Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 96167 times)

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #90 on: November 29, 2017, 08:51:06 AM »


Currently reading Jon McGregor's Reservoir 13. ]

I have this in my 'to read' pile - how are you finding it ?

græskar

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #91 on: November 29, 2017, 11:04:33 AM »
"The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann, for the second time. First time I read it in Polish, now in German. The English title of this book sounds like a ride at Disney Land, it's awful.

It's really good. I don't know anything about literature so I'll probably sound like a pretentious prick if I start talking about the life-like, amazing characters, but it's really really good. And I like how in his writing Slavic people represent decadence and eroticism.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #92 on: November 29, 2017, 11:46:14 AM »
"The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann, for the second time. First time I read it in Polish, now in German. The English title of this book sounds like a ride at Disney Land, it's awful.

It's really good. I don't know anything about literature so I'll probably sound like a pretentious prick if I start talking about the life-like, amazing characters, but it's really really good. And I like how in his writing Slavic people represent decadence and eroticism.

Excellent - I'm off to Poznań at the weekend so I look forward to a bit of decadence and eroticism!

græskar

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #93 on: November 29, 2017, 02:57:37 PM »
Excellent - I'm off to Poznań at the weekend so I look forward to a bit of decadence and eroticism!

Have fun!

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #94 on: December 02, 2017, 10:17:07 PM »
Just finished Gerard Reve's The Evenings, which is apparently a 'Postwar Masterpiece' which caused something of an uproar when it originally published in the Netherlands in 1947. I can only imagine it was by people who'd just spent their last two guilders on this pile of utter dreck.

Yeahhhhh....I get it, it's about boredom, but that doesn't mean it has to be so fucking boring! Intricate descriptions of mundane everyday tasks doesn't make great literature. I don't remember ever reading a book so tedious. I would have given up if it weren't for the fact that I had to read it for the Reading Group at work next week. And this is why Book Clubs and Reading Groups are evil.

It's also not helped by the fact that the main character, Frits, is such an unpleasant cunt. Again, this shouldn't be something that's a hinderance, many great books are about unpleasant cunts. But this is a boring unpleasant cunt who never does or says anything interesting for 317 pages. Alright, there is one moderately amusing running joke about his continually remarking on the state of the hairlines of his friends and their incipient baldness, but, let's be honest, it only made me smile because it reminded me of biggytitbo's 'I give it six months'-style posts.

I attempted to imagine some of Frits' lines being read in Withnail's voice, but this didn't really work either, as none of the dialogue has any of the wit, perceptiveness or hilarity of Bruce Robinson's.

I'll be honest, I can't really recommend it.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #95 on: December 05, 2017, 10:20:40 PM »
Just read the last two books in Ragnar Jonasson's 'Dark Iceland' series, White Out and Night Blind. I've mentioned on here before my annoyance at this series being published out of order in its English translations, and I've also found out that there is an earlier book which fills in a lot of the backstory to main character Ari Thor's life, including solving the mystery of what happened to his missing father, which gets mentioned quite a lot, especially in these last two books. Hopefully it'll be translated at some point.

But these two are largely like their predecessors, decent enough reads without being amazing. White Out is possibly the strongest in the series, though, ironically, it's not set in the town of Siglufjordur, as all of the others are. It'll be interesting to see if this is the last we hear of Ari Thor, as although the series ends with a satisfying conclusion, he's not even thirty by the end of the final book, so there's plenty of scope to bring him back.

samadriel

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #96 on: December 06, 2017, 09:18:00 AM »
I just finished Accelerando by Charles Stross. I love reading stuff about the Singularity, and Stross is very imaginative about the kind of changes and adventures the solar system and its inhabitants will go through once the 'Vile Offspring' have disassembled the rocky planets into computronium. I liked that it starts very close to now (actually, I think it starts a year in the past now), so the ascension of AI, nanomachines etc feels gradual and fairly realistic. I had just finished reading Soonish by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith before I read this, and that book (about future technologies and the things that stand in their way) was an ideal introduction to ideas that Stross sometimes takes for granted.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #97 on: December 09, 2017, 04:02:32 PM »
And I've just finished reading Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad, which I picked up because I'd enjoyed Look At Me so much. This is even better, in fact I'd be tempted to call it a work of genius, and on the back of these two, I've ordered the rest of her backlist to keep me going throughout 2018.

