What are you reading at the moment?

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Thomas

What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:28 pm

I thought it might be worth a shot having a thread talking about the latest books we've been reading?

I just finished up an excellent book on celtic mythology (creatively called Celtic Myths And Legends) which was a lot of fun and made me want to dig up the Mabinogion again.

Then last night I decided to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde which I now officially adore. For some reason it was nothing like I thought it would be. I was expecting a Jane Eyre Victorian gothic with a young lady trapped and wooed by a mysteriously ever handsome young man in an isolated castle and at the end it's revealed that the Portrait mysteriously covered up is his source of power and she destroy it to kill him. That sort of thing.

It turned out to be a lot better, the picture giving Dorian Gray his unwithering use is established right at the start and the book is a study of an innocent boy being steadily corrupted by the dandyish and headonistic society that was popular then as he gets drawn further and further in to his fall. The whole thing is so dense with information too, every line is full of meaning. The villain who corrupts the boy speaks almost entirely in epigrams/witticisms (which was an interesting choice given Oscar Wilde's talent for them).

The other thing I like about it, is it seems so relatable. If I had a literal picture of my soul which showed to everyone the scars of every blemish and bad deed I've done in my life, I would be so paranoid about hiding it from everyone else, but at the same time I can imagine having the macabre curiosity of taking it out and looking with interest at the little scratches and taints each action caused.

Highly recommended is what I'm getting across.


And now I'm moving onto some of Oscar Wilde's short stories, I think he might become my favourite author if this continues. He's written a lot of my favourite fairy tales (which are surprisingly religious) and his short stories have got a lot of humour and wit. There's been one about a man whose told by a fortune teller that he'll murder someone and decides the most gentlemanly thing to do is to quickly murder someone and delay his engagement to his future wife until he can get the whole business sorted. And naturally it would be most impolite to bring a personal grudge into the matter, so he picks relations whose company he enjoys instead.

[EDITED because my introduction was a really stupid thing to say]
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Retsam

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Retsam » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:00 pm

A forum post. Oh, I suppose you mean in a more general sense of "at the moment".

I'm on book four of the Eragon series. When I tell people I'm reading that series, I tend to get reactions anywhere from "I love that series" to, "go die in a hole". (With perhaps some minor exaggeration on the latter) But, yeah, I think they're generally pretty great books. And by, generally, I mean, "except for Book 2", which I enjoyed, but I think I have more tolerance for lengthy descriptions of political machinations and magic mechanics than most.
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:08 pm

I thought the magic mechanics of Eragon were one of the more standout features of the books. It's nice to get that much detail about something and it allowed some insight into how good people were at magic and how they improved beyond 'he is stronger now'. I heard the later books retconned some of the more obvious plot twists from the 2nd too so I've always been a little curious about reading them (not enough admittedly to go out and buy the 3rd/4th books but I'd happily read them if the opportunity presents itself)
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swenson
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby swenson » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:44 pm

I just finished Digital Divide, a novel set in the universe of the webcomic A Girl and Her Fed. As I love the webcomic, I was pretty sure I'd like the novel as well, and I was certainly not disappointed. And my infatuation with Josh continues to increase.
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anaphysik
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby anaphysik » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:36 am

Thomas wrote:headonistic society
head-on-a-stick

On topic: 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. Although the 19th-cent adventure story I was working on is certainly inspired by Verne, it was in more of a general pop-cultural sense - just taking the tone and general feel from those works, not any specifics. But now that I'm reading it, it's actually kind of amazing how many little things the works (coincidentally) share.
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:17 am

I'm not even going to edit that correct =D It's not like I don't know how to spell the word, but the typed letters bear little relationship to the letters in my head. At least I didn't do the thing where I just replace a word with another one that rhymes with it this time.
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X2Eliah
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby X2Eliah » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:59 am

Hm. I actually use goodreads for this purpose, to keep trackof what I've read and see what others are reading.

Right now, I've finished reading two of Brandon Sanderson's standalone novels (Elantris & Warbreaker), both are very interesting. If you want very well-defined, uncommon magic systems and good writing, Sanderson is *the* go-to writer.

At the moment, though, I'm reading McClennan's 'Promise of Blood'. Also an interesting magic system here, based around gunpowder (in fact, it is very much gunpowder mages vs. arcane sorcerers as far as the magic system goes). A bit dark-themed, but interesting so far.

And... yeah. Lately I've gone a bit off sci-fi and want more fantasy works to read through.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:04 am

Just finished the second rama.Boy,it took me much longer than expected.But that book just....dragged on.Read the synopsis for 3 and 4 and....These three again?Against mobs?I dont want to read this.

Anyway,I was gifted the red pyramid so Ill start that now.

Also,Im thinking about getting the second amber chronicles set because I liked the first one so much.But seeing how my last trip into sequel land went,Id prefer having some more input on the quality first.How is the merlin cycle compared to the corwin cycle?
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McNutcase
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby McNutcase » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:06 am

I've been on a non-fiction binge lately. Currently a chunk of the way through Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky. Before that, it was America's Constitution: A Biography, by Akhil Reed Amar, and Justinian's Flea by William Rosen.
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Lachlan the Mad
Location: I come from the land down under, where women blow and men chunder

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Lachlan the Mad » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:44 pm

Retsam wrote:A forum post. Oh, I suppose you mean in a more general sense of "at the moment".

I'm on book four of the Eragon series. When I tell people I'm reading that series, I tend to get reactions anywhere from "I love that series" to, "go die in a hole". (With perhaps some minor exaggeration on the latter) But, yeah, I think they're generally pretty great books. And by, generally, I mean, "except for Book 2", which I enjoyed, but I think I have more tolerance for lengthy descriptions of political machinations and magic mechanics than most.

I was disappointed by that book. It wasn't bad, but it played the Joseph Campbell Hero's Journey much too straight. I was expecting the last book to be a bit subversive, but it was really all extremely predicable.

Anyway, I'm currently reading The Urth of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe, which is the coda to his Book of the New Sun series. I really highly recommend this series, but it will give you nightmares.
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McNutcase
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby McNutcase » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:55 pm

Just picked up Chris Kluwe's Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, and I'm loving it.
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Kavonde
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Kavonde » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:25 pm

Retsam wrote:A forum post. Oh, I suppose you mean in a more general sense of "at the moment".

I'm on book four of the Eragon series. When I tell people I'm reading that series, I tend to get reactions anywhere from "I love that series" to, "go die in a hole". (With perhaps some minor exaggeration on the latter) But, yeah, I think they're generally pretty great books. And by, generally, I mean, "except for Book 2", which I enjoyed, but I think I have more tolerance for lengthy descriptions of political machinations and magic mechanics than most.


I'm not going to advise you to die, in a hole or elsewhere, but I've got to admit that I don't understand how anyone can actually, unironically enjoy that series. The many, many problems of the first book can generally be excused due to Paolini's age and lack of editorial oversight; his parents published it through their own company, after all. But there's no such excuse for the second or third books.

I have a great deal of respect for the strength of Paolini's imagination; it takes a lot of it to spend multiple paragraphs describing a single, unimportant thing or event. But man, his weird fixations and his insistence that Eragon is a heroic character and not a whiny, obnoxious sociopath get old quick. The only character in the series I really like is Roran, and he's a nutjob, too, though at least he has good reason for it and it's acknowledged by the narration.

I need to try to get back to reading the fourth book. (Yes, despite my dislike of them, I kept reading them out of morbid fascination.). I tried to liveblog my attempt to read it a couple of years ago; but I only made it a hundred or so pages in.

Oh, right, on-topic. Not reading much, due to school, but I have been listening to the audiobook version of Game of Thrones. It's good stuff, odd pronunciations aside.
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X2Eliah
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby X2Eliah » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:54 pm

On the note of the Eragon novels.. Eh. Read them, enjoyed them for what they were, would not read again. It's basically schlock, a cliche-derived story with stereotypical 1D characters and mildly interesting, if entirely predictable, story. Have read worse works (usually by accident), but considering the vast scope of fantasy - even in the subset of epic tolkienesque dragonmagic fantasy - there's just so much better stuff all over, I don't quite see why Eragon novels get so much, well, exposure and free passes.
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:19 pm

They're very readable though, they like the Tom Clancy novels of fantasy or something. (And the magic system really is good). Not particularly challenging but despite and partly because of that you can get through them surprisingly fast and they hit the obvious but right notes.

The worst part is definitely the name. Dragon with the first letter shifted one is not a proper title =D (Also didn't they set up a pattern and then horribly destroy it with book 4? Every title was a 6 letter word beginning with e and then they go and name book for Bringsingr or something similar?) =D
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anaphysik
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby anaphysik » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:26 pm

Thomas wrote:The worst part is definitely the name. Dragon with the first letter shifted one is not a proper title =D (Also didn't they set up a pattern and then horribly destroy it with book 4? Every title was a 6 letter word beginning with e and then they go and name book for Bringsingr or something similar?) =D
Wikipedia wrote: * Eragon (2002)
* Eldest (2005)
* Brisingr (2008)
* Inheritance (2011)
Two points always make a straight trendline <_<

(I've never read or cared about the books, though I do recall hearing that the sci-fi/fantasy club at my high-school (some time after I left) liberally annotated a copy of the book, such that it was nearly drenched in red ink. Exetera might be able to comment on that.)
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:47 pm

Are there you go, I was friends with a fan when everyone was waiting for the third book to come out then (I thought it was the first) and everyone was talking about the rumours of the possible game. I think it was meant to be a trilogy at the time? So when you had a trilogy where the first two books were Eragon and Eldest expecting the third to be a 6 letter E word wasn't unreasonable. (Empire was the popular choice I think)
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swenson
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby swenson » Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:56 am

It was going to be a trilogy, it was originally going to be 6-letter names starting with E (as I recall, the smart money was on "Empire"). Brisingr showed up only when it became clear to CP that it was too much for one book.

