The Anti-Tsundoku Book Club


#1

Tsundoku (n. Japanese): The act of obtaining books or magazines and letting them pile up without ever reading them.

I had an idea for the intersection of people who like to read and people who want to read more. I mentioned in a previous thread that I’m mostly cured of my tsundoku, but I find myself with a bunch of books I want to read and could make time for, but haven’t. But also, book clubs turn into a weird pressure-y thing where you all have to read the same book and then it ends up feeling like homework.

Instead let’s rely on people having interest in and possibly having read the same book before, and the very gentle pressure of piquing someone else’s curiosity. The rules of participation are simple: You buy a book, you tell us you bought it, and promise to tell us what you thought of it. That’s it. People can discuss the book or similar books, and maybe a conversation can happen where multiple people incidentally have read the book before.

You don’t have to report every book you buy. If you buy a dictionary, a replacement Tolkein, something for work or school, or if you just don’t feel like it, that’s fine. If anything the ATBC is the chillingest book club you’ve ever been in.

You can also bring up books you’ve checked out of the library (especially if you’re like me, and are a serial renewer with access to a uni library).

Three Rules:

  1. No judgment for reading choices. Though, you’re entitled to voice your own negative opinions of the book, just not the reader.
  2. Don’t be a gigundious dickwaffle (and all other BBS rules) continue to apply.
  3. Use the [spoiler] [/spoiler] tags to hide plot points where courteous.

The online chopblock of text is making it hard to read anything else
#2

GF wanted to go to a charity book fair. I resisted the urge to buy very much, which was relatively easy. I have a theory that I’ve come across the exact same used copies in these sales that just circulate over and over again. So basically, a lot of Fifty Shades of Water for Twilight by Nick Hornby.

In the end I got:

  • Nueromancer by William Gibson: Which is where I’m starting.
  • Contagion by Robin Cook
  • Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney
  • Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

I also grabbed some old cassette tapes recorded a few episodes of The Shadow, an old radio serial. And SimCity 2000, because nostalgia. Those aren’t books, I just felt like mentioning them.


#3

I like this idea and I hope it takes off.

I just finished slogging through Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House. I didn’t like it.

Fear starts before Trump’s campaign announcement and ends in the first couple months of 2018, but feels somehow disorganized and untethered. There are jumps between sources and events that don’t always make sense, and the narrow focus on the White House to the exclusion of the outside world contributes to a feeling of dislocation. Events familiar from the news are described, but shorn of context, their relationship to one another feels tenuous.

Nowhere is the inward gaze more evident than in the figure of Rob Porter. Porter is a major source and Woodward’s respect for him is clear; on page after page he is described as the voice of reason, working tirelessly to thwart Trump’s meanness and ignorance. When Porter’s history of spousal abuse comes to light and he is forced out of the White House, Woodward dispenses with the entire episode in a single paragraph, which he sums up by paraphrasing Gary Cohn’s concern “…that one of the main restraining influences on Trump was now gone.”

Porter was forced out on February 7, 2018. Harvey Weinstein would be arrested two months later. The #MeToo movement was well underway when Porter left; I think it’s fair to say that if not for the #MeToo movement, Rob Porter would still be the White House Staff Secretary, but Woodward spares #MeToo only half a sentence, quoting a New York Times headline.

Ultimately, Fear’s biggest flaw is the Trump-shaped hole at its center. Woodward talked to many of the people around Trump, but not to Trump himself. We see Trump filtered through the recollections of people anxious to rehabilitate their own reputations, and we get an impression of a president who is, by turns, decisive, unhinged, shrewd, and moronic. Trump’s defining characteristics- his hatred, anger, and bigotry are almost entirely missing. Perversely, Trump reveals more of himself in a single day’s worth of tweeting, than Woodward does in his entire book.

TL;DR - Fear isn’t a bad book, though it makes for dry reading. Don’t expect to understand trump any better after reading it than you did when you started.


#4

Currently reading The Incal, a graphic novel written by Alejandro Jodorowsky, drawn by moebius. Weird and awesome so far.

After The Incal , I’ll be reading Her Body and Other Parties, a collection of stories by Carmen Maria Machado, and after that America: The Farewell Tour, by Chris Hedges

I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like, so it’s slow going. I’ll post updates along the way.


#5

Quick Nueromancer Update: I’m enjoying it so far.

The writing is better than I expected. Somehow I thought it might be a bit more pulpy. Coming to Gibson after a lifetime of having watched things like Blade Runner, played games like Deus Ex, and having read countless books about hackers plugging in and navigating underground worlds, it’s interesting becoming familiar with part of the genesis of cyberpunk. It’s sort of like watching Star Wars for the first time after hearing other kids make “I am your father,” references and watching other space opera: The landscape is familiar, but it seems somehow more grounded… less manufactured.

I also kind of like the main character. He seems immature but believable as a character, and that makes it easy to to read, and harder to guess what he might do next.


#6

I read Her Body… a few months ago after seeing recommendations for it. It’s been a while… but I can jump in on that discussion after you’ve read it.

It’s been way too long since I last read Neuromancer to comment. :wink: Maybe I should read it again.

Edited to add: I cannot believe my library system doesn’t have an ebook copy of Neuromancer around. That is so sad. Looks like I’ll have to dig out my old paperback to reread, if I can find it.


#7

Picked up this gem at a used book store

I am a longtime fan of Danny Peary’s “Cult Films” books. This is his collection of interviews from various SF sources and subjects going from the 1930’s to Early 80’s. Blade Runner was such a paradigm shifter for the genre and the interview with Production Designer Syd Mead is a can’t miss.

Just finished

Where I learned Benny Hill was actually the pinnacle of the British sex comedy. But a surprisingly dull slog. What I hoped was more of a film history ended up as a film by film synopsis with some minor commentary.


#8

British sex comedies were actually designed to put people off the idea of sex, thus reducing the excess population.


#9

Yes, that was the impression I got from that book.


#10

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#11

#12

I was going to catch up on my reading in Miami, but in my hurry to get my shit together before I left; I forgot my books!

Fortunately my girlfriend’s mother just finished Ready Player One, so I’m reading it now.

I am actually enjoying it so far, but it’s only going to get more dated with time. Weirdly, as someone born in the mid-eighties and who is therefore more of a 90s kid, I still relate to more of it than I expected. I expect to blow through it pretty fast, so I can say more about it soon.


#13

It was okay. I rolled my eyes on page one with we are doing sledgehammer 80’s references already?
Mostly it wasn’t as cool with the ‘we are the true defenders of what is geeky’ stuff post gamergate.
Also the two things I think he could have done some serious and interesting story bits with, living in the stacks and living in the corporate slave enclave but he just glossed over it.

ETA I think I finished out of spite even, it was close to hate read by the end of it.


#14

Also currently burning through my Humble Bundle and Tor freebie ‘stacks’ of ebooks.
Currently reading A Fire Upon The Deep which took a 2nd start to get into but worth it. A fun space opera adventure romp with things that are truly alien.

Once I finish that I am going to have to buy a copy of the latest translation of a Strugatsky story. The Snail On The Slope.


#15

Will read this one next week, will report back.

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#16

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#17

I was totally primed to like Ready Player One; I think I even preordered it because I liked Cline’s stand up bits about Airwolf and porn for nerds.

If you take away the endless ‘80s name checking, all that’s left is a not terribly interesting main character and his not terribly interesting treasure hunt. The secondary characters are paper cutouts and the antagonists are cartoon baddies of the mustache-twirling-give-me-the-rent variety.

Not really sure what Spielberg saw in it.


#18

And a cringe worthy stalkerish love story right out of the 80s as well.


#19

And while we’re at it, can we talk about the coinage “gunter”? It’s an ugly feeling word and I gritted my teeth every time I read it.


#20

RPO Update: Am about halfway done, and due to a battle I’m currently losing to insomnia, I expect to be mostly done before the coming day ends… or begins, for that matter.

Pros: It’s easy reading. I’ll give Cline that much. I’m usually pretty engaged with the story. I do want to know what happens next and I think he does a pretty good job with pacing.

Cons: Clunky dialogue. Even clunkier romance. I haven’t decided yet how much of it is forgivable on the basis of the fact that the main character is seventeen and it’s told from his perspective.