12 votes

What are you reading these days?

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

32 comments

  1. [5]
    EgoEimi
    Link
    I've finally gotten around to reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Finally I'll be able to understand all those pop culture references! I'm having a romping good time. One of my...

    I've finally gotten around to reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Finally I'll be able to understand all those pop culture references! I'm having a romping good time. One of my most-loved TV shows is Futurama. I loved its style of absurd sci-fi comedy, so reading its literary progenitor has been pure delight and entertainment.

    I must admit that my conception of the universe terrifies me: unfathomably large hypergiant stars, massive blackholes destroying said stars, and being separated in my little human dwelling from such cosmic violence by unfathomable distance that I could never cross in a million lives. It is an expanse seemingly devoid of non-earth life that I find more sterile, haunting, and creepy than beautiful. As Fermi asked, "But where is everyone?"

    But fictions like Futurama and The HIitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy amuse me by imagining a universe that is not terrifying and dark but actually fun, vibrant, and populated by aliens who, like me, just want their central-or-whatever nervous system stimulant beverage when their planets revolve to face their sun (or suns) again.

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      RNG
      Link Parent
      I've never watched a single episode of Futurama. Would someone in 2021 be able to watch it and enjoy it for the first time from Season 1? A lot of comedies and shows are relevant to current events...

      I've never watched a single episode of Futurama. Would someone in 2021 be able to watch it and enjoy it for the first time from Season 1? A lot of comedies and shows are relevant to current events or otherwise don't hold up well.

      2 votes
      1. spctrvl
        Link Parent
        I would say yes, while there's some pop culture and recent event references in futurama, the show isn't reliant on them, and they're usually generic enough that they work even if you don't...

        I would say yes, while there's some pop culture and recent event references in futurama, the show isn't reliant on them, and they're usually generic enough that they work even if you don't specifically know what they're talking about. Ironically, it's the later seasons that have more references and don't hold up as well, but they were only released in the 2010's, so they're not unwatchable or anything, and still pretty decent in their own right.

        3 votes
      2. Adys
        Link Parent
        Yes absolutely. Futurama has very, very little time-bound comedy. It's a fantastic show. Please watch it.

        Yes absolutely. Futurama has very, very little time-bound comedy.

        It's a fantastic show. Please watch it.

    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      It sounds like you’ll be interested in the Total Perspective Vortex then? (I don’t remember which book in the series it’s in.)

      It sounds like you’ll be interested in the Total Perspective Vortex then? (I don’t remember which book in the series it’s in.)

      1 vote
  2. [3]
    Atvelonis
    Link
    I'm going through many of the Brontë novels at the moment. I just finished Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë, which I enjoyed greatly for its complex depiction of familial interplay in the...

    I'm going through many of the Brontë novels at the moment. I just finished Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë, which I enjoyed greatly for its complex depiction of familial interplay in the early Victorian period, and especially for its openness toward revealing the physical violence and emotional abuse that existed (and continues to exist) within outwardly well-to-do families. I was actually doing a reading based largely in childhood development, so I focused heavily on the adventures of young Heathcliff and Catherine in the moors. The narrator's point of view necessarily omits their specific experiences, but the reader can speculate in any number of ways. My take would be something relatively metaphysical, or potentially sexual; either would explain the otherwise inexplicable attachment the two have to each other in an environment that constantly seeks to tear them apart. Paired with a heavy Romantic influence of the period, the concepts and imagery associated with the landscape surrounding them offers a unique presentation of self-actualization as mediated in equal parts by the natural environment and deep social connections.

    I'm also several chapters into Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847). I'm surprised with the depth of the narrator Jane's introspection and the strength of the imagery she conjures up in her descriptions of her classmates, teachers, and self. I've read novels set in a similar environment before—it's reminiscent in many ways of Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess (1905)—but I think Jane has a particularly striking way of looking at the world that I haven't seen in many other texts. Knowing Charlotte's experience as a teacher (a job that she absolutely hated, writing in her journal how much she despised her students; though perhaps more because she felt constrained than anything else) provides a lot of context to the work. It certainly doesn't denigrate the agency of the child, nor does it strike me as emphasizing the same didactic "hearth and home" values as the ones constantly espoused in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868), which I found both touching and at times mildly disingenuous. I'm not sure I would call Charlotte's novel an overt critique of womanhood per se (nor, I suspect, would she), but it definitely has some important commentary; much of it is just nestled between the lines. I'm curious to see where the rest of the novel leads me.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Staross
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think one thing that sets apart the Brontë sisters apart from other contemporary writers is that they were not really from the bourgeoisie, in addition of being women, which give them a quite...

