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

Dalisclock

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Not reading anything at the moment, just checking in to agree with all the people who think Robert Jordan can't write women. Pretty sure the only woman he ever knew was his mum, and she used to beat him mercilessly while they rolled around on the floor together naked.
That's an image I didn't need in my head.
 
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votemarvel

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Comic wise I'm going through the DCeased series again. It's a fantastic take on the zombie apocalypse in the DC Universe. I've watched reviews of the series from some comics YouTubers who describe it as 'woke', it's clear they've not actually read it.

Book wise I've reading Enora Online, a LitRPG series. For those unaware that's where a person gets stuck in a game world. There's GameLit as well which isn't role playing specific. Anyway I'll stop rambling. It's about a guy with a terminal illness who agrees to have his mind transferred to a game world to see if it works correctly (there's more but I'm trying to be spoiler free). It'd really good fun with a well developed world, magic, and levelling system. The characters are all well written and have their own voices, you won't confuse them in a dialogue heavy scene.

There's a problem with it though and it's one I've encountered in a lot of titles while on lockdown and that's the harem. It's understandable of course I level up my charisma in games and get all the characters to want to impale themselves on my pork sword too, they don't tend to be as well developed as in a book though.

You have all these strongly independent women, with their own thoughts, desires, etc and for some reason despite the hero being an ineffectual moron they somehow all end up desiring him because of his stats. It honestly starts to feel a bit rapey, as if they are getting a digital Mickey Finn.
 

Dalisclock

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It's like Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Women in Love, except Oliver Reed is Robert Jordan's mum, and the other guy is Robert Jordan.
That's gonna replace the whale in my nightmares
 
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Sneed's SeednFeed

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"The Plague" by Albert Camus.
Read it recently with some mates as part of a reading group, how are you finding it? I think Camus' dislike of Oran is pretty weird (and something he wrote about in The Minotaur of Oran, an essay on the city) as well as the analogies to world war ii France being somewhere between surreal and slightly confused. Left a strange impression on me if you'll pardon the pun.
 

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Finished reading Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, book #3 in the Stormlight Archive. Yet another doorstopper but at least I'm caught up with the series now(Book 4 doesn't drop until this Autumn).

The book does a good job of continuing on from where the previous one left off, building on the progress made by the protagonists while throwing some nice monkey wrenches at them. The story has a number of good twists and turns, especially considering it fleshes out the backstory of Daliner, Proud Warrior race general turned Chivalrous Knight turned coalition leader and ooh boy....yeah, it explains a lot about why everyone seems to have trouble believing his attempts to be a diplomat.

These books are still massive(1200ish pages) but none of it seems wasted or prodding and probably explains why I've been able to keep at it instead of giving up. Which is more then I can say for some authors. I could go on a lot more, but this would turn into an essay quite easily and spoilers would be all over the place.
 
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Drathnoxis

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A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.

It was the best of books, it was the worst of books. It was a good book, and definitely deserving of it's place as a literary classic. Dickens can write long descriptive metaphors without making them sound flowery or forced like many other authors. The plot was good and engaging. Some of the characters were a little underdeveloped, though. Sydney Carton, who is the major player in the resolution is gets very little page time. I still don't really know much about him. Where did he come from? How did he end up where he is now? Why does he look identical to Charles Darnay? Why is he so miserable?

Anyway, it was good. I liked it.
 

SupahEwok

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GOD FUCKING DAMMIT. This forum ate my post, which I spent a FUCKING HOUR ON.

...I'll try again.

I've spent a lot of time in lockdown and unemployment, and it wasted on the internet. Only finally decided a couple weeks ago to dedicate time to reading at least 50 pages a day, and I managed to get that up to a couple hundred pages average a day once I got back into the swing of things.

Books completed:

1) Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna, by Adam Zamoyski: nonfiction, covers the diplomatic charades that closed out the Napoleonic wars. About 2/5ths of the book covers the final maneuvers of the war from Napoleon's retreat from Russia to his surrender, but the military side is only covered enough to keep track of the war; the focus is on the diplomats following the frontline, making alliances and hasty deals for the split of the continent post-war. The author posits that many of these deals were ill-considered and rushed due to the pressures of the time, headed by personalities with their own beliefs and foibles which sabotaged the ideals of rebuilding a peaceful Europe. The big focus on the book is how these hasty agreements played out at the congress called in Vienna after the war, and how these poorly thought-through deals became the cornerstone of a politically reorganized Europe. The congress was also infamous for the lavish balls and sexual debauchery which distracted and tired the diplomats even as they were creating the modern Europe. Great read.

