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Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:37 pm
by Kaori
Read several books since I last posted in here.

Great Lent by Fr. Alexander Schmemann is a short but excellent book about Eastern Orthodox Lent. It referred to the Orthodox services frequently, so it was very beneficial to read it after having experinced those services (so that I knew what he was talking about). Conversely, I'm not sure how much value a non-Orthodox reader would be able to get out of it, since the author would be referring to a bunch of things unfamiliar to the reader, but I'm sure there would still be some value.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is also an excellent read. It has that very Catholic precise, analytical approach, often to the point of seeming cut-and-dried because everything is so specifically delineated, but there is also a lot of very good and solid teaching. Should be the first choice for anyone who wants to understand the Catholic faith.

Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband by Wendy Nelson Tokugawa is pretty decent. It's a collection of interviews of Western women who married Japanese men. Reasonably interesting read if you are interested in this kind of thing, and there are of course a lot of cultural things that came up in the interviews, like one wife who for the first year of marriage had not yet realized that in Japanese "hai" doesn't always mean "yes I agree" but can sometimes just mean "I understand what you are saying" or even just "I'm listening."

Something I Want to Tell You: True Stories of Mixed Dating in Japan by Yuta Aoki. Compared to the above, this book looks much more at the seedy side of dating in Japan (though not entirely so); most of the interviews and dating stories are with people whose dating strategy is to pick people up at bars. There's also more demographic variety, with some of the stories being Japanese women with foreign partners and some being foreign women with Japanese partners. Also among the interviewees are a homosexual man and a bisexual woman. Although some of the author's comments on the couples' cultural misunderstandings were helpful, the book was not as clean as I would have liked (profanity and sexuality), used a number of colloqualisms in the narrative voice which are not really at a good level for a published book, and had an interviewer who self-inserted to an extent that I thought did not come across as professional. So, overall the book was not very professionally-written and I can't particularly recommend it.

Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones. Although I generally like Diana Wynne Jones, I didn't enjoy this book. The supernatural element was not clearly-fantasy-magic like Harry Potter or Kiki's Delivery service but more real-world occult (e.g. seances, characters in an otherwise-realisitic setting offering sacrifices to an evil spirit they were worshipping as a goddess while thinking that it was a made-up game), which made me uncomfortable. Also, the characters are all part of a miserable family with neglectful parents and the children as a result making horribly bad life decisions, so that atmosphere of filth, squalor, and unpleasant personalities was oppressive to read about. Of course it was not at all badly-written, but due to personal tastes I was unable to enjoy it.

Currently reading:

Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis

The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, vol. 2, The World: Creation and Deification by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae

日本人の心がわかる日本語[Japanese Words to Understand the Japanese Mind] by 森田六朗 [Morita Rokurou]

Might comment on these when I finish reading them.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:51 pm
by Banana Lobster
I am currently reading (almost finished with, actually) The Fellowship of the Ring, and hope to read the next three (sequel+prequel) books quickly in the coming week(s). A very enjoyable read so far, but I'm glad I didn't try and read them sooner, as they are a lot more detail-heavy than what I normally read, and I would probably have struggled to finish.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:08 pm
by Sheenar
I LOVE the LOTR trilogy! I usually recommend starting with The Hobbit as that's the book Tolkien wrote before the others and is an easier, lighter read. Keep going! The series is so good! I read through it once a year. :)


I'm currently reading "The Princess and the Goblin" by George Macdonald. Recently finished "The Abolition of Man" and "The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:12 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Basically, Jane Austen with magic :3 It's exactly what it says on the tin, and exactly what I expected it to be. It's well written, so if you like both Jane Austen and fantasy, I'd definitely recommend this.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Since I'm a huge Brandon Sanderson fan, I was interested in reading his debut novel. It's a little bit lower quality than some of his later stuff I've read, but still very very good. The climax was as gripping as his climaxes always are, and the three main characters were all fascinating to follow. It's about a world where ordinary people can undergo a magical transformation that practically turns them into gods. But at some point, the transformation went wrong and now those people turn into the undead. They don't need to eat, sleep, or even breathe, but every bit of pain they feel will never go away. Even small injuries like a stubbed toe will pile up on top of each other until the person goes mad. Elantris is centered around what happens when the crown prince is transformed and begins working to fix the problem. Cue the expected political machinations and complex magic system and interesting discussions about religion :D

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:27 pm
by Sundown
Hard Times by Charles Dickens. An enjoyable read that provides some interesting food for thought.

