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StrawberryDouche

True & Honest Fan
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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by A Solzhenytsyn
God, that book does such a great job of conveying just how fucking bleak and soul crushing the USSR was to the average individual.

Finished reading The Brothers Karamozov by Dostoevsky. While I did find it an enjoyable and thought provoking read I fail to see why it is almost always cited as his best work. Admittedly I've only read one other novel by Dostoevsky, that being Crime and Punishment but I found it much more enjoyable. While Crime and Punishment is a book with a singular protagonist and a rather linear narrative, The Brothers Karamozov is a book with 4-5 protagonists (potentially more if you count the one off chapters) that while largely focusing on the titles name sake and their father also includes a litany of side stories that tie into the main arc. Each of these side stories is interesting in its own regard, (in fact my favorite collection of chapters is father Zossima's) but they distract from the central narrative of the book. As a result the book seems to drag on much longer than is necessary.

What I believe he set out to do in this book is paint a picture of the type of people, view points, and philosophy's you might find during 19th century Russia. Obviously Dostoevsky did not live through the revolution, but the book much like crime and punishment feels like a prelude of whats to come and provides critic of the socialist philosophy that was slowly creeping its way across Russia during his lifetime. This is not including the numerous religious themes he explores, and also does not mention the psychological aspects of the book that could be talked about extensively.

Over all I did enjoy this book, and would highly recommend it despite my saying that it seemed to drag on too long. Maybe I'm too much of a midwit to grasp the full complexity of the novel, but I would still contend that Crime and Punishment is his best work and is an amazing character study/psychological break down of a murder.
If you like Russian novels and you've not read The Master and Margarita then you must. It's a some of the finest political satire ever written and told through the lens of magical reality.

Also: Dead Souls by Nicolai Gogol is a dark and fantastically comical look at Russian culture as it existed in the 1840s which is when it was published.

I presently have three books cooking.

I'm into The Wreck of the Abergavenny which details the personal and cultural impact of a ship that went down which was piloted by Wordsworth's brother John. It's a densely researched bit of concentrated micro-history and I highly recommend.

An Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of the Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. I wanted a book detailing the history, psychology, and events which brought forth that age and this shit is it.

For my trash read I'm into American Gods which I am enjoying much more than I expected I would.
 

Exterminatus

I am His final judgment
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At the moment I just started reading Mike Duncan's "The Storm Before The Storm: The beginning of the end of the Roman Republic" because I've kind of been on a history kick and I really enjoyed his "History of Rome" podcast, normally I tend to read more fantasy and horror oriented books but I've always found history very enjoyable too.
 

Dandelion Eyes

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I was reading the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, the entire series in one book, and dropped it halfway, cause it seemed, that most of the plot was just series of random events and coincidences caused by some sci-fi thingamajigs.
And the actually funny parts weren't as funny as they were hyped up to be.
 

Troon Draugur

Stilgar of Troon. Facial Fremen-isation surgery
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I was reading the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, the entire series in one book, and dropped it halfway, cause it seemed, that most of the plot was just series of random events and coincidences caused by some sci-fi thingamajigs.
And the actually funny parts weren't as funny as they were hyped up to be.
It absolutely tails off in places and the humour is very much an acquired taste, very much leans into British sensibilities about such things (which, obviously, is not to say all Brits find it funny or vice versa), it could definitely have been significantly shorter.
 

Polyboros2

Is dumb and lost Polyboros password
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I was reading the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, the entire series in one book, and dropped it halfway, cause it seemed, that most of the plot was just series of random events and coincidences caused by some sci-fi thingamajigs.
And the actually funny parts weren't as funny as they were hyped up to be.
I think his humor has been so influential that it seems basic it at this point. It's like trying to talk to a zoomers about Half-life. It's not spectacular compared to what we have now, it helped drive what's spectacular now.

Also, the memey stuff that the "OMG, I'm such a nerd!" crowd have driven into the ground was never what made Hitchhiker's Guide funny. 42 isn't a punchline. It was an easy reference that people could throw out to others in a cultural niche. Then vapid people more familiar with the reference than the source material hyped it up with a bunch of huffing their own farts and vocal fry.

In my only rereading of the books, I did find a lot of the humorous premises that weren't so novel anymore did fall flat, but there was still a fair amount of dry Brittish wit and funny dialogue I still enjoyed.

Even as someone who enjoyed the books, Adams had kinda lost the thread by the end of the third book, the two follow ups were very dull and aimless, and I can't even imagine how bad the continuation made by some thot are.
 
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Cast Iron Pan

A trauma-informed, gender-affirming praxis
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I was reading the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, the entire series in one book, and dropped it halfway, cause it seemed, that most of the plot was just series of random events and coincidences caused by some sci-fi thingamajigs.
And the actually funny parts weren't as funny as they were hyped up to be.
Only the first book of the series is worthwhile. The goodness drops off fast at the beginning of the 2nd and does not return.

---

Currently reading: Masculinity Amidst Madness by Ryan Landry

From the foreword by Bronze Age Pervert:
Remember the man of power Bob Denard. He was a merc and adventurer who took over the Comoros Islands several times in the 20th Century. France had to send special forces to dislodge him, or he surely would have become worshipped as a god by the natives. Yet he was never ambitious, never a kissass. In his youth, he got kicked out of the French military for burning a bar in Vietnam, and then was a hooligan in Africa. He became a man of power and international mercenary. The paradox: if you don’t feel like a faggot compared to Denard, you are, in fact, a faggot.
Fascinating and thought-provoking read so far.
 

MerriedxReldnahc

World's Okay-est Proctologist
True & Honest Fan
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3001, last book in the 2001 series. The world of 3001 sucks.

No one has natural hair because they wear cybernetic "braincaps". "Mind uploading" seems to be portrayed as a good thing as well.

Also the word "God" has become profanity by then. :neckbeard:
I just finished the second in the series, I have the third on my pile to get to soon. For the time being I'm re-reading Christopher Lee's book since I need some humor and coziness right now. But I like Arthur C. Clarke's writing style and I'm looking forward to reading the next two books. I actually thought the movie was boring as fuck but was interested in the books because I enjoyed the Rama series so much.
 
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I've got a few more nonfiction books. One fiction book, but I still have a day to go to finish it.

I've said elsewhere on this website that if you see the words "concise history," you should run. Either it's ironic and its a dense, long slog, or it's way too concise and won't teach you anything. This book manages to be both; the entire history of Bulgaria is overly vague and quick until you reach independence, and then suddenly it bogs down in endless discussion of parliamentary politics, and the book, at that point, ONLY cares about parliamentary politics. You're not going to get military history. You're not going to get more than a little bit of economic history. You're not going to get a social history. You're not going to get the kind of interesting personal stories that give meaning to history (something that books I've previously reviewed, like Slavery by Another Name or Bloody Pacific, are masters at). You just get dozens of pages of "the Agrarian party won 1488 votes" and "then the BSP committee voted on the bill" and shit like that.

I learned very little of value. I learned a little bit about Bulgarian parliamentary politics, but I didn't want to learn that in the first place. I couldn't remember any of it because it was so boring. About the only bits of information I found interesting were that one of the Medieval Bulgarian queens was a Jew, the Bulgarians were the first people to execute an aerial bombing run on European soil, and they had a powerful agrarian socialist movement. That that is the best I can come up with from it should go to show how thoroughly my time was wasted.

I got a little bit more value from this one just by virtue of it being about a subject that always make me smile, so even if I didn't retain much or feel like I learned much, I at least didn't get as bored. The book covers exactly what it says, but it is extremely heavily focused on the West, and more specifically, on the Caribbean, Mediterranean, North, and Baltic Seas; the entire vast history of Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean piracy is handwaved in one chapter. The author seems to think he's writing a book to help assist with modern strategies for counter-piracy operations, but he doesn't really develop that idea beyond just "lol gotta go fast (to catch the boats), gotta take out the bases." He does use lots of personal stories for each time period, and I thought it was a nice novelty that he begins with Greek mythological piracy (Odysseus and the like). He also does talk about shipbuilding and tactics and such. The book really desperately needed illustrations of that shit - I just sort of mentally glazed over most of those passages - but I managed to take away some facts about naval combat that contradicted many of my assumptions, such as that Medieval warships were just conscripted rabble (actually, they tended to rely on purpose-built warships with towers) or that Medieval warships revolved around ramming (it apparently started to go out of style in the Mediterranean).

I think the topic was probably too broad for it to ever be done justice; should have read a book on just one sea and one time period (like Golden Age Caribbean, or Barbary Pirates, or the North Sea raiders against the Hansa, etc.).

It was also nice, even if it didn't add a whole lot, that it treated commerce raiding (like the based Confederate commerce raiding fleet, and the U-Boats) in the later chapters.

It's not bad like A Concise History of Bulgaria, but I don't recommend it.

This one was actually interesting, but it's a bit of a clusterfuck in its own way. First, you'll need to understand Mencius Moldbug, or as I prefer to call him sense it feels less autisti'c, Curtis Yarvin. Yarvin runs Unqualified Reservations, a Neoreactionary (the more intellectually-inclined predecessors to the Alt-Right) blog website where he sucks himself off pontificating about politics and history. Unlike a lot of that shit, he's much more focused on theorizing and history than on modern political commentary; in fact, I don't think I have seen any real punditry coming from him. He's a narcissistic-sounding goober, really puts on airs, but he can write in an entertaining, engaging way (characteristic of a blog) and I think he generally has good ideas. Yarvin's ideal world is basically Hans-Hermann Hoppe's anarcho-capitalism if you added the state back in. It is based around the notion that the state is a good thing (or at least an inevitable thing), but that the state ought to be structured as a joint-stock company.

Now, How Dawkins Got Pwned is a bizarre "book" (actually a series of very long, informal blog posts) where Yarvin takes the ideas of Richard Dawkins in the God Delusion and then rapes them into being an argument for why liberal democracy is bad. He starts with Dawkins' idea of a meme and how the concept of God is a sort of mental parasite, and expands that into a general theory of ideologies (I forget his special word he uses for them) which are based around irrational beliefs. He builds up that a system of irrational beliefs can be positive, negative, neutral, it can be well-suited or poorly-suited to self-propagation, etc., and he gives examples of different ideologies/religions fitting into that.

The rest of the book is then devoted to picking apart what Yarvin calls "Universalism," which seems to mean basically the spectrum of Left starting from social liberalism or so, although Yarvin would consider lots of Rightist ideologies or aspects of them to also be Universalist. In all that, he uses Dawkins as a punching bag, a way to poke fun at the whole idea of le enlightened atheist/liberal/progressive who thinks they've ascended beyond irrationality. Yarvin also has this fascinating theory/way of looking at things that he considers "Universalism" (basically, modern Enlightenment ideology) to be a sect of Christianity, arguing that the values it promotes are merely Christianity with the theology stripped out. In both the book and in articles he links and other books he cites, he builds that argument up from evidence, dwelling particularly on the Calvinist/Puritan connection, who he hates more than anything in the world. It's kind of like his version of Nietzsche's slave and master morality.

His arguments are not particularly convincing, mostly owing to that he seems to think that just saying something is equivalent to proving it. It is a remarkably weak work of scholarship, other than that it is just a series of blog posts he decided to call a book. But, it's still fascinating, and it's easy to read quickly. I do recommend it, as I think that while it's not hardly up to the standards of rigor of even something like "Democracy: The God That Failed" (a book fraught with its own problems), it is engaging enough and original enough to be worth reading.
 

mindlessobserver

True & Honest Fan
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Trying to get through Brandon Sandersons "The Way of Kings"

Its brilliant. And infuriating. It forces me to get invested in three different stories simultaneously. Kaladins bridgman Story, Shallans next big Score story, and young Kaladins story. I dont mind a little split between the A and B Plot but this book has an A, B and C plot and it veers through them every other chapter.

Its infuriating because both the A, B and C stories are brilliant. I want to read them. But FFS HOW CAN I GET INVESTED IF I GET TWO CHAPTERS OF A, GET DUMPED INTO B, ANOTHER CHAPER OF A FOLLOW BY C AND THEN TWO OF B FOLLOWED BY A C AND THEN BACK TO B BEFORE DOING ANOTHER OF A!!!!!!!!!!


GAH

Someone seriously needs to do a fan edit of this book. Reorganize the chapters. Ffs.
 
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AJneedsElocution

Always outsmarted,never out reeeee'd
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Over the last few days i read the The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Its a good read,some of it intuitively makes sense,the parts that dont are backed up with replicated experiments,that have surprising results that are kinda hard to digest in some respects.

It nice to have a general reality check against those that claim to be behemoths of whatever subject they proclaim their truths about imo. Charlatans are one thing,but it looks at the way people who address things with honesty in good faith and want to find 'truth' screw up due to the focus on 'experts' and their own fields dogma
 
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Titos

Can't stop. Won't stop. Please stop.
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Still trying to work my way through Blood Meridian, I'm about half way through. The lack of punctuation and presence of quite a bit of Spanish makes it hard for me to really plow through it since I end up having to use my meager 3 years of high school Spanish which I never really paid attention to.