2) Star Wars: X-Wing Series Books 5-7: Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, and Solo Command, all by Aaron Allston: The old Star Wars EU was a really strange mix of all sorts of things from great to awful, but these books have remained some of my all time favorites. I reread them to help get back into the reading groove. They have little connection with the earlier books in the X-Wing series, so you can think of them as their own trilogy. They focus on the formation and operations of a starfighter squadron which doubles as a commando unit, so you read through both classic Star Wars space action and inventive special operations. The pilots are all hardcases who've almost flunked out of starfighter training and have been given a last chance, which the author uses as an excuse to explore mental health and have some really strange cast choices for a Star Wars book (headlined by a Gamorrean, one of those green fat pig guys from Jabba's palace in Episode 6, only this one was modified to be a mathematical genius). Best of all, they're funny. Allston has a good balance of drama and humor, with most everybody in the cast getting a chance to snark and pull pranks in between cast deaths and mourning. I don't recommend Books 1-4 or 8 of this same series, which I last enjoyed as a teenager but which I've found have not aged alongside me (they feature a different cast of characters, are a different story arc, and were written by a different author). Book 9 was written by Allston, but serves as something of an epilogue to the arc of Books 1-4 & 8, and although I suppose you can read it alone, you won't get the intended emotional impact of a certain character arc across the earlier series concluding that the book was entirely written around.

3) Merchant Soldier Sage, by David Priestland: Made myself finish the final 60-70 pages after dropping it for a couple of months. Quick copy+paste from the first time I mentioned it in this thread: "an examination of history through a lens of caste struggle, as opposed to class struggle (with caste in this context meaning broad groups matching jobs, such as aristocracy or priesthood), in an effort to identify merchant caste values and how their unfettered proliferation in the past few decades led to the 2008 recession." It's unfortunate that the 2 month break dulled my memory so I didn't get the most out of the book as I could have, but I'm trying to move forward with getting through my library and didn't want to waste time restarting it. Overall, I thought it was an interesting way to view history and power. It fits my personal experience that people tend to lean in the direction of certain values which are conducive to excelling in their fields, which essentially is the thesis of the work, and makes sense to me in a way I've always felt that Marxism lacked.

From now on, I am endeavoring to maintain a reading list of 3-4 books at a time: 1 nonfiction, 1 high-literature/poetry, and 1 low-literature (I don't want an argument on the division and respect accorded to high and low art, there's an obvious distinction between Ulysses and a Warhammer 40k novel which anybody with a brain can recognize), and 1 open spot if I feel like I need to switch off from those other things.

1) Nonfiction: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton: My degree is Geographic Information Science. There was less geography in it than a usual GIS program; our's substituted geography classes with surveying. So I have a few books on geography and the history of cartography to round out my own education. Atlas Obscura is the first one which I'm reading. It catalogs many notable and odd landmarks and sights throughout the world, both manmade and natural. I'm keeping a notebook handy as I go along to jot down any that I wish to use in the D&D game I'm writing. My current favorite is the Eye of Africa, which contrary to appearances is not an impact crater but a naturally eroded dome of massive size.
 

SupahEwok

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Fucking thing cut my post in half, BUT I COPIED AND SAVED MY POST BEFORE I POSTED THIS TIME YOU FUCKER


(Note: Image is false-colored, probably to bring out specific minerals and rock formations of interest. It's neater to look at than the variations of brown it really is, tho)

2) High-Lit: Don Quixote, by Cervantes: Doesn't really need an introduction, it's a formational work in the Western literary canon.

3) Low-Lit: The First Rumpole Omnibus, by John Mortimer: Rumpole of the Bailey was a British show, produced in 7 series of 6 episodes each intermittently from the 70's to 90's. The eponymous Rumpole is a lawyer ("barrister" so the Brits here don't yell at me), practicing mainly legal aid cases (meaning he's the lawyer the state provides for clients who cannot afford one) by choice, in the Old Bailey, a certain courthouse in London. Rumpole holds steadfast in a belief in giving all defense clients dignity before the law and is the people's champion, which is in contrast to his physical appearance which is old and fat, and his personality which is sardonic and acerbic. The script writer, John Mortimer, was himself a former barrister, and drew on his courtroom experience for each episode. My dad loved the series, but his DVDs did not have a subtitles option, and I have just too hard a time parsing some of the accents to get into it much despite enjoying what I could understand. I was very pleased to find out last week that the script writer had written adaptations in the form of short story collections (and original novels) for the entire show, and immediately ordered the first collection. Amazon is having some trouble delivering, which is a shame because I feel like these stories are exactly what I need right now. But sooner or later I'll be reading the adaptation of the first couple of seasons and first original novel.

4) Wildcard: various sourcebooks for writing my D&D campaign
 

Hawki

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GOD FUCKING DAMMIT. This forum ate my post, which I spent a FUCKING HOUR ON.
there's an obvious distinction between Ulysses and a Warhammer 40k novel
In 40K, Space Marines fight multi-headed demons. In the Odyssey, Ulysses fights a multi-headed monster.

