[Book] Thread Soon Will Be Making Another Run

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  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I have found myself in a position where I'm an Essential Worker but also find myself being at times stuck at a location for many hours of twiddling my thumbs because someone has to be there even though often no one will show up for hours.

    At any rate, it seemed like a good time to try to read some old thick backlog, so I picked up Don Quixote, since it's one of those big classics that I hadn't actually read, just kinda knew from cultural osmosis. I'm still going through the second part, but since it's a book I'm only reading when at work but not working, I didn't want to wait until whenever I had a chance to get it finished to say a few things.

    First, everyone knows about the whole tilting at windmills thing. That happens in the first hundred pages. There are four hundred pages of the first part after that. I don't think many people actually read past that first hundred pages. Probably got turned off by the next set of misadventures, which were mostly variations of "Don Quixote picks a stupid fight and gets beaten up."

    Also, people usually talk about don Quixote being a senile old man. The funny thing is, outside of his obsession with chivalry and being a knight-errant, he is actually pretty intelligent, well-spoken, and rational. Multiple people even note this in the books. At one point, he meets a traveler who laments that his son has gone off to college but has gotten obsessed with poetry. Don Quixote then goes into a passionate defense of poetry for two pages that changes the guy's mind and briefly makes the guy think that don Quixote is actually pretty sharp, for all that he's weirdly dressed (before more antics intervene). At another point, don Quixote gets into an argument with a priest who tries to tell him that all those books of chivalry are fiction, all those made up pretend adventures of fantastic and fake people, but don Quixote responds with, "What about all these historical figures like the Romans and El Cid and so forth who were supposedly very real and did real things but then were said to have like magic horses and magic swords (still on display in churches and castles!) and do impossible feats? How do you say that this mythologicalizing is 100% true and accurate and real but then this other thing that is basically the same isn't?"

    It makes me think that don Quixote isn't actually crazy like people/popular culture assumes. I think he's LARPing. He knows deep down that yeah, these stories of derring-do aren't real, but he wishes and wants them to be real, so he's trying to make them true by doing them, or at least playing them out. (There is another point where he encounters a troop of actors and praises theater in gushing terms - perhaps because he knows he's also an actor of sorts). He's definitely taking it too far, and dragging poor Sancho Panza along without any explanations and letting the poor guy get duped and deluded (and beaten up multiple times), but there might be method to the madness (or maybe if it's madness, there's method to it).

    Anyway, if/when I'm able to finish I'll give a final accounting. I'm actually enjoying the book a lot more than I expected - it's much deeper than I thought it would be.

    flamebroiledchickencredeikiDoodmann
  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    I've just finished These Truths by Jill Lepore. It is a history of the United States, and I really enjoyed it. Not to get into historicism or anything, but Lepore's perspective and ability to deftly tie events from the US foundation to current events is impressive and weighty. Sometimes I wish history books were written in reverse, so that events happening now start the book off and are traced backwards to their origin, but that's more of a gimmick idea and would get ridiculous and impossible real quick.

    Now I'm looking for a history of George W. Bush's presidency, or a history of Russia. I would love to hear any suggestions on those fronts! Robert Draper has recently published a book on the Iraq war which looks fascinating, but I was hoping to find a perspective of Bush's general tenure in office before jumping on that.

  • KaputaKaputa Registered User regular
    edited September 16
    I just finished reading The Silmarillion. The Hobbit was one of the first real novels I read in my childhood, and LotR was a crucial part of my adolescence, but for whatever reason I never got around to reading this. Maybe the Biblical feel to the early chapters turned me off as a teenager, I dunno.

    I found it to be a amazing book! It had a different feel than most fiction I've read, being written as an epic history rather than a normal character-based narrative - although the immortality of the Elves lends an interesting twist to that, since some of the characters introduced in the first fifty pages are still present hundreds or thousands of years later. There's not a whole lot of wondering what will happen on a broad scale, since characters and places are often introduced with phrases like "and it was the last Elven stronghold to fall to Morgoth" or "and thus a seed of evil was planted and their doom was sown." The knowledge that almost all of the people and places you're reading about are basically doomed gives a tragic feeling to all of the events described, which is heightened by the wistful writing. Tolkien writes in the 'preface' (really a letter to his friend/editor) that the theme of a "fall" is central to his work, and that he believes that beauty largely arises from sorrow, and both of these motifs are evident to the point of being blatant in this book. The early parts of the story are majestic and beautiful, which makes the gradual disintegration of Earth's situation painful to behold. One of my favorite parts of the book was the depiction of the first generations of Elves wandering a primeval Middle Earth under the stars in a permanent night, before the sun and moon were created. And Elven life in Valinor under the Trees is depicted beautifully too. The feelings of nostalgia and loss these earlier scenes evoke are pretty powerful in my opinion. Some criticize the book for archaic language, but I think that helps add to the mood; overall I just love the way Tolkien writes.

