better when I make plans, especially because these days I have many concurrent readings (preparing for MA...

                  Yeah, certainly. Just that I find I go further in completing these readings and understand better when I make plans, especially because these days I have many concurrent readings (preparing for MA in a different field).

                  Thanks a lot for your help! I really appreciate it.

                  1 vote
    2. [2]
      MotherIrony Link Parent
      I'm reading Absolute Recoil right now (first philosophical Zizek I've ever read) and Hegel also seems a necessary prerequisite

      I'm reading Absolute Recoil right now (first philosophical Zizek I've ever read) and Hegel also seems a necessary prerequisite

      1 vote
      1. retr0 Link Parent
        Sorry, I should have mentioned Hegel! You're absolutely correct. I haven't read Hegel and had to do some research more than a few times while reading The Sublime Object of Ideology. Zizek is all...

        Sorry, I should have mentioned Hegel! You're absolutely correct. I haven't read Hegel and had to do some research more than a few times while reading The Sublime Object of Ideology. Zizek is all about Lacan and Hegel.

  4. [4]
    ali Link
    Goodbye Things, by Fumio Sasaki. I actually finished the book last week but it's still my 'current book', since it occupies my mindset at the moment. It really inspired me to throw away a lot of...

    Goodbye Things, by Fumio Sasaki. I actually finished the book last week but it's still my 'current book', since it occupies my mindset at the moment.

    It really inspired me to throw away a lot of useless things I have lying around and made me more conscious about all the waste I produce since I throw away so much. I am currently trying to get rid of clothes, and I did. But I feel like I still own way too much stuff.

    One of the great things I like is seeing the whole city / world as your home. Your actual home has your kitchen, bathroom and bed. The rest can just be had everywhere in the city, a home office being some café, the shops being your storage units (where you can get things as you need them). I am about to move out from home and together with my girlfriend, so this book came at the right time, I think.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      polomi (edited ) Link Parent
      Sounds like a pretty interesting book, but I'm biased as I try to be fairly minimalist. With my wife, we recently moved from Italy to France. We had two travel bags, two backpacks, and a cat....

      Sounds like a pretty interesting book, but I'm biased as I try to be fairly minimalist. With my wife, we recently moved from Italy to France. We had two travel bags, two backpacks, and a cat. That's it, all our belongings. We simply went by train. It's difficult to explain but I feel much more comfortable and serene living this way compared to the family lifestyle I grew up with. I wouldn't have it any other way.

      EDIT: Here is a picture of our belongings just before leaving Italy as we packed up. Look carefully and you may see someone lurking in the darkness.

      3 votes
      1. ali Link Parent
        I can imagine this must be a free feeling.

        I can imagine this must be a free feeling.

        1 vote
    2. cadadr Link Parent
      That's interesting! Frankly I don't intend to go that way of minimalism (albeit I'm not the opposite of it, I don't own "too many" things already, but somewhere in between), but I'm trying to...

      That's interesting! Frankly I don't intend to go that way of minimalism (albeit I'm not the opposite of it, I don't own "too many" things already, but somewhere in between), but I'm trying to learn to appreciate libraries more. I used to want to own each and every book I read or wanted to read, but now I'm going the other way, and reinforcing it with storing my notes away from the books. I used to just transcribe them manually w/ pen and paper, but that takes too long. So I've moved on to scanning now. I underline my books when reading, and later scan the covers, the front matter, and the relevant pages. In a library I make notes identifying the parts I'd normally underline, on a separate piece of paper, and then photocopy or scan those parts when available. That's been a big relief, both economically and space-wise.

      3 votes
  5. [5]
    polomi (edited ) Link
    Good idea! I read slowly so I won't come back every week to say that I'm again reading that same old book, but when I start something new I'll share it. I started to read Unsong by Scott...

    Good idea! I read slowly so I won't come back every week to say that I'm again reading that same old book, but when I start something new I'll share it.

    I started to read Unsong by Scott Alexander. It's about a world in which kabbalah turns out to be for real, to the surprise of pretty much everyone. Sometime in the late 60s, we inadvertently broke some of the inner workings of the universe and the angels are now trying to patch the vulnerabilities, but in the meantime we have access to admin commands by pronouncing Divine Names which cause whatever effects the particular command is for. Corporations try to discover the existence of as many Names as possible by brute force, trial and error. Then they copyright them and make you pay to use them, while freedom fighters try to crack the encryption and make them available to anyone.