One of those novels which isn't so much a novel as a set of short stories linked by recurring characters (something I think I'm going to start a thread on), with the two theoretical main characters being Bennie Salazar, a middle aged music producer/executive and Sasha, his assistant, but each story is told from a different point of view, usually from someone with a link to either of these two characters or other people that appear in the book. It ranges in time from the mid-70s to some unknown year in the mid-2020s, and stylistically is all over the place (in a good way) - chapters are told in the first, second and third person, one is presented as a fake magazine article, and one - the most weirdly affecting - as a powerpoint presentation.

Taking the idea that time is a goon - articulated by one of the characters whose life has been rougher than others - who sneaks up and robs people of their youthful enthusiasms and vigour and leaves them wondering how their lives ended up the way they did, this is definitely an attempt at the Great American Novel, taking in such diverse subjects as 9/11, San Francisco punk (full marks for namechecking Dirk Dirksen), divorce, suicide, hubris, madness, why pauses in songs are important, and the rise of social media and the cult of celebrity. It's also a novel which has music running through its veins and feels as if it was written by somebody who knows why music is such a big deal.

Fantastic.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #98 on: December 09, 2017, 04:42:00 PM »
I really like A Visit from the Goon Squad and have got Manhattan Beach lined up next. It's supposed to be a much more straightforward historical narrative than might be expected from her, but it still sounds really interesting.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #99 on: December 09, 2017, 05:04:09 PM »
Yeah, I'm probably going to wait for the paperback with that one, though I am looking forward to it now!

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #100 on: December 09, 2017, 05:40:41 PM »
I think I saw a paperback of it the other day, but it was one of those fancy oversize ones that are only a few quid cheaper than a hardback.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #101 on: December 09, 2017, 07:26:29 PM »
Trade Paperbacks, we call them, in the, er, trade. I'm hoping that the proper paperback will have a cover to match the ones on all of the others currently in paperback, but I suspect not.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #102 on: December 09, 2017, 09:42:47 PM »
I hate it when that happens and ruins a collection. Back when all of my books were well organised, I kept accumulating lovely lines of matching paperbacks by one author which were derailed whenever a new set of editions came out. I have almost everything Don Delillo has ever written, and have been caught out a few times. Shortly after I got into Delillo, his British publisher started bringing the books out in a uniform series with black covers, brightly coloured text and a simple design. Unfortunately, I already had three or four of his books and couldn't be arsed buying them again, so the lovely series was ruined before it had even started. Then I ended up with a mix of glossy and matte editions of those books and finally, when Zero K came out last year, I got the new version of that in a totally different (but very nice) design.

See also: the chaos that ensued when Oxford World Classics changed their designs.

Howj Begg

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #103 on: December 09, 2017, 09:56:41 PM »
Aside from Hangover Square (which I'm about to start, honest) I'm reading these books on the psychology of music (partly for a project, partly personal interest):

Music, the brain and ecstasy - Robert Jourdain
Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks
This is your brain on music - Daniel Levitin

Also digesting The French by Theodore Zeldin. Subtly intelligent when it's not being too tabloidy.



Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #104 on: December 09, 2017, 10:02:08 PM »
I hate it when that happens and ruins a collection.

Yeah, most of my Garbriel Garcia Marquez books are old school Penguin orange spines, except for 'News Of A Kidnapping', which they put out with a red cover. I suppose it's non-fiction rather than fiction, but still. My Haruki Murakamis are a mix of two different styles, which is more to do with them transferring from one publisher to another, but if I update the collection (it stops at 'Kafka On The Shore', and I keep meaning to get around to everything since at some point), that'll be a third variety. It doesn't really bother me that much, but it is nice to have a uniform set of books by a certain author.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #105 on: December 17, 2017, 02:36:04 PM »
I read a couple of very short books:

Han Kang's The Vegetarian is a melodramatic book about the violent consequences of a South Korean housewife suddenly finding meat repulsive. The novel is split into three parts, and I found the opening one a bit OTT- particularly strange was the reaction of the woman's family, who behave as if vegetarianism was the most sickening perversion imaginable. The second part, which brings in the theme of contemporary art was also a bit inessential. But the third part, a quite moving scene in a psychiatric hospital made the whole (short) thing just about worth reading.