    The way Tolkien describes the places in the book is amazing. It is at once very detailed and concrete while giving a ton of emotional color to the forests, mountains, and cities he depicts. With the help of the included map, I felt like I lived in Beleriand by the end of the story, knowing its geography and having strong associations with each individual place and the events which occurred there. This degree of familiarity with the locales helped to bring me closer to a story where the characters themselves are often not very developed.

    I wasn't quite as into the last two sections, which were basically summaries of the events of the 2nd and 3rd ages. The tale of Numenor's fall is pretty cool, but coming after the epic story of the First Age it feels a bit undeveloped. And I found the final battle of the main narrative to be a bit anticlimactic.
    I loved Earendil's journey West, but the way that the Valar crushed Morgoth's armies and banished him in like a page's worth of text after 500 years of warfare left me a bit unsatisfied, despite the cataclysmic nature of the battle.

    My other favorite bits were Morgoth's journey with Ungoliant (such a badass/terrifying being) and the tale of Turin Turambar, which is just a great story. Beren and Luthien was cool too of course. It was also interesting to see Sauron in a different light in this story; in LotR he's a vague incorporeal evil presence behind all the events, whereas in this he's directly confronting different heroes in various ways, such as turning into a werewolf to attack them or having a singing contest with an Elven king.

    I'm sure most people here who have any interest in Tolkien have already read the book; I regret taking so long to do so myself. If not, I highly recommend it to anyone who loved LotR. It's a unique, tragic, and beautiful journey. I wish Tolkien had lived another fifty years and given us all that was in his wonderful mind.

    Kaputa on
    IcemopperMayabirdshrykeMahnmutSolar
  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    I also just read The Silmarillion at the beginning of this year for the first time through. Like you, I'd started and stopped multiple times, and was disappointed in myself for how much I "claim" to love Tolkien's worlds. I really don't mind I waited so long to finally go through the whole thing, in some ways I'm glad I did. I know the Hobbit and the LOTR series so well that these stories and lore had more impact knowing their almost poetic ties to the stories of LOTR, like Beren and Luthien/Aragorn and Arwen.

    All that said, I certainly don't blame anyone who tries and stops at page 50 in The Silmarillion and still are huge Tolkien fans. It is dense and purposely archaic, beautiful and thrilling too, but I don't think you should feel regret for missing it so far! I know I don't, but I will definitely read it again and again now that I know what I missed before.

    Kaputa
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers. After bouncing off one of his books ages and ages ago I tried a couple of others recently and they're excellent, and this one seems as steeped in convincing research as those others.

    jakobagger
  • AntoshkaAntoshka Miauen Oil Change LazarusRegistered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers. After bouncing off one of his books ages and ages ago I tried a couple of others recently and they're excellent, and this one seems as steeped in convincing research as those others.

    I greatly enjoyed Anubis gates - it has a fantastic structure throughout

    n57PM0C.jpg
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Halfway through Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Yes, binging him right now.

    With the caveat that I neither finished nor liked Book of the New Sun, I'm getting a lot of the same vibes here, feels like it was rather heavily inspired. Far-future (maybe?) post-apoc (maybe?) civilization in severe decline (totally!), written as the journal of a prisoner on The Island, where people are sent to disappear and never return because they're too uncomfortable to just have killed. Jumps back and forth between the present imprisonment and past history as it suddenly becomes relevant to the story Stefan tells. Liking it a lot so far.
    The Sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, surviving on the debris of its long-dead progenitors, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

    Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new, is Stefan Advani, rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in verdant hell of the jungle's darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will treat with monsters, madman, mutants. The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
    MahnmutcredeikiAsthariel
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    I'm on Doors Of Eden and it's great. I love it. So I guess I should read all the other non spider books from Adrian Tchaikovsky.

    no no no no noo no no no no no
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    I would also describe it as China Mieville but without the big wanky words.

    You do you, goodreads reviewer.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
    initiatefailurejakobagger
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers. After bouncing off one of his books ages and ages ago I tried a couple of others recently and they're excellent, and this one seems as steeped in convincing research as those others.

    The Anubis Gates was great. As was The Drawing of the Dark. Those were the first two of Powers' books I read and I've been variously just okay or disappointed with his other stuff since.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    The Drawing of the Dark was one of the other ones I've read. Declare was the other. Both excellent. The one I bounced off and didn't actually finish (a rarity for me) was Expiration Date.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    The Drawing of the Dark was one of the other ones I've read. Declare was the other. Both excellent. The one I bounced off and didn't actually finish (a rarity for me) was Expiration Date.

