Reading!

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
With about 6 hours to spare, I was able to finish reading an appropriately- titled book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson, for my last book of 2019. He tries to be Stephen Hawking by attempting to make "difficult" science seem relatable to "regular" people, but somehow comes up short [pun intended] on that tone. It covers various topics such as the creation and evolution of the earth, its organisms and its structure. Some interesting facts (many I didn't know about, some I think I recall, others I knew about).

My yearly reading stats are as follows:


BOOKS READ: 2018 (64 total books, 18,500 pgs., 289 pgs. per; summer: 31 books = 9,400 pgs.; 303 pgs. per)

Ahmed, S., R.Carson, M.Grant, & JJ Miller (Canto Bight, 300)
Allen, D. (On Track, 300)
Allston, A. (Terminator 3: Terminator Dreams, 300)
Andrews, J. (Munmun, 400)
Angleberger, T. (The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear!, 200)
Asimov, I. (Fantastic Voyage, 200)
Asimov, I. (The Gods Themselves, 300)
Berne, EC (Forces of Destiny: The Leia Chronicles, 100)
Berne, EC (Forces of Destiny: The Rey Chronicles, 100)
Brown, D. (Inferno, 400)
Bryson, B. (A Short History of Nearly Everything, 500)
Bryson, B. (A Walk in the Woods, 300)
Bush, B. (Barbara Bush: A Memoir, 500)
Butler, OE (Parable of the Talents, 300)
Campbell, J. (The Ecstasy of Being: Mythology and Dance, 200)
Carson, R. (Most Wanted, 300)
Cline, E. (Ready Player One, 300)
Dalai Lama, D. Tutu, & D. Abrams (The Book of Joy, 300)
Doescher, I. (William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last, 200)
Ende, M. (The Neverending Story, 300)
Fry, J. (The Last Jedi, 300)
Gates Jr., HL (In Search of Our Roots, 400)
Golden, C. (Assassins Creed: Heresy, 300)
Gyasi, Y. (Homegoing, 300)
Halliday, A. (No Touch Monkey!, 300)
Hardinge, F. (The Lie Tree, 300)
Hemingway, E. (A Farewell to Arms, 300)
Huddleston, T. (Adventures in Wild Space:The Cold, 200)
Huddleston, T. (Adventures in Wild Space:The Rescue, 200)
Hurston, ZN (Barracoon, 200)
Huxley, A. (Brave New World, 300)
Ione, L. (Lethal Rider, 400)
Ireland, J. (Lando’s Luck, 200)
Jacobs, AJ (The Year of Living Biblically, 300)
Klinenberg, E. (Palaces for the People, 200)
Kogge, M. (The Last Jedi Junior Novel, 200)
Lafferty, M. (Solo: A Star Wars Story, 300)
Liu, K. (The Legends of Luke Skywalker, 300)
Maradona, DA (Maradona, 300)
Martin, W. (The Lost Constitution, 500)
Nelson, W. & M. Blakely (A Tale Out of Luck, 300)
Noah, T. (Born a Crime, 300)
Older, DJ (Last Shot, 300)
Papademetriou, L. (Siren’s Storm, 300)
Queen, E. (The Player on the Other Side, 300)
Rooney, AA (Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom & Wit, 300)
Roosevelt, E. (New Deal for Death, 200)
Schrieber, J. (Solo: A Junior Novel, 200)
Smith, A. (Rabbit & Robot, 400)
Solomon, S. (American Mirror, 400)
Steves, R. (Rick Steves’ Postcards from Europe, 300)
Steves, R. & G. Openshaw (Rick Steves’ Mona Winks, 400)
Tarshis, L. (I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967, 100)
Tougas, S. (Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life, 300)
Truman, M. (Murder in Foggy Bottom, 300)
Tyson, ND & A. Lang (Accessory to War, 400)
Vowell, S. (Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, 300)
Wallace, D. (The Rebel Files, 200)
Wein, Elizabeth (Cobalt Squadron, 300)
Wilder, LI (Little House on the Prairie, 300)
Wilder, LI (On the Banks of Plum Creek, 300)
Windham, R. & A. Bray (Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor, 200)
Yurick, S. (The Warriors, 200)
Zahn, T. (Thrawn:Alliances, 300)

Summer Totals (15 years, 475 books = 129,800 pgs., 273 pgs. per, 32 books per summer)
Yearly Totals (since 2010: 9 years, 569 books = 148,700 pgs., 261 pgs. per, 63 books per year)
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
School's back in session, which means my reading opportunities might be drying up. I still hope to maintain my 52-books-in-52-weeks and at-least-one-book-per-month rates for 2019. Here are my two most recent reads, both very pleasantly good.

