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What are we Reading?

post #1 of 146
Thread Starter 
Okay, we have a music thread, but we are sadly lacking a books thread..

This can be books you absolutely love and can't resist shoving at other people, or whatever you are reading currently.

For me, at the moment I am reading "Tricky Business" by Dave Barry. It is really rather awful. Some better books that I have loved in the past are "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and "Illusions" by Richard Bach. These two books are my Bibles. I live by them. Anyone else read these?

So.. What is everyone else reading?
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post #2 of 146
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong-Kingston

...when i get the chance.
post #3 of 146
Electronic Properties of Materials (3rd edition), which is a basic text on quantum physics and how it relates to electrical properties of materials (whodathunkit). I'm also re-reading portions of a text I've read in college called simply, Digitial Signal Processing.

When I'm on the can I have a book called Psycho, which incidentally is a ghostwritten autobiograhy of an English football legend by the name of Stuart Pearce. It's not exactly first-tier literature, but my friend went to England over Christmas (he's English) and got it for me mostly as a joke knowing that I'm a big fan of Man City.

I read a lot of classic literature in high school. I have very little tolerance for fiction anymore. Almost everything I read is either a textbook or a philosophical non-fiction type work.

I remember very much disliking Atlas Shrugged. This is perhaps hard to fathom since I'm a full-blooded libertarian, but I'm just not convinced that Ayn Rand can write at better than the 9th grade level. Her roots as a screenplay writer are evident in all of her books, of which I'd argue that only The Fountainhead should be held in the regard of great books of the 20th century.
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post #4 of 146
The Rise of American Democracy Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. Thomas Jefferson
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The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. Thomas Jefferson
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post #5 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post

[i]This is perhaps hard to fathom since I'm a full-blooded libertarian

I just saw her Love Letters movie (she wrote the screenplay). Joseph Cotten was in it.

It was great until the sappy ending...
post #6 of 146
I've been reading Neil Stevenson's Baroque Cycle series. Fantastic series. Has Neil's sense of humor, but also his view of the times, customs and people in the 17th and 18th centuries. I'm on book three. The second book (King of the Vagabonds) was my favorite with the characters Jack (Half-Cock) Shaftoe and Eliza. I've rented some movies too to get the look and feel of these times. Cromwell and The Libertine. They helped me get a visual sense of those turbulent times.
post #7 of 146
At the moment I am reading "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. It seems a bit slow but I'm not very far yet. As for books that I can read over and over again, there is the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer which really shows the kid in me, The Prestige by Christopher Priest (I was inspired to read it after I saw the movie which I thought was amazing. Not so surprisingly, the book was much better), and then One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.
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post #8 of 146
Effective Project Management. Ok, I admit I'm skimming portions. It's for class and ancillary to the actual project. Strangely, I'm surrounded by millions of books at work and yet not currently reading any. \
post #9 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by @_@ Artman View Post

I've been reading Neil Stevenson's Baroque Cycle series. Fantastic series. Has Neil's sense of humor, but also his view of the times, customs and people in the 17th and 18th centuries. I'm on book three. The second book (King of the Vagabonds) was my favorite with the characters Jack (Half-Cock) Shaftoe and Eliza.

Artman,
I read the first of the Baroque Cycle last summer and it looks like next summer is the first chance I'll have at the second. I'm glad to hear you reccomend it. I have a question that has been bugging me at a low level since I read it: were some of the stories of Jack Shaftoe described in the first book also tole in Cryptonomicon? I kept feeling a sense of deja vú but I couldn't place it.

Anyway, I just finished another period piece, El Capitán Alatriste by Pérez-Reverte(X2). I slogged through it in Spanish, but I hear the series has been translated to English. Takes place during the 17th century, Spain's Golden Century. It has a completely different tone than Stephenson's work...
Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
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Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
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post #10 of 146
Apple Mac's Indesign.

It's about time
post #11 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

Some better books that I have loved in the past are "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and "Illusions" by Richard Bach. These two books are my Bibles. I live by them.

You must be very, very confused.
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post #12 of 146
Michael Crichton's "NEXT" and Patrick O'brien's "Treason's Harbour"
From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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post #13 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

Artman,
I read the first of the Baroque Cycle last summer and it looks like next summer is the first chance I'll have at the second. I'm glad to hear you reccomend it. I have a question that has been bugging me at a low level since I read it: were some of the stories of Jack Shaftoe described in the first book also tole in Cryptonomicon? I kept feeling a sense of deja vú but I couldn't place it.