I was a big fan of the books back in middle and high school, but I just got sort of meh toward them in the end. I don't think I dislike them, exactly, it's more that when I was younger, I didn't see the flaws that I now realize were there all the time, and while there's nothing wrong with a fun, somewhat cheesy fantasy series, it was hard to go back to once I realized it wasn't what I'd thought it was.

I retain ludicrous amounts of trivia from those days, though. I was pretty active on a fanfic site, even (although I must confess I mostly spent my time writing fixfics :)).
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:01 am

I find it a little scary that my friend in school who was the big fan of Eragon is getting married this week =d

And actually I've got very fond memories of my actual physical book of Eragon, even if the series doesn't overwhelm me, because it was the first real present from my younger sisters (you know after they go through the handcrafts and parent bought stuff)
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X2Eliah
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby X2Eliah » Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:59 am

Sorry, but Eragon's magic system is NOT clever nor advanced. Sure, it is more indepth than what we get in lord of the rings, for example, but again - it pales into nothingness compared to what Sanderson created for his novels.
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Lachlan the Mad
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Lachlan the Mad » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:21 am

X2Eliah wrote:Sorry, but Eragon's magic system is NOT clever nor advanced. Sure, it is more indepth than what we get in lord of the rings, for example, but again - it pales into nothingness compared to what Sanderson created for his novels.

I'm in this box, although I was thinking more of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series. Actually, some parts of the Eragon series (especially the big bad's master plan) is a lot like Earthsea. Still, Earthsea is probably Le Guin's worst book, so I'm willing to let that slide.
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Retsam

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Retsam » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:13 pm

IIRC, the title of "Empire" for the 3rd book was thrown out because of the existence of another book by the same name even before the trilogy creep.

X2Eliah wrote:Sorry, but Eragon's magic system is NOT clever nor advanced. Sure, it is more indepth than what we get in lord of the rings, for example, but again - it pales into nothingness compared to what Sanderson created for his novels.

A comparison to Sanderson isn't really all that fair. -Most- fantasy magic systems pale in comparison to what Sanderson does. And not to turn argument into mere contradiction, but I think the Eragon magic system is fairly clever and interesting.

I was disappointed by that book. It wasn't bad, but it played the Joseph Campbell Hero's Journey much too straight.

Joseph Campbell clearly ripped off George Lucas. I mean, come on, his Hero's Journey is just the plot of Star Wars set in slightly more general terms.

-----

And, I do think that Eragon deserves some slack for being the Young Adult novel. Yes, characters and plots are a little one-dimensional and straightforward, but that's not always a bad thing, especially when we're talking about Young Adult literature.
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:03 pm

I just finished reading the Moonstone which is terribly colonial =D Involving 'Hindoo-Boodhists' attempting to recover through theft a giant jewel pillaged from their temple and brought to Britain. And of course people who possess the diamond are thought to have bad luck brought on them etc.

It's interesting that opinions on heroine have changed so much that in the 1850's a Doctor might slip someone some heroine in their drink as a practical joke and this is probably the only detective story I've ever read whose climax involved doping the protagonist with opium on the scene of the crime in order that he might subconsciously repeat his actions and reveal the truth, ala Beerfest
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swenson
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby swenson » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:50 pm

Rereading A Song of Ice and Fire, in the middle of A Storm of Swords at the moment, just after the first wedding. (Well, second, but first on-screen one.)
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CraigM

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby CraigM » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:53 pm

I just finished The Long Fuse: How England Lost the American Colonies 1760-1785. As you can probably tell it's about the Revolutionary War, but told from the British perspective. It also isn't about the war per se, Washington, Clinton, Howe are footnotes mostly. It focuses mostly on the political trials and failings. King George and how his hubris doomed the British effort, Lord North and his ineffectual leadership, Benjamin Franklin and his efforts, William Penn, etc. It's fantastic, and gives a great insight into why the war happened in the first place.

Along the same notes The Federalist Papers. This is really a must read for any American looking for insight into our political system. It's almost prescient at times in projecting how the system could become dysfunctional. Read it, I insist.

In fiction:
I Robot
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
the Game of Thrones series, currently on Storm of Swords. No I hadn't read them before. No I haven't seen the show. Yes I know...
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Stranger in a Strange Land
Starship Troopers


I might read a lot...
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Nalyd

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Nalyd » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:28 pm

The Ocean at the End of the Lane. . . <3

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