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Author Topic: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?  (Read 24966 times)

Offline hayama

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2014, 11:55:22 AM »
I'm on my way to completing Toni Morrison's entire repertoire. Over the past 7 years I've read every book by her except Paradise and Song of Solomon. I have a hard time finishing books that are more than about 250 pages, so those two are going to require a lot of commitment from me. Still, she's my favorite author, and it would be nice to be able to say I've completed all of her works, bar essays.

Offline DrIdiot

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2014, 09:56:58 PM »
I read some Japanese stuff lately, all contemporary.  Here's a list.

Evil and the Mask  This was a fun book.  It's about a kid who was raised to be a "cancer upon the world" in accordance with family tradition.  You have awesome lines like: "oh, I didn't realize that you were a cancer too!"  It feels like it could have been an anime or B movie, but it's still a lot of fun to read.  The publisher is Soho Crime, which finds these kinds of fun crime stories and translates/publishes them.

Granta 127  This issue of Granta was dedicated to "Japan" which doesn't necessarily mean translated Japanese stories but stories that have to do with Japan.... somehow.  For example, there's Tao Lin writing about writing his article and asking his non-expert (Taiwanese) parents about Japan ("Because Japanese migrated from northern China, and those in north China like to fight. Because they like alcohol.").  http://www.granta.com/Archive/127/Final-Fantasy-III/1.  There are other stories, but my favorite was "Breakfast" by Toshiki Okada.  Unfortunately I can't find much else by him in translation.

We The Children of Cats by Tomoyuki Hoshino.  This book is interesting, it's published by PM Press, a small publishing house in Oakland.  If you google their website it's mostly anarchist literature, but Hoshno's writing doesn't quite fit that pattern exactly.  It's definitely political in a way -- they're often based off real events (the leftist Latin American group MRTA hold hostages at the Japanese ambassador's residence, the Japanese government's program to send Japanese overseas to the Dominican Republic after WW2) and also often based in Latin America, as he spent a lot of time there himself.  The translator wrote a long essay at the end which I found very interesting, tying together some of the overall ideas and talking about their contexts.  My favorite story was probably "No Fathers Club," where children in a school whose fathers for whatever reason aren't around start a club and act as though they did have fathers, inventing conversations and interactions they had with them on the fly.  The weirdest story was "Air Penis" which was about a girl who had an "air penis," i.e. she felt it was there but no one (including her) could see it.

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino.  This is another crime novel.  The main characters are mostly women, and all the narrators are unreliable.  They take turns giving their accounts and the reader is left wondering what actually happened (does it matter?)  Like most of Kirino's books there's a slighty feminist flavor to the book, and I mean it in the vaguest way possible.  In some sense the women are victims of the attitudes of society towards them.

Offline thanosmat

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2014, 10:36:09 PM »
The Serialist - David Gordon.

A metafiction/detective story. Good.

I find out that the author is a celebrity in Japan (japanese movie adaptation) and not well known in the West, only after reading the book. Crazy.

Offline Pebble

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #48 on: November 01, 2014, 04:38:18 AM »
Coetzee's Foe is marvelous. Its structured as a confessional of sorts, which makes its emotional punch feel a bit cheap in retrospect, but it's clever, romantic, visceral, and has some spectacularly interesting parts (like the ending). It also starts to go crazy near the end and becomes spectacularly hard to follow. Not thematically (I use the term begrudgingly here), but simply because of the enigmatic mental processes of a certain Mr. Foe.

Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled is as ballsy as it is bizarre. In a sense its a colder, darker, and harsher version of a Murakami book, and perhaps, just perhaps, more stylistically adventurous. Considering how far out Murakami is all the time, that's saying something. It really alternates between crushingly dull, technically confusing, structurally confusing, just plain confusing overall, and piercingly revelatory. None of the best moments in this book lie purely in the prose, but they exist, and they make you start laughing maniacally at the sheer callousness with which Ishiguro works his very annoying magic. There's also an amazing fake-out somewhere in there, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who wants to read 600 pages of potential gibberish. But honestly, its a very good book.

And on a similar train of thought, what surprises me about Murakami's Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage is that it's actually structured. That does mean that it doesn't properly get going until chapter 17, though. It didn't hit me with the visceral impact that Murakami banks so much on, and I feel like the translator is phoning it in, but eh. It has its strengths. At least it doesn't meander as much as 1Q84.

Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies is a blast. Go read it. Its a big story about small people, and about as fun as historical fiction about the Colonial Opium Regimes can get. You'll be surprised.
Its also the first in a trilogy, which is incomplete, so don't expect it to end. Hint: cliffhangers.

Offline Kavik Ryx

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #49 on: June 23, 2015, 12:36:25 PM »
If the film thread can come back to life, then so can this.

The Bone Clocks: I loved just about every second of reading this book, but the end almost made me hate it as it got so close to perfection and missed by a mark. The book plays to both of David Mitchell's strength, his stylistic maximalism and his ability to change voices. The story follows suit from Cloud Atlas by taking six stories from six (technically five) perspectives over six periods in time, although admittedly all focusing on the life of one woman. An odd choice is made though in that (following the example of the second chap aged of Cloud Atlas), many of the viewpoint characters are rather loathsome at first glance, a bitchy teenager being the least offensive, but also a trust fund Oxbridge baby, as well as a washout author (who refers to books about authors as incestuous). As with chapter two of Cloud Atlas, the immaculate prose and intimate characterization makes each view point sympathetic in the end. The protagonist Holly stands out as the majority of her characterization comes mainly from the perspective of those around her.

I've often found David Mitchell to rather self indulgent with his writing, although seldom to his detriment. The book does go supernatural near the end, while par for the course, does have a boy of awkwardness to the writing as it tried to distinguish itself. It's not enough to hurt the book at all. It's persistent effort to make its protagonist's life miserable, however, goes overboard one too many times by the end to the point of being exhausting. One death near the end and I almost threw my copy across the room in anger. Preachyness also does rear it's head on the last third. As someone who is already a liberal, vegetarian, environmentalist, I kept thinking enough already. Shame though, because I would almost put the novel up with American Gods and Norwegian Wood in terms of my all time favorites.

Offline Kavik Ryx

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #50 on: September 08, 2015, 11:11:54 AM »
Kafka on the Shore

Foolishly, I always go into Murakami expecting answers and am left somehow surprised when I leave with more questions. Norwegian Wood was fairly straightforward and I have my own interpretations for South of the Border, West of the Sun. But this one is still leaving me scratching my head. Kafka's Oedipus complex, Johnnie Walker's soul flute, the raining mackerel. There is the assumption one need to make that Murakami's novels run not on traditional cause and effect, but rather (as Colonel Sanders put it) metaphysical concepts. It's gonna take a few days to piece together what I just read. But the experience feels whole nonetheless. Murakami's extensive knowledge of literature and western music shines through, and how he had Nakata speak without once using metaphor was impresive

On the translation, I understand that not all western readers know the value of the yen, or what a centimeter is. But it disrupts the setting see US conventions being used. Secondly, the sex scenes read rather awkwardly and uncoftably, and not just because of the subject matter. Granted I felt the same way about South of the Border, and I'm not sure if that was the same translator.

Offline Sidenote

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #51 on: September 08, 2015, 08:46:23 PM »
Didn't even know a thread like this existed; I might as well contribute:

The Art of Thinking by Ernest Dimnet: A book that is no longer in print. A shame really, seeing as it well written and has something for everyone. The author is sort of like a C. S. Lewis in his thought processes (read any of C. S. Lewis's essays on literature, and you'll know what I mean), so he's a little difficult to read; he just thinks so fast, it's hard to keep up. That said, this book is a real treasure mine for anyone who wants to improve the quality of their thought. The books biggest draw is that it's written by an old man who's seen a lot of the world, and from many perspectives (Dimnet is a Frenchman who spent about equal amounts of time growing up and living in both the U.S. and France).

Tower of God by SIU, translated into Spanish: Mentioned for the sole purpose of showing off.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Good, classic comedy, I'm sad that I came by this so late. The author's ability to tell real and witty jokes in pen is astounding; usually with 'comedy' books, it's the character's stories/actions that are funny, with small supplement from the author's exposition. But in Hitchhikers Guide, there's a nice balance between the author's exposition and the plot.
Hunter X Hunter really isn't that good, guys....

Offline Kavik Ryx

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #52 on: September 08, 2015, 10:11:59 PM »
Did a marathon of the Guide last years. I had tried years back, but my ignorance of Cricket got me stuck on the third. (Amusingly the book started out as a pitch for a Doctor Who script). The amount of control Adams has over his universe and the precision of his prose are both astounding, the opening chapter of the second book being the absolute best. His aphorisms and digressions are easily the funniest things in literature, although Catch 22's biography of Major Major comes close.

