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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

After hearing the hype and watching the movie, I've finally started reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So far it's fun. The author is very much present both in a kind of idealized self-insertion that doesn't become insufferable and in the narration. Definitely a guy with an axe to grind, but I can support his axe.

 

—Alorael, who picked up Murakami's newest book and then put it down. He's pretty sure his next doorstopper has to be Anathem.

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My latest reading is Mig äger ingen (No-one owns me) by Åsa Linderborg, recommended to me by one of female friends. It's a true story of how the author grew under the care of her alcoholic single father. Very moving, especially since it hits so close home - my own dad's an alcoholic too, so there are many direct parallels in her story.

 

One note, the book is different than you'd think. Childhood of the author was, for the largest part, happy, and her father loved her to his best extent. It's bit of a spoiler, but the title of the book refers to the father.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've just finished World War Z. It's not a great book, but it's a good book. It hits all my world-building buttons, it has some clever thinking in it, and it's got the right humor in it. If only the movie of Max Brooks's book were directed by Mel Brooks...

 

—Alorael, who has also seen that Glen Cook has released a final book for the Dread Empire series. This is 24 years after the last entry in the series and over 20 years since the manuscript intended to be the next installment was stolen.

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I did enjoy World War Z, though not as much as the Zombie Survival Guide.

 

I've been reading Gay Essentials: Facts for Your Queen Brain, which has this hilarious argument mentioned in it, wherein Sappho was actually just a teacher and she only felt the same affection to her students that Socrates felt towards his.

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Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm. A fascinating exploration of the psychological roots in political and religious authoritarianism. A bit dated (it would be nice to see how his thoughts evolved after WWII ended, but I'm sure he's published other books about that), but still very relevant.
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Just read Treasure Island. Having discovered that I can run a Kindle reader in Wine, and that Amazon distributes classical literature for free, I have about a dozen books I've always meant to read on my computer.

 

Other things on my to-read list are Anathem and The Diamond Age.

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For a lit crit project I've been rereading Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to compare the use of travel as a means of enlightenment within the two historical periods they were written in. Victorian Britain juxtaposed against Fifties America makes for a neat contrast.

 

Also, for amusement, I've been reading H.P.Lovecraft. Reading his work before has given me some interesting dreams, alright, especially "At the Mountains of Madness."

 

Lastly, for enrichment, I've been reading Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. Some aspects of his thought fascinate me (the focus on becoming greater), while others (misogyny!) appall me. So it makes for a very interesting read.

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Artemis Fowl was described to me as being fantasy fiction similar to the Bartimaeus Trilogy.

 

It's not. tongue

 

I'm thinking of going in for the Solomon's Ring. Must be good, being Stroud's work.

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Originally Posted By: Goldenking
For a lit crit project I've been rereading Jack Kerouac's On the Road... "At the Mountains of Madness."


I got into both of those last fall (I think I even posted them in this thread). Did you enjoy Kerouac? How about that Lovecraft, eh?

Meanwhile, I've mostly been reading books for school, but I managed to get through King's 11/22/63. I still prefer "The Stand", but it was decent enough.
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You fool! Now the next five pages of this thread will be arguments about whether thumbs up/down was historically accurate!

 

(Oh, and WoT fans: I have finished Books Six and Seven, started on Eight. I'd like to post the recaps sometime soon-ish, but no promises. And I don't have the time/energy for those hugemassive posts anymore, sorry. Probably all for the best; this is the point in the series where plot arcs start spanning multiple books, so each individual book becomes a lot less... discrete, for lack of a better word.)

 

EDIT: Holy crap, I'm only halfway through the series!

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Originally Posted By: Goldenking

Also, for amusement, I've been reading H.P.Lovecraft. Reading his work before has given me some interesting dreams, alright, especially "At the Mountains of Madness."

[...]

Lastly, for enrichment, I've been reading Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. Some aspects of his thought fascinate me (the focus on becoming greater), while others (misogyny!) appall me. So it makes for a very interesting read.


That happened to me with Lovecraft's racism when I picked some of his stuff up again. I went... "crap how did I not notice that before."
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I reread The Lies of Locke Lamora on a whim over about 24 hours, and still think it's a fantastic fantasy caper novel. I considered rereading Vellum, since a friend now has the sequel Ink and I'm quite sure that I've forgotten what little I understood of Vellum over the last three or four years.

