What are you currently reading? (part 2)

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-07, 3:22

I read a bit of FSI Saudi Arabic Basic Course (Urban Hijazi Dialect) by Margaret K. Omar, or at least sort of leafed through it. :P I also tried to get some new words out of an issue of a Pakistani literary magazine called Jasoosi Digest and started reading For Hearing People Only by Matthew S. Moore and Linda Levitan. I tried to start reading The Art of Sign Language Phrases by Christopher Brown only to suddenly realize with a bit of disappointment that it doesn't teach ASL but rather SEE!

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby rmanoj » 2018-02-07, 7:02

I am reading a Malayalam novel called നിലം പൂത്തു മലർന്ന നാൾ 'The Time When the Land Blossomed'. It's a work of historical fiction set in the Sangam age. The author tries to stick to native Dravidian words and 'tadbhava' words (i.e. Sanskrit or Prakrit loanwords that have been modified to fit Malayalam phonology, as opposed to 'tatsama' words that you are supposed to pronounce as in Sanskrit). But he slips up here and there. I noticed the word രീതി the other day. That's definitely a tatsama word that doesn't conform to Dravidian rules (it starts with ര [ɾ], which is not permitted).

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-12, 5:03

I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get back to TY Business French, Basic Chinese, and Practical Chinese Reader IV (and possibly Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/聊斋故事) now that I'm working again, but I did manage to read two more chapters of TY Business French at least. That means the next chapter I'll be starting will be Chapter 15.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Linguaphile » 2018-02-14, 3:58

La lengua de los dioses: Nueves razones para amar el griego por Andrea Marcolongo
Un libro autobiográfico que se trata del aprendizaje y de la enseñanza del griego antiguo, escrito en italiano y traducido al español - ¿qué más se puede pedir?
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A memoir about learning and teaching Ancient Greek, written in Italian and translated to Spanish - what's not to like? :D

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-02-14, 10:31

Interesting how "the genius language" became "the gods' language".

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Linguaphile » 2018-02-14, 13:54

IpseDixit wrote:Interesting how "the genius language" became "the gods' language".

Yep, because of the Greek pantheon of course (probably among the most familiar things about ancient Greece for most people). It's interesting to see how book and movie titles get changed in translation.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-19, 19:06

I can't believe it's taken me over two months to finish the Böll. Yeah, it's 400 pages and the print is pretty small, but--as I was telling my pals yesterday--the language isn't really all that hard. I'm only looking up a couple words per page, and generally more out of curiosity than out of need. I also did need to take a couple breaks when the subject matter got a little heavy, but, again, it's totally light reading compared to a lot of what I've gotten through. And I'm still really enjoying it. In any case, I've got less than 40 pages left so I should finish up in the next couple days.

In the meantime and as a palate-cleanser, I picked up a book by a Japanese author advertised as a "thriller" but it was so boring I don't even remember what it was called and dropped it after 40 pages. Now I'm well into Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a Korean-American author. It seems everyone is reading this book right now. A coworker recommended it and then less than a week later a former coworker who doesn't know the other was like, "Hey, I want to start a book discussion group to talk about Pachinko." The prose is nothing special and most of the local colour is familiar to me from other novels set in Korea. I'm hoping things pick up when the setting moves to Japan.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-24, 7:11

I'm kind of stuck on Lesson 21 of Practical Chinese Reader IV. I haven't been very good about reading stuff lately.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-25, 18:31

So the first third of Pachinko was so-so but--as I suspected--things picked up after the move to Japan and, in particular, the start of the war. The writing is still lackluster--little or nothing in terms of subtext and everyone's motivations are laid out so plainly that even an adolescent would have no trouble grasping them. The contrast to Nakagami Kenji's portrayals of a despised minority in Japan (the burakumin) could hardly be more stark. What makes the book interesting is basically the setting; if the characters were White Americans from the same time period, I wouldn't bother reading this. But I'm more than halfway through already (and pachinko has finally entred the story) and I'll finish it.

It has gotten me interested enough in Korean again to pick up a new title, 시카고에서 살아남기 ("Surviving in Chicago") by 유정순. Yu's writing is even more artless, but that's a plus in this case since my reading level in Korean is so very dismal. At first I thought this might be a guide for new immigrants, but instead it seems to be an autobiography of someone who came here at a young age. Either way, I thought it would be interesting to see familiar settings through a different lens.

Oh yeah; I finished Gruppenbild. It took an unexpected twist near the end with the insertion of the narrator into the story and then finished with a very odd coda, but I can see why it's billed as Böll's most beloved work. In the meantime, I stumbled across a German novel I started and then misplaced over a year ago, Der Tod des Vergils, so I look forward to taking that up again.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-02-27, 17:43

I recently read Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum, which was Fire and Fury for serious people. You'd have to have your head stuck ten meters up Breitbart's ass to not be troubled by the Trump presidency after reading this book (written by a conservative no less). I also finally finished 엄마를 부탁해, a well-done tear-jerker.

I'm currently reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-27, 20:08

Yasna wrote:I'm currently reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

First time?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-02-28, 4:01

linguoboy wrote:First time?

I think it was assigned reading in school, but I cut a lot of corners for school reading...
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-03-05, 18:03

Finished Pachinko. It never rose above mediocrity, but it did manage to wring some genuine emotional reactions out of me. (I mean, that's not too hard with someone who's recently widowed, but it still counts for something.) It made me want to read something about Japan from a native author, so I scanned my shelves and pulled out Iwasaki Mineko's Geisha of Gion (UK) / Geisha: a life (US), which I picked up shortly after reading Golden's overpraised ripoff and only read a few pages of.

