What are you reading right now?

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What are you reading right now?

Post by scarletregina » May 21st, 2014, 7:58 pm

I read a lot - thanks to my insomnia and audiobooks. I tend to read a lot of "easy" books these days because if I try to read something like a Song of Ice and Fire at night, I'll never sleep at all.

I'm currently finishing Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I think it's excellent and in some ways reminds me of Ready, Player One - which everyone should read, several times.

Last year, I got really into the Dresden Files and read all of the books in a very short amount of time, some of them I read twice I liked them so much. I've been trying to find a similar series to read but everything so far seems like a cheap imitation. Tried to read the Iron Druid Chronicles which seemed interesting at first but then got boring. Currently trying out the Alex Verus series, which seems a bit better than Iron Druid.

Any suggestions for books and what are you all reading at the moment?

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by neglet » May 21st, 2014, 8:31 pm

Oh, I started reading the Dresden files last year, just after I moved to Chicago. I live right across from the cemetery where Harry has his grave, and I've seen quite a few other landmarks. So cool.

Recently I've been devouring a bunch of everything. Caught up on old prizewinners and bestsellers and can highly recommend both "Middlesex" by Geoffrey Eugenides (a hermaphrodite! growing up in my old Michigan stomping grounds!) and "Gone Girl" (helluva twist). I also keep up with recent children's books and some recent worthy award=winners include "The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate, "Endangered" by Eliot Schrefer (both involve primates), "Un Lun Dun" by China Mieville--actually, most everything I've read by Mieville is pretty cool, if you like horror but not grossout, his adult novel "Kraken" is awesome. Also, if you haven't read Neil Gaiman's latest, "The OCean at the End of the Lane," it's pretty cool as well.

If you like series and are up for sci-fi, I always recommend my favorite author, Lois McMaster Bujold. Her Vorkosigan books are awesome (start with the two-volume award-winning omnibus "Cordelia's Honor"), and I really love her fantasy series that begins with "The Curse of Chalion," it's set in a world with five gods who can't interfere directly with human affairs so they get poor humans to do it. I can't recommend her work highly enough.

I could go on, but I'll wait until you need more suggestions. I'm lucky enough to have a major urban library with a huge e-book collection, so *burp* I'm going through books like potato chips.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 21st, 2014, 9:50 pm

I've been keeping a list of everything I've read since late 2010. I read a lot of short stories, and I read a lot of generic westerns, so having the list helps keep things straightened out.

I used to read a good bit more than I do at present, but caring for a kid has sapped me of much of my reading vigor. I didn't have a kid when I started the list. I think I started the list, in part, because I thought I'd be reading more than I wound up reading.

Before the kid, graduate school had been the thing sapping me of my reading vigor. I was reading nonstop, but the majority of what I was reading was dissertation related, and the reading was slow-going. Once graduate school is behind me, I said to myself, I'll be reading so much I won't be able to keep it all straight! I'll *need* a list! It turns out I was wrong about reading so much. I was right about not being able to keep it all straight, though, so I'm glad to have the list.

These days, even a short story can be a challenge to read. It depends on how wiped out I am by the time Jubboiter decides to cease to be conscious.

Here's what I've read since January of this year (I've finished the texts in black, and I'm still reading the texts in red):

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker.
Bangs, John Kendrick. "The Water Ghost."
Bierce, Ambrose. "A Diagnosis of Death."
---. "The Moonlit Road."
---. "A Son of the Gods."
---. "The Stranger."
Blackwood, Algernon. "The Woman's Ghost Story."
Bloch, Robert. "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper."
Brooks, Walter R. "Jimmy Takes Vanishing Lessons."
Carleton, Barbee Oliver. "The Wonderful Cat of Cobbie Bean."
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Notes from Underground.
---. Crime and Punishment.
Edwards, Amelia B. "The Phantom Coach."
Esenwein, J.B. and Marietta Stockard. "The Woodman and the Goblins."
Gorman, Ed. "Stalker."
Harvey, W. F. "Across the Moors."
---. "August Heat."
Heer, Jeet. "Dream Big and Work Hard."
Highsmith, Patricia. "The Terrapin."
Hill, Joe. "20th Century Ghost."
Hodgson, William Hope. "The Derelict."
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World.
Jacobs, Joseph. "The King o' the Cats."
---. "Teeny-Tiny."
Jacobs, W. W. "The Toll-House."
James, M. R. "Lost Souls."
---. "Rats."
---. "The Rose Garden."
---. "A Warning to the Curious."
Jerome, Jerome K. "A Ghost Story."
Jewett, Eleanor M. "Which was Witch?"
Jones, Louis C. "Spook's Bones."
King, Stephen. "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates."
Le Fanu, J. Sheridan. "The Ghost and the Bone-Setter."
Matheson, Richard. "Dress of White Silk."
---. "Old Haunts."
---. "Prey."
---. "Wet Straw."
Maupassant, Guy de. "The Necklace."
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried.
Oliphant, Margaret. "The Open Door."
Saki. "Laura."
---. "The Open Window."
---. "The Soul of Laploshka."
Soldati, Mario. "Footsteps in the Snow."
Stevenson, Robert Louis. "The Merry Men."
Tem, Steve Rasnic. "Shadows in the Grass."
Trollope, Anthony. He Knew He Was Right.
Wagner, Karl Edward. "Sticks."
Wickes, Frances G. "The Conjure Wives."
Windham, Kathryn Tucker and Margaret Gillis Figh. 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.

Some of the above are rereads. Some are things I started years ago, abandoned, and then decided to start over and read to the end.

It looks like I read more than I did. It's mostly short stories.

I don't know that I have any specific things to recommend from the above list. If you want to look it over and ask me whether or not I recommend this-or-that, I can do that. If you just want general recommendations that have nothing to do with what I've read recently, I can also do that.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Space Tycoon » May 21st, 2014, 10:43 pm

Shit, and I call myself a reader.

I just finished "Painted in Blood: Understanding Europeans" by Stuart Miller, an anecdotal work by an American psychologist recounting his years of noticing differences between Euros and 'mericans.

Also starting through "the Language of Mathematics: Making the Invisible Visible" by Keith Devlin. Content is self-explanatory. I decided to pick it up because, "This book is written for the general reader and assumes no mathematical ability or knowledge," but will still make you feel smarter for having read it.

Also into Sorcerer, a short potboiler from the 70's which apparently was made into an interesting movie with Roy Scheider.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 22nd, 2014, 7:29 am

Again, most of those are short stories. Some are pretty long, but some are incredibly short. They probably average out to about 15-20 pages each.

The only really lengthy thing I've read this year has been He Knew He Was Right. It's just under 1,000 pages. All reading it really served to do was make me even more bitter toward people of privilege. It turns out that Andrew Davies did a miniseries adaptation of it for the BBC. It also turns out that David Tennant is in it. The character he plays is pretty much the biggest jerk in the book. If the miniseries stays true to the book, it could be interesting to see him in that role.

Ship Breaker and The Things They Carried were probably only about 600 pages combined. Those were the two I read aloud to Jubbers's youngest brother this semester. (He has dyslexia and really bad eyesight.) Ship Breaker was new to me. It looks like it's going to be part of a series. Jubbers's brother liked it a lot. It's essentially a dystopian tale of pirates. (So was Waterworld, though, right?)

I had already read The Things They Carried, so it was interesting to return to it. Jubbers's bother also like it, but for all the wrong reasons.

Jubbers's brother is pretty interesting. I can tell you more about him and his relationship to the military if Jubbers OKs it.

Notes from Underground was under 150 pages. I had mixed feelings about it. Howard Devoto/Magazine has a song inspired by it. It's called "A Song from under the Floorboards." I probably prefer his song to the book. It's not that I dislike the book. Once the actual narrative kicks in, it's pretty funny. The manifesto portion of it is pretty annoying. I think maybe it's supposed to be.