 

—Alorael, who got halfway through Sundiver before leaving the book somewhere. It's not lost, but it's also very, very far away. He can't justify buying another copy, but he won't get his copy back for a long time, and he hates being forced to stop in the middle. His library has two copies, allegedly, but one is checked out and the other seems not to exist on the shelf.

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Originally Posted By: Arancaytar
That happened to me with Lovecraft's racism when I picked some of his stuff up again. I went... "crap how did I not notice that before."


It's one of the risks you take reading before your own time. On one hand, you'd like to think the more brilliant members of society would see beyond the biases of their era. On the other, the inclusion of racist and sexist characters is somewhat essential to any degree of realism, particularly in period pieces. Does that make it acceptable? No. Does it diminish the work itself? Hard to say.
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Originally Posted By: Actaeon
Originally Posted By: Goldenking
For a lit crit project I've been rereading Jack Kerouac's On the Road... "At the Mountains of Madness."


I got into both of those last fall (I think I even posted them in this thread). Did you enjoy Kerouac? How about that Lovecraft, eh?


Lovecraft is quite enjoyable, if a bit heavy handed at times. When he's in his element, though, it's downright spooky. He really ought to have been writing full length books, not just short stories (using a generous definition of short).

As for Kerouac, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's great entertainment, and I quite enjoy Kerouac's writing style. I'd say it's poetic, and evocative of a sense of adventure.

On the other hand, there's a certain disconnect with reality, in all the wrong places. Such a lifestyle is embodied escapism, as can be seen by Dean's leaving his wives multiple times. It's definitely a product of its times, the affluence of modern-era America in the Fifties.

It's all about White, First World, male privilege. Though I'd say the portrayal of other races is generally positive, it is only the White characters who have the ability to leap from culture to culture and be accepted; Mississippi Gene, the hobo, certainly would not have been able to enjoy the same sexual promiscuity with white women that Sal or Dean did. Obviously, even when the characters of the novel are poor, they are able to make ends meet (due to America's strong position relative to the rest of the world, torn apart by war) in a way that is far superior to options available in less fortuitous places. When Dean and Sal meet an Indian girl in Mexico, the extent of their thought on the matter is that their tribe must be so isolated - nothing about the disparity of the situation where these White men can roll into town and demand the center of attention and trade a watch for their pick of the gemstones.

Furthermore, that's where we do see reality, in an ugly way. All of the women are one dimensional, and for the vast part excluded from the enjoyment of the adventuring that the Beats experience, saddled with dealing with Dean's children, managing and making money, serving as sex objects, etc. The one woman character I feel like who is portrayed well is Terry, and her time in the novel is cut off after Sal abandons her to return to his normal life.

The prospect of a life like On the Road is attractive. And certainly, some aspects of it are certainly fair. The exclusion and inequity of the rest of it, though, casts it all in a negative light.

Doesn't mean I didn't like it, though.

Originally Posted By: Arancaytar
That happened to me with Lovecraft's racism when I picked some of his stuff up again. I went... "crap how did I not notice that before."


What sort of stuff did you notice in terms of Lovecraft's racism? Obviously he doesn't like Arabs, and forwards a lot of arguments about racial degeneration - rural Massachusetts folk, mostly, from what I've read - but I haven't noticed a lot more in that context. That said, I haven't read a lot, and I haven't been looking for it.
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Lovecraft focuses on inbreeding in isolated rural towns and the horrors that result from their breeding with non-human races. However there is a distinct rehashing of the basic plots with the differences being the non-human element.

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I didn't really notice any in "At the Mountains of Madness", which was the longest I've read. Really, Conan Doyle seems worse to me, but he predates Lovecraft by quite some time.

 

Have you read any Bradbury, Goldenking? He has moments of horror which, to me, seem rather Lovecraftian. And, of course, there's Stephen King.

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Originally Posted By: Goldenking
What sort of stuff did you notice in terms of Lovecraft's racism?


look up what he named his cat

he also wrote a couple of really awful poems that i'm not entirely comfortable linking here
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I found a Lovecraft article on a wiki called Metapedia that quotes a lot of this stuff.

 

Edit: That wiki appears to be kind of shitty; see below.