    I have Declare but haven't gotten around to it. I thought The Stress of Her Regard and Three Days to Never were just okay compared to the other two, then got too bored with Medusa's Web and gave up on it so never started Declare. Guess I'll put that back in the pile.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Fighting The Rising Odds Registered User, Moderator mod
    Declare is very much my bag, mixing a cold war spy thriller with supernatural awfulness.

    jakobagger
  • jakobaggerjakobagger LO THY DREAD EMPIRE CHAOS IS RESTORED Registered User regular
    Declare is fantastic

  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    edited September 16
    Harrow the ninth has slain me.

    And this is the murder weapon
    iruwfrxbxnqe.png

    This god damned book has gone too far!

    (forgive the poorly framed picture taken at a reader screen and cropped)

    initiatefailure on
    I Do Design | I PSN- Subtle_Ties | 3DS: 3840-5210-2008 (Subtle)
    CptHamiltonknitdanAiserou
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Harrow the ninth has slain me.

    And this is the murder weapon
    iruwfrxbxnqe.png

    This god damned book has gone too far!

    After seeing so many people posting about the surprises in the book without reading the spoilers I went in expecting to be surprised. Even with that expectation I did not see that reference coming. My wife actually came to check on me because I was laughing so hard.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    I don't get that reference? Can someone explain it?

    "I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."

    The Monster Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson
    credeikiEchoA Dabble Of Thelonius
  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    edited September 16
    well i just aged considerably. it's apparently a now 13 year old meme.

    heres a gizmodo 10 year retrospective on it because why not

    https://gizmodo.com/reflections-on-the-10th-anniversary-of-none-pizza-with-1819692097

    the meme itself
    pmdsvc0sqj1k.png

    initiatefailure on
    I Do Design | I PSN- Subtle_Ties | 3DS: 3840-5210-2008 (Subtle)
  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    I can’t believe i missed that on my read

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
    webguy20
  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    i honestly think that's one of the reasons I'm haven't been overly worried about "dated references" in either this or Gideon. Like without me recognizing that reference, it just scans as a normal thing in the dialogue.

    Also I'm now firmly into the endgame of harrow and holy shit

    I Do Design | I PSN- Subtle_Ties | 3DS: 3840-5210-2008 (Subtle)
    Kanaknitdanwebguy20Echo
  • AntoshkaAntoshka Miauen Oil Change LazarusRegistered User regular
    i honestly think that's one of the reasons I'm haven't been overly worried about "dated references" in either this or Gideon. Like without me recognizing that reference, it just scans as a normal thing in the dialogue.

    Also I'm now firmly into the endgame of harrow and holy shit

    Even after looking at the item linked, I'm not actually convinced it's a reference at all - the wordplay works on its own

    n57PM0C.jpg
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Antoshka wrote: »
    i honestly think that's one of the reasons I'm haven't been overly worried about "dated references" in either this or Gideon. Like without me recognizing that reference, it just scans as a normal thing in the dialogue.

    Also I'm now firmly into the endgame of harrow and holy shit

    Even after looking at the item linked, I'm not actually convinced it's a reference at all - the wordplay works on its own

    It has to be a reference. The line does work on its own but just barely. The wording scans too weirdly to not be referring to that meme.

    Though honestly that wasn't the best line in the book.

    (Final-ish chapter of Harrow spoiler (really a pretty major spoiler even without context)):
    "Hi Not Fucking Dead, I'm Dad!" had me crying laughing

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  • SummaryJudgmentSummaryJudgment Today we will paint a mountain that owes us nothing. Registered User regular
    edited September 17
    I was just incredibly frustrated by it, I think I've broken a funny bone or something.
    I love Matthias showing up and...that's it. That was the only reward I remember from what was otherwise kind of a difficult read.

    SummaryJudgment on
    I'm at your feet
    I'm at your command
    Hail holy queen of the sea
    You're whirling in rags
    You're vast and you're sad
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    I was just incredibly frustrated by it, I think I've broken a funny bone or something.
    I love Matthias showing up and...that's it. That was the only reward I remember from what was otherwise kind of a difficult read.

    Ah to me it was definitely not as funny as Gideon but it was way more emotional, and I liked the necromancy spaceship scenery; I also liked the psychological/distorted writing.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
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    Mahnmut
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    I was just incredibly frustrated by it, I think I've broken a funny bone or something.
    I love Matthias showing up and...that's it. That was the only reward I remember from what was otherwise kind of a difficult read.

    Ah to me it was definitely not as funny as Gideon but it was way more emotional, and I liked the necromancy spaceship scenery; I also liked the psychological/distorted writing.

    I liked Harrow less than Gideon, despite Harrow making me laugh more frequently.

