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#1 Posted by YI_Orange (1142 posts) -

Yes I know that good depends on the person.

Anyway, recently I've been thinking about trying to get back into books, only to realize I have absolutely no idea where to start, and no idea how to solve this problem. When it comes to games, tv, and movies, it's plenty easy for me to pick out the things I'll like. If I do find myself having a hard time finding something I'll search for "greatest" lists and look for constants then dig deeper on those. I tried that with books, but found myself kind of groaning at a lot of the entries, which of course makes me a little skeptical of the list's usefulness to me as a whole. Though, it would help if I knew what I was looking for, but I haven't read enough in the better part of a decade to really say with authority what I do and don't want.

So, I'm not really asking for suggestions, I'm asking how YOU find books. Of course, if soliciting suggestions is (one of) the best method(s) then maybe I'll have to try and come up with some criteria. Though if there's a book you think is so good that you would suggest it to everybody regardless of what and how much you know about their tastes, feel free to drop that here I guess.

Teach me how to read, Giantbomb.

#2 Edited by believer258 (11792 posts) -

A lot of people liked that Altered Carbon book. I liked it, but I read a lot of it in the middle of the night when I was half awake and I must have done it a disservice. Might be worth a shot.

Despite being an English major, I am in the same boat as you. Over the years at college, I would spend so much of every day reading that I didn't really feel like reading as a leisure activity at the end of the day. So I also need to go seeking out what to read, though to be honest I already know that I want to read Stephen King's Dark Tower series pretty soon.

I keep hearing about a website called "Goodreads" that gives you recommendations based on what you've read. Might be worth checking out, as long as you're willing to give everything a shot.

EDIT: Also, it's worth mentioning that the library is your friend. Get list of books you think sound interesting, go to the library, check them out, and keep reading any of them to see if you find them interesting.

Online
#3 Edited by Fear_the_Booboo (428 posts) -

I kind of genuinely like classic so I read those. I'm french so Proust, Flaubert, Balzac, that kind of stuff. I can read english too so that helps. It's easy then 'cause there's so many classics that I'll probably never be done with those. And then I love philosophy sooooo, I'll never be done reading what I wanna read.

That said, I totally understand people that hate all that stuff. I can't really help you except saying that you should read Anna Karenina if you haven't, being my favorite book and @rorie's as well, unless I'm mistaken.

#4 Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

I'm just going to have the balls to say it.

Between movies, games, and music I have little time to find let alone read many books so I'm just going to give my 100% truthful answer.

I wait for adaptations of books to other mediums.

#5 Posted by Hone_McBone (134 posts) -

Just picked up a kindle so I'm kind of in the same boat in terms of trying to figure out where to start. Saying that though I've got a backlog of reading from the story bundle packs and I did start downloading the free classics, just got through some Jules Verne.

In terms of looking for new books I've taken note of some that look interesting in bookstores that are usually the suggested reads they have on displays as well as going onto amazon to books I've read before to see what other books people who brought them also picked up.

If you want some suggestions I like Robert Wilson, his A Small Death in Lisbon & Falcon series, Conn Iggulden's Emperor series. The Running Man by Stephen King is a great way to get back into reading too, short easy fast paced story if you haven't read it.

#6 Posted by Clonedzero (4200 posts) -

I don't read books all that often. Though when i do its usually suggested to me by a friend or family member.

#7 Edited by forkboy (1138 posts) -

For reading, a lot of it has been like how I used to decide what records to buy, before the internet made it easy to "vet" albums before splashing the cash. Not exactly buying it on its cover, but on the subject, the blurb on the back, maybe even flick through it and have a look at the first chapter (I'm talking about non-fiction here, I tend to read more books on history & politics than fiction these days). And obvious if I've read & enjoyed, for example, Robert Service's biography of Lenin then I see he has biography on Stalin I'll pick it up and give it ago. Or Antony Beevor, whose book on the Spanish Civil War I greatly enjoyed, so I picked up his book on World War 2.

Obviously it's not foolproof. Something Awful's various history threads often have worthwhile recommendations.

It depends what you want. A lot of my interests in fiction are stuff that my parents had on their bookshelves when I was a teenager, science fiction like Dick & Harry Harrison. And then as I've gotten a bit older I decided to hit some more "classic" books, from your top 100 lists.

So basically it varies but if you have a local library, abuse the fuck out of it. Libraries are a godsend.

#8 Posted by Rejizzle (292 posts) -

As an English major I am forced to read the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Other than that I mostly get recommendations from friends and family.

#9 Posted by Greonhal (14 posts) -

Most of the books I've read lately I found on TV Tropes, and thought they sounded interesting. That only works, of course, if you're willing to lose a day or five on TV Tropes.

#10 Edited by j0lter (226 posts) -

Started reading these, and through going to the book store to buy the next books in the series I found a whole section of fantasy books that were similar. Just go to your local book store and find your favorite genre and peruse the section.

#11 Posted by erhard (399 posts) -

Look at what your favorite author praises and writes about. When I began to have a budding interest in books I read Nabokov and Kafka and went from there.

I'm an advocate of skipping the "intermediate stage" and immediately putting yourself in the safekeeping of good taste, which means reading authors like Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Flaubert (and so on) as soon as possible. When someone asks me what to read I'll always say either Lolita or The Trial. If those can't make you fall in love with reading I don't know what will.

#12 Edited by spraynardtatum (2809 posts) -

I hate to say it but a lot of the time it's through Amazon suggestion chains. "If you like that you may like...*vomits in mouth* ". I then take those suggestions and promptly reserve them at the library.

I used to just go to half price books or Barnes and Noble and pick out stuff that sounded interesting so I still have a lot of those to read at my apartment.

#13 Edited by Tom_omb (386 posts) -

I don't read a lot of novels or non fiction capital B "Books," but will on occasion. I have a large backlog of books to read, so I don't exactly seek them out.

There are some books that rise to the surface that I hear being praised or plugged in the types of media I consume. Ready Player One is a book that's gotten a lot of buzz in nerdy circles that I might consider reading. Audible, an audio book service, ads on podcasts often give recommendations relevant to the interests of the listeners. A comedy podcast suggest you check out the books by Sara Silverman or Patton Oswalt, for example. DC Pierson has plugged his book, Crap Kingdom, so much on Doug Loves Movies I'd like to read it.

You could always just go to your local Library or Book Store and see if anything on the shelves interest you. I discovered John Hodgman's book series this way. I enjoy reading classics as well. Take a book, like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and sort of reverse engineer the culture it has influenced by going to the source. Raymond Chandler's books are so short and easy to read I've read a handful.

#14 Edited by Encephalon (1242 posts) -

If I don't know precisely what I'm looking for, it's recommendations from people I admire. Then there's always the good old shit I had to read for English major. They're considered classics for a reason, most of them, anyway.

#15 Edited by MattyFTM (14368 posts) -

Goodreads.com is generally pretty good for suggestions and stuff. There's various ways to find books on there. They have a suggestions engine if you've rated over 10 books, there's lists, groups and all sorts of stuff to dig into to find books that appeal to you.

EDIT: Seems the site is down at the moment, but it is definitely worth a look when it comes back up.

Moderator
#16 Posted by stryker1121 (1403 posts) -

Think about what genres or authors you enjoy and check out Goodreads? (Site is down right now, FYI).

#17 Posted by YI_Orange (1142 posts) -

@erhard: Like a few others in this thread, I'm an English major(writing, rhetoric and communications as opposed to literature though so it's not all books). But I actually had to read Lolita for a class this semester. I'm not really sure how I feel about that book, but I'll grant that it is beautifully written and partially responsible for this renewed interest in books(though it did linger more often than I'd have liked).

Since I don't have an authority on books at the moment, it seems like my best bet is to just browse and take a shot at something, and use goodreads to the best of my abilities. Thanks for the input everyone.

#18 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

I read only classics as far as fiction goes. For non fiction try to read books that focus on specific events; anything that generalizes an entire period is almost certainly going to be terrible (exceptions like William L. Shirer or the Crucible of Power). Most books that focus on a specific battle are worth reading, books that cover an entire war are rarely so (Trevor Boyle's Crimea another exception). Philosophy aside from Bentham is almost universally worth reading, whether or not you agree with the arguments presented.