Also just finished a book of Celtic fairy tales, which I adored.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:40 pm
by artisticDreamer
I'm trying to read Reapers by Bryan Davis, but I don't like anyone in it...

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:52 pm
by Banana Lobster
Finished all of the Lord of the Rings books! \^^/ Gonna read some of the Gryphon Chronicles by E. G. Foley now. :)

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:49 am
by Hopechick
Re-reading the Zion Chronicles for the fifth or sixth time. My favourite christian author is definitely Bodie Thoene. :-)

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:20 am
by Sheenar
Just started "Out of the Silent Planet" by C.S. Lewis

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 11:11 am
by artisticDreamer
artisticDreamer wrote:I'm trying to read Reapers by Bryan Davis, but I don't like anyone in it...

Finished the book. I still don't like anyone.
Also read Tom Sawyer for school.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 6:38 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Misery by Stephen King

This was my first Stephen King novel (I'd read some of his novellas and shorter works before), and I really liked it. It certainly makes sense why he became the bestselling author he is! Image Misery is about a popular author who gets in a bad car accident and is taken in by his number-one fan. In exchange for nursing him back to health, she demands that he write the next book of a series he'd discontinued. And...this lady is utterly insane, so it was a riveting story for sure! This ends up being a really fast read; it's quite a page-turner, and was also very interesting to me personally, since I'm a writer as well. It also has the plus of not including the graphic sexual content I've seen in other things he's written.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 1:18 pm
by Panda4christ:3
Currently reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ^-^

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:21 pm
by ClaecElric4God
artisticDreamer wrote:
artisticDreamer wrote:I'm trying to read Reapers by Bryan Davis, but I don't like anyone in it...

Finished the book. I still don't like anyone.

These are the worst. Especially when you stick it out to the end like that. Kudos for surviving.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:50 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry

What it says on the tin. A really good little volume about what the Bible says about homosexuality and what that means for those who experience same-sex attraction. I found this very helpful to solidify my own beliefs about the issue, and would recommend it to anyone who isn't sure what they believe about it, or who isn't sure how to respond to those who experience same-sex attraction.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:29 pm
by Panda4christ:3
Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 3:41 pm
by Animeniac
Outlaw by Ted Dekker

The story of how I, Julian Carter, and my precious two-year old son, Stephen, left Atlanta Georgia and found ourselves on a white sailboat, tossed about like a cork on a raging sea off of Australia's northern tip in 1963, is harrowing.

But it pales in comparison to what happened deep in the jungle where I was taken as a slave by a savage tribe unknown to the world. Some places dwell in darkness so deep that even God seems to stay away.

There, my mind was torn in two by the gods of the earth. There, one life ended so another could begin.

Some will say I was a fool for making the choices I made. But they would have done the same. They, too, would have embraced death if they knew what I knew, and saw through my eyes.

My name is Julian and this is my story. But more, it is the story of my son who was born to change the world.

From deep in the impenetrable jungles where New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker was born and raised, comes OUTLAW, an epic adventure of two worlds that perhaps only he could write. Full of harrowing twists, sweeping violence, and wild love, Outlaw takes us beyond the skin of this world to another unseen

Image

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:31 pm
by Kaori
Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis. This book was okay. The author gives a lot of techniques for language learning with a fairly strong emphasis on quickly being able to speak and hold conversations when first starting to learn a language. He shares good advice, but many of the techniques he talks about, e.g. use of an SRS system and use of mnemonics to memorize words, are well-known techniques that anyone who has read very much about language learning will already be familiar with, and also he didn't have very much to say about higher stages of language learning, e.g. moving from the intermediate level to an advanced level. I will also mention that although he has a website and mentions it frequently, this book is not an attempt to sell more of his products to the reader, so I appreciated it that those mentions were not actually sales-pitches (although they naturally sounded a little bit like it).

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. Steampunk fantasy about a half-goblin (dark-skinned character) who suddenly becomes emperor despite not being brought up in court and having absolutely no preparation or knowledge of statecraft, and how he tries to deal with the absolutely overwhelming court politics and administrative duties that are suddenly all falling upon him. I tried hard to like this book because it was recommended to me highly by a friend. It was pretty engaging and kept me turning pages, but I wasn't very impressed by the world- and culture-building aspects. The cultural aspects tended to not ring true to me, and the book as a whole also struck me as being excessively sunny in its outlook on human (or rather, elvish/goblin) personalities, the title character's ability to form positive relationships with people at court, his not being more negatively affected by his harsh upbringing, and so on.

