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    1. Dune thoughts and adaptation

      I can understand why the journey to make this into a film is so convoluted. I'm not sure I've ever read anything so dense and epic. I was always sort of keen to the series, and always thought the...

      I can understand why the journey to make this into a film is so convoluted. I'm not sure I've ever read anything so dense and epic. I was always sort of keen to the series, and always thought the worm god was just cool imagery. So I did have kind of an internal motivation to get this far, but now that I'm about to dive into God Emperor, I just feel bad for anyone that called it quits after the first book. Frank Herbert had a lot to say, and faithfully adapting this to any kind of screen, I think, is impossible.

      9 votes
    2. On Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire and other works

      I recently finished reading Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, and prior to that I read his novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. I was left feeling quite differently than what I was expecting to feel. I'm...

      I recently finished reading Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, and prior to that I read his novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. I was left feeling quite differently than what I was expecting to feel. I'm an outdoorsman, a conservationist and an activist. I spent a good portion of my time last year on The Colorado Plateau, much of it in the places Edward Abbey has been and discusses frequently in his work. There is a distinct emotional connection I feel to this land, so my mental conflictions are especially notable. I recently wrote a friend a letter, much of it including my thoughts on Abbey thus far, and I felt posting the relevant excerpt here would be a good conversation starter. Let me know what you think!

      "I just finished Abbey's Desert Solitaire, while I enjoyed many aspects of the work, it also left me feeling conflicted. I wholeheartedly concur with many (but not all) of his views on conservation. He challenged my views in some positive aspects as well, his disdain for the automobile in national parks, for example. Other views of his I cannot ignore or absolve him of. His views on traditional family values (read: misogyny) are quite apparent in The Monkey Wrench Gang and seep into this work as well. Furthermore, his views on indigenous peoples are outdated, even for his time. His incessant diatribe on the blights that impact Native Americans and other indigenous populations, blaming their own attitudes (victim blaming, if you will), while simultaneously railing against the federal government and The Bureau of Indian Affairs is at best hypocritical (while also patently racist).

      Edward Abbey's actions also do not reflect his writing. The man continually rants about the ongoing destruction of this Earth, he blames everybody (The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the modern consumer, tourists, oil and gas corporations, mining companies, logging businesses and wannabe outdoorsmen) but himself. He went so far as to work for the NPS, while admitting their culpability in their own decimation. During his time there he constantly capitulated to the tourists, the modern consumers in their iron contraptions. Some federal employees I've met have set out to change their respective agencies from within, but what did Abbey do? He left. He saw a problem, railed against it, and left.

      So I ask: Why didn't he do more? It has been suggested that Ed had engaged in some less-than-peaceful activities, "eco-terrorism" they call it. I personally don't believe it, I believe that any actions taken were never near the magnitude of the happenings of The Monkey Wrench Gang. Ed's books were his personal fantasies, which while not a guide, a reference point. He prefaces Desert Solitaire, describing it as an elegy. Almost as if he is passing an extinguished torch on to our time. It is frustrating and demoralizing to say the least. While grateful to read his words and as much as I concur with his notions, I disagree with hits actions (or lack thereof). I finish this book left feeling angry."

      4 votes
    3. Sci Fi trends over the decades

      I've just finished The Sirens of Titan from 1959 (after seeing it recommended here, actually) and something struck me compared to more recent books. A lot of the more technical stuff is kind of...

      I've just finished The Sirens of Titan from 1959 (after seeing it recommended here, actually) and something struck me compared to more recent books. A lot of the more technical stuff is kind of hand-waved away. It's not a criticism, just something that stuck out as I was reading. Is this a trend? Do readers demand more details these days? I've read a bunch of sci fi from the 60s until the present day, but I've only really gotten back into it more recently with Sirens.

      Perhaps I've read too much Neal Stephenson, who has likely never hand-waved anything away! The Martian also springs to mind, but that's very deliberately focused on the details and keeping it realistic, IIRC.

      Spoilers

      I'm mostly thinking about the radio-controlling of the Martian army beyond "there is a little box in their pocket" and most of the atmospheric questions beyond how they breathe.

      13 votes
    4. What do you think the first sentence of this poem means? | Fiddler Jones by Edgar Lee Masters

      THE EARTH keeps some vibration going There in your heart, and that is you. And if the people find you can fiddle, Why, fiddle you must, for all your life. What do you see, a harvest of clover? Or...

      THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
      There in your heart, and that is you.
      And if the people find you can fiddle,
      Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
      What do you see, a harvest of clover?
      Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
      The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
      For beeves hereafter ready for market;
      Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
      Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
      To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
      Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
      They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
      Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
      How could I till my forty acres
      Not to speak of getting more,
      With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
      Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
      And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
      And I never started to plow in my life
      That some one did not stop in the road
      And take me away to a dance or picnic.
      I ended up with forty acres;
      I ended up with a broken fiddle—
      And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
      And not a single regret.

      I've always loved this poem. To me, it's about a man, loved by many, that recognizes his responsibilities, but can't help but forgo them to go and have fun with friends and loved ones (in short, anyways). The first line, however, has always intrigued me, and I can never land on a meaning for it. I think it's basically saying that in your heart is your true character (your soul), and that will never change. Or maybe it's saying that everyone has that "vibration" in their heart that yearns for enjoyment. What do you think?

      4 votes
    5. Has anyone read The Wasp Factory by Iain M. Banks?

      I started by reading Banks' scifi, the Culture novels. I fell in love with them, and since I've read every one of those books multiple times, I decided to make the jump into reading his mainstream...

      I started by reading Banks' scifi, the Culture novels. I fell in love with them, and since I've read every one of those books multiple times, I decided to make the jump into reading his mainstream fiction. I started with The Wasp Factory, and I'd be interested in what you think about that book, if you've read it. If not, go read it! It's good!

      11 votes
    6. Barack Obama has shared his summer reading list

      Reading list here - https://www.facebook.com/barackobama/posts/10156093753316749 The books he recommended are -- "Educated" by Tara Westover, a memoir about a woman who leaves her survivalist...

      Reading list here - https://www.facebook.com/barackobama/posts/10156093753316749

      The books he recommended are

      -- "Educated" by Tara Westover, a memoir about a woman who leaves her survivalist Idaho roots behind;

      -- "Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje, a post-World War II novel that Obama says is "a meditation on the lingering effects of war on family;"

      -- "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones, about a newlywed black attorney wrongly convicted of rape;

      -- "Factfulness" a tome by Swedish academic Hans Rosling on the "secret silent miracle of human progress," and;

      -- "A House for Mr. Biswas," considered to be the first, great novel by the late V.S. Naipaul.

      I am interested if anyone has read these books and has any thoughts on them.

      10 votes
    7. Bruce Wayne is Gotham's biggest villian

      This place seems a bit sparse so lets have some comics talk. Now Im no hard core Batman fan so Im looking at this from a casual lens but it seems to me that Bruce Wayne has the potential to do SO...

      This place seems a bit sparse so lets have some comics talk.

      Now Im no hard core Batman fan so Im looking at this from a casual lens but it seems to me that Bruce Wayne has the potential to do SO MUCH for Gotham with his billions but doesnt because he wants to run around at night reliving his revenge fantasy over and over.

      Yeah he donates to charities and dedicates an orphans home every now and then but with his economic wingspan you'd think he could dump money into the city to improve it in all aspects.

      Thoughts?

      TLDR: Bruce Wayne is gotham's biggest villain. Change my mind.

      6 votes
    8. What have you been reading?

      Since it doesn't look like @basicbaconbitch is around (or they just intended it to be a one-time thing), I guess I'll post this! What have you been reading? What do you think of it? No need to do...

      Since it doesn't look like @basicbaconbitch is around (or they just intended it to be a one-time thing), I guess I'll post this!

      What have you been reading? What do you think of it? No need to do a big review if you don't feel like it, but I think we'd all love to hear your thoughts! Recs or discussion of each others' reading habits is encouraged!

      --

      Quick question: Do we want regular threads like these? Personally I think ~books is lacking a place to just drop in and talk about something that isn't news or a specific discussion topic, but maybe I'm alone on that.

      16 votes
    9. How do you keep track of your reading list?

      This is an issue I've had for a while. I've quickly gotten myself a list that's too long for me to be able to read it in any practical amount of time. I read comments online, have conversations...

      This is an issue I've had for a while. I've quickly gotten myself a list that's too long for me to be able to read it in any practical amount of time. I read comments online, have conversations irl, walk through a bookstore, and I write a quick note on my phone, or on my laptop. In any case, it's messy, unorganized, I don't remember why I added a book, there's no way to prioritize which books I should/want to read next. So how do you handle having too much to read in too little time?

      5 votes
    10. How are books treated in your countries (high- or university-) school curriculum and what changes do you think could be made?

      I live in Sweden, and am currently in the gymnasium, our version of high-school. From what I understand, compared to other countries we don't have a lot of compulsory reading. In Swedish class...

      I live in Sweden, and am currently in the gymnasium, our version of high-school. From what I understand, compared to other countries we don't have a lot of compulsory reading. In Swedish class we've read maybe four books this past school year, and about the same in English class.

      Personally, I like reading, so I would have no problem reading more books. Most of the books we've read have been classics, such as The Metamorphosis and Therese Raquin, which I like. I think reading more classics would be nice.

      How is it in your country? What do you think should change?

      5 votes
    11. Dystopian disappointment

      I first read "The Giver" circa 1998 when I was still in elementary school, and it changed my life. From that moment on, I craved idyllic utopias with undercurrents of death and despair but...

      I first read "The Giver" circa 1998 when I was still in elementary school, and it changed my life. From that moment on, I craved idyllic utopias with undercurrents of death and despair but couldn't find them anywhere. I moved onto ghost stories and fantasies and Harry Potter, but still I read The Giver several times a year, inevitably kicking off a pre-family-computer search for more. The simple but powerful themes made me feel wise and the promise of euthanasia made me feel dangerous, and I was changed again.

      Imagine my relief when I found Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale." And Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World." And, finally, a name for my favorite genre. Even after I learned the phrase "Dystopian Fiction" and told everyone I could about it, it wasn't easy to find all the books I wanted. But I read "1984," "Fahrenheit 451," and the classic allegorical novels. When I was in high school, I read Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" and Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," and I was shaken to my core and felt content enough.

      [This ended up being more melodramatic than I originally intended; I'm definitely not a writer. I just wanted to get across my adolescent depth of feeling for dystopian fiction before I actually come to the point in my timeline when "it" happened. *self-deprecating eye roll emoji]

      I actually enjoyed "The Hunger Games." The world compelled me even when the characters did not, and while I would have liked a touch more exposition about how the high society came to accept the murder of children, it was still chilling. But then the world exploded. YA dystopian novels were spilling from publishing houses with abandon as the populace became as obsessed as I was, and of course I was thrilled! And then I was miffed. And then I was disappointed, and then I became some sort of crotchety old-man/hipster hybrid. "No I'm not just jumping on the bandwagon! I was here before the world even knew its name! Back in my day, dystopian books had actual themes, not just unhealthy love-triangles and shadowy-but-one-dimensional villainous overlords!" The genre became overrun, in my opinion, with authors trying to cash in on the success of the big name novels without any passion for subject matter. Characters were flat, love stories were rampant and boring, and the dystopian world-building was over-the-top, reaching, and unearned. I still feel a little bit cheated.

      I do feel bad about being so petulant; I'm glad that this surge has fostered a love of reading in zillions of children. I'm honestly probably missing out on some excellent novels, but now I'm hesitant to read a post-2012 book marketed as "Dystopian" lest I'm forced to live in yet another world where love is a disease ("Delirium"-Lauren Oliver) or, preserve me, where all forms of language have become deadly to adults ("The Flame Alphabet"-Ben Marcus).

      Hopefully that wasn't too boring! I'm done now! I want to know if you've ever felt similarly, if you think I'm flat wrong, if you have some post-2013 novels I should read, if you want to talk about the genre... anything!

      11 votes