    Harrow felt like a short story's worth of content expanded into a relatively long novel purely by means of the gimmicks present. I did enjoy what was there but, honestly, I could have had the first 2/3rds of the book compressed into a couple chapters. I really hope the next book doesn't take a similar tack (which the exerpt at the end kinda seemed like it might).

    (All Harrow spoilers)
    All of the 'flashback' sections were ultimately pointless. The final descent into The River where Harrow sort of knows/learns what's up and fights The Sleeper could have been the only one. Most of the chapters on the space station with Harrow were fun but didn't really need to be there. I'm pretty sure the next book could have been expanded by 50 pages and not lose any actual character development or plot. Especially if the whole weird love triangle with Ianthe doesn't go anywhere.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    credeiki wrote: »
    I was just incredibly frustrated by it, I think I've broken a funny bone or something.
    I love Matthias showing up and...that's it. That was the only reward I remember from what was otherwise kind of a difficult read.

    Ah to me it was definitely not as funny as Gideon but it was way more emotional, and I liked the necromancy spaceship scenery; I also liked the psychological/distorted writing.

    I liked Harrow less than Gideon, despite Harrow making me laugh more frequently.

    Harrow felt like a short story's worth of content expanded into a relatively long novel purely by means of the gimmicks present. I did enjoy what was there but, honestly, I could have had the first 2/3rds of the book compressed into a couple chapters. I really hope the next book doesn't take a similar tack (which the exerpt at the end kinda seemed like it might).

    (All Harrow spoilers)
    All of the 'flashback' sections were ultimately pointless. The final descent into The River where Harrow sort of knows/learns what's up and fights The Sleeper could have been the only one. Most of the chapters on the space station with Harrow were fun but didn't really need to be there. I'm pretty sure the next book could have been expanded by 50 pages and not lose any actual character development or plot. Especially if the whole weird love triangle with Ianthe doesn't go anywhere.

    More Harrow spoilers
    I agree that there was a lot in there that didn't advance the plot--that did not bother me at all. Everything there felt like it was exploring more of Harrow's being. The minutiae of her interactions with Ianthe were entirely interesting to me, and each one showed a somewhat different facet of Harrow or Ianthe or both. It's not development in that they do not change as a result, but it's character revelation, in that is shows the reader something we don't already know.

    The flashback sections certainly weren't needed--but they gave us time to meet Orthus and really meet Abigail, and they got us to spend some time exploring what was up with Harrow's self-brain surgery.

    I am generally fairly critical of parts of books that I think should be cut but I never felt like this dragged or needed to be less of what it was. I suppose that is partially just because I enjoyed what it was. So yeah, actually if I think about it there was some amount of repetition in, mostly, the interactions between God and Mercymorn, but I liked reading them, and it also kind of makes sense and captures a bit of the 'we've been doing this for 10,000 years' feeling. Ah right and the whole Sleeper/Nonius fight was like wait why is this here but then the answer was because it kicks ass, so that's ok by me.

    I think the third book is going to be about Blood of Eden/the rebellion, and I'm thinking it'll be way different from the other books cause it'll take place on a planet among normal people instead of in an isolated environment with 5-20 necromancers/cavaliers. But that's just a guess.

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  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Just finished Provenance, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't quite the same sweeping narrative as Ancillary, but I liked the characters (or well, the writing of the characters, Danach can choke on a barrel of dicks). It could have used more tea parties.

    4 out of 5 teacups from the best tea set.

    "I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."

    The Monster Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson
  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    Katherine Addison has a new book out, set in Alt-Victorian London but the reviews are largely savaging it as “Sherlock Holmes fanfic”

    Supposedly a different book actually connected to the Goblin Emperor world comes out in 2021 so I’ll look forward to that

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    There's a lot of pretty decent Sherlock Holmes fanfic in the world so I'm not sure that's really a harsh indictment.

    I started Ninth House, which is interesting but I'm finding slow-going because I'm having a hard time finding anything to like about the main character. I'm only about 1/5th of the way in so I'm hoping she improves.

    Also started Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I forget whether it was here or in the book channel on my work Slack that I had it recommended but, so far, I don't get it. It's just not very good. It reads like YA that had a curse word or reference to sex poked in every few pages to make sure everyone knows it's For Adults. Otherwise it all just seems like a mash-up of cliches and ideas lifted from other sci-fi.

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Also started Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I forget whether it was here or in the book channel on my work Slack that I had it recommended but, so far, I don't get it. It's just not very good. It reads like YA that had a curse word or reference to sex poked in every few pages to make sure everyone knows it's For Adults. Otherwise it all just seems like a mash-up of cliches and ideas lifted from other sci-fi.

    Long Way is entirely about characters and atmosphere. There isn't any grand plot really, it is just some folks learning about each other and themselves.

    MahnmutN1tSt4lker
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