Michael Koryta's The Ridge was not what I expected. I searched for "lighthouses" in fiction. This turned out to be a supernatural suspense/mystery/horror book with a lighthouse... in non-coastal Kentucky. The devil (or someone very similar) takes ownership of the souls of people in terrible accidents on the verge of dying. Will he be foiled? Read it.

Tom Hanks (yeah, that guy) may have had some "help" writing this anthology of short stories, Uncommon Type: Some Stories, but it still seems like the style of writing I'd expect from him. They all involve typewriters somehow; some stories are humorous, but most are "regular" people. They often seem similar to Hanks' roles (a D-Day survivor, a recent immigrant to America, a group of friends who go towards the moon, a single person either not looking for love or somehow missing it, and more). Another good one.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
An English-related gift from a co-worker, Maureen Corrigan's So We Read On, about Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. I learned a few things, and realized that those (of us, sometimes) who are so absorbed by what is really enjoyed; this doesn't always cross over to those who don't like/appreciate it. I don't think I am "that" English teacher who over-analyzes little details, but I do know that I do at times. Overall, very well researched and shows a love of the story and story's storyteller.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
With a 4-day presidents' day weekend, I read a book! Maybe, could read another, but I doubt it (about 300 pages left to read with one day left). Rick Moody's Hotels of North America was purchased because it was on sale and seemed to have an interesting concept: an online reviewer of hotels is part of a hotel organization's printed publication, but the reviews are more about his life than the quality (or lack thereof) of the hotel experiences and amenities. He "goes missing" by the end, as he ceases to post on their site. Then, the author (Moody) is "asked" to write the Afterword for this book, and he tries to find Reginald Morse, the reviewer (I hope that's not what's happened here at TFG! ). Content is so-so and annoying, like if someone posted long entries about esoteric subjects online... hey, wait a minute!

[edit: 2/20/19] I was able to finish that other book, The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, edited by his widow Myrlie Evers-Williams & scholar Manning Marable. Told through documents of his, it covers his life with the NAACP and other civil rights organizations until his assassination in 1963 (even a couple sources published after his death). I didn't know just how influential and vital Evers' actions and efforts were.
 
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The OC47150

Force Sensitive
Nov 9, 2018
36
3
51
Finished Twilight Company last night. It was good.

Taking a break from SW and started reading a WWII historical battle book.
 

Tycho

Sith Knight
Aug 16, 2001
20,877
24
San Diego, CA
www.sirstevesguide.com
On Valentines Day, I saw my 3rd novel in my Buried Values series published, after 5 years of work. I'm exhausted from continuously re-reading all of my books for consistency as I finish work on BV4.
Now I have western, baseball at the end of WWI start to the Roaring 20's, and a tomb raider hurricane heist in the present day, all connected.
 
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Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
On Valentines Day, I saw my 3rd novel in my Buried Values series published, after 5 years of work. I'm exhausted from continuously re-reading all of my books for consistency as I finish work on BV4.
Now I have western, baseball at the end of WWI start to the Roaring 20's, and a tomb raider hurricane heist in the present day, all connected.
I didn't know you were a MULTIPLE-published author, Tycho. Awesome!

I need to find more of Octavia Butler's works. I just read Kindred, where a 1970s African American woman gets transported back to the 1830s South. It's a sort of sci-fi concept, but it's social commentary and history, too. Very good, well researched, powerful descriptions and excellent characterization.
 
