Book recommendations for someone who doesnt read much?

Discussion in 'Movies, Books, TV & Media' started by TedEH, May 9, 2018.

  1. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Yeah, so it's a weird thread title. tl;dr: Looking for book recommendations. Long version: I used to read lots of fiction in high school (so nothing particularly heavy), but in my adult life I've not done much reading outside of textbooks that I've needed for work or education. Recently, I've started to get back into reading for the sake of it. I've got a sort of routine going where the week ends with a jam day on Sundays, which lasts a good part of the day (jamming with two bands), then I spend some time in a cafe I like, basically relaxing, decompressing, drinking coffee, appreciating the quiet to balance out the rest of the stress and volume of the week. Generally, this has become reading time. Also, I've realized that a book is a good way to pass time when you're a passenger for a long drive.

    This pattern started when I got a copy of the Pragmatic Programmer, which was relevant for work, but the writing is almost conversational, and reading it was more relaxing than I had expected. I then picked up some game design books (there's an MIT series I'm going through slowly, but I only have hard copies of one or two, the rest are e-books, which aren't quite as relaxing for whatever reason). I then picked up the Devin Townsend bio, and enjoyed that quite a bit. I've got a textbook about rendering pipelines that I borrowed from work, but it's suuuuuuuuuper dry to read. Next, I went through Ready Player One, which was more or less what I expected. Now.... I've run out of books and have no idea what to dive into next. So when I get to Sunday, I'll have nothing to read. I can't decide if I want to dive into more fiction, or try to learn some new junk, or what. There's a part of my brain that says "just get whatever looks entertaining" and another part that goes "what can you find that will add some real value to your life for having experienced it".

    Stuff I'm considering getting:
    - Game Engine Black Book: Wolf 3D (good for more work learnings)
    - Infinite Jest (was mentioned in another book thread - I liked the description that was given)
    - I wouldn't mind giving graphic novels a shot. But not manga. I'm not generally an anime fan, and I'm not big into the standard "comic book" fare of superheros and the like.... so I feel like this one's a challenge to find something I'd like, but who knows.
    - I'm also down for, I dunno how to describe it, but like self-help-ish kind of books? Lifestyle advice? Not so much in the I-need-some-help kind of way, but more that I have a bit of curiosity about the way people approach different aspects of their life and how some elements of that could be applied to mine.
    - I'm down to learn new skills. Could be game dev, or programming, or completely unrelated?

    So.................. Given all of that rambly nonsense, throw some book recommendations at me!
     
  2. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    Kahnemann - “Thinking, fast and slow“
    Palahniuk - “Fight Club“, “Invisible Monsters“, “Survivor“

    Kahnemann get's a little lengthy in the second half, but even just the first is a very interesting read. Palahniuk is an insanely entertaining read as well as life-advice (sort of)...
     
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  3. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Thinking, Fast and Slow looks like a good one to add to the list.

    I was in a Chapters the other day and came across another Ernest Cline book, but it kinda sounded like it's just Ready Player One all over again.
     
  4. R34CH

    R34CH Counter Culture Bullet Vulture

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    Not sure if you're into Sci Fi / Fantasy but here are a couple of my recommendations for stuff that's quick and easy:

    The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
    The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (first in the series is Storm Front)
     
  5. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I'm reading and enjoying some classic stuff lately but due to kids and work it's going slowly. I'd recommend the novels from Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes. Quite interesting and some of them are excellent.

    Another that comes to mind which is really entairtening is the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's 4 books and it's hilarious with a lot of imagination put into it.

    If you like fiction you can check out Ursula Le Guin's books. Really really nice and well written books especially the Earthsea saga.

    I'm more of a nobel/fiction/fantasy type of reader for down time and relaxation. Skill type books usually uprev my brain and that's the opposite of what I want to do when relaxing.
     
  6. Demiurge

    Demiurge Intrepid Jackass

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    If you want a decent challenge, definitely give Infinite Jest a go. The first few chapters are incredibly obtuse at first read (if you re-read them after finishing they make sense) but then a fairly steady and easier-to-follow narrative is established. You will need two bookmarks because there are endnotes that you need to read along with the main text.

    I'm not really a likes-tough-books person, but I made it through with little frustration. Someone mentioned Chuck Palahniuk above- I think it helped that I'm a fan of his and DFW in this book kind of reads like an over-clocked Palahniuk with kind of a surreal tone that can be corny, funny, and devastating in a snap, with signs of endless research in very strange, obscure things.
     
  7. M3CHK1LLA

    M3CHK1LLA angel sword guardian

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    i don't have time to read....way too busy, but one i've read 5-6 times is 'white fang' by jack london. he is best known for 'call of the wild' but, 'white fang' is a far better imho.

    also, the movies don't even come close...
     
  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Sci-fi, sure, but not so much fantasy. I used to read some of those X-Wing novels, and got into those pretty easy. I've realized more and more though as I get older that fantasy settings (as in your sort of standard D&D, WoW, LotR, type stuff with wizards and orcs and everyone has swords, and there's more back-story than actual story) usually don't appeal to me much. At least as far as video games go, there's usually just too much going on that's too detached from reality (but somehow still follows some kind of common fantasy-settings rules that I don't understand) and my brain checks out. I was able to handle Harry Potter books when I was younger, so maybe I can handle fantasy as books but not as games. I dunno, it's just not.... appealing. I don't think I have that sense of "wouldn't it be cool to be a whole other race and species and if animals could talk and magic was real and and and".... yeh, nah, I don't care about that stuff. Not that I wouldn't give those things a shot at all, but they don't have the same immediate appeal.

    The Hitchhikers Guide books sound like something I could appreciate the humor of though. I saw the movie that came out a while back, but I assume the books are a whole different thing.