Also about 30 pages into something I randomly picked up without knowing anything about it called Freddy's Book by John Gardner. It seems pretty interesting so far but I started reading it months ago so I'd have to start over to really remember anything outside of the primary set up. The setting intrigued me though so I might start it up again. Reviews on it seem mixed so I'm not sure.

Edit: Also a recommendation to anyone who likes H.P. Lovecrafts novels, check out William Hope Hodgson, especially On The Borderland and The Night Land. WHH doesn't get brought up nearly enough.
 
Still trying to work my way through Blood Meridian, I'm about half way through. The lack of punctuation and presence of quite a bit of Spanish makes it hard for me to really plow through it since I end up having to use my meager 3 years of high school Spanish which I never really paid attention to.

Also about 30 pages into something I randomly picked up without knowing anything about it called Freddy's Book by John Gardner. It seems pretty interesting so far but I started reading it months ago so I'd have to start over to really remember anything outside of the primary set up. The setting intrigued me though so I might start it up again. Reviews on it seem mixed so I'm not sure.

Edit: Also a recommendation to anyone who likes H.P. Lovecrafts novels, check out William Hope Hodgson, especially On The Borderland and The Night Land. WHH doesn't get brought up nearly enough.
I tried to read Blood Meridian once for a class. I wanted to like it because of the high concept but his special snowflake prose was such a slog to read, and his run-on sentences blended into each other so much, that it felt like the written version of white noise. I intend to try it again.
 

Getting tard comed

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I'm starting Taleb's Incerto series with Fooled By Randomness. I've heard good things about Taleb, I'm hoping I'm tall enough for the ride tbh.
 
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Underestimated Nutria

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James White's Sector General series (basically, space medicine) after finishing his dumb but fun Federation World. He gives more thought than most space opera type writers to creating truly alien aliens, with weird psychologies and physiologies.
 

PurpleEater

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I tried to read Blood Meridian once for a class. I wanted to like it because of the high concept but his special snowflake prose was such a slog to read, and his run-on sentences blended into each other so much, that it felt like the written version of white noise. I intend to try it again.
I have mixed feelings about that one. I agree there's a degree of pretentiousness and overdoing it in terms of stylistic prose, though "The Road" was so restrained and quiet but still felt like he was over-doing it at the same time.

I liked both books quite a bit but they're a bit overrated, and Cormac navel-gazes too much.

Compare Cormac's style to say, Orwell, who is able to capture that same sense of cosmic horror and dread while keeping the prose understated and far less distracting.
 
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Ginger Piglet

Burglar of Jess Phillips MP
True & Honest Fan
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"Angels" by a little known British horror author called Steve Harris.

No, not the one from Iron Maiden. This Steve Harris lived all his life in a boring normie town called Basingstoke, and wrote horror novels about people from Basingstoke getting caught up in unpleasant things. The sheer normieness of the setting contrasts so nicely with the abnormality of the happenings really nicely. Despite the fact that I'm the only person who seems to ever have read any of his books, he wrote eight of them. Here are the ones I've read with my one-paragraph reviews:

- Adventureland, 1990. The haunted funfair comes to town and it's up to a nerdish 19 year old in an unwilling partnership with the town hard bastard (who hates him) to prevent the evil carnies from summoning an eldritch abomination. Fun but a bit flawed and the ending felt rushed.
- Wulf, 1991. A werewolf novel without werewolves. The majority of the population of a village eats a BSE-infected pie at a fete and becomes collectively convinced that all non-BSE-riddled people are "wulfs" or werewolves, and they block the roads in and out and begin to hunt down and murder everyone not so infected. Apparently this was based on the Hungerford massacre and what would potentially happen if an active shooter situation took place in a locale totally cut off from the outside world.
- The Hoodoo Man, 1992. Man who suffers brain damage from gun accident as child discovers he can see and change the future, and then that all his possible futures end with him being possessed and becoming a serial killer. This one is excellent. Well thought out and tightly plotted.
- Angels, 1993. The one I'm on at the moment. It's about a professional car thief who accidentally runs over and kills a child and then tries to literally outrun the ghosts of the past. Having a bit of difficulty with this one; it feels disjointed and suchlike.
- The Switch, 1995. This one wasn't actually published because it was considered too gruesome and misogynist for then current year but if you look around on the author's old site on archive.org you can find a pdf of the whole thing. Basically, it's all about living next door to a serial sex killer - a serial sex killer who uses the deaths and agonies of his victims to achieve immortality. It also has overtones of "what if Fifty Shades of Grey was a horror novel." Because the villain is into BDSM and that's how he finds his victims. I think what doomed it publication-wise was how the first chapter is all about the killer's detailed seduction, rape, torture and murder of a victim in a hotel room and subsequent corpse disposal.