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Maradona

Jedi Apprentice
Jun 25, 2007
2,299
31
Echo Park
With the World Cup currently up and running (and shooting, and saving, and scoring, and slide tackling...), I thought a soccer-related books would be apt. Maradona by Diego Armando Maradona (as his name is listed on the title page) was informative, based on his recall memories over a 20+ year career. But it also reveals his insecurities, arrogance, and whininess. He blames so many other people (occasionally including himself, but often to try and justify his own choices), his constant profanity, and his anger at seemingly everything and everyone make it hard to empathize with his difficult life. His list (LISTS...) of 100 great footballers was nice, even if he didn't rank them.
Let me know if you want it autographed ; )

He's a quite a polemical figure and most times I REALLY regret being nicknamed after him. It's like he dares you to be his fan before launching a dozen reasons not to be. The only time I ever saw my father cry was a summer afternoon in 1986 when Maradona lifted the World Cup on our 19" TV in Pasadena, CA - 17 years after he had immigrated to the United States from Argentina. 12 year old me was stunned at this display, but in hindsight it partly explains (to me at least) why there are those that will always embrace him despite his foul mouthed shenanigans. They remember that afternoon when the denizens of an oppressed third world country that spent much of the 20th century under military rule got to feel like a champion.

I had no idea the book had been translated or published outside Argentina, where I got my copy years ago which came bundled along with a cd of him reading excerpts from the text.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
This spring break made reading more convenient, as the roof repair needed meant that somebody had to be home but not always outdoors. So, I have read (so far?) 5 books, around 1400 pages. And they have all been pretty good overall.

Best book: Leigh Bardugo's Wonder Woman: Warbringer. It's considered a YA book, but it wasn't written that way. Similar to the WW film, it covers young Diana leaving her island to stop a worldwide war in the future. Very funny, great characters, strong plot with just enough surprises without being over-the-top.

Other good ones: Tim Green's Deep Zone. This was a YA, but with the seriousness of the story (mob following an NFL player with a serious knee injury and his younger brother, while a 7-on-7 youth football season goes on and ends where the Super Bowl is in Miami). Spoiler alert in alternate realities: The Falcons BEAT the Patriots in the Big Game!

Burt Reynolds' autobio, But Enough About Me. It's mainly him using significant people in his life as a chronology of his career in acting. Interesting to read, sometimes insightful.

Okay book: Derek Jeter's Fair Ball. A true YA sports book: life is about good choices, keep your friends and family close, if you give your best then your novel will end with you winning the big game. Yep.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
I read a book; three in fact!

From 4/1, I hadn't had a chance to mention Isaac's Storm, a non-fiction account by Erik Larson (not the Savage Dragon guy) of the 1900 Galveston Island hurricane. It focuses on Isaac Cline, the chief meteorologist who misjudged the severity of the storm. Sadly, many other did too, and the bureaucracy of reporting caused many more people to die. Not sure anything could've been done about property loss and damage, though.

Two others this week were "On" books:
On Reading Well, by Karen Swallow Prior. It's divided into 12 chapters, each a classic book or short story that fits a certain virtue. More religious than I expected, but literary analysis often has other concepts to explain the plots and characters and themes. I have more books I never read (some embarrassingly so) to add to my lists (LISTS...).

On the Other Side of Freedom by DeRay McKesson. One of the organizers of the Ferguson protests of the past 5 years or so (I did not realize just how long they went on: over a year), he speaks of how to do what he's done, who he is as a person, and what works well and not at all I society. The subtitle of it is The Case for Hope, so it's not doom-and-gloom, even as it addresses serious topics and deficiencies of society at large.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
My first Polish author, Olga Tokarczuk's Flights, was odd in a good way. No chapters (which I normally detest), but fairly-frequent titled sections about some unknown narrator talking about people and places encountered or recalled among various trips or journeys. Not really a novel as much as a series of reflections, with a few extended ones (one even returned to a couple times). Wonderful word play and descriptions (wonder how much was from the translation). Not terrible, but not awesome, nor just "eh." Hard to define, but I'm glad I read it.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Summer reading: it's ON, like, um, some two-word 80s video game (Burger Time? Dig Dug? Dragon's Lair?)...

