Found in translation

I do not read much fiction these days but I used to read it a lot in the past, especially the classics that were written in so many different languages. Because my language skills are so poor, I only read English translations of them and almost always the translations were so good that you forgot that you were doing so. The translators were able to make the English versions feel familiar while not losing the foreign culture that the source material was describing. The ability to make translations so smooth, especially in literary works where metaphors and style are so crucial, was always something that impressed me greatly.
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How do you judge when to stop reading a book?

I am one of those people who, once I start to read a book or watch a film, find it hard to stop until I finish it, even if the book and film are becoming tedious. Something really awful has to happen for me to stop. Tedium alone is not sufficient. Librarian Nancy Pearl, who sometimes appears on NPR as an engaging reviewer of books, says that she too used to find it hard to stop reading a book but now she has adopted a ‘rule of 50’.
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Book review: Reporter by Seymour M. Hersh

I am not in general a fan of the memoir genre but when I heard that legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh had written one, I rushed out to buy a copy the day it was released because I knew it would be good. And I was not disappointed. The book is excellent, containing details of how he arrived at his stories and should be required reading for anyone who wants to be a good reporter because he tells you how he went about getting important information. As I read it I started marking various passages to quote in a review but they became so numerous that there is no way that I can do so without this becoming very lengthy. What I will do is from time to quote from sections of it as it relates to other topics I write about.
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Adam Lee reads Atlas Shrugged so you don’t have to

Ayn Rand’s paean to capitalism as expounded in this book has commanded a loyal following from many of the worst people in public life, such as former chair of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan and current speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan. Its basic message that wealth equates with virtue is targeted at those who are already wealthy by appealing to their vanity, that they are successful not because of family or luck but because they are smarter and more industrious than everyone else, something that we know is not true.
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Philip Roth (1933-2018)

The writer died yesterday at the age of 85. I have not read most of the works of this prolific author but I did enjoy the ones that I read, such as Goodbye Columbus, Portnoy’s Complaint, Our Gang, The Plot Against America, and The Breast. For some reason, I never got around to reading the series of novels that featured the protagonist Nathan Zuckerman, an omission that I should rectify.
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Misguided advice about reading books

I know that ‘listicles’ (articles that are lists of things, often ranked in order of preference) are often purely clickbait. They consist of preferences of the writers of the article and have no deeper meaning. However, I am a sucker for lists of books and films and so often follow up the links just to see how my tastes compare with that of the author. This list consists of 21 books that the editors of GQ magazine think are highly over-rated and for each book they provide lesser-known alternatives in the same genre that they think would be time better spent reading.
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Book review: Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief & Experience (2014) by Christopher C. French and Anna Stone

Following my recent post and discussion on the issue of psychics, I read three very different books on the subject, all shedding different perspectives. The first of these was the memoir In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist (1996) by Susan Blackmore that I reviewed two weeks ago. The second of these was the book Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief & Experience (2014) by Christopher C. French and Anna Stone who are both academic researchers, the former at the University of London and the latter at the University of East London.
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Book review: In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist

In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist (1996) is a memoir by Susan Blackmore. Blackmore became convinced even before she went to college that the paranormal existed and decided to study it as a career. In her first year of college she also had a vivid out-of-body experience (OBE) that made a huge impression on her and she also found that she was an accomplished Tarot card reader, with her clients extremely impressed with the accuracy and quality of the things she told about them, persuading her that she too had psychic abilities.
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People who write in library books

As part of the research for my book, I have borrowed a huge number of books from my university library. Many of them are decades old, sometimes going back over a century, and some are quite rare. I am sincerely grateful that my library is stocked with them and that the library staff is so helpful and thus make my life easier. So I get infuriated when I find that people have scribbled all over some books, such as underlining sections and inserting comments and exclamations and other editorializing in the margins. Some have done it in pencil that can in principle be erased, though the extent of scribbles can be daunting. Others have done it in ink.
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The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster

The novelist E. M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote books such as A Passage to India, Howard’s End, and A Room With a View that deal with life in Victorian England and its empire, casting a wry look at the mores of the British bourgeoisie, the kind of material that is ideal fodder for Merchant-Ivory films. He is not known as a science fiction writer and so I was surprised to learn that in 1909 he wrote a futuristic short story with the title The Machine Stops that is available online.
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