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It's interesting that that article reads more or less like a catalogue of Lovecraft's racism when Metapedia itself is like Conservapedia, but for white supremacy. Sure, as a biography it's lacking everything else, but the article doesn't seem to praise him for his views.

 

—Alorael, who supposes even despicable ideologies can manage something looking like wiki neutrality.

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Oof, you're very right. I didn't see the other stuff, and digging deeper (references to Thule, news articles calling this the "White Nationalism Aryan Encyclopedia" etc.) shows that this is a pretty thinly veiled Nazi site. Sorry about that; clearly the first Google result isn't always a good one.

 

The quotes on the article itself seem well-sourced, although it seems the article's point may have been just as likely to defend racism by reference to Lovecraft.

 

Edit: But damn, it's entertaining to see Conservapedia and Metapedia accusing each other of nationalism.

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"I forget nothing, Aes Sedai," Rand said coldly. "I said six could come, but I count nine. I said you would be on an equal footing with the Tower emissaries, and for bringing nine, you will be. They are on their knees, Aes Sedai. Kneel!"

Coldly serene faces stared back at him. He felt Asha'man readying shields of Spirit. Defiance grew on Kiruna's face, on Bera's, on others. Two dozen black-coated men made a ring around Rand and the Aes Sedai.

Taim appeared as close to a smile as Rand had ever seen him.

"And how can this be?" he asked softly. "For he is the Dragon Reborn!"

 

It's time to <a href="http://www.spiderwebforums.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=249060#Post249060" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">restart</a> my review of the Wheel of Time! I'm half-way through Book Nine, so my recollection of this book and the next couple might be a little sketchy.

 

Originally Posted By: December 25, 2011

I've finished Lord of Chaos, and I'll get my hugemassive post finished sometime this week. Heh.

 

Fun fact: I picked up my copy of Lord of Chaos from a seized storage container. It's in mostly good shape, except that the previous owner ripped a hole where Rand's head would be. Interesting.

(Book Six)

 

The prologue opens with Demandred talking with Old Scratch himself. This is the start of the Forsaken non-intervention policy; the remaining baddies collectively agree that directly confronting Rand is a bad idea. Instead, they stick to the shadows and foment chaos. Thus, this is the first book with a climax that does not involve one of the Forsaken.

 

Moving on in the prologue, we return to Perrin and Faile, after mercifully being able to skip out on their honeymoon last book. We also get the most blatant application of ta'veren-ness as a mean of advancing the plot. Basically, Perrin packs up and goes to Cairhien because the Force tells him too. Lazy writing? Or did Jordan just realize that any attempt to re-involve Perrin et. al. was going to be transparent, so he went for the simplest and shortest route? I dunno, the whole concept of ta'veren can get a little silly at times.

 

We see the two redshirt Forsaken who died in Book One, but that's about all that's really relevant in the prologue. On with the rest of the book!

 

We get a closer look at Bashere in the first chapter. Bashere is interesting, one of the Five Captains, and one of the few (at this point in the series) who are willing to stand up to Rand. We also get to see where Faile got some of her crazy from.

 

And there's also Mazrim Taim. Oh, Taim. Oh, Taimdred. The Taimdred theory worked so well; a lot of people think that when Robert Jordan made it clear that Demandred and Taim were different people in Book 9, he was doing it out of spite, because the readers figured it out too early. I have to admit that there are hints that Taim isn't Demandred here. On hearing about the Asha'man, Sammael notes that Demandred always did like to work through proxies. Not definitive, but combined with what we see in Book 9, perhaps Taimdred can be laid to rest. I really enjoyed Taim, and the formation of the Asha'man in this book, but more on that later.

 

Oh, I almost forgot. At their first meeting, as an aside, Taim hands Rand the seventh seal. Y'know, the last MacGuffin that the heroes were looking for. Just like that. I find it really strange how the seals are the most important items in the series, and yet they're all recovered in the first half. Perhaps it's all for the best: would you want a fetch quest in the final book? Also, it's a plot point that Rand has no idea what to do with the seals once he has them (well, half of them, the Aes Sedai have the others). Still, the way the final seal is recovered is very different from the way all the others were. Just seems wrong on a thematic level.

