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Angury's Reading Diary 2017

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Are you back now Angury? How did you enjoy India overall?

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On 06/05/2017 at 2:28 PM, vodkafan said:

Are you back now Angury? How did you enjoy India overall?

 

Hey Vodkafan - yes, I got back two weeks ago. 

Overall my holiday was really good - I travelled around North India and got to see such a variety of culture. It was a lovely break, and it still feels a bit odd being back on placement.

I've been speaking to a couple of friends who did their placement in Asian countries, and a lot of them seem to have had similar experiences in terms of rude staff, feeling threatened/bullied etc. It made me feel a lot better knowing I wasn't alone and it wasn't my fault. Plus, my travels afterwards made up for the below-average placement.

 

I have finally, finally finished reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I don't know where to begin. It is an odd novel, and one that takes time and effort to get through. It's also the type of story that you don't get straight away - there are bits and pieces that crumble through as you continue your way through the story. 

 

It is a story about many things, but the aspect of it that stuck with me most was its take on addictions. Having met a number of people with addiction problems, I have to say it is a completely different world, and one I just cannot imagine living in. I think Wallace really captured the bizarreness of the disease, but also the fragile human component behind such difficult behaviours. 

 

For anyone thinking about reading this book, I would say be prepared. It is a hefty book, not only in terms of length, but its multiple characters and plots that take a while to get your head around, plus the long sentences that fill reams and reams of pages without a fullstop.

 

But yes, definitely a book to try if you have the determination.

 

I am now reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. It's a book that I only added to my TBR last week after being recommended it by a close friend, and later seeing it in every single bookstore with numerous awards next to its title. I am about a third of the way through, and it has certainly grabbed my attention. I think I will easily finish it by next weekend. 

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I just finished The Essex Serpent yesterday. 

 

It is a well-written novel, no doubt about that. The characters are interesting to follow, and their relationships with one another keep the plot going. But it was nothing amazing. It just felt like a book I would read on my holidays - nothing really stood out for me. Which is slightly confusing as there is so much hype about this book, especially here in the UK. Every single Waterstones store I've walked past has been promoting this novel heavily, and reviewers seem to be drooling over its contents. I feel like I'm missing something here.

 

On another note, I have just bought and started Middlemarch by George Eliot. Admittedly it is a book I have avoided, as I assumed it would be one of those Jane Austen-type books (I'm not a big fan of Austen, sorry!) but I was listening to an interview with the author Zadie Smith, and she had so many compliments for the author that I decided to give it a go. 

 

I am enjoying it so far. I really like the writing style of these books, for some reason the first-person narrative has never appealed to me, which is why I avoid a lot of modern novels.

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I agree with you Augury re The Essex Serpent - it was totally hyped and yes it's good and very enjoyable, but.... Waterstone's had it as their book of the year in 2016, but personally I think the Miniaturist, which was their book of the year in 2015, was much better, and deserved the title more.

 

I did like the characters of Cora and William, but felt some storylines were a bit superfluous, eg Martha's campaigning in London, which didn't really seem to go anywhere.  I did think it was well-written and very atmospheric, with a vivid setting (and some great weather) but I would have preferred it if it had stayed in Essex more.

Edited by Madeleine

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On 14/05/2017 at 5:25 PM, Madeleine said:

I agree with you Augury re The Essex Serpent - it was totally hyped and yes it's good and very enjoyable, but.... Waterstone's had it as their book of the year in 2016, but personally I think the Miniaturist, which was their book of the year in 2015, was much better, and deserved the title more.

 

I did like the characters of Cora and William, but felt some storylines were a bit superfluous, eg Martha's campaigning in London, which didn't really seem to go anywhere.  I did think it was well-written and very atmospheric, with a vivid setting (and some great weather) but I would have preferred it if it had stayed in Essex more.

 

Yes, I definitely felt the same. I can't really grasp what has made it such a hit in the UK. Then again, I often stare at the bestsellers list in my local book shop with a baffled look.

 

I have just added a new book to my growing TBR list:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MDLHUC5/ref=docs-os-doi_0

 

Blue: A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces. by John Sutherland.