I had assigned an article about 19th century travel writer Isabella Bird, so I found her A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. As a female, a solo traveler, an English person in western America, as a literate individual; all of these traits made her unique for that time. Her descriptions are quite detailed (but use some paragraph breaks, PLEASE! ), her stamina as a horse and mule rider (plus her ability to withstand freezing temps) are admirable, and her commitment to writing about her activities make for a wonderful read. Short in length (under 200 pages) but rich in depth (only covers a few months mainly in fall/winter Colorado).

[edit: 5/27] A second book, chosen based on its author's shoe-y name: Subway Girl by P.J. Converse (he apparently taught English in a Chinese school; write what you know, as they say). Set in Hong Kong, it's about two high school-aged teens: one whose English is spotty, the other whose Chinese is almost nonexistent. They both have their weaknesses, that the other fills in those holes. Sad but realistic depictions of young people's lives and decisions, some made by adults and some by fellow peers.
 
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Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Two more: Chasing Helicity, by ABC weather specialist Ginger Zee, and Sam Weller's bio of the man, The Bradbury Chronicles. The first is a YA novel about a girl who's interested in weather, despite her family's lack of said interest. A tornado destroys their town and the people are obviously shaken up, too. It's okay, kind of predictable (her brother the star HS quarterback injures his throwing arm, a local professor who knows weather well becomes the girl's mentor), but apparently is part of a series (does not say so; the story just ends without closure... I looked up to find another book was published after this).

The bio had some surprising info. about Ray Bradbury: he admitted to his wife about at least one of the two (more?) affairs he had, Ray knew multiple heavyweights in the world on a more-than-professional level (Walt Disney, Ray Harryhausen, some other international experts come to mind) plus others while working on things (George Burns, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, and more).

[edit: 6/1] I have read a couple serious, or educational, books related to pop culture concepts (Star Wars, Harry Potter, House MD, etc.), so when I saw Why Did It have to be Snakes? by Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg, I figured it had to be pretty good. Well, it talked about some pretty, and pretty interesting, historical people, and sometimes was good... at overusing Wikipedia as "source" material. It serves as a good jumping-off point to research or read about people, places, concepts, and more; but it is written quite simplistically and stale. Published the same year as IJatKotCS, it has only a brief mention of the South American skull legends without any film references, so its focus is the 3 IJ films plus the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Overall, it was decent: three bullwhips out of five. :whip:

That's 5 books, and since they've been shorter, finally crossing the 1K page mark for the summer.

[edit: 6/3] Make that 7 with these two, focused on iconic female performers...
Carol Burnett's In Such Good Company, was more of a behind-the-scenes book of the 11 seasons of her variety comedy show, and it allowed me to read and learn more about a recent RIP in Tim Conway. Wonderful to hear of the fun they had (even with problems and snags throughout).

With another recently-departed celebrity: Tom Santopietro's Considering Doris Day wasn't so much a biography of the singer/actress/animal rights activist, as his commentary on her life as if he's narrating her IMDB page. This was like taking the liner notes from her greatest hits CD and stretching it to almost 400 pages. Learned about her life and performances (no need to watch the films or TV shows, nor listen to the songs now, apparently); but it was laborious, tedious, repetitive, repetitive, and petty.
 
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Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Now at 10 books, with these three. All were pretty good, but different in their pretty good-ness.

Loren Estleman's Brazen. His "Valentino" film archivist series, which I has stopped reading after book 2 since my local library didn't have past that book, is still strong. Blonde actresses are being found murdered in the LA area, in the same ways that famous blonde Hollywood icons died. Dialogue is always snappy, characters are drawn well, and the mystery is paced well.

Laura Martin's Edge of Extinction: The Ark Plan fit my yearly read-one-Martin-author pattern. This was her first book, a YA (a real young adult book) story of a future after DNA-cloned dinosaurs have ruined the surface of Earth, forcing humans into underground bunkers. Mixing multiple stories (Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Book of Eli, et al), it's decent with good characters. I probably won't continue the series for a few reasons, though.

