A Brief History of Reading

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Burning ghost
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A Brief History of Reading

Post by Burning ghost » September 21st, 2016, 2:46 am

I am interested to see what books you believe have had use to you from childhood into later life.

For me...

The Hungry Caterpillar
Weave World - Clive Barker
1984 - George Orwell
Critic of Pure Reason - Kant

These books for me have eithet been things that have challenged by ability to read or my ability to think. There does seem to be a pattern from imagination to more methodical thought.

I would not say these are the books to have had the biggest influence on me though. They are just markers that seem appropriate for my journey of reading.

I would have liked to have added Iain Banks but he is an author not a complete book. In that period of my life Clive Barkers Weave World led me to move towards him eventually.

Critic of Pure Reason was the first modern philosophical work I read and is easily the most difficult and demanding read of my life to date. I remember after reading Kant, and then reading a Dickens novel, that reading Dickens felt like reading a comic strip!

1984 was a very personal thing for me because during my reading of this I was tackling some very difficult and crazy experiences and it I attached a life changingnidea to this novel. Also led me to read Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" (highly recommended for any writer).

Weave World is not a master piece. I would regard Galilee as Clive Barker's best novel because it is technically written well and subject matter from the point of view of a writer is something interesting. Weave World was the first novel, and only novel, I read in one sitting. Where Barker lacked in technical ability he more than made uo for it in imagination. He had the ability to conjure some vivid images in my mind that remain with me to this day.

The Hungry Caterpillar. I remember in primary school constantly going back to this book and repeatedly looking over it. In later life most people can remember The Hungty Caterpillar. The guy who wrote this book also wrote "The Little Prince" which has become very popular recently.

Anyway, that is my story of reading. Feel free to share your personal journey.
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Rr6
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Rr6 » September 27th, 2016, 7:31 pm

None.

I read some kinda of Hardy mystery book, but really my first love was Doc Savage. In my 20's they seemed very poor writing to me. Yes I saw the movie with Ely what's his name.

Then went onto Conan the Barbarian and such. Better writing.

Roger Zelazny and Arthur Clarks "Childhoods End". The latter I heard is coming out a mini-series.

Then piers Anthony and Dean Foster.

Then Bucky Fuller-- in my mid 20's ---and Fred Hoyle.

Vaious dabbles into spirituality books Zen and so forth.

Some various cosmic science and mathematics authors.

Then Tony Hillerman mystery novels.

Currently reading an accidental find that came with a lot of 5 books. Thomas Perry mystery thriller " the Vanishing Act" that involves north East Indian culture, spirituality and philosophy.

Synergetics 1 and 2 are my bibles. Critical Path was also before I gave it to relative.

r6
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Renee
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Renee » November 21st, 2016, 5:08 am

