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Old 09-30-2019, 09:43 PM
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Khadaji's Whatcha Reading Thread - October 2019 edition


October... came in like a wrecking ball, it was 77F on the Wasatch Front last week, 40F on Sunday and mid 50s for the rest of the week. I guess summer is finished here.

But we're all still reading, right?

I am about 2/3s of the way through "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens and loving it waaaaaaaaaaay more than I thought I would, The prose is a little too flowery for my taste in places, but Ms Owens does know when to rein it in and get back to the plot. Her characters are fabulous, and so realistic I want to reach into my phone and bang a few heads together!

So whatcha all reading?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Khadaji was one of the earlier members of SDMB, and he was well-known as a kindly person who always had something encouraging to say, particularly in the self improvement threads. He was also a voracious, omnivorous reader, who started these threads way back in the Stone Age of 2013. Consequently when he suddenly and quite unexpectedly passed away, we decided to rename this thread in his honor and to keep his memory, if not his ghost, alive.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:45 PM
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Last month's thread: Alas poor summer, thy time is done
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:59 PM
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In NYC, we’re going to have a final blast of heat for the next two days....high 70 s tomorrow, up to 90 on Wednesday. Then we drop down to typical good reading weather for October.

I’m immersed in Walter de la Mare at the moment, reading his poetry and “children’s stories” which no sane parent would read to a child. And the adult stories, which are even more eerie. Next up is Memoirs of a Midget.

Someone came knocking at my wee small door
Someone came knocking I’m sure, sure , sure
I listened, I opened, I looked from left to right
But nothing was stirring in the still dark night...


Yeah. Don’t read de la Mare to your kids.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:00 PM
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I just started rereading Treasure Island to my fifth-grader. I vaguely remembered thinking it got off to a slow start, but that's not remotely true. We're like five chapters and three nights in, and it's already full of bloodthirsty pirates and betrayals and doubloons and violence and curses and death. This shit is AWESOME.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:03 PM
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I just started rereading Treasure Island to my fifth-grader. I vaguely remembered thinking it got off to a slow start, but that's not remotely true. We're like five chapters and three nights in, and it's already full of bloodthirsty pirates and betrayals and doubloons and violence and curses and death. This shit is AWESOME.
Might I suggest David Cordingly, if you'd like to do "supplemental materials"? His non fiction books about pirates are a great read.
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:16 PM
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Just started an audiobook of Jeff Toobin's American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (2016). I really enjoyed his book about the U.S. Supreme Court's recent history, The Nine, and hope this hits the same high mark.

Started but on the shelf for the moment: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, about mass incarceration and the American criminal justice system today, and The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer, a pastiche in which Sherlock Holmes meets, and is treated for his cocaine addiction by, Dr. Sigmund Freud. Hope to get back to them soon.
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Old 10-01-2019, 07:33 AM
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Still working my way through The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I'm not loving it, but I'm still engaged enough to continue. I was hoping for a fantasy adventure book, and it is one, but I think the author was hoping to write a transcendent love story and be admired for her "lyrical prose" (a phrase that has become a red flag to me). I mean, when I read passages such as
Quote:
(Do I regret it? Would I take it back, if I could? Tell her to resign herself to home and hearth, to give up her wandering ways? It depends which weighs more: a life, or a soul.)
I damn near throw it down.
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Old 10-01-2019, 08:08 PM
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Still working my way through The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I'm not loving it, but I'm still engaged enough to continue. I was hoping for a fantasy adventure book, and it is one, but I think the author was hoping to write a transcendent love story and be admired for her "lyrical prose" (a phrase that has become a red flag to me). I mean, when I read passages such as I damn near throw it down.
Well gag...
As I once described: Prose so purple several European countries tried to crown it King....
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:24 PM
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Still working my way through The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I'm not loving it, but I'm still engaged enough to continue. I was hoping for a fantasy adventure book, and it is one, but I think the author was hoping to write a transcendent love story and be admired for her "lyrical prose" (a phrase that has become a red flag to me). I mean, when I read passages such as I damn near throw it down.
My lord, what a terrible passage that was. The worst of it is that the author surely did think she was being extremely deep and wise.

I very much like DZedNConfused's line about purple prose...
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:26 PM
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My lord, what a terrible passage that was. The worst of it is that the author surely did think she was being extremely deep and wise.

