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Author Topic: Book Thread  (Read 66052 times)

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theinevitable

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #300 on: June 03, 2014, 03:23:33 am »

Virginia Woolf-- Mrs. Dalloway. Totally awesome. My friend recommended I check this out if I was interested in "modernism" but turned off by Faulkner. In this one I really could tell the purpose for the stream of consciousness and other techniques-- it really felt necessary to the story and her attempt to capture the world as it is. I finished it a few days ago and keep having moments where a passage comes back to me.

It had a lot of moments that reminded me of a line in Kafka on the Shore that stuck with me. I can't find it (already returned the book to the library so I am working off of quotes I can find online), but it was definitely during the passage where he says
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“That's why I like listening to Schubert while I'm driving. Like I said, it's because all his performances are imperfect. A dense, artistic kind of imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert. If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I'm driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of - that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally I find that encouraging.”
but the quote is not related to imperfection. He says something like "I find as I get older that I have grown bored of exciting things, but I never get bored of boring things." This is the kind of line that feels a little... tautological maybe? Not quite the right word. It reminds me of those Andy Warhol quotes that Wombat doesn't like. But I think it captures something related to something that Woolf has Walsh say in Mrs Dalloway, about how as he gets older he is no longer interested in "adventures," but perceives everyday life in a "richer" way that he couldn't when he was rushing around in his youth. I hope like hell that is true.

It is fitting to discover this idea in a book, because in the past year or so, since I started reading seriously again, I have felt a sense of deep optimism about life. The thought that for the rest of my life I can keep learning and reading, and that everything I read and learn will richen my experience the way my reading has over the past year, makes me feel very happy.

I think I have posted this exact chain of thought several times, including this caveat, so obviously I am getting older.

[[also, in Gormenghast I learned a usage of a word that I am absolutely in love with. Of course you might know that "ramifications" means the outcomes of an action, the many things contingent upon an event or choice-- but did you know that it can also be used for the outward "limbs" of anything that takes the form of a root? For instance, my grandfather's "ramifications" on the family tree, or in the case used in the book, "he knew well the major passages of the western wing of the castle, but not their ramifications." How fuck*ng perfect!]]

Now I am trying, again, to read Eric Hobsbawm's bajillion page history of the 19th century. It is so, so interesting, but I can't sit down and read it.
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pmcd9

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #301 on: June 04, 2014, 05:51:50 am »

Thank you for this Inev. I want to get back into reading books as a major part of my life. I'm reading more now than I have in the last 5 years or so, but I'm still pretty sporadic. The lions share of my reading is on Facebook and whatever articles getting posted there that catch my attention. I definitely would not describe my Facebook experience as optimistic.

So yeah, you've inspired me to replace my FB time with something better, a good book.
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Carlos del Vaca

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #302 on: June 05, 2014, 06:23:05 pm »

I have read the first three books. I haven't been actively watching the show, but I've been kind of keeping up with it on the interwebs (AV Club recaps and such).

The show has some differences from the books, for sure, but for the most part it hasn't been THAT different. But the pacing is a little different, and spoiler-y things can come up in the show when you don't necessarily expect them. I knew what was going to happen at the end of the first book, I knew what the Red Wedding was all about before I read about it, and I won't say that ruined either of those books for me but it definitely changed my perception of them. "Oh, that guy is doomed anyway."

I read that Martin gave the HBO producers a plot outline to wrap up the series if he does keel over before the books are finished.
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jaydub

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #303 on: June 05, 2014, 07:59:18 pm »

I'm reading along a few chapters (more or less) behind the show.  I got into it at about ep 6 of the first season, on account of Littlefinger's habit of exposition against a backdrop of naked ladies frolicking.  I'm enjoying this approach; there are so many characters, settings, and plotlines that having the books to go back and provide more detailed backstory and scene details help me understand what I'm watching.  On the other hand, the actors on the series are so tremendous and inhabit their characters so well, that its truly another dimension on top of Martin's writing.  I would say get going on the series, so next year you can enjoy the ride along with the rest of us, whether you read ahead or along.  The first season is a bit uneven as the actors were trying to find their characters' voice (except Sean Bean, who was great) and the budget was under-funded as HBO didn't know whether the series was in it for the long haul.  From seasons 2 on, its gotten stronger and stronger.
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pmcd9

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #304 on: June 06, 2014, 12:10:58 am »

I read the first book before watching the series, but I've decided to skip the rest of the books because the television show is so much better than the books. George R.R. Martin (seriously, two r's?) is a terrible writer who has created a wonderful story. I'm all like C'mon, say boiled leather one more time mother fucker.
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pmcd9

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #305 on: June 06, 2014, 08:16:57 pm »

I gave you a can for your pain.
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Carlos del Vaca

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #306 on: July 23, 2014, 07:53:08 pm »

Just added a couple things to my "Books to look for" list. It has 72 items--either specific titles, or authors.
This is to say nothing of the "to be read" shelf in my bedroom, the two books in progress on my night stand ("A Feast for Crows" and "Eating the Dinosaur"), or various other books strewn about the house.
What is sad is how rarely I actually read for pleasure of late. Not sure I can fully explain it. I frequently bemoan that my "pop culture time" is extremely limited, and of late if I have downtime I'd rather watch TV or play a computer game than read. I guess I go through cycles on these things; maybe once baseball season is over I'll actually read again.
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AugustWest

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #307 on: November 06, 2014, 04:01:57 am »

Read this instead.  21 books ought to keep you busy for a little while.

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AugustWest

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #308 on: November 07, 2014, 02:50:49 am »

Quality, not quantity, m'man.

Besides, if shit goes south and it becomes a trudge by, let's say, 14, you don't want my 'trapped in a train with crazy guy' rampage on your conscience, right?

Trust me, they are of the highest quality.  The.  Highest.

Otherwise, I wouldn't have recommended 'em.  Sheesh.
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wombat

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #309 on: November 07, 2014, 08:23:18 pm »

On the one hand, I believe you are a person of the highest good taste. On the other, I can hardly think of three more soul-deadening words than "nautical historical novels."
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theinevitable

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #310 on: November 08, 2014, 06:00:09 am »

Maybe I should read those. Moby Dick was the book that got me back into reading, and I have fond memories of loving books like that when I was younger. Stories about ships and pirates and sailors and merchants.

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“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

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“However baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet for ever and for ever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.”

There's a line somewhere in there about not taking nerds aboard, who tell you how much they've always wanted to see the world, but will end up staring off at the horizon and not spotting any whales.
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jaydub

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #311 on: November 08, 2014, 09:46:31 pm »

Hard liquor, close quarters, sodomy, and the lash.
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theinevitable

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #312 on: May 04, 2015, 04:00:06 am »

I think you guys would like The Mars Trilogy. I have been reading them before going to bed (and on the can, sorry if TMI) and have finished the first two so far. I keep getting wrapped up in a chapter and reading far past when I need to go to bed.

Basically: the first book starts with the first 100 colonists landing on Mars, a decade or so from now (these books were written in the early 90s). They are all scientists and engineers and work on building a base of operations. Lots of stuff about research station politics. But also lots of great 1st person exploration of what it would be like to be on Mars, on a cold/hostile/lonely planet, exploring new vistas. Lots of nitty gritty about geology and engineering and terraforming and habitat architecture.

Then it starts jumping forward through time, to when there are more people on Mars, following some of the same characters as things change. By the latter books there are whole cities on Mars and the Mars-Humans want to have their independence, basically. So then there is a lot of discussion of political systems, interpersonal politics, the practical side of organizing a revolution, etc. The author (Kim Stanley Robinson) does a great job of writing each section truly from the perspective of these different actors. So for one chapter you might follow a really pragmatic guy who just wants to change the little things he can for the better, and the next you might follow a radical "Red" Mars-First-er who is against terraforming and wants to cut all ties with Earth. The characters (mostly) don't feel like strawmen and you get a glimpse into their perspective on what is going on, how it is informed by their experiences, etc. I definitely want to slap a few of them though. There is one particular lady who I wish they had just thrown out of the airlock early on. (Amazon reviewers say they're all obnoxious archetypes, so what do I know.)

One of the things going on in the series is also that radical new longevity technologies come onto the scene. So some of the same characters live through 100 years of Mars history, and you get to see how their ideas change or don't change over time.

But really, something about this series feels like An Accomplishment in a major way. I wish there was a little less geology but he really captures a broad range of (imaginary) human experiences in an interesting way.

FREE MARS.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 04:29:54 am by theinevitable »
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pmcd9

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #313 on: May 05, 2015, 11:07:38 pm »

That sounds really good. I think I'm going to buy it today.
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theinevitable

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Re: Book Thread
« Reply #314 on: May 24, 2015, 02:39:09 am »

Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle (Book 1). Incredible. It kind of feels like nothing is happening, and yet I can't put it down. I read 200 pages the day I bought it, and am finishing tonight. Basically it's 6 books of his life story, and this guy has an incredible ability to somehow make his boring life really interesting. This one was mostly about his dad-- framed as him preparing for his dad's funeral and thinking back to their relationship. He is pretty hard on himself, and definitely describes himself "warts and all" as well as the people around him.

(yes, same name as Hitler's book, he said he did it to reclaim the title and also to make fun of it. What could be stupider than writing a book about your life called "My Struggle" was basically his explanation.)

A little annoyed that I didn't just buy the rest of the series, or I guess the 4 that have been translated so far, when I bought the first one. Well, I'll have plenty of time to read on the train all summer, I guess I can read something else for now.
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Social pressures exist
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You're gonna do it all for the grind
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