Two Books That Have Changed My Life
Here's how and why

1. Winnie-the-Pooh.
This book defies western-type analysis, like the ancient eastern traditions of Zen and Buddha. It is there, in front of us, in clear view ready for our inspection, yet we don't know where its power comes from, how this power defies definition, and why we suddenly feel that constructs like "definition" are all of a sudden very inadequate concepts. Very much like how humanity is still unclear about the nature of time. Though the passage of time is measurable, we haven't the faintest clue whether time is really an entity of more basic components or whether it is a basic component itself, or else whether time is a mere illusion and things simply happen as if passage of time existed. Winnie-the-Pooh is there, and the more one wants to analyse it the more stupid he feels he's starting to sound. It's like trying to explain water to a fish, sunlight to a tree, and time to a Sphinx. I am compelled to put a few words down in its praise nevertheless. Not that it needs my support. But we worship gods and pay them sacrifices, despite knowing damn well that no god in their right mind has ever paid any attention to our pleas. We pay the sacrifices more to clear our minds and to appease our guilt arising from our inability to express our gratitude.
Winnie-the-Pooh is the most wonderful book I've ever read and have heard read in my life. This is a book of the type that researchers have concluded helps build a skill set in the reader on how to judge character. Yes, its characterization is real, unfaltering, and consistent. The heroes represent types of personalities, yet there's enough depth and breadth to them so they do not appear flat and caricature-like. The stories are fables of deep human wisdom, often emphasizing the inherent self-contradiction in a type of personality. This alone makes the book magnificent and easy to be interwoven with humour - an opportunity the author employs ever so sweetly. The book is kind. Its characters have well-defined agendas which are almost always self-serving, yet each character is likeable and their community is as close to being harmonious as possible.
It has more than just meaningful stories and fables of human foibles and characters. It also breathes mood, emotion, and a wonderfully sweet rhythm and melody. This book is best read when listening to the Beatlemania! album or to Ogden's Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces. I could never escape the almost palpable immediacy of nature in the scenes - a feature that I have never been able to resist, and I don't think anyone else can either, the tree-top swinging monkeys that we are.
A value-added strength of Winnie-the-Pooh is its portability through generations. One can grow up with it from toddler-age to late old age. Re-reading the book will never stop the reader from discovering new and exciting insights or new and moving experiences within its pages.
It's no surprise that I cannot explain Winnie-The-Pooh's success, but I feel part of it has to do with the precision of its language. It translates thought, mood, setting, action, emotions, and motivations of the characters through the logic of a one-to-one mapping into the reader's perception and comprehension. In other words, there is no ambiguity whatsoever. I can speak only for myself, but I would not be surprised to hear from readers of varying IQ, socio-economic status, and education that they felt the book was speaking directly to them. Thus, though the reader's perception of the book's meaning is clear, it is different from person to person. It speaks to all audiences, which is rare in any attempt at communication. And the book does it so eloquently. It is more complex than the Bible, evidenced by the multitude of interpretations it yields to readers. In a way it's more like a mirror than a picture, in the sense that the reader will see different things in it at different times, and as compared to different readers. I don't know how Milne achieves that, but I know he uses the many story elements to serve several functions, such as creating a story line, giving personality to the characters, establishing mood, and expressing humour.
Though this book deceives the reader by appearing simple and transparent, its complexity and transparency both stem from its legibility and the meaningful messages it provides to the reader, forcing him to joyfully drink in its wisdom whether it's his first reading of the book or the hundredth.
To this day, when I'm in a really good mood, of varying degrees of pleasure - exaltation, rapture, or ecstasy - I feel the spirit of Winnie the Pooh linger about. It sort of blends with other mystical feelings, experiences of childhood: the neighbourhood I grew up in, the trees, the sunsets, the games we played on the street, the songs we sang, the school memories, the songs of the Beatles and other groups from the 60s, the excursions we made in the country and the mountains, the rapturous moments, the smells and sights of my pre-pubescent life. The legacy of my past readings of Winnie the Pooh is in me, and I can feel it is there, in my heart, in my mind, and in my soul. My awareness of it is the strongest at times when I am truly happy.
How's that for answering the question, "And how did it affect you?"
It was the first book I read, but I had become familiar with it before I could read. My mother read this book to me aloud before I started attending school and learned the alphabet. We had a coal-burning tile stove in the middle of our apartment. While my father was at work and my brother and sister at school, mom would read Winnie-the-Pooh to me in the morning. I, a four-year-old, was sitting on my little child's seat, stool more like it, right at my mother's feet, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

