What books are you currently reading?


Books

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TarSpartan wrote:
Has anyone ever finished a book series because they feel compelled to finish it, not because they enjoyed the series?

Wheel of Time fixed that.

Sovereign Court

Currently reading Island of Lost Maps and 1421.


A small pamphlet transcribing a series of lectures tracing the dialectical evolution of your species from fish to finance capitalism in 1955 by American Trotskyist, George Novack.

It's not very long, and, I guess, it was later published as part of a collection of his work called Understanding History.


Tanith Lee's "Darkness, I" last of the Blood Opera trilogy.


Managed to force myself through another couple chapters of Delusion of Disbelief. Aikman makes the (easily refuted) claim that morality always comes only from religion. He "proves" this by adding the Marquis de Sade to the usual list of communist and fascist dictators, to provide "historical context" that atheists are not new, and are always evil and without morals.

He refines "morality comes only from religion" to mean the Christian religion specifically, evidently because some sects of Buddhism are atheistic and hence evil, and because muslims are obviously bad because Islam.

He cherry-picks some partial quotes from the American founders (including a number that have been shown to have been outright fabrications); from a Christian Chinese guy he met once; and himself in a previous book (yeah, I read the footnotes) -- then uses these to supposedly support his claim that Christianity is both a necessary and sufficient condition for democracy and liberty.

Mind you, this is a summary that's been edited to flow in a linear fashion, as opposed to the random wandering stream-of-consciousness mishmash that characterizes Aikman's book.

Part of the last chapter and the "appendix" to go. I hope I can make it without gouging my own eyes out.


And people call atheists arrogant douchebags...


Sissyl wrote:
And people call atheists arrogant douchebags...

Arrogant? Aikman is merely secure in his "humble faith," as he calls it.

Douchebag? He's not the one refusing to believe what almost everyone else in his country believes.
But, yeah.


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Kirth Gersen wrote:

Managed to force myself through another couple chapters of Delusion of Disbelief. Aikman makes the (easily refuted) claim that morality always comes only from religion. He "proves" this by adding the Marquis de Sade to the usual list of communist and fascist dictators, to provide "historical context" that atheists are not new, and are always evil and without morals.

He refines "morality comes only from religion" to mean the Christian religion specifically, evidently because some sects of Buddhism are atheistic and hence evil, and because muslims are obviously bad because Islam.

He cherry-picks some partial quotes from the American founders (including a number that have been shown to have been outright fabrications); from a Christian Chinese guy he met once; and himself in a previous book (yeah, I read the footnotes) -- then uses these to supposedly support his claim that Christianity is both a necessary and sufficient condition for democracy and liberty.

Mind you, this is a summary that's been edited to flow in a linear fashion, as opposed to the random wandering stream-of-consciousness mishmash that characterizes Aikman's book.

Part of the last chapter and the "appendix" to go. I hope I can make it without gouging my own eyes out.

For the love of FSM, why are you subjecting yourself to this?

Part of some course work or just plain masochism?

The Exchange

I just ordered Walter Benjamin's Illuminations from my local public library, after re-reading his "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." I was inspired by the "if the author is dead, why is the literature teacher alive?" thread.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
For the love of FSM, why are you subjecting yourself to this? Part of some course work or just plain masochism?

I sort of promised myself I'd take a more balanced approach to these topics. Having read End of Faith, The God Delusion, God is Not Great, et al., it seemed reasonable to read the rebuttals and counterproposals as well. A colleague lent me Marshall and Manuel's The Light and the Glory: God's Plan for America, which was a model of shoddy 'scholarship' and wishful thinking (e.g., "Columbus' journals didn't survive, but here's what they might well have said, for all we know"). Another colleague promised to lend me her favorite, The Case for Christ, but never got around to it. Jerry Coyne sent me Krista Tippett's Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit as a gag gift.

I still need to read more of Behe's "black box" nonsense to make up for Coyne's phenomenally good Why Evolution is True.

I picked up Aikman's screed at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, which I attended just to see what the hype was about: they regularly fill over 16,000 seats.


Well, as I figured, The Cider House Rules: The Novel is a lot better than The Cider House Rules: The Film. Only two chapters in and I'm already enthralled. Can't get Michael Caine outta my head, but that's not a bad thing, really. Tobey Maguire, otoh...


What about Melony, though? She was hard, like a melon!


My copy of The Fuller Memorandum finally arrived, so I'm about to get stuck into that. After that I'll be shifting straight into The Apocalypse Codex in preparation for the release of the next novel.

