Wyrdwend

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

HELP A BROTHER OUT IF YOU CAN…

I am somewhat sad and would like your help. Over my lifetime, and since I was a little kid, I have read literature. At this point a great deal of literature.

Every month I read new books in particular categories of study which interest me such as science, religion, art, philosophy, etc. and Literature is one of those categories. Because I have read so much literature over time my choices now wear thin. Very thin.

Recently I got a book called the Literature Book to give me new ideas for novels, books of poetry, etc. to read. To my dismay I found that I have read (at least once and sometimes multiple times) almost all of the works listed in the book including the more obscure works, including most of the great literature in some foreign cultures such as German, French, Italian, Russian, Greek, Indian (India,), Chinese, and Japanese.

I am growing tired of re-reading literature I have already read. (For instance I not long ago finished re-reading Beowulf, the Aeneid, and the short stories of Victor Hugo.)

Therefore I am open to suggestions, even if the work is obscure (such as the Confessions of an English Opium Eater – I’ve read it, it’s in my library, or the Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci – also read and in my personal library) or foreign I’d still be happy to entertain the recommendation. I really like Medieval and Ancient literature (although I will read modern literature of it is actual literature and not just pop culture crap) but I’m growing kind of desperate to put my hands on good literature that I’ve never read before.

If you can help a brother out then I’d really appreciate it…

Just leave your recommendations below in the comments section.

100

I’ve read the vast majority of these books. A few, about seven, I have not.

Some I regret having read at all, they were a complete waste of my time, like Catcher in the Rye, and I’d never read them again.

Some I have read more than once, such as Crime and Punishment or One Hundred Years of Solitude, some I read annually because they are that good, such as the Odyssey, and some I read continually and in different languages, such as the Bible.

This would not be my list, certainly not my order, but it is a fairly good list.

100 books everyone should read before they die (ranked!)

woman reading on bed with a dogjamelah/Flickr

Happy National Reading Month!

To celebrate, start working your way through this list of 100 Books To Read in a Lifetime, as voted on and ranked by users of Goodreads, the largest book recommendation site on the web.

Amazon, which owns Goodreads, had its editors agonize over their own list, but the two turned out very different.

Here’s the full, ranked list:

  1. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  2. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  3. “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Anne Frank
  4. “1984” by George Orwell
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
  6. “The Lord of the Rings” (1-3) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
  9. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
  11. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
  12. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
  13. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
  14. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
  15. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  16. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
  17. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
  18. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
  19. “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett
  20. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wadrobe” by C.S. Lewis
  21. The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
  22. “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  23. “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
  24. “Night” by Elie Wiesel
  25. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare
  26. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
  27. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
  28. “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
  29. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare
  30. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
  31. “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  32. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
  33. “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  34. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  35. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling
  36. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  37. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  38. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
  39. “Wuthering Heights” Emily Bronte
  40. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  41. “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery
  42. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain
  43. “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare
  44. “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larrson
  45. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
  46. “The Holy Bible: King James Version”
  47. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
  48. “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
  49. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith
  50. “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck
  51. “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
  52. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
  53. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
  54. “The Stand” by Stephen King
  55. “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
  56. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling
  57. “Enders Game” by Orson Scott Card
  58. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
  59. “Watership Down” by Richard Adams
  60. “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden
  61. “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier
  62. “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin
  63. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
  64. “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway
  65. “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (#3) by Arthur Conan Doyle
  66. “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
  67. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling
  68. “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel
  69. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  70. “Celebrating Silence: Excerpts from Five Years of Weekly Knowledge” by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
  71. “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
  72. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett
  73. “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins
  74. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
  75. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker
  76. “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
  77. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
  78. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
  79. “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd
  80. “The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel” by Barbara Kingsolver
  81. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
  82. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger
  83. “The Odyssey” by Homer
  84. “The Good Earth (House of Earth #1)” by Pearl S. Buck
  85. “Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3)” by Suzanne Collins
  86. “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie
  87. “The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough
  88. “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
  89. “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls
  90. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
  91. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  92. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
  93. “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
  94. “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse
  95. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
  96. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
  97. “Cutting For Stone” by Abraham Verghese
  98. “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster
  99. “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  100. “The Story of My Life” by Helen Keller

REAL READING AND REAL WRITING from MEMORABLE LITERARY LINES

Real Reading is far more than just mentally decoding terms and words, it is psychologically apprehending and comprehending the very most subtle and sublime ideas and ideals that it is possible for man to ever understand.
Real Writing is far more than just encoding and transcribing phrases, it is transmitting, mind to mind and soul to soul, the very marrow of manhood and the very embodiment of human experience through script, so that it may be read again whenever needed into the design of the future.

My personal take on the true nature of real reading and real writing

MY EARLY WEEKEND

MY (painfully) EARLY WEEKEND

I am reading a book called Story Physics by Larry Brooks which I am not only finding immensely enjoyable, but enormously beneficial and useful. I’ll discuss that in detail later.

I have also been reading my new Dungeon Master’s Guide, in great detail, page by page, and quite slowly. Again, I’ll discuss that later.

