Readersforum's Blog

January 24, 2014

25 Big Novels That Are Worth Your Time

ProustBy Jason Diamond

What we love about big novels is that you have to get really comfortable with them. A big page count usually equals a big chunk of time, meaning you need to be a serious reader without a fear of commitment, but with books like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Sergio de la Pava’s A Naked Singularity receiving heaps of praise and major literary awards in 2013, there is a very great chance that this year will probably see its share of great novels that tip the scales at over 500 pages. With that, we offer you this list of epic page turners that you may have missed, skipped, or just couldn’t finish the first time, because we believe that bigger can certainly be better, and these books are proof of that.

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December 28, 2013

10 Books Based on Other Books

2666By Álvaro Enrigue, trans. from the Spanish by Brendan Riley

Álvaro Enrigue’s story collection Hypothermia explores identity and isolation through the eyes of garbage collectors, professors, and outcasts. It’s also loosely based on Dante’s Inferno. Enrigue picked 10 books that took inspiration from books that came before them. In “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”, Jorge Luis Borges tells the story of a writer who set out to reproduce Don Quixote de la Mancha without consulting the original text written by Cervantes. “He did not wish to compose another Quixote” –says Borges– “but the very Quixote itself. Needless to say he never set himself to the facile task of mechanically transcribing the original; it was not his intention to copy it.” In Borges’ story, Pierre Menard dedicates years to writing thousands of pages on his recollections of the novel and by the end of his life he achieves success: he reproduces two and a half chapters from Cervantes’ book without having copied them. In “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” Borges, himself a voracious reader, responds to a question which typically torments writers: Do books emerge from our experience or do they come from other books? The following is a list of great literary works which have set out to modify our reading of other, earlier ones.

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December 11, 2013

Ten Unbeatable Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers

santa-fifty-shadesBy Kimberly Turner

Sure, you could put on actual pants to go partake in some door-bustin’ shenanigans at the mall, but between jingling bells, decking halls, and consuming your body weight in holiday cookies, who has time for that? Not you, my friend. Not you. Know what else you don’t have time for? Sifting through page after page of Mega Lightning Cyber Xtreme Deals, hoping to stumble upon the perfect gift for your loved ones. No! That’s why we here at LitReactor have done the sifting for you and come up with ten amazing presents for your book-loving friends and fam. Think of it as our gift to you.

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October 8, 2013

The 20 Best Books in Translation You’ve Never Read

Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books, which specializes in great books in translation, as well as the Web Site Three Percent, gives us the benefit of his years of working with world literature–he’s narrowed his best books in translation list to 20.

True deceiverAs the director of Open Letter Books and Three Percent—and former Associate Director of Dalkey Archive Press—I’ve spent most of my adult life reading literature in translation. Why? In part because I find it fascinating to learn about other parts of the world, but mostly because there are so many incredibly good works in translation available to English readers.

On the surface, this seems to run counter to the commonly cited statistic that only 3% (or less) of the books published in the United States are originally written in another language. Quantity doesn’t necessarily relate to quality though. Even though there are just over 400 original translations of fiction and poetry being published in the States every year, the vast majority of these are top notch books—titles that are critically acclaimed in their own country, and often are written with a style and structure that can expand your ideas of what’s possible in fiction.

When Stephen Sparks of Green Apple Books and I started talking about putting together a 20-book list of translations, we immediately wanted to get away from some of the more obvious authors that populate lists of this sort—Garcia, Cortázar, Proust, Kafka, Tolstoy, etc. Not that these books aren’t amazing—they definitely are—but those are authors that most engaged readers have already heard of, oftentimes in a college class, or from one’s reading buddies.

So instead, we chose 20 of our favorite translations from around the world. Obviously, this could be expanded and expanded, but hopefully you’ll find at least a few new works of international literature to check out.

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October 7, 2013

David Bowie’s 75 Must-Read Books

davidbowieby Maria Popova

 

From poetry to history to theory of mind, with plenty of fiction and a few magazines for good measure.

