October 23 Open Thread

[Image description: Single-panel comic. In one corner stand three people in dark clothes saying “tut tut” disapprovingly. They’re labeled “proper literature.” In the upper right corner is a person in a purple jumpsuit, flying with a flame-producing jetpack. They’re labeled “science fiction,” and they’re saying, “You’re all just jealous of my jetpack.”]

What have you been reading lately?

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19 Responses to October 23 Open Thread

  1. Siggy says:

    LOL at the image. Generally, I alternate between sci-fi and snooty literature. Right now I am reading The Book of the Long Sun, by Gene Wolfe. It’s post-apocalyptic fiction, centered on a religion that appears to worship the electronic remnants of their world’s creators via live sacrifices.

  2. Aydan says:

    Children’s literature. I’m not sure if that’s “better” or “worse” than sci-fi in the eyes of snooty pipe-smoking tut-tutters.

    • Siggy says:

      The question is, do you *want* the approval of snooty pipe-smoking tut-tutters? šŸ™‚

    • Queenie says:

      What specifically are you reading? (I love children’s literature, not just because it’s great a lot of the time, but also because I can read it with my little brother…)

      • Aydan says:

        E. L. Konigsburg. I don’t know that I would recommend it, though. It’s not bad, but none of it really grabbed me (except for The Mixed-Up Files, which I remembered fondly from childhood).

        • Queenie says:

          Mixed-Up Files was one of my favorite books as a kid! I thought living in a museum was a splendid idea, and planned to try it for myself (but fortunately never tried to enact my plan).

    • I read a lot of children’s literature. It tends to be less genre-defined than adult literature, and I tend to like less genre-defined books. Also, if you find a children’s book you can’t put down, that’ll take up your day. If you find some adult books you can’t put down, you’ve wasted yourself a week.

  3. Calinlapin says:

    Well, I feel I should say something in defense of pipe-smoking tut-tutters, but I’m reading (and enjoying) the Ender’s cycle. šŸ™‚

  4. morethanx says:

    In addition to my Uni reading (and good grief there is a lot of that) I’ve been re-reading the Tales of the Otori series, and a fabulous book called The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth. It gives me all the language nerdery feels.

  5. Queenie says:

    I’ve mostly been reading stuff for class (2,000 pages of reading a week yaaaay), which means a lot of reading about Buddhism and SPIRIT POSSESSION. (I have a mild obsession with spirit possession.) I’m currently reading Immortal Wishes, which is about SPIRIT POSSESSION, and is SO COOL.

  6. Sciatrix says:

    Man, I haven’t read a proper book for fun in way too long. Lately I’ve been alternating between reading papers for grad school and terrible, cracky fanfiction for when I need to take a break. (I generally don’t read anything that makes my brain work too hard when I’m stressed out and putting a lot of brain energy into my work–if it wasn’t fic, it would probably be fluffy speculative fiction. The one exception to that is Pratchett, who I can usually read on multiple levels of engagement with the text depending on how much brainpower I have to spare.) I often find that the snooty-pipe-tut-tutters of the world don’t have a lot of appreciation for literature-as-pure-entertainment–I’m quite happy to read books that make me stretch myself and think about the world and everything, but that’s not what I seek out when I’m mentally exhausted and looking for a break from thinking. Everything in its place, you know?

    When I’m not stressed out and trying to do everything at once, I do tend to gravitate towards speculative fiction or nonfiction, usually history or pop science in biological fields not directly related to mine. In particular, I read a lot of epidemiology books because I like infectious diseases and reading about public policy decisions.

  7. I’ve recently started The Picture of Dorian Gray. Prior to that was Frankenstein, and before that…I think maybe it was 20,000 Leagues beneath the sea?

    I don’t remember reading anything when I was younger, so I suppose I’m trying to catch up now so I can pretend like I had a cultured childhood, lol. Also, my only time off of school/socializing tends to be going to a cafe/restaurant for lunch or dinner and reading a book. The waitresses never know how to react when I get a table for one.

    Also, there’s the stuff for school- cases on evidence, criminal procedure, voting rights, labor law, and so on.

  8. Carmilla DeWinter says:

    Ooh, difficult, especially to someone who considers themself a writer. (Fantasy plus the occasional Transformers fanfic.)

    There is well written “serious” literature out there. However, those who tut are mostly the literari, not the good storytellers, and well, these people seem not so much jealous of the jet pack as unable to plot for the life of them, which they try to hide behind beautiful, but, to me, meaningless, unengaging prose.

    I refuse to read novels that don’t manage to make me interested in the main character in the first twenty pages or so. Nobel Prize or not. I want to feel with the characters, get lost in the fictional dream for a while and hopefully emerge a somewhat wiser person.

    • Siggy says:

      I think one of my complaints about sci-fi is that for the most part it doesn’t focus on characterization very much. Depending on what kind of sci-fi it is, usually there’s a higher priority on setting, speculation, philosophy, social commentary, or, uh, plot. Which is cool, and I like a lot of that stuff. But I get bothered by flat characters and have to be choosy about my reading sometimes.

      • Carmilla DeWinter says:

        I don’t read much sci-fi (fanfic doesn’t count, I don’t think), so I can’t say all that much about that. But yeah, depending on the point an author’s trying to make, it might well be they don’t mind producing cardboard characters in the process. I’m all about character when I write, I’m bad with action plots, so I tend to be more lenient with characters in action plots.
        Also, I believe that the truly noteworthy and memorable novels of any genre are those that do character well, soo… it’s usually wise to invest some time into developing them.

  9. nextstepcake says:

    Haha, this is reminding me that I have less than a week to get ready for NaNoWriMo. Anyone else here planning on attempting it?

    I have to say, I think I’m always going to be more of a fan of scifi/fantasy literature. Even if it’s beautifully written, if I want realistic situations I can go read non-fiction. What I like about scifi and fantasy is that they give an experience that you just can’t get from real life.

    • Carmilla DeWinter says:

      Well, good luck with the NaNoWriMo, then. (I’m know I won’t make 50 k words in a month, so I’m not going to try. I usually clock in with 5 to 10 book pages per week, which is way too little.)

      Anyhow, I can see where you’re coming from with the preference for speculative fiction – there’s this sense of wonder that no amount of drama set in a chick lit universe can match. Also, genre lit has often the added bonus of being less about romance than the mainstream stuff.

  10. Norah says:

    I’ve been reading Sherlock Holmes. I’ve watched so many films and series based on the stories, and I started wondering why I didn’t just go read them. So I found this really cheap GIGANTIC everything-in-one-bundle hardcover book that I now lug around with me everywhere.

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