What are you reading this week? #4
What are you reading currently? Fiction or non-fiction, any genre, any language! Tell us what you're reading, and talk a bit about it.
Please also tell me if you think this is too frequent, in which case I can switch to doing this once a month instead of every other week. I'll edit the post text to append the decision. Have a nice weekend!
I just finished "The Princess Bride" by William Goldman. It took a while to get going, but I ended up really enjoying it. The movie is very faithful to the book but did skip some parts that focused more on Inigo and Fezzik. Overall, I'm happy I read it and lots of parts had me laughing just because it was so over the top.
I've started reading "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck. I read "East of Eden" years ago and it has been one of my favourite books, so I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to try another Steinbeck book.
Man I really disagreed on The Princess Bride, having also read it for the first time recently. I think everything it did well was in the movie. The authorial inserts in the book (as opposed to the grandfather+Fred Savage in the film) were super awkward, overdone, and overwritten to me.
Yeah, I could've done without a lot of the inserts, but I did appreciate that there was more character development for Inigo and Fezzik in the book. I can see why a lot of it was left out of the movie though.
Of Mice And Men is a great book, I recall reading it from a very shitty translation/edition some years ago, but it was still a nice and eye-opening read nevertheless.
Happy to hear that you liked it. I'm not too far in right now, and I already feel sad for George and Lennie...and the mice.
I've just finished İçimizdeki Şeytan "Devil Inside" by Sabahattin Ali, which I talked about last week a bit. It was a very nice read. It did not finish as I expected and I think the foreword was mistaken, the protagonist, Ömer, did not commit suicide. The book evolved into a mixture of a formation novel and an eclectic love story between two young university students, one of which is the protagonist, the other the co-protagonist, the young and graceful Macide. But around that main plot, the book was a voyage among the fresh intelligentsia of the new Turkish republic, a loaded, sound, and cruel satire that depicts their intellectual emptiness and how they are just a show. Towards the end of the book, all of the 20-somethings that are the protagonist, the co-protagonist (who's a bit younger than others), and other prominent characters, but also including older "intellectuals" including even uni professors find themselves in ridiculous situations and display how ridiculous and void they are inside. I cannot rigorously attest to how factual the depictions are, but from what I know they rather are.
Now I picked up Piccoli equivoci senza importanza "Little Misunderstandings of No Importance" of Antonio Tabucchi. He's among my favourite authors; I loved Si sta facendo sempre piu' tardi "It's Getting Later All the Time" and Sostiene Pereira from him; this should be the third or fourth book I'm reading of him. He's got a particular style, a crowded, complex prose with lots of things going on, reflections, recourses to cliche as a literary material, the influence of portuguese concept of saudade, all make for a difficult yet great read every time. I just uncovered this book and honestly forgot what I've read about it given it's been waiting in the shelves for quite some time by now, but I can say I love the first few lines of it. It's a collection of short stories. Sostiene Pereira is especially a sweet spot w.r.t. his writing given it can also appeal to those readers who appreciate more concrete story lines which are the most upfront feature of the text. Si sta facendo sempre piu' tardi instead sorta kinda has a plot, but it's nothing more than what bookbinding is to a book: necessary, but almost totally irrelevant.
I've also started reading An Introduction to Language of the late Victoria Fromkin, which is an introductory book to linguistics. The department I want to get into suggested it as a good starting point, and that I do the excercises in it. I'm converting to linguistics and albeit I've covered some introductory material, I have more than 6 months before I can apply anywhere, so I'll study through this book too. I have the seventh edition which contains the updates after the passing of Fromkin. I like it so far, seems to me that it can take a complete beginner to a level near that of a linguistics bac.
I recently started reading Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest by Eric Nisenson, a not-quite biography about Coltrane's journey through spirituality and how that changed his music.
Been doing a bit of reading the past few weeks, some for myself and some for classes:
Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Tamer Tamed; or, The Woman's Prize for Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related things. I'm not particularly impressed by any of them (as I feel about all Shakespeare I've done), I did all of these for a class and while they made for good discussion pieces, I see very little in the works themselves. The Tamer Tamed by John Fletcher did stand out as shockingly progressive for its day, but it's still only competent overall imo.
