Hi I’m Manofinterests and here are my (probably) rather tame literary opinions & ramblings. Feel free to share yours.
Yes the Great Gatsby is standard highschool reading, but it’s still a solid book. If you didn’t like it because you were forced to read it as a teen, try again
Shakespeare is only worth the read if you care about prose.
Ready Player One was such a bad read, I’m surprised they decided to make a movie about it.
Heart of Darkness was a fun read in high school. Reread it a couple years back and yeah, I still enjoy it.
It’s harder to give up a bad book you’re already halfway through than it is to start a new book because you want to know how the train wreck ends (or how bad the train wreck will be)
Moby Dick would be more appreciated if it was required reading when people turn 30 as opposed to in high school… I should reread Moby Dick soon.
I Read Frankenstein recently and I’m gobsmacked by how much I enjoyed it.
1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are the perfect way to start a teenager’s “rah rah against the power!” phase
I don’t remember much about I, Claudius, but I remember enjoying it so I will be giving it a reread sooner than later. I hope I’m not disappointed.
I enjoy Haruki Marakami’s works. I don’t know what else to say in regards to this point.
Catch-22 is a fun read, give it a shot if you haven’t.
Questions I have to other readers
Any fantasy recommendations that don’t feel completely generic and don’t have horrible gender roles? I feel like a lot of series either have poor female representation, or represent a female such that they’re overpowered without any characterization (Mary Sue characters).
Has anyone read The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky? Curious about it
Any decent modern nonfiction reads? I like learning about things from time to time. Any subject is fine to recommend
Any book recommendations from Camus other than The Stranger?
This is all on my head at the moment Hope to hear your thoughts on things
Your questions are right up my alley, I love ‘existential’ literature!
Dostoyevsky is my favorite author, and the brothers is beautiful. If you like thinking about the role of religion in morality, the implications of the death of god in the developed world, nihilism, what makes murderers tick, what makes someone saintly etc, I highly recommend it. He’s rather… dramatic and the explosive nature of every social encounter might be a little jarring at first. If it seems like a trudge, at least read the chapters “rebellion” and “the grand inquisitor”.
Camu… the plague is popular though starts slow. I’ve admittedly never finished it, but It’s a great account of different possible reactions to the absurdity of living. I personally really liked his short stories collected in “exile and the kingdom”. If you want him to speak his ideas plainly, the myth of Sisyphus is excellent.
If you want some good non-fiction and have an interest in Japanese culture/aesthetics, I recently read and enjoyed “wabi-sabi for artists, designers, poets, and philosophers” by Leonard Koren. Super cool interpretation and organization of an increasingly popular term. The definition crosses into the territory of “rustic” and maybe “grunge”.
If you like classic French litterature (as you cited Camus) may I suggest:
Camus - La peste (because you asked)
Victor Hugo - Les Misérables
Alexandre Dumas - Le Compte de Monte-Cristo
Hervé Bazin - Vipère au poing (a bit difficult to read, it is a sort of autobiography)
Louis Pergaud - La Guerre des Boutons (so much fun to read, even when you are a kid)
But I mostly read fantasy/scifi when I was a kid.
I don’t read much now but the thing that I liked the most are:
Dan Simmons - Hyperion (and the followup Endymion): the first volume starts very boring but if you don’t give up, starting at 2/3 of the book, I can guaranty you that you will finish it straight and the other volumes as well
Philip K. Dick - The Man in the High Castle: I read other K. Dick novels before when I was younger, this one I read last year and made me want to read all of them again.
I don’t read as often as I’d like thanks to my neurology making it a chore, but there are definitely a few books that have stood out to me over the years;
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke; this one literally changed my life for the better. Science Fiction.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl; a two-part book consisting of a non-fiction first-hand narrative, followed by an academic look at the theory that came from it. That’s a dry way of saying this guy learned some real shit living through a concentration camp.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; one of very few books I’ve read more than once.
The Cheating Culture by Dan Callahan; non-fiction, big oof.
Haunt Fox by Jim Kjelgaard; throwing this in because it was the first “chapter book” I read as a kid.
Try Dracula too. I read it a couple years ago and was thinking it would be like a snooze fest, but it holds up really well!
On the subject of vampires, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned are all good. Then you can watch the movies too. Interview with the Vampire is a classic with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, and some other stars too. Queen of the Damned is the movie with Aaliyah and spans “The Vampire Lestat” and “Queen” books. More of a cheesy-vibe to that movie, but I enjoy it.
Real different than Twilight lol. Some of the biggest beef with those books, there really is not a reason to NOT want to be a vampire
If you want a more Lord of the Flies or Hunger Games vibe, I would recommend Battle Royale (novel) - Wikipedia. It has a Japanese movie as well! Two of them in fact! Really blows Hunger Games out of the water.
Aight everyone always talks about the Discword series but sometimes based on how people describe the series it seems overhyped. Are there aspects that are overhyped or is it as amazing at people claim it is?
I’m not big into hype, but I definitely started reading the series because of how often I saw it recommended. I’m really glad I gave it a chance too.
There are definitely books that made more of an impact on my than others, but I found that together they crafted something really special; a place you could imagine, and even smell, vividly. Characters you wanted to meet, or at least learn more about. And, sometimes, really profound insights.
Everyone’s taste is different though and even if this series resounded with me, it just as easily won’t with someone else.
I think some folks get so enthusiastic about the late Sir Terry Pratchett because of his unimpeachable wholesomeness as a person. He’s a different guy with different works, but at least when it comes to that, he’s on the Mr. Rogers level of wholesome and modest.
He’s also terribly clever and manages some genuinely heavy subjects with a well-balanced degree of levity, light-heartedness, and brutal honesty.
I love reading. Some all-time faves, off of the top of my head…
The Gold Bug Variations, Richard Powers - a dense mix of interconnections between the genetic code, Bach, information science, and art history, using two related love stories in different eras as the narrative engine. Not his easiest book, but if you can fight your way through the first 100 pages (keep a dictionary handy), you’ll read the whole thing.
Et Tu, Babe, Mark Leyner - Easily the most hilarious book I’ve read. I can’t do better than the Amazon blurb: In this fiendishly original new novel, Mark Leyner is a leather-blazer-wearing, Piranha 793-driving, narcotic-guzzling monster who has potential rivals eliminated by his bionically enhanced bodyguards, has his internal organs tattooed, and eavesdrops on the erotic fantasies of Victoria’s Secret models – which naturally revolve around him.
The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes - a definitive, thorough, and highly readable account, covering the physics, the people, and the politics. For me, a benchmark for historical nonfiction.
Altered Carbon trilogy, Richard Morgan - an exceptional example of sci-fi world building. The premise (consciousness can be stored in a physical device, and transmitted from point to point) is interesting, but it’s the follow-through on all of the implications of that technology that makes these books great. A bonus: unlike many scifi multi-volume works, where it feels like the first story is just rehashed endlessly, this trilogy really is three different stories, exploring different aspects of the universe and its characters.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté
This one took courage and I had been avoiding it until recently. I have never been subject to substance abuse, but what if I was addicted in other ways? That question frightened me.
Today I can say it has helped me look at addiction with different eyes. It offers a deep journey into the source of addiction and its behaviour and consequences. It’s very interesting, to say the least, personally very revealing. I highly recommend it.