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Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 157712 times)

LeeC

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1150 on: 06 Oct 2017, 06:30 »

@JoeCovenant (and anyone else interested in getting into Lovecraft)
Last Christmas I started reading them just to fully understand what the deal with Lovecraft and all things lovecraftian.  I have read a dozen or so of his stories.  I can make some suggestions as far as getting into them if you like.  Some of his stories are very dense with purple prose or have long stretches of tedious boring things so I can understand how it can be rough to get into.

I always suggest to start off with "Dagon" as it is short and gets the idea of Lovecraft across.  When I first read it, it reminded me of those stop motion monsters in Sinbad movies.  "The Whisperer in Darkness" is also a good read.  The first part can be a bit tedious as the professor rattles on about some ancient folklore, but it really gets interesting when the letters start.  "The Dunwich Horror" is also very good, with an excellent character study in the first half and a 50s B-movie as the latter half.  I like the symbolism in the latter half but it may just be my take from it and not at all what Lovecraft intended.

I will say there are a few you should stay away from until you get familiar with Lovecraft's style of writing. Here is a breakdown of the ones I have read and what I think are easy to get into followed by the ones that get rougher and finally the tough ones that you may not want to attempt until you really get into his writing.

Easy:
Dagon
The Dunwhich Horror
The Hound
The Whisperer in Darkness

Medium:
The Color Out of Space
A Shadow Out of Time
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
Call of Cthulhu
Rats in the Wall
Herbert West: Reanimator

Hard:
Shadow Over Innsmouth
At the Mountain of Madness


Be it from me to tell you what to read or in what order but this is just my feeling on it.  For me "At the Mountain of Madness" was very boring until the 2nd act but others might find it to be their favorite or to read a different book entirely absent from the list.

It's October so it may be quite fun to read them while in the spooky spirit of things. Have fun!



edited: reread The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and wanted to update my ranking.
« Last Edit: 29 Jan 2018, 19:22 by LeeC »
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1151 on: 10 Oct 2017, 07:57 »

I finished Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."  The old Universal movie is but a glimmer to what the actual story is!  The only things similar is that there was a scientist named Frankenstein and he made a monster.  I find it had more parallels with movies dealing with AIs or robots with consciousness.  Creating a new life form with the consequences and moral/existential questions that follow.  It also dealt with nature and nurture a bit.

for example:
(click to show/hide)

You really start to feel for the creature.  Being that the story is told from Victor Frankenstein's point of view, it is a very biased side of the story.  Victor jumps to many conclusions based off of very little interactions from the monster and condemns the creature so early.  Totally convinced the monster had maligned motives.  Granted from his pov it seems warranted, but he just assumes the monster is malicious or deceitful from the get-go.  I could not help but think of Mel Brooks's "Young Frankenstein."  In the movie, Frankenstein wants to nurture and help the monster become accepted by society.  He legitimately cares about the creature's well being like a father should a son.  In the novel he runs away scared as soon as the monster is born, leaving the monster to roam the country side and fumble for meaning.  It is truly a tragic tale!  Mary Shelley uses amazing prose and poetry in her story.  I also love how she handled the "explanation" of the creature's creation.  I thought it was very clever. 
(click to show/hide)

There were a few moments where she was hung up on the scenery and it seemed like a love letter to the Swiss countryside which slowed the pacing at time.  Other than that it was a great read and I fully encourage everyone to check it out.
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LeeC

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1152 on: 17 Oct 2017, 06:52 »

I just finished Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. It was really good.  I loved the characters (especially the bad guy) and the premise. A small Illinois town is visited by a strange carnival a week before Halloween.  2 curious boys stumble upon its Dark and sinister secrets.  People of the town start to disappear after attending some of the attractions and its up to Will and Jim to save the day, with Will's distant father in tow.

