10 votes

What are you reading these days? #27

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

Notes

Sorry this is posted so late! I would've posted it tomorrow, even, but I'm working all day so I won't have the chance. I'll make sure and bump this thread Sunday, so we can talk about our reading. I'll set an alarm for next time!

Previous topics

Previous topics will be listed in the wiki as soon as I update it.

17 comments

  1. [4]
    iiv
    (edited )
    Link
    Doktor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg. An absolute Swedish classic from 1905, one of the most important Swedish books of the 20th century. It's about, you guessed it, Doctor Glas, a Stockholmian doctor...

    Doktor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg. An absolute Swedish classic from 1905, one of the most important Swedish books of the 20th century. It's about, you guessed it, Doctor Glas, a Stockholmian doctor who in his diary explores the dilemma of how far one should go to help someone from someone else, similar to @JakeTheDog's current book Crime and Punishment. (He is also has some similarities with the main character in Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground.) His ramblings are interspersed by scenes of early 20th century Stockholm summer, restaurant visits, and the Doctor's own history.

    Doctor Glas thinks himself to be intelligent, and he is, but he's certainly not objective. He tries to look at people from a scientific and psychological perspective, but the reader can see the truth. His name is fitting (Glas means glass): he is transparent (especially since he writes down every thought), hard, and he shatters easily.

    All in all, a brilliant book. If it's available in your language, I highly recommend it.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      Looks great, thank you for sharing! Which other Swedish authors/books do you like! Does Sweden have many science fiction authors?

      Looks great, thank you for sharing! Which other Swedish authors/books do you like! Does Sweden have many science fiction authors?

      1 vote
      1. iiv
        Link Parent
        Sweden have never had a lot of sci-fi authors, but two works come to mind: Karin Boye's Kallocain and Harry Martinsson's Aniara. Karin Boye was famous for her poetry, but she wrote some prose as...

        Sweden have never had a lot of sci-fi authors, but two works come to mind: Karin Boye's Kallocain and Harry Martinsson's Aniara.

        Karin Boye was famous for her poetry, but she wrote some prose as well. Kallocain (1940) is a dystopian novel inspired by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and depicts a future society where the individual belongs to the state. Informers are everywhere and every person is heavily surveilled. It's a classic in Swedish literature.

        Harry Martinsson was also a poet, and Aniara (1956) is an epos composed of over 100 songs/poems. He tried to combine science and poetry, similar to how the Roman eposes and myths tried to explain natural phenomena. It's a fascinating book, and different from what (I assume) you usually read. (Also, Martinsson received the Nobel Prize for this book). The problem with poetry, though, is that it's hard to translate.

        Other than those, I can't really recommend any sci-fi in good conscience. I haven't read a lot of Swedish sci-fi, and to tell the truth there isn't a lot of it. Other Swedish books I like are (I don't have time right now to write about them now, but tell me if you want to know more): Sommarboken by Tove Jansson (she's Finnish, but wrote in Swedish), anything by Astrid Lindgren (you probably read a lot of those when you were little), Utvandrarna by Vilhelm Moberg, Ett öga rött by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Röde orm by Frans G. Bengtsson.

        4 votes
      2. cadadr
        Link Parent
        cc @iiv IDK if it counts as sci-fi but Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck was a nice collection of short stories that I read, and some stories at least resembled sci-fi (e.g. the one where a man falls in...

        cc @iiv IDK if it counts as sci-fi but Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck was a nice collection of short stories that I read, and some stories at least resembled sci-fi (e.g. the one where a man falls in love with his Zeppelin and a woman with her steam engine).

        1 vote
  2. JakeTheDog
    Link
    Crime and Punishment. God it's good. It relentlessly induces negative emotions and yet it's such a pleasure to read. I'm planning to spend some time with this genre.

    Crime and Punishment. God it's good. It relentlessly induces negative emotions and yet it's such a pleasure to read. I'm planning to spend some time with this genre.

    4 votes
  3. gergir
    Link
    Every year I reread certain books following a specific time of the season, because their atmosphere seems to blend in so well, you could think you're there. Late summer is for The Orchid Trilogy...

    Every year I reread certain books following a specific time of the season, because their atmosphere seems to blend in so well, you could think you're there.

