[Literature] Currently Reading (discussion)

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Postby Eva 02 » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:18 pm

Reading "Groucho & Me" the part-one of Groucho Marx's autobiography. I also have "Harpo Speaks" on the way via Amazon, which has been said to be just as funny if not more so.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:01 am

Finally got a niche on my schedule to start reading Summer of the Ubume; the first 20-odd pages while waiting for my wife to finish getting a manicure.

The prose is rendered nicely into English, while retaining some of the stylistics tics of the original (no sentence broken between pages); there are a few translators notes where allusions are made to various folk-tales. The most obtrusive translation quirks are where dates are concerned

The book he was reading was something from the Edo Period [1603-1868]...


So far, most of the matter has been Kyogokudo's musings on mind, body, religion and consciousness, interspersed with Sekiguchi, the narrator, being impressed or considered slow in following the argument

There are those who merely dabble in withering looks, but Kyogokudo was a widely recognised master of the art. He favoured me with one now.


The central mystery has been but briefly alluded to so far, mainly as a springboard for Kyogokudo's lecture.

Even thus far into the 300+ pages of the earlier work, it seems like Mouryou no Hako was a good transposition of the author's style into a different medium.
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Postby Natsuka_Chie » Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:30 pm

Started reading Lolita from Vladimir Nabokov last night. So far, it has been very good.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:32 pm

Halfway through Summer of the Ubume; and so many of the cast of Mouryou no Hako have appeared -- many more than I had expected. And Kyogoku seems to have a thing about bizarre hospitals.

I shall have to rewatch MnH now with a new perspective on who all these people are.
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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:43 pm

Let me see, what have I been reading lately... I pawed through about four books on writing in the last few months, Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress, The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell, How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Tons of great advice in all of them, some of it contradicts stuff other people have said. I'm probably done with books on writing in general now. They've been a lot of help, but really parts of it felt like I was reading the same book over and over again. A more critical eye during selected re-readings will prove far more fruitful.

I also finished John Dies at the End by David Wong. Sadly, I was dissapointed. He's easily the best columnist on cracked.com, , but he's not a particularly good story teller. Of course large treks of it were hysterical, and it really picked up at the last hundred pages or so, but I couldn't get past his poor prose and shameless exposition. Okay, the prose is justified, and not entirely awful. It's written in first person from a twenty-something slacker, and there's some nice humorous asides, so it works. It's just that he keeps explaining everything on the spot, and it drains the narrative of any intrigue or tension. The first hundred or so pages were great, because I was intrigued, wondering where all of this crazy shit was coming from and what it was doing. Then they just explain it all, and do it again and again. Wong mentions in the back that he just wrote it to amuse some people online, and that he really doesn't know much about writing. Well, it shows. The books could have been amazing, if subjected to a rigorous rewrite. What we're left with is a strong opening, a strong ending, an a very meandering, uninteresting middle.

I'm reading Sewer, Electric and Gas: The Public Works trilogy by Matt Ruff on and off. I've been distracted and reading maybe a chapter or two a month, so I'm about 150 pages into it. There's nothing wrong with it, I'm digging it. Well, okay there's some stuff wrong. There's a whole lot of characters and side-plots and I don't entirely find them all interesting. The main plot is a billionaire industrialist who has a fetish for making huge skyscrapers and his activist ex-wife, who is the daughter of a radical sect of lesbian nuns, trying to investigate another billionaire industrialist who was beaten to death with a copy of Atlas Shrugged by an "electric negro" a robotic servant made to look like a black person (who are mostly dead, courtesy of a turn of the century plague). Another plot involves a radical environmentalist and his colorfully diverse crew dropping giant banana cream pies on oil tankers (owned by the previously mentioned billionaire industrialist).

Yeah, it's wacky and stuffed and more concerned with world-building than characterizaton, although it tries. There really is no shortage of fun, I don't know why I'm not reading it more often.

I also read about ten pages of the Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessosa, which was so depressing I stopped reading it, and have been dreading picking it back up.

Still only about 400 pages into Atlas Shrugged. Someday I'll finish that mountain.

