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  • I can't read

    I buy a several fiction books per month, but I don't read them.

    Oh, I try to read them, but I'll inevitably get to a paragraph or plot turn that makes me shudder and put the book down. I recently bought a little table so I'd have more horizontal space to leave my partially-read books open on.

    It seems to me the mass populace isn't interested in fiction unless they know in advance what will happen and how it will end. A semi-exception to this rule is the book series, where they know what and how, just not how many volumes it will take.

    Try this: go to your bookstore and find a fiction book that isn't part of a series, isn't formula genre fiction, doesn't have a lead character with a name like "Shadow" or "Chantilly", and can't be summed up in once sentence like you're in a Hollywood pitch meeting "It's like Sherlock Holmes, only Watson is a cat", "It's like Silence of the Lambs, but with lawyers", or "It's like Little House on the Prarie, only with gunfights, and they meet Great Historical Characters" (that was the last one I bought), or "It's Ringworld meets Dawn of the Dead" (actually I'm cheating, that last one is a video game, but it will be a book soon, and a summer Hollywood blockbuster soon after).

    If, after this, you're left with over a dozen books, deduct those written in first person. If you still have over a dozen, your bookstore must carry a good selection of pre-1950s books.

    Probably my one biggest peeve about fiction today are the wish-fullfillment books. I guess these are meant for the reader to project themselves into. You know the ones I mean, where the main character is gorgeous/rich/lovable or all of the above, and has to a) save the universe, b) solve a murder, c) avoid getting murdered, or d) all of the above. Unless it's a romance, in which case they need to do a, and/or b, and/or c and also win the heart of the gorgeous/rich/lovable secondary main.

    So, anyway, this is all a big tease to get you to recommend some good fiction books. Since this is totally self-serving, please avoid books you know I won't like (see above)
    Last edited by Doug Nelson; 09-11-2002, 04:26 AM.
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

  • #2
    'Looks like we got our selves a reader' ... Bill Hicks

    I've always got about 10 books on the go, but one of the things that I enjoy quite alot is audio books. I tend to listen to them whilst doing the image manipulation thing. There are thousands out there and once you've got over the stigma of isn't it a bit lazy to listening instead of reading your realise that you have completed a book without thinking about it.

    I also found this keeps me a little bit sharper and makes the long hours spent at the computer less lonely.

    Clare

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    • #3
      I think audiobooks are an excellent idea. My only real hesitation about them is their frequent abridgement, and the expense of the unabridged versions.

      At one point there was a company, audiohighway.com I believe, that was going to offer streamed audiobooks over the internet. I don't think it caught on, for various reasons, but it was a marvelous idea.
      Learn by teaching
      Take responsibility for learning

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      • #4
        I am also an avid fiction reader. However, buying them is something I rarely do anymore. I am so sick of paying upwards of $17 for a book with two or three page chapters. Also, blank space in these books is terrible.

        Now I use the library or borrow from people. Selection is limited but I usually find enough to supply my habit.

        Bob

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        • #5
          Wish I could help but you could not pay me enough to read most modern fiction. Don't even get me started on how bad the science fiction and fantasy genres have become! (I did like the first Harry Potter however! ) I mostly stick with books on science, art or history... and cooking! Bob's library idea is a good one. There are enough "old classics" that I have not read to keep me going if I want to get back into fiction.

          Good luck in your search...let us know if you find the mythical land where fiction still has meaning!

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          • #6
            I'm with you Bob - I could have had a condo on Maui for what I've spent on books in my life time. In recent years, I was becoming like Doug - many of the books I bought ended up not worth reading and a began to resent the money I was spending.

            I started going to the library about 6 months ago (when I retired and couldn't convince my financial guy that I needed another $200 a month for books ) I still find lots of books that aren't worth reading or if the subject matter is appealing, the prose is difficult to slog through, but since I have nothing invested in them, I can set them aside and go on to the next one.

            I went through a period where I had 7 or 8 books on the go at all times too. There would be fiction beside the bed, inspiration in the bathroom (), computer books on my desk, health and nutrition books by my recliner, craft books in the spare room, and magazines all over the house.

            I gave about 20 cartons of books to a used bookstore when I moved recently - I had no where to put them in the new apartment and nobody else wanted them.

            Of course, I kept the computer books..... As far as recommending books to you Doug, I haven't read much lately that's worth recommending. I broke down and bought Jean Aull's latest book and found that she took over 700 pages (and wasted a week of my time) to tell a story that could have been told in one chapter. Last weekend, I read a book by Morris West (author of "Shoes of the Fisherman") and found it pointless and boring - none of the characters were interesting - neither friend nor foe.

            The downside of the end of the "cold war" is that nobody seems to be writing good spy novels any more.

            Margaret

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            • #7
              if you're looking for some good fiction, here's a decent series:His dark materials by Philip pullman. I've read all three, and they were pretty good.

              - David

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              • #8
                I've several thousand books the bulk of which are historical, technical type stuff most of which I've read the rest being reference stock. I have a lot of s/h bookshops in the area and a library walking distance away so I'm lucky in that respect. I'm a George Orwell fan and what books of his I haven't got are available on the web.

                Cheers...

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                • #9
                  Well Doug..I have read four or five hundred books over the last 10 years or so - almost all fiction, and here's the punch line...

                  I keep a database of them in Access - rate them out of 10 etc. Lots have been "not so good", but there are lots of winners.

                  Is that anal or what??

                  Actually my wife is a librarian, so it helps her select/suggest books for me.

                  If it would help you, or you are just morbidly intrigued, I could send you the database.

                  Buyer beware of course...

                  Toad

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                  • #10
                    Extract the 10-star ones to a txt file and post here for us all to marvel at

                    Or just email it to me if you're shy.
                    Learn by teaching
                    Take responsibility for learning

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                    • #11
                      Doug, I loved your post...you are a good writer yourself! I suggest YOU write a novel and we will all read it! How's that?

                      I used to read fiction but now I feel guilty spending that much time not working but not learning anything either, so for sheer entertainment value I watch movies instead. And of course most movies suffer from the same flaws you have pointed out in modern books. So we are in the same boat.

                      I do buy audio books for long car trips...I won't leave home without one! They keep me from getting too bored and falling asleep or just crashing into an overpass to end the boredom!

                      Mostly I read non fiction when I do read. The last book I read was a Photoshop book...hehe.

                      The only ficition book I can recommend off the top of my head is really five books by Douglas Adams. And you know which series I mean: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Now that's imaginative writing!

                      Phyllis

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                      • #12
                        Phyllis,

                        Have you tried the Terry Pratchett audio books they are very good. The best ones are read by Nigel Planer. After listening to him read the storys all the other people who have done the same job seem some what lacking in emotion.

                        I have got the Douglas Adams books but havent got round to listening to them yet - thanks for the tip I'll dig them out and give 'em a go.

                        Toad,

                        I'd also be interested in your list please post it. Thanks

                        Doug,

                        Have you found any books that meet the grade yet?

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