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What are you Reading Now?

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

  1. I can only think of non-fiction that has affected me in that way, really.

    Meanwhile almost every book i've tried to read lately has included or discussed some kind of sexual violence. Why??
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    As always: Moomins for the win!
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Choose other books. :) It's one of several reasons why I have a list of "the classics" to read. Seriously, there is so much good literature out there, why waste time on the 70% that's crap?
  4. But which ones are the other books? :O It's hard for me to tell before reading what is good and what is not. Classics are for me often as hit-or-miss as any book. I haven't been able to find a clear pattern for what books are good and what are bad other than figuring out in somewhat of a better way what books I am likely to enjoy. I won't read a book just because a lot of people like it or even because it is good in the views of many people; there has to be something there that appeals to me or i know that i'll spend three months trying to read it. Still, please do share the list lol :)

    You'd think information on whether a book includes sexual assault would be easier to find given how triggering that is to so many people. I enjoy the most messed-up and horrific stuff in a fantasy situation, but I find any kind of realistic abuse upsetting. Go figure.

    Meanwhile my library is terrible. I've looked for a lot of books that have been recommended to me on here, but they're either not there or the first books in the series are perpetually checked out. It's a pathetically tiny library that services a decently sized city.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Do you buy ebooks? That's just about all I get these days. Most classics can be had there, for cheap or even free. Have you looked at the Internet Archive? It has acres of books, including the entire Gutenberg Library, a marvelous project of the early Internet. In short, you can get a ton of books electronically for free to cheap. Enough to keep you reading for years.

    Yeah, it really is hit or miss. Gradually one learns one's own taste. This takes longer than a person might think, principally because every person changes over the years. What appealed once upon a time no longer appeals, and so forth.

    The best thing I ever did for my reading was to start a list. It's in a spreadsheet, but use the software of your choice. Heck, you can even use 3x5 cards. I did a search. Best science fiction books of all time. Best fantasy books of all time. Those were my first search strings. Then I branched out and found lists of great literature, supplemented by Pulitzer prize books.

    In each case, I was picky. Some I'd already read. Some I just knew wasn't for me (e.g., classic romance novels). Some were too old (I'm simply not going to read Pilgrim's Progress). So it wasn't like I accepted everything blindly. Once I had a master list, I noted which I'd read, which I wanted to read, and which were simply on the list. Yeah, I could do that in Goodreads, but the interface there is too clumsy.

    I have three grown children, so one of the things I can do is extract all my wanna reads. I tell my kids, if they can't think of anything to buy me for birthday or Christmas, buy me a (physical) book. Inscribe it with the year and a note. This has been great, as I now have a whole shelf of books from my kids. Very eclectic (the books and the kids).

    Anyways. I add to the list from time to time, as I run across something that looks like a candidate. I've probably got eighty to a hundred books to be read. I read maybe twenty a year. Maybe ten a year get added. I'll never get through it all, and that's okay. Because of that list, I've read some stuff I absolutely know I would never have read, and which I am absolutely grateful I did read. Sure, I've also DNF'd a few, and finished a bare handful that I didn't actually like. But it's an approach. Oh, and I also have a column for notes. I don't write up a review or anything, but if there's something really important about one of the books I've read, I'll make an entry. So the whole spreadsheet is sort of a commentary on my reading life. The historian in me likes that.
    DragonOfTheAerie likes this.
  6. So far ebooks have been not for me; something bothers me about reading on a screen :( The Gutenberg Project is great.

    To be completely honest, when you're my age, you don't want to touch any of the classics, because you're just out of high school and have been made to write far more reports and essays and stuff than is humane on books you are forced to overanalyze beyond any potential of enjoyment. I feel I would have liked some books if I hadn't had to perform such an excess of literary analysis.

    I think i've been avoiding lists like "books everyone should read" or anything like that because I really don't want to get stuck out of a feeling of obligation.

    I have read 29 books this year so far and expect to get to about 40 in total. Some people read 1 or 2 hundred a year. It's intimidating.
  7. When i was about 15 i read a lot of books because I felt like I ought to or to seem/feel smart. I also felt obligated to like them more than I actually did. I don't really have good reasons for why i dislike some very revered books. To Kill a Mockingbird, Pulitzer Prize winner or no, was not my cup of tea at all. IIRC it took me months to finish. I wasn't able to finish The Three Musketeers at all.
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I had a hard time with Dumas, too. Once you go back far enough, language becomes an issue.

    I was, fortunately, a terrible student in high school. I have no recollection of reading anything outside of A Tale of Two Cities in eighth grade. IMO, it's bone stupid to have kids read stuff like that. It's meant for grownups, and kids can smell "it's medicine, take it, it's good for you" a mile away.

