What Are You Reading Now.

Discussion in 'Discussion of Published Works' started by Writing Forums Staff, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Curmudgeon. Contributor

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    On a break
    I remember the first two books I read in the fourth grade. Swiss Family Robinson, and a pulp SF by Poul Anderson called Vault of the Ages, an early introduction to dystopian fiction. I got hooked on SciFi.
     
  2. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    For detective stories, I enjoy classic Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth, and Dorothy Sayers. I just finished rereading Curtain by AC, which contained one of the best twists in tec lit.
     
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  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    While we're on the subject of detective fiction—and this crosses over with the superhero thread that's also re-activated recently—2 of my favorite superhero shows were directly influenced by Film Noir. First, when Frank Miller took over the struggling (failing really) comic book called Daredevil he infused it with a powerful Noir sensibility that made it one of the most popular series of the time. His run was largely the inspiration behind the netflix Daredevil show.

    And I recently bought the Alias trade paperbacks to see where the Jessica Jones show got its inspiration from. Jessica is literally a private detective, and her methods and techniques seem so sound to me (knowing nothing about the real stuff of course) that I began to suspect Brian Michael Bendis must have at least watched a lot of Noir. A little sleuthing informs me that he actually used to write a detective comic and did a heck of a lot of research, in addition to being a huge Noir fan. He probably also read a lot of the detective fiction the Noir movies were themselves based on.
     
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  4. ruskaya

    ruskaya Senior Member

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    because of how hectic the holidays get and my enjoy-Xmas-holidays reading list, I had no time to exploit the last few days to finish the readings I had planned to finish in 2021, so they are spilling into 2022. I will give myself a couple of extra days to wrap those up. And then begin with my new list for the new year. I like having goal and time limits, because it does make me prioritize reading from which I get so much as a person and as a writer. I dreaded to start reading as a writer a little bit because I was afraid it would spoil some of the immersive experience of reading. But rather, it has improved it!

    I finished reading Annihilation by Vandermeer a few days ago. I had watched the movie (I always like to compare movie script and original novel or short story) and it was interesting, with my eyes glued on the alien form and the kind of life it created, how the movie envisioned it, because the story seemed a bit dry to me. The book is a lot better, and it centers on the life of the MC and her husband, in fact, it intertwines how her life and lifestyle came to be with the "advent" of the exploration of the alien life. I am glad I read it.
     
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  5. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.
     
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  6. ruskaya

    ruskaya Senior Member

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    I am debating whether to read the second installment of Southern Reach trilogy by Vandermeer, the book after Annihilation, right away or let the first book sink first, before moving to the next. I am not a big fan of series, so I feel I should wait . . . ?
     
  7. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    I started a Nevada Barr novel but was already so irritated with the main character by the second chapter that I don't think I'm going to get any further. How many clueless mistakes must a protagonist make for the sake of creating a plot? I liked the early novels, but seriously...
     
  8. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Conspicuously Conventional Contributor

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    Two Books: The Scar by China Miéville and Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher.
     
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  9. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    This looks interesting!
    upload_2022-1-6_18-34-41.png
    How to Slay A Dragon: A Fantasy Hero's Guide to the Real Middle Ages
     
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  10. AntPoems

    AntPoems Senior Member

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    I've always been interested in the foundations of mathematics, and that naturally led to an interest in the Pythagoreans and ancient number mysticism. So, I just picked up Iamblichus' The Theology of Arithmetic, one of the key texts for our understanding of the topic. Unfortunately, the foreword makes it clear that the text is awkward and fragmentary (the phrase "tip of the iceberg" is used several times), but I'm looking forward to indulging my curiosity as best I can.
     
  11. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    That describes all pre-Socratic texts (I don't know if Iamblichus is considered a Pre-Socratic, but I would assume so, or close to it). That seems to be a little beyond the limit of how long paper or papyrus can survive, even in a dry desert setting.
     
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  12. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Conspicuously Conventional Contributor

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    I'm only about one-sixth of way way through The Scar, but if I had to shelve it under a genre today I would probably opt for 21st Century Beatnik Fantasy, assuming that's a thing. If not it should be.
     
  13. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis I started out younger in most everything. Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
    The Tao is Silent
    Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain. I've carried it around for years, might have even scanned once long ago. Very well-written autobiography, with some powerful philosophical and emotional insights, very human. Very rarely he launches into a too-orthodox (for me) comment or dictum, but since he was, after all, a Trappist monk, that's to be expected.
     
