Good books?

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AuthorTopic: Good books?
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I'm always in the market for good book suggestions, though admittedly I recently started on the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey-Maturin series (twenty novels!) that the movie "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" was based on, and can't seem to put them down, so I probably won't start on anything else soon. I also have recently read and enjoyed "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay" by Michael Chabon (who has writing credits on Spider-man 2) and "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" by Salman Rushdie.

What are some of y'all's favorite books and suggestions?

[ Friday, July 02, 2004 05:20: Message edited by: Andrew Miller ]
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Well I always quite liked The Alchymist's Cat by Robin Jarvis. I think it was the first in a series, though I never ead the others.

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Wow, Salman Rushdie. Great author. :)

As for my favorite books (the ones after Lord of the Rings anyway), I especially like Guy Gavriel Kay, because he manages to make his characters so vividly real...
I also like Shakespeare's dramas (no, seriously). In a world full of people who mistakenly think they can speak Shakespearean English it is a relief to read the works by someone who actually could. :P

Mh. Can't think of any more right now, though there's a whole lot of outher authors. Mostly fantasy.

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I'd recommend something, but then to read the kind of spiked, literary torture I drag myself through on a regular basis, I'd also recommend taking a good, college-level literary class to go with the postmodern/modern torment.

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Try Steven Saylor's books. :)

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I'm reading Snow Crash and Lies my Teacher Told Me right now. They're both pretty good.
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Snow Crash happens to be a personal favorite of mine. I'll try and keep my fav. author list short. Lets see.

Harlan Coben (Mystery, Tell No One and Just One Look are really well done)
Terry Goodkind (Fantasy, though his last installment of the Sword of Truth series kinda let me down)
Christopher Pike (The Last Vampire series)
Read some Sherlock Holmes too, if you're into mysteries.
Oh, and The Life of Pi. That was one of the most origional books I've read in a while.
Oh! And also, grab some of R.A. Salvatore's work, The Halflings Gem and Servant of the Shard are particularily good. Those are Fantasy, in case you didn't know.
Oh, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. The John Carter of Mars series is a total mind bender, though I don't have the seventh or eleventh book.
And for a laugh, grab some of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy series. I've got a few, but apparently there are 40+ titles. Some of their earlier work (Creature of Havok, Citadel of Chaos) is quite good. Temple of Doom is good too. And Robot Commando, thats awesome.

Umm, I could probably go on, but I don't wanna take to long here.

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I've read most of Salvatore at some point or another, but have found that I've been drifting away from fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons-y books. I do love LotR though. Terry Goodkind scares me - I read the first four books or so, and found his writing to be a little too misogynistic for my tastes, and his anti-socialism kick was a little too obvious.

College Lit was pretty fun, back in the day. Reading Nabokov's "Lolita" in one day was a trip - a great book, but I felt so dirty after reading it. :)

I'm also sad to report that my last reading of "Dune" left me feeling disappointed.

[ Friday, July 02, 2004 08:12: Message edited by: Andrew Miller ]
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When I read Goodkind's books, all I could think was "this guy must pleasure himself whilst reading Ayn Rand." They're really disturbing, actually. But sometimes entertaining.

The best thing is that Darken Rahl was obviously intended to be Hitler. With the vegetarianism and all. And the Sword of Truth was more or less the One Ring, except with more bondage-chick slaying power.

As the series progressed, it got only more and more pornographic. I mean, that wind shrine one, they could not stop with the sexing in that one.

[ Friday, July 02, 2004 09:44: Message edited by: Andrea ]

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For good old-fashioned fantasy you can't beat the Arabian Nights (I like the newer Haddawy translation) or the Brothers Grimm.

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If you could honestly read through all the M&C series, pick up 'Guns of the South', 'How Few Remain', and 'Worldwar: In the Balance'. And to avoid being accused of fetishry, go out and read Stirling too, I guess.