I very much like DZedNConfused's line about purple prose...
Thank you! *blush*
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:31 PM
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I just started reading an Irish comedy-suspense novel named A Man With One of Those Faces. It's been wonderful so far. Well-written with delightful characters.

I finished reading the 131 Days series from Keith C. Blackmore. The novels focus on the lives of gladiators in a pseudo-Roman city, and I loved each of them.
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:33 PM
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I just started reading an Irish comedy-suspense novel named A Man With One of Those Faces. It's been wonderful so far. Well-written with delightful characters.
OH! I have that one on my Kindle! I will have to bump it up in the queue.
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:37 PM
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Thank you! *blush*
Hope the "blush" wasn't purple, or...well, you know
You're welcome!
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:40 PM
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Hope the "blush" wasn't purple, or...well, you know
You're welcome!
I couldn't wax poetic if you gave me all the 19th century romantic poets in one volume...
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Old 10-01-2019, 11:35 PM
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Wax on! Wax off!
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Old 10-02-2019, 06:08 AM
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I read a couple of books I picked up the Book Fair many months ago, Booksigning 101 by Rob Watts ( https://www.amazon.com/Book-Signing-.../dp/097619161X ) and The Little Red Writing Book by Brandon Royal ( https://www.amazon.com/Little-Red-Wr...s=books&sr=1-1 ) Good, but generally obvious (if you think about it, which people often don't) , information in both.

I picked up a copy of a book I'd been looking for a long time -- Nero Wolfe of West 35th Street by William S. Baring-Gould. I'd read many of his other books, including his Annotated Sherlock Holmes and his bio of Sherlock Holmes. This was in the same vein. I still haven't read all of Nero Wolfe, so the book filled in a lot of things without divulging the endings of the stories, which is useful. What I find annoying is Baring-Gould's efforts to not only straighten out the ambiguities in Wolfe's history* but to link him into Sherlock Holmes' family tree. I don't buy his speculations in that direction. But at least baring-Gould isn't as bad as Philip Jose Farmer with his "Wold Newton family" nonsense attempt to link virtually all of 19th and 20th century pop fictional characters into a single family.

I also picked up Re Stout's Nero Wolfe book Trio for Blunt Instruments, which I hadn't read, but have wanted to. I'm in the midst of it now.

My bedside reading is Ben MacIntyre's For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond. I stumbled upon it in a used book store, and it's the best book on Bond I've readin a long time, with a biography of Fleming filed with pictures and details I hadn't encountered before, along with speculations about Fleming's inspirations for character, plots, and gimmicks for the Bond books I hadn't seen before, either.

On audio I gave up on Michael Chrichton and Douglas Preston's Micro. It was getting too dumb and predictable. I found Katherine Howe's The Physik Book of Dale DEliverance in the library and started listening to it. It's pretty good in general, but I'm severely annoyed that the Ph.D. candidate protagonist severely screws up the history of the Salem Witchcraft trials -- and during her oral qualifying exam, at that! To have one of her professors then comment on her knowledge as "excellent" really hurts after that. But I'm going to give the book a chance.

(In case you're wondering -- she says that no historians took the idea of witchcraft seriously -- not true. Some have assumed that witchcraft WAS practiced at Salem, and have made the case for it. The historians generally don't believe in the reality of supernatural phenomena, though. Furthermore, she says that Cotton Mather was a prosecutor at Salem. He wasn't, and had no real connection with the case or the court, aside from defending them and their decisions. He seems only to have visited Salem once during the trials, but had no jurisdiction there.)





*Rex Stout, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, did not make an effort to keep his detectives backstory straight or even consistent. You can understand Wolfe's exact weight fluctuating, but it's annoying that Stout kept changing the exact number of his street address, and the size of the globe in Wolfe's office. Not to mention the nature of the "peephole" picture in his office). Doyle was just as bad. From such ambiguities arise Dr. Watson's middle name of "Hamish", which never appears in the Canon.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:09 AM
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After a protracted stretch of non-fiction - mostly about trees, dirt, and weather, I;m finally getting around to reading Farrell's Studs Lonigan. Enjoying the portrayal of a Chicago neighborhood a century ago. Will likely read all 3.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:57 AM
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My lord, what a terrible passage that was. The worst of it is that the author surely did think she was being extremely deep and wise.
I'm looking forward to reading all the glowing five-star reviews I expect it to be given over at Goodreads.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:08 AM
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CalMeacham: When was the peephole picture in Wolfe’s office anything but a painting of a waterfall?*

I’ve always questioned Wolfe’s taste in art. A waterfall picture is something a suburban housewife would buy to hang in the living room, as long as it matched the sofa. He couldn’t have invested some of those big fees in a few original Cezannes or Picassos?