Checkmate, Mr High and Mighty. :p

Not reading anything at the moment, just checking in to agree with all the people who think Robert Jordan can't write women. Pretty sure the only woman he ever knew was his mum, and she used to beat him mercilessly while they rolled around on the floor together naked.
Um, he did have a wife y'know. She's part of the reason why the series was concluded after his death.
 

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The Fall of Shannara: The Skaar Invasion (3/5)

Y'know, if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, I'm pretty sure I'm insane. Because every time I come back to Shannara, I do so in the hope that it might live up to its potential, and every time, I'm disappointed.

Anyway, you may have seen my reviews of the other Shannara books, including the one directly preceeding this, and if not, tough. Basically, similar to The Black Elfstone (where said elfstone only appears in the last tenth of the book), the titular skaar don't do much actual invading. Most of their time is spent either on political manipulation, or just camping out, inciting their enemies to attack. In the meantime, Terry Brooks is still Terry Brooks - he often "tells" rather than "shows," there's large info-dumps, and intentional or not, his author's voice creeps in every so often. Some parts of the book are more interesting than others, but again, it's pretty much bog standard fantasy. Oh, the main antagonist (who was captured at the end of the last book) is held captive by one of the protagonist, and both instantly have an attraction to each other because Christ on a bike, we can't have good romance in these books. Elfstones set the precedent, but here, it's even worse.

Under normal circumstances, I'd leave it there, but there's some stuff that I feel inclined to discuss here. So, at least going by the Shannara Chronicles, the Four Lands are situated near the west coast of the US, and they're meant to be the only habitable area on Earth after the Great Wars. However, the skaar come from a place called Skaarland (an island) and have conquered much of Eurobia. It didn't take me long to guess that Skaarland is the British Isles, and Eurobia is Europe. Okay, fair enough, maybe some other parts of Earth are habitable as well, or became habitable. What's more vexing is how the geography works out. If Skaarland is experiencing abnormal winter, why head over the Atlantic, and to the other side of North America, as opposed to heading south, or even east along a continuous landmass. Also, I can't help but wonder if there's anyone else in North America in this setting who might go "oh fuck, the English are coming. Again!"

Oh, and in regards to an article by Tor, who claimed that the book is an analogy for climate change and xenophobia...no. Just no. Game of Thrones is a potential analogy for climate change because we have the onset of winter, but internal bickering forcing the powers of Westeros to ignore the warning signs. This is more "I need a plot point to get an enemy force to invade, go!" I've often said that a drawback of Shannara is that the Four Lands are so small that it limits the number of plots one can create, but while I'm not fussed about the insertion of a new land, I do disagree with the idea of it having any subtext.

So, yeah. That's it.

Bleh.
 

Thaluikhain

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2) High-Lit: Don Quixote, by Cervantes: Doesn't really need an introduction, it's a formational work in the Western literary canon.
Thinking about reading that, is it still relevant today, or is it a classic in the sense that people only read it because it's a classic?

Anyhoo, after reading Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars, Venus and Hollow Earth series (not fussed on Tarzan and won't read them any time soon), it came to my attention that Burroughs had a legendary feud with Otis Adelbert Kline, who wrote a noticeably similar Venus and then a Mars series (and then a jungle book I'll probably not read any time soon). Legendary as in "probably not actually true". But as Burroughs rip off style works, they are quite decent, Burroughs own work declined a lot as he got older, though he laid down some good worldbuilding early on the later stuff benefited from.
 

Dalisclock

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1) Nonfiction: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton: My degree is Geographic Information Science. There was less geography in it than a usual GIS program; our's substituted geography classes with surveying. So I have a few books on geography and the history of cartography to round out my own education. Atlas Obscura is the first one which I'm reading. It catalogs many notable and odd landmarks and sights throughout the world, both manmade and natural. I'm keeping a notebook handy as I go along to jot down any that I wish to use in the D&D game I'm writing. My current favorite is the Eye of Africa, which contrary to appearances is not an impact crater but a naturally eroded dome of massive size.
I stumbled across that in a bookstore and it's facinating.There's also a website for it as well. https://www.atlasobscura.com/

What's really fun is looking up a city you live in or near you. I realized there's a number of wierd shit in Portland, OR(where I live) that I'd never heard of it. A number of them, like the world's smallest park, I was aware of. I didn't realize Portland had a big underground bomb shelter., and then realized why, because it was abandoned after a 20 year stint as a police dispatch center(turns out working in a bunker wasn't very fun or healthy for the employees) and then eventually covered over because druggies and vandals were making a mess out of the place.
 
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Dalisclock

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Thinking about reading that, is it still relevant today, or is it a classic in the sense that people only read it because it's a classic?
I read it in college. I remember enjoying it for what it was, and unlike Shakespeare, it's a hell of a lot easier to read because it's not peppered with grammer we don't use anymore. Or maybe that's just the translation I read.

