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DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Hopes Fall posted:

Earlier today my sister asked me to help her recommend a book for one of her friends.

He's 20, likes sports (especially baseball) and music ranging from Metallica to Modest Mouse, and has ADD (shocking, I know). He's never been a reader before, and asked her to help him find a starting point, but has no idea of what he would like. The only direction he provided is that he wants a book that's not too long (thinking a cap of 200 or so pages), not too-detail laden but still exciting, and with a good plot-twist/surprise ending. He read a bit of Poe in high school and enjoyed it, for what it's worth.

As a general rule, I recommend 'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman to anyone who likes fairy tales and mythology, but since he doesn't have a reader's history I'm afraid he would miss many of the references that made the book so enjoyable to me.

Help?

Stephen King? He has some pretty awesome short story collections, and a few books ~200 pages.

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DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Irisi posted:

King is good, but his best stuff tends to be a little drawn out & slow to get going. If the kid is into music why not give his son, Joe Hills' Heart Shaped Box a shot? It's a fast-paced, nasty little horror story in which the protagonist is an ageing rocker. It's easy to get into & the plot has some neat twists.

I think if someone has trouble getting into The Shining, Pet Sematary, or any of King's short stories, their best bet is probably Dick and Jane books or something.

network.guy posted:

Can anyone recommend some fantasy or sci-fi that's much more about cool worlds and technologies and stuff than realistic characters and petty interpersonal squabbles (or much interpersonal interaction at all)?

I quite liked the Night's Dawn Trilogy.

Truly, Sci Fi and Fantasy have been plagued by excessive realism and character development.

Honestly, if you find the realism in Sci Fi and Fantasy excessive, I would look into nonfiction. This isn't a joke. Consider checking out books about the technological singularity.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

unleash the unicorn posted:

To be blunt, what I'm implying here is that the people who criticize her writing style are lying or exaggerating just to keep other people from actually reading the books.

The book was a huge bestseller from the start, surely a result of the libertarian conspiracy. Or maybe it's not so terrible at all?

To the guy who asked about it:

As you can see, people REALLY hate Ayn Rand. That should be enough reason to actually read the book.

So was Twilight. People have always liked lovely books.

In response to the guy asking about all this, I might also add Milton's Areopagitica. But I would also hesitate to just add another text to check off a list. These type of texts you really need to spend some time with reading, and then some time reading some criticism, and then some more time reading the original, etc etc etc.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

lolwhat53 posted:

So I have been reading a lot of Political Thrillers lately ( Vince Flynn, Lee Childs, Robert Ludlum, David Baldacci) primarily because my Stepdad has a whole closet full of them and they are free. I can burn through them in just a few days in most cases.

However I am going on vacation soon and find myself wanting to pick up something with more substance...really something more challenging/enlightnening/emotion invoking ect. The last two books that really touched me and are kind of in the vein what what I am looking for were "Blood Meridian" and "The River Why".

Basically I want a challenging work of fiction with beutiful prose and environment description...honestly thinking of picking up another Cormac McCarthy but would like to try a new author. Any suggestions? Sorry I know that is kind of vague.
Both The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel create very rich environments with stunning prose. They both have a lot of substance.

Wolf Hall is probably better, but it may depend what floats your boat more: another perspective of Cromwell in the early modern period, or a neo-Victorian novel that changes into an Edwardian modernist story towards the end.

For what's it's worth I thought The Children's Book went a bit long, but based on your needs, that may not be too bad.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

keyframe posted:

I am just finishing up "Let The Right One In". Are there other Vampire books of this caliber? I have tried reading the Anne Rice stuff but found it quite lame. Goes without saying but I will stab you if you suggest twilight.

The Passage by Justin Cronin is very good.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Evfedu posted:

What would be best to read to educate myself about the Renaissance period in Italy? Not bothered about the art it produced, more the politics and conflicts and motivations that drove that period to be what it was. fiction or non would be fine as long as the fiction sticks close to the facts (i.e. Tim Powers).

