What are you reading today/book club

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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby vgtbls » Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:05 am

I finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman over part of my vacation. I liked the concept but I really disliked the main character and the ending. Who names a character "Shadow"? That's some fanfiction.org tier Mary-Sue shit. Other parts of the book were really unnecessarily erotic reader-bait. The plot twists were really foreshadowed. Don't know why this book gets so much praise. :???:
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby hooplah » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:10 pm

recently finished mr. penumbra's 24 hour bookstore. bought it for the cover (like all books i buy). story was decent i guess; writing left something to be desired in a way that i can't put my finger on. you learn absolutely nothing about the protagonist throughout the story, even though it is written in first person. it's almost like the protag is just a vehicle that performs the actions that move along the story; there is more character development for the supporting cast. i honestly can't even remember the protagonist's name right now.

also the story is a pretty cool concept and the book is generally about technology vs. old knowledge/books/old media, but the author writes about google in this totally outlandish way that was kind of off-putting since i know google employees which made his crazy descriptions of google and its employees seem even more ridiculous
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby freddy » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:38 pm

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One of out the three books on the phil/science of mind that I got for a total of $9 last week unexpectedly on the sale rack outside! But seriously, this book is going to help me synthesize all my meta psychoanalytic, philosophical, and sociological etc. readings, so hopefully I'll spew out less mumbo-jumbo jargon as a way of talking with y'all ;)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:31 pm

@freddy you ever read hemingway?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby freddy » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:42 pm

@rjbman no not yet, why?

Actually I saw @Stingray Sam's post and it's actually Searle's publication of The Rediscovery of the Mind that is helping me out a lot.

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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Stingray Sam » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:13 am

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I just finished the virgin suicides. It is probably one of the best books i have ever read. Eugenides captures these certain aspects of youth that I don't think i've ever seen captured before, yet they ring so true for me and seem almost universal for American youth. It's also one of the best descriptions of depression and suicide i've ever read. The book really captured for me what it is like to be depressed and want to die. A number of passages hit very close to home as i have thought almost the exact same thing word for word.

Edit: Freddy I actually just watched girl interrupted a couple days ago and i also felt that it did a very good job of showing depression/suicide ideation. There was a couple of lines that also really spoke to me where she was talking about just wanting to go to sleep etc. I really liked it when she described how stupid it was to fantasize about suicide and it made me really happy and i wanted to go back show myself that movie 6 months ago
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby DeafIdiotGod » Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:11 am

I finished DFW's the Broom Of The System the other day. While not as mind blowing as Infinite Jest it was still an enjoyable read. It felt somewhat more Pynchonian than his second novel, I noticed, that's probably to do with him not having fully developed a personal style which is forgivable for a debut novel. It had a lot of themes pertaining to the philosophy of language and Wallace himself said that the book can be viewed as a dialogue between Wittgenstein and Derrida; I don't know a massive amount about that field or either of those philosophers so I think I may re-read this book after researching the relevant areas. The book was also pretty funny and had some very inventive descriptive passages which I particularly enjoyed.

I should also re-read Infinite Jest after reading Hamlet and a bunch of other stuff.

I'm reading some much less postmodern stuff now to pull myself out of my binge of ironic metafictional writing. I've started The King In Yellow and I was initially taken aback at how normally everything was written. It's shaping up to be an enjoyable read.

Speaking of postmodern weirdness, any Flann O'Brien fans here?
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby charybdis » Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:11 pm

Stingray Sam wrote:Image

I just finished the virgin suicides. It is probably one of the best books i have ever read. Eugenides captures these certain aspects of youth that I don't think i've ever seen captured before, yet they ring so true for me and seem almost universal for American youth. It's also one of the best descriptions of depression and suicide i've ever read. The book really captured for me what it is like to be depressed and want to die. A number of passages hit very close to home as i have thought almost the exact same thing word for word.


@stingray sam YES YES YES THIS IS ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE NOVELS. It's a shame actually that Middlesex gets all the press because I definitely think The Virgin Suicides is the more tightly written and interesting of his novels. (That said, I'm a huge sucker for first person plural. I also enjoyed And Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.)

I like that he really explores concepts that are slightly uncommon in literature (although some might argue that it becomes gimmicky?) and Middlesex and The Marriage Plot are both good, if not as wonderful. (Also, since his backlog is so small right now you can smugly tell people that you've read everything Eugenides has ever written and they'll say "Who?")

