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View Poll Results: How will we lose ourselves in translation in January?
Embassytown by China Miéville 3 33.33%
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada 3 33.33%
The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa 5 55.56%
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin 7 77.78%
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto 3 33.33%
The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By by Georges Simenon 6 66.67%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-09-2018, 10:44 PM   #16
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Well, once again I'm brought up short. Thank you both for the "educational opportunity". Now I'm clearly going to have to go get my local library to buy a copy.
Yes, good idea. It’s why I thought people would have no problem getting hold of it.

It was beautifully filmed, directed by Visconti, back in the 1960s, but of course the book is better.

Last edited by Bookpossum; 12-10-2018 at 06:04 AM. Reason: Typo.
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Old 12-10-2018, 12:47 AM   #17
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I don't necessarily like classics, but I like to say I've read them. Hence the need for some element of compulsion.

I certainly didn't like The Three Musketeers or The Old Man and the Sea, but I do like feeling smug about having read them, as I expect I will about The Scarlet Pimpernel, as soon as I get to it.
I relate to the smug thing. I finally forced myself to read Moby Dick back in 2010, and crowed about it here on MR. That is, I crowed about finishing it, definitely not about the book itself. Wow, that was hard work. The only positive was finding context for the half-dozen good lines that get pulled out for movies when they want to prove the character is well read.
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Old 12-10-2018, 06:19 AM   #18
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I'm not feeling the love either; I was hoping to be forced into reading another mind-improving classic.
Do what I've done while waiting on this vote to shake out. I liked The Scarlet Pimpernel so much, I'm reading The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
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Old 12-10-2018, 07:26 AM   #19
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Do what I've done while waiting on this vote to shake out. I liked The Scarlet Pimpernel so much, I'm reading The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
I've found the quality of the Scarlet Pimpernel books to be inconsistent, but once you're sucked in you do want to give them a go. Some are as good as the first. Some of them, I don't think this is a spoiler, mostly have the SP as a deus ex machina; he doesn't figure that much in the story and I didn't like them as well.
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:16 PM   #20
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My copy of the collected works has more SP stories than I remembered having read before. Since it only took two hours to read the Scarlet Pimpernel, I've started on the second one published, which I don't recall having read before, I Will Repay. It's definitely fun watching the progress bar crawl across my Kobo screen as I read from a 125723 page "book", that's for sure.
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Old 12-11-2018, 08:49 AM   #21
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So we are to read The Left Hand of Darkness. It's a fine book in my opinion. (Catlady, I know you don't like SF, but this one is out of the box, so I hope you will have a crack at it!)

Quite by accident I stumbled over this appreciation of Ursula Le Guin by Margaret Atwood in The Guardian, and I thought others might be interested to read it, as she talks in particular about the book we are to read:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...atwood-tribute
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Old 12-11-2018, 10:40 AM   #22
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My goodness ... are you really saying that I got a book over the line? Wow!

Now I feel bad for beating out some of the other excellent choices. Selfish. I mean, I was planning on re-reading The Left Hand of Darkness very soon anyway (I purchased an ebook copy a couple of months ago). But I'll soon get over it ... there, gone already.

Thanks for that link, Bookpossum. It makes me all the more keen to get started ... but first I have to pick up December's selection. Leaving my run a bit late this month.
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Old 12-11-2018, 11:03 AM   #23
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So we are to read The Left Hand of Darkness. It's a fine book in my opinion. (Catlady, I know you don't like SF, but this one is out of the box, so I hope you will have a crack at it!)

Quite by accident I stumbled over this appreciation of Ursula Le Guin by Margaret Atwood in The Guardian, and I thought others might be interested to read it, as she talks in particular about the book we are to read:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...atwood-tribute
Me? Not like SF? I wouldn't say that. Loathe, abhor, despise--those words express my feelings MUCH better.
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Old 12-11-2018, 04:11 PM   #24
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Congratulations gmw! You deserved a win and I’m looking forward to a reread.

Oh dear Catlady - as bad as that! Le Guin writes about relationships, moral dilemmas and so on. No spaceships or ray guns to be seen. (I don’t like that sort either.)
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Old 12-11-2018, 06:10 PM   #25
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Oh dear Catlady - as bad as that! Le Guin writes about relationships, moral dilemmas and so on. No spaceships or ray guns to be seen. (I don’t like that sort either.)
As bad as that. At a minimum, I want a book to be set on Earth.
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Old 12-11-2018, 08:06 PM   #26
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Me? Not like SF? I wouldn't say that. Loathe, abhor, despise--those words express my feelings MUCH better.
I see this as a perfect "lost in translation" thing. There are some things our minds just aren't wired for. For me a lot of horror and romance falls into this zone. For some people it's all fiction.
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Old 12-12-2018, 07:36 AM   #27
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I see this as a perfect "lost in translation" thing. There are some things our minds just aren't wired for. For me a lot of horror and romance falls into this zone. For some people it's all fiction.
Library availability means I'll give anything a try even if I know it's not my thing, but part of that is that I read enough that one book not to my taste isn't going to kill me, at least not quite. I also don't feel as if I have to finish something I loathe, just read enough to see why I loathe it.

I feel like an equal-opportunity disliker, though, as I'm not a fan of sci-fi, romance or horror, the three genres mentioned so far.* The critical difference for me can be whether it's full-bore or whether it has elements. Rejecting any book for romantic aspects would be draconian, but I admit I detest what is marketed under "Romance." As for sci-fi, also not a fan of the flat-out stuff, but I do like dystopian fiction which frequently has sci-fi aspects to it; I just like it to be earth-bound.

*Actually, I don't like genre fiction of any stripe. I used to love mysteries, but I went off them. If I had to pick a genre, though, that would be it.
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Old 12-12-2018, 11:21 AM   #28
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I used to be very obsessive about finishing anything I'd started, but I've gotten better. (Still not perfect, but better.) And yes, knowing I'm not committed to the end has made me more inclined to take a risk on something new.

I don't need earth-bound, but I do prefer human, even if just metaphorically human. Deep ideas, complex worlds and strange species may make for interesting settings, but unless the author makes it matter to me then all the rest is worthless.

I mostly read genre fiction* (or straight-out non-fiction) but my definition of acceptable science-fiction and fantasy (for example) is more selective these days than it used to be. I suspect it's a bit like many people will be with romance, you learn the particular variation you prefer and that's what you keep your eye out for. I am willing to give most things a try, but books outside my normal comfort zone will generally need the spur of some extra recommendation - just like I can get on MR, and especially here in the NLBC!

But I still come back to the idea that there are some things my brain just isn't wired to appreciate, and it would probably take drastic amounts of education to change it. Finally recognising that is about when I worked out it was okay to stop reading a book before the end.


* Some of what I've read recently has hit some curious genre confusion. For example some of Ellen Klages' books are published by TOR.com, known for their science fiction. As a result her books get categorised as sci-fi even when they're not. Passing Strange is small-part fantasy, part-romance, part historical ficton. And something like Wakulla Springs (Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages) ... I'm not really sure what you call it, but certainly not sci-fi.
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Old 12-12-2018, 11:42 AM   #29
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it was okay to stop reading a book before the end.
It should be mandatory to stop reading a book that's not working out for you. Reading time is finite and precious. That said, I get caught myself. My issue is not with books where I say wholeheartedly, "This is awful," and ditch it, but the ones where I say, "This is awful," but keep reading for some lousy reason, such as curiosity about how it will end or because it relates to an area of interest. It's always a poor decision. (Psst! A couple of times I've finished a book club book I thought was dreadful, because book club. But I think that's unnecessary; enough to know why you didn't like it. The book club isn't supposed to be a means of self-flagellation. No spiritual benefits will accrue.)
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Old 12-12-2018, 12:12 PM   #30
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It should be mandatory to stop reading a book that's not working out for you. Reading time is finite and precious. That said, I get caught myself. My issue is not with books where I say wholeheartedly, "This is awful," and ditch it, but the ones where I say, "This is awful," but keep reading for some lousy reason, such as curiosity about how it will end or because it relates to an area of interest. It's always a poor decision. (Psst! A couple of times I've finished a book club book I thought was dreadful, because book club. But I think that's unnecessary; enough to know why you didn't like it. The book club isn't supposed to be a means of self-flagellation. No spiritual benefits will accrue.)
No, no, no. It is mandatory to finish a book once you start.* Because how can you know what strange and delightful places it might go? OK, that rarely happens, but I always hope.

It's important to take great care in the selection process, but once I've selected a book to read, I trust the instinct that attracted me to the book in the first place--interesting premise/characters/setting, reliable author, recommendation/review, even (gasp!) the cover art.

In my preferred category of domestic thrillers, there can often be a long, slow buildup before a series of surprises and a big payoff. It's impossible to tell at the beginning if some of the mundane details are actually little bombs that are going to explode later. When they do, when the details that were in plain sight suddenly come into focus though a new lens, it can be quite satisfying. When they don't, when I come to the end and realize too many mundane details were essentially useless filler, well, then I know not to bother with that author again. But I have to finish the book to find that out.

*Except Russian novels assigned in high school. Though I AM going to get through Anna Karenina someday.
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