Also you could just spend the rest of your life reading Three Kingdoms, Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad, and Proverbs in the Bible over and over and that would probably lead to more wisdom than reading other stuff. There's quite a lot of shit out there to read that just isn't worth cluttering your mind with.

#19 Edited by Example1013 (4834 posts) -

I stopped reading books years ago. Mostly my mom picked out books for me to read, or I'd just grab a random book off the shelf in the library and start reading it.

#20 Posted by GunslingerPanda (4705 posts) -

Just go on Amazon or Goodreads and browse books. Read the summaries and blurbs until one piques your interest, then hit the buy button.

#21 Posted by forkboy (1138 posts) -

I read only classics as far as fiction goes. For non fiction try to read books that focus on specific events; anything that generalizes an entire period is almost certainly going to be terrible (exceptions like William L. Shirer or the Crucible of Power). Most books that focus on a specific battle are worth reading, books that cover an entire war are rarely so (Trevor Boyle's Crimea another exception). Philosophy aside from Bentham is almost universally worth reading, whether or not you agree with the arguments presented.

Also you could just spend the rest of your life reading Three Kingdoms, Shakespeare, and Proverbs in the Bible over and over and that would probably lead to more wisdom than reading other stuff. There's quite a lot of shit out there to read that just isn't worth cluttering your mind with.

I'll be honest, having to read Shakespeare in High School made me want to never have to read Shakespeare ever again. Or watch Shakespeare for that matter. I'll even take Neil Fergusson trash over having to read ye olde English ever again. And I think Fergusson writes godawful popular history books which fetishise the glory of the British Empire.

#22 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

@forkboy: Do you like films such as The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood? The characters depicted in said films would not exist if not for Iago in Othello. Shakespeare (whether or not Shakespeare is a conglomeration of people or just a single guy) is unassailable though so there's not really any point arguing, it'd be like saying the Beatles weren't the greatest rock group.

#23 Edited by fisk0 (4031 posts) -

You can never go wrong with novelizations of 90's video games!

Other than that, my primary method of discovering good books is looking at the back cover and trying to figure out if it's cyberpunk or not. If it is, it's probably good.

#24 Edited by thomasnash (553 posts) -

I feel what you're going through! I've been trying to broaden my horizons with poetry recently, and have found it tricky to know what to invest time in - especially as coverage of poetry is pretty slight, even in literary magazines!

I mostly trawl through the Guardian's book reviews and see what catches my eye. It's a relatively low hit rate in terms of fiction but that's mostly just because I've become overly picky about novels in recent years. I do find out about a lot of interesting non-fiction though.

I do read quite a lot of non-fiction though, and I find that a lot easier because you go into it with an idea of what you're looking for: If I decide I want to learn a bit more about epigenetics or something, then you can just type that into amazon and try and find the book that seems like it will be most pitched at the level you want, whether you want an easy pop-sci primer or a hardcore academic examination or whatever (mostly the former!).

I suppose you could apply the same methods to finding fiction if you're looking for genre fiction? If you want to read some sci-fi, then you can look at that genre and refine your search based on what sort of sci-fi you like. But I don't think you can apply that to what they call "literary fiction" and if you tried you'd be more likely to read something that is highly recommended but not to your taste, or just plain bad.

With all that in mind I would say don't be afraid of judging books by their cover (or blurbs); in some ways if you want to become a "good reader" it's just as important to read things you don't necessarily come out of liking (although hopefully you'll find something to like in everything you read!)

#25 Edited by jaycrockett (442 posts) -

The nook e-reader has a decent curation system (like best-sellers, by genre, etc) and every book has a sample you can download. So you can just troll through a bunch of sample until something strikes your fancy. I assume the kindle has something similar.

Back in my youth when I was an avid reader I would : go to the many bookstores around (harder now). Go to the library. Join a book club like the the Science Fiction Book Club (which is excellent).

#26 Edited by forkboy (1138 posts) -

@forkboy: Do you like films such as The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood? The characters depicted in said films would not exist if not for Iago in Othello. Shakespeare (whether or not Shakespeare is a conglomeration of people or just a single guy) is unassailable though so there's not really any point arguing, it'd be like saying the Beatles weren't the greatest rock group.

