What are you currently reading? (part 2)

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

Moderator: Forum Administrators

User avatar
Yasna
Posts: 2448
Joined: 2011-09-12, 1:17
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby Yasna » 2020-11-19, 17:09

linguoboy wrote:The only other book I've read since then that I can really recommend is Han Kang's Human acts.)

How did it compare to her other novels?
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 24551
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 » 2020-11-19, 20:57

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:The only other book I've read since then that I can really recommend is Han Kang's Human acts.)

How did it compare to her other novels?

I've only read The vegetarian and that in Smith's translation as well. I found it equally unsettling and harder to take in some ways because it focused as much on the grief of the survivors as the sufferings of those tortured and executed.
"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

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-02, 11:49

I finally committed myself to reading more over the last few months (lockdown has had some benefits), I've read the following in over the last 3 months:

Losing the Race - by John McWhorter
Winning the Race - by John McWhorter
Nação - by Terry Pratchett (original title "Nation")
A Little History of the World - by Ernst Gombrich
Remembrance of Lost Empire: Inter-Cultural Belonging and Created Identity on Sakhalin Island - by Noah Oskow
Corações Sujos - by Fernando Morais
The Japanese: Strange but not Strangers - by Joe Joseph
Language Death - by David Crystal
An Introduction to Historical Linguistics - by Terry Crowley & Claire Bowern
The Creole Debate - by John McWhorter
The Death of Expertise - by Tom Nichols
The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life - by Charles Murray & Richard J. Herrnstein
The Mismeasure of Man - by Stephen Jay Gould
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything - by Joshua Foer

I'm currently reading:

Thinking Fast and Slow - by Daniel Kahneman

I have a few more non-fiction books on my hit list for the immediate future, but I'm feeling the need to redress the balance after that. Also not nearly enough books in Portuguese on there for my liking.
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 25188
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 » 2021-01-02, 14:54

I brought five books with me that I barely even touched after arriving in Taiwan, and now apparently, azhong is going to give me another one I'm interested in. :D One of these books is in Malayalam, and the rest are in Chinese. I've always found it so hard to read in Malayalam I feel I have to be careful about how I go about doing it the next time I try.

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-02, 15:03

vijayjohn wrote:I brought five books with me that I barely even touched after arriving in Taiwan, and now apparently, azhong is going to give me another one I'm interested in. :D One of these books is in Malayalam, and the rest are in Chinese. I've always found it so hard to read in Malayalam I feel I have to be careful about how I go about doing it the next time I try.


Wow, reading in Chinese is easier for you than in Malayalam? Is that because of the register difference between literary and colloquial Malayalam?
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 25188
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 » 2021-01-02, 16:15

Rí.na.dteangacha wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:I brought five books with me that I barely even touched after arriving in Taiwan, and now apparently, azhong is going to give me another one I'm interested in. :D One of these books is in Malayalam, and the rest are in Chinese. I've always found it so hard to read in Malayalam I feel I have to be careful about how I go about doing it the next time I try.


Wow, reading in Chinese is easier for you than in Malayalam?

Well, hard to say, actually, because I've never actually read a full book (not even a comic book) in Chinese yet whereas I have read a few in Malayalam by now! But reading in some other languages (namely French, Spanish, and German, and perhaps even Latin) is definitely easier for me than reading in Malayalam.
Is that because of the register difference between literary and colloquial Malayalam?

Partly, but what tends to bog me down even more is dialect differences. The dialogue in most Malayalam novels I've read so far is in varieties I'm not familiar with, so I basically have to figure out the sound correspondences to try to make sense of it.

User avatar
france-eesti
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 4220
Joined: 2016-01-02, 19:41
Gender: female
Location: France
Country: FR France (France)

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

Postby france-eesti » 2021-01-07, 15:15

Hi! I was proud to read a book in Italian
(Fabio Volo's) but my Italian friend told me he was popular/commercial in Italy :lol: :lol: :lol:
(fr) Native - (en) Fluentish - (pt) Fluentish when I was younger - (hu) Can sustain a conversation with a patient and kind magyar or order some beer and lecsó in Budapest - (it) On Duolingo ma posso ordinare uno Spritz ed antipasti in un ristorante :blush:

User avatar
TheStrayCat
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 2639
Joined: 2010-12-23, 11:49
Real Name: Max
Gender: male
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby TheStrayCat » 2021-01-07, 16:45

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:I'm currently reading:

Thinking Fast and Slow - by Daniel Kahneman

I read it a year and a half ago by the recommendation of the company where I was interning and found it quite insightful. I might want to re-read it again someday. What do you think of it so far?