2. Igy Irtok Ti, or This Is How You [you in plural] Write, a book by a Hungarian genius, Frigyes Karinthy.
Karinthy wrote from the early 1900s till just before WWII began when he died of a brain tumour. He was a philosopher in the humanist and humorist traditions. He translated Winnie-the-Pooh which turned out so well that almost all Hungarians will agree his version is better than the original. (Exercising super-human efforts of critical rationality, I'm the only Hungarian who'll say the original is just as good.) He translated a lot of Mark Twain and Stephen Leacock as well. He started his career in journalism with his humorous commentaries. Later, he put on paper the literary caricatures that he'd been creating on the spot for his friends in café houses and for which his fame was ultimately established. He covered a number of Hungarian writers and world literature's greats (and the insignificant ones at times) in his satirical sketches. This man, Karinthy, was a master at multi-layering his writings. Singly and in combination each component: sentences, phrases, words; and subject matter, story line, style, and characterization served multiple uses concurrently. They moonlighted three jobs - to carry meaning, mood, and humour. The richness of Karinthy's vocabulary is way above any other writer's, save, perhaps, for Shakespeare's. No studies existed on his word usage and count during my life in Hungary, as the leading communist comrades regarded him a bourgeois renegade. Karinthy is, on top of that, easy to read. He has sounded natural to me, a child of the second part of the twentieth century, from the word go, while many of his contemporaries appeared archaic, unnatural, or just plain stupid. Mind you, his aforementioned major work is intricate in language and structure; I felt like I was up against a brick wall when I tried to read him up to age sixteen or so.
The works of Karinthy are complex. His pieces are usually short, kept to a page or two, so it is futile to compare him in this aspect to Shakespeare or James Joyce. Let it suffice to say that Shakespeare has been translated with quite good success, but Karinthy is impossible: the finished product will lose the humour, the spirit, or the poetry (or all three) of the original, no matter how hard the translator tries.
In his literary parodies or caricatures, Karinthy was able to bring out for the reader the essence along with the detailing of a life work of any writer in only a few pages. It was all in there: style, typology of writer-specific characterization, philosophical outlook, and personal quirks in the original author's logic and weltanschauung. Yet when one reads a sketch mirroring the original author's individuality brought out by exaggeration, like a caricature of a person or building, and one imbibes the essence of the original writer and his work, one still knows it's Karinthy behind the pen. In one way, it's impossible not to tell; his humour is effervescent. Not a knee-slapper every time, yet in each piece there are places where the reader will roll in the aisle with laughter. The least the reader can expect is to always nod in agreement. Karinthy puts a permanent grin of irrepressible pleasure on the reader's face instead of leading him through a series of guffaws.
What's even more amazing is that one needs no prior knowledge of an author to understand the parody. It's that good. I have read Igy Irtok Ti at an early age, and since, unfortunately I have had the patience to read very few novels and plays. It's like I hate to waste my time reading hundreds of pages when I know there is a way to express the author's story, intentions, and style in a compact form that allows one to take in the novel in ten to twenty minutes.
The sketches got published in ever-enlarging collections that invariably bore the title Igy Irtok Ti. He had written a parable for a foreword; simpler, much simpler than his usual piece, yet just as powerful:
The new recruits are practising target shooting. The corporal is rather unimpressed with their progress. He can't stand it any longer. He grabs the gun from one of the men, screams "Watch this!" aims and shoots. And misses. He knows he must maintain the men's respect. In a flash of insight he finds his saving grace. "This is how you shoot!" and he points at a man. After the next failed attempt he points at another man and says that's how that man shoots. Eventually he makes a hit. He stands up, his chest fills with air and he says with pride and assurance: "And this is how I shoot."
This corporal's not quite there yet; his hands are trembling still and his vision is blurred; but he's seeing the target a bit clearer and his hands are getting steadier.

True. He wrote many humorous pieces aside from the ones in the genre he had created, and a number of essays and short stories, parables if you like, serious in tone and intellectual in their moral philosophy. Other than touching your sentiments and creating mood, his true genius was unable to surface in his non-humorous pieces. It is obvious to his readers today that he was an underdeveloped existentialist and was always erring in his views on social injustices and on the role of women. Yet he had a keen eye for psychology - in each of the predicaments he used and at every stage of their human development, his fictional heroes were believable and you came away with more knowledge of the human spirit after the reading.
Since him, no Hungarian humorist can totally escape the gravitational field of Karinthy. A Beethoven of not notes, but letters. A da Vinci of not visual techniques, but verbal. An Einstein of not physics, but humour.

Toronto, 2006 September 17
Ignorance is power.

Dolphin42
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Dolphin42 » November 21st, 2016, 9:50 am

Burning ghost:

I think it was called The Very Hungry Caterpillar. And I agree that it is brilliant. I also agree with 1984. It's fantastically nihilistic ("If you want an image of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever") and full of interesting philosophy, as well as being an obvious extension of the historical directions pointed to by Hitler and Stalin.

