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post #31 of 61
Death in the Afternoon is such a compelling read-------surprising as it is a topic that I had no interest in whatsoever. Being a vegetarian especially, I had every reason to be put-off-------but the man could make any topic interesting. Great non-fiction suggestion.
post #32 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonglover
I'm finding this topic a little staid, so I'll refrain from posting.
I can see how one might find some of the responses a bit staid (though I do not,) but books themselves? My.
post #33 of 61
Decided to not be an asshole and contribute. If you enjoyed The Prince you should also appreciate The Communist Manifesto. Considerably more (frighteningly) relevant than The Prince and it's also a tighter read. I'm surprised you enjoy The Art of War. Not that it's not incredibly enlightening, but I'm fairly well-read and I literally had to slog through it, groans all the way 'til the end. I'll second Earthmover's recommendation of Guns, Germs and Steel. As good a read as any for someone that's not a history buff, Jared Diamond has the science (it is a science) of societal downfall pegged. A little droll but, again, I'm not a history buff. I really, really wouldn't focus so much on the classics. Like any art form, unless you feel the need to study a lot of stuff doesn't age well. I was telling someone else on the board: the classics are always important, but not always relevant. Don't shove a glut of "classics" down your throat just because you feel the need to be well-read. Especially when it comes down to fiction: it's probably been done with more artistry, complexity and relevancy in recent times. The only exceptions to that rule I can think of are Fitzgerald, Vonnegut and early Updike. Also, check out Eiji Yoshikawa's Taiko and Musashi. Both huge, epic novels that shaped the Western epic (in every medium) as we know it. Kodansha International has released what I'd say are the definitive translations. I still can't peg what you're looking for as most of the books in your initial post come off as study lit. If you're looking for modern fiction, look towards Haruki Murakami, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon, David Sedaris, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, Jonathan Franzen, etc., etc. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay are far and away the best novels of the past ten years. While The Corrections is an amazing book, I'd look at Franzen's essays first. The best essayist on the planet, at the moment. The Discomfort Zone comes out September 5th and includes one of the most heartbreaking pieces I've ever read in The New Yorker. Also, if you're interested in anthologies of fiction, check out McSweeney's Quarterly. It's pretty progressive (post-modern, completely uncynical). The volumes often have amazing presentation (the new issue has some brilliant contemporary art every few pages). Lots of people hate on it and tag it with hipster status, but the fact of the matter is this is "the new Paris Review". Lots of talent. Speaking of McSweeney's, their book imprint published my pick for novel of the year so far, Yannick Murphy's Here They Come. I think this is going to get a Pulitzer nod (not that it means anything anymore, but still). Another Irish author, Roddy Doyle, is definitely firmly in my favorite modern authors list. Check out The Barrytown Trilogy. Those are pretty much general fiction recommendations. I know nothing and care nothing for finance so sorry I can't help you there. If you want any philosophy (I keep a little existentialist library on my nightstand), poetry, art and design (hint: Phaidon Press) or graphic novel (my passion) recommendations just say so.
post #34 of 61
Thread Starter 
ha ha. it's always the assholes that have the MOST to contribute. besides, i got to learn a new word.

if it was *just* the Ancient Art of War, i would have read it in 2 hours and not understood a thing. but the version i read had a good 200 pages of introduction that talked about the various dynasties at the time Sun-Tzu supposedly lived and the relevance of the points in Ancient Art of War to the politics at the time. basically, everyone was backstabbing each other. and yes, there's a whole chapter devoted to whether Sun-Tzu actually lived or whether AAOW was written by someone else.

-Jeff
post #35 of 61
Jong, I'm glad you decided to contribute. It's always good to see a diversity of opinion, even when that opinion differs with mine. But I have to say, we're on opposite ends of this one. To me, it seems a bit ironic that you're suggesting the classics don't date well while recommending Eggers, et al, a movement that, to me, already seems very dated. McSweeney's, too, strikes me as of a moment that has passed. I liked it four years ago. Maybe I'm just fickle.

As for readability, there's not a classic on my list that I didn't relate to directly or consider a fun, enjoyable read. The only one I found to be hard work was "Moby-Dick," which takes effort but offers huge rewards. Perhaps what "Moby-Dick" accomplishes has been done better by a modern author, but I find that difficult to believe. And I don't believe anyone here has suggested that the classics should be read just because they're "classics." I know I -- and I assume everyone else -- listed books they found entertaining/engaging/illuminating/personally compelling. That alone seems like a strong testament to their continuing relevance.

I'd be curious to hear more specifics from you, Jong. I don't mean to go on the attack here, just genuinely interested in engaging the topic.
post #36 of 61
I'll be attempting Moby Dick take II in another week or so. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did once it's finished. Illiad and the Odyssy sunk in better than Moby Dick, too often I have to go back and re-read a page so I'm not going "what the *%$# just happened!?"
post #37 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by someoneNew
I'll be attempting Moby Dick take II in another week or so. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did once it's finished. Illiad and the Odyssy sunk in better than Moby Dick, too often I have to go back and re-read a page so I'm not going "what the *%$# just happened!?"

Do you have an annotated edition? I certainly wouldn't have made it through without one. The footnotes were half the fun. It's like discovering buried treasure on every page. "Moby-Dick" may be the craziest book ever written, and it takes some explanation to really appreciate that.
post #38 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonglover
Decided to not be an asshole and contribute.

If you enjoyed The Prince you should also appreciate The Communist Manifesto. Considerably more (frighteningly) relevant than The Prince and it's also a tighter read. I'm surprised you enjoy The Art of War. Not that it's not incredibly enlightening, but I'm fairly well-read and I literally had to slog through it, groans all the way 'til the end.

I'll second Earthmover's recommendation of Guns, Germs and Steel. As good a read as any for someone that's not a history buff, Jared Diamond has the science (it is a science) of societal downfall pegged. A little droll but, again, I'm not a history buff.

I really, really wouldn't focus so much on the classics. Like any art form, unless you feel the need to study a lot of stuff doesn't age well. I was telling someone else on the board: the classics are always important, but not always relevant. Don't shove a glut of "classics" down your throat just because you feel the need to be well-read. Especially when it comes down to fiction: it's probably been done with more artistry, complexity and relevancy in recent times. The only exceptions to that rule I can think of are Fitzgerald, Vonnegut and early Updike. Also, check out Eiji Yoshikawa's Taiko and Musashi. Both huge, epic novels that shaped the Western epic (in every medium) as we know it. Kodansha International has released what I'd say are the definitive translations.

I still can't peg what you're looking for as most of the books in your initial post come off as study lit. If you're looking for modern fiction, look towards Haruki Murakami, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon, David Sedaris, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, Jonathan Franzen, etc., etc.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay are far and away the best novels of the past ten years. While The Corrections is an amazing book, I'd look at Franzen's essays first. The best essayist on the planet, at the moment. The Discomfort Zone comes out September 5th and includes one of the most heartbreaking pieces I've ever read in The New Yorker. Also, if you're interested in anthologies of fiction, check out McSweeney's Quarterly. It's pretty progressive (post-modern, completely uncynical). The volumes often have amazing presentation (the new issue has some brilliant contemporary art every few pages). Lots of people hate on it and tag it with hipster status, but the fact of the matter is this is "the new Paris Review". Lots of talent.

Speaking of McSweeney's, their book imprint published my pick for novel of the year so far, Yannick Murphy's Here They Come. I think this is going to get a Pulitzer nod (not that it means anything anymore, but still). Another Irish author, Roddy Doyle, is definitely firmly in my favorite modern authors list. Check out The Barrytown Trilogy.

Those are pretty much general fiction recommendations. I know nothing and care nothing for finance so sorry I can't help you there. If you want any philosophy (I keep a little existentialist library on my nightstand), poetry, art and design (hint: Phaidon Press) or graphic novel (my passion) recommendations just say so.
A Heartbreaking Work . . . is half of a really good book. I don't know if I'd put Kavalier & Clay quite as high in the firmament as you do, but it is a great read. When talking about folks who are still kicking, I'd add Richard Powers (esp. The Goldbug Variations); William Vollman; Ann Patchett; George Saunders ("CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" is a short-story collection not to be missed); T.C. Boyle; Ethan Canin's short fiction. Magnus Mills' "The Restraint Of Beasts" is one of the flat-out funniest novels I've read. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories are also essential. William Gaddis' A Frolic Of His Own is brilliant and very funny - a bit hard to get a handle on the style, but a fairly easy read once you catch the rythm. Eric Ambler's novels are some of the best spy/espionage reads you'll find.
I second JBZ's recommendations of Peter Robinson (and if you like his Banks novels, also read Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels) and Dennis Lehane.
post #39 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday
Do you have an annotated edition? I certainly wouldn't have made it through without one. The footnotes were half the fun. It's like discovering buried treasure on every page. "Moby-Dick" may be the craziest book ever written, and it takes some explanation to really appreciate that.

I don't know for sure as I'm at work right now, but there are plenty of mind-blowing footnotes in the edition I have. I can't think of a particular one off the top of my head, but there were several where I had to put my book down and go tell my wife "Guess what! This term 'blah blah blah' was used back when Moby Dick was written! So I agree, that is a very enjoyable part of the book! I believe one footnote changed the definition of ivory that I had in my head - I never knew narwhal whales had ivory in them.