I respect Shakespeare's influence on western literature (& more contemporary entertainment forms) in much the same way I respect Chaucer. Or the way I respect the influence of Venom on black metal but I really don't ever want to listen to Venom when I can listen to Mayhem or Burzum or Shining or a couple dozen other contemporary black metal bands. My big hangup is olde English. I don't speak it. If I was interested in the historical development of the English language then I could see reading those things. But when I want to watch a film of Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus or Kenneth Branagh's Othello (I got it free on DVD with a newspaper) I want to appreciate the film without wracking my brain to work out what the fuck these dudes are saying.

I mean I could read Dostoyevsky in High School in translation into modern English so why do I need to read Shakespeare in 400 year old language? It is totally my hangup & I don't think Shakespeare is bad, I just don't have any interest in reading him in a long outdated version of a language, much the same way that I find reading the King James Bible super distracting rather than being able to appreciate the wonderful prose.

Ultimately I am not a student, I read for pleasure, and I'm just not going to ever choose to read something in a language I don't speak unless I decide to learn a foreign language. I've no interest in Latin and no interest in Olde English.

#27 Posted by CaLe (3959 posts) -

Many books I've read have a list of other books in the back of them, usually similar in theme. I just get them if the title sounds interesting. I don't think I've ever read a review of a book, and have no interest in what many consider to be classics or must-reads. I like horror and sci-fi and so mostly just get books in those genres, as long as they have interesting titles/covers. That's all that matters because I can't judge whether something I'm reading is well written or not. I just read it and get it over with. You forget most of what you read after a few days anyway so who cares.

#28 Edited by ShaggE (6416 posts) -

Short story collections are my go-to when I don't want to take chances on an author I don't know. Especially as a horror fan, since there are approximately 10,000,059 new horror authors every other week.

Edit: Tangentially related: One of my shames is that I never read Clive Barker's Hellbound Heart, despite being a big Hellraiser fan. I picked it up yesterday at the local used book emporium (which, by the way, is the best bookstore ever). Fucking hell, that intro is incredible. It's weird that Pinhead's voice is described as "excitable and girlish", but man... that whole sequence gave me chills. No wonder The Scarlet Gospels is so anticipated.

#29 Edited by believer258 (11792 posts) -

@forkboy said:

@fredchuckdave said:

@forkboy: Do you like films such as The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood? The characters depicted in said films would not exist if not for Iago in Othello. Shakespeare (whether or not Shakespeare is a conglomeration of people or just a single guy) is unassailable though so there's not really any point arguing, it'd be like saying the Beatles weren't the greatest rock group.

I respect Shakespeare's influence on western literature (& more contemporary entertainment forms) in much the same way I respect Chaucer. Or the way I respect the influence of Venom on black metal but I really don't ever want to listen to Venom when I can listen to Mayhem or Burzum or Shining or a couple dozen other contemporary black metal bands. My big hangup is olde English. I don't speak it. If I was interested in the historical development of the English language then I could see reading those things. But when I want to watch a film of Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus or Kenneth Branagh's Othello (I got it free on DVD with a newspaper) I want to appreciate the film without wracking my brain to work out what the fuck these dudes are saying.

I mean I could read Dostoyevsky in High School in translation into modern English so why do I need to read Shakespeare in 400 year old language? It is totally my hangup & I don't think Shakespeare is bad, I just don't have any interest in reading him in a long outdated version of a language, much the same way that I find reading the King James Bible super distracting rather than being able to appreciate the wonderful prose.

Ultimately I am not a student, I read for pleasure, and I'm just not going to ever choose to read something in a language I don't speak unless I decide to learn a foreign language. I've no interest in Latin and no interest in Olde English.

Just a question, what do you think Old English is? Chaucer wrote in Middle English. Shakespeare wrote in early Modern English. Old English looks like this:

I ask because I have heard a few people call Shakespeare (and other English written in that period) "old" and it isn't. Old English looks like that and sounds (very) roughly German (as it was a Germanic language).

I'm sure that someone, somewhere has "translated" Shakespeare in something approximating the written word today, but Shakespeare is definitely readable. You need to read it slowly at first, but you shouldn't need a language class to understand it, though I do understand not wanting to ever read it again.

