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  1. #1
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    What are you reading?

    Well, I'm still on The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, how about you guys?

  2. #2
    The Brain
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    LOVE Douglas Adams!!

    I just finished Stephen King's The Girl Show Loved Tom Gordon. It was well written but not my favorite of his, it's about a girl who gets lost in the woods and his descriptions of her slowly starving to death are a little harrowing. I did still enjoy it, and it's not supernatural in the slightest so if that's a put off it might be a good jumping on place. Pretty short as well.

    Just cracked open King's Lisey's Story. No idea where it will go but I'm interested already!

  3. #3
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    Currently reading Harry Potterand the Goblet of Fire

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    This is not about a book I read, but more of a general question.

    How many of you guys enjoy reading on a tablet or a Kindle? I find it highly unnatural. I'm 24, and I think my generation is the last one that enjoys reading a physical book. There's something about the shine and indentations on book covers, and the smell of a freshly printed tome that still really gets me.

    The last book I read was Annihilation by James VanderMeer. I loved the movie adaptation of it, and I was immediately curious about the book. And it was weirder and much different than the movie. I think I still prefer the movie over it, but I loved the open-endedness of the book as well.

  5. #5
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    I'm not opposed to reading on a device, but I do prefer a physical book if given a choice.

  6. #6
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    Started American Gods by Neil Gaiman recently. Only a few chapters in so far, but it kind of reads like Chuck Pahalniuk (Fight Club) so far. It's not too far out there, but I can kind of already start to realize it's going to touch on a bunch of philosophical kind of topics. Which is just fine with me.

  7. #7
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Recently started reading a book called Idaho. Not too far into it so far. It's a mystery, of sorts I gues. It's also very American in the way it feels, got that very distinctive arts novel feel that the US seems to produce a lot of nowadays.

    Semi spoilers follow



    Basically, there's a guy, and his two young daughters have died and he's remarried, and now he's with the second wife who... I don't know if she wants to find out exactly what happened, but she's living with him and the incident is unfolding in part because he's got something like Alzheimers so he's forgetting important things and it's also affecting his behaviour. Kind of interesting so far.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  8. #8
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    I really liked American Gods, though I think Gaiman explores similar concepts even better in the Sandman series. Also one of the few cases where I think the adaptation, the TV show, is actually better than the book.

    Sounds like a sort of unreliable narrator thing, Pete? That's a device I always find interesting, though it can get a tad gimmicky I guess.

    Mentioned in the King thread, but I've started on Sleeping Beauties, by King and his son Owen. It's a thick book but I'm really digging it so far. King's got a knack for writing about wide-scale disasters and that's at the center of this one, I love how he mixes in what's happening to the main characters with lots of anecdotes to show how the world is going to hell. It's a tactic he's used a couple times but it never really gets old. So far it feels 100% King, not sure if his son's style is exactly the same or what but I don't mind it either way.

  9. #9
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    I don't know if it's an obvious unreliable narrator, because it's not really from anyone's perspective, though it's kind of semi-focalized through the wife so... maybe something to think about? I actually really like it, but it's something they did better in the old days. Hawthorne did it well, and obviously Great Gatsby is a pretty iconic American example.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  10. #10
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    I'm actually not much of a Great Gatbsy fan. It's certainly iconic though!

  11. #11
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    A lot of people aren't, is one of the things I've come to realise from teaching it so often. And it certainly wasn't popular when it first came out, but got hugely popular when a lot of people discovered it while serving in the Second World War.

    I didn't like it myself the first time I read it but had to read it again to teach it, and then refreshed my memory again... and it's one of those that gets better the more you know it, in my experience at least. I've basically done a complete 180 on it.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  12. #12
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    It's true that I haven't read it in ages, so perhaps I'll check it out again somewhere down the line.

    This is a bit random, Pete, but what's your feeling on Faulkner? All I've read is The Sound and the Fury, which I really didn't care for, but that's another one that I haven't looked back on in ages.

  13. #13
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    Similar, to be honest. I don't know a huge amount of Faulkner myself, though he's very close to a lot of the people I work on at times. Generally speaking from what I do know, I'd say that the more interested you are in high Modernism - TS Eliot, Joyce, Virginia Woolf etc. - the more interesting something like The Sound and the Fury will be.