    Late summer is for The Orchid Trilogy by Jocelyn Brooke; an odd type of auto-biography with small 'painted over' elements is the best I can describe it. It's very rare, I think, but belongs with the best works of Waugh or Greene. He's about their age, so some themes are (agreeably) familiar. Nostalgic, but not sappy, and very nice English, better than Greene, though not as good as Waugh. If you find it, buy it. If you don't like it yourself, a friend certainly will, and a lot.

    3 votes
  4. cwagner
    Link
    Currently making my way through the SFWA Time Travel Bundle. Started with Jurassic Jail, but the target demo seems to be boys who just reached puberty (and/or car & gun nuts), so while I was...

    Currently making my way through the SFWA Time Travel Bundle.

    Started with Jurassic Jail, but the target demo seems to be boys who just reached puberty (and/or car & gun nuts), so while I was really interested in what was going to happen, the writing turned me off too much after about 25% and I stopped reading.

    Went with Supernova yesterday and so far the writing seems better (not perfect but good). I’ll see how it goes :)

    When it arrives, I’ll take a break from those to read "How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems" from Randall Munroe (of xkcd.com fame) which I ordered as hardcover (as much as I love ebooks, they suck for graphics).

    3 votes
  5. ThyMrMan
    Link
    Decided to make a change this round, take a break from my normal fiction mostly and read some manga. Though probably going back to some fiction this round, not really sure. But I do know it was a...

    Decided to make a change this round, take a break from my normal fiction mostly and read some manga. Though probably going back to some fiction this round, not really sure. But I do know it was a nice change to experience something completely different.

    Out of Time by Ernesto Lee

    Series: The Dream Traveler Book 1

    I normally really like abilities like time travel, or in this book called dream travel, they allow for so much potential. You can have a main character who might not be the smartest or best, but through repeated travels gains the upper hand in the conflict. But in this novel his abilities are tragically underused, and at times feel more like an afterthought. It isn't all that well built out, leaving a bunch of questions about how this works and interacts with the rest of the world. This could have been a better novel without any of the time travel and just made it a pure cop/mystery drama.

    The story feels like the main antagonist already knows the ending, and is now writing how it gets to this point. Just everything that can go his way, does and without very satisfying movements to get to the point. Put into place using plot armor, and a utterly idiot main character. He doesn't use any of his chances using time travel, or just pure cop work to gain an upper hand or plan anything out. Just kinda blundering his way along.

    The ending was very disappointing as well, ending in a massive cliffhanger to encourage you to read the next book. I want to see some form of satisfying ending to a book, and I can be fine with cliffhangers. But give me some form of conclusion to this book, not what feels like a arbitrary stopping point picked just to build suspense with none of the plot points even close to be wrapped up.

    Score: 2/5

    Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

    From the first Volume 1 could tell this was a much better story than was presented in the Movie. Enhanced greatly not only by the amount of detail in the story and world, but also the incredible coloring done in the version I was reading by Steve Oliff. For the version I decided to read the Epic Comics version of the manga. While some might have issues with it being mirrored for a US audience, I found the coloring to add far more than reading it in the orignal form. And since Otomo was directly involved with the coloring and mirroring process, I don't really consider it a horrible sin or anything. And really incredible to read the story about the amount of work it was to color this manga.

    Now onto the actual meat of the manga, the amount of extra content that was cut from the Movie is incredible. When I first watched the movie I was disappointed with how it progressed and what happened, but I feel I have a much better appreciation for the movie now that I have read the manga. It managed to compress a series of 2500 pages or so into a 2 hour movie. Now the manga really used this space to really build heavily on the world, characters, story, and lore of the world.

    On the world building side, this really felt like it was a world experiencing massive changes and how many groups would grow from the destruction and changes occurring. Various factions working to embrace or escape appeared in the middle of the destruction, and they all had pretty well defined goals and reasonings behind their actions.

    This applies nicely to the characters as well, with them all having a reason for their actions. Never did I feel like somebody was doing something that didn't make sense for them to do, it all just felt really natural. Even moments when the characters go crazy and insane, it makes sense based on what has been building and explained throughout the manga. They never had moments that I feel were out of place or completely out of place at all.

