What are you reading these days? #16
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 · Week #8 · Week #9 · Week #10 · Week #11 · Week #12 · Week #13 · Week #14 · Week #15
I've finished Le cosmicomiche's Swedish translation Kosmokomik by Italo Calvino. It's a collection of short stories all involving the anthropomorphic character Qfwfq who narrates his memories from different times in the universe. Qfwfq seems to be many different things: a point, a dinosaur, a man and more. The collection was very entertaining, and I enjoyed Calvino's style of writing.
Currently I'm reading a Swedish translation of Todos os nomes (All the names) by José Saramago, recommended by @cadadr in the International literature thread. So far it's compelling, and Saramago's way of writing dialogue, especially inner dialogue, is very interesting and good. I look forwards to finishing it. Thanks cadadr!
Glad that I helped you pick up a Saramago novel, you're welcome! Hope you'll love it! All the Names is one of the more "slower" texts of Saramago, but the mildly obsessive adventure of the protagonist was lovely to read. But "Saramago's way of writing dialogue, especially inner dialogue" really culminates in his later texts, like Baltasar and Blimunda and The Elephant's Journey.
How do you like the Cosmicomiche translation? I've been really disappointed with every Turkish translation from Calvino, tho I haven't read Cosmicomiche yet. Translations from Italian to my language are sadly particularly sloppy.
I'll try to get to those as well! I like his style.
In my opinion, very good. My edition is translated by Eva Alexanderson, an excellent (and award-winning) translator from (among other languages) Italian. In addition to Cosmichomiche I've read her translation of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, which was also very good.
Love Le cosmicomiche, read it in Portuguese. So hilarious and unique. It's like a more erudite version of Douglas Adams (not that Douglas Adams should be more erudite).
I also read Saramago's Todos os Nomes. A bit hard to read because he doesn't use dots for punctuation. How was this unique style translated? Because we speak Portuguese he's a very popular writer around here. Especially after the Nobel Prize.
Right? It was somehow funny as well as philosophical. Very unique, and you're right, it's similar in style to Douglas Adams.
I am hopping bet ween three books:
I'm about 68% done with The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan. I started the Wheel of Time series last year. I've been warned that the story really slows down, and it certainly has. But I'm still enjoying it a lot. I've just found that I have to nibble it a bit more than I do other books.
Reading The Left Hand of Darkness right now - seems like I'm getting addicted to sci-fi. (Which, if any of y'all have any suggestions, please tell me!)
I feel like maybe we should have some kind of best-of vote for best books in a given month/year? Throwing the idea out there
This is something that is at the corner of my mind since day one. I'll have more free time at the end of May, and I plan to make a list of all the books recommended / mentioned, with links to relevant comments, and maybe some statistics. If anyone beats me to it, I'd be happy to collaborate, after May.
I suggest you also check out the older threads which I link in the topic text, sci-fi has definitely been the most prominent genre in the WAYRC threads so far.
Everything by Le Guin is amazing! I've loved The Dispossessed and Wizard of Earthsea (which, admittedly, is more fantasy than sci-fi).
Also Slaughterhouse-Five is a classic, and the Foundation series. I've always loved Hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy. I read Dawn by Octavia Butler and loved it too. And Children of Time and Three-Body Problem are really good. I'm about to begin the sequel to Ancillary Justice which I thought was simply incredible. I also cannot get Fifth Season out of my head, though it's a little bit more fantasy as well, at least to start. I think my favorite iteration of sci-fi is where it intersects with fantasy, like in Fifth Season and the Dragonriders of Pern series (which admittedly I've only read like one book from that, and a while ago too).
I hope this list can get you started! I LOVE scifi!
I'm reading the Heart of Darkness. If we find enough people, maybe we'll finish the body of Darkness as a team.
Finally getting around to reading Ubik, and it's fucking great. I've only read PDK short stories previously, and I'm digging the longer format for him. It's definitely prescient to the late-capitalist nightmare that is our current timeline.
I've been reading Seven types of atheism by John Gray this week. It's an interesting look into the different types of atheism that've been around through history, and makes good points about how a lot of them basically replace the Judeo-Christian God with some other deity (such as Science, or Nature) and still have this weird relationship with it, or how they borrow millenium-style thinking from that tradition and see human progress as inevitable. Over all, though, it's a little dry for me and it's not really holding my interest, but I'm sticking through it.
