Whatcha Reading? Thread v5

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
One Hundred Years of Socialism:

The West European Left in the Twentieth Century

by Donald Sassoon



Good Muslim, Bad Muslim:

America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror

by Mahmood Mamdani



The Creation of the Media:

Political Origins of Modern Communication

by Paul Starr



Blindness

by José Saramago



I'm basically reading them all at the same time. The first book, One Hundred Years of Socialism is a 1000 page yarn that meticulously details the rise and fall of various socialist movements in Western Europe. It offers me a historical understanding of something I know basically nothing about. You could probably understand why I wouldn't want to read that one straight through. The second book, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, proposes that Islamic terrorism is more an unintended result of "America's embrace of proxy war after its defeat in Vietnam" than a "clash between civilizations." It's just a great book that elaborates on how America supported Islamic terrorism against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The third book, The Creation of the Media, is basically a thoughtful history of the media in this country. Finally, the fourth book, Blindness, is something I've picked up and read sporadically for the last six months. Brilliant novel. It's pretty much a parable of the horrors of the 20th century.



I personally enjoy these kinds of books more than the best-selling political novels. Those seem best at just revealing shockingly new information-- stuff that the media basically covers anyway when the book first comes out. I know books like Against All Enemies, The Politics of Truth, Worse than Watergate, and The Price of Loyalty are probably valuable to read-- I just don't have much desire to read them. Probably because various blogs quote the books at length and the books receive a lot of media coverage, there is less incentive for me to read them. So I focus on other books.



I'm also starting a Summer Reading Group with a few other college friends. We're dedicating ourselves to reading some of the classic marxist, communist, socialist, and anarchist texts of the last couple hundred years. Marx, Engle, Trotsky, and Bakunin are sure bets. It would be nice to get a little theoretical understanding of some of the concepts I feel more in my heart than in my head.



So whatcha reading?

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    faust9faust9 Posts: 1,335member
    Johnny Got His Gun By Dalton Trumbo.



    Simply one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. I've read it a half dozen times to date. I first read it in high school where it ment nothing to me. My next incounter came while my boat (not ship) was on spec-op. I read it again just before I decided to get out. I read it following 911. I read it in March of 2003, and I'm reading it again.
  • Reply 2 of 27
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by faust9

    Johnny Got His Gun By Dalton Trumbo.



    Simply one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. I've read it a half dozen times to date. I first read it in high school where it ment nothing to me. My next incounter came while my boat (not ship) was on spec-op. I read it again just before I decided to get out. I read it following 911. I read it in March of 2003, and I'm reading it again.




    Wow. Thanks, faust9. I added it to my wishlist.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    buckeyebuckeye Posts: 358member
  • Reply 4 of 27
    nebulousnebulous Posts: 193member
    Right now my bedside table has Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy on it. I've been working on this one for quite a while. School's assigned reading sort of got in the way of my pleasure reading, but now that I have nothing else to do...



    After I finish Anna, I'll probably start Pride and Prejudice or Dune.



    I'm also catching up on what next year's classes will be by running through some ancient Greek. Perhaps it's not the most useful language, but I'm really looking forward to the class. Other alphabets are a particular fascination of mine, and the Greek alphabet looks fun so far.
  • Reply 5 of 27
    agent302agent302 Posts: 974member
    For a class:



    Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on thr Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt



    For fun (when I finally finish the above and get my ass graduated in a couple weeks) :



    Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss



    I'm what one might call a "grammar whore"
  • Reply 6 of 27
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by agent302

    Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss



    I'm what one might call a "grammar whore"




    Me too. But I flipped through that at Barnes and Noble and it didn't seem terribly interesting. I find websites like Guide to Grammar and Writing much more informative, efficient at imparting information, and accessible.
  • Reply 7 of 27
    progmacprogmac Posts: 1,850member
  • Reply 8 of 27
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    Parables of the Virtual by Brian Masumi.

    Difficult Continental Philosophy that incorporates notions from science, cuch as Emergence and pattern formation into ideas of movement and cognition and and and . . . . not the easiest read



    also reading HYPERION by Dan Simmons. My guilty pleasure is that I love Sci-Fi space epics . . . he is a serious writer too . . . he can actually pen a good sentence . . . lots in fact.

    I keep looking for good Sci Fi and failing but I think this is good so far.
  • Reply 9 of 27
    agent302agent302 Posts: 974member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ShawnJ

    Me too. But I flipped through that at Barnes and Noble and it didn't seem terribly interesting. I find websites like Guide to Grammar and Writing much more informative, efficient at imparting information, and accessible.



    I'm not reading Eats, Shoots, and Leaves for informative purposes though. It's entertainment, and it's quite excellent.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    These are the books I took with me on my visit back to my hometown:



    Yann Martel, Life of Pi (reading for the 3rd or 4th time)

    Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies (just finished last night)

    Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community (just bought yesterday but good so far)

    Shamoon, et al. Coming of Age: The Advanced Writing Curriculum (for work)

    Austen, Emma (on iPaq, and reading for the umpteenth time)



    Edit: I forgot Aaron Gwyn, Dog on the Cross (collection of short fiction. Odd that I'd forget, considering he's a very good friend of mine)
  • Reply 11 of 27


  • Reply 12 of 27
    dmzdmz Posts: 5,775member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by midwinter

    Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community (just bought yesterday but good so far)







    I've been hearing really good things about him.







    I'm still in Democracy in America.
  • Reply 13 of 27
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dmz

    I've been hearing really good things about him.







    I'm still in Democracy in America.




    Wendell Berry is one of the greatest writers this country has produced since Thoreau.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    staphbabystaphbaby Posts: 353member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ShawnJ

    [B]One Hundred Years of Socialism:

    The West European Left in the Twentieth Century

    by Donald Sassoon



    I was taught historical methodology by Donald Sasson when I was at Queen Mary for a year. He's a very cluey guy. And he gave me a 93 for my 100% essay on postmodernism. What can I say? He rocks.



    Re. reading socialist texts: yay!!! There are people at AI who don't think "left" (let alone liberal) is a dirty word. You'll find lots more exciting texts for free at marxist.org. Have fun with Trotsky. It sits on my father's bookshelf right next to his Authorised Version of the Bible.



    As for what I'm reading:



    Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Luard (1883) is what I'm currently writing my thesis on, and working my way through. It's great for a laugh (Paris was one of those wacky 13th century Benedictines. Unfortunately, the only complete translation is Giles' crappy 1850s effort, which is pretty crap, occasionally rather inaccurate, and has an unfortunate Whiggish Protestant bias, so I'm mostly reading it in Latin. It's other failing is that the index volume is largely focussed on "big men" rather than interesting stuff like subject areas e.g. heresy, clerical taxation etc.



    Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising series. Nice and light, but reasonably well written, to prevent me from going insane while thesis writing.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    agent302agent302 Posts: 974member
    Midwinter, you remind me that I should reread Life of Pi over the summer. That book is quite amazing.
  • Reply 16 of 27
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by staphbaby

    stuff



    What is your area? History? Area of history?Historiography?

    Read any Hayden White? or Vico? or even Gadamer?

    I Love that stuff . .



    and Artman, . . . I went through a phase where I read everything about the Factory I could . . . Popism is a good read



    And "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, by Warhol, is really excellent. There was definite method to his madness . . . he was very very smart, despite his apparent and purposeful dumbness
  • Reply 17 of 27
    staphbabystaphbaby Posts: 353member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by pfflam

    What is your area?



    I've just finished my Law degree? I did my honours thesis in it on a Habermasian critique of the contemporary Australian government's theory of democratic representation. Mmm Habermas.