    It's pretty damn fun. I think that if I knew what it is about before starting it, I would have been very cautious, it's not the kind of story that I usually enjoy. But I went in blind and found out that it's pretty good, much smarter than I expected, and really interesting.

    4 votes
    1. parting Link Parent
      i'm a huge fan of Unsong - it's a great blend of meta-humor and obscure hermeneutical references while, at the same time, having compelling characters and interesting plot Scott's main publication...

      i'm a huge fan of Unsong - it's a great blend of meta-humor and obscure hermeneutical references while, at the same time, having compelling characters and interesting plot

      Scott's main publication - Slatestarcodex (http://slatestarcodex.com/) - is also one of my favorite blogs for longform articles and interesting statistical/societal/cultural analysis

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      cadadr Link Parent
      Cool! I have this prejudice when approaching the books of sort, especially science-fiction. I must learn to not be snobbish to those genres I think.

      Cool! I have this prejudice when approaching the books of sort, especially science-fiction. I must learn to not be snobbish to those genres I think.

      1 vote
      1. polomi Link Parent
        I can relate. But at the same time, I think it's fine to be eclectic. The usual reason goes something like life is short, we can only read so much, better choose wisely. It's fine to have tastes....

        I can relate. But at the same time, I think it's fine to be eclectic. The usual reason goes something like life is short, we can only read so much, better choose wisely. It's fine to have tastes. I predominantly read SF, but even so I stick to my few favorite authors and have an apprehension when trying something new. If I liked a book, the chances that I'll like other books by the same author are higher than for something new and unknown. From time to time, I make an effort to sample some genre or author I'm unfamiliar with, but if it turns out that I like it, I usually marathon-read all the works by that author before trying something new again.

        1 vote
    3. DesertGeo Link Parent
      That sounds like a fun read! I'm gonna add that to my list.

      That sounds like a fun read! I'm gonna add that to my list.

      1 vote
  6. [6]
    kavi Link
    I've recently re-read the Harry Potter series, which is fantastic. It's about a world were magic is real, but most people don't know about it, and there's a magical school. Each story tends to...

    I've recently re-read the Harry Potter series, which is fantastic. It's about a world were magic is real, but most people don't know about it, and there's a magical school. Each story tends to follow a different plot (generally) inside or relating to the school. I'm not good at describing it, but if you haven't read it, it's a fantastic read.

    On another note, I've just read Charmed Life and The Magicians of Caprona. Both are about magic, and the latter has a Romeo and Juliet vibe to it. Both great reads, and I would highly reccomend them.

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      cadadr Link Parent
      Thanks! If you watched the movies, how do you think they compare to the books? I've seen some of the movies, but never read the books.

      Thanks! If you watched the movies, how do you think they compare to the books? I've seen some of the movies, but never read the books.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        kavi Link Parent
        I've only seen the first two movies (sorry!). I think it really depends on how you want to consume it. As always, the books have more detail, but the movies are shorter and allow for easier...

        I've only seen the first two movies (sorry!). I think it really depends on how you want to consume it. As always, the books have more detail, but the movies are shorter and allow for easier consumption. It is dependent on the person, but if you can, try both. For the first one, I prefered the book, but the second, I prefered the movie. It's up to you.

        2 votes
    2. [2]
      smores Link Parent
      I just started listening to the Stephen Fry audiobooks of the Harry Potter series! He's brilliant, and each chapter is almost exactly the length of my bike ride to work. I've read each of the...

      I just started listening to the Stephen Fry audiobooks of the Harry Potter series! He's brilliant, and each chapter is almost exactly the length of my bike ride to work. I've read each of the books a couple of times, but it's been a long while. I'm just about finished with book one, really looking forward to the rest!

      1 vote
      1. kavi Link Parent
        Best of luck, and I hope you really enjoy the series as much as I did <3

        Best of luck, and I hope you really enjoy the series as much as I did <3

        1 vote
  7. [8]
    cadadr Link
    Currently I'm reading a turkish translation of Fathers and Sons of Turgenev. The translators are Hasan Ali Ediz and Vasıf Onat, 1963 print. I generally like to read ancient literature and modern...