Devoto has some other Dostoevsky-inspired music. He mentions Raskolnikov by name in "Philadelphia," for instance. You know, I think "A Song from under the Floorboards" and "Philadelphia" are both on The Correct Use of Soap. Maybe the Dostoevsky inspiration was specific to that album.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Jubbers » May 22nd, 2014, 12:30 pm

The Swollen Goiter of God wrote:Jubbers's brother is pretty interesting. I can tell you more about him and his relationship to the military if Jubbers OKs it.
It's OK. You've already told Gus and Mal anyways.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » May 22nd, 2014, 1:27 pm

I commute a lot so most of my reads are fairly disposable page turners. :(

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by scarletregina » May 22nd, 2014, 4:13 pm

I will shamefully admit to this group that I read a lot of YA fiction because they are easy and don't require much of my brain at 3am when I can't sleep. Some of them are really great... but most of them are: Girl meets Supernatural boy. Girl falls for Supernatural boy. Hijinks ensue. I throw up in my mouth and curse myself for attempting to read such trash.

But then there are gems like The Hunger Games, so I guess it all evens out.

Thanks for the many suggestions. i usually juggle several books at once, so having lots of recommendations is good.

Neglet, the next Dresden book comes out next week and I am beside myself with excitement, even if I"m not sure I like the direction the story is going.

Oh, for those of who like fantasy stuff with a modern twist (but not quite the level of urban fantasy) you must check out the Magicians by Lev Grossman. That book is fucking fantastic and so is the sequel The Magician King.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 22nd, 2014, 4:50 pm

There's no reason to be ashamed about reading whatever it is you're reading. Reading is already a privilege. Many can't afford to do it. Many don't know how to do it. If there's any shame to be had, it's in having the opportunity to read in the first place.

Read what you read, I say. Don't give a damn about those who give a damn if you're reading X instead of Y. Reading's reading. While it's true that taking sixty trips a year to the grocery store isn't the same as driving to a national park and experiencing the grandeur of nature, they both put 200 miles on your car, and they're both fulfilling in their own way. The grocery store trips may put more wear on your motor, but they keep you fed.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 22nd, 2014, 4:53 pm

That said, if you can manage to do both, do both.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 22nd, 2014, 4:53 pm

Unless you don't wanna.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by neglet » May 22nd, 2014, 7:59 pm

My feeling about reading "quality" is that it's like food. Some stuff may be better for you, but sometimes you just feel like junk food. I don't feel guilty when I read brain candy, because it's all grist for the mill.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Mango » May 22nd, 2014, 10:17 pm

If you wanna combine Dresden love and YA fiction I might suggest the Skullduggery Pleasant series.
I've only read the first book, and admittedly had a problem or two, but for the most part I enjoyed it.
One day I plan to grab the next few books and give them a go.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » May 23rd, 2014, 10:50 am

Watching Deathly Hallows last night made me think about revisiting the Potters.

Currently still demolishing the Jack Reacher books.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Mal Shot First » May 26th, 2014, 12:23 pm

I read shamefully little for someone with an advanced degree in the humanities. The only two books I "read" recently were audiobooks.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 26th, 2014, 1:46 pm

You probably read more than you realized this last year, Mal, though a lot of it was probably rereading. The professor of literature is expected to have a level of understanding and recall that goes well beyond the norm, and a big part of that is having a backwards-and-forwards knowledge of both the text at hand and much of the secondary literature surrounding it.

I feel some professors fall short of this goal. It's unreasonable to expect them to out-know every student on every text taught during the semester, sure, and it's good to have professors who are clearly open to continuing their own educations within the classroom setting, but I've been in classes with professors who might as well have been one of the students in their own classes. On the other hand, I guess having this kind of professor is better than having the kind of professor who teaches on autopilot and refuses to let in any outside influences.

One big downside to becoming a professor in the arts, at least from my perspective, is that you spend so much time honing your craft that it eats away at your ability to continue learning. You become an expert in a very narrow field, and to retain this expertise, you have to expand with the field as the field itself expands. This isn't to say that doing this should (or even could) take up all your spare time, but it can take up a hefty chunk of it. When you care way too much about your biceps, your legs, back, and core are liable to atrophy a bit.

I always felt guilty about branching out and pursuing other interests when I was actively working on my degree. I would tell myself on occasion that there would be some time later on when I could pursue these interests more fully (or even at all). Once I had satisfied myself that I had attained the appropriate level of expertise in my fields, then staying up-to-date would only require the occasional refresher. Beyond that, maybe, I'd only have to glance through various journals. The rest of my free time, I thought, I could spend pursuing all those interests that I'd been putting off pursuing.