I'll share some of the footnotes I particularly liked later tonight...
post #40 of 61
I'll stick with the same novel I recommend every time one of these threads comes up....

Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry. The most powerful, life changing book I've ever read. Along the same stream of consciousness lines as Faulkner, Joyce, etc but with an unexplainable, mystical quality they lack; which changes your psyche slowly as you read it. Probably from the deep kabbalistic and Jungian influences and symbolism.
post #41 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by esquire.
I always thought that Barbarians at the Gate and Liar's Poker worked better as entertaining books to read than as something to really teach you or give you insight into finance. At most, it seemed that finance knowledge was limited to ten pages.

Yes, I wasn't quite clear on this -- the first few books were real suggestions, and the latter two were "finance related," which I meant to say, related to finance, but not really teaching you about finances. that is, I did intend for them to be pure entertainment as it related to finance, and not to teach you about it.

But they are entertaining reads, so still recommended.
post #42 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday
Jong, I'm glad you decided to contribute. It's always good to see a diversity of opinion, even when that opinion differs with mine. But I have to say, we're on opposite ends of this one. To me, it seems a bit ironic that you're suggesting the classics don't date well while recommending Eggers, et al, a movement that, to me, already seems very dated. McSweeney's, too, strikes me as of a moment that has passed. I liked it four years ago. Maybe I'm just fickle.

As for readability, there's not a classic on my list that I didn't relate to directly or consider a fun, enjoyable read. The only one I found to be hard work was "Moby-Dick," which takes effort but offers huge rewards. Perhaps what "Moby-Dick" accomplishes has been done better by a modern author, but I find that difficult to believe. And I don't believe anyone here has suggested that the classics should be read just because they're "classics." I know I -- and I assume everyone else -- listed books they found entertaining/engaging/illuminating/personally compelling. That alone seems like a strong testiment to their continuing relevance.

I'd be curious to hear more specifics from you, Jong. I don't mean to go on the attack here, just genuinely interested in engaging the topic.

My name is Jonathan Glover.

Hmm...as for McSweeney's, I tend to ignore the movement it's associated with. The writing is amazing, and in my mind that's timeless in itself. It's not as if it's thematically consistent, unless you count the Icelandic issue (has little to do with the prose) and the comics issue. I never really understood the McSweeney's hate, just assumed it was cynical backlash, as what the quarterly is supposed to represent to various sects and the dearth of great and varied writing that comes out of the mag seems to me like it has to be totally unrelated. Unless McSweeney's represents some all-encompassing modernist abyss. If the best writers on the planet are constantly found canoodling with McSweeney's (Chabon, Vonnegut, Murakami, Boyle, Updike, mainstream intelli-comic extraordinaire Neil Gaiman) , I don't see how that could be a bad thing.

I detest Moby Dick. In my mind it's a really abrasive read and definitive proof Melville wasn't as talented as a lot of mothball literati make him out to be. Yes, I said it (I've seen all the Hermie love in this thread). I don't think a lot of books have touched upon the man vs. nature motif as profoundly, and it's a pretty complex work, but I just don't think it's a good read, and ultimately, though it may sound vapid, that's what is most important. Hope that doesn't offend you, just my opinion.

And I was just shocked at the lack of contemporary fiction in most suggestions (hell, I didn't see much that wasn't more than 40 years old); it seemed like a lot of posturing rabble-rabble (as someone who reads a novel every two days, I can't imagine reading a lot of the aforementioned books for enjoyment; after all the brilliant modern fiction I've read, a lot of it is just so stale). If you're trying to get someone to read, the classics may seem like stepping stones to more advanced lit, but ultimately I think they can immediately turn someone off. I saw the list and my mind went, re: Covert Curriculum of Mediocrity via Public Education. Plus, I think most of it is counter-evolutionary to a lot of stuff that came out of the Orient (mainly China and Japan) in the 1800s and 1900s. Mao Dun has ultimately done more for realist lit than any American author. The stuff reads better, also, with solid translations.

Like I said, not trying to invalidate anyone's opinion, it just seemed like a choral response of the usual suspects. I think a lot of these serve as better study material for a burgeoning author or student of literature, not enjoyable reading for someone looking for an acorn.
post #43 of 61
My name is Jonathan Glover.
---------------------------------------------

Thats a relief. I thought you might be a Fear of Flying fan or something.
post #44 of 61
I'm fond of any text by Thomas Mann. Also Junichiro Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters. What is compelling are the tragic elements of life, wrapped up in aestheticism. On that note, I'd suggest Either/Or by Søren Kierkegaard.
post #45 of 61
One of my all time favourite books is Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind. It's strange but brilliant. I recomend it to anyone and everyone.
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