    Currently I'm reading a turkish translation of Fathers and Sons of Turgenev. The translators are Hasan Ali Ediz and Vasıf Onat, 1963 print. I generally like to read ancient literature and modern literature, thus am rather ignorant of medieval and classical novels (and general literature also, to a smaller extent), and this reading is the first step of a project to read some major works from those periods. I was a bit hesitant to pick this one up because I thought it'd not be easy for me to get into it, given it's a realist work, fearing it'd be more boring than romantic textbooks on romantic literature, but I was happily proven wrong: it's a very fun read, a bit like listening to gossip from the table next to you. Also, both the book itself and translators notes have taught me interesting facts about the russian culture, that's lovely too.

    I've also picked up The Second Sex by de Beauvoir, an english translation by H. M. Parsley, coincidentally again a 1963 reprint (I just realised this actually). It's been quite some while since when I last read anything philosophy, and this seems to be the best book to return to it. De Beauvoir has a style that seems to be slightly cynical and openly satirical but also very balanced and philosophically elaborate. I've just read the first few pages of the book, but it seems to me that it'll be fun as much as informing. And will be a nice opportunity to get into more recent philosophy, as I've not been able to read much of that (a long process of indecision with regards to my career near the end and some months after my graduation as a BA of philology impeded me any substantial or even pleasurable reading, but now I've decided to pursue linguistics, and that sort of clarity has allowed to return to reading books fiction and non-fiction one after another).

    A side note is that I've came to appreciate the ability to skim-read, drop reading a book and read only relevant parts: I used to have this sort of ethical thing that I believed it was "dishonest" if I didn't read from cover to cover, and that dropping a book was an "unsuccessful reading", but breaking those taboos has made the experience of reading more smooth and pleasurable for me. Also, distancing myself from philology has allowed me to leave the critical approach I had when reading fiction, that's been relieving too. I used to confound relaxed, casual reading with critical, analytic reading, and those two with technical/scientific reading; now I'm learning to use different methods for different material.

    4 votes
    1. [7]
      polomi Link Parent
      But are you enjoying a book by skimming it? If I'm reading something that is not engaging enough, I just drop the book and move on to something more interesting. And if it is engaging, then I...

      But are you enjoying a book by skimming it? If I'm reading something that is not engaging enough, I just drop the book and move on to something more interesting. And if it is engaging, then I don't skim it, I take my time to enjoy every bit of it. What do you gain from being between these two options and skimming? Honestly curious, maybe I could benefit from it if there is a reason that didn't occur to me.

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        cadadr Link Parent
        I never skim literature. I, just like you, try to enjoy and engage as deeply as I can (I actually am getting better at it recently). I do skim for two purposes: for evaluating any sort of text...

        I never skim literature. I, just like you, try to enjoy and engage as deeply as I can (I actually am getting better at it recently). I do skim for two purposes: for evaluating any sort of text before deciding what to do with it, and for finding relevant parts of academical texts. When you read that latter type of texts linearly, you usually end up losing quite some time and learning less actually.

        I had this sort of thing where if I placed a book on my shelves without reading every word cover to cover, I felt like I was involved in some sort of fraud, or like I stole something. Now I'm teaching myself that I can drop books when I don't like them, and skim non-fiction when that's more useful. If I'm going to skim a new book of fiction though, I agree that it's better to drop it right away.

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          polomi Link Parent
          Thanks for the explanation. This makes a lot more sense, I didn't consider non-fiction, yet I do exactly the same thing. Well, I think I understand you pretty well, so here is a tough one: if you...

          Thanks for the explanation.

          for evaluating any sort of text before deciding what to do with it, and for finding relevant parts of academical texts

          This makes a lot more sense, I didn't consider non-fiction, yet I do exactly the same thing.

          Well, I think I understand you pretty well, so here is a tough one: if you were to drop a book of fiction without finishing it, how would you feel about rating it on goodreads or wherever? I'm kind of struggling with this, I feel exactly the kind of dishonesty that you are describing, but sometimes I disliked the part that I read so much that I really want to give it a bad rating anyway.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            cadadr Link Parent
            I don't use goodreads or similar, but I guess I'd summarise my exact experience with the book. E.g. "I recently started and quickly dropped The City in Crimson Cloak by Aslı Erdogan, because it...

