What are you currently reading? (part 2)

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

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-22, 14:51

france-eesti wrote:It's not very much like Madame Bovary - Because Emma is still shown as a "victim", whereas I believe Anna isn't finally a very good character - as she abandons her husband, and both her children (and it is hinted that she doesn't love her daughter very much).

I think they're actually more similar than you give them credit for. Bovary is ultimately a victim of her own harebrained romantic notions, just like Anna.

My ex used Proust (in French) as his bedtime reading. He was rereading it, actually, and even though he loved it he also found it ridiculous at times. He once read me out an entire passage written using a verb tense that no one uses nowadays. And I remember him saying once, "If Proust's mother had just kissed him goodnight, he would have written much shorter books."

I'm bored with the books I'm reading so I bought and started another one, Pilátus by Magda Szabó, translated into English by George Szirtes as Iza's ballad. Somehow it didn't occur to me that a novel about an elderly widow moving with her daughter would begin with the story of how she became a widow, so the first few chapters have been tough going. I think it's honestly easier for me to read a novel with torture and gore than to read one where a quiet trusting soul gets put through the ringer by someone who "only wants what's best" for them.

Oh, and for Halloween, I started The old gods waken by Manly Wade Wellman. His contrived "Appalachian vernacular" is kinda irritating and it's been ridiculously exposition-heavy and hardly creepy at all so far, but I'm hoping it will get better.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-10-28, 3:39

Lately, all my reading has been confined to the study groups, and in particular, the study groups voron is also part of. This means that all the reading material has been in the very same language I am (or we are) studying. In Kurmanji, both of us together have been going through Hînker 3, which is the highest level of the Hînker textbooks by Asta Sêyemîn. In Arabic, specifically Modern Standard Arabic (Fusha), we've similarly been going through another textbook called 2 عربية بين يديك (`Arabiya Bayna Yadayk (Arabic Between Your Hands) 2).

In Turkish, I've been reading a set of short stories and attempting to translate it into English as voron fixes mistakes he finds me making. The set of short stories is called Gayet Ciddiyim! (I'm Really Serious!) and is by a famous comedian, screenwriter, and actress named Gülse Birsel. Both of us and another user started taking turns translating parts of it a few years ago. It's basically low-key humor about what it's like to be a housewife or homemaker.

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

Postby aaakknu » 2018-11-01, 13:20

ceid donn wrote:Anna Karenina is quite an adventure. I haven't read it since...decades ago now, when I was in my own Russian lit phase in college.

Did you major in Russian literature?
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Luís » 2018-11-06, 13:26

I've started reading The Story of Hebrew and I'm really enjoying it. It certainly motivates me to learn more Hebrew as well, that's for sure.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2018-11-08, 15:30

I finished reading The Early Chinese Empires, which was informative. Instead of a narrative history, it's organized into themed chapters on rural society, literature, etc. That doesn't make for the smoothest reading experience.

I also read Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque. It's a good reminder of what a nightmare war is and how precious peace is.

I'm currently reading An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, a biography by Robert Dallek.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-11-12, 18:53

I'm going back into みんなの日本語 and have also been reading First Year Polish by Oscar Swan as well as one of the accompanying workbooks and Teach Yourself Irish by Dillon and Ó Cróinín.

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

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-15, 21:56

I should start a thread on what books I'm buying because it would be more interesting than what books I'm reading. Today I stumbled across a compilation called《小說家族》which caught my eye for being in traditional script. In the list of contributors I only recognised 李碧華 a.k.a. Lillian Lee, best known in the Anglosphere as the author of the screenplay for the 1993 film Farewell my concubine, but I bought it anyway. Not only is the script traditional but the characters go top-to-bottom and right-to-left; I think the only other book I have which does that it a reproduction of《孫子兵法》written on bamboo slats.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-28, 17:19

I finished the Wellman and Szabó. The Wellman never got any better; it had some interesting details but was otherwise a rather by-the-numbers hero's quest with supernatural elements. The Szabó, on the other hand, was terrific. It was a genuinely heart-wrenching tale of two people who are at home in such different worlds that they can never really comprehend each other and wreck each other's lives despite the powerful love they feel for each other--and for once, this wasn't in the context of a heterosexual romance!

My latest read is a bit more conventional: Eva dorme from Francesca Melandri (translated by Katherine Gregor as Eva sleeps). It's a family saga set in Südtirol/Alto Adige and rather overstuffed with folkloric details, but I eat that shit up. It's interesting to learn a bit more about the secessionist movement but depressing as hell because it all plays out according to the same awful script: local non-state actors take action to draw attention to inequalities and the state responds as it's programmed to do, with excessive force that only worsens the problem. In any case, I just started it last night and I'm already a quarter of the way through it.

In my short story anthologies, the latest selection was from Dom DeLillo, so I can finally say I've read him. I can see why he's so highly regarded as a stylist and also why there are plenty of detractors who feel he's not saying anything particularly interesting. I'm more than halfway through the European anthology and I think so far the authors I'm most impressed by are Tokarczuk, Sprenger, Mantel, Kalinauskaitė, and Kristín Eiríksdóttir. I've read Mantel's Wolf Hall and it's impressive to see that she's as good at contemporary fiction as she is at historical; I have a novel from Tokarczuk that I hope to get to this winter.
"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 » 2018-12-03, 4:31

I finally finished 빛의 제국 (Your Republic Is Calling You). It was a little too ambitious for my level of Korean, but I made it through and learned a ton of Korean from it. I enjoyed the book, but I will definitely need to give it a reread one day to appreciate it more fully. The character development was impressive, especially considering how tricky it is to convincingly portray the way North Koreans experience life in the South.

I'm currently reading My Name Is Red (Benim Adım Kırmızı) by Orhan Pamuk. I am desperate to read this in the original, but as I am certainly many years away from gaining any sort of reading proficiency in Turkish, the English translation will have to suffice for now...
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 » 2018-12-03, 15:57

Yasna wrote:I'm currently reading My Name Is Red (Benim Adım Kırmızı) by Orhan Pamuk. I am desperate to read this in the original, but as I am certainly many years away from gaining any sort of reading proficiency in Turkish, the English translation will have to suffice for now...

I still think it's his most successful work. I keep reading his books hoping that another will approach the brilliance of this and being disappointed. The least disappointing are his autobiographical works (esp. Istanbul—Hatıralar ve Şehir) and I think it's no coincidence that the parts I like best in Benim Adım Kırmızı are semiautobiographical.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-01-04, 23:21

I finished reading Hotel Savoy, an early minor work by Joseph Roth. Yet another novel which I thought would take me a week and which I ended up carting around for a month.

I did finish the Melandri, which I found genuinely moving, in about a week and started right on The room by Emma Donoghue, which nearly wrecked me. I read most of it in a single weekend and broke down several times. Her decision to tell the whole story from the point of view of the child is masterful and I'm really impressed at how well she carries it off, since I've read many unconvincing attempts before. I especially appreciated how little she focused on the actual abuse and how much on the aftermath (including the accidental cruelty of caregivers). I think that's something a male author would have found hard to do as successfully.

I finished up my two books of short stories and started a new collection by a single author, Rebecca Curtis, whose contribution to the New American stories anthology I particularly liked. Like that story, these can be a little hard to read but her power of observation is really astonishing. I also started a collection of short fiction by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (芥川 龍之介), the famed Japanese author of Rashōmon. He reads so well in the translations by Jay Rubin I can only imagine how great he must be in the original Japanese.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2019-01-07, 15:54

Last weekend I started reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. One fellow mod from my Linguaphiles days was such a fan of it that she adopted it as her alias. Now I'm wondering if being a non-native speaker of English makes it easier to read because her attempt to write from the POV of a teenager is just short of excruciating. To be fair, she was 64 at the time, but it still reads like she hasn't spoken to a teenager in decades and didn't know anyone under the age of fifty that she could ask for feedback. As with all speculative fiction, there are some things she just nails and others that are stonkingly wrong. But despite its flaws, I'm already more than halfway through it, which is damn good even keeping in mind that I stayed in the whole weekend.

