Literature: Rate and Discuss

dfc05

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I preferred 1984 although it's been a very long time since I've read either of them.

Also, I've never particularly been a fan of Ray Bradbury, especially after how he ended Something Wicked This Way Comes, namely when....

(warning, HUGE spoiler, will "ruin" the book for you although I think the ending does a fine job of ruining itself)
they kill one of the evil carnival ladies by shooting her with a bullet with a happy face carved into it, and at the end they defeat the remaining evil carnies by laughing at them.

:|
 

15357

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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?
I liked 451 well enough, but I think 1984 was better. I think 1984 did better at describing the absolute horror of a communist totalitarian regime where the self is extinguished to fulfill the needs of a political system. 451 was.... lacking in those aspects, not to mention that 1984 was more believable. Of course, 451's political system was quite different from that of 1984, so it might be that I liked Orwell's notion of dystopia better (actually, 1984 describe more in-depth compared to 451). I think 1984's writing was better, but that might be because of 451's translation.

Also, I read the translated version of Fahrenheit 451 back in middle school, a few months after I read 1984 in the English version. I also did re-read 1984 multiple multiple times over the course of many years, while 451 I read twice by borrowing it from my school library, so that could have impacted my impression of it.

Anyway, they both had striking impacts on my philosophy and life/political views, I suppose.
 

SnakeTheLegend

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Ya they both impacted me greatly as well, I love both books, but to me 451 was interesting to me because it described a world where we are constantly being stimulated and therefore never take time to gather knowledge or common sense. It just really hit home to me because in this day and age there is such so much information processing in our brains constantly, that we truly never stop to think and really learn things. With the growth of technology all around us, we are constantly being stimulated, from laptops, ipods, T.V. and cell phones. That was the aspect of 451 that was really profound, in my opinion.
 

99.vikram

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I started reading The Picture of Dorian Gray a couple of years back ... 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'm reading The Picture of Dorian Gray right now, and I have to disagree. It's really hard to get motivated about this book when there are other ones that I'm really looking forward to reading right now (The Age of Reason - Sartre.)

The conversations in this book are witty and sparkling with (often dark) humour. Wilde was supposedly famous for being an entertainer and a man about town, so this isn't surprising. But I found almost no thematic consistency in this book beyond a superficial treatment of "getting old sucks, let's stay young forever!" The characters are quite shallow and the plot moves agonizingly slowly... Anyway, I haven't given up on this yet.

Here's my review of The Brothers Karamazov, since I wasn't fair to it in an earlier post:

Wow. Just wow. All through this book I had been wondering how Dostoevsky could have produced a book that was inferior to Crime and Punishment, in spite of being relatively older and wiser at the time of writing. Don't get me wrong, the book is well written (barring some redundancy here and there) and sections, such as Alyosha's transformation after Father Zosima's death, are as memorable as anything else I've read. And Book XI (Ivan) has some of the most insightful, philosophical conversations (or rather monologues, because this is Dostoevsky!) as well as the most shocking plot twists you can find on paper.

And yet the book was not flawless in the way Crime and Punishment was. The plot seemed to meander in places, with the reader drowning in irrelevancies. Worse, the characters were inconsistent to the point of seeming neurotic, and I was often left with the feeling that they served only to move the confused plot forward, rather than to be an integral part of them. This was in contrast to the characters of Crime and Punishment, who were so familiar you could find a little of them in your friends and family!

But right at the end of the book, all these misgivings disappear. All the trivial details and petty grudges and violent arguments and flawed personalities and curious incidents add up to shape the conclusion of the book. In the courtroom, Defence Counsel Fetyukovich gives voice to all of the reader's nagging doubts, and then some - just so you know that Mr. Dostoevsky is in fact, smarter than you. In the end, all is answered - the true nature of the Dmitri-Grushenka-Katerina-Ivan love polygon, the tempestuous impulses that drive Mitya and Katya's feelings towards each other, the reason Mitya divided up Katerina's money, the reason he spent it profligately while expecting to be able to pay it back, why and how Smerdyakov did the things he did. All the loose ends of the story are neatly resolved by the end of the book, and in such a believable way that you are convinced it could not have been any other way. Every loose end, that is, except Smerdyakov's last fateful act - the act that sealed Ivan's fate. And here we see the hand of the devil.

Dostoevsky is famous for being equal parts psychologist and theologist, and in this book he does not disappoint. We see him raise the most difficult questions of all time, express his own views on the matter, and yet respect the reader enough not to force a conclusion. Everything is touched upon from morality to parenting, theology to the spiritual rehabilitation of criminals. Dostoevsky claims that he "expressed himself fully" in this book. It's easy to see why - the entirety of human nature is expressed in these unforgettable characters.

This is the hardest book I've ever read. It is possibly also the best.
 

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Barefoot Gen, Keiji Nakazawa

This is... this is a must read. Its like Maus, but... I don't know how to describe it. It's a comic about Hiroshima, following the life of Gen and his family, showing Japanese society during the second World War.
 

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Enjoying H.G. Well's The Time Machine. I love Classics like this!
 

Vegeta897

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The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs.

The amount of vivid detail and descriptiveness in his writing style is superb.

And this book has some of the scariest parts of anything I've ever read.

I listen to the audiobook form of this nightly (relistening; I've listened to the book many times), and I specifically avoid the scary parts because it is just impossible to sleep when they're on. It's not like a traditional type of scary, talking about monsters and stuff. It lets your imagination do the work... I don't know how else to describe it.
 

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Sounds good, I like scary books, and really scary books are hard to come by, I might check it out.
 
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Yorick

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"Thinner" by Stephen King. Eh 5 / 10.

The story itself was just alright, but it was pretty crudely written and contained Stephen King's usual amount of self-fellatio. Most characters were not very convincing, and were basically all the same. The ending left something to be desired as well.

In fact, the more I think about it, the less I like it.
 

dfc05

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American Pastoral by Philip Roth

I'm going to say upfront that I'm only 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the novel. Not sure. Read a lot in a few days and haven't picked it up in a couple of weeks.

Swede Levov is your standard second-generation successful American man, living the good life and whatnot. Major events in the novel are set around the Vietnam War roughly. Levov's daughter Merry falls in with some SDS types and bombs a post office. Life becomes horrible. You learn all of this from reading the back cover.

This novel is told from the perspective of a character in the novel who vaguely knew Levov, and is writing a novel about Swede Levov (the same novel that you are reading).

My first complaint: It takes a good deal of exposition before this novelist character even gets to the story of Levov (which you know the gist of from the back cover, and are waiting for). I don't really care that much about the novelist. He's not particularly interesting. It's a lot like the film The Sixth Sense in that the commercials are all like "I see dead people" and then ghosts! everywhere! but that line doesn't show up until relatively late in the film, and you don't even see any ghosts until after that.

My second complaint: The novelist character openly admits that he's writing from an outside perspective and probably got most everything about Levov wrong. So when he actually gets around to the Levov part, the story is cheapened because I keep thinking "Yeah ok but this story is fake so what do I care."

My third complaint: The Levov story is pretty to very good at parts, but after a while it just gets mopey/whiny, because Levov just sits around all day thinking, "Boohoo my daughter is terrible how did this happen what did I do wrong." There's even a part where his brother tells him off because of this, and I honestly don't know if I'm supposed to feel bad for Levov at this point because I'm just like "Yeah man stop boohoo-ing already."

My fourth complaint: Merry is stupid. I don't mean the way she's written is stupid. I mean that if she were a real life person standing in front of me, I'd be like "Man you're stupid."

Add up complaints 1-4 and you end up with a novel where I don't care at all about any of the main characters.

I'd like to finish the book but I'm not sure if I can.
 
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Yorick

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Duma Key by Stephen King. 8 or perhaps 9 out of 10

This is by far the best Stephen King book I've read so far, even beating out The Green Mile. I consider King's biggest flaw to be an inconsistency with his characters, particularly in the way they speak. And while that's still present within this book, it's far less prevalent than in others (like Thinner), and it's overshadowed by his strengths.

The thing that I love most about King's works is that he's able to create a world in which supernatural things occur, but still feels very real. The things are presented in plausable ways, and the character's reactions to them help push that along.

Whether it's the idea of curses ("Thinner") or super powers ("Firestarter"), angels ("The Green Mile"), or even a combination of all of them like in Duma Key, he's able to present it in a way that really works.
 

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Well it took me over a month to read a 63 page book but I finally finished H.G.Wells' Time Machine

4.5/5

Very great read, though provoking and interesting to say the least. Wells was ahead of the curve and his time if you ask me and he would probably fit in comfortably with today's Sci-Fi writers had he been alive today. Its a shame I took my time with this book but now that I have more free time I'll be able to devote more reading time both at work and at home :)
 
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Yorick

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Ted Chiang - "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" - 8/10

While the book has been described as "ground-breaking", I'm not sure that's accurate. It certainly feels more modern and relatable than the works of Asimov, which raises some of the same thoughts. Rather than a focus on robots, the novella pulls the focus to artificial intelligence, and virtual environments, something that readers can much more easily identify with since the world we live in has things like Second Life.

The story really does its part to get away from cliches like spontaneous intelligence, rogue AI's, or modernised Frankenstein stories, in part because the story is about something genuine. It's about raising these intelligences akin to children, about the struggles that people in their lives experience, about growing up, and how sometimes love means having to make sacrifices.

Considering it's both free and (relatively) short, it's definitely worth a read.

Uzumaki 6/10

While the artwork was truly horrific (in a good way) and the premise was incredibly cool, it suffered from some pretty staggering problems, the first of which I'd call "23 Syndrome". In the movie, The Number 23, you're bombarded with instances of how it comes up, and so much is spent focusing on how common it is that less time is spent on showing why it matters. This book does the same for a while, but with spirals instead of numbers.

Each individual issue was remarkably formulaic, and very disjointed from the work as a whole. It generally consisted of "Some spirals show up and things happen around Kirie, some people die, and at the end she's right back where she started". If the book had been written with an overarcing story in mind instead of just a series of events happening around a select few characters, it would have been infinitely more interesting.
 
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Yorick

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Libba Bray - "Going Bovine" - 9/10

"Young adult" or not, this book was marvelous.
 
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Yorick

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"Bonjour Tristesse" by Françoise Sagan. - 8/10.

Quite liked this story, aside from the way it ended. There was nothing wrong with it in terms of content, but it seemed both rushed and abrupt, in contrast to the rest of the story, which flowed quite beautifully.
 

Sheepo

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A Prayer for Owen Meany 7/10

Read for school. I have a very particular taste in storytelling, and this book did not have it. It suffers from Great Gatsby syndrome on a much larger scale. When you write a story in first person you need to either A) Make the narrator an incredibly interesting character, if not the main character B) Disconnect him from the story as much as possible. This book did not do either. This is a book about two boys growing up in New Hampshire in the 50's and 60's. The problem is the boy who later tells the story is not the least bit interesting, and only grows blander in comparison to the incredible Owen. The narrator even describes himself as a "Joseph" to Owen's "Jesus" several times; that is, he's a silent support character with nothing to contribute. However, I did thoroughly enjoy this book because at the end of the day, it had a great, funny, tragic, and addicting story filled with equally enjoyable characters. It's very much a dissection of a period of American history, giving brutally honest and sadly funny commentary on television, Vietnam, the peace movement, and everything else you'd expect. I should also mention, faith and religion are an integral part of the story and its themes. Despite not agreeing with a lot of the story's final message I still loved it to the end and could remove my own (lack of) belief from the equation.
 
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Yorick

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Of Mice and Men Rabbits/10.

I hadn't read this since I was around 11 or so, and I had forgotten just how wonderful it is.
 

dfc05

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Catcher in the Rye

I gave this a whole lot of hate before. But I re-read it a couple of months ago, and really enjoyed it. I hope this doesn't mean I'm regressing into an angsty teenager :p. But I rescind all previous hateful comments. It was good. The end made me a little sad (in a good way).

Not sure if I should go back through to read other novels I disliked 10 years ago (Gatsby, Frankenstein). Frankenstein is probably a lost cause but maybe Gatsby will improve.
 

Sheepo

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I started Frankenstein a while ago and I've found it pretty solid so far, though I thought it might be boring. I can't stand Gatsby, it's just such a poorly told story.
 

Vegeta897

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Catch 22 - Bleh why assign a number when you can ascertain how I feel from the following:

Not yet half way through, but this is certainly the most unique book I've ever read. Wonderfully clever and funny, it keeps me interested and smiling and it's hard to put down.
 
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Yorick

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Catch 22 definitely had some amusing moments, but I didn't like it as much as most people did, I don't think.

I'm about to wrap up Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I had tried to read the trilogy when I was in college, but I was taking too long, and when I went to read it over from the beginning, I had loaned my copy of Northern Lights to a girl I was seeing, and never got it back. But now nothing will stand in my way.
 

Xevrex

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I started Frankenstein a while ago and I've found it pretty solid so far, though I thought it might be boring. I can't stand Gatsby, it's just such a poorly told story.
How so? I loved Gatsby, it captured my attention more than any book I've read this year has, and that's out of Huck Finn, Frederick Douglass, and The Scarlet Letter. It didn't try to be too complicated but was crafted well enough to indicate its literary meaning without flourish-y writing like Hawthorne or use of dialect like Twain. Not that those books were necessarily bad, but I thought Gatsby was done better than both, or at least neck-and-neck with Huck Finn.
 
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Yorick

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How so? I loved Gatsby, it captured my attention more than any book I've read this year has, and that's out of Huck Finn, Frederick Douglass, and The Scarlet Letter.
That's because Huck Finn and The Scarlet Letter are overrated drivel.

I've just finished The Master and Margarita and am rereading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest before diving into some more Dostoevsky.
 

Sheepo

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Gatsby just suffers from poor storytelling. The stupid "I'm a real person and I'm going to tell you a story" perspective is really prone to the trap of skipping over huge chunks of time that are really rather important, jumping to events rather than slowly moving from one to another, and by doing so preventing a proper build up of plot and suspense which made the ending just seem to randomly come out of no where. It's a beef I have with lots of books which doesn't necessarily bother others.

I do quite like Huck, but that's more for the fact that I love Twain and his writing, and there are a few really enjoyable and funny parts to it. Just judging it as a book, it isn't anything spectacular. Scarlet Letter was important and interesting enough for its time to be a classic, I suppose, but it's really not that great.

Ender's Game 8/10

It's interesting to read this years after I fell in love with it. It's still great. The story is just so interesting, fresh, and compelling all the way through. The style allows for sympathy but it doesn't bog itself down in pity for its characters. It remains just about perfect until the last two chapters. Damn, that ending is rushed, and something about the dailogue and narration suddenly seems super forced at the very end. Epilogues tend to do that. Other than that, still a fantastic, tight, deep, and simple book. One aspect of the plot that I caught that I daresay may be a plothole though: Ender, Valentine, and Peter supposedly have the best minds for the job, but Ender's temperament makes him the only real candidate. But does that mean he should've been the only one to go to battleschool? There are literally hundreds of kids at battleschool, some of whom clearly don't have half the ability Ender does, but here are two kids that have only the slightest difference from him and they aren't admitted?
 
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Yorick

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Gatsby just suffers from poor storytelling. The stupid "I'm a real person and I'm going to tell you a story" perspective is really prone to the trap of skipping over huge chunks of time that are really rather important, jumping to events rather than slowly moving from one to another, and by doing so preventing a proper build up of plot and suspense which made the ending just seem to randomly come out of no where. It's a beef I have with lots of books which doesn't necessarily bother others.
That's actually a problem that I'm really struggling with my own book. It has me somewhat benched at the moment, actually.

Okay, so far this year I have read (because I suck at keeping up posting here):

Bonjour Tristesse - 4/5
Of Mice and Men - 4/5
His Dark Materials - 5/5
Fahrenheit 451 (Graphic Novel Version) - 3/5
Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology - 3/5
The Master and Margarita - 5/5
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - 4/5.

I'm now rereading "Lullaby" by Chuck Palahniuk until I can be bothered to get to the library and search out a copy of Dostoevsky's Memoirs ("The House of the Dead").

Also planned for the next few months: Jane Eyre, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Everything is Illuminated, The Prestige, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and probably Frankenstein.

I had started "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" but found it kind of dull after somewhere between 30 and 50 pages. Does it improve, or is it really just kind of a druggie "who knows what's real" book?
 

dfc05

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Italo Calvino -- The Nonexistent Knight and The Cloven Viscount -- 7/10

I remembered liking these when I had to read them in high school. I think Baron in the Trees was pretty good too, but don't remember much of it. Picked it up again, and it wasn't totally amazing, but still a nice read. Not particularly deep or thought-provoking, but good if you feel like reading something without needing to put in tons of effort, e.g. in lab when you have to switch out a sample in a machine every 5 minutes and need something to do while waiting.
 
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Yorick

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Chuck Palahniuk - "Lullaby" - 3/5. Palahniuk is kind of a one trick pony, but I do so love his minimal writing style.

Dostoyevsky - "The House of the Dead" - 5/5. This wasn't at all what I expected it to be, in a very good way.

Kameron Hurley - "God's War" - 3/5. This book has a really cool universe. It feels a bit like Firefly with a bit more technology, some magic, and a whole lot of bugs. The writing style is somewhat amateur, but I'm still somewhat excited for the sequel. This was something of a guilty pleasure read.