            I don't use goodreads or similar, but I guess I'd summarise my exact experience with the book. E.g. "I recently started and quickly dropped The City in Crimson Cloak by Aslı Erdogan, because it was filled with glorification of misery and related romantic cliches round the city of Rio de Janeiro; having read the first 20-30 pages of a total of a bit more than a hundred, it became obvious to me that that was the thinking of the author and the book, not of a certain character, so I dropped it." I'd still rate it high though, because if a reader is not startled as much as I am with the glorification of misery, it's actually written in very good style and is a good work of literature. That I think is a good contribution to a popular review of a book.

            If you use goodreads, do you recommend it?

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              polomi Link Parent
              I agree, writing a review with details about your experience and thoughts, even if you only read the book partially, is much more honest than just dropping a rating. I do use goodreads, as well as...

              I agree, writing a review with details about your experience and thoughts, even if you only read the book partially, is much more honest than just dropping a rating.

              I do use goodreads, as well as several other Tilders.

              Whether I recommend it or not depends on what you are looking to get out of it. These are the reasons I like it:

              • I like to make lists, a lot. It allows to list and rate all the books I've read, down to the exact edition.
              • I like to see what my friends are reading.

              Here are reasons that goodreads can be used for but that I don't particularly enjoy myself:

              • Getting new book recommendations. I find the recommender algorithms fairly weak.
              • Reading insightful reviews of books. They're usually not insightful. Also I used to not write reviews myself, although I'm considering starting!
              1 vote
              1. cadadr Link Parent
                Thanks! I guess I'd rather prefer to write a review on my blog and share it here. The discussion is really nice and with a blog entry one has more freedom with regards to form. I haven't done this...

                Thanks! I guess I'd rather prefer to write a review on my blog and share it here. The discussion is really nice and with a blog entry one has more freedom with regards to form. I haven't done this yet, but the reaction to this thread encourages me to write and share the article I was planning to write on songs mentioned in Saroyan's Human Comedy.

                1 vote
      2. hotcouch Link Parent
        I am with you, but I'm actively trying to break that habit. Nothing hurts my heart more than getting recommended a book by a friend, and just not being able to get into it. At least with skimming,...

        I am with you, but I'm actively trying to break that habit. Nothing hurts my heart more than getting recommended a book by a friend, and just not being able to get into it.

        At least with skimming, one can extract something from the book still!

        1 vote
  8. [2]
    nacho Link
    I'm about a hundred pages into the Nuremberg interviews by the psychiatrist who spoke with the high profile Nazis during their year-long trial after the second world war. On one hand you see these...

    I'm about a hundred pages into the Nuremberg interviews by the psychiatrist who spoke with the high profile Nazis during their year-long trial after the second world war.

    On one hand you see these criminals at the center of mass-murder of millions of people fight for their lives and trying to avoid blame and responsibility for their actions. Some know death is approaching, many struggle with depression and mental issues. So far they all seem to appreciate just having someone to talk to, anyone.

    On the other hand, you see truly horrible, vain and cruel decision-makers who are highly intelligent, manipulative and vain.

    It's just incredible to have a professional psychiatrist's notes taken meticulously during the conversations as the trial progresses to illustrate these people. Having the propagandists behind Nazi anti-antisemitism also make salient points regarding how allied propaganda created the necessary environment to steer a people into the abyss is chilling to say the least.


    Well, I hope I'll have time to read more of it this coming week anyway.

    4 votes
    1. cadadr Link Parent
      Very interesting! I have the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt in my stack of books to be read, this seems to be the perfect follow up to that. Thanks for mentioning it. The Arendt book is about...

      Very interesting! I have the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt in my stack of books to be read, this seems to be the perfect follow up to that. Thanks for mentioning it. The Arendt book is about the trial of Eichmann, a high profile Nazi, and how, as a perpetrator of pure evil by function, he is actually an ordinary idiot that did things and obeyed orders without giving it a single thought. It's in contrast with this pop-culture image of evil persons as these peculiar, self-evident individuals. Looking forward to reading it.