The characters, settings, and story was amazing, however I was not a fan of the purple prose.  A number of times I told myself "we get it, we get it, its dark outside! Get on with it."  Baring the extreme descriptions I felt it had a lack lust ending.  Now this was written in 1968 so perhaps back then the ending wasn't so cliche as it is now-a-days (it did inspire Stephen King and Neil Gaiman).  I just wanted a more interesting ending I suppose.  I also wanted to know more of the carnival and the freaks.  What some of the rides/attractions did to people and how the mysterious illustrations came to be on the Illustrated man.

Baring the purple prose and the tropey ending, I would definitely recommend reading this (especially in mid to late October).  Bradbury is an amazing writer and very poetic.  His characters are well fleshed out but also leaving you wanting to know more about them.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1153 on: 17 Oct 2017, 19:51 »

Mann and Ornstein's latest book about the collapse of American politics.
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JoeCovenant

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1154 on: 18 Oct 2017, 04:22 »

I just finished Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. It was really good.  I loved the characters (especially the bad guy) and the premise. A small Illinois town is visited by a strange carnival a week before Halloween.  2 curious boys stumble upon its Dark and sinister secrets.  People of the town start to disappear after attending some of the attractions and its up to Will and Jim to save the day, with Will's distant father in tow.

The characters, settings, and story was amazing, however I was not a fan of the purple prose.  A number of times I told myself "we get it, we get it, its dark outside! Get on with it."  Baring the extreme descriptions I felt it had a lack lust ending.  Now this was written in 1968 so perhaps back then the ending wasn't so cliche as it is now-a-days (it did inspire Stephen King and Neil Gaiman).  I just wanted a more interesting ending I suppose.  I also wanted to know more of the carnival and the freaks.  What some of the rides/attractions did to people and how the mysterious illustrations came to be on the Illustrated man.

Baring the purple prose and the tropey ending, I would definitely recommend reading this (especially in mid to late October).  Bradbury is an amazing writer and very poetic.  His characters are well fleshed out but also leaving you wanting to know more about them.

Sorry, I have to jump to defence here...

I know you mention it in your post, and that it was written almost as long ago as I've been alive, but to then go on to say it has a *tropey ending* seems to negate your understanding.

Bradbury was a STUNNING writer.
Where you see *purple prose*, I see literal poetry.

Have a go at "The Hallowe'en Tree"... it ranks right up there with some of the finest books I have ever read.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1155 on: 18 Oct 2017, 09:05 »

I meant no offence JoeCovenant. It was very poetic.  Perhaps it was the exciting nature of the story that I just desperately wanted to know what was going to happen next that my impatience got the better of me.  Which really is a testament to Ray Bradbury as a writer.  I think I am spoiled by the ending because it has been done over and over again as of now which is what makes it cliche.  The fact of the matter is, it has been done to death in the cultural conciseness as of now that it seemed lack luster.  I did qualify it by saying it may not have been when it was first published but so many stories have ended the same way since, that I have been exposed to, that it just didn't end as excitingly as I had hoped.  Not to say it was unexpected, and I am sure if I read this when I was younger and less jaded I would have been satisfied by the ending.

I would still compel others to read it as it is beautifully written and I loved the story, characters, and atmosphere.

I almost picked up "The Halloween Tree" but decided against it as I watched the movie when I was a child (which Ray Bradbury also wrote and wasn't adapted by someone else) and it was definitely a treasure!  I wanted to do something different. Sheepishly I will admit my pick of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" derived from the Rick and Morty episode "Something Ricked This Way Comes" which more parody's Stephen King's "Needful Things."  After reading "Something Wicked This Way Comes" I see how R&M may have designed Mr. Needful off of Mr. Dark.