 

Creativity is a combinatorial force — it rests on our ability to fuse, usually unconsciously, existing concepts, memories, bits of information, pieces of knowledge, and fragmentary impression into novel ideas that we call our own. A mind of exceptional creativity, then, is a mind brimming with vibrantly diverse bits that can be fused together into a boundless array of possible combinations. One way to fully appreciate the power of such cross-disciplinary curiosity is to look at the intellectual diet of those we revere as geniuses, whatever their field of exceptional ability — take, for instance, the reading lists of Carl Sagan, Alan Turing, and Nick Cave.

 

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September 5, 2013

32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life

enhanced-buzz-10556-1376603383-18And all you have to do is read them!

By Erin La Rosa

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This heartbreaking memoir, written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, follows the life of a narcissistic editor turned ward of the hospital after a sudden stroke leaves him paralyzed and unable to communicate. It’ll make you realize how important the people in your life are, and how precious every moment really is. Did I mention you might weep through the whole thing?

2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Need a little more impetus in your life?

Read this philosophical novel, and Robert Pirsig will help you realize how important it is to actually care about what you’re doing. In other words, if you’re fixing a motorcycle, then really fix it. Don’t listen to music, or do something else simultaneously. Do what you need to do, and take pride in it.

3. Cat’s Cradle

Of all the Vonnegut you could possibly read, this is the one that will raise the most questions — in a great way. Jonah, our narrator, wants to write a book about the inventor of the atomic bomb, Dr. Frank Hoenikker.

This book will make you question whether or not there should be a limit to the pursuit of knowledge. And it’ll get you to think about the power of weapons, and how even the most competent people can make mistakes with them. Plus, with all of that science comes the exploration of religion, or the futility of it, really.

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A Breaking Bad (and Beyond) Reading List

WinterBy Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Only five new episodes remain in AMC’s high-octane drama about a milquetoast family man who transforms himself into a cunning drug kingpin. Within the next two months, we can expect to see Walter White’s reckoning, whether through spectacular downfall or a final ascension to cartel royalty. Blood will spill and secrets will be revealed. Breaking Bad promises us the rush and pulse of the best Shakespeare dramas, cinematically captured in the saturated blues and bleached out beiges that signify the Southwestern landscape.

One of the strengths of Breaking Bad is its richly layered storylines. There are worlds and worlds behind Walter White’s character arc. The story of the land and people of Northern New Mexico alone could be its own fascinating spinoff of Breaking Bad. Not to mention the history of The Drug War, cartels, and race relations in the borderlands.

The books on this list range from the personal to the mythological to the journalistic, and some intertwine all three. They all depict a world of stark contrasts. There is danger here. There are hardscrabble heroes and self-made gods dripping with hubris. Each book is infused with the poetry of landscape, in which humans like Walter White and Jesse Pinkman try to craft their own story with what their realities have handed them.

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August 22, 2013

Satanic Summer: Horror Fiction for Hot Days

satans_beach  by Cameron Pierce

Horror is typically associated with autumn, when the days turn shorter, the air grows brisk, trees lose their leaves, and jack-o’-lanterns take their place on every doorstep. But there’s plenty of horror that’ll keep you awake through the sweltering nights. Here are eight short stories and seven novels perfect for the summer.

Note: With the short stories, I’ve included links to a collection/anthology containing that story to make them easier to track down.

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August 9, 2013

Top Ten Horrible Book Covers

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 12:30 pm

worst-book-covers-titles-25  by Laura

 

They say that you should never judge a book by its cover but Reader, ‘they’ are wrong. ‘They’ also recommend you to floss and we all know how fucking horrible that is.

We judge book covers just like we judge everything and everyone you care about. Mostly that involves asking yourself ‘Is this person/place/thing going to benefit me in any way?’ and then ‘Do I enjoy looking at this person/place/thing?’.

ANYWAY. Books. Books are brilliant, there is no doubt about this, but when it comes to book covers, publishers can get it hilariously wrong. Here are Ramp.ie’s thirty-four Top Ten Horrible Book Covers.

 

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July 29, 2013

The 10 best … SA crime fiction novels

coldsleep By Charles Cilliers

In recent years, there’s been a spate of brilliant crime fiction by local authors, set in SA. Many of these titles have enjoyed critical and commercial success, both here and abroad. Charles Cilliers cherry picks some of the very best.

 

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