      I think one thing that sets apart the Brontë sisters apart from other contemporary writers is that they were not really from the bourgeoisie, in addition of being women, which give them a quite unique perspective. As I understand working was a big no-no at the time for upper class women. In Wuthering Heights the main narrator is arguably Nelly, a servant (a very interesting character too). If you like the teaching part you can also read Charlotte's last book, Villette for more of that, it's very autobiographical about her experience in Brussels.

      Makes me want to read them a second time, but maybe I should read Shirley first.

      4 votes
      1. Atvelonis
        Link Parent
        For sure! The class commentary in these novels is remarkable. I love Nelly's narration because it reveals just how influential she is over the years; always listening, reporting, bargaining,...

        For sure! The class commentary in these novels is remarkable. I love Nelly's narration because it reveals just how influential she is over the years; always listening, reporting, bargaining, justifying, teaching, understanding, protecting. Her unique, lifelong position as a servant to every major character gives her a tremendous amount of reach, and yet her employers never quite catch on, being of course much too preoccupied with themselves. Her childhood isn't discussed at length in the book, but she and Hindley do offer an interesting parallel to Cathy and Heathcliff. To some extent, the two pairs even have a similar metaphysical connection (via the moors), though Nelly attributes manifestations of this to her superstition. In Chapter 11:

        I came to a stone where the highway branches off on to the moor at your left hand; a rough sand-pillar, with the letters W. H. cut on its north side, on the east, G., and on the south-west, T. G. It serves as guide-post to the Grange, and Heights, and village. The sun shone yellow on its grey head, reminding me of summer, and I cannot say why, but all at once, a gush of child’s sensations flowed into my heart. Hindley and I held it as a favourite spot twenty years before. I gazed long at the weather-worn block; and, stopping down, perceived a hole near the bottom still full of snail-shells and pebbles which we were fond of storing there with more perishable things—and, as fresh as reality, it appeared that I beheld my early playmate seated on the withered turf, his dark, square head bent forward, and his little hand scooping out the earth with a piece of slate. ‘Poor Hindley!’ I exclaimed, involuntarily. I started—my bodily eye was cheated into a momentary belief that the child lifted its face and stared straight into mine! It vanished in a twinkling; but, immediately, I felt an irresistible yearning to be at the Heights. Superstition urged me to comply with this impulse—supposing he should be dead! I thought—or should die soon!—supposing it were a sign of death!

        On my list I also have Villette, Shirley, Agnes Grey, The Professor, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (not necessarily in that order). I'm very interested in exploring their work more.

        2 votes
  3. [3]
    wervenyt
    Link
    I've just finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat, and The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett. One Hundred... is incredible. I'm not...

    I've just finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat, and The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett. One Hundred... is incredible. I'm not sure what else to say about it. Marquez uses the contrast of magic and realism, and that of linear and cyclical time, so expertly that the themes rise above the narrative, with no effort needed from the reader to discern them. The Last Continent, conversely, is one of the strangest Discworld novels so far. I feel like I missed some major subtext, but it was hilarious regardless. Salt Fat Acid Heat is an excellent guide for anyone unfamiliar with the mechanics of cooking. I've been cooking since my childhood, but it still filled in some major blindspots of my limited culinary education.

    Since then, I've started on Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, as well as a restart of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Pilgrim so far seems like a testament tothe beauty of nature, and what we can learn from even the simplest interactions with our wild neighbours. It's beautiful prose. Catch-22 is a lot of fun, and I've not finished it yet, so I'm looking forward for the fun to end.

    5 votes
    1. Echinops
      Link Parent
      I both loved and hated 100 years. Some of the best writing and interesting characters. But the rambling episodic style drove me nuts. I've rarely wanted to stop reading a book most of the way...

      I both loved and hated 100 years. Some of the best writing and interesting characters. But the rambling episodic style drove me nuts. I've rarely wanted to stop reading a book most of the way through, but certainly did for that one. Just the sheer number of characters is mind numbing. I felt like a needed a flow chart but since they came and went so quickly I never cared about any of them. The style was exquisite though. I will always be very conflicted over that book.

      The critic in me would give it ten stars. The reader in me would give it 2 stars.

      3 votes
    2. crdpa
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Gabriel Garcia is one of the best writers that ever existed. The Autumn of the Patriarch is a dense and weird read, but it is so worth it. It is like @Echinops said. 10/10 book, 2/10 leisure.

      Gabriel Garcia is one of the best writers that ever existed.

      The Autumn of the Patriarch is a dense and weird read, but it is so worth it.

      It is like @Echinops said. 10/10 book, 2/10 leisure.

      2 votes
  4. [3]
    Staross
    Link
    I've started Melville's Moby-Dick, it has the reputation to be difficult, and even thought some of the vocabulary is hard, I enjoy it so far. I read it aloud and I'm having fun with it. Lots of...