Actually, they are all part of the family...genealogically I would guess.

"Here is a list of families that appear in both Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle. In cases where multiple members of the family appear (example: Wait Still Waterhouse), only the primary member(s) are listed. Some of this, such as the Halaby family, is speculative."

I read Cryptonomicon first and when I read reviews of The Baroque Cycle I noticed this too. It attracted me even more to them. It's fun to see the relatives of the Cryptonomicon characters appearing acting and doing more or less what their ancestors did.
post #14 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Michael Crichton's "NEXT" and Patrick O'brien's "Treason's Harbour"

Oh, is NEXT good? I can't decide if I want to buy it or not..
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post #15 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by maimezvous View Post

The Prestige by Christopher Priest (I was inspired to read it after I saw the movie which I thought was amazing. Not so surprisingly, the book was much better)

Wait, that is a book? I had no idea. Shall go purchase it immediately.
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post #16 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

You must be very, very confused.

Ah.. How so?
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post #17 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

Oh, is NEXT good? I can't decide if I want to buy it or not..

I'm about halfway ... It's OK so far, but his stories don't really come together 'till the end. I borrowed it... I wouldn't buy it 'till it's out in paperback.
In any case, I liked "State of Fear" a lot better at the half-way point.
From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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post #18 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by @_@ Artman View Post

Actually, they are all part of the family...genealogically I would guess.

Thanks for the link. I should have been keeping notes as I went. In adition suppose I shouldn't be letting a year or two go between reading each book.
Actually, I figured out that he was following many of the same families (or the same person as far as Enoch goes...) pretty quick.

What got me was the stories like Shaftoe living in the house of the rich guy during the plague and how new vagabonds kept showing up. Was that referenced in Criptonomicon? Is it a common story? Or did I have unlinked deja vú syndrome...

I could research the web and probably find out, but I am afraid to find out too much about the books I have not yet read--I like to be surprised...
Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
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post #19 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

Ah.. How so?

midwinter doesn't like Ayn Rand. I'm not sure if it's the ideology, the writing itself, or some combination of the two. Personally, I think she's a bit crazy, but I like the basic message. The fact that she's a Russian Jew immigrant and a survivor definitely comes out, and I like that. I like the fact that in her fictional world the people that survive are the ones that work hard and believe in themselves. The rest of the story, however, always manages to follow like a bad 50's movie.

For an academic with possibly no recollection of his bloodline's past, this can be an extremely foreign concept, or he might just be a softy. Maybe it's even jealousy that she managed to succeed at selling a product, and as far as I know he has not. However it may be, the fact is that midwinter detests Ayn Rand's books, and I'd venture a guess that it's both of the main aspects that he dislikes. I seem to remember him claiming to have used pages of at least one of her books as toilet roll, which is a fate I wish on no book.
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post #20 of 146
Splinemodel loves that armchair psychoanalysis.
post #21 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Splinemodel loves that psychoanalysis.

Yeah, but he really, really sucks at it.

Quote:
midwinter doesn't like Ayn Rand. I'm not sure if it's the ideology, the writing itself, or some combination of the two.

You got it. Not only do I find the ideology both naive and old-fashioned (are we SURE these "novels" weren't written in the 18th century? or by Ward and June Cleaver?), but the writing is clunky.

Quote:
Personally, I think she's a bit crazy, but I like the basic message. The fact that she's a Russian Jew immigrant and a survivor definitely comes out, and I like that. I like the fact that in her fictional world the people that survive are the ones that work hard and believe in themselves. The rest of the story, however, always manages to follow like a bad 50's movie.

I would suggest that you watch episodes of Leave It To Beaver. It'll only take a half hour and you get the same message.

Quote:
For an academic with possibly no recollection of his bloodline's past, this can be an extremely foreign concept, or he might just be a softy.

You have no idea what the fuck you're talking about. But yeah. Forgetting one's "bloodline" is a trait common to Southerners.

Quote:
Maybe it's even jealousy that she managed to succeed at selling a product, and as far as I know he has not.

You have no idea what the fuck you're talking about, and I hardly feel the need to defend my career to you (although my publication and presentation histories are matters of public record). Maybe when you have a career, we can talk. But right now, you need to find a place to live so you can find a job. I still recommend SLC.

Quote:
However it may be, the fact is that midwinter detests Ayn Rand's books, and I'd venture a guess that it's both of the main aspects that he dislikes. I seem to remember him claiming to have used pages of at least one of her books as toilet roll, which is a fate I wish on no book.