      One book that can help you understand and empathise with the victims of the Nazis is "If This is a Man" by Primo Levi. It's a book that nearly brought me to tears multiple times, and that actually helped reform my outlook. I particularly like the part titled "I sommersi e i salvati", because it exposes the actual human nature in some ways. One can think of parallelities between it and the novels "Blindness" and "An Essay on Seeing" by Saramago, I guess.

      2 votes
  9. patience_limited (edited ) Link
    I'm grinding (?) my way through The Atlantic's 100 Best Articles list. Will be resharing my personal best 10 selections with the Tildes audience. I'll confess that right out of the gate, the On...

    I'm grinding (?) my way through The Atlantic's 100 Best Articles list. Will be resharing my personal best 10 selections with the Tildes audience.

    I'll confess that right out of the gate, the On Being Midwestern article struck painfully home.

    Also added to the slopes of Reading Mountain - The City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty. I'm a huge fan of hard SF, but will make fantasy excursions for good story-telling with historical or non-Western settings.

    4 votes
  10. Phlegmatic Link
    I'm reading Milton's Paradise Lost. I read part of it in college, and I've tried to read it several times in the past, but this is as far as I've got, and I'm going to finish. Later this month,...

    I'm reading Milton's Paradise Lost. I read part of it in college, and I've tried to read it several times in the past, but this is as far as I've got, and I'm going to finish. Later this month, I'm going to see a play based on it, so that was the impetus. Once I got through the first couple of books, I really started enjoying it. He's one of the rare writers that clearly takes immense joy in the language itself, and I love that more than anything. The subject matter can seem rather preposterous, but eventually I came to see it as Milton using biblical stories as a creative launch pad, something to elaborate on with his remarkable imagination. I know that he had some serious intentions in writing it (to "justify the ways of God to men"), but it's also just a lot of fun once you get into it.

    3 votes
  11. Algernon_Asimov Link
    I've currently got three books on the go: The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens has collected various writings about atheism from across the past couple of millennia. I've read it...

    I've currently got three books on the go:

    • The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens has collected various writings about atheism from across the past couple of millennia. I've read it before, a long time ago, and I felt like revisiting it.

    • The Worthing Chronicle by Orson Scott Card. This is my bedtime reading. I read about 10-20 pages every night before heading off to sleep. I read it so long ago that I had no idea what it was about, so I figured I should find out whether it's a keeper (I'm gradually trying to cull my sci-fi collection). It's not bad so far, but I'm still only on Chapter 3.

    • Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus, Volume 1. It's a collection of the original Wonder Woman comics, from back in the 1940s, as written by her creator William Moulton Marston himself. I'm dipping in and out of this irregularly. I'll pick it up, read one or two comics, then put it down for a week or so. I've got Volume 2 waiting on the shelf.

    3 votes
  12. Diabolus Link
    I'm about 25% through Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco and I'm really enjoying it. I thought it would be a little stuffy but the history lessons within are informative without becoming text-book...

    I'm about 25% through Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco and I'm really enjoying it. I thought it would be a little stuffy but the history lessons within are informative without becoming text-book like.

    3 votes
  13. [4]
    jwilcoxson Link
    Currently listening to the audiobook version of Dune, after finishing Hitchhikers Guide. Don’t have much time for regular reading, but I have 3 hours of commute everyday.

    Currently listening to the audiobook version of Dune, after finishing Hitchhikers Guide. Don’t have much time for regular reading, but I have 3 hours of commute everyday.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      MotherIrony Link Parent
      Listening to an audiobook is reading. Is it your first experience with Dune?

      Listening to an audiobook is reading. Is it your first experience with Dune?

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        jwilcoxson Link Parent
        Yep, first time.

        Yep, first time.

        1. MotherIrony Link Parent
          Nice, as someone who isn't generally a re-reader it is one of the few series I have gone back to multiple times over the years.

          Nice, as someone who isn't generally a re-reader it is one of the few series I have gone back to multiple times over the years.

  14. Erik Link
    Just finished Chapo Guide to Revolution. Been on a non-fiction kick lately (did Bullshit Jobs before that). The books was fun, but as someone that's a fan of the podcast, it very much just felt...

    Just finished Chapo Guide to Revolution. Been on a non-fiction kick lately (did Bullshit Jobs before that). The books was fun, but as someone that's a fan of the podcast, it very much just felt like I was reading another episode of the show. I think if some kids that are way too online get their hands on it, it may help steer them away from alt-right bullshit. But as an adult with full formed politics, it was just good for a chuckle every couple pages.