Online
#30 Posted by Whitestripes09 (401 posts) -

It varies mostly... I tend to read science fiction the most, so I've been reading many classics or "new" classics like Neuromancer. More recently though, I've been pretty tired of reading science fiction, so I've been looking at recommendations based on what I've read in the past that I really liked. Sometimes there are also spotlights on new upcoming authors on i09 that are pretty unique and interesting.

#31 Posted by BabyChooChoo (4391 posts) -

Long, deep, depressing browses through Amazon.

#32 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4712 posts) -

I go into my local bookstore and talk with the register jockeys. They're very nice ladies and well-read.

Online
#33 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4712 posts) -

@shagge said:

Short story collections are my go-to when I don't want to take chances on an author I don't know. Especially as a horror fan, since there are approximately 10,000,059 new horror authors every other week.

Edit: Tangentially related: One of my shames is that I never read Clive Barker's Hellbound Heart, despite being a big Hellraiser fan. I picked it up yesterday at the local used book emporium (which, by the way, is the best bookstore ever). Fucking hell, that intro is incredible. It's weird that Pinhead's voice is described as "excitable and girlish", but man... that whole sequence gave me chills. No wonder The Scarlet Gospels is so anticipated.

Highlighting the awesome bits because Clive Barker deserves more recognition than he often gets.

Yes he's weird, yes he's probably mentally unstable, but the man can fucking write.

Online
#34 Posted by forkboy (1138 posts) -

@forkboy said:

@fredchuckdave said:

@forkboy: Do you like films such as The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood? The characters depicted in said films would not exist if not for Iago in Othello. Shakespeare (whether or not Shakespeare is a conglomeration of people or just a single guy) is unassailable though so there's not really any point arguing, it'd be like saying the Beatles weren't the greatest rock group.

I respect Shakespeare's influence on western literature (& more contemporary entertainment forms) in much the same way I respect Chaucer. Or the way I respect the influence of Venom on black metal but I really don't ever want to listen to Venom when I can listen to Mayhem or Burzum or Shining or a couple dozen other contemporary black metal bands. My big hangup is olde English. I don't speak it. If I was interested in the historical development of the English language then I could see reading those things. But when I want to watch a film of Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus or Kenneth Branagh's Othello (I got it free on DVD with a newspaper) I want to appreciate the film without wracking my brain to work out what the fuck these dudes are saying.

I mean I could read Dostoyevsky in High School in translation into modern English so why do I need to read Shakespeare in 400 year old language? It is totally my hangup & I don't think Shakespeare is bad, I just don't have any interest in reading him in a long outdated version of a language, much the same way that I find reading the King James Bible super distracting rather than being able to appreciate the wonderful prose.

Ultimately I am not a student, I read for pleasure, and I'm just not going to ever choose to read something in a language I don't speak unless I decide to learn a foreign language. I've no interest in Latin and no interest in Olde English.

Just a question, what do you think Old English is? Chaucer wrote in Middle English. Shakespeare wrote in early Modern English. Old English looks like this:

I ask because I have heard a few people call Shakespeare (and other English written in that period) "old" and it isn't. Old English looks like that and sounds (very) roughly German (as it was a Germanic language).

I'm sure that someone, somewhere has "translated" Shakespeare in something approximating the written word today, but Shakespeare is definitely readable. You need to read it slowly at first, but you shouldn't need a language class to understand it, though I do understand not wanting to ever read it again.

I'm being slightly facetious of course, that shit isn't Beowulf. When I say olde English (rather than Old English, which I am aware is the language of the Saxon/Angle invaders in the 6th century) I just mean the sort of cartoony use of it. Like you'll see a pub sign in an old Looney Tunes cartoon, Ye Olde Englishe Inne), But it's still an archaic language that I didn't grow up reading, and only ever read in Billy Shakespeare's work. Even something like Jonathan Swift, 100 years after Willie, doesn't feel nearly as heavy on the thee & thou type language. It's easier for me to read it than it is to listen to it spoken, I have tried watching Shakespeare films for example and I need at the very least to put on subtitles.

But I don't think I'm the first person to have an issue with Early Modern English (to use the proper term). I could get my around it if I really wanted to. If I needed to. But I'm just perfectly happy reaping the rewards of his influence without the need to read the source material.

#35 Posted by StarvingGamer (8146 posts) -

I look for the ones that say Terry Pratchett on them.