 

Sutherland was a police officer for the Met in the UK before suffering from depression in 2013. The book offers an insight into the life of a policeman (and woman) in modern day Britain and the types of events they witness everyday. While some people may think of the police as just arresting people and being involved in car chases, a lot of their work is to do with the vulnerable - being called to suicide calls in a public place (the police have the power to section people here in Britain), breaking news of a death to family members and checking up on vulnerable people in their homes such as the elderly who haven't been seen by their neighbours. It sounds like an incredibly emotional and intense experience.

 

I hope to get a chance to read it soon. :) 

 

 

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I have been on and off reading Middlemarch by George Eliot. I am one of those people who leaves a book half way then comes back to it months later - frustrating, I know. This is mainly because I like reading a mixture of fiction and non-fiction at the same time, and depending on my mood I change books half way.

 

Anyway, I decided to take a break from fiction and read The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. It caught my attention after I noticed it had won The Pulitzer Prize in 1974. It covers our fear of death from a psychological perspective, using theories from Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank and Kierkegaard to explain our day-to-day neuroticism, particularly in the modern world, and how we can escape it. 

 

It sounds like a heavy topic but Becker explains these psychological theories in a very clear manner, linking them to our day to day lives from childhood onwards. He also offers a dissection into modern life (well, life in 1974) and tries to explain the rise in neuroticism in todays world - something that I find very thought-provoking.

 

It is by no means a challenging read and it will teach you things about yourself that will make you look at your thoughts and behaviours in a different way, but it is not a book you can finish in a day. It takes a while to appreciate these numerous theories over the centuries and how they link in with the evidence we have today. However, if you have an interest in this subject then I would certainly recommend this book whether you are a beginner or Professor of Psychology.

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I haven't updated this blog in a month as I've been on holiday and have been reading a very long and difficult book called A Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant. I am by no means an expert in Philosophy, but I became interested in Metaphysics after completing an online philosophy course. I started reading introductory books on the topic and watching lectures on Youtube, yet the author that I repeatedly found myself becoming more and more interested in was Kant, and his theories of space and time. 

 

A Critique of Pure Reason is not really aimed at amateurs, and I did a lot of background reading beforehand. I read Hume's 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding', Kant's Prolegomena and three separate online lectures on Kant's work before starting the Critique. 

 

It took a very long time, mainly due to Kant's heavy writing style but also because of the different terminology he used which meant I had to almost learn a different language. But the more I read, the more fascinated I became by his perception of the world. 

 

After more than a year, I have finally finished and I can honestly say it was worth all the hard work. Reading the Critique has given me a new respect for philosophy and I have now added several more philosophers to my to-read list. It's amazing how much of an impact philosophy can have on your life - it's a pity that it has a reputation for being a subject that should only be studied in universities.

 

While reading the Critique I had to make copious amounts of notes and highlight various pages to make sure I could look back and clarify my understanding. Here is the end product (the green bits are all stickies I have added to pages which are filled with my notes):

 

JTB3DKt.jpg

 

With my mind fully set on philosophy, my next book is going to be Volume One of Two of Indian Philosophy by Radhakrishnan, one of India's most well-known philosophers and intellectual. 

Edited by Angury

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The critique is a hard book, we studied it in third year of Philosophy. I honestly found that his way of writing was far more complicated than his actual ideas. I couldn't read the book at all, I just googled his ideas.

 

Glad you found it rewarding, though.

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Glad you have discovered a new major line of interest, Angury! It will be interesting how philosophy and psychology may intersect and feed each other for you. (or maybe they won't at all?) So who is the next philosopher on your list?

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Apologies for not updating the blog recently - I have just started my new job and it has been very busy. I've just been reading a chapter of Middlemarch every few days to keep up with my reading, which I am starting to enjoy now.

 

I took a break yesterday to read Adam Kay's This is going to hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor which I was recommended by a few people. It has received great reviews, and I finished it in a day as it was so good.

