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(Short List)   14 daunting books that every man should read. Subby has read less than zero of these   (shortlist.com) divider line 303
    More: Scary, Manic Street Preachers, Moby Dick, bookshelf  
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20908 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 27 Apr 2012 at 10:43 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-27 11:05:22 AM
There's a difference between "daunting" and "unreadable" or "unrewarding". Tolstoy, Dost, and Dickens were writing serialized stories meant to be digested one week after another over the course of a year or two; their time's equivalent of a television series. Joyce, like some other writers of his era, was more concerned with showing off how many obscure references he could make and how much violence he could do to sentence structure than to telling a good story. David Foster Wallace I'm not a fan of and I'll just live it at that.
 
2012-04-27 11:06:13 AM
I was hoping that Cormac McCarthy's The Road would be on there; the story of how to be a father in the most difficult of times.
 
2012-04-27 11:07:13 AM

mr_a: Total read: 5
Total enjoyed: 0


Well, I've only read three, but enjoyed them.
 
2012-04-27 11:08:27 AM

Sid_6.7: James Joyce is nigh unreadable.


My younger brother had to read Ulysses for a college course. His comment: "James Joyce was the world's first crack baby, wasn't he?"

/haven't read any of those
//"Proust in his book wrote about, wrote about...."
 
2012-04-27 11:08:40 AM
Ulysses?

Really?
 
2012-04-27 11:09:49 AM
i'm hardly a feminazi but are women just not meant to read at all, or just to focus on the jane austen works?
 
2012-04-27 11:11:12 AM
I've read:

Moby-Dick: damn fine book.
Brief History of Time: meh. Hawking doesn't do as good a job as Feynman or Weinberg.
Don Quixote: pretty good, actually.
War and Peace: another great book, if a little long
Foucault's Pendulum: hilarious meditation on conspiracy theories and the mutability of reality
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence: BOOOORING. Maybe groudbreaking in 1959, but in 1995, when I read it, it was very old-hat.
 
2012-04-27 11:12:07 AM

555-FILK: mr_a: Total read: 5
Total enjoyed: 0

Did you (or anyone reading this thread) ever read Pillars of the Earth?

A bit off subject from the list of books but I recently tried reading Trainspotting and it was simply unreadable with the Scottish dialect used in the book. Stopped reading after about 60 pages.


It's not that off topic, as it is a "daunting" read in a sense.

Reading Trainspotting was a lot like reading A Clockwork Orange. You have no idea what the fark you're reading at first, but then you begin to pick up on the language and it's easy as fark to read. I thought the accents and the slang in both books really worked, and they were far superior to their film counterparts, especially ACO, since Kubrick adapted the American version which lops off the last chapter and thus ruins the symbolism Burgess had going.

I actually missed the accent when I tried to read the sequel to Trainspotting, Porno.
 
2012-04-27 11:12:41 AM
I think the only thing David Foster Wallace wrote that I enjoyed was his suicide note.
 
2012-04-27 11:12:57 AM
I've read A Brief History of Time, Moby-Dick, Don Quixote, War and Peace, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Crime and Punishment. I loved Zen, but would recommend The Zen of Pooh in its place. I read Crime and Punishment in a few days because it actually made me feel like I had a fever the whole time I read it.
 
2012-04-27 11:13:16 AM

Seth'n'Spectrum: Read the Hobsbawm book (which is good but not great), the Hawking book, and Foucault's Pendulum. The Island of the Day Before and Baudolino were better. Have every intention of reading Proust next (been saying this for a number of years).

Just finished this:

[images-eu.amazon.com image 344x500]

Lots of tasty tidbits inside, but has weak points. And crazy repetition. And a hard-on for the Poles.


I liked it, though I'd disagree with you over his treatment of the Poles. It's important for someone thinking about history to realize the "losers" in the story had their own viewpoint, their own goals, their own culture, and their own accomplishments. Pointing that out, even though the "winners" would prefer you told their version of things by pretending the defeated never existed, is hardly showing favoritism.
 
2012-04-27 11:14:04 AM
Crime and Punishment, definitely a must-read.

TLDR Wall of Text to follow:

"The only difference is that I don't contend that extraordinary people are always bound to commit breaches of morals, as you call it. In fact, I doubt whether such an argument could be published. I simply hinted that an 'extraordinary' man has the right ... that is not an official right, but an inner right to decide in his own conscience to overstep ... certain obstacles, and only in case it is essential for the practical fulfilment of his idea (sometimes, perhaps, of benefit to the whole of humanity). You say that my article isn't definite; I am ready to make it as clear as I can. Perhaps I am right in thinking you want me to; very well. I maintain that if the discoveries of Kepler and Newton could not have been made known except by sacrificing the lives of one, a dozen, a hundred, or more men, Newton would have had the right, would indeed have been in duty bound ... to eliminate the dozen or the hundred men for the sake of making his discoveries known to the whole of humanity. But it does not follow from that that Newton had a right to murder people right and left and to steal every day in the market. Then, I remember, I maintain in my article that all ... well, legislators and leaders of men, such as Lycurgus, Solon, Mahomet, Napoleon, and so on, were all without exception criminals, from the very fact that, making a new law they transgressed the ancient one, handed down from their ancestors and held sacred by the people, and they did not stop short at bloodshed either, if that bloodshed-often of innocent persons fighting bravely in defence of ancient law-were of use to their cause. It's remarkable, in fact, that the majority, indeed, of these benefactors and leaders of humanity were guilty of terrible carnage. In short, I maintain that all great men or even men a little out of the common, that is to say capable of giving some new word, must from their very nature be criminals-more or less, of course.
 
2012-04-27 11:14:08 AM

proteus_b: i'm hardly a feminazi but are women just not meant to read at all, or just to focus on the jane austen works?


Who knows, I can't say I'm a huge Austen fan. I prefer Charlotte Bronte. All I know is that I apparently fail as a woman AND a Canadian because I hate, hate, hate, HATE, Margaret Atwood.
 
2012-04-27 11:14:20 AM

Because People in power are Stupid: Gravity's Rainbow


I tried, several times. Couldn't hack it. I did read "V" and enjoyed it, but not GR.
 
2012-04-27 11:14:58 AM

Heron: There's a difference between "daunting" and "unreadable" or "unrewarding". Tolstoy, Dost, and Dickens were writing serialized stories meant to be digested one week after another over the course of a year or two; their time's equivalent of a television series. Joyce, like some other writers of his era, was more concerned with showing off how many obscure references he could make and how much violence he could do to sentence structure than to telling a good story. David Foster Wallace I'm not a fan of and I'll just liveleave it at that.


bah.
FTFM
 
2012-04-27 11:15:46 AM
I read Ulysses along with 3 other books that explained all the references and stuff. It took me 3 1/2 months. I loved every minute of it.

I don't recommend reading it on its own. You have to have the companion books. Otherwise you miss a shiatload of awesomeness.
 
2012-04-27 11:17:12 AM
I also thought 'An Eternal Golden Braid' deserves more recognition, but it's kind of metaphysical in a way that isn't accessible for some. I could read EGB but I couldn't make heads or tails of 'Unbearable Lightness of Being'.
 
2012-04-27 11:18:20 AM
1

I read A brief history of time.
 
2012-04-27 11:18:52 AM

Confabulat: I'm not sure how I did that.


You probably were led into it by a sinister conspiracy.
 
2012-04-27 11:19:06 AM
Also, I'm kind of disappointed to see no love for William Gaddis's "The Recognitions," or Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavlier and Clay."

I'd recommend those long novels over Delillo or The Age of Extremes.

/opinions are like the nose nose. Never closed, always blow.
 
2012-04-27 11:19:06 AM
I've tried reading Crime and Punishment, I really have. But every time, I get about 25-30 pages in and just feel my enthusiasm deflating. The only others I've read on the list are Brief History of Time and War and Peace. The former I read because I'm a physics geek and felt obligated, the latter was simply for the cliche value of actually having read War and Peace, though honestly I found myself drawn into it moreso than a lot of other things I have read, but themes of determinism/predestination have always been interesting to me.
 
2012-04-27 11:20:07 AM

Heron: Joyce, like some other writers of his era, was more concerned with showing off how many obscure references he could make and how much violence he could do to sentence structure than to telling a good story.


