Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Hawki

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The Coddling of the American Mind (4/5)

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware of the insanity that's swept a number of US campuses over the last 5-10 years, and some campuses outside the country. If you're wondering why, read this book. Or don't, and take my word for it that it's a good read, and delves into the phenomena, with everything from firsthand accounts of specific incidents to empirical data on trends. Stuff that made me both burst out laughing at the absurdity of some of these situations, to kind of chilling accounts of other situations.

Only real flaw the book has is that it at times comes off as a promotion for CBT - cognitive behavioural therapy. That might have been fine, if that was the book's selling point, but it isn't. All in all, this book is worth the read.
 

Hawki

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The Coal Curse: Resources, Climate, and Australia's Future (3/5)

Borrowed this from the library, and I'm glad I did, because it wasn't the book I was expecting.

This isn't a slight against the work mind you, it's just that it focuses more on the economic side of things rather than the science/climate side. Let's just say I'm more interested in the latter rather than the former. Granted, on the issue of climate change, you can't really separate the two. The reason the world relies on coal so much is that it's an energy dense fuel. It's just that it has the unfortunate side effects of, y'know, heating up the planet. Still, the book did give me some insights, and that's the idea of Australia having its own form of a resource curse. Now, whether the resource curse is actually a thing is a matter of debate, but regardless, it does highlight just how much the country relies on coal as an export. For instance, if you only include direct emissions, Australia accounts for 1.3% of global CO2 emissions (which is still higher than a lot of countries). However, if you include coal exports, our footprint goes to 3%. There's debate as to how to correctly 'account' for CO2 in this regard, but it does shine a spotlight on the issue. How there's a lack of diverse industry in the country, how the Nationals have sided with coal interests over agricultural ones, how very few people are actually employed by the coal industry, but it punches above its weight in terms of revenue...yeah.

Don't get me wrong, the whole world needs to get off coal, but the book does a good job of highlighting how, at least in Australia, it's hard to do. If you're selling black gold, wouldn't you think twice about stopping that, even if you knew the costs it incurred?
 

Hawki

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Can I Touch Your Hair? (3/5)

This was a children's book, but hey, read it because I had nothing better to do. It's basically a collection of poems by a white girl and a black boy (in-universe, the actual writers are adults) who "bridge the racial divide" as they reflect on their different life experiences. Well, you know where this is going.

Actually, to be fair, the work's more nuanced than one might expect, since it demonstrates that there's no shortage of assholes regardless of skin colour, and both characters are dealing with colourism (e.g. black boy wishes he was white, white girl wishes she was black and intentionally gets sunburnt) Of course, being the cynical bastard that I am, I have to wonder how the two characters somehow made it to fifth grade without ever talking to each other once. Maybe they were plumped in class together and this is their first year, but there's no suggestion of that. Also, apparently them talking together causes people to stare at them at the end, and...did I mention this is an American book? Like, this isn't a criticism, but it does mean that I was missing out on a lot of cultural context. Like, when a character is chastised for not knowing what the Black Belt was, I admittedly didn't know either.

Anyway, I can't dislike this book. It's got its heart in the right place, and manages to walk the tightrope between acknowledging difference and making difference the core of identity. But what I want to know is what kind of fifth graders spend all their time writing dozens of poems instead of doing the bare minimum their assignment entails. 0_0
 

Hawki

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StarCraft: Operation Blind Devil (3/5)

OBD is the third and final of the SC2 anniversary short stories, and it ranks in the middle - above One People, One Purpose, but below Waking Dreams. In terms of sheer enjoyment, it's actually my least favourite, but what elevates it is its content. As in, telling a large portion of the story through a zergling's POV, and using non-chronological storytelling (I'm not talking about flashbacks, just overall structure), and making it work...overall.

TBH, there's only so much you can do through a zergling's POV, and the writing often gets repetitive. But it does work, and I lvoe the idea of taking the broken-horned zergling from Heart of the Swarm, making it a character (named Broken Horn), and making it feel congruent. That said, this kind of story (the Dominion trying to control the zerg) has been done before, and done better. But still, decent.
 

Hawki

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Exile's End (3/5)

It's not the story's fault, but I can't read the title and think of both 'Ender in Exile' and 'Childhood's End.' Make of that what you will.

Anyway, this is a short story from Tor that, by its own description, is meant to be an allagory for cultural appropriation and artifact repatriation. How you feel about those things in the real world is another matter, but here, basically, an alien comes to a human colony world, wanting to take back a cultural artifact of her people, who were driven off the world by the humans. Compounding matters is that in her culture, every three generations, her species burns all of their possessions in order to "not get ahead of themselves," which means that the painting is going to be taken back to her world to be burnt. Of course, the humans, who've come to appreciate the art (which was originally saved from such a burning generations ago, when first contact was made), don't quite like that. But it's all or nothing. Either the painting goes and it gets destroyed, or it stays in the human museum.

