10 Books You Pretend to Have Read (And Why You Should Really Read Them)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Diziet Sma, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have come across this list by IO9
    Besides 1984, I haven’t read any other title. Today I was browsing through Asimov collection in a bookstore, but wasn’t sure where to start…

    10 Books You Pretend to Have Read (And Why You Should Really Read Them)

    1) Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
    2) Dune by Frank Herbert
    3) Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
    4) Foundation by Isaac Asimov
    5) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    6) 1984 by George Orwell
    7) Last and First Men and Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
    8) The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
    9) Dhalgren by Samuel Delany
    10) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
     
  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've read Cryptonomicon, Dune (multiple times) and Foundation.

    I first picked up a used copy of Gravity's Rainbow when I was in high school and I think I've picked up two more copies since...never read it. I bought Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell when it came out in paperback, didn't read it, don't know where the copy is, but I now have it on Kindle. Never read 1984 *ashamed*.

    I remember finding Olaf Stapledon in a used bookshop when I was 18. I had never heard of him, but the copy of Last and First Men was brand spanking new and right next to it were slightly used copies of Star Maker and Odd John. Picked up all three and they've been in boxes for nearly two decades. Same with Dhalgren. Picked up Babel-17 and Dhalgren together, read Babel-17, didn't connect with it, so put away Dhalgren.

    Infinite Jest I've wanted to read since I was at university, but I was turned off it because these bunch of hipster arseholes whom I quickly learned to despise constantly raved about it. They used to regurgitate Berkeley or Sartre nearly verbatim with nary an original insight, and the fact that it was the number one book of this particular set of twats is why any initial enthusiasm I had for reading the work was whittled away. But yes, I do want to read David Foster Wallace. I've never owned any of Leigh Brackett's works, but I'm sure I've read one or two stories by her in some anthologies I've had.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016
  3. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    I haven't read #7, #8, #9, and #10, so can't comment on those.

    You read Dune for the same reasons you'd read Lord of the Rings, because it's a high-water mark in the genre.
    The other books, particularly Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and Foundation, are not everyone's cup of tea. Both are very stylistic in approach, Susanna Clarke is very detailed in her writing (to say the least), and Asimov's style is the opposite, barebones writing.
    As "must reads", it would definitely be 1984, and Dune.
     
  4. ecgordon

    ecgordon Well-Known Member

    #1, 5, & 10 are the only ones I haven't read yet, but I do have them.
     
  5. ecgordon

    ecgordon Well-Known Member

    It did take me a long time to get through Gravity's Rainbow though. As for Dhalgren, it's totally different from Babel-17, and it is also Delany's best work imo, although I can understand those (including Harlan Ellison) who feel isn't any good. http://templetongate.net/dhalgren.htm
     
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  6. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I think from a standpoint of greatest impact on our consciousness and that of future generations, you've already read the most important book, 1984. I would guess it to be amongst the top 10 or top 5 books of the last century for its perpetually relevant cautionary tale (although some seem to have taken it as an instruction manual).

    In science fiction specifically, I agree with @Sparrow that Dune and 1984 are must reads, but I'd also include the original Foundation Trilogy. Whilst it can't compete in terms of its literary sensibilities with most of the other works on the list, it has had one of the greatest impacts in the genre as a work of future history, something that most science fiction writers and readers now take for granted. And besides, I like Asimov's simple style. It's to the point, unassuming, yet also filled with easy humour and a gentle touch of irony.

    I'm going to attempt Delany again. I think I might start with Nova this time.
     