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt is considered pretty foundational, I think, and makes at least for a good start.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

gos_jim posted:

So tell me.
I recommend Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, because you said you liked fantasy and barbarians and crap. Ivanhoe is like that, except it's actually good and it has a really mature, subtle critique of chivalry, romance, and England embedded into it. Pay attention to how the narrator actually treats Rebecca and Rowena, and what he says about King Richard.

gos_jim posted:

Also, I'm looking for some good horror novels and short story anthologies. I prefer horror that is more psychological and disturbing, fear of the unknown, rather than like... "oh no there's a monster and it's chasing us!" Think Silent Hill/Lovecraft instead of Freddy/Jason. Though I sometimes find Lovecraft's tendency to go on and on about mundane details before getting to the "good stuff" kind of tiring (see: Call of Cthulhu), "The Statement of Randolph Carter" is probably one of the scariest things I've ever read. I am probably going to pick up Skeleton Crew tonight, but other recommendations would be great.

Edgar Allan Poe. He is free.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

oceanside posted:

I'm looking for some 'classics' which are also short. My reading habit is to read a shorter book in between two larger, more dense texts, and right now I'm reading way more academic monographs than I should be, so I'm looking for some lighter relief.

Examples I can think of are: The Great Gatsby, The Crying of Lot 49, The Trial (and pretty much all of Kafka's short stories), Fahrenheit 451, The Stranger, Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men. I'm not particularly looking for short stories, but full novels instead. I'd say 250 pages or less.

Thanks!

The Sun Also Rises
The Old Man and the Sea
A Moveable Feast

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Grawl posted:

But then how do you bridge the gap?

Diana Gabaldon's books might be a step up from the Twilight Series and are accessible.

EDIT: VVVV 7 y.o. bitch's first suggestion would be a lot better than Gabaldon.

Another EDIT: Maybe The Mill on the Floss, Atonement or Never Let Me Go.

DirtyRobot fucked around with this message at Nov 27, 2010 around 00:32

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Medium Cool posted:

I've been watching a lot of conversational film's lately, such as My Dinner with Andre, Before Sunrise/Before Sunset, My Night at Maud's, etc. Can anyone recommend a book that is mostly conversation, or a series of conversations?

Hemingway's short stories include tonnes of barely-interrupted conversation which serve as the focus of the story. E.g., Hills Like White Elephants and A Clean Well-Lighted Place off the top of my head.

Also, you might consider reading some drama.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Pete Zah posted:

I'm looking to gift a book to my teenage brother who has never read a book more complex than something like Goosebumps. He was recently sentenced to jail time and has asked me to find him something he could get interested in considering how much time he has on his hands now.

I am sort of lost here, my best ideas for novels were Holes and The Catcher in the Rye (probably a bad idea), but I'm honestly not so sure that a novel is the best idea. Maybe something easier to digest like short stories? I'm looking for anything that is optimistic and thought provoking for a teenager who has serious trouble reading.
Harry Potter

Also, Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

oceanside posted:

I really dig creative non-fiction like Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto and Consider the Lobster, or anything else by D.F.W. or Klosterman.

Can you guys recommend anything similar or of this calibre?

David Sedaris might be up your alley. Start with Me Talk Pretty One Day.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

regulargonzalez posted:

Need recommendations for short stories of a specific type, that I'll probably fail pretty badly in describing. But essentially it's where, when you're done reading it, you marvel at how perfect the ending is, how it is the only possible ending, yet you never saw it coming. I'm thinking of stories like "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick, or "The Dead Past" by Asimov. "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Clarke is one that tries to do this but is less successful in my opinion (maybe because in this case I saw the end coming).
And to clarify, it doesn't have to be science fiction. If you can think of any short story writers who excel at this type of story, don't hesitate to recommend them no matter the genre.
The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
A Girl I Knew by J.D. Salinger (EDIT: the ending isn't really a surprise, but it's the only possible ending and it gets you right in the gut)

I'm also assuming you've read An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Amazon Review posted:

Does anyone of any good postmodern takes on the fantasy genre?

GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire is actually pretty appropriate in this case, with its decentering of perspectives (e.g. POV chapters vs. a traditional "hero's journey"), its rejection of traditional fantasy tropes, and other things.

Also, China Mieville (though more sci fi than fantasy).

DirtyRobot fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2011 around 15:36

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Kneel Before Zog posted:

I'm looking for a light book that explains what Marx's ideology was. I'd rather not read what Marx wrote as his stuff is pretty dense but a version that makes it easier to digest.