As a lifelong atheist myself, this doesn't ring true for me. But the book sounds interesting anyway. I may have to track it down.
Yeah, it doesn't for me either, or I try not to let it. I was raised Methodist, so those patterns of thinking still rise to the surface of my mind from time to time; I see the main project of my "faith," such as it is, as accepting the randomness of the universe and my inconsequentialness within it. I spend half my time thinking about this kind of stuff wondering if my accepting faith, in something, as a necessity to life is a consequence of my upbringing, and as such if I should try to get away from it.
ANYWAY, it is an interesting book, if dry sometimes. It's got great blurbs on the back!
Returning from Ankara last Sunday on a train ride 5hr long, I finished a short novella called Bir Çift Ayak "A pair of feet" by Ertuğ Uçar, which I mentioned last week. It was a nice little story, I did like it.
Spoiler! It is set in Istanbul, and around / just past the middle of the book you discover it is actually a near future sci-fi. The narrator/protagonist, a white collar city dweller, lives in a high-rise apartment, and one day notices a crack in his wall. Later, he experiences a period of existential dread and a hysterical tendency towards minimalism as he tries to find the root cause of a weird feeling of "something being off" in his apartment, while he also throws out a lot of his belongings, and almost decides to move. Then he discovers the crack again. This leads him on to finding a cable that connects to his landline phone, and calls for professinal help. The handyman tells him that this is some sort of eavesdropper, and recommends some other guy that can help. When he comes, he says that it is a "parasite" that lives in a cell attached to the outer wall of the building, or even somewhere else, and connects to people's homes with long running, hideous wires and uses their various services to connect to the world and live: electric, phone, TV, etc; and this guy is a volunteering pro at taking them out. Soon we discover that his daughter too is one of those who live in these cells. The protagonist tells the guy that he'll probably call him later. After he left, at some point the TV turns on and shows a view of the city, which is similar to the view the volunteer guy described as the view that his daugher sends him sometimes to prove him that she's alive. The book ends with this scene and some reflexion. /Spoiler
This looks and feels like a critique of the modern white-collar city life, the entrapment of persons to the corporate-governmental machinery, and losing their human side as a result. And the encounter with the very own alterity of such life (life at the fringes of the city, of those of whom many middle-class and upper-class persons think negatively, and believe they feed them with their taxes for no good reason), defined parasitic by many, leads the protagonist to reflexion and doubt. He's fed up with the plastic experience of high-rise walled garden communities, he cannot experience the life outside as his life is lived either in his secluded home, or in his car, or at work; and he feels overwhelmed by this experience.
It is nothing truly exceptional to be honest, but it was a lovely read. I don't think it is translated to English yet.
I just started reading The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo and am enjoying it a lot so far. The characters are very interesting and I really like that it seems to be more of a detective / mystery story than I expected.
I read Sally Field's autobiography, In Pieces. I sped through it but somehow felt dissatisfied afterwards. There's the typical background of poor parenting and years of abuse by a stepfather leading to poor relationship choices as an adult (spoiler: Burt Reynolds was a complete asshole), along with the usual financial difficulties and pressure from the media. I could have used fewer descriptions of what a wonderful actress she is, but actors gonna actor, I guess.
I've been down in Orlando FL the past couple days for a convention and I've had the luxury of waking up around 7 to make coffee and then go read Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Bhagavad Gita. The book was purchased back in July, but I never felt like I had a good setting to read it in until now. Waking up and reading a chapter or two as the sun starts it's early climb in the sky has been my favorite part of this trip so far.
The following passage has really resonated with me so far and it's something which I try to say to myself whenever I'm in a bad mood.
I just finished reading Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska last week for a college course, and it's enthralled me so much I bought Red Ribbon on a White Horse, which is a more directly autobiographical novel.
I really can't recommend Bread Givers enough. It may be nearly a century old, but it feels like it could have been written this year.
Ooooh, an eccentric family's saga, reading-listed, thanks!
I'm reading Rendezvous with Rama and it's awesome. Somebody recommended here.
Really great worldbuilding.