I also read a couple of his short stories as well. "Escape from Doughnut City" is a mildly whimsical tale about how a desperate and abused young lad determines that he can flee his horrible life by doing a 360 degree loop of every roundabout in Basingstoke. "Lonely Heart" is about IRC chat and how a man finds himself talking to what he thinks is the spirit of his dead wife on same but it's actually an eldritch abomination masquerading as same.

Basically, you should read Steve Harris's stuff if you like gruesomeness and that period from the late 1980s to the early 1990s just before the internet took off and, like me, grew up in a boring as shit normie town.
 
Fiction book.

Way back earlier in the thread, I reviewed "Good Rebel Soil." This is by the same author. Whereas Good Rebel Soil was based on the life of real-world Confederate guerrilla Champ Ferguson, Bound for the Promised Land is the life story of a fictional Colored Infantryman turned Buffalo Soldier through the period of slavery, the Civil War, and into the Indian Wars.

The novel is good for the most part, but the quality, I felt, wasn't as consistently good as Good Rebel Soil. Without trying to spoil much (not that really matters), the main character is a slave on a South Carolina plantation. Act I deals with his life in slavery as he attempts to build a family. Act II deals with him running away to the Union side and fighting in the Colored Infantry. Act III deals with his life as a Reconstruction-era civilian, struggling with both racism in the South (in the form of the Redshirts, Klan, and other Southern terrorists) and in the North (race riots, gangs, segregation, etc.). Act IV is his service in the West and a surprise at the end.

I'll address what I liked first: the book is amazingly nuanced and detailed in its treatment of slavery. Novels about slavery tend to fall into one of two camps: they either portray it as a sentimental, "the slaves were just like family" whitewashed fantasy, or they treat it as misery porn full of torture and abuse. This novel is interesting in that no two slaves seem to think the same way about slavery, and the whole range of reactions is covered. There's characters who fit into the mold of the sort of Mammy/Uncle Remus archetype, albeit deconstructed a bit. There's slaves who are indifferent to their plight because they lack the ambition to do anything more with their lives than skate by. There are slaves who hate Whites with a passion and want to tear them down violently. The author, a White man, does a remarkable job of portraying the psychology/emotions behind all of these different reactions to slavery.

One part that really stunned me is that there is a woman character with a plot revolving around how the master's sons are forcing her, and her husband is being cucked. But when the husband, our hero, goes off to fight for the Union, he finds out that she was actually lieing about it and she was willingly cheating on him with the masters, and loves them; she even disowns him for fighting against "her people." I was fucking stunned by that, because that's some incredibly ballsy stuff to write in the age of Everything is Rape.

It's also nice how the author explores different aspects of American society/history without it feeling like an edutainment lesson (Tidewater Dynasty, another novel I've mentioned, was the exact opposite of that, in terms of the history parts feeling very stilted and expository).

Where things get a bit worse is that while the author seems to have a great insight into how slaves felt - much of it feels like echoes of the slave anthology My Folks Don't Want Me To Talk About Slavery - his main character, who narrates from the first-person, can sometimes feel really off. It's a case where I'm not sure if it feels like the thoughts and feelings of an 1800s Black man, or a 2000s White man writing about an 1800s Black man. The word "hatred" comes up an awful lot, for example, and it feels a bit tainted by the modern obsession with the idea of hatred and hate crimes and all that. Or how the Black guy has this patronizing, low view of poor Southerners. I understand it to be true that slaves did crack to each other about crackers, but I suspect that it was done with the utmost jealousy/hypocrisy. There's just something that feels real off at times.

The book's parts also aren't all made equal (like the races, har har). Ironically, it's the parts that aren't about wars that I enjoyed the most: Act I and III I found fascinating. Act II was interesting enough but it was weak compared to the others. Act IV kind of sucked, to be honest. The book could have ended with Act III and it would have still felt somewhat complete, or at least complete for a sequel. Pretty much every plot that has been set up has been tied up. After that it just meanders around the West, chasing Indians, but not really developing itself much. The author ends up making a poignant point with it, at the end, but none of the new plots that are set up have enough time to build sympathy with the reader.

Overall, I thought the book was interesting, probably moreso than Good Rebel Soil, but interesting didn't mean more fun or enjoyable. I don't regret having read it and I'd recommend it if you are interested in fiction related to slavery/Black history. It just wasn't as good as the writer's other output I've read.
 
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