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-07, 17:17

TheStrayCat wrote:I read it a year and a half ago by the recommendation of the company where I was interning and found it quite insightful. I might want to re-read it again someday. What do you think of it so far?


I'm already planning to re-read it (before I've even finished it!) as it's quite dense, but I suppose that's the mark of a good book in many ways.
It's insightful and a little scary to realise how faulty our default assumptions and impressions are. I was surprised, for example, by how little predictive value interviews seem to have in determining competence. It seems like the impression we get by observing someone's behavior in a test or their answers to questions in an interview are pretty worthless, which still feels very counter-intuitive to me.

The other thing I thought was cool was the endowment effect - how things have more value if you already have them. As in, you will be less willing to part with something you own, than to pay to get that same thing if you didn't have it. The seller of something often overvalues it where as the buy undervalues it.

One thing that I actually don't think he was right about though is the conjunction fallacy - he says that in an experiment where a fictitious woman called Linda who is described as essentially a feminist (they don't call her that, but they describe her in a way that would make anyone think she was), when people are asked which is more likely - that Linda is a lawyer, a bank teller, or a feminist bank teller - they rate "feminist bank teller" as more likely than "bank teller", which is a statistical impossibility as all feminist bank tellers are bank tellers, so it has to be more likely that she's a bank teller.
I think it's a badly constructed test, because what I, at least, would understand from the question is that it is implied that "bank teller" means "non-feminist bank teller" given that "feminist bank teller" is already an option, therefore I would be evaluating the likelihood that the woman is NOT a feminist, which would be very unlikely, and basing it on that. Of course I (and most people) understand that a feminist bank teller is a bank teller!

But that was only one small thing, I think the book on the whole is very good (so far at least). What did you think of it?
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12

User avatar
TheStrayCat
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 2639
Joined: 2010-12-23, 11:49
Real Name: Max
Gender: male
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby TheStrayCat » 2021-01-09, 15:19

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:But that was only one small thing, I think the book on the whole is very good (so far at least). What did you think of it?

I enjoyed reading it. The part I remember the best was all the examples of people making different decisions in what are essentially the same situations depending on how the question was framed. I had read about some similar examples before reading the book, but there were so much more. That made me realize that real-life economics could be more complex than pure theoretical models.

Another thing was his argument that it makes sense to accept all reasonable bets with a positive average payoff, like a $100 ticket with a 50% chance of winning $60, because with time they will almost certainly lead to a positive net. I knew it was statistically true but I had never thought of it in this context, and before reading the book I probably would have rejected such a bet.

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-09, 21:10

TheStrayCat wrote:I enjoyed reading it. The part I remember the best was all the examples of people making different decisions in what are essentially the same situations depending on how the question was framed. I had read about some similar examples before reading the book, but there were so much more. That made me realize that real-life economics could be more complex than pure theoretical models.


Yeah, he makes a distinction between "Econs" and Humans where Econs are purely rational actors and, thus, purely theoretical. I just finished reading about how investors tend to keep stocks that have fallen in value (in the hopes they'll rise again later) and sell ones that have appreciated so that they can feel like they can claim to have "won" on the investments that appreciated and to avoid admiting a loss on the ones they refuse to sell, when in reality many of the ones they sell may go on to do even better and selling the ones they've made losses on may reduce the amount they lose if it turns out they need to take a bigger loss at a later stage because the stocks went even further down. Loss aversion actually accounts for both this and the endowment effect as in both cases you punish yourself disproportionately more for a loss than you reward yourself for a gain.

TheStrayCat wrote:Another thing was his argument that it makes sense to accept all reasonable bets with a positive average payoff, like a $100 ticket with a 50% chance of winning $60, because with time they will almost certainly lead to a positive net. I knew it was statistically true but I had never thought of it in this context, and before reading the book I probably would have rejected such a bet.


That part still only seems to be reasonable if we are talking about small-ish gambles to me. I mean, if you lose a big gamble, it could not only ruin a large portion of your life, but also prevent you from being in a position to make future gambles at all. Yes, if you have a large amount of funds and are living comfortably anyway, then you shouldn't allow an overcharged negative emotional connection to a "loss" to make you shy away from a bet that is a logically good one, as you can afford to see the policy of accepting these types of bets as a long-term strategy to increase your wealth, but if one of these gambles ruins you finacially, there won't be any more big gambles in the future to balance it out, and even if it doesn't ruin you, if it negatively affects your lifestyle then that's a "price" you're paying for the policy being implemented, so you have to ask yourself if the future theoretically greater wealth is worth potential current greater poverty. We can't all affort to consider our wealth as some detached statistical token than is just for investing. I suppose it's all down to the scale of these bets relative to your wealth, but the more I read this guy the more I'm convinced he's fabulously wealthy (by comparison to me, anyway) and doesn't have the financial constraints most "normal" people do.
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12