I also picked up A dictionary of Maqiao (马桥词典) by Han Shaogong ( 韩少功; English translation by Julia Lovell) again, so I guess I'm back to actively reading it. I'd kind of sworn off CultRev narratives, but the unusual format kind of suckered me in. I like the fact that each entry is given in Chinese characters as well (traditional, no less!), which is helping spur my interest in recapturing a bit of my 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 vijayjohn » 2019-01-07, 17:09

Earlier, I had been trying to read كليلة ودمنة with eskandar and voron, both of whom have made way more progress with it than I have (they're almost halfway through, and I'm still in the middle of the seventh story and don't even remember where I left off!). :P So far, I'm kind of surprised at how few of these stories I know given that I first started hearing or reading Panchatantra stories when I was, like, four. Even the familiar stories are kind of hard, or maybe I'm just saying that because I've had so much on my plate lately. The seventh one is the one about the rabbit and the lion, and all I remember is that I still haven't gotten to the part where the rabbit tricks the lion.

Anyway, I had also been reading Kurdish textbook Hînker 3 and the Turkish set of short stories Gayet Ciddiyim! by Gülse Birsel, though it looks like voron and I are making plans to translate an older Turkish short story together instead. I've been working through Introduction to Biblical Hebrew by Thomas Lambdin; I hope to finish up Lesson 5 today, minus checking my answers to the exercises that I'm still working through (but only two more exercises to go!). Still in the process of working through First Year Polish with księżycowy as well (but I'm kind of trying to focus on Lambdin right now).

I was also just reading a bit of a Pakistani literary magazine called Jasoosi Digest a while ago. I have one issue of that magazine, and I got slightly further in it than I ever have before! This issue (from November 1994 IIRC!) consists entirely of short stories in Urdu plus letters to the editor and a few ads, which, thankfully, are mostly in Urdu except for the one dumb-ass random ad in English on the back cover for some brand of cigarettes that turns out to be from Eastern Europe of all places. :shock: The first letter to the editor is by Shahid Mehmood from Gujranwala. I still haven't finished reading it; it's a little over one page long. EDIT: Ironically, one of the few things I got out of it was that he was expressing appreciation for an article about the dangers of cigarette smoke.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2019-02-12, 3:57

I recently read ブロックチェーン技術の未解決問題 (Unresolved issues with blockchain technology) by Shin'ichiro Matsuo et al. It explains what lies in the way of the mass adoption of blockchain technology, both for cryptocurrencies and other applications.

I'm currently reading The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics by Mark Lilla.

linguoboy wrote:I think it's no coincidence that the parts I like best in Benim Adım Kırmızı are semiautobiographical.

I'm about two thirds through it now and I'm a little confused about what could be semiautobiographical about this novel. Do you mean the scenes describing the experience of painting?
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 » 2019-02-12, 15:44

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I think it's no coincidence that the parts I like best in Benim Adım Kırmızı are semiautobiographical.

I'm about two thirds through it now and I'm a little confused about what could be semiautobiographical about this novel. Do you mean the scenes describing the experience of painting?

Nope, I mean the fact that Şeküre, Şevket, and Pamuk are based directly on Orhan's mother, brother, and self (respectively) down to having the exact same given names.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2019-02-12, 16:28

linguoboy wrote:Nope, I mean the fact that Şeküre, Şevket, and Pamuk are based directly on Orhan's mother, brother, and self (respectively) down to having the exact same given names.

Oh wow, that's really interesting (and sweet).
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 Osias » 2019-02-12, 17:49

I'm currently reading lots of short stories my brother is writing for a contest. I told him he's got zero chance of winning, he's a Baptist pastor and last year's winner was a collection of gay romance stories.

I mean, It's not that they would know the author is a pastor, or he's sending for the contest evangelizing stories, it's just... The jury and him, they're from different universes.

Also, I'm not liking this year crop/harvest/? stories. (I'm trying to say 'as histórias da safra deste ano') I think they are weaker than most of his.
2017 est l'année du (fr) et de l'(de) pour moi. Parle avec moi en eux, s'il te plait.

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

Postby linguoboy » 2019-02-26, 17:47

I started reading Miéville's Embassytown and I'm about a third of the way through. So far it's pretty engrossing. The flash forward/flashback structure works pretty well at drawing you in despite the lack of real incident so far. I just hope it's all working up to something satisfying unlike The city and the city, which was a great setting but a rather dull story in the end.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby yellow hoist » 2019-02-27, 19:51

Year 2018 was a year of Stephen King for me.
I started "It" recently, but I have to force myself into reading it. I think I got tired by King and have to take a brake from him.

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-03-17, 4:49

Still trying to get through كليلة ودمنة and also An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian by Gábor Zólyomi


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