    Currently, I'm in my seventh year, finishing off my Arts degree, in which I majored in Mediaeval History and Latin ? this year is honours for (Mediaeval) History. My thesis is focussing on Paris' perception of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and European society in a fairly un-theoretical way. Next year is my Latin thesis, which I'll probably do on something late antique... vague thoughts wandering around my head include Boëthius, Jerome, or maybe some of the great patristic writers?



    History/classics is really my area of interest going forward, but I'm deeply interested in certain aspects of philosophy and literary theory. One of the tragedies of my degree is that combined BA/LLB students can only do two majors in Arts, rather than three, so I haven't done much formal philosophy, except where its taught as parts of other areas (Legal theory, historical methodology, and the various theorists as they permeate areas like sociology and history ? notably the ubiquitous Foucault).



    Quote:

    History? Area of history?Historiography?

    Read any Hayden White? or Vico? or even Gadamer?

    I Love that stuff . .




    My favourite period of history would be the 13th and 14th centuries, largely because of the rather sudden intellectual changes which were introduced to a seriously conservative society by the bubonic plague, and the various heresies of the century (Wycliffism is the one I'm most familiar with, although the Hussites have always seemed quite fascinating). My next favourite would be the seventeenth century, because I have a great fondness for millenarian freaks. I too would like to be an antinomian.



    White/Vico/Gadamer are slightly out of my field I think, although I'm sure I've seen some of Vico's work before, and I've certainly encountered Gadamer. I've done a fair amount of political theory (my favourite there is Jürgen Habermas, despite the decidedly reactionary implications of much of his theory), and quite a lot of modern literary theory, but really only from this century (Derrida, Barthes, Foucault etc.) Of those, Umberto Eco is my favourite, not least of all because his style is lucid without giving up the conceptual complexity he means to convey; not to mention that, unlike some, he doesn't come across as an insufferable wanker. I would, however, recommend that everyone read Geoffrey Elton's purported debunking of post-modernism: it's hilarious. The most recent piece of philosophy I've read is Aquinas. Go figure.



    Warhol is fascinating, but my favourite modern artists at the moment are Gilbert and George. If only I could find prints of them... For those who don't know, them this is a reasonable review, and here are a couple of their more famous works (being sold for ridiculously inflated prices!).
  • Reply 18 of 27
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    Gotta love that Ideal Speech community!! . . . . the din on these boards is counter argument to Habermas!! Forget Foucault *ehem* who needs his critique?! -just footnote any political thread here and Habermas's Ideal dissipates n'est pas?



    But I'll admit, the constant Foucaultian attack on 'Reason' gets tiring.



    Sounds like you're knee deep and loving it . . . I'm kind of envious . . . terminal degree for fine arts is an MFA, though I keep reading theoretical work and histories on my own, I read at a much slower pace outside of student-hood, and without all the inner harrumphing and guffawing . . . lacking that sense of dire purpose . . .



    Geffry Elton . . I'll check it out . . . but I do love my Foucault and anything born from Heidegger -with a weary grain of salt, of course. . . i'm an artist, I don't have to be too identified with any position, I steal from all of them and hold on to none too hard . . . except hermenuetics\



    Gilbert and George . . . ! love the idea of living with huge, very clear, nicely framed and polished -and very tastefully arranged- turds! Brilliant.

    (BTW, referring to specific content w/in the pieces, not calling them names, in case you didn't know?!)
  • Reply 19 of 27
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Wow, I better get started reading just to understand the conversation in my own thread! Staphbaby-- that's wonderful that Donald Sassoon actually taught you. I can only claim taking the class of the guy who wrote the Philosophy of the Simpsons (The D'oh! of Homer) and the The Matrix and Philosophy. I had him for Aesthetics this past semester. Interesting class.
  • Reply 20 of 27
    crazychestercrazychester Posts: 1,339member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by pfflam

    also reading HYPERION by Dan Simmons.



    Unfortunately, I wouldn't bother with the rest of the series. Very disappointing. It's so often the way. But yeah, Hyperion was a goody.
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