    I'm heading down to the library for the new Palahniuk book this afternoon as a break for a bit of fiction. We'll see how it goes.

    2 votes
  15. nsz Link
    Almost finished with Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy Mclean. It's the authors memoir that covers a bit of the pre war period till then end of ww2. Fitzroy seemed to have been there for so many...

    Almost finished with Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy Mclean.

    It's the authors memoir that covers a bit of the pre war period till then end of ww2. Fitzroy seemed to have been there for so many pivotal moments and has a talent for engaging writing making it fun and interesting to read. He was a part of the diplomatic mission in the pre war period stationed in Moscow, and was one of the few English/Russian speakers who witnessed the treason trials, as well as travelling extensively through the USSR when it was very closed off to outsiders.
    Then during the war he joines the S.A.S while it is still in it's very early stages taking part in missions all over the middle east, they trek hundreds of kilometres through the desert to get deep into enemy lines for covert sabotage missions as well as abducting a collaborating warlord at gunpoint.
    Then he is transferred to the Balkans, paradropping in to access the effectiveness of the Partisans and figure out exactly who or what is Tito. He spends the rest of the war living among the rebels as he coordinated the Allied aid to them, working extensively with Tito and the other leaders of the movement. He is also very aware to the political side of the situation acting as a liaison between Churchill and Tito. He even meets King George who seems interested in the whole situation, I mean if there ever was a James Bond it would be this guy.

    2 votes
  16. [2]
    JuniperMonkeys Link
    I've been reading a few books about Rwanda recently ("Shake Hands with the Devil", by the commander of the UN mission in Rwanda, and Philip Gourevich's "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will...

    I've been reading a few books about Rwanda recently ("Shake Hands with the Devil", by the commander of the UN mission in Rwanda, and Philip Gourevich's "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families"), and moved on to "Dancing in the Glory of Monsters" by Jason Stearns, which focuses on the collapse of Zaire/Congo in the '90s, brought about in part by the new Rwandan state.

    Having a little more background on Rwanda's motivations while reading Stearns' book is very helpful -- as for the book itself, I think Stearns does a pretty good job with an incredibly complex subject. Although it's a little light on contributing factors (little, easy topics like Francophone colonialism and the Rwandan genocide), the spiderweb of factions in the ten years covered are well-delineated, and in general the book focuses on a good mix of the political and the personal.

    2 votes
    1. cadadr Link Parent
      If you're interested in questions regarding genocides and other ethnically-founded clash or violence, I can suggest Taner Akçam's works on the armenian genocide. The bloody century of the Ottoman...

      If you're interested in questions regarding genocides and other ethnically-founded clash or violence, I can suggest Taner Akçam's works on the armenian genocide. The bloody century of the Ottoman empire and what followed are a crowded and obscure series of events very complex sociologically and historically.

      1 vote
  17. emnii (edited ) Link
    I recently started the Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Bennett so I'll continue reading City of Stairs, which I'm really enjoying so far. On the off chance I happen to finish it, I've got Killing...

    I recently started the Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Bennett so I'll continue reading City of Stairs, which I'm really enjoying so far. On the off chance I happen to finish it, I've got Killing Gravity by Corey White on deck.

    2 votes
  18. Aquarius Link
    I'm reading this right now. There's an anime-manga adaptation and this is what comes after what has been adapted to anime. The source material is still being translated by TC, and he uploads a...

    I'm reading this right now.

    There's an anime-manga adaptation and this is what comes after what has been adapted to anime. The source material is still being translated by TC, and he uploads a chapter (2 parts) each week, on average right now. It's probably going to slow way down once summer is officially over.

    2 votes
  19. [2]
    AbstracTyler Link
    This week it's been a bit of a change up for me. Normally I finish the books I start, very rarely do I ever put down a book without finishing it. In this case, I put down Snow Crash by Neal...

    This week it's been a bit of a change up for me. Normally I finish the books I start, very rarely do I ever put down a book without finishing it. In this case, I put down Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I was fully expecting to love the book, but for a number of reasons, I didn't. First, the novel was published in 92, and so a lot of the technologies described as being futuristic and novel are pretty commonplace today. It made me think that the more prescient a novelist seems to be with their prediction of the future, the less interesting their novels are outside of their historical context, like in a lit class or something. Second, the tone of the novel was a bit brash for me, too swaggery and energetic. I get that it's supposed to be funny, but I just wasn't digging it. So, the book is not for me.

