What are you reading?

A place to discuss your favorite authors and poets, Christian and secular

Re: What are you reading?

Postby Kaori » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:22 am

This will be a bit of a wall of text, since it’s everything significant I’ve read in the past five or six months.

Richard III – had some great passages here and there but overall I would definitely not rank it among Shakespeare’s half-dozen best. Was pretty amazed by how overt the references to Christianity are compared to Shakespeare’s later plays. Also, I’m not sure what Shakespeare is trying to say about cursing: there are some characters who mention that cursing another person is not behavior fitting for a Christian, but then pretty much the whole plot revolves around the efficacy of Margaret’s curse at the very beginning of the play and how it all gradually comes true.

Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka – There were quite a few things that were completely incomprehensible to me due to my utter ignorance of Yoruba culture. Despite that, however, the overall plot structure is quite clear and is extremely powerful and well-written.

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde - It’s more serious in tone than The Importance of Being Earnest, and although the comedy is there, it doesn’t sparkle quite as much, and there was a sense of a very real possibility of tragedy that was always lurking and which was scarcely averted in the end. It tackles some serious issues of morality, and the flaws that people have, and the way that people who pride themselves on being morally upright often have difficulty forgiving faults in others.
Overall I would consider the play very highly if it weren’t for one thing: Wilde espouses the idea that men are made to live life in the public and intellectual spheres and that women live theirs in a purely emotional sphere. This is what his hero, Lord Goring says: “A man’s life is of more value than a woman’s. It has larger issues, wider scope, greater ambitions. A woman’s life revolves in curves of emotions. It is upon lines of intellect that a man’s life progresses.” Then the person he is addressing, Lady Chiltern, unquestioningly accepts what he says and repeats it all to her husband, having instantly been persuaded to what Lord Goring says—not because of persuasive arguments, logic, or use of reason, but merely because he says it. I can’t tolerate that sort of empty-headedness in women characters . . . or anyone, really, but it particularly irks me that according to Wilde’s views Lady Chiltern is empty-headed in this fashion because she is a woman, because apparently that’s what Oscar Wilde thinks women are like. And I’d better not even start in on the false dichotomy between intellect and emotion.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck -Won several prestigious awards, and the author grew up in China and learned Chinese before English—so I suppose that in addition to being well-written the book is probably also quite accurate. Its scope, which concerns the fall of one great house and the rise of another in its place during pre-revolutionary China, is grand. Yet at the same time, the book is intensely personal and has Realism’s interest in the quotidian details of an (initially) ordinary person’s life. The plot arc follows the life of one man, Wang Lung, from his wedding day in his youth to his preparations for death, and the reader is able to see his life come full circle in several ways. His life also feels very universal and concerned with the basic things of life: working to eat, rises and falls in fortune, getting married, having children, lusting after other women, encountering troubles in raising his children, and so on. In the end, however, despite the fact that Wang Lung’s fortune throughout the book is good more often than it is bad, and it seems the story of the life of a person who has had (for the most part) a good life, I find the book to be agonizingly sad. Overall, this is another very powerful and well-written book.

Cup of Gold by Steinbeck - “He wanted something, and he was idiot enough to think that he could get it.” This pretty much sums up the thesis of the book, which is a short historical fiction novel about the buccaneer Henry Morgan. It drags some in places and does not have nearly the well-shaped plot of Of Mice and Men. Not Steinbeck’s best to begin with, and then my mild interest throughout most of the book completely turned to hate towards the end because Steinbeck has one of his female characters say that she wishes the main character had raped her, which is perpetrating the execrable “women want to be raped” myth.

The Weight of Glory by C.S.Lewis - Some essays were more interesting and better than others, and even within essays some parts of essays were better than others. “Transposition” was notably excellent.

Desiring God by John Piper – Read the first two chapters on this, had various qualms with it, and decided to drop it.

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones - Fantastic. The plot is about a homebody wizard who’s forced to pretend to be a Dark Lord because of a contract his world has with a man whose business is to take groups of off-world tourists through Derk’s world so that the tourists can experience stereotypical fantasy-genre adventures like wars, getting treasure from dragons, and defeating the Dark Lord. The title character happens to have several mostly-teenage children, all of whom are important to the story, so there’s an interesting family dynamic. Those of you who have been posting in this thread about Howl’s Moving Castle and its sequels should consider branching some of Diana Wynne Jones’s other books; she’s written tons of things, not just that one trilogy, and anyone who likes Howl’s Moving Castle is likely to enjoy her other works as well.

