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    1. 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.

      11 votes
    2. The most profound cosmic horror or weird lit stories you've read that are not Lovecraft or Ligotti

      There are two relevant passages that signal what I mean when I used the word profound. The first is about Lovecraft. The universe of modern science engendered a profounder horror in Lovecraft’s...

      There are two relevant passages that signal what I mean when I used the word profound. The first is about Lovecraft.

      The universe of modern science engendered a profounder horror in Lovecraft’s writings than that stemming from its tremendous distances and its highly probably alien and powerful non-human inhabitants. For the chief reason that man fears the universe revealed by materialistic science is that it is a purposeless, soulless place. To quote Lovecraft’s “The Silver Key”, man can hardly bear the realization that “the blind cosmos grinds aimlessly on from nothing to something and from something back to nothing again, neither heeding nor knowing the wishes or existence of the minds that flicker for a second now and then in the darkness.”

      Fritz Leiber, “A Literary Copernicus”, 1949

      The second is by weird lit author Thomas Ligotti. I think it describes a certain kind of sensation I get from his stories.

      In the literature of supernatural horror, a familiar storyline is that of a character who encounters a paradox in the flesh, so to speak, and must face down or collapse in horror before this ontological perversion —something which should not be, and yet is. Most fabled as specimens of a living paradox are the "undead," those walking cadavers greedy for an eternal presence on earth. But whether their existence should go on unendingly or be cut short by a stake in the heart is not germane to the matter at hand. What is exceedingly material resides in the supernatural horror that such beings could exist in their impossible way for an instant. Other examples of paradox and supernatural horror congealing together are inanimate things guilty of infractions against their nature. Perhaps the most outstanding instance of this phenomenon is a puppet that breaks free of its strings and becomes self-mobilized.

      […]

      Whether or not there really are manifestations of the supernatural, they are horrifying to us in concept, since we think ourselves to be living in a natural world, which may be a festival of massacres but only in a physical rather than a metaphysical purport. This is why we routinely equate the supernatural with horror. And a puppet possessed of life would exemplify just such a horror, because it would negate all conceptions of a natural physicalism and affirm a metaphysics of chaos and nightmare. It would still be a puppet, but it would be a puppet with a mind and a will, a human puppet—a paradox more disruptive of sanity than the undead. But that is not how they would see it. Human puppets could not conceive of themselves as being puppets at all, not when they are fixed with a consciousness that excites in them the unshakable sense of being singled out from all other objects in creation. Once you begin to feel you are making a go of it on your own—that you are making moves and thinking thoughts which seem to have originated within you—it is not possible for you to believe you are anything but your own master.

      Thomas Ligotti, “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”, 2010

      I think these passages illustrate the rich philosophical subtext that is found in the said authors' work. I'm looking for other cosmic horror or weird lit stories that evoke a sense of profoundness or philosophical deepness.

      43 votes
    3. The Library at Mount Char is a fantasy horror thriller fast paced ride of a book

      Has anyone else read this book? Without spoilers (or hiding them) what did you think? The closest I have read to this is Gaiman's American Gods but the pace is much faster and more intense. I want...

      Has anyone else read this book? Without spoilers (or hiding them) what did you think?

      The closest I have read to this is Gaiman's American Gods but the pace is much faster and more intense. I want to reread the first half to see what I missed because I didn't know what was going on.

      15 votes
    4. 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.

      12 votes
    5. Tildes Book Club discussion - Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      This is the fourth of an ongoing series of book discussions here on Tildes. We are discussing Project Hail Mary. Our next book will be Ocean at the End of the Lane around the end of July.

      I don't have a particular format in mind for this discussion, but I will post some prompts and questions as comments to get things started. You're not obligated to respond to them or vote on them though. So feel free to make your own top-level comment for whatever you wish to discuss, questions you have of others, or even just to post a review of the book you have written yourself.

      For latecomers, don't worry if you didn't read the book in time for this Discussion topic. You can always join in once you finish it. Tildes Activity sort, and "Collapse old comments" feature should keep the topic going for as long as people are still replying.
      And for anyone uninterested in this topic please use the Ignore Topic feature on this so it doesn't keep popping up in your Activity sort, since it's likely to keep doing that while I set this discussion up, and once people start joining in.