 

I'm having trouble writing this review. A lot of this book, especially early on, are unconnected events. Discovering the Bowl of Winds, the bubble of evil in Salidar, visiting the 'farm' in Andor or the 'school' in Cairhein, closing the Waygate in Shadar Logoth, healing Logain. We do get Egwene being chosen as the rebel Amyrlin Seat, due to Siuan and Leane's machinations. The position of the Amyrlin Seat is old, almost three thousand years old. Thus, the ceremony of ordaining a new one is as dignified as one would expect.

 

Number of rituals where women get naked: 3

 

Mat gets sent to Salidar, and he and Elayne and Nynaeve and a bunch of others head to Ebou Dar to look for the Bowl of Winds, but that quest mostly happens in Book Seven, so I'll get to it later.

 

The action ramps up at the end, with Rand's kidnapping, the rescue attempt, and the three-way battle at Dumai's Wells (with the rescuers being an unstable coalition of about half a dozen factions). You get a lot in here: Rand's torture (which speeds up his deteriorating mental state in the later books), one of the best fight scenes in the series, and the big reveal of the Asha'man. Their methods are in stark contrast to the Aes Sedai. Also, people have pointed out the (intentional?) similarities between them and the SS. Fun.

 

It's tough for me to decide why I like this book so much. Compared to the others in the series, not all that much happens in it (aside from the last section; I think this book's ending is the strongest one in the series). But I feel that it gets all the little things right. Small scenes, like Mat dancing in an inn while having Trolloc Wars flash, Rand meeting with the Two Rivers girls bound for the White Tower, Egwene intimidating Moggy, or Mat seeing the dead Tinkers. The focus of this book is on character development, not making big stuff happen. And I think it works.

 

It bothers me a bit, though, because I can't articulate why I end up liking this book, while I dislike other parts of the series where the same lack of "advancing the plot" occurs. My failing as a critic, I guess. All I can say is that this book manages to keep you invested in the characters, and maintains the tension, in a way that other portions of the series fail to. It may not be the best entry in the series, but it is a solid one.

 

VITAL STATISTICS:

Achievements for Team Light: The Black Tower is formed, the Bowl of Winds is discovered, Egwene is raised.

 

Forsaken count: Two rezzed, total of three dead (for now), two erased.

 

Seals count: One intact, total of four destroyed, three intact.

 

 

Onwards, to Book Seven! Onwards, to RapeGate!

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I always considered Lord of Chaos to be a turning point. Dumai's Wells is a bit of a game changer, although it takes a few books for that to become apparent. The strength of books 3-6 may be a large part of the reason 7 and 8 are so disappointing. Much less 10. You might just skip 10.

 

On another note, I do hope you've read Isam's WoT review, Dinti.

 

On yet another note, we should have a WoT AIMhack. Or Lord of the Rings. Or Dr. Who... Or Buffyverse... Or...

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I couldn't say no to a WoT AIMhack. This is a good idea.

 

I just finished reading Fallout: Equestria. A strongly recommended read even if you aren't a Fallout fan.

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I just finished up The Big Short and Boomerang by Michael Lewis, and then my second-favorite living economist's END THIS DEPRESSION N[pointy things]W!.

 

Now I'm about halfway on Sagan's classic The Demon-Haunted World, and I have Rise and Fall of the Third Reich all cued up. I've been doing a lot more reading recently, which I suppose is good.

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Never did read Sagan — seemed like it would be either full of stuff I already knew, or if I didn't, then learning it would be too much like work. But RFTR is a classic, since Shirer not only lived for several years in Nazi Germany as an American correspondent, but then also somehow got access to the tons of official Nazi records that were captured intact at the end of the war. So when he reports that so-and-so said such-and-such at some point, he's saying that based on the original minutes of the meeting in question, not on speculation. Or at least so he claims, and I've never heard of the claim being questioned. Shirer as narrator also came across to me as being about as neutral and unbiased as it was reasonably possible to me, given his material.

 

Where he doesn't have sources, Shirer doesn't tend to speculate much, so there isn't a lot of analysis of the characters involved. That gives the story something of the sense of a Shakespearean tragedy, where you see what happens, and are left to infer what the participants were thinking. It's a stark enough saga, as gripping as any fiction.