    That said there are some other less well known novels of his I've been meaning to look at for a while, which might appeal more. Stuff like Intruder in the Dust and Absalom, Absalom! They certainly sound interesting in theory.

    I will say he's basically the only Southern author that isn't Twain, Poe or Tennessee Williams that gets studied much.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  14. #14
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    I am curious about Joyce, specifically Ulysses. I see it get a lot of praise but I also hear it's kind of a headache to get through. Wonder if I would love it or hate it.

    Interesting point about Southern authors, never thought of it that way but nobody else comes to mind.

  15. #15
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    Ulysses is a weird one. Never made it through myself, but I was getting on OK with it when I had to put it aside for something else work-related. But it's the more readable of his great modernist experiments. Much preferred it to Portrait of the Artist, which is technically easier but made me throw it against a fucking wall in anger, or Finnegan's Wake, which I've never attempted but I'm told is borderline unreadable in it's experimentation.


    The fact that I'm still becalmed in Idaho should not be taken as a reflection of the book. It's very good. I've just found myself watching a lot of wrestling in the time that I used to do a lot of my leisure reading and so making the same kind of progress just isn't possible!

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  16. #16
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    Haha!! What on earth made you hate Portrait of the Artist so much?

    Still working through King, just finished Rose Madder, which I liked a great deal. I like his female protagonists a lot, he's got a real knack for telling stories of women overcoming abusers. There's a definite supernatural element but my favorite part of the book was just the main character breaking away from her monster of a husband and trying to create a new life for herself. The rest was good but that was the best, for me.

    About to start Duma Key, which may be my last King for a while.

  17. #17
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    I soon want to read the memoir Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Addiction

    as a movie is coming out in October based on it. If both deliver, I may well teach the combination in a year or so.


  18. #18
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    Haha!! What on earth made you hate Portrait of the Artist so much?
    It was a lot of things but the straw that broke the camel's back was reading the word 'moo-cow' for about the thirtieth time in quick succession. And yeah, I'm not exaggerating when I say I launched the thing across the room. What can I say, I was a more passionate man in those days.

    Finished Idaho and moved on to a thing called White Tears by Hari Kunzru. It's kinda interesting and might play well to a few people here if they are into art and music in particular. There's a lot of stuff about art, creativity, authenticity, the mindset of the collector, and it's all kinda topped off with the fact that it's a sort-of thriller with a dusting of the supernatural. I'm not sure it fully delivers on the premise but there's a few bits in there that are properly engrossing while still being fully rounded lit.

    I've another Jasper Fforde novel that I picked up on the cheap after this, so turning back to something a bit lighter.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  19. #19
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    That is absolutely hilarious, haha. I don't know if that makes me want to read the book more or less. Probably less, though maybe skimming it could produce some interesting thoughts or reactions.

    Duma Key was very good, though I think Xan likes it a good deal more than I. That was my last King for awhile, after that read an oral history of the Daily Show under Jon Stewart and found it really fascinating. Now on the first book of a fantasy series called A Darker Shade of Magic. The idea is very interesting, a guy who can move through alternate versions of London, but I'm undecided so far on how good I think it is. I have a sense the author likes his main characters a little too much, if that makes sense? They aren't exactly Mary Sues, but they are closer than I'd like them to be.

  20. #20
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Got into Jasper Fforde's First Among Sequels and the first thing I came across was the idea that the government, rather than letting all the stupid out in smaller instances like they usually do, have been hording it as a surplus, with the idea that it's better to let it all go in one big instance rather than constantly doing dumb things. But there's now a crisis because the amount of stupid has got too big to be released safely, and the one instance isn't going to be just bad, it's going to be majorly catastrophic. So there's a bit of talk about what to do with the stupidity surplus. One observation was that the French had tried to solve theirs by everyone walking into lampposts but because they were doing it in the name of something sensible, all they did was hurt their foreheads.


    Thought I'd share that as a kind of insight into what goes on in these weird little books. There's something a bit Douglas Adams about them at times, I think.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  21. #21
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    Rattled through Last Among Sequels in a couple of days. God, I love those books.