#36 Posted by EarlessShrimp (1633 posts) -

It certainly helps to work at a library. But, I'll usually end up on goodreads if my co-workers don't tickle my fancy (they, for the most part, don't). However, I only really use goodreads to find good picture books that we need, or at least should, add to our Children's collection. haven't tried it too much for adult books. Just looking around and sampling is probably the best way to find books I really like to read.

#37 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (466 posts) -

@shagge said:

Short story collections are my go-to when I don't want to take chances on an author I don't know. Especially as a horror fan, since there are approximately 10,000,059 new horror authors every other week.

Edit: Tangentially related: One of my shames is that I never read Clive Barker's Hellbound Heart, despite being a big Hellraiser fan. I picked it up yesterday at the local used book emporium (which, by the way, is the best bookstore ever). Fucking hell, that intro is incredible. It's weird that Pinhead's voice is described as "excitable and girlish", but man... that whole sequence gave me chills. No wonder The Scarlet Gospels is so anticipated.

Highlighting the awesome bits because Clive Barker deserves more recognition than he often gets.

Yes he's weird, yes he's probably mentally unstable, but the man can fucking write.

Here here. "Books of Blood" is amazing, and a good place to start for anyone looking to get into Barker without making a down payment on one of his novels. If one just read the collected short works of Clive Barker and Harlan Ellison, they'd be good to go for life. No more reading required. You'd have ingested all the awesome there is.

#38 Posted by thomasnash (553 posts) -

@forkboy said:

@believer258 said:

@forkboy said:

@fredchuckdave said:

@forkboy: Do you like films such as The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood? The characters depicted in said films would not exist if not for Iago in Othello. Shakespeare (whether or not Shakespeare is a conglomeration of people or just a single guy) is unassailable though so there's not really any point arguing, it'd be like saying the Beatles weren't the greatest rock group.

I respect Shakespeare's influence on western literature (& more contemporary entertainment forms) in much the same way I respect Chaucer. Or the way I respect the influence of Venom on black metal but I really don't ever want to listen to Venom when I can listen to Mayhem or Burzum or Shining or a couple dozen other contemporary black metal bands. My big hangup is olde English. I don't speak it. If I was interested in the historical development of the English language then I could see reading those things. But when I want to watch a film of Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus or Kenneth Branagh's Othello (I got it free on DVD with a newspaper) I want to appreciate the film without wracking my brain to work out what the fuck these dudes are saying.

I mean I could read Dostoyevsky in High School in translation into modern English so why do I need to read Shakespeare in 400 year old language? It is totally my hangup & I don't think Shakespeare is bad, I just don't have any interest in reading him in a long outdated version of a language, much the same way that I find reading the King James Bible super distracting rather than being able to appreciate the wonderful prose.

Ultimately I am not a student, I read for pleasure, and I'm just not going to ever choose to read something in a language I don't speak unless I decide to learn a foreign language. I've no interest in Latin and no interest in Olde English.

Just a question, what do you think Old English is? Chaucer wrote in Middle English. Shakespeare wrote in early Modern English. Old English looks like this:

I ask because I have heard a few people call Shakespeare (and other English written in that period) "old" and it isn't. Old English looks like that and sounds (very) roughly German (as it was a Germanic language).

I'm sure that someone, somewhere has "translated" Shakespeare in something approximating the written word today, but Shakespeare is definitely readable. You need to read it slowly at first, but you shouldn't need a language class to understand it, though I do understand not wanting to ever read it again.

I'm being slightly facetious of course, that shit isn't Beowulf. When I say olde English (rather than Old English, which I am aware is the language of the Saxon/Angle invaders in the 6th century) I just mean the sort of cartoony use of it. Like you'll see a pub sign in an old Looney Tunes cartoon, Ye Olde Englishe Inne), But it's still an archaic language that I didn't grow up reading, and only ever read in Billy Shakespeare's work. Even something like Jonathan Swift, 100 years after Willie, doesn't feel nearly as heavy on the thee & thou type language. It's easier for me to read it than it is to listen to it spoken, I have tried watching Shakespeare films for example and I need at the very least to put on subtitles.