It would be easy to cherry-pick quotes from Ta-Nehisi Coate's Between the World and Me and make him out to be an anti-white demagogue. Read in full, this book demonstrates why this level of anger is fair enough. The book focuses on police violence and its consequences, and centres around a friend of his who, from his point of view, was murdered by the police.  On a sentence by sentence level, a lot of the writing is really good, and the points he focuses on never seem tangential. The most interesting stuff is about the way some black American parents feel forced to raise their kids in an ultra-disciplined way out of fear of the police.
He doesn't offer any political solutions, and finds white Americans so guilty of a kind of spiritual sickness that they can't really be part of any positive change. Even if this were true,it does seem odd that this means, in the end he is not really making any demands on the white community or the political system. It reminded me of the frustrating last ten minutes of Bowling for Columbine, where Michael Moore suddenly stops advocating changes to gun laws and starts talking as if only a deeper, more spiritual change can stop gun crime in America- why not push to change the law first?

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #106 on: December 17, 2017, 08:40:05 PM »
I finished reading Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing a couple of days ago, and an excellent read it was as well. While not quite the flat-out masterpiece that most of the quotes on the cover imply, given that it's her first novel, I should imagine that within a few years, we will have a series of books from her which we can accurately describe as bona fide masterpieces on the basis of the writing and ambition shown here.

It's another novel which is basically a series of short stories, though in this case, each pair of stories is succeeded by another pair following the offspring of the people in the previous chapters. It starts in Ghana in the late 18th Century, with two half sisters who are unaware of each other's existence, and then follows their family lines over the next two centuries, through slavery, racism and a whole hell of a lot of white people being cunts. A brilliant read, even if I could do without the hokey contrivance of the last two descendents meeting and becoming lovers, as it was a pretty obvious outcome, but other than that, great stuff.

As work is full on at the minute, and I'm basically knackered all of the time, I'm spending the run up to Christmas re-reading a couple of old Bill Bryson books, as I need something familiar and not too heavy at the minute. Have just finished The Lost Continent, for about the tenth time, though it still makes me laugh, just in different places every time. When I first read it back in the early '90s, as a young man in my early 20s, I assumed that Bryson was a middle-aged man when he made the trip. Re-reading it, I see he was 36, so 11 years younger than I am now. It also struck me that, as with his update of 'Notes From A Small Island' with 'The Road To Little Dribbling', he could probably do a sequel to this to see how the US has changed in the last 30 years. I suspect there would be even more of it that he didn't like at this point.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #107 on: December 17, 2017, 09:20:46 PM »
^Homegoing looks good, but I have a tonne of books to read. I read one of her short stories in Granta and was impressed, so it's one to read in the future. I've also been planning on reading some of Han Kang's stuff, but again, it's going to have to wait unfortunately.

Went a bit mad in New York's excellent Strand Bookstore the other day and my girlfriend and I came back with: a lovely old copy of James Joyce's Stephen Hero, Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem, Omensetter's Luck by William H. Gass, a signed copy of a Patti Smith book, a book of Frank O'Hara's poetry, and some stuff for college. I already had Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach, and Great Jones Street and Point Omega by Don Delillo queued up, none of which I got round to reading on the plane, so it's going to be a busy Christmas.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #108 on: December 17, 2017, 10:24:47 PM »
Heh, yeah, even though I work in a bookshop, if I go to a city with some even bigger bookshops - i.e. most of them - I will go in and buy about half a dozen books to add to my endlessly growing pile. I'm probably getting about 30 books for christmas as well.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #109 on: December 18, 2017, 01:17:40 PM »
I've finally got round to starting Manhattan Beach! It is as different from her previous stuff as pretty much everyone has said, but I'm still really enjoying it, and I zipped through the first hundred or so pages this morning. There definitely is the semblance of a more conventional narrative, but it suits the story well and there are still lovely turns of phrase all over the place. I'm particularly enjoying the film noir atmosphere and the film references that accompany this; the second section is called 'Shadow World,' which is a very good description of the landscape of the novel.