  14. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Oh, my. I like that idea. Don't know whether I'd enjoy the genre, but the title is delightful. Allen Ginsberg meets Ken Liu with Norah Jones singing Charlie Parker songs for background music.
     
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  15. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Conspicuously Conventional Contributor

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    Not exactly, but it sounds like you might be the author's target audience.

     
  16. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Lol, that picture reminds me uncannily of Peter Sellers and his (girlfriend?) in Lolita:
    [​IMG]
    Don't remember if they're Beatnicks or not? Seems likely though. It even looks like he's snapping.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  17. ruskaya

    ruskaya Senior Member

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    I finished reading Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I was curious to read something about parallel lives, how the question of "would you take the same decision if a life-changing experience happened to you?" etc. The writing was good, actually rather good, because despite finding the story somewhat boring and highly predictable I kept reading until the end. Overall, it was good to read something where I found myself questioning some of the writing decisions the author made, like she uses a bun tied up on top of the MC's head as signature style, which eventually disappears from the story. Or the MC's passions for cinnamon rolls--the author uses it to create some situations, and I can see why she picked the cinnamon roll, it is a very realistic choice both in the sweet and in how people go crazy about them and may make them into their personal story, but I have to say that so much "veracity" made it unremarkable. In the end, I realized that I couldn't really learn much about the MC from the choice of signature features. In fact, this whole book seemed to follow things I have witnessed or heard happening in real life, but never explained or justified them. For instance, everybody keeps telling the MC how amazing she is, but the only things she does throughout the book is flirting or say sassy things that I am not sure deepen any kind of relationship, so why is everybody "believing in her" (the author's words) so much? Moreover,

    she gets into an accident within the first few pages. She survives but I thought she would die, and it made such an impression on me (good writing!!!), that I kept waiting for her to die again ... which was distracting, because I didn't know if she there would be more parallel lives happening at the same time. Another writing point to take note of!

    And then it hit me ... I realized that reading this book was more like watching a movie, a romcom movie of sorts (although deeper)! :pop: That explained a lot. Another writing point to take note.

    Although I didn't particularly liked the movie ... ehmm, I meant book, I did learn quite a bit and I want to go over some passages to figure out what makes her style so easy to read.
     
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  18. Joe_Hall

    Joe_Hall I drink Scotch and I write things

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    Acricola and Germania by Tacticus
     
  19. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    I'm switching between Dune (which is mind-numbingly boring so far) and The Sunset Route, which is the long awaited novel version of a short book called Ten Thousand Miles by Freight Train that I really enjoyed. So far it's nowhere near as good. The magic is missing, and not just because I know what happens. The extended version of the same events seem nowhere near as interesting or adventurous. The spark is gone. They tried too hard. Although the next chapter gets better when it covers new ground.
     
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  20. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Contributor Contributor

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    Finished On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong a few moments ago. I'd put my reading off to the side in favor of writing, but tonight felt more like a reading night. This book made me cry in the "I'm feeling things I'm not sure I want to feel" way, and while the book as a whole could be considered pretentious in its language, it was, in my opinion, beautiful.

    Next on my list to finish is Desolation Angels by Kerouac, and then I've got So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood by ... Hang on, gotta squint... Patrick Modiano. I also have the Sandman Overture and 4th volume in my January to read stack. I'm taking books I started and never finished and mixing them in with new books so I can finally start making a dent in my shelves.
     
  21. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
    "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank
    [​IMG]

    I'm trying to read more books this year. Last year I had a lull from spring to summer. I guess half of these are from Christmas vacation.

    King Dork (★★★★★)
    Horror Hunters (★★★ 1/2)
    Quichotte (★★)
    Gilead (★★★★)
    Perfect Little World (★★ 1/2)
    My Work is Not Yet Done (★★ 1/2)

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    King Dork (★★★★★)

    King Dork is YA. I don't read YA and I probably wouldn't have picked this up if I knew that for sure. It was a mistake. But, as you can see, I award it five stars! I haven't laughed so much in a long time. The book's basically Revenge of the Nerds with HS kids. Everyone is out to ruin the nerd MC. Somehow the MC must persevere, start a band and get chicks.

    Now, I'll say this. This book gets downvoted. There are many, many one-star reviews. Women seem to have the most problems with it because the female characters are sex objects. Fair enough, but I ask, politely: Have you appraised the male characters? They are lunatics. They are drug addicts, burnouts, sadists, weirdos. All of them. Imagine the MC as Marty McFly. He walks into the malt shop and everyone inside is a Biff Tannen. That's the male characters in this book. Everyone wants to violently humiliate the MC. The most common book description for these guys is "psychopaths." The only normal character in the book is a female doctor who shows up later. That's it. So actually, the women are treated better than the guys.

