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Reading Challenge 2020


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46 minutes ago, Defining said:

Maybe we should also have an 'anti-recommendation' list, where we can warn one-another off from 'must-reads' that are actually just like pulling teeth. :P 

 

I like this idea, as long as it's required to explain why the book in question should be avoided. :) 

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“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26

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3 minutes ago, Syren said:

 

Crime and Punishment?

 

I enjoyed that one, but that may have had something to do with being a philosophy major at the time. I thought it made for interesting thoughts about what makes people good or evil, and what those terms actually mean.

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“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26

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3 minutes ago, Scalyfreak said:

 

I enjoyed that one, but that may have had something to do with being a philosophy major at the time. I thought it made for interesting thoughts about what makes people good or evil, and what those terms actually mean.

 

One mermaid's yuck is another goblin's yum ;) 

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STRENGTH (0) | DEXTERITY (-1) | CONSTITUTION (1) | WISDOM (3) | INTELLIGENCE (3) | CHARISMA (2)

Syren  -- Chaotic Good -- Human Druish Ranger -- Current Challenge -- Battle Log

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1 minute ago, Syren said:

 

One mermaid's yuck is another goblin's yum ;) 

 

I agree. That is exactly why I think anyone warning someone off a book should explain why, just as we should be detailed about why we recommend a book as well. :) 

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“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26

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2 hours ago, Scalyfreak said:

I like this idea, as long as it's required to explain why the book in question should be avoided. :) 

Absolutely. As with all things of this kind, your mileage may vary, and I wouldn't wish to put anyone off just because eight-year old me didn't know what she was getting herself into ;)

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I said I wouldn't set any concrete goals other than have books available, but I thought I'd try to read 50 pages of Pollan's How to Change Your Mind. It was interesting. I learned some stuff. No need to read if you don't want to but:
 

Spoiler

There’s a toad you can smoke. You catch it, squeeze its poison glands onto a mirror, let the liquid dry into crystals, then vaporise and inhale them.

The default mode network is a part of the brain that inhibits lower, less evolved parts of the brain from talking too much to each other. It activates when we’re not doing other tasks, or when we’re thinking about ourselves. It seems to be involved in creating our sense of self.

 

Pyschedelics reduce the activity of the default mode network, which results in the dissolution of the ego and a feeling of being continuous with the rest of the world. It also allows parts of the brain that don’t usually speak to each other—e.g. memory and vision—to do so. This cross chatter leads to hallucinations, synesthesia, etc.

Apparently our conscious minds only let in a tiny amount of sensory information, and use pre-existing knowledge to jump to conclusions about what we’re sensing. A sort of mental predictive typing. It's efficient but also can lead to rigid, uncreative, highly patterned thinking, especially as we get older. Pollan and one of the researchers in the book think that some mental disorders like depression and OCD might be the result of too much pattern and order in the brain. They think more chaos and disinhibition could be useful.

 

Experienced meditators can also bring about a quieting of the default mode network, and report feeling the same dissolution of the ego that those on psychedelic drugs do. 

 

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Let cheese and bread and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination.

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Since @Defining, er, @ed me....

 

I’m aiming to read 30 books this year.  Finished one yesterday that had a weeks head start from the end of 2019, but I’m counting it - Quiet, the power of introverts. 
 

Other things on my list: the final Expense novel and any novellas I’ve missed. ReReading the storming archive books by Brandon Sanderson before book four drops in November. Prometheus Rising since a friend gave it to me. Several aikido texts to help with teaching. Mark Twain autobiography. Probably random books I purchased and forgot I have. 
 

The benefit of most of these is I actually already own them...

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RisenPhoenix, the Entish Aikidoka

Challenge: RisenPhoenix Tries to be Normal

 

"The essence of koryu [...is] you offer your loyalty to something that you choose to regard as greater than yourself so that you will, someday, be able to offer service to something that truly is transcendent." ~ Ellis Amdur, Old School

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14 hours ago, Defining said:

Love it! Also, you can READ RUSSIAN!?!? 😮

 

Slowly and haltingly, yes. Also French, but that's closer to my English reading speed since I've been studying that since I was 12. Russian has only been the last decade or so. 

