So, what books are you reading right now?

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So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Phoebus » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:29 pm

We have this for music, so why not for books too? Hopefully, we can get some good discussion going and expand our knowledge. :)

I'm tempted to say 'no philosophy books' but I don't really want to limit the thread. However we do have entire forums dedicated to discussing the ideas that arise from our engagements with philosophical texts, so I would ask that you only post it if you feel the book warrants some light hearted discussion and you're reading it cover to cover.

(also, if this exists already I apologise, had a quick look and couldn't see anything)

Anyway, I'll start:

Martin Millar - 'Lonely Werewolf Girl'

He keeps getting compared to Neil Gaiman. Having never read Gaiman I'm not sure if this comparison is accurate. Light hearted magical realism that I find a relaxing alternative to my other reading. Good, though not excellent (preferred one of his other books: 'Good Fairies of New York')
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Tab » Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:18 pm

The Rape of Nanking, Sync, and Complex Adaptive systems.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby karla » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:08 pm

I'm currently reading a Neil Gaimon book but I've forgotten the title!

This is my first Gaimon book. I've been taking an interest in the horror genre recently and it was in this context that Gaimon's name came up.

One reason I quite enjoy Gaimon is his 'fairy tale' style of writing. Except that they are contemporary fairy tales, which can also be as grim as the Grimm variety.

Another reason I enjoy the book is that he's, say, writing a story about an elderly lady Mrs Smith of Privet Drive - or some such - who just happens to go to a charity shop and who just happens to buy the Holy Grail. I like the mixture of everyday and fantasy.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby xzc » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:45 pm

I'm reading Hamlet again. This time slowly, and high.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby felix dakat » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:44 pm

"Being and Time" ...again.

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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Rouzbeh » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:17 pm

Tab wrote:The Rape of Nanking, Sync, and Complex Adaptive systems.

Interesting, a friend's doing his PhD on modelling sustainable systems as a complex adaptive system.

For non-work books, I'm reading Nial Ferguson's "The Ascent of Money" and John Hull's "Options, Futures & Other Derivatives". Ferguson's book is a very interesting look at how finance has evolved into what it is, would recommend it.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Tab » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:31 pm

Rouzbeh wrote:
Tab wrote:The Rape of Nanking, Sync, and Complex Adaptive systems.

Interesting, a friend's doing his PhD on modelling sustainable systems as a complex adaptive system.

For non-work books, I'm reading Nial Ferguson's "The Ascent of Money" and John Hull's "Options, Futures & Other Derivatives". Ferguson's book is a very interesting look at how finance has evolved into what it is, would recommend it.


Yep, I like NF's books too - read "war of the world" first then "Ascent of money" last year. Loved 'em both. CAS's are really opening up these days across many different academic disciplines. Very interesting stuff. I've read a bit before, and was worrying that the new books would simply re-hash the old, but Sync so far is full of new stuff.

The Rape of Nanking was excellent, well, in a holy-shit-people-are-just-fucking-scum kinda way.

Bless Amazon.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Blurry » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:27 am

I've picked up my Unabridged Edgar Allen Poe once again, though I can't say it's a book one should read cover to cover.

I've also recently begun a C.S. Lewis book called Surprised by Joy, which is an account of his early life and conversion from Atheism to Christianity. I can't say how it is yet, I haven't gotten far enough.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Phoebus » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:59 pm

I'm not going to attempt to control how this thread develops (as that would be mildly presumptuous, this is an area for conversation after all) but I was hoping it would stay relatively clear of obvious / major philosophical texts, simply because there is ample space to discuss these all over the board, whereas there is little space to discuss the many other areas of reading in which I'm sure we all engage.

Anyway, I've just finished Bed Goldacre ' 'Bad Science'

Really, really good book. I highly recommend it to all UK residents. I personally find that his writing can be tinged with arrogance, but despite that, and within a broad-ranging attack on UK journalism, he covers a variety of issues that are really interesting. Also check out the blog (http://www.badscience.net/) for a flavour of his writing. (This is also probably good for non-UK residents, but his attack on journalism is fuelled by an analysis of the various scares that occurred in the UK up until 2008 and as such of a peculiarly national interest, the broad themes should appeal to anyone with an analytic mind though.)