Eh... That's a bit harsh, I think. There's were a lot of writers and artists doing a lot of experimentation with form at the time. Some more successfully than others, of course.

As far as Irish writers, I always preferred Flann O'Brien over Joyce. He was a journalist and was a little more concise and structured than Joyce even when he ventured into Absurdism. I also think he had a more developed sense of comedy than Joyce had.
 
2012-04-27 11:20:39 AM
If there was a book I'd have to add to the list, it would be Lolita, despite how cliched that might be.
 
2012-04-27 11:20:47 AM
http://cdn.audiobooksonline.com/media/ss_size1/Louis-L%27Amour-The-Sac ketts-Book-17-Treasure-Mountain-unabridged-compact-discs-Random-House- Audio.jpg
 
2012-04-27 11:21:41 AM
How is Moby Dick a tough read? The challenge of the book isn't in it's reading. On the surface, it's a bit of a page turner with good characters and plotting. The beauty of that farking book is that every god damned time you read it, you can walk away with a different interpretation. That's not "daunting". It's awesome. I read that book once a year, every year. It teaches me every year a little bit more about who I am, and where I'm at.

Pretty dumb list. Yes, Proust and Joyce are difficult reads that are also rewarding (Hmm. Perhaps not Proust. His work doesn't seem to hold up to me. Joyce, however, is great when read aloud over drinks.). Hawking? Hmm. If you have no science background, perhaps, but it's worth the investment. Tolstoy can be tough, I guess.

The rest? Zen and the Art is a book any knucklehead can read. It's best read when you're 17, with a headfull of drugs and trying to decide who the fark you are. Things like this book (as well as beat poets) seem deep and meaningful until you get older and such. Four I haven't read.

Point is, saying Moby Dick is daunting is like saying Catch-22 or Huck Finn is daunting. They aren't. It's just that their meaning reflects the human condition so well, you can spend a lifetime appreciating them on a deeper and deeper level as you get older.
 
2012-04-27 11:21:45 AM
I tried to read Infinite Jest, but couldn't get into it. That book annoyed the shiat out of me.
 
2012-04-27 11:22:17 AM
These days, I read mostly for pleasure.

I've read a few of those.

They were not pleasurable.
 
2012-04-27 11:22:27 AM
Trust me when I say that Moby Dick is not a book you need to read. If you're going to read old books, read useful old books like Plutarch's Lives, or Montaigne's Essays.
 
2012-04-27 11:22:47 AM
A Brief History of Time is a hard book?

/Wanabe physics nerd.
/only have read 3 on the list
 
2012-04-27 11:23:03 AM

keylock71: Heron: Joyce, like some other writers of his era, was more concerned with showing off how many obscure references he could make and how much violence he could do to sentence structure than to telling a good story.

Eh... That's a bit harsh, I think. There's were a lot of writers and artists doing a lot of experimentation with form at the time. Some more successfully than others, of course.

As far as Irish writers, I always preferred Flann O'Brien over Joyce. He was a journalist and was a little more concise and structured than Joyce even when he ventured into Absurdism. I also think he had a more developed sense of comedy than Joyce had.


I've made a rule to be suspicious of people who claim to understand or are amused by Finnegan's Wake.
 
2012-04-27 11:23:25 AM
Gravity's Rainbow
The Magus
 
2012-04-27 11:24:18 AM

Because People in power are Stupid: [ecx.images-amazon.com image 300x300]

[ecx.images-amazon.com image 300x300]


Yea.
 
2012-04-27 11:25:36 AM

proteus_b: i'm hardly a feminazi but are women just not meant to read at all, or just to focus on the jane austen works?


Heh- I've read 4 of the 14. Does that make me 28.57% male?

Anyway, the rest of you should read War and Peace if you can. It's a good book- this Tolstoy guy isn't half bad.
 
2012-04-27 11:26:09 AM
Oh, another one: I, Claudius.
 
2012-04-27 11:27:11 AM
List fails without Three Kingdoms (aka Romance of the Three Kingdoms)

Link

The most read book in Asia is available in most languages globally. A good read, and some translations are enjoyable. I like the 1991 Roberts translation.
 
2012-04-27 11:27:38 AM
Three for me:
1) Moby Dick
2) A Brief History of Time
3) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Moby Dick is a great read. We read about two-thirds of it in high school,skipping many of the chapters which were not so literary but more about the whale hunting industry. I re-read it again twenty years later and the book meant much more to me. In fact, those chapters we skipped were vital to the story. Not only did they give insight into what America was about in the early 1800s, but the actual tedium of life at sea (and the associated time available for brooding about The Whale) came through.

Hawking is fine. Good way to introduce deep physics. Pirsig is also fine. Read it in college. Was unimpressed. Read it after my oldest kids were teenagers. Made more sense.

Great books give you more each time you read them.
 
2012-04-27 11:27:44 AM
A Pilgrim's Progress, so that you give up reading forever?
 
2012-04-27 11:28:41 AM

Janky_McGank: keylock71: Heron: Joyce, like some other writers of his era, was more concerned with showing off how many obscure references he could make and how much violence he could do to sentence structure than to telling a good story.

Eh... That's a bit harsh, I think. There's were a lot of writers and artists doing a lot of experimentation with form at the time. Some more successfully than others, of course.

As far as Irish writers, I always preferred Flann O'Brien over Joyce. He was a journalist and was a little more concise and structured than Joyce even when he ventured into Absurdism. I also think he had a more developed sense of comedy than Joyce had.

I've made a rule to be suspicious of people who claim to understand or are amused by Finnegan's Wake.


Took me months to get through it, and I'll be damned if I know what it was about... There were points where I found myself asking "Why am I even bothering to plod through this?".

If there's a deeper meaning to it, it went right over my head. Not ashamed to admit that.

The Dubliners contains some of Joyce's best work, in my opinion.
 
2012-04-27 11:28:58 AM

Heron: I liked it, though I'd disagree with you over his treatment of the Poles. It's important for someone thinking about history to realize the "losers" in the story had their own viewpoint, their own goals, their own culture, and their own accomplishments. Pointing that out, even though the "winners" would prefer you told their version of things by pretending the defeated never existed, is hardly showing favoritism.


I absolutely agree with you on your general point. My point about Davies showing favoritism has more to do with the fact that the Poles get far more attention than any other "loser" nation.

I've skimmed through bits of his other book, Vanishing Kingdoms, and that does seem to address my complaint quite well. I plan to go through it in detail soon.

Davies also wrote an entire book about Poland in particular, which is probably why he focuses on it so much in Europe. After all, you play to your strengths, right?
 
2012-04-27 11:29:08 AM

proteus_b: i'm hardly a feminazi but are women just not meant to read at all, or just to focus on the jane austen works?


Well to be fair, I'm not sure that Jane Austen really counts as reading...

Girlfriend tried to get me to read Pride and Prejudice, and I...ugh, got about 20 chapters (or pages) in and just couldn't do it anymore. I told her if she got me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I might give it another go; she said the only reason she would ever buy that book would be to throw it at my head.
 
2012-04-27 11:29:53 AM

ModernLuddite: James Joyce is wank, though. Read "The Dubliners". It's written in English.


Dubliners is great...beautifully written, but accessible to mere human beings. It's frustrating the way Joyce's writing went after that (to me...I'm sure literary critics disagree).
 
2012-04-27 11:31:23 AM
And as a last comment before I go to sleep, I has a sad that there are so many David Foster Wallace haters here. Why is that? Do people think he's hipster? Personally I find his work to be touching in that "aw shucks," kind of way, not to mention insanely funny. One of my favorite lines of all time comes from the first page of IJ when Hal says, "I am in here," despite being dumb as a result of a fungus/nervous breakdown/self-choice/mystery. Every section with Steeply and Marathe on the Mesa is sheer brilliance. There is so much awesome in that book.

The fact that Orin is a hyper-muscled punter who is scrawny on the right side of his body and superhuman on the left in a future NFL where there are pyrotechnics and players descend from the rafters. The Quebecois wheelchair assassins who shove the broom handle down that guy's throat - and the one brave soul who watches James Incandenza's film. Troeltsch who talks into a fake microphone to prepare for a career as a tennis announcer. The fact that the top tennis recruit who will eventually make it to the show is named John Wayne. So many small details of that book are hilarious.

It also happens to be a really accurate portrayal of depression and drug use, as far as I'm concerned. You really get a sense of authenticity throughout the book despite all of the off-the-wall creation that DFW does.

I also love his non-fiction work. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is a brilliant travel essay. Consider the Lobster is unexpectedly touching and makes you really empathize with the meat we consume. I haven't read The Pale King yet but I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy that one as well.

So tell me farkers, why the hate for DFW? He's one of my favorites, and a big influence on my authorship pipe dream.
 
2012-04-27 11:31:56 AM
1. Moby Dick -- surprisingly enjoyable. The tangents and discourses on whales are pretty cool. Plus "pockets full of sperm; sperm everywhere, etc." is unintentionally hilarious.

2. A brief history of time: world's most overrated science book. Go read Sagan or Gleick or that "elegant universe" guy instead.

3. Don Quixote: there's a recent translation that's quite good.

4. Foucault's Pendulum: read it several times when it came out. It's not as good as Name of the Rose, but it's a HELL of a lot better than it's numerous Templar conspiracy imitators

5. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: read this 25 years ago or so. I can't remember jack all about this book -- makes me think its "importance" is somewhat overrated.

6. Ulysses -- if you can make it past the first section (Stephen Daedelus's point of view), your home free. It's not as hard to read as everyone says, and it does get brilliant. The last couple sections (the part written in question and answer form & Molly's soliloquy) are fantastic.

Plus, hey: Marilyn Monroe read it too: 28.media.tumblr.com

7. Infinite Jest -- tried reading this, gave up pretty quickly. I think it's more a problem of the format than anything else. 2000 pages in hardcover is a lot to schlep around on the subway. Plus, having 2 bookmarks (for the text & for the voluminous endnotes) was a PITA. If any book cries out to be read on a Kindle, this is it. Maybe one day I'll try again, but I find DFW trying.
 
2012-04-27 11:32:03 AM

Weigard: I think the only thing David Foster Wallace wrote that I enjoyed was his suicide note.


You know, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery....

Just sayin
 
2012-04-27 11:33:07 AM

Rhypskallion: List fails without Three Kingdoms (aka Romance of the Three Kingdoms)

Link

The most read book in Asia is available in most languages globally. A good read, and some translations are enjoyable. I like the 1991 Roberts translation.


Three Kingdoms is too idealistic for me Water Margin I think would be a better inclusion. As they say 少不读水浒, 老不读三国
 
2012-04-27 11:33:55 AM

Rhypskallion: List fails without Three Kingdoms (aka Romance of the Three Kingdoms)

Link

The most read book in Asia is available in most languages globally. A good read, and some translations are enjoyable. I like the 1991 Roberts translation.


Came to say this and The Art of War and Blood Meridian.
ROT3K is like La Morte D'Artur, the Civil War, and a Chinese history book rolled into one. The older translations are better IMO since you get a lot of words that aren't really in circulation anymore.

I've read about 4 on the list. All mostly enjoyable. I've got Ulysses, the Russian novels, and maybe 1 or 2 more on my iPad to read some day. Maybe.
 
2012-04-27 11:34:07 AM

BohemianGraham: especially ACO, since Kubrick adapted the American version which lops off the last chapter and thus ruins the symbolism Burgess had going.


I thought it was the other way. The american version added that abismal ending, something about the publisher thinking that american audiences were not smart enough to enjoy a book without a happy ending. That book was worse for the happy ending.

not sure which version is which now
 
2012-04-27 11:35:14 AM
Moby Dick was the most boring and difficult book I ever tried to plow through. gave it up.

I am reading The Corrections right now and really liking it. CSB.
 
2012-04-27 11:36:32 AM
2/14 for me.
Don Quioxte was quite enjoyable. Picked it up as a challenge and enjoyed myself which was surprising.
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintence - Philosophy 101 class freshman year. I think I fell asleep trying to read the assigned chapters more than I did in my 8am chem class.

My other challenge books were The Tale of Genji (bleh) and A Journey to the West 4 volume set (enjoyable but really repetitive).
 
2012-04-27 11:37:18 AM

Janky_McGank: I also thought 'An Eternal Golden Braid' deserves more recognition, but it's kind of metaphysical in a way that isn't accessible for some...


+1

/Loaned that to a friend a couple of years ago. Thanks for reminding me to get it back.
 
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