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What books are you reading now?

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Posted

Just finished this fascinating non-fiction work by Ali Soufan entitled The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War against al-Qaeda. The book recounts a master FBI interrogator from his first few years at the Bureau and his work in the counterterrorism unit to when he left the agency in 2009. With an in-depth look into the work about the USS Cole, the East Africa Embassy bombings, 9/11 and other smaller attacks, the book allows a new perspective on the work the government is doing about terrorism. It also reveals the heavy tension that followed after 9/11 between the CIA and the FBI and the White House. For example, the CIA stonewalling the FBI on access to suspects and the White House forcing the use of EITs during interrogations, despite the FBI getting results without them.

All in all a great and informative read.

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Posted

I'm looking for a book that touches me in the way The Road did, that evokes desperation and melancholy. Perhaps a bit less optimistic. Anyone have recommendations?

I suggest you try McCarthy's Border Trilogy, which I hold to be superior to The Road and certainly more melancholy, particularly the second book The Crossing. Here are a few lines from All The Pretty Horses:

"He imagined the pain of the world to be like some formless parasitic being seeking out the warmth of human souls wherein to incubate and he thought he knew what made one liable to its visitations. What he had not known was that it was mindless and so had no way to know the limits of those souls and what he feared was that there might be no limits."

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Posted

I'm looking for a book that touches me in the way The Road did, that evokes desperation and melancholy. Perhaps a bit less optimistic. Anyone have recommendations?

I would recommend almost anything by McCarthy, certainly the trilogy that Hugo mentioned but also Suttree and Blood Meridian especially. McCarthy is currently copy editing a science text, on the condition that he be allowed to ruthlessly purge from the text all semi-colons and exclamation marks, "which have no place in literature." :) It's curious too how he completely eschews quotation marks, and somehow the dialogue does seem all the more powerful for it, like reading a religious text.

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Posted

Not to mention the assigned readings for my classes, I'm reading the following books:

Anti-Oedipus by Deleuze & Guattari

Pygmalion by Shaw

The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism by Nishitani

Nietzsche by Safranski

For spring break I'll be reading the sequel to Les Liaisons Dangereuses, A Factory of Cunning by Stockley, and Being & Time.

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Posted (edited)

I just finished reading The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. Normally, this wouldn't interest me much, but after reading Baker's The Mezzanine, I absolutely had to read more by him. The Mezzanine, by the way, is a very enthralling book, covering the course of about 15 minutes of a man walking back from a pharmacy to work. The catch is that every single thing in the book is expounded upon in such detail it's like zooming in on a fractal, with more and more branches, more and more footnotes-- and even footnotes to footnotes! Fascinating.

Anyway, The Anthologist is initially not terribly interesting. You'll read a bit, put it down, and think, "Ah, okay. I'll wash the dishes now." It's about a sometime-poet who is trying to write an introduction to an anthology of poetry, but is having some difficulty. His girlfriend left him, you see, and his mind's not on it. You get to read what he writes as he muses about what to write. Eventually, you think about the dishes and realize you cannot do the dishes now. It's impossible. The love of poetry of this man shines through his banal existence so brightly that you begin to love it also. The tiny one-line quotes of poems in the book suddenly become the things you want to sound aloud, to desperately skip ahead for-- just so you can say them along with him. And I do admit that immediately upon finishing the book I went to the bookstore and bought an anthology so I could find more poems to read aloud. Highly recommended.

Edited by John Castillo
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Posted

I'm still plodding infrequently through Anathem. I took some time to read simpler stuff, like the first two books of the The Hunger Games and Jay Bonansinga's The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor. The latter makes its deft way through the origin story of TWD's marquee villain thus far. It's humanizing and credibly creepy and tense. I enjoyed both of THG books. For a young-adult popular writer, Suzanne Collins crafts a good story. I know it's derivative, that it owes some specific credit to another book (forget which), and I'm fine with that. I look forward to the third.

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Posted (edited)

Just finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It was a good read, which is what I was looking for after a challenging semester, but it also had several interesting things happening that appealed to my narratological proclivities.

Moving on to Goethe's The Sufferings of Young Werther.

Edited by sniper2811

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Posted

Am currently reading two books:

Still Holding by Bruce Wagner. Pegged as a Bret Easton Ellis expose of the hypocrisies of Hollywood it verges closer to Palahniuk's focus on the vicissitudes of the marginalized underbelly. Solid so far.

Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. New trend of scifi, something like biopunk where genehackers and bioterrorism replace computers and cyber warfare.