Oh, and speaking of Japanese female authors, that book I mentioned earlier is called 『リアルワールド』 and it's by 桐野夏生 (Real world by Natsuo Kirino in the English translation by Philip Gabriel). I read another chapter and it's still not grabbing me. It's hard for someone in their 50s to write teenagers convincingly and Kirino is no exception.

زوال کلنل by محمود دولت‌آبادی (Mahmoud Dowlatabadi; translated into English as The colonel by Tom Patterdale), by contrast, is really engrossing. I bounced off it last year but didn't take it off my night table and decided to give it another try last night. Once I found out why the soldiers were knocking on the protagonist's door in the middle of the night, I was hooked.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-03-09, 18:18

I finished reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was hard to get into because of the thick Mississippi valley dialects, but once I got to the part involving "the feud" it was a great pleasure to read the rest.

I'm currently reading the first volume of 騎士団長殺し (Killing Commendatore) by Haruki Murakami.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Naava » 2018-03-10, 15:10

I've just finished My Cat Yugoslavia (and only after I saw the translation of the name, I realised it's not "my cat's Yugoslavia"... :roll: They're homonyms in Finnish.)

I don't know if I liked it. It was interesting and quick to read, but confusing at times. It took me some time to figure out how many narrators there were and who they were because everything was written in first person and it wasn't explicitly told when the narrator changed.

Next: Madame Bovary. I need to read several books for an exam, and this was one of the options.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-03-11, 18:11

I haven't been reading enough lately, maybe the past few years. And there are several books lying around in my room that I started but never finished, so I'm finally working my way through those. Here's the list:

  • Un Lun Dun, China Miéville
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell
  • Home, Toni Morrison
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Jack Thorne
  • The Book of Dust, Philip Pullman

I've finished the first two, and I'm currently reading The Bone Clocks. I hadn't actually started A Wrinkle in Time before, but I wanted to read it in preparation for the movie that just came out. I also haven't started The Book of Dust. Can't wait to get to it, and apparently there's a miniseries adaptation in the works? So exciting. :)
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-03-11, 20:24

One time in 7th grade, we had to pick a book to read in groups from a small selection of books, and A Wrinkle in Time was one of them. I didn't read it, and those who did didn't recommend it, either.

I guess you could say I've been reading a bit of Everyday Indonesian by Thomas Oey lately, trying to find new words to learn.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-03-11, 22:43

vijayjohn wrote:One time in 7th grade, we had to pick a book to read in groups from a small selection of books, and A Wrinkle in Time was one of them. I didn't read it, and those who did didn't recommend it, either.

I rather liked it on the whole, though admittedly, it takes a lot for me to dislike any book. The book forwards an idea that the luminaries of the world - scientists, artists, religious figures - are all warriors of the Light, and the Light just happens to be Christian. Yeah, I don't really agree with that, but the book also encourages diversity and embracing our flaws. That at least is a useful message for middleschoolers.

On a stylistic level, the story was compact in some ways and muddled in others. For example, midway through, it has a pun on finding the "happy medium" (a literal joyful psychic), which makes you think the book will be in the vein of Lewis Carroll, but not much else really backs up that impression, so the episode feels out of place. On the other hand, the book lasts not a moment longer than necessary once the story is finished. No drawn-out sagas, just a mission to save one person, and a quick double-back for a fallen comrade.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-03-20, 20:41

Still reading the Dowlatabadi. Seems like whenever I say to myself, "Oh, this will be a quick read," it ends up being a kind of curse.

On account of St Patrick's Day and all that, I started Reading in the dark, by Seamus Deane. I didn't realise when I started it that he was a poet, but it definitely comes through in some of the descriptions. Two things I really like about it is that it's laugh-out-loud funny at times (there was a scene in an algebra class which was an absolute tour-de-force and which I would love to see acted out) and that he weaves in the kind of stories people tell in a very believable fashion, both more traditional ghosts stories and the kind of tales children make up.

This also got me to hunt down my copy of Dialann deoraí, which I abandoned less than forty pages from the end. I'm hoping to make a push and kill it off, though it's challenging since I've forgotten some very basic vocabulary.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-03-30, 15:25

Finished the Dowlatabadi and the Deane. The former kept getting harder as I went on. He's basically trying to sum up the last century of Iranian politics with the fates of a single family and I felt like I really lacked the background to get much out of that. The book has copious footnotes which, while helpful, totally break the flow of the narrative when you keep constantly referring to them. It was a different story with the Deane since I've done much more reading on Northern Ireland in the 20th century and particular politicians and political events aren't integrated into the narrative in the same way.

Last night I started reading Marlon James' A brief history of seven killings. It's another massive novel (700+ pages) about someplace I know little about (Jamaica), so we'll see if I stick with it. The first couple chapters were extremely well-written but also harrowing as anything. For the nonce, I've left it at home and stuck New American stories in my bag instead. This has been my nighttime reading for a couple weeks. Published in 2015, it's a fat anthology of short stories by authors which--barring a couple of exceptions--I've never heard of. As you'd expect, it's uneven in both tone and quality but so far I'm mostly loving what I read.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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