But I don't think I'm the first person to have an issue with Early Modern English (to use the proper term). I could get my around it if I really wanted to. If I needed to. But I'm just perfectly happy reaping the rewards of his influence without the need to read the source material.

That's more because he writes poetically, really. That's also the reason people don't really "translate" shakespeare (often), because a lot of what is worthwhile in shakespeare is the verse. If you read poetry from the same period as Swift, while it might not have a lot of theeing and thouing, it's definitely in an elevated, versified language.

Not that I'm saying your reasons aren't valid or anything! I think you made a really good individual case for not wanting to read/watch shakespeare without dismissing him out of hand.

#39 Posted by Atlas (2436 posts) -

Goodreads, Amazon, stuff like that. But I also get a lot of book recommendations from my Mother, and we often enjoy similar kinds of books - she got me into Kazuo Ishiguro's books, and those are some of my favourites. So it's usually a historical/fantasy/sci-fi weird thing that I found online, or it's a "serious" drama fiction from her. And the occasional classic work of fiction like Kafka, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Thomas Pynchon. For history books, I tend to search in museum book shops, and in the past I've gotten recommendations from tutors on courses that I'd done.

And also, I should definitely read much more than I do.

#40 Posted by ShaggE (6416 posts) -

@shagge said:

Short story collections are my go-to when I don't want to take chances on an author I don't know. Especially as a horror fan, since there are approximately 10,000,059 new horror authors every other week.

Edit: Tangentially related: One of my shames is that I never read Clive Barker's Hellbound Heart, despite being a big Hellraiser fan. I picked it up yesterday at the local used book emporium (which, by the way, is the best bookstore ever). Fucking hell, that intro is incredible. It's weird that Pinhead's voice is described as "excitable and girlish", but man... that whole sequence gave me chills. No wonder The Scarlet Gospels is so anticipated.

Highlighting the awesome bits because Clive Barker deserves more recognition than he often gets.

Yes he's weird, yes he's probably mentally unstable, but the man can fucking write.

Yeah, I haven't read a whole lot of Barker (I do want to pick up Damnation Game though), but he's consistently impressive. I read my copies of Books of Blood vols. 1 through 3 so many times I can all but recite the stories, haha.

#41 Edited by Mendelson9 (402 posts) -

Getting book recommendations is hard for me too but i'm a slow reader so I usually don't seek out book recommendations that much. I do use Goodreads.com to track what books I do read, it modivates me to read more and it also can recomend you books baced on other books you read. I would give that site a shot.

Edit: I just remembered, http://swordandlaser.com/ might be a good resorce for science fiction and fantasy books.

#42 Posted by Hunter5024 (5612 posts) -

I kind of do what you do, look for lists of the best stuff ever made, but I do it a little more specifically. Instead of the best books ever made I'd look for the best books in a specific genre I'm interested in. I'd read a lot of lists like these, see which novels are repeat offenders on these lists, do a little research on them, and decide which ones are most interesting to me. Then if I really like one I might look up which books are similar, this is helpful because people often speak in relation to other books, they might say stuff like "It's The Wheel of Time of Sci Fi" for example which means nothing if you've never read Wheel of Time. If you don't read a lot it's really about developing your tastes, figuring out which genres you're interested in, what you know you like, what you know you don't and so on. Once you know these tastes really well, it becomes a lot easier to find good stuff to read.

#43 Posted by Bombanana (36 posts) -

Read the classics, start with John Steinbeck.

#44 Posted by YI_Orange (1142 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: I actually kind of have an interest in philosophy, but from my admittedly tiny experience with it, the writing style is so far up it's own ass that it's almost impenetrable to non-enthusiasts. Not the content of the language, the structure of it. Is there anything worth reading that's maybe a little less convoluted?

#45 Posted by Poonz (133 posts) -

I usually try to keep track of what the others I really enjoy are doing. If I'm looking for some random book or just something to read if I have a trip coming up I'll go on amazon and go through their top 100 books of this year or last.

Sometimes if I'm feeling something specific and I can't find anything it easily. I'll go onto amazon on the book that I'm looking for something similar and I'll go to the lists that have similar books to find something.

