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CEB Reading List

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So I guess we should go ahead and bring over some of the classic CEB threads now? Seeing as we can't make a new community thread just yet, I figured I'd start easy and at least bring back the CEB reading list/book club.

I was in the mood for some new fiction and one of the servers at my work, a writer in New York researching his new book, recommended me this one the other day, The City & The City, that's turning out to be pretty awesome. It's kind of a hardboiled detective jam at heart (with much political overtones), but with some good ol' Murkami style postmodern craziness (like Hardboiled Wonderland & The End of The World, only not as good cause it's not actually Hardboiled Wonderland). It's about, like... well, easier to cut and paste:

The City & The City takes place in the cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma. These two cities actually occupy much of the same geographical space, but via the volition of their citizens (and the threat of the secret power known as Breach), they are perceived as two different cities. A denizen of one city must dutifully 'unsee' (that is, ignore, or fade into the background) the denizens, buildings, and events taking place in the other city — even if they are an inch away. This separation is emphasized by the style of clothing, architecture, gait, and the way denizens of each city generally carry themselves. Residents of the cities are taught from childhood to recognise things belonging to the other city without actually seeing them. Ignoring the separation, even by accident, is called "breaching" - a terrible crime by the citizens of the two cities, worse than murder.

The twin cities are composed of crosshatched, alter, and total areas. "Total"' areas are entirely in one city, the city in which the observer currently resides. "Alter" areas are completely in the other city, and so must be completely avoided and ignored. Between these are areas of "crosshatch". These might be streets, parks or squares where denizens of both cities walk alongside one another, albeit unseen. Areas that exist in both cities usually go under different names in each one. There is also Copula Hall, "one of the very few" buildings which exists in both cities under the same name. Rather than being cross-hatched, it essentially functions as a border. It is the only way in which one can legally and officially pass from one city to another. Passing through the border passage takes travellers, geographically (or "grosstopically"), to the exact place they started from — only in a different city.

Yeah, about halfway through now, but a good read, pretty interesting. And boiled hard, hard the way I like it.

What are ya'll into these days?

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I'm playing "9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors" on the DS; it really is a novel first and a game second. I've spent a few hours in the game already and I think my total "game" time is less than 30 minutes. There is a lot of text in it that would be extemporaneous in any other game (for example a twoish page description of a room that you run through and never see again).

I haven't played through it all yet, but the review I read convinced me with just a couple ideas. One, that it's a game whose amazing twist ending can only be done on the DS (dubious claim I guess we'll see), and due to the choose-your-own-adventure feeling to the gameplay (you literally have points to choose two paths to go that on subsequent playthroughs you can skip to and choose the other) the writers wove a narrative around this replaying of the game so that each replay is actually continuing to play the game proper. You apparently can't unlock the best ending until you get a really awful one.

Recommending it as a book because that's what it is! It just happens to intersperse its chapters with a few cool "escape the room" puzzles that everybody loves.

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When I was in high school I started the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I hadn't touched the books since 1997 or so, but his death reminded me that hadn't finished up through what was written at the time. I recently re-read the series through the 9th book, read the 10th and am in the middle of the 11th. I grew up reading fantasy books (Tolkien and Brooks mostly) reading anything like that always takes me back a bit.

The series is a little better than I remembered, though the pace has changed pretty dramatically as the cast expanded.

Anyway I haven't read any other current fantasy stuff so I have no idea how this series stacks up in comparison to that, but the WoT stuff is pretty enjoyable.

I haven't read any Murkami, though my girlfriend has a couple of his books laying around. The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, I think? People gush over him a bit, is he worth a read?

EDIT - derr, forgot to respond to Anathema. I just ordered that off amazon after a few people had praised it. It's backordered but I'll definitely post my impressions once I get through it.

Edited by Kal-El814
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I haven't read any Murkami, though my girlfriend has a couple of his books laying around. The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, I think? People gush over him a bit, is he worth a read?

You know, by nature, because living in Hipsterburg Brooklyn has made me a bitter, cynical, bilious person with a black pit of hate and malice where all my emotion and empathy used to be, I have a tendency to irrationally hate-on everything hipsters like by default, such as refusing to grow a neckbeard and/or owning anything made of flannel/plaid. But Murakami's one I couldn't even give up when every lumberjack-chic douchebag on the L-train brandished their copies like a weapon, getting into ridiculously stupid discussions like WHETHER THE CHARACTER OF NOBORU WATAYA WAS REALLY MEANT TO BE SYMBOLIC OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY EVEN THOUGH THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN BY A JAPANESE GUY BECAUSE HE WAS LIVING IN BOSTON AT THE TIME. None of this matters, because his books are just too damn good.

So yes, you need to read it. People will tell you different, like to start with Wild Sheep Chase or whatever, but that's garbage. Just start with Wind-Up Bird, it's the best, it should be read first, and if it doesn't change your life it will at least give you some crazy-ass dreams for the next few weeks (just don't make the same mistake I did and go to sleep right after reading the part about Mamiya in the Mongolian desert, for the love of god).

Seriously man, what are you doing still on this thread? You obviously have some free time. Stop fucking around and go find that book.

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Currently re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the 3rd or 4th time...Don't know what I'm going to read next, but I got a metric fuckton of books for Christmas so I have a lot of options:

Naked

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Chaos: Making a New Science

Why Does e = mc^2?

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Breakfast of Champions

Kitchen Confidential

Infinite Jest

A Tale of Two Cities

Elephants on Acid and Other Bizarre Experiments

I also got an Amazon gift card, which I used to buy:

Juliet, Naked

My Life (Bill Clinton)

Vive la Revolution: A Stand-up History of the French Revolution

I won't need new reading material for quite awhile. Though if The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a must-buy... [face_thinking]

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ALL I READ IS TUCKER MAX

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Kitchen Confidential is awesome, though I'm not sure how great it is to people who don't work in the food biz (I'm sure a lot of people in Hollywood love reading Variety but it doesn't mean shit to me). If you've ever worked in a restaurant I'm sure you'll love it though. It's still a fun book otherwise. Always did find it funny though that when the book came out, everyone kept bugging out over it FINALLY BLOWING THE LID OFF THE SECRET DIRTY UNDERBELLY OF THE CULINARY WORLD, but to the rest of us it was like... a funny day in the life at work.

I used to read little passages of it to my ex (the corporate girl in Chelsea who used to love me reading her to sleep), when she wanted to know exactly what a day at work was like for me (along with excerpts from Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London"), thinking she'd have a newfound appreciation for what I do everyday. Instead she just told me to go get an office job and she was leaving me if I couldn't get health insurance.

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Actually I only requested it because I love No Reservations (I don't leave the couch when there are marathons)...Though I've always wanted to work in the food biz, if only because I'd like to experience as many lines of undesirable/blue-color work as possible ala Mike Rowe. I feel like that would be worth a lot of insight/perspective.

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It's a better "education" than the shit they have you doing in college, that much I can say (hey, I did do both). But I take umbrage with your use of "undesirable"! I just talked to my older brother today, he's taken work now (after focusing on finance all his years despite hating it) doing some white-collar junk at a major bank processing foreclosures and otherwise sorting out how he's going to have to destroy people's lives on a daily basis, for a blah-salary and crap commission, in a terrible halogen-lit cubicle. On the other hand, I make (arguably) more money to hang behind a bar, play awesome music, mix fancy drinks, tell stories, and flirt with cute girls. And on Monday I'm getting paid in the afternoon to go and sample some of the finest wines in the world, stuff guys in my brother's old finance firm only hoped could touch their lips when they finally hit the big times after years of cold-calling (or would buy to impress a girl but be paying off on their credit card for the next 3 months). Pssh, I'll take my blue collar any day of the week. [face_cowboy]

(And for this, to bring it full circle... yes, she eventually left me for it.)

To go on-topic again, I also totally recommend "Netherland" by Joseph O'Neill, which I just finished the other month. It's slower moving, kind of Great Gatsby-ish set in post- (and sometimes pre-) 9/11 New York. The prose is fucking beautiful though, found myself re-reading pages/paragraphs 3 or 4 times, or just at a crawl, just to soak in all the imagery.

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I'd love to move to the Pacific Northwest and just work in the logging industry for a year or two, then maybe go to Montreal and work a few odd jobs (maybe be a garbage man). Don't know how realistic it all is (or at the very least if it displays any sense of sanity), but hey, fuck graduate/law school. They can wait.

Also to stay on-topic, if you're interested in cognitive science I would recommend anything by Steven Pinker, especially The Stuff of Thought. How the Mind Works is damn good as well, but it's a little denser.

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I would recommend anything by Steven Pinker, especially The Stuff of Thought. How the Mind Works is damn good as well, but it's a little denser.

Just wiki'd, seems really cool, I'll check it out. And maybe that DS game if/when I ever get around to getting mine fixed.

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currently reading 9780300139310.jpg at work

and

william-manchester-the-glory-and-the-dream.jpg?w=291&h=453 at home

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I'd love to move to the Pacific Northwest and just work in the logging industry for a year or two, then maybe go to Montreal and work a few odd jobs (maybe be a garbage man).

I don't think that would be as fun as you think.

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I'd say earning an honest paycheck in a new city could lend itself to a lot of fun opportunity.

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You don't want to be a garbage nan. Back breaking labor combined with stinkiness sounds like a fail. I was in the service with this dude that was previously a logger. He was a tough SOB and said it has hard on him. You just don't start doing some crap like that. Join the army or do that Alaskan fishing boat thing if you just want to do something crazy.

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4th Star- insight into why the US Army was so ill prepared for Iraq and Afghanistan.

One Bullet Away- Nate Fick's take on Generation Kill.

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If I were Boehner I would cry anyway over my last name and the pun it implies. Reminds of a student I taught named Jamaal Shithead. No joke--last name pronounced shith-eed.

Edit: meant to post this in the other thread--but the story of the ill-named student is true.

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Heed is different from head. Come on now.

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I just finished the Guns of August...a pretty famous book about the opening month of WWI which I had never gotten around to reading. I would definitely recommend it, apparently it had a major effect on Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Just watched the movie All the President's Men, and I'm now reading the book.

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I'm teaching 'Stars in my Pockets Like Grains of Sand' by Samuel Delaney for the 'black sci-fi' unit in my postmodern African American literature class. Every time I read it I get something new from it. If you haven't read it, you must.

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Books for the week:

Anthony Mora - "Border Dilemmas: Racial and National Uncertainties in New Mexico, 1848-1912"

John Tutino - "From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico: Social Bases of Agrarian Violence 1750-1940"

Cormac McCarthy - "Blood Meridian"

Lots of Western history stuff

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