What are you currently reading?

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George Jones

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Great post, Moonbear.

Depending on the author, I sometimes like everything I read that an author writes, and sometimes I don't. I couldn't finish Handmaid's Tale, but I did enjoy two other books by the same author. As you point out, this is my personal opinion.

I think your post is spot-on.

I bought and read The Davinci Code shortly after the hardcover edition came out, i.e., before the hoopla started, and I found it to be an entertaining read. I also found Digital fortress to be an entertaining read.

I like to read an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction works. Should I feel guilty that I often read (and enjoy!) murder-mysteries and works of science fiction/fantasy?

Sometimes popular publicity results in a backlash among the "well informed". For example, while I agree that Stephen Hawking is not, as the general public believes, "the next Einstein," I do not think that he deserves the disparaging comments that some professional physicists make about him.

I am ashamed that I acted in just this elitist way yesterday.

I had no change for the vending machine, so I went to the bookstore in search of a chocolate bar. Sucked in by a display, I left with a chocolate bar and a book.

I love biographies of all sorts, and I have always felt that I should know more about philosophy, so a book that purported to be a gentle introduction to the lives and philosophical ideas of Spinoza and Leibniz seemed to be just the ticket.

After I started reading the book, a sense of foreboding came over me. The prose was too lively, not arid enough. This couldn't be even a semi-serious work.

I had to google around to assure myself that my purchase was OK.
 

George Jones

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Gokul43201 said:
I couldn't stand book XYZ by author ABC; it is some of the worst writing I've come across. And then, I decided to read book X1Y1Z1, also by author ABC. Did I mention he's an atrocious writer?
:rofl:

Another direct hit.
 
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arildno said:
And why should "interpretability" be a criterion for good literature?
Because sophistication lies in the subtlety of the communication. Brown lacks subtletly. Interpretability means the book keeps you thinking. There is more there than what meets the eye. It is more than a simple fictional tale.


What about the story being just a good yarn?
(And have no doubt: Masters like Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky DID spin great tales!)
Its fine. It can be perfectly entertaining. But such books are nowhere near the level of what is traditionally qualified as 'literature'. Personally, I'm a fan of Michener, but his books, though epic, are not nearly as good as Kafka or Dostoevsky.

Personally, i have a great personal interest in literature with a philosophical angle (hence my moniker). I also have a great interest in the subtle aspects of communication. Books like 'The Da Vinci Code' lack both. Hence why they are considered shallow, and the authors are considered to poor authors. There is nothing more to the book than the words on the page.
 

arildno

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As for so-called "must-reads" that no one has read, I have actually read the whole of Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of things past" (english translation).

What I found delightful about it, was how he spun poetic word cocoons about just about any sensation you might have; it was a very extreme read.

However, I wouldn't say it is strictly better literature than, say, Robert L. Stevenson's "Treasure Island", quite the opposite.
 
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arildno

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franznietzsche said:
Because sophistication lies in the subtlety of the communication.
And what sort of criteria are these?? :confused:
 

Gokul43201

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Seven times out of ten, I prefer a plainly written tale with a good story to a richly written piece of prose with a plain story.

The DVC, for instance, I enjoyed, despite the crackpottery, primarily because it was a pageturner. Foucault's P, on the other hand, killed me with the pottery, and made me want to cry.
 

arildno

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Gokul43201 said:
Seven times out of ten, I prefer a plainly written tale with a good story to a richly written piece of prose with a plain story.

The DVC, for instance, I enjoyed, despite the crackpottery, primarily because it was a pageturner. Foucault's P, on the other hand, killed me with the pottery, and made me want to cry.
"The Name of the Rose" with Sean Connery was, however, a far better movie than DVC.
 

arildno

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franznietzsche said:
Interpretability means the book keeps you thinking. There is more there than what meets the eye. It is more than a simple fictional tale.
Which basically means you devalue story-telling compared to puzzle-solving.
This is, indeed, what modern literature has degenerated into:
Totally worthless stories with a trite message artfully concealed in a code language you'll only be able to understand if you have a B.A. degree.
 
