The What Are You Reading? Thread, v. 2.0

This is the place where you can vent whatever's on your mind. Feel free to go off on extended rants or brief blurbs about whatever's rocking your world.

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Chris G
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Post by Chris G » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:04 pm

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Sven Killer Robot Spacema wrote:
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My attention span is way too short. I read on the internet, newspapers,some magazine articles now and then but that's it. The thought of reading an entire book of fiction repulses me.
I agree. You may have noticed all my books are non-fiction. Spending four or five hours of my time on a fiction book, I just cannot rationalize. I can't remember he last time I read a fiction book either. I read a book called Arrogance, an historical fiction based on the life of the Austrian Expresssionist painter, Egon Schiele. That was many years ago, close to 15. I feel like I must have read another fiction book since. That may have been before I read... Oh wait, I can think of a few others I've read since then, now that I ponder it, but I won't speak of them. A couple would incite riots on this board.
Sven Killer Robot Spacema wrote:It seems like the GloNo gang here reads some interesting stuff. But do you agree with this.........
"Just because you read entire books doesn't make you smart and just because you don't doesn't make you dumb."
Yes.

I couldn't agree more. I see people that boast about the 23 books they read last year, and most of them are Tom Clancy, Danielle Steel, Anne Rice, Stephen King or some other such mindless drivel. I have a lot more respect for someone who reads the paper everyday and never picks up a book.

By and large, I'm pretty strickly a non-fiction guy. If I'm going to spend hours reading a book, I want some educational pay-back out of it, not just mindless escapism.
Sven Killer Robot Spacema wrote:Are those insurance salesman types still reading lame-ass Tom Clancy novels on airplanes? I haven't flown in years because the airlines treated me like shit before September 11th so I can't imagine how bad it is now.
Damn, is your name Yousef, Ali, Jamal, Mohamed, Osama, Abdel, Zaki, Rashid, or some variation thereof?

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Sven Killer Robot Spacema
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Post by Sven Killer Robot Spacema » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:15 pm

Chris G wrote::.
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Damn, is your name Yousef, Ali, Jamal, Mohamed, Osama, Abdel, Zaki, Rashid, or some variation thereof?

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Nope. Just don't think dinner for two at TGIF is adequate payment in exchange for arriving in Vegas 6 hours late.

n8
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Post by n8 » Wed Sep 28, 2005 1:20 pm

Chris G wrote::.
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By and large, I'm pretty strickly a non-fiction guy. If I'm going to spend hours reading a book, I want some educational pay-back out of it, not just mindless escapism.
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I agree with you really strongly on that.
My overall reading (magazines, newspapers, books, websites, etc.) is probably 99% nonfiction, 1% fiction.
When real life stories are so great, fiction just feels like a waste of time to me.

I'm currently (finally!) reading Greil Marcus's classic <i>Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century.</i> This shit blows my mind!

jonas
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Post by jonas » Wed Sep 28, 2005 8:55 pm

Freakonomics, Blink and Tipping Point all in rapid succession. Tipping Point was the best of the lot...it boggles my mind how many clever ideas researchers come up with to figure out how society functions.

miss carol
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Post by miss carol » Wed Sep 28, 2005 11:54 pm

jonas wrote:Freakonomics, Blink and Tipping Point all in rapid succession. Tipping Point was the best of the lot...it boggles my mind how many clever ideas researchers come up with to figure out how society functions.
I read Tipping Point and it felt like an overlong magazine article; too glib for my tastes. Blink, from what I've read, got mixed/luke warm reviews.

I'm currently editing one non-fiction after another -- the latest about essentially genocide. So some escapist fiction will do me well soon I should think.

I had a conversation about non-fiction vs fiction (versus?) with a friend of mine. The only novels she likes are sci-fi and can't see the point of a "mere" story. She's also one of the most stressed people I know largely because she inundates herself with facts from work. My arguement is in fact you DO learn something from fiction; about the human condtion. Escapism, as I see it anyway, isn't a waste. Indeed, it's similar to sleeping or dreaming (day or night) in that it allows your brain to process information. A good novel exercises my imagination so I can think creatively regardless of the task. A bad book is obvious; I can see the holes, the flaws, and has no redeeming value.

Just my take. I read the paper every day, try to balance fiction with non-fiction, magazines. I don't read much from the net -- kills my eyes, frankly.

jaimoe0
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Post by jaimoe0 » Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:22 am

Chris G wrote::.
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By and large, I'm pretty strickly a non-fiction guy. If I'm going to spend hours reading a book, I want some educational pay-back out of it, not just mindless escapism.
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Painting in a pretty broad stroke there. The implication is that all fiction is "mindless escapism," which pretty clearly it isn't. Novels, short stories and poetry have been used to promote different philosophies, to examine and contextualize historical events and to comment on that pesky old human condition for as long as there has been literature. The merit of these endeavors is completely subjective and relative, of course. The remark is more a statement on your preference for nonfiction, and more power to you for it, than it is a reasonable or accurate assessment of fiction's meaning or its place in the literary and cultural landscape.

My own view is that firmly placing yourself in one camp or the other is tantamount to closing yourself off to a whole world of experience and pleasure, but ultimately, if nonfiction gives you all the literary and intellectual stimulation you need, or fiction if you're in the other camp, bueno! I mean, folks should read whatever they want, but they should definitely read, Swedish foxy boxing promoters notwithstanding.

Mixmaster Shecky
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Post by Mixmaster Shecky » Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:59 am

miss carol wrote: Escapism, as I see it anyway, isn't a waste. Indeed, it's similar to sleeping or dreaming (day or night) in that it allows your brain to process information.
True, Miss C. Good creative escapism isn't just about escapism, either. Most examples of good 'escapist' literature can still impart some lessons.

'The Maltese Falcon' springs to mind as not just great pulp fiction but an examination of modernist philosophy. 'The Alienist' by Caleb Carr is not just a historical thriller, but paints a grim, well-researched picture of Victorian life. Hell, even 'Watership Down' can make you think about the rise and fall of societies and religions.

Crappy escapist fiction, on the other hand, should be avoided like genital warts. I submit that no Steven King novel should ever be read except for 'The Shining'. And maybe 'The Stand'.

grounded5am
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Post by grounded5am » Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:31 am

i rather liked what i read of the dark tower series. otherwise i would agree. if i can throw another must read name out there i'd say terry pratchet. he's the best.

miss carol
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Post by miss carol » Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:04 am

I haven't read Stephen King, but it's on my list. I liken books like his to soda crackers; clears the palette.

Prachett is hilarious. Love him.

booker
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Post by booker » Thu Sep 29, 2005 10:38 am

miss carol wrote:My manager set aside a FIRST EDITION AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ANANSI BOYS just for me!! All I can say is thank GOD for employee discounts. Guess I'm reading that next.
I also found an autographed copy of Anansi Boys at the local bookstore. Good as gold to me. Neil Gaiman's a master. American Gods was, by far, the best book I read last year. It's epic.

I've read so much good stuff lately, I can't name it all. Unimaginable Zero Summer by Chicago author Leslie Stella is a hilarious book about some folks in their mid-thirties going through an early mid-life crisis of sorts.

The new Harry Potter had an incredible second half.

Started Focault's Pendulum. I think I'll come back to it.

Right now, I'm actually reading a classic by Arthur C. Clarke, Rendevous with Rama. I'm not a science fiction reader, but it's just an all-around interesting book - a page turner.

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