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    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2010
     
    So, I've been thinking about starting a blog to help me keep track of what I read first and foremost and perhaps also what I watch.

    I've been thinking about this for awhile. Spencer made a post about keeping track of the books you read on a list. My last reply in that thread sums up pretty nicely why I think a blog might work better than a spreadsheet, journal etc.

    "I don't think it's so much about other people caring as just being a handy medium to record information over time. I've never been able to keep up any type of diary or anything. I just don't have that much to say to myself about me? And maybe the same would be true if I were to try to write consistently over time about anything, but I think it might be worth trying. And even if I don't think anyone actually reads or cares, writing for even a pretend audience provides a sort of structure and a voice that writing to myself does not. You have to explain your thoughts and reasoning even to imaginary other people, but not to yourself."

    Obviously I can't build my own site like this wonderful creation, I would probably need to use something like blogspot or a similar site if anyone has a suggestion.

    My New Year's resolution also provides a motivation for this. I'm going to try and read all of Neal Stephenson's novels this year. Posting about it on a blog, even if I know realistically only 2 or 3 people might read it would still provide some accountability.
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      CommentAuthorSpencer
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2010
     
    I'd read your blog!

    The downside to my list, which I keep in a Word document still, is that I forget to add books to it. If I don't see the list, it might as well not exist, most of the time. But, if it were in blog form, something that I could see listed in my browser's bookmarks list, which I use everyday, then I would remember it. Plus, like you said, a blog can make it easier to actually discuss the books because talking to yourself feels silly. So I might start one too, although the thought that other people can see how much I am NOT reading, and see the non-impressive texts I do read, might make me self-conscious. I don't know.

    If I were to start a blog, I'd probably go with Blogger. It sounds like the easiest thing, easier than WordPress.
    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2010
     
    I'd read yours too, Spencer!

    I think that books I'm not too proud of will get very brief mentions. But, I have to include them to keep the total count accurate right?

    Now, as for a name for this thing, I really don't have a clue. I'm really bad at naming things that are not furry or pixelated.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2010
     
    Hey, I'd read it... especially if you get on a Stephenson kick:) I might even link it, increasing your readership by a solid 1 or 2 people!

    Blogger.com and Wordpress.com are both pretty simple, I think. It's been years (er, almost a decade?) since I've used blogger though, and I've only dabbled with wordpress a bit (and never used their hosted service, though I might have an account or something laying around). They're both pretty easy. I'd say sign up for both, play with each, and pick one:)

    I've actually been looking for a new movie list keeping site. I used to use Spout.com, but I'm pretty sure they're closing up shop (and the site search was annoying too), so I want to find a new one. There are a ton of good book sites though. I like Shelfari (http://www.shelfari.com/mciocco) and I think there's one called Librarything or something like that. They have good widgets too...

    As for a name, eh, I have no idea. I'm bad at naming things too, which is why I made up a word with no inherent meaning for my site:p

    ~tallman
    •  
      CommentAuthorDyre
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2010
     
    I'd read all of your blogs! In fact, I already read tallman's!
    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2010
     
    Thanks Dyre!

    I'm going to go with Lexicon for the title, since that's basically what it is.

    Any suggestions on which order I should tackle Stephenson in? Baroque Cycle first?
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2010
     
    Noooo! Look, I like the Baroque Cycle, but it's a little dry, it starts a little slow, and you know, it's 2700 pages long. Plus, it's a prequel to Cryptonomicon, which is a little more accessible and probably should be read first anyway (If you like Cryptonomicon, you'll probably enjoy the Baroque Cycle). But even that's 900 pages and starts a little slow. I imagine you'd want to start with something a little less dense, but hey, if you're feeling adventurous, give it a shot (for reference, I think it might be my favorite novel of all time).

    I'd say start with Snow Crash before tackling Cryptonomicon. Do you like cyber-punk? Snow Crash is cyber-punk, but it's sorta the last nail in the coffin of the sub-genre. Very satirical, and the tone might be a bit weird at first, but it's a fun ride. It was my first Stephenson as well, if that matters, and when people talk about his best books, it's really a debate between Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon. Zodiac is a much simpler novel (Stephenson's 2nd), but it also might be the most approachable and it is actually pretty fun (and surprisingly relevant, as it's about environmentalists). Zodiac tends to get lost in the shuffle when discussions of Stephenson come up, but it's probably his most accessible work. Anathem takes some getting used to, but once it gets going, it's great. The Diamond Age is pretty good, but it's definitely an "after Snow Crash" type of novel and I'm convinced that Stephenson's undeserved reputation for bad endings is due to that book (which has a deservedly bad, or at least strangely abrupt ending). The Big U is really only for obsessives like me who ran out of Stephenson to read.

