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That Which Mourns Soundly

What have you been reading recently?

2,203 posts in this topic

Hmm. I finished The Hundred Thousand Kingdom a few days ago. I absolutely loved it until the very last chapter. The ending was a rather jarring change of direction, and not in a good way.

 

Also, I'll admit some of the earlier content (mostly involving the God of Night) seemed... very unwholesome.

 

Whatever though, I'll buy the rest of the trilogy. THTK is probably the best debut SF novel I've ever read; I'm inclined to give Jemisin the benefit of the doubt for now.

 

Oh, I also tried to read God's War by Kameron Hurley last week. I gave up after four chapters or so. Well written, great worldbuilding, interesting concepts; but the graphic violence was too much for me. I really wanted to like the novel, but couldn't bring myself to slog through it. I think I'm getting more sensitive with age (and thank the gods for that).

 

Anyway, there's probably an interesting potential essay in comparing Jemisin's "warrior" protagonist with Hurley's "mercenary". But I won't be the one to write it.

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I liked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, largely because of Nahadoth - I thought Jemisin did the deity-character-embodying-(vague-and-contradictory)-high-concept thing very very well in that book, especially with Nahadoth, and dealing with those characters makes up a good portion of the book. I sure don't think it was the best debut SF novel ever(Windup Girl? China Mountain Zhang? The Darkness That Comes Before? Neuromancer? like seriously there's a lot of good [censored]in debut novels), but I liked it a decent amount. It comes close to the "you, the author, are just giving me your thinly-disguised political opinions" line but it doesn't cross it and the opinions are inoffensive or agreeable anyways. What did you find jarring about the ending?

 

I suuuuper hate the sequel. It totally fails in every way the first book succeeds. There is none of the well-thought-out characterization, the main conflict is obfuscated or ignored for five-sixths of the book, the sequence of events seems completely arbitrary, the romance is extremely flat with an extremely flat dude, the POV character has way less drive and motivation and understanding of the world, really just a huge disappointment. It actively makes un-special the most special things about the first book. Haven't read the third one yet, have no pressing desire to get around to it.

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I didn't like Neuromancer all that much. :p Admittedly "debut SF novels I've read" is a small pool though.

 

Hope I didn't come across as combative above. Opinions are an opinionated thing. I will try not to tread on yours.

 

(Re the ending, I really need to figure out how to use the spoiler tags...)

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Neuromancer can be quite hit and miss, but it treads richer ground than THTK, I think.

 

Combative? Nah, saying what you think about books is what the topic's for. :p

 

To spoiler, do

 


[spoiler]spoiler text goes here[/spoiler]

 

to get

 

 

spoiler text goes here

 

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Okay, let's try this again...

 

 

 

Basically I felt like THTK was building inexorably towards a climax that would be way over Yeine's head. I expected her to sacrifice herself, and be narrating as a ghost or from the afterlife or something, with a bird's eye view of the consequences of her actions. Or maybe trapped in the Stone of Earth so that Enefa could live again. Or something. Anything but actually survive.

 

And yes, I will freely admit that I felt a lot of sympathy for Yeine, was really caught up in the story's development, and was prepared to be shocked into tears by the ending. When things at the coronation went even more pear-shaped than I expected, I was like: "oh no oh no oh no..."

 

... And then Yeine went all Mary Sue and came back to life to fix things, and I was like "Wait what the hell that is just completely bogus."

 

IOW, I expected a bittersweet cathartic ending, and instead got a "happy" deus ex machina one (for Yeine anyway) that rang completely false. I enjoyed the ride an awful lot, but the ending was enough to knock a star off my review on Amazon.

 

In retrospect, I probably should have recognized some of the signs; e.g. Yeine surviving mind-sex with Nahadoth. The interview at the end did have Jemisin mentioning she fell completely in love with Yeine, which... well, there you have it I guess. But I was expecting something much more from the ending.

 

 

 

So yeah, I might just be a fool with easily-pulled chains. As I indicated, I've bought the second book and am hoping that Jemisin corrects the failings of the first one. Don't get me wrong, it's very much pulp fantasy, but I thought it had good ideas and mostly good execution and a lot of potential. It just could have been much better, if Jemisin had followed it to its (IMO) logical conclusion.

 

Satisfied? :p

 

Edit: finished the second book. IMO it was stronger in some places than the first, but weaker in others. Notably, Oree feels less memorable than Yeine; perhaps as overcompensation? Also the antagonist's motives seemed a bit weak. I still liked the way the godlings were drawn though; even the minor ones were, for the most part, endearingly oddball.

 

OTOH, the ending did not disappoint this time. Jemisin does macabre really well.

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man, i have a very different opinion of the second book. :p

 

just finished The Book of the New Sun, which was beautiful and deep and thoughtful and moving. still drifting around in thoughts of it.

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I read Stephenson's Seveneves earlier this year, and Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality a little bit after that. That last one kind of pulled me into the whole Rationalism/LessWrong space, so via Slate Star Codex I've also been introduced to Unsong, which has a wonderfully bizarre setting.

 

Between the linguistics, the puns and the Kabbalah references, I think Alorael might like it.

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I crash read 9 books of the wheel time series. Finished the first 3 in less than a week. It is golden. If you like high fantasy books where the author is so good a writer he doesnt try. I mean seriously he doesn't try. Specially with the names and sayings. The books are remmarkable for having painted a strong cultural diversity in that world. It has some of the most remmarkable characters i ever read and most of them are women! Also the book strongly avoids chlichés in fantasy. I guess not strongly but so far it seems to have.

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I enjoyed the Wheel of Time series as well, but it did seem to drag out to me. It was a very well crafted world but just so long.

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I enjoyed the Wheel of Time series as well, but it did seem to drag out to me. It was a very well crafted world but just so long.

Yah. A few books were by far unnecessary. The great hunt was particularly pointless imo. Some characters are also pretty frustrating. I just hope that by the time i finish, it will be loss and confusion usually available after very good books. Not overwhelming relief that comes with draggy ones.

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It does. It left my curious as to what happened next, but it wrapped up the loose ends that needed to be wrapped up and provided a satisfying conclusion.

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*picks up pace*

On the other hand we have the girl with the dragon tattoo trilogy. I usually detest detective kind of books. And this one is rather edgy but well written. I finished the first in one day some 3 years ago,(i.e. couldnt drop the book till over). And am thinking about starting the new ones before the month enda

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I finished Too Like the Lightning the other day, and while I ended up liking it - liking it significantly, in fact - it came a hair's breadth from losing me about 3/4 in. And I'm not sure I would give it a general recommendation, either. Maybe I'm just overfamiliar with the circles that gave rise to it, maybe I'm too conceited to trust people with complex works, maybe I'm having trouble separating themes of the book from the fixations of its narrator, and maybe my feelings will change when the other half comes out, but it seems too. . . particular a thing for most people.

 

Actual stuff about the book: This is an SF book set in a couple-hundred-years-off future where global transit has become nearly a nonissue. Geographical nation-states have dissolved, replaced by a variety of voluntarily-joined governments and legalities bound by ideology, not territory. And families have been replaced by groups of four-to-twenty friends and colleagues raising children and supporting each other cooperatively. And religion and gender have become -extremely- taboo subjects often prohibited by law from being discussed publicly. And a buuunch of other stuff. It's a neat future, elements and ethics of which may seem familiar to some today.

 

A lot of the book is devoted to displaying and describing that world, which I greatly appreciate. A lot of the book deals with the leaders of the various factions, their power plays, their relationships, the philosophies of the world(as in, actual formal eighteenth-century philosophies), the crises the plot revolves around, and the actual doings of the narrator. And a lot of the book - a looot of the book - is its own slashfic AU where the major characters all frequent the same brothel in the 1700s.

 

And I geeet iiiiit. The author, Ada Palmer, knows what she likes. She's a professor of history focused on the 18th century and philosophy at Chicago University. She has a heart after that of many a nerd. And, as is the perennial failing of our kind, she is way more into her thing than is entirely appropriate to share. For me, it's pagan religions: if you can give me feelings like the feelings I have for Odin, you can legit change my [censored]ing life. For her, it's the eighteenth century and its development of philosophy. She's got a lot of really cool ideas about a lot of things, and also really likes having very attractive people dress up in ridiculous 1700s finery and roleplay - with great accuracy, I'm sure - eighteenth-century gender roles, courting behaviors, and sexual proclivities. And she is way more into that than I am.

 

I mean, it's not done poorly, not by any means. It's very well woven into the plot and there are actual reasons for these things to be happening and actual effects they have on the world. Did you ever want to know what the [censored]ing point of anything the Marquis de Sade wrote was? Well, this book will tell you. By showing. Sometimes the asides into expositing on a great variety of political and philosophical 18th century things get a little cumbersome, but they're usually relevant and interesting. Also this person is dressed up like Louis XIV. Fine, that's what she likes.

 

That was the toughest thing to get over, I think, but it was worth it. It's genuinely a good book with a unique setting, and there's great skill in how the plot turns and how certain things are revealed. Interesting things are done with the narrator and the narrator's conceits. I initially thought the book suffered for its framing device, and some things about it still annoy me - like assigning gendered pronouns essentially arbitrarily - but there are legitimate and interesting reasons for it that become clear only slowly, and in the end I think it works.

 

I don't trust you to properly interpret Too Like the Lightning, but I guess I'm gonna recommend it anyways.

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Robert Asprin's Myht-Fits by Jody Lynn Nye is the latest in the Myth Adventures series. Looking at the evils of Reward programs and luxury resorts that demand that you be happy at them. While written in Asprin's style, there has been a shift by Nye to increase the roles of women in the series and adding touches that wouldn't have appeared 30 years ago when he was the sole author.

 

Plenty of nice touches like the chapter heading quotes from D. Trump and other political figures.

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It ends on a high note, so be patient.

 

I have the half read final book sitting on my shelf. After 15 years of reading the series I think I just sort of lost the flow of it sometime between the authors death and the other guy finishing the story (although I think the new guy is a damn good writer).

 

Maybe I'll get to those last 500 pages in the future sometime.

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I don't know what your schedule is, but in preparation for the last book I started from book one and re-read the series.

I will admit that it is not a quick read. But doing it over a few weeks lets you appreciate and understand all the storylines as they lead to the conclusion.

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I don't know what your schedule is, but in preparation for the last book I started from book one and re-read the series.

I will admit that it is not a quick read. But doing it over a few weeks lets you appreciate and understand all the storylines as they lead to the conclusion.

I agree completelly. I heavilly slowed down my reading to get to fully appreciate the build-up. That and other reasons. Still taking your time about it allows you to get more a feel for it. I love the references he has on the book most of all. Once he sorta quoted marquis of pombal. Few people even know of him. Simply priceless. Could be a coincidence too. Doesnt matter.

 

 

On another line i came to realise a lot of books recomended here are from sci fi genre. That being said, the is a book my mom said was very good and i should read. But the copy she has back in moscow is in russian and reading it felt like a slap on the face i do not know if it was a bad translation or russian simply isnt the best language to capture sci fi much like english isnt very good at capturing abstract ideas and feelings compared to direct latin languages(i read le petit prince in portuguese and english and they simply are not the same) or direct latin languages arent good at capturing nature. In any case i couldnt read it. But now years later i would like to read it. But in english i can buy the e book i figure. Here comes the hard part now. I do not know the title or the author but i think the main character was called aelita as in ahehleetah(i think). Its all i remember of it. Now if any of you know what im talking about would be helpfull. I asked my mother about it. Sadly she also cant remember the author(and none of us is in moscow. Tbh the book might not even be there anymore). She says the title is also aelita but idk if its the same title in english. Anyway. Help a brother out with this vaguer than mist information?

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There is a Tolstoy science fiction book that in English is titled Aelita, or the Decline of Mars. There are english translations of it, though obviously it was written in Russian. I realize I am sending you in a circle, but . . .

 

Many years ago, I was in a summer program at a college that had a copy of a collection of Russian Science Fiction that had been translated via computer into English. This was long enough ago that the translation algorithms were really poor and so I ended up not reading it.

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"No Way!" Yep thats the one. I have confirmation. I was sure it was a bad translation. *sighs in exasperation* maybe it will suit me better at this day and age. Anyway i am to point out that this is alexei tolstoi not lev tolstoi which is famous for well war and peace, anna karenina and anything strongly describing nature and country life. Part of my initial "No way!" Reaction was due to that. Anyway. Im to read it this year but i hear its a good book if a "bit" politicised. She's a fan of ray bradburry so its probably similar in some ways.

Thanks for the help. Excuse me while i sit in a corner in shame xD

 

EDIT: On a similar line; while i dont know a lot of russian books myself, i have some that i highly recomend. Most of all i recomend is not really a book. Its a story part of a compilation of russian folk stories by alexander afanasiev called vasilisa the beautifull, which is roughly put the russian version of cinderela. Bias appart i think vasilisa is a much better story. The whole compilations has interesting stories most you'll find familiar however. Worth a read.

Other than that there was an epic called bylina. Say call it the russian odissey but written in a somewhat eneid style. As with folk stories it had an oral tradition so a written version may vary from another.

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Sorry to resurrect this thread but on; Memory of Light WOT14

 

WHAT HIGH NOTE! EVERYONE IS DYING! I MEAN... SHEESH. I CAN PROBABLY DEDUCE THAT THAT SOMEHOW MIGHT BE FIXED BUT WHAT THE HELL... ALL THESE FEELS! GAAAAAH!

Edit: i finished it now. With grudging respect over the author not having brought people back to life. None that matter anyway. How do i even start to get over this.

 

 

Edit: That is a major spoiler. So avoid it if you haven't finished.

Srsly sorry blxz.

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Well, in the last six weeks I've been amusing myself by rereading Eddings' Sparhawk series. Currently up to the end of The Shining Ones (5/6). I don't think I've read these books since high school, some fifteen years ago or so. They're... not as good as I remember, sadly. I can't remember if the Belgariad/Malloreon was better, but I'll probably leave that for now.

 

On a nicer note, though, I just bought the first three Culture books. Banks is a complete gap in my education so far, and from everything I've been told I've really missed out.

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Sorry to resurrect this thread but on; Memory of Light WOT14

 

WHAT HIGH NOTE! EVERYONE IS DYING! I MEAN... SHEESH. I CAN PROBABLY DEDUCE THAT THAT SOMEHOW MIGHT BE FIXED BUT WHAT THE HELL... ALL THESE FEELS! GAAAAAH!

Edit: i finished it now. With grudging respect over the author not having brought people back to life. None that matter anyway. How do i even start to get over this.

 

 

Still reading it. It's sitting there at about 2/3 finished. And your spoiler.....ohh your spoiler..... :(

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Still reading it. It's sitting there at about 2/3 finished. And your spoiler.....ohh your spoiler..... :(

 

Bro its been a month and im still half pissed half sad half disbelieving. But you should finish it. It has some very interesting food for thought somewhere. Perrin's arc is actually very interesting as it goes. Etc..

But sorry about the spoiler i should have been more specific on the magnitude of it. We can cry together when you're done :(

 

That being said im sort of pleasantly surprised that the first two gay characters on the series were introduced(not really introduced but ya) by a Mormon writer. Who would have thought. +Points for trully being the book with the most diverse world. So im thinking about buying his other books. Not mistborn though. Strikes me as very uninspired.

 

Also i feel your pain lambda closure. Been reading the inkheart trilogy again. Still aint done with the first book. The meager 200 or so pages book is taking me an eternity to finish. Not that i would say its a bad book. Its still good. But not as captivating as it was earlier. And i still love Gwin more than anything in most books i've read.

 

 

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Since finishing my undergrad in the spring, I've taken a short break from reading non-fiction to catch up on more light reading. I've been working my way through the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett, which is really refreshingly honest and light and just plain ol' witchy fun. I've got a long list of books to read after that, but I'll mention those as I get to them!

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Bro its been a month and im still half pissed half sad half disbelieving. But you should finish it. It has some very interesting food for thought somewhere. Perrin's arc is actually very interesting as it goes. Etc..

But sorry about the spoiler i should have been more specific on the magnitude of it. We can cry together when you're done :(

 

That being said im sort of pleasantly surprised that the first two gay characters on the series were introduced(not really introduced but ya) by a Mormon writer. Who would have thought. +Points for trully being the book with the most diverse world. So im thinking about buying his other books. Not mistborn though. Strikes me as very uninspired.

 

Also i feel your pain lambda closure. Been reading the inkheart trilogy again. Still aint done with the first book. The meager 200 or so pages book is taking me an eternity to finish. Not that i would say its a bad book. Its still good. But not as captivating as it was earlier. And i still love Gwin more than anything in most books i've read.

 

Well I finished the final WoT book during all the flights I took this holiday season. Pretty decent ending. I still don't know what you meant by the "first two gay characters". Perhaps I missed something or perhaps I am just far to innocent to take subtle hints?

 

As for the rest of it, I thought it was a bloody good closure. They were killing off characters pretty quickly in the last few chapters, I'm also pretty impressed with some of the characters finally being useful even if some of my predictions didn't come explicitly true (I was sure there would be an olver-birgitte romance there somewhere). Pretty solid series and the ending was satisfying, if somewhat rushed (700 pages of repeating battle followed by 60 or so pages of rapid resolution just doesn't feel natural).

 

Any special tidbits to share owenmoz now that we can chat without minding spoilers?

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I still don't know what you meant by the "first two gay characters". Perhaps I missed something or perhaps I am just far to innocent to take subtle hints?

 

There is a brief reference to one of the Asha'man preferring men.

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I recently finished David Drake's Book of Elements series. A group of Roman citizens just after the end of the Republic dealing with magical threats. The author's love for that era really shows. The ending wrapped up what needed to be wrapped up while leaving the future of the main characters open enough that he could expand the series if he wants to.

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There is a brief reference to one of the Asha'man preferring men.

 

Oh, yeah there was that I suppose. In a book where everyone has a name and a backstory and a unique way of smoothing their skirts I suppose the fact that some random has a sexual preference wasn't really at the forefront of my mind.

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Things I have read recently:

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William Taubman: a very good biography, which won the Pulitzer... there's not a lot to be said about it. It's an excellent biography.

Chronicles of the First Crusade (ed. Christopher Tyerman) and Chronicles of the Crusades (Villehardouin + Joinville): reread these, actually. Primary sources on Crusades Nos 1, 4, and 7/8.

The Bloody White Baron by James Palmer: a biography of Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, the insane protofascist who somehow ended up running Mongolia briefly in the early 20s. A good book, despite some embarrassing errors (I think he refers to the Estonians as Slavs? which is not right.)

Life's Lottery by Kim Newman: a "literary" (or at least, non-child-oriented) gamebook/choose your own adventure novel. It is a hell of a thing, and also I'm sure I've missed a bunch of it.

The Arabian Nights: a cheapo "Barnes and Noble Classics" reprint of a public domain translation of the core stories + Aladdin and Ali Baba from the Victorian era. Inevitably bowdlerized, but there are some very nice engraved illustrations.

My Ears are Bent by Joseph Mitchell: a compilation of the newspaper reporting Mitchell did in the 1930s before he moved to the New Yorker and became the greatest American nonfiction writer of the 20th century, and probably ever. Good, but only really of interest if you want to see where he came from pre-New Yorker.

The Northern Crusades by Eric Christiansen: an underwhelming, short, over-broad survey of the Northern Crusades. Much too light on detail about the personalities involved, on details of major battles involved, on details of the diplomatic wrangling with Poland et al... unfortunately this is, as far as I can tell, the only book-length English work on the subject. From the late 70s, revised in 2000 I think? I looked at the bibliography and one of the first sources cited (on Baltic paganism) is by Gimbutas, which makes me profoundly leery.

 

Presently reading:

Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic by John French: the autobiography of Captain Beefheart's most-usual drummer/guitarist/arranger. Very interesting in places (insights on band dynamics and personalities, interviews with rarely-interviewed band members, the track-by-track commentary on every album in the back of the book), but inevitably patchy (not a lot going on when he's not actually in the band). The story of one man's relationship with Captain Beefheart, rather than the story of the Captain's career. Over 850 pages of fairly small print: a doorstopper. (Also has some very groan-inducing stuff... I skimmed towards the end a bit and there's a profoundly embarrassing bit where the author and his wife (now Evangelical/Charismatic Christians) undergo a horrible exorcism/faith healing thing where he's LIBERATED FROM THE SPIRIT OF WITCHCRAFT or something.) (Also the author met his wife when he was like 18 and she was like 12/13? and he describes her as beautiful and "jailbait" then... I mean, nothing against them? I'm glad they're happy together after so long. But also: that's super-creepy, dude. Don't lust for kids like that, even if it's for your wife, in retrospect.)

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson: the vampire/zombie novel all modern works of vampire/zombie fiction rip off either directly (Night of the Living Dead took a lot from the first film adaption of the novel) or indirectly (the million NOTLD clones). (eg: any work that has zombie-ism or vampirism caused by a contagion as opposed to magic is lifting from this novel.) Terse and snappy like the best 50s pulp sci-fi, it is amazing how badly the Will Smith film botches everything about it.

 

To read:

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccacio: the Penguin Classics edition, which features over 150 pages of introduction where the translator explains his methods and decisions and the themes of the novel and stuff, I guess. Very exciting.

Some book about the history of gold... it's one of those books on a semi-topical subject (the popularity of gold following the 08 economic crash) by a journalist: one of those books that has suspiciously wide margins, and 1.5x spacing, and is still only about 200 pages long, and which really probably should have been a series of magazine articles in Smithsonian or NatGeo or something, and where you KNOW half the book is gonna be interviews with people interspersed with bits of cursory research into the history on the subject. But hey, it was on clearance for $2 at Half Price Books, and I had a gift card from Christmas.

Probably gonna reread Dracula, because it's so good, and because I got a new copy, because my old copy was evidently based on a horrible OCR or the text, replete with horrible typos. Typos, in a public domain book that came out over 100 years ago. At least nick the Project Gutenberg text, guys, it's not that hard.

 

The "new" copy of Dracula I got is a BANTAM CLASSICS edition, probably from the 80s (the introduction is copyright 1981), but I suspect this is one of those lines of public domain books that the publisher never lets go out of print, so realistically it could've been printed any time between 81 and about 2000 or so.

 

There is an ad on the back endpaper of the book from the Ad Council. It warns that unless we do something, the literacy rate of the USA could be down to 30% by the year 2000. God forbid.

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I just started Ancillary Justice. A hundred pages in or so, it's entertaining. There are some editing issues with the dialogue, namely the editor needed to make the author clarify who's speaking more often, but it's overall still very worthwhile and I hear that the sequels tidy up that issue.

 

—Alorael, who enjoyed I Am Legend and is disappointed by the profusion of adaptations that never even attempt to capture the plot or spirit of the original.

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—Alorael, who enjoyed I Am Legend and is disappointed by the profusion of adaptations that never even attempt to capture the plot or spirit of the original.

 

At least one had Vincent Price!

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—Alorael, who enjoyed I Am Legend and is disappointed by the profusion of adaptations that never even attempt to capture the plot or spirit of the original.

 

I was considerably disappointed in the original book of I am Legend. I expected so very much more going in and was left with a lingering disappointment at the big reveal being so (in my view) poorly executed.

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I was considerably disappointed in the original book of I am Legend. I expected so very much more going in and was left with a lingering disappointment at the big reveal being so (in my view) poorly executed.

 

It's not really something like The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects or an episode of The Twilight Zone (which the author of I Am Legend actually wrote several episodes of), where the twist is the point of the story, and knowing the twist ruins the effect. If it were, I think the story would've ended much sooner, like an HP Lovecraft story, with the horrible revelation printed in italics as the last line of the novel.

 

It's more about how the protagonist reacts to the revelation: he's a pretty straightforward everyman character who acts in a way that is presented to the reader as entirely reasonable, and the way anyone would be likely to act under the same circumstances. He's developed to show that he acts and feels the way he does for entirely relatable reasons. Then, suddenly, he finds out that he has in fact been doing terrible things. The reveal per se isn't the point so much as the larger themes.

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So far this year I've read:

 

Child of God. It was a wonderful holiday read, full of cheer, goodwill, and succinct, biting, and elegant writing.

 

The Princess Saves Herself In This One, which was honestly not that good, and only really worth it if you want to see how not to write poetry. I had to pretend I liked it because it was a gift. And that's sad, because the subject matter was good. It was just tumblr-level poetry. Which is to say, MY level of poetry. :(

 

We which I've been meaning to read for a while, on Nayld's recommendation, and which was absolutely worth the two hours it took to get through. If I had one complaint, it was that 1984 and Brave New World ruined it for me, but it's brilliant to see the seeds that it planted in Orwell and Huxley, and the breakdown of logic in the face of humanity was probably better handled here than in either of the other two books mentioned.

 

I also started The Intended, but I'm probably not going to finish that because it sucks

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Hey, don't sell yourself short. You don't write Tumblr-level poetry. You write Wordpress-level poetry.

 

(I had the benefit of reading We before I had read or even heard of 1984 and the like. Literally just picked it off the shelf because it had an intriguing title and cover art. Was not at all what preteen me was expecting but I still enjoyed it. Probably should do a reread at some point.)

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If you want a good poetry book try the prophet by Khalil Gibran. Or alternatively the works of Pushkin are very good but im not sure how faithful the translations are.

 

(Also stop kinkshaming my poetry. It is kewl and edgy n full of deep deep meaning)

 

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A book on the history of glassmaking. I'm also trying to bash my way through "The Lies of Locke Lamorra", but I quite dislike the non linear writing. Constantly leaving baits to keep the reader interested. Bad writing in my opinion.

 

Anyone read a history book lately? Anything they care to share their opinion on? I have a bunch of marine/ocean related books I just can't stay interested in. I should read them, bu I don't.

 

Then there's chemistry in school. Does it never end?

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My history reading used to be shaped by the to be shelved cart at my public library near the University of Chicago. That meant lots of history and archeology books about the Mideast and Greece.

 

"Then there's chemistry in school. Does it never end?"

 

​Either with graduation or a major explosion.

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"Then there's chemistry in school. Does it never end?"

 

​Either with graduation or a major explosion.

I graduated, and while there's markedly less chemistry in my books, it's certainly not down to zero. It all depends on what you do after graduation. (Or how big the explosion is, I suppose.)

 

—Alorael, who is saddened by the lack of abiding love for Locke Lamora. He ranks it as one of his favorite books. Its sequels are very worthwhile as well, but equally fond of jumping around in time and space.

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I had a friend recommend me Locke Lamora, and I was gonna check it out, but then I discovered that it's the first book in a projected seven-book series, with the four thus-far-unpublished books already titled. And at the current rate, it'll be over a decade before the series is finished. And then there's already a planned sequel series, which also will be seven novels long. So, I didn't read it. I'm sure it's good, but I don't really want to get tangled into the marketing nightmare that is modern fantasy publishing.

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Yep, between Robert Jordan dying and the old fat guy who writes the sing of ice and fire novels, I've almost given up reading any in-progress series.

 

On the other hand I am part way through the book that got Salman Rushdie his fatwa - The Satanic Verses. Not quite all it was cracked up to be. (Me getting disappointed over famous books seems to be a recurring theme).

 

On the otherhand, I'm in the process of re-reading Catch-22. A fabulous story and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a 'classic' that is actually living up to its reputation.

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Recently re-read Persuasion. Easily the finest of Jane Austen's novels, in my opinion. She had a truly remarkable grasp of human nature. Decided to follow it up with re-reading Pride and Prejudice. P&P's writing is a bit more polished, I think, and it's funnier than Persuasion, but the humor is also a bit more...set up or contrived, whereas the humor (and the characters overall) in Persuasion feel much more like real people, or at least like totally real situations. P&P skews a little more in the direction of caricature, versus the slightly toned down quality of Persuasion's satire.

 

Someone asked about history: I'm currently reading Fateful Lightning by Dr. Allen Guelzo. It's a history of the American Civil War, of which Guelzo is one of the finest historians of our time. I'm not very far into it, but I've read some of his other works and they were quite excellent.

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Anyone read a history book lately?

 

Sarah Vowell is my favorite author. She writes "humorous narrative historical nonfiction", definitely a niche genre but quite fascinating. Her latest book is "Lafayette in the Somewhat United States". I haven't read it but I loved what I have read by her.

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I don't, as a general rule, read the beginning of a series until the end is published. It's worth making an exception for The Lies of Locke Lamora. The first book is very standalone; I read it and felt completely satisfied without knowing it was a series, and finding out that there is a subsequent series (that I doubt will ever be completed) made me happy to read those but didn't change my feelings about the first book. It's an excellent fantasy heist romp.

 

—Alorael, who tore through Ancillary Justice and is on to the sequel. Definitely a book meant to be read in a series, although it has enough of a conclusion to mostly stand on its own. Excellent world-building and a fascinating exercise in a factually reliable but very low self-insight narrator.

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Hot update: recently read:

Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville: a very uneven collection of short stories. Too many of them lack endings and close on a striking but meaningless image. But when it's good, it's very good.

This Census-Taker also by China Mieville: I am not entirely sure I understood this book. It's very short (a novella) and in uncharacteristically sparse prose for Mieville, but very slippery in terms of meaning (the narrator was a child at the time of the events recounted in the book, making him potentially unreliable) and context (the worldbuilding is only ever hinted at very barely). But it was very well-written and tense and unease-inducing, so I liked it.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard: a history of Rome (obviously) from its founding to AD 212, the point Beard identifies as the end of the first phase of the Roman Empire. Good, readable, easy to understand. Unusual for this kind of book in that it's really a social history; she's more interested in discussing the everyday lives and ideas of the ancient Romans than in recounting every war and battle in detail, or moralizing about decadent politicians and emperors. I like this, I like the aspect of history that illuminates the continuity of human experience over time and across the world.

 

Now reading:

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

 

To read:

Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo (a dead-serious narrative history) (from the "Discussion Questions" section of the webpage: "What surprised you most about the story of the molasses flood?")

A Specter is Haunting Texas by Fritz Leiber (which I originally wanted to read based exclusively on one of its covers)

Still gotta read the Decameron...

 

—Alorael, who tore through Ancillary Justice and is on to the sequel. Definitely a book meant to be read in a series, although it has enough of a conclusion to mostly stand on its own. Excellent world-building and a fascinating exercise in a factually reliable but very low self-insight narrator.

 

Important recent work by Ann Leckie

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Haven't been doing much reading lately, but I'm getting back into writing, which is great. It's been too many years since I tried doing a proper story :)

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I finished The Intended. It didn't suck as much as I feared.

 

I read Marrow which is a bad book that I read because a cute girl gave it me to read.

 

I read some of Amy Gerstler's poetry (Dearest Creature) and it was super good and fun and inspiring.

 

I read Moderato Cantabile again because it is perfect and I wish to hold it inside of me forever.

 

I just started reading a new translation of The Stranger (interestingly called The Outsider) and comparing it to my favourite translation.

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Just finished The Power by Naomi Alderman.

 

I love this book, and wish it had existed when I was 16.

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