Also, you should read A Visit From the Goon Squad. (Just because.)
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby balloons » Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:20 pm

@Stingray Sam, curious as to what you thought of the ending? particularly the part about it being pure selfishness on the girls' part.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Stingray Sam » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:25 pm

@balloons i think that suicide is selfish, nuff' said. when i look back to when i was deeply depressed and close to suicide myself i can only think of how terrible it would've been to my friends and family to leave them in such a way for my own desire for "peace." i thought the ending was really great though,it was very jarring the way they killed themselves even though i knew the entire time they were going to die. And the descriptions of the boy's lives after it was also especially good, i felt like Eugenides could describe perfectly suicide ideation and depression in a way unlike anyone else. At points i blamed the parents, but i felt like their death were inevitable and more of a product of the time and place than the mother's strictness. I especially believe this because they didn't leave, and it seemed had no intention to. If it was just the mother why did they not leave? I certainly understand the feeling too. My SO was peeved when they didn't go, but i think that it just demonstrates the reality of depression more than anything else. At times they seemed happy and alive, yet there was a constant sort of tiredness that emanated from them that i can only describe as depression. You know the sort of tiredness where everything is dull and a struggle and all you want to do is close your eyes and rest instead of live, which is for me what suicide ideation is about. Not necessarily wanting to die, just wanting peace instead of life.

Sorry my thoughts are a bit scattered
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby charybdis » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:12 pm

What do you all think about Netflix-like ebook subscription services?

Amazon just rolled one out and I can't help but roll my eyes at every article predicting doom and gloom and the devaluation of the novel since have any of them ever been to a public library in the united states. (That said, I have mixed feelings about Amazon because of all the bullying of publishers they do.)

I've wanted to subscribe to either Oyster or scribd for ages, but it never seemed to make that much sense since I have a kindle.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby vgtbls » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:19 pm

I think the idea is good, but I forsee publishers really rallying against it. I bet you could do something cool like Spotify for ebooks. Like subscribing to Oprah's book club and reading along.

Anybody love short stories as much as I do? I just picked up George Saunders' collection Tenth of December. I'm only one story in but I liked it a lot. Something about short stories is really great. Single sitting, narrow focus literature is so refreshing.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby bobo77 » Mon Jul 21, 2014 3:02 pm

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Homage to Catalonia - George Orwell
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby oucho » Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:42 pm

Kafka - the decisive years by reiner stach translated by shelley frisch, I really like it
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby ab167 » Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:31 pm

Currently reading The Rainbow by D.H. Lawerence. Remain unconvinced that modernism is a break with the Victorian period's realism. But it's aight.

Recently finished: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radliffe. One of the first popular gothic novels (1794). Do not recommend unless you are something of a size queen.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby rjbman » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:03 pm

vgtbls wrote:I think the idea is good, but I forsee publishers really rallying against it. I bet you could do something cool like Spotify for ebooks. Like subscribing to Oprah's book club and reading along.

Anybody love short stories as much as I do? I just picked up George Saunders' collection Tenth of December. I'm only one story in but I liked it a lot. Something about short stories is really great. Single sitting, narrow focus literature is so refreshing.


I love love love short story collections. A few in my collection are Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver, Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, and Collected Fictions by Borges. All are excellent in their own way. Raymond Carver is great at writing very little and letting the reader fill in the blanks. Philip K. Dick is the master of the scifi short story (seriously, like a dozen of them have been turned into movies). Borges is superb at blurring the line between fantasy and reality, and can be quite poetic in his style. All three are summations of entire lifetimes of work, which I find very enjoyable; being able to follow the author through their life is amazing.

Also enjoy the yearly "The Year's Best Science Fiction" collections as I don't read much modern sci-fi short stories and it's great to get summaries of what's new.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby ab167 » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:11 pm

One of my favorite short story authors: Flannery O'Connor.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby klonopin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:34 am

And even as he poked fun at the fair, Rodolphe showed the policeman his blue card so that they could walk about more freely, and he even stopped now and then in front of some handsome specimen, which Madame Bovary did no much admire. He noticed this and then began to make jokes about the ladies of Yonsville and the way they dressed; then he asked her forgiveness for the carelessness of his own appearance. It was that incoherent mix of the ordinary and the elegant that common people generally take for evidence of an eccentric lifestyle, chaotic passions, the tyrannical dictates of art, and always a certain contempt for social conventions, which either charms or exasperates them. Thus, the breast of his cambric shirt, with its pleated cuffs, swelled as the wind caught it in the opening of his vest of gray twill, and his broad-striped trousers revealed at the ankles his low nankeen boots, vamped in patent leather. They were so highly polished they mirrored the grass; and in them he was trampling the horse dung underfoot, one hand in his jacket pocket and his straw hat tipped to the side.
"Besides," he added, "when you live in the country..."
"It's all a waste of effort," said Emma.
"True!" replied Rodolphe. "Just imagine-- not one of these good people is capable of understanding even the cut of a coat!"
Then they talked about the mediocrity of provincial life, how stifling it was, how fatal to one's illusions.
"And so I myself," said Rodolphe, "sink into such melancholy..."
"You!" she broke in, surprised. "But I thought you were very happy."
"I've missed out on so many things! I've been so alone! Ah! If only I'd had some goal in life, if I'd known some affection, if I'd found someone... Oh, I would have expended all the energy I possess, I would have surmounted everything, conquered everything!"
"Yet it seems to me," sand Emma, "that you're scarcely to be pitied."
"Oh? You think so?" said Rodolphe.
"Because... well...," she went on, "you're free."
She hesitated:
"You're rich."
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby balloons » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:00 am