I'd had Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle on my to-read list for a couple years, after I heard his own synopsis in person at a book fair. This one is NOT a real YA story (too much profanity, s3x, graphic violence, etc.) but was found in that section of the library. Mantis-type creatures are hatched when a virus is loosed in Iowa, and two teens have to save the world (as one of them narrates a history text he wrote about the events) as they deal with personal issues and adolescent boredom. Stylistically it's pretty strong and ties many details together throughout the narration; the titles of sections (not really chapters, as they're just a couple pages or less each) are creatively done.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
I did something I am not sure I ever have done: read an entire book, not realizing that I already done so. When I got towards the end, I thought, "I think I've read this before;" but apparently had forgotten the 200-some pages leading up to those ending parts. I guess, in checking my lists (LISTS... drool), I read this way back in '15; so I should find another Judy Blundell (AKA Jude Watson) book instead.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Vacation makes for wonderful sights and trips, but not so much time for reading. No problem, as these were books (now at 12 read and over 3000 pages) you could either read in smaller parts, or just fall asleep due to lack of interest.

Meet Me at Moonlight Beach by Robert Pacilio. As I've mentioned before, this is an author I have met. He's a retired teacher from the San Diego area. This is a non-YA novel (his first 2 books were set in high school), based on two characters who are seeing the same psychiatrist and eventually their lives intersect. Their different difficult experiences are explained over time (mainly from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s, which was the "present" time setting).

Hollywood by Gore Vidal. I had intended to read this author at some time, and since the theme at the local library this summer is "It's Showtime," I thought this title would be appropriate. But, since this is set more often in 1917-1925 Washington, DC, it tried to say that "politics is just acting, make-believe," I guess. It's historical fiction, but has quite a lot of history and historical figures. Too dense and dull for me to be interested.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Two turn-of-the-century books (one: in 2000, the other: 1905 publication dates):

Stephen E. Ambrose's Nothing Like It in the World. After I went to the Golden Spike Nat'l Historic Site, I saw this book on the shelf, so I checked it out from my library when I got home. It traces how two companies placed rails and ties on the ground to connect the two oceans via a railway. I don't mean to lessen this accomplishment, but reading how many corners were cut in order to just get it done quickly (they said they'd go back and reinforce or replace or re-do whatever was in need of such work), as well as all the back-room dealings, makes you frightened as to all the other shortcuts and market manipulation really are out there. Still, a good read (if a little repetitive at times).

Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. Her name came up in a previous book I'd read, and I had her on my To Read list (actually, it was her Ethan Fromme, though). For most of the book (which is about 30 total chapters, divided into Book I and Book II halves), the main character Lily is horrid: add 100 years to the setting, and she'd fit in easily with reality TV, social media ubiquity, and vapid celebrity uselessness and self-centeredness. In fact, on pages 312 and 313, two words best fit the book: aimlessness, ornament. Lily wants (feels she "needs" ) to maintain her social status, despite having insufficient funds, personal skills, interpersonal tact, or social awareness to do so. But, with about 5 chapters to go, there's a change that makes all that drudgery to read worthwhile by the end.
 

Bel-Cam Jos

Jedi Council Member
Aug 16, 2001
16,012
57
105
Where 'text' & 'friend' are nouns
Two books written by Michaels: one, of a famous individual known for his amazing achievements; the other about some guy who flew to the moon, or whatever. :p Now, I am at about 5K pages and 17 books for the summer (behind my usual pace, but I've done more this summer).

More About Paddington, by Michael Bond. I didn't realize that the book I hadn't yet read in the series was the second one. Paddington Bear becomes a "snowbear," tries to wallpaper and paint a room (tough, with only paws and short legs), gets stuck in a revolving door but rescues an expensive tiepin, and looks at the phrase "Merry Christmas" that he wrote and thinks it's misspelled (a nice joke, because he usually misspells words he is sure are correct). Loved these books as a kid; still do as an older kid.

Carrying the Flame, by Michael Collins. yeah, THAT Michael Collins. He is my new doppelganger. His worldview and attitude, his desire to be the best he can be while maintaining the success of an important group, his scathing sense of humor but calm demeanor, his abilities to observe and perform; all of these are strong qualities necessary for things to go well, and he was part of some important events and tasks. This was written about 4-5 years after Apollo 11; I wondered why I never heard from him on various anniversaries of the landing, and that's because he simply wanted more time with his family than time in the spotlight. I do expect he'll be interviewed for this 50th in a week or so, though.