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I just finished David Weber's "Midst Toil and Tribulation". It is the sixth book in his Safehold series. He is an author that I enjoy, though he could probably cover the same ground with fewer words.

webers problem in most of his books, especially in the later ones is 'why use afew words when a few chapters will say the same thing?'

i'll never forget the time i had finished reading quite a few pages in one of the Harrington books and realized that they all took place in a half second thought in middle of a conversation

 

edit: just wanted to add that i think he is a great author and i devour all of his books the second they come out. its just i can't think of anyone else that can fill up the amount of space in between all the action like him

Edited by ĐªгŦĦ Єяŋϊε דארת ערני
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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

The last book of my undergrad course (*cry cry*) is Alasdair Gray's Lanark. It's probably the most fun I've had reading a text for a long while - in a module of excellent books (which have each been "the best book I've read in a long while") - Lanark really stands apart from two reasons:

 

1) The prose is just absolutely right for the plot. Pretty, simple, slightly menacing. Beautiful. Other books have been amazing to read (and one was Naked Lunch!) but Lanark is one of those rare books that I couldn't imagine reading in any other way.

2) It's fun. The constant jumps in time. Lanark's inability to be anybody but Lanark. The whole way in which the Institute seems to work. I'm only part way through the second book (Book One), but I also only started reading it a few hours ago, and I haven't put it down since.

 

So yeah. Don't be put off by it's size. It's very easily conquerable.

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Just started reading Robert Asprin - The Adventures of Duncan and Mallory - Book One: The Beginning, by Robert Asprin, Mel White, and Selina Rosen, the prose version of the first graphic novel. A slightly different take on how these two team up starting with Duncan's musing on how loud war is and how it's keeping him from sleeping.

 

Someday Mel White has promised to publish the prequel and sequel to the graphic novel trilogy. So while I wait the prose versions will have to do. To all those members who are too young to have read them when they first appeared, that's no excuse.

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Since school finished I've been going through my books and reading the best ones, and the ones that got away from me in favour of required texts. After being woefully disappointed in Wilkie Collin's The Frozen Deep (a Victorian novel through and through, and severely lacking for this), and re-reading Nabokov's Despair (one of the greatest books I've ever read), I finally got around to reading The Bell Jar.

 

Now, I'm not really a fan of Plath's poetry; I find it unreadable after a while, though I've never been able to put my finger on why. The Bell Jar, though, was excellent. It had me hooked just a few pages in, and I finished it as soon as I could. I'm not sure if my love for the book comes from sympathizing completely with Ester, or appreciation for the form, or what, but I'll definitely look a lot more closely at my copy of The Colossus in the coming weeks.

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Each of the three LOTR volumes is divided into two 'Books'. Book 4 is the second half of The Two Towers.

 

I haven't read much of anything in quite a long time. I'm writing my own book, and since I have a real job beside that, my writing has taken over my reading slot.

 

I've been a compulsively voracious reader for most of my life, but I mind not reading much less than I would have expected. I think I may always have been one of those readers for whom reading was in large part about scouting out the space of possible books, to prepare my attack.

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Since the topic disappeared, I read

War Maid's Choice by David Weber

A Rising Thunder by David Weber

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The Road of Danger by David Drake

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

 

So, two Space Operas with a lot of politics, two fantasy (I enjoyed the way the WoT ended) and one Star Wars version of Ocean's Eleven. I still have some catching up to do, so I have five star wars novels on the shelf (I keep finding it hard to get through the Fate of the Jedi). I am not sure what I want to get next, a fantasy series, a historical fiction series or a real history book.

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Raising Steam: The latest Discworld novel is surprisingly fun to read, and it's better than Unseen Academicals or Snuff, but the characterization of species and characters is falling apart.

Unfreed golems that talk and have feelings, goblins everywhere, Vetinari leaving Ankh-Morpork for fun, the sudden appearance of mixed-species romantic pairings, and non-women dwarfs being men instead of dwarfs.

It's also brimming with unintentional cissexism and racism (of the real-world human sort). The shark has definitely been jumped, and I hope Pratchett stops writing Discworld novels now. Maybe that's his plan, because it does feel like a conclusion. It's slow-paced, there are lots of call-back minor characters, major characters are noticeably old with older-age concerns, and steam power is the traditional break between the fantasy and steampunk genres. It's also noticeably soft and non-satirical. If you've read most of the rest of the series, it's probably worth reading once, but not more than that.

