What are you currently reading? (part 2)

A place for everyone to have discussions about literature, classical and contemporary.

Moderator: Forum Administrators

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 25520
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-04-23, 8:10

Just finished reading Verukal. It's only 132 pages long (or perhaps technically less), and I read it every day, yet it took me over a month to finish reading it. Hmm.

I've read the first three chapters of 《赵氏孤儿》, adapted by Wang Jianping (王建平) and Ren Yutang (任玉堂) with a side-by-side translation into English by Paul White (保尔•怀特 :P). I also finally read Lu Xun's famous short story "狂人日记" on zhongwen.com in tandem with a translation into English from the Selected Works of Lu Xun by Yang Xianyi and his British but Beijing-born wife, Gladys. Apparently, the title of that story is usually translated as "A Madman's Diary" to avoid confusion with "Diary of a Madman" (which inspired it), but on zhongwen.com, it's called "Diary of a Madman" in English anyway. :P

Another book I've started reading is all in Chinese, but it's a bunch of simple cartoons from Singapore (the simplest cartoons I've ever seen in Chinese so far, in fact) retelling Buddhist stories that an Indian monk named Sanghasena introduced to China during the Southern Qi dynasty between 479 and 492 CE. It's called 百喻经的智慧: 佛教寓言故事.

EDIT: Verukal was a nice read, though I'm not quite sure what to make of the ending, and honestly, 《赵氏孤儿》 is far more exciting. I mean, some guy visiting his family home vs. sex! Violence! Political intrigue! :P "狂人日记" was, surprisingly, not that hard to read; I read it within a few days...interesting story. 百喻经 is fun and pretty lighthearted; basically, every story starts with "once upon a time, there was an idiot who..." (and then they tell you what dumb-ass thing the idiot did so you'll learn not to do such things). Unfortunately, I've read very little of it so far.

I'm thinking of reading another novel in Malayalam called അനുഭവങ്ങൾ [əˈnubʱəʋəŋəɭ] 'Experiences', Nandanar's autobiography and the last novel he wrote before committing suicide. The title of the novel reminds everyone in my family of this song, which is perhaps appropriate given its strident notes and the general despair expressed in the lyrics. EDIT2: In a way, this would be coming full circle for me because Nandanar also wrote the first novel I ever read in Malayalam. It was a much more lighthearted novel about an ordinary (though fictional) Malayalee kid's life.

User avatar
Yasna
Posts: 2567
Joined: 2011-09-12, 1:17
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby Yasna » 2021-04-26, 23:11

linguoboy wrote:I was making good progress on a volume of Bolaño's collected stories until I hit one with a heterosexual love triangle. If I never again read another work of fiction with that setup it'll be too soon.

Do you find them inherently less interesting than homosexual love triangles, or have you just read too many of them?

vijayjohn wrote:Ren Yutang (任玉堂)

I wonder if he plays Nintendo (任天堂).
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24843
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2021-04-27, 15:27

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I was making good progress on a volume of Bolaño's collected stories until I hit one with a heterosexual love triangle. If I never again read another work of fiction with that setup it'll be too soon.

Do you find them inherently less interesting than homosexual love triangles, or have you just read too many of them?

1. These aren't the only two options, you know.
2. If I ever read a work of fiction with a homosexual love triangle, I'll tell you.

But yeah, it's right up there with middle-aged adultery in terms of overuse.
"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

User avatar
Osias
Posts: 9262
Joined: 2007-09-09, 17:38
Real Name: Osias Junior
Gender: male
Location: Vitória
Country: BR Brazil (Brasil)
Contact:

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

Postby Osias » 2021-05-02, 1:36

Me Before You. It sucks. I'm trying to finish it to figure out why Claudia liked it so much.
2017 est l'année du (fr) et de l'(de) pour moi. Parle avec moi en eux, s'il te plait.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 25520
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-05-08, 20:04

I finished both Anubhavangal and 《赵氏孤儿》! The Chinese novel ended more or less as I expected. It's supposed to be a tragedy, it seems, but it isn't really. It just involves lots of murder and suicide, but the hero slays the villain and continues the family line in the end. I'd say that's a pretty normal ending for an old story.

The ending of the Malayalam autobiography is not surprising, either, but I'm once again unsure of how to feel about it. The author seems happy and perhaps even optimistic by the end, and he does end up surviving, but he could have died as a result of the decision he made at that point in his life and eventually committed suicide. I was relieved as I read this book because he didn't make his life sound nearly as bad as I was afraid he would, but in a way, isn't that an even greater tragedy? He suffered so much he basically claims to have been suicidal from birth and he occasionally says he hasn't even seen the water for boiling rice in days on end, yet he complains remarkably little about it.