    Now got Tamburlaine and the last two Hitchikers' books lined up. It's the last of the big Marlowe plays, and the two books I don't know from the Sci-fi series too, so I'm ticking things off the list. I've just finished the first part of Tamburlaine and will be on the second soon while I'm just getting started with So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  22. #22
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    I’m almost finished Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Wowzer. One of the most interesting - no, I’ll go as far as saying the most interesting - book I’ve ever read.

  23. #23
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    I think you might need to elaborate on that one, Golden!

    As for me, I finished Tamburlaine and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish in the same evening, so I jumped straight into Mostly Harmless, which I don't know at all before this. Brave new Hitchhiking world.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  24. #24
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    Darker Shade of Magic turned out alright, a bit YA but fun enough that I might read more of the series in the future.

    Just cracked open the first in the Book of the New Sun series. It's very dense so far but I'm really getting drawn into it. It's definitely a fascinating and fleshed out world, and that does a lot for me.

  25. #25
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    Can't say I know that series. Looked it up and sounds fascinating.

    When I finished with Mostly Harmless I went straight into the awfully-titled Can You Forgive Her?, the first novel in the Parliamentary or Palliser series by Anthony Trollope? Yep, I've gone straight from absurdist sci-fi into the height of Victorian Realism. Enjoying it so far though. As with all Trollope's stuff there's a huge amount of build-up and psychological examination of characters doing frightfully mundane things, but if you're on board with that... well, I always enjoy his stuff anyway. I'll probably only read this one for now because being Victorian they're usually up in the 600-800 page range, but I want to read the whole series at some point. I read all of the Barsetshire novels and they're connected to these, so it seems like a good thing to do.

    I also heard about a series called Aberystwyth Noir, which is set in an alternate Universe in which Aberystwyth, the Welsh seaside and University town, has private detectives roaming around and is basically a kind of alternative Hollywood. Needless to say, I'm intrigued. Reminds me of another series by someone called Paul Johnstone, which is a crime thing set in the 2020s in the independent city-state of Edinburgh.

    Some creative stuff out there, to say the least.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  26. #26
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    My god, that is indeed a terrible title, haha.

    Nearly done with the first half of the New Sun stuff and I don't have the second on my shelf, sadly. I'm digging it a lot, the density of the writing never really lets up but the world is incredibly detailed and that means there's a ton of small stuff to catch. Well worth checking out, if looking it up caught your interest!

  27. #27
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    So I went straight from the awfully titled one into the next in the series, Phineas Finn. Finished that on the plane and so I need to pick something else now. Thinking of picking up a non-fiction I have about a shit cricket team for prominent English writers of the early 20th century, including Conan Doyle and J. M. Barrie. But I might also just pick another novel.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  28. #28
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    Let me think... after the New Sun stuff I tore through And Then There Were None, which I hadn't read before but really enjoyed a lot. Might have to pick up more Christie in the future. Followed that up with Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, which was as dumb as expected but not the worst thing I've read. From that bit of fluff I dove into Dostoevsky's The Adolescent, which has been dense as expected but there's something about Dostoevsky that I really love, one of my favorite authors ever!

  29. #29
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    I've not read any Dostoevsky in a while but I've still got a copy of The Idiot on my shelf that I'm yet to get to.

    In the end I went for the non-fiction, so I'm now reading Kevin Telfer's Peter Pan's First XI: The extraordinary story of J.M. Barrie's cricket team. Going quite quick so far, even though I was pretty jet-lagged, so you know it's quite an easy read.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  30. #30
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    I LOVE The Idiot. I think I like it even more than Crime & Punishment and almost as much as Brothers Karamazov and Notes From The Underground.

    That's a heck of a title right there! And it's non-fiction you say? Is it actually about what it says on cover?

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    Yeah, very much so. Barrie was a cricket nut so started a weird club with a few of his writer buddies and a few other eccentrics.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  32. #32
    Embracing Emptiness The Dude's Avatar
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    I'm still struggling with the Bible If I ever finish it I might start reading something really easy like Harry Potter just to get back into it.

