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What BOOK(s) are you reading?

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25 Jan 2019 23:32 - 27 Jan 2019 00:19 #290704 by CranBerries
My brother told me that the Three Body Problem was boring--I know it has won prizes.

I read Cal Newport'sCal Newport's Deep Work in an attempt to get some work done on my sabbatical. I wouldn't have gotten through it but I've been commuting to a neighboring town's library to work, so I spend the train time reading. I'll sum it up for you so you don't have to read it:

1. I'm Cal Newport, and I published 24 articles last year.

2. Set aside four hour blocks with no interruptions

3. When you are done for the day, have a closing work ritual so that you don't carry your work around in your head and can be present for your family

4. Multitasking doesn't work

5. You can learn to concentrate more deeply.

6. Have a meaningful purpose for your work

7. Here's how that one famous memory guy memorizes a deck of cards

I think you would be better off reading the five key papers he draws on rather than all 260 pages of the book. It's not bad but I would have appreciated 75 pages to share the same insights.

jeb wrote: I picked up Neal Stephenson's The Something Or Other of D.O.D.O., which I didn't even know about. He's got a co-author, and I hope that cuts back somewhat on the pedantism, because that can be really annoying if you are not equally as into whatever he is deep-diving on (for example, the pages of gun arcana in REAMDE).


Oh, you nailed Stephenson. If that guy doesn't have Asperger's, nobody does. I read something by Jonathan Franzen recently where he says that novels are becoming increasingly essayistic. [fill this in later].

I have read one of China Mieville's sillier books, something about a squid cult. I'll read Perdido Street Station as soon as I pick up a trade paperback version with a legible font.
Last edit: 27 Jan 2019 00:19 by CranBerries.

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26 Jan 2019 08:28 #290709 by Sagrilarus
I gave up on Three Body Problem halfway through.
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26 Jan 2019 10:21 #290712 by Gary Sax
I've been reading the first Stormlight Archive book. It's alright, easy reading. Nothing stands out as special beyond the world building/setting.

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28 Jan 2019 10:12 #290789 by Joebot

Gary Sax wrote: I've been reading the first Stormlight Archive book. It's alright, easy reading. Nothing stands out as special beyond the world building/setting.


I've got that book sitting on my to-read shelf (it's been sitting there for quite a while, actually). I know Sanderson has created some kind of shared universe thing with all his different book series, but the only one I've read is Mistborn, which I did not care much for.
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29 Jan 2019 10:50 #290877 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
Early thoughts on D.O.D.O:

goddamnit, Neal.

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30 Jan 2019 07:27 #291071 by SaMoKo
Glad I wasn’t the only one put off by Three Body Problem. Book had some interesting ideas, but it was too dense to comfortably get through and I abandoned ship. Perhaps it would be better in its native language, but I suspect not.

Really enjoyed Seveneves which I finished last week. My first book by this author, and from the sounds of the posts here, one of his best.

Not sure which sci fi book I’ll pick up next. I’ve heard good things about Bobverse. The Fifth Season series mentioned here has also caught my eye, but I may want something less bleak fight now.

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30 Jan 2019 10:04 #291090 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
CRYPTONOMICON is fucking great, SaMoKo. His best work, by far. I also really liked SNOW CRASH. The Baroque Cycle is also very good, but this is where he started on the whole "look what I just learned about" thing.
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30 Jan 2019 11:17 #291102 by RobertB

SaMoKo wrote: Not sure which sci fi book I’ll pick up next. I’ve heard good things about Bobverse. The Fifth Season series mentioned here has also caught my eye, but I may want something less bleak fight now.


Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky are both good, and can be tackled in either order.

Regarding Vinge's works (mild spoilers)
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]
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30 Jan 2019 11:58 - 30 Jan 2019 11:59 #291116 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
I've been reading Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin, basically the Silmarillion of the Game of Thrones, describing the 300 years from Aegon I's conquest of Westeros until Robert Baratheon ended their reign.

Not sure if I like it or just think the guy is an old perv at this point. For every totally badass standoff or interesting idea, there's some side discussion about incest and rape. I mean, with the Targaryens it's kind of unavoidable, but which old man came up with their practices? All histories have some discussion of who 'begat' who, but man, this guy...
Last edit: 30 Jan 2019 11:59 by Jexik.
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30 Jan 2019 12:46 - 30 Jan 2019 12:48 #291132 by Not Sure

jeb wrote: CRYPTONOMICON is fucking great, SaMoKo. His best work, by far. I also really liked SNOW CRASH. The Baroque Cycle is also very good, but this is where he started on the whole "look what I just learned about" thing.


Hahaha. I'd argue it started in Snow Crash, if not even earlier. The huge brain dump from the AI was the epitome of "tell don't show".

Diamond Age is one of my favorites, I'll always recommend that. Cryptonomicon has a lot of good parts, but the "modern" stuff is extremely dated. Still worth reading. Snow Crash is also the novel that put him on the map, and is a good shorter read.

I'd read all three of those before diving into the Baroque Cycle, and if you aren't enjoying any of them bail out.

Also, the Fifth Season books are fucking excellent, but definitely pretty grim. I've been banging the drum on those here for a couple of years now.
Last edit: 30 Jan 2019 12:48 by Not Sure.

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31 Jan 2019 08:51 #291216 by ThirstyMan

RobertB wrote:

SaMoKo wrote: Not sure which sci fi book I’ll pick up next. I’ve heard good things about Bobverse. The Fifth Season series mentioned here has also caught my eye, but I may want something less bleak fight now.


Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky are both good, and can be tackled in either order.

Regarding Vinge's works (mild spoilers)
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]


It took me bloody ages to get through Fire Upon the Deep, it just didn't click with me at all.

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31 Jan 2019 14:37 #291248 by Joebot

Jexik wrote: I've been reading Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin, basically the Silmarillion of the Game of Thrones, describing the 300 years from Aegon I's conquest of Westeros until Robert Baratheon ended their reign.

Not sure if I like it or just think the guy is an old perv at this point. For every totally badass standoff or interesting idea, there's some side discussion about incest and rape. I mean, with the Targaryens it's kind of unavoidable, but which old man came up with their practices? All histories have some discussion of who 'begat' who, but man, this guy...


I love Martin's books (well, the first three books anyway), and even I can't stomach the idea of reading hundreds of pages of his fake history. I don't quite understand the appeal. I just don't think Martin's world is all that interesting by itself, that I want to read the fake history of it. His strengths as an author are in characterization and plotting (well, the first three books anyway), and not so much in fantasy world-building. Westeros is just your basic, standard Euro-medieval generic fantasy world. It would sort of be like FFG putting out the "Fake History of Terrinoth."

I think Martin's publishers are SO DESPERATE for any new Game of Thrones content, that they were willing to put just about anything together, just so they had new books to sell while the HBO show still dominates the cultural conversation. In a year from now, when the show is over, and book 6 is still nowhere to be found ... nobody's going to give a shit about Westeros anymore.
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31 Jan 2019 17:43 - 31 Jan 2019 17:45 #291254 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic What BOOK(s) are you reading?
I went back to the beginning of this thread and it is a hoot. We've been arguing about Neal, China, and GRRM for eight years. Insane.

I set D.O.D.O. aside for a second. Here's a couple of things I want to point out--not a spoiler if reading a book jacket is not a spoiler.

If you are the field head of a clandestine gov't agency that trucks in mystery and needs to maintain a low profile--don't wear Yankees hats in Boston. You will be known around the neighborhood as "the guy that wears a fuckin' Yankees hat," and be noticed every day.

If your clandestine gov't agency discovers and exploits TIME TRAVEL, you will not need to secure independent funding. You just won't. Even in this administration, TIME TRAVEL would get a budget. They can TIIIIIIIME TRAAAAAAVEL and they need to steal books to get $. The premise is recockulous.

Things Neal Boned Up On So Far:
Schroedinger's Cat, including that it is a gedanken experiment, which means "thought experiment" which you knew and here we are, being clever together, isn't that nice?
Cryonics, including the difference between LN and LHe and the superfluid nature of the latter
Corseting and medieval clothing norms
Last edit: 31 Jan 2019 17:45 by jeb.
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31 Jan 2019 18:05 #291256 by SaMoKo
Grabbed both A Fire Upon the Deep and Blindsight. These should keep me busy for a while!
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01 Feb 2019 10:40 #291295 by RobertB

CranBerries wrote: I read Cal Newport'sCal Newport's Deep Work in an attempt to get some work done on my sabbatical. I wouldn't have gotten through it but I've been commuting to a neighboring town's library to work, so I spend the train time reading. I'll sum it up for you so you don't have to read it:

1. I'm Cal Newport, and I published 24 articles last year.

2. Set aside four hour blocks with no interruptions

3. When you are done for the day, have a closing work ritual so that you don't carry your work around in your head and can be present for your family

4. Multitasking doesn't work

5. You can learn to concentrate more deeply.

6. Have a meaningful purpose for your work

7. Here's how that one famous memory guy memorizes a deck of cards

I think you would be better off reading the five key papers he draws on rather than all 260 pages of the book. It's not bad but I would have appreciated 75 pages to share the same insights.


I push #4 as the biggest item on that list, and it isn't even close. If I want to get anything substantial done, I have to stop chatting with you guys, my coworkers, etc. I nag my daughter about it, but she's convinced she knows everything and doesn't need advice.
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