I guess I'll keep reading 百喻经 and also start ഖസാക്കിന്റെ ഇതിഹാസം [kʰəˈsaːkinde jid̪iˈhaːsəm] (Legends of Khasak) by O. V. Vijayan (yes, Vijayan :P).

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24843
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2021-05-08, 23:12

Finished the Adiga. At points, it had the uncomfortable feel of misery tourism for white Westerners. But maybe that was the reaction he was going for?

I ended up talking about the book with my Malayali neighbour from across the street and that encouraged me to continue with both Madhavan Kutty's The village before time (a translation from the Malayalam) and Shyam Selvadurai's Funny boy. The latter isn't what I expected, which was essentially a Sri Lankan coming out story. Instead it's a more general coming of age story about being an adolescent in Colombo in the early 80s. The narrator is well-off, urbanised, and English-speaking, so it contrasts starkly with Madhavan Kutty's fictionalised biography about growing up in a small remote town without electricity or paved roads around the time of Indian Independence.
"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

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 25520
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-06-05, 23:24

I'm being really slow about reading ഖസാക്കിന്റെ ഇതിഹാസം and 百喻经 because I'm starting to worry that I'll run out of books to read before I know it! I've read the first three chapters of ഖസാക്കിന്റെ ഇതിഹാസം. I also happened to read through Teach Yourself Bulgarian because I've had it forever and my dad always used to joke about how it still looked as if it was brand-new because I never even touched it. Not anymore!

My current go-to for bathroom reading appears to be Teach Yourself Ancient Greek.

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24843
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2021-09-08, 19:59

I just finished Blu's hanging, a semiautobiographical work by Hawai'ian-born Japanese-American author Lois-Ann Yamanaka and moved on to Cultural revolution, a semiautobiographical work by Hawai'ian-born Chinese-American author.

The books are vastly different. Yamanaka grew up in poverty on Moloka'i and the novel reflects that. The narrator's family is struggling; all three children (including the youngest, barely in kindergarten) are forced to do paid work afternoons and weekends in order to keep themselves from going hungry. Their milieu is seedy, violent, and exploitative. (StoryGraph, the app I use to track my reads, has a feature where you can add content warnings for books you've read; it's no exaggeration to say I used nearly every one of them for this book.) The protagonists speak Hawai'ian Pidgin English, a constant source of tension between them and their mostly-mainland teachers, and Yamanaka (a poet) allows them to wax lyrical in it at times. Apparently she's written a couple other books with the same setting but it may take me a while to bring myself to read them.

Wong's book is more loosely structured. Rather than being a novel, it's a suite of interconnected short-stories episodically tracing the story of one Chinese family from China to Hawai'i. Although the American-born generation is hardly well-off, they live in Honolulu with a level of safety and comfort that Yamanaka's characters can only dream about. The focal character, Michael, is gay though, something I imagine will become increasingly important to the narratives. (I'm only about halfway finished at this point.) So far the prose is solid but not especially inventive or beautiful.
"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

User avatar
Yasna
Posts: 2567
Joined: 2011-09-12, 1:17
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby Yasna » 2021-09-09, 2:24

linguoboy wrote:(StoryGraph, the app I use to track my reads, has a feature where you can add content warnings for books you've read; it's no exaggeration to say I used nearly every one of them for this book.)

Does StoryGraph have any significant advantages over Goodreads?
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24843
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2021-09-09, 14:47

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:(StoryGraph, the app I use to track my reads, has a feature where you can add content warnings for books you've read; it's no exaggeration to say I used nearly every one of them for this book.)

Does StoryGraph have any significant advantages over Goodreads?

I think the "content warnings" feature is one of them. Other folks have praised the Story Graph itself (and other visualisation tools), but I haven't really used them.

From my point of view the biggest advantage is that it's a small independent company and not one cent of my money or one scrap of the information I share there goes to Amazon. (You may have noticed that the reviews I posted to Goodreads were extremely terse. That's because, as part of their user agreement, Amazon claims ownership of anything you post there--not a right to distribute or use for limited purposes, but intellectual ownership. I'm not doing unpaid work for a company valued at nearly two trillion dollars.)
"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

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 25520
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-09-09, 15:31

I finally finished reading both ഖസാക്കിന്റെ ഇതിഹാസം and 百喻经 on August 30, I believe. In a way, both felt more like collections of stories rather than one coherent story. In the case of 百喻经, that's because it is a collection of stories. In the case of ഖസാക്കിന്റെ ഇതിഹാസം, I think it's just hard to follow the plot at least until the end.