I also did Ghost Singer for another class, which tackles the role that museums and such play in denying artifacts and bodies of Native Americans the proper rituals / general treatment that would be given if they were in tribal hands. It's all told through a ghost story and is a bit of a simplistic bore, so I wouldn't suggest it unless that topic in particular interests you. Even then, maybe not. I should be writing a paper about this right now, but I can't yet make myself pretend I like it enough to write.
I revisited Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for the first time since I was a kid, and it's still a delight. While I think everyone knows everything that's good or bad about these books, what catches me in particular is how especially early on, there's a fun game being played where every magical item or spell or rule is then taken as a rule, and anything that happens in the future has to take that into account. It almost feels like there was no planning whatsoever and it's just elaborate improv. The book isn't only concerned with following its own rules, it's trying to throw in a bunch of fun bullshit to make that harder, and I love it.
I also checked out Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal, and while I find that it's difficult to judge comics by their first collected volume...I have a hard time thinking it's anything more than fine. I appreciate the diversity aspect of course and I'm super interested in how it both criticises certain aspects of Islam while also avoiding throwing muslims under the bus or acting like the most conservative interpretations of the religion are all there is. I'm probably going to read more just because I enjoy the aesthetics and idea of the character, but I'm not getting my hopes up too much.
Do comics count?
I'm reading Sigfried, a French comic based on Wagner's opera Der Ring des Nibelungen. I'm not really into opera, so I wasn't familiar with the story beforehand, but I'm really enjoying the comic. I find the artwork stunning and the storytelling great. The story has some similarities to Thorgal, which happens to be one of my favourite comics.
I find that second paragraph very interesting because I have a basic layout of a story of that genre in my mind and am considering whether or not to actually write it down (the topic is transport automation and I expect it to become a novella). What bars me from doing that is the thought that it will become outdated before even I re-read the text. When writing about tech in 2020 in 2018, it's very easy to end up falsified very quickly. Thus I wonder what that "short time frame where reading it works best" really is, what do you think that sweet spot is?
Thanks a lot!
You may want to give Accelerando another shot. It's more like an anthology series and moves past the near future fairly quickly.
I'll never forget that book because Stross himself yelled (well not yelled, sternly corrected is probably closer) at me on Twitter for interpreting the last chapters as slightly more optimistic than most dystopian futures.
I'm following a streamer that is reading Voyage au bout de la nuit by Céline (a classic of French literature), it's super nice to have someone reading it aloud.
I'm reading "For whom the bell tolls" by Ernest Hemingway. His style takes some getting used to but is engrossing after a while. It's a book that needs regular breaks imo, not long sessions of reading.
I just finished "On Bullshit" by Harry Frankfurt. It was a short but fun read, looking at what exactly bullshit is and how it differs from lying.
I'm also reading "The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu. I'm only about 1/5 of the way through, but so far it's been great. Very fast-paced and easy-to-read, but still dealing with some deep and interesting themes. The last fiction book I read was kind of dense and bleak (although good), so this is freshingly light while not feeling like junk food. It's also the first book originally written in Chinese that I've read, so I am absolutely certain I am horrendously mispronouncing every name in my head.
I really loved I'll Be Right There by the Korean author Kyung-Sook Shin, so I picked up Please Look After Mom by the same author. I'm only 100 pages in of 250ish, but it's not as good. I loved the first one because it was super earnest and had a nice romanticized view of a literature seminar. Both books have super complicated familial relationships in them. Hopefully this one gets better - it's more famous and was made into a movie.
Update! I didn't like it, even after finishing the rest.
Currently devouring Joe Ide's Wrecked, #3 on the IQ series.
It's an awesome detective series. Think Sherlock Holmes gangsta style (the author's version of Watson even sounds like the lost Wu Tang member!).
Also just started a five-volume series on the brazilian ditadura, by Elio Gaspari, which I've been meaning to read since forever. So far, it's great (I'm on the first book).
I'm reaching the end of City of Blades by Robert Bennett. Really enjoying it, maybe moreso than City of Stairs. However, I've committed to reading Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow in service of my review of Static Ruin by Corey White, which I need to write soon and haven't read Void Black Shadow yet. I may put down City of Blades long enough to do that.
On the off chance I pull off finishing City of Blades and Void Black Shadow this week, I have The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin on deck, which I'll be reading for the first time.
I've been reading Crime and Punishment and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaimen. I'm about 1/2 through both.