@Stingray Sam, how can we justify labeling suicide as selfish? is it not a mental illness like any other? succumbing to death by any other disease isn't "selfish"; it's just the nature of pathogens. you get a cold, you get a fever, you get tuberculosis, whatever -- none of that seems selfish. what distinguishes suicide other than the lay perspective that it's imaginary and that you can somehow think yourself out of it?

personally I thought the book was rather well written but the ending - specifically (exclusively) the part about how selfish the suicides were - kind of rubbed me the wrong way. esp. because it seemed like that was sort of eugenides own thoughts or something about suicide; didn't really seem to fit the character voice I got from the greek choir type "boys" narrator. I dunno tho, I haven't read many other criticisms of the ending & was absent the day we discussed this in my english class.

@sparkyoriental, you negged him so I'd like to hear your thoughts on this too... I kinda find it rude to neg w/o explaining in this type of discussion.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Stingray Sam » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:25 am

@balloons

Perhaps for me it's necessary to think of suicide like that because if you don't the barriers to killing yourself are minimal and suicide itself will start to seem inevitable. If it's no longer something to overcome and an illness, it becomes a terminal illness and you just start waiting for the day when you feel bad enough to kill yourself. You don't dismiss your fantasies as ridiculous and you allow yourself to wallow in them. You let yourself get worked up over everything because it's just the illness. You allow yourself to be controlled by depression rather than control it. That for me is at least how i think of it, i'm sure others would disagree about it from their own experiences.

@sparkyoriental i too would like an explanation. I'm sorry if i offended you, i didn't mean to speak for all people with depression
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby sidewalk » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:33 pm

polo
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby balloons » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:20 pm

let's calm down; that reads very aggressively sidewalk. there's really no need for that here.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby can- » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:27 pm

calling a suicide victim 'selfish' is naive and offensive. it's patronizing to say you have "been there" when you are still around-- you were obviously able to overcome it, or more likely I bet the extent of your situation wasn't nearly as severe.

here is a DFW quote I find useful.

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. the person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be or you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains constant. the variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s the terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling “Don’t!” and “Hang on!”, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.


I think we already have a thread for this though
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby Iliam » Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:05 am

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re-reading an old favourite
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby prosopon » Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:25 am

vgtbls wrote:Anybody love short stories as much as I do? I just picked up George Saunders' collection Tenth of December. I'm only one story in but I liked it a lot. Something about short stories is really great. Single sitting, narrow focus literature is so refreshing.


if you haven't already, you should try his short novel The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. it's a quick read and gets a lot of love-it-or-hate-it reviews, but i thought it was hilarious. another good one is Brad Carrigan, American.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby BIGBEE » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:50 pm

I've been reading tinker tailor it's so good. I was confused the first time I read it but in this second time I got the jargon down and the plot really is good. I love how lecarre's protagonist is a pudgy aging man; probably a bit more realistic than the standard spy novel protagonist :lol:
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby JewTurk » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:33 pm

About 100 pages into The Elegance of the Hedgehog, the prose is magnificent but I can't help but think that anyone who reads this will agree there is a lot of pretension in the protagonists that I personally can't seem to get over.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby DeafIdiotGod » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:53 am

Finished The King In Yellow a couple of days ago. I have to say I was a little disappointed that there weren't more stories to do with the eponymous, supernatural play but I suppose the resulting ambiguity left from the lack of information lets the mind create its own version of things. I did like the stories about the bohemian artists in Paris though, even though they were not what I was expecting when I chose the book. My favourite part of the book has to be The Mask sequence, particularly the bit with the jester.

I've started to read Nietzche's Beyond Good & Evil now, having read some summaries of his ideas I don't think I will agree with much in there but I want to see for myself in case any of the summaries are biased. As with most philosophical texts I've read it needs to be read very carefully.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby bobo77 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:03 am

Just finished this.
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Re: What are you reading today/book club

Postby zayg » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:20 am

reading walden for the first time

damn thoreau was a salty fuck, but it blows my mind how much of the saltiness holds true to this day
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