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What we're reading

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Hey all:

I thought it might be worthwhile to do an analogous thread to 'What We're Watching' in the Film section - i.e., books that we found worthwhile, but we're not sure they merit an entire thread.

Anyway, here's a book that I've found enlightening recently:

Epileptic, by David B. - this is a French autobio-graphic novel, telling the story of David's childhood/adolescent/early adulthood years in the shadow of an older brother with intractable seizures. To say the least, his parents were not traditionally minded, so the family visited macrobiotic communes, acupuncturists, magnetists, among others, in seeking a cure. As this occurs, David feels increasingly angered by his brother's sickness, as he realizes he is powerless to offer any meaningful aid. The artwork on the pages is quite distinctive, as David often depicts a heavy dose of spiritual forces that are involved in these trials for a cure - the darkness on display on certain pages is almost overwhelming at times, yet I found this to be a worthwhile window into this family's suffering.

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Don't know if it's quite "literature", but I just finished a reread of Mattingly's book on the Armada. It reads like a novel, or as close to one as a good non-academic account of such a subject can. It's certainly well written, and still one of the best books on the subject in English. It certainly does not lack colourful incidents, such as the battle at Coutras, Drake's raids, the "Day of the Barricades", the siege of Sluys, and of course the battle in the Channel and its aftermath.

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Just finishing up Reel Spirituality (late to the game, I know). My next read will probably be my Final Cut Pro Production Suite manual. Good Lord, it's a doozy! I mean it's huge! Monolithic!

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I just finished Nick Hornby's newest, A Long Way Down. Kind of "meh." Not even close to the genius of High Fidelity

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I'm about halfway through Mark Noll's latest, Is the Reformation Over? about softening Catholic/Protestant relations.

I'm also about to read the third volume of Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori and dive into Debra Murphy's The Mystery of Things.

Other than that, I'm just working my way through my review-book slush pile: so many self-published books, so little quality.

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Now re-reading Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (plug for the Book Club thread! plug for the Book Club thread!), with Woodward/Bernstein's All the President's Men on deck (a good time to dust off the copy I bought for 25 cents last year what with the renewed timeliness).

I just finished Nick Hornby's newest, A Long Way Down. Kind of "meh." Not even close to the genius of High Fidelity

Oohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... just what I didn't want to hear after the huge disappointment that was How to Be Good. I hope Hornby hasn't lost his mojo.

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Recently finished: George R. R. Martin's impressive (and unfinished) fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Finally...a unique and recommend-able author of modern fantasy/medieval-fiction .

Just finished: Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, a very readable essay/instruction-manual on modern punctuation. Delightfully British.

Starting: The Master and Margarita, on the suggestion of my fiance, who loves all things weird and Russian.

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I just finished Nick Hornby's newest, A Long Way Down. Kind of "meh." Not even close to the genius of High Fidelity

Oohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... just what I didn't want to hear after the huge disappointment that was How to Be Good. I hope Hornby hasn't lost his mojo.

I'm thinking the biggest problem with this one is that it has four main characters and the narrative POV is shared among the four. Certain characters are simply less interesting (Maureen) or less engaging (JJ). Personally, I would rather have read a book about Martin or Jess.

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I have the attention span of a hyperactive goldfish and so read many many books at a time, usually over a period of a few months. At present:

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

Pass Your Driving Theory Test

Cloud Castle Lake - Vladimir Nabokov

On the Natural History of Destruction - WG Sebald

Falnnery O'Connor & The Mystery of Love - Richard Giannone

Silence - Shusaku Endo (rereading)

The Christian Tradition Vol 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition - Jaroslav Pelikan

Red Earth & Falling Rain - Vikram Chandra

The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro

PCOS Diet Book - Colette Harris

The NIV Study Bible - Various

Understanding WG Sebald - Mark McCulloh

Producing & Directing the Short Film & Video - Peter Rea & David Irving

The current issue of National Geographic

The current issue of Sight & Sound

*sigh* I wish I were still a student.

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Just finished Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The book aspires to be a prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, and I think it half-succeeds in this goal. As a children's action-adventure book, it succeeds incredibly well.

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I recently finished Light Theology & Heavy Cream by Robert Farrar Capon. It is a wonderful, short book about food and theology. It is the funniest theology book I've read since Capon's classic The Supper of the Lamb. When we have family or friends over for dinner, my wife knows that I am really enjoying myself when I pull The Supper of the Lamb out to start reading the toasts (this usually only happens after several glasses of wine!)

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Based on Talk of the Nation's summer reading recommendations, I read Cast of Shadows by Kevin Guilfoile. The novel is sci-fi/thriller about a cloning doctor that clones the killer of his daughter. Not the greatest, but it kept me entertained for the most part.

Also, based on the same program, I'm in the process of reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. One of the participants on the program raved so much about it, I decided to check it out. I'm enjoying that so far.

I'm also reading a book called Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. This is a book about designing man-made things in ways that can be truly be recycled. The authors challenge current environmental approaches of reducing harm and waste from man-made products to one that eliminates harm and waste by design products in a certain way.

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So that I can share my pain with everyone, I am reading:

"Violence and Metaphysics" - Jacques Derrida

Given Time - Jacques Derrida

The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida - John Captuo

"God and Philosophy" - Emmanuel Levinas

Forgiveness - Vladimir Jankelvitch

Geneology of morals - Frederick Nietzsche (sometimes before going to sleep, which is not healthy, let me tell you)

Ontology and Pardon - John Milbank (over and over, until it goes in)

The above books completely sap any desire I have to read for pleasure. Once this dissertation/degree is over, I will read normal books again, about love, life, people and things.