      42 votes
    6. I’m falling in love with the Revelation Space universe

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      I want to ramble about Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series/universe. I will avoid spoilers.

      So far, I have read:

      "The Prefect" 2007
      "Revelation Space" 2000
      "Chasm City" 2001
      "The Great Wall of Mars" (Novella) 2000
      "Glacial" (Novella) 2001 (I haven't finished this yet.)

      I’m an occasional listener to “The Sword and Laser,” a book club/podcast where they read a book each month and discuss it, alternating between sci-fi and fantasy. I usually don't read the books, just enjoy the conversations, but if the early discussions sound interesting, I will read it before I get to the spoilery episodes.

      One such case was when they read ‘The Prefect’ in 2021. I had heard of Alastair Reynolds and Revelation Space and had considered reading him before. If I remember correctly, they said it was a good way to dip your toe in the universe with a story that takes place in it but isn't really connected to the main series, so it doesn't spoil much.

      I liked ‘The Prefect’ but didn't love it. It was set in this huge, complicated universe but had this small noir detective-type character we were following. It felt like seeing a narrow flashlight beam, aiming into an opaque mist of stuff that I couldn't quite make out.
      I liked many of the little pieces floating around the universe, but I didn't quite trust that it was real and would have internal consistency.

      I saw “Pushing Ice” (an Alastair Reynolds book that is unrelated to Revelation Space) recommended somewhere late last year and decided to try it. I loved it, even though the ending left so much unanswered that it was disappointing. I can see how it may make sense to do that for some stories. Still, I have this distrust of the author's intent sometimes. If it feels like they are including mysterious background info without any thought of how it all connects, it bothers me. Even if the story or characters are good, it is distracting. I'm afraid of getting a "Lost" or "Game of Thrones" type ending where I don't feel like all the threads paid off or had any real purpose. To be clear, "Pushing Ice" was nothing like those endings. I feel like it earned its story. It just didn't fill in the universe as much as I wanted. I still didn't fully trust Reynolds as an author.

      A few months ago, I decided to try the first proper book in the series, “Revelation Space”. I was surprised to see that I already owned it on Kindle. The first chapter was very familiar. I had bought it in 2013! As I read, I remembered I had gotten bored back then and left the book after a chapter or 2 to read something else. The beginning was a little boring. Again, it's set in a world I don't know and I'm not sure if I care about. In this book though, the perspective changes often. Multiple points of view seem to help me triangulate the world. It takes half the book, but I eventually fully buy-in, and then the world seems incredibly full. References to unknown factions, historical events, religions, movements, etc. They all feel like real plausible things with their own potential histories. Instead of the misty, non-tangible fluff, they seemed like when I read "The Prefect" or the first part of this book.

      I finished “Revelation Space” completely satisfied and excited to dive into the series. I did a little research and found there are a lot of options for reading order. At this point I’m fairly certain I want to read every book in the series, so I am not too concerned with reading order, I just want to find a fun way to keep the things fresh as I explore it. I decided to read “Chasm City” next as it seems like the next thing in terms of publication date.

      "Chasm City" was great! It followed the same pattern for me, with the beginning and the main character being the most boring parts of the book. But by the end, I felt like I knew the universe better and saw a bunch of interesting, fun stuff along the way.

      I then read “The Great Wall” a quick novella that was awesome! It tells an origin story for something that has been mentioned but left ambiguous in all the other books. So satisfying.

      I started reading another novella, “Glacial” today. So far, I'm really curious, but not sure what it's about.

      The Great Wall reminded me of a book I read probably twenty years ago, “Hellstroms Hive” by Frank Herbert. I can't remember the details, and I think I may reread it now to take a break and make sure I won't burn out on Revelation Space. After that, I think I’ll jump right back in with “Redemption Ark” the next main novel in the series, which I believe follows the story of the novella I'm reading now.

      Unless someone else has a better suggestion for what to read next in the revelation space universe? I've already bought the “Galactic North” collection to read those two novellas. But Im not sure if I should read any of the others until after I read further in the main novel series.

      Any other opinions on revelation space?

      18 votes
    7. Eastern Body, Western Mind - thoughts?