Once I'm done with that, if the next Laundry Files book isn't out, I'll be rereading God Save The Queen and The Queen Is Dead, the first two books of Kate Locke's Immortal Empire trilogy, so that I've got them fresh in my mind for when my copy of the third book arrives.


Hitdice wrote:
What about Melony, though? She was hard, like a melon!

She pinched my pecker.


Finished Delusion of Disbelief last night. The final sentences are, I kid you not, as follows:

David Aikman wrote:
belief is, well, a far more intelligent way of looking at the universe than atheism. And a lot less arrogant.

I would have loved this ending if it had been self-deprecating or tongue-in-cheek: "I'm much smarter than you are! And modest, too!" But the fact that he's actually serious makes me wonder about the man's sanity.


Are you serious?!? Is the word "well" actually in that sentence in the book?


Yes. That's a verbatim quote (the emphasis is in the original, too).


So... any time someone claims that atheists are arrogant, we can just point them to this book?


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Yes! This book says they're arrogant, so whoever was already saying so will be happy to have their views endorsed by a writer of Aikman's credentials!


Hitdice wrote:
What about Melony, though? She was hard, like a melon!

A bit further along and I come to "Lucky pony, huh, Sunshine?"

I throw the book down, run inside, grab Slaughterhouse-Five, and flip furiously.

"'What a lucky pony, eh?' he said. 'Hmmmm? Hmmmm? Don't you wish you were that pony?'"

Me? I hate horses.


Celestial Healer wrote:
Currently, I am relatively entertained by reading Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote.

Little bit of synergistic weirdiosity, I finally got around to watching Capote. Felt the tug to re-read In Cold Blood, but resisted. Noted with "when am I ever gonna get back to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser?" horror that next in the Netflix queue is Our Man In Havana.

[Comrade Anklebiter hat?]

Silver Crusade

Breakfast at Tiffany's was fun, if somewhat puzzling. I felt like Capote was saying something, but I couldn't quite figure out what.


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I know I will regret asking. I know the stupid will burn me so. I blame this all on frying my brain on Kansas census rolls today, tallying up what each qualified voter said was their state or nation of origin.

Kirth Gersen wrote:

He cherry-picks some partial quotes from the American founders (including a number that have been shown to have been outright fabrications); from a Christian Chinese guy he met once; and himself in a previous book (yeah, I read the footnotes) -- then uses these to supposedly support his claim that Christianity is both a necessary and sufficient condition for democracy and liberty.

How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
For the love of FSM, why are you subjecting yourself to this? Part of some course work or just plain masochism?

I sort of promised myself I'd take a more balanced approach to these topics. Having read End of Faith, The God Delusion, God is Not Great, et al., it seemed reasonable to read the rebuttals and counterproposals as well. A colleague lent me Marshall and Manuel's The Light and the Glory: God's Plan for America, which was a model of shoddy 'scholarship' and wishful thinking (e.g., "Columbus' journals didn't survive, but here's what they might well have said, for all we know"). Another colleague promised to lend me her favorite, The Case for Christ, but never got around to it. Jerry Coyne sent me Krista Tippett's Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit as a gag gift.

I still need to read more of Behe's "black box" nonsense to make up for Coyne's phenomenally good Why Evolution is True.

I picked up Aikman's screed at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, which I attended just to see what the hype was about: they regularly fill over 16,000 seats.

I suppose I can understand the intent, but I'm afraid you will suffer while reading all these books. I can only offer you my sympathies in your future acts of self-torture.


Samnell wrote:
How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?

He claims (with a straight face) that after Rome fell, Christian monasteries preserved all remaining knowledge and goodness, until it could spread to the rest of Europe again.

Shadow Lodge

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett.

Lies of Locke Lamora is up next.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Finished Against a Dark Background. Was basically a Culture novel with no Culture, and possibly exists in the same universe anyway.

Now reading Defenders by Will McIntosh


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Orthos wrote:
Lies of Locke Lamora is up next.

Ah, enjoy. At least, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Samnell wrote:
How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?
He claims (with a straight face) that after Rome fell, Christian monasteries preserved all remaining knowledge and goodness, until it could spread to the rest of Europe again.

So the Christian roman empire was a model of democracy and freedom. Then after the Christian barbarians destroyed Rome and established their own Christian kingdoms, they stopped being Christian and only people in the monasteries were Christian. They apparently reproduced by budding. They never had secular authority. And they had to wait until the power of institutionalized religion was pretty thoroughly broken and subdued by the state until new Christians arose outside the monasteries.

