Books that make you feel stupid:0)

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    Jul 10, 2008 8:29 AM GMT
    Currently I'm trying to read a book called FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I'd like to think I'm atleast of average intelligence but this book is making me doubt my level of comprehension lol. I do get the big picture he is trying to draw, but I end up reading passages over and over again to make sure I've understood the details.icon_redface.gif

    Has anyone ever come across a book where you think you can barely grasp what the author is getting at?
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    Jul 10, 2008 9:58 AM GMT
    There are a couple of novels I gave up on because I was having difficulty comprehending them.

    "The Egoist" by George Meredith
    "Dr. Faustus" by Thomas Mann

    I will give them another try someday.
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    Jul 10, 2008 10:40 AM GMT
    The first book that made me feel this way was The Prince And The Pauper by Mark Twain. I read it when I was in my early teens, around twelve. And I had to reread it again at around 16 to understand it fully. LOL. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn also, I read around 13 or so (both books were gifts from one of my sisters), though not as archaic in its English, the dialect used is hard to grasp for a foreign reader like me. LOL

    Nothing really mind-boggling. I only felt stupid because at the age I read those books, I should still have been reading comic books. icon_lol.gif
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    Jul 10, 2008 12:49 PM GMT
    Sedative I gave up on comic books when I was 11! At 13 I was reading mystery stories and The Lord Of The Rings. For non-fiction "Jane's Fighting Ships" reference books. I moved on to Churchill's History of The Second World War when I was 16 or 17. It was kind of long, but very interesting (6 books and over 3,500 pages).

    For a really interesting and bizarre read, try Mervyn Peake's "Gormenghast" trilogy. Very unique to say the least. The first two books are great, the third is maybe a bit too out there.

    I was always have two or three books on the go, from the very simple to read (e.g. The Hardy Boys) to the more complicated (History or Henry James for example).
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    Jul 10, 2008 1:35 PM GMT
    the book that got to me was This Side of Paradise by fitzgerald. I read about 10pages and didnt understand one thing.
  • art_smass

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    Jul 10, 2008 2:06 PM GMT
    I usually don't have this problem (I've even read Tristram Shandy a couple of times, and it's a doozy). However, I will stop reading a book if it's pretentious and a painful exercise in self-indulgence on the author's part.

    I will admit that I've given up on James Joyce at least twice.
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    Jul 10, 2008 6:07 PM GMT
    I'm with art...Joyce and I don't get along so well. It's not so much a matter of understanding or complexity so much as one of my interest and the corresponding amount of effort I was willing to put in. Melville's Moby Dick does the same thing to me after the first few pages.

    So make me question whether I'm stupid? No. Question whether I might have ADD? Yeah.
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    Jul 10, 2008 6:41 PM GMT
    I hate when I read a classic and it turns out I don't like it. I just read Brave New World for the first time (believe it or not). Ugh. I hated it. Makes me wonder why some classics are classic.

    Have I ever read a book that made me feel stupid? I don't think so, but I've read books that challenged my analytical discernment and ability to concentrate.

    Now, I'm just about to start reading Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. There's a good chance I might feel stupid after reading that. I'll let you know.
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    Jul 10, 2008 6:58 PM GMT
    Global_Citizen saidI hate when I read a classic and it turns out I don't like it. I just read Brave New World for the first time (believe it or not). Ugh. I hated it. Makes me wonder why some classics are classic.



    Maybe the historical background makes a difference.

    Have I ever read a book that made me feel stupid? I don't think so, but I've read books that challenged my analytical discernment and ability to concentrate.

    Now, I'm just about to start reading Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. There's a good chance I might feel stupid after reading that. I'll let you know.

    LOL thanks. You know misery loves company.
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    Jul 10, 2008 7:21 PM GMT
    closetsinger saidCurrently I'm trying to read a book called FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I'd like to think I'm atleast of average intelligence but this book is making me doubt my level of comprehension lol. I do get the big picture he is trying to draw, but I end up reading passages over and over again to make sure I've understood the details.icon_redface.gif

    Has anyone ever come across a book where you think you can barely grasp what the author is getting at?


    Just cuz you dont get it doesnt mean you are the one at fault. The guy could just be a lousy writer. In fact, I would say he is a lousy writer if he cant write so people can understand it.

    I love history and I am totally capable of understanding books written about history. But I have a book on the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that is impossible for me to read. The sentence structure that this guy uses is ridiculous. Like you, I was having to go back and parse his sentences to figure out what he was saying. I finally said, fuck it, this isnt worth it. It wasnt my fault; it was his lousy writing style.
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    Jul 10, 2008 7:26 PM GMT
    Wasn't it your 5th grade teacher who always pressed upon you to write to your audience? Maybe he did.
  • coolarmydude

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    Jul 10, 2008 7:31 PM GMT
    Try reading Vanity Fair in Old English. 2 Pages and done!
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    Jul 10, 2008 7:36 PM GMT
    Global_Citizen said

    Now, I'm just about to start reading Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. There's a good chance I might feel stupid after reading that. I'll let you know.