User avatar
TheStrayCat
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 2639
Joined: 2010-12-23, 11:49
Real Name: Max
Gender: male
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Country: US United States (United States)
Contact:

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

Postby TheStrayCat » 2021-01-09, 23:39

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:That part still only seems to be reasonable if we are talking about small-ish gambles to me. I mean, if you lose a big gamble, it could not only ruin a large portion of your life, but also prevent you from being in a position to make future gambles at all. Yes, if you have a large amount of funds and are living comfortably anyway, then you shouldn't allow an overcharged negative emotional connection to a "loss" to make you shy away from a bet that is a logically good one, as you can afford to see the policy of accepting these types of bets as a long-term strategy to increase your wealth, but if one of these gambles ruins you finacially, there won't be any more big gambles in the future to balance it out, and even if it doesn't ruin you, if it negatively affects your lifestyle then that's a "price" you're paying for the policy being implemented, so you have to ask yourself if the future theoretically greater wealth is worth potential current greater poverty. We can't all affort to consider our wealth as some detached statistical token than is just for investing.


Sure, this is essentially what I summed up by the word "reasonable" in my post. Of course this argument only makes sense when the size of one individual bet is much less than your total wealth and the bets are independent of each other. In this case, by the time you make enough bets that the lose-everything scenario would affect your life, your actual chances of losing anything are very low thanks to the central limit theorem (which basically says a lot of bets would balance out one another).

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:the more I read this guy the more I'm convinced he's fabulously wealthy (by comparison to me, anyway) and doesn't have the financial constraints most "normal" people do.

And the more we read him, the wealthier he gets :)

User avatar
Yasna
Posts: 2448
Joined: 2011-09-12, 1:17
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby Yasna » 2021-01-28, 5:30

I had a godawful 2020 reading year (a paltry 9 books) owing to the usual culprits lack of time and reading in a language I'm not yet comfortable in.

I did manage to finish the collection of Russian short stories I was working on. I had to face up to the depressing fact that I won't be reading Russian works in the original anytime soon, hence this translated collection to provide me with a small taste of what is to come. It was wonderful, and now I've been introduced to all of the greats and then some.

I also finished 午後的克布藍士街 (Once an afternoon at Carbrans Street)). Nothing special, but it served well as Chinese reading material.

I also finally finished the short story collection Garde à vue/ In Gewahrsam. It worked! Afterwards I read into a couple French novels and they are now manageable.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:Losing the Race - by John McWhorter
Winning the Race - by John McWhorter
The Creole Debate - by John McWhorter

Nice to see another McWhorter reader here. He's got a new book coming out this year about anti-racism.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-28, 17:26

Yasna wrote:
Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:Losing the Race - by John McWhorter
Winning the Race - by John McWhorter
The Creole Debate - by John McWhorter

Nice to see another McWhorter reader here. He's got a new book coming out this year about anti-racism.


His new book is the reason I decided to read his previous work on the topic. I've been a fan of his work (both linguistic and political) for a few years*, and when he appeared on Sam Harris' podcast I decided I should read something of his. My reading-kick started last year precisely because of his books - I got so into them that before I knew it, I had read the first two of his books, and I decided to keep going with the reading habit.

*I should probably clarify what I mean by "fan of his work", given I said I hadn't read anything by him: I enjoyed the Great Courses lecture series' he presented on linguistics which I got on Audible, I had seen clips of him talking about politics on YouTube, I listen to the Glenn show whenever he is on, I had listened to some of his books on language (The Language Hoax, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, Words on the Move, Talking Back Talking Black) and I read the odd article he has written in the Atlantic.
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12

User avatar
Yasna
Posts: 2448
Joined: 2011-09-12, 1:17
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby Yasna » 2021-01-31, 6:03

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:His new book is the reason I decided to read his previous work on the topic. I've been a fan of his work (both linguistic and political) for a few years*, and when he appeared on Sam Harris' podcast I decided I should read something of his. My reading-kick started last year precisely because of his books - I got so into them that before I knew it, I had read the first two of his books, and I decided to keep going with the reading habit.

*I should probably clarify what I mean by "fan of his work", given I said I hadn't read anything by him: I enjoyed the Great Courses lecture series' he presented on linguistics which I got on Audible, I had seen clips of him talking about politics on YouTube, I listen to the Glenn show whenever he is on, I had listened to some of his books on language (The Language Hoax, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, Words on the Move, Talking Back Talking Black) and I read the odd article he has written in the Atlantic.

