Author Topic: Literature Thread!  (Read 1279 times)

x_XTacTX_x

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Literature Thread!
« on: July 19, 2009, 06:00:12 pm »
I haven't seen a thread like this around here, so i thought I'd go ahead and make one. Here's the place to talk about books you've read, books your reading, recommendations, reviews, all that stuff.

A few books I've just finished are;

Lullaby by Chuck Palahnuik.  This is the guy who wrote Fight Club, and outside of the realm of that book I'd never really read any of his work up until recently and I really regret it. Lullaby focuses around a poem called the "Culling Song", that when recited, kills the listener. The poem is published into a book of poems from around the world for children, and learning of this, a newspaper reporter, an underhanded real-estate saleswoman, a pseudo-hippie and her eco-terrorist boyfriend set out to destroy all copies of the book nationwide. After reading some of his other works, it's easy to see Palahnuik thrives off of the shock factor, more noticeable in his books Choke and Snuff, but still delivers a solid storytelling experience that's sure to keep pages turning. If you're into darkly comedic horror, this is right up your alley.

Call me a slowpoke, but I recently got through Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card after putting it off for years, and I have to say I can see why it's so highly acclaimed. Besides the protagonist being a bit of a Mary Sue, I fell in love with the book, and ended up finishing it in one sitting. If you haven't read this book, do so now.

After finishing Game, I went on to read its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, which honestly I found a little disappointing, but a good read nonetheless. The protagonist went from the slight Mary Sue in the first book to a huge, almost "perfect" fanfiction like character in this one, but oddly enough I still found myself hooked. I found it a little tough to wade through the beginning, because the book throws you into unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar characters and terminology you know nothing about (a pet peeve of mine, but maybe some others dig that kind of stuff), but it quickly grew on me and ended up being almost as memorable and entertaining as its predecessor.

As of now, I'm currently reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, by recommendation of my older brother. Being the only connection I had to Sinclair's work beforehand the movie Let There Be Blood, which I found fantastic, I was excited to get to see the actual literary work of the guy behind it. I'm not too far in, but I found the introduction pretty nice, a little over-descriptive at points but I was told it's with good purpose, so maybe I just have to keep at it.


With all that said and done, what's everyone else reading currently?

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2009, 06:11:03 pm »
Palahnulk is a one-trick pony in my opinion and gets a little stale...  He has some great idea's, and he's not a bad writer at all, but he's heavily overrated.  The college lit pseudo-intellectuals thrive off his works and worship him (or at least some of the one's I went to school with), and the hipsters usually make me laugh as they exit Urban Outfitters.  Not that there's anything wrong with enjoying his works, nor is there anything wrong liking him.  Just stating an opinion.  :D  (so one needs to get defensive)

The past year or so I haven't had much time to read, and most of the books I have read deal with screenwriting.  I've read a lot of screenplay's recently: American Beauty, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Dark Knight.  I'm currently trying to find the screenplays for Push and I Heart Huckabee's, with little success.  However, I have been reading a lot of Soren Kierkegaard recently.  The past year or so I've found myself being drawn to more existential pieces of work, particularly the theological side of existentialism.

Glad to you know you're reading, Tact!

Shee

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2009, 06:35:50 pm »
I've picked up and put down Cold Mountain at least a billion times.  I've really enjoyed it, but there was one instance where I could not read from it for some time and have since struggled getting back onboard.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Honky by Dalton Conley are my favorites, though Honky is really memoirs, not a "story" per se.

I also have a copy of The Screwtape Letters which I'm looking forward to.  I don't know if anyone here reads plays, but I suggest reading The Pillowman.  It's written by Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed In Bruges.  I performed it (I was Michal....sorry for the shameless plug  8)) during one of the darkest moments of my life, and it is a VERY dark play.  Not at all for the faint of heart.  I don't know if it was the combination of the such a powerful play at such powerful time in my life (and the two had related issues) but it is the most beautiful piece of Literature I've ever read.

ZaichikArky

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2009, 09:54:00 pm »
Yeah, I really enjoyed the Ender Series. I read all of them, though the third one was pretty freaken trippy >_>;. It was a little too theoretical and complicated for me. I don't know if I like Speaker of the Dead better than Ender's Game. Both are really good. You should read the Bean series next.

I think the last book I read was "My Sisters Keeper", which I don't think most people would enjoy. Though I really did. It was quite engrossing. I should find a new book to read instead of playing pokemon all the time!

Anyone want a Sci Fi recommendation? I'm sure no one has heard of this book, but my god it was the most wonky sci fi book I have ever read. It was really awesome though. It's basically about these killer librarian women ruling the world. The premise is that humanity has went to the dark ages and the "high liber" has devised the first computer- an enormous machine which is actually physically run by prisoner slaves doing calculations.  Souls in the Great Machine- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312872569/ref=ox_ya_oh_product check it out !

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2009, 10:03:57 pm »
Right now I'm taking a sabbatical from the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Not that it's bad, it's fantastic, but the sheer volume of text makes the jokes seem less funny when there's no break between them.

Chuck Palahniuk is pretty decent, but I like Vonnegut better, if we're going to be talking about overrated black humor satirists.

Right now I've been trying to start World War Z. Can't wait.

Edit: World War Z is about Zombies, if you didn't already know. That's all you really need to know. Go buy it  :mrgreen:
« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 01:05:11 am by Mr Bekkler »

Lord J Esq

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2009, 10:23:48 pm »
The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser, and The Woman Behind the New Deal, by Kirstin Downey. Purists could rightly argue that neither is literature; then again, by that criterion the same would apply to many of the books others have mentioned, so I'd rather interpret "literature" here to be a bombastic substitute for "book."

Bottom line is that I don't read enough, though. Good to see people sharing some interest!

V_Translanka

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2009, 12:55:04 am »
I'm currently re-reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire series, which starts with (not counting Dunk & Egg tales) A Game of Thrones. Even though the series isn't finished (4 of ?), I'd probably put it just above Stephen King's Dark Tower as my favorite fantasy series. Its kind of akin to Tolkien in setting and fantasy style, but a lot less pretentious than the LotR (I loved The Hobbit, but just couldn't trudge my way through Fellowship). Each chapter follows the PoV of a specific character, which is kind of nice as it lets you really get to know the varied cast and its interesting from book-to-book because people you end up not liking through the PoV of one character you may learn to like when they get their own PoV chapters later on...Though what really drew me to the series in the first place was a neat concept in that it takes place on a planet whose axis makes it so that seasons last for years...WINTER IS COMING!!

Also, love the topic. I was thinking the Compendium needed a books thread myself but didn't want to bother searching to see if it had already been made or not...>_>

Thought

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2009, 10:43:42 am »
Call me a slowpoke, but I recently got through Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card after putting it off for years...

Heathen! Shun the unbeliever. Shuuuun.

... ahem. Ender's Game is a perennial favorite of mine (as one might guess from the occasional Ender quote that will appear in my sig). I'd generally disagree about the mary sue part since his life in EG is fairly crappy and it only gets worse in the next three books (calling the series the Ender Quartet is a bit misleading, as Ender's Game is to the other three as The Hobbit is to Lord of the Rings). But meh, you still like the characters, so it's all good.

Now OSC's Alvin Maker series is totally a Mary Sue; but what do you expect when the main character is essentially the next Jesus. Still, itís an interesting series. It takes the question of how history would have been different if folk-magic really did exist, and then presents a tale set in the early days of American Expansion.


Let's see, stuff that I'm reading... I finished Inkheart not that long ago and have started Inkspell, largely because I'm slightly OCD; when I start a book (or series) I have to finish it. The books are mildly interesting, but slightly annoying for how ridiculous everything is. Though they did get me to think about how villains are portrayed in books. Creative Writing classes at Universities usually tell students to make all characters into human ones; they should be both good and bad. But in a lot of beloved books, the villains are inhumanly evil (Sauron, the White Witch, the... um... evil guy from Wheel of Time, etc). It is good to remember that sometimes, evil just needs to be evil.

Also read the Wizard's First Rule recently. Much better than I had expected (which is why it has taken... 10ish years for me to finally read it). It was fun, action packed, but still had a few philosophical concepts in it that made it more than just cotton candy.

