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Thread: What book are you currently reading?

  1. #161
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    Continuing on the nature/science theme with some Carl Sagan - “Billions and Billions.” He explains at the beginning that he never actually said it - it was an imitation of him that got popularized, but he started being asked to say it!

    I haven’t read his stuff in a while, though I adored The Dragons of Eden in high school and read a good chunk of The Demon Haunted World as well. I forgot how his style radiates the awe and curiosity I’ve always so admired in many brilliant scientists. There’s some quiet, wry humor as well. Since the book has been around for a while, some of the speculations are outdated, and it makes me wish so much we still had him around.

  2. #162
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    You ever read Gould's Wonderful Life, Kisota? It's got kind of the same vibe you describe; you might like it a lot. It deals a lot with Cambrian fauna, which is always wondrous (even if a lot of it is, like Sagan's stuff, sadly outdated; the reconstruction of Hallucigenia was wrong), and with evolutionary contingency.

    I have finally, finally, finished the Shadows of the Apt series, which is about the life and times and giant battles of the Bug People. The series is pretty good, though long (ten books, none of them particularly short). The characterization is pretty talented, the worldbuilding is well done, and the larger ideological struggle between the absolutionist imperialism and liberalism is engaging.
    "If you are worthy of his affection, a cat will be your friend but never your slave. He keeps his free will though he loves, and will not do for you what he thinks unreasonable; but if he once gives himself to you, it is with absolute confidence and fidelity of affection." -Theophile Gautier

  3. #163
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    I’ve read some of Gould before, but not that one in particular, and the one I have I think is on my “return to and finish this time” list. Definitely good stuff though.

    How long did it take you to finish this other book series you mentioned?

    I’m trying to get through some of the shorter things I have around, but I’ve been rewatching the extended Lord of the Rings movies with my friend, and it’s tempting me to pick that series back up - another I never actually finished.

  4. #164
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    Took me maybe a month or so.
    "If you are worthy of his affection, a cat will be your friend but never your slave. He keeps his free will though he loves, and will not do for you what he thinks unreasonable; but if he once gives himself to you, it is with absolute confidence and fidelity of affection." -Theophile Gautier

  5. #165
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    Finished my Carl Sagan book. God I wish he was still around. The last chapter made me pretty watery-eyed.

    Sticking with the science/natural history theme, I’m doing a read/partial re-read of Last Chance to See. I really recommend this one; it’s written by Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame. He was a big-time nature lover. This book documents his adventures seeing rare animals with a photographer and of course it’s written with his characteristic cheery wit. He manages to provide some levity to the rather dreary topic of animals dying out, without sounding like he’s making light of it.

    I also managed to get an epub file of another John Shivik book. I’ve previously read The Predator Paradox, but now I have a copy of Mousy Cats and Sheepish Coyotes: The science of animal personalities. Should be fascinating read. Some of that topic got brought up in the other book. Not sure whether I’ll dive right into that after the one I’m on or pick up another physical book from my backlist.

  6. #166
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    I read Pleasure Activism by adrienne marie brown over winter break, and I loved it. I really appreciated the framing of social organizing around pleasure and what we want to be moving towards rather than just focusing on suffering and what we're pushing against. Also, there was a part that really stuck with me about the concept of "enough" - it was based in a critique of capitalism that posited that the reason people tend to take pleasurable activities to a (potentially harmful) extreme because capitalism has us working from a deficit-based system, so we eagerly snatch up any pleasure/joy we can get, and the author proposed that rather than seeking excess or even thinking about moderation to instead really attune to oneself about what is "enough." Since reading it, I've been checking in with myself about how much is "enough" of various things to see if I want a certain amount of something because that is the amount that will truly bring me the most pleasure or if I'm just falling into the "more is better" mentality from the deficit-based capitalist system. It's been really profound the way my thoughts and behaviors have shifted in a way I really appreciate.

    Currently I'm reading "Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives" and really enjoying it. I feel like anthologies can be kind of hit or miss, especially since you might really like some pieces and dislike others, but so far I've really enjoyed the diversity in the types of writing (poetry, autobiographical, more analytical, fiction) and stories the authors have shared about their experiences. It also led to some really cool conversations with my partner about body size, fatphobia, diet culture, etc. While those are things we've talked about before, sharing what I was reading from the book gave us a an "in" to go even deeper in a way that felt really meaningful.

    My partner got me several other books over the holidays that I'm also excited to read, mostly also queer, social justice, and/or therapist-related. So I'm looking forward to diving into the next book once I finish the current one, too. I also joined the new alterhuman book club on discord, so I'll be reading The Last Unicorn for that next month. I hope the book club will run smoothly as I've been very interested in joining something like this for awhile.

  7. #167
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    I recently finished Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. It's fairly standard urban fantasy fare, with the usual urban fantasy fae and murder mystery, but McGuire is a competent writer and so manages to write an interesting novel without the hangups that urban fantasy sometimes falls into. I'd recommend it if you could get it at a library and like urban fantasy; it's pretty good light reading.

    I am very slowly getting through A Natural History of the Mojave Desert. I should probably boost that one towards the top of my priorities, really. It's enlightening.

    Kiso, what did you think of The Predator Paradox?
    "If you are worthy of his affection, a cat will be your friend but never your slave. He keeps his free will though he loves, and will not do for you what he thinks unreasonable; but if he once gives himself to you, it is with absolute confidence and fidelity of affection." -Theophile Gautier

  8. #168
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    It’s a good one. I think because it’s sort of written for the layperson and I have previous experience with carnivores and their conservation and biology, a lot of the information was sort of familiar to me, but it’s a good read.

  9. #169
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    Been reading a lot this year, about 70 books in all so far, maybe a bit more. At the beginning of this year I finally started a formal reading log. I still need to convert it to a spread sheet so I can keep track of some other things. Well on track to beating my record last year of about 120!

    Got a new bigass stack of books today. Since we had someone new mention it around here, I decided to finally take the plunge and get Steppenwolf, which I also got alongside Siddhartha. Most other Hesse books seem little printed in English and harder to come by, but I may go after the rest later. It will be interesting to contextualize it in light of other Weimar literature, which I finally have a bit of a background on.

    Strange to hear that there is an otherkin book club floating around somewhere on the wilds of the internet, but it’s a cool idea. Anything that encourages reading is good.

    I know it’s been a fair bit since your last post in the thread, bloodmuffins, but you might be interested in a book I led last year which touches on the philosophical, economic and psychological workings of capitalism, Capitalism and Desire by Todd McGowan. I found it fairly thought provoking, and it is a pretty accessible book that avoids going into the opaque forest, to the layperson, of psychoanalytic jargon.

  10. #170
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    Interesting. Where'd you hear about an otherkin book club? I'd like to see their book list.

    I'm been reading James Scott's Against the Grain; about halfway through. I've read some of Scott's work (How to Avoid Being Governed, specifically) before, and I found it fascinating. Perhaps not terribly relevant in the modern day, but it's an interesting historical look at how stateless societies managed to avoid being incorporated into the state, and what state rule meant. Against the Grain is very much about what state rule meant; there's a lot of talk about ancient Mesopotamia and the origins of the state we see there, with its walls and its irrigation and its priests. There's some information about the origins of agriculture I did not know. I'd heard that sedentism was around before agriculture was, but didn't know that permanent wetlands (as opposed to floodplains) were so important to early agriculture.

    I finished Semiosis, which was okay. I wouldn't recommend it as a stellar book, but it had some pretty entertaining plots about communication between very alien species, and integrating them into a society together. The sequel didn't really capture my interest; I didn't finish it. I don't think I'll check it out again, either.

    I started Fox and I--it's the writings of a woman who forms an emotional bond with a wild fox in Montana. It's been on my shelf for a while, and so far it's promising. That the author has scientific training is something I really appreciate, and it's going to be interesting to see how she handles the question of anthropomorphizing that she's already mentioned as I continue reading.
    "If you are worthy of his affection, a cat will be your friend but never your slave. He keeps his free will though he loves, and will not do for you what he thinks unreasonable; but if he once gives himself to you, it is with absolute confidence and fidelity of affection." -Theophile Gautier

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