Read Marx's stuff* with Wikipedia and Marxists.org open beside you.

* The Communist Manifesto, as suggested, and Chapter 1 of Capital (on commodities and commodity fetishism).

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Day Man posted:

Can anyone recommend something beautiful and uplifting from an atheistic worldview? I need something inspiring, but I don't want any of that spiritual poo poo. Thanks for the help.
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

EDIT: there is, actually, a lot of "spiritual poo poo," I guess, but it's really a deconstruction of it. Barnes is an atheist.

DirtyRobot fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2011 around 21:01

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Opium Jellyfish posted:

I've been looking for a certain kind of book for a while now, with no luck. I'm basically looking for a book about assholes/unlikable and unsympathetic main characters. Curb Your Enthusiasm, but in book form. Catcher in the Rye, but less of a downer. It's gotta have humor too, like sarcastic, sardonic, anti-humor type humor. In short, books about horrible people.

Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero by William Thackeray.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Ulio posted:

Any good historical novels? Something that shows politics in older societies.

I enjoyed Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Its focus isn't on the politics per se, but since it's about Cromwell of all people the politics are always there.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

IceNiner posted:

This is going to be a request that I'm guessing one of the lady goons here might be able to answer.

I have a niece, 14 years of age, that has grown up in an abysmally dysfunctional 'family' environment.

[...]

I would like any female goon here that has grown up under similar conditions to come forth and recommend any books they have read at that age that might have helped them get through the lovely times (I'm not talking about Twilight novels, please).

I'm a guy, but... Jane Eyre?

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Transistor Rhythm posted:

I'm looking for an incredibly atmospheric mystery novel where the "place" is as much of a character as the characters. Think Twin Peaks, the video game Heavy Rain, or even the vibe of a film like Mullholland Drive or The Machinist. Supernatural or mystical elements would be welcome, but I'm not looking for some sort of Jim Butcher or Stephen King thing in this case - I can easily scratch that itch in the horror genre. Noir and/or police procedural vibes are totally welcome, but the key is on the atmosphere/place and the mystery.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Transistor Rhythm posted:

I'm looking for literary novels wherein interrupted, deferred, or sacrificially/selflessly un-acted upon love/relationships over a long time period is the main theme. Obvious touchstones would be Casablanca, Love in the time of Cholera, The English Patient, maybe Nabokov's Ada to a lesser extent (the characters are more pigheaded about getting together than selfless or sacrificial). Wuthering Heights would be similar on the scope/scale of star-crossed relationship but ultimately the opposite of what I'm looking for thematically, in that the characters act selfish and horrible and end up with scorched earth results instead of taking the high road.

I'd prefer literary fiction that speaks to this recurrent human condition over, say, Nicholas Sparks novels.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Transistor Rhythm posted:

literary novels wherein interrupted, deferred, or sacrificially/selflessly un-acted upon love/relationships over a long time period is the main theme.

Oh, also A Girl I Knew by J.D. Salinger. It's only a short story, rather than a novel, but that only means you should read it right now because it's the best short story ever.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Private Snowball posted:

Can anyone recommend a good short story collection preferably by a famous author as most English language books are hard to find out here. I'm just now finishing a collection of Hemingway.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Epée posted:

My favourite author is Ian McEwan.

...

Any recommendations on other books by similar authors, or even something else by Roth that might have more of a personal appeal - that is, is focused more on the people and not so much about politics or their particular culture?

I was recently reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I thought to myself, "hm, this reminds me a bit of McEwan." So maybe that.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

I don't think Dickens ever lived as a street urchin. His father was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea (like Mr. Dorrit, though it's Micawber who most closely resembles Dickens's father) but Dickens himself stayed with other family or friends or something during that time (I forget exactly). He did work in a blacking factory for awhile, just like David did, and there's a passage in David Copperfield about it that Dickens basically took directly from his own memoirs/notes that he later gave to John Forster. But the last two biographies I read of Dickens seem to agree he probably exaggerated how bad it was, mostly because Dickens was just angry that a super awesome guy like himself should never have ever been deprived of a proper education, even for a few weeks or months, and he blamed his father for being improvident, because Dickens had no time for people who couldn't get their poo poo together (see also: his poor wife).