 

Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird: Short, non-technical, and very interesting. Dikiyoba usually likes Tim Birkhead's work, and this is no exception. Dikiyoba recommends it, if only anyone else ever read natural history on these forums.

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Recently finished In the Company of Soldiers by Rick Atkinson. It follows the 101st Airborne division's first few months during the invasion of Iraq, specifically following General Petraeus and his staff. It's a very fascinating look at the logistical difficulties of launching a modern-era military movement of a huge scale and tactical choices that come with being in command during a war like Iraq, with all of the legitimacy issues analyzed in excellent objective detail. It takes a very armchair view of the war, so don't expect to get into the grittier parts of combat. Atkinson himself has an exceptional talent of military history as well, and it shows in his descriptions and observations of the entire operation. I would definitely recommend it to any military enthusiasts out there if you haven't picked it up already.

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Semi-related: I recently watched a TV miniseries called Generation Kill which was a TV adaptation of a book by a Rolling Stones reporter who was embedded in a USMC unit when they went in and did the whole Iraq thing in 2003. Curious if any military SWers have watched/read it, and what their thoughts are on how it portrayed the invasion?

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I haven't read either at this point. Generation Kill and similar books (there are plenty available for Vietnam and WWII, some for Korea, a few for Desert Storm) are looking at broad sweeping events through a soda straw. I will assume that the reporter did his job and provided a fair and balanced look at what was going on and after the fact tried to provide some context to it, but you are still reading about one tree in a forest. This particular tree was well trained marine infantrymen with the mission of finding fixing and holding the enemy for larger forces to eliminate and their perspective is going to be very different from marine infantrymen who where in the follow up infantry battalions which will be different from marine logisticians and so on.

 

Essentially Generation Kill is a tactical biography which provides a very detailed but very narrow perspective. A broader operational or strategic history can provide more perspective on the overall invasion but tends to completely lose the human factor that you get in Generation Kill. A collection of stories like in some of Stephen Ambrose or SLA Marshall's WWII books provides a broader perspective because they include the stories of people across many units versus just one. (Of course there are some objections to both Ambrose and Marshall's scholarship)

 

IMO a book like Generation Kill which takes all of its information from a person who was embedded with a 150 person unit cannot accurately portray the experience of an invasion force of almost 200,000 US, British and Aussie personnel.

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I've been working on and off on The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It's got an interesting format, which keeps me reading, but I'm frustrated with the writing style. It's written from the point of view of a high schooler, and reads like it. The main character isn't that great of a writer. That doesn't irritate me. What does, however, is how the author sometimes slips into a lot more skillful prose in describing things. It's skillfully planted few and far between the more sophomoric prose, but it's enough to annoy me with its inconsistency.

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Maybe it's the point of view of a high-schooler taking AP English :p

 

I remember taking AP english a long time ago, and it being a small school a large percentage of my grade level was in the same class. i noticed a lot of spillover when these people has conversations with "the unwashed masses" which was kind of funny.

Edited by sylae
NO NO NO YOU DONT ACTUALLY EAT THE BABIES ITS A SATIRE GUYS STOP
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NO NO NO YOU DONT ACTUALLY EAT THE BABIES ITS A SATIRE GUYS STOP

My AP Composition teacher was a middle-aged bald man who did two specific actions when nervous: rub his head with his palm and itch his left inner ear with his pinky. When we read Swift's said essay, I could almost hear the squeaking.

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All I remember about AP English was that I had to read a bunch of books that I did not like (as opposed to all of the books I was reading in my free time that I did like), that the gender ratio in the class was very favorable to my preferences and that I did better on the AP test than I did in the class. Of course in my case it really was a long time ago.

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Since I last updated, I've not read all that much. :( What I have read, though, seems mostly to have been American literature, which is making a nice change of pace.

 

Highlights have been Wharton's Ethan Frome. Melville's 'Benito Cereno' and Moby Dick. Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs, and Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I've also reread Hesiod, some of Lawrence's short stories, and some Hemingway.

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I remember taking AP english a long time ago, and it being a small school a large percentage of my grade level was in the same class. i noticed a lot of spillover when these people has conversations with "the unwashed masses" which was kind of funny.