    I think something else that gets under people's skin is the complete lack of PC restraint. I'm surprised I didn't see a review mentioning it. I cannot imagine this on a kid's shelf, not in 2021. It's a lot of fratboy humor combined with sarcastic observations. Really, it doesn't feel like a book for kids. It feels like a book for adults that is about kids. Much like Catcher in the Rye, ironically. This book makes fun of Salinger constantly. I do think the author is aware of the comparison though. It is deliberate.

    I should mention that The Catcher in the Rye is this book from the fifties. It is every teacher’s favorite book. The main guy is a kind of misfit kid superhero named Holden Caulfield. For teachers, he is the ultimate guy, a real dreamboat. They love him to pieces. They all want to have sex with him, and with the book’s author, too, and they’d probably even try to do it with the book itself if they could figure out a way to go about it. It changed their lives when they were young. As kids, they carried it with them everywhere they went. They solemnly resolved that, when they grew up, they would dedicate their lives to spreading The Word.

    It’s kind of like a cult.

    This is smartly written. It is fearless. It has a few quiet, poignant moments, but mostly it's high-octane sarcasm. It doesn't seem like YA lit, like I said. It could have been in the adult section. Don't read it unless you are trigger-proof.

    ---

    (I don't want a mega-post. I'll review quicker!)

    Horror Hunters (★★★ 1/2)

    Some stories were good (Lovecraft, Bloch, Leiber) and some were dreadful. I sincerely hope Theodore Sturgeon's story isn't indicative of his talent, because that was awful. His plot was written around a pun. The portrayal of his female characters was silly. I mean, I understand the time this story comes from, but come on. That's not believable. I guess it is possible to bother me with female portrayal if it fails within the story world, and this time it does. There were several times I facepalmed at the sheer stupidity of the writing. What I did like about the book as a whole was that most everything (minus Sturgeon) was set up as a couple guys recounting a ghostly story. I like that old format. I have theories about that framing device . . .

    The Robert Bloch story (of Psycho fame) "I Kiss Your Shadow" was my favorite. I remember reading a story by Bloch when I was very young called "The Beetles." I think that was its title. One of the more disturbing things I read before I should have.

    ---

    Quichotte (★★)

    Oh, Salman Rushdie. Do you hate me? You seem to. I don't hate you. If I saw you in a diner, I would recognize you. (It's the Michael Keaton eyebrows.) I'd ask for your autograph if I could, but I wouldn't want to bother you. I'd also question if I should be approaching you. That fatwa is still on your head, yes? That's why I would let you have your peace, out of respect. I wouldn't want to startle you or bother you, but I do admire your skill.

    This is a meta-retelling of Don Quixote. I liked how the story ended. There were hints at the ending done in a clever enough way that I didn't pick up on what was going to happen. There were moments of beautiful writing, which should be expected. My problem was with the politics. This guy . . . I don't even want to say it. Let's just say that he makes it very clear who he voted for, very clear how you are wrong, very clear how everyone in the wrong red/blue state is a villain, and very clear that he has no respect for the reader. Look, I've read a lot of books about racism. My favorite last year (The Nickel Boys) was about this entirely. It was genius and I loved it. This though . . . It's the equivalent of a Captain Planet cartoon, where the bad guy (always of a certain persuasion) pollutes for fun. If any white person shows up in Quichotte, they will immediately notice the MC is brown, accuse him of being a terrorist, shout vulgarities at him, and attempt/threaten to murder him. It happens every single time. Let me repeat, every single time. There's even one event that happens twice in a mirror universe of sorts where the diner patrons outright murder the brown person for no reason. I couldn't believe the ham-fisted approach of this. I saw another killing coming and felt myself doing that meme laugh. Oh-no-no-no-no-no! You know the laugh I mean? *

    ("Brown person" is Rusdie's description, not mine.)

    This is not how small towns treat visitors. Trust me, I've lived there. The diner wants your money and they're happier to see you than any restaurant in a big city would be. They're utterly delighted. You're unexpected, yes, but like a surprise Christmas bonus. They don't want to kill you, Rushdie. It's a strange attitude to have when you consider the fatwa.

    I feel sorry for him. He's soaked in the vinegar of politics for so long that it has pickled his soul.