*Hey! Maybe the waterfall in the painting was the Reichenbach, where Wolfe’s Pop Pop famously died? ....not in the face, please.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:21 AM
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CalMeacham: When was the peephole picture in Wolfe’s office anything but a painting of a waterfall?*

I’ve always questioned Wolfe’s taste in art. A waterfall picture is something a suburban housewife would buy to hang in the living room, as long as it matched the sofa. He couldn’t have invested some of those big fees in a few original Cezannes or Picassos?


*Hey! Maybe the waterfall in the painting was the Reichenbach, where Wolfe’s Pop Pop famously died? ....not in the face, please.
In the early stories it wasn't yet a waterfall. I don't have my Baring-Gould with me, but I think it was a bridge at first. During WWII it was apparently replaced by a painting of the Washington Monument, according to this source -- https://books.google.com/books?id=Et...inting&f=false


That source also claims that the waterfall was mistaken for a Van Gogh in one story, so that places it outside the realm of suburban wall art.
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Last edited by CalMeacham; 10-02-2019 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:10 PM
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Just finished The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer, a very enjoyable pastiche that "answers" some big questions about Sherlock Holmes's childhood and personal motivations.

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...My bedside reading is Ben MacIntyre's For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond. I stumbled upon it in a used book store, and it's the best book on Bond I've readin a long time, with a biography of Fleming filed with pictures and details I hadn't encountered before, along with speculations about Fleming's inspirations for character, plots, and gimmicks for the Bond books I hadn't seen before, either....
That sounds interesting. I've been working my way through the 007 books off and on over the past few years.
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Old 10-02-2019, 03:18 PM
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Just finished The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer, a very enjoyable pastiche that "answers" some big questions about Sherlock Holmes's childhood and personal motivations.


That sounds interesting. I've been working my way through the 007 books off and on over the past few years.
Nicholas Meyer wrote two sequels to The Seven per cent Solution.

The West End Horror isn't bad. George Bernard Shaw substitutes for Freud as the Historical Character He Teams Up With, but there are cameos by just about everyone in the London Theater scene at the time.

The Canary Trainer isn't about Wilson, as you'd expect from the title. It's Sherlock Holmes Meets The Phantom of the Opera. (other peope have treated this meetup, too, most notably Sam Siciliano in The Angel of the Opera). Not one of Meyer's better pastiches.

He also wrote a one-page Sherlock Holmes Investigates Watergate for the "Endpaper" feature in the New York Times Sunday Magazine circa 1974.
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Old 10-02-2019, 04:49 PM
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Finished Pure Drivel by Steve Martin. Meh.

Now I'm reading Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman.
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Old 10-02-2019, 08:05 PM
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Finished Pure Drivel by Steve Martin. Meh.

...
Well, at least it wasn't pure drivel.
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:43 AM
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Starting today on The Best Horror of the Year, volume 11, edited by Ellen Datlow.
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Old 10-03-2019, 11:00 AM
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Nicholas Meyer wrote two sequels to The Seven per cent Solution....
Yes, I read both back in the Nineties and was underwhelmed. Probably won't go back to 'em. June Thomson remains my all-time favorite Holmes pastiche writer.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:19 PM
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A little over a fifth of the way through Falls the Shadow, by Sharon Kay Penman, the second novel in her Welsh Princes trilogy. Historical fiction in 13th-century England and Wales.
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:03 AM
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I finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and to quote my review on Goodreads: I would have given this a solid 5 stars except for the Scooby Dooish ending. Seriously, she needed to end the story before all the tweeing of Barclay Cove and definitely before the climatic reveal. It just ruined the whole atmosphere of the story for me... and it just didn't fit with the character and their behaviors.

Overall however, the book is beautiful and reduced me to tears more than once, one of those times on the freeway... and a lot of social media yelling. The characters, with two notable exceptions, were weel drawn and had their own space in my head as I listened to the story unfold. The pacing was great, for a story that covered nearly 20 years, it never bogged down or was a slog to read. Her prose is a bit too flowery for my taste in places, but to give her her due, Ms Owens did know when to rein the diarrhea in and get back to the story.
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Old 10-06-2019, 07:40 PM
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Finished The Giver Quartet. Meh. The final one featured a pretty uninteresting antagonist who brought down an otherwise fine YA book.

Then I read The Witch-Boy, a YA graphic novel about a boy who grows up in a magical family. All the boys learn to shapeshift and fight demons, while all the girls learn to cast spells and do herbal magic. Except the protagonist is a very effeminate boy who can't shapeshift but can cast spells. It's a thinly-veiled metaphor for transgenderism, but also a thinly-veiled critique of gender roles, but also a thinly-veiled examination of what kids do when their dreams are at odds with parental expectations, but also a great adventure story. Right up my alley!

The sequel, The Hidden Witch, was also quite good.

Looking for my next read.
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:56 PM
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Mama's Last Hug. Terrific book exploring whether animals have real emotions.
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:06 AM
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I've started Trevor Noah's Born a Crime. It's been floating around our house for months now, my wife and daughter have both read it, and it ended up on my nightstand (which is a sure sign that one of them thinks I ought to read it). The first couple of chapters are shocking -- as they're meant to be. That someone that much younger than me had to go through all that outrageousness does boggle my mind.

I picked up and read the Arcadia Press book on Southbridge, Masachusetts. I was at an Open House for the Optical Heritage Museum there on Sunday, and they were selling the book.

I also picked up a used copy of The Other Side of Oz. It's Buddy Ebsen's autobiography, and looks like a short but interesting read.
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:30 AM
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Her prose is a bit too flowery for my taste in places, but to give her her due, Ms Owens did know when to rein the diarrhea in and get back to the story.
A valuable quality in a writer!
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Old 10-07-2019, 01:00 PM
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Well, at least it wasn't pure drivel.
Actually, this book was a collection of humorous short stories. "Pure Drivel" was probably the best. It was about an editor of a magazine called Pure Drivel, who worked up the courage to write drivel of his own. Inspiring stuff.

Just finished Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Not bad.

Now I'm reading Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant, by Anne Gardiner Perkins.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:08 AM
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... It's a thinly-veiled metaphor for transgenderism, but also a thinly-veiled critique of gender roles, but also a thinly-veiled examination of what kids do when their dreams are at odds with parental expectations....
Sounds like the author needs to go to a fabric store and pick up some burlap.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:36 AM
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Finished Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. Highly recommend. It's not an easy read, but an interesting take on the interplay between Nazi anti-Semitism and Soviet anti-mostly Polish and Ukrainian nationalism, which turned into somewhat the same thing. Interesting discussion of Soviet revisionist history about the Holocaust.

The conclusion is the best part. One part stood out particularly - we can't think of the Nazis as inhuman. Because that's what the Nazis thought about the Jews.

Also listened to Spy the Lie while driving out of town. Very over-hyped - the authors cherry-picked their examples way too much. If their lie-spotting techniques are so good, they should be able to come up with less obvious stories, where the bad guy practically confesses in front of them.

Now finishing Dutch Courage, a collection of Jack London's early short stories for YA. A nice little palate-cleanser to reset my taste for whatever I tackle next. On audio dog-walking books I have Thuvia: Maid of Mars by E.R. Burroughs for the same reason.

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Old 10-08-2019, 11:29 AM
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Sounds like the author needs to go to a fabric store and pick up some burlap.
It's young adult, where the thin veils are just fine.
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:37 PM
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Finished Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant, by Anne Gardiner Perkins. Not bad.

Now I'm reading The House of Dies Drear, by Virginia Hamilton.
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:03 PM
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Finished The House of Dies Drear, by Virginia Hamilton. It's very good. Wish I'd read it as a kid.

Now I'm reading Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Poet to Remember, by Patricia C. McKissack.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:02 AM
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Starting today on The Best Horror of the Year, volume 11, edited by Ellen Datlow.
Finished. Anthologies are always hit and miss, but this one had a pretty high signal to noise ratio. One story I didn't finish (Laird Barron's; too weird and boring); a few stories that just didn't belong or didn't do it for me (Robert Shearman's Thumbsucker); some absolutely delightful stuff (honorable mention to Michael Marshall Smith, Dale Bailey, Joe Hill, and Adam-Troy Castro). Recommended.


