What Are You Reading?

edited January 2012 in General
In response to the clamor for this topic, here goes.

I used to read history books on the subway (1 1/2 to 2 hours a day of something to do besides be freaked out by the other subterranean denizens, oh, and worry about London style bombings - What, me worry?) but I got to the point where I'd start falling asleep while reading - very embarrassing to drop a hardcover or large softcover book out of your unconscious hands, so I read fiction now which works better for me (in between bouts of Sudoku).
Latest binge - I'm on Book 2 of The Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan, which apparently is what many other George R. R. Martin fans/haters read in between volumes of A Song Of Fire And Ice. I didn't know about Book 1 The Eye Of The World at the start - it's like The Shire but with humans, boring!, but it got better and it says something that I'm 2/3 of the way through Book 2 The Great Hunt. I do feel slightly guilty like I'm wasting time I should be devoting to better pursuits but what the heck. Gotta do some work but I figured I'd throw out the first ball.


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    Excellent so far. It comes as close to humanizing Karl Marx as is likely possible, particularly his problems with actually following through on projects (especially things he's writing). I never would have guessed that he had that issue, and I can't imagine how much Jenny must have loved him to stay with him even when his problems meant they were destitute (which was apparently always).

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    OK, I'm shooting lower brow. My teaching load is so heavy right now that reading is for pure escapism.


    Interesting idea to have a professional torturer as your sympathetic protagonist. Only trouble I'm having is being busy enough that when I come back to it I've lost some of the threads. Well written stuff, though. Sometimes the individual episodes feel a little like successive beads on a string (rather than nodes in a web), but I'm waiting to see if/how it all comes satisfyingly together.
  • I'm currently reading "The Bayou Trilogy", three short (~150 pages each) crime novels by Daniel Woodrell, who wrote the book the film Winter's Bone was adapted from. Winter's Bone is a lot better than these much earlier efforts (WB is one of my favourite books of recent years) but they are very entertaining nonetheless.

    Also listening to the audiobook of Buzz Bissinger's "Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager", as previous mentioned I am a Cubs fan so the La Russa hagiography makes me choke but it's so far a really great book illuminating a lot of baseball strategy, ball by ball.

    If you want to follow my reading in great detail, this is my profile on Goodreads. I wanted to read more and I've found doing Goodreads and connecting with my friends and family on there has given me a lot of motivation. I've set a 60 book goal for 2012. Also, I got a Kindle so have a lot of material now just sitting there to pick through.

    BigD, is that Robert Jordan series the one that never got finished because he died? My brother in law refuses to start the Game of Thrones series until he knows they are all done because he got burnt on those ....
  • Goodreads looks interesting. I've breezed past it before. I'm tempted but worry it could become one more thing to manage.
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    I loves me some Norton Critical Editions. They have a 2-vol set on the King James Bible coming out this spring, yeah baby
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    If I can finish this before my next Rolling Stone comes, I will be all caught up on my magazines, which took some doing; I was pretty far behind.

    Also reading a few things on my phone; the King James Bible - I haven't read the Bible in many years, and I don't know if I've ever made it through the whole thing cover to cover, so I'm doing that.

    James Joyce's Ulyses, which I'm surprised by how much more I enjoy this now than when I first forced my way through it shortly out of college.

    The Ant King and other stories by Benjamin Rosenbaum, available free here, which is a site rec'd to me by someone here when I mentioned how much I was enjoying Kelly Link, who is also available free there (I think it's her publishing company), and who is very worth checking out.
  • Taft 2012 by Jason Heller. About halfway through it. It imagines (without really considering how or why) William Taft disappearing at the end of his term and reappearing in 2011 in time to run for president again. It's more than a little satirical and a fairly light read, but amusing all the same.

    I like and use Goodreads too, though mostly to track what books I'm reading, own, and/or what to read, along with seeing what my friends are reading. There are some lively discussion groups there as well.
  • Killer's Choice by Ed McBain. Amazon had a special a couple days ago -- $0.99 each for several McBain 87th Precinct books. It has been quite a few years since I have read his books, and a revisit is good.

    I have both a Kindle and a Nook Color.I have been loading up on free books for both devices, plus a few bargain books. Every once in a while I will spend more for a book I really want, but the freebies are winning our right now. If the freebies don't interest me after a few pages, they get deleted. No big loss if it's free.

    I had to read so many textbooks, then professional books that it nearly destroyed my love of reading. I have gained enough distance now that I am rediscovering the pleasure of losing myself in a good book.
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    BigD, is that Robert Jordan series the one that never got finished because he died? My brother in law refuses to start the Game of Thrones series until he knows they are all done because he got burnt on those ....
    NankerP, that's the one. I'm not too concerned yet because he got through 10 or 11 books first, there's one posthumous collaboration, supposed to be 2 more to wrap it up. If I ever get that far I'll worry. I'm a member of the George R. R. Martin Had Better Finish This Damn Series Club so I get where your brother-in-law is coming from. I may do my first re-read of #5 - A Dance With Dragons - soon because I need to solidify how I feel about it. The first three books were great I felt, but I'm currently feeling that a great part of #4 and some of #5 could have been done without. That's the trouble with authors - they just aren't consistent sometimes. I never understood what happened to the Hannibal Lecter guy, Thomas Harris was it? The first book, Red Dragon, was so freaking creepy, even scarier than Silence Of The Lambs, also brilliant, but Hannibal was like 2 different books - the first 2/3 were really good, made sense, and then it just went whack-a-doodle. Did he have to finish in a hurry after the success of Silence the Movie so they could nail down the movie rights and sign Hopkins? I can't even talk about what's happened since then - yuck.
  • I'm waiting for Stephen Donaldson to finally finish the Thomas Covenant series, but with a sense of grim determination. The first 3 were excellent, the next 3 were good (I've read those 6 twice). The most recent three have been more like OK but 3000 pages in I have too much invested not to find out the ending, even if my appetite for it is weaker than it was.
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    I'm currently reading this on my wife's Kindle. Jo Nesbo is a Norwegian crime writer with Harry Hole his detective. Although the cover links with Stig Larson's Millenium Trilogy, I'd say a much better comparison is with Henrik Mankell's Kurt Wallender novels set in Sweden' It is the fourth of the Harry Hole novels I've read but nit is the earliest written of his English books. It is the third in a series of 8 or 9 but the first two are not yet available in English. Thoroughly recommended if you like crime stories.

    My other reading tends to concentrate around travel - I've always got a travel book or five on the go. Currently I'm dipping into Lonely Planet's Edinburgh guide as we are going there just before Easter. I've also got a few academic books on the go, related to work
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    I read a lot of Murikami in 2011, this might be the best (Kafka on the Shore will probably remain my favorite though)
  • I read Wind Up Bird Chronicle in 2011 too; I guess I picked a good one for my first.
  • Herr Doktor Professor, I have been following the Covenant series since I was 17 years old. The latest "quartet" is actually pretty dumb, but what the hell. "Grim sense of determination" describes it aptly. Of those 3,000 pages, I'd say a good 250 are about how tormented Linden Avery is. (And she wasn't even in the first trilogy!)
  • Exactly. Donaldson in any case tends to spend a tad too much time finding lengthy ways of describing his characters' degree of stress and fatigue (the word "inanition" entered by vocabulary because of its frequency in volume 1-3). Double that for the final sequence, add less-tight plotting (throwing in time travel, whole new genres of being, etc) that dilutes the sense in the earlier volumes that everything belonged intricately together, and then stir in lengthy sequences of characters essentially explaining what happened earlier in the story, and my level of empathy with Linden Avery has been diminishing by the chapter. (And one of the beautiful features in the earlier volumes was the balancing of suffering and joy - the giants play an important role rather like that of ents in LOTR. The further we go along the more pretty much everything seems to be just grim all the time, and so the sense of wonder that helped sustain the edifice is waning, and random spectacle is not enough to bring it back).
  • But I still want to know what happens.
  • Having somehow made it through the earlier Thomas Covenant series more or less unscathed, I just can't bring myself to read any more. I really enjoyed Donaldson's Gap series though (well, Wagner fan...).
    I've managed to read the first of Gene Wolfe's Severian books twice but never made it any further, though not for any good reason. I just never felt compelled. The second time was simply to remind myself what had happened, but again something else distracted me before I got to book 2. Hopefully the same won't happen with "The Wizard Knight" - I've read "The Knight" and thought it was magnificent. So many quests...

    +1 on Ed McBain, mommio. I'm reading the 87th books in chronological order. I'm somewhere in the eighties now. There are fewer hats.
  • @BigD - I got hooked into the Wheel of Time series about a year ago. I'm glad I only discovered it after it was almost all through, since I didn't have to wait a year for the next book to come out. I read all of them in a few months' time and now am anxiously awaiting the final, final, final one due out this fall. I'm not particularly a science fiction/fantasy reader, but this series really got a hold of me. Very entertaining reading.
  • @ Nereffid, I wonder if that's related to the episodic plot construction. I am finding too that it's well written and absorbing enough while I am reading it but I don't have a really strong feeling that I am missing something if I leave it alone for days and come back to where I left off (not like those books where it's 2 a.m. and you have to keep going). Someone has loaned me both volumes though, so obligation will aid plot.