    I really don't have the motivation to pick up a book, and lack the concentration to actually do it and digest what I am reading Damn...

  33. #33
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    Still on that book about Barrie's cricket team but that's because I also picked up a biography of Viscount Bolingbroke from the library. It's a bit heavy going but I don't know a huge amount about that period in history, especially from a political standpoint, so it's interesting to me to read it. Was fascinated to discover that before the Hanoverian succession some of our more conservative politicians were communicating with the pretender to the throne in France to see if they could get a Stuart back in place when Queen Anne died. Given that they'd have been executed if they'd been caught it's quite a fascinating thing to learn. And we're not really taught much about this period in school here, so yeah. Not the easiest read in the world but glad I've made the effort. Could imagine it making a decent novel in the Wolf Hall kinda tradition.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  34. #34
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    Finished with The Adolescent. Probably the least of the Dostoevsky novels I've read, but still interesting!

    I'm now working through The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol II. I could have sworn I've read Vol I (I know I've read A Study In Scarlet multiple times, and the one where Holmes does cocaine and Hound of the Baskervilles and all that) but now I'm not sure I read all of it, because I realized I don't think I've ever read the one where Holmes "dies". Not that it's hard to pick up, just might have to go back to Vol I and go through it at some point. It's a lot of fun, I'm a fan of Holmes, particularly the actual Doyle version. Don't get me wrong, I like some of the modern adaptations, but there's something nice about Holmes as just a really good detective as opposed to a quirky lunatic or god level super-intellect. Watson sure comes off as a dope sometimes though, doesn't he? I'm in The Valley of Fear now, and Doyle clearly wanted to write about American cowboys was obliged to shoehorn Holmes in, but I'm still having fun.

  35. #35
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    I don't think I know many of those. I only know of the well known ones really (which sound like they are mainly in the first volume you mentioned).

    Finished the J.M Barrie book. Interestingly Conan Doyle played for this weird little team (and was better than most), but so did AA Milne and Jerome K. Jerome. So it's a pretty strange little team filled with big names from the period. The book also dwelled on the fact that these guys are all still very popular even as a lot of tastes moved away from the stuff they'd been doing in Edwardian Britain towards the modernist works.

    Now reading Mike Brearley's The Art of Captaincy because I've heard people talk about it for years and never read it. After that I'll probably move away from cricket related things for a while.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  36. #36
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    That is strange indeed!! I get the distinct feeling Doyle was a bit of an odd bird. His weird relationship with his creation has always been interesting to me. I'm always intrigued with creators who end up having issue with their own creations!

    What sort of Artistic Captaincy is the book about?

  37. #37
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Cricket captaincy. All team sports seem to have captain's, but it's a much more integral part of cricket than most other games. You have to be part-player, part-motivational coach, part-strategist, all at once, and a bad captain who doesn't really understand the game can easily cost a team games. So it's become a pretty important cultural position here, especially the national team captain - and for some people that are a bit older than me, Brearley not only wrote the best book about captaincy, but was the best England captain in recent memory.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  38. #38
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    Cricket? Nobody understands cricket. You gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket.

    (Sorry... that scene between Raphael and Casey Jones from the first TMNT popped into my head just now. Iíll see myself out...)

  39. #39
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    That makes me laugh because I love both cricket and crumpets.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by meandi View Post
    Cricket? Nobody understands cricket. You gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket.

    (Sorry... that scene between Raphael and Casey Jones from the first TMNT popped into my head just now. I’ll see myself out...)
    Spectacular quote, right from my childhood!

    So this Holmes volume has a bit of an interesting editor. He leaves footnotes sometimes for big or old words, assuming you may not know what they mean, but then will ignore others that are even more obscure. He also suddenly got very snarky during one of the stories, the Three Gables I believe it was, and left a bunch of footnotes about how he didn't think Doyle actually wrote the story. Very odd.

    Most of these stories have been a lot of fun, but I did read one very stupid one called The Creeping Man, where as a guy acted like a monkey because he took some kind of monkey medication that was supposed to make him younger. Doyle was smart in many ways, but apparently he did not know how science works and didn't care to find out.

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