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Journal of rafael (2125)

Friday May 24, 2002
05:43 AM

Large books

[ #5195 ]
I like large books. A huge, heavy book is always more appealing to me than a short 150 page opus. Almost all non-tech books I've read from cover to cover over the past few years are at least 800 page long : for example,
  • The Mahabharata (the largest book in mankind's history -- as there is no complete french translation, I've only read a 2000 page "abstract")
  • Asimov's complete robots / foundation cycle
  • Saint Augustine's City of God
  • James Joyce's Ulysses
  • Dumézil's Mythe et épopée
  • Hofstadter's Gödel Escher Bach

On the to-read list :

Downside : I need robust shelves.

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  • I've been wondering about Hofstadter's Gödel Escher Bach for a while, would you recommend it? Any specific comments?

    --

    -- Robin Berjon [berjon.com]

    • Yes ! but it requires some amount of concentration. Otherwise you'll get lost. Worth a read anyway. One of the few books that makes you think you're actually intelligent. (Moreover, it benefits from an excellent french translation / adaptation. I think that Hofstadter did review it himself.)
    • GEB is a wonderful book! I wouldn't try and read it in one go though. The explanation of Gödel's theorem is pretty good, but if you want to understand it properly you'll need to read the relevant sections carefully and repeatedly. What is really wonderful about it is the exuberance and playfulness. Hofstadter uses punning multiply self-referential dialogues to simultaneously explain and illustrate various points about self reference (and anything else that happened to strike him as interesting and tang
  • I've been reading it on and off for a few months now, but it is *very* heavy going. The worse thing I is that I studied some of the subjects at university level only a couple of years back and I'm finding them hard to grasp again. I've only "got" about 40% of the book so far and that has been worthwhile :)
  • Hmm. I'm the opposite. Large books are actually a bit of a negative for me. I have been heard to call it shovelfiction. I've been resisting reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire [georgerrmartin.com] for a while because each of the books are near 1000 pages. It was quite good and there wasn't slack in the ~2800 pages.

    I don't mind if something long is composed of multiple small books such as the Foundation series though.

    I guess part of my problem comes from the bulk of such a book - my arms get tired. The ot