Edited by stu

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I hear ya, Stu. I'm wrapping up Systematic Theology 2 this week, then heading to the beach for a week. As per usual the past couple of beach trips, I'll take another volume of two of The Chronicles of Narnia -- which ever one or two follow The Horse and His Boy, which I read two years ago.

Today I went to the library in search of a good fiction book. I came away with War of the Worlds, which I'm mildly interested in, and three nonfiction books that looked interesting (they always do; why can't I dive into fiction any longer?):

David Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Lisa Rogak, Dr. Robert Atkins (author's name escapes me at the moment)

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Movie Wars

I'll also bring along the latest Atlantic, which arrived in our mailbox today, and I may pick up the all-fiction issue that just hit newsstands.

Then, come September, it's back to seminary reading for another year. And then I'll be finished, if all goes according to plan.

Edited by Christian

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I'll also bring along the latest Atlantic, which arrived in our mailbox today, and I may pick up the all-fiction issue that just hit newsstands.

Then, come September, it's back to seminary reading for another year. And then I'll be finished, if all goes according to plan.

It looks good. I'm glad to see we're trhu with the Levy/Toqueville essays. The article on Arafat is gargantuan!

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I've just started the third section ("Fiat Voluntas Tua") of A Canticle for Liebowitz. I was suppose to read it the first semester of undergraduate school - I'm finally getting to it.

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Just finished A History of God by Karen Armstrong which is a learned, well written and altogether fascinating look at the histories of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, pretty much from the start to the present day. The only qualm I would have is that she falls into the conventional contemporary trap of excusing Islam for just about everything (which I don't have a problem with, it redresses the balance) but teeing off on Protestantism (Luther in particular, I do have a problem with this and I'm a Catholic.) Having said all that, it is a brilliant book. Gigi mentioned the Jaroslv Pelikan book, that's recommended in the Armstrong bibliography, I might check it out. I've just got Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham to review for a paper, I don't know what it'll be like, I loved A Home At The End Of The World but seemed to be the only person in the world who thought The Hours was precious and contrived. I also read The Third Testament by Malcolm Muggeridge, scripts from a TV series he did on Tolstoy, Bonhoeffer, Pascal among others. Not much to it but what's there is thought provoking. Also read recently Fire From Heaven by Harvey Cox which was a fantastic look at Pentecostalism, he's an excellent writer I hadn't come across before.

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Last night I started the new John Irving book, Until I Find You. At 800 pages, it'll be a while.

I was very happy with A Canticle for Leibowitz. Knowing a bit of Latin would have helped, but I managed.

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Last night I started the new John Irving book, Until I Find You.  At 800 pages, it'll be a while.

I'll be interested to hear what you think of Irving's latest. I almost bought it when I was book-shopping a couple of weeks ago, but decided to wait, although reviews have been intriguing. The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany are still two of my favorites.

Instead, I picked up The Kite Runner, finally, after all the raves here. Haven't started it yet, but soon. And a new (to me) Guy Gavriel Kay alternate history/fantasy, Last Light of the Sun, with a setting closely resembling 9th-10th century England/Scotland/Wales/Scandinavia. So far, so good.

Edited by BethR

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I recently finished Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. What a strange, strange book! And wonderful, too. I have no idea how it ever got published under the Communists censors.

And now I've started Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner.

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Well I have finished Derrida's momumental reading of Levinas, "Violence and Metaphysics", which was hard but worthwhile, and now I'm on his 1992 foray into discussion of the gift, Given Time, which is, frankly waffly and irritating, and only occasionally incisive, IMHO.

The meaningful content could be summed up thus:

What does it take for a gift to be a gift? It must be given with no expectation of a return, and received without any kind of payment being made. And this never happens, because in even recognising something as a gift, something is symbolically returned to the giver as a payment - the status of being the one who "gave". So a gift is impossible. Nevertheless we are forced to think and talk about it incessantly (and even to write books about it). Oh wretched men that we are, etc, etc.

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I finally read the graphic novel Superman for All Seasons. Darn good stuff.

I also finished HG Wells' War of the Worlds, which is decently engaging. Some parts are better than others, but largely it is an interesting book. Wells' view of religion (as embodied by the freaked-out curate) is a bit disturbing, but there is also a matter-of-fact God-is-in-control-of-nature motif to provide counterbalance.

I haven't read anything else worthwhile lately.

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Stu - it seems that you're doing a dissertation on the exact same thing my friend did his Masters on. At least the bibliography points in that direction. He'd probably be happy to discuss points with you if you want.

I'm currently ploughing my way through Sarah Churchwell's The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe which is fantastic. It's a revelation a page. Sarah Churchwell also used to be my lecturer, and a very good lecturer she was too, so I have another reason for endorsing her product.

Edited by gigi

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My dissertation is on the ideas of gift and forgiveness in Derrida, and how this is criticised by John Milbank. Hopefully.

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I'm rereading Robert Coover's The Public Burning this week. It's such a fantastic novel -- one of those massive chunks of funny, heartbreaking, and ridiculous postmodernism. It's set during the days and hours leading up to the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, told from the perspective of the young Vice President, Richard Nixon. Maybe all that I need to say about the novel is that it ends with Nixon being sodomized by Uncle Sam. smile.gif

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