Reading!

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Met my goal of 30+ books (now at 31) and reached 9K pages, too.

Nothing to Fear But Ferrets by Linda O. Johnston. I was looking for a mystery novel and I hadn't read an author with a 'J' last name; therefore, this choice. Um, could've done much better: it's about first world problems, and little animals. The protagonist apparently lost her law license in the last book, even though she was found innocent of those charges. She's a pet sitter/walker to help pay her bills, and she rents the "rest" of her big house to a couple who end up in a murder case. I had no empathy for her, she is easily manipulated, the suspects are flat (and the "reveal" of the murderer at the end is just unrealistic), and the author obviously had her thesaurus function open for the totality of time she inscribed her volume.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind by Chuck Barris. I'm not sure, but I think someone in this thread posted about reading this "autobiography." He makes claims that of course can't really be verified. It's quite explicit, has extremely specific passages from years before and reads like a novel (which are the main reasons I doubt its authenticity).

[edit] I'll add another review here, since instead of the ugh books above, this one was good:

A Visit From the Good Squad by Jennifer Egad. Egad! is right; this Pulitzer-winning book had me up late to read "just one more chapter" until I'd finished it. It's a sex-drugs-rock n' roll story of 13 chapters, each focused on a different character, when read all together form a longer narrative. There's a magazine article (with footnotes) chapter, a Power Point chapter, frequent changes in point of view, and an interesting prediction of how life will be somewhere in the 2020s (some of which HAS already happened since the book was published in 2010). Sadly, most of the characters aren't noble (or, even generally good people) and it can get depressing to read of their repeated faults or deaths. Still, very good.
 
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Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
More books gets me to 35 for the summer at about 10,000 pages.

Spencer Quinn's The Right Side. This is a departure from his dog-centric mystery series, but there is a dog in it. It's about a war veteran who returns to the US with injuries (both visible [mainly a missing right eye] and invisible [memory issues and guilt and PTSD]). It becomes a form of a mystery in that there's a missing girl and questions about the explosion that resulted in her injuries. Sometimes funny, always well-written (even brings in some of the phrases he's used in his other series), and the way it ends it could mean the end of a single story or a series of books to come.

Marilynne Robinson's Gilead. I chose this one since it was an award-winning book (2005 Pulitzer) and its title connected to another book I'd read this summer (Handmaid's Tale, set in a future land of the same name as this book). it was okay: a dying former minister is writing letters (200+ pages long of letters) to his young son about his and his family's history, his own thoughts and struggles. It got boring and repetitive at times, but it does have good messages.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Appropriately, my last book for my summer reading is reviewed below. :D Final stats are below that.

Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury. It's the 55-years-later "sequel" to Dandelion Wine, which I read a few years ago and therefore remembered very little of its plot or characters. It is short, and the first 20-some chapters are around just 2-4 pages long. The ending is just bizarre (I understand it, I guess, but it's just not what I expected from Bradbury), but it fits the "young vs. old" theme. Overall, it was alright.

Books read in summer: 37. Approximate pages read: 10,500 (averages 284 per book).
Books by author last name (and how many read): A (3), B (8 * = most of any letter), C (3), D (1), E (1), F (1), G (2), H (2), J (1), K (1), L (1), M (3), Q (2), R (2), S (2),T (1), W (2).
Books by genre (and how many read): Star Wars (4), sci-fi (1), fantasy (1), general fiction (6 * = most of any), movies/TV (1), travel (2), romance (1), biography/autobio. (3), young adult/children (5), humor (2), western (2), mystery/horror (3), sports (3), philosophy (1), history/science (1).
Summer Totals: 14 years, 444 books (approx. 120,400 pgs., 271 pgs. per), about 32 books per summer.


Note: interesting that by authors' last names, I read C (3), P (0). :p
 
Apr 28, 2013
1,215
6
Cathedral by Nelson DeMille. A radical IRA splinter group takes over St. Patrick's Cathedral on St. Patrick's Day, threatening to kill hostages and blow up the church. Fast paced read. Kept thinking, why hasn't this been made into a movie?
 
Apr 28, 2013
1,215
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Dunkirk by Joshua Levine. This is the book the movie is based on. The first and last chapters spoke about the movie, while the rest of the book was about the actual 1940 event with some author's notes about the movie worked in here and there. It was a good read.

Now back to a SW novel.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
It took a while for it to become available at another local library, but I finished Beren and Luthien by JRR Tolkien (but edited by his 93-year old [?!?] son Christopher). It takes a notable story about two lovers (the book's title) and how JRRT wrote about them in various drafts and published works. Sometimes history, sometimes epic poem, sometimes prose, sometimes just paragraphs of words. It took a long time to read, and while I enjoyed The Silmarillion as a teenager, this was just long, drawn-out and dull to read. There were parts that were interesting, but man! Tough read.
 
Apr 28, 2013
1,215
6
Who Killed the Red Baron? by P. J. Carisella and James W. Ryan. This book was written in the late 60s, and almost 100 years later, the debate is still there. Author Carisella interviewed a lot of the people who were there on April 1918, and came up with the conclusion that ground fire killed the German pilot.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
With the end of Thanksgiving break approaching, I was able to definitely finish another book, and depending on how much I read tomorrow, maybe one more. I discovered that Chinua Achebe's No Longer at Ease is a sequel to his Things Fall Apart, one of my favorite books to teach my students. It's set in the 1950s, as Nigeria is becoming a nation, with the grandson of Okonkwo (the protagonist of TFA) dealing with becoming an adult in this "new" world. It's sad, as he tries to avoid the pitfalls of society and the corruption of the government. It doesn't end well. It connects to the previous book well, and is filled with even more proverbs than its predecessor. Change is difficult, even more so when others don't want to or feel they cannot.
As a written piece, I liked it. But as far as its content, I didn't enjoy reading about it, even though it's important to know such things exist in (a fictional plot) order to prevent them in reality.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
I got to meet the author and have him sign my copy of Luis Fuerte (with David Duron)'s Louie, Take a Look at This! It's a recollection of Huell Howser's cameraman from the Californi'a Gold local PBS shows. Nice, easy read.
 

