Literature: Rate and Discuss

Ennui

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I ****ing hated reading it. It took me two tries - when I was maybe 16 I got about halfway through it before abandoning it in favor of real literature, and then I had to read it a few years later for a "philosophy" class in college. Viperidae hit it spot on, it's thinly veiled objectivist propaganda. She's a good writer and it could have been much better if she wasn't so damned concerned with making her point OVER AND OVER AND OVER and being so obvious about it. Objectivism really grinds my gears and the fact that she is constantly trying to explain, support and demonstrate its superiority on every single one of the more than a thousand pages got maddening as hell.

I do like Anthem a lot though since that's more about individualism (which I have less of a problem with) than objectivism, and like I said she's a pretty good writer if you can ignore her dogmatic bullshit. I haven't read The Fountainhead (although it's been on my shelf for years; just can't bring myself to spend any more time on Rand when I could be reading good classic literature) but I hear it's essentially a more digestible and less irritating version of Atlas Shrugged.

I've spent the past three years trying to forget it as much as possible, so if you're still interested I can get my friend to comment on it. He was a major objectivist in high school but has since matured and realized what an unphilosophical twat Ayn Rand is and has come over to the subjectivist (i.e. existentialist) side, and he paid a lot closer attention to the novel than I did. When I had to write a paper on it I got him to help me out with defining some of the thematic elements of the book.
 

Sulkdodds

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What about The [strike]Samon [/strike] Salmon of Doubt? Anyone read this?
As far as I can tell it's got nothing whatsoever to do with the Guide. It's actually a Dirk Gently novel, and it's alright. Funny in a quiet, weird, understated way. But a wispy little thing - not even the bulk of it was finished, it seems like. Interesting reading and worth the trouble of getting out from a library (if you can find it at your local).
 

Ennui

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I have read the Salmon of Doubt and I remember it being good but not very remarkable (as evidenced by the fact that I can't remember a damn thing about it). Dirk Gently is ****ing awesome though.
 

Solaris

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I came here just to specifically talk about Atlas Shrugged and find you guys are already talking about it, weird.

I'm only half way through but am loving it.
 

dfc05

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Picked up Ender's Game at the used bookstore last week while in their basement looking among stacks of crappy sci-fi. I read it years ago and enjoyed it, and I wanted something to read that wouldn't take more than a day since I'm lacking on time and failed miserably to make it through any novels over the past 8 months or so.

I'm pretty sure most everyone here has read it so I don't have much to say. I always thought this was one of the most likable books around but today found out there are people out there who really hate it. It is a fairly simple and straightforward book but I still like it anyways. Anyhow, due to Facebook's default policy of taking everything you write and letting the public see it if it relates to a search (e.g. "Ender's Game"), I was exposed to this incredible conversation off some girl's wall (change your privacy settings folks).

LM: reaadingg ender's game + doing reporttt ; uhgg it's soo stupiiid.
LI: i am so confused by the book its rediculous... Why'd i have to sign up for honors? im not smart enough anyway! :|
AM: Lls of all ppl [LM] why wud u sign up for honors!?! Lol I'm basically done
LM: awll! and yeaa it's confusing + stupiiid. and shutup [AM] ;pp
MD: I love you
LM: i love you tooo!
 

Asknoone

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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.
Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina.

I thought I'd grown a little weary of Levin's agricultural pursuits, but in retrospective I'm quite fond of them. I think one of the reasons it doesn't come across as so heavy on the class discussion is because it's so well textured into the novel that it is the novel. I treasured every moment of it. Wonderful piece of literature.
 

FrostedxB

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Currently reading a new book called The Sandbox by David Zimmerman

A really good war story that gives a really well detailed look into a soldiers life in Iraq. Only read the first few chapter so I don't exactly know where the story is going, but its held my attention very well so far.
 

Druckles

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I started reading The Picture of Dorian Gray a couple of years back in Italy on a friend's Sony Reader. Unfortunately, I only read the first few chapters, but I found it fascinating and enjoyed what I did get through. I've been meaning to read it since, and the film coming out only encouraged that. I finally got given a copy earlier this year and, after getting round to picking it up, I've been working through it ever since.

It has got to be one of my favourite books. A little difficult to read at times, but it's had me captivated completely. While I forget which parts exactly I enjoyed so much, I know that certain ideas put across moved me. There are so many concepts either brought out in a new light or different, but somewhat perverse way. I'd have to rate it as one of my favourite books.

