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What have you been reading recently?

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Drew   

It's come up before in related threads, but I think you'll find that "Dune" doesn't age very well. Just as you have come to spot the religious indoctrination points you missed in "The Chronicals of Narnia," I think you'll find that having learned a lot more about the political complexities involved in how the world works, the author's presentation in "Dune" is hopelessly simplistic.

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I am halfway into Terry Brooks', "Elfstones of Shannara" and I will then move onto it's predecessor, "Wishsong of Shannara". Overall, it's an interesting book. I became a Brooks fan with his recent work, so it is nice to take a step back into time and read his earlier series.

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Originally written by LunaRaven:
I am halfway into Terry Brooks', "Elfstones of Shannara" and I will then move onto it's predecessor, "Wishsong of Shannara". Overall, it's an interesting book. I became a Brooks fan with his recent work, so it is nice to take a step back into time and read his earlier series.
I think you mean the successor, Wishsong. I'm a big fan of the series, myself (it's kind of what kicked me off into the fantasy genre of books). I've found a lot of people don't like them much, though. But Elfstones, I think, is one of the best in the series.

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The Sword of Shannara was such a blatant rip-off of The Lord of the Rings it almost ruined the later books that started to develop their own style. After Terry Brooks got over the first novel his later works were much better and relied less on copying Tolkien.

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quote:Originally written by LunaRaven:
I am halfway into Terry Brooks', "Elfstones of Shannara" and I will then move onto it's predecessor, "Wishsong of Shannara". Overall, it's an interesting book. I became a Brooks fan with his recent work, so it is nice to take a step back into time and read his earlier series.

I think you mean the successor, Wishsong. I'm a big fan of the series, myself (it's kind of what kicked me off into the fantasy genre of books). I've found a lot of people don't like them much, though. But Elfstones, I think, is one of the best in the series.
Yes, I did mean successor. Thank you for correcting me. Elfstones of Shannara is shaping up to be far better than The Sword of Shannara in my opinion. Although, in my mind, the Voyage to Jerle Shannara series will always be the best of the Shannara series. Who knows though, Mr.Brooks may produce something even more wondrous in the years to come.

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Drew   

I read "Sword," but found the writing to be abysmal. Thinking I'd give him another shot, I tried "Elfstones" (I think - that's the one with the dying tree, right?), read the first couple of chapters, made a prediction on the ending, verified that I was correct, and that's the last attention I've paid to Terry Brooks' works. If the payoff isn't that great or is pretty obvious, the getting there should at least be worth it, and I found that it wasn't in his writing.

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For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. It's, supposedly, his best book, and it details the life of an American antifascist guerilla working for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Pretty good, and I would recommend it to any fascists here.

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I read "Sword," but found the writing to be abysmal. Thinking I'd give him another shot, I tried "Elfstones" (I think - that's the one with the dying tree, right?), read the first couple of chapters, made a prediction on the ending, verified that I was correct, and that's the last attention I've paid to Terry Brooks' works. If the payoff isn't that great or is pretty obvious, the getting there should at least be worth it, and I found that it wasn't in his writing.
I can understand where you're coming from. If I had first read Mr.Brooks' first three books, I don't think I would have given him much thought or attention afterwards. I was lucky enough to get into his more recent works(I started with his High Druid of Shannara series and worked my way back). His later work is a far greater reflection on his skills as a writer. I finished Elfstones and found it enjoyable yet still painfully predictable(yes, it is the story with the dying tree). I think what helped me to get through it was the knowledge I had of his recent works and how great they turned out to be. If anyone were to want to give Terry Brooks a try, I would recommend starting with the Scions of Shannara and then, if they like his style, read his earlier works for kicks. Having said that, Elfstones was, in my opinion, far superior to Swords in it's writing, structure, and overall plot and character development.

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"There are no simple questions." - Deep Thought

 

Thus starts chapter 3 of Myth-Chief the latest in the Myth Adventure series by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye. I wish after the long wait some one had proofed the book after finding a minor mistake in the second chapter and its accompanying footnote to help out new readers.

 

Also out is Dragons Wild, a new series, by Robert Asprin.

 

Hey I don't need to do much now that the taxes are in the mail.

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Sudanna   
Prayers to Broken Stones, a collection of short stories by Dan Simmons.

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Meanwhile I have finally got around to reading Dune.
Dune is a powerful and well written series of books.
Yes many of us love dune for it's humanity, philosophical ,psychological and biological views on an series of weird worlds and man's distinct nature. we definitely recommend it.

All praise Omnibus the one who was defeated, shall come back once more !

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By Nemesis:

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I started A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in Piers Anthony's Xanth series, a couple of days ago. Now I just need to find time to read it.
No. Don't. The Xanth series is a bottomless mire that will suck dry your very soul. I'm exaggerating, but not by much. I remember the first few being all right, in a campy sort of way. But they just don't end, and all the jokes and plotlines get recycled after a while. I don't remember where I quit, but a quick visit to Wikipedia tells me he's over thirty now.

 

--------------------

No, Lister, what makes us different from animals is we don't use our tongues to clean our own genitals.

- Rimmer (Red Dwarf)

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Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire by Niall Fergusson. It actually makes a decent argument for why the American Empire should stay.

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Dikiyoba   

Originally by Dintiradan:

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By Nemesis:
Quote:
I started A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in Piers Anthony's Xanth series, a couple of days ago. Now I just need to find time to read it.
No. Don't. The Xanth series is a bottomless mire that will suck dry your very soul. I'm exaggerating, but not by much. I remember the first few being all right, in a campy sort of way. But they just don't end, and all the jokes and plotlines get recycled after a while. I don't remember where I quit, but a quick visit to Wikipedia tells me he's over thirty now.
I read Pet Peeve (number 29) a while back and it was definitely... odd. It reads like a novel for fairly young kids, but there's all this sexual content.

 

Dikiyoba.

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I'll second the admonition against Xanth. All of his books have curious sexual elements running through them. So on the one hand you have the Adult Conspiracy, which is kind of funny, but on the other hand you have this really misogynistic element, like the nasty depictions of Chameleon, or Humfrey and his five or six wives (I lost count)... one of the Xanth books is even titled "The Color of Her Panties," though that might be better than his non-Xanth book "If I Pay Thee Not in Gold."

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Well I'm almost done with this one! I mainly picked it up because I haven't been reading anything in a while, and I happen to have these… heirlooms… on hand! Although I am getting quite a bit of sexual content and whimsical child-ness! That, and Mr. Anthony seems to like exclamation points! A lot!

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Wait until you get to the later books and the elipses points.

 

The problem with all of his writings is that he doesn't make enough per book to make a living so he writes multiple books a year that aren't that good in quality. When I still read him it was 3 per year.

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I have trouble believing that. The man appears to churn out books that sell decently, and most publishers would refuse books that sell terribly if they have to edit and publish many bad ones instead.

 

—Alorael, who can easily believe that Piers Anthony publishes deliberately quick work to make more money. That would make a lot more sense if he just wants a living (no crime), can sell them (no crime), and doesn't care about literary integrity (no crime, unfortunately).

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It was in one of the introductions for a book. Part of the problem was he had a few children and was trying to save for their future educations.

 

The figure I've seen is that a basic paper back run nets an author about $20,000. This is higher for an established author that can command more than the basic $5.99 per book price and royalty. This is a few years ago so it will be higher due to inflation.

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That would make a lot more sense if his books didn't regularly and regrettably end up on the NYT's list of bestsellers. Something doesn't quite add up.

 

—Alorael, who still think Mr. Anthony just likes to get more money, and possibly that he lies about it in introductions.

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Well, he's been writing books for more than three decades now, and he's always loved gratuitously long, rambling, personal introductions and afterwords. 30 or even 20 years ago I'm sure his financial conditions were quite different.

 

I do think he loves what he does. One of his early books apparently underwent a disastrous transformation at the hands of six different editors before being published; he later had it republished with all of the editors' edits attached as footnotes, along with his own snarky comments directed at the editors. He does collaborations with lesser known authors, spends time researching new settings, etc. He has his own quirks and a lot of really muddy ideas but I very much doubt he's in it for the money.

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Rupert   

It's always saddened me that, albeit unintentionally, my middle names were after him.

 

Only thing I've had time to read recently (surprising since I've been on bed rest) has been Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction by Sue Townsend.

