Books! What are you currently reading or just finished?


You should read all of them, each book is more like a chapter than a standalone. I was very happy after finishing them all.


I’m on book 3 now! :slight_smile:




just finished: Roberto Calasso - Il Cacciatore Celeste
now reading: Angela Davis - Freedom is a Constant Struggle


Currently --Guiliana Bruno

What is the place of materiality—the expression or condition of physical substance—in our visual age of rapidly changing materials and media? How is it fashioned in the arts or manifested in virtual forms? In Surface, cultural critic and theorist Giuliana Bruno deftly explores these questions, seeking to understand materiality in the contemporary world.

Arguing that materiality is not a question of the materials themselves but rather the substance of material relations, Bruno investigates the space of those relations, examining how they appear on the surface of different media—on film and video screens, in gallery installations, or on the skins of buildings and people. The object of visual studies, she contends, goes well beyond the image and engages the surface as a place of contact between people and art objects. As Bruno threads through these surface encounters, she unveils the fabrics of the visual—the textural qualities of works of art, whether manifested on canvas, wall, or screen. Illuminating the modern surface condition, she notes how façades are becoming virtual screens and the art of projection is reinvented on gallery walls. She traverses the light spaces of artists Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Tacita Dean, and Anthony McCall; touches on the textured surfaces of Isaac Julien’s and Wong Kar-wai’s filmic screens; and travels across the surface materiality in the architectural practices of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Herzog & de Meuron to the art of Doris Salcedo and Rachel Whiteread, where the surface tension of media becomes concrete. In performing these critical operations on the surface, she articulates it as a site in which different forms of mediation, memory, and transformation can take place.

Surveying object relations across art, architecture, fashion, design, film, and new media, Surface is a magisterial account of contemporary visual culture.




I finished ‘1Q84’and quite enjoyed it. I didn’t have the issues with it others had, but I can see where they are coming from. I’ve now moved on to ‘Kafka on the Shore’


Currently reading: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Been on my to-do list for about 15 years and I’m about half-way through it. Beautiful writing. I just finished reading The Great Gatsby and Nabokov’s prose has the same kind of fluid and visually obsessed attention to detail. I’m a speech-language pathologist and my wife and I facilitate a book club for persons who’ve had a brain injury or stroke and have aphasia (a difficulty processing language, whether written or spoken). If you’re a member of a book club, Lolita is guaranteed to promote intense discussion. Hearing differing views on what’s natural, appropriate, understandable, etc about romantic and sexual attraction to persons 9-14 years of age is, to say the least, interesting. If anyone knows somebody who has had a brain injury, lives in LA, and might be interested in our book club. Here’s are schedule

Pardon the plug for the book club. Estimates are that there are approximately 50,000 people with aphasia in LA county and practically zero services for people after they are discharged from the hospital. It can be a devastating, socially isolating condition and you never know when a brief mention will find someone… To get the flavor of the condition and our book club, the writer Louise Steinman spent 9 months with us and wrote this beautiful essay:!

The artist Kerry Tribe also spent a year with us and created a video installation based on her experience. Here’s an experience

The Aphasia Poetry Club, 2010 (excerpt) from Kerry Tribe on Vimeo.

BTW, Jeremy Iron’s narration on Audible is so perfect - it’s a work of art by itself


I’m also reading Nabokov for the first time at the moment with The Luzhin Defense. I find myself noticing what he leaves out scenes (Oh! so this is what really good writing is), and the way he plays with pace, and how he links it to imagery. And so much more! There is so much here and I’m only 60 pages into this 178 page book.


No need for a pardon; the Steinman piece is wonderful. Your bookclub sounds remarkable. Thank you for sharing.


Finished The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño last night and am feeling a serious sense of withdrawal.


He does that in Lolita too. Not an easy read for our group - lots of uncommon words and french phrases.


Just finished two, both more or less the same material, vastly different level, both great

(about 40 hours of reading, excellent illustrations and references, …)




(about 4 hours of reading, style oriented at preteens, approachable, often very personal).


I have mixed feelings about it; a lot of the neuroscience seems vaguely connected (which, for all I know, it is), there’s considerable repetition and it’s very dry compared to some other books I’ve read on Buddhism (this isn’t really a book on Buddhism per se though). I had the chance to download and read it free, and it was at least worth that price :slight_smile: It introduced or re-introduced me to some concepts that have been kind of helpful while I’m dealing with anxiety.