Currently reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
 
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Yorick

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Milan Kundera - "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" - 4/5.
Going into the novel felt like reading a philosophy text. Ideas are presented, and the characters feel like examples to support the arguments. Like in a technical manual you'd read about "User A" and "User B". As the book delves further into human nature, and what makes these characters who they are, and their histories, dreams, and fears are explored, they really come to life. Very endearing, very thought-provoking.
 

Warped

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Currently reading A War of Gifts, an Ender Story by Orson Scott Card, its like 100 pages and can be read in a very short time. Anyway I need a quick read for I have like no time to read anymore
 

Ennui

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Yorick if you're still looking into Dostoevsky's less prominent works I highly recommend The Double. It's one of his very early novels that isn't particularly thematically compelling but is interesting because you can see the psychological side of Dostoevsky at its finest. In a lot of ways it's like something Gogol would have written. It's also noted as one of the earliest clinically accurate portrayals of schizophrenia.

It's a fun read. Certainly not as monumental, epic or profoundly meaningful as anything he wrote later in his life (this is pre-exile, twentysomething Fyodor D. we're talking about) but fun to see where he came from. Also, if you haven't read The Idiot, do that too. I'm assuming you've already read BK.

How was The Master and Margarita by the way? I have it on my shelf and I've heard incredibly good things about it but neither Samon raving about how good it is nor my fellow Russian minors ranting about it have yet convinced me to pick it up and get fully into it. Maybe you can change that (especially now that it's summer) :p

I haven't read shit lately. Read a whole bunch of books about American labor history of different periods this past semester for class but that's about it. What little leisure reading I've done of late has been a book called Wargame Design which my friend lent me which is about pure game mechanics in strategy board games / wargaming.
 
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Yorick

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Yorick if you're still looking into Dostoevsky's less prominent works I highly recommend The Double. It's one of his very early novels that isn't particularly thematically compelling but is interesting because you can see the psychological side of Dostoevsky at its finest. In a lot of ways it's like something Gogol would have written. It's also noted as one of the earliest clinically accurate portrayals of schizophrenia.

It's a fun read. Certainly not as monumental, epic or profoundly meaningful as anything he wrote later in his life (this is pre-exile, twentysomething Fyodor D. we're talking about) but fun to see where he came from. Also, if you haven't read The Idiot, do that too. I'm assuming you've already read BK.
I actually haven't read either The Idiot or Brothers Karamazov yet. Both are totally on my list, which never seems to drop below 50 books, all of which I'd love to read immediately. I'll definitely add The Double to my list, but yes, Idiot and Brothers K are certainly coming first.

How was The Master and Margarita by the way? I have it on my shelf and I've heard incredibly good things about it but neither Samon raving about how good it is nor my fellow Russian minors ranting about it have yet convinced me to pick it up and get fully into it. Maybe you can change that (especially now that it's summer) :p
Oh goodness, The Master and Margarita was wonderful. Being a big fan of Dostoevsky I would be surprised if you didn't love it. You should definitely make it your plan to go through it this summer. And I'll finally read Brothers K. And together we'll rule the eastern coast.
 

Asknoone

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After reading Crime and Punishment for the first time, the most immediate thought was "is that it?" - it's good, but it isn't that good (better the second time over, though). Dostoevsky isn't the writer, say, Tolstoy is. Brothers Karamazov, his last, is the better of the two, and I'd also recommend The Village of Stepanchikovo. I haven't read The Double but I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.

I can't stand Gatsby, it's just such a poorly told story.
That's a shame, because I like it so far. I didn't think I'd be all that taken by America's well-to-do enjoying themselves at one social gathering after another, but what do you know. Gatsby's an intriguing catch and the narration works in his favour.
 
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Yorick

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Pride and Prejudice 4/5. For the most part I really liked this, though I found several of the characters to be dull and boring, though I expect that was the intent. Mr Collins for instance was an unbearable twat. Still, it's a lovely tale.

Frankenstein - 5/5. This was simply amazing. Perhaps one of my new favourites. The "Story within a story within a story" format is hard to pull off, but Shelley does it wonderfully, and the monster is so goddamn compelling and marvelous.
 

dfc05

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Deliverance by James Dickey - 4/5

Good read. I came upon Dickey after seeing a mention by Cormac McCarthy in an interview of his book To The White Sea. I did try to read To The White Sea and got too busy to make it through, but ended up picking up Deliverance at a used bookstore.