I picked up Bram Stoker's Dracula to round out my October.  I almost picked up "Needful Things" but may save that for next year, along with "The Halloween Tree" after your recommendation.  :-)
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1156 on: 19 Oct 2017, 02:22 »

I meant no offence JoeCovenant. It was very poetic.  Perhaps it was the exciting nature of the story that I just desperately wanted to know what was going to happen next that my impatience got the better of me.  Which really is a testament to Ray Bradbury as a writer.  I think I am spoiled by the ending because it has been done over and over again as of now which is what makes it cliche.  The fact of the matter is, it has been done to death in the cultural conciseness as of now that it seemed lack luster.  I did qualify it by saying it may not have been when it was first published but so many stories have ended the same way since, that I have been exposed to, that it just didn't end as excitingly as I had hoped.  Not to say it was unexpected, and I am sure if I read this when I was younger and less jaded I would have been satisfied by the ending.

I would still compel others to read it as it is beautifully written and I loved the story, characters, and atmosphere.

I almost picked up "The Halloween Tree" but decided against it as I watched the movie when I was a child (which Ray Bradbury also wrote and wasn't adapted by someone else) and it was definitely a treasure!  I wanted to do something different. Sheepishly I will admit my pick of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" derived from the Rick and Morty episode "Something Ricked This Way Comes" which more parody's Stephen King's "Needful Things."  After reading "Something Wicked This Way Comes" I see how R&M may have designed Mr. Needful off of Mr. Dark.

I picked up Bram Stoker's Dracula to round out my October.  I almost picked up "Needful Things" but may save that for next year, along with "The Halloween Tree" after your recommendation.  :-)


I REALLY hope you do!
And I REALLY hope you like LOVE it !   :laugh:
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1157 on: 24 Nov 2017, 17:16 »

Mark Manson, "The Subtle art of not Giving a F*ck".

So far my summary would be "potty-mouthed Buddhism". I'm pretty sure I saw a paraphrase of the "second arrow" parable and a message about attachment.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1158 on: 05 Dec 2017, 08:43 »

Mark Manson, "The Subtle art of not Giving a F*ck".

So far my summary would be "potty-mouthed Buddhism". I'm pretty sure I saw a paraphrase of the "second arrow" parable and a message about attachment.

Currently: "The emperor of all maladies" by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Pretty riveting read, despite (or because of?) its subject matter. May also be because i'm a biomedical engineer, so it's close to heart/head.

Previously: "Secret life of laszlo" by Anscombe. Really enjoyed that one.

Next: who knows? Perhaps something about hiking in the white mountains, although I'm also tempted to start rereading the Death Gate Cycle, which I read about 20 years ago in Dutch and absolutely loved. Kinda wondering if I'll still love it and if it'll feel different in English.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1159 on: 10 Dec 2017, 07:55 »

Finding more time to read of late, and trying to make sure I do more of that.

Still reading Pride & Prejudice, which is great, and also a biography of FDR I got for my birthday which is a truly engrossing read and is helping me rediscover my love of history.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1160 on: 13 Dec 2017, 16:51 »

Just finished "So you've been publicly shamed" by Jon Ronson (1.19€ as Kindle-edition).

Starting on Charlie Stross' "Empire Games - A Tale of the Merchant Princes Universe".
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1161 on: 19 Dec 2017, 01:34 »

Just finished Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami.

About to start in on the Philip Glass memoir Words Without Music.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1162 on: 27 Dec 2017, 07:12 »

I finished Dracula on Halloween.  I initial picked it up because my Dad was reading it when I visited him in August and figured we'd have something to talk about.  I talked with my dad recently on Christmas and, unfortunately he never finished it.  Not because he got bored or became uninterested; quite the opposite in fact!  He started having nightmares because of the book.  It was really nicely written.  If you knew nothing of vampires or Dracula going into it, the story would have seemed more like a novel about a serial killer than anything paranormal.

Not unlike Frankenstein, the book is written in the form of letters.  In this book it is a series of letters from 4 or so different people's points of view experiencing different things related to Dracula all at the same time.  About 2/3 of the way into the story it becomes relevant as Minna collects all of the letters from everyone and transcribes them for the rest of the cast to read.  This was interesting because after this moment everyone in the story was now synced up with what the reader knew.  I thought that was very clever and a good way of making the story framing device part of the story.

