Kotaku AU Bookclub: Let's Get Some Culture Up In Here

Welcome to the first, and possibly last, instalment of Kotaku AU Bookclub: a little nook on the interwebs where Aussie gamers can come together and discuss nerdy literature. So tell me: what're you reading?

As always, I've got a few books on the go at the moment, but the one I'm gonna talk about today is a little tome called Philosophy Through Videogames, by Jon Cogburn and Mark Silcox. According to the blurb on the back, the purpose of this book is to "investigate the aesthetic appeal of videogames, their effect on our morals, the insights they give us into our understanding of perceptual knowledge, personal identity, artificial intelligence, and the very meaning of life itself."

Lofty goals indeed. Perhaps a little too lofty. See, the problem with this book - and books like it - is that it clumsily shoehorns games into what is basically an introduction to Western philosophy text. Cogburn and Silcox don't really talk about philosophy THROUGH videogames so much as they talk about philosophy AND videogames. The connections between scholarship and subject matter are tenuous at best, laughably inadequate at worst. Or at least that's the impression I get from reading the first couple of chapters. Maybe it gets better later on. I certainly hope so: the damn thing cost me 50 bucks.

So! That's what I've been reading. How about you?


    Currently I'm reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, and a behind the scenes Lord Of The Rings trilogy making of type book that I got at a garage sale for a buck on the weekend.

    I just finished reading The Bonehunters from the series Malazan Book of the Fallen. I'm going to buy Reaper's Gale probably this Friday.

    Sounds interesting.
    have you read "Fantasy freaks and gaming geeks" yet?

    Currently i'm into a 800 page monster of The Voncarstein Vampire Trilogy (warhammer)

    ...I'm 25 pages in... :|

    I recently went to the effort of importing "Inventory: 16 films featuring manic pixie dream girls, 10 great songs nearly ruined by saxaphone, and 100 more obsessively specific pop-culture lists", a coffee table book put together by the AV Club (www.avclub.com) as a spin off of their weekly "inventory" feature. While it doesn't really have much to do with videogames, it does well at satisfying the movie/tv buff within. It's a great thing to flick through and read in small doses. My favorite list at the moment? "Don't just say Urkel: 25 sure signs that a sitcom is terrible"

    At last check you can get it for about AU$30 (inc. shipping) from amazon.com

      Sounds like perfect gift material, that you can then borrow back :)

    A Day In the Life of Alex Denisovitch. From the same author as The Archipelago Gulag.

    And also 1984 is on my bedside table.

    Nicely balances the plot (what plot) of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 which I am playing through

    I recently finished reading the book I got with the collectors edition of Alan Wake, a very enjoyable volume that hints at the future and the contents of the game without giving anything away.

    The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. I can quite honestly say that I've learnt more about Australian and British history so far than from the entirety of my public school education.
    Whilst Hughes can come across as a bit too patriotic, and more than a little pompous, it's a well written and researched book.
    Using surviving texts from the colonists themselves, Hughes paints a grim picture of what life was like for those who shaped our raw land into what it is today.
    Dan, I've also read Philosophy Through Video Games (although I paid much less - did you use Book Depository?) and I agree with you. Still, it's not a bad entry point for someone who hasn't studied philosophy.

    I just finished reading International Busienss Management - A Uni tectbook. It was 600 pages and I had to read it cover to cover. I hate reading because of this, and every other textbook I have the pleasure of paying 100-200 for each semester.

    Oh well, back when I did read, love almost everything from Paulo Cohelo... Alchemist, fifth mountain, veronika decides to die etc etc.

    Currently reading "The Religion" by Tim Willocks. It's about the siege of Malta in 1565. While it's a bit slow paced, it had some of the most brutal, and gory combat scenes I have ever read.

    Seriously, the first chapter alone had me gaping in awe at the absolute barbarity of some the actions commited.

    fiction (mostly): Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

    non-fic: Orientalism by Edward Said

    Using the term literature very loosely, but just started on the Sookie Stackhouse books to get hyped up for season 3.

    Also trying to get motivated to start on "Characters and Viewpoints" by Orson Scott Card.

      Oo, also a whole bunch of original Amazing Spider-Man on the Marvel Digital Comics site.

      Ah, they were simpler times.

    PC Powerplay. Hard hitting stuff.

      I loved the witcher 2 interview and splinter cell review.
      I agree, good stuff.