As I said earlier, I liked neither the writing nor the philosophy in her books, and I've read several.

Here's a little psychoanalysis for you, Princeton boy (I'm frankly stunned that you didn't remind us 9 times in your post that you went there): why don't you invest your intellectual and emotional energy into finding a job to replace the one you quit out of the blue and stop childishly lashing out at people who lead happy and productive lives? You ever wonder if maybe there's a connection there? Maybe just a little? A teensy bit of connection considering I'm the second academic type you've attacked lately (Shawn, earlier)?

My point? Maybe you ought to stop fighting it and go back to school.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #22 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

I'm about halfway ... It's OK so far, but his stories don't really come together 'till the end. I borrowed it... I wouldn't buy it 'till it's out in paperback.
In any case, I liked "State of Fear" a lot better at the half-way point.

State of Fear was interesting, but the plot was basically just an excuse for him to express his ideas about global warming, and since it was presented as fiction you were less inclined to agree with it. I think the book would have been better off as nonfiction.
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post #23 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

State of Fear was interesting, but the plot was basically just an excuse for him to express his ideas about global warming, and since it was presented as fiction you were less inclined to agree with it. I think the book would have been better off as nonfiction.

I agree completely. From what I understand, it was never supposed to have been a novel to begin with; apparently his publishers asked him to turn it into a novel, and the result was pretty sucktackular. Don't get me wrong. I have read a bunch of Crichton, and while it isn't high art by any stretch of the imagination, it's good reading before I go to sleep. But State of Fear, its politics aside, was just awful.

Speaking of awful, I'm reading Steve Berry's The Templar Legacy right now, and it's horrid.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #24 of 146
Thread Starter 
Ayn Rand's writing is not awful, but certainly not great either. Her characters are cardboard, and her plots are just average.

As for her philosophy, Objectivism, I'm still mulling over it. I think I agree with most of what she says, but I only just read Atlas Shrugged two months ago, and haven't had enough time to ponder it yet. I like the idea of a society where people get what they earn and nothing more, nothing less. It seems silly to me that we pay taxes to give welfare money to people too lazy to actually earn money.
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post #25 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

From what I understand, it was never supposed to have been a novel to begin with; apparently his publishers asked him to turn it into a novel

Interesting, I didn't know that. Those publishers ruined what could have been an interesting antithesis to "An Inconvenient Truth" and turned it into a very forgettable thriller.

I have no idea whether any of the stuff Michael Crichton says about global warming is true or not, but it would have been interesting to read if it were a novel with lots of research, etc. As it was, he couldn't include very many graphs, statistics, research, as he had to waste space crafting a (very weak) plot.
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post #26 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

It seems silly to me that we pay taxes to give welfare money to people too lazy to actually earn money.

Personally, I'm tired of paying taxes to support programs that employ or subsidize the employment of the mentally disabled and the severely handicapped. I say we let'em die, Rand-style. Evolution happens. [/sarcasm]
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post #27 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

Personally, I'm tired of paying taxes to support programs that employ or subsidize the employment of the mentally disabled and the severely handicapped. I say we let'em die, Rand-style. Evolution happens. [/sarcasm]

Well, it's just- I don't even KNOW these people, I never will. Shouldn't their FRIENDS, their FAMILY, be the ones to support them if they need support? Why should MY hard-earned money be spent on some random person who lives across the country?

And anyways, it's not all disabled people. What about all the people who are just lazy? They are perfectly healthy and COULD get a job, they just DON'T.
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post #28 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

Well, it's just- I don't even KNOW these people, I never will. Shouldn't their FRIENDS, their FAMILY, be the ones to support them if they need support?

I agree completely! And if their friends and family are too friggin' poor to afford hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills or for care and feeding of these losers, I say let those families starve to death.

Quote:
Why should MY hard-earned money be spent on some random person who lives across the country?

Because we survived the 18th and 19th centuries and learned that the alternative is death, disease and destruction.
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post #29 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

I agree completely! And if their friends and family are too friggin' poor to afford hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills or for care and feeding of these losers, I say let those families starve to death.

You have to look at WHY they are poor.
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post #30 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

You have to look at WHY they are poor.

I agree completely. Clearly, they are all poor simply because they are lazy. We all know that wealth is not transferred from parents to children, nor do the children of the wealthy reap any benefits from their socioeconomic status. That's just a crazy liberal MYTH. Escaping poverty is TOTALLY EASY TO DO. And people who don't do it are just plain lazy slobs.
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post #31 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

State of Fear was interesting, but the plot was basically just an excuse for him to express his ideas about global warming, and since it was presented as fiction you were less inclined to agree with it. I think the book would have been better off as nonfiction.