Started the Portable Nietzsche, and got through a hundred pages of aphorisms, so I'm not reading the first part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Good shit. I like how Zarathustra carries a dead person through the woods, sleeps with him, then gets up and has the stunning revelation that he shouldn't carry dead people around. But seriously, for a wise old mystic, Zarathustra seems kind of retarded.

I can't remember what else I started then stopped reading. I will report back later.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:43 pm

View Original PostMugwumpHasNoLiver wrote:Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress, The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell, How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Tons of great advice in all of them, some of it contradicts stuff other people have said. I'm probably done with books on writing in general now. They've been a lot of help, but really parts of it felt like I was reading the same book over and over again. A more critical eye during selected re-readings will prove far more fruitful.
I have Art of War for Writers in my bathroom ATM, and I'm about 50 pages in. It IS quite helpful in terms of a writer's attitude and how they should approach what they do. It's a bit different for me since I write poetry instead of prose, but the stuff about balancing getting over your fears VS caring about what you do and wanting to get better really hit home. I like the snappy writing style, too. You can tell it's written by someone who, you know, does this. As far as feeling like you're reading the same thing, that's what happens anytime you read "how to" books on any subject. I'm encountered the same thing for film, poker, photography, and poetry. It's really best to find ONE book that really connects with you and study that one like you would The Bible. When you're ready to move on, pick books that tackle specific sub-subjects in more depth.
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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:01 pm

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:IIt's a bit different for me since I write poetry instead of prose, but the stuff about balancing getting over your fears VS caring about what you do and wanting to get better really hit home.


Yes, that is exactly why I recommended it to you. Although as far as strictly prose writing goes, I found How Not to Write a Novel and The First Five Pages to be far more engaging. I don't think it's a good idea to study any one thing like a bible, though. I think that encourages, rigid, inflexible thinking. I'm of the opinion that it's much better idea to study a wide array of opinions and synthesise something personal from them, for yourself. Something rigid at the core, but malleable enough to change when faced with new information.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:06 pm

View Original PostMugwumpHasNoLiver wrote: I don't think it's a good idea to study any one thing like a bible, though. I think that encourages, rigid, inflexible thinking.
This wasn't what I had in mind when I said "study it like a Bible". What I meant was that you read it enough times to absorb all of the concepts until you find yourself easily being able to incorporate them into your own work automatically when needed. I learned how to do this with poker where I'd read one book, or even one section of one book, until I found myself automatically being able to implement that concept in my play when needed. I imagine the same would apply to writing. It's not about encouraging rigid thinking, but about ingraining all of those tools into your craft on an almost unconscious level where it's second nature. Then, once they're there, you can more freely choose which tools are best for the situation.

I'm doing the same with photography now, reading and rereading about the process of metering, focusing, setting aperture/speed for what you want, etc. so it becomes second nature and I won't have to think about them when I'm actually out shooting and I can think more creatively instead of technically.
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We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:07 pm

I'm sorry, I had just eaten an entire bag of grass. Yeah, that thing you said makes sense.
"Now, from Nature we obtain abundant information about ourselves, and precious little about others. About the woman you clasp in your arms, can you say with certainty that she does not feign pleasure? About the woman you mistreat, are you quite sure that from abuse she does not derive some obscure and lascivious satisfaction? Let us confine ourselves to simple evidence: through thoughtfulness, gentleness, concern for the feelings of others we saddle our own pleasure with restrictions, and make this sacrifice to obtain a doubtful result." -The Divine Marquis

"I agree Hans, but we have talked about those anal fisting analogies." -Werner Herzog

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Postby NemZ » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:50 pm

View Original PostXard wrote:Why is Sandman vol 1's art so ugly? I just can't start reading it because of how repugnant it is :(


Probably because it was playing the whole Dr. Strange crazy mystic 60's vibe. It does get better (and worse, and better again, etc.) as you go along. The artist in question got better in time too... it's Sam Kieth, who later created The MAXX.

Personally I think the overall artistic choices in Endless Nights is the best of the Sandman and all it's various spin-offs.
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Postby Dark doom » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:47 am

I'm charging through H.G.Wells The First Men in the Moon. Not quite as good as WotW IMO but good non the less.
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Postby Xard » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:56 am

I hate this. Internet and animu has given me severe case of ADHD - I have tons of books to read BUT I JUST CAN'T CONCENTRATE ON THEM

Even 2h film requires too much attention span for me :(
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Postby schismatics » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:33 am

Reading through this monster. It's really interesting to be honest, at first I thought I was going to be bogged down in not knowing the terminology, but I actually know most of the stuff.