 

14 hours ago, Scalyfreak said:

I like this idea, as long as it's required to explain why the book in question should be avoided. :) 

 

13 hours ago, Syren said:

One mermaid's yuck is another goblin's yum ;) 

 

I only remember one book being so angering that I don't recommend people read it, and I can't remember the name (nor can I seem to locate it reading google summaries now). It was by Ursula K Le Guin and it was beautifully written... right up until the end. It was around 1996/1997 and I was picking out books based on their length from the fantasy/ sci fi sections, because I read fast so short books didn't last long. Spoilers below.

Spoiler

The several-hundred-page story followed two dudes in a typical "save the kingdom from evil" type story. One guy - clearly the main character - was attractive, go-getter, daring, charismatic, etc, etc, and the other guy - a stereotypical sidekick - was big, slow, patient, kind, definitely a follower, that sort of thing. They went about saving the world and all was great until juuuuuuuuuuust after the big climax when (spoiler) the main dude got killed and the sidekick ended up being crowned king and bringing peace to the world. I was so g*****n pissed off that I invested that much time and effort into relating to the main character just for him to die and wrap up nicely without him that I never read anything by Le Guin again. 

 

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Manarelle the Level 54 Amazon Assassin

Gryffindarling and Sith Acolyte, somehow.

Challenges: 1-1011-2021-3031-4041-50, 51-60, Current

 

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12 hours ago, TheGreyJedi said:

Those are some solid choices

 

Yeah, should be fun. And three of them were from the library, so completely freeeeee. Libraries are rad (don'd mind my excitement, I have rediscovered libraries as an adult).

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Let cheese and bread and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination.

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15 hours ago, Scalyfreak said:

I like this idea, as long as it's required to explain why the book in question should be avoided. :) 

 

15 hours ago, Syren said:

One mermaid's yuck is another goblin's yum ;) 

 

12 hours ago, Lateral Planet said:

Absolutely. As with all things of this kind, your mileage may vary, and I wouldn't wish to put anyone off just because eight-year old me didn't know what she was getting herself into ;)

For sure! That's also why for recommendations for good things I'd love for folks to tell us WHY they liked it as well. :)

 

1 hour ago, RisenPhoenix said:

Since @Defining, er, @ed me....

@ed, tagged incessantly, it's cool, you can be honest - I kept bothering you about it until you posted something. :)

 

@Harriet , let me know if you want to chat more about the psychedelic stuff once you're done How To Change Your Mind, it's a good primer and I read it when it first came out! 

 

1 hour ago, Manarelle said:

I only remember one book being so angering that I don't recommend people read it, and I can't remember the name (nor can I seem to locate it reading google summaries now). It was by Ursula K Le Guin and it was beautifully written... right up until the end. It was around 1996/1997 and I was picking out books based on their length from the fantasy/ sci fi sections, because I read fast so short books didn't last long. Spoilers below.

  Reveal hidden contents

The several-hundred-page story followed two dudes in a typical "save the kingdom from evil" type story. One guy - clearly the main character - was attractive, go-getter, daring, charismatic, etc, etc, and the other guy - a stereotypical sidekick - was big, slow, patient, kind, definitely a follower, that sort of thing. They went about saving the world and all was great until juuuuuuuuuuust after the big climax when (spoiler) the main dude got killed and the sidekick ended up being crowned king and bringing peace to the world. I was so g*****n pissed off that I invested that much time and effort into relating to the main character just for him to die and wrap up nicely without him that I never read anything by Le Guin again. 

 

Spoiler

Was it Farthest Shore?

 

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Just finished my first book of the year! It was a reread of the first book in Lene Kaaberbøl's series Vildheks (I'm pretty sure it's called Wildwitch in English). I think it was my third time reading this, so safe to say I really enjoy it. It is however a pretty short book (168 pages) as it is middle grade. I've never completed the series, which is actually the reason for me even deciding to reread it - and I really enjoyed it once again.