    Oh I hope not. I <3 Carl Sagan ^-^
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    Jul 10, 2008 7:38 PM GMT
    Anything by Jacques Lacan or Derrida.

    Not only do I feel stupid but I can't stand that strand of philosophy.
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    Jul 10, 2008 7:43 PM GMT
    I just finished "the singularity is near" by kurzweil. though I understood most of it, I thought several times throughout the book "Am I understanding this or do I just think I understand this?"

    Now I'm reading "Nanoconvergence" by some idiot...I'm only 4 chapters into it and I already hate the author.

    boob.

    I dont think I've ever read fiction that made me feel stupid, but I read nonfiction sciencey stuff all the time that I dont understand. When I get to a part I dont understand I just start humming really loudly and pretend I'm more interested in the song I"m humming than in the words I'm reading. That way I dont feel like I"m stupid, I just feel like I can only concentrate on one thing at a time. I may look stupid, but it wouldnt be the first time someone had said that...
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    Jul 10, 2008 7:45 PM GMT
    coolarmydude saidTry reading Vanity Fair in Old English. 2 Pages and done!


    Do you have a copy? ... icon_eek.gif
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    Jul 10, 2008 7:56 PM GMT
    coolarmydude saidTry reading Vanity Fair in Old English. 2 Pages and done!


    You think English of the early twentieth century is hard to read? Try real Old English...something from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, ish. Makes Shakespeare sound like Suess and Thackeray read like...hmmm...Reader's Digest? icon_lol.gif
  • gumbosolo

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    Jul 10, 2008 7:57 PM GMT
    coolarmydude saidTry reading Vanity Fair in Old English. 2 Pages and done!


    Yeah, man . . . Middle English is kind of fun, 'cause you can tell what about half of it means and make up the rest. But Old English . . . whoo.

    Got to agree about Joyce. And though I enjoyed some of his stuff, I always feel like Faulkner's trying to shoot over my head.
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    Jul 10, 2008 11:31 PM GMT
    coolarmydude saidTry reading Vanity Fair in Old English. 2 Pages and done!


    I must admit I loved "Vanity Fair". Becky Sharp is one of my favourite fictional characters.

    I am with Zdrew, "Moby Dick" until near the end was a real snoozefest. Maybe I should read it again to cure my insomnia? I had to read it in 3rd year university as part of my American Literature course. Give me English or Modern Literature any day of the week.

    Actually if you want to really wrack your brains, read late Henry James novels (post 1900). His philosophy of writing seemed to be why say anything in 10 words when you can use 30? Incredibly complicated and convoluted sentences. For the most part I still enjoy his writing though. Formidably intelligent and wise about human beings and their behaviour.
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    Jul 10, 2008 11:34 PM GMT
    closetsinger said Has anyone ever come across a book where you think you can barely grasp what the author is getting at?


    The Poky Little Puppy

    The metaphysics were too arcane to follow, the characters too self-examining, the plot too contrived, and the digressions on Byzantine architecture belonged in footnotes rather than the text.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Jul 11, 2008 12:06 AM GMT
    Caslon4000 said
    coolarmydude saidTry reading Vanity Fair in Old English. 2 Pages and done!


    Do you have a copy? ... icon_eek.gif



    No. A friend of mine recovered a late 19th Century copy that her Aunt was about to throw out. But if I had come across it first...
  • coolarmydude

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    Jul 11, 2008 12:08 AM GMT
    zdrew said
    coolarmydude saidTry reading Vanity Fair in Old English. 2 Pages and done!


    You think English of the early twentieth century is hard to read? Try real Old English...something from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, ish. Makes Shakespeare sound like Suess and Thackeray read like...hmmm...Reader's Digest? icon_lol.gif



    Yeah, I've seen it. The friend I referenced in the above post Mastered in English and she had to do some assignments dealing with 13th Century Old English.
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    Jul 11, 2008 12:46 AM GMT
    Green Eggs & Ham. Sam I am.
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    Jul 11, 2008 1:01 AM GMT
    the Poetic Eddas and the Mabinogian
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    Jul 11, 2008 1:07 AM GMT
    czarodziej saidthe Poetic Eddas and the Mabinogian


    Hmmm, you reminded me that my brother-in-laws poetry books I find can be very obtuse. He is published and sold on Amazon so some people undertand him.