    Also fortunately, I was busy reading Bradbury and Clark and Asimov and Le Guin and Norton and Tolkien and Verne and Wells and Lovecraft and so on and on. And once I'd got loose from public school, I stumbled onto Tolstoy's War and Peace. From there I went to Dostoevsky and had a solid year or more of Russian stuff. That's when I learned there was more to reading than just SF. Because I encountered them on my own terms, there was room for me to like them or not like them (never took a shine to Turgenev). I think it wasn't until I was in my thirties before I discovered Chandler and Hammett, and from then on I was pretty much open to anything.
  9. School programs assign books based on reading level rather than the kids' ability to comprehend the themes and ideas. I was compelled to read many books as a middle/elementary schooler with protagonists much older than me. In the fourth grade I was reading about the romantic dalliances of a half dozen young teenagers in colonial America. I wouldn't have loathed the books had they had feelings and concerns I could relate to at the time, but I was too young regardless of my ability to read the words.

    I really have to make my way to Lovecraft soon.
  10. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I was a bad reading student. I almost always never read assignments but just picked up on the discussion in class and could ask general enough questions or make broad observations that fooled my teachers, hah. I did read a Shakespeare play once, Julius Caesar. And loved it. Our high school even had a science fiction/fantasy reading class, and I did the same thing in that class, although I'd read other novels on the side on my own. I may have read one or two of those assignments, but I can't remember them now.

    Weird thing is, during elementary school I enjoyed reading biographies of famous people that I'd check out of the library. When I was 8 and 9. I even read an abridged version of Oliver Twist that I loved. But later in my schooling, I wasn't very interested in the classics.
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    That’s has been on my list to read forever.
  12. In my senior year of high school i didn't finish a lot of the reading for english. Still got like a 99 in the class lmao.
  13. Some of the lists i'm looking at have things i've never heard of. That's nice.
  14. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    I know what you mean about finding books without sexual violence! Or even just without graphic sexuality. I'm 36 but I really, really don't want to read that stuff. It makes me uncomfortable or even sick to my stomach. But it's NOT easy to just find books without it. Movies have a ratings system with warning for sex and violence. But books have nothing. Too many times have I been reading a book marketed only as a fantasy novel to then come across scenes of graphic sex peppered throughout and nothing to indicate it before you get to it. It seems that the whole industry just assumes "sex sells" and therefore everything should have sex and if you don't want sex go read the kiddie lit, you prude.

    But like skip, I tend to take refuge in the classics. Though I believe when we say "classics" we do not mean the kind they teach in college lit classes. We mean genre classics. Genre books published decades (even centuries) ago that have stood the test of time because they are so good that fans keep recommending them to new readers and making new fans. There are so many great classics. You could probably spend your lifetime reading all the excellent books that were written before you were born.

    Speaking of classics, I've been reading a collection of short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin called The Wind's Twelve Quarters. This collection has a special place in my heart because it contains the short story that really set off my desire to start reading fantasy when I found it in the back of my 9th grade English book in high school. I've read the collection before but back then it was out of print and I had to obtain it through the library lending system. I was so happy to see it on kindle the other day I had to buy it and reread it right away.
  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    And here's another argument in favor of the classics, regardless of genre. Sturgeon's Law.

    70% of everything is crap. We start there. Over time, the stuff that's crap tends not to be reprinted, tends not to be "discovered" by a later generation, and generally tends to disappear. For every 19thc or 20thc classic you can name, I can dig out a baker's dozen novels that are trivial or outright bad. Every century, every decade produces mountains of genuinely bad literature along with more mountains of mere puff.

    When we deal with current literature, we're dealing with books that have yet to be winnowed. So of course we're going to encounter a good deal more of what lies in the 70% than what lies in the 30%. If you want a higher signal-to-noise ratio, turn to the classics. You're not going to like them all, but the odds will be better. It's basic literary math!
  16. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    I still have not finished (or even touched) the dragonbone chair, but I finished steven fry's Mythos a few minutes ago. It's quite a well written and highly accessible look into greek mythology. At times the writing is a bit too snarky and non-fantastic for the subject matter, but those times are far and wide between. Now I think I'll continue frankopan's silk roads, another book I put on hiatus without much reason.
  17. I keep looking for Le Guin's stuff at the library, but her books are always checked out.

    I've read a lot of sex scenes in books lately that seem to be presented in the most passionless, clinical manner possible. Only serves to make reading them even more uncomfortable.
  18. Solid logic. Isn't Sturgeon's law 90% rather than 70% though?
  19. I spent the morning reading The Black Tides of Heaven (the first Tensorate novel) and found it to be pretty good. Not amazing, but solid. I think it suffered from being too short. A little more development of...well, everything...wouldn't have hurt.
  20. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I've seen both, but the closest to the original--told by another SF writer whose name now escapes me--was that it was 70%. I'm inclined to believe the lower number, since the entire human race seems inclined toward inflation.

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