The Incarnation of the Word by Athanasius – Reread this, and oddly, it doesn’t exactly match up with what I remember from the previous time I read it. There are some discrepancies between the verses Athanasius quotes and the same verses in modern translations, which might be due to differences in manuscripts or other advances in Bible translations or something, and there are also some places where I just don’t think that the Scriptures say what Athanasius says they say (these things I had noticed previously, but they stood out to me more the second time around). Also, the apologetic chapters are just not going to be of much use to a modern reader. Nevertheless, there are some really worthwhile passages in this, like where Athanasius explains about how since corruption has become part of man’s being, it’s necessary for life to be infused into mankind from within, rather than without. He explains why it is logical and necessary for the Word to become incarnate much more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

Finally, for class I’ve reread Medea, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Lord of the Flies.
Let others believe in the God who brings men to trial and judges them. I shall cling to the God who resurrects the dead.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SierraLea » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:48 am

I'm reading the third book in the Inkheart series. It starts out way to sloow for my liking. Let's get to the dark and deadly stuff already! I want Dustfinger back, and I don't remember how long I had to wait to find out what happened to him in the end.

BTW, I have read a lot of other works from Diana, and didn't like any of them as much as the Howl trilogy. But that Dark Lord sounds cool, so I'll check it out.
Last edited by SierraLea on Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby mechana2015 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:31 pm

John Dies at the End - It's a sort of Lovecraftian story with some humerous and gloriously odd moments. So far, it's a blast.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Sammy Boy » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:17 am

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby rocklobster » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:48 pm

I'm well into the final Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby uc pseudonym » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:32 pm

Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Patrick Kuznik

Good intermediate history - it assumes you know the basics but goes into a reasonable amount of depth on the issues it addresses. For the areas I hadn't read about before, it was fascinating. There are a number of times where I learned that something I thought was just reasonable speculation - the reason the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, for example - was actually backed by an enormous number of primary sources. And that's about all I can say about it without violating the politics rule.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Winry » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:38 pm

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks (2nd book in the Lightbringer series)
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby *fragment » Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:52 pm

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I've been making my way through all the Sherlock Holmes stories on and off for the past few months and have been loving all of it. Detective fiction did not appeal to me until fairly recently (thank you, G.K. Chesterton), and I'm quite satisfied to find that Doyle lives up to the hype.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Kaori » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:36 pm

Recently finished The Book of American Negro Poetry, a historical anthology edited by James Weldon Johnson. Lots of fine poetry, and also lots of stuff by poets I'd never heard of before, both good and mediocre. There's a common theme in that several very diverse poets all connected the suffering of the African race to Christ’s suffering; it seems to be one of the major underpinnings of the strong spirituality throughout the book.

For school, am currently rereading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (just as wonderful as the first time I read it) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and not for school have started reading all of the following:

Within and Without, a dramatic poem from The Complete Poetical Works of George MacDonald, Volume 1
True Vine: Meditations for a Month by Andrew Murray
The Musician’s Quest, an abridged version of Robert Falconer by George MacDonald
A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by Wiliam Law
The Masks of Melancholy by John White

Will comment more on these as I finish reading them.
Let others believe in the God who brings men to trial and judges them. I shall cling to the God who resurrects the dead.
-St. Nikolai Velimirovich

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Winry » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:16 am

Just a few pages into The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Lynna » Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:54 pm

I'm reading The Help by Katheryn Stockett. It is really good.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby mysngoeshere56 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:04 pm

I finally got around to finishing the last Harry Potter book awhile ago. Right now I'm working on a few devotional books that a friend gave me.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Makachop^^128 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:05 pm

Right now I'm reading The Bradbury chronicles, a biography about Ray Bradbury and I love it :)
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby ClaecElric4God » Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:07 pm

The Thief - by Fuminori Nakamura. I like the idea and story, but there's some content I'm not too crazy about.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:04 am

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien - Oh maaaan, I always forget how much I love the last couple chapters of this book <3
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby yukoxholic » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:40 pm

Just finished Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas and onto The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater audiobook.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SierraLea » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:02 am

I reread one of my favorites, "Surviving the Applewhites". I would love to see this get turned into a manga, it has a lot of potential, especially with what could possibly happen after the book's completed story arc. I feel there could be more where that came from.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Atria35 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:30 am

Turn Right At Macchu Picchu - This is a great travelogue. This guy decides to get to Macchu Picchu via the route of the original guy who discovered it - NOT the overpopulated Inca Trail - and it's full of funny stories about the trip, really awesome history, and just is generally lots of fun.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby ich1990 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:09 pm

“A Hat full of Sky” by Terry Pratchett

The problem with reading a Discworld book is that you realize that all of your free time, from now on, is best spent reading more Discworld. Sure, other books are great and you should spend time hanging out with friends and such, but deep down you know that every second you are not reading Discworld is just another second that isn’t living up to its full potential.