As for the plot:
I am putting it in spoilers as well it is spoilery and also has some possible triggers for those that may have suffered some abuse.

(click to show/hide)

The themes of the novel were very interesting as well.  Not only does it seem like a cat and mouse game with a paranormal serial killer, but also deals with trauma.  Lucy becomes like her attacker, Minna becomes distant and feels unclean, her husband Jonathan goes crazy and feels no one would believe him and bottles it up.  Even the heroic trio Arthur, Dr. John, and Quincey show how the victim's family and friends would respond to loss and trauma suffered by a loved one.  The story also shows those who have been traumatized that they have a support network.  Whether is with friends and family, or with medical professionals.  There are many other themes too like, what is expected of a woman in Victorian times, science and mysticism, good vs evil, etc.  I feel like those are pretty evident and are more talked about than the theme of trauma so I will not go into detail about the other themes here.

All in all I would highly suggest reading this classic novel.  A century later it is still just as exciting, creepy, and relevant as when it was published.  Reading it around Halloween made it extra creepy, as the days in the novel started to sync up with the days I read them.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1163 on: 30 Dec 2017, 01:29 »

Just read Animal Farm by George Orwell.  Was really good!  I loved the parallels that it shares with the Russian revolutions and how twisted absolute power can be on ideals and good intentions.  Many people think it just addresses Stalin-ism and communism, but it really doesn't stop there.  It is a critique of autocracy in general and can be applied to multiple political and social systems.

Its also super short.  My version was about 112 pages.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1164 on: 30 Dec 2017, 07:46 »

The revolution could have succeeded if it hadn't been for the sheep.

"I Contain Multitudes", a book about microbiome research. Captivating! @Akima, the conclusion that seems inevitable after the first hundred pages, even though the author does not explicitly draw it, is that it's a mistake to think of organisms and their symbiotic microbes as separate entities. Is that dependent co-arising, or just a choice of scientific paradigms?
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LeeC

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1165 on: 30 Dec 2017, 14:37 »

The revolution could have succeeded if it hadn't been for the sheep.
I'd argue it was because:
(click to show/hide)
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1166 on: 11 Jan 2018, 10:23 »

Worm. I've been glued to my screen for the past week.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1167 on: 19 Jan 2018, 13:33 »

I've started reading an extensively researched, meticulous biography of FDR. It's just... a big bath in learning juice. Love it. I have the first part of a series of TR ones to read next, probably for my plane out to NYC.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1168 on: 19 Jan 2018, 15:00 »

I'm trying to shed my "100% videogames" self, one step at a time.

I read Frankenstein, pretty good book. I'm now reading Asimov's "The Complete Robot" and having a lot of fun with it.

Looking forward for some non-fiction after this, though.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1169 on: 19 Jan 2018, 15:58 »

If it's science non-fiction you like, you really can't go wrong with The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. I read it years ago and I'm still reminded of it frequently. There's a lot of knowledge that it puts into perspective, new and old.
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I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1170 on: 20 Jan 2018, 19:59 »

Valerie Young, "The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women". Mostly about impostor syndrome and with most material also applying to men.
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LeeC

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1171 on: 23 Jan 2018, 18:34 »

Just finished Red October by Douglas Boyd. The book chronicles the lead up to, the events of, and the civil war following the Russian Revolutions.  It was a great read as it starts with the lives of Marx and Engels and their philosophies. This is followed by the main trio: Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. After a brief origin story for each of them in the early chapters, the book then changes tune and follows the ineptitude of the last Russian Emperor as he blunders time and again with foreign and domestic policy.  He was totally out of touch on how to be a ruler, and on how his country was even ruled up to that point.  Times were changing, and Russia was in the past.  It didn't help that his father didn't bother to teach him anything, as he thought Nicholas II was too stupid to learn.  Why Nicholas II was made his successor is beyond me.  I put the blame on the entire revolution on the shoulders of Nicholas II and WW1.  Not only was the army woefully under armed and trained, but the home front could not support such an endeavor.  Combine this with outdated tactics, an aggressive enemy, and foreign funding of prominent exiled revolutionaries, it was a powder keg thrown into the fireplace.  I felt rather bad for Nicholas II.

Boyd really shows how dire life was during the wars, revolutions, and counter revolutions.  You really get to know the main three players mentioned earlier and how much they just hated each other.  If Stalin didn't over shadow Lenin in history as a megalomaniac, I'd rank Lenin up there with Napoleon and Alexander.  Lenin wanted the world, but only if he was the sole ruler of it.  Trotsky was rather flamboyant in comparison and was diametrically opposed to Lenin in most things.  Stalin just played in the background waiting, biding his time and gathering secret support.  It truly was a revolution, as it ended up similar from where they started.  After the dust was settled, Lenin (and later Stalin) were the monarchs, just in a different name.  The communist party was their religion, where banishment from the party was no different than being excommunicated from the church in medieval times.  The secret Tsar police, the Okhrana, was replaced by the Cheka.  Oppression of the peasants and the working class just changed hands rather than improved their well being.  The list goes on.

The most interesting of the accounts in the book was a chapter two-thirds of the way through about the execution and disposal of the Tsar and his family.  It is written as a report by the commissar in charge that was retold by said commissar years after the event.  If the subject matter wasn't so grim, it would be comical, but was overall very compelling.  There are a number of colorful characters that pop in and out throughout the book, along with flavorful small stories.

If I had one complaint: it's that the author seemed to sneer at the people or subject matter at times.  I know most of these men are not looked upon favorably by contemporaries, but I generally like a unbiased (or as unbiased as you can get) viewpoint when dealing with historical subjects.  That is just my own pet peeve, but all in all it was a really nice read, especially if the era or subject matter of revolution interests you.  I'd recommend it to any history buff.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1172 on: 24 Jan 2018, 03:06 »

I finished Worm, took me about two weeks, and now I know that's the time it takes for me to read 1.65 million words, if I'm sufficiently motivated.

I see a lot of people saying "it's so dark and gritty!" which I'm not sure I agree with. It's *human*, with all the highs and lows that entails. Adding superpowers to an quintessentially human story makes those highs and lows correspondingly extreme: the stakes keep getting higher until they literally can't, victories become increasingly hard-fought and happen in lower and lower odds, and losses are more devastating each time.

The author hasn't bothered to give content warnings because pretty much every disturbing thing you can think of happens, with the exception of sexual violence. But unlike other grim 'n gritty stuff, it doesn't revel in it, it doesn't rub your face in how horrible people are, even if the upper limit for horribleness is much higher than normal. I really enjoyed it because of that; it contrasts with the other fiction I've tried to read recently, superhero and otherwise, where the world is shit and horrible things happen for basically no reason, which is no way to write a story.
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I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

LeeC

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1173 on: 29 Jan 2018, 19:24 »

I reread "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward."  I tried to listen to this on audible during a trip.  In this case it was a train ride to NYC back in August.  I fell asleep several times and had to rewind and re-listen for me to catch up.  By the end of the trip I felt like this was by far the worse Lovecraft story I have ever read! I meant to write up my review but things were so busy in my life at that moment that it fell to the way side.  Last week I felt I should pick it up again and re-listen to it since it has been so long the details became fuzzy.  I finished it today on my way home from work and my opinion had reversed from my initial reading.  I am glad I gave it another try as there were chunks of the story I missed or misheard.

It was a great mystery story!  I will say, the second time reading it, having a basic blueprint of the story from the first reading did help me make more connections than previously.  I wonder if that is why I enjoyed it more the second time around.  Lovecraft seemed to be at his best in this novel.  Not the most chilling, but definitively his most satisfying from begging middle and end.  Whereas his previous stories seems to start atmospherically, bring on the tension, only to ramp up and rush the ending; this novel was very well paced and did not disappoint in the end.  His poetic language was expertly used and didn't come off as too self indulgent at all.  Definitely a fine read and I recommend it to any mystery and/or paranormal novel enthusiasts.
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1174 on: 03 Feb 2018, 16:23 »

I read Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.  I was going through audible a few weeks ago with 2 credits and trying to figure out what to get.  I got Red October for myself and relized that my wife should read something too.  She didn't seem to interested in anything, but then I came across Bringing Up Bébé.  The synopsis seems to indicate it was an American mother's exploration of Parisian parenting.  It triggered what I learned in my French culture class back in college.  I mentioned it to her and played an excerpt of it for us to listen too.  It sounded so interesting that we decided to get it.  After I finished Red October I decided I hadn't read many "baby books" other than the mayo clinic's guide to pregnancy and newborns, and so I decided to listen to Pamela's pseudo-anthropological study of French parenting.

It was fascinating!  Druckerman had moved to Paris with her British husband and decided to settle there.  After having her first baby and she started noticing that French babies behaved differently.  They did not cry or throw a fit in public, they slept through the night 3-6 weeks after delivery, and they were overall just well behaved.  And the French parents looked happy and content as opposed to the ragged looking American and British parents.  She found through Parisian anecdotes and some research that the French parenting philosophy exists but is taken for granted in France.  To them what they do is just "common sense."  There's an entire chapter dedicated to what the author calls "The Pause" and how it teaches the baby to "do their nights" as well as instill patience in their child.  Another chapter is how they introduce children to food in a way they gets them to eat all kinds of different foods that most Anglophone kids would never eat let alone try.  Its all very fascinating with pros and cons to the French parenting philosophy.  For example, my wife and I have decided that we will do "The Pause" as well as getting them on a feeding schedule that matches our own, but unlike the french we do plan to breastfeed and do more than just let the child "discover" things.

I would highly recommend this book if you are going to be a parent, love french culture, interested in anthropology, love philosophy, or just love fun short stories about family.  It was just an utterly captivating book that not only shows and critiques French parenting philosophy but also Anglophones as well.
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LeeC

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1175 on: 05 Feb 2018, 20:18 »

I am at an impasse.  I want to continue delving into classical literature, particularly those that are well known that I have missed out on.  I am trying to choose from the following:

Moby Dick
Pride and Prejudice
The Three Musketeers
War and Peace
Heart of Darkness

any suggestions?
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1176 on: 06 Feb 2018, 13:50 »

Moby Dick is one of those books where you need to read it in a couple of sessions over a relative short period, its not the kind you can drop and pick it up over weeks or months. Its just so dense.
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Cornelius

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1177 on: 06 Feb 2018, 23:37 »

It really is. But don't let that discourage you: it really is rewarding, and, to me, much more so than Pride and prejudice. But then, I'm not an Austen fan.
Pride and prejudice is a fairly easy read.
The three Musketeers, I'm ashamed to admit I've only ever read in translation, but it's full of everything you would expect from the story, including some very funny episodes that don't generally make it into the movies.
War and Peace is still on my reading list, so that's all I can say about that. If it is like the other Russian literature from that period, it'll be slightly less dense than Moby Dick.
Heart of Darkness, being only a novella, is the shortest read of them all. It manages to pack quite a lot in there, though. I'd say it's definitely Conrad's best work. I like to borrow his description of Brussels.

I've just finished Notre Dame de Paris, and started Kipling's Plain Tales from the Hills.

Edited to clean up the autocorrect.
« Last Edit: 07 Feb 2018, 10:49 by Cornelius »
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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #1178 on: 07 Feb 2018, 10:33 »

I'm wrestling with "The Divine Milieu" by Teilhard de Chardin.
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