 

I am still reading Rebel Belle, currently on page 210, and I will start Josefine Ottesen's series Historien om Mira by reading the first installment which is Dæmonernes Hvisken. This book has not been translated as of now, but I believe the English title would be something like "The Whisper of the Demons".

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6 hours ago, Defining said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

Was it Farthest Shore?

 

 

Doesn't seem right, no. I don't recall dragons or even magic, just the two dudes. And the plot twist was literally like 2 pages from the end, which is why it pissed me off. Huge, several hundred page build-up.... sharp right turn, wrap up, end all in two pages. 

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Manarelle the Level 54 Amazon Assassin

Gryffindarling and Sith Acolyte, somehow.

Challenges: 1-1011-2021-3031-4041-50, 51-60, Current

 

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@Raxie - it seems like you might want to join this thread!

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Gargoyle Ranger | Level 43

2020 challenges: 43 | 44 | 45 (current)

Previous challenges: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 |15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 || 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 || 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42

 

My epic quest | MEATBALL WARS

You don't get better at anything unless you start doing it.

Being alive is heckn swell. 

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On 1/4/2020 at 7:48 AM, Harriet said:

I said I wouldn't set any concrete goals other than have books available, but I thought I'd try to read 50 pages of Pollan's How to Change Your Mind. It was interesting. I learned some stuff. No need to read if you don't want to but:
 

  Reveal hidden contents

There’s a toad you can smoke. You catch it, squeeze its poison glands onto a mirror, let the liquid dry into crystals, then vaporise and inhale them.

The default mode network is a part of the brain that inhibits lower, less evolved parts of the brain from talking too much to each other. It activates when we’re not doing other tasks, or when we’re thinking about ourselves. It seems to be involved in creating our sense of self.

 

Pyschedelics reduce the activity of the default mode network, which results in the dissolution of the ego and a feeling of being continuous with the rest of the world. It also allows parts of the brain that don’t usually speak to each other—e.g. memory and vision—to do so. This cross chatter leads to hallucinations, synesthesia, etc.

Apparently our conscious minds only let in a tiny amount of sensory information, and use pre-existing knowledge to jump to conclusions about what we’re sensing. A sort of mental predictive typing. It's efficient but also can lead to rigid, uncreative, highly patterned thinking, especially as we get older. Pollan and one of the researchers in the book think that some mental disorders like depression and OCD might be the result of too much pattern and order in the brain. They think more chaos and disinhibition could be useful.

 

Experienced meditators can also bring about a quieting of the default mode network, and report feeling the same dissolution of the ego that those on psychedelic drugs do. 

 

Cool stuff, think I need to give this a read! 

 

19 hours ago, Manarelle said:

I only remember one book being so angering that I don't recommend people read it, and I can't remember the name (nor can I seem to locate it reading google summaries now). It was by Ursula K Le Guin and it was beautifully written... right up until the end. It was around 1996/1997 and I was picking out books based on their length from the fantasy/ sci fi sections, because I read fast so short books didn't last long. Spoilers below.

  Reveal hidden contents

The several-hundred-page story followed two dudes in a typical "save the kingdom from evil" type story. One guy - clearly the main character - was attractive, go-getter, daring, charismatic, etc, etc, and the other guy - a stereotypical sidekick - was big, slow, patient, kind, definitely a follower, that sort of thing. They went about saving the world and all was great until juuuuuuuuuuust after the big climax when (spoiler) the main dude got killed and the sidekick ended up being crowned king and bringing peace to the world. I was so g*****n pissed off that I invested that much time and effort into relating to the main character just for him to die and wrap up nicely without him that I never read anything by Le Guin again. 

 

Nooo, this anti recommendation is the worst - I was planning to read some of her stuff but now I don't know which to avoid. 😂I'm sure it will come as a surprise at the worst possible moment haha.

