So what, you are reading? v. 2017

Discussion in 'Books' started by Ismitje, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. G-boot

    G-boot Member

    Manchester United
    Nov 6, 2004
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    Enjoyed it. Even though I read it when I was grappling the most in my life with the concept of freewill. I had throat gulps and dry heaves, the nausea kind, while scanning it with bug eyes.
     
  2. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I haven't posted here most of this year because it's been a bad year for me, readingwise...

    I started out with a biography of Christopher Wren, who is an ancestor of my wife, and he was an interesting guy, but at the end of the day, I wished I'd just read his wikipedia page.

    Then, I discovered that I must be the only guy in America who was not blown away by Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. I was ready for conceit that the underground railroad really was a railroad, and that it was underground, but the casual brutality of slavery in general, and the slave hunter in particular, was more than I could take.

    I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. What the various cell cultures of this woman has done for medicine in amazing. The author estimates that there are over 50 tons of Lacks' cell cultures in the world today. And there are over 2 million cells in a single teaspoon, so it is amazing. Now the initial cells were harvested without Henrietta's permission, and the fact that she was a poor, black woman makes that obscene in some sense, but you know what, I just don't share her family's outrage over her desecration. When I'm dead, if someone wants to draw a mustache on my face with a sharpie, I just couldn't care.

    Wanting something easier to read, I picked up the first Kurt Wallender novel, Faceless Killers and was depressed for weeks. It sucks. I just don't get the Henning Mankel love. I like to read the blurbs on books, and the LA Times' blurb was: An exquisite novel of mesmerizing depth and suspense. I'd agree with just one word of that blurb: this is a novel. And yet it is so much better than my mystery. Really, really depressing....

    And then I picked this up:

    Asimov Shakespeare.jpg

    Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare

    and...

    Asimov Bible.jpg

    Asimov's Guide to the Bible

    ... And my faith in the printed word was restored. These are simply stunning works and the first non-fiction I've read by Isaac Asimov. They won't be the last. Each work is about 1500 pages, so I didn't read them cover to cover, but I skimmed them intently. I am sure I will skim them for the rest of my life.

    These two books are extremely idiosyncratic, and not exhaustive by any means. Apparently Asimov wasn't that interested in Marc Antony's "Brutus is an honorable man" speech, because he covers that in a couple of pages. But reading the prelude to Richard II (which I will see this winter at the Blackfriars in Staunton, Virginia), Asimov takes a dozen pages to detail the history and the setting of the play.

    More than any book I have ever read, these two books are a conversation with the author. Asimov covers what interests him, and glosses over what doesn't.

    Truly, truly stunning...
     
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  3. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Welcome back! I didn't really like The Underground Railroad either. Disturbing fiction has a place and a role and can be very important, but since I spend much of my life knee-deep in heavy stuff, I often prefer to avoid it.

    I just finished a book from Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland called The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. about magic and time travel and physics and such, mostly in the name of changing history to prevent Russia from taking over Crimea (but you can't change too much or too quickly else the universe corrects via a massive explosion) . It takes place in modern-day Boston, in 1204 Constantinople, in 1605 London, and in/near Salem. The perspectives are myriad - letters, journal entries, internal communiques, and the more straightforward prose - and the cast of characters is massive. It largely takes its time over its 800 pages. I wish it was 450 pages but it was pretty fun, and remarkably detailed and complex of plot until the last section when it seems they rushed, the protagonists became more passive, big things happened "off screen" and the story wrapped up but didn't really end.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Thailand
    Vathek - William Beckford

    [​IMG]



    A strange "oriental" tale
     
  5. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    [​IMG]

    A Void, an experimental novel by Georges Perec, yet subtle enough that the experiment wasn't noticed by many of the first several reviewers when it was published in France. The entire novel was written without a single use of the letter "E."

    So a shoutout to translator Gilbert Adair, who was able to put the novel in English, also without using the letter E and without scrambling too much of the sense of the original.
     
  6. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    [​IMG]

    The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man From Whom God Hid Nothing by Bernard McGinn
     
  7. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just a little late semester, grading exams sort of reading, then? ;)
     
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  8. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire

    Grading hasn't been that onerous. Of the JuCo football players, I had three sections of public speaking and one small section of comp. Knocked that off in a couple hours. At the Catholic liberal arts college where my wife is a dean, there were 3 comp classes and I have a fresh pile of 60 8-10 page research papers. But I've seen multiple drafts of them, so I basically know what each student needs to do to get the best grade they he or she could possibly get. So I'll read them to see if they did what I told them they needed to do. If so, they'll get the higher grade. If not, they get the lower one.

    Don't tell anyone, but I generally know by the end of the first page where their grade going to wind up. But I still read the whole thing to make sure my first impression remains correct. Along those lines, I'm starting one that I've never finished, and have even owned at least three times:

    [​IMG]

    The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, the first of a four volume set that I've started before but have at least five DNF's for it, written by Joseph Campbell
     
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  9. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    9780142408766_p0_v3_s550x406.jpg

    Little Women -- Louisa May Alcott


    I'm going to see Little Women -- The Musical in Rochester in a couple of days, and since I had never read this classic, I decided now was the time.

    Ugh. This book is tedious. I can see why it is so loved by so many women, and there are elements that seem distinctly modern, even if this still a romantic work presaging the realist movement. I get the significance of this work in it's place in American lit, but still, this book is tedious.

    Apparently Little Women was an instant best seller and within months Alcott was asked what happens to Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, so she quickly wrote a sequel that was called, at least in England, Little Wives. The versions of Little Women that we have here in the states package both Little Women and Little Wives into a single work. Which explains some of the tediousness and the pacing problems. If I had know this as I was reading, I might have a more charitable opinion of the book overall. But for right now, I am happier to be able to say I read the book than I was actually reading it.