#46 Edited by Thule (692 posts) -

I'm usually pretty picky about the books I like. I like Sci-fi, Fantasy, Historical fiction, (military) History. I tend to go to forums for my recommendations from other people. I'll usually read people's opinion on a book and then determine whether it's something I'm interested in. If it is, it gets put on 'the list'. If you're looking for a good forum to get recommendations then I'd recommend Something Awful's 'The Book Barn', there's bound to be something which appeals to you.

If you're interested in either Sci-fi or Fantasy or both, then this might be a good start:

http://www.thebookdorks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/what_science_fiction_fantasy_book_Should_i_REad.jpg

Almost anything on that flowchart is worth reading. And once you find something you like, you can easily try to find books which are similar.

#47 Posted by thomasnash (553 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: I actually kind of have an interest in philosophy, but from my admittedly tiny experience with it, the writing style is so far up it's own ass that it's almost impenetrable to non-enthusiasts. Not the content of the language, the structure of it. Is there anything worth reading that's maybe a little less convoluted?

Generally speaking if you look for books which call themselves "analytic" philosophy (as opposed to Continental Philosophy) you'll find things slightly easier. Analytic Philosophy tends to revolve a lot more around logic and weighing the value and truth of statements. By contrast the continental tradition is a bit more about building out conclusions from narratives and historical supposition. Unfortunately coming from a literature background I don't know a huge amount about them, because they aren't very popular in a subject dominated by deconstruction and post-modernist viewpoints, but I understand Bertrand Russel is a solid bet, or maybe you could go back a bit further to Leibniz. I've read a bit by JL Austin and Searle (about performative speech) which is interesting, and probably fits the analytic tag, but might be a bit specialised for people with a general interest.

With that said, you'll find any philosophy reading a lot easier if you read some of the "classic" examples of the early modern period - Descartes, Rousseau, Locke, Hume and so on. Hume is a philosopher who I personally especially enjoyed reading.

Or if it is that logical construction that you object to when you talk about the structure of philosophy, maybe you would actually prefer some of the more freewheeling and out there stuff - Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Hegel, Heidegger up to the dreaded mire of late 20th Century "Critical Theory" - which offers far fewer true/false propositions, but can be read in a more laid back way. In fact you kind of have to, because generally speaking their arguments have to be viewed in their totality; trying to keep up with the thread of their thought in the way you would with an analytic philosopher - by building outwards from small propositions to arrive at larger questions axiomatically - is pointless and just leads to you getting bogged down.

#48 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

@yi_orange: Philosophy's always going to be a little challenging just inherently; but there's no right or wrong way to interpret it most of the time. I'm a Christian and I had no issue reading most of Nietzsche's work for example; despite one of his books being titled "Antichrist." Worth noting is that most modern time travel fiction derives at least some inspiration from Nietzsche's infinite cycle.

Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill are both easier to read than stuff like Plato/Aristotle (who were sort of trying to create the basis of logic) but still have generally compelling points. A big thing with philosophy is that virtually every philosopher begs the question somewhere in their argument since that's just part of how philosophical arguments are structured; it is worth noticing when this happens but try not to ignore the entire point because of it.

I guess the biggest thing with philosophers is Determinism vs non-Determinism; Determinism (basically) states that the world is so complicated and convoluted that every decision you make is essentially "pre-destined" and would always play out the same way. This argument is almost completely invincible on a logical level and basically means that freedom of choice is absolutely an illusion. Knowing this makes you think about the world quite a bit differently, though it ultimately won't (har har) change your approach to things most likely. But at least for me I think Determinism is more compatible with God than not; the human perception of choice is all that is necessary for there to be a granting of free will; if we perceive it it doesn't matter if it actually exists or if its actually some part of an imperceptible divine plan. Whether or not you believe in God or not it is always worth investigating arguments both for and against the existence of God and usually some component of these is going to be related to Determinism.

Edit: Anyone else find it amusing how few views this thread has compared to the number of posts? Books!? I ain't reading that shit!

#49 Posted by TheBluthCompany (384 posts) -

When I was a kid, I would walk up and down the aisles at the local Half Price Books and randomly grab books and read the description of them.

@forkboy said:

So basically it varies but if you have a local library, abuse the fuck out of it. Libraries are a godsend.

Also do that.

#50 Posted by Dixavd (1344 posts) -

Reading's for chumps!