I've never read Nabokov's intro to Bleak House (which I think is Dickens's best book, followed closely by Our Mutual Friend and David Copperfield, each for very different reasons), but J. Hillis Miller has an awesome article on Bleak House called "Interpretation in Bleak House." It's been published in a bunch of places (including once as the intro to the '71 Penguin edition), and you might be able to find it free online on Google Books or something (or PM me).

DirtyRobot fucked around with this message at Nov 20, 2011 around 17:29

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Vegetable posted:

I posted this in Science, Academics and Languages too but I figure I could get a good response here too. I need to write more interestingly. I struggle at narrative prose and am going to fail royally in my writing of college application essays. I've head about Elements of Style but could use a few more suggestions. What should I read?

I like Stanley Fish's new How to Write a Sentence. Say what you will about Stanley Fish, the guy knows his way around a sentence. His blog posts at the New York Times, when they focus on writing, are also quite good (and free).

If you have access to JSTOR through a library, read everything Donald Murray has written about writing or how he teaches writing. More especially:

- "Teach Writing as a Process Not Product" (Google this one--it's pretty important in pedagogy and composition studies)
- "The Maker's Eye: Revising Your Own Manuscripts" (again, Google)
- "Write Before Writing" in College Composition and Communication
- "The Interior View: One Writer's Philosophy of Composition" again in College Composition and Communication

...there are more on JSTOR that are more focused on the teaching of writing.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

LyonsLions posted:

If she likes Jane Eyre, she'll probably like Vilette, which is also by Charlotte Bronte. The subject matter is similar, but personally I enjoyed Vilette much more, though I still love Jane Eyre. Here's a great article comparing the two.

Fake edit: I don't know that I'd say Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (author of Jane Eyre) are very similar, other than that they were both writing in England at loosely the same time period and their main characters are women. Bronte is more gothic, and if your girlfriend is into that I also suggest The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis.

Villette is probably more like Austen's stuff than Jane Eyre is, insofar as Lucy tends to keep all her pain inside herself, a lot like Jane Austen's heroines. But the narration is (obviously) totally different.

Sarah Waters's stuff is incredibly Bronte-esque.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Dr Scoofles posted:

I'm interested in reading some fiction based in feudal era Japan. You know, warring clans, samurai, evil lords etc. This stemmed from me watching some samurai films and starting to wish I could get that in book form. Any ideas?

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet actually sorta fits this description because it's set in a still-largely-feudal Japan that is having to adapt to the existence modern European powers. It's told partly from the perspective of a Dutch fellow, however. It's not the entire book, but there really are samurai and evil lords, and even some beliefs in dark magic. No warring clans, though. And the samurai/evil lords aren't really the "point" of the story, even if it takes up significant chunks of the book.

If you're looking for more traditional action/adventure/fantasy but in feudal Japan, it's probably not your best bet. But it's still perhaps David Mitchell's best book, I think.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

I'm basically looking for "The Twilight Zone" in book form. Something like trashy maybe-sci-fi or maybe-just-mysteries from pre 1965, let's say. Alfred Hitchcock's mysteries collections are awesome... but I've read a lot of them. I'd say a good twist is what I'm most looking for.

I guess I'm looking for the easiest way to get the equivalent of stumbling on a giant box filled with ASIMOV and ELLERY QUEEN at a garage sale, or something like that. Does anyone know the easiest way to do that? Like, is there an ebook collection of a tonne of them you can buy somewhere?

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

escape artist posted:

What are some quality books that have unreliable narrators? Possibly (but not necessarily) ones with narrators who are unreliable because of psychiatric issues like delusions?

If there is a twist involved, please try not to spoil it.

Please, nothing from Palahniuk.

- The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox.

- Seconding Drood, by Dan Simmons.

- The Horla, by Guy de Mauppassant (probably available for free online somewhere).

Um... those are pretty much what you're looking for... but they're all Neo-Victorian or flat-out Victorian. These kinda play with the idea of an unreliable narrator a bit, and may not match your original question as well, yet may still be of interest:

- The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell (can a narrator be too reliable? Is the narrator reliable? May not be everyone's cup of tea.)

