Thoughts on reading

As I probably mentioned before, I enjoy reading. Physical books, books on my Kindle, books in emacs (a bit tiring for the eyes), articles, subtitles, etc. I read in English for the most part, I’ve gotten used to it because of the simplicity and the variety of books I find…

Reading books in English has been extremely helpful to my vocabulary. Even though I don’t practice a lot by speaking, I find it easy to write in English. One of my first incursions in reading in a language different than my native tongue was, obviously, the Harry Potter series. I was around 14 years old, and by most standards I was ready. Being born in Romania means that you have to settle for little to none translated pop culture (at least when I grew up). The cartoons on TV were in English, the video games were in English (and they WERE a lot), Western films and shows were subtitled instead of dubbed, reminiscent of poorer and Scandinavian countries. So, if one wanted to stay up-to-date on these things, English came naturally. By the time we were learning the basics in school, I was well-versed - courtesy of the copy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II I got from the flea market. I remember it being on 4 CDs :). In those times it was still a bit of a luxury to have broadband internet access, and my dial-up internet time was limited to browsing the Fox Kids and Cartoon Network websites. Naturally, pirated games bought from the flea market were our only option. The worst thing was when you bought a CD-key protected game, and the peddler didn’t put a keygen or write the code on the disc. You had to wait until the next Sunday, go back to the market in hopes of finding him, maybe find him, and choose a different game, hoping your new posession is more lenient in its DRM choices (games from EA usually had CD-key protection). Those were interesting times.

Well that took a turn. The point is: if you were interested in these types of entertainment, English became your second language. So when I started reading the Harry Potter books in their original versions, I found out that I actually understood everything, save for a few words and expressions, which my Kindle helped me with. I’ve had it for over 7 years and read dozens of books on it, I still think it was one of my wisest purchases. I’m all for filling your library with books, but when you’re reading a thousand-page Stephen King tome, I find it more appropriate to do it on an e-reader. If it’s about T.S. Eliot‘s Old Possum's Practical Book of Cats, I’d much prefer to flip through its pages in search for Macavity.

So, getting to the point of what I’m reading in 2018.

  • I recently finished The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (wiki|goodreads), thanks to the optional Gothic literature course I took at my college. While I did not love all of the stories, some of them were particularly spellbinding.
  • The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang (wiki|goodreads) was a terrifying read. Watching Masaki Kobayashi’s The Human Condition made me research more about Japan’s activities during World War II. While more known in the present, at the time of the book’s release it was the only account of the event made accessible to Western audiences. It’s shocking to realise that for half a century no one widely spoke about this.
  • Stoner by John Williams (wiki|goodreads). This was my favorite book of the year so far, and probably one of my favorites ever. It didn’t make waves on release, and like most remarkable writings, it was rediscovered some 40 years later, after the author passed. It’s a great book. A story of a simple man who tries to make the best out of his life. I’d recommend this to anyone, I think we can all learn from this book. A quick and easy read that stays with you.
  • I’ve given up on William Gibson‘s Neuromancer (wiki|goodreads)as it didn’t do anything for me.
  • Professionally, I’m slowly going through Bjarne Stroustrup‘s Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ (link). It starts out pretty simple but evolves into a monster of a book. It’s certainly an interesting and encompassing read.
  • I’m looking to pick up The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa (wiki|goodreads) as I feel a lack of Portuguese writers with multiple writing personalities in my library.
  • Trello says to read City of Night by John Rechy (wiki|goodreads)because: it’s a queer take on On the Road, a favorite of David Bowie, and about the ’60s American underground.
  • I’ve been wanting to pick up a Margaret Atwood book for some time…