Author Topic: What have you read lately?  (Read 19535 times)

nonsensical

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #375 on: November 19, 2020, 03:24:22 AM »
I had read The Giver in elementary school but just recently learned that it's the first in a series of four books. I've been working my way through the whole quartet and just finished the last book, called Son. It was pretty good - probably my favorite of the quartet other than The Giver itself. The first 2/3 was especially strong, and then the pacing was kind of off for me at the end. I also didn't appreciate some of the implications of the fantastical world the author is describing, though that could be me reading more into it than intended (for instance, the people in this world take pills that prevent them from being able to have kids and also numb their feelings, and I did not like the suggestion that deep feelings were so connected with the ability to reproduce). But overall, an enjoyable book to read at night while unwinding.   

ab_grp

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #376 on: November 21, 2020, 03:37:50 PM »
We finished The City & the City.  I liked it as much as the first time I read it, and husband also thought it was very good.  Although the premise or device is a little strange, I think Mieville carried it out consistently and kept it contained enough that there weren't really loose ends or aspects that didn't fit well.  I don't want to say too much about it to avoid giving anything away.  Now we're reading How Green was my Valley (Llewellyn), which husband previously read.   

ergative

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #377 on: November 22, 2020, 02:30:55 AM »
I just finished Chuck Wendig's Wanderers, which I waited to start because I knew going in that it was about a pandemic in an election year, and for my own mental comfort it seemed better to wait until Biden won and there was an effective vaccine before diving into that world. It was a very engrossing story, with a fun SF premise and extremely thoughtful things to say about the uses and dangers of organized religion, but things turn out Very Badly, and I should warn anyone else who is interested in reading it that it is an apocalypse novel.

I do not like apocalypse novels. I hate getting sucker-punched by apocalypses. Last year that happened with Michael Faber's Book of Strange New Things, which was about a missionary heading off to another planet to proselytize to aliens. Fun premise, happens on another freaking planet--you'd think I'd be safe! But nope, apocalypse. And now, here it is again in Wanderers, it turned out.

I feel like there should be a category on doesthedogdie.com: 'Is there an apocalypse?' I don't like knowing too much about books before I read them, so my self-imposed spoiler-protection bit me in the backside and I guess I deserved what I got. I should make an exception for apocalypses.

mamselle

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #378 on: November 22, 2020, 07:21:59 AM »
Hmm...yeah. I'm not even really a fan of Revelation, (i.e., the Scriptural text), although (ah...or maybe because?) my boss did one book on it and wants to do a second one.

Maybe that's what I didn't like about 《Crake and Oryx》, too...although Atwood bugs me more generally than just that.

Blue bottoms?

M.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

Myword

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #379 on: November 22, 2020, 07:49:16 AM »
Around where I live most public and academic libraries are closed or open in the vestibule only or limited hours. Thirty minutes inside only. They are so fearful that they wait 7-10 days to put the book back on the shelf. Some of the doors are locked with security guards
   I prefer not buYing books online, especially novels. I can use interlibrary loans but not if the book is new.

Last academic book I read is an original study of mineral mining in Mexico. Very interesting.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #380 on: November 23, 2020, 07:49:46 AM »
Around where I live most public and academic libraries are closed or open in the vestibule only or limited hours. Thirty minutes inside only. They are so fearful that they wait 7-10 days to put the book back on the shelf. Some of the doors are locked with security guards

Wow!  The limited openings or curbside service only I can understand in situations where there is either a severe spike raging locally or not enough space inside to socially distance properly.  But the 7-10-day quarantine on library materials has been demonstrated by studies to be unnecessary.  Overnight's probably adequate.  Two days is enough to be really sure.

apl68

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #381 on: November 23, 2020, 08:24:10 AM »
Dream of the Red Chamber, by Cao Xueqin.  In the abridged translation by Wang Chi-Chen.  It's considered one of the all-time classics of Chinese literature.  Essentially it's a kind of soap opera set in a noble family's vast communal household that makes Downton Abbey look like a suburban bungalow.  There are scores of nobles, wives, concubines, sons and daughters, and servants.  And an itinerant Buddhist monk, a Toaist priest, and an enchanted, sentient stone that wander in and out of the action.  There are love affairs, assorted kinds of palace intrigue, an extraordinary number of suicides, the rise and fall of family fortunes, and a couple of characters who decide that they're fed up with it all and renounce the world to become monks or nuns.  You can't really blame them.

Little is known for certain of the eighteenth-century author's life.  It has been suggested that the novel is to some extent a roman a clef.  That's a scary thought....

It's a challenge for a 21-century westerner to read, given all the unfamiliar naming conventions, elaborate honorific forms, customs, allusions, etc. on display.  It must have been an absolute bear to try to translate.  I now have a renewed respect for people from that part of the world who come here and have to adjust to our own unfamiliar society and customs.  Although I suspect it may be even more of a challenge for modern Chinese to read in the original than, say, Defoe or Swift is for the average English-language reader today.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the book now that I've read it.  Even with the translator's notes, I can't begin to understand all the allusions and wordplay in the text.  You can tell from the speed with which things move that it must be a considerable abridgement.  From what I've read, the book was added to and re-written to the point where it's hard to decide on a "definitive" text in the first place.  At any rate, it's a vivid portrayal of a very different, now-vanished, society.

mamselle

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Re: What have you read lately?
« Reply #382 on: November 23, 2020, 08:45:52 AM »
Sounds like Anna Karenina in Mandarin...

M.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.