    I find I kinda of like the idea of books that get my brain going -> When I read both the game design books, but also the Devin Townsend book, they would leave me in a very sort of engaged mood. I would go back home with ideas and things I wanted to try and a sense of purpose to the rest of the day or weekend, etc., and I really like being in that frame of mind. I'm all for the kind of reading that activates that "lets go do something now" feeling.
     
  9. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    The specific novels by Le Guin are a bit of a different story than the typical fantasy books. It's been a while since I read them but they leave a different type of feeling than something like D&D and the LOTR books.

    The movie didn't even scratch the surface of what is The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy let me tell you that.

    When I mean upreving I mostly mean that textbook and skill books usually require a lot more of attention and concentration to understand the subject material. It's about real world applications or if we're discussing philosophy or mathematics quite a bit of abstract thinking tied with the real world. It engages imagination in a different level than a novel that tries to create a world, a setting, an atmosphere if you will to tell a story. I feel that my brain reacts differently to those two types of reading and that is why I mentioned it. I mean reading a C++ or Python or Labview book will not get you in the England of the early 1900's where a gruesome murder has been commited with seemingly random clues and misleading information. Only if you use the above skills to program a game to tell the story :D.
     
  10. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Sounds like a selling point to me.

    Also sounds like a selling point. :yesway:

    Yeah, I get what you mean. I can handle that in some ways, but I find that if I try to read in a "relaxed" frame of mind, a lot of the details don't sink in. I started going through a book about the rendering pipeline, 'cause it's relevant for work, but I got about a quarter through and gave up and grabbed some fiction instead. I might go back to it.

    To be fair, that's part of the intention. :lol: I do work in games programming, and have an indie-game side project that can both benefit from reading more technical junk.
     
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  11. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    Comics: Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”
    Sci-fi: The Expanse, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (All 5 books of the Trilogy)
    Finance: King of Capital (written like a story commodities traders)

    Short list but can maybe fill some niches in your reading.
     
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  12. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Thanks for the suggestions -> think I'm gonna compile a list and hit up a chapters on Saturday maybe, see which of them I can find.
     
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  13. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Oh yes the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman are a fine example of comic books. The art is a matter of taste as it's not the usual straight clean lines but it does lend to the whole atmosphere.

    I've also enjoyed the graphic novels by Alan Moore. Moat of them have been turned to movies with questionable results like "V for Vendetta", "From Hell" and "Watchmen" even though the last one wasn't that bad.
     
  14. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I think there's something about the format of some comic books that are a bit of a turn off as well, and maybe a part of why I never got into them - the ones I've seen (given that I don't normally go looking for them) seem to be short, I'm guessing sort of episodic, almost tv-episode-y feeling drama built try to to hook you into buying more issues. I think I'd need to get an anthology or a longer-form standalone book in order to get into it. I don't doubt that I have super inaccurate preconceptions about comics in general though. I'm sure I'd enjoy them if I took the time, but it's almost like I need to do some mental gymnastics to convince myself to commit to it.
     
  15. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    The Sandman comic books were 75 issues and have been published as books that contain the issues that form a chapter. Like every several issues were a specific story within the Sandman "universe". It's been a while since I read them but it made a big impact in terms of comic books and storytelling. It was like a complete departure from the usual super hero stuff and episodic tv dinner, soap opera type of thing.
     
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  16. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    I agree and have avoided comics until very recently. Started reading green lantern. You can often buy whole series in many cases, but at the very least you can buy what are called trade books that have the 5-8 comics in a story arc all in order together. Works very well to see if you like a character/series without getting like 30 pages and an abrupt cut off.

    But Sandman is also not exactly a “superhero saves the day” type of story. So you should pick it up no matter what, lo.
     
  17. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I LOVE that novel, but if you're not a heavy reader, it's kind of like learning to ski by going backcountry heliskiing. Wallace writes with helaciously complex prose, has a massive vocabulary, is smarter than you and knows it, and, well, it's more than a thousand pages long, including footnotes. It also definitely is a novel that fucks with your expectations, in ways that are sometimes frustrating (though, I'd say, this one is more cohesive than his first novel, The Broom of the System).

    If it sounds like a really good book, well, Wallace is in many ways a successor to Thomas Pynchon, and his "The Crying of Lot 49" is a pretty accessible - for him - read that clocks in around 150 pages, as I recall. Pynchon is a little more of a whirling madhouse while Wallace writes more explicitly about the human need for connection, so thematically they're very different, but if you can get through Lot 49 without becoming angry at the book, then you'll probably do well with Infinite Jest.

    Alternately, Wallace has written a few collections of short fiction, which are more accessible simply because they clock in at 50-100 pages per story rather than 900. My favorite is Oblivion.

    Other guy I tend to recommend is Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse-5, a sci-fi take on the firebombing of Dresden (which Vonnegut himself actually survived), is a great place to start.
     
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  18. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I'd say I haven't been a heavy reader recently, but used to be up until the end of high school. Page count isn't so much intimidating, I got through Ready Player One in about two days worth of reading time, but it's also probably super light reading in comparison (talking vocabulary, etc). Maybe I can find a sample online and see if it strikes me as too much. Worse case, I can always come back to that idea another time. I'd add Lot 49 to the list as well.
     
  19. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Again, more comments that are doing a good job of selling me on stuff. :yesway:
     
  20. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I had a quick chance to run into a book store yesterday and found a copy of Thinking Fast and Slow. But I aaaaaaalso found The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefor I Am, which sounds both dumb and amazing at the same time, so I grabbed both of those. I'm gonna keep the list around though, cause I imagine I'll be revisiting this topic shortly once these books are done.
     

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