      I recently picked up a book titled "Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self" by Anodea Judith and I was wondering if anyone here has read it? If so, what...

      I recently picked up a book titled "Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self" by Anodea Judith and I was wondering if anyone here has read it? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

      Thanks in advance!

      2 votes
    8. Science fiction or fantasy recommendations for children

      My apologies if there is already a thread about this. I did try searching and didn't turn anything up. My daughter (9) is just about to finish the Harry Potter series. She saw Kim Stanley...

      My apologies if there is already a thread about this. I did try searching and didn't turn anything up.

      My daughter (9) is just about to finish the Harry Potter series. She saw Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars on the bookshelf and asked to read it next. It's been years since I read it, but I remember it being pretty complex and political. Much as I would enjoy discussing it with her, I think it might be a little bit ambitious for her first SF.

      She read a Wrinkle in Time in school and has already listened to the Narnia books on audiobook.

      I was thinking back to my own childhood reading, which was very eclectic because I was limited by what I could get at home or in my small town libraries. I remember Clarke, Asimov, Pohl, L'Engle, but also a healthy dose of Star Trek and Star Wars novels, and even the Death lands novels. It was mostly hard SF. I didn't really read much fantasy until grad school.

      I feel like the landscape is pretty different now, with a lot more YA content in general and especially in the Fantasy/SF world. There are things with better representations and diversity as well. I spent an hour in the children's fiction section of our library, but I feel like it's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      So Tilderinos, that are your recommendations or thoughts? I'm also interested in meta resources like book lists or reviewers that have been helpful to you. Much as I would like to read everything she reads, she has much more bandwidth than I do.

      As I was writing this, my daughter came by and suggested I list some of her interests, which are: magic, dragons, wizards and witches, and being tired of having all happy endings. So while I'm not necessarily tied to SF and Fantasy only, that does seem like it will be the thin end of the wedge.

      Edit:
      I have compiled the recommendations from this thread into a spreadsheet listing each book or series with a short synopsis and other notes. I've also included the names of the books for most series. My apologies if I missed any.

      44 votes
    9. 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.

      10 votes
    10. Digital note-taking system?

      background: I've been reading nonfiction a bunch recently, and I take notes on most books that I read, either writing in the margins or in a notebook. I really like writing in margins but (a) if...

      background: I've been reading nonfiction a bunch recently, and I take notes on most books that I read, either writing in the margins or in a notebook. I really like writing in margins but (a) if it's a pretty hardcover I feel bad about it, (b) it means I can't check out library books, and (c) I am reading too much nonfiction and running out of shelf space so I need to switch to a mix of library and digital lol.

      I also want my notes to be somewhat multimedia - e.g. links to wikipedia, pasting in relevant images (e.g. maps) without relying on my awful art skills, etc. I do NOT want to type my notes, I want to handwrite.

      I have used OneNote a lot on a touchscreen monitor for e.g. notes during Advent of Code, scratch paper for puzzles, etc. I like OneNote a lot and I would be happy to use this for the software, but I don't have my heart set on it if there's something else that works similarly. I do want a tabbed navigation like OneNote has so that e.g. I can have a page of abbreviations, a page with a timeline, a page with a list of important names, etc, for a history book

      I have also used iPads as scratch paper before, but not for dedicated note taking. It seems fine-ish but I'm not sure how it would do with inserting pictures etc, and not sure what other software there is for note taking available. I would also like to be able to access my notes on my Windows PC, so not sure if iOS is the best option?

      One other concern is I want whatever it is to be easy to hold while I also have a (possibly large) book in my lap.

      Does anyone do notes like this? Do you have a setup you like?

      20 votes
    11. After two years, and two prior failed attempts, I finally finished reading The Wheel of Time! It's been so long since I chose a book that I don't even know what to read next.

      While an extraordinarily long read, I appreciated remark about the final message of the series the message of hope that the final book ended on. I just don't know what to read next. This was a lot...

      While an extraordinarily long read, I appreciated

      remark about the final message of the series

      the message of hope that the final book ended on.

      I just don't know what to read next.

      This was a lot of high fantasy to take in!

      I'm likely to resume my read of Band of Brothers, having seen the HBO series twice already. I'm aware of several deviations from the book; that's not relevant here.