Not quite sure "reading" is the right word, but since it is certainly a book: 日本語能力試験問題集:N1文法:スピードマスター published by Jリサーチ出版

^This is a workbook for JLPT N1 grammar. I haven't had any experience with the other major workbooks for JLPT tests (the So-Matome series and the Kanzen Master series seem to be the most common, with Kanzen Master being the one I have seen recommended over the other), so I can't compare this to them and have no idea how it stacks up to them. Also, I do have to give a caveat and note that there were a few errors here and there, from "grammar" being spelled as "grammer" on the front cover to the furigana for one kanji compound having an incorrect character in it, to a term being used in a drill a few pages prior to when it was introduced in the book (the drills are supposed to cover only the terms on the preceding couple of pages).

However, overall I found this book incredibly helpful. Previously I had been looking at a website that had a complete list of all the grammar terms for each test level (available for free), but that website only had one example sentence and an English translation for each term. This workbook, on the other hand, has a Japanese explanation of the meaning of each grammar term, plus information about how it is used (e.g. what grammatically has to come before it), occasional notes about what situations it can be used in (positive or negative connotations, generally used only in writing, that sort of thing), and always at least three or four example sentences so that you can really get a sense for how it is used. At the end of each two-or-three page spread there is a drill over only the expressions that you just learned, and then after every few of these there are a couple of pages of actual JLPT-style questions. So it provided quite a bit of practice and reinforcement, and I am much better with these grammar expressions after going through the workbook than before. In particular, I went from having no idea what the correct answer was for the infamous sentence scramble questions (because if you don't know the grammar expressions they are testing then it's useless trying to figure them out) to being more confident about those than anything else in the whole 文字・語彙・読解 section.

Still have not finished:

The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, vol. 2, The World: Creation and Deification by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae

日本人の心がわかる日本語[Japanese Words to Understand the Japanese Mind] by 森田六朗 [Morita Rokurou]

Mainly because of setting them aside in order to focus on JLPT study.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:15 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

A really fascinating book about the history of Dracula - not just Bram Stoker's version, but the real man, Vlad Tepes. This is actually a novel, following a string of historians trying to track down the truth about Dracula because they have reason to believe that he's actually, really a vampire. It was a long, rich, exciting story, and I highly recommend it to anyone else fascinated by the Dracula legend.

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

A surprisingly inspiring book about an ordinary guy who is suddenly given a playing card with three addresses on it, and no other explanation is given. I really enjoyed it, because not only is it thrilling and reads very quickly and easily, it was a great example of a story showing a completely unremarkable person being transformed into a hero.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:43 pm
by Thunderscream872
Started reading the Ultimate X-Men Comics. I bought volumes 1-6 a little while back and I'm currently on volume 3. They're pretty cool so far. The Marvel and DC universes have really interested me lately, and I figure since I've always loved X-Men, that would be a good place to start.

I also started reading Halo: Helljumper.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:56 pm
by Sheenar
Reading "Perelandra" by C.S. Lewis. I should hopefully finish the space trilogy before the end of the year. :)

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:28 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
I recently read Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffry Cranor. I love the podcast of the same name, and this tie-in novel was everything I'd hoped for. The same kind of dark, random, cynical humor mixed with occasional sad or creepy moments. Lots of fun to read.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:13 pm
by LecktheTech
Sheenar wrote:Reading "Perelandra" by C.S. Lewis. I should hopefully finish the space trilogy before the end of the year. :)

I read that...Kinda had a otherworldy feel..
I'm going to reread The Angels Command by Brian Jacques. A favorite of mine.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:52 am
by ClaecElric4God
Brain Jacques! I love the Flying Dutchman books. I should go reread those...

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 7:28 am
by the_wolfs_howl
The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg

I was actually wanting to read a different Carol Berg series, but my library only had this one, so I decided to just read this instead. I really liked it - full of court intrigue, mystery, and many-layered secrets for every character. Definitely need to read the rest of this series.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2016 7:22 pm
by Kaori
The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, vol. 2, The World: Creation and Deification by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae. Finally finished reading this. Excellent when I understood what he was saying. He includes a lot of quotes from and summaries of the teachings of the early church fathers, which is great, and I found the book particularly noteworthy in its anthropology, as Staniloae fleshes out an anthropology that takes into account the interconnectedness of human beings, how we mutually harm each other and bring each other down by our sin and fallenness and how we were meant to enrich each other and be fulfilled through relationships with others.

