Literature: Rate and Discuss

Discussion in 'Literature, Films, Music, and Comics' started by Asknoone, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Ennui

    Ennui The Freeman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    22,653
    Likes Received:
    56
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - 9/10

    Fantastic bit of literature. I found War and Peace sluggish and a bit too dense, but Anna Karenina, despite it's length (~900 pages) was a wonderful, amazing read. I didn't get bored at all, which is rare for me in Russian literature as there are usually bourgeois/aristocratic discussions about 19th century politics and social issues that can reaaaaally get boring after 50 pages or so. I loved it. Tolstoy's masterpiece to be sure, and probably one of my top ten novels of all time, and top 5 by a Russian author.

    Between Time and Timbuktu or Prometheus-5 by Kurt Vonnegut - 7/10

    Girlfriend gave me a first edition of this book for my birthday last month, and I read it this past week. Extremely fast read, as it's technically a book in TV-script form. Took me only 2 hours or so. Regardless as a big Vonnegut fan I really enjoyed it - the protagonist journeys through many of Vonneguts other universes, including famous scenes from Cat's Cradle, Harrison Bergeron, Player Piano, etc. Not a ton of substance but a diverting little quirky read nevertheless.

    Right now I'm about a third of the way into VALIS by Phillip K Dick and I'm enjoying it immensely. Next up is either Mikael Bulgakov's The Master and Margerita or McCarthy's Blood Meridian which I read about half of a year or two ago and abandoned for some reason or another, but I remember it being quite compelling.
     
  2. Acepilotf14

    Acepilotf14 Sucked so much dick for this title

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Messages:
    13,012
    Likes Received:
    42
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck - 11/10

    Still my favorite book of all time, after reading it twice. From the life of a poor Chinese farmer, how they move south during the famine and how they react to city life, how Wang Lung keeps his morals true despite starvation and hopelessness.. to returning to the land, buying everything nearby with stolen money, becoming rich and living a very different life from before.

    It's the complete story about how money corrupts even the simplest village farmer.. and how they overcome the corruption.
     
  3. Sloth

    Sloth Tank

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Messages:
    2,833
    Likes Received:
    5
    Green Mars 9.95 / 10

    Re-read this again recently, has to be hands down one of best hard Science-Fiction novels to ever exist. The book creates a blend of believable Science, Economic and Social Philosophical aspects as well as great characters that make the story utterly believable.

    Would recommend it to anyone that is both vaguely interested in Science or enjoys Sci-Fi.
     
  4. dfc05

    dfc05 Tank

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    3,110
    Likes Received:
    4
    Border Trilogy is my least favorite McCarthy that I've read so far. Actually I only read the first two of the trilogy (got to read All the Pretty Horses for class, because my teacher was awesome). Can't remember much about The Crossing apart from it being very long. I think I really loved the first part (about the wolf) and then it went a bit downhill from there. Somewhere in the last 2/3 of it was one of those cool old-man-stories that McCarthy likes to throw in, but that's really all I remember. Picked up the third book where you find at the beginning that the two main characters from I and II met up (and are older), but I probably didn't get past the first chapter and haven't had much desire to try reading it again.

    I much prefer No Country to the Border Trilogy, even though No Country seemed to get crap from professional reviewers?


    I know that book is well-known and I probably should've read it by now, but honestly I never even knew what it was about. But you've made me want to read it. Sounds similar thematically to Steinbeck's The Pearl, which is one of my favorite books ever.
     
  5. Sheepo

    Sheepo The Freeman

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    10,578
    Likes Received:
    65
    The Grapes of Wrath 8.5/10

    Wow, I've always heard that Steinbeck was brilliant but I really was blown away by how beautiful this was. Phenomenal characters, themes, pacing, storytelling. Really great stuff, only real complaint is a pretty distinct lack of a true conclusion. WHERE IS TOM?

