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  #141  
Old Jun 10th 2009, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Originally Posted by Leprechaun View Post
I think I'm reading about twenty books at the moment but I haven'treallygot the time because of exams et al. The last book I finished was Judas Unchained but currently I am reading a biography of James Connolly (I'm about halfway through that), The Day Watch, Matter, The Dreaming Void, Blaze and Tree of Smoke. (although I won't be properly reading them till near enough the end of June.)
Dominick is the resident expert here on the art of reading 20-30 books similtaneously.

I read only non-fiction - and one at a time.
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  #142  
Old Jun 10th 2009, 08:23 PM
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Dominick is the resident expert here on the art of reading 20-30 books similtaneously.
I'm actually monogamous at the moment. This is pretty good. But I've found little time recently to read and I am still only at Plato.
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  #143  
Old Jun 10th 2009, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: What are you reading?

The only way I could read more than two or three books at a time was if they where all nonfiction and the chapters where not dependent on each other too much. If it was fiction I could do it but I probably wouldn't stay as interested. If I really enjoy something I want to stick with it.
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  #144  
Old Jun 11th 2009, 10:15 AM
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But I've found little time recently to read and I am still only at Plato.
I'm thinking we really ought to have a Plato thread/discussion around here sometime. A life without Plato just isn't worth living.
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  #145  
Old Jun 11th 2009, 11:03 AM
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I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged (except for a 40 page monologue which was just Rand's dumbass Objectivism laid out in excrutiatingly boring detail - I just couldn't stomach more than a couple of pages, so I skipped it), which I'd never read before.

I've done some moonlighting writing novels (and hope to again when my life settles down in a few years), so I pay attention to books not just from an enjoyment perspective, but also with some "professional" interest. Please note that I'm not self-aggrandizing here (I don't actually consider myself "professional"), but trying to explain an angle of consideration.

Anyway, the single most interesting thing that I took from this was that I thought she did an excellent job of explaining an evolving (devolving) situation spanning a continent and over the course of many years. The pace was fast enough to make a point, but not fast enough to be absurd. The comparable evolution in the characters and their attitudes/perceptions was also well done.

I enjoyed the story line and plot, but I didn't really like it, for the most part, when the characters talked. Ayn Rand seems to be narcissistic to the point of being unable to develop sympathetic characters without all of them just seeming to be her talking. They're all the same. They all talk the same - if it weren't for the explanatory dialog, I could easily imagine any of them talking to be any other one of them talking (including scenes where Ayn Rand unintentionally has the mutual admiration of two of the prominent men in the book become almost sexual in its intensity - that is, you could swap in either character's romance interest, and the dialog would still make sense ). The only characters with distinct personalities seem to be the "evil" characters. These were consequently the ones I found the most interesting (although these were generally preposterous milquetoasts and caricatures). The only morally ambiguous character in the novel was also interesting, notwithstanding the fact that Rand wanted to paint him as the most evil, presumably because of that ambiguity (I won't name names for the sake of not spoiling anything).

Final thought: whenever Ayn Rand awkwardly worked the idea of "objective" versus "subjective" into the dialog of the characters, I had to struggle not to roll my eyes and put down the book in favor of going to do something else.

Last edited by drgoodtrips; Jun 11th 2009 at 11:07 AM.
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  #146  
Old Jun 11th 2009, 11:02 PM
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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I enjoyed the story line and plot, but I didn't really like it, for the most part, when the characters talked. Ayn Rand seems to be narcissistic to the point of being unable to develop sympathetic characters without all of them just seeming to be her talking. They're all the same. They all talk the same - if it weren't for the explanatory dialog, I could easily imagine any of them talking to be any other one of them talking (including scenes where Ayn Rand unintentionally has the mutual admiration of two of the prominent men in the book become almost sexual in its intensity - that is, you could swap in either character's romance interest, and the dialog would still make sense ). The only characters with distinct personalities seem to be the "evil" characters. These were consequently the ones I found the most interesting (although these were generally preposterous milquetoasts and caricatures). The only morally ambiguous character in the novel was also interesting, notwithstanding the fact that Rand wanted to paint him as the most evil, presumably because of that ambiguity (I won't name names for the sake of not spoiling anything).
I have yet to tackle Atlas Shrugged, but I enjoyed The Fountainhead and her other fiction works. And I agree that the villains are the complicated, identifiable creations of her fiction. I simply can't get over the cut-and-dry principles. Ridiculous, but still better than any other writers I can think of because of the philosophical tint.
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  #147  
Old Jun 11th 2009, 11:41 PM
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged (except for a 40 page monologue which was just Rand's dumbass Objectivism laid out in excrutiatingly boring detail - I just couldn't stomach more than a couple of pages, so I skipped it), which I'd never read before.

I've done some moonlighting writing novels (and hope to again when my life settles down in a few years), so I pay attention to books not just from an enjoyment perspective, but also with some "professional" interest. Please note that I'm not self-aggrandizing here (I don't actually consider myself "professional"), but trying to explain an angle of consideration.

Anyway, the single most interesting thing that I took from this was that I thought she did an excellent job of explaining an evolving (devolving) situation spanning a continent and over the course of many years. The pace was fast enough to make a point, but not fast enough to be absurd. The comparable evolution in the characters and their attitudes/perceptions was also well done.

I enjoyed the story line and plot, but I didn't really like it, for the most part, when the characters talked. Ayn Rand seems to be narcissistic to the point of being unable to develop sympathetic characters without all of them just seeming to be her talking. They're all the same. They all talk the same - if it weren't for the explanatory dialog, I could easily imagine any of them talking to be any other one of them talking (including scenes where Ayn Rand unintentionally has the mutual admiration of two of the prominent men in the book become almost sexual in its intensity - that is, you could swap in either character's romance interest, and the dialog would still make sense ). The only characters with distinct personalities seem to be the "evil" characters. These were consequently the ones I found the most interesting (although these were generally preposterous milquetoasts and caricatures). The only morally ambiguous character in the novel was also interesting, notwithstanding the fact that Rand wanted to paint him as the most evil, presumably because of that ambiguity (I won't name names for the sake of not spoiling anything).

Final thought: whenever Ayn Rand awkwardly worked the idea of "objective" versus "subjective" into the dialog of the characters, I had to struggle not to roll my eyes and put down the book in favor of going to do something else.
The 100 page soliloquy, or whatever it was, was absolutely ridiculous. I think I read through the first ten pages of it before I started flipping ahead to see where the hell it would end. It's totally unnecessary and self-indulgent. It's not a bad book, though it could have been better. I think I liked The Fountainhead more. It's shorter, and more to the point.
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  #148  
Old Jun 19th 2009, 07:35 AM
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I've just finished Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World (hardback 2008).Fascinating and a little scary, honestly. His thesis is that the U.S. must find a way to lead in a world where "the rise of the rest," including China, India and others, will continue to gain more economic and political power at a time where the U.S. seems to out of touch with the rapid development of the growing middle classes of other nations. The paperback has just come out and includes new sections. I'm going to buy it to see Mr. Zakaria's take on the situation now that we have Barack Obama as President.
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  #149  
Old Jun 19th 2009, 03:01 PM
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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I've just finished Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World (hardback 2008).Fascinating and a little scary, honestly. His thesis is that the U.S. must find a way to lead in a world where "the rise of the rest," including China, India and others, will continue to gain more economic and political power at a time where the U.S. seems to out of touch with the rapid development of the growing middle classes of other nations. The paperback has just come out and includes new sections. I'm going to buy it to see Mr. Zakaria's take on the situation now that we have Barack Obama as President.
I find Zakaria annoying the way he seems so rational and reasonable on a variety of issues, but then throws these pro-MIC/rightwing curveballs at you.

What Fareed Zakaria (and others like him) never fully explain is why the US must need to lead the world in the first place?

Defending American interests is one thing, but leading the world? Why does the world need to be led? And why is it so necessary that America be the one to lead it? No one ever talks about this part - they just seem to 'assume' it and go from there.
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  #150  
Old Jun 19th 2009, 03:10 PM
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged (except for a 40 page monologue which was just Rand's dumbass Objectivism laid out in excrutiatingly boring detail - I just couldn't stomach more than a couple of pages, so I skipped it), which I'd never read before.
I admit that I had a real tough time reading Atlas Shrugged. I found it way too long and boring. I read Fountainhead first and it was an excellent novel that I enjoyed so much that I had to read the rest of her stuff - most of which was a disappointment, though some of her essays were good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drgoodtrips
I enjoyed the story line and plot, but I didn't really like it, for the most part, when the characters talked. Ayn Rand seems to be narcissistic to the point of being unable to develop sympathetic characters without all of them just seeming to be her talking. They're all the same.
Not only that, the same main characters appear in Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged - with the same initials. Hank Reardon & Howard Roarke on the one hand and Dagny and Dominique on the other. These characters are almost all the same.

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The only characters with distinct personalities seem to be the "evil" characters.
Isn't this a remarkably common phenomenum? Seems to be the most interesting fictional characters are the nasty ones.

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Originally Posted by drgoodtrips
Final thought: whenever Ayn Rand awkwardly worked the idea of "objective" versus "subjective" into the dialog of the characters, I had to struggle not to roll my eyes and put down the book in favor of going to do something else.
Yes, the repetitive and long winded 'woe is me' soliloquies in Atlas Shrugged got very tiresome after the first few dozen instances.
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