What are you reading these days? #8
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.
Past weeks: Week #1 · Week #2 · Week #3 · Week #4 · Week #5 · Week #6 · Week #7
Im halfway through book 7 of The Expanse series. Persepolis Rising. This series has had me hooked ever since the first book, which I got through a reddit gift exchange. The character development, mixed with the realistic science in the books makes it some of the best stuff ive read! Would highly recommend
I found a new book, Unsheltered by Barabara Kingsolver which has kept me pretty busy recently. Kingsolver basically took the end-of-the-world feeling permeating our modern world and inserted it into stories throughout time. It opens pretty fast, and you lose hope for these characters pretty fast only to grab it again, then lose, and grab it again and again and again.
Unfortunately, I think her writing style is a bit pompous and bombastic. It manages to tell the stories, but it calls attention to itself and I just don't like that. It's worth it to read through the style, though.
This end-of-the-world feeling may not be unique to modern society. I recently finished The Forge of Christendom by Tom Holland, which is about European Christians around the year 1000 expecting the antichrist to appear and the world to end at any moment. Maybe we’ve always been secretly hoping it would end.
Yesterday I've finished reading Odyssey. I started it a few months ago, reading on and off, a chapter every week or couple weeks or so. Thus I read the first half of the book. Yesterday, I decided to read it all, and did so. A pleasant read it was. First of all, when reading such a text, famous and ancient, one gets to discover how skewed its summaries and explanations can be, possibly because most people talking about it derive their knowledge not from reading the text but from layers upon layers of third parties. An example is this video by Crash Course. It's full of misconceptions, and depicts Ulysses as a perverted violent womanizer, and while there are violent scenes, there is no perversion or debauchery in the book. Ulysses, except when forced by a goddess, is loyal to his marriage. He's not, as the video depicts, merciless and indifferent to his companions' suffering throughout their "odyssey", his friends are killed because they disobey the wills of gods, and thus cause themselves and Ulysses to suffer. And, in the middle of violent adversaries, he has no chance but to be violent. After all, there's no alternative in the context in which the story is set.
The whole narrative is very nicely put together, with analepses (flashbacks) and prolepses (flashforwards) and concurrent sub-narratives, and tension-building not unlike modern films. It feels like it was written by a different author or set of authors than that/those of Iliad, in general. The boringly overt repetitiveness and elaboration is not present in Odyssey. It might be because the 20 years of adventures of Ulysses makes for a summary richer than the entire plot of the 10 days of war in Iliad. But I think Iliad is more archaic. It's a reading I can easily suggest, it's fun and riveting, with lots of mythological glory and narrative wonders.
My next book is Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges, translated to Turkish by Fatih Özgüven and Tomris Uyar, published by Iletişim. It's a collection of short stories by this distinguished author. I haven't read from him before, except some quotations from stories The Lottery of Babylon and The Garden of Forking Paths, and some of his words on La Divina Commedia. I feel like, or actually, I know I'll love this book!
Good choice! Ficciones is one of my favourite books of all time. Especially the story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote. But all of them are brilliant!
I'm reading The Uncensored War - The Media and Vietnam by Daniel C. Hallin. In the current (to me) very confusing frustrating media climate I like to read books about communication and media from the 80s. Simpler times maybe but I feel it's more to the core of the subject. I'm about 40 pages in and it's well written and really fascinating. He keeps focus on the medias role and handling of the Vietnam war incorporating telling quotes and sober analysis, just the way I like it. An academic approach without all the bullshit filling up the media and commentary today. I'm not American and haven't been especially interested i The Vietnam War but this fascinates me and I like the insight to how the press covered the war and how the government tried to control the communication coming all sides. Although I'm no expert on the subject it seems quite fair and objective in its presenting of both sides. You understand why both sides were doing what they were doing. Since english isn't my first language I can handle about 10 pages a night not because it's difficult to read but because it's heavily packed with long analyzing sentences.
I'm 2/3 through the Game Engine Black Book - an incredible book that details the history and code behind Wolfenstein 3D. It starts with context on early 90s computer hardware, then some information on the team that built the game, and finally a deep dive into how every aspect of the game works, including many section of source code from the game, x86 assembly and C.
It's interesting seeing all of the optimization tricks John Carmack put into that game. So many tricks that are simple once the answer is provided, but seemingly impossible to solve when the problem is presented.
I've recently been getting into the Warhammer 40k universe and books. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the books that I've read so far, as before reading them I mostly just thought of them as haphazard explanations of the tabletop rules. They're actually really good, good enough in my opinion to stand on their own even if you didn't just read them as a Warhammer fan.
Just finished up the first book in the Horus Heresy series (out of 53!) and also the Path of the Dark Eldar series.
I might start reading the Culture by Iain Banks afterwards.
I am partway through the second Dune book, which I believe is Dune Messiah! I loved Dune, it was such a good book. I had always seen it as a recommendation and I had almost picked it up from a book store a couple of times only to put it down. I am very happy that I started reading them, even if there's weird stuff happening in the second one, but I guess some of the books get weirder so here goes I suppose.
The book I mentioned in the previous thread, Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto, proved disappointing and I bailed maybe a third of the way through, if that. I would have liked a much clearer narrative instead of meandering from folksy anecdote to anecdote while I tried to figure out the characters' relationships. It didn't seem worthwhile to keep going.
Next up was Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey by A. J. Jacobs. This is a quick, easy read. I recommend it if you want a palate cleanser between real books. I'd already read the article in the Guardian, posted on Tildes recently, and the book is just a slightly longer version of that.
This morning I got Washington Square by Henry James, recommended in the previous thread, from the library. I can't think of any of his works I've read except The Turn of the Screw, so it's almost unknown territory, but I'm optimistic!
I'm halfway through Segla i ett såll. Patafysisk antalogi (Sailing in a sieve: Pataphysical anthology, with the title referring to Alfred Jarry's book about doctor Faustroll), a Swedish anthology of 'pataphysical works. It is compiled by Claes Hylinger, and so far it has been excellent. It consists of 'pataphysical stories and texts by authors ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Lewis Carroll to Max Ernst. Most of the French texts (and most of them are French) are translated excellently, also by Hylinger.
It is such a diverse collection of texts: excerpts from poems, short stories, novels, plays and essays. The book also has comprehensive references in the end. I can thoroughly recommend it to any fluent or high-level Swedish-reader.
Another book (or play) I am reading is Much Ado About Nothing by S the great. It is my first Shakespeare, since he isn't taught at all in Swedish high-school literature. I am reading the Oxford University Press version, and it is delightful. I am surprised how easy it is to read. The lines just flow. But I have to practice my iambic pentameter, it is quite hard to read fluently.
And a book I look forward to reading is Irrvägar (Irrungen, Wirrungen in German and known by many titles in English) by Theodor Fontane. I don't know much about it yet, but I think I will enjoy it.