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What are you Reading Now?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Mythopoet, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I'm just getting over about 3 weeks of sickness during which I reread 3 Discworld books.

    Now that my mind is functioning better again I've started a couple more books from my Master Fantasy List. Phantasmion by Sara Coleridge and The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton.

    The first is from 1837 and is one of those transitional works between the straight up fairy tale and the fantasy novel. I have a feeling most people would find it dreadfully traditional, but I think it has a great deal of beauty.

    The second is a retelling of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, the classic of Welsh Mythology. Though unlike the type of "retellings" you generally find today where the story is quite different and merely has some of the trappings of the original, this seems to be exactly the same story as the original but with more of the plot, characterization and such that we moderns are used to in our novels. What I have is actually an omnibus of four different novels, each covering a different Branch. I'm reading the first book, Prince of Annwn, which concerns Pwyll Prince of Dyved and Arawn King in Annwn. I'm a mythology buff so I'm naturally enjoying it.
     
  2. BrokenFiction

    BrokenFiction Acolyte

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    So many things - right now at the top of my stack are Diana Wynne Jones "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland" which I've always meant to read, but never got around to it. It is just fantastic about skewering tropes left and right. What a great book and a wonderful writer she was (just finished Howl's Moving Castle/Castle in the Air/House of Many Ways too and they are amazing, amazing reads).

    Also just started on Catherynne M Valente's "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" - been meaning to read it for a while and it finally made it to the top of the stack. I'm on a YA kick lately I guess. :)
     
  3. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    Finished Erasure by Percival Everett and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind. Still reading I, Claudius. It's good so far, but I keep setting it aside for other things. Must finish!
     
  4. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    I'm currently reading Royal Assassin (Book 2 of The Farseesr Trilogy by Robin Hobb) and I'm quite enjoying it.
     
  5. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    I was going to read the Mabinogion Tetralody at one point but that misspelling of Dyfed seriously put me off. I take it they changed the f to a v for phonetic reasons even though there is actually no v in the Welsh alphabet.
     
  6. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I see where you're coming from, though it doesn't bother me much. Currently I'm stalled in the second branch of the Mabinogion Tetralogy (The Children of Llyr) because it's just so boring. The first branch (Prince of Annwn) was all right. But definitely plodding in some areas. The first part with Arawn was pretty good but the second part with Rhiannon made Pwyll seem like an oaf who needed Rhiannon to do all his thinking for him. If I was her I would have had serious second thoughts about marrying the idiot. A lot of people praise Evangeline Walton's prose, but I find it average. Normally when I'm reading a book and I come across a bit of prose I find particularly beautiful I'll highlight it. I haven't highlighted anything in these yet. I'm beginning to wonder if a straight fleshing out (as opposed to a retelling) of an old myth is a good idea at all.

    I've also read Stardust by Neil Gaiman and enjoyed it thoroughly.

    I reread a trilogy of I guess they could be called Urban Fantasy novels by L. Jagi Lamplighter called the Prospero's Daughter trilogy. It centers around the characters of Prospero from Shakespeare's The Tempest as the Patriarch of a large family (2 daughters, including Miranda, and 7 sons) who serve as the guardians of humanity against the supernatural world. They have immortality by drinking the Water of Life every year and they are responsible for binding and controlling through oaths and various machinations all the supernatural creatures that wreaked havoc on the natural world. This enabled humanity to stop relying on magic and ushered in the scientific revolution. But now Prospero has disappeared and there are various infernal forces attacking the Prospero family and looking to undo their work. The books center around Miranda and her search for her father and efforts to protect her family and preserve the accomplishments of humanity. There are angels and demons and elves and spirits. The family Prospero is very clearly inspired by the family of Oberon in Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. They are all really interesting characters filled with flaws but also virtues and their relationships are what make these books really wonderful. I was surprised, since I was rereading them, by how engrossed I became in the story. It was better the second time around and I could barely put any of them down.

