Book Recommendations

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Book Recommendations

Postby statiktech » Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:19 pm

This is a place to share and recommend your favorite books. I want this to be a bit different from the "What are you reading now" thread, because I'm sure we've all read, or are reading, books that we wouldn't consider exceptional or recommend to the general public. I don't want this to be limited to just philosophy either; recommendations of all types and genres are welcome.

This could also be a place for suggestions. If you have a specific genre or subject you're interested in, you can ask the other posters to recommend their favorite books of that type.

Posting just the title and author of a book is fine, but it could also be helpful to add the genre or a brief description, if not made obvious by the title.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby statiktech » Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:56 pm

I'll start with one. A classic that I somehow just got around to reading for the first time (which shames me now that I've read it).

Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four wrote:Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English author George Orwell published in 1949.[1][2] The novel is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (or Ingsoc in the government's invented language, Newspeak) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite, that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as "thoughtcrime".[3]
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby phyllo » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:01 pm

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel by Anthony Burgess published in 1962. Set in a near future English society that has a subculture of extreme youth violence, the novella has a teenage protagonist, Alex, who narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him.[1] When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novella asks, "At what cost?". The book is partially written in a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat". According to Burgess it was a jeu d'esprit written in just three weeks.[2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clockwork_Orange
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Carleas » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:47 pm

Fiction:
Herman Hesse - Siddhartha, Damian, The Glass Bead Game (also called Magister Ludi).
All three are philosophical fiction. Strong eastern influence, but they cover a lot of ground.
Siddhartha is about the philosophical and spiritual development of the first buddha, I don't know how historical it is but it present a lot of different strains of buddhist philosophy pretty well.
Damian is similarly a novel about philosophical development. More western philosophical influence, lots about the nature of good and evil.
The Glass Bead Game is an allegorical autobiography, so again about philosophical development and institutional learning. A good critique of the ivory tower.
For context, I didn't like Hesse's Steppenwolf.

John le Carre - A Perfect Spy, The Night Manager, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
Spy fiction, but well written.
The Night Manager is pulpier than the other two, about a night manager in a hotel who gets caught up in an arms deal.
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold is about the cold war, cynical but good depth.
A Perfect Spy is the most abstract, lots of spy elements but also good rumination on trust and lies and duty and family and love and what have you. It's a little stream-of-consciousness, it was a sort of emotional catharsis for le Carre and he wrote it in a very short period of time, but it is still be my favorite of his works.
I've loved everything I've read by le Carre, but these are my top three.

Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game
Fuck the dude for his politics, but goddamned if this isn't a phenomenal book. Sci-fi bildungsroman. I recommend pirating it, because seriously, fuck that dude.

Non-fiction:
Niall Ferguson - The Ascent of Money
Great book about where money came from and what it means and how we should think about it. I read this in the dying days of my communist streak, so it might have been partly the right-book-at-the-right-time effect, but it is well researched and engagingly written.

David Brin - The Transparent Society
Brin is a sci-fi writer, but this book is non-fiction. Here he argues that the best way to protect ourselves from the specter of the surveillance state is to open up the surveillance state, and society as a whole, to what he calls sousveillance ('sur' meaning 'above', 'sous' meaning 'below'. See what he did there?). He's basically defending the social panopticon by expanding it to include the jailers as well as the prisoners. Excellent and challenging.

Douglas Hofstadter - Godel, Escher, Bach
So well done. Hofstadter is an honest to goodness genius, and it shows in this book that presents ideas on so many levels at once. It's hard to describe, but it's basically building an argument from math up to consciousness through music and biology and poetry. Chapters are interspersed with socratic-like dialogues that are sometimes absurd, but illustrate the ideas being discussed.

Jay MacLoed - Ain't No Makin' It
A book about poverty and inequality, based on an in depth investigation into the lives of kids growing up in a housing project. The book follows them through their lives. It's emotionally hard to read, but it's engrossing. For context, I grew up relatively well off not far from where this book was written, so it could be that it's interestingness is particular to my background.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby jonquil » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:00 pm

Carleas has provided an excellent list. But if you decide to read The Glass Bead Game, make sure to read Journey to the East first. It's an important intro, so to speak.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Mr Reasonable » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:18 am

There's a new book by Harper Lee that's about to be released. Apparently, from some article I read, when to kill a mockingbird was published, it was because the publisher rejected the book she submitted initially, which had some of the same characters but they were in their adulthoods. Then the publisher was like, "yo why don't you write a book from this girl's perspective as a child, so she did just that and that book was to kill a mockingbird.

Now she's really old, and probably about to die, and she never released another book, so I think the story is that they're releasing that original one pretty much unedited. The first chapter was publicized to generate a little hype. I read it but it was like 5 in the morning. It didn't seem shitty.

So, whether it's a subject matter that interests you or not, that's one book of historical significance that you might find interesting.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby statiktech » Fri Jul 24, 2015 1:20 pm

In the process of finishing A Clockwork Orange. Great recommendation, phyllo. What an excellent book. I had seen the movie several times and thought it interesting, but it does little justice to the book.

Probably going to start on something in your list soon, Carleas. Thanks for all the recommendations.

C'mon folks, some of you out there have got to read something other than people pissing and moaning on internet forums.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby objet petit a » Fri Jul 24, 2015 1:46 pm

Well, after such an emotional appeal, I guess I should not hold back. But which book to recommend?