Offline KS

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #53 on: September 09, 2015, 11:13:34 AM »
If I said I've been reading the Gundam The Origin graphic novels would it surprise anyone?  I'm also very slowly making my way through War & Peace from a good couple years back.  I really should find the time to read more real books though.

Offline Kavik Ryx

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #54 on: September 09, 2015, 01:19:33 PM »
Find yourself in one place for too long where options are limited. It took me breaking my leg to become a serious reader. I had myself a Philip K Dick marathon recovering from the first surgery and following the second I got through all five Hitchiker's Guide Books, Norwegion Wood, and Leon Uris's Exodus.

Offline KS

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #55 on: September 09, 2015, 05:28:34 PM »
Find yourself in one place for too long where options are limited. It took me breaking my leg to become a serious reader. I had myself a Philip K Dick marathon recovering from the first surgery and following the second I got through all five Hitchiker's Guide Books, Norwegion Wood, and Leon Uris's Exodus.

I've actually read quite a few Dick shorts as well as 3 of the Hitchhiker's books.  I tried to do the Dune prequels as well and while I didn't find them horrid I didn't find them all that compelling compared to the originals either. Foundation is one I'd like to try as well but it's just so damn long I'm worried I'd get distracted.

Also just an aside and another sort of thank you that I feel is overdue, I really love this place for just having intelligent people who are into anime but also have other tastes to take about as well.  I think I've finally found an anime board where I feel I mostly fit in after like a decade of searching.   I just want to thank the entire community for that, it means a lot to be able to have conversations and not worry about just... well...raw dumb taking over everything. I don't think there's anywhere else on the internet right now where I can have conversations about anime that don't make me want to lobotomize myself and then have side conversations about potential good reads.  I realize I haven't always been the easiest poster to deal with sometimes, but I hope to be one of the more grateful. The lot of you are just good decent people, and I can't explain why that seems so rare to find nowadays in a mostly anime centric community but it just is. :)

Offline themaster20000

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #56 on: September 09, 2015, 08:22:49 PM »
If I said I've been reading the Gundam The Origin graphic novels would it surprise anyone?  I'm also very slowly making my way through War & Peace from a good couple years back.  I really should find the time to read more real books though.

I actually really enjoy the Origin graphic novels from what I read of them. It makes the original show obsolete.
"No matter how wonderful everything in your movie may be, if your script sucks ass, your movie will suck ass."

"No matter how good a film is, it will always be bad. It will always be hated because it didn't live up to the incredibly high expectations." -

Offline Sidenote

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #57 on: September 10, 2015, 02:12:06 AM »
Quote
I really love this place for just having intelligent people who are into anime but also have other tastes to take about as well

Agreed.
Hunter X Hunter really isn't that good, guys....

Offline SQA

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #58 on: September 10, 2015, 02:32:18 AM »
Quote
I really love this place for just having intelligent people who are into anime but also have other tastes to take about as well

Agreed.

We're something of the "snob" circle, actually.   Though most of the conversations are TIF trying to understand the stupid within an anime.

Though we'll always have Muv-Luv: Total Eclipse.

Offline Kavik Ryx

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Re: What books have you been reading (or have read recently)?
« Reply #59 on: September 10, 2015, 03:34:49 AM »
Find yourself in one place for too long where options are limited. It took me breaking my leg to become a serious reader. I had myself a Philip K Dick marathon recovering from the first surgery and following the second I got through all five Hitchiker's Guide Books, Norwegion Wood, and Leon Uris's Exodus.

I've actually read quite a few Dick shorts as well as 3 of the Hitchhiker's books.  I tried to do the Dune prequels as well and while I didn't find them horrid I didn't find them all that compelling compared to the originals either. Foundation is one I'd like to try as well but it's just so damn long I'm worried I'd get distracted.

Foundation runs into the trouble of being rather dry and is victim of science marching on (the standard model of particle physics had yet to be formulated). The ideas represented in it, though tranced the prose. The idea that a washing machine is a stronger deterrent for war than ICBMs or that economic ties are more effective in the long run than religious ones are things that have become clear in today's world. Also, using technology as the basis of religion was something that I had hoped G no Reconguista would have explored more.
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