    The story and how it built the lore of the world came together very nicely in something that feels satisfying. The powers that exist all make sense in the end, and things wrap up nicely into a package is rather neat. Some points I feel did get a bit rough, but that could also be me missing something while reading. Some I wish had gotten more development was the international reaction to what was happening. Some occurs at around the halfway point, but it is pretty much limited to a single faction that plays an incredible major role in the rest of the story and the occasional mention of the UN or scientific groups. But overall it kinda feels like the rest of the world wasn't really watching or worrying about what was occurring in the city.

    One thing I didn't really care for though was the ending of the manga. It felt kinda odd to me that this is the choice that would be made, after all the destruction and ruin occurred. Sure you can show respect and care about the people who ended up being lost, but they really took an extreme reaction I feel that isn't going to end well. Why take a move that will cause more fighting and death after what occurred, instead of working toward peace and cooperation.

    Overall by the end of this rather massive manga, I am really impressed by what I read. Thanks to the coloring it looked like something far different than I've really seen in other manga. Appearing more like a comic or graphic novel really than a manga. If you even enjoyed the movie a slight bit, I fully encourage reading the manga, just best of luck tracking down a legal version of the Epic Comics version.

    Score: 5/5

    All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

    This was a disappointment for me really, I expected much more from the ratings this manga gets. Everything in the manga just felt too short and incomplete and really lacking in content.

    The characters didn't really grow all that much during the manga. And we didn't even learn basically anything about the side characters, and barely even their names. I don't feel like the side characters had any real presence in the manga at all, due to the time loop nature. And the main two characters I never felt any real connection between them. They don't meet many times that is shown so their relationship doesn't feel real. And it gets worse, because the relationship doesn't feel very good simply because they have only had a single time loop of connection. For the characters overall, I feel it all just was very superficial and not very deep and solid feeling.

    The story was really good the other hand, but also too short. I don't need the enemy explained and I found them perfectly fine. And the built up and time looping ability was really satisfying. Following as he learned how he can use it to progress through the fight and keep on surviving. And the twist with Rita feels really solid, and unexpected but really helps explain how she became so powerful.

    My issue with the story comes from how it all ends and the amount of time spent in the world. I felt the time loops progressed really quickly, I wanted to see more time loops that nothing happened at all but death. Help build up his progression more, and it would help build more relationship with both the side characters and Rita. The ending of the story felt way to rushed and sudden. I was expecting more and it just wasn't there. The trick to escape the time loop was explained and completely very quickly, with no real build up or additional time loops trying to perfect it. And diminished the enemy threat heavily, since they really aren't seen putting up a good fight in the end. Overall the ending was just way to sudden, and feels like he had more planned but had to finish in a certain number of pages.

    The character designs and artwork was really good. Liked it all and didn't have any issues with any of it. Looked modern and realistic, along with being pretty gory at times when necessary. It didn't built characters in unrealistic ways, and everyone looked like they could exist. While many of the characters did end up looking rather generic military guys, it worked fine enough and didn't do any harm.

    Overall while I enjoyed the manga, it left me wanting much more. Like I've only read the first 2 volumes of a 6 volume series. And the volumes I read were missing a quarter of their pages of time loops and getting to know characters.

    Score: 3/5

    2 votes
  6. Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    Last time, I had just picked up The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson from my to-read pile,...

    Last time, I had just picked up The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson from my to-read pile, but hadn't yet read a single page. I have since finished that book (it turned out to be a quick & interesting read).

    I'll admit that, as a Star Trek fan, this book caught my eye merely because of the mention of "Vulcan" in its title. However, I didn't buy it for that reason. I bought it because I'm interested in the history of science, and astronomy, and cosmology. And I was right to buy it. It was very interesting.

    The book has three sections.

    The first section explains Isaac Newton's formulation of the law of gravity and the laws of motion, and how those laws were applied to observations of the solar system's visible planets. It culminates with a French mathematician named Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier who, in 1846, applied Newton's mathematics to Uranus's wanderings from its predicted orbit, and deduced the existence of another planet beyond Uranus. After the French astronomical community ignored his findings for two weeks, Le Fevrier wrote to a German astronomer he was acquainted with - who found a planet (Neptune) exactly where Le Fevrier said to look, on the night he received Le Fevrier's letter. This proved Newton's laws worked, and made Le Fevrier famous.