Renee:

I also agree with you about Winnie the Pooh (and don't forget The House at Pooh Corner) and I think it's great that you have gone on about it at such absurd length.


One from me:

The Catcher in the Rye. But it doesn't make me want to shoot John Lennon. It's just a funny and poignant depiction of a confused adolescent.

-- Updated November 21st, 2016, 2:52 pm to add the following --

Also, I should point out that Reading is a town in Berkshire, England, whose history dates back to the Roman occupation.

Burning ghost
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Burning ghost » November 21st, 2016, 11:24 am

Dolphin -

There are so many books and authors to heap praise on its hard to pick out the "best" so I chose to pick books as temporal book marks in my history of reading. That said I would still probably include 1984 in my top ten, but for reasons personal to me.

Renee -

I was also read Winnnie-The-Pooh as a kid. Given the praise heaped on above I am interested to go back to it.

There are a number of childrens books out there that are master pieces. Alice in Wonderland is a very thought provoking read.
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Renee
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Renee » November 21st, 2016, 10:18 pm

Burning... I missed the Catcher in the Rye. It was required reading in Grade 12, the first book we had to read, and i knew about 200 words or fewer in English at the time. I struggled with translating it word-for-word, and found it to be a depressing book. Imagine!!

I remember the little English-Hungarian dictionary I used could not shed light why boys would wait for their dates at the railway station -- a date was not defined as a romantic interest. Just a calendar date. And from there on the reading and my comprehension of it went downhill. I gave it up in total frustration on page three.

Reading is also a railroad company, or used to be, and it is immortalized in my favourite board game, Monopoly.

I appreciate Alice in Wonderland was more philosophical then Winnie-the-Pooh and House at the Pooh Corner; but Winnie, as a book, was more human, more light on the human condition than on abstract thought.

-- Updated November 21st, 2016, 10:25 pm to add the following --

1984 was the first English-language novel I could read beginning to end. It was a bit drab, I found. However, my heart pounded a huge gulp at the scene where the girl hands him a hidden note and he reads it. That was huge.

Another one where the emotions consume the reader as much as the character, is Pride and Punishment, or is it the other one, Ticklers and Giggles, by Austen, in the scene where the boy finally proposes to the girl and she starts to sob. Wow. What a mindblast. I think her name was Emma, but it was not the book titled Emma. I emma pretty sure of that.
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Lark_Truth » January 30th, 2017, 11:24 am

I love reading, and I am known as a big reader to just about everyone I know. I even use to be called "The Beast Reader" in the fifth grade. I've broken some reading records and shocked some people with how fast I can read.
Books that changed my life were:
The Book of Mormon (I'm LDS), Age 5, before Kindergarten
Nate the Great, Age 7 (I still love a good mystery)
Redwall, Age 11 (I've read that series the most)
Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Age 11
Harry Potter, Age 12
The Maze Runner, Age 12
The Hunger Games, Age 13 (Got me into disliking Distopias and love triangles)
The Sword of Shannara, Age 13
Fablehaven, Age 14
The Way of Kings, Age 16 (I love the series and everything else by Brandon Sanderson)
And that is just to name a few. It is a continuing quest to find the best of literature, and I want to read it all!
Truth is Power. Reason is Wisdom. Intelligence is Experience. Hope is Bright!

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Rr6
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Rr6 » March 12th, 2017, 1:34 pm

Oh yeah, in first or 2nd grade there was a book with a cat on Mars. I think that had an influence of mind expansion at early age.

Must make notable mention of my Moms passing on her Chriatian Science metaphysical type talk and refernce to Mary Baker Eddy little books. I skimmed them but the talk of metaphysical influenced me. As did Fullers talk and writings of metaphysical.

r6
Rr6 wrote:None.
I read some kinda of Hardy mystery book, but really my first love was Doc Savage. In my 20's they seemed very poor writing to me. Yes I saw the movie with Ely what's his name.
Then went onto Conan the Barbarian and such. Better writing.
Roger Zelazny and Arthur Clarks "Childhoods End". The latter I heard is coming out a mini-series.
Then piers Anthony and Dean Foster.
Then Bucky Fuller-- in my mid 20's ---and Fred Hoyle.
Vaious dabbles into spirituality books Zen and so forth.
Some various cosmic science and mathematics authors.
Then Tony Hillerman mystery novels.
Currently reading an accidental find that came with a lot of 5 books. Thomas Perry mystery thriller " the Vanishing Act" that involves north East Indian culture, spirituality and philosophy.