      But what next? Looking for thought and feeling provoking reads that evoke hope. Could be non-fiction or fiction.

      Suggestions?

      36 votes
    12. 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.

      20 votes
    13. "Recommend a nonfiction book" - Book reviews

      A couple months ago I made this post asking for nonfiction books to read. I read several recs from there, here are my reviews! Kingbird Highway: The Story of a Natural Obsession That Got a Little...

      A couple months ago I made this post asking for nonfiction books to read. I read several recs from there, here are my reviews!

      Kingbird Highway: The Story of a Natural Obsession That Got a Little Out of Hand - what a fun book! I read mostly spec fic and this felt a lot like an epic quest story. It was also interesting (and sad) to see the background effects of climate change with birds constantly moving farther northward. Recommended if you want some light reading and to get extremely excited about birds, vicariously

      The Ascent of Money - A really interesting history text that also explains a lot of financial market concepts. The author is center-right and I disagree with some of his opinions on particular developments being good or bad, but there's a ton of information here and I think it's a great book to have better financial literacy, but I'd still categorize it as "satisfying curiosity" and not "everyone should read this."

      The Perfectionists - A bit disappointing tbh, it started out strong but then it started being a bit esoteric in what it covered. I watched Longitude after it was mentioned here, and discovering that movie was the best part of this book so I recommend watching that and maybe not reading this.

      Sleepwalkers: How Europe went to war in 1914 - My favorite recommendation from the post! It's very long and a bit dense, and there's no way I would've gotten through it if I hadn't been both reading a physical copy & listening to the audiobook at the same time. There are too many names to do just audiobook, but having both was a great experience. I wrote some notes about this to hopefully make your life easier if you read this too, and you should, I highly recommend it!!!

      I also read a couple books recommended by HN in various threads:

      • The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War - tbh I have no interest in reading The Iliad itself, but this is a fantastic secondary source and I'm glad to feel somewhat familiar with the text after reading it
      • Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character - another secondary source about the Iliad, although this one is a bit more distant from the text. Enjoyed quite a bit & it's very interesting, but it's emotionally difficult to get through.
      • Two Wheels Good: THe History and Mystery of the Bicycle - this was not fantastic and had maybe two chapters total that were actually the history of the bicycle, the rest was "random anecdotes from my life or vaguely-bicycle-related topics that I personally find interesting." Some sections were interesting, mostly I felt lied to by the title.
      • The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next - I had read The Elegant Universe in high school, and this book is in some part a response to that one. I found The Trouble with Physics a weird compromise between not being too technical but still providing detail about the state of the field of physics, and it didn't work for me too well, but I was a math major and took several physics courses in undergrad so maybe that's just how it is to read a popular science book in a field you have some background in. I didn't necessarily want equations, but some actual math terms would've been nice instead of just saying "haha it has nice math properties." Anyway, if you're interested in the state of the field of modern physics it's maybe worth reading but also you could just watch this YT video instead which my friend linked to me after I told him I was reading this.
      • Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology - this was the book that actually inspired me to make the post here, everyone should read this. Semiconductor manufacturing is one of the most important supply chains in the world today, and I didn't know anything about it prior to reading this book.
      19 votes
    14. Which books or authors have had the greatest impact on your worldview despite never having read them?

      Some (hopefully obvious) caveats before we begin. By definition, everyone sharing examples here has not deeply engaged with the source material, so they're likely to have misconceptions from...

      Some (hopefully obvious) caveats before we begin.

      1. By definition, everyone sharing examples here has not deeply engaged with the source material, so they're likely to have misconceptions from cultural osmosis.
      2. If you have read the source, feel free to share whether the common knowledge is accurate, a common misconception, or the first time you've seen it interpreted that way.
      3. If it was a video game, classical music, or other non-book that influenced you, those are also welcome.

      Some answers from asking a similar question elsewhere

      • Marx
      • The Bible
      • F.A. Hayek
      • Aristotle
      • Milton Friedman
      • Socrates
      • Plato

      I'll post my answer as a comment to give it equal weight to the others.