Given the recommendations, I'm gonna see if I can pick up Nial Ferguson's "The Ascent of Money" at the library :)
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby stylesofbeyondd » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:08 am

xzc wrote:I'm reading Hamlet again. This time slowly, and high.


awesome

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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby oldschoolhero » Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:57 am

Currently reading The Economic Naturalist, and it's pretty BADASS. :D
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Rouzbeh » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:40 pm

The Ascent of Money was quite interesting. The BBC made several episodes with the author going through the facts and history explained in the book. TV naturally makes keeping your attention easier. I've had quite a strong interest in finance for the past year or so, I just finished reading A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Collapse of Lehman Brothers. It makes me lament their failure, seeing as how they were so desperately trying to compete with Goldman Sachs and how the entire financial sector is now consolidated by a few big players.

Keeping in line with the 'I was there' point of view trying to figure out how it is to work in finance, I've started reading Fooling Some of the People All of the Time. It's a book written by a hedge fund manager who made plenty of money shorting Lehman and who describes his experience in shorting Allied Capital, a company whose accounts he distrusted, and their and the government's campaign against him. He seems like a very very intelligent fellow, graduating with all distinctions at university, and apparently earning an average 25% net interest a year for his investors for the past 13 years. He also got a substantial 6 figure sum from his placing in a poker tournament 2-3 years ago, all of which he donated to charity. A role model if I ever had one.

I've heard a lot of good things about Bad Science though I haven't read it. Another book you might want to look into, which is similar in theme, is Fads and Fallacies by Martin Gardner. He goes through a set of theories and nonsensical claims which had followings of some degree or another (e.g. convex earth theory). It was written nearly 60 years ago, before the space missions, which makes it all the more interesting seeing how crackpots, idiots and gullible people don't change. Maybe someone will look at ideas like Creationism in 60 years and pity us. Here's a link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fads-Fallacies- ... 0486203948
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby inzydeout » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:18 am

I have this one Living Biographies of Great Philosophers-Green hard cover, really nice.

There's this book Wrath of Grapes, I want to read. And also the Tequila Mockingbird.

And maybe Finding Serenity.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby MagsJ » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:57 pm

The only literature I currently read is Tatler magazine... it's a life-style magazine and has many stories about the lives of the rich and famous... and sometimes the infamous :shock:
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby felix dakat » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:46 pm

"The Next Hundred Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century" by George Friedman

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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby xzc » Sat May 01, 2010 9:34 pm

"On Law, Morality, and Politics" by Aquinas. A pretty interesting guide on how to use reason to warp reality in order to avoid having to draw unwanted conclusions.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby xzc » Sun May 02, 2010 10:59 pm

xzc wrote:"On Law, Morality, and Politics" by Aquinas. A pretty interesting guide on how to use reason to warp reality in order to avoid having to draw unwanted conclusions.

Although I must say I like his style. No bullshit. Straight up arguments.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby inzydeout » Mon May 03, 2010 4:15 am

xzc wrote:"On Law, Morality, and Politics" by Aquinas. A pretty interesting guide on how to use reason to warp reality in order to avoid having to draw unwanted conclusions.


HAHAHA!
That's great! I'm going to read that!
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Blurry » Mon May 17, 2010 9:06 pm

I read To Kill A Mockingbird last night. I've picked up Animal Farm this morning, though I haven't begun it yet. I just may have to devour it this evening.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Xunzian » Sun May 23, 2010 5:35 pm

Taking my time with Only Revolutions. Great book, but I can really only read 16-or-so pages in a sitting. Unless I go into a fugue state and plow through, like 80 pages (which has happened). I loved House of Leaves and, actually, I think I like this one even better. Some of the lines are just great "I'm all school in summer: no class". I totally use that one to describe myself now. Plus it is just fun to read. Each time I pick it up, I have to re-learn how to read it.

