Author Topic: What book are you reading?  (Read 6083 times)

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #40 on: 21 May 2020, 22:25 »
I can't find an english translation of Robert Walser's Jacob von Gunden book (I do have an english translation of it, which I bought in London as a student, but I'd expect by now the internet to actually help not not have to look for stuff in your library :/ ).


KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #41 on: 06 Jul 2020, 10:06 »
Reread "The Gospel according to Marc", by Borges.
Seems to be his last decent story (I personally dislike "The Book of Sand"), and in the prologue of the collection one finds the author's note that the story was inspired by a dream of someone else (like his earlier story, Emma Zunz).

The story itself is nice. A student arrives at the pampa, the vast plains of Argentina, and cannot leave due to a flood. His only company are three workers of the land, employees of his cousin (the cousin invited him, then left to the city). The student is curious enough to start reading parts of the bible to the silent and illiterate farmer family, and this leads to a disastrous misunderstanding - cause they end up thinking he is Jesus and his death on the cross will save them.

I like that the student doesn't fight back. He isn't active and seems to live in a dream, expecting to return to Buenos Aires. The almost feral farmers, on the other hand, are calculative enough to provide themselves with a reason to hate him enough so as to make the murder possible - but the murder only happened because they convinced themselves it is an act of their salvation.

Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #42 on: 22 Dec 2020, 20:58 »
I also recommend The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald)
« Last Edit: 22 Dec 2020, 21:00 by brandonhayd »

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #43 on: 21 May 2021, 13:36 »
Bump.
I actually am reading a few books these days.

Near the end of Hofstadter's Goedel-Escher-Bach (which is 800 pages long, so that's something).
Some biography of Conway (a lot shorter).
A largish short story by Algernon Blackwood (The Man whom the Trees Loved). This may end up being terrible.
« Last Edit: 23 May 2021, 12:05 by KyriakosCH »

Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #44 on: 22 May 2021, 01:10 »
I’m currently reading “The Clocks” by Agatha Christie. So far so good, but it’s still in the early stages.

I also read Ender’s Game not long ago. Very cool book. I had never realised there was a whole Ender saga out there. I’ve been wondering whether to pick up one or two of the other books, but I don’t really have the time to delve into a whole literary universe. I might just stop there.

Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #45 on: 23 May 2021, 08:32 »
Near the end of Hofstadter's Goedel-Escher-Bach (which is 800 pages long, so that's something).
So, is it good?

A largish short story by Algernon Blackwood (The Man whom the Tress Loved). This may end up being terrible.
I found that Blackwood's stories sometimes are really good and memorable, other times quite mediocre. I don't think I've read that one.

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #46 on: 23 May 2021, 12:00 »
Hofstadter's GEB is good, yes :) It was published in 1979 and is quite famous. I finished reading it now, and will re-read in the future. It can be helpful if one wants many parallelisms to formal systems, so as to form an idea about what the Godel incompleteness theorem is about.
That said, I am currently reading one of the main books he lists as his influences for writing GEB, DeLong's "A Profile of Mathematical Logic", which seems to be better and more concise - and 'only' 320 pages - but GEB is less strictly about mathematical stuff, so it certainly stands on its own and is worth reading if you are interested in this subject.

Regarding Blackwood, yes, he has his own serious shortcomings as an author. I think Lovecraft mentions this particular story in his treatise on Weird literature (but not as a great story; maybe it just isn't as bad as some of the others). Obviously he regarded the Willows as the best story (I haven't read that, but I plan to - tried a few times and gave up, likely because I already know the plot...)

Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #47 on: 24 May 2021, 21:55 »
The Willows is a nice story, but probably not very interesting if you already know what's going to happen. ;)
Some of his short stories I read years ago weren't bad, like The Wendigo, others were disappointing.

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #48 on: 25 May 2021, 15:10 »
Currently re-reading "The Dark Tower" series by Stephen King. What an interesting series of books to read once you know the history of his life over the decades it has taken him to write them.

Book One: The Gunslinger: A psychedelic tribute to the spaghetti-western, horror, and sci-fi genres that King just put out when he was riding high on his addictions and didn't give a second thought if anything made sense as long as it was cool as fuck, and it all is. The "Naked Lunch" of the series, with slightly more control.

Book Two: The Drawing Of The Three: King is still high AF while writing this, but it grounds the reader much better in the world of Roland, The Gunslinger, as he experiences our world, in New York, in three different time periods that all tie together very nicely... King still hasn't fallen into his self-admitted problem of not knowing how to end the story because it's a series.

Book Three: The Wastelands: For me, this is the masterpiece of the series. I love everything about this book, from the "there was a boy/there was no boy" paradox to drawing Jake through and solving it, and the giant cyborg bear with maggoty parasites invading its robot brain, and then the city of Lud and Blaine The Mono, obsessed with riddles... And the cliffhanger ending...

And then a few years went by without an update and then:

Book Four: Wizard And Glass happened... and I read it and I was, to be honest, pissed off. It is mostly a flashback to The Gunslinger's youthful first love and the main story hardly moves forward at all. And, yeah, the Wizard Of Oz stuff is just stupid.

And then for a few more years, nothing... and then more years: nothing...

