Author Topic: Books you are currently reading ...  (Read 69300 times)

Holly Stick

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« Reply #60 on: July 10, 2007, 10:37:09 PM »
Dr. Who said he cried when he read the seventh Harry Potter book.  So we know it will be good. 8)
Economics is a human creation, borders are human creations and nature doesn’t give a damn about these things. - David Suzuki

kuri

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« Reply #61 on: July 10, 2007, 10:54:22 PM »
I'm about 100 pages into "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon" by Daniel Dennett. I'd requested that and Richard Dawkins' book from the library after hearing them debate on a CBC show. I'm very skeptical of evolutionary reasoning for social things* but most of the text so far seems very compelling and pretty much as sensitive as it can be. At least, Dennett is aware of the "science vs. arts" debate just as equally as "science vs. religion" one. And he pretty much admits that non-USians will find he's not addressing the non-USian audience very well. I like it when authors admit their shortcomings without shame. We can't know everything, everywhere.

*From an evolutionary psychology I course, I learned the "scientific method" which is dominant in this field:

1. Choose highly stereotypical observation of human behaviour. More sexist the stereotype, the better.
2. Make sure you never question the veracity of the stereotype at all. Don't look for exceptions, don't look for cultural reinforcement or differences across cultures.
3. Pull some immediately reproduction-related pseudo-scientific explanation out of your ass. (For example, rape isn't about domination or power - it's about maximizing your reproductive capacity, with attractive fertile-looking women! It's all about the gene pool!)
4. Triumphantly use explanation to prove stereotype you set out to prove in the first place.
5. When student finds counter examples that go against #3 (for me this was examples of rapes during the Yugoslavian conflict that targeting all women, including many who were very obviously *not* during their reproductive years, and including incidents where soldiers were ordered to rape at gunpoint and still were capable of it), either say that, "war isn't a normal part of human life" (from the prof., also WTF?) or, if you're at least somewhat honest, "I don't know". (from the TA)

Anyway, end evolutionary psych rant, but I think this caution is justified.

sparqui

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« Reply #62 on: July 10, 2007, 11:02:07 PM »
I'm having a hard time finishing Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals. It is beautifully written and I was moving along until events in RL unfolded that made me put it down. I was also at a point in the book where things were turning quite negative (although the author's style is still quite gentle).

I was really pleasantly surprised to see that the NAC theatre company is presenting Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad as a play this late summer/fall. I read it and it was great fun. She retells the story of Penelope, Odyseus' wife, from her point of view.
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

Croghan27

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« Reply #63 on: July 11, 2007, 08:04:48 AM »
kuri:

Quote
*From an evolutionary psychology I course, I learned the "scientific method" which is dominant in this field:

1. Choose highly stereotypical observation of human behaviour. More sexist the stereotype, the better.
2. Make sure you never question the veracity of the stereotype at all. Don't look for exceptions, don't look for cultural reinforcement or differences across cultures.
3. Pull some immediately reproduction-related pseudo-scientific explanation out of your ass. (For example, rape isn't about domination or power - it's about maximizing your reproductive capacity, with attractive fertile-looking women! It's all about the gene pool!)
4. Triumphantly use explanation to prove stereotype you set out to prove in the first place.
5. When student finds counter examples that go against #3 (for me this was examples of rapes during the Yugoslavian conflict that targeting all women, including many who were very obviously *not* during their reproductive years, and including incidents where soldiers were ordered to rape at gunpoint and still were capable of it), either say that, "war isn't a normal part of human life" (from the prof., also WTF?) or, if you're at least somewhat honest, "I don't know". (from the TA)

Anyway, end evolutionary psych rant, but I think this caution is justified.
[/size]

Thank you for that - just the thing that Terry Eagleton says about Dawkins in this ....

My reading has a lot to do with size - a good book in some way must fit into my pocket.  :D

I am reading an okay/bad book by a Canadian named Juris Jurjevics (no less) it is sort of an Alistar MacLean thingie, named The Trudeau Vector .. I got it at the books store near D'Arcy McGees on the Sparklin Street Mall (see moving thread) and am really enjoying it.   :applause:
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

Caissa

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« Reply #64 on: July 11, 2007, 10:22:55 AM »
Amongst two mysteries and a WWI homefront diary, I have just begun reading a book on the uncovering of the Gospel of Judas. It shall be a good read.

belva

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« Reply #65 on: July 11, 2007, 11:29:53 AM »
Quote from: brebis noire
Welcome BCseawalker.  :)
I just remember the title of Kingsolver's book of essays: High Tide in Tucson. .

I haven't read this thread for awhile & missed this discussion.  I'm a big fan of Kingsolver!  I've loved her novels & her books of essays I have read & re-read.  She has another book of essays, from 2002 or 03, entitled Small Wonder which I found absolutely marvelous!