    I should give this zero stars, but I was interested in seeing how the story ended. And I still respect Rushdie, though I understand now that he doesn't respect me.

    ---

    Gilead (★★★★)

    Beautifully written. It probably deserves five stars. Perhaps it's smarter than I wanted it to be. It has such gravity that you're overwhelmed, and it's not exactly a fun romp to the end. Maybe too serious? Eh . . . it is what it is. And I will say, this is the most convincing male voice I've ever heard a female author write. You cannot tell a female hand is crafting this. It sounds like a stoic guy born in the 19th century is speaking. The story speaks through aphorisms better than any book I've ever read, and they are profound. (That makes sense considering the father writes sermons.) It's basically a dying father writing advice to his son. The father is a preacher and the content is deeply Christian. It's done sincerely, and it meanders about as a letter would. There is a story hidden in there though. It rises up toward the end.

    Bittersweet and serious. One of the better Pulitzers. Not my favorite by any means, but as serious lit, it is solid.

    ---

    Perfect Little World (★★ 1/2)

    A teenage mother joins an experimental commune where all the children are raised as a collective.

    I wanted to like this because I loved "Nothing to See Here" by the same author (five stars). This one had some nice moments, but the premise is weird. I don't feel the story committed to it. I mean, should the kid know the MC is his mother? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose? The people live in what seems to be a fancy junior college campus out in the woods, and their kids get lots of attention. But the parents are still pretty much the parents, so what's the point? It's basically 24/7 daycare. I didn't buy it. There was also the problem of 30 (yes, 30) new characters suddenly appearing at the halfway point. Good luck keeping track of them.

    All the story plot had to do was adopt 10 infants as an orphanage and have nurses raise them for a decade. No parents, problem solved. The drama would come from the nurses becoming possessive. That's the mothering instinct, yes? That would have been fascinating. So you didn't have to gather parental volunteers. Like I say, the premise didn't work.

    ---

    My Work is Not Yet Done (★★ 1/2)

    A guy becomes a vengeful spirit and hunts down and murders his coworkers. I liked the opening sections. They were very dry and reminded me a lot of Edward Norton at the beginning of Fight Club. Or maybe American Psycho. Just the strange office dynamics. Those entertained me. The ghostly stuff was okay, but I've read better. I do like the author's style though. Very formal sentence structures that flow along with quiet humor. Reminded me of Robert Aickman in a way, but more humorously judgmental.

    * Here is the meme laugh, from its original source. "Look at this doood." I love this! hahahaha! My sides hurt!
    (How can they not notice the guy across the food court going crazy?)

     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2022
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  22. Rizona

    Rizona Member

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    Picking up an old battered copy of J.D Salinger's Nine Stories led me to become curious about another short story book I have had lying around for around 10 years: Collected Stories by James Salter. I picked it up, lazily read the first few pages and quickly became hooked, read them all, then bought and devoured A Sport and a Pastime and Light Years. Can't get enough! Beautiful breathtaking prose, with a refreshing attitude to punctuation:

    ‘I sometimes ignore the rules about commas… Punctuation is for clarity and also emphasis, but I also feel that, if the writing warrants it, punctuation can contribute to the music and rhythm of the sentences. You don’t get permission for this, of course; you take the liberty.”

    I also have The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor which was a Christmas gift and something very new and appealing to me.

    Happy 2022 reading, folks! :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2022
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  23. Le Panda Du Mal

    Le Panda Du Mal Senior Member

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    Iamblichus is from the very post-socratic 4th century. A giant of late neoplatonism, he was one of the last champions of pagan philosophy before the platonist tradition was pretty much absorbed by Christianity. After the Renaissance he had a big influence in western occultism as well.
     
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  24. AntPoems

    AntPoems Senior Member

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    Thanks for the info, Panda! Yeah, the text's problems seem to stem less from preservation than from style. Although it's attributed to Iamblichus, the introduction says that it reads more like notes taken by one of his students, and after reading a bit, I agree. This was definitely not meant as a teaching text, but a supplement at best. Still, it's what we have, and I'm not one to back down from a little ambiguity. Curiosity demands that I read on!
     
  25. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
    "Fall of Babel" by Josiah Bancroft
    Re-reading The Lies of Locke Lamora. Took it from my shelf on an absolute whim, and soon enough I was reading. I've been meaning to revisit this old favorite, and I seem to be in exactly the right mood for it. Feels damn nice to actually read again, rather than listening to audiobooks. Don't get me wrong, I love audiobooks, but there's something to be said for print media.
     
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