Gamma Ray

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Re: why are you reading
« Reply #110 on: December 18, 2017, 10:01:33 PM »
Right now I'm reading The Big Midweek - Life Inside The Fall by Steve Hanley and Olivia Piekarski. This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me as I don't give a flying fuck about The Fall but someone on this forum recommended it and I saw that I could pick it up from the local library straightforward like so I did. I'm really enjoying it - it's engagingly written and regardless of what you think of The Fall they have a colourful history. I've only got to the part where Brix Smith joins but they've already supported Iggy Pop in a hotel lounge in California and The Clash in pre-gentrification New York. It reminded me that I have actually seen them live once,  a decade ago when they headlined the now defunct Ashton Court festival. They fuckin' rocked.

Again thanks to this forum the book I read before the one above was Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan. It caught my attention because Sullivan was mentioned as comparable in some ways to Hunter Thompson. I didn't initially get the comparison when I read the book but having finished it I'd wholeheartedly agree that Sullivan's journalism is some of the best that I've read. He's different from Thompson in that he covers aspects of the USA and it's history that don't generally attract the attention of the mainstream but similar in that he seems to have a keen sense of justice and humanity, values that the United States would like to believe they are exemplars of. It wasn't as funny as I was expecting it to be, but I think that this was because the humour came from a sincere attempt to understand and engage with the subjects. That's something that is almost totally lacking from modern journalism and was in my view the best thing about the book.

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #111 on: December 18, 2017, 10:10:30 PM »
I’M READING A BOOK ABOUT PAKIS ALRIGHT

Black Ship

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #112 on: December 20, 2017, 10:18:55 PM »
Found most of "a Series of Unfortunate Events" for 75p each in a charity shop. As soon as I get hold of the first book, I'll plough right through them.

imitationleather

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #113 on: December 20, 2017, 11:18:16 PM »
After seeing it mentioned in the Hangover Square thread, and because I've read that and remember it too well for a re-read, I'm currently going through On Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham. It's a big fucker of a book, isn't it? I'll let it off though as the author apologises for this at the beginning. About 150 pages in so far and enjoying it, it's zipping along at a pretty decent pace. Or maybe I'm just an incredibly quick reader.

Anyway, it's ages since I've read fiction and I am realising how much I've missed it. So nice to read a book that's not about pissing housing policy law.

Howj Begg

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #114 on: December 24, 2017, 09:14:09 PM »
Christ: a crisis in the life of God - by Jack Miles - suitably appropriate xmas reading
Philip K Dick - various stories - for the paranoia amongst my extended family tomorrow
Easy Riders and Raging Bulls

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #115 on: December 27, 2017, 08:44:40 PM »
I've just finished Do You Mind If I Smoke?, Fenella Fielding's recently published memoirs. It concentrates mainly on her career during the '50s and '60s, when she was a struggling young actress in the first decade and then made a name for herself in the second. Though I was surprised to find that she struggled in the late '70s/early '80s, and even had to sign on for a while. Thankfully, she was soon back on top form.

I always love reading about London in the '50s and '60s (and '70s, for that matter), and the fact that she not only worked in the West End but also lived in Central London for much of this time makes this a great book for anyone who's slightly obsessed with this era. It was intriguing to find out that she turned down the role of Cleopatra in 'Carry On Cleo' - that could have been interesting. Thankfully she said yes to the next Carry On she was offered, which gave her her most famous role, of course.

She doesn't say much about 'The Prisoner', but I guess she recorded all of her lines in a matter of a day or two, and was never actually on set. She does say that McGoohan was a lovely man, though, which I'm sure a lot of his other collaborators might not agree with! Norman Wisdom was an absolute fucking creep, apparently, thinking that a hand up the skirt is the way you should greet women. I always hated that annoying little cunt.

As with Brian Blessed's autobiography, you can imagine her saying every line in the book - in actual fact, it was recorded as an audiobook and then transcribed, so that's probably not too surprising. She was a great way with swearing - sparing and spot on with every utterance, with at least a couple of uses of 'fucking cheek'.

A cracking read.