I used to read far too much as a kid, but left it all somewhere down the line. Reading this has reminded me how amazing a good book can be. When I was younger, I'd generally read more light-hearted stuff like Pratchett and I think a study like this would have been completely lost on me. After I finish this and reread Watchmen, I'm going to see if I can get hold of something similar. Along with the rest of Douglas Adams, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is also on my list.
 
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If you want to read the best new fantasy fiction out there, pick up The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I am eagerly awaiting the second book early next year because this is one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read. Right up there with The Lord of the Rings, the Shannara books, and the Dragonlance Chronicles (imho).

It's like a mix of Conan, Harry Potter, Fable, and some of the best legends and folklore out there. Absolutely brilliant.
 

Polaris

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I'm waiting for my copy of not yet released book Zero History by William Gibson that I just bought on eBay. Lucky me.
 

Asknoone

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I'd like to add again that Anna Karenina was incredible, and it's still sitting with me - I haven't dropped it from my thoughts for a moment. Or two.

I read through Animal Farm in a sitting which was, you know, good, and in another sitting I got through Campbell's Who Goes There?, the basis for The Thing From Another World and The Thing. It's a short novella with whole events covered in sentences, but ay-ay-ay, I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's not quite the Lovecraftian fascination with the Arctic or the promise of horrendous truths about reality that comprise HP's novels, but it's always on the precipice.

I wish you could see your eyes, man. Your eyes.
 
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Beelzebub

Recently, I've picked up my aged copy of Lord of The Flies again. The last time that I've read the book was during my high school years, despite several attempts at reading it again over the intervening years. Actually, I don't think that I've really read it in high school either; I wasn't ready for it. Now that I've read and given it time to percolate, I've developed a fascination with this book and I think it's going to stay with me for a whole while longer.

While Lord of The Flies is a work of fiction it's also a fable, but instead of putting forward a moral standard that you might or might not agree with, William Golding makes you first and foremost see and he does so with the help of great storytelling. His imaginative writing style allows you to enter the tortured world of a group of school boys (and by extension mankind's) who are cast away on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and takes you down a dark and satisfying path of recognition.

A few keywords: fable, fiction, order versus chaos, good versus evil, civilization versus savagery, rules, games, authority and its abuse, responsibility and irresponsibility, fear, the human condition, mankind's tortured world, inevitability, the loss of innocence, a hint of a harmonic world beyond that of mankind's.
 

Asknoone

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I do love a bit of Lord of the Flies. That realisation of a loss of innocence in its closing moments is both haunting in its inevitability and beautiful in its poignancy. After all, innocence of being is never totally lost.
 

Druckles

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I read it before GCSEs and enjoyed it. Perhaps I didn't understand every little detail and metaphor behind it, but when by the time we'd finished raping it in English, I couldn't bare it much more.
 

brad92

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I've read it about three or four times, I think. First studied it vehemently a couple of years back. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Shamefully, I think it's quite overshadowed at times by those texts that I read and studied later on, which is a pity considering it's fantastic. I often forget about it in favor of, say, Frankenstein, Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Picture of Dorian Gray, Antigone and 1984.
 

The Monkey

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On the Road - 9/10.

One of the finest novels I've read in a long time. Kerouac makes full use of the English language, with extremely colourful and innovative expressions and descriptions; the language's structure drawing very heavily from the bebop jazz. It expresses such a joy for life I've never found in any other work of literature.
 

FrostedxB

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I read it before GCSEs and enjoyed it. Perhaps I didn't understand every little detail and metaphor behind it, but when by the time we'd finished raping it in English, I couldn't bare it much more.
This is the problem I noticed while in school. I love to read, really do. Yet the books they give out in school I always seem to hate, not even because they're bad, LotF was actually pretty good, until my teacher had to pick apart the book until we saw it the way she did. Perhaps picking it up and re-reading it might be worth it.
 

dfc05

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John Steinbeck - Cannery Row - 9/10

Finally got some time to read on some plane trips. I like the structure. Short chapters; some are just totally random yet awesome stories thrown in the mix. In this book Steinbeck does a lot of that thing where he makes you chuckle out loud at something on one page, and then on the next page somehow the story becomes completely depressing. Kinda like how Catch-22 or A Scanner Darkly start out pretty funny and then gradually become depressing, except if you were to take that and compress it 100 times. It was actually a bit bipolar now that I think of it, but done very well.

I also like how Steinbeck writes his characters. I probably wouldn't like some of the characters in real life, but the way he writes about them makes it nearly impossible to dislike any of them.

Related personal story: I sent this book to a friend who was severely depressed, but I hadn't read it in many years. The sequel (Sweet Thursday) is quite happy so I assumed I'd be safe sending Cannery Row to him. I was wrong. Two people kill themselves in the first 10 pages or so. But I apologized to my friend and then he admitted that he never even bothered reading the book, so I guess I'm off the hook for that one.

That also means that absolutely 0% of the people I've given books to has actually read it. Out of a sample size of 3, but still.... they were really darn good books too. :(
 
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Yorick

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The Harry Potter Series

Very enjoyable overall, though I found the character of Harry Potter to be bland, inconsistent, and a bit of a knob. Some ideas, particularly the romance, seemed to be forced down the reader's throats, but overall I did like reading them. That said, the last book's gratuitous character death, final chapter and epilogue were absolutely awful.

Slaughterhouse Five

This book was excellent, as one expects from Kurt Vonnegut. I will share with you my favourite passage, which is one of the most beautiful things I have read in quite some time.

Billy looked at the clock on the gas stove. He had an hour to kill before the saucer came. He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken down from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't in the movie, Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed.
 

Sulkdodds

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I think that's everyone's favourite bit in Slaughterhouse Five :p Although I also enjoyed the bit about American troops flowing into the POW camp 'like a river' for its unpretentious allusion to Dante's Inferno/The Waste Land.

The thing about Harry Potter is that, whatever else, it's leagues better than Twilight. Why? Because it's simply more fun. It's full of stuff. Magic carpets, heads in fireplaces, horsebacked ghosts, secret passages, flying cars, sweets you wish were real, imaginary broomstick consumerism, DRAGONS, etc. Twilight will always be set in the boring real world and will always be utterly without incident. Plus, by the last book, anybody hardcore enough to read the whole damn series will have surely gotten very bored with the school year - tired of the certainty that dramatic pitfalls and climaxes will follow the terms exactly, so that nothing truly terrible will happen until May or June. When the last book suddenly comes along and breaks that up, it's pretty cool.

I read Slavoj Zizek's First as Tragedy, Then As Farce, a book about the last decade and the two events (9/11, financial crisis) that bracket it. I'd unequivocally recommend the first half to anyone, but readers of the second will need to prepare themselves to wade through a lot of Lacanian obscurantism and French communist thinkers. On the other hand, he builds a couple of pages on the back of Kung Fu Panda, and, at one point, goes out of his way to cite (with no specifics) "Wikipedia". Generally it's rewarding, especially remarks on 'Hegel and Haiti', but just don't expect any kind of sustained analytical argument or certain conclusion. That ain't Zizek's style. Instead he skates elegantly from topic to topic without so much of a by your leave, and, often, never bothers coming back to elaborate.
 

SpiderPig

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Just pre-ordered Stephen Hawking's new book - The Grand Design. Never read any of his books before but it could be interesting to read about his theorys.
 
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Yorick

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Overall you're dead to me.
OVERALL.

Twilight will always be set in the boring real world and will always be utterly without incident.
Pretty sure the real world doesn't have werewolves and sparkly vampires. JUST SAYING.

The magic aspects actually kind of annoyed me in Harry Potter. Having spells that were either based in Latin or sounded ridiculous felt silly. And the problem I had was how the magic seemed limitless except when convenient. Oh, and a lot of character names were silly.

I certainly enjoyed it OVERALL, but I still wouldn't rate the entire above maybe a 7/10, which is still by no means bad. Twilight on the other hand doesn't even show that Stephenie Meyer has a grasp of the English goddamn language, not to mention what it takes to write a story.
 
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HP's magic system is crazy broken and illogical.

But it's a great guilty pleasure for escapism.
 

Eejit

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As broken as the writing, the plot, the characters, relationships between characters and the dialogue, yep.
 

Eejit

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Why no, as a child I was fortunate enough to be read good books, and later given good books to read.
 

