Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: language difficulties

Still Further Conversation about Reading Challenging Books . . .


Challenging books Our current conversation has had 7 installments; beginning on September 12th and continuing on September 14th17th19th21st, 24th, and 26th—each installment powered by one or more reader comments on the previous installment…

This has been the longest conversation since this concept of encouraging reader engagement first moved me to change the way I was blogging… ( Please Note: back in the “old days” and now, I’ve used re-blogs, to varying degrees, to give me time for my fiction writing… )

I began this blog in January 2011—I began the Blog Conversations last March—I’m still getting used to the new format; but, I’m glad we’ve been discussing Challenging Books now for 8 posts :-)

If you want to peruse the way I used to conduct my blogging—a “reportorial” style—scroll all the way down the left sidebar to the widget called “Archives by Month & Year” and select any period before March 2018…

Also, I find it interesting that, with all the books discussed here as Challenging, there aren’t that many I’ve read…

wondering if our readers could say the same thing

And, here’s a comment that was left on the post on the 19th (after we’d moved a bit forward in the discussion…) by one of our more prolific commenters, an author/publisher from Germany:

“‘The Scarlet Letter‘ was my subject for final exams in my English class at university. I didn’t think it was ‘difficult’, but ‘challenging’ is a good term to describe it. There are so many layers of meaning; and, not all of them are easily accessed by a young person.”

Haven’t read that book… Still, our friend’s comment could stimulate rereading formerly challenging books at a later age…

The most recent comment in this conversation was from a man who blogs at M.C. Tuggle, Writer; and, he talks about a book I’ve read and deeply appreciated ( Click the image up there for a choice of editions, with worldwide shipping… ):

“A difficult book I ultimately found rewarding was ‘Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid‘ by Doug Hofstadter. Not only is it long, but its summarization and commentary on modern physics and the possibilities of AI are serious and in depth. It took me three readings to ‘get’ it. Hofstadter keeps it entertaining by presenting his ideas through the quirky adventures of Achilles and his friend Tortoise.”

For me, the whole book was a thrilling adventure—Challenging, to be sure; though, those quirky adventure tales as well as his examples of self-referential sentences ( “I think the first word in this sentence is egotistical.” ) are standout features for me…

Here’s a self-referential poem from the book:

“Meaning lies as much
in the mind of the reader
as in the Haiku.”

And, in case you’re of a mind to read an excellent, challenging book that is “…a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion, and much more.”; and, which I can wholeheartedly recommend to every serious writer ( if you really want to stretch your mind in its understanding of its own workings ), here’s a link to a bunch of quotes from the book

And, for the first time in one of our Blog Conversations, I’ll offer a short video—Mr. Hofstadter ( quite the young Polymath ), pondering what could be considered the Evolution of Humanity…

So…

What are some of your reading challenges…?

What are some reading challenges you enjoy dealing with…?

What are some challenges that drive you crazy…?

How about reading challenges your friends or acquaintances reveal…?

Perhaps you’ll share challenges you used to have but you’ve overcome…?

Reminderit only takes one comment to keep this discussion going………
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message
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Even Further Conversation about Reading Challenging Books . . .


Challenging books Our current conversation has had 6 installments; beginning on September 12th and continued on September 14th17th19th, 21st, and 24th—each installment powered by one or more reader comments on the previous installment…

The comment permitting this continuation of the discussion comes from an author and publisher in Germany:

“One summer term in the early 1990s, I had an English class assigned to read ‘The Canterbury Tales‘. Although it was a literary subject, the professor usually taught linguistics. But, older versions of languages (many languages!) were a kind of hobby of his, and therefore we looked at Chaucer’s text in a different and surprisingly entertaining way. After that class, I spent the summer vacation reading a modern translation of ‘The Canterbury Tales’. If I hadn’t had the class before, I would have given up. The lack of historical knowledge, the metaphors I could just recognize as metaphors but not understand … still, I finally finished the book. Looking back, it was definitely a challenge; but, I gained a glimpse of so many facets of history and mythology.”

I’m surprised The Canterbury Tales wasn’t included on the list of 10 difficult books I included on two previous posts in this series…

But then, one person’s list is another’s poor attempt at congregating things… :-)

I’ve never read Canterbury

There’ve been plenty of books called “classic literature” that I haven’t read…

Still, taking that last link could re-educate you about what is considered “classic” and what “should be” classic…

And, just as the meaning of classic can receive different interpretations, what about the meaning of the word guiding our expression in all the installments of this discussion—“Challenging“…

My Oxford dictionary says, among other considerations:

“testing one’s abilities ; demanding”

And, my Collins dictionary says:

“Demanding or stimulating”

So, remembering that it takes only one comment to keep this conversation going…

What books have you read that tested your abilities…?

What were some of the demanding books you’ve read…?

And, I need to share the etymology of “Stimulating” before I ask more questions:

“act of pricking or stirring to action…an incitement…goad, urge,”

What were some of the most stimulating books you’ve read…?

What are some reading challenges you enjoy dealing with…?

What are some challenges that drive you crazy…?

How about reading challenges your friends or acquaintances reveal…?

Perhaps you’ll share challenges you used to have but you’ve overcome or grown used to…?

Will there be another installment of this conversation…?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message

Further Conversation about Reading Challenging Books . . .


