What Are You Currently Reading?

Books Matter.

Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby jbobsully11 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:39 pm

I finished The Psychopath Inside, and now I'm reading Walter Moer's A Wild Ride Through the Night, about a twelve-year old boy who has to perform six death-defying tasks. It's pretty good so far.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Aquila89 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:54 pm

I've recently read Philip Roth's novel Exit Ghost. It's set around the time of the 2004 presidential election, and narrated by an elderly writer, Nathan Zuckerman (Roth's recurring author avatar). Zuckerman is spending Election Night with a young liberal couple Billy and Jamie, and the way he describes how devastated they are when Bush wins struck me - change a few names and it could easily applied to the 2016 election.

As though to an ailing child, Billy said, "You're not going to be devastated. You're going to be dancing in the street."
"No," she replied, "no, this country is a haven of ignorance. I know—I come from the fountainhead. Bush talks right to the ignorant core. This is a very backward country, and the people are so easily bamboozled, and he's exactly like a snake-oil salesman..."


Each of their cell phones started ringing then—the cruelly disappointed friends calling, many of them in tears as well [...] this was their idealism's second staggering electoral shock and the dawning of the hard realization that they could not will this country back into being the Roosevelt stronghold it had been some forty years before they were born. For all their sharpness and articulateness and savoir-faire, and despite Jamie's knowledge of rich Republican America and the brand of ignorance bred in Texas, they'd had no idea who the great mass of Americans were, nor had they seen so clearly before that it was not those educated like themselves who would determine the country's fate but the scores of millions unlike them and unknown to them...


What conclusion to draw from this? I don't know.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby NathanLoiselle » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:02 pm

The lyrics to Delerium's Karma. Why? 'Cause I'm listening to it on vinyl of course.


Now if you don't mind. I have to jump into my MGB and break down on the highway.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby cmsellers » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:55 am

I just finished reading Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It, a very short book by a British Brookings bloke.

I got it out on Monday after being on the waiting list for a month, read up to "What to Do About It" while I was getting my brakes looked at, and then read the last twenty pages today.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby jbobsully11 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:41 pm

I finished Red Dragon, the book that introduced the character Hannibal Lecter, yesterday. I also read Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, mentioned a while ago in this thread. I liked both of them (in different ways, obviously). Now I've started The Line Between, a collection of seven short stories by Peter Beagle. The first one was pretty good.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby jbobsully11 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:31 pm

2.5-month later double post: I finished The Tell-Tale Brain and read a short book about 3-D printing, as well as "A Modest Proposal." Now I'm reading Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Eathsea, and I really like it. I'm almost done, and the next two books in the series should be here in a few days.

I also started Falling Into the Fire, by psychiatrist Christine Montross, with stories about some of her patients.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Marcuse » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:59 pm

I read the new Eisenhorn novel, The Magos by Dan Abnett. It's a continuation of the series of books about the Imperial Inquisition in the 40k universe, which Abnett claims came about "by accident". He describes it as a novel, which is slightly misleading, because around half of the content is short stories, some of which were previously audio dramas, or were printed alongside the omnibus editions of the Ravenor and Eisenhorn series. The remaining half is a contiguous story using themes and characters (especially the Magos Biologis, Valentin Drusher who stars in two short stories) to tie them all together and cap it off sensibly.

Spoiler: show
So in general, I like Abnett's writing and I enjoy his style. Especially now he's older and doesn't engage in so much teenage wish fulfilment. Drusher is a really good foil to the ultra competent and successful Inquisition characters, being very much a normal guy whose life has gone a bit shit and he's not stupid or contemptible, but he's been dealt a shit hand and doesn't cope with it well. We don't see so many protagonists in stories like that, especially not in the 40k-verse so I have to hand it to him for that. My major complaints are that the story doesn't answer and even seems to contradict the major question I had which was why the fuck is Eisenhorn rolling with the fucking Alpha Legion??? and also that it seems like it's taken up space he really should have been spending writing the Bequin trilogy, of which only the first book has been published. He claims they're in the works, but shit I've waited for a damn long time.


I'm currently halfway through A History of the Byzantine Empire by George Finlay. If you're missing your fix of Winds of Winter, go check this out. It's like GoT on steroids and it really happened. Finlay is an Englishman writing in the 19th century, so he brings a lot of his own prejudices with him (like proclaiming Manuel I worthless then spending about 3000 words explaining all the shit he did right) but it's definitely worth it for 99p on Kindle.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Doodle Dee. Snickers » Sat Apr 28, 2018 1:19 am

I'm reading Anna Karenina in the morning and The Golden Compass at night, both to review. I'm trying to do 20 pages of two books every day, on top of my writing.

The Golden Compass wasn't as good as I remember, though that could be because I'm more irritated by ardent antitheism that I used to be (here's looking at you, Dan Brown), or because it was a children's book.