It does have a bad tendency to go into tangents about the less interesting side characters, where the main characters run into side characters, who all have to tell their own life stories that...I guess I didn't really care. For me, the joy was the main plot about the elderly madman who thinks he's a knight when he's actually a LARPing nutter and instead there's this whole series of sidequests that distract from that, many of them dudes whining about a girl who refuses to date them because she doesn't want to, which nowadays makes them sound like entitled losers. The adventures of crazy LARPing grandpa is far more interesting.

Part 2 is actually kind of awesome in a way for being a little bit meta. Part 2 was written a decade after Part 1, and there'a a running plot thread of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza hearing rumors and stories about themselves they didn't engage in and they find embarrassing. Don Quixote denounces the other pair as imposers. What makes this interesting is that the first part of the book was quite a hit when it came out and spurred a lot of what is basically fan fiction, claiming to be true sequels to the original story. Needless to say, Cervantes was pissed and took every opportunity to have his characters mock the impostor versions in part 2 and make jokes about how devils will cut off the impostors testicles and play with them for sport(IIRC, I might be conflating this with something else).
 
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Agema

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Read it recently with some mates as part of a reading group, how are you finding it?
Not bad. It's quite a straightforward style, like I imagine a journalist writes, with perhaps a touch of absurdity.

I think Camus' dislike of Oran is pretty weird (and something he wrote about in The Minotaur of Oran, an essay on the city) as well as the analogies to world war ii France being somewhere between surreal and slightly confused. Left a strange impression on me if you'll pardon the pun.
I get the feeling he thought of Oran as a boring, business-orientated city where people were generally dull and industrious and stuff was done for money, with little expression of art, creativity, leisure/fun, etc. that he was probably more interested in.
 

Sneed's SeednFeed

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Not bad. It's quite a straightforward style, like I imagine a journalist writes, with perhaps a touch of absurdity.

I get the feeling he thought of Oran as a boring, business-orientated city where people were generally dull and industrious and stuff was done for money, with little expression of art, creativity, leisure/fun, etc. that he was probably more interested in.
I find that so weird though because most of the novel, and his own perspective on existence, is to praise the mundane aspects of everyday life as a triumph against the absurd, yet here he is nonetheless coming across as a tad smug. The metaphors were a bit confused too I figure, but I guess that's part of the absurd experience.
 

SupahEwok

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Thinking about reading that, is it still relevant today, or is it a classic in the sense that people only read it because it's a classic?

Anyhoo, after reading Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars, Venus and Hollow Earth series (not fussed on Tarzan and won't read them any time soon), it came to my attention that Burroughs had a legendary feud with Otis Adelbert Kline, who wrote a noticeably similar Venus and then a Mars series (and then a jungle book I'll probably not read any time soon). Legendary as in "probably not actually true". But as Burroughs rip off style works, they are quite decent, Burroughs own work declined a lot as he got older, though he laid down some good worldbuilding early on the later stuff benefited from.
I read it in college. I remember enjoying it for what it was, and unlike Shakespeare, it's a hell of a lot easier to read because it's not peppered with grammer we don't use anymore. Or maybe that's just the translation I read.

It does have a bad tendency to go into tangents about the less interesting side characters, where the main characters run into side characters, who all have to tell their own life stories that...I guess I didn't really care. For me, the joy was the main plot about the elderly madman who thinks he's a knight when he's actually a LARPing nutter and instead there's this whole series of sidequests that distract from that, many of them dudes whining about a girl who refuses to date them because she doesn't want to, which nowadays makes them sound like entitled losers. The adventures of crazy LARPing grandpa is far more interesting.

Part 2 is actually kind of awesome in a way for being a little bit meta. Part 2 was written a decade after Part 1, and there'a a running plot thread of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza hearing rumors and stories about themselves they didn't engage in and they find embarrassing. Don Quixote denounces the other pair as imposers. What makes this interesting is that the first part of the book was quite a hit when it came out and spurred a lot of what is basically fan fiction, claiming to be true sequels to the original story. Needless to say, Cervantes was pissed and took every opportunity to have his characters mock the impostor versions in part 2 and make jokes about how devils will cut off the impostors testicles and play with them for sport(IIRC, I might be conflating this with something else).
Pretty much agree with DC. Don Quixote reads surprisingly modernly. It's not just in language use. Characters behave in modern ways, often nastily, taking advantage of or laughing at Quixote. The book also mainly seems a comedy, with a constant sardonic voice.

I'd do a little bit of research on the translations before buying a copy. I'm just reading a copy from my dad's bookshelf, whose translation turned out to be alright, but there's some poor ones out there, alongside good ones. I think there was a modern translation (from the last 20 years) that was rated as good, but its been a while since I looked into it.