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Posted (edited)

Summer solstice, a good day to write down a summer reading list, although there's not anymore time in summer than in the other seasons if you work full time. :(

These are currently in the stack. A couple are rereads, some I've started, some I haven't yet. If I get through them all before fall it will be a nice surprise:

The Decipherment of Linear B, John Chadwick

The Mycenaean World, John Chadwick

The Archaeology of Greece, William R. Biers

The Varieties of Scientific Experience, Carl Sagan

Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain

This Organic Life, Joan Dye Gussow

The Greek Achievement, Charles Freeman

Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell

The Comedy of Errors, William Shakespeare

Archaic Marble Sculpture from the Acropolis, Humfry Payne and Gerard Mackworth Young

The Parthenon and Its Sculptures, John Boardman and David Finn

Olympia: The Sculptures of the Temple of Zeus, Bernard Ashmole and Nicholas Yalouris

A happy summer to all!

AllBlue

Edited by AllBlue

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Posted

Right now, I’m partway through Jung’s Psychological Types-- the book that brought us the terms ‘introversion and ‘extraversion’, and provided a framework for more recent typologies like Kiersey and Myers-Briggs. Unlike those systems, however, it’s not based on preferences, or temperament, but on the psychic functions we tend to use to orient ourselves towards the world, which are a lot harder to pin down with certainty.

The book was originally an attempt to show that the theoretical differences between Freudian and Adlerian psychology, then the subject of heated debates, actually resulted from psychological differences among the adherents. But it’s much more comprehensive than that-- Jung finds evidence of the same conflicts in other typologies that psychologists have put forward, as well as in literature, religion, and philosophy.

Today, most psychologists think of people as having traits rather than types, and reject the claim that there are such deep, irreconcilable differences between us that practically all theories which make universal claims about human beings are invalid-- or, rather, only valid for a fraction of the population. They’re reluctant to depart too far from quantitative methods, which are unable to grasp the subtleties of the problem. But I get the impression they haven’t actually considered Jung’s claims carefully-- probably, his undeserved reputation as a mystic keeps many people from giving them a chance. Also, the fact that figuring out someone’s type using the system is not the simple task we might think it ought to be. Also, that Psychological Types is over 600 pages of dense writing.

It's sometimes a frustrating book, but at the same time a fascinating one. And, as far as I know, nobody since Jung has seriously tried to map out the influence of personal psychology on the history of ideas. (If anyone does know of more recent attempts, I would be interested in reading those, too. :nod: )

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Posted

Looks like a great book, Tzela Vieed :thumleft:

I just finished Alain de Botton's fun but somewhat disappointing Architecture of Happiness.Tho it was well written and persuasively argued, I can't but help feel that the insights were largely second hand, and that they were all forced into the straitjacket of architecture as some causal agent of happiness.

Soon, I'll be finished with Niven's A Mote in God's Eye, and start on Phillip K. Dick's UBIK.

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Posted

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

This book had a hypnotic effect. The short descriptive sentences are rhythmic and make it seem as though someone is reading to you in a low voice. As the sentences pile up on each other, the scene emerges. The technique made me think of photorealism in painting. It's notable that emotions are seldom named or discussed but they are there. The last scene is heartbreakingly dismal even without Henry delving into his feelings.

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Thanks allblue :mrgreen:

I finished Mote in God's Eye. Gotta say this is the first contact scif novel, bar none. Makes Sagan's Contact seem juvenile and patronizing in comparison. While it dragged a bit at the end, it built up a great drama and the resolution was executed rather well.

Now I'm knee deep in the latest n greatest fantasy series from Canada, Erikson's Book of the Fallen series: Gardens of the Moon.

So far:

It's balanced right between the sheer cynical philosophy of Bakker's prince of nothing and the harsh realism of Martin's Ice & Fire.

Seems closer to Herbert's masterpiece than the catchy, effortless style of Martin or the razor-sharp aphoristic writing of Bakker.

And my favorite character so far is Anomander Rake. Of course.

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Posted

Reading (among other things), Dostoevskiy's Братья Карамазовы. Read the chapter entitled, Луковка this morning, and it reminded me of a Japanese short story I'd read last year.

I wonder if Dostoevskiy would have been honoured to know that such a small fable from his greatest epic would inspire one of Japan's most famous short-story writers.

Below is the short story, 蜘蛛の糸 (Kumo no Ito), or The Spider's Thread, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Enjoy! :D

http://www.edogawa-u.ac.jp/~tmkelly/research_spider.html

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Posted

Poor Kandata, he is given a thread of silk to climb the distance between the moon and the earth. Buddha is a masochist. Then again, what redemption isn't? ;)

-Scott

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Posted

Sparing the life of a spider may seem like an insignificant act of compassion to us, but considering what it says in the Buddhist Scriptures concerning those who crush bugs, it seems it's a small act of mercy to not crush a spider, but a huge and evil sin to crush one.