The gist of it is that a dude is going with a few friends on a canoe trip down a river in Georgia. Then of course something goes wrong and propels them into your typical survival-adventure story plot. Despite that, the way it's written is very compelling, especially through the last half. Also a couple weeks ago, I had watched 127 Hours and then watched a bunch of interviews and the Dateline program on that dude. Some of the sentiments in this book and that real-life survival story bizarrely match up quite well. I'm sure James Dickey didn't live through any of it, but he seems to have gotten it spot on.

Also, I have to say that because a couple of the dudes use a bow and arrow, parts of this reminded me of the part in Cryptonomicon where.....

main character and his girlfriend are in a river being shot at with a bow and arrow by his former college roommate -- the part where the book had hit its limit in its spiral to ridiculousness and jumped the shark, in my opinion
-- except James Dickey made that scenario believable instead of ridiculous. Seriously, Neal Stephenson, wtf was that. If you liked that part in Cryptonomicon, Deliverance totally blows it away.
 

Ennui

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I have that novel and I've read about half of it. Have you seen the movie dfc? It's pretty good, Burt Reynolds is the badass one.
 

dfc05

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Nope, I wasn't aware there was a movie. I'll have to check it out sometime - thanks for the heads up!
I thought the last half of the novel was better (or at least, more exciting and fast-paced) than the first half, so definitely keep on reading.
 

lord_raken

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How can it be that I have been on these forums for over three years and never knew of this thread?!

While I'm here:
Alas Babylon 4/5: A very good story about a small community in florida surviving a nuclear attack. Great characters and a good bit about leadership and society. Not quite the most emotionally involving story, but its definitely worth a read.
 
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Yorick

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Just read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson because I couldn't be arsed to go to the library this weekend and it was kicking around. It was pretty okay for a "young adult" book. The kind of thing that when you're 15 is like "**** yeah, I know exactly how this character feels" and now at 25 you're thinking "Christ, I was 15 once?"

Forgot my library card this morning so didn't get to drop in on the way to work, but once I get a free moment, I'm hoping down there to pick up Anna Karenina and Everything is Illuminated. Also on my list for the next few months is Jane Eyre, Brothers Karamazov, and possibly some Faulkner before long.
 

dfc05

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston
Adventure-survival story marathon!
It was decent. No particularly mind-blowing insights, and the second off-topic chapter on mountain climbing did start to drag a little. I read it straight through in 2 days though, which means it was pretty interesting throughout. My favorite thing was how every time he majorly screwed up or was in a crappy situation, he's like "Huh guess I'll take a photo!" Bear attack; dropping a backpack with important climbing gear off the side of a mountain; cutting off his own arm..... camera time.

Also The Blot by Tom Neely. It's a graphic novel about a man being followed around by a blot (literally, ink blots on the panels). He meets a woman who makes things better for a while, but then she leaves him. I think someone on these forums mentioned wanting to read this a few years back. I'd looked it up and thought the concept sounded interesting. So I stuck it on my "To Read" list and sometimes would look it up and be curious as to whether it's really as great as the few reviews out there say it is. I finally just bought it. It is quite good. Didn't make me cry, but it was good. I haven't read any graphic novels before so I don't have any points of comparison, but I liked the artwork and execution of the concept. Favorite and least favorite parts:

Faves:
3-page dream sequence near the middle
Entrance of wolf
Use of color. I'd looked at the artwork on his site and expected the whole thing to be color, so I was a little disappointed when I started reading and it was black and white. But some color does come in later, and it's nicely done.

Least fave:
The woman only looks even remotely happy in maybe 3 panels of the entire book. Even when she's helping the guy out, it seems like emotionally she's not all-there. Maybe that was intentional, I dunno.

I recommend it but the price is a little high -- typical new-paperback price but you can't find it on sale anywhere and it's not on Borders so you can't 40%-coupon it. I'm glad I finally got to read it though.

Next up will be more graphic novels because I stumbled upon this list today. I'm not going to join their discussion group, but checking out a couple of books off that list: Stitches by David Small and The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman. Seemed pretty interesting. If anyone can recommend anything else from there, I'll try and read them too if I can get it from the library.
 
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Yorick

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"Everything is Illuminated" by Johnathan Safran Foer. 4/5.

It was a bold move for Safran Foer's first novel to jump between entire generations and be written in a manner that contained multiple stories within itself. Most of the time, it works quite well, but there are places where it falls flat. It's an enjoyable book, though not without flaws.


Next up is likely Anna Karenina.
 
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