I’m about a third through Nemesis Games, the fifth Expanse book. I forever swore off unfinished multi-novel epics after I experimented with Wheel of Time in high school, but a friend talked me into the Expanse by two merits: the series has a planned ending, and all the books to date have been released with a pretty consistent size and schedule. Reading so far, it also feels like the plot moves forward, instead of just getting bigger.
Honestly, the fourth book was a slog; I set it down halfway through, and a couple weeks later just skimmed the rest of the book in two sittings just to get past it. But I’ve heard it’s the weakest in the series, and book five is making up for lost time so far, so I’m feeling like I’ll probably stick with it from here on out.
Good to know. I don’t recall that final bit off the top of my head, so I’ll have to go back and reread for it.
Just offering support on the slog aspect for Cibola Burns. If you can tough it out, the reward is pretty good with the remainder of the series. Over all it's been a thoroughly enjoyable series. Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse, #8) was just released other day FYI!It'll be sad days when the series wraps up but I'm glad they have it planned out. Nothing worse than series that drone on and on.
"The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck" by Mark Manson
"The Ghost In The Wires" by Kevin Mitnick
I plan to pick up some Nietzsche and Ayn Rand soon.
I'm reading Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future and I'm really liking it. I generally like books like this. It's also really not an Elon Musk book as much as a book about the businesses of Elon Musk.
I like books like this, where we hear about the troubles, funny anecdotes, the "war in the trenches" of creation, and so on, of inventors, creatives, and other people who are doing/making stuff. My favourite is definitely Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made. I also liked iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It and Steve Jobs, but not as much as Revolution in the Valley. Not at all.
Up next is Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, which I feel like will be better than the two latter books I mentioned since it seems like it's much more in the vain of Revolution in the Valley.
Do any of you have recommendations for books that fall in the same vain as the ones I've mentioned?
Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, got a bit sucked into his Cosimer universe after reading The Emperors Soul which was recommended here a while back, iirc by @Demios. So far I've read Elantaris and the Mistborn trilogy and this week starting the monstrosity that is the stormlight archive with the first book in the series.
My Struggle, Vol. 1. - Karl Ove Knausgard
The Vorrh - B. Catling
V. - Thomas Pynchon
I finished My Struggle a couple weeks ago. It had been on my list for a while and it was something I really wanted to dig into while it was topical. I think there's something to be said for reading impactful works in the time that they were written and I was afraid that if I didn't get to it soon I might never pick it up. I was nervous of the style and thought it might be claustrophobic or overwrought, but I enjoyed it. The scenes of childhood and the early relationship with the father were excellent. A friend said he found the 'realness' contrived but I thought the work was sincere. He has a way of defying expectation that makes simple moments impactful.
I just finished the Vorrh yesterday. I'd attempted and set it down a couple times previous and I felt like Struggle was a nice warm up. After making it through the first hundred pages I fell into it. Catling is excellent with the surreal. I thought some of the characters were stronger than others. The two main female characters began unique but ran together for me as the book came to a close. I see something of Gene Wolfe in Catling. The world is dense and fully realized, though it's nowhere near as layered, self-referential, or complex as something like The Book of the New Sun.
I'm starting V. tonight. The only Pynchon I've finished is Inherent Vice. Tried Gravity's Rainbow a few times and gave up. My reading taste moves in waves from complex to simple and I've been feeling heady so I'm hoping to ride that through V. before I need to move on to some pop-lit or hack-n-slash to cleanse my pallet.
A bit late but I’m in the middle of a scifi called Pandora’s Star right now which is super interesting. Next I want to read The Right Stuff because it apparently had a huge impact on astronaut Scott Kelly in his Endurance book about being on the space station for a year (also an amazing book)
I'm reading The Parsifal Mosaic (Robert Ludlum) again, and just started on Brain by Robin Cook. I am also reworking a screenplay that I wrote last summer, so I won't be reading as much this week as I did last week.
Just finished Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey. Picking back up on Society Must be Defended! by Michel Foucault, and I think once I finish that I'll either do more Foucault, Fukuyama's The End of History, Cormac O'Grada's Eating People is Wrong, Hugh Thomas' The Spanish Civil War or maybe something else. I have an issue of getting halfway through a book and then putting it down for months though, so who knows!
On the theme of cannibalism, We are All Cannibals by Claude Lévi-Strauss is a very interesting collection of essays on various themes including ritual cannibalism, which has been influential to me. Below is a critique by Julia Kristeva from the page linked: