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What have you been reading recently?


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Originally Posted By: A Disquieting Silence
I've decided to start reading the Chronicles of Narnia, which it occurred to me I haven't read myself (my mom read it to my brother and me when we were but wee moppets).
I started reading (or more accurately, rereading) the series too. I received a gift card for Christmas, and used it to buy all seven books bound together in one volume.
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Upon pretty much flying through The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I've come to realize that I really don't like C.S. Lewis' writing style; at least not in this case.
Well, the Chronicles of Narnia books are sort of meant to be an easy read, since they were written for children. I can't really comment too much on his writing style, though, because I've never read anything else he wrote.
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Based on the fact that this topic has over 1.5 million views, everyone's answer should be "What have you been reading recently?"

The topic is dead! Long live the topic!   —Alorael, who will throw in The Ringmaster's Daughter, a relatively normal and therefore still quite unusual novel by Jostein Gaarder. Unlike Sophie's Wor

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

Originally Posted By: Benjominy
...hankin vain englanniksi ja niitä siellä ei näyttänyt olevan kuin Hogfather (omistan) ja Guards! Guards! mutta väärällä kannella.


luin kerran yhden suomennetun version, ei ollut niin hauska. kyllä alkuperäiskieli on ainut oikea valinta. mut minulla eioo koskaan ollut varaa lähteä nirsoilemaan kansitusten kanssa, paperbackit nyt vaan on halvempia kun oikeat kirjat. tongue



and the same in english.
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In the past about half a year, some of which are rereads:

 

Nightall, Beginnings, I robot.

Stranger in a strange land.

Dr jekyll and mr hyde, treasure island, kidnapped.

The phantom tollbooth.

Tuck everlasting.

Catch 22.

Farenheit 451.

The three musketeers, the count of monte cristo.

Bonfire of the vanities.

A song of ice and fire. (Wasn't the next book supposed to come out in 05?)

The wheel of time. (Shame Jordan died, Sanderson just isn't the same.)

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Originally Posted By: radix malorum est cupiditas

A song of ice and fire. (Wasn't the next book supposed to come out in 05?)

There are currently 4 books in the series. The last book was A Feast for Crows, which came out in 05 I think. The next one has a date of late 2012, which, according to a person at a local book store, basically means the publisher is not sure when it'll be out. Mr. Martin sure takes his time on his books.

Originally Posted By: radix malorum est cupiditas

The wheel of time. (Shame Jordan died, Sanderson just isn't the same.)
People say this alot when an Author dies and someone else picks it up. Personally, I've enjoyed the two books that Sanderson has done so far in the series. While I've noticed a couple of very small things, nothing has jumped out and slapped me in the face to let me know that Jordan didn't write them.
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Originally Posted By: RCCCL
Originally Posted By: radix malorum est cupiditas

A song of ice and fire. (Wasn't the next book supposed to come out in 05?)

There are currently 4 books in the series. The last book was A Feast for Crows, which came out in 05 I think. The next one has a date of late 2012, which, according to a person at a local book store, basically means the publisher is not sure when it'll be out. Mr. Martin sure takes his time on his books.

I'm talking about a dance of dragons. In 04 Martin stated that his new book was huge so he was going to make a book with only half of the originally planned povs to come out in 05 and the next would have the other half and come out in 06.
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Originally Posted By: RCCCL
Originally Posted By: radix malorum est cupiditas

The wheel of time. (Shame Jordan died, Sanderson just isn't the same.)
People say this alot when an Author dies and someone else picks it up. Personally, I've enjoyed the two books that Sanderson has done so far in the series. While I've noticed a couple of very small things, nothing has jumped out and slapped me in the face to let me know that Jordan didn't write them.
While Sanderson does a pretty good job capturing Jordan's style, there are some points where it was easy to tell it's a different author (see anything written from Matt's POV, for instance). Note: I've only read The Gathering Storm. Still planning on doing one more series re-read, 'cause I've forgotten who everyone was again.
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I haven't read song of ice and fire yet, just haven't gotten a hold of the books. They come heavily recommended though, so it's definitely up on my list.

However, I did very much enjoy reading Neil Gaiman's blog on the subject of authors. It is incredibly well constructed.

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The Tragicall Historie of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, or just Doctor Faustus for short.

 

It's pretty interesting, and it's one of the few books where the author is more interesting that the badass main character. While Marlowe wasn't a demonic wizard, he was pretty much what Shakespeare would have been like, if you gave him a PhD and had him be a government superspy against Catholics in his spare time, which is a recored only Ian Fleming could beat. Apparently British secret service agents must also be qualified literary geniuses- who knew?

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Acts III and IV are past comic relief and into silly.

 

I've heard it argued that this is supposed to show Faustus's degeneration — that he turns out to have sold his immortal soul, not for knowledge or Helen of Troy, but for twenty-four years of childish pranks. Maybe that's what Marlowe had in mind, but the silliness starts a little too abruptly, and goes on too long. I suspect that drama was just too young at that point for anyone, even Marlowe, to pull off anything as fancy as tragedy-as-bathos.

 

The other standard theory is that Marlowe really only had three acts, and the other two are padding for performance, maybe not even by him.

 

Have you tried Tamburlaine? It's got some moments, too. But The Jew of Malta is kind of hard to like. All I remember now is some business with a trapped house, and the line about fornication that Eliot quoted.

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Are you kidding? If I was an invisible wizard, the first thing I'd think of doing is griefing the Pope for the hell of it. Well, probably not the first thing. But I would definitely do it at some point!

 

And isn't the Jew of Malta basically the precursor to The Merchant of Venice, but with a less anti-Semitic bent (isn't the titular character the hero as opposed to the villain?)? That was probably my least favorite Shakespeare at any rate.

 

Haven't tried Tamburlaine, but that'll be next. Thanks for the recommendation!

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Also, I could see it being argued that the only reason that Mephistopheles even gave Faustus the amount of power he did was because he knew he'd end up spending it on childish pranks and impressing his friends/inferiors with his power, instead of, say, world domination or the institution of a theocracy. He certainly does experience a fairly rapid change in motives at about the time of the deal- he goes from initially even wanting to protect Germany and expel the Spanish from the Netherlands to stealing the Pope's wine and food.

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There are some questionable bits of Faustus. The thing is, with a good director they can also become sufficiently powerful to match the rest of the story. Without knowing how Marlowe staged it, it's hard to know whether it was pathetic, bathetic, or something else entirely.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't think The Jew of Malta makes for a good example of a heroic Jew. Barabas is more of a villain as protagonist in the vein of Faustus. He may have humanizing qualities, but he's undoubtedly a bad guy who nobody wants to invite to dinner.

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Originally Posted By: One for the trolls
—Alorael, who doesn't think The Jew of Malta makes for a good example of a heroic Jew. Barabas is more of a villain as protagonist in the vein of Faustus. He may have humanizing qualities, but he's undoubtedly a bad guy who nobody wants to invite to dinner.


As opposed to Shylock, who was literally just a pastiche of nothing but negative Jewish stereotypes? Remember that this is the 1590's, and by the standards of that time, even a protagonist-villain is a huge step up from "racist caricatured villain".
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Originally Posted By: Null set and match
—Alorael, who thinks Shylock comes across as somewhat less overwhelmingly evil. He has less flimsy reasons for what he does and doesn't, you know, try to kill everyone.


So being totally screwed over by protesting an unfair tax, and then having all your wealth and prestige stripped from you due to an irrational hatred of your religion, is somehow not justification for revenge against those who wronged you?

In Julius Caesar, Brutus murders Caesar and throws Rome into a civil war killing thousands because he's afraid Caesar might seize power, and yet Brutus is supposed to be the hero of that play. So why Barabas, who has much better reasons for his actions and a much lower body count, considered "overwhelmingly evil"?
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I'd be pretty upset if I lost everything I had, but Barabas tries to kill just about everyone. The Christians, sure, but then the Turks, his daughter, passing friars, his slave, and just about everyone else.

 

Shylock is not nice, but Barabas is a sociopath. Or maybe just a psychopath.

 

—Alorael, who is not so sure that Shakespeare worked hard to include many heroes. Protagonists, yes, but not all of them are heroes. Not all his villains are irredeemably and wholly evil, either. Barabas would get along famously with Iago, though. They'd stab each other in the back eventually, of course, but think of what two such minds could accomplish together!

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I dunno about Goethe's Faust, actually. I tried it once in an English translation, and it just really dragged. I could probably manage it in German, now; I should try. Ya gotta admit that the plot changes Goethe made are pretty cool (for instance, that the bargain runs, not for a fixed time period, but until Faust experiences a moment that he wishes would last).

 

But Mann's Faust is awesome even in translation. The last line of the book might be worth inventing books for all by itself, just to be able to do something like that. (Unfortunately it doesn't work if you don't read the rest of the book first, and it's not a page-turner. But it's one of the handful of books that I've been happy to read slowly.)

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Goethe's Faust is one of my all-time favourites. It's long, but it's well worth the effort.

 

If you want to read it in English, I recommend Walter Kaufmann's meticulous translation, which is printed in parallel with the German.

 

(When I was in high school and preparing for the AP literature exam, my teacher told us that we should prepare a minimum of six books for the exam. Part of the exam poses general questions which you have to respond to in essay format using one of the books you have prepared, and we would need multiple books in case the question hinges on a particular plot point (e.g., betrayal) not present in every book. I told her that I was only going to prepare one, and challenged her to come up with any general literary question that I could not respond to with reference to Faust. She couldn't come up with one. The thing is literally about everything.)

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Goethe's Faust is one of my all-time favourites. It's long, but it's well worth the effort.

If you want to read it in English, I recommend Walter Kaufmann's meticulous translation, which is printed in parallel with the German.

(When I was in high school and preparing for the AP literature exam, my teacher told us that we should prepare a minimum of six books for the exam. Part of the exam poses general questions which you have to respond to in essay format using one of the books you have prepared, and we would need multiple books in case the question hinges on a particular plot point (e.g., betrayal) not present in every book. I told her that I was only going to prepare one, and challenged her to come up with any general literary question that I could not respond to with reference to Faust. She couldn't come up with one. The thing is literally about everything.)


But what if the question goes: "name two books where yadda yadda yadda... explain and demonstrate"
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My books for school have so far been okay: The Lonely Londoners, To Sir With Love, The Sylph, Adam Bede, Waiting for Godot, and Mother Courage and Her Children have all been enjoyable, more or less (though George Eliot does manage to drag out Adam Bede far too much).

 

The only one I've not enjoyed is Thomas More's Utopia, though I have a feeling thats because my lecturer sucks. Unfortunately I also have to read Marlowe's Faustus for her class, so I'm hoping she doesn't ruin it for me - I have read (and studied) the play before, but she has this knack of sucking any joy from the texts we've met so far.

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Originally Posted By: Nikki.
...she has this knack of sucking any joy from the texts we've met so far.


Some professors are like that, sadly.

This week I've been reading French Finances, 1770-1795: From Business to Bureaucracy, by J. F. Bosher. It's been surprisingly interesting and easy to follow. Very different than the last book I reviewed for this French history seminar...
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It's been years since I read The Red Badge of Courage, but I remember liking it just fine. It didn't amaze me, but it didn't fill me with hate either.

 

—Alorael, whose choice of reading was unrelated to school. That may have made the book better, if it's one of those perfectly nice pieces of literature that get eviscerated by literary criticism.

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See, I've gone back a year or so after reading a book in school, and I enjoyed the book. The problem with school is that you know that there will be a test on the material, and you're on a strict time line. As I read the first (almost) half of the book, it really wasn't too bad. If I had started reading it before the night before it's due, things would be different.

 

I still blame school.

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Just finished reading The Mysterious Stranger, by Mark Twain. The choice was entirely on a whim, and conveniently enough I needed a short read to occupy my mind.

 

I liked the book, though it took a short while for the whole of the story to become anything truly interesting. The plot developed nicely and introduced many quaint ideas to ponder over, I though; however, the ending of the book was rather abrupt and took a severe change of course from what was previously being developed in the plot. That is to say, it went from provided a concise and accurate criticism of morality and conceptualizations of good and evil, to a sudden solipsistic quagmire. Still, it was a pleasant read.

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Originally Posted By: Master1
See, I've gone back a year or so after reading a book in school, and I enjoyed the book. The problem with school is that you know that there will be a test on the material, and you're on a strict time line. As I read the first (almost) half of the book, it really wasn't too bad. If I had started reading it before the night before it's due, things would be different.

I still blame school.


The only two non-Shakespeare books I've been forced to read and wound up liking anyways were To Kill A Mockingbird and Heart of Darkness. Everything else I still have a deeply ingrained dislike for. There's just something about trying to teach someone to appreciate literature that winds up with you not appreciating it.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
The only two non-Shakespeare books I've been forced to read and wound up liking anyways were To Kill A Mockingbird and Heart of Darkness. Everything else I still have a deeply ingrained dislike for. There's just something about trying to teach someone to appreciate literature that winds up with you not appreciating it.
Yeah, that sounds about right. Out of all the literature classes I've been forced to take in school, the only thing I came out of then with was a aversion to a rather large amount of literature. For me, it stems from several classes where the material was presented in a very dull,dry, boring way; and any opinion that didn't either parrot the teacher or quote the textbook was considered wrong.

Then there was the real fun in my senior year of high school. I had ended my junior year with one reading list, only to start the next year with the discovery that I'd been moved to a different class, complete with an entirely different reading list. Adding even further insult to injury, I couldn't find any of the books on the list--and there was a test on one of them about a week into the school year. And, of course, it was all my fault because the teachers had (wrongly) assumed I was just being lazy, when the truth of the matter is that I can't write essays, term papers, etc. to save my life (not to mention that I was never taught this supposedly essential life skill).

For me, the only books I had to read and liked were The Hobbit (because I'd already read at least two or three times by then) and Pygmalion (because I'd seen it both as a black-and-white movie, and as My Fair Lady). I sort of enjoyed Catcher in The Rye, and I couldn't stand Jane Eyre after about five or six pages.
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I don't think I ever finished Jane Eyre. I'm sure I'm not missing much.

 

There were some books in school that I liked. To Kill a Mockingbird become one of my favorites. Warriors Don't Cry (I think that's what it was called) was good. I enjoyed reading Animal Farm the first time, but I never want to pick it up again.

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Iorich by Steven Brust, the latest of the Vlad Taltos series. SInce I started reading the series last century I wanted to see how it's going and found I missed the previous one. It is confusing if you haven't read most of the series since at this point there isn't that much of a review on what has happened.

 

It's still nice to see most problems can still be solved by killing someone. smile

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Man, that is one long-running series. I remember reading Jhereg when it was new. A dinosaur ate the cover on me.

 

I followed the series loyally up to a point, but I lost interest when Taltos turned out to be some kind of reincarnated big Dragaeran instead of just an upstart Easterner. Perversely, making him bigger like that just made all the characters smaller, including him.

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I find that I have picked up 1984 again because I love it so dearly. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen...

 

I really like the texts I've read in my core humanities class recently: Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and the some of Plato's Socratic Dialogues (Euthyphro, Crito, and Apology).

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