Maradona

Jedi Apprentice
Jun 25, 2007
2,290
31
Echo Park
I got to meet the author and have him sign my copy of Luis Fuerte (with David Duron)'s Louie, Take a Look at This! It's a recollection of Huell Howser's cameraman from the Californi'a Gold local PBS shows. Nice, easy read.
That's uh-mayzing! Huell is great. The Johnny Cat episode is my all-time favorite.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
After seeing the film of the same title, I knew I needed to read the book. Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures was even better than the excellent film. It is a chronology of not only the women calculators and mathematicians of NACA (a predecessor to NASA, based in Virginia) but also of those who helped get people and rockets and such into space. It was a dense read (dozens of pages of endnotes, plus an extensive bibliography) and a bit slow, but worthwhile.

And another short, easy read: Ellen DeGeneres' Seriously... I'm Kidding. It was sort of funny, mainly quick. Her style of comedy is the quirky, straight-man (no pun intended) observation humor; but never mean. It was fine.
 
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Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Could be my last book read in 2017 (well, there ARE three days left...), Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat. It focuses on the 1936 Olympic rowing team from Univ. of Washington, and how they won their gold medals (oops... SPOILER alert?). It's interesting how the author interspersed the Great Depression and growing WWII tensions in America, Europe, and especially Germany with athletic competitions. His writing style is well-sculpted, and he has an interesting endnote format that might become more common in these internet-research days: his chapter notes are summarized and mentions to check the complete online endnotes at his website. A slow read, and I have not been turned into a rowing fan, but a good book overall.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
My final stats for 2017 are as follows, plus my last 14 summers and since-2010 yearly summaries:

2017 (68 total books, 17,600 pgs., 259 pgs. per; summer: 37 books = 10,500 pgs.; 284 pgs. per)
Summer Totals (14 years, 444 books = 120,400 pgs., 271 pgs.per, 32 books per summer)
Yearly Totals (since 2010: 8 years, 505 books = 130,200 pgs., 258 pgs. per, 63 books per year)
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
You should be, like, an English teacher or something, BCJ. Most impressive...
Alas, I must return to my visage as Mr. Bel-Cam Jos tomorrow. :( But I was able to finish one last book before the lesson planning, grading, phone calling, recording, ignoring last-minute pleading resumes...

Inferno by Dan Brown. I cannot believe Robert Langdon burned Kashyykk down with turbolasers! I mean, ... wait, what? Oh, different book? That explains a lot... :p
Another run-through (almost literally) of Prof. Langdon in a life-and-death situation he needs to solve with his knowledge of symbolism and art. I predicted some of the "surprises," but as Brown often does, not all of them. This one is set mainly in Italy (specifically Florence) and its surrounding areas, about a potential super plague released by a genius madman (who dies in the first chapter, BTW). It was interesting, but not as can't-put-it-down as TDVC or A&D. It was still pretty good, and I learned more about Dante, Italian art and architecture, and even some other places I won't mention that would spoil the ending.

I am on pace to read 208 books this year! If these trends continue... which they of course cannot. :cry:
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
I read a book, and not a SW book, either; it was a recommendation from a friend: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing. It's an alternating setting narrative, covering about 200-300 years, from Western Africa (you discover it's specifically Ghana) to the American mainland (eventually the USA, of course). Each chapter focuses on a specific character, who's a little younger than the previous ones, and related in some way (usually a child). I completely missed the fire/water elemental forces motif until the last chapter. It's often tough to read (slave narratives always are, sad commentaries on social mores and systems often are too) content-wise, but never difficult stylistically. It's just around 300 pages, but with grading and school in the way, it took a bit longer to read than I normally would need.
 
Apr 28, 2013
1,215
6
Finished the Guns of Navarone, one of my all-time favorites. I reread this one every few years.

Started American Sniper, the Chris Kyle bio. Pretty good so far.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
It took a while to get to it, but Bel-Cam Jos finally finished Joseph Campbell's The Ecstasy of Being: Mythology and Dance. It's his usual mythological analysis of some concept (in this case: dance) in the context of multiple viewpoints (mythology of multiple cultures and times, multiple genres of art like poetry/novels/sculpture/plays, history, clothing, etc.). His wife was a key participant in the modern dance movement (I could mention Martha Graham's name, but no others; I now at least know of some other people I might recall in future references). I never was a superfan of dance, but his works always give me a greater appreciation of the subject matter he presents.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
I heard about a new TV show based a book, The Year of Living Biblically, by AJ Jacobs. If the show is like the book, it will be hilarious at the start, then get serious and contemplative by the end. He wanted to try following all rules mentioned in the Bible for a whole year. I had higher expectations for it, but it wasn't awful either.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
15,908
54
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
The sci-fi book club I attend has Ready Player One by Ernest Cline as its April book, since the film would've been out by then. The premise is better than the execution (a dystopian future, a VR world based on 1980s nostalgia to win a huge prize; but told in a simplistic tell-it-as-it-happens "style" ). It wasn't horrible (overall; some individual parts were), but it wasn't OMG awesome, either. It certainly seems like it was written to BE a movie (even name drops some "potential" directors' names for it early on).