    What I have started, I'm enjoying much more. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. I'm sure a lot of people have read it and some are probably currently reading it, and for good reason; it's good. I have really been enjoying the kind of history lesson that the first few chapters are providing for me about the Chinese culture and the revolution of the 60's. So far not much has dipped into the realm of sci-fi, but I'm sure that's coming up. So far so good, will definitely continue this book.

    2 votes
    1. polomi Link Parent
      I didn't really like Snow Crash either. I think that it's a book that may have been interesting back in the 90s, but is a lot less relevant in our context. Not only the tech as you mention, but...

      I didn't really like Snow Crash either. I think that it's a book that may have been interesting back in the 90s, but is a lot less relevant in our context. Not only the tech as you mention, but also the parody of cyberpunk, an so on. I also put down The Diamond Age for somewhat similar reasons, but I enjoyed Anathem and Seveneves. I think that Anathem will stand the test of time, but Seveneves may not age too well, it's a product of the current decade.

      As for The Three Body Problem, I enjoyed the part that you mention, happening during the cultural revolution. In my opinion, it goes downhill from there, and I didn't bother with the sequels. I'm not going to explain why as it would spoil you. Besides, it seems like I'm in the minority here, most people loved it. I hope you will!

      2 votes
  20. Ellimist Link
    I finished Peter Benchley's Jaws today. The film is one of my all time favorite movies and, for years, I had been meaning to read the novel the film was adapted from. Being a 911 dispatcher can...

    I finished Peter Benchley's Jaws today. The film is one of my all time favorite movies and, for years, I had been meaning to read the novel the film was adapted from. Being a 911 dispatcher can afford me a considerable amount of time to read provided we hit a dead zone which happens fairly often on nights.

    While I must say that I actually greatly preferred the film to the novel, Jaws was still an enjoyable read.

    It gets a little bloated with a couple sub plots that just didn't land for me but did help provide some extra context for why certain characters take certain actions.

    Beyond that, I thought all the shark scenes were wonderfully done, creating a sense of inevitable doom with some pretty gory, but not overly so, descriptions of the various attacks that take place.

    The characters in the film are largely accurate to their novel counterparts although I found Ellen Brody's and Matt Hoopers characters to be considerably more antagonistic in the novel and I greatly prefer their film versions.

    Overall though, I found the book to be highly enjoyable. If your only exposure to the Jaws franchise is through the films, I'd highly recommend the original novel and source material.

    2 votes
  21. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips Link
    Currently The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It had been on my to-read list for awhile, but I finally picked it up (in audiobook format) this weekend. I'm about 70% done - the fact that I've...

    Currently The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It had been on my to-read list for awhile, but I finally picked it up (in audiobook format) this weekend.

    I'm about 70% done - the fact that I've listened to ~11 hours of it in the past few days should tell you something. It's definitely whatever the audiobook equivalent of a page-turner is. I'll definitely be reading/listening to the rest of the trilogy.

    2 votes
    1. cadadr Link Parent
      When do you listen to it? I don't think I can "deal with" an audiobook because if my hands and eyes are free, I can't for the life of me concentrate on what I'm listening to. I fail at podcasts...

      When do you listen to it? I don't think I can "deal with" an audiobook because if my hands and eyes are free, I can't for the life of me concentrate on what I'm listening to. I fail at podcasts even, because half a minute and I'm doing something else and ten seconds more in I'm not listening anymore, not even hearing it. Reading (and to a some extent video) are better at keeping me engaged and concentrated. How do you concentrate?

      1 vote
  22. sophiebella28 Link
    I finished The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, which was actually a very very good book, lots of twists I wouldn't have seen coming and it had an interesting take in the passage of time etc etc. I'm...

    I finished The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, which was actually a very very good book, lots of twists I wouldn't have seen coming and it had an interesting take in the passage of time etc etc. I'm also hoping to finish Call Me By Your Name by Andre aciman, which I'm not enjoying quite as much but am hoping I'll like more as I get more into it.

    1 vote