I find Saunders’ essays and short stories more funny and smart and thoughtful than almost any other writer’s work out there today, but the only thing I’ve read by him yet that’s really emotionally floored me was the Semplica Girl Diaries. Highly recommend! https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/10/15/the-semplica-girl-diaries
ooh cool, thanks! pretty familiar with the ideas in Hofstader’s Gödel, Escher, Bach (though never read it in full either) but haven’t heard of Le Ton beau de Marot – looks interesting!
SPQR is sooo good. Revolutionary Yiddishland has been on my nightstand for a while; so excited to read it soon!
Hey! I’m Emily Carlin. I’m a product designer in Cambridge, MA. I love reading.
All time favorite books is so hard. I’ll go with faves from the last yearish: The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison. Maybe everyone exists on some scale of addiction in relation to some collection of things in the world. This is a brilliant reflection on what that means and how it works. Love by Stendhal, which is a 19th century novel about the experience of love. If you can look past the outdated conceptions of gender and national identity, there are so many gems on what love does to a person. Speaking of love, All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks is firmly near the top of my personal canon; one of those books that subtly rearranges your psychological furniture. I attached a picture of a list of the books I read in 2018, probably gives a better indication of what I’m into than what I’m haphazardly pulling from memory now.
I’m looking forward to reading Normal People by Sally Rooney once it comes out. Also been meaning to read Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World. I’m also working my way through all of Nicholson Baker’s books – he’s really good.
I’m excited to be here to talk about books and learn about new books! I use Goodreads but haven’t found any semblance of community there … I keep using it because I feel like it helps a bit in remembering what I’ve read (as opposed to my standard mode of finishing a book and immediately forgetting every single thing about it).
Welcome, Emily! I feel the same way about Goodreads…I use it a lot but only b/c it’s what’s there, and the community features feel somewhat useless. I’m biased of course but I’m liking this place a lot better already when it comes to actual conversations with people who love books
I love this handwritten reading list! I mean, reading lists in any form are great, I always enjoy blog post versions of this kind of thing as well, but this has a bit more personality and the color coding / highlighting gives it a nice touch!
I’ve read one book by Nicholson Baker, The Size of Thoughts [h/t @tomcritchlow just remembered I still have your copy haha] and really enjoyed it! Any others by him you suggest in particular? Reader, Come Home looks very interesting, and reminded me of another on my list: The Reading Mind.
Great list, Emily!
+1 for Nicholson Baker, The Mezzanine is one of my all-time favorites. His rants about library technology in the New Yorker over the years are pretty interesting. Haven’t really read his more, ahem, erotic fiction lol. The Fermata made me too uncomfortable to finish reading.
Hi, I’m Wes! I live in Asheville, NC, and I currently work as a technician in a data center, though I just finished my bachelors in New Media and have excitedly dabbled in creative coding, VR artworks, and like to make decidedly non-game things in twine/bitsy/other engines and IF tools.
I read and listen to a lot of nonfiction right now during my commute (recent favorites being Troublemaker, Leah Remini’s memoir, as well as A People’s History of Computing in the United States), and have repeatedly attempted and failed to get through a bunch of theory texts I ostensibly like (McLuhan, Benjamin, etc) lately. Maybe that’s my actual anti-library?
My ask lately has been for personal book recommendations that clock in at roughly 250-350 pages. …For now if I can’t listen to a book, I need to be able to comfortably finish it in a couple of sittings on a weekend.
Hey Wes, welcome!
Just been going through this topic, enjoying rereading everyone’s great intros, and making note of future possibilities for interesting discussions
Interactive fiction could be a fun thing to chat about here at some point! I learned a bit about IF, hypertext, various related digital lit / poetry stuff like Nick Montfort’s work in a college course a while back but haven’t really tried actually making this sort of thing, which would also be lots of fun to try.
I like the idea of “best binge-in-a-weekend book recommendations”…want to start a new topic on that? (Any more specific parameters in mind e.g. fiction vs. nonfiction?)
Weekend Binges sounds like a good topic to start and I may shortly-- though I am going to try and think more about fleshing out a concept re: what I mean and why it seems useful to me other than just my limited resources/time, and how other people may benefit. I think there’s more in there; I’ve been thinking about it for a while but haven’t talked about it much. (Something something 280 characters is a massive tweet yet 280 pages is a comfortably digestible book etc)
I don’t yet have much in terms of parameters-- the parameter is mostly “books I can actually finish” that individual people around me Care About as primary motivation for reading it.
I am also interested in tending/participating in conversations re: IF/non-commercial/small games!!!
(Also helping ppl use the creation tools!!! If you have questions I have or will find answers)
I’ve been quietly observing/caring deeply about that space and community for a few years and it definitely is the main space where I experience most of my fiction intake
Just wanted to say thanks @evan and @morgane for talking up Revolutionary Yiddishland. First rec I’ve started reading from this forum and it’s really wonderful. Honestly it’s kind of emotional reading what these folks had to say about their judaism and their activism! If you’re interested in something similar, I’d recommend Studs Terkel’s oral histories too.
I finally started reading Revolutionary Yiddishland! I’m so impressed by the sheer number of first-hand sources. It’s incredible to hear everyone’s perspectives in their own words; that’s such a rarity in non-fiction, especially books that aren’t biographies of famous people.
@warshawshaw any recommendations on where to start with Studs Terkel?
I’m Kyle, another Brooklynite, working in and around creative technology. Additionally I’m a game developer! Super glad this community sprung up in the wake of LG and excited to take booklovin’ to a slower medium. I’m a book lover both from afar and up close, compulsively buying new and interesting things and only reading a small portion of them all. However I love being surrounded by their potential.
What’s your all time favorite book (or three)?
I’ve always loved books about different permutations of love and Soren Kierkegaard’s The Seducer’s Diary hit me at just the right time in life (entering college). Similarly, Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise came to me at a time where I was stepping through the same things as Amory (and moving to New York), so felt very much like I was reading another version of my life and stepping through the motions the book had already anticipated. And in between the two another totally captured me, which was Eugenide’s The Marriage Plot, which I think about at least once a month.
What’s a book in your antilibrary (haven’t read yet but excited about)?
My wife recently got me an honest to god paperback version of Computer Lib/Dream Machines which I’m very excited to dive into.
Any particular topics / questions you’re excited to talk about here?
One thing I’ve been really interested in is software for writing. I have an idea for some software meant for documentation, and am excited to discover ways books organize and catalog information as a route to understand what is possible.
Also I want to share a great Book Thing! I have 0 awareness of how big this thing is, but Penguin books puts out a quarterly zine called The Happy Reader. The first half is an interview with a famous person (of all stripes) who is a Known Reader and they interview them with the angle of books, and the second half is a set of 5-10 small essays and bits of ephemera about their book of the quarter. So in a month that was about The Black Tulip, there was a bit on Tulip farming, some essays on flowers, etc.
Of all the things I subscribe to it’s something I cherish the most because it feels like it’s made just for me. Even in sharing it I feel like I’m telling a secret, but I think it’s in good hands with all here. I highly recommend everyone subscribing, it’s something like $3 per.
Anyways that was a lot, but I don’t often get to talk books with people! Excited to get involved here and meet everyone else through these special things!
Welcome Kyle! Thanks for the book recs, I haven’t read any of these.
Definitely checking out “The Happy Reader” as well, looks great. Physical thing in the mail…nice! Love the look of the format w/ interview + thematic articles. Gonna try a subscription and order the latest issue which looks great (Laurie Anderson / Frankenstein).
This sounds super interesting, would love to hear more detail on what you’re thinking of and chat more about this, I think I can dig up some good links to share…feel free to start as a new topic here!
Hi all . I’ve meant to introduce myself months ago but never quite got around to it. My name is Kyle, I live in the Bronx and I love going for long walks around my neighborhood while listening to music or podcasts.
A couple of my favorite books:
- Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman: If I recall correctly I think this was mentioned by others. I really enjoyed reading this one, it was a book that I just could not put down. I quite amused to learn how obsessed Feynman was about breaking into locked rooms and cabinets in Los Alamos laboratory.
- How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming: This was a pretty quick and easy read but it was a lot of fun about how Pluto was demoted from planetary status. I liked the glimpse of what it was like to work in astronomy at Caltech.
- Educated by Tara Westover. This is an autobiography about a woman who managed to escape an extremely controlling, conservative and uneducated lifestyle in Mormon Utah. She eventually managed to get into college and get a PhD in history.
Hey Kyle thanks for joining!
Cool, hadn’t heard of this one but looks very interesting. Another astronomy / pop-sci one I enjoyed is Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars, about the history of searching for exoplants and possible extraterrestrial life/intelligence.
This looks pretty good as well! Now I’m wondering what other good learning / education-themed memoirs are out there…I guess the Autobiography of Ben Franklin might fit the bill. Feynman too to some extent.