That is so stupid that I think that trying merely to conceive of the scenario may have permanently damaged me.


The people in the monasteries procreated by cellular fission, of course. =)


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Samnell wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Samnell wrote:
How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?
He claims (with a straight face) that after Rome fell, Christian monasteries preserved all remaining knowledge and goodness, until it could spread to the rest of Europe again.

So the Christian roman empire was a model of democracy and freedom. Then after the Christian barbarians destroyed Rome and established their own Christian kingdoms, they stopped being Christian and only people in the monasteries were Christian. They apparently reproduced by budding. They never had secular authority. And they had to wait until the power of institutionalized religion was pretty thoroughly broken and subdued by the state until new Christians arose outside the monasteries.

That is so stupid that I think that trying merely to conceive of the scenario may have permanently damaged me.

The problem is, Kirth has such an bad footnote habit that he'll go to some really ugly places to get his fix. Look, Kirth, this isn't an intervention, but just answer this question for me: When's the last time you enjoyed yourself without reading any footnotes?

Shadow Lodge

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Hitdice wrote:
The problem is, Kirth has such an bad footnote habit that he'll go to some really ugly places to get his fix. Look, Kirth, this isn't an intervention, but just answer this question for me: When's the last time you enjoyed yourself without reading any footnotes?

Someone get this man some Pratchett, stat.


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Hitdice wrote:
The problem is, Kirth has such an bad footnote habit that he'll go to some really ugly places to get his fix.

Luckily, Mrs Gersen sent an old Jack Vance book to my kindle -- miraculously, one I haven't read yet (Space Opera). Hopefully I'll get all the footnotes I need from that.

Hitdice wrote:
When's the last time you enjoyed yourself without reading any footnotes?

Dude, this is just crazy talk.


Orthos wrote:
Someone get this man some Pratchett, stat.

Never been a fan, I have to admit. And I'll say this straight out: I don't like Monte Python, either.


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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
The problem is, Kirth has such an bad footnote habit that he'll go to some really ugly places to get his fix.

Luckily, Mrs Gersen sent an old Jack Vance book to my kindle -- miraculously, one I haven't read yet (Space Opera). Hopefully I'll get all the footnotes I need from that.

Hitdice wrote:
When's the last time you enjoyed yourself without reading any footnotes?

Dude, this is just crazy talk.

Listen man, I'm drinking Ommegang's Fleur De Houblon Summer Ale right this very moment* and I never would have tried it with your recommendation of the brewery; you can read all the footnotes you want. I was only lashing out 'cause I'm grumpy in the morning.

*Yeah, I'm talking about beer on the books thread. How's that for footnote?!

Shadow Lodge

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Orthos wrote:
Someone get this man some Pratchett, stat.
Never been a fan, I have to admit. And I'll say this straight out: I don't like Monte Python, either.

I... don't understand.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Samnell wrote:
How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?
He claims (with a straight face) that after Rome fell, Christian monasteries preserved all remaining knowledge and goodness, until it could spread to the rest of Europe again.

He does know that the entire developed world uses Arabic math, right?


Currently reading Path of the Archon by andy chambers. Badly written but fun as it is the first real look at the dark eldar in Warhammer 40k I've seen. Also, always fun to have a story featuring nothing but villains, you really don't know what the character's final fate will be until you get there.

Ross Byers wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Samnell wrote:
How, in the name of my best bud Satan and my own personal torture cellar, does this jackass account for the precious little democracy and freedom which prevailed in the most Christian of continents, Europe, between Constantine and the Enlightenment?
He claims (with a straight face) that after Rome fell, Christian monasteries preserved all remaining knowledge and goodness, until it could spread to the rest of Europe again.
He does know that the entire developed world uses Arabic math, right?

One of the few times I really start tuning out on someone's opinions is if they start talking about Christianity as an entirely positive force in history, responsible for all the good that's ever happened. I've learned from experience no information of value ever follows that.


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Hitdice wrote:
The problem is, Kirth has such an bad footnote habit that he'll go to some really ugly places to get his fix. Look, Kirth, this isn't an intervention, but just answer this question for me: When's the last time you enjoyed yourself without reading any footnotes?

Not cool, man. Don't get between a guy and his footnotes.


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Hitdice wrote:
I never would have tried it with your recommendation

Just for that, I'm gonna dig me up some Delany next. Just not the one about the pederast with worms.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
I never would have tried it with your recommendation
Just for that, I'm gonna dig me up some Delany next. Just not the one about the pederast with worms.