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Originally Posted By: Actaeon
I always considered Lord of Chaos to be a turning point. Dumai's Wells is a bit of a game changer, although it takes a few books for that to become apparent. The strength of books 3-6 may be a large part of the reason 7 and 8 are so disappointing. Much less 10. You might just skip 10.
Seven was meh, but I found that Eight was quite good. And I won't be skipping Ten.

Quote:
On another note, I do hope you've read Isam's WoT review, Dinti.
Of course. Those summaries are the unofficial Coles Notes for the series.

Quote:
On yet another note, we should have a WoT AIMhack. Or Lord of the Rings. Or Dr. Who... Or Buffyverse... Or...
Eh. Personally, I prefer to roleplay in generic or custom-built settings, rather than ones tied to a specific IP. Unless you like having players argue canon with GMs. tongue But really, why be in a universe where the players take a backseat to the author's characters? The only thing that might work is alternate-reality type setups. We had an Escape Velocity: Nova RP on Polaris, with the premise that the PC from the game never showed up.
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I generally find it best to set things in a different time than the core books (say, a few years before), and make it clear that the setting and canon is subject to DM whims. In any case, I'd rather play it than DM it. Of course, I find D&D's implicit setting equally restrictive and generally diverge from it.

 

You're right; eight was decent. I still would have traded some of the Elayne scenes for a glimpse of Matt.

 

(Had to look up Coles Notes. I'm a bad half Canadian.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Oh, wow. If you want a laugh, check this out. It starts as a typical dystopian story, but I couldn't make myself read past chapter five, once I saw this:

Quote:
Linda continued, "The Australia Project was born specifically to solve these problems and create a new form of human civilization. It is a fourth generation civilization conceived of by Eric Renson. Eric was an American who was heavily involved in what was then called the open software movement. As an American, he had seen Manna in its earliest phases. He could envision what Manna, combined with the coming robots, would mean to America and Western civilization as a whole."

 

"He at first tried to fight it, but realized that was impossible. Instead, he eventually came up with a completely new way to think about human societies. In the Australia Project, humans get the best that the robots have to offer, rather than the worst. He took the open source model of free software, added the robots and brought the model to the material world. The revolutionary idea in open source software is the fact that no one owns the code. Because there is no owner, the code is free to everyone."

 

Cynthia picked up the thread. "Eric's key concept was extremely simple. What he realized is that, in a robotic civilization, everything can be free."

The open source software movement has brought us many things, but it didn't come up with the concept of a post-scarcity society.

 

EDIT: Just started Book Ten of WoT today (Book Seven recap will be up When It's Up). Took some time off to read Faith & Doubt by Jon Ortberg, which was a resounding meh.

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The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie; Descriptive Complexity by Neil Immerman.

 

I also just noticed that I never mentioned it when I read The God Delusion two months back.

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Ha, funnily enough I too finished up the whole New Sun series, for the second time. They are still really fantastic but there were some glaring things that I didn't notice last time I read them..which would have been roughly 20 years ago.

 

Namely, the main character/narrator Severian seems compelled to have sex with every woman involved in the plot. I guess this just made sense to me when I was 16:). Probably I hoped my own future would hold just this kind of luck.

 

Now i'm reading Book 5 of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King - hey..some of his books are actually pretty good, though I feel like the series hit it's peak in book 4.

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Originally Posted By: Aʀᴀɴ
I also just noticed that I never mentioned it when I read The God Delusion two months back.


How was that? I've been toying with the idea of reading it for sometime now, but it's fairly far down on my "to read" list.

Of late, I have been reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's a simple little story, but I'm enjoying that simplicity and easy writing style, for now. Philosophy and theory is interesting, but it's nice to have a breath of fresh air every now and then.
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Originally Posted By: bumbumpanks

Now i'm reading Book 5 of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King - hey..some of his books are actually pretty good, though I feel like the series hit it's peak in book 4.

i also got sucked into the dark tower with the first book. after reading a few i felt compelled to finish just to find out how it ends but was vastly disappointed.
in the afterword he writes how he understands how people will be disappointed but this is how he felt it ended.
my main issue is that he spends way too much time on nonsensical plot elements and infantile poems. the secondary issue is that things happen and the characters do stuff for reasons which sound completely insane and illogical.
in conclusion i wish i never had read it
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