I was thinking about books that menat the most to me, or that helped me mentally evolve to a certain understanding.
So, I will recommend:

1) 'Jippus et Jannica'. For all of you in need of an easy book to start your Latin with.
2) 'Kritik der reinen Vernunft' by Immanuel Kant for those of you looking for an insight into critical thinking.
3) 'The Language of the Self' by Jacques Lacan. For all of you looking to move from Kantian philosophy into psycho analysis.

I hope someone will benefit from it.
Phase one, man objectifies in two cardinal numbers two collections he has counted; phase two, with these numbers he realizes the act of adding them up.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Arminius » Fri Jul 24, 2015 3:38 pm

Lexica - especially for those who can't get rid of Google and Wikipedia.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby brevel_monkey » Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:34 pm

I'm reading an auto biography of Lawrence of Arabia: "Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East".

It's less dense than it sounds as actually he was a very interesting guy, and it also sheds light on many of the complicated political factors operating in the middle east at this time. The author has managed to make it feel a lot more like a story than a history book, which is good, so I'd recommend it.
Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby phyllo » Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:38 pm

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle is the fourth novel by American writer Kurt Vonnegut, first published in 1963. It explores issues of science, technology, and religion, satirizing the arms race and many other targets along the way. After turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded Vonnegut his Master's degree in anthropology in 1971 for Cat's Cradle.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat%27s_Cradle
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Orbie » Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:44 pm

Poems, Jozsef Attilla, Dunabia Press, London 1937
[size=50][/size]Allone's Obe issance



In answer to your prayer
sincere, the centre of
your circle here,
i stand ; and , without
taking thought,-
i know nothing. But i can

Full well your need-as
you be men
This: Re-Creation. With a
bow,
Then, your obedient

servant now.
One gift is all i find in me,
And that is faithful
memory
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Mr Reasonable » Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:30 am

I've been meeting up with these 2 old ladies who are going through a bunch of books by a dude named Daniel Robinson, one is called, "wild beasts and idle humours", and the other, which they're about to start is called, "praise and blame" or something like that. The 1st one has been pretty good so far, but it's a bit like reading Turd Ferguson in that it's way more history than is needed to make the philosophical points that it wants to make. He wants to explain how the insanity defense from its origins to it's current state, which is ok, but he's bouncing all around history and not going in any kind of straight line. Turd Ferguson would have a field day with him, and so Turd..if you're reading this, you're not invited to our little book reading circle at the restaurant. I'll keep you posted on the 2nd one once they get started. I think it'll be better.

This guy...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_N._Robinson
You see...a pimp's love is very different from that of a square.
Dating a stripper is like eating a noisy bag of chips in church. Everyone looks at you in disgust, but deep down they want some too.

What exactly is logic? -Magnus Anderson

Support the innocence project on AmazonSmile instead of Turd's African savior biker dude.
http://www.innocenceproject.org/
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby statiktech » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:10 pm

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

    Wiki wrote:The book's title refers to an epigraph from Jonathan Swift's essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." Its central character, Ignatius J. Reilly, is an educated but slothful 30-year-old man living with his mother in the Uptown neighborhood of early-1960s New Orleans who, in his quest for employment, has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Phillip K. Dick

    Wiki wrote:a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. First published in 1968, the book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where Earth and its populations have been damaged greatly by nuclear war during World War Terminus. Most types of animals are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning from the war. To own an animal is a sign of status, but what is emphasized more is the empathic emotions humans experience towards an animal.

    The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is faced with "retiring" six escaped Nexus-6 brain model androids, the latest and most advanced model, while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids the fugitive androids. In connection with Deckard's mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids possess no sense of empathy. In essence, Deckard probes the existence of defining qualities that separate humans from androids
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby Mr Reasonable » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:04 pm

Next up in the series of Robinson books that we're reading is one called, "how is nature possible?". Should be a good one.
You see...a pimp's love is very different from that of a square.
Dating a stripper is like eating a noisy bag of chips in church. Everyone looks at you in disgust, but deep down they want some too.

What exactly is logic? -Magnus Anderson

Support the innocence project on AmazonSmile instead of Turd's African savior biker dude.
http://www.innocenceproject.org/
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby mafdet » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:28 pm

The Troy Game, by Sara Douglass:

The Troy Game is a quartet by Australian author Sara Douglass consisting of four books: Hades' Daughter, God's Concubine, Darkwitch Rising and Druid's Sword. It centres on a group of characters who are reincarnated at the end of each book and take the form of renowned historical figures from different ages. The entire series is set in London and focuses on the characters trying to complete the Troy Game, a kind of spell cast in the first book to protect the city.
(The Troy Game: Wikipedia)

You might say this is fiction, mixed with a little history. If you enjoy fantasy, you might want to check out one of these books by Douglass. I read the second novel in the series (God's Concubine. Even though I hadn't read the first book in the series, I had no trouble following the plot. It is decidedly anti-Christian, so it's obviously not for some people. What impressed me about Douglass' writing is how she builds suspense, and keeps that suspense running high throughout the whole novel. Whereas most authors build the suspense very gradually, and it is only near the end of the novel that one is finally on the edge of one's seat, waiting to find out what happens next, Douglass had me on the edge of my seat for almost the entire novel.
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Re: Book Recommendations

Postby statiktech » Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:27 pm

Ubik, by Philip K. Dick

    Wiki wrote:a 1969 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. It is one of Dick's most acclaimed novels. It was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest novels since 1923. In his review for Time, critic Lev Grossman described it as "a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from."

An excellent read. Very fun and mind bending book.
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