What books are you currently reading?


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Treppa wrote:

Reading Lolita, because Nabokov.

It creeps me out that some people call it a love story. How could anyone think that? Ew.

I had never heard of people doing that. A reader would have to totally miss the point of the book to think that. Humbert H. is hands down the MOST annoying narrator in fiction, IMO. I suppose some people are just clueless. I'm so glad I don't have to teach that book in High School English.

Reminds me of the kids in High School who thought Wuthering Heights was a love story.


Yeah, they think it's a love story or the story of the seduction of an older man by an wicked and sexually precocious young girl -- hence the sexualized girls in the more modern covers. Nabokov insisted on having the cover plain, with only the title, to avoid such confusion. But yeah, love story, seduction story -- some people frame HH as the victim of the book.

I think it might be because they haven't actually, ya know, read it.

EDIT: Reading Nabokov's matchless prose has really taken the wind out of my NaNoWriMo sails, but I'm doing it anyway.

The Exchange

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Treppa wrote:


EDIT: Reading Nabokov's matchless prose has really taken the wind out of my NaNoWriMo sails, but I'm doing it anyway.

Way to go! I considered doing NaNoWriMo this year (and it's not too late to start) but I feel too intimidated since I don't have an idea for a new novel and last year's novel is in a big ugly pile of notes on my desk and bookshelf, eyeing me accusingly and whinging in a plaintive voice "when will you edit meee?" I'm cosidering doing a NaNoEdMo (Novel Editing Month), but haven't decided yet.


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NaNoEdMo should be December.

I have had an idea for a book bugging me for the past several years, so this year I'm going to brain dump it. If it's no good, fine, but it won't be nagging me anymore.

And, thanks to Samnell, I now have Ancillary Mercy queued up to read after Lolita. :)


Zeugma wrote:
Reminds me of the kids in High School who thought Wuthering Heights was a love story.

When I first read Wuthering Heights, I had already read Camus's The Rebel [J-PS,IT: [Curses in French]] which has a chapter discussing Heathcliff. I must have misunderstood the point of the chapter, because I thought he was supposed to be the good guy and spent the first half of the book thinking "boy, he's a peculiar hero."

Shadow Lodge

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Finished A Red-Rose Chain. Started on Shadows of Self by Sanderson.

Picked up a TON of books that Amazon had marked to $0 on Halloween so those'll be keeping me busy a while I imagine.


I'm currently plugging my way through the Numenera core book, part of a ridiculously large backlog of gaming reading I have. I love the system premises, but I have yet to see it in action. Do any of you folks have an opinion?


Treppa wrote:
And, thanks to Samnell, I now have Ancillary Mercy queued up to read after Lolita. :)

It's probably going to be a much more fun read than Lolita or The Rise of American Democracy.


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Readerbreeder wrote:
I'm currently plugging my way through the Numenera core book, part of a ridiculously large backlog of gaming reading I have. I love the system premises, but I have yet to see it in action. Do any of you folks have an opinion?

The system works well enough.

Definitely one of those systems where the most important skill is being able to BS your GM =P


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Maurice Sendak, In the Night Kitchen. It's Cora the Conqueror's favorite book. She can't understand any of the words yet, but she is determined to have this one read to her as many times a day as she can manage -- as soon as Mrs Gersen finishes reading it to her, she hands it to me to read to her again, and vice versa.

She won't sit still for any other book -- but with this one she stares at the pictures, and points at the protagonist (Mickey), and waves her hands in all kinds of incomprehensible gestures, and cheers at her favorite parts.

Hopefully when she gets a little older she'll feel the same way about Where the Wild Things Are. I consider Max to be an admirable role model for kids.


What, no Brundibar yet? :P

I mean, the story's fine, in and of itself; the historical context is, y'know, not for the timid.

Dark Archive Software Developer

I'm currently reading Bestiary 5...

>.>

<.<

#winning


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Hitdice wrote:
I mean, the story's fine, in and of itself; the historical context is, y'know, not for the timid.

Yeah, age 1 is probably a bit early to teach kids about the Holocaust.


Zhangar wrote:
Readerbreeder wrote:
I'm currently plugging my way through the Numenera core book, part of a ridiculously large backlog of gaming reading I have. I love the system premises, but I have yet to see it in action. Do any of you folks have an opinion?

The system works well enough.

Definitely one of those systems where the most important skill is being able to BS your GM =P

I think that's a requirement for every system... :)


Horrifying news, everyone! I finished Ancillary Mercy before Rise of American Democracy or The South in Three Sectional Crises could arrive. Thought I'd fill the gap with Fergus Bordewich's America’s Great Debate:
Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise
That Preserved the Union
but demurred on the grounds of, in descending order of importance:

1) No notes. This makes the book a complete dead end to me. I might read it anyway, but I can't check his work or use him to dig a level or two deeper.

2) Author seems to have made his career in journalism. That often makes for truly awful historians. It's not an always, every time thing but it's enough to raise concerns. That goes double for a guy who didn't put footnotes or endnotes into his work.

3) The way he described himself developing an interest in the subject made it worse, since it sounds like he never really studied antebellum politics before he did the book. Maybe it's really snobbish of me to take that as far too much babe in the woods to be trustworthy, but it's not like he put the notes in so I could see.

4) Published by a non-academic press. This is almost not on the list, since some really good history is published by regular publishers. Many of them do peer review too. But some do not, or do a very poor job of it. When I see this on top of a journalist author and no notes, I go the other way.

So that's not happening. Regrettably, it doesn't seem there are many good syntheses of the crisis of 1850. It looks like Robert Remini has a very short book on it and Michael Holt has a couple, but I'd like more than scratching the surface and I have a slight distrust of Holt for his latter-day blundering generation stuff. If I want to dig into Holt, I want to do it as more than a space-filler between books.

So I picked up Use of Weapons instead. I like reading about The Culture.

While I'm here, thoughts on Ancillary Mercy: I enjoyed everything that happened. Presger translators are delightful. But the book feels a bit like Leckie decided she wanted to leave herself room for more Breq stories late in the game. There are two very jarring passages where the narration stops to tell us there will be no complete denouement because stuff doesn't happen that way. Ok, thanks, but there would have been nothing wrong with just laying in the sequel hooks.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I finished Goliath by Scott Westerfeld.

I just barely started Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

Shadow Lodge

Finished Shadows of Self.

Started Welcome to Night Vale.

The Exchange

I finished Nightglass. Here is my review: Nightglass review.

Now I am reading The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal, which is nonfiction. I'm not sure I won't abandon it for The Code of the Woosters if it gets too heavy and I need a humor break. Meanwhile, I'm awaiting the other books I've ordered from Paizo and my local library.


'Three Bladed Doom' by Robert E. Howard (it was pretty good) and 'Legendary Albion' by Jennifer Westwood, which is a compilation of various old English folk legends. I like it.


I just finished "The America Gene" by Michael Nesmith. Yes, that Michael Nesmith. It was a bit of a slow starter, but picked up a few chapters in. The book was a running commentary on how people approach a mid-life crisis, or as a character calls it, your "Personal Las Vegas." The book is probably more enjoyable if you are at least middle aged (to get the life experience to understand the motivations of some of the characters), have lived in South Central Texas (to understand the geography of the story without consulting maps), and/or have been a musician (to understand the ups and downs of performing on stage). Now on to "The Armageddon Rag" by some dude who also writes about dragons.

Scarab Sages

Finally got around to starting Trigger Warning, Gaiman's latest collection of short stories. Very pleasant read so far, but I've always considered him to be one of the best short story writers, so it's hard for me to be disappointed.

After I'm finished with this, I'll either go back to my big collection of Frank Herbert short stories, or I'll finally read The Martian by Andy Weir.


Finished the Marx bio despite my intentions of stopping much earlier.

Returned to the misadventures of Cija and her progeny which is going much slower than I anticipated, probably because I've already read it. They just got caught by Sedili, Zerd's first wife (of three).

Meanwhile, back in Yeatsland, The Lazy Beauty and Her Aunts


The South and Three Sectional Crises came yesterday. Rise of American Democracy came today. Not done with Use of Weapons yet. Finding the flashback chapters very hard going, though at about halfway through they finally had something borderline interesting happen in them. I just don't care about this mercenary's grim past that drives him to do horrible things. I'd rather he get on with doing the horrible things in an entertaining manner.

Flipped through The South and Three Sectional Crises, which is tiny. It's basically a lecture with footnotes. The opening bits have references to this up-and-comer called Foner and a bit of griping about how Civil War causation ceased to be an interesting question circa 1960 because everybody either agreed or was accepted to be a fossil. There's also a quaint bit where he feels obligated to mention his sectional credentials, which I think is a combination of Historian Of A Certain Age and a tip of the hat to his doctoral supervisor, Avery Craven. Craven does the same in The Coming of the Civil War, a book I got for cheap as essentially a historiographical knickknack.

Also skimmed a few pages of Rise of American Democracy, mostly because I won the used book lottery. This thing is only used in the sense that the dust cover has been on a shelf for a decade. Among Wilentz's confessions: He isn't a huge fan of social history rising up to devour political history and turn politics into things more like acts of nature than people. (I'm the same!) And "Yeah, I'm totally writing an updated version of Schlesinger's Age of Jackson. Deal with it." Bit less enthused there, but I do think Daniel Walker Howe probably pushed a bit harder in the other direction than he could really support, so it'll be interesting to see. Might get a copy of Age of Jackson to read at some point too. Because I'm terrible.

Actually thought about dumping the novel to dig into the 1000 pages of political history, but I suspect that I'd never return to it and I'm not quite that terrible. Yet.


Must be working on becoming that terrible, since I took a brief break from Use of Weapons to read The South in Three Sectional Crises, all seventy pages of it. It's so good that I don't mind at all that it's also a bit dated.


Mrs Gersen's father first introduced me to the Jack Reacher books, some time ago, with Echo Burning. I read it and said, "This seems like an updated version of John D. MacDonald's A Purple Place for Dying." Well, despite Lee Child being his favorite author, I never did get him to read any Travis McGee -- weird, to me, since the Reacher books are basically the exact same thing.

Anyway, yesterday I re-read aPPfD, and this morning started re-reading EB, so I can see if I was right, way back when.


Being really close to finishing both of the books I am reading didn't stop me from starting a new one: Europe and the French Imperium, 1799-1814 by one Professor Geoffrey Bruun, who, I see on the internet, has another book entitled, Saint-Just: Apostle of the Terror. Wonder if I'll ever run across that.

The Exchange

Finished reading Nemesis Games (The Expanse #5) and started on The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time #12). Wow, I read long series, don't I.

Nemesis Games Thoughts:
A lot to be said about this one, so I'll try to be concise.

First, the plot. This book is BIG on that front, at least as big as book 3 was, with the status quo upset completely - Earth destroyed, Mars becoming a ghost town, the OPA a dying breed since there's no inner planets to support them anymore and they can't settle the new planets because they can't adjust to the gravity. This book also feels more like the first half of a much larger novel as for the first time in this series no major conflict was resolved by the end of this book with the ending leaving almost everything wide open. I love all of this, even if I do have quite the major quibble. I don't buy it that Marco Inarus could have pulled off the plan that he did. His attack was essentially to plate some asteroids in order to hide them from radar and throw them on Earth, catching the planet completely off guard. But given how devastating such a strategy is, I fail to accept that there would be no counter measures in place. Doubly so given that Marcus used similar methods in an attack a year before - any sane and halfway competent military force would do anything to erect defenses against something like that.

Second, the "new characters". The Rocinante crew split in all directions this time around, giving each of them time to shine away from Holden. On the one hand, it is good to see the world from the viewpoints of characters we've been with for thousands of pages, and it was interesting to see just how intellectually superior Naomi is to Holden (not saying I think he's dumb, but Naomi is an order of magnitude smarter in almost every way).
On the other hand... having the characters each be positioned to be in the center of a very important big event was a stretch. Since book 2 the authors had to come up with reasons for the Rocinante be involved in major events every book, and the excuses were pretty good, but they still required suspense of disbelief. But now I am to believe that all four plotlines just happened to work out that way? That's four times as hard to be convinced of.
Secondly, I wish the characters were pushed a bit more out of their zone of comfort - Alex winds up heaving a space flight adventure, Amos a tough and violent survival story and Naomi a series of (awesome) engineering problems to overcome. It could be that each character is just approaching problems with the tools they have, but it seems like each of them got to do exactly what they were good at and liked doing anyway. If we're already finally seeing some action from the perspective of Alex, wouldn't it have been more interesting to have him out of his depth instead of happily lurking in his cozy aquarium?

But anyway, really liked this book, looking forward to the next one and to the TV show.


Started reading Gardens of the Moon, the first Malazan book, by Steven Erikson, after it was recommended in another thread. So far I'm 1/4 of the way through and can't really say I enjoy it. None of the characters are interesting or sympathetic, and by dumping all the magic on the reader without explaining any of it he makes it very hard to get into.


Yeah, see what I meant in the thread?

The series DOES get better, mind you, leveling out a bit and becoming much easier to follow, but one of my other main gripes is that they set up groups of really interesting characters (The Bridgeburners as the first example) and then you see them like once every three books.

The Exchange

Rynjin wrote:

Yeah, see what I meant in the thread?

The series DOES get better, mind you, leveling out a bit and becoming much easier to follow, but one of my other main gripes is that they set up groups of really interesting characters (The Bridgeburners as the first example) and then you see them like once every three books.

Interestingly this happens with the wheel of time too, with plot threads (sometimes very interesting ones) either completely forgotten or left hanging for multiple books before briefly showing up again for a chapter or two only to fade to the background by the time the next book comes along. This might just be the nature of such large stories - the interests of the author shift as time passes and he becomes passionate about new things that take the spotlight from what a reader might prefer to read about. Another aspect of this is that with so much stuff going on you'll have people reacting differently to a great many things - maybe there are a lot of readers who don't care about the Bridgeburners at all and want to read about other stuff that does consistently show in the books. There's room for a lot of variance in these megaseries.


Finished Atlan last night. What a weird book.

Shadow Lodge

Picked up Warrior Poet, the newest book in the Dead Weight: Tales of the Faerie War series by M. Todd Gallowglas, last night and started on it.

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Caineach wrote:
Started reading Gardens of the Moon, the first Malazan book, by Steven Erikson, after it was recommended in another thread. So far I'm 1/4 of the way through and can't really say I enjoy it. None of the characters are interesting or sympathetic, and by dumping all the magic on the reader without explaining any of it he makes it very hard to get into.

I think I managed to finish book 1, but I didn't like it enough to read books 2-12 or whatever.

All the characters kept saying how cool and awesome that leader of the Bridgeburners was, but he never did or said or acted cool or awesome. At least IMHO. I remember being really annoyed with that.

I did like the idea of Australopithecus liches, and ninjas using lots of featherfall-like ki powers, but other than that, it seemed more overwrought than deep. YMMV.


'Silverglass: Mistress of Ambiguities' by J.F. Rivkin. There was a reluctant queen with a friendly dog, a hot-tempered swordswomen, a randy student and a sorcerer who had lost his memory, but no plot as such. I finished it, but am not sure why I bothered.


Finally finished Use of Weapons. Read somewhere that it's either the first Culture book written or Bank's first effort overall. It shows. The big twist at the end was obvious a few flashbacks before it happened and the mercenary who carries the story just isn't that interesting at all. The non-flashback plot is much better than the flashbacks. I've read three of the things now, so might as well compare them. In descending order of enjoymet:

1) The Player of Games
2) Consider Phlebas
[large gap]
3) Use of Weapons

The high point was really when he killed Space Hitler.

Oh well, off to Rise of American Democracy.

The Exchange

My box from Paizo arrived!

The Hare with Amber Eyes is now on hiatus.

I'm now reading Nightblade by Liane Merciel.

So far I'm enjoying it, and I love seeing Ascaros again after reading of his first adventure in the website short fiction. I have some misgivings about the fairly standard fetch-quest plot that's been developing so far, but even if it doesn't rise to the level of Nightglass I think I'll still enjoy the journey. There're enough snide remarks to wallpaper a dungeon, so far.


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Finished Yeats last night. On to the next Jane Gaskell book, The City whose back cover blurb promises that poor Cija will end up in a "lascivious brothel." Can't wait!


Finally living the joke and reading War and Peace.


Set a target of 100 pages a day for Wilentz. Managed a bit under 150. He's pretty good on how the Federalists missed a major shift in politics and so ended up hilariously incompetent. He's also not shy about cataloging their numerous sins against democracy and Republicans. But so far he's much less good about doing the same on behalf of the other guys.

I know just enough about very early Republic politics to know that Jefferson and company likewise had few compunctions about coloring outside the lines, and not just because they had Aaron Burr doing it for thrills. It's jarring how he barely even mentions that except in Burr's case. I suspect it'll piss me off more when I get around to Elkins' & McKiltrick's The Age of Federalism. There's a Kindle edition of that priced relatively reasonably so that may be soon. I've got stray comments from other sources about at least a semi-serious discussion of throwing a war if Jefferson lost. If I remember right, troops were even raised ostensibly in reaction to Gabriel's conspiracy but then kept around and/or relocated from the Richmond vicinity to the Potomac. Revolution of 1800 indeed. Not quite the democratic values that Wilentz is otherwise on about, though so far he's been silent on mob violence too. It'll be interesting once he gets there.


Two days into reading Wilentz. I feel like Rise is an important book worth reading, but it's no What Hath God Wrought. That's a shame since I'd really like for Howe to have an equal competitor to jab at his weak spots the way he jabs at Wilentz's. There are some important insights in here, some of which inform a tension I've been thinking about for some time between racial egalitarianism and elitist enlightenment authoritarianism. But the more I read, the more I come back to this:

Quote:
Wilentz’s entire corpus is predicated on the argument that Jacksonian Democracy, in its most Schlesingerian sense, was the motor that drove the inexorable “Rise of American Democracy.” To believe this, though, one has to soft-pedal (at best) the racialized, herrenvolk nature of that Democracy; see the Free-Soilers as the true representatives of the Jacksonian creed instead of actual Jacksonians like James Polk; and argue the moderates and conservatives within Whiggery and abolitionism sped the cause of freedom rather than delayed it.

I don't feel like I'm learning anywhere near so much history from Wilentz as I did from Howe despite the fact that his book is much more focused on most of the stuff I'm most interested in.


Treppa wrote:
Finally living the joke and reading War and Peace.

I didn't get very far in that before I gave up and read "The Kreutzer Sonata" instead, but, synergistic weirdiosity: I am reading about Napoleon and am in danger of trading in my Jacobinism and becoming a Bonapartist.


Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Treppa wrote:
Finally living the joke and reading War and Peace.
I didn't get very far in that before I gave up and read "The Kreutzer Sonata" instead, but, synergistic weirdiosity: I am reading about Napoleon and am in danger of trading in my Jacobinism and becoming a Bonapartist.

I'm doing OK reading about 10 pages each night before dropping off to sleep, but I will forget who all the characters are if I don't keep up. Every scene seems to be an excuse for adding a dozen more impoverished nobles, army officers, and horny youngsters.

The Exchange

Treppa wrote:
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Treppa wrote:
Finally living the joke and reading War and Peace.
I didn't get very far in that before I gave up and read "The Kreutzer Sonata" instead, but, synergistic weirdiosity: I am reading about Napoleon and am in danger of trading in my Jacobinism and becoming a Bonapartist.
I'm doing OK reading about 10 pages each night before dropping off to sleep, but I will forget who all the characters are if I don't keep up. Every scene seems to be an excuse for adding a dozen more impoverished nobles, army officers, and horny youngsters.

I can definitely see what you mean, Treppa. *picks up book 12 of the Wheel of Time and resumes reading*.


Fortunately, I haven't yet found any spanking in Tolstoy.


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Treppa wrote:
Fortunately, I haven't yet found any spanking in Tolstoy.

Hum.

I wonder what's wrong with my copy, then?


Limeylongears wrote:
Treppa wrote:
Fortunately, I haven't yet found any spanking in Tolstoy.

Hum.

I wonder what's wrong with my copy, then?

You put The Romance of Lust in the cover of War and Peace , remember?


Zeugma wrote:
Humbert H. is hands down the MOST annoying narrator in fiction, IMO.

My vote goes to Holden Caulfield.


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Seriously, f**@ that guy. I wrote about 5000 words on how much I hated his smug prick face in high school and it's still one of the A's I'm most proud of.


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I have to admit that I didn't finish the book. It's difficult to read a tome that's flying through the air and smacking into the far wall. Repeatedly.


Treppa wrote:
Limeylongears wrote:
Treppa wrote:
Fortunately, I haven't yet found any spanking in Tolstoy.

Hum.

I wonder what's wrong with my copy, then?

You put The Romance of Lust in the cover of War and Peace , remember?

Ohhh, NOT AGAIN!

I have just finished 'Home' by Francis Pryor, a pretty interesting account of domestic life in pre-Roman Britain and am carrying on with the Rosa Luxembourg Reader.

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