 

I definitely remember that distinction happening with my AP classes. It was especially prevalent my senior year, when five of my seven courses were AP. I called the distinction the "AP community" because from AP class to AP class there'd be minimal shuffling and as such there was a distinctive group of people who formed a little academic nucleus in school.

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Huh, I haven't posted in this thread since 2008 for some reason. I've certainly been reading.

 

Lately I've been reading a (finished) web serial called Worm. It's fairly interesting, and it's not really something you could read in a single night.

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It's written from the point of view of a high schooler, and reads like it. The main character isn't that great of a writer. That doesn't irritate me.

I think it might irritate me, even if I admired how well it was done. In an abstract way I can acknowledge the skill of someone who does a great job smacking me in the face, but that doesn't mean I want to pay them for it.

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I'm reading Walt Kelly's Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Yonder - The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips - Volume 1 (1949-50). I just finished the strips on new clear fizzicks where Howland Owl and Churchy la Femme the turtle are working first on making an A bomb and later the B bomb.

 

What's scary is how much hasn't changed since then. They're are still con men out there selling bottled water for money.

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Sure. Mr. Q. I'd just like to be reading again!

 

Since I last updated, I read Ballard's Empire of the Sun. I like Ballard's work - pretty much since reading Crash (and watching the excellent Cronenberg adaptation) I've enjoyed reading Ballard, but this was something else. EotS really manages to create beauty out of an absolute pigsty of a setting/event. It's the first (semi-)fictionalised account of the Pacific Front in the Second World War I've read, and maybe it benefits from that. My only previous knowledge of this theatre of war - told from a native's perspective - is the Studio Ghibli film Grave of the Fireflies (which, incidentally is one of the greatest war movies ever made), so a lot of the details were new to me. Maybe that tainted my reading too. I'm not sure. Either way, the tone of EotS is perfect. Really. There echoes an absolute truth in every page, that it becomes less about Jim's struggle to survive and more about a reader's struggle to bear with JG through the reality of the novel. It's beautifully written - much more so than Ballard's other works, and more so than many other works I've read by other authors. It absolutely changed my life.

 

And then I read On the Road. As much as I loved that book, I'm still getting my head around it/fixed because of it. Excellent, excellent, excellent. Also, Cassady seemed like a total idiot.

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I just finished Gloria Anzaldua's classic,Borderlands / La Frontera. It's an auto-ethnography that studies Chicana experience, thought, and consciousness especially as it relates to immigration, Mexico, colonialism, queer identity, and feminism. It draws heavily on Aztec religion as well as the lived experiences of the author to advance its expository rhetoric.

 

I feel ill at ease with it. It purports to represent a Chicana experience as authentic and genuine, but the author is an academic and her text is written for a white, colonial audience. It isn't too caught in academic trappings, but still I feel like it is actually not too accessible to the people she's writing about. She uses token Spanish in her writing, but it's easily understood through context clues; knowing Spanish and trying to read the English, one would be lost.

 

This is a really small thing, but it resonates with me just because of Derrida's deconstruction of the Kafka's fable, Before the Law. The title situates the words "La Frontera" beneath "Borderlands," and starkly draws a line underlining "Borderlands." This is a visual, symbolic representation of the actual US-Mexico border. The English word is above the Spanish one, which is correct from a cartographic view, but only if maps are oriented northward. The Spanish phrase is also italicized, which is, to the best of my knowledge, standard writing procedure for foreign words. Thus, Spanish is marked as a foreign language, otherized. All of this, just from the title, seems to create an uncomfortable dualism that is contradictory to the argument of the book. This itself makes me feel that the Chicana consciousness Anzaldua describes is perhaps more "Anglo" (to use her term) than she'd like to admit.

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I don't know much about US-Mexico things. I lived four years in New Mexico, but NM was NM before it was American, and I lived for seven years in Boston, which is northeastern and rich and liberal about everything; about everything, it's all three of those things.

 

Writing about any kind of underprivileged group is academic low-hanging fruit. Somebody has to write about cultural differences, and everybody who can ought to write about injustice; but wherever there's fresh meat, vultures gather. You can get tenure and promotion, book contracts and celebrity (of a sort at least) by writing a trendy book with the right kind of political slant. I'm not talking about the corrosive corruption you get from Big Oil money, or Big Tobacco, or Big Agro, or the military-industrical complex ... but academia is the financial bush leagues. Even quite modest book sales are sweets on the other side of the foggy window pane from most academic noses. And cash is not the only currency.