    The Cobweb and Interface are interesting novels as they're not quite like the rest of Stephenson's stuff - they were written under a pseudonym (but now they say they're by Stephenson) and co-authored by his, uh, uncle or something? They're kinda techno-thrillery. They start with absurd premises (the blurbs about their plots make the books sound awful), make them seem realistic and populate the world with good characters, then have a less realistic ending. I actually really enjoyed them, and you can clearly see Stephenson's influence, but they're not as deep as the rest of his stuff. I'm not sure whether they'd make a good introduction or not.

    In the Beginning Was the Command Line is non-fiction and horribly out-dated (it's about operating systems, but it was written 10 years ago - before OSX, Win XP, Ubuntu, etc...), but still an entertaining read. Despite being out-dated, it's still relevant because he spends a lot of time talking about cultures and history of the computer and operating systems, etc.. It's also available for free online. I've read it several times. Very good. Also on the non-fiction front, Stephenson wrote some absurdly long articles for Wired back in the day. Interestingly, you can see the influence in his novels, especially Cryptonomicon, so you might want to save those for later (if you read them at all).

    Well, I could go on and on and on about this, so if you have any questions, feel free to let me know.

    Hrm, one thing I can do is post a blog entry and see if anyone else has any thoughts on what to start with. I know some of my regular readers are Stephenson fans, though I'm not sure if they'll read in time or comment. Still, it's an interesting question, because there really isn't an obvious starting place (I think the most obvious would be Snow Crash).

    ~tallman
    •  
      CommentAuthorSpencer
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2010
     
    I tried reading Snow Crash when I was about 17 or so. That would have been in 2000. I could not get into it; I remember feeling confused and bored, but I didn't try to push myself past 5 pages or so. Ten years later, I wonder what I would think now. I might try it. That experience is definitely why I have not tried any other Stephenson works, and I would hate to miss out on a great author because my 17-year-old self wasn't mature enough to understand nor patient enough to read the book.


    I finished a non-fiction work by Kate Summerscale called The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective. I really enjoyed it. Just the information about how investigations worked, and were changing, in the late 1800s in England was interesting. Summerscale talks about the creation of the detective and the associated characterizations, too. The details of the murder itself and the aftermath, stretching on into decades, is quite...well, shocking, as the subtitle says. I highly recommend it.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2010
     
    Dammit! *Adds The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher to the book queue*

    The beginning of Snow Crash can be a bit of a culture shock. I don't think I'd ever describe it as boring, but maybe a little confusing. The first chapter, if I recall correctly, is about a guy (named Hiro Protagonist) delivering a pizza (hence he's also referred to as "the deliverator"). But there are a couple of twists here: First, the pizzaria is owned by the mob. Second, there's one of those 30 minute delivery or it's free guarantees, and we're led to believe that things would be very bad if that deadline is missed. Third, you're introduced to what's almost a parody of a cyberpunk world. I won't go much beyond that, but I can see it being a bit off-putting at first for someone not used to SF or especially cyberpunk. William Gibson started the sub-genre with Neuromancer, which was kinda like futuristic Raymond Chandler, and that's widely considered to be the best cyberpunk novel. Snow Crash is almost (but not quite) a parody of cyberpunk tropes, while still being an excellent example of the sub-genre. I've never been much of a fan of cyberpunk, but I love Snow Crash (perhaps because Stephenson seems to understand how ridiculous some of the tropes are, and kinda acknowledges that whilst having some fun with it). I still think it's probably the best Stephenson novel to start with.

    ~tallman
    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2010
     
    Well. it isn't a challenge if it's easy, right?

    I'll start with Snow Crash. I'm committed to getting through all the novels, but not every article or non-fiction piece.

    I definitely prefer my punk in steam flavor, rather than Cyber. Was Neuromancer the one we read for the short lived 4K book club? I didn't particularly love it, but it was much easier to get through than say, Gene Wolfe. I did just finish a book called Dust by Elizabeth Bear and she managed to do cyber punk in a way that reminded me of Ursula K. LeGuin. Her books are definitely going to get some attention this year.

    Spencer, I'm also adding that book to the queue if my library has it. It sounds interesting and I have 80 something slots to fill for this year.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2010
     
    I think we read Mona Lisa Overdrive, which was the second book after Neuromancer. A lot of people didn't like it because they didn't know what was going on - which makes sense considering that there were two books before it that established a lot.

    Anyway, one of the things I don't like about Cyberpunk is that it's infused with a sorta earnest nihilism or cynicism. Stephenson doesn't take it as seriously, which makes some of the more ridiculous stuff go down easier.

    I wouldn't call The Diamond Age a steam-punk novel, but it's kinda, sorta there. It's got a very Victorian undertone layered on top of a SF story with nanotech and interactive book things. Diamond Age also features one of the few female protagonists. Perhaps you might like that one more than I did...

    ~tallman
    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJan 5th 2010
     
    Ok, it's up. It's going to be pretty rough as I get the hang of it, but I will post about the first book finished in 2010 later tonight or tomorrow.

    http://sovawanea.blogspot.com/