At the library yesterday I got several new books to read: two new Spook’s Apprentice (Last Apprentice) books, The Fury of the Seventh Son, and A New Darkness.

(A New Darkness is supposedly about a female Spook named Jenny – I’m looking forward to reading about a Spook who is a chick, wondering how she will deal with various evil creatures, especially the physically powerful ones. For those who don’t know, these books are written by Joseph Delaney and are my very favorite set of modern children’s books short of the Harry Potter books. Mainly because Delaney’s books are so gritty and down to Earth and even realistic given the fictional subject matter. And to tell you the truth, if I lived in such a world, I’d be a Spook.)

I also got a book entitled Dangerous Women, edited by GRR Martin and Gardner Dozois, and about, you guessed it, dangerous women. I got it primarily because it has a novella by Martin on the death of King Viserys Targaryen, the end of the dragons (in Westeros), and the resulting civil war which led up to the Game of Thrones. I often find the events prior to the Game of Thrones books (such as the Dunk and Egg stories) to be far more interesting than the GOT books. However, it looks as if the book might contain some other interesting fiction on dangerous women as well.

Finally, as far as fiction goes, I got the science fiction novel, The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter Hamilton. I know nothing of it as of yet. However, having recently read Great North Road (also by Hamilton, and which I thought had some very solid police and detective work in it, as well as some fantastically useful futuristic/mundane invention ideas), and the Dark Between the Stars (by Anderson) I am trying to read more modern sci-fi writers. I also got a new 52 Green Lantern Corp graphic novel.

For research materials I got a new lecture series, Singers and Tales (about the history of oral tradition poets and storytellers, such as scops, bards, skalds, etc.) by Mike Drout. Drout is my very favorite lecturer on languages, literature, Anglo-Saxon, poetry, Tolkien, and English.

I got some great books on Venture Capital and Capitalism, a book on career advancement called Trajectory (looks quite useful) and I am almost finished with a book on business and career by George Anders titled, The Rare Find. I have added The Rare Find to my own personal business and non-fiction libraries.

Yesterday I also went to see the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, and I enjoyed it but I will post on that later, not right now.

I plan to post on some of these subjects in detail but for this morning I have a very painful neck and back injury which is also very debilitating. I have had my neck and back injury since Wednesday but it has become progressively worse over the past few days. Ever since I broke my back about every six months or so, especially as the Winter weather turns cold and wet, I will suffer such an injury for about a week or so.

It has taken most all of the natural pain endurance I have to type this post and eat breakfast. So, after I finish breakfast and take a pain killer I may very well spend the rest of the day in bed.

Have a great weekend folks. And a pain-free one.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Aside from the writing I’ve already done today I’m taking the rest of the day and evening off and reading. Yesterday at the library I got the Castle of Otranto, Vathek, and the Vampyre.

I know I’m not going to finish writing either The Vengeance of Tôl Karuţha, or Scarecrow before the end of today. So I’m not going to worry the issue. Both have simply become far too involved compared to my initial concepts and plots. But I have made good progress on both.

After I read this afternoon my oldest daughter and I will spend the rest of the evening and night watching horror films together. (My wife and youngest daughter are horror-wimps.) Halloween being one of my three favorite holidays.

So Happy Halloween Everyone.

And everybody – man, woman, and child – stay safe out there.

A WRITER IS JUST A WRITER…

I think that is true in part. I never wanted to be a writer, per se. That is I am neither enamored of writing, or of being a writer. That is I never woke up as a kid or as an adult and said to myself, “I want to be a Writer! That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be my whole life...” That’s not me at all. I know a lot of people apparently feel that way, they think it a cool or important profession, in the same way some people think being an actor is some great thing. I do not. Not in and of itself anyway.

I think of it far more as being a very careful observer of important things and then a recorder of those things so that those observations will not have been wasted. That is to say that, to me, neither the writing nor the writer is as important as the far more important things being observed.  Though you want both the writing and the writer to be excellent at their various tasks.

However, the important things being observed need a good and reliable method or technique of being recorded (in this case writing) just as much as they need methods of solid and careful and accurate observation.

In that way I will imitate other writers, by studying their solid and worthwhile recording techniques. Just as in being a detective I have long studied solid methods and techniques of proper observation and analysis of what I have observed.

But I’m not in love with the idea that writing is either a cool profession (it may or may not be an important profession, that just all depends upon both the writer and the writer’s subject matter and observations on that subject matter), or that writing is some sort of special or important activity in and of itself. Because it is not.

I am a writer but a writer is just a writer. The things I write about, if they are of any importance at all, will long outlive me. Because if they are truly important they should…

WHAT I AM CURRENTLY READING: SEPTEMBER, 2014

FICTION

The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma

The Dark Between the Stars

The King’s Marauder

Shadow of the Alchemist

 

NON-FICTION

The Making of Middle Earth

West of the Revolution

The Wrong War (Bing West)

Anglo-Saxon Art

 

LECTURE

The Norsemen – by Michael Drout

 

BOOKS ON CD

The Hangman’s Revolution

 

PERIODICALS

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Forbes
Popular Mechanics
Popular Science

 

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Arkham Unhinged

 

SELF-WORKS (Books I have written I am preparing for Publication)

The Book of Intelligence Designs

PREFERENCES AND PARADOXES

I suspect the answer to this conundrum will be The New Media Project.