I just wanted to mention that “persons 9-14 years of age” are called children and I don’t see how there could be anything natural, appropriate or understandable beyond mental illness about “romantic or sexual attraction” to them. I mean, I feel bad having to write that as it should be painfully obvious to anyone…

And more directly related to the thread, I recently read :

  • Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hours Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. Very enjoyable, though a number of direct references to companies (most notably Google) might make it dated soon enough but from what I’ve read this is a very conscious decision by Sloan so I might be completely wrong there :slight_smile: .
  • Look To Windward (Culture series) by Iain M.Banks. I started reading another Culture book, “Use of Weapons”, a few years ago but I it was physically huge and I bought it just before getting a Kindle and thus never finished it. That one was quite interesting, made me want to read at least another of the series at some point.
  • and I’m currently reading Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer (Southern Reach Trilogy #3), which is really good. Annihilation is a big, enjoyable chunk of “WTF is going on”. Authority gives lots of context to the first book, and Acceptance does that even more but from various points of view. I’m almost at the end now and so far I really like it.


currently reading:

The everyday connotations of the original, the real, sincere, valid, historical or deep are well-known, and the opposite of the authentic may then be the superficial, false, not-what-it-seems, or just new. Nonetheless 'the real thing’ is still a fruitful starting point to analyze changes in the post-digital society. Digital technology is embedded in almost every personal relationship, in labour conditions, and in aesthetic practices. What does this mean for the ‘authentic’? To unfold the nuances of the concept of contemporary authenticity this book aims to bring together different thinkers to reflect on the meaning of the authentic now. As a process and as a fluid and performative scheme to be enacted at any time—not just in terms of art and art making but flowing into every single nook of contemporary life, from the intimate to the public.


A very very well realised sci-fi book about the multi species crew of a worm hole drilling ship as they travel across space. Basically a space roadtrip in a universe where humans are a fairly insignificant minority…


Sloan just this weekend signed up for a Lines account when he contributed a track to the current Disquiet Junto project:


I agree with you, but I think that’s because we both come from this place/this time. However, that is not because I am a moral relativist–even though I think other people that hold other positions (as heinous as they might be) have reasons that are as well thought out as my own. It’s just that their justification scaffolding is different. But since I am on ‘team this time and place’ I’m A-OK taking a strong position (thus why I’m not a moral relativist) Ok, enough of a preamble…

Foucault really put a lens on exactly the thing/perspective you’re talking about here in The History of Sexuality I (circling back to the topic of good books to read :wink: ). There is a whole chapter dedicated to the category of pedophilia. And the book at large discusses the medicalization, problematization, and administration of [sexual] acts for the purpose of creating power heirarchies << which all were alluded to in your post (amazingly enough. I genuinely love how relevant Foucault continues to be). It’s SUPER interesting.

So things that come into question are

  1. “mental illness” (the sometimes false authority given to the medical community, which often have political motivations. For instance being gay was a mental illness like 3 seconds ago, and it was even a mental illness for a slave to want to run away < That one is in Renegade History of the United States, another EXCELLENT book.)
  2. what is “natural”
    In The History of Sexuality II, he discusses the origins of the naturalistic fallicies we hold about sex (spoiler: comes from the Romans)


Love Bluestockings! If I were still in the city I’d probably be trying to make hanging around there easy for myself. White Noise is on the docket soon. Read Calvino’s Invisible Cities and If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler last year and found them really cute. I feel like he’s one of those authors that I need to cultivate a little generosity towards in order to stick through the book, since especially in the latter he writes you, the reader, as a man who relates to women almost solely sexually.

Finished Lolita a few months ago… a really chilling read, as you glimpse the rot through the beautiful prose. The book really refuses to hold your hand as you put together your opinion of Humbert Humbert and what’s going on. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. :wink: Personally I’m completely uninterested in using it to discuss morality, much more interested in, like, the horrors of genteel suburban, “modern” life.

Currently just starting Edith Grossman’s translation of Don Quixote. Started it for a class in college but couldn’t finish it in the tiny amount of time we had. Looooooove this book, and I love the little antics Cervantes is always up to.