Synergetics 1 and 2 are my bibles. Critical Path was also before I gave it to relative.

r6
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by -1- » March 13th, 2017, 7:15 pm

Burning ghost wrote:story of reading. Feel free to share your personal journey.
I was at a book fair two years ago where my favourite writer handed out book marks that read, "Writing and reading is like riding reality on angel wings."

- my frist book of interest was Bocaccio's "Decameron". I read it cover-to-cover, under the covers. The second was, of course, Kama Sutra. The third, Masters and Johnson's "Human Sexual Response". Finally the market exploded with books I liked with Xaveria Hollander's "The Happy Hooker".

For a while "Playboy" and "Swank" used to be my Bible. (The former the Old, the latter the New Testament, respectively.)

Now I just read naked pictures on the Internet. It is not reading per se, but I find it better than reading. It is easier to digest. It has a quickly developing plot, then there is a big bang of a finale at the end of each. Literature at its perfection. Brevity at the end of tit. Depravity annointed. Hemingway ought to be envious of its economy of sensations.
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Edo
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Edo » August 14th, 2017, 4:44 pm

This is an interesting subject. It prompts you to think about your life and how you have lived or are living it. One thing that strikes me is some of the books I might list are occasions for my learning something, but not necessarily anything that they taught directly. For example, I learned late to pay attention to what I was reading, to see what was really there, rather than what I imagined should or could be there. That is, read carefully and attentively. The occasion for that was something I read during my freshman year in college (I told you I learned late), but I don't even remember what the book was. I definitely remember the professor, and I've always been grateful to him for helping me.

A second lesson was like the first -- I learned that I often needed to read something more than once in order to see what was there. This gets back to the idea that we don't read the same book twice. The first two readings are especially likely to vary, because the second time through a person has knowledge that he or she lacked on an initial reading. I found that useful, because, as I've already indicated, I am interested in seeing accurately. Seeing what is actually there, picking out, to use Henry James's phrase, the figure in the carpet. (At least I think it was James who used that phrase.) It happens that the book I was reading when I learned that was Wuthering Heights. I don't think that book advances the idea I've described; it was just the proximate occasion for me to learn a useful lesson.

So my two lessons are look accurately and look repeatedly. They can be understood together as try to see what's there. As George Orwell noted, that can be difficult. He said, at one point, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." I think the times we are currently living through make the need for careful and accurate reading painfully apparent.

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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by LuckyR » August 16th, 2017, 2:48 am

The Bond novels.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by -1- » August 16th, 2017, 6:29 am

LuckyR wrote:The Bond novels.
The blonde navels? :-)
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by LuckyR » August 16th, 2017, 1:44 pm

-1- wrote:
LuckyR wrote:The Bond novels.
The blonde navels? :-)
Do you have a speech depediment?
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by -1- » August 16th, 2017, 9:59 pm

LuckyR wrote:
-1- wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


The blonde navels? :-)
Do you have a speech depediment?
Putting my feet in my mouth? You had better believe it that I do. My environ revels in that; I can't speak with my mouth full.
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Re: A Brief History of Reading

Post by Albert Tatlock » October 17th, 2017, 6:12 am

Lark_Truth wrote:and shocked some people with how fast I can read.
I'm more impressed by your memory:
The Book of Mormon (I'm LDS), Age 5, before Kindergarten
Nate the Great, Age 7 (I still love a good mystery)
Redwall, Age 11 (I've read that series the most)
Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Age 11
Harry Potter, Age 12
The Maze Runner, Age 12
The Hunger Games, Age 13 (Got me into disliking Distopias and love triangles)
The Sword of Shannara, Age 13
Fablehaven, Age 14
The Way of Kings, Age 16 (I love the series and everything else by Brandon Sanderson)
I don't even remember how old my car is without referring to the documentation.

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