I am now reading മലയാള വ്യാകരണം [məleˈjaːɭa ˈʋjaːgəɾəɳəm] 'Malayalam Grammar' by Prof. Gopikkuttan (പ്രൊഫ. ഗോപിക്കുട്ടൻ). I think Gopikkuttan may be his only name. I have never managed to read any kind of remotely linguistic literature in Malayalam cover to cover. I'm hoping I can change that with this grammar. It seems a lot more straightforward than any other grammar I've seen in Malayalam so far.

I also intend to go back to Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/聊斋故事 soon since I never finished reading it and have been reviewing Practical Chinese Reader III. For my birthday, I got Practical Chinese Reader VI, the last book in the series, as well as this book on Cusco Quechua, which, of course, I immediately started going through. I'm hoping to get further in the (old) Practical Chinese Reader series than I've gotten before. With any luck, maybe I'll finally finish reading some other books, too, especially Basic Chinese, Teach Yourself Business French, and Teach Yourself Ancient Greek.
► Show Spoiler

I think I'm at a point where I've kind of stopped caring about what I'm actually reading and just taking comfort in the fact that I'm reading in these languages at all.

User avatar
Yasna
Posts: 2567
Joined: 2011-09-12, 1:17
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby Yasna » 2021-09-10, 17:37

linguoboy wrote:From my point of view the biggest advantage is that it's a small independent company and not one cent of my money or one scrap of the information I share there goes to Amazon. (You may have noticed that the reviews I posted to Goodreads were extremely terse. That's because, as part of their user agreement, Amazon claims ownership of anything you post there--not a right to distribute or use for limited purposes, but intellectual ownership. I'm not doing unpaid work for a company valued at nearly two trillion dollars.)

Yeah, that's a plus.

Aside from the network effect, I also feel attached to Goodreads because of all the time I've spent adding (non-English) books to their catalog.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24843
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2021-09-10, 19:15

Yasna wrote:Aside from the network effect, I also feel attached to Goodreads because of all the time I've spent adding (non-English) books to their catalog.

I'll have to check to be sure, but I believe that most if not all of the non-English books I added to the Goodreads database came over when I imported my data into StoryGraph.
"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

User avatar
azhong
Posts: 992
Joined: 2008-11-18, 9:06
Gender: male
Location: ZhangHua
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)

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

Postby azhong » 2021-09-11, 1:31

Could anyone please share your comments with me that which elements of Anne of Green Gables have shown it a good novel to you if you have read it and think it good? Thank you in advance.

User avatar
Antea
Posts: 3731
Joined: 2015-08-23, 10:53
Real Name: c
Gender: female

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

Postby Antea » 2021-09-13, 5:12

I am currently reading in German "Die letzte Rast" from Kate Seifeld (I think the original is in English), and in French "Contes de ma mère l'URSS" de Véronique Lagny Delatour et Svetlana Polovinkina-Marques.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 25520
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-09-13, 21:42

I finished reviewing Practical Chinese Reader III and reread the first two stories in Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/聊斋故事. I'm also still reading മലയാള വ്യാകരണം. My uncle also bought me this just last weekend!

EDIT: I'm toying with the idea of finishing Basic Chinese and Teach Yourself Business French just so I don't have to wait to finish reading them, though.
EDIT2: Oh, and I also started reviewing Practical Chinese Reader IV. :P
azhong wrote:Could anyone please share your comments with me that which elements of Anne of Green Gables have shown it a good novel to you if you have read it and think it good? Thank you in advance.

I'm not sure anyone on this forum has ever read it. I think you're the only one who's even mentioned it. (Someone else has also mentioned Anne of Green Gables, but I'm not sure they meant the novel since there are also many adaptations).

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24843
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2021-09-14, 17:30

Antea wrote:I am currently reading in German "Die letzte Rast" from Kate Seifeld (I think the original is in English), and in French "Contes de ma mère l'URSS" de Véronique Lagny Delatour et Svetlana Polovinkina-Marques.

Do you mean Kate Sedley? Yes, her Roger the Chapman series was originally written in English.

After several false starts over the years, I'm finally about a quarter of the way into Mishima's 『金閣寺』 (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Ivan Morris' translation) so I think I'll finally finish it this 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


Return to “Literature”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest