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    • I am currently listening to the audiobook of Raven Stratagem, which is the second book in Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire series. It's big military space opera with interesting politics, and technology which is really quite indistinguishable from orderly, spectacular magic. The silly part of this is that I listened to this audiobook for the first time in September! After I finished it the first time, I turned around and immediately listened to the first book, Ninefox Gambit, again (although I listened to it first in, I think, May) and then immediately plowed back into the sequel.

      Besides being a really good recommendation of the books -- they made total sense the first time through, but I knew I'd find more little details and foreshadowings this way! -- it's not a very common thing for me. What books, if any, have you ever finished and then started again ridiculously soon?

    • Replay, by Ken Grimwood. I first read it almost two decades ago, then re-read it a few months later, and have re-read it many times in the years since (the last time just a month or so ago).

      It’s hard to describe why I like it so much. The idea of living one’s life over again is both horrifying and tantalizing, but it’s also something more than that. It evokes a sense of nostalgia like nothing else I’ve ever read, even though I wasn’t alive during much of the period in which the book takes place.

      It’s fitting that this book I keep returning to over and over again is entirely about returning to things over and over again, and about the joys and miseries inherent in reliving our experiences.

    • This topic fascinates me. I once heard Jeff Bezos speak at Stanford Business School when Amazon was a bookstore, and he said people work for noble purpose. Most people can list 5 books that really moved them, but they know there must be 100 that would if only they could find them. Amazon's noble purpose in the day was helping you find the others.

      That happened to me with Into Thin Air. The world stopped when I was reading that book because I couldn't put it down. I know, not science fiction, but still. And then I had to find another like it. And Amazon helped me find Touching the Void. Perfect.

      But to answer your question, one book I wanted to read again right after the first reading was Les Misérables. Oh my God. Except for all the battles in the beginning. Skipped them the second time.

    • I personally find it really hard to reread books (can't think of a time I have). I read really slow because of subvocalization which I have never been able to kick; so rereading the same content ends up being a large time sync hurdle hours endeavor.

      One book series I would like to revisit is the Red Rising series. I listened to it on audiobook and had my headphones in nonstop for weeks.

    • Interesting. I always thought subvocalization was normal and how most people read. I subvocalize. I can read faster by just skimming the words, but the information doesn't seem to stick as well that way and I find it kind of stressful, so I only do that when I really need to read something quickly.

      These days I don't read nearly as much fiction as I'd like to. Too few hours in the day. Most of my reading time gets spent on technical reading and keeping up with current events, and I'm not fond of audiobooks. 😕

    • When I was in grad school at Stanford I was also subconscious about my slow reading and subvocalization. They had a speed-reading class at the time, so I took it. We had machines that scrolled the text by fast enough you couldn't subvocalize.

      I got nowhere, so I signed up for the follow-on class. But after a few years of offering it, they cancelled it forever. They put out a big announcement that they had found little evidence that you could speed up your reading without dropping your comprehension. And that it had been particularly important for students in fields like math, science, history and philosophy where it appears to be critical to slow down, perhaps read a passage a few times, think about it and make sure you understand before proceeding.

    • My wife is an extremely fast reader. We took an online reading quiz together and IIRC she was able to read ~14 times faster, and did better on the reading comprehension quiz afterwards. I don't think that an online test like that is definitive, but I see her fly through books in hours that would take me weeks to get through.

      I do think that there is a distinction between comprehension and internalization. Internalizing something technical is usually a far slower process than reading with subvocalization anyway.

      Though we seem to have hijacked @Felicity's conversation. I know one book that I do keep reading over and over is The Dinosaur Dance. Looking forward to moving up to reading my daughter the Harry Potter series in a few years.

    • The first time I read Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," I re-read it immediately.

      "You're either on the bus or off the bus."

      It was my first exposure to "new journalism." The book chronicles the Merry Pranksters, Ken Kesey, the Grateful Dead, and the hippies of the Summer of Love era SF Bay Area. The prose style reflects that same period of psychedelic experience: it's sensory-rich, lush, stream-of-consciousness; often incoherent and multi-threaded, jumping from thought to thought and then sometimes looping back again; other times meandering off onto different subjects or abruptly ending. It even dips into concrete poetry, where the shape and arrangements of the text and sentences is impactful. Some passages are liberally decorated with 27 colons or ALL CAPS or other bizarre punctuation.

      It was a struggle for me to understand any of it at first. I battled my way through 200 pages of opaque word salad, gleaning almost nothing from it, before it just suddenly clicked and I "got it." I had my literary epiphany. I actually started the book over right then to to-read from beginning with new eyes.

      It's out there, but it's a tremendously fun read if it clicks with you. Also, a fascinating literary non-fiction account of all of these iconic cultural figures and moments.