According to the Scriptures, men who deliberately kill living creatures go to Sanjiva (Revival Hell), where they are killed and revived repeatedly for thosuands of years.

Worse yet, in the secondary nirayas (hells) of Sanjiva, they are crushed again and again between rams are large as mountains, and ground up again and again with pestle and mortar.

Considering the punishments for crushing the insect, I think Buddha could have given him more than a spider thread for sparing the life of one. It's almost as though Buddha places huge importance on the life of a spider, but only when it's dead.

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Posted

Finished Gardens of the Moon.

For what it's worth, the plot advances much faster than in any other fantasy I've ever read. It's extremely compressed writing, and doubly rich due to the intricate universe of both metaphysical magic and high-level politics - all likely due to Erikson's background in archaeology and anthropology. I will grab book two the next time I hit the bookstore.

Now it's onto Phillip K. Dick's Valis!

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Posted (edited)

I've been revisiting Unamuno's Tragic Sense of Life:

"Love seeks with fury, through the medium of the beloved, something beyond, and since it finds it not, it despairs."

Gonna have to tie this into the Dark Knight trilogy review... it has much to do in explaining Bane's motivations, an absent explanation that many reviewers have lamented (but that's only because of their myopic vision).

Edited by DeadCanDance

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Posted

Now reading two solid books before fall quarter kicks in:

Gore Vidal's Lincoln

Erikson's Deadhouse Gates

Got bogged down with PKD's VALIS :whatever:

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Polished off Erikson's Deadhouse Gates. A great second installment with a Bataan Deathmarch and a nice epilogue. Instead of moving on to Vidal's Lincoln, I ran out and bought the third book of A Tale of Malazan Book of the Fallen: Memories of Ice. :twisted:

Yes, I should be reading Basic Writings of Karl Marx, but the siren's song is ever tempting...

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Just finished enjoying Dusty's B.K, a novel about children and their fathers, both good and bad.

Oh, and I think the answer to the question, "Why is the bairn crying?" is found in another question: Where is the father?

I was fair buzzing as I reached the conclusion, and would probably like to discuss it a bit in chat later.

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Posted

Right now, I’m reading a collection of some of Baudelaire’s essays on art. Baudelaire is an entertaining writer, and it’s interesting to read his thoughts about far-reaching trends in painting, and others that were confined to his time. I’ve just finished part of an essay focused on one of the latter sort-- or, really, a rant about how cupid is a terrible personification of love. Baudelaire thinks that a rabid horse devouring its master, or a demon, dragging chains behind him and carrying a vial of poison and a bloody dagger, would be much better. :yes:

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Polished off Erikson's Deadhouse Gates. A great second installment with a Bataan Deathmarch and a nice epilogue. Instead of moving on to Vidal's Lincoln, I ran out and bought the third book of A Tale of Malazan Book of the Fallen: Memories of Ice. :twisted:

I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the Malazan books - they really are incredible. I don't know of a story with a larger or more developed world in which the action takes place.

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Posted (edited)

This may be madness, but after finishing H.W. Brands' dry and tedious 888-page biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Traitor to His Class, I have plunged immediately into a 785-page historical novel by Dmitri Merezhkovsky called alternately The Resurrection of the Gods (his original title), The Forerunner, or The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci.

But unlike Brands' book, this one flows wonderfully, presents nuanced characterizations of its main figures, and is full of depth without going overboard on detail. This is the second work in a trilogy of historical novels, called "Christ and Antichrist" (here Antichrist doesn't necessarily have its traditional religious connotation, but should be construed after Nietzsche). I fell madly in love with his first novel, The Death of the Gods (Julian the Apostate), ranking it among the ten best novels I'd ever read, and this one may well turn out to be even better. Despite only starting it this morning, I'm already 20% through the text.

I'm also juggling another historical novel from roughly the same period (both of composition and of setting—the early 20th century and the 16th century, respectively): Ford Madox Ford's The Fifth Queen: And How She Came to Court. And like Merezhkovsky's work, this is part of trilogy, although unlike Merezhkovsky all parts of the trilogy deal with the same figure, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. I'm only planning on reading the first part of the trilogy at this moment, which was recorded by Elizabeth Klett for LibriVox, although I've downloaded the remaining parts of the trilogy from Project Gutenberg for reading later. The links to the Project Gutenberg files are The Fifth Queen, Privy Seal, and The Fifth Queen Crowned.

Edited by Nullifidian
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