    Transmetropolitan 1 6/10

    Pretty enjoyable setting and characters I guess, but nothing happened that really surprised me or interested me to any special degree. Undecided on whether I'll bother with the next one.

    American Gods 7/10

    Pretty much what I always think of Gaiman, really down to earth and enjoyable writing and characters, really great fantasy which produces strong themes, but poor plot, poor build up of suspense, and a crappy ending.

    The Dark Knight Returns 8/10

    Surprisingly good, truly enjoyable and dark themes. Finally a depiction of Batman that isn't a through and through infallible character. A noble, haunted, misguided crusader makes for a good story. Reminded me of Watchmen in a lot of ways. Kinda of a meh ending though.

    Sin City: The Hard Goodbye 7.5/10

    Liked this a lot. A lot of the comics I've read into my rapid and shaky crash course into them are muddled with far too much pointless fluff, but this is a nice, simple story, which makes its point and is enjoyable through out.
     
  6. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    I started seeing this girl a few weeks ago who demanded that I read her favourite book - The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafón. It's the story of a young boy who falls in love with a book and in searching for more works by the same author, begins to try unraveling a web of mysteries from his life. It's definitely one of the greatest books I've ever read.
     
  7. Ennui

    Ennui The Freeman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    22,653
    Likes Received:
    56
    That sounds interesting as hell, Yorick. Throwing that on my reading list.

    Good job reading The Grapes of Wrath, Sheepo, that's an incredible book. I'm not sure exactly how you justify rating a Batman book (graphic novel?) .5 below it though.
     
  8. Sheepo

    Sheepo The Freeman

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    10,578
    Likes Received:
    65
    While it's a beautiful book, it didn't end up resulting in any sort of gratifying ending. And if that doesn't justify the number, it's probably just the fact that I'm trying to quantify the unquantifiable, which I do out of habit, rather than because it's a reliable system.

    Also, what Steinbeck would anyone recommend for me to read next. I'm going to be re-reading The Old Man and the Sea and The Catcher in the Rye for school, but they're pretty easy and I've got to keep myself away from Mario.
     
  9. Shakermaker

    Shakermaker Party Escort Bot

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    9,253
    Likes Received:
    2
    I am about 100 pages into The Crossing now and I already like it a lot more than ATPH. The catching of the wolf and the journey following kept me want to read on. I am now at the part where a couple of Mejjicans took the wolf from Billy.

    Prolly gonna read No Country when I finished the trilogy. Either that or The Road. Did you read Suttree? Kinda interested in that as well.
     
  10. dfc05

    dfc05 Tank

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    3,110
    Likes Received:
    4
    The wolf story was definitely the best part. If he'd stopped at the end of that part, I would've been completely satisfied. Unfortunately, after that you have like 300 more pages to go.

    Supposedly Suttree is very good, but I haven't read it yet. I have Child of God sitting on my bookshelf. Got a few chapters in but haven't had enough time. Both of those are supposed to be very dark. I could already see a bit of that in the beginning of Child of God. It also seems more apparent in at least that novel (and probably more of his early novels) where all of the Faulkner comparisons come in. Seems he's been trending away from the Faulkner-esque stuff over time.
     
  11. the cow says moo

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Messages:
    2,199
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Road: 8/10
    I flew through this one. Loved every bit of it except the very end which felt like a deus ex machina and brought down the score a bit.

    The Kite Runner: 9/10
    This was very easy to get into and I actually found the ending satisfying unlike the Road. I definitely plan on following this one up with a Thousand Splendid Suns.
     
  12. Emporius

    Emporius Space Core

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    3,554
    Likes Received:
    7
    [​IMG]

    The Beatles: The Biography 8.5/10
    Great book so far, with interesting insight into theearly years that no one ever really talks about. It also completely destroys any notions you had about the personalities of the Beatles. They're all hilariously douchebaggy.
     