    I also read The Night Land: A Story Retold. Now, here's where I confess that though I have often read old works of literature without a problem, the archaic writing style of William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land was too dense for me. It was like trying to wade through a bog. Then I discovered James Stoddard's retelling of the novel, which is not really a retelling as much as an update for modern readers. He went, he says, to great pains to maintain Hodgson's story and even Hodgson's words as much as possible. He did add dialogue (there is none in the original, it is entirely exposition from a first person narrator) and named the main character (who never reveals his name in the original and is commonly called X by readers) and added some prose to make the story flow better. But I could tell that this was a real work of love that Stoddard did because he wanted more readers to be able to enjoy Hodgson's story as much as he did. I respect that.

    And... I LOVED it. It was amazing and awe inspiring and captivating beyond words. The vision that the story presents of earth and humanity in the far, far distant future when the sun is dead and the world is dark is fascinating. And yet despite the vast, alien world, the story focuses on X (or Andros in this version) and his suicidal quest to save the woman he has loved across time (for he is something like a reincarnation of a man from the time the book was written) making it personal and filled with powerful emotion. I cried at the end tears of grief and tears of joy. It was such a moving story. I really think anyone who writes speculative fiction should read it. It's one of my all time favorites now.
     
  7. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    Reading these...


    Time Reborn by Lee Smolin. Smolin puts forth the idea that time is in fact real, and that the laws of the universe evolved over time. It is a discussion of the ideas of physics without the math, so even people like me who never got around to taking Cal 2 can follow along.

    Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe: Lee Smolin, Henry Reich: 9780547511726: Amazon.com: Books

    I also picked up two anthologies of short stories, edited by John Joseph Adams

    The Way of the Wizard

    http://www.amazon.ca/The-Wizard-John-Joseph-Adams/dp/1607012324




    Wastelands

    http://www.amazon.ca/Wastelands-John-Joseph-Adams/dp/1597801054

    For the 3rd time, also reading A Writer's Time, by Kenneth Atchity (maybe this time I'll take on the discipline...)

    A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write: Kenneth Atchity: 9780393312638: Amazon.com: Books

     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    The Solitary House, by Lynn Shepherd (a Victorian murder mystery).

    Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie and The Leviathan Wakes, by James Corey (both science fiction).
     
  9. Smith

    Smith Minstrel

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    I found the 'what are you reading' thread!

    Unfortunately, I am an enormous procrastinator of the worst kind, and an extremely slow reader, so my goodreads presently has seven books listed as 'currently reading'.

    Only two of them are active, those being The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (primarily upon recommendation from here, actually) and Red Seas Under Red Skies, a sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Abercrombie writes vivid characters, and I find him easy to follow and immensely entertaining. Lynch, I'm sure you love your world, and I do too (as a fantasy writer, I even understand), but can you please lay off the description for a while? I get that it is impressive and intricate, but I want to know what your characters are doing. Thanks. I don't remember Lies being this description-heavy, though it did have its moments. Otherwise, I'm enjoying the plot. The wrap-up of Lies didn't completely satisfy me, but it was still a strong story, so I'll be happy if this one comes together as well as that. Pirates are a bonus, if we ever get to them; I'm a third of the way through and pirates have only just been mentioned.

    These three I would consider 'on hold', because I can only really read so much at once: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is a YA horror novel about monster hunters, one of my favourite subjects. I'm sure everyone knows Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, which is good, but I think will require more of my attention. What little I've enjoyed of Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove makes it one of the best books I've ever read, but again, I think I will need to devote myself to it wholly, so I'm waiting until I have a chance to do so.

    As for the last two, I'm not sure if or when I will pick them back up again. I would like to finish The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, but I feel nothing for the protagonist and I was about to become stuck with him for a bit, so I just put it down and didn't pick it back up. John Dies At The End, by David Wong, on the other hand, was monstrously entertaining, but I put it somewhere on my shelf and by the time I found it again I'd forgotten half of what happened.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Currently reading
    H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian
    Goedel, Escher, Back: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Richard Hofstadter (definitely not fantasy!)
    Robert Mitchum, "Baby I Just Don't Care" (a biography)
    and The Third Man, by Graham Greene

    The Hofstadter book is difficult but brilliant, a book about intelligence both human and artificial.
    The O'Brian book is Aubry and Maturin. It took me a while to warm up to this series, but I'm really liking it now.
    The Mitchum book is good. The writing is ham-handed, but the stories are great.
    And the Third Man? It's Graham Greene, one of the 20th century's great novelists. Always worth my time.