      8 votes
    15. Tildes Book Club - 2024 summer schedule

      Following this month's discussion of the Dispossessed, we are set up for Project Hail Mary towards the end of June. After that we will discuss Ocean at the End of the Lane at the end of July,...

      Following this month's discussion of the Dispossessed, we are set up for Project Hail Mary towards the end of June. After that we will discuss Ocean at the End of the Lane at the end of July, Small Gods at the end of August and This is How You Lose the Time War at the end of September.

      I look forward to reading with you.

      23 votes
    16. Tildes Book Club discussion - The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      This is the third of an ongoing series of book discussions here on Tildes. We are discussing the Dispossessed.
      Our next book will be Project Hail Mary around the end of June.

      I don't have a particular format in mind for this discussion, but I will post some prompts and questions as comments to get things started. You're not obligated to respond to them or vote on them though. So feel free to make your own top-level comment for whatever you wish to discuss, questions you have of others, or even just to post a review of the book you have written yourself.

      For latecomers, don't worry if you didn't read the book in time for this Discussion topic. You can always join in once you finish it. Tildes Activity sort, and "Collapse old comments" feature should keep the topic going for as long as people are still replying.
      And for anyone uninterested in this topic please use the Ignore Topic feature on this so it doesn't keep popping up in your Activity sort, since it's likely to keep doing that while I set this discussion up, and once people start joining in.

      25 votes
    17. 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.

      19 votes
    18. What are some of your favorite history books and why?

      What are some great history books that stuck with you after you finished them? Or that led you down deeper rabbit holes of learning? I’m not even looking solely for nonfiction (historical fiction...

      What are some great history books that stuck with you after you finished them? Or that led you down deeper rabbit holes of learning? I’m not even looking solely for nonfiction (historical fiction is great too).

      I’ve been on a huge history kick lately…just all periods. I want to learn everything and have been craving more and more awesome, gripping and engaging history books. Some stuff I’ve enjoyed recently:

      Accidental Presidents by Jared Cohen- presents an amazing background of various presidents who died in office and were succeeded by their vice president, who each became unlikely leaders and changed the course of US history in a myriad of ways. Super interesting and tons of tidbits that I never knew!

      Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder - I admit I don’t know a ton about WW2 and the Holocaust beyond most of what you learn or hear about in popular culture. This book was mind boggling and devastating. The amount of killing and torture that Hitler and Stalin effectuated on their own people is astounding and horrendous.

      The Women by Kristin Hannah - I know this isn’t “history”, but historical fiction, but I still loved the emotion in this book. I have never dove much into Vietnam war era stories so this was super interesting. I would love to learn more about this time in world history.

      SPQR by Mary Beard - I’d love to expand my knowledge of the Roman Empire…candidly I haven’t finished this book (it’s been a bit dry for me), but the topic is so intriguing I really want to keep at it and learn more. Any Roman History book suggestions?

      27 votes
    19. What are some non-science-fiction books that are deep, insane, mind-bending, etc?

      What I am really asking is, what would be fantasy's (and other related genres) equivalent to authors such as Greg Egan (Permutation City), Peter Watts (Blindsight), or Greg Bear (Blood Music)?...

      What I am really asking is, what would be fantasy's (and other related genres) equivalent to authors such as Greg Egan (Permutation City), Peter Watts (Blindsight), or Greg Bear (Blood Music)? Intense books that are about different realities, transhumanism, personal identity, etc, but from a non-sci-fi standpoint?

      47 votes
    20. Tildes Book Club - Voting thread 2 results - requesting feedback from library users

      Thanks for your participation. We got three solid winners from this voting thread, Terry Pratchett Small Gods, Neil Gaiman Ocean at the End of the Lane, Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone This is...

      Thanks for your participation. We got three solid winners from this voting thread, Terry Pratchett Small Gods, Neil Gaiman Ocean at the End of the Lane, Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone This is How you Lose the Time War.

      Library users please check availability and reply to this thread if any of these three should be sorted to the end of the schedule. We still have the Dispossessed and Project Hail Mary to read in May and June before starting these new books. After receiving feedback I will set a schedule for the summer.

      Somehow Anathem made it through the screening process and is unfortunately nearly a thousand pages which does not fit a monthly book club structure. We will vote again in the Fall.

      19 votes
    21. 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.

      21 votes