 

Suspect privilege. Writing books about privilege, and its lack, is also a privilege.

 

There is another hand. If someone is right about something that really makes a difference, then that doesn't change just because they are also wrong about a lot of other things. At some point it counts as privilege simply to have enough to eat, but humans need food, and you can't close your ears to everyone who isn't starving. Starving people can't think well. So the whole issue of privileged viewpoint is only important up to a point. You have to look at angels through narrow eyes, but you have to give even devils their due.

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Today I'm reading about esterification mechanisms. I can't wait until this particular course of study is over.

 

I've been considering writing a book about linguistic adaptation. I've lived all over North America, and I find that I always absorb just a little bit of dialect, inflection, vocabulary, from wherever I wind up living for a period. Some sticks, some doesn't, and it's hard to explain but there almost seems to be some predictability as to what will come and what will go. I'm originally a Pittsburgher but most people would hardly recognize me as such. A number of people in my situation notice some of the same things.

 

Interestingly, I work with a lot of ESL folks... and I've discovered that there are certain ways I can word or say things that will make better sense, and there are definitely distinct differences in how I have to approach it, depending on whether it's someone from a romance language group, Slavonic language group, Asian language group. During the week that can even be extremely difficult to shake, and it comes through in my writing and speaking to native speakers, even though I'm a native speaker myself.

 

 

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I've mostly finished reading Germany: 1866-1945 by Gordon A. Craig. I've pretty much hacked my way through it, not because it's hard going, but because I have it in the German translation from the original English, because it was a lot cheaper on Amazon and I thought I'd give it a try. Turns out there are a lot of fancy words in this level of written German. Plus some unfamiliar ones that aren't fancy. It turns out that 'arg' is a German word. It means something like bad or sore, which seems appropriate enough, but I've never heard it spoken.

 

Coolest thing I've learned: the nickname for Hitler among German soldiers and generals was 'Gröfaz' (pronounced 'groe-fatz', where 'oe' is like the 'oo' in 'book'). It was a German-style abbreviation for 'grösster Feldherr aller Zeiten', 'greatest commander of all time', a phrase applied to Hitler in Nazi propaganda. After Stalingrad, the goblin-like name became a bitter meme.

 

Otherwise the main novelty in the book, for me, has been the perspective that Hitler was not simply continuing the authoritarian strain of German society from the 19th century, but that in fact he destroyed pretty much all the previous right-wing elements, along with the left-wing and democratic traditions. According to Craig, Hitler was an opportunistic genius who wrenched Germany into his own horrible new direction. Craig does not paint an especially rosy picture of imperial Germany before WWI, but he argues against seeing Bismarck in Hitler's shadow. Up to a point, at least, I think he's right. The Junkers were hardly democrats, and if you know a bit about WW2 and nothing about the 19th century it's easy to think of them as proto-Nazis, but in fact that's absurd. They and the Nazis despised each other.

 

I wonder, though. Craig's book has been popular in Germany. Craig himself was awarded the Pour le Mérite, though presumably not just for one book (he had a long career). Up to a point it's right to emphasize Hitler's discontinuity in German history, but I think I should maybe read another book and compare.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ventus by Karl Schroeder.

 

Possibly aka "Star Wars meets Star Trek meets LoTR, done right." The problem is it has the weaknesses of all of those as well as the strengths.

 

Strong points: decent characters, good action scenes, plenty of "WOW!" moments.

 

Weak points: the philosophical stuff felt more pretentious and technobabbly than anything else, though I'll give it points for not being as degrading and offensive as Dan Simmons. But the thing that really grated on me like crazy was the gender politics. Which is not good, because the failure of medieval social concepts is a major part of the plot!

 

It goes like this basically. Men are by nature

* aggressive, with a desire to fix (or reshape) the world

* unaware of other people's feelings

* fundamentally brutish and naive no matter how smart they are

* need women for emotional consolation and guidance

* more importantly, need women as an outlet for sexual energy and/or aggression

 

and women are by nature

* passive, with a desire to mediate and provide emotional counsel

* aware of other people's feelings to the point of overthinking everything

* fundamentally shrewd and conniving no matter how naive they are

* need men for physical and emotional protection

* need the aggression/sexual energy of men for some ill-defined reason

 

 

Not sure what to call this complex, but it should be familiar. It's common in SF and especially fantasy literature; and from what I've seen, almost always espoused by men, and almost always treated as a Truth that cannot be denied. Ventus is a pretty mild example, compared to e.g. Dune or the Kvothe Kingkiller novels.