Ugh, without your recommendation. I meant to say without, but the time limit on the edit button has passed me by.

About Delany, the worm stuff only goes on in one book, but if you won't read about pederasty, you've denied yourself about half of his novels right there. Look, it's not like that, the dude's way too intellectual to write porn . . . Well, most of the time; You might find no little porn mixed in there with the poetic prose, but it will have literary meaning, mmkay?

I just feel like this conversation was a lot simpler back when we were talking about beer, but that was another thread.


Sloooooooooowly working my way through le Fanu's "House by the Churchyard"
He writes well, but I just can't work up any interest for the village or the characters.
Also "Japanese Art" by Joan Stanley-Baker. A very bare-bones introduction to the subject. Only 3 chapters into it so far but it's interesting and informative, even if I think she was a little heavy-handed in her comparison between Chinese and Japanese aesthetics in the introduction.


Swordsmen of Mars, by Otis Adelbert Kline, a sort of mashup of ERB and The Prisoner of Zenda. Average.

Also, The Pearl, a big ol' compendium of Victorian porn, which is ace. Has some very funny limericks and other stuff alongside the grumble-tales, none of which are quotable here without the Wrath of Chris falling upon us, unfortunately.


I just finished Ancillary Justice. I've only felt like applauding at the end of a book two or three times in my life, and this was one of them. Now I understand why it has won so many awards and is up for so many more.

Told from the point of view of the remaining member of a murdered AI 'hive' mind, the entire plot develops from conflicts and actions that individuals could never take alone. The multiple personality characters call for a different way of thinking and strategizing that make the plot incredibly difficult to predict and very rewarding as it unfolds.

I highly recommend this book, though its novel pronoun conventions may have some readers in fits. Relax, roll with it, and enjoy the story. Wow.

Wow.


Wow.


Be sure not to die before you read Ancillary Justice.

The Exchange

Treppa wrote:
Be sure not to die before you read Ancillary Justice.

I saw it won a Nebula award recently. I will mentally put it on my "to read" list.

My "sci-fi project" (i.e. to read more sci-fi) has been underway a while, but sadly neglected recently...unless the Lady Trent novel I read counts more as soft sci-fi than fantasy. It's hard to say because the protagonist is a natural-scientist in the 18th-19th century sense, but the dragons aren't of the komodo variety; it sort of walks that fine line between genres since scientific explanations are given for SOME things in the novel, but by no means all of them. I suppose the same charges can be leveled against the Pern novels, though I haven't read any of those.

I'm wending my way through Walter Benjamin's Illuminations (translated by Harry Zohn). The foreword by Hannah Arendt is too darn long at over 50 pages, and presupposes a prior familiarity with Benjamin I certainly don't have. But once past the intro the collection has some interesting essays, including his essays on Kafka. I'm looking forward to those after I finish "The Task of the Translator."


Alternating between "The House by the Churchyard" and Joan Stanley-Baker's "Japanese art" interesting and informative, but she tends to gush a bit too much about how awesome and unique it is.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Treppa wrote:
Be sure not to die before you read Ancillary Justice.

I'm four and a half chapters into Ancillary Justice, and I'm still waiting for the plot to show up. There hasn't been even the slightest hint of a goal or motivation for the protagonist. I'll probably give it the rest of Chapter 5, but then I'm moving on.

The Exchange

RainyDayNinja wrote:
Treppa wrote:
Be sure not to die before you read Ancillary Justice.
I'm four and a half chapters into Ancillary Justice, and I'm still waiting for the plot to show up. There hasn't been even the slightest hint of a goal or motivation for the protagonist. I'll probably give it the rest of Chapter 5, but then I'm moving on.

but, DUDE, *everyone* is saying this book is great. *everyone*.

Anyway, just finished Summer Knight (Dresden Files #4) and started reading Elantris (Brandon Sanderson's first published book). Let's just say that his capabilities as a writer have improved vastly over the years. Elantris has so far been very heavy handed in the way it presented the setting, and the main characters are just written very poorly. The man who's written Mistborn, Warbreaker, and Steelheart is ten times better than that. Given that he's written Mistborn only a year later, it's astonishing just how much he's improved.

SUMMER KNIGHT thoughts (no spoilers): decent story with plenty of action and some laugh out loud moments. The mystery was complex in the sense that it involved an absurd number of people and was somewhat convoluted, which is a shame. Still, an enjoyable read. 3/5.

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