    I'm currently reading the back cover of Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged', wondering if I'll ever actually open it and get past page six.

    The last book I read was 'The Time Traveller's Wife'. Although the dialogue meandered between being 'award winning' and 'cringe-worthy' it was damned gripping. Just try and read it without bawling your big manly eyes out (and dodge the movie which does the book no justice whatsoever).

      Hey! I'm reading Atlas Shrugged as well. About a third of the way in, and although it's taking forever I'm sticking at it. Say what you will about Rand's philosophy, she can write some epic prose.

    Just finished reading "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ" by Philip Pullman. Certainly not to everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it. Currently I'm supposed to be studying, so I'm avoiding picking up any new books.

      I saw that in a bookshop the other day and totally judged it by its cover as "something I'd like to check out one day".

      Any chance of a mini review if you're looking for some study-procrastination?

    I'm reading (for the fourth time) George RR Martin's EPIC saga, A Song of Ice and Fire. Delicious!

      Have you seen the new teaser for HBO's Game of Thrones based of those books?
      I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic, but the caution part is just going right out the window...I can't wait to see how it turns out.

      Without delving into the amazingness that is the George RR Martin series. Which I love!

      Recently I've been reading the books by Robert Low, the first book "The Whale Road", loved it so much I've bought the 2 sequels, am about to buy the third. Really well written Viking era based action and characters. I highly recommend it.

      Anyone who can enjoy Pratchett, Martin, Gemmal, Severin and the like will LOVE Robert Low.

    Just finished reading The Story of Danny Dunn (Bryce Courtenay) last night. Harrowing, gripping and very very good.

    you are still working for hyper right dan? they need your reviews, no others are as entertaining.
    i'll read the girl who played with fire next.

    Had just finished 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' again... now thanks to Madman having a sale on Manga it's gonna be Neon Genesis Evangelion vol. 1-11 for the rest of the week.

      Also another one that I read a little while ago that was pretty brilliant was 'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss. Well worth checking out, if you're after some pretty epic fantasy to fill your days with.

        +1 for Patrick Rothfuss. Name of the Wind was brilliant!

    I have an off-again, on-again relationship with book 9 of the wheel of time series, Winter's Heart I think it's called. I think I'm getting over it now.

    Other than that, finance books and newspapers are where I spend most of my reading time.

    Anyone read the new bourne book? whats it like

      reading Bourne Objective. Pretty decent action book. He's still badass though

    Lies of Locke Lamora,I just finished the 2 available books,they were a very good read.

    The Gone Away world,a fairly old book my brother put me on to,unlike anything i have read before.
    Apparently a SciFi classic.
    Unsure of my feelings about the book just yet,there are moments that have certainly been touching.

    I'm reading 'The Scar' by China Mieville at the moment. I normally don't go for hardcore fanatasy, but the world he creates are so fantastically bizzare somehow it doesn't bother me. His writing is extremely rich too, and he deals with some really complex themes.

    If you're going to read any of his works though, you should start with Perdido Street Station - though his books all stand-alone storylines, they're set in the same world, and Perdido Street Station is probably the best introduction.

    The Iceman: Confessions Of A Mafia Contract Killer by Philip Carlo.


    I'm currently reading the first book in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series.
    I'm trying to take my time so it isn't finished in a day as usual, but I'm finding it increasingly more difficult to put down.

      Ahhhh yeah!
      I will second the Codex Alera recommendation,i will devoured the whole series in very short order.
      The Dresden files were awesome also.

    At the moment my wife is getting me to read the Sookie stackhouse novels the TV series True Blood was based on. I'm only 8 pages in (I started reading it on a rather short train journey this afternoon) so I can't really comment on the quality of the book as yet.

    Liast night I finished re-reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, which is one of my all-time favourites. If there's one flaw with Stephenson's writing it's that he is not good at villains.
    He had me with Raven in Snow Crash until he described the "Criminally Insane" tattoo on his forehead. From that point on he just became kind of goofy despite repeatedly performing some badass acts and riding around with a nuke in his sidecar.

    Likewise, the "villains" in Cryptonomicon (The Dentist, General Wang, etc) were all well done and well used. Then he had to throw in Andrew Loeb, an insane lawyer who persistently pursues Randy Waterhouse et al through the jungles of Manila even after losing his leg to a landmine.

    There's a point where his imagination goes over the top and his villains just don't fit the story anymore.

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