I agree... and NEXT is the same type of book... with views on Genetic Engineering. They are FICTION, but they get a person thinking about things from a perspective they otherwise might have. I tended to disagree with some things and agreed with others, but he does a good job of presenting his ideas.

Oh... and I finished it... I'd have been REALLY dissapointed had I paid $30 for the book!!! I enjoyed it, but it's nothing like his early work.
From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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post #32 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

I agree... and NEXT is the same type of book... with views on Genetic Engineering. They are FICTION, but they get a person thinking about things from a perspective they otherwise might have. I tended to disagree with some things and agreed with others, but he does a good job of presenting his ideas.

Oh... and I finished it... I'd have been REALLY dissapointed had I paid $30 for the book!!! I enjoyed it, but it's nothing like his early work.

Damn. I was kind of looking forward to reading it, too. I read Airframe a few months ago and GOOD LORD I learned more about airplanes than I ever thought I'd know.
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post #33 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

Here's a little psychoanalysis for you, Princeton boy (I'm frankly stunned that you didn't remind us 9 times in your post that you went there): why don't you invest your intellectual and emotional energy into finding a job to replace the one you quit out of the blue and stop childishly lashing out at people who lead happy and productive lives? You ever wonder if maybe there's a connection there? Maybe just a little? A teensy bit of connection considering I'm the second academic type you've attacked lately (Shawn, earlier)?

My point? Maybe you ought to stop fighting it and go back to school.

I hated Princeton, which is why I don't bring it up much. You guys always bring it up, although this time around I'll stop guessing why. I'm amazed that you have the capacity to be so insulted by conjecture, especially if it's so blatantly incorrect as you claim. I am insulted by the behavior of wiping ones own ass with any book. Very insulted, in fact. I think that anyone who could do such a thing is a worm.

Right now I'm only 25. A life-choice of mine is that I indeed quit my job, but I am not exactly without a house or savings account. An opinion of mine is that no one who works hard and believes in himself ends up as a liberal arts professor. We'll find out in time just how right or wrong my choices in life and opinions may be.
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post #34 of 146
JEBUS FRIGGING KRISTOS. Books, motherfuggers.

I'm reading 'And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos' by John Berger. For light relief.

Anyone read 'Straw Dogs' by the political philosopher John Gray? This is the antidote. 'Straw Dogs' says, basically, People = Shit. 'And Our Faces...' says 'Remember humanity'.

He's an old Marxist art critic who happens to be one of the most beautiful writers and thinkers working in English.
post #35 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post

An opinion of mine is that no one who works hard and believes in himself ends up as a liberal arts professor.



Yeah, who could possibly be insulted by such harmless conjecture?
post #36 of 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by turnwrite View Post

Ah.. How so?

It just occurred to me that your question got ignored in Spliney's little bout of acting out.

I said that because if, as you said, Bach and Rand are your "Bibles," you must certainly have a difficult time reconciling Rand's objectivism and effectively 18th-century brand of utterly compassionless laissez-faire capitalism applied to social institutions with Bach's neo-Christian new-agey-ness.
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post #37 of 146
Some people need to try decaf, especially since the thread is titled what are we reading and not let me critique what you are reading and tell you why it and possibly you suck.

Nick

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #38 of 146
I've been slacking on the reading department since I finished "Possibility of an Island" by Michel Houellebecq, which was FANTASTIC, maybe even his best yet.

But I've just started "Prison Diary: Part One" by Jeffrey Archer.
post #39 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hassan i Sabbah View Post

Anyone read 'Straw Dogs' by the political philosopher John Gray? This is the antidote. 'Straw Dogs' says, basically, People = Shit.

That sounds mildly entertaining.. Can you elaborate on this a little?
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post #40 of 146
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

I agree completely. Clearly, they are all poor simply because they are lazy. We all know that wealth is not transferred from parents to children, nor do the children of the wealthy reap any benefits from their socioeconomic status. That's just a crazy liberal MYTH. Escaping poverty is TOTALLY EASY TO DO. And people who don't do it are just plain lazy slobs.

I didn't say it was easy. But it can certainly be done. Many people just sit in poverty and live off the free money I give them through taxes. That bothers me. As for those who actually do have the drive to escape poverty, they can do it, and will eventually earn their own money, without having to mooch off me.

You accuse me of using underestimating the difficulty of escaping poverty. But aren't you overestimating it?
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