Re-reading "After Virtue". Always good for me to brush up on VE. It is also a good re-read now that I know a little more about VE. It is good to go back and re-examine it.

Just started "Confessions of a Mask". It is good to see where everything started. Both in terms of Mishima's literary career as well as his life because the book is highly autobiographical. Fun stuff.

And, to my shame, "A Thousand Sons". Err, the less said about that the better.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Mon May 24, 2010 2:01 am

I'm reading a book about genetic engineering, in fact, I think it may be called, "Genetic Engineering."

It's more about the Social Science aspect of it than the scientific aspect, the majority of the book is just people making cases for and against genetic engineering of plants, animals, people, etc.

They could probably sub-title the book, Christians vs. People Who Know What the Fuck They Are Talking About and they'd be just fine. I sort of understand why the Christians would not be fans of genetically engineering humans, but plants for God sake?

The thing about the Christian argument is, it evokes the Bible about four times every paragraph. You can't evoke a book as a cited source if that book has not been conclusively proven to be based entirely on fact, and the Bible hasn't. That's like using something that, "God said," as proof of the existence of a God, it's just silly.

Fortunately for the Christians, some of their arguments against human genetic engineering actually strike a few chords that are unaffiliated with the Religious aspect of things, even though the still evoke the Bible in doing so.

But plants?

We've been genetically engineering plants forever, it just hasn't always been under microscopes.

Besides, since when does the Bible advocate unnecessary starvation, anyway?
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby -Billy- » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:28 pm

I'm nearly finished with my second time through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance By Robert Persig. Both times I have read it I get about two thirds of the way through the book and start to get lost. I'm not much of a mathmatician these days and I'm not very read on the teachings and writings of Aristotle, and the author makes many references to these subjects through a few of the chapters in that portion of the book. Still, this book is incredible. The discussion of Quality and what it "is" throughout, will truly twist your mind into knots. This being my second time through I have tried to read it more slowly, only allowing myself to read a chapter at a time and then trying to process what I just read. Going at it this way has helped me understand some of the book that was lost in my first time through, but I feel as though I need to read it again and have a notebook alongside to jot down names, notes and such, so that I can put in some research before I really understand everything Robert Persig is talking about.

A truly brilliant book in my, and many others I suppose, opinion. Has anyone else read this in the past few years? Or has it gone by the wayside since being a staple in Philosophy classes during the late 70's?
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby jonquil » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:08 am

-Billy- wrote:I'm nearly finished with my second time through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance By Robert Persig. Both times I have read it I get about two thirds of the way through the book and start to get lost. I'm not much of a mathmatician these days and I'm not very read on the teachings and writings of Aristotle, and the author makes many references to these subjects through a few of the chapters in that portion of the book. Still, this book is incredible. The discussion of Quality and what it "is" throughout, will truly twist your mind into knots. This being my second time through I have tried to read it more slowly, only allowing myself to read a chapter at a time and then trying to process what I just read. Going at it this way has helped me understand some of the book that was lost in my first time through, but I feel as though I need to read it again and have a notebook alongside to jot down names, notes and such, so that I can put in some research before I really understand everything Robert Persig is talking about.

A truly brilliant book in my, and many others I suppose, opinion. Has anyone else read this in the past few years? Or has it gone by the wayside since being a staple in Philosophy classes during the late 70's?


I read this book back in the day, and it really impressed me. Here is what I wrote on it, in two parts.

Yesterday and today I have been reading a book that has made me realize how intellectually sterile I have been for the past few months. This book contains real food for thought. It is called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance written by Robert M. Pirsig. Pirsig is a good writer and a clear thinker. He makes clear and understandable what is normally impossible for me to grasp. He deals with the subjects of science, mathematics and philosophy in a very clear, straightforward style that is possible to understand and is also important to our times. You could say that this book reconciles the aforethought antithesis of Quality and Technology.