I also enjoy watching the Glenn Show episodes with McWhorter, especially over the past year. I've only read Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and What Language Is. Would his political books add much value to someone who has been watching him on the Glenn Show for a couple years and occasionally reads his Atlantic articles?
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-31, 14:04

Yasna wrote:I also enjoy watching the Glenn Show episodes with McWhorter, especially over the past year. I've only read Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and What Language Is. Would his political books add much value to someone who has been watching him on the Glenn Show for a couple years and occasionally reads his Atlantic articles?


Not really, to be honest. Much as I liked reading them, McWhorter has a central thesis that he has made quite clear at the many opportunities he has had to voice it over the years. What I actually found most surprising reading his books was that he has been making the same arguments for decades now (Losing the Race was published in 2000), and yet it seems most people weren't listening, or simply preferred the arguments of his opponents, because the woke culture he argues against (he refers to them as "the elect" in his new book, I believe) continued to grow and is now stronger than ever. He is a reasonably prolific writer and has a number of other books on politics, I don't feel the immediate need to rush out and read them, I think I get the picture. That said, I will read his new book when it comes out in print form (he's currently releasing it chapter by chapter on a paid blog).
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12

User avatar
Yasna
Posts: 2448
Joined: 2011-09-12, 1:17
Country: US United States (United States)

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

Postby Yasna » 2021-02-01, 6:36

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:What I actually found most surprising reading his books was that he has been making the same arguments for decades now (Losing the Race was published in 2000), and yet it seems most people weren't listening, or simply preferred the arguments of his opponents, because the woke culture he argues against (he refers to them as "the elect" in his new book, I believe) continued to grow and is now stronger than ever.

That probably has something to do with why he now feels that he's confronting a religion that's unmoved by facts about the actual level of racism in 2021 America.
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-02-01, 14:55

Yasna wrote:That probably has something to do with why he now feels that he's confronting a religion that's unmoved by facts about the actual level of racism in 2021 America.


Yeah, you can see it in his earlier writing; even though he never quite gets to the point of labeling it a religion in Losing the Race and Winning the Race, he's already describing it in very religious terms (i.e. describing dissenters as "heretics" and comparing his opponents rhetoric to a pastor's sermon).
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12

User avatar
Car
Forum Administrator
Posts: 10765
Joined: 2002-06-21, 19:24
Real Name: Silvia
Gender: female
Country: DE Germany (Deutschland)
Contact:

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

Postby Car » 2021-02-02, 12:19

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
Yasna wrote:That probably has something to do with why he now feels that he's confronting a religion that's unmoved by facts about the actual level of racism in 2021 America.


Yeah, you can see it in his earlier writing; even though he never quite gets to the point of labeling it a religion in Losing the Race and Winning the Race, he's already describing it in very religious terms (i.e. describing dissenters as "heretics" and comparing his opponents rhetoric to a pastor's sermon).

I haven't read any of his books other than the Power of Babel, but I felt that Divided: Why We're Living in an Age of Walls by Tim Marshall offered some refreshing views on some topics. It's not Marshall's best book (it's overall a bit too shallow, trying to cover too much at once), but still a good book.
If I wanted to read more by McWorther, what would you recommend?
Please correct my mistakes!

Rí.na.dTeangacha
Posts: 110
Joined: 2020-12-31, 20:24
Gender: male
Location: Baile Átha Cliath, Éire
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

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

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-02-02, 14:16

Car wrote:
Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
Yasna wrote:That probably has something to do with why he now feels that he's confronting a religion that's unmoved by facts about the actual level of racism in 2021 America.


Yeah, you can see it in his earlier writing; even though he never quite gets to the point of labeling it a religion in Losing the Race and Winning the Race, he's already describing it in very religious terms (i.e. describing dissenters as "heretics" and comparing his opponents rhetoric to a pastor's sermon).

I haven't read any of his books other than the Power of Babel, but I felt that Divided: Why We're Living in an Age of Walls by Tim Marshall offered some refreshing views on some topics. It's not Marshall's best book (it's overall a bit too shallow, trying to cover too much at once), but still a good book.
If I wanted to read more by McWorther, what would you recommend?


Nice, that's going on my reading list, thanks! Of his political books, I've only read Losing the Race (2000) and Winning the Race (2005). I can recommend Losing the Race quite highly, it's not too long a book (Winning the Race is a bit longer) and it sums up his main points quite well. Aside from making an argument relevant to the present-day right-left culture war, it's also just an interesting insight into Black America, which wasn't a topic I was particularly familiar with.
(pt-br)(ga)(ja) - Formerly Ciarán12


Return to “Literature”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest