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  What Book Are You Currently Reading? (search mode)
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Author Topic: What Book Are You Currently Reading?  (Read 336366 times)
traininthedistance
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« on: January 06, 2013, 01:39:15 am »

The Prague Cemetery, Umberto Eco
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2013, 02:17:39 pm »

The Prague Cemetery, Umberto Eco

Good luck.

I've read probably a dozen other books of Eco's already- he's probably my single favorite author.  I can't imagine it being difficult to get through in any way, except possibly in the way the subject matter shines a light on some of the darkest aspects of our history and human nature.

But I knew that going in.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2013, 02:21:05 pm »

Infinite Jest

*terrorist fist-bump*

I'm about 200 pages deep and only have two weeks to finish it before the next semester begins. Challenge accepted.

I spent four months reading this last year- could have finished it faster if I was really dedicated, but I can't imagine reading 80% of it in two weeks.  Yikes.

I fully expect to reread it again someday, to catch everything I missed the first time around.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2013, 05:56:19 pm »

Don DeLillo- Mao II

'Bout two-thirds through.  It's a pretty easy read but I keep getting distracted.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2013, 10:37:50 pm »

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, David Foster Wallace
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2013, 01:07:48 pm »

Just finished this:

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It might be fun to talk about what sorts of political lessons one can draw from a rather breezy, "local interest" read chronicling 100 years of a smoked-fish store on the Lower East Side, that has become an institution by being the only one of its kind still around.  I'd start with the rather strong pro-immigration message, of course. Tongue
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2014, 06:25:18 pm »
« Edited: January 08, 2014, 04:40:34 pm by traininthedistance »

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For various reasons that I may elaborate on if I have time/others are interested, it's not quite up to her usual high standards, but I'm mostly enjoying it all the same.

One thing that sometimes gets glossed over in discussions of her work is just how deeply liberal Jacobs' thought is, more than she seems to realize at times.  

EDIT:  The last couple chapters actually improve her arguments significantly- but they still have more holes than I'm quite comfortable with, or used to from her.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2014, 11:01:18 pm »
« Edited: May 03, 2014, 11:03:13 pm by traininthedistance »

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The author, Jarrett Walker, is kind of a personal hero of mine/model of what I'd like to be if I ever got my sh*t together, insofar as he is not just a really smart and perceptive transit planner (with a popular blog)... but one who came to the field via a PhD in literature.

And, actually, it really shows, in a positive way.  This thing is full of examples of how being attentive to the nuances of language, and values, and other more humanities-indebted ways of thinking are actually really important to the crafting and selling of good plans and policy.

Honestly it's kind of embarrassing I hadn't read it already.  Will pepper this space with a couple choice quotes when I figure out what's most worth typing out.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2014, 08:17:18 pm »

Just finished this:

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Next up is this:

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Both Xmas presents that I'm just getting around to now.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2015, 04:22:17 pm »

Before I came back to school, I finally looked through Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Good book, too literary/long-winded, and in IRC I made the following points:

1) It turns out Robert Lucas, famous economist, took her idea of growth through diversity and formalized it, and the way she keeps referring to this idea of "people have their own preferences" is the most econ thing of all.

2) I thought it was amusing how she throws out discrimination against Blacks in mortgages and housing casually, and in fifty years' time that's lost, rediscovered and lights up the internet. This is news to the people on my private college, awed at long-form essays by Ta-Nehisi Coates et al., many of which, of course, grew up in homogeneous suburbs.

3) The "unslumming procedure" described by Jacobs, focused on strategic placement of services to increase diversity in depopulated poor neighbourhoods, has rarely been seen in real life. Instead, we have gentrification. Gentrification is all about entry of certain types of people, and it's too bad if urban planning bet too much of its agenda on classifying those types.


On the side I flipped through an introductory guide to Saul Kripke's philosophy, which is a trip! The organizing principles of what I read were the formalization of modal logic through possible worlds, and the existence of rigid designators across them. The results are strikingly beautiful, and I wish I had time to read on his theory of reference.

It's been too long since I've read this one, so my memory is rusty and perhaps it's time to re-read it.

I feel like the "literary/long-winded" charge is a little odd; it felt eminently readable to me and I know that it wasn't immediately accepted by academics/the Establishment as it were because it was thought to be too conversational, not dry enough, basically.  (Well, also because Jacobs was basically an autodidact rather than ensconced in the halls of academia/power.)

The scandal that was redlining was never really forgotten; there's been more widespread publicity recently but it (and its aftereffects) have been well-known among urbanists for decades.

I also suspect the distinction you're drawing between "unslumming" and "gentrification" is kinda spurious. I'm reminded of her discussion of that issue in Dark Age Ahead, her deeply pessimistic final book, where she basically throws up her hands and says that one will just inevitably lead to the other and burn itself out.  

Or something like that- again, this might be a good impetus to revisit those books, it's been several years.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2015, 03:31:16 pm »

About to start reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

One of the greatest books of all time, IMO.  Hope you enjoy it!
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2015, 07:18:53 pm »

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Rereading this in honor of National Poetry Month.  Which, thanks to spring's late start this year, has been less cruel than usual.  The lilacs haven't bloomed yet, and they are of course the cruelest part.

Previously:

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Which, among its many virtues, did a pretty great job of making me feel nostalgia for all the tennis I watched and played (very, very badly) in my youth.
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