- Atonement, Ian McEwan (yeah, can't really explain without spoilers, but it's not "unreliable" like I think you're talking about re: madness, being unhinged, etc., but it's pretty drat good)

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

To add to what Hieronymous Alloy said, Austen also basically invented free indirect thought (which makes her very influential on Balzac and Flaubert), and which plays into her irony and the interiority of her characters. That interiority is also what makes her a capital-R Romantic like Wordsworth et al., and IMO is the main answer to what "more" there is to Austen than just your standard drawing-room drama. I.e., the social codes and trite bullshit dialogue is supposed to strike you as absurd, overly rigid, and often silly, just as it strikes the characters as all those things. But the trick is negotiating those exterior social codes against the massive interior subjective space (what Austen would call "sensibility") the main characters have. Often those bullshit social codes and rules cause insane amounts of emotional pain which the characters can never show (think of what's actually at stake in Pride and Prejudice, or the horrible, lovely cottage the poor Dashwood sisters have to move to in Sense and Sensibility).

If you have access to JSTOR you might read Wayne C. Booth's "Point of View and Control of Distance in Jane Austen's Emma." It might also be available on Google Books as a chapter of The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961). (Edit: or pm me). The article is about how Austen gets the reader's sympathy for Emma (a character of whom Austen said "no one but myself will much like") using what Booth calls "sympathetic interior views," but which has since been dubbed free indirect discourse. A fun game to play is to read a chapter of Emma (it even works with the first one) and ask yourself with literally every sentence, "wait a sec, is this really still the omniscient narrator or is it the narrator ventriloquizing Emma's perspective on events?" Often you just can't tell. (And sometimes it'll be another character, like Mr. Knightley or whatever.)

Also, this is neither here nor there, but I love these lines by W.H. Auden about Austen:

W.H. Auden posted:

You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Besides her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of `brass',
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.

DirtyRobot fucked around with this message at Jun 4, 2012 around 20:32

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Bummey posted:

I'm looking for some real loving bummers. Books that will shatter my hope for the future and leave me a ruined husk of a human being, like The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I have no hope for the future and am terminally depressed so it's not like I have to worry about picking up the pieces of my life after I read the last page. Onward!

I haven't actually read The Road yet (I've heard Things), but it's next on the list after I finish my current book. Got any suggestions?

Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure was written for you. It is 10x as depressing as The Road. I love The Road, but in terms of depressing fiction, there's far too much love and hope underneath all of it. It's all about hope in the face of vast amounts of depressing circumstances.

Jude the Obscure is not even tragic, and there's no hope. It's too lame and absurd, without dignity or grandeur, as in a tragedy proper. If you want your life to seem small and tiny and meaningless, Jude the Obscure is for you.

Have fun!!!!!*



* (Have something light planned for after. No, seriously. Like a comedy where everybody's happy at the end.)

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

KFJ posted:

Hey guys!

I'm a sucker for the "Regular person becomes hero" thing, and I just feel like reading another one of those. I've read the usual suspects (Wheel of Time, Harry Potter, and so on.) Probably the most recent series I read was Trudi Canavan's Black Magician series, which fit the bill really nicely, since the protagonist started out as the lowest of the low and became pretty much the best of the best. Do you guys know of any other books that fit into that? I've been thinking about reading the Kvothe series, but I'd love some input!

Raymond E. Feist's first few Riftwar books (Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon) fit the bill. It's very standard fantasy fare. Pug and Thomas both start out as random peasants in a middle-of-nowhere border town in your standard fantasy medieval kingdom. And by the end, well, y'know... fantasy conventions.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Most people only really feel that way about the final three books. The first four are solid, the last three are still worth reading, and the newest one, just released, is pretty much a return to form.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

barkingclam posted:

Can anyone recommend a good starting place for Slavoj Zizek?

This might depend on which of the following you are interested in, or more or less familiar with, or want to be familiar with:

- Marxism, commodity fetishism, etc.
- Lacan, psychoanalysis, desire, object a
- Hegel, Kant, German Idealism, metaphysics
- Film criticism

The Sublime Object of Ideology is what put him on the map, and gets to some of the core ideas of his thought. It's kind of a look at commodity fetishism vis-a-vis Lacan and things like desire and the object a. When I took a grad course that was half Zizek readings, we re-read the first chapter of Marx's Capital before starting, in order to refresh ourselves on surplus value and commodity fetishism. The Lacan stuff is... well, it's easier to read Zizek than to read Lacan for that stuff. He even wrote a book called How to Read Lacan.