  13. ríomhaire

    ríomhaire Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Messages:
    20,876
    Likes Received:
    371
    Wheel of Time - Knife of Dreams
    Re-reading to remind myself what's happening before I get book 12. I forgot how silly the sword fights were. I don't know what Jordan was expecting people to think when reading all those sword moves and poses. They're completely and hilariously incompressible. Is there some sort of guide explaining what the hell they're actually doing. They all read like "He countered The Dancing Lion with Monkey Grabs the Testicles." Thank God there's not more than one per book.

    The other thing I forgot is how God damn addictive these books are (at least the good ones). I stayed up far to late on more than one night reading it. Must get the next one soon. Then by the time I'm finished that A Dance With Dragons might be out and then I'm going to have to reread the previous SoIaF book and read that and then the next WoT book will be out!
     
  14. Sheepo

    Sheepo The Freeman

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    10,578
    Likes Received:
    65
    Of Mice and Men 9.5/10

    Well that was ****ing amazing.
     
  15. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Oh my goodness yes. I haven't read that in probably ten years. Definitely need to do so again.
     
  16. Eejit

    Eejit The Freeman

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    13,519
    Likes Received:
    174
    For all the flaws in the series it's still brilliant. There are some real goddamn holy shit wtf moments in the latest book even better than 'Moiraine's letter' or the Cleansing.
     
  17. dfc05

    dfc05 Tank

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    3,110
    Likes Received:
    4
    Since you liked Grapes of Wrath:
    East of Eden if you want something totally epic (in an older sense of the word). I haven't read it in a long time, but as I recall, it's one of those long generation-spanning novels, but it manages to remain interesting throughout the entire novel. Basically as if Steinbeck had tried to start writing a Biblical story from the beginning.

    Personal favorites:
    I've always had a soft spot for The Winter of Our Discontent. It's a very quiet and reserved book though. No long cross-country journeys or anything. Just a story about a typical family man with a moral decline. I think I liked how everything starts to fall apart very subtly.

    The Pearl for a simple morality tale told really well.

    Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday (they go together) for storytelling of drunken parties and a whorehouse and a marine biologist.

    Steinbeck -- there's something in there for everyone (even nonfiction).

    I knew lots of people dislike the ending for obvious reasons, but the way I see it:

    The Road was dedicated to McCarthy's son (who was either still a baby or a little kid when he was writing it), and so I read the father as McCarthy and the boy as his son. As such, I think it would have been impossible for McCarthy as a father, not necessarily as a writer, to end the book without delivering the boy to some kind of semi-hopeful ending. Which is a beautiful thing.
     
  18. Emporius

    Emporius Space Core

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    3,554
    Likes Received:
    7
    I hated Catcher In The Rye. What an absolute joke of a book.
     
  19. dfc05

    dfc05 Tank

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    3,110
    Likes Received:
    4
    Haha, I was never a Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby, or The Stranger fan. Can't say I hated them, but all the characters really pissed me off. Here's a novel I hate with a passion but lots of people inexplicably seem to like: FRANKENSTEIN. Ugh. Horrible. The best line in the novel was "It's alive, it's alive... IT'S ALIVE!" Oh wait, that wasn't actually in the novel; they just put it on the cover to trick you into reading the most boring, predictable, unspectacular crapfest ever.
     
  20. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    I can't speak to Gatsby. By The Stranger do you mean the Camus book? That thing is amazing. Layers upon layers. It makes me sad that you didn't like Frankenstein. That's a remarkable book as well.
     
  21. Sheepo

    Sheepo The Freeman

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    10,578
    Likes Received:
    65
    You suck dude. If you didn't like OSC I would end our friendship right now.
    Thanks dude. Obviously I just finished (and loved) Of Mice and Men, but we actually have East of Eden around the house here, seems like as good a start as any.
    Haven't read The Stranger, but I'm inclined to agree with you on The Great Gatsby. I think it pretty much all comes down to first person perspective and the fact that it only really works two ways: In the moment, telling the story, as it happens, exactly as it happens, or stream of consciousness, as Catcher in the Rye does it. Gatsby comes out as a poor cross between the two. Some of the writing is pretty good, even some of the scenes and dialogue, but hearing it from Nick's brain is absolute balls. It's as if he started writing a diary, would forget about it for weeks and days at a time, and would poorly try to reconstruct events in retrospect. I really think it could've been a much better book if the plot was slightly modified (trimmed here, given a little substance there) and the story had been told better.

    As for The Catcher in the Rye, I dunno, many people just seem to hate Holden. I read it at a time in my life when I felt very similarly, though I'd given it much less elaborate thought and didn't act very unusual based off of it, to Holden. I was drawn into this character who saw the ugly side of everyday life but also saw the beauty and sincerity of the other side of it. The ending, coming to terms with how you can't change the way people are for them and how you can only do the best you can in life with what you're given, affected me profoundly.
     
  22. dfc05

    dfc05 Tank

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    3,110
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hmm, I may try re-reading Catcher in the Rye sometime. It's been 8 years since I've read it. I actually gave The Stranger (Camus) a second chance a year ago but it didn't improve much. I can see why people would like it, but the main character made me too frustrated. Somehow I even liked Waiting for Godot more than The Stranger, and Waiting for Godot is just absurd.
     
  23. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    I can definitely see that. I think I liked The Stranger more for what it was saying than the book itself.
     
  24. Asknoone

    Asknoone Newbie

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    2
    Frankenstein has a lot more to say about revenge and human fragility than science (despite it screaming REACTIONISM to Enlightenment developments and thinking, but hey she sat around with Byron), and I enjoyed it for the most part. I certainly liked it a lot more than Dracula, having read that prior to Shelley's novel, a book that is most certainly not that great.

    But The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of beats them both in terms of 19th century horror.
     
  25. dfc05

    dfc05 Tank

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    3,110
    Likes Received:
    4
    Fixed :p

    Whoa, totally forgot about that book. I enjoyed that one a lot.
     
  26. SimpleAssassin

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Messages:
    378
    Likes Received:
    0
    Agreed, i enjoyed it, probably laughed at parts more than i should of. I actually started to read this again a while ago, i should get around to finishing it again. i too can see how Meursault would appear.....irritating thats for sure, though i found myself agreeing far too much for comfort a number of times.

    About Frankenstein and Catcher in the Rye, i think they were experiences marred purely by the fact i had to read them for school, and the monotony of the lessons which they took place in and the fact other pupils were not particularly willing to learn :upstare: though i don't think my absences helped either. Rather childish in retrospect, silly reason not to like something but oh well, I'm certain that if i read them again i would see them in a much different light and enjoy them much more.

    Being honest i did find Holden to be a bit of a dick at the start and that was another thing that put me off but as time went on i found him more and more relatable....
     
  27. 15357

    15357 Companion Cube

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Messages:
    15,217
    Likes Received:
    15
    Saint Joan of the Stockyards, by Bertolt Brecht

    Um... It's a play, so I dunno if it belongs here. Anyway, er.. what is this? I think Brecht is a goddamn communist heathen. Sure, some funny moments, but the people are.... unbelievable. The characters simply don't act like real people would. Of course, that might be the point here.

    Now I'm confused. I'm not going to say I didn't enjoy it, but I don't really get it. Maybe it's because it's a play, not a novel, and I'm not used to this.
     
  28. KiplingsCat

    KiplingsCat Space Core

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    446
    Likes Received:
    23
    Brecht didn't want his characters to be real. His characters illustrate reality but don't imitate it. Try The Life of Galileo. It's a bit more straightforward than most of his other work and it's got physics in it.
     