I think the story's decent - it serves as allagory, but the reason it's not rated higher is that the allagory is the main thing carrying the story. Like, don't get me wrong, the setting itself passes the litmus test of worldbuilding (as opposed to, say, Terra Nullius, which dealt with similar themes), but beyond the allagory, I'm left with nothing special. Also, I have to question the moral of the story. You know the phrase "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it?" The story ends kind of expressing the opposite idea - that the past doesn't exist, that we're weighed down by the past, and we shouldn't dwell on it. Now, in fairness, from the in-universe perspective, it's coming from the alien's POV (the whole regular burning thing), but since it's the last thing we're left with, I have to assume that it's the idea that the author wants to impart, or at least consider.

Still, it's a decent read.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-Crysis (2/5)

-Deltora Quest: Volume 1 (2/5)

-Overwatch: The Hero of Numbani (3/5)

-The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Ilse Witch (3/5)
 

Drathnoxis

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The Merlin Conspiracy. I bought it at random about 13 years ago because I wanted a fantasy novel, but never actually read it. It was decent. It's no Harry Potter, but it wasn't awful either. I might say more about it, but I doubt anybody else here has read it so I'd be wasting my time
 

Hawki

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Now that’s a throwback. Hadn’t thought of the Deltora books in years. Donated my copies to a friend of my mums to give to her child in an attempt to get her to read more
It's actually the manga adaptation. And I HATE it.

I haven't read the actual books in years, but the manga is lacklustre, both as an adaptation and as its own thing. It has lots of characters SHOUTING IN CAPITAL LETTERS HOW THEY WILL DEFEAT THEIR ENEMY! and whatnot, and pointless additions. For instance, Jared confronts some kind of shapeshifter that killed his father years ago. This wasn't in the original story (his parents died but never specified how IRRC), and it adds nothing to the plot. It's just an excuse for a fight scene. Actually, there's a lot of fight scenes in the volume, and it only covers the prologue section of the first book (i.e. up to the jump ahead to when Lief's around). Lots of fighting, lots of yelling, lots of zzz...

The manga owes more to the anime adaptation. And while I was able to enjoy that overall, the manga really offers nothing. At least, nothing that the book didn't offer, and offered better.
 

Palindromemordnilap

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It's actually the manga adaptation. And I HATE it.

I haven't read the actual books in years, but the manga is lacklustre, both as an adaptation and as its own thing. It has lots of characters SHOUTING IN CAPITAL LETTERS HOW THEY WILL DEFEAT THEIR ENEMY! and whatnot, and pointless additions. For instance, Jared confronts some kind of shapeshifter that killed his father years ago. This wasn't in the original story (his parents died but never specified how IRRC), and it adds nothing to the plot. It's just an excuse for a fight scene. Actually, there's a lot of fight scenes in the volume, and it only covers the prologue section of the first book (i.e. up to the jump ahead to when Lief's around). Lots of fighting, lots of yelling, lots of zzz...

The manga owes more to the anime adaptation. And while I was able to enjoy that overall, the manga really offers nothing. At least, nothing that the book didn't offer, and offered better.
I genuinely did not know there had been anime or manga adaptions of the series. And given by your reaction I’m betting you wish you could forget
 

Hawki

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I genuinely did not know there had been anime or manga adaptions of the series. And given by your reaction I’m betting you wish you could forget
Oh don't worry, it hasn't ruined the books for me.

The anime might be worth a watch if you enjoyed the books, but it's still skewed towards a younger audience. It does do action better than the books at least, even if the ending of the anime is something out of Ultraman.
 

Mister Mumbler

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The Devil's Dutch Oven, Arizona
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So I actually started reading this book like late last year/early this year, but kinda fell off for a bit doing other stuff, so it had been sitting on my bedside table for the past 6 months or so going unread and I finally went and finished it (I've read it a few times, but this marks the first time through the hardcover edition I got);

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (5/5)

What a surprisingly relevant read this turned out to be. A part of the 'Watch' series of stories/characters in the Discworld series, this story sees city watch commander Sam Vimes getting sent back in time to the heart of a quick and dirty civil war to catch a killer on the loose. A fun read, due in large part to the writing style of Pratchett that makes his stories so much fun to go back and reread. If anyone is looking to get Discworld books in hardcover, I recommend taking a look at the Collector's Series of hardcovers from the Discworld Emporium. They have some lovely cover art with set with some foil, and my only gripe with them is the fact that they went and flipped the ' and " symbols around, buts it's not too big of a deal for me.
 