    My wife says that Little Men is a far superior work. I suppose I will give it a try sometime, but if you ever find someone considering whether to read this work, have them try this instead:

    All of a Kind Family.jpg
     
  10. chaski

    chaski Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Itchycoo Park
    Club:
    Lisburn Distillery FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Thailand
    Emma - Jane Austen

    [​IMG]


    "The author's knowledge of the world, and the peculiar tact with which she presents characters that the reader cannot fail to recognize, reminds us something of the merits of the Flemish school of painting. The subjects are not often elegant, and certainly never grand: but they are finished up to nature, and with a precision which delights the reader." - Sir Walter Scott
     
  11. Excape Goat

    Excape Goat Member+

    Mar 18, 1999
    Hong Kong
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    [​IMG]

    I have not read John Grisham much since the 1990's, but I read two of his books this year. This book is very slow paced.... I wanted to say that I did not like it, but somehow I read it quickly.... I must have liked it.
     
  12. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    [​IMG]

    My first time reading anything by Penelope Fitzgerald.
     
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  13. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm what I call a lapsed historian - I have a Ph.D. in the discipline but my academic life isn't in the field - but I am a bit snobby when it comes to reading popular histories. This book, though - Thomas Powers' The Killing of Crazy Horse - does it just right. I was impressed enough to get it for my dad for Christmas.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Break from Joseph Campbell for the day to read a book I'm assigning in an upper-level contemporary poetry class

    [​IMG]

    Midwinter Day a 100 page poem written on December 22, 1978, by poet Bernadette Mayer
     
  15. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

    Feb 12, 2005
    Woodstock, NY
    Club:
    DC United
    How is 1978 contemporary?
     
  16. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well, the Epic of Gilgamesh was written around 2100 BC, so in relative terms, I'd call it contemporary poetry for sure. ;)
     
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  17. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    She wrote a 100 page poem in one day?

    Is it any good, or are you teaching this as an example of the act brute force craftsmanship?
     
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  18. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Basically, the curriculum hasn't been upgraded in 15 years, so "post-Viet Nam War to Present" was the operating principle. "Modern" poetry still covers c. 1922 to c. 1950 at most places ( modern art usually starts around 1912) with "post-modernism" kicking in around 1950 when poet Charles Olson first used the term, unaware that architects started kicking the word around in 1949, who themselves didn't know that the historian Toynbee used it in ... The 1930s or thereabouts.

    On the one hand, f I'd been making the call, I'd just call it "21st century poetry" (though really not much is happening ... It's sort if like an endless blank-verse filibuster has been going on, waiting for someone to figure out a way to breakthrough.
     
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  19. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Some passages work better than others. Which happens in most poetry collections.

    The focus in the class is on the "long poem" which is basically any book length project. I'm assigning nine out of the possible fifty or sixty that I know know about.
     
  20. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Interesting thing about Gilgamesh that most people don't realize: it's old A.F., but it's also new in that none of the epics we know about were influenced by it, since it had been literally out of circulation for millennia. Props to the archaeologists who dug it up and the linguists who figured out the language.
     
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  21. G-boot

    G-boot Member

    Manchester United
    Nov 6, 2004
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
  22. TheJoeGreene

    TheJoeGreene Member+

    Houston Dynamo
    Aug 19, 2012
    The Lubbock Texas
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Crazy busy year that paid off with a job I wanted and a move to a new city, but I have done a bit of reading. Most of my books are still back east, so here's what I can think of off the top of my head:

    First 2 books in the Themis Files series
    Between the World and Me
    Finish!
    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
    The Death of Expertise
    Make It Stick
    Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy
    Real Artists Don't Starve
    Creative Schools
    Armada

    Currently working on:

    Hemingway, The Paris Years
    Artemis
     
  23. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    [​IMG]

    The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide, an interesting mix of memoir and how-to meant to disabuse people of the idea that being an actor is easy, etc., with interesting stories of the early days of an actress that eventually struck it big, with brief interviews by other working actors who most people have never heard of, as well as a few that I have who still have day jobs, by every heterosexual male's favorite female in The Office, Jenna Fischer
     
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  24. BalanceUT

    BalanceUT RSL and THFC!

    Oct 8, 2006
    Appalachia
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Interesting that the cover blurb on a book by a female actress is by a man now accused of being one of the sexual harassers of Hollywood. I wonder what he means by "...deserving few..." I imagine future printings will remove that blurb.

    More serious (?) comment: A friend of mine where I live is getting increasing amounts of work in the currently booming landscape of episodic TV for the myriad over the top and cable services (Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc.). He lives here and travels to NYC regularly to audition and work, about a 4 to 5 hour drive. He fell into it on a lark, really, after retiring from working as a software engineer for many years and is loving it.

    Then, I think about the dear friend of my wife and myself who lived in NYC for nearly a decade trying to land roles and just couldn't catch a break, couldn't get an agent, etc. I KNOW this friend is honestly more talented an actor than my friend described in the previous paragraph. I believe strongly that if this friend was in NYC right now he'd be getting tons of work because of the booming landscape... but it's an inexplicable business, so it's really impossible to tell.
     
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  25. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    One of the good things about the book is that it takes this into account: she knows damn well that landing Pam Beasley was, in spite of a decade's worth of hard work and devotion to learning her craft, mostly luck. If she hadn't changed her headshot photo when she did, she'd be one of those talented actors that you might recognize who still works for a caterer or as a barista.

    The other thing about the profession is the absolutely massive amount of rejection that even successful actors are guaranteed to face. If you can't deal with that, you have to move on to something else.
     
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