“A Hat full of Sky” is another Tiffany Aching book, and as such is less directly humorous than Pratchet’s other works. I kind of like that. He leaves more room for direct philosophy. More room for life lessons. You get that in his humor books too, but in a breezy way. It is less intense and piercing. Not so with this one. At times I wonder if kids (or "Young Adults") won’t like it, because it is too serious. Then I remember that it is adults who don’t take things seriously. Kids know the world is in desperate need of saving and are prepared to fight dragons to do it.

Really it is quite easy to go on and on about how great Pratchett is and how excellent these unassumingly deep Young Adult novels are, but I will save you the trouble. Mostly because I am wasting time typing this when I could be reading the next one. 9/10

“Wintersmith” by Terry Pratchett

While it goes without saying that this is more Discworld greatness and therefore by default some of the best fantasy to be created, I didn't like “Wintersmith” nearly as much as the other Tiffany Aching books. I thought the villain took second stage to the menial tasks of everyday witch life. That was probably the point, but I didn't like it. There was no urgency and no fear.

In the end, however, the moments of everyday magic, incidental humor, and fantastic characters being fantastic more than made up for the overarching weaknesses. It is just a little frustrating when you know that Pratchet can do all of that and add a brilliant plot on top. And yet he didn't. It is like watching fireworks. After a while, you stop seeing the normal white sparkly ones and look only for the deep reds or the ones that hang in the air forever. The normal ones are still beautiful and amazing, but the others are so much better that it is hard to appreciate a less spectacular display. 7/10
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby SierraLea » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:40 pm

The Ranger's Apprentice, book 8, the Kings Of Clonmel. This author knows how to write humor, but there's a lot in this book that is serious, more so than the other ones. Will is like a cross between a ninja and a woodsman.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:18 pm

China Boy by Gus Lee - This was a great read, a semi-autobiographical story about a son of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. who grows up as the only Asian kid in a black ghetto. It has quite a bit of language in it, and deals with very cruel bullying and abusive parenting, but is a tremendously hopeful story. It's all about how the main character finds hope, meaning, and inner strength in learning how to box. There are some wonderfully redemptive relationships in this poor boy's life, and after listening to an interview of Lee, I think it's obvious that those relationships led Lee to forgiveness through the love of Christ.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby GeneD » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:18 am

Finished Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere yesterday.

I'm not sure what to read now, I'm considering Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Ender's Game or one of Tolkien's shorter non-LotR works. What should I read next?
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby uc pseudonym » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:42 pm

GeneD wrote:I'm not sure what to read now, I'm considering Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Ender's Game or one of Tolkien's shorter non-LotR works. What should I read next?

Ender's Game will give you the most bang for your reading buck. There are multiple attached books, but it really isn't a series in the conventional sense. The Ender's Shadow series is fun if you want more of the same, but not a necessary component. I also recommend Speaker for the Dead if you like old-school SF, but otherwise I think it's best to pretend the rest of the series doesn't exist.

Hunger Games is worth reading if you don't have a lot of better books on your pile. Harry Potter is the global phenomenon that it is, but the question is if you want to start on 1 000 000+ words. And of course, there's a certain other novel you could be reading...
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby GeneD » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:30 am

Well, I started reading Hunger Games, mostly because I wanted something that reads easily and since I've seen the movie I think I could live with not going directly into the next book if I feel like a change. So I wouldn't say I don't have better books on my pile, just that they might not be better for right now. As for the other one, I am reading it, too slowly though.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:11 am

Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse - A really interesting, tragic read about survivors of the Hiroshima bombing. It follows a man trying to find a husband for his niece, and is failing because she was in Hiroshima at the time and no one wants to marry someone who has a chance of radiation sickness. It's mostly just an excuse to give a bunch of firsthand accounts of what the aftermath of the bomb was like, but I found it very helpful to get a real Japanese perspective on what that time was like, which I think is very important for an American.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Makachop^^128 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:59 pm

Going to start reading Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy :)
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:44 pm

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, which is her autobiography of how she developed bipolar disorder, the havoc it wreaked on her life, and how she came to terms with it. An interesting book, and valuable for understanding what it's like to be bipolar.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Kaori » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:52 am

Finished rereading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein . . . ten years after reading it the first time, I can now really tell it was written by a nineteen-year-old. Her expressive vocabulary is stunning and I am terribly envious of it. However, there are all sorts of plot holes like SPOILER: Highlight text to read: how the creature recognizes Victor as its creator when its sensations were so indistinct in its early days (according to it), why the old man in the cottage doesn’t say anything to change his son’s mind (when Felix is driving away the creature after the creature tells his story to the father), why Victor is worried about the creatures multiplying and filling the earth when they’re made of corpses and he could easily make the female infertile, why he needs to go to England for more medical knowledge to make a female creature when he already had perfectly sufficient knowledge to make the male, and where the creature intends to get firewood for his pyre in the north pole. Also the extreme histrionic emotion present throughout the book is not appealing to me in the least.

Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart. Watered-down pop psychology; the author makes assertions and expects readers to take her word on them without her backing up her assertions through any kind of argument or evidence. The writing style is cliché-ridden and overly popular. Was able to glean a few things from it, but overall it was not very good.

Masks of Melancholy by John White was a welcome change from the above. Like Wild at Heart or Strong Women, Soft Hearts this book is also a book by a Christian author about a psychological topic; however, unlike Rinehart, White does thoroughly and carefully cite the studies that demonstrate the facts and ideas he asserts. I appreciate White’s scholarly, rather than popular, approach, and especially his acknowledgment of the complexities of his subject and of the fact that depression manifests itself in many different ways and that there are many different factors that can be causes or risk factors. He doesn’t make the mistake of generalizing and assuming that everyone’s experience is the same, which is a huge mistake made both by Eldredge and Paula Rinehart.

The subject of the book is riveting for me personally, and I greatly appreciated White’s careful, scholarly style; it’s just a shame that the book is so dated (1982). I wish more Christian authors wrote like this.

The Musician’s Quest (abridged version of Robert Falconer by George MacDonald): Has some good thoughts about the necessity and importance of following Christ by doing concrete things to serve and help people around you. Also, apparently MacDonald doesn’t believe in hell. Overall a pretty slow read even in the abridgment, though abridged versions do tend to be much plainer and more generic in their writing style than the original, so perhaps the colorlessness of the book is partly owing to the fact that it is abridged.

Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard: Pretty much this entire book strongly evoked that sweet sense of longing that C.S. Lewis calls “joy.” Extremely emotional read for me. The story isn’t necessarily universal—the specific sins and faults that Much-Afraid struggles with are not going to be the same sins and faults that everyone struggles with, and there will be many that other people struggle with that do not appear in the book. But still there are some amazing lessons in the book, particularly the song of the waterfalls and streams that rejoice in always seeking lower places and pouring themselves out in love.
Let others believe in the God who brings men to trial and judges them. I shall cling to the God who resurrects the dead.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Mr. Hat'n'Clogs » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:54 pm

A couple weeks ago I burned through Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, which was about as good as I expected it to be. It was more terrifying than the first book (one part managed to be one of the few times a book has actually scared me) and more satisfying in some ways, but I think other aspects of the first book that are missing here makes it about the same. Eagerly awaiting checking out the third book when I get some stuff off my plate.

Following that, I went through Mistborn in the following two and a half weeks or so. I'm actually really glad I read Elantris first, because it was very noticeable to me in a lot of ways how Sanderson grew from Elantris into this. It takes a much bigger (and darker) approach and I think it turned out really excellently! I liked pretty much all the characters (though the gender ratio could've been more even, I suppose). Vin and Kelsier are both character types that highly irritate me but I ended up liking both of them a lot and switching between their POVs worked excellently. Watching everyone work together as a trained group of specialists was a lot of fun. Actually, the whole book was far more fun than it had any right to be, considering how dark the world it's set in is. Still, Sanderson's best quality is his marvelously good pacing, which never gets bogged down by boat-rides (Something he avoids, thankfully, as I am fairly certain a chapter involving boat-travel has never succeeding at not being boring) or endless description of dresses. The plot keeps churning at this very pleasant place, with stuff of consequence continually happening but unlike Elantris, it didn't have a jarringly different climax, though I did think the final twist about the Final Emperor's identity was kind of disappointing.

Actually the highlight was probably how AWESOME the magic system was. The basic concepts are fairly simple and easy-to-understand but there is a ton of applications and watching Sanderson explore those applications is so much fun! Allomancy was the cleverest system I've seen in a long time and it was so great to see people have balanced powers even when they were supposed to be super special, and it was nice that being a Mistborn didn't make you inherently superior to a Misting. This is the most fun I've had reading a book in a long time.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Atria35 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:34 pm

Wizard of Oz series (yeah, I've read up through volume 5) - Umm. Well. It's dated. I mean, if you were a kid when this was written, well, there wasn't a whole lot of children's literature back then and this would have been superb.

We've come a long way since then. Even if you're going for 1st to 2nd graders, they'd be able to pull a lot of issues with these stories and the characters and assumptions made in them, and I am even more critical as an adult. In the 4th book, Dorothy and Zeb fall into a crevasse during an earthquake. Does anyone scream or anything? Nope. Dorothy even bothers to correct something Zeb said. I mean, really? I like the kitten though. Eureka is perhaps the most chaotic evil creature I've ever read and more literature needs characters like her.
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