    The second section starts with Le Fevrier then applying Newton's mathematics to Mercury's orbit, and deducing the existence of another planet closer to the Sun, which he named "Vulcan". This section is devoted to astronomers' search for Vulcan over the next half-century - including the times when they were sure they'd found it.

    The third section describes how Albert Einstein formulated special relativity and general relativity, and then used these theories to explain the precession of Mercury's orbit.

    It's an interesting book because it's written as a human narrative, rather than a dry recitation of history. The author shows the people behind the facts and shares anecdotes about them (although the inclusion of Thomas Edison's hunting trip was a step too far, considering Edison played no part in any of the main events). I found it a page-turner.

    I've now moved on to The Tetris Effect: The Game that Hypnotized the World by Dan Ackerman. It's a history of the game of Tetris. It's another page-turner. I don't quite know how to describe it. It's part biography, part psychological analysis, part history. But it's wholly interesting!

    I've also started re-reading the duology Mordant's Need by Stephen Donaldson - literally last night. I'm not sure why I'm reading this, except that I had a sudden craving for it. I was browsing my bookshelves looking for my next victim, having finished off 'Auntie Mame', and I noticed that I no longer have copies of the 'Mordant's Need' books. I know they're not packed up because I finished unpacking all my storage boxes a couple of months ago. And I don't remember disposing of them. But they're gone. However, for some reason, I feel like reading them. So I bought an e-book omnibus and I've started them. I've only just finished the preface.

    2 votes
  7. UntouchedWagons
    Link
    I've been re-reading The Iron Road by Christian Wolmar for the umpteenth time. It's about the development of the railroad in various countries and the various people who built them.

    I've been re-reading The Iron Road by Christian Wolmar for the umpteenth time. It's about the development of the railroad in various countries and the various people who built them.

    1 vote
  8. [5]
    acdw
    Link
    I've actually been on kind of a reading dry spell, lately. But right now I'm working my way through the NeoMutt Guide to get my terminal mail client up to snuff :)

    I've actually been on kind of a reading dry spell, lately. But right now I'm working my way through the NeoMutt Guide to get my terminal mail client up to snuff :)

    1 vote
    1. [4]
      Eva
      Link Parent
      Have you tried aerc?

      Have you tried aerc?

      1 vote
      1. [3]
        acdw
        Link Parent
        I tried it for about 10 minutes, but it was the very first release. It was a little rough. Is it much better now?

        I tried it for about 10 minutes, but it was the very first release. It was a little rough. Is it much better now?

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          Eva
          Link Parent
          Every feature on the homepage is implemented now, and for the most part, it's pretty pleasant, yeah.

          Every feature on the homepage is implemented now, and for the most part, it's pretty pleasant, yeah.

          1 vote
          1. acdw
            Link Parent
            Cool, I'll try it when I have time :)

            Cool, I'll try it when I have time :)

  9. [2]
    JeanBaptisteDuToitIV
    Link
    Just finished Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. It was... interesting? I enjoyed the premise and the first half or so of it was pretty entertaining. I don't know what to make of the...

    Just finished Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. It was... interesting? I enjoyed the premise and the first half or so of it was pretty entertaining. I don't know what to make of the second half though. It just felt way too long and I didn't feel like it had a whole lot of substance to it. I was reading the unabridged version, which Heinlein himself thought was worse than the abridged one, so maybe that solves some of my issues with the book

    1 vote
    1. mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'm reading the same book. The internet seems unanimous in thinking that the longer version is better, but I kinda wish I had bought the shorter one (I don't even know where to find it for Kindle,...

      I'm reading the same book. The internet seems unanimous in thinking that the longer version is better, but I kinda wish I had bought the shorter one (I don't even know where to find it for Kindle, TBH). And maybe it would be weird to start with one edition and finish with another, so I guess I'm stuck.

      Heinlein is a great storyteller, but whenever he stops the story to dump cheap outdated philosophy at me I feel like I'm wasting my time.

      Most people have a bias toward director cuts, original versions, etc. I'm enjoying the story, but I have been through several dull and unnecessary passages already.

      1 vote