His new book, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism, reads Hegel through Lacan (he says, in some interview, "Lacan is just a tool for me to read Hegel"). It's dense, and massive, but contains a lot of the stuff he's written over the past 20 years. Like, it literally contains the same words. He often just copies and pastes some of what he considers his most important or best work (he does this a lot). If you're interested in Hegel and German Idealism and even ontology or metaphysics, this is what you want, but, uh, it'll take awhile (I'm only a third through it. I just got to the bits on Hegel after reading about Kant and Fichte and so on).

If you're interested in the film criticism stuff, How to Read Lacan, linked above, might be good. Also, Everything You Wanted to Know About Lacan But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock is fun. He also has The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, which I think is on YouTube... or large parts of it are. It's really fun. It's edited such that he just sits in on scenes from movies and talks about them.

I find a lot of the videos with him are quite useful, because he has to break his concepts down in really easy to understand ways. His faculty web page has links to a bunch of that, which you can explore depending on your interests and/or what you find confusing in his written work. There's also a great video somewhere of him sparring with Avital Ronell when she introduces him to some talk he's about to give. There is also, of course, Zizek! on YouTube, which introduces some of his concepts but is mostly biography. It's much like the Derrida movie.

For reference, I think he considers Sublime Object, Less Than Nothing, and The Parallax View his best/most important works. I might be wrong about The Parallax View (I have not read it).

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

"The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs
"The Horla" by Guy de Mauppassant

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Bummey posted:

End of the world books! I saw Melancholia over the weekend and it stirred my end of the world boner. Lucifer's Hammer is a real favorite of mine, what with the discovery, months leading up to the impact, the fall of civilization and the aftermath.. I don't want to limit recommendations to cosmic impacts, though. Any sort of world/civilization ender will do, from war to comets or asteroids to Dr. Evil's volcano scheme will be just ducky. Bonus points for unhappy, no good, total bummer endings.

You better not disappoint in 2036, Apophis!

There are a bunch of recommendations for these in the sci fi thread, I think.

But, if you haven't already read them, ones I've enjoyed include:

The Stand (probably the most like Lucifer's Hammer, in terms of having both lead up, during, and aftermath, although way more biblical... which I guess is surprising, considering the names of the books)
A Canticle for Leibowitz (no lead up)
On the Beach (this one is... depressing)
The Road

I've heard good things about Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake.

Justin Cronin's The Passage seems divisive, and from what I can tell goons tend to lean towards not liking it, but I thought it was pretty good. The sequel just came out.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

For literary theory Paul Fry's intro to literary theory course on YouTube, iTunes or the Yale Online site* is pretty aces. You can pick and choose which classes and associated readings you want to do, or do them all, and I think most of them can be found online, or in that Norton that was mentioned (note Fry'll be referencing page numbers in the blue/grey second edition). Some of them you'll benefit just from the readings (e.g., Peter Brooks) and some of them benefit from some guy at the front of the room breaking down what you're about to read (e.g., the first chapter of Jameson's The Political Unconscious).


* The Yale Online Education site will have the syllabus and other materials so you should check it out. However, a lot of them you don't really need the video, so you might just want the mp3, to listen in your car or whatever.

DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Red Crown posted:

No poo poo, I finished that last week. Great read, highly recommend it. I'm thinking more along the lines of fiction novels, or at least books that focus on more "average" people.

I'm not even making GBS threads you but J.K. Rowling's new book is exactly what you're looking for -- her narrator gets into the heads of all sorts of selfish, petty, squabbling people. Only, she has sympathy for these (often despicable) characters despite all that, which allows her to actually understand them.

Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray might also be up your alley. Julian Barnes' Love, etc. might work, or some of Martin Amis' stuff.

Well, this turned out the most British post ever.

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DirtyRobot
Dec 15, 2003

it was a normally happy sunny day... but Dirty Robot was dirty

Chiba City Blues posted:

How many books out there deal with the concept of transhumanism that arent by Ray Kurzweil? I think the subject is interesting to read about. Can be fiction or non-fiction.

A lot of Vernor Vinge's novels that are set in the near future do this. They're fiction, but fun.

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