I don't read a lot of fantasy (read: any), so I couldn't tell you what's good and what isn't.

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Originally written by Andrew Miller:

College Lit was pretty fun, back in the day. Reading Nabokov's "Lolita" in one day was a trip - a great book, but I felt so dirty after reading it. :)
In ONE DAY? Christ! How can you analyze it at all with such speed?

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I think, TM, the idea behind reading postmodernist literature is the exact same as the idea behind crossing a three-hundred-yard river of human feces, unless you just so happen to be a very specific kind of person.

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The most exciting book I read in the last years was Elementary Particles from Michael Houellebecq. His writing is breath-taking - the last pages became bedewed with my tears.

If you like Rushdie you absolutely should read "The Satanic Verses". And above all Midnight's Children: a strong and spicy dose of India, Pakistan, history and fantasy.

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EDIT: Pretend this wasn't there.

[ Friday, July 02, 2004 15:00: Message edited by: Lord Drebutane ]

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Hold the phone. Was Rushdie the one who had to go into hiding or something after writing The Satanic Verses ? Something about the book being a big slam against Islam or something ?

Part of a shot contest is knowing when to say "Yeah, I'm done", and not yelling "Frrreeedom !" like William Wallace instead.
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Yeah Rushdie was/is not very popular with a lot of the Islamic fanatics. He was issued a Fatwa (I think thats what they called it) by a few people including Ayatollah Khomeini. Fatwa's dictionary meaning is "A legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar" and I believe this ruling wanted Rushdie dead, therfore he went into hiding for such a long time.

As for books Robert Jordan is not bad (similiar to Tolkien's epicness) I'm currently reading the first one which is a bit slow to start but from what I've heard the battle scenes in the end and later books (ten books in his trilogy I think) are very impressive.

Thats all I can think of off the top of my head.

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If you are into fantasy you could always try reading some Dragonlance novels. All the ones by Margret Weis or Tracy Hickman are very good.

Otherwise, Richard A. Knaak is a great author, except he tends to reiterate how beautiful his women characters are, every freaking chapter. Not that thats a bad thing... : perverted grin :
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Lolita in one day was a trip - of course a paper was due that day as well. :) Whenever I read books that quickly, though, it's like their ideas get imbedded in my psyche for the day, which can be pretty uncomfortable - I felt dirty having gotten into the mind of Humbert Humbert, and as for when I read 1984... :)

Robert Jordan was okay for a while, and then around book five his story started going nowhere, and once I caught up with the most current one and had to wait months and months for the next, I found that I could barely keep track of the characters, and nothing serious was being resolved. The story probably should have wound up around book seven, I reckon. He's probably milking it.

I read "The Satanic Verses" after I read "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" and found that I didn't like it nearly as much. It was very entertaining, to be certain, and you totally get why Islam would have a problem with it, but it was much more abstract, and not quite as polished - I think Rushdie has definitely come a ways in his abilities as a writer since then. :)
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I've been getting into a lot of 19th and early 20th-century stuff lately, so most of my list won't be new to you. Sorry. I'll mention the really obvious ones anyway so you can see how closely my tastes match with yours (and therefore how much of my advice you wish to write off as lunacy).

Of the great existentialist writers, Camus is good, Kafka is better, and Sartre is a boring old windbag. For Camus, start with The Plague, and avoid The Outsider like, well, the plague. For Kafka, I prefer his short stories and novellas (including Metamorphosis); his minimalistic writing style gets frustrating over the course of a novel.

I don't read much fantasy these days either. As far as SF goes, Asimov strikes me as a tad misogynistic, but is worthy of mention if for no other reason than that Foundation is a brilliant, brilliant book. I've also read and enjoyed nearly everything by John Wyndham; The Triffids is what he's best known for, but The Kraken Wakes is also good, especially if you don't mind a little light political satire. I'm also very fond of Goethe's Faust, which I list as science fiction just for the sake of being ornery. :P

As regards more contemporary writers, I'm fond of Iain M. Banks (who writes both SF and non-genre fiction). He can get seriously icky with the descriptive detail, though, so start with one of the milder ones like The Player of Games and move on to others if you don't find anything overtly stomach-churning in that one.

I also loved Lord of the Flies, possibly because I was never forced to read it in school.

Oh, and if you have an overdeveloped sense of irony, you can't go wrong with Jane Austen.
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In the edition that I have of Lolita, Nabokov vigorously mocks people who want to analyze the book. He says explicitly that he had no more purpose in writing the book than to get rid of the book (to get it out of his head and on to paper so that he need not think about it anymore). Through much of the work, I agreed with him, and felt that the only real use for analysis was to understand the allusions.

I was on my way to a book club meeting (one of three that I actually went to) and hadn't actually finished the book yet, so I skimmed most of Lolita in a car in a darkened parking lot over the course of a few hours. This made it, well, a unique experience. I have to say, it made it better.

EDIT: And I don't think anyone can doubt that Robert Jordan is milking WoT at this point. At the end of Book 9, I thought events were speeding up and everything would come to a great conclusion pretty soon. Then I read Book 10 and absolutely NOTHING happened. Books 7, 8, and 10 need not ever have existed.

EDIT 2: And Austen makes me want to vomit profusely.

[ Friday, July 02, 2004 21:05: Message edited by: Imbandon ]

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The great thing about literature is that any text has intrinsic value with regards to analysis irrespective of the author's opinion. If the author wants to mock people who try to analyse his book, that in no way means that people won't gain from such an analysis: in effect, anything the author has to say about his text is just his analysis of it, and has no more validity than anyone else's.

That said, I haven't read the particular book you mention.


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I've pretty much stopped reading fantasy now, as I don't want to make the effort to get through the cookie-cutter plots and tired Tolkien ripoffs to discover if there are good books in there somewhere.

I read a bit of SF, although with a few strict criteria. I would recommend Iain M. Banks very strongly (although Thuryl's warning does apply) and also his books set in the real world, under the name Iain Banks.

I've also recently got into Ken Macleod and found him very readable. And Richard Morgan is a very good writer, but whilst Banks is disturbing through his graphic descriptions at some points, Morgan is disturbing due to the volume of graphic sex and violence in his books (the main character can be fairly securely defined as a psychopath.)

As regards books outside those categories, I'll read pretty much anything, so my input might not be that useful. I recently enjoyed Egil's Saga, however.

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I mock people who mock people who don't analyze books while reading them.

You could try Robert Holdstock. It's...different. I also recently read Mika Waltari's "The Egyptian". It's a historical novel about the life of a physician named Sinuhe, during the 18th dynasty. The best historical fiction, I've read. Probably because it's as much fact as fiction, really.

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I've recently read Robin Jarvis, too. I like his (?) style but I wonder why he has to repeat the "foreign-people-are-bad" theme. Granted, I've read only two books by Jarvis...

My favourite book after Lord of The Rings... I can't say, there are too many good books. Tolkien ripoffs and cookie-cutter plots? I disagree. I've seen those things in many books but a lot more which I've come across have original and interesting ideas.

One good fantasy book that I recently read and comes to mind is Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane. Neil Gaiman is one of my favourites, except for American Gods, which I found boring. (It reminded me a bit of Zelazny, I guess.)

I agree, Lies My Teacher Told Me is interesting reading. (Though my teacher tells me as bit different lies than those.)

EDIT: I read Camus's Outsider and Kafka's Castle in school (not sure if it's the same in English) when I was about 16, hated the former and loved the latter. Interesting, maybe I should read Camus' other books. Then again, there are many books I should read.

I also happened to read Asimov's Foundation when I was 10. Didn't understand it. :)

[ Saturday, July 03, 2004 06:44: Message edited by: Milu ]
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