Large Noise

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #116 on: December 28, 2017, 05:42:52 AM »
Also on a Philip K Dick kick- A Scanner Darkly. Didn't actually enjoy The Man in the High Castle all that much, but I've had this one recommended to me a couple of times, and I've seen references to it in other things that have intrigued me.

The Crying of Lot 49- About half way through this. It's only short but I find myself taking it quite slowly. Trying it to see whether I want to give other Pynchon a go. Jury's out.

Utopia for Realists- Got 40 or so pages of this to finish off. Quite enjoyable, but I heard a lot about how young and brilliant this guy was and it hasn't blown me away. Quite a lot of stuff I'd heard or seen elsewhere.

Read Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle yesterday. A good read for anyone who's extremely online like me. The sort of thing you can't imagine recommending to 95% of people because they won't know or care about any of the people or websites mentioned. It's very short (120 pages) and feels like it could easily be far longer if it included a more material analysis of the rise of the alt-right and tumblr-left, and more discussion of the way in which the technology in question leads to certain types of behaviour. The former is a criticism I've seen levelled at it elsewhere by way of denigrating Nagle and implying that she's not really a Marxist/left or whatever. It's true but it's also just... not what the book is. She focuses much more on the genealogy of the ideas that have fed into things like 4Chan culture, and the western culture has valued transgression for its own sake, even viewing it as almost inherently progressive. She sees the alt-right as a product of this; disillusioned young men unmoored from religion or genuine social conservatism, or any beliefs that would keep their lack of empathy and nihilism under wraps.

imitationleather

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #117 on: December 28, 2017, 03:47:57 PM »
Read Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle yesterday. A good read for anyone who's extremely online like me. The sort of thing you can't imagine recommending to 95% of people because they won't know or care about any of the people or websites mentioned. It's very short (120 pages) and feels like it could easily be far longer if it included a more material analysis of the rise of the alt-right and tumblr-left, and more discussion of the way in which the technology in question leads to certain types of behaviour. The former is a criticism I've seen levelled at it elsewhere by way of denigrating Nagle and implying that she's not really a Marxist/left or whatever. It's true but it's also just... not what the book is. She focuses much more on the genealogy of the ideas that have fed into things like 4Chan culture, and the western culture has valued transgression for its own sake, even viewing it as almost inherently progressive. She sees the alt-right as a product of this; disillusioned young men unmoored from religion or genuine social conservatism, or any beliefs that would keep their lack of empathy and nihilism under wraps.

My supervisor was reading this last time I saw him. I was like "Eh, that looks interesting" and have it on request from the library. True story.

Kishi the Bad Lampshade

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #118 on: December 28, 2017, 06:49:04 PM »
I've just finished Do You Mind If I Smoke?, Fenella Fielding's recently published memoirs. It concentrates mainly on her career during the '50s and '60s, when she was a struggling young actress in the first decade and then made a name for herself in the second. Though I was surprised to find that she struggled in the late '70s/early '80s, and even had to sign on for a while. Thankfully, she was soon back on top form.

I always love reading about London in the '50s and '60s (and '70s, for that matter), and the fact that she not only worked in the West End but also lived in Central London for much of this time makes this a great book for anyone who's slightly obsessed with this era. It was intriguing to find out that she turned down the role of Cleopatra in 'Carry On Cleo' - that could have been interesting. Thankfully she said yes to the next Carry On she was offered, which gave her her most famous role, of course.


Sounds good, might pick that up. The only thing with older artists' memoirs is I find them infuriating to read as a millenial, in terms of finances and opportunities. I almost threw out Patti Smith's 'Just Kids' for that reason - "oh yeah I just turned up in Manhattan with five dollars in my pocket, lived in a loft studio, and any time I needed a bit of extra cash I just picked up a shift in a tiny bookshop where lots of cool people hung out but I never had to do any actual work. And then when I got fed up of that, I'd just quit and pick up another one across the street." Gnnnnn.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #119 on: December 28, 2017, 08:22:13 PM »
Oh, I think you'd like this then, as she doesn't really do that. She worked bloody hard and really pushed herself when she needed to, and I also think that living in Central London relatively cheaply was still just about possible in those distant days. You certainly don't get the feeling that she was just waiting for opportunities to come along.