Hawki

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Once Upon a Time: Out of the Past (3/5)

This is more a 2.5/5, but I decided to round up. It's a collection of four stories centered on various characters, taking place before the series (or at least its 'present'). Stories are of various quality, so briefly running through them:

-Hook's Story: Crew of the Jolly Roger finds themselves on Leviathan Shoals, where apparitions are seen. Hook sees an image of his departed brother. Gee, is it the real deal? Of course not, and this is pointed out almost instantly. It's an old trope, but the story makes it work, even if it's nothing special.

-Belle's Story: When I was reviewing the TV shows, I often commented on how much I hated the Belle/Rumple stuff. Suffice to say, the story does nothing to change my mind.

-Regina's Story: Regina is attacked by Daniel's brother, who holds her responsible for his death, even if she holds the blame on Snow White. It's an interesting idea, but has trite execution.

-Jefferson's Story: Certainly the most unique, if only because we get trippy imagery with Wonderland, and the March Hare being a serial killer.

So, yeah. Nothing special TBH.
 

Hawki

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Deltora Quest: Volume 2 (3/5)

This is a marginal improvement over the prior volume. It's at least a more faithful adaptation, and while it has far more action than the book it's based on, it does feel more appropriate here than last time. Not to say it's perfect though. For instance, Gorl. In the book, he's soft spoken, and quietly intimidating. Here, he's a hulking brute in hulking armour who YELLS A LOT OF THE TIME! Maybe it's cultural transition, maybe it's just something that comes with manga, but yeah. It's fine. Book's still better though.
 

Hawki

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Prototype 2 (4/5)

This is an interquel comic that bridges the gap between the first and second Prototype games...supposedly. Only watched a playthrough of the first, never bothered with the second. Still, overall, it's good. Dark, but good.
 

Hawki

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Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All (4/5)

If you've paid any attention to this thread, you know that I'm a bit of a greenie, even if I'm hardly a poster boy for it (e.g. still eat meat). And you might be wondering by the title why I'm reading a climate change denial book. Well, the reason is that I'm not - despite its title, want to make that perfectly clear. But I do want to discuss the author a bit, Michael Shellenberger.

Shellenberger's a bit controversial in environmentalism, and how you feel about him may depend on how you feel about various issues. For instance, Shellenberger's pro nuclear power, and very skeptical about renewables. Also that growth is good, under the premise that the richer a country becomes, the more it can spend on environmental protection, hence why deforestation is higher in LEDCs than MEDCs. Basically, Shellenberger takes the Cornucopian view on the environment rather than a Malthusian one, and it's this tension of ideas that's influenced a lot of debate about the book, along with fact checking (and fact checking of the fact checking in turn). However I feel about some of the claims, they're still claims that are well presented. I'm not going to give a full list on points that I agree and disagree on, but anyone who's interested in environmental issues should read this book, even if they shouldn't take it as the be all and end all of the path we should take in the 21st century.
 

Specter Von Baren

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Just finished a book on Lenin and the French Revolution so now I can get back to reading on Stalin from a book series by Stephen Kotkin. Then I'll probably have to tackle the giant book about Napoleon after that.
 
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Drathnoxis

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So I actually started reading this book like late last year/early this year, but kinda fell off for a bit doing other stuff, so it had been sitting on my bedside table for the past 6 months or so going unread and I finally went and finished it (I've read it a few times, but this marks the first time through the hardcover edition I got);

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (5/5)

What a surprisingly relevant read this turned out to be. A part of the 'Watch' series of stories/characters in the Discworld series, this story sees city watch commander Sam Vimes getting sent back in time to the heart of a quick and dirty civil war to catch a killer on the loose. A fun read, due in large part to the writing style of Pratchett that makes his stories so much fun to go back and reread. If anyone is looking to get Discworld books in hardcover, I recommend taking a look at the Collector's Series of hardcovers from the Discworld Emporium. They have some lovely cover art with set with some foil, and my only gripe with them is the fact that they went and flipped the ' and " symbols around, buts it's not too big of a deal for me.
It's been a number of years since I finished with the Discworld series and I've forgotten quite a lot of the details, but I remember this as being one of the last books in the series that I enjoyed. The only two after this I liked were Going Postal and Making Money.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Still working on Orlando. It's such a dense, unfriendly read. Very rich and very clever and brilliantly mocked up (1920s writer flawlessly presenting as a late 1600s biographer, archaisms and long-winded prose et al) on top of making astute, enduring commentary on gender dynamics... but again, can't do 10 pages without calling it a day. You think it's dispiriting to face a single paragraph that goes on undivided for several pages, now imagine that it's also made up by a single rambling sentence.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

The Fall of Shannara: The Stiehl Assassin (3/5)

World of Warcraft: A Good War (4/5)

World of Warcraft: A Moment in Verse (2/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift: Part 1 (3/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift: Part 2 (3/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift: Part 3 (4/5)

Sonic the Hedgehog: Volume 6: The Last Minute (4/5)