I am inspired once more by the idea of caring about Quality. I am not a scientist, but the cold intellectual beauty of a great discovery is very wonderful. The idea of Quality as a pre-intellectual reality also explains why the mathematician-scientist and the poet can both be creative. If as Maritain argues, poetry comes from the pre-conscious life of the intellect, and scientific discovery from the pre-intellect, then you have two processes that are bound in the same function and derived from the same reality – Quality. Only the basic conventions and ultimate goals are different; the process is the same.

I just had a thought about Pirsig’s dead persona, Phaedrus. I was going to say that Phaedrus was his alter-ego, but he always speaks of him as if dead, like a ghost. Then at the end he says that often he can’t distinguish between the reality of himself and the ghost that used to be himself. This presents a problem when reading the book. Whatever Pirsig used to be before his mental breakdown, the subsequent personality is trying to remember, to explain and justify – in terms of philosophy. The book is very sad because Phaedrus was a fantastic mind caught up in a grand desire to set Quality up as a basis for philosophy. He conceived the idea at a university where he taught. It was a conception sprung from intuition, found at the butt-end of a most complex and orderly logic. Phaedrus then became obsessed with the desire to move the concept of Quality, undefined by its nature but known by its manifestations, to the fountainhead of all knowledge and all philosophy. The sad part is that the Phaedrus that conceived this idea was so paranoid that he gave too much time and energy to a desperate effort to find authority for his concept so that it would have a foundation to stand on top of. How he got this mental mind-set I cannot figure. When you look at the structure of his logical argument, the intellectual footwork and inspirational zeal, there is no reason not to be inspired and enlightened in turn. When you look at his life, however, it is very sad. What he values in Technology is questionable. I do not think of myself as a mirror reflection of what Technology has done. I am not the car I drive, no more than he is is motorcycle. Yet he is implying that the human psyche is somehow welded or merged with the machine it is dependent on. I may be protesting too much, as they say, but I sure hope he’s wrong there.

I just can’t understand how the thought structure of his argument was conceived so brilliantly and so logically in such a sick mind. He is so removed from people and the world, it is horrifying. He is saying that this very removal from the world, the eventual insanity and the dead personality, were not only a necessary criterion for the revolutionary new discovery of a new philosophical fountainhead, but were qualities to be valued in a society where new answers need to be formed. No argument that a new way of looking at Technology is valuable. There is so much ugliness and phoniness that a sensitive person in search of “truth and beauty” needs some philosophic authority to set her path straight. But why it breeds insanity is beyond me. More food for thought there.
--------
There are those who would say that the philosophic system established by Aristotle has provided the foundation upon which our modern society rests. The supremacy of Science and Technology has all but overshadowed the very existence of Truth and Beauty. Our society has grown from the roots of dialectic and Reason. They would say that as long as we allow such a system to maintain its supremacy, our society is lost – doomed. Not until we raise the idea of Quality, by its nature undefined, to the fountainhead of philosophy will we be able to effect a balance. A balance between reason and intuition (instinct) is necessary to the survival or rebirth of anything that is good in society, and probably necessary to prevent the otherwise certain doom of that very society.

Pirsig is very rational as he catalogues the problems inherent in a societal system working on the wrong philosophical premise. But he is insane of his own nature. How do you reconcile the insanity of the subject with the brilliant and logical exposition of the source of his mental illness and the society around him? It just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps such insanity, filtered through the process of writing, can project an appearance of almost super-sanity. It certainly is thought-provoking.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby Fent » Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:44 am

E. E. Sleinis. Nietzsche's Revaluation of Values. Apart from one chapter - value and power - it merely repeats what's already been said about Nietzsche a hundred or more times. Thumbs down.
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Re: So, what books are you reading right now?

Postby felix dakat » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:40 am

THE POLITICAL MIND: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century Politics With an 18th-Century Brain.
by George Lakoff. A linguist and cognitive scientist Lakoff analyzes why conservatives have been better that liberals at influencing public opinion for the past 30 years. He recommends progressives use cognitive science to get better at it.

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