Also reading The Romans: An Introduction, by Antony Kamm, though this is because I'm taking a Latin course and it is required reading (the other textbooks don't really seem to fit the criteria of this thread, as they are text books, but they're good too). It is an easily accessible history book, so I highly recommend it for that reason. The information so far has been fairly basic, as historical information goes, which is to say far superior to anything you'd know about the Romans if your exposure has been only High School history and University level survey courses.

I should stop now. There are more books to talk about, but I should wait for another day.

Sajainta

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2009, 12:48:28 am »
I'm a bit of a book nerd, so I couldn't pass this thread up.

This summer I read Dante's Inferno, which I had wanted to read for ages.  I also discovered H. P. Lovecraft when I read The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories.  I'm currently reading his At the Mountains of Madness, which has been very enjoyable so far.

The Inferno is absolutely sublime, and I'm kicking myself for not having read it sooner.  It's fascinating to read the early 14th century view of sin hierarchy.  Judas Iscariot and Cassius are at the centre of Hell (the Ninth Circle) being eternally eaten by Satan himself, whereas those condemned because of lust are in the Second Circle, which is just past Limbo.  Not only is it an extraordinary piece of literature, but it also says so much about the viewpoints and worldviews of its time.  And being a history buff as well as a bibliophile, I ate it up.

I also finished reading French Society in Revolution, 1789-1799 by David Andress.  I'm more than a little...obsessed... (heh?) with the French Revolution.  It's one of my eccentric hobbies.

Next on my list is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.  I'm reading it for a literature course, which I'm very happy about because I was planning on reading it some time soon anyway.

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2009, 12:54:39 am »
Love Oscar Wilde.

And did you just read Inferno, or Dante's whole Divine Comedy?

Sajainta

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2009, 01:18:32 am »
Just the Inferno.  I'm going to read Divine Comedy the next time I get a chance to.

Uboa

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Re: Literature Thread!
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2009, 03:24:46 am »
(I was putting off writing a response until this thread got revived, and it has been revived!  So:)

I tend to read somewhat off-the-wall books on occasion.  This is one of the most entertaining anthologies I've ever had the pleasure of reading:

The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases

Some of the accounts of the diseases are just flabbergasting.  My favorite thus far is one where an explorer overcome by a sentient fungus transforms into an anime-esque illuminated superhuman adversary and attacks the rest of his expedition.  The account is given by another member of the expedition, and it's marvelously overwrought in the dramatization of the battle and the awe-inspiring description of the "diseased" man.  I try not to laugh out loud when I'm reading in public, but I couldn't help myself at that, as has often been the case with this book.

If I ever feel like going on vacation via novel, I re-read this book:
Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

It's hard to fathom a book described as a "spiritual mystery" as this one is and not be a little squeamish, but in here Robinson pulls off not only some amazing coming-of-age storytelling, but also paints a hauntingly clear and beautiful picture of the particular are of British Columbia where this takes place.  Out of curiosity I googled the area in which the novel is set, and the pictures that I had in my mind after reading nearly matched the pictures returned by the image search.  Hence, why I feel like I go on vacation when I read this book. 

Watchmen!  I still have yet to watch the Watchmen, but the "book", or anthology technically (I guess?), is without a doubt on my list of favorites.

The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot is an absolutely amazing graphic novel about a runaway girl with a "synchronistic link" to Beatrix Potter, as Talbot puts it.  The girl is fleeing her sexually abusive father, and the depiction of their relationship and its effects on her are both very well portrayed.

Silent Spring and Born to Buy are two great expositions on pressing topics.  Though Silent Spring isn't a recent book, I'd still recommend it to anyone, just to get an idea of the real scale of the problems that were caused by unchecked use of herbicides and pesticides.  It's not just birds and DDT like everybody makes it out to be.  It's an account of almost unimaginable carelessness.  I say it's still pressing, because it's a good springboard for understanding the careless ways we behave toward our surroundings today.

Joseph M. Marshall III is a wonderful guide to understanding Native American culture and stories.  The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living is a very good read.  A couple of the stores had a pretty profound influence on my self-perception.

I guess I should also add that I enjoyed reading a couple of books by Angela Carter recently.  I don't know that anybody else here would be that interested in her, but if anybody here is fond of her I'd like to know! 

Pretty eclectic list, but I find I have a hard time becoming too involved in any one particular topic or genre, save true crime apparently.  I'm about to go on a bit of a true crime binge.