    I've started Melville's Moby-Dick, it has the reputation to be difficult, and even thought some of the vocabulary is hard, I enjoy it so far. I read it aloud and I'm having fun with it. Lots of good quotable bits :

    Yes, we became very wakeful; so much so that our recumbent position began to grow wearisome, and by little and little we found ourselves sitting up; the clothes well tucked around us, leaning against the head-board with our four knees drawn up close together, and our two noses bending over them, as if our kneepans were warming-pans. We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed, the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel most delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.

    4 votes
    1. Atvelonis
      Link Parent
      Moby Dick is one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. I went into it a tad skeptical, but immediately fell in love with the language and characters like Queequeg in particular....

      Moby Dick is one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. I went into it a tad skeptical, but immediately fell in love with the language and characters like Queequeg in particular. I'm consistently amazed at the beauty inherent to Melville's descriptions, robust symbolism, and rather funny critiques. To be honest, many of the chapters are outright hilarious. The richness of the language sort of tricks you into thinking it's all serious and grand, but much of the time he's poking at certain expectations, behaviors, or attitudes with immense creativity. You're really in for a treat.

      3 votes
    2. mieum
      Link Parent
      I always loved this part :)

      I always loved this part :)

      1 vote
  5. [5]
    tomf
    Link
    Joan Didion's essays are probably some of my favorite reads of all time --- but man, I'm not feeling the fiction nearly as much. The writing is still beautiful, however, so I stick with 'em. I'm...

    Joan Didion's essays are probably some of my favorite reads of all time --- but man, I'm not feeling the fiction nearly as much. The writing is still beautiful, however, so I stick with 'em.

    I'm going through Democracy right now and did A Book of Common Prayer a few weeks ago. I'm going to cover the other three anyway, but I'm just struggling. haha

    I finished The Count of Monte Cristo last week and, as I've said about every other classic, there's a reason this book is legendary. Until now, I'd only watched the movie with Jesus -- but they changed so much of it from the source. Not for better or worse, just different.

    After Democracy, I think I'm going to head into the Ripley series that The Talented Mr. Ripley was based on. There are five of them, so I might do two and alternate with some Nick Adam's stories from Hemingway.

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      grahamiam
      Link Parent
      Joan Didion is in my top 3, but yeah, it's not because of her fiction. Play It As It Lays is okay, but A Book of Common Prayer put me off from trying more. Have you read her memoir The Year of...

      Joan Didion is in my top 3, but yeah, it's not because of her fiction. Play It As It Lays is okay, but A Book of Common Prayer put me off from trying more. Have you read her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking?

      Have you done much in terms of modern essayists? I think my favorite is Tressie McMillan Cottom.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        tomf
        Link Parent
        ha. I'm glad I'm not alone. I've covered almost all of the collections. I need to do Political Fictions But no, for essays, I would say its a bit of a cultural blindspot. I love the format,...

        ha. I'm glad I'm not alone. I've covered almost all of the collections. I need to do Political Fictions

        But no, for essays, I would say its a bit of a cultural blindspot. I love the format, though. There's so much to read, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          grahamiam
          Link Parent
          Well if you want to try some out, besides Cottom, Jo Ann Beard, David Foster Wallace, Hilton Als, and Ann Patchett (like Didion, I prefer her nonf to fic) are all great. Anne Helen Petersen is...

          Well if you want to try some out, besides Cottom, Jo Ann Beard, David Foster Wallace, Hilton Als, and Ann Patchett (like Didion, I prefer her nonf to fic) are all great. Anne Helen Petersen is good too, but her celebrity stuff is better - she got on this millennial burnout kick after she left Buzzfeed and I'm not as much of a fan of that writing, it feels much less surprising.

          Older: James Baldwin is also in my top 3 (as well as Shirley Jackson, but she didn't write essays). Notes of a Native Son is so good.

          3 votes
          1. tomf
            Link Parent
            nice! I've been putting DFW off for ages Thanks for these

            nice! I've been putting DFW off for ages Thanks for these

            2 votes
  6. [5]
    Echinops
    Link
    Just dipped my toe into Kafka on the Shore by Murakami. I've read Norwegian Wood, so I'm familiar with his style. So far it's as great as it's acclaim. There's a reason he won a noble prize. I try...

    Just dipped my toe into Kafka on the Shore by Murakami. I've read Norwegian Wood, so I'm familiar with his style. So far it's as great as it's acclaim. There's a reason he won a noble prize.

    I try to read one fiction and one non fiction concurrently. So the other book was recommended by my geologist friend, called, Timefulness; How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World. Amazing read so far that gives great insight into the Deep Time of they planet and the tools geologists have developed to determine that. It certainly highlights how badly we're fucking ourselves over as a species on the lonely rock. But that's fairly evident these days. Great read though.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      grahamiam
      Link Parent
      Murakami is maybe the most internationally famous living writer, but he's never won a Nobel.