  7. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Love it! What a rainbow of expressions!? This was my morning English lesson! Let's see whether I can drop some of these casually during the day, in particular the regurgitating one...:)
    Nary: new word of the day. Didn’t know what it meant.
    Apart from the semantic contribution, it is fascinating to see what reactions produce different “must read-list"


    I have read The Lord of the Rings but not Dune. I have these memories of the film in which Sting was rinding a huge worm.
    I see there are 6 books? in Dune collection. I might add the first one to my summer/autumn read...:cool:
    Regarding Asimov, I have seen this reading order recommendation: The Caves of Steel, Foundation then The Naked Sun/Foundation Empire

    http://bookriot.com/2013/01/31/reading-pathway-isaac-asimov/
     
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  8. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    You don't need to read them all. You can just read the first one and leave it at that, but I would recommend that you read both Dune and it's immediate sequel together. Dune Messiah is a necessary coda to the original Dune and I believe both were originally written as one work. Whilst Dune ends on a high note, Herbert takes his examination of the 'cult of personality' to its logical conclusion in Dune Messiah.
    Actually, given how much you love mystery fiction, starting with The Caves of Steel is not a bad idea. It's a great blend of science fiction with the traditional detective genre. Plus, Asimov wrote TCoS and The Naked Sun something like a decade+ after he wrote his original Foundation stories, and he'd considerably improved as a writer by then. The Elijah Bailey stories are actually some of my favourite Asimov. The I, Robot collection is another good starting point - you can comfortably read these at any point.
     
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  9. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Dune three times, Foundation twice, currently in JS&MN, 1984 at least twice. Too bad the "why you need to read them" of that IO9 article isn't helpful, but I did have an epiphany on why so many of my ideological opponents on the Amazon politics forum don't see the current occurrence of 1984 major plot points. That will be handy.
     
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  10. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Because they see 1984 as a how-to guide or do you mean because they don't understand the parallels? I've seen the screen adaptation of 1984, but I don't know what's kept me away from reading his two fiction works (have read some of his brilliant essays and other non-fiction).

    In the comments of the io9 article, someone suggests to do a list for works many of us have likely read but don't want to admit to. That would be a fun discussion topic. I've already got a book in mind that I find a little embarrassing to admit I've read.
     
  11. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I've got several: definitely embarrassing:)
     
  12. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Okay, if you've got the guts to start a topic like this, then I'll join you in confession. We can indulge in a bit of mutual Schadenfreude.

    I love Lynch's (or Alan Smithee's) Dune. It wasn't Sting who rode the worm, although Lynch did show him off in all his glory...

    Dune - Sting.jpg
     
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  13. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Mmmm, any genre or just Fantasy/Science Fiction? Schadenfreude is best when share by many: "The More the Schaden-Merrier... "
     
  14. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    That's exactly the term I use to make my point over there that they do use it as a how-to guide. But I've realized that most of them have not read it, just as Elvira says. Obama in particular seems to use it that way and now I think we know why.
     
  15. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    If you go with Dune, fear not, the first book is all that's required... the later books have way too much swishy metaphysical nonsense. I stopped reading the third book in the series mid-stride, and never returned. But the Dune itself is a masterpiece.
    If I were to read only one book by Asimov, it would probably be I, Robot. If you had the misfortune of watching that horrible movie of the same name, I assure you the book is nothing like the film. The movie even missed the point of I, Robot, and Foundation for that matter... Asimov wasn't preaching a return to humans, or paranoia toward Artificial Intelligence/Robots... he was saying that the only way humans can avoid the 100% certainty of extinction, is to deed over control to AI/Robots.
    I have a special fondness for Asimov.
    It was an interview of him that I read when I was a teenager that introduced me to atheism.
     
  16. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I looked up I, Robot and the fact it revolves around fundamental ethics is always appealing to me.
    There is this book The pig that wants to be eaten by J Baggini, which I keep going back to. It deals with philosophical/ethics matters through thoughts experiments scenarios. They are brief, challenging and thought provoking and they always leave you to decide for yourself which side of the fence you prefer to sit on.
     
  17. moonspawn

    moonspawn Full Member

    I've only read two books listed here. Those are 1984 and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The four books listed at the bottom I haven't even heard of. The rest I have no intention of reading any time soon, although I do have some interest in reading Thomas Pynchon since I know his work is supposed to be complex and dense.
     

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