I was never quite sold on making a career out of academics, so this was only what I'd tell myself when I imagined a future where I just kind of stumbled into a career in academics. I always saw myself stumbling into a career. In part, this was because I'd stumbled into many of the situations that took me in my life's various directions. (Maybe some of this is a result of white guy privilege. I don't know. I do know that there are people out there who have to take a more active role in order to steer their lives in the directions they want them to go.) In part, this was because I've never really cared what career I ended up with as long as I got a chance to write. (Drawing used to be the thing, but my elbow got worse and worse, and writing became the thing drawing had been.)

I don't know that it would have worked out the way I was trying to convince myself it might. Academic careers require a lot of the academic. They require things of his time that have little to do with honing his scholarship. There are scheduled and impromptu office hours, there are grading sessions, there are mountains of bureaucratic red tape, there are departmental functions. There are functions outside of the department. There's keeping up appearances. There's maintaining a presence in the general academic community. Outside of this, there's family life. There's exercise, too. There's little manual labor involved in academics. It can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to health problems. Then there's the guilt that comes with recreational exercise. (This is a thing that's specific to me, maybe. It's probably due to growing up on a farm and hearing farmers mock "city types" for having to exercise to stay in shape. "Them folks is such no-accounts, they health is just another game ta play! Why not put some a that energy inta doing somethin' useful, like diggin' a grave or huskin' some corn?" If you've ever been to the Deep South, you'll probably spot the irony right away. Rural southerners are the fattest motherfuckers on the planet.)

Anyway, now that I'm divorced (or at least separated) from the system, I feel like I can mix and match recreational and academic reading as I please. I can focus on, say, Russian literature for a while without feeling like I'm cheating on my studies. It's a good feeling. I'm often too busy or wiped out to read a goddamn line of anything, but at least I can read what I want when I find the time and energy.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Jubbers » May 26th, 2014, 1:50 pm

My current book is also an audiobook. I'm listening to Janis Ian's Society's Child. She does the reading herself and sings relevant bits of song with guitar accompaniment throughout. I'm not terribly far yet (a couple of hours in out of 19), but I'm enjoying it.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 26th, 2014, 2:18 pm

I've talked to some people who were embarrassed to reveal that they were listening to an audiobook. Fuck that. It's still a book. It's just another way of delivering the content of the book to you. Can the reader's performance lead and manipulate you in ways you wouldn't have been led or manipulated had you read the book on the page? Yes. The same could be said of a translation, though.

Some people are auditory learners. They process and retain audiobooks better than they process and retain the written page. For these people, maybe the audiobook is a much richer experience. There are also blind people who may not have a choice. Braille books can be expensive and hard to come by, and they take up a whole lot of space.

Some people can get pretty sleepy when they read paper books. There are ways for the average person to combat this--learning to move the eyes less, taking frequent breaks, reading while standing, etc.--but there are people out there for whom none of these methods work.

If you have access both to regular books and to audiobooks, I recommend taking advantage of both. You get something unique from both. Sometimes it can be easier for me to secure a copy of one than it is for me to secure a copy of the other. Sometimes, if I have a book in both formats, I will alternate between the two of them.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by neglet » May 26th, 2014, 2:23 pm

Memoirs are particularly great to hear as audiobooks. I listened to Jack Gantos' "Hole in My Life," a memoir about his lost youth (he ended up smuggling by boat)' and it was particularly effective listening to him talk about himself.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by scarletregina » May 26th, 2014, 4:32 pm

I almost exclusively read via audiobooks due to my poor eyesight and migraines. However, I read a lot of anthropology/historical books and, for some reason, I need to see the written words for those.

Reading is reading, whether you use your eyes or your ears, you're still absorbing knowledge/new ideas/stories.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » May 27th, 2014, 11:41 am

The audio version of Playboy was a dreadful disappointment.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 27th, 2014, 11:47 am

Even with the Vonnegut material?

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by Dalty » May 27th, 2014, 11:52 am

Even Vonnegut material isn't wipe clean.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 27th, 2014, 11:56 am

Not even ice-nine?

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Post by scarletregina » May 27th, 2014, 1:25 pm

Sex scenes via audiobook are extremely awkward and one of the reasons why I have a horrible time listening to A Song of Ice and Fire. An old man trying to moan like Daenerys Targaryen is off-putting, to say the least.

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