About two decades passed. King wrote a lot of other very good and not so good books and it seemed like he was done with The Dark Tower series and we would never get an ending.

And then Stephen King got hit by a car.

And then, after many painful months of recovery, his wife, Tabitha King, told him "Just finish it."

And, for the first time really understanding that he only had a limited time on this earth, he wrote the next books of the series, and he wrote with a fucking vengeance.

Suddenly, after two decades of waiting, the continuation of the series was coming out in books that grew from a normal King book thickness, into twice that, and then into books that could be considered "excessive force" in a court of law if you ever hit a home-invader with one to take them down and it killed them by accident.

And then I finished the final book after everything in the story had gone off the rails in every wonderful way possible: I actually put my hand over the last page of the book as I was finally at the end after 20+ years so I wouldn't give into temptation to look at the final sentence on it.

Then I hid every line as I read down the last page with my hand and I got to the final line and read it.

And I thought "That was pretty good."

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #49 on: 25 May 2021, 18:09 »
The Crocodile, by Dostoevsky (have read it before, many years ago).
Continuing A Profile of Mathematical Logic. It is pretty impressive how the author, who was an academic, wastes no time to present the crisis with geometry that led to the non-euclidean versions. Certainly the tone in this book is a million times more austere than in GEB (which may end up not being as great a thing as I originally felt :) ).

Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #50 on: 29 May 2021, 20:35 »

Some months ago I read  David Foster Wallace's The Broom of the System and Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man, but I have a doubt: are maybe two incomplete novels? Because in both the editions I found some words are missing in the last page... Is it a misprint?  ??? I was unlucky in the picking the books?

_

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #51 on: 01 Jun 2021, 23:02 »
Roughly 1/4 into the DeLong book, and nearing the end of the Blackwood novelette.

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #52 on: 03 Jun 2021, 13:05 »
Now finished reading THE MAN WHOM THE TREES LOVED.
44 pages of next to nothing.
It is somewhat similar to Lovecraft's The Color out of Space, but at least the latter provides a reason for the inanimate objects to acquire some form of life.

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #53 on: 06 Jun 2021, 08:12 »
Started reading Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind.

Books piling up = not good.
« Last Edit: 06 Jun 2021, 08:50 by KyriakosCH »

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #54 on: 09 Jun 2021, 15:13 »
Σince for a while now you can really find all sorts of university papers online, it is not that rare to by (ill) chance read one which simply is not useful if you wish to learn about something, but has been written purely to convince the overseeing professor that the student has a decent understanding of the subject. Which is another way of saying that the uni paper is directed not at someone who tries to learn something out of it, but to someone who will establish if the given subject was presented without mistakes and provides sufficient proof that you know about it.
To use a metaphor, you couldn't learn something (non-trivial; you could notice the letters etc) about the japanese language, if you were reading a text in japanese and you didn't speak the language - but if you were aware of japanese, you certainly could appreciate if there were any mistakes or other issues.

This was - due to bad luck - what happened to me with the first ever Godel Incompleteness uni paper I read - it was a greek diploma work, of some undergraduate. The paper simply can't help you understand anything if you already don't know what virtually everything is.

By contrast, today (after much hesitation; as a result also of that old paper which I first saw half a year ago...) I actually started reading Godel's own paper where he presents his Incompleteness. After having read three other books on this (like I said, when you are met with something terrible at first, you overcompensate  := ).
Godel's own paper is only 34 pages. Of course it does help me that I know what it is already, and the methods used, but still it is the antithesis of the first paper (for another reason too: he was presenting a new ideα).
« Last Edit: 09 Jun 2021, 15:16 by KyriakosCH »

Babar

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #55 on: 23 Jun 2021, 05:04 »
Just finished reading Flatland yesterday. While it is 90% "look at this awesome idea I came up with" and only 10% plot, it was quite interesting to me in how it helped me (realise that I can't really) visualise higher dimensions:
Take a point and move it in one direction, you get a line.
Take a line and move it normal to its line of motion, and you get a square/rectangle
Take that square/rectangle and move it normal to its plane, and you get a cube/cuboid.
Take that cube/cuboid and move it normal to itself, and you get a tesseract (and so on)

Has given me greater appreciation for why this game has been over 7 years in the making  :=.
Also pretty funny how the preface to the second edition had the author address logical (how come 1d items had (tiny) thickness and 2d items had (tiny) depth?) and moral (what's up with the treatment of classes and women in your story?) issues.

Now I need to figure out something engaging from the classics (i.e. can download for free) of sci-fi to read next.
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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #56 on: 23 Jun 2021, 07:50 »
After reading (2 times) Sapiens, I finished Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. Really mind-blowing.

KyriakosCH

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Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #57 on: 23 Jun 2021, 17:28 »
Reading Blackwood's Wendigo (mentioned by Lorenzo). 2/5ths in. May be good - certainly better than The Man Whom the Trees Loved.
« Last Edit: 23 Jun 2021, 18:08 by KyriakosCH »

Re: What book are you reading?
« Reply #58 on: 24 Jun 2021, 00:58 »
I’ve started reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. So far so good. Very simple but interesting concept. 4 siblings go to a fortune teller who tells them each the day they will die. I’m not too far into the book yet but I’m enjoying it so far. Anyone else read this?