    I enjoyed the second and third Gap books (the first was too misogynistic to enjoy for me, even as a plot-framing device), then didn't make it any further - again the plot lines to that point seemed adequately resolved. Perhaps I should finish that off.
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    (the word "inanition" entered by vocabulary because of its frequency in volume 1-3)

    As I wrote in my Amazon review of the latest book, "His theurgies appall me."
  • I'm not much of a science fiction reader, or any type of fiction for that matter, but I'm enjoying Ransom Riggs' work titled Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I think it's marketed as a "Young Adult" novel but I'm enjoying it just the same, or perhaps because of this. It's got some sections about time warps, and is a lot of fun. I was drawn to it, while browsing in a real life bookstore, first for the cover photo and then for the title. Having taken up photography as a bit of a hobby, I also found the photos that accompany the story quite fascinating.
  • first off, i've been re-directed here by mommio. blame her for anything you feel will stick.

    2ndly, i too am fond of sudoku. i play evil sudoku exclusively and have no interest in the derivatives which constantly float across the waves. here's the gristle: if intermittent, i can usually knock out an evil in 24 minutes. if consistent 19/20 minutes. if i'm eating it up i can slam 14 minutes. and on one rare occasion i knocked one out in 7 minutes. usain bolt wasn't even in the picture!!! i'm still freaked out by it.

    what's worse my better half finds said puzzles in the paper and loves to throw down meaningless challenges...knowing i prefer the evils. first one she tried to stump this poster was "5 star" tough and the paper's house puzzler completed it in 37 minutes. poof. done in 18. next up was one the house puzzler abandoned after an hour plus. done in 24.

    long story short, they are all solvable and a very-random mind will win out over a methodical mind in almost every instance.

    books, then. well, i'm gaga over the jose saramago one titled "all the names". it is hard on the eyes as he uses sparse punctuation and almost no paragraphing. the effect is as if you are running into a wall of reading. this should not be lost on the reader. 2 pages into it he mundanely details the order of the protagonist and concludes it with a flippant summation ("...which just goes to show there is no insurmountable contradiction between aesthetics and authority.") given the chance to reflect, you realize order, meaning, measure, reasoning, etc. are going to be in play...the huge return is he consistently/alarmingly renders it all not as it is.

    i'm not done with it and i may never...

  • I'm not reading this - just saw the mini review on VSL, but it sounds interesting and relevant to present company's interests:

    "Gary Marcus is the director of NYU’s Center for Language and Music and the author of several well-regarded books about the brain’s inner workings. His newest, Guitar Zero, describes his effort to master (or, at the very least, learn to play) a musical instrument—a task he undertakes despite his self-confessed lack of musical talent. Along the way, Marcus interviews a few A-list guitarists, surveys the cognitive science involved, and answers some basic (but fascinating) questions about musical ability, musical taste, and the various things that make musical works work. Like all good science books, this one is brisk, lucid, and thought-provoking."

    (Maybe someone would like to review it for MiG?)
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    Hey, bb, what's shaking? The bitch with sudoku is that once you've been doing them a while if they're not super difficult they're just not worth it - it's a constantly upsloping curve. Thanks to your post I checked the online sites - there are more than there used to be, and I usually do books because I do it on the subway. I like to do Killer Sudoku in between too as a change of pace - link, but same problem, they have to be hard - can be very challenging but there is always some spot where the numbers can only add up one way, then it's done.
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    I've been reading a free Kindle book on my 4-inch SmartPhone. I thought it would be a frustrating experience, what with the small screen and the high potential for frustration caused by accidental tapping. But I have to admit I sort of like it, and of course it's handy to have it right there on the phone. The backlighting uses up a fair amount of battery, but so far it hasn't caused me to miss any calls.

    I guess I'll eventually buy an e-book for actual money, though to be honest, there are a lot of free books out there that I should probably read first anyway.
  • I guess I'll eventually buy an e-book for actual money, though to be honest, there are a lot of free books out there that I should probably read first anyway.
    Some of those freebies are pretty good -- keep me reading through a big part of the night. You Kindle and Nook readers, there are several places that make finding the free books quite easy -- search them out.

    I do keep two or three books on my phone for reading while waiting for appointments, etc. Easy to read -- only needs a one hand hold and a quick sweep of the thumb turns the page. The small size hasn't bothered me at all. If I'm reading a book that really holds my interest, I may have it both on the Kindle and the phone so I can keep reading whenever I have the opportunity. Being able to sync the two is great!
  • I love reading on my phone; people say it's too small but it's the same type face; just more page flips; my only problem is the same as my music problem; I keep stacking up free and cheap books faster than I can read them; and the magazines keep coming too; I'd no sooner finished the Wax Poetics mentioned above then my National Geographic came in.

    I've never actually done a suduko - life seems hard enough without getting myself addicted to another type of problem to solve. And since I know that first suduko will be just like that first cigarette, I hope to put off doing one for as long as possible.
  • Oh too - I quite liked Saramago's Blindness - I'll have to check out this other some time.
  • life seems hard enough without getting myself addicted to another type of problem to solve

    Yeah, it can get a little obsessive, but it wears off. I just like to do it to help stave off dain bramage.
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