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Callie   

My English class had prevented me from any leisurely reading now. Currently I'm reading endlessly through books about the middle ages, and then she's going to cram Les Miserables on top of that. If I ever have children, I'll make sure to warn them about taking an AP English class during their sophomore year.

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Drew   

Les Miserables, though my favorite book ever, seems a strange choice for an AP English class. What's next? The Brothers K?

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Callie   
Quote:
Originally written by Drew:
Les Miserables, though my favorite book ever, seems a strange choice for an AP English class. What's next? The Brothers K?
Well, my English teacher also happens to be my French teacher. Nonetheless, she tends to assign us college level material, so...

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Originally written by Goldenking:
Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire by Niall Fergusson. It actually makes a decent argument for why the American Empire should stay.
I find Niall Fergusson has lost his mind. His last coherent book was the Cash Nexus. After that it's all been neocon bull****, with Colossus probably being the worst offender.

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Originally written by Excalibur:
Quote:
Originally written by Drew:
Les Miserables, though my favorite book ever, seems a strange choice for an AP English class. What's next? The Brothers K?
Well, my English teacher also happens to be my French teacher. Nonetheless, she tends to assign us college level material, so...
College level English material, or college level French material?

—Alorael, who is surprised that a class is willing to take the time necessary to read through Les Misérables. That's a doorstop of a book, and every second spent reading it isn't spent prepping for tests.

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Drew   

Worst high school read for me was Wuthering Heights in 10th grade, without doubt.

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I've never liked books in which the only real plot complication is characters who desperately need some sense slapped into them. No doubt our own lives would seem the same way from an omniscient viewpoint, but that doesn't make the books any less annoying.

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Micawber   

I guess there are different viewpoints in terms of what you want from a book. My dad will only read books which have strongly drawn characters, doesn't care about the plot or ideas. Clearly for other people they just want a gripping plot (e.g. John Grisham) or lots of good ideas (e.g. James Blish) and not necessarily the other elements. Each team may find it difficult to appreciate other styles of literature, e.g. my Dad could not understand the point of Asimov, SoT did not care for Hardy, while I personally struggle with Dostoevsky.

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It's been a while. I've been going through a stack of second hand books that have been collecting dust in my room for the last year.

 

 

Finished Dune a while back. The previous comments about Herbert's treatment of politics holds. Earlier on in the book, right after the fall of House Atreides, Paul gets high on spice and starts ranting about how he'll take over the universe with the Fremen. Dude, you've just lost all your military, political, and financial backing, and you're already dreaming about overthrowing the galactic government with a nomadic force who only specialize in desert combat, despite the fact that you have yet to make any contact with this force? One could excuse Herbert for this if the scene were portrayed as Paul being overcome with spice-induced hubris. But no, that's exactly how things turn out. I suppose I should have wrapped spoiler tags around this, but it wouldn't have done any good. The book is completely predictable (though perhaps this is a feature - one of the major themes in the book is predestination and inevitability).

 

Other gripes about the book include the lack of character depth (I am the fat and evil Vladimir Harkonnen! I am the sadistic and evil Feyd-Rautha!) and the pacing. The entire book gave off the feeling that Herbert was rushing to finish it. Thing is, the book isn't even that long. It felt like Paul spent way to little time with the Fremen. The climatic conflict with the Emperor's forces quite literally lasts several chapters.

 

I wanted to enjoy the book, I really did. The overarching theme of the deliberate development of a messiah was something I liked. And the Worms are undeniably cool. What says the rest of the Spiderweb population? Do the later Dune books improve? Or would they not be worth my time?

 

 

After Dune came Fahrenheit 451, which I loved. Some genres have certain works that are required reading. Any fantasy aficionado must read Tolkien, any lover of poetry must read Shakespeare. But I think everyone in this day and age must read Fahrenheit 451, if for nothing else then for the kick-ass dialogue with Captain Beatty.

 

 

Started paging through God In The Dock, which is a small collection of short essays by C.S. Lewis. Meh. Aside from a few doctrinal differences, I've never found Lewis particularly rigourous, and it is less lucid than the only other work of non-fiction I've read by him: Mere Christianity. Not very fair of me to be judging the collection from the first two essays, but still...

 

 

The next work of fiction I'll be moving onto will probably be something from Michael Crichton. I have a copy of The Terminal Man from the aforementioned second hand bookstore, but I'll probably read Next first, which I picked up at St. Jacobs last week. I was underwhelmed by Prey, but Next seems to be interesting, for the format at the very least.

 

 

(Can you tell I'm not in school right now? That reminds me, I don't think I've plugged The Puzzling Adventures Of Doctor Ecco here yet, at least not in this thread. A fun read if you like learning discrete mathematics through puzzles.)

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Sudanna   

Herberts books only get more convoluted with time. wink

 

Fahrenheit 451 is, indeed, an amazing book. Ray Bradbury is an amazing author.

 

Nalyd is reading Paul Di Fillipo, currently. A great sci-fi author, and one of the weirdest in the field.

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Callie   

I picked up Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America. I have to read for my English class come September, but it looks interesting anyways.

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Sudanna   

Oh no, not Asprin. frown He was a wonderful author. *Sigh* G'Bye, Skeeve.

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Lilith   
Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
I wanted to enjoy the book, I really did. The overarching theme of the deliberate development of a messiah was something I liked. And the Worms are undeniably cool. What says the rest of the Spiderweb population? Do the later Dune books improve? Or would they not be worth my time?


Heh heh heh. The general rule for the Dune series is to start with the first page of the first book and keep reading until you lose interest. The quality more or less steadily declines from the start of each book to the end, and from each book to the next one in the series.
Student of Trinity likes this

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I'm reading a book called Alone by Richard Byrd. Mr Explorer Byrd.

 

It is amazing prose for a guy that isn't a writer.

 

Oh, and the content is great too.

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Lilith   

Man, what an unfortunate name. Did people call him Dickie Bird in school?

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Re: Dune

 

My interest really only lasted to the end of the second book. It was okay. Then the author totally lost it, and though I made it through the fourth book, I wouldn't recommend either 3 or 4. It's not really that they're so terribly bad (though book 4 is by no means good) as that there are a lot better books to read, and life is short.

 

If your interest lasts long enough to start to care how things turn out past book 2, I recommend looking for a plot summary. You'll get the same disappointment with much less tedium.

 

 

 

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I read Dune way back in Junior High, and I liked it, but it was so long ago that I can't really remember much of it. It was a long book, if I remember, but I didn't have much of a reading list in those days so I had plenty of time (especially since I preferred not to do school work). I read it after David Lynch's adaptation (which I felt was a better film than the critics would have me believe... and definitely better than that ridiculous remake which, if I remember correctly, ended up stealing some of Lynch's ideas, anyhow).

 

One has only to check out my literary website to get an idea what manner of weird writer I might or might not have been reading (right-click on name... as if anyone cares). Right now I'm reading Valerie and Her Week of Wonders by Vítezslav Nezval (yes, the book that was adapted for the movie of the same title), Deb Olin Unferth's Minor Robberies, and Henri Michaux's Light through Darkness.

 

And I make no apologies for obscure references! Do some research if you don't recognize the names! (...right-click on name...)

 

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I've now read Vellum and I'm not sure whether it's a pile of pretentiousness wishing Neal Stephenson were its author, a wonderful postmodern novel, or both. And it apparently has a sequel even though the story is deliberately rudimentary, confused, and largely irrelevant.

 

—Alorael, who thinks he'll skip the sequel. For all the praise heaped on that book, it's more interesting as an exercise than as a book. Reading any one part is fun, but reading the whole just isn't.

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Iffy   

I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia.

Annoyingly, I'm reading through the seven books so fast that I will soon have nothing to read.

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Callie   
Originally Posted By: Iffy
...I will soon have nothing to read.

Golden Compass is good, if you haven't read it already.

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Jody Lynn Nye's Mythology 101 series is interesting and educational.

 

Your library or used book store might have by L. Sprague deCamp and Fletcher Pratt, the Harold Shea series of five novellas. The first two were printed as The Incompleat Enchanter and the Castle of Iron was added to make The Compleat Enchanter. The last two which are harder to find were printed together as The Wall of Serpents.

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Dikiyoba   

Just finished A Meeting at Corvallis by S.M. Stirling. A good, solid ending to the trilogy--a bit better than Dies the Fire and far better than The Protector's War.

 

Dikiyoba.

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