    The only fantasy I'm reading right now is my subscription to Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine. Too many disappointments over the past year, especially Abercrombie, Sanderson and Salvatore, each of whom were supposed to be good.
     
  11. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    That's why I mostly stick to older fantasy. ;)
     
  12. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    Interesting selection

    I read "I Am a Strange Loop" by Hofstadter and I've been meaning to read Goedel, Escher, Bach... it's a dense read.

    I am mostly reading short sf/fantasy fiction now. I find most of what is on the shelf to be depressingly unreadable. I am interested in checking out The Lies of Locke Lamore.
     
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Or older literature, period. I'm finding I'd rather read great stuff that is out of genre than read mediocre fantasy.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'd rather read something good out of genre as well. Right now I'm reading classics, a Victorian mystery, and some science fiction. I disagree about what makes good fantasy though, apparently, because I've read everything Abercrombie has written and thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

    Sanderson I'm not a fan of, and Salvatore writes gaming fiction. His early work in that subgenre is decent if you don't mind reading gaming fiction, but his more recent work seems like he's just phoning it in.
     
  15. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    I go back to the classics often. I started The Brothers Karamazov but I lost my interest, it is very long and I'm not sure if anything is happening in the story! I recently re-read The Grapes of Wrath, I love what Steinbeck does with language in that one. Weird ending for sure o_O

    I feel like I should like Guy Gavriel Kay, one because it is fantasy, two because he is also Canadian, and three because he sells well, but I keep losing interest. I've started and restarted The Last Light of the Sun, and it is well written but I can't seem to get hooked. I read Tigana a long time ago, and I think I finished it, but I can't remember any of it.

    I read two writing books recently:

    Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, which combines my interest in brain science with writing... it is entertaining. I find it useful to read these books while thinking about something I am working on.

    The other one, I haven't finished but I intend to is Plot by Ansen Dibell, in the Elements of Writing Fiction series. I find it an enjoyable read.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    What, you don't like Dostoevsky OR Guy Gavriel Kay?

    Well...I never!

    Those are two of my favorite authors :D
     
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Speaking about reading out of the fantasy genre, I feel I've really enjoyed the books I read that weren't fantasy recently. I'm reading The Name of the Wind right now, and after that, I may read several non-fantasy books again. It's not that I'm burned out on fantasy, I just like that change of pace now and again. I think I'll read one fantasy book and one non-fantasy book from now on. Alternate that way so I don't get burned out on reading similar kinds of fiction. Sometimes when I look at my TBR pile I think, "I want to read that, but I'm not in the mood for it right now." I'm finding that with a lot of fantasy at the moment. While when I read a western and Neuromancer I breezed through those.
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Have a SF month for the book club. You'd like either The Leviathan Wakes or Ancillary Justice, I suspect.
     
  19. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I was thinking about that actually. Maybe having a non-fantasy month, where the books pitched could be SF, horror, etc. Maybe in June would be good? I'll pitch the idea later on and see if there's any interest. I've heard good things about both of those you mentioned.
     
  20. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I just finished reading The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. It's more of a middle grade fantasy book and one of the first "Tolkien imitators" published after the success of LOTR. The interesting thing is how many very Tolkien-esque elements it has (a flight through a system of mines from goblin-like creatures, a golden haired lady with supernatural powers who gifts them with magical cloaks, etc.) and yet the similarities did not diminish the enjoyment of the story and overall it felt not like an imitation at all for it had it's own style and substance.

    I've also been reading some of the Zothique stories of Clark Ashton Smith. I'd read some of his other stories before (I have a collection of all his stories) but wanted to read the Zothique ones as they are the most well known and praised. So far I've read Empire of the Necromancers, The Isle of the Torturers, The Charnel God and The Dark Eidolon. I'm not really sure what I think. Smith has some interesting ideas, but I don't really like his style. I don't think his writing is nearly as good as Robert E. Howard's or H.P. Lovecraft's. Howard's tales had the benefit of a recurring main character that the reader could root for, where Smith's stories, even the ones united by a general setting, very much stand alone and tend to be far too impersonal for me to feel anything about them. Lovecraft developed his ideas far more elegantly than Smith does and has a much stronger narrative voice. I guess I'm just not really a Smith fan.
     
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