Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - January 2022 edition

The Next Civil War by Stephen Marche
Frightening yet accurate I’m afraid.
Apart from that a bunch of books on the war in former Yugoslavia, stuff about contemporary Russia and the former USSR, some neopagan books and an early work by Joe Sacco. I tend to read multiple books simultaneously. Oh yeah and some craft stuff. Somehow I quit reading fiction in the last couple of years, apart from guilty pleasure romance novels.

I’m a big Scalzi fan, too, and enjoyed Redshirts (one word) quite a bit. Really funny, and oddly touching by the end. Every Star Trek fan should read it.

I finished this a few months ago and thought it was good but not great, although I certainly came out of it admiring John Glenn even more than I had before.

Clearly, we have similar tastes in books. I enjoyed Redshirts too.

Great minds…!

Sounds like I need to get with the program and read it :grin:

By all means!

Just finished an audiobook of Stanley Tucci’s Taste, entertainingly read by the author. A wry, fun book about the actor’s lifelong love of cooking and eating, especially Italian food. He shares some nice Hollywood anecdotes and recipes along the way, as well as a somewhat harrowing account of his recent bout with (ironically enough, he admits) oral cancer. A favorite bit: when, as a kid, he didn’t like what his mom or dad had cooked for dinner, they’d say, “Why don’t you see what the neighbors are having?” He got the point.

Next up: Sally Rooney’s novel Beautiful World, Where Are You, about which I’ve heard good things.

Finished Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library , by Don Borchert. Meh.

Now I’m reading An Excellent Mystery, a Brother Cadfael Mystery by Ellis Peters.

I finished A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg and while it is far too twee and Hallmark Christmas Movie for my taste, I don’t regret reading it. It was cute and Ms Flagg’s humor is something I’ve enjoyed for a long time.

I’ve read them all and by and large they are great books. I really felt in the story with her writing.

Adolf Hitler? :astonished:

I finished early in the morning a historical thriller called Corpus by Rory Clements. The first in a series which I will definitely continue. The book is set in 1936 and the main character, History Professor Tom Wilde of the world famous Cambridge University gets caught in a web of conspiracy, espionage, personal tragedy and political turmoil at home and across Europe.

I found this book entertaining, exciting and very well put together to combine a lot of mini plots within the main plot in a coherent and historically fascinating way.

I was widowed last year, and a friend thought I might like The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, which describes the year after her husband died, during much of which her daughter was comatose in an ICU as well. Awful situation. I found it hard enough to deal with a dying wife; having a dying wife and a seriously ill daughter would have stretched me far beyond my limits I am sure.

Unfortunately I didn’t like the book at all. Even the parts that struck a chord with me–her unwillingness, for instance, to give away her husband’s shoes because he might come back and need them again–wound up coming across as banal and surprisingly superficial. I also grew increasingly irritated by the constant name-dropping that marks this book, not just people (though there are a lot of name drops there too) but also hotels and colleges and restaurants.

Not recommended.

Finished An Excellent Mystery , a Brother Cadfael Mystery by Ellis Peters, which I enjoyed.

Now I’m reading Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, by Lawrence Otis Graham.

That was a good read. Now I’m re-reading Where’d You Go Bernadette, because I wanted something light and fun that I knew would make me laugh.

Next up is Faster, by Neal Bascomb, about Jewish racer Rene Dreyfus trumping Hitler’s fave, Auto-Union in 1938.

Finished reading Tolkien’s The Fall of Gondolin. Now I’m reading Alex Shvartsman’s H.G. Wells: Secret Agent. H.G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle are Bond-esque secret agents working for the British government. Lots of off-the-wall references to pop culture “The Ministry has worked diligently over the years to strike all mentions of the undead from books such as Pride and Prejudice.”. I bought my copy from Shvartsman, who autographed it.

It’s a short read, so next up is Heinlein’s The Pursuit of the Pankera This is the alternate version of The Number of the Beast, a book I didn’t particularly care for. I’ve read excerpts from this, and wasn’t going to read the whole thing, but curiosity got the better of me.

In bed, I’m still working through Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, which is fascinating, if prejudiced against the Jews. Paine seems aware of things that I didn’t think became known to biblical criticism until the 19th century.

On audio, I finished up Michael Charles Bender’s Frankly we DID win this Election, his somewhat inside account of Trump’s last year in office. I followed that with Clive Cussler’s latest NUMA Files book, Fast Ice, which I picked up cheap. I had a feeling he was going to tackle Geoffrey Pyke’s Pykrete eventually, although he considerably jazzed it up and added modern touches. Now I’m on to re-reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Chessmen of Mars.

I was looking over the titles of Elmore Leonard novels on my kindle and noticed The Hunted. It’s the least reread of his novels, so I started rereading it.

So far this year, I’ve finished three books:

Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn is the third book in a series following a werewolf radio DJ. This one was the weakest book in the series so far, but I definitely recommend the series. I enjoy the way the author really gives a sense of humanity to both the good guys and the bad guys, and explores how fear of the unfamiliar and different can make people do horrible things.

I very much enjoyed The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. The author takes a couple road trips across the U.S. in the late eighties, so this book is partly a cultural flashback treat. But it was also interesting to learn some things about the demographics of the U.S. that I didn’t know – I was routinely putting down the book to Google some statistic he had brought up, to see how accurate it was 35 years later. For instance, while I knew Utah had a big Mormon population, I didn’t realize just how high the population was: two of every three people in Utah are Mormon.

The Bungalow had me rolling my eyes the whole time, and yet I did enjoy the book. It’s a World War II romance, and it’s not particularly realistic: lots of momentous decisions made without much deliberation, excessive secret-keeping, instant forgiveness for some pretty unforgivable stuff, and insta-love. But the instantaneous stuff did make for a more quickly paced plot, and the secrets made for a fun mystery, so for all its implausibility, it was fun.

I am currently reading Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker, a non-fiction story about a large family during the baby boom generation in which half the children developed schizophrenia. It’s slow to start, but now that it’s picking up it’s getting pretty interesting.

Just started The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano last night. So far, it’s been showing little snippets of life from two childhood misfits, and if the rest of the book is as strong as the beginning, I’m going to like it a lot.

Nah, the ambassador’s daughter

Tales from the Ant World Edward O. Wilson

A sort of memoir by the distinguished entomologist in the form of a series of chapters on various aspects of ant biology and ecology.

Interesting and informative. Recommended.

I started today on The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This was big when it came out in… holy shit, 1992? I never thought it would be my cup of tea, but I had a conversation about books with a person in real life (rare event), and this is what they recommended. So far, liking it fine.

I’m giving up on the geopolitical thriller Never by Ken Follett and the Cold War espionage history True Believer by Kati Marton. They just never grabbed me.

Not crazy about the Irish contemporary novel Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, but I’ll stick with it for now.

Still enjoying the sf novel Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi and the short bio Churchill: An Illustrated Life by Brenda Ralph Lewis.