      Murakami is maybe the most internationally famous living writer, but he's never won a Nobel.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Echinops
        Link Parent
        Wow, you're right. I always assumed. Well screw reading this book then.

        Wow, you're right. I always assumed. Well screw reading this book then.

        3 votes
        1. grahamiam
          Link Parent
          It's okay I guess I was talking out of my ass as well, he's not even on this list of best-selling writers even though many other living ones are.

          It's okay I guess I was talking out of my ass as well, he's not even on this list of best-selling writers even though many other living ones are.

          2 votes
    2. crdpa
      Link Parent
      My second Murakami and i loved it. After that i couldn't get into any other of his works. I started seeing the same formula over and over.

      My second Murakami and i loved it. After that i couldn't get into any other of his works. I started seeing the same formula over and over.

      2 votes
  7. Jedi
    Link
    This was a good month, I’ve not read as much as I’d have liked to during the lockdown, but now I’m making up for it. This month I’ve read: Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman...

    This was a good month, I’ve not read as much as I’d have liked to during the lockdown, but now I’m making up for it. This month I’ve read:

    • Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (non-fiction, social-science)
      This is an excellent book with tons of incredible historical anecdotes. The author set out to tell a narrative and I feel it sometimes reached a little far, but it was an important read nonetheless. Here’s one of the stories from the book published in The Guardian. If you haven’t read Rutger’s Utopia for Realists, I recommend that over this, but I still highly recommend this one nonetheless.
    • Don’t Move by Darren Wearmouth and James S. Murray (fiction, horror)
      You may recognize the name James S. Murray from The Impractical Jokers, that’s Murr. I listened to the audiobook of this one and, while I love Murr’s voice, he has a very friendly voice. This is supposed to be a serious book, and Murray can’t pull off a serious voice. There’s also one—just one!—reference to The Impractical Jokers in the book, and that rubbed me the wrong way. It’s a quick read and well-paced, but the story just wasn’t interesting enough for me.
    • Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein (politics, non-fiction)
      I enjoyed this one so much. The incredible history and the research you learn about in this book is spectacularly interesting. It provides historical accounts of U.S. politics as well as a thorough analysis on today’s political climate. While it provides some ideas, it doesn’t claim to be the solution. I highly recommend this one.
    • Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (fiction)
      I went in knowing nothing other than a sexual assault warning, I was expecting worse. The writing style was unique, which was a little hard to follow at first, but I enjoyed getting an up-close perspective on U.S. immigration.

    Hopefully I’ll read more enjoyable fiction books in April, as well as non-fiction books even half as enjoyable as the ones I read this month.

    3 votes
  8. Gavin
    Link
    I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson recently which I highly recommend. It systematically goes through different ills that Stevenson has faced as his role of something similar to a public defender...

    I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson recently which I highly recommend. It systematically goes through different ills that Stevenson has faced as his role of something similar to a public defender in the Deep South. It also goes in depth in the story of one of his clients who was wrongly put on death row. It has an interesting structure and very well written prose. It is one of the best books I have read in the past year.

    2 votes
  9. crdpa
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm on a phase which nothing that i start reading grabs my attention. I dropped three books in a row already. The thing i like most about the Kindle, which is reading at night in bed to fall...

    I'm on a phase which nothing that i start reading grabs my attention. I dropped three books in a row already.

    The thing i like most about the Kindle, which is reading at night in bed to fall asleep, is the thing that is making me not retain anything. I read 5 pages and fall asleep.

    Lately i've been sleeping fine without using it, so i'm starting with some easy read. I started Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris, today.

    2 votes
  10. mieum
    Link
    Just read Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild without really knowing anything about her stuff, and my goodness was that fun!

    Just read Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild without really knowing anything about her stuff, and my goodness was that fun!

    2 votes
  11. AreaDev
    Link
    Despite the Death. An Anthology of Secret Teachings about Death and Dying in the Dzogchen Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. I love Buddhism, but it can be difficult in places without preparation....

    Despite the Death. An Anthology of Secret Teachings about Death and Dying in the Dzogchen Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

    I love Buddhism, but it can be difficult in places without preparation. That is why they say correctly, you must first finish school before trying to study at the university. An interesting book containing 2500 years of practical experience of practitioners.

    2 votes
  12. Protected
    Link
    Just finished a string of sci-fi, the last of which was Matter by Iain M Banks, and am starting Red Country by Joe Abercrombie. Matter was good but I hated the ending.

    Just finished a string of sci-fi, the last of which was Matter by Iain M Banks, and am starting Red Country by Joe Abercrombie.

    Matter was good but I hated the ending.

    1 vote