As for Anna Karenina, it's kinda funny that the titular character and her lover are pretty unsympathetic characters, they're like the Russian version of Tom and Daisy Buchannon. The supporting characters of Levin and Kitty are far more likable. It is a much easier read than War and Peace, though that could be because there aren't so many samey-sounding characters to follow. It would help if I understood this societal system of this period of Russia, where roughly half the population seems to be either a prince or princess.

Aquila89 wrote:What conclusion to draw from this? I don't know.


That conservatives like to smugly be like "It's alright, what are you freaking out about?" when a Republican wins, then scream "BURN THE WITCH!!! GRAB YOUR GUNS AND AMMO AND FIGHT FOR YOUR COUNTRY!!!!" when a Democrat wins and vice versa. That paragraph encapsulates where the country is right now, though I assume without looking that the author probably is only portraying half the problem.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Doodle Dee. Snickers » Mon May 28, 2018 10:40 pm

Abandoned my review thread.

Anyways, Anna Karenina is down. Liked it well enough, but much like War and Peace, it's so massive and unfocused because it's half philosophy and half story. It also makes Game of Thrones look basic for how much it will describe every single blade of grass in a field for two pages, and I don't like that kind of writing.

On deck I have:
Dracula
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and assorted stories)
Metamorphosis by Ovid
Frankenstein
The Voyage Out
Tale of Two Cities
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby cmsellers » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:46 pm

So I just finished reading The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley. It's really interesting, since while I've long been a supporter of markets, he both provides further evidence and also argues for some things I wouldn't have thought of or agreed with. Almost every time I had an objection to a point he raised, he addressed it later in the book, with three exceptions I'll mention momentarily.

Three arguments in particular stood out to me in that he's probably changed my views. First of these is the argument that that despite the best efforts of the government and vested interests throughout history to strangle innovation in its cradle, innovation is like a wildfire, which when it burns out one place reignites somewhere else. Second, he argues that government funded science research and corporate R&D are largely ineffective at promoting innovation. Third, he argued that while climate change is real, most of the risks are overblown and the costs of combating them with things like renewable energy are far more environmentally destructive. Those last two points I still have some objections to.

When it comes to government-funded innovation, he has a point about most things, including space. However lot of pharmaceutical research is incredibly expensive, and he holds it up as the only area where patents are absolutely necessary. If he's right that it's an exception to patents causing more harm than benefits, is it also an exception to government-funded R&D? Or is it the case that if we streamlined the approval process (a big part of the cost) and did away with both patents and government-funded research, we'd see the same innovation in pharmaceutical research that we do in other areas?

When it comes to climate change, his arguments that most projections where it's dangerous depend on the world economy grows at a staggering rate and doesn't move away from fossil fuels are persuasive, however I can think of at least one danger he doesn't address. He looks at both malaria and species loss, but doesn't address the issue of bird species that are threatened with extinction because of avian malaria but are protected by living at high altitudes.

I also think he's overly critical of the environmental impact of wind and solar energy (though I get the impulse, when so many self-proclaimed environmentalists are so rabidly anti-nuclear). His main objection to these is that they take up a lot of land and are ugly, though he also notes that wind farms have a high avian death count. However based on his own reasoning in other parts of the work, we might assume that we will find ways to reduce the number of bird kills from wind farms (which are also lower than high-rise buildings when they're not built on major flight pathways, as one was) and that animals and plants around wind and solar farms will find ways to adapt to them.

All-in-all, it's a really interesting read, and will probably be near the top of the list of nonfiction books I evangelize at people in the future.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby jbobsully11 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:54 pm

I finished The Tomb of Atuan and Falling Into the Fire. Now I’m reading the third Earthsea book, The Farthest Shore.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby Piter Lauchy » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:07 pm

I'm trying to read The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, but holy hell, that man is so hard to read when you're already depressed.

Good Old Neon, for example, a short story from the collection Oblivion, had parts I identified so hard with it hurt.

But man, Wallace was a genius.
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Praise Jesus, especially when it's sunny outside because Jesus would totally be cool with you praising while you get a nice tan.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby cmsellers » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:45 pm

For some reason, your post reminded me that I keep meaning to read A Confederacy of Dunces, so I have finally requested it, together with several non-fiction books.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby IamNotCreepy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:49 pm

cmsellers wrote:For some reason, your post reminded me that I keep meaning to read A Confederacy of Dunces, so I have finally requested it, together with several non-fiction books.


I love that book. It's especially great if you're familiar with New Orleans culture.

You can see that Ignatius is like a proto-Internet troll.
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Re: What Are You Currently Reading?

Postby jbobsully11 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:03 am

I started a one-month free trial with Audible.com from a coupon I got in my e-mail, and I get to download two audiobooks. I have one already, The Mathematics of Love, which I’ve been listening to today, and I think is really interesting. Does anyone have any suggestions for the second? Preferably something I can finish before the trial ends.
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Crimson847 wrote:In other words, transgender-friendly privacy laws don't molest people, people molest people.

(Presumably, the only way to stop a bad guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law is a good guy with a transgender-friendly privacy law, and thus transgender-friendly privacy law rights need to be enshrined in the Constitution as well)
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