  29. Sulkdodds

    Sulkdodds Companion Cube

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2003
    Messages:
    18,853
    Likes Received:
    19
    Brecht has a technique that remains quite special. What he's doing is

    often termed 'defamiliarisation'. He doesn't want you to watch his plays and get absorbed in the drama, empathise with the characters, lose yourself in their reality, and share their deep emotions. That would just manipulate you and carry you along, supressing your sense of inquiry. Instead, he wants to make things deliberately unreal, and constantly jerk you out of your presuppositions in order to make sure your mind's properly operating. You're not supposed to be absorbed, you're supposed to stand at a skeptical distance from the action - and you are invited to consider its ideological implications with every rational instrument of your mind. Naturally Brecht's plays are set up so that you're supposed to watch them, think about them, and agree with him. But he is trying to empower you to think at all. Never mind that he helped clear the way for a new type of theatre that would indict 'realism' (or rather naturalism) as a comforting deception and abandon it in favour of techniques that shock and subvert. Brecht is one of the few people ever to have produced ethical propaganda. Surely that's something you can appreciate, even if he's on the wrong side!
    Basically, YOU FELL RIGHT INTO HIS TRAP HA HA (maybe)

    I didn't get it at first either, partly because it's hard to understand what he's up to without seeing it actually enacted on stage. Whether or not you read the spoiler, I'd add to Kipling's my own recommendation that you read/see/organise a student production of Mother Courage and Her Children.
     
  30. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    I finally got around to reading the first Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and have since started the Restaurant at the End of the Universe (with more to follow). What marvelous and hysterical books.

    Next I do believe I'll finally get around to reading the Harry Potter series.
     
  31. 15357

    15357 Companion Cube

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Messages:
    15,217
    Likes Received:
    15

    Hmm.. That's very interesting.

    I mean, now I don't really care what the message is, it intrigued me enough to want to see it on stage. I should get around to reading Mother Courage, perhaps since I'm reading Brecht because I have a 10 page paper to write on his work. :p
     
  32. Sheepo

    Sheepo The Freeman

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    10,578
    Likes Received:
    65
    Eejit in


    5... 4... 3... 2... 1
     
  33. Sulkdodds

    Sulkdodds Companion Cube

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2003
    Messages:
    18,853
    Likes Received:
    19
    I've also heard good things about The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

    If you end up being interested enough in this line of theatre to keep reading independently, works to look out for include: An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestly (but to get contrast, as it's not formally Brechtian at all); Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party and The Homecoming; Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett; The Comedians by Trevor Griffiths; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard; Equus by Peter Schaffer. Their influences are varied but, Priestly aside, they might not have existed without Brecht.

    EDIT: OOPS
     
  34. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    Yes. A thousand times yes.
     
  35. Sheepo

    Sheepo The Freeman

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    10,578
    Likes Received:
    65
    The Old Man and the Sea 9/10

    Just as good the second time around.
     
  36. KiplingsCat

    KiplingsCat Space Core

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    446
    Likes Received:
    23
    But make sure the theatre has comfortable seats.
     
  37. Sheepo

    Sheepo The Freeman

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    10,578
    Likes Received:
    65
    The Catcher in the Rye 8.5/10

    Something was different this time. It's as if instead of seeing through Holden's eyes, there was a disconnect and I was suddenly flooded with perspective. Suddenly the world wasn't so fake, the people so uncaring, the struggle so pointless. Suddenly Holden became a sad, unappreciative, reckless, confused, immature kid. It's still beautiful, it's still eye opening. But I am no longer Holden Caulfield.
     
  38. Eejit

    Eejit The Freeman

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    13,519
    Likes Received:
    174
    Well that'll be a massive jump in quality. Downwards.
     
  39. Yorick

    Yorick Guest

    That's bound to happen at one time or another. Can't just read 40,000,000 amazing books in a row.
     
  40. 15357

    15357 Companion Cube

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Messages:
    15,217
    Likes Received:
    15
    I don't see what's so wrong with the Harry Potter books. I enjoyed them very much.


    Of course, I was 12 ~ 15 at the time, so perhaps they'd look different now.
     

Share This Page