what are you reading recently

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agaton
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 05:17 pm
@odenskrigare,
Good question... I've always had problem with answering this as I cannot read one book at a time... I usually read simultaneously at least 2-3 books, one commuting, one in the evening etc... Now it's Problems of philosophy (second time, anyone else thinks that this is a book that should be read over and over?) Copleston vol2, Mary Acton's Learning to look at paintings.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 11:17 pm
@agaton,
Zetherin;102618 wrote:
That's a very interesting thought. Perhaps one of us could start a new thread on how to efficiently read. Besides what you noted, I wonder what current studies there are on the matter.


As Aedes pointed out, reading a novel is quite different from reading a history. Novels are self-contained works of art. But I would also caution against making a habit of reading bits and pieces of histories. Historians typically have some narrative or larger thesis they are trying to explain, and if we only read a section or two, we miss the larger theme.

And that's not to say that you should never read bits and pieces. I've read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in its entirety, but never all the way through. It's one of those books that I've read over the course of several years, and go back to from time to time. But, unless you are doing research on a particular figure or event, it seems a disservice to one's own education to read only a chapter of America's Longest War or a biography.

Reading efficiently is precarious. We should be more concerned with reading effectively - which demands contemplation, reflection. It's something to be practiced, worked on, a skill developed over time.

And it is a skill our society is losing, the very skill upon which civilization depends. Crack those books, kiddies. For your children's sake.

As for my current reading:

I recently finished Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. Wonderful little novel with exciting poetic prose. You would probably want to first read On the Road to help set up certain characters and the more significant parts of the narrator's past.

After finishing the first part of the book, I set down A Distant Mirror and just started on the second part again a couple of days ago at work. I've read the book before, but Barbara Tuchman is such a wonderful historian that she's worth reading again and again.

Some weeks ago I picked up Hemingway's complete short stories and have started on them. Like most people, I've read many of his stories before, some of them many times over. Having the complete set is really a treasure for a short story enthusiast, and I doubt it will take very long before I read each of them. Hemingway really was the American master.

Also on the desk is Armstrong's The Case for God, which I need to go ahead and finish up, as well as The Tibetan Book of the Dead which I've been looking through for a while now. I found one of those large, fully illustrated versions on sale and absolutely love it, but I think the translation is a bit dated and would like to pick up a more modern version, at least for comparison.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 11:44 pm
@odenskrigare,
Dharma Bums is a good one. I've been meaning to go back and re-read both it, and On the Road. The former is what actually got me interested in Buddhism, even though the version of it portrayed in that book is quite inaccurate. Gary Snyder criticized this work of Kerouac's for exactly that reason. Still, it helped to introduce an interest in the subject to many in the West, including myself, so that's good. Plus, it's also very philosophical, as well as entertaining...as is On the Road.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 12 Nov, 2009 11:52 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss;103236 wrote:
Dharma Bums is a good one. I've been meaning to go back and re-read both it, and On the Road.


Yeah, I know what you mean. I read On the Road and then Big Sur, the first major book of the Duluoz Legend and then the last. I'm planning to read the whole series through sometime in the next year.

Pangloss;103236 wrote:
The former is what actually got me interested in Buddhism, even though the version of it portrayed in that book is quite inaccurate. Gary Snyder criticized this work of Kerouac's for exactly that reason.


I've heard that criticism before, and it is true that Japhy Ryder's Zen, and most of the Buddhism presented in Kerouac, is a misunderstanding of the actual Buddhist tradition. Tibetan Lamas were not having yab-yum and so forth, ya know? But I think the misunderstanding is part of the depth of the novels. If the Buddhism were perfect, the books would be pedantic. The nature of the misunderstandings, coupled with the idealism of the characters, give the characters and the novels power.

Pangloss;103236 wrote:
Still, it helped to introduce an interest in the subject to many in the West, including myself, so that's good. Plus, it's also very philosophical, as well as entertaining...as is On the Road.


I'd also recommend Big Sur. Great books, striking prose. Truly great American writing and classic American characters.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 12:03 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;103238 wrote:

I'd also recommend Big Sur. Great books, striking prose. Truly great American writing and classic American characters.


Yea, I've been meaning to read Big Sur also. "American" is exactly how I would characterize Kerouac's novels...and you're right, the characters are classic and unforgettable. Especially Dean Moriarty, who is probably one of my most favorite characters, from any novel I've read.

Quote:
"They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn..."
Moriarty is one of these people...

Quote:
"I want to be like him. He's never hung-up, he goes every direction, he lets it all out, he knows time, he has nothing to do but rock back and forth. Man, he's the end! You see, if you go like him all the time you'll finally get it."
Quote:
"In myriad pricklings of heavenly radiation I had to struggle to see Dean's figure, and he looked like God."


Sorry, there are too many great quotes from this book. Now I know I have to read it again...
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 12:34 am
@Pangloss,
Kerouac is beyond quotable. Hardly a page goes by without at least three gems. Ginsberg said something to the effect of 'parts of On the Road are as brilliantly poetic as the great epic classics', and he was right.

Damn shame Kerouac had to be a raging alcoholic and die so early. He was our Proust.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 12:48 am
@odenskrigare,
Kerouac had many personal issues that plagued him, but that seems to be a common curse for those who are gifted with such a unique artistic vision.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 09:02 am
@odenskrigare,
Having some questions, spurred by a thread here, about Heidegger and his Nazi affiliation, I am currently reading Rudiger Safranski's rather thorough biography, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil (Harvard UP, 1998).
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 09:14 am
@agaton,
agaton;103198 wrote:
Good question... I've always had problem with answering this as I cannot read one book at a time... I usually read simultaneously at least 2-3 books, one commuting, one in the evening etc...


I'm really glad to hear this. I've always felt a bit odd in doing the same thing.

Mine aren't so much based on time of day or what I'm doing. I have three "slots": Classic Literature, Contemporary Non-Fiction and Fiction (General) - though sometimes I'll do two of one and one of another. I close up the library door and read for at least an hour a day, alternating slots. It's just nice to mix it up that way.
 
agaton
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 09:47 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;103303 wrote:
I'm really glad to hear this. I've always felt a bit odd in doing the same thing.

Mine aren't so much based on time of day or what I'm doing. I have three "slots": Classic Literature, Contemporary Non-Fiction and Fiction (General) - though sometimes I'll do two of one and one of another. I close up the library door and read for at least an hour a day, alternating slots. It's just nice to mix it up that way.


I do classics in a bit different way. As my job completely disconnects my brain... I have audiobooks as an addition to more "traditional" ways of reading Razz Currently Madame Bovary. I usually mix it with some podcasts or currently with lectures from Yale University (highly recommended!)...
Actually as I re-read my post... I'm surprised that my brain is not cooked yet... by maybe I'm delusional Razz
 
 

 
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