 

It's a collection of diary entries outlining Adam's job mainly in Obs and Gynae over a ten year period. He is a very funny person, and his anecdotes are hilarious to read through, as well as giving an insight to working in the NHS today. His last chapter in particular is a harrowing read, and it's a book I'd highly recommend to anyone interested in this type of area. 

 

Anyway, I am back to Middlemarch, although I doubt I'll finish it any time soon.

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Good luck with the new job Angury.  You are still reading some interesting books I see.

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On 9/30/2017 at 1:49 PM, vodkafan said:

Good luck with the new job Angury.  You are still reading some interesting books I see.

 

Thanks vodkafan. How's your reading going? :)

 

I have finally finished reading Middlemarch by George Eliot. I had to take multiple breaks while reading the novel which slowly grew longer and longer, until I became a bit fed up with the slow speed of my reading and decided to sit down and properly read the book in one sitting. 

 

I only came across Eliot recently after she was mentioned in an interview with the author Zadie Smith. I became interested in her background and the topic she wrote about, and decided to give Middlemarch a go. 

While the novel is in a lot of ways a product of its time, the insight of the human mind and the emotions we battle are resonant even today. The book follows several characters and their families in a small town in England, and goes through the ups and downs of life, from young love to marriage difficulties to financial woes and the question of identity and how one is seen within society. I wasn't actually expecting it to be such a profound book, and I think it is a book worth reading multiple times. It offers insights that go beyond the characters lives and really stay with you after you've finished the book - the definition of a good book imo.

 

After being so impressed by Eliot, I have had a look at some of her other works and have now added Daniel Deronda to my reading list. I'd love to hear from anyone who has read this novel in comparison with Middlemarch (or indeed, people's favourite books by Eliot so I can have a dig around some bookstores).

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3 hours ago, Angury said:

 

 

Thanks vodkafan. How's your reading going? :)

 

 

 Middlemarch looks interesting. I haven't got around to reading any Eliot yet but she is on my list....

 

I just read a really exciting book that would probably be up your street. 

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. It is about Neuroplasticity. Among other things, it touches on why psychoanalysis and cognitive therapy work: they can actually change and rewire our brains.  

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On 10/22/2017 at 9:21 PM, vodkafan said:

 Middlemarch looks interesting. I haven't got around to reading any Eliot yet but she is on my list....

 

I just read a really exciting book that would probably be up your street. 

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. It is about Neuroplasticity. Among other things, it touches on why psychoanalysis and cognitive therapy work: they can actually change and rewire our brains.  

 

I've just looked it up and it sounds like an interesting book, particularly with the emphasis on case studies.

Perhaps what makes it even more interesting is the recent critical review of it in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, which is essentially a moan about Neuroscience and Psychoanalysis being two completely different fields. I always find these types of debates stimulating to read. Would you recommend the book?

 

I finished reading Stoner by John Williams last week. One of the best books I've read in a long time if I'm honest. On the face of it, it sounds rather dull; it is about the life of a English professor in an American University. He gets married, has an affair, has a kid and then dies. It is basically a story about his ordinary life. 

 

I've become more attracted to these types of books recently. I no longer find thrillers or books around quests etc as much fun to read. I really enjoy books that emphasise the ordinary life and the gems that can be found in our day to day workings. Stoner just illustrates how meaningful and intricate our lives can be, no matter how dull we may think they are on the surface. 

 

I'm now back to reading my tome, Indian Philosophy Volume 1. I suspect I'll have finished Volume One by next week. It's very well written and explains difficult concepts in a clear way. It's particularly interesting to read how what I had assumed to be Western concepts were actually written about and discussed in Eastern Philosophy a long time beforehand, including questions on immortality, the good life and 'true' reality. I always used to find the idea of asceticism rather odd, yet the way it is described in this volume sheds light into its history and reasoning behind it. It actually makes it sound more appealing than the current materialism and obsession with status that we have in modern society. 

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Incredible that it's almost the end of the year.

 

I have read 25 books this year which I am pleased about, especially given the hectic job I started in August.

 

I wanted to quickly post to check if anyone had read or heard of The Magus by John Fowles? I couldn't find any threads on this forum, but having just read the first ten pages, I know it is a book I am going to love. 

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