Starting today on Caitlin Doughty's Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big questions from tiny mortals about death. Do you know the answer? Would you like to?
SPOILER:
Probably not, at least not right away. They'll start with the easier stuff like lips, noses, and eyelids. Your dog will do the same.
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Old 10-11-2019, 08:58 AM
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Finished. Anthologies are always hit and miss, but this one had a pretty high signal to noise ratio. One story I didn't finish (Laird Barron's; too weird and boring); a few stories that just didn't belong or didn't do it for me (Robert Shearman's Thumbsucker); some absolutely delightful stuff (honorable mention to Michael Marshall Smith, Dale Bailey, Joe Hill, and Adam-Troy Castro). Recommended.


Starting today on Caitlin Doughty's Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big questions from tiny mortals about death. Do you know the answer? Would you like to?
SPOILER:
Probably not, at least not right away. They'll start with the easier stuff like lips, noses, and eyelids. Your dog will do the same.
As I said long ago on this Board, I'm not sure that our cats will wait until we're completely dead before they start nibbling.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:26 AM
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Finished Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Poet to Remember, by Patricia C. McKissack. It was interesting. I hadn't known that he was friends with Orville Wright. The Wright brothers owned a print shop before they sold bikes, and printed some of his early work.

Also, he sent a letter to a writer he admired when he worked for a magazine. When she wrote back, she explained the delay--she had just picked up his letter when she discovered her house was on fire! Putting out the small blaze distracted her from replying.

Now I'm reading The World Jones Made, by Philip K. Dick.
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Old 10-12-2019, 02:16 PM
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Finished The World Jones Made, by Philip K. Dick. Not bad. One thing that I especially noticed was how often he mentioned the prices. It was written in the late 1950's and takes place in the early 2000's, and he often says how much a character pays for things. I think its supposed to be shocking, but $50 for a (more or less) cover charge in a nightclub sounds reasonable. And $90 for a longish taxi ride? Yeah, that works. Also, one young woman has the first name "Tyler", which I think he considered exotic. Now, not so much.

Now I'm reading The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disabilities, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me, by Keah Brown.
  #43  
Old 10-13-2019, 07:00 PM
Ulf the Unwashed is online now
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Rereading Woodward and Bernstein The Final Days—Nixon unraveling as the impeachment investigation draws closer. Similar in some ways to what’s happening today, very different in others!
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Old 10-14-2019, 01:28 PM
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Finished The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disabilities, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me, by Keah Brown. Not bad.

Now I'm reading The Parade, by Dave Eggers,
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Old 10-15-2019, 01:30 PM
Elendil's Heir is offline
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That's one cliffhanger of a comma.
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Old 10-15-2019, 01:56 PM
Dendarii Dame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
That's one cliffhanger of a comma.
Sorry, should've been a period--Dave Eggers is the only author.

Finished The Parade. Not bad. Much of it reminded me of questions on the Ask a Manager website about problems with co-workers.

I recommend that anyone who wants to read this book not read the jacket flap copy first, due to spoilers.

Now I'm reading The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London, by Penrose Halson.
  #47  
Old 10-15-2019, 02:06 PM
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Started reading Bruce Catton's The Civil War. I've wanted to read it for a long time, and a copy has appeared in my collection.

Finished reading Buddy Ebsen's autobiography.
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Who is the Calypso Singer that rides Pegasus?
Harry Bellerophonte
  #48  
Old 10-15-2019, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Started reading Bruce Catton's The Civil War. I've wanted to read it for a long time, and a copy has appeared in my collection....
Good stuff. He also wrote the text for the big, lavishly-illustrated American Heritage coffeetable book on the war.
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Old 10-16-2019, 09:02 AM
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Last night I finished American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley, which is almost a joint bio of JFK and Von Braun. Pretty good, fine scholarship from what I could tell, but sometimes ploddingly written.

Just started Patrick O'Brian's Treason's Harbour, the next in his series of Napoleonic sea adventures, which has Capt. Aubrey stuck ashore in Malta while his warship is being repaired all too slowly, and his friend Dr. Maturin under surveillance by French spies.
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:10 PM
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The Rhine: Following Europe's Greatest River from Amsterdam to the Alps - Ben Coates

The subtitle explains it pretty well. The author, a British man living in Holland, explores Western Europe's major river, from the North Sea to its source in the Austrian Alps. Not the most challenging travel writing assignment, but anyways...In between descriptions of quaint half-timbered homes and soaring cathedrals, there are discussions of the historical importance of the river, from the Roman times (it was basically the border between Roman and not Roman) up to World War 2.

Pleasant book, with a fair amount of British humor. Recommended.

I also recommend that I take another European vacation soon.
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