Interface

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Soon I Will Be Invincible 7/10

Satirical novel about a world with a crapton of superpowered people and other such make-believe. Very funny at times, with some interesting themes. It does seem to take itself too seriously some times and goes on way too long on some backstory parts.
 
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Yorick

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Siamese - Stig Saeterbakken (Translated by Stokes Schwartz)

Pretty decent book, but not as amazing as I was hoping. It's about a man who sits alone in his bathroom waiting for his body to die, and yelling at his wife. The narrative jumps between them every chapter. It was good, but I spent the entire book hoping for something significant to happen (since the cover promises a power struggle).

Lots of perception and analogy though, which I loved.


Orbiter - Warren Ellis

This is a one shot 80-odd page graphic novel about space travel. It doesn't have much along the lines of great character, and it's not written very well. It's not written poorly, I just feel like it could have really benefited from being longer. It definitely raises a lot of themes, but rushes through them and gets pretty caught up in the science rather than the characters.

At any rate, the message of it is really important. I didn't care for the book all that much until I read the Foreward that the author wrote - around the time of the Columbia disaster. Here's part of the Foreward, because I loved it just that much.

"This book needs to come out now.

It has something to say. Now is the time to go back up. I wrote it in the face of the disappointment of the International Space Station, the wounded Russian programme, the crushed Japanese space initiative, the intellectual poverty of the European Space Agency, and of the site of the beautiful Shuttles never getting further tan an eight-minute burn away. There has to be more, I wrote. We're losing space, I wrote, when there is so much out there for us. It meant something huge to Colleen and me; and it means more now.

This is a book about returning to space in the face of fear and adversity. It's a book about glory. About going back to space, because it's waiting for us, and it's where we're meant to be. We can't allow human space exploration to become our history.

Human spaceflight remains experimental. It is very dangerous. It demands great ingenuity. But we are old enough, now, to do these things. Growing up is hard. But we cannot remain children, standing on the shore, or in front of the TV set."
 

Shakermaker

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The Road - Cormac McCarthy

Finally got around to reading it and really enjoyed it. It is vintage McCarthy but with a post-apocalyptic flavor and some genuine affection for once. The inevitable end is always looming but I kinda liked that it was 'happy'. Is the movie any good?
 

dfc05

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I liked the movie when I saw it in theaters, but I really really wanted it to be good, which maybe clouded my judgment.

I recall some other folks here not liking the movie much. I watched it again on my laptop and didn't like it as much either. It was kinda disjointed/awkwardly transitioned.



I re-read A Scanner Darkly in a couple of days. I always know the end is coming and yet I'm always crying like a baby when I get to it. Highly recommend if you're ok with feeling totally bummed out.
 

Shakermaker

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I'll just skip it then. I like the mental image I have of the main characters and I don't want that ruined by Hollywood.
 

jimbo118

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I'll just skip it then. I like the mental image I have of the main characters and I don't want that ruined by Hollywood.
Yeah, don't bother. I actually bought the blu-ray (stop s******ing) and while it recreated the setting very well and viggo was great, it just didn't do it for me.

DON'T FUK UP BLOOD MERIDIAN, HOLLYWOOD!

edit: lol @ the ****
 

SnakeTheLegend

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Yorick, I too enjoyed the hell outta of Kurt Vonnegut last year when I was on a kick of his books. I read The Sirens Of Titan, Mother Night, Cats Cradle, and Slaughter-House five. To me though my favorite book was Cats's Cradle, it had a really great message about religion and science running amok. You ever read Cat's Cradle, Yorick?
 
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Yorick

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Yorick, I too enjoyed the hell outta of Kurt Vonnegut last year when I was on a kick of his books. I read The Sirens Of Titan, Mother Night, Cats Cradle, and Slaughter-House five. To me though my favorite book was Cats's Cradle, it had a really great message about religion and science running amok. You ever read Cat's Cradle, Yorick?
Yeah, Cat's Cradle was the first one I read, it's pretty damned brilliant. I haven't read Sirens of the Titan or Player Piano or Breakfast of Champions yet.
 

SnakeTheLegend

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Just finished Fahrenheit 451 and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I know the book gets a lot of comparison to 1984 and it definitely deserves it because they both offer extremely interesting views of a dystopian future. As of now I don't know which book I like better, but they both are among some the best books I ever read. So here is my question, which one is better for you literary guys out there Fahrenheit 451 or 1984?
 
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