      In general, I'd say my first reads of books focus more on plot comprehension and trying to make sense of who all the characters are (Tolstoy, I'm looking at you!). Subsequent reads are more enjoyable, because I focus more on the artform of the language. I'm way more likely to re-read books with beautiful prose or imagery.

    • I have not actually ever reread Les Misérables — it’s an ambition problem, I want to read it in French — but I definitely got the urge to start it again as soon as I finished it. That also made it my #1 pick for the ‘desert island’ question, as I was convinced I could read it over and over again happily, and spend a good long time doing so!

      I did go and buy it in French, by the way, but I haven’t gotten very far. My fluency had deteriorated a great deal by the time I started reading it: far enough, in fact, that a lot of the literary/archaic vocabulary stayed just out of grasp, so I would read a paragraph and get part of the sense and all of the structure, but miss a lot of meaning because of nouns and verbs I KNEW I used to know.

      Ironically, given the topic of the interesting digression (I don’t mind!), I did find a solution to my failure of understanding. I started reading it aloud to myself, and not only is it beautiful, but my brain dredged up the meanings to go with many of the French words. I think I could read it in French now, with occasional dictionary checks...out loud. Given how long it is — even a bit longer in French actually! — that would take at least a year. Or maybe a desert island ;)

      (As an aside, the reverse also works: my grandfather (on the not-French side) was assigned to liaise with some Resistance folks in France at some point during/after WWII, and knew no French. “I taught myself French — well, a sort of French — from a town full of people with no English, and a two-volume set of Les Misérables I found in a bombed out house,” as he said.)

    • I re-read Anathem immediately after finishing it. It was hard to start, the first time, but going back through it knowing what was coming up, and what alliances/relationships would form, and searching for clues and foreshadowing made it twice as fascinating the second time. I will almost certainly read it again. I feel his books are all eminently re-readable (yes, including the Baroque Cycle!).

    • I first read Lord of the Rings when I was 14. I checked out the 3 books from the library, bunked off school for the week and disappeared into a magical world of elves, ents, goblins, ....

      I still read a lot of fantasy books, Raymond Feist's "Magician" is another favourite that I reread once a year.

      I picked up speed reading around this time, didn't know I was doing it, just got lost in a book and skimmed through the pages. If I think about it, I wouldn't do it, it's sub-conscious.

    •  If I think about it, I wouldn't do it, it's sub-conscious.

      Can you clarify that? I have never figured out speed reading. I always subvocalize and I always wonder about people who can go faster and not lose comprehension.

    • I get lost in the book, and skim along the page, reading every third or 4th word and might look up after an hour or two and be half way through a book. If something doesn't make sense, I stop and re read more carefully but, reading light fiction, harry bosch books for example, I just skim along.

      If I have to read something technical, I slow right down. If I ever had to read to pass a course again, I would slow down again. it's fiction that I blaze through.

      When I'm lost in a fiction book, i'm picturing the scenes in the book in my mind as I'm reading and I'm not conscious of the words on the page.

      I googled a speed reading test and my score was 532 wpm. my comprehension was 55%:

      http://www.readingsoft.com/index.html


      so I'd do fine reading fiction but would barely pass an exam if it was a subject I had to study.

      You gave me "good to great" a few years ago, took me a while to read that because it was quite technical, I couldn't skip through it as I would a fiction book?

      Sorry I can't explain it more clearly but hope the above makes sense?

    • Science research has shown EVERYONE subvocalizes. Of course to different extents but the goal shouldn't be to stop subvocalizing. In addition, anything you read about speed reading is likely to be totally _____________ or pseudoscience. So read on and enjoy :)

    • I don't think I've ever reread a science fiction novel. Maybe Frankenstein because I had to know it really well for a university class. I very rarely watch movies twice as well.

    • I rarely if ever re-read or re-watch fiction, but one book I read dozens of times when I was younger was WASP by Eric Frank Russell. Something about the story, writing, and premise grabbed me and made me want to re-read the story over and over. It's about how a small disruptive force applied correctly can cause huge societal disruptions. I happen to know yaypie has also read this one.

    • One of my all-time favorites! In fact, I have the old worn paperback from Grandpa's attic — possibly the same copy you read as a kid? — on my bookshelf. It was one of the first books I grabbed when Grandma threatened to throw out any I didn't take home with me. 😄

    • Ironically, Les Misérables is the one book I've read twice, back to back. I was required to read it in my french class. Immediately after finishing it, I bought it *in english* and read it again. The second time made SOOO much more sense.

    • That's a pretty advanced and rigorous French class -- it's SO long! Long even for college reading assignments :)

      The only time I've done anything vaguely comparable was in World Lit as a college freshman, we were reading Madame Bovary in translation, but I was curious about some word or phrase and went to get it from the library in French. I got grumpy about our translation and started doing the reading in French instead of English -- which proved useful a few times when the class would get into some argument about a specific word's connotations and ask me to tell them the original word from my reading!