Quote
In her new essay collection, the beloved author of High Tide in Tucson brings to us out of one of history's darker moments an extended love song to the world we still have. From its opening parable gleaned from recent news about a lost child saved in an astonishing way, the book moves on to consider a world of surprising and hopeful prospects, ranging from an inventive conservation scheme in a remote jungle to the backyard flock of chickens tended by the author's small daughter.

Whether she is contemplating the Grand Canyon, her vegetable garden, motherhood, adolescence, genetic engineering, TV-watching, the history of civil rights, or the future of a nation founded on the best of all human impulses, these essays are grounded in the author's belief that our largest problems have grown from the earth's remotest corners as well as our own backyards, and that answers may lie in those places, too. In the voice Kingsolver's readers have come to rely on -- sometimes grave, occasionally hilarious, and ultimately persuasive -- Small Wonder is a hopeful examination of the people we seem to be, and what we might yet make of ourselves.

Timebandit

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« Reply #66 on: July 11, 2007, 12:25:40 PM »
I'm reading two Neil Gaiman books -- one of short stories, "Smoke and Mirrors" (I think that's the title...) and the wild girls and I are reading "Coraline" aloud together.  Great book for kids, very dark, doesn't talk down to its audience, wonderful use of language.  Rather poetic in places.
Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. -Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

Caissa

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« Reply #67 on: July 11, 2007, 12:27:08 PM »
I really enjoyed Coraline. I haven't read smoke and mirrors yet. I have most of the Sandman comic books.

Timebandit

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« Reply #68 on: July 11, 2007, 12:31:30 PM »
I've never been much for comics or graphic novels.  I loved Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys, so I've been thinking of having a look at Sandman.  First ran into Gaiman's work when I read a collaboration he did with Terry Pratchett, "Good Omens:  The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch".  It had the usual humour you find in Pratchett, but some darker stuff, too, which I really liked.
Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. -Rene Descartes, philosopher and mathematician (1596-1650)

arborman

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« Reply #69 on: July 12, 2007, 02:52:08 PM »
Quote from: Timebandit
First ran into Gaiman's work when I read a collaboration he did with Terry Pratchett, "Good Omens:  The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch".  It had the usual humour you find in Pratchett, but some darker stuff, too, which I really liked.


I read that book while backpacking in Spain 15 years ago, and loved it.  Also my introduction to Gaiman - and I liked the other books you've mentioned as well.

I'm currently reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson, which is the first of a trilogy I've been wanting to read for a while.  His other books were really excellent, particularly Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age.

In the non-fiction category I'm reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City, an account of the first several months of US occupation in Iraq.  I can only handle about 20 pages at a time before I have to put it down in disgust, but it is a really good book.  The incompetence and wishful thinking of Garner, Bremer, Bush and the rest is truly staggering.  They really do have absolutely no idea how the world works, even on a basic level.  And somehow they are in charge of big things, and it makes me despair for humanity.
The pleasures of the table are for every man, of every land, and no matter what place in history or society; they can be a part of all his other pleasures, and they last the longest, to console him when he has outlived the rest.

Croghan27

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« Reply #70 on: July 12, 2007, 03:50:46 PM »
Yo arborman:

I am about the same general age as these winners, 'Garner, Bremer, Bush. It looks to me they took:
Quote
Happy talk, keep talking happy talk
Talk about things you like to do
You got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?
(South Pacific)
Much too seriously ..... a 'speak it and it will happen mentality'. (sorry, W.P. Kinsella.)

The next verse begins:
Quote
Talk about the moon floating in the sky
Who is a moon bat?
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

Zastrozzi

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« Reply #71 on: July 12, 2007, 07:20:06 PM »
Quote from: Papal Bull
I think I want to read some more Mishima, Oe, or Murukami....
PB, what have you read by Murakami? (And what are the other two authors like?)

I reread A Wild Sheep Chase the other year after first reading it back in high school -- still found it enjoyable, but more the kind of thing I could appreciate as a high school student.

Now I'm working my way through The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is a much more ambitious book. If I have any criticism of it, it's that he sometimes seems to be writing about bizarre situations for the sake of their bizarreness. On the other hand, that might well be what I'd do if I tried writing a novel.

Also reading Tom Holland's Persian Fire, a history of the Persian-Greek wars, clearly written in a way intended to appeal to a large audience, which I think you can do without playing to the gallery in the way that he too often does. Still, an engaging overview of a period I knew way too little about until now.

Toedancer

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« Reply #72 on: July 14, 2007, 07:52:19 PM »
I am currently reading Blindsight by Peter Watts. Aliens and humans to meet them. The humans have surgically partitioned processing cores interfaced with machinery that see x-rays and ultrasound. Hominid predators really. Lots of recombinant genetics that make top notch sociopaths. Freaks, retrofits and aliens. I'm really digging it.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

GDKitty

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« Reply #73 on: July 15, 2007, 12:28:54 AM »
Toe!  Could this mean...mating aliens? :shock:

Toedancer

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« Reply #74 on: July 15, 2007, 12:31:07 AM »
Well it is considered HARD fiction.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

 

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