Challenging Books This conversation began on September 12th and continued on September 14th, 17th, 19th, and 21st

The posts on the 19th and 21st had a list of Challenging books

And, though there’ve been 9 readers’ comments in the posts of this discussion, the one on the 21st is what’s let this conversation continue today…

This comment comes from an accomplished author living in Melbourne, Australia (our author begins by referring to books in the mentioned list...):

I have read (and enjoyed) ‘The Waste Land’ and ‘War and Peace’ and dipped into some of the others…

“I think the most difficult books I have read were difficult for me at the time, not because I could not read them, but because the subject matter was outside my then limited experience as a young person. I struggled with ‘Heart of Darkness’, ‘Middlemarch‘ and ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles‘….I understood what they were about on a superficial level but I could not see what they were saying on a deeper, more metaphoric level. Now, I would like to go back and read these books as a more mature person.

“Actually I think my prize for my most difficult book would have to be ‘Hereward The Wake’ written by by Charles Kingsley (London: Macmillan, 1866) which, according to Wikipedia, describes the life of: ‘…Hereward the Wake (pronounced /ˈhɛrɪwəd/) (c. 1035 – c.1072), (also known as Hereward the Outlaw or Hereward the Exile), [who] was an Anglo-Saxon nobleman and a leader of local resistance to the Norman Conquest of England…’

“All I can remember when I attempted this book at thirteen is that Hereward spent a lot of time running around the Fens and bogs in East Anglia, which were very wet and so foreign to me, a young Australian, that they were almost fascinating….

“But, apparently, also according to Wikipedia, a more recent version of Hereward’s exploits by Mike Ripley came out in 2007, which sounds a lot more riveting because: ‘…Hereward is portrayed as a prototype Robin Hood, but also as a drug-taking, psychopathic arsonist, in…”The Legend of Hereward: A Novel of Norman England“…’

“So, try that one first :-) :-) “

I honestly can’t remember any books I read when I was thirteen :-)

Though, I’ve had a relative tell me that, when I visited their home as a young boy, I’d sit for hours reading their encyclopedias…

Plus, my voracious reading has never been long absent from my life; though, it’s too bad I can’t remember the challenging books, except for the works of C. J. Cherryh ( …always a fulfilling and refreshing Challenge... ).

So…

What are some of your reading challenges…?

What are some reading challenges you enjoy dealing with…?

What are some challenges that drive you crazy…?

How about reading challenges your friends or acquaintances reveal…?

Perhaps you’ll share challenges you used to have but you’ve overcome…?

Reminderit only takes one comment to keep this discussion going………
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message

Yet More Conversation about Reading Challenging Books . . .


This conversation began on September 12th and continued on September 14th, 17th, and 19th… Challenging book

We had a comment on the post on the 19th; so, we can carry the discussion further…

That last post had a list of 10 purportedly difficult or challenging books; and, Martina’s comment is acknowledging a book on that list:

“‘The Scarlet Letter‘ was my subject for final exams in my English class at university. I didn’t think it was ‘difficult’; but, ‘challenging’ is a good term to describe it. There are so many layers of meaning, and not all of them are easily accessed by a young person.”

So…

Another proof that Challenging can be Good :-)

I’ll wrap up this installment of our conversation with that list of 10 Challenging Books followed by a few questions to encourage you to, perhaps, share a comment…

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

So

Would you like to share your thoughts on any of those 10 listed books that you might have read…?

What are some of your other reading challenges…?

What are some reading challenges you enjoy dealing with…?

What are some challenges that drive you crazy…?

How about reading challenges your friends or acquaintances reveal…?

Perhaps you’ll share challenges you used to have but you’ve overcome…?

Reminderit only takes one comment to keep this discussion going………
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message

Even More Conversation about Reading Challenging Books . . .


Challenging Books This conversation began on September 12th and continued on September 14th & 17th

We’ve had a total of 8 reader comments that have moved the discussion along; and, here’s the one that let us continue from the 17th:

“Re: challenges we used to have—as a teenager, I wouldn’t have been able to work through a romance novel if you paid me—they just didn’t interest me. I found them implausible and dull. Now, I see them as light and frothy; but, fun like a movie romcom.

“I’m not sure what changed. Maybe I matured a little and began to take the world less seriously? At least, that’s what I want to think ;-) “

Very interesting, how we all can differ in what challenges us… I used to like certain “romance” writing; but, wouldn’t now touch it…

And, as far as maturity—I’m going on 73 and it’s looking like I’m as ripe as I’ll ever get; but, still, there’s other reading that’s “light and frothy” for me, like many of the articles in the new journalism periodical, Popula, which also has some definitely challenging essays…

Though, if a work is “romantic” like this definition from my Oxford dictionary, I could definitely give it a try:

“A medieval vernacular verse, or later prose, narrative relating the legendary or extraordinary adventures of some hero of chivalry.”

But, I have to qualify that with this definition of the word that gave birth to chivalry—chevalier:

“A horseman, esp. a mounted knight.”

Though, to be yet more specific, the job of “knight” must also include women; and, that consideration brings me to a four-book-adventure woven around an amazing female “knight”, written by the most Challenging fiction writer I know—The Morgaine Cycle

So, yeah, challenges in reading can be good for the soul…

I just went travelling with my uncle Google and found an article entitled, Top 10 Difficult Literary Works; and, I’m hoping we all realize that any Internet article’s title with “Top” at the beginning is, at best, some concerned person’s opinion; still, with part of my job here being to encourage these conversations to continue, I’ll make a list of those “Difficult” Literary Works, which must, by definition, be Challenging and ask you to, perhaps, comment on any of them you’ve read ( I’ve read three of them; and, I just wrote a very long sentence :-)

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

So

Two suggestions

Share a comment on any of those listed “Challenging” books (perhaps some weren’t all that challenging for you…)…

Or, share whatever you’d like about Reading Challenging Books

It only takes one comment for the discussion to continue… :-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message