Ebooks v paper

By Julian Baggini

Which do our brains prefer? Research is forcing us to rethink how we respond to the written word

Choosing books to take on holiday has got more difficult in recent years. Now it is a question not just of what to read but how – on paper, tablet, e-reader, or perhaps even a phone – and people have strong opinions on which is best. But is there any more to the decision than cost and convenience? On this question, the answer suggested by numerous studies into the neuroscience and psychology of reading in different formats is an emphatic yes.

There is no shortage of people warning of the risks attendant on the rise of “screen culture”, as the neuroscientist Susan Greenfield calls it. Greenfield has repeatedly expressed concern that, as technology takes us into unknown territory, “the brain may be adapting in unprecedented ways”. Though she tends to stress that these changes might be good or bad, that hasn’t stopped her more negative speculations being picked up in the media and amplified in far more strident terms.

On the other side of the two cultures divide, the novelist and critic Will Self recently argued that the connectivity of the digital world was fatal for the serious novel, which requires all the reader’s attention. Looking ahead 20 years, he posed a question: “If you accept that by then the vast majority of text will be read in digital form on devices linked to the web, do you also believe that those readers will voluntarily choose to disable that connectivity? If your answer to this is no, then the death of the novel is sealed out of your own mouth…”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/53d3096a-f792-11e3-90fa-00144feabdc0.html#axzz35aHbiOmj

SNAG A READER, GET A KEEPER…

I probably agree…

Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With

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Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness?

You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you.

You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate. (Maybe, erotic?) You just had an intense and somewhat transient metamorphosis.

Like falling in love with a stranger you will never see again, you ache with the yearning and sadness of an ended affair, but at the same time, feel satisfied. Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul. You feel fed, if only for a little while.

This type of reading, according to TIME magazine’s Annie Murphy Paul, is called “deep reading,” a practice that is soon to be extinct now that people are skimming more and reading less. Article continued:

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/date-reader-readers-best-people-fall-love-scientifically-proven/662017/

CONAN AND ME, PART ONE: LANGUAGE, PULP, RACE, AND FICTION

Lately I’ve been re-reading (actually listening to on CD) some of R.E. Howard’s later stories on Conan, such as The Conquering Sword of Conan.

Now every year, usually in the Fall (but at other times as well) or as the weather changes I get a desire to read or listen to Conan, or Solomon Kane, or the stories of HP Lovecraft. Adventure and horror stories. Don’t know why, I just do, it’s sort of a recurring literary theme with me. I associate Autumn and early Winter with adventure, and patrolling, and exploring, and the coming dark.

(I also at this time of year like to read or listen to the radio plays of Jack Flanders or the Green Hornet or John Carter of Mars or Doc Savage or other types of things like that I used to listen to as a kid.)

Now I’ve always liked the stories of Conan (though I have much more in common personally with the character Solomon Kane) as I enjoy a lot of pulp fiction. It’s adventurous, and that’s what I like about it. Adventure stories and pulp fiction tend to roam widely in space and time, and this very much appeals to the explorer and Vadder in me. As well as to the historian in me, as pulp stories are often pseudo-historical and often contain historical and archaeological allusions and references. I wish far more modern writers wrote really good adventure stories, especially for young men and boys, but also even for girls, such as my daughters. Alas, aside from children stories adventure yarns seem a dying or dead art. More is the shame.

But a couple of things have always bothered me about Conan and his adventure stories. One is Howard’s sometimes ridiculous use of inappropriate language, mixing antique, antiquated, and outmoded terms all in the same paragraph or sentence and doing so without a broader context. The same can be said for his general world building tendencies as well, he sometimes mixes wholly inappropriate matters and allusions and settings and events and places and personages together haphazardly and without any logical framework. I know this is part of his Sword and Sorcery Shtick but it can detract heavily from the appeal of the story. As a writer I certainly understand that every writer is at least to some extent a product of his times, and of what is known in his time. As well as a victim of his own his ideas, and a bondsman of his ideas about writing. Finally he is in at least in some sense a slave of his own language, real or invented, and his use of that language. But Howard’s language often descends into “pulp-speech” in a way that is almost an obvious caricature of pulp. In other words his writings become the very caricature of the pulp genre to such an obvious degree that it becomes impossible to read some of his phrasing without saying to yourself, “this story is pulp.” Instead of, “this story is a great adventure.”

True, sometimes his phrasing and language use is clever, even inspired, at other times though it is both simultaneously banal and overwrought. At times like that you easily remember within your own mind, “this is fiction,” and that’s precisely what you want to avoid in fiction writing.

The second thing that bothers me about Conan is Conan’s obsession (in some of his stories at least) with race and tribalism and ethnicities and “groups.”

to be continued…

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