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:23 pm

View Original PostXard wrote:I hate this. Internet and animu has given me severe case of ADHD - I have tons of books to read BUT I JUST CAN'T CONCENTRATE ON THEM
I'm starting to think this is a legitimate phenomenon, as I've found myself in a similar situation before and I've NEVER been a person with a short attention span. Best thing to do (I've found) is to engage in something that requires your full attention a few hours a day for a few days. I like Sudoku puzzles.
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We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby Xard » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:34 pm

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:I'm starting to think this is a legitimate phenomenon, as I've found myself in a similar situation before and I've NEVER been a person with a short attention span. Best thing to do (I've found) is to engage in something that requires your full attention a few hours a day for a few days. I like Sudoku puzzles.


Well, it's not like I have anything else in my life than books and computer right now. Third option would be to just, uhh, eat and bloat into a real lardball which I don't find preferrable. My physical constitution has collapsed enough as it is, I don't need to become overweight too. ._______.'

And I know the situation is bad when the main reason I've barely watched any films in ages is that I can't concentrate even for such meagre lenght...reading books properly takes much more concentration.

Most disturbingly I don't give a fuck about this anyway. :shrug:
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
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And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
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Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:46 pm

View Original PostXard wrote:Well, it's not like I have anything else in my life than books and computer right now. My physical constitution has collapsed enough as it is...
The two might be related. I also find my concentration improves when I get back to exercising somewhat regularly.

View Original PostXard wrote:reading books properly takes much more concentration.
Really? I guess we watch films/read books differently. Speed reading has made reading almost an unconscious act for me, while I watch films very consciously in preparation for reviews and stuff.

View Original PostXard wrote:Most disturbingly I don't give a fuck about this anyway. :shrug:
Mmmm, apathy. Tastes like chicken.
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^ Writing as Jonathan Henderson ^
We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby Xard » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:54 pm

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:The two might be related. I also find my concentration improves when I get back to exercising somewhat regularly.


Certainly that plays a role but it isn't main reason by any means. Fact I can keep going on with approx. 5 hours of sleep week after week (despite being one of those people who naturally sleep long and need a lot sleep to stay sharp) proves that my constitution isn't *that* bad

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:Really? I guess we watch films/read books differently. Speed reading has made reading almost an unconscious act for me, while I watch films very consciously in preparation for reviews and stuff.


I rarely read stuff that's speed readable these days. Most of said books are loldeep shit in non-native language, namely LOLENGLISH that require concentration and thought to properly dig into. Sure, I can read such stuff fast but it would be pretty meaningless without deep attention

Not to mention I really don't enjoy speed reading much.

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:Mmmm, apathy. Tastes like chicken.


Reminds me of last year when fire nearly broke out and I was just "huh, I wonder if house is going to burn or not"...
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
Eva Yojimbo: You really are the Otaku equivalent of a Catholic and Jew rolled up into one giant dakimakura of guilt.
Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby Oz » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:58 pm

While we're on the subject: I often encounter difficulties in concentration while reading, but I have no problem at all while watching films - even if they're enormous in length. I haven't continued the books I started in January because my ability to concentrate on reading (anything not related to film or language) has dwindled recently. Partly I blame it on trying to read the challenging Alastalon salissa, partly on the fact that reading fiction has rarely been important for me. But in that case, why do I keep buying so many books? Beats me.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:42 pm

View Original PostXard wrote:I hate this. Internet and animu has given me severe case of ADHD
My excuse is that I don't need reading glasses for the internet. That aside, I find it just requires getting over the initial hump, then when I'm in a reading state of mind, that takes over (and then I realise it's going on 01:00 and I ought to put the crazy Japanese book down now).
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Postby KnightmareX13 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:33 pm

Finished Debt of Honor yesterday and I am now a third of the way through Phantom Warriors book two. It tells of missions conducted by LRRPS, LRPS, and Ranger units from various US Army divisions during the Vietnam war.
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