 

But yeah, the rigidity of such ideas just makes me sad, in a way that even nihilism never quite manages.

 

I counted two female characters in the novel who defied this framework. Both were definitely lost, unhappy sorts. Also, zero characters who were not cis/hetero, and almost all European names. Which is kind of surprising given the post-mortal post-AI interstellar civilization in the picture...

 

tl;dr A novel purportedly about awareness is a bit too lacking in just that. Physician, heal thyself.

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THANK YOU. I'm ignorant of a lot of Delphy's terminology, but I think I'm basically in agreement with her.

 

(On a related note, the Rancom! blog is a great reminder of how much of a hypocrite I am.)

 

Edit: but I did at least recognize a veiled justification for a hierarchy when I saw one... Yay me I guess.

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(On a related note, the Rancom! blog is a great reminder of how much of a hypocrite I am.)

 

by linking to that article i don't necessarily endorse any of the others on that site fwiw

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I just started King Harald's Saga. I made myself read the dry 30-page introduction to get some context, and I'm going to start the actual saga soon.

 

The last book I read was Orbit One by Mel Jay, a 60s sci-fi paperback I got a local bookstore. It had a passable story but there were some philosophical parts mixed in. Through the whole book the author keeps looking at the "big picture", but the commentary is always small-minded and shortsighted. The story supposedly takes place in the 30th century, but the characters constantly make references to 1960s pop culture. At one point a character thinks back to "an ancient Western" he saw, which was pretty bad.

 

I looked up the author and found out he cranked out about one book per month during the 50s and 60s, under a ton of different pen names. He's still around today, writing at a similar pace.I guess that explains the quality of Orbit One. :rolleyes:

 

A couple weeks ago I bought a fancy edition of "The Stories of Ray Bradbury" which I've been picking at between books. I had no idea Bradbury was so influenced by Poe; several stories so far have been absolutely grotesque. Only two of the thirteen I've read had happy endings. They're still really good though.

 

Here's my Goodreads if anyone wants to add me: https://www.goodread...32465484-fenzil

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Sam Harris - Free Will: this book isn't very thorough as to its implications. The prose isn't the greatest, either.

 

Jean-Paul Sartre - Existentialism and Human Emotions: I cannot adequately summarize my thoughts on this book. I find it interesting how Sartre phrases the idea of carrying the weight of the world by oneself.

 

American Corrections: This is a textbook borrowed from a friend. It was surprisingly objective and pleasantly informative.

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A pretty light summer for me. In chronological order, I've read:

 

Helen Edmundson - The Heresy of Love

Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita

Edgar Allen Poe - 'The Purloined Letter'

John Buchan - The Thirty-Nine Steps

Ernest Hemingway - The Old Man and the Sea

George Orwell - Down and Out in Paris and London

Charlotte Perkins Gilman - 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

Simon Armitage - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Tom Holt - Expecting Someone Taller

John Williams - Stoner

John Steinbeck - Of Mice and Men

 

Of those, five were re-reads though, so my number is alarmingly low. :(

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I have been re-reading the Honor Harrington series. I only buy paperbacks, not hardbacks or e-books, so I am in kind of a lull. There is one book out that I need to stop by the book store and get in another series, but right now, I am looking at a book every other month, which is not enough. I guess that I am going to have to find a new series or two to read. Of course with A:CS coming out in Dec, that should take some time.

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Three WWl books, plus.

 

Since this year (2014) is the 100 year anniversary of World War 1, I thought it would be interesting to do some solid reading regarding its hows and whys; very interesting.

 

And, too, a good reminder that we humans appear to be incapable of learning from history, despite all the talk we sometimes hear of "lessons from history." yea right.

 

--I started with the (now) classic Barbara Tuchman book, The Guns of August.

--Next I read July 1914: Countdown to War, by Sean McMeekin.

--I am now about half-way through The Sleepwalkers: How Europe went to war in 1914, by Christopher Clark; a tour-de-force of history writing--deeply impressive.

 

Before I reading these 3, I had been reading V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River.

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