 

18 hours ago, Harriet said:

Yeah, should be fun. And three of them were from the library, so completely freeeeee. Libraries are rad (don'd mind my excitement, I have rediscovered libraries as an adult).

Libraries the best! My favourite thing is to put books on hold, completely forget about what's in the list (sometimes it takes months and months to get a book), and then get a surprise present! It's like christmas, but better.

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2 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Nooo, this anti recommendation is the worst - I was planning to read some of her stuff but now I don't know which to avoid. 😂I'm sure it will come as a surprise at the worst possible moment haha.

 

Oh no! I'm sorry. I've heard she's quite a good author, but I Just could trust anything after that experience. I looked up summaries of her series books on wikipedia and none of them looked familiar, so you should be safe.

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Manarelle the Level 54 Amazon Assassin

Gryffindarling and Sith Acolyte, somehow.

Challenges: 1-1011-2021-3031-4041-50, 51-60, Current

 

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1 hour ago, Manarelle said:

Oh no! I'm sorry. I've heard she's quite a good author, but I Just could trust anything after that experience. I looked up summaries of her series books on wikipedia and none of them looked familiar, so you should be safe.

Haha no worries, I'll just be dreading the last few pages in case she does something like that again. 😛

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Guess who said she was going to read books she already has and now has 4 books ready for pickup from the library??

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Gargoyle Ranger | Level 43

2020 challenges: 43 | 44 | 45 (current)

Previous challenges: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 |15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 || 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 || 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42

 

My epic quest | MEATBALL WARS

You don't get better at anything unless you start doing it.

Being alive is heckn swell. 

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12 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Libraries the best! My favourite thing is to put books on hold, completely forget about what's in the list (sometimes it takes months and months to get a book), and then get a surprise present! It's like christmas, but better.

Yes!

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On 1/4/2020 at 8:08 AM, Defining said:

let me know if you want to chat more about the psychedelic stuff once you're done How To Change Your Mind, it's a good primer and I read it when it first came out! 

 

I have finished it, and I am interested in knowing more! I was actually hoping to eventually approach similar experiences (ego dissolution, quieting the default mode network and having weird creative thoughts, oneness with the universe and other living beings, profound feelings, etc) via the path of meditation, though I would need to seriously up my meditation game for that to happen. Currently I've gone from nothing to five minutes a day, and I'm... not very good at it. Like @Scalyfreak said, it's not a class skill for us. 

Let cheese and bread and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination.

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2 minutes ago, Harriet said:

I would need to seriously up my meditation game for that to happen. Currently I've gone from nothing to five minutes a day, and I'm... not very good at it. Like @Scalyfreak said, it's not a class skill for us. 

 

Yet. Not a class skill for us yet.

 

The skill tree is more like a series of interconnecting spheres. Anyone can go anywhere. :) 

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“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26

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14 minutes ago, Scalyfreak said:

 

Yet. Not a class skill for us yet.

 

The skill tree is more like a series of interconnecting spheres. Anyone can go anywhere. :) 

 

Right. Some things just come easier and some things a little less readily. But nothing can escape our dogged pursuit. Persistence! 

Let cheese and bread and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination.

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1 hour ago, Harriet said:

I have finished it, and I am interested in knowing more! I was actually hoping to eventually approach similar experiences (ego dissolution, quieting the default mode network and having weird creative thoughts, oneness with the universe and other living beings, profound feelings, etc) via the path of meditation, though I would need to seriously up my meditation game for that to happen. Currently I've gone from nothing to five minutes a day, and I'm... not very good at it. Like @Scalyfreak said, it's not a class skill for us. 

Oh man, meditation is not accessible to me right now - it keeps sending me into panic attacks. Definitely intrigued by 'shrooms though. ;) 

 

Psychedelic reading:

The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide

The Doors Of Perception

The Joyous Cosmology

What The Dormouse Said

Noumenautics

DMT: The Spirit Molecule

Sisters of the Extreme

The Long Trip

...but I'm adorable! Ask anyone who doesn't know me...

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