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What's your favorite book?


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What's your favorite book and why?

 

Mine is The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin. In the story there are two twin planets where one has very sparse resources and an anarchist society and the other is rich with many different nations. The two planets are closed of from each other. The main character is a physicist from the anarchists who choose to visit the other world. I like that Le Guin makes up a very interesting society which is compelling but also flawed. The struggles of the main character is very engaging, there's so much conflict but also so much love and enjoyment. It's also beautifully written with lots of themes about freedom and its limitations.

Warning: there's romance in the book, but very little.

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I've never understood the appeal of the kind of threads were everyone just list stuff they like without comments. But they are fairly common so I suppose I'm the odd one out there in finding it super boring.

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Definitely Contact, by Carl Sagan. Sci-fi written by Carl Sagan is even better than you would expect it to be just on principle--it's just as magnificently written as his nonfiction, the premise is super interesting from both a scientific and societal standpoint (and especially the perspective of how those two facets interact, which it handles really well), and it basically captures everything that drew me into science in the first place in a really profound way. Just read it--you won't be disappointed. (You will, however, be disappointed if you watch the movie--it writes out half of the plot and 3/4 of the characters, and manages to turn something by Carl freaking Sagan into Just Another Sci-Fi Movie. Don't watch the movie. Just trust me on this.)

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So I guess we're really talking about novels, not books here. I only rarely manage to read a novel... I lack the self-discipline for such an extremely laborious undertaking since I usually don't get much out of it. So, from this very small pool, which includes the three classic novels by Albert Camus, I would chose as my favorite novel:

 

41tRcpBhbnL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


It's a “confession” by a Parisian expatriate going by the name Jean-Baptiste Clamence who starts talking to another guest of a shady Amsterdam bar.

He tells of his past life as successful defense lawyer, widely respected and devoting much energy to helping others – when he will be admired for his honorable acts. The violent side of his character and his hypocrisy are revealed by two events, which finally trigger an emotional crisis.

 

So, why is this my favorite novel? It's not long but dense, and it seems like in every sentence there's something to think about; the plot is solely a device to explore philosophical themes like guilt, freedom, non-existence and the absurd. Its format as a series of monologues is rather unique, very immediate, as is its style – Clamence gives rather ornate and complex, sometimes poetic speeches, sprinkled with references to myth and philosophy. There is an additional twist when one suspects that Clamence is an unreliable narrator. In short, it's unlike anything I've read, even better than the other books by Camus.

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On 7/30/2017 at 9:50 AM, Holmbo said:

Mine is The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin

OMG YES! LOVE this book - she's one of my favorite authors and this is probably my favorite book of hers. Although the entire Hainish novel series is great - I've read them all :)

 

On 7/30/2017 at 9:50 AM, Holmbo said:

What's your favorite book and why?

Sorry to be THAT person, but picking one is just too unfair - it would be like a parent picking a favorite child :rofl:

 

I read mainly sci-fi/dystopian fiction, here's a few novels I like:

 

As already mentioned:

Anything by Ursula K Le Guin

Why: love the way she writes, the world building, the policial/social/ethical/psychological themes and her characteristic fusion of anarchist and daoist philosophy.

 

Year Of The Flood, by Margaret Atwood

This is my favorite from the MaddAddam trilogy. The world-building in the book is great; it's a very believable near-future authoritarian technocracy /corporate enclaves scenario. I like this one the best because it goes more into the counter-cultural movements trying to challenge the ruling coporatocracy. As somebody that hung around for a few years on the outskirts of environmentalist movements, Margaret Atwood gives the impression here of somebody who trudged around that landscape of interconnecting subcultures for a few years with a great big notebook, documenting every facet of it. There's a lot of rather interesting observations made from the perspective of an outsider (Toby) who becomes gradually assimilated into the subculture whilst still not really buying into it. I related tonnes to her character (I never fit in anywhere either, lol)

 

The Moon Is Down, by John Steinbeck

Like Le Guin, Steinbeck has interesting anarchist themes running through his books. I read a bunch of his short stories one summer and this is probably the book of his where it's most overt (Steinbeck also has a reputation for writing uniformly 'depressing' books, but that's not entirely fair - read Cannery Row, it's much lighter, funny and has similar 'anarchist' themes again). Grapes of Wrath is also great, if you've got the stamina ;) 

 

Island, by Aldous Huxley

Yeah, everyone's read Brave New World, but they need to read this too! :D

Why: asks the question of what a society set up to try and produce health,  happy humans as its goal would look like and answers it in interesting ways. Huxley really develops and integrates his interest in Buddhist philosophy here. Death is a theme. There is a point well made about how most of us do a lot of stupid and destructive things as a result of our underlying and unresolved fear of death and hence the importance of a good death for showing others that they don't need to be afraid.

 

His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman

I related a lot to WIll's Character in these books (the reluctant warrior). As somebody who always had a problematic relationship with many aspects of conventional masculinity, I liked the idea of daemons that would encapsulate your female nature if you were male (and vibe-versa) and the corresponding idea that you were already a whole/complete 'package' and could be your own 'soulmate', in effect.  I liked the explicit 'materialist' (in Democritus' sense) philosophy - 'dust' as a literal particle basis for the soul, discovered by a particle physicist who was also a lapsed nun ;). I liked the ideas about rebel angels (and homosexual angels - mischievous :P). I liked that he called his 'God' character 'The Authority' (I think Bakunin would've like that).

 

Are you sensing an anti-authoritarian theme coming though here much? xD 

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46 minutes ago, NullVector said:

 

On 7/30/2017 at 10:50 AM, Holmbo said:

What's your favorite book and why?

Sorry to be THAT person, but picking one is just too unfair - it would be like a parent picking a favorite child :rofl:

No, you have to pick ONE novel. I've also played by the rules! I even tried to interpret them by spirit not by letter.

 

Otherwise I would have chosen:

Spoiler

2e7ba3bc08e516aa8177dafdf8262209--baudel

pretty over the top this cover, I like it

 

Obviously a book. And containing 163 poems, so it's still fiction. If we would even allow non-fiction…

 

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Since you've broken the rules (which you even dared to put between scare quotes!), I think it's only fair that I post another one and also interpret the rules a bit more in my favor.

 

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino


So, while Camus' The Fall is no doubt a novel, though a very unusual one, this one I'm not so sure about… on my translation on the cover it's designated as such by the publisher, though.

 

Less than 170 pages and incredibly dense, it consists of a long conversation between old Kublai Khan, overwhelmed by the burden of governing his vast, sclerotic empire, and Marco Polo.

 

Aside from theoretical discussions about themes like language and semiotics, most of the book consists of Polo's description of 55 cities of the empire, which we instantly recognize as fictional and soon later as occasionally anachronistic or even surreal. The cities either stand for a type of really existing city, for a “metaphoric city” – as in the case of the dull city of Trude for the network of all airports (“The world is covered by a sole Trude which does not begin and does not end.”), a certain aspect of cities (like Armilla, consisting solely of a water supply network, abandoned by humans and inhabited by Naiads), a social problem, a factor that hold society together or an abstract philosophical issue.

 

I think it's unbelievable what Calvino managed to pack in there, there wasn't a page when I was bored or had to resort on self-discipline to continue (which is extremely rare for me when reading a novel). The descriptions of the cities are basically beautiful, extravagant prose poems, mysterious, strange and always fascinating for me. The theoretical discussions between the Khan and Polo, on the other hand, seem similar to a Platonic dialogue. Overall, the work has a very “Platonic vibe” to it, something like the “Form of the city” is more than hinted at.

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On 2017-08-06 at 8:30 PM, DeltaV said:

So I guess we're really talking about novels, not books here. I only rarely manage to read a novel... I lack the self-discipline for such an extremely laborious undertaking since I usually don't get much out of it. So, from this very small pool, which includes the three classic novels by Albert Camus, I would chose as my favorite novel:

 

 

The rules didn't say anything about what kind of book it had to be. Anything bound I'd say goes ;)

Such a mix of book types. Maybe I should make this thread a too-read-list. To broaden my horizons.

 

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I quite liked the Zamonia Series by Walter Moers. It's not an actual series, but rather just different stories that all take place in the same world.

I love the world of Zamonia the autor created and it's clear, that a lot of time has been put into developing it and it's different species. The books also have a few illustrations which are rather nice too~

I'd really recommend these books to anyone who's interested in exploring a world that's so unlike our own, with the book "The 13½ Lives of Captain Blaubaer" presenting the most varied picture of Zamonia out of all the books~

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So my choice.......basically anything by Anne Bishop. I love her world building and characterisation. If I only had to choose 1 it would have to be the first book of hers that I read, Daughter of Blood, the first book in the Black Jewels Trilogy (which is actually 9 books :P). I read the first 2 in the series when I was 14 and I loved them, but I was probably too young...those books need serious trigger warnings. Trigger warning for the spoiler where I will list some of the trigger warnings that should be on the back of the book. TRIGGER WARNING! and kind of SPOILERS! 

Torture, torture executions, slavery, brutality, rape of men and women, state approved rape, child neglect, systematic child abuse, paedophiles, heaps of paedophiles! animal death, sex, sex slaves, murder, blood drinking demons, assassin ghosts, genital mutilation, unconsenting use of aphrodisiacs, insanity, abuse of power, prostitution, domestic violence, violence, cannibalism, suicide, possibly flesh eating slime mould- but that could be in a later book, probably some more I can't think of right now. The child abuse is really horrifying and there is a really graphic description of the aftermath of a pre-teen being tortured and raped. oh yeah and the book ends on a cliff hanger so you better have the sequel nearby.

  

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On 8/15/2017 at 8:02 PM, Holmbo said:

The rules didn't say anything about what kind of book it had to be. Anything bound I'd say goes ;)

My favorite non-opinionated, non-fiction book for the general reader would be:

 

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet by Katie Hafner


If you aren't interested in this subject it's like “more than you EVER wanted to know about the nerds who built the Internet” … but if you are interested, well… that's the point!

 

Your technical background doesn't matter to understand it, it only introduces those technical details which are relevant to understand the challenges and the bigger picture.

 

Another one of my favorite books which is still fiction but does not have a single understandable word in it:

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Who doesn't like the idea of a kind of “textbook of a parallel universe”? For the 70 € or so, you get enormous value. Of course, you have to own this book in paper.

 

Ok, I can even mention another great novel, I managed to finish now:

 

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo


A classic of Mexican literature but completely obscure in Europe. Learned from it by an Amazon suggestion.

  • not a word is wasted. It has to be read very carefully.
  • surreal story as a “stage” for a realistic “Greek tragedy”
  • the feeling of time gets distorted
  • absolutely unique narrative format
  • scary
  • kind of “existentialist”
  • contains romance, but in a bleak way

 

PS: In theory I would have a similar taste like @NullVector, especially reading the big Sci-Fi tomes. I always imagine myself reading such books! But then in reality the medium makes a huge difference what genre I like.

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On 2017-08-06 at 10:44 PM, NullVector said:

Sorry to be THAT person, but picking one is just too unfair - it would be like a parent picking a favorite child :rofl:


If I had children I'd probably have a favorite :D 

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Just one book O.o?? You meanie  !

 

But If I had to save one from a bookstore in fire, it would be the The Warriors of Silence by Pierre Bordage, a space opera trilogy.

 

From the very start, the author take us deep into a futuristic world, with a conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, mixed with notions of philosophy , sociology,  ethnology and  even  some poetry, adding to the complexity and the diversity of the story. 

Religion and all its derivatives such as religious fanaticism, inquisition, political alliances and actions in the name of a greater scheme takes a large place in the plot and are very well presented. 

The really precise description of the various worlds and especially the relief of the characters, their psychological portrait and their spiritual dimension are also one of the main strenghts of the book. 

 

There is, of course, romance and  a quite cheesy happy ending but it didn't really bother me

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On 8/24/2017 at 4:02 AM, sarcastic kitten said:

But If I had to save one from a bookstore in fire, it would be the The Warriors of Silence by Pierre Bordage, a space opera trilogy.

Has this even been translated? Can't find it on Amazon.

On 8/24/2017 at 4:02 AM, sarcastic kitten said:

From the very start, the author take us deep into a futuristic world, with a conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, mixed with notions of philosophy , sociology,  ethnology and  even  some poetry, adding to the complexity and the diversity of the story. 

That sounds interesting, though probably still not strange enough for me.

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On 2017-08-24 at 4:02 AM, sarcastic kitten said:

Just one book O.o?? You meanie  !

 

But If I had to save one from a bookstore in fire, it would be the The Warriors of Silence by Pierre Bordage, a space opera trilogy.

 

From the very start, the author take us deep into a futuristic world, with a conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, mixed with notions of philosophy , sociology,  ethnology and  even  some poetry, adding to the complexity and the diversity of the story. 

Religion and all its derivatives such as religious fanaticism, inquisition, political alliances and actions in the name of a greater scheme takes a large place in the plot and are very well presented. 

The really precise description of the various worlds and especially the relief of the characters, their psychological portrait and their spiritual dimension are also one of the main strenghts of the book. 

 

There is, of course, romance and  a quite cheesy happy ending but it didn't really bother me

 

That does sound enjoyable. I love a good word building.
But I might wait a while to check it out because my most recent read has been several books by Vernor Vinge. Great books but very heavy with all sorts of themes of technology and alien culture.

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  • 6 months later...

If I had to choose, it would be the skulduggery pleasant series by derek landy which I'm rereading right now 

The books revolve around the adventures of the skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant, and a teenage girl, Stephanie Edgley/Valkyrie Cain, along with some other friends. The central storyline concerns Valkyrie's struggle to stop evil forces threatening the world, finally find justice for her late uncle's death, and her internal struggle of keeping the darkness within her to stay within.

As I love books with magic, adventures and dark humour, this one was perfect ^^

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Obviously the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Actually, it's really obvious to anyone who's read my writing that I learned descriptive writing from Douglas Adams' books, which can get a bit difficult in scenes that aren't supposed to be funny... Aside from that, I like Frankenstein. I think it's absolutely hilarious, and also Mary Shelley's pretty cool, plus I like gothic fiction in general tbh.

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Dune by Frank Herbert.

It has stood the test of time and has been my favourite since it was first published. I have read it 33 times since then. It has everything, politics, intrigue, action, ecology and personal exploration.

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