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Moonbear

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franznietzsche said:
Interpretability means the book keeps you thinking.
Given the vast amount of discussion about religion and art history that has sprung up among readers of The DaVinci Code, I think you'd be hard pressed to say the book didn't get people thinking. And, more importantly, it got people who ordinarily would never pay any attention at all to those subjects to give them attention and learn more about them. Sure, it's easy to dismiss the ideas when you already know enough about art history and iconography to realize there's nothing unusual about the way John is portrayed in DaVinci's Last Supper given the styles of the period, but to have reached people who thought art museums were a good place to take naps, then sparking a curiousity to learn more about it among so many people is pretty impressive.

And, you know what, if you really tried hard, you probably could find lots to interpret in Dan Brown's books, just like when you really try hard to find meanings those "great" authors never intended in their books.

What about the book practically worshipped by book snobs...War and Peace? I read about halfway through it before setting it aside, not out of boredom, but just because I got distracted by other things, and never got back to it. I enjoyed reading what I read of it, but interpretability? Depth? Metaphor? Pfft! I didn't think so. It's just a story about nobility...reads pretty much like any historical romance novel, except for some head-spinning sentences due to problems with translation.

It took a bit of digging, but I recalled that there was an author interviewed who said something that came across as indicating he didn't really intend the symbols everyone was finding in his work...alas! It was Hemingway.

Below are more excerpts from an interview edited by George Plimpton in Modern Critical Views: Ernest Hemingway.
Interviewer: Would you admit to there being symbolism in your novels?
Hemingway: I suppose there are symbols since critics keep finding them. If you do not mind, I dislike talking about them and being questions (sic) about them. It is hard enough to write books and stories without being asked to explain them as well. If five or six more good explainers can keep going why should I interfere with them? Read anything I write for the pleasure of reading it. Whatever else you find will be the measure of what you brought to the reading. (128-29)
http://www.uncp.edu/home/canada/work/allam/1914-/lit/heming.htm [Broken]

What I also found interesting were the fairly lousy reviews by contemporary critics of The Great Gatsby, as well as Hemingway's comments that Fitzgerald had wasted his talent. It sounds like Fitzgerald's early works were greeted not unlike Dan Brown's...they were popular sellers, but trashed by the literary snobs of the day. I feel vindicated now that I've learned I'm in agreement with book critics of the 1920s, and even authors contemporary to Fitzgerald. :biggrin: Maybe that's why I actually like Hemingway's novels?
 
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Moonbear said:
Given the vast amount of discussion about religion and art history that has sprung up among readers of The DaVinci Code, I think you'd be hard pressed to say the book didn't get people thinking. And, more importantly, it got people who ordinarily would never pay any attention at all to those subjects to give them attention and learn more about them. Sure, it's easy to dismiss the ideas when you already know enough about art history and iconography to realize there's nothing unusual about the way John is portrayed in DaVinci's Last Supper given the styles of the period, but to have reached people who thought art museums were a good place to take naps, then sparking a curiousity to learn more about it among so many people is pretty impressive.
So by that logic, The Elegant Universe is a good physics book. Wait.....

And, you know what, if you really tried hard, you probably could find lots to interpret in Dan Brown's books, just like when you really try hard to find meanings those "great" authors never intended in their books.
I really try hard to find meanings those "great" authors never intended in their books? News to me.

What about the book practically worshipped by book snobs...War and Peace? I read about halfway through it before setting it aside, not out of boredom, but just because I got distracted by other things, and never got back to it. I enjoyed reading what I read of it, but interpretability? Depth? Metaphor? Pfft! I didn't think so. It's just a story about nobility...reads pretty much like any historical romance novel, except for some head-spinning sentences due to problems with translation.
I've never met a person who liked War and Peace, including my grand father and my mother, both with English degrees. I despised War and Peace, and it turned me off on Tolstoy as a whole permanently. I've been told that Anna Karenina is much better, but I'm very reluctant to read anything he's written now.

It took a bit of digging, but I recalled that there was an author interviewed who said something that came across as indicating he didn't really intend the symbols everyone was finding in his work...alas! It was Hemingway.
And? There was a story similar to that told by English teacher (same one) about Robert Frost who sat in on a university lecture regarding one of his poems. Something to the effect of him taking a walk, being pooped on by a bird, and ruing the day. The professor described this as a 'very dark' poem and went on for some time about it with class discussion. After a while he turned to Frost and asked what he though of there discussion. Frost simply said that he wrote the poem after taking a walk and being pooped on by bird and that was about it, that essentially he had intended none of the dark meaning the professor was drawing out of it. So yeah, thats true. Its also irrelevant.