The Moon’s Shadow by Catherine Asaro, which is part of a series all set in the same world but which stands alone just fine, is about a teenage boy who suddenly becomes emperor of a vast intergalactic empire of a rather cruel race of people. This change happens not particularly because he wants to be emperor, and he also is unfamiliar with the culture and politics and pretty much everything he needs to survive as a ruler, so he is completely overwhelmed, does not know what he is doing, and has to rely heavily on the know-how of people around him in order to avoid running the government into the ground or getting himself killed. It’s strikingly similar to The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison in its plot, from the premise of a teenage boy reluctantly becoming emperor while knowing nothing about politics or the society that he is thrust into down to the main character’s marrying an older wife. (Maybe the authors thought similarly because they have the same name? :p) However, The Moon’s Shadow predates The Goblin Emperor by several years and is superior in pretty much every way—plot, characterization, politics, world-building—but unfortunately also has some sexual content. I also found the ending a little bit facile, but overall it was very well-plotted.

Still plugging through 日本人の心がわかる日本語 steadily, a bit more so now that I am neither reading three books at once nor studying for the JLPT. Quite a page-turner for me because the cultural information is excellent and it’s also set at exactly the right level for me as a more-or-less 中級 (intermediate by Japanese standards) Japanese-language learner.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 1:51 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
The Returning King by Vern S. Poythress (not to be confused with The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien :P)

This is an easy-to-read general overview/summary of what's in the book of Revelation. I read it as a good foundation for a study of eschatology I'm doing in my free time.

Your Life Well Spent by Russ Crosson

A book that was given to all seniors at my college, about what our priorities should be in terms of looking to the future, our careers, and our legacy. The target audience seems to be married couples or at least people who are a bit farther along the road of life than I am, but it's good advice to keep in mind for the future.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:45 pm
by Kaori
日本人の心がわかる日本語[Japanese Words to Understand the Japanese Mind] by 森田六朗 [Morita Rokurou]

Even after having lived in Japan for six years and having a fair amount of exposure to Japanese language and culture, I felt that this book really deepened my understanding.

It is entirely in Japanese, but it is written specifically for foreigners learning Japanese, so it uses easy-to-understand Japanese and has glossaries of key terms (translated into English, Chinese, and Korean). Basically it was pretty much the perfect level for my intermediate-level Japanese ability and was challenging enough that I learned a lot of vocabulary from it but not so dense or difficult that it took a lot of time and effort just to get through a single sentence. It would probably be worthwhile for anyone at an N3 or N2 level to try reading; for someone with N1 ability it would probably be a pretty easy read.

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. Felt that this was a pretty worthwhile read also. It was very English, with an emphasis on merriness and robustness and so on, and more than a little male-oriented and slapstick in the way that characters would beat each other with their staffs and then laugh about it and consider themselves to have had a good time (and depending on the situation, sometimes take a liking to each other and become comrades immediately after the fight), or there would be humor taken from characters hitting each other, that sort of thing. I could also perceive some carryovers from the medieval romance tradition, like the “let’s go out looking for adventure” impulse. On the negative side, the book is heavily anti-clergy (were there no honest and pious clergy in England at the time and were they all rich, fat swindlers?). On the positive side, what I most enjoyed about it was the strong sense of the goodness of nature and of things that are simple but good, like taking satisfaction in simple foods and so on.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:49 pm
by shooraijin
were there no honest and pious clergy in England at the time and were they all rich, fat swindlers?


No Friar Tuck?

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:15 am
by Sheenar
Still working my way through Perelandra . It normally doesn't take this long to get through a book, but I keep putting it down --there's a lot of philosophical dialogue between a couple of characters that goes on and on and on --without real plot development going on. My best friend said it gets better, so I'm going to keep going. She told me the 3rd book in the Space Trilogy is her favorite, so we'll have to see. :)

Also starting Crazy Love by Francis Chan --we're going through the book in my ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship) class at church. I'm looking forward to it!

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:42 pm
by Kaori
shooraijin wrote:No Friar Tuck?

Are you calling Friar Tuck "honest and pious"? . . .and not fat? Image