What I also found interesting were the fairly lousy reviews by contemporary critics of The Great Gatsby, as well as Hemingway's comments that Fitzgerald had wasted his talent. It sounds like Fitzgerald's early works were greeted not unlike Dan Brown's...they were popular sellers, but trashed by the literary snobs of the day. I feel vindicated now that I've learned I'm in agreement with book critics of the 1920s, and even authors contemporary to Fitzgerald. :biggrin: Maybe that's why I actually like Hemingway's novels?
I'd like to know who today thinks Fitzgerald ranks among great writers? Please, name someone. Just because its forced down the throats of high school students doesn't mean its considered good art.

I think the problem is you refuse to distinguish between literature as 'art' and literature as entertainment. I prefer literature as art. I prefer movies as art as well, which is why I'm so picky about which movies I'll watch.
 

Moonbear

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franznietzsche said:
So by that logic, The Elegant Universe is a good physics book. Wait.....
Nope, but it might make it good fiction. :biggrin: Keep in mind I'm asking about literature/fiction, not textbook or reference material.

I really try hard to find meanings those "great" authors never intended in their books? News to me.
Well, I don't really know what you try to do or not. You're the one who said that metaphor and symbolism stuff is what makes it good, so I'm trying to figure out if it's really even there, or yet another subjective argument.

I've never met a person who liked War and Peace, including my grand father and my mother, both with English degrees. I despised War and Peace, and it turned me off on Tolstoy as a whole permanently. I've been told that Anna Karenina is much better, but I'm very reluctant to read anything he's written now.
Well, of what I read, I liked it, so now you've met one. If nobody likes it, why is such a big deal always made of it?

And? There was a story similar to that told by English teacher (same one) about Robert Frost who sat in on a university lecture regarding one of his poems. Something to the effect of him taking a walk, being pooped on by a bird, and ruing the day. The professor described this as a 'very dark' poem and went on for some time about it with class discussion. After a while he turned to Frost and asked what he though of there discussion. Frost simply said that he wrote the poem after taking a walk and being pooped on by bird and that was about it, that essentially he had intended none of the dark meaning the professor was drawing out of it. So yeah, thats true. Its also irrelevant.
Why irrelevant? It's the entire point. If the reader is finding stuff the author never wrote or intended, doesn't that make it bad writing rather than good? Or, it just means that "good" writing really is entirely subjective to what the reader finds in the story, not that there's something the author has actually done that is particularly skillful or intentional.

I'd like to know who today thinks Fitzgerald ranks among great writers? Please, name someone. Just because its forced down the throats of high school students doesn't mean its considered good art.
A quick google search answers that. Who decides to teach it? If nobody thinks he's a great writer, why would they teach his books instead of someone else's? Or do you mean YOU don't like Fitzgerald?
Some examples:
"Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an Irish American Jazz Age novelist and short story writer. He is regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Written in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is often referred to as "The Great American Novel," and as the quintessential work which captures the mood of the "Jazz Age.""
http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/gatsby.html

"F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life had “some sort of epic grandeur.” He was a hero with many flaws, but a hero. In a professional career of twenty years he wrote three of the great American novels (one of them unfinished) and a score of brilliant stories while afflicted with a host of troubles, many of his own making. He was honorable and generous. His words endure."
http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/preface.html

I think the problem is you refuse to distinguish between literature as 'art' and literature as entertainment. I prefer literature as art. I prefer movies as art as well, which is why I'm so picky about which movies I'll watch.
So, you'll see a movie or read a book you don't find entertaining because there's something artistic about it? :confused: Okay, then if it's not due to it's ability to entertain you, what do you define as art? What makes a book art? I'm not refusing to distinguish anything, I'm just trying to figure out what people mean when they say one writer is "good" and another isn't. If it's entirely in the eye of the beholder, just as art is, then my question is answered.
 
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Moonbear said:
Nope, but it might make it good fiction. :biggrin: Keep in mind I'm asking about literature/fiction, not textbook or reference material.

Well, I don't really know what you try to do or not. You're the one who said that metaphor and symbolism stuff is what makes it good, so I'm trying to figure out if it's really even there, or yet another subjective argument.

Well, of what I read, I liked it, so now you've met one. If nobody likes it, why is such a big deal always made of it?
I don't know. But you are the first person I've known to have enjoyed the book--even though you never finished it.

Why irrelevant? It's the entire point. If the reader is finding stuff the author never wrote or intended, doesn't that make it bad writing rather than good? Or, it just means that "good" writing really is entirely subjective to what the reader finds in the story, not that there's something the author has actually done that is particularly skillful or intentional.
I disagree. There are times where its intentional and times where its not. I think you're trying to be too scientific about this. Is 'good' purely objective? No. Is it ever? No. If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of what qualifies something as good, then its a value judgement and as such is entirely subjective (though it can be absed on objective criteria, but the choice of those criteria is arbitrary and subjective).


A quick google search answers that. Who decides to teach it? If nobody thinks he's a great writer, why would they teach his books instead of someone else's? Or do you mean YOU don't like Fitzgerald?
Some examples:
"Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an Irish American Jazz Age novelist and short story writer. He is regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Written in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is often referred to as "The Great American Novel," and as the quintessential work which captures the mood of the "Jazz Age.""
http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/gatsby.html

"F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life had “some sort of epic grandeur.” He was a hero with many flaws, but a hero. In a professional career of twenty years he wrote three of the great American novels (one of them unfinished) and a score of brilliant stories while afflicted with a host of troubles, many of his own making. He was honorable and generous. His words endure."
http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/preface.html
I dislike Fitzgerald as much as I dislike Tolstoy, personally. On a side note, I'd like to point out the fallacy of arguing 'Why would they teach his books if noone thinks they're great?'. But I suppose you're right. I had a peculiar set of english teachers in high school, who generally disliked those works that they themselves hadn't specifically chosen for the class (*cough* A Seperate Peace *cough*)

So, you'll see a movie or read a book you don't find entertaining because there's something artistic about it? :confused: Okay, then if it's not due to it's ability to entertain you, what do you define as art? What makes a book art? I'm not refusing to distinguish anything, I'm just trying to figure out what people mean when they say one writer is "good" and another isn't. If it's entirely in the eye of the beholder, just as art is, then my question is answered.
No, I find movies and books that are artistic to be entertaining. I get far more entertainment from musing about the roles of crime and punishment in Raskolnikov's mind, or the visual cinematographical styles that contribute to effective visual storytelling or the exact use of language as a reflection of philosophy in the works of the existentialist authors (Sartre, Kafka, Camus) than I ever get from cheap hollywood thrillers or 'pageturners'. And whether or not the author or director intended it is irrelevant.

An interesting though that just occurred to me, is that as a trend, I seem to have disliked most English literature. I have generally preferred Continental European literature, and have especially disliked American literature (not universally, but just as I think over the list of books I've liked and disliked that seems to be a trend.)
 
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Moonbear

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franznietzsche said:
I don't know. But you are the first person I've known to have enjoyed the book--even though you never finished it.
Hmm...I didn't know I was different about that. I want to go back and finish it, but I was interrupted from reading it for so long that I'd have to start over from the beginning to keep track of all the characters (a few have such similar sounding names, that it was a bit difficult remembering who was whom even the first time through...perhaps if Russian were my native tongue, they wouldn't sound similar at all).

I think you're trying to be too scientific about this.
Again, probably why English was never an appealing major for me. :biggrin:

No, I find movies and books that are artistic to be entertaining. I get far more entertainment from musing about the roles of crime and punishment in Raskolnikov's mind, or the visual cinematographical styles that contribute to effective visual storytelling or the exact use of language as a reflection of philosophy in the works of the existentialist authors (Sartre, Kafka, Camus) than I ever get from cheap hollywood thrillers or 'pageturners'. And whether or not the author or director intended it is irrelevant.
Hmm...but then doesn't that refute your argument that there's a distinction between appreciating writing for entertainment vs artistic value? It just happens that there's some quality you're calling artistic that is what entertains you.

But, anyway, I guess I'm understanding you...maybe. Would I be correct if I said your dislike of Dan Brown's works is that there isn't enough depth of thought, that he just spells everything out for you, so you don't have to figure out any of it on your own? That's the sort of information I've been trying to get people to share. Even though I've read the book and enjoyed it, if I hadn't, someone just telling me he's a bad writer doesn't really tell me if I would want to read it or not, because I don't know why they think he's a bad writer, and if that's something that I would dislike too. So, yeah, something with a more complex plot keeps my mind more occupied, but I also enjoy the very straightforward, you don't have to think too hard to read it, page-turner (as you call it)...it depends on my mood, and the amount of time I have free to read the book. I would choose something different if I was taking a weeklong vacation and could spend hours upon hours devouring a book in a single or just a few sittings rather than when I have a few hours here and there to read before I go to sleep at night, when I'd lose track of a complex plot by having to break up the reading over such a long time.

An interesting though that just occurred to me, is that as a trend, I seem to have disliked most English literature. I have generally preferred Continental European literature, and have especially disliked American literature (not universally, but just as I think over the list of books I've liked and disliked that seems to be a trend.)
Does that have anything to do with the time period the works were written? I don't know what you like and don't like, but one possibility is that American literature is just "newer" so might be of a period that doesn't appeal to you. Or it could just be the subject matter, or styles prevalent regionally.

Well, I'm going to get back to The Eleventh Commandment now. It has a good set-up, so I hope it continues in that vein. I'm in the mood for a few surpise twists and turns in the plot and hope the author doesn't disappoint me on that.
 
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Dan Brown's books are enjoyable, IMHO, because they are a mix of intrigue, science and action. I always learned something new from each of his books. Well, maybe the fact that I like his books goes to show how shallow my mind is...

Recently finished "Digital fortress". The best part was the chase in the streets of Seville, and the apotheosis in the Giralda. It reminded me of when I climbed the Giralda Tower when I was a teenager. Ah, those were the good times...
 
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Integral

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What is wrong with War and Peace? I have read much worse. But then I was interested in Napoleonic Warfare history, so may have been looking for something much different. Yes I have read all of it.
 
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Moonbear said:
Can you, or anybody claiming it was bad writing, please clarify what you mean by that? Does that mean you didn't like the plot, or it was too outlandish to believe, or it rambled on without a clear plot, or it was riddled with grammatical errors, or it just didn't hold your interest, or as a mystery the ending was too predictable, or it just wasn't original enough, or what? What do you consider an example of good writing, and why? Maybe this is why I was never interested in being an English major, but I've never been offered an explanation of what makes something a bad book, a good book, or a great book, other than the personal preferences/tastes of the reader.
Sorry I didn't explain myself. I guess I think bad writing is defined by the plot as well as, an incoherent and contradictory writing style. I will admit that I found 'Angels and Demons' more tolerable than 'The Da Vinci Code'. He did better in that one in my opinion.

But with 'The Da Vinci Code' I could not stand the incessant use of damn footnotes. About 90% of those footnotes were completely unnecessary and the only purpose they served was to interrupt your reading. Also he had some footnotes that I felt pretty much said "disregard everything I've written here". I guess that shouldn't matter for a fictional story, but it was still annoying. While there were indeed grammatical errors throughout the book I believe that it comes down to the editors not doing their jobs correctly. So I don't see that grammatical errors particularly fall on the author, unless of course the author had refused to use an editor in the firm belief that he was perfect.

Some authors (fiction) that write well are:
Nevil Shute
Alexander Dumas
George McDonald Fraser
Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler isn't a brilliant author, but he normally writes reasonably good stories and his writing is usually pretty clear and concise.
 
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arildno

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As I see it, if there is to be any sort of meaning in the distinction between a book-as-art and book-as-enternainment, it would be roughly this:

1) A book-as-art has the potential to be experienced in many ways, and upon re-reading it, you may find it to be a very different read than your first time (for example, some characters might now be seen as pivotal, rather than incidental to the story).

2) A book-as-entertainment will give you roughly the same experience every time you read it.

However, for books of type 1), it doesn't follow that the element of good story-telling is not a necessary and fundamental requirement in judging the quality of the book.
If the story is dumb and choked with symbolism, it is still a bad book, even though upon re-reading it you'll be able to find new meanings in it.

As for 2), it doesn't follow that a good book of this type is always inferior than a good book of type 1); an author's ability to suck the reader into the same story time after time again is actually a very good achievement.

To take an example, I still shudder at the image of Israel Hands with a knife in his mouth crawling up the rigging towards Jim Hawkins hanging there helplessly.
It doesn't matter if it is the same scene played over and over again, it is still masterly written (as the rest of the book).
 
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Moonbear

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arildno said:
As I see it, if there is to be any sort of meaning in the distinction between a book-as-art and book-as-enternainment, it would be roughly this:

1) A book-as-art has the potential to be experienced in many ways, and upon re-reading it, you may find it to be a very different read than your first time (for example, some characters might now be seen as pivotal, rather than incidental to the story).

2) A book-as-entertainment will give you roughly the same experience every time you read it.
Ah! Now that's an explanation I can grasp! That makes sense, though I had never thought of it that way before. I know there are a few novels that I was forced to read in school that didn't really hold my interest, but I went back to read them years later (one of those things where there's nothing previously unread on my bookshelf and it's a cold, dreary night when I just want to curl up with a book, so grabbed one I hadn't read since high school or college), and I found them much more interesting and enjoyable. But, I just chalked it up to them being written for a more mature audience with themes that were really out of reach of a high school student's experiences. I realized there were things I just "didnt' get" on the first read simply because I was too young and naive to really think about things that way.

With that distinction, yes, Dan Brown's books fall into category #2. I wouldn't bother to read them a second time, because once you know the ending, there's really nothing new I'd expect to find on a second read, whereas other books, I might want to go back and reread knowing the ending to look for the things I know I missed or didn't appreciate as important on the first read. Though, I've never encountered a book I wanted to read more than twice. Even the second time, most become pretty boring if I read it carefully the first time, even those riddled with symbolism (though that could be because I read them for classes and we picked the symbolism to death on the first pass through, so there was nothing new left to find on a second reading). I don't at all like books if you have to have a certain prior knowledge to complete the "scavenger hunt" for symbols, or have had certain experiences in life to get the "inside jokes" as I'd call them. It just means you can't just go ahead and read it without a tour guide, or you'll miss a lot of it. I prefer something more accessible, that I don't need to hunt for clues to what the plot is.
 

arildno

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Well, as I see it, a book that is beautifully written, and imparts sharp, poignant images (whether those images are multi-layered or simply descriptive of, say, a certain emotional state), then it might well be worth to re-live the experience at some time, or glean some new ones.
 

Moonbear

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big man said:
But with 'The Da Vinci Code' I could not stand the incessant use of damn footnotes. About 90% of those footnotes were completely unnecessary and the only purpose they served was to interrupt your reading.
You actually bothered reading the footnotes? I didn't even remember it had footnotes until you mentioned it. When there are footnotes in a novel, I ignore them. The reason they are footnotes is just that, they would interrupt reading the story to explain them right in the text and aren't necessary for the story, so unless I'm really curious about the reference information associated with a particular tidbit in the story, I don't need to follow them. I think I browsed through some of them after completing the story. If you went through the tedious process of reading every footnote, I can see why you didn't enjoy the story much.
 

JamesU

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There was only one footnote...:confused:
 
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Well the copy I have has a lot more than just one footnote :confused:

Unfortunately because they're there I have to read them...I don't know why, but I just can't help myself. So yeah, that was a major annoyance for me as a result.
 
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arildno

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Not surprising. yomamma has the edition for 12 year olds.
 

Moonbear

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yomamma said:
There was only one footnote...:confused:
I had to go back and double check. You're right...no footnotes in my version (or very few since flipping through the pages didn't reveal them readily). I have read books with footnotes though, so it was easy to misremember that bit.

The footnotes must be something added by the editors/publishers...maybe under pressure from various groups to provide factual information? I've read other books where the publisher has done that, to fill in historical information to help explain the author's intent or whatnot. I do find it irritating...if I wanted commentary along with the story, I'd buy the Cliff's Notes for the book. :rolleyes:

Do you have a hardcover or paperback version? Mine's the hardcover version because I bought it before it was hyped by everyone, when it was still fairly new.
 
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1
Currently I'am reading:
The complete idoits guide for Caclus(not that I'am one but when your learning Caclus for fun your either a genius or your not)
Physics Demystified
 

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