Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - June 2021 edition

Summer is upon us… unless you’re upside down in the Southern Hemisphere… and it looks to be a more outgoing, shall we say, summer than last year. I’m actually hoping to see some of the water parks open, I want to go to a pool so badly.

Currrent reading goes as follows:

Secret Admirer by DJ Jamison- DNFed at page 40 because the thought of 172 MORE pages of “I love him but WAAAAAAHHHHHH, he can never be mine” was too nauseating to contemplate. And is the trope of “I can’t touch my best friend’s younger (adult) sibling” a thing in het romance too? Because damn…

This Little Measure* by Sara Woods, the 5th Antony Maitland book. It’s slow though not as slow as some of the earlier ones, I think she’s finding her footing finally.

Death of the Pirate King by Josh Lanyon, the 4th Adrien English book. Not far enough to give an opinion other than Jake is still an arsehole.

Spooky Business by S. E. Harmon on audiobook, the 3rd in her Rain Christiansen series. I really love Kirt Graves’ narration and the story is nicely paced with comedic moments and plently of snark.

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 2005. Consequently, when he suddenly and quite unexpectedly passed away in January 2013, we decided to rename this thread in his honor and to keep his memory, if not his ghost, alive.

Last month: May flowers achooo Damn lilacs

Eighty percent through with the LA noir The Sentry, by Robert Crais. I expect to finish it this weekend.

Just finished Ian Fleming’s Doctor No, which was ok but not great. Certainly not his best 007 tale. An interesting Caribbean setting during the Cold War; the book was otherwise pretty different from the movie (well, I guess they all were).

Also finished Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, which got better as it went on. It’s set during the Spanish Civil War and focuses on an American volunteer explosives expert ordered to blow up a bridge behind enemy lines. The buildup to the climactic partisan mission is very well-done, and the ending, although somewhat predictable, is too.

Next up: Crimson Joy by Robert B. Parker. The tough, wisecracking PI Spenser is brought in to help Boston PD’s homicide unit when it appears that an elusive serial killer may himself be a cop. I’m already about halfway through; good stuff.

I finished Crimson Joy. Not bad, but not my favorite Parker book. Unusual in that it has several chapters in which you get inside the villain’s head - I don’t think any of the other Spenser novels do that.

Next up, an audiobook of the sweeping history Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Remnick. A bit dry so far, but I think I’ll stick with it.

I’m also rereading a favorite of my teen years, The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. Lots of interesting (if somewhat sanitized and selective, in light of later revelations) behind-the-scenes stuff about the iconic Sixties sf show.

I’m also enjoying The House of Silk by Anthony Horwitz. It’s a Sherlock Holmes novel, set in 1890 and liberally sprinkled with references to the Conan Doyle canon. Horwitz isn’t as talented as my favorite Holmesian writer, the late June Thomson, but he does a pretty good job.

Still reading A Compendium of Margaret St. Clair, a collection of pulp sci-fi stories, mostly from the fifties. It’s a good book but quite a doorstop; it’ll probably take me another week to finish. I keep thinking this might be up @CalMeacham 's alley.
Some stories are available at Project Gutenberg, such as this one, if anyone wanted to get a taste.

That looks interesting. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read her stuff, and I’m always interested in the old pulp material. But there’s no way I could read another book right now, especially a “doorstop”

I finally finished Poul Anderson’s David Falkayn: Star Trader compendium (itself a doorstop), and would like to go on to The Van Rijn Method, but I’ve just received a stack of books recommended to me as background material for a new book I’m researching, and that takes precedence over all.

as bedside reading, I’ve picked up a fascinating book entitled All the Countries the Americans has Invaded by Stuart Laycock and Christopher Kelly, the companion to All the Countries We’ve Invaded by Laycock. The titles confused me until I realized that the book was published in the UK. There has been an edition published in the US, with the title America Invades (and, I think, a different foreword).

It’s a lengthy list, but when you start looking into it, you realize that most of the invasions were either during WW I or WW II or else back in colonial days. No matter how imperialistic or blood-thirsty you think the US is, it’s hard to believe that we had serious intentions of taking over, say, Andorra (which is one of the countries listed).

On the other hand, there are some surprising forays here. we haven’t invaded Canada since the war of 1812, but apparently we have plans for doing so. Jefferson, who you don’t think of as a warmonger, was all for invading Canada. I’ve always wondered about that 19th century invasion of Korea that Heinlein refers to. and i knew about William Walker and his multiple invasions in Central America 9including a takeover of Nicaragua). Lots of such bits in here. Each entry is relatively short (and witty – this isn’t a serious history book), but, even so, it’s a thick book. I got it as bedside reading, since each chapter is so short.

Speaking of things that are right up a person’s alley…

I don’t know if you listen to podcasts but one of my favorite podcasters did an episode on screaming skulls and I thought of you, Dung Beetle, and Lockwood & Co the whole way through.

Screaming Skulls

I am a podcast virgin, but very pleased that you should think of me in conjunction with screaming skulls. Sisters! :blush:

Thanks! I’ve added those to my Amazon wishlist.

Finished Benchmarks Continued: F&SF “Books” Columns 1975-1982 , by Algis Budrys. Added a bunch of books to my TBR list.

Now I’m reading Gateway, by Frederik Pohl. Yes, it’s one of the books Budrys recommended.

I just finished Passenger 23 by Sebastian Fitzek.

A good psychological thriller that was really gripping in the central premise of the mystery. But the way things unravelled and fitted together in the big reveal was darker than I could imagine. It made sense for the premise of strange occurrences happening on a big cruise ship in the middle of the ocean and looking back he dropped in some hints but it sort of had three different endings.

A 2003 Staff Report on those war plans, and others: Did the U.S. plan an invasion of Canada in the 1920s? - The Straight Dope

Currently reading fiction and non-fiction as always. However, I must admit that reading has been quite poor the last 4 or 5 months for me. Just glad now to have finally gotten back in the groove.

Fiction: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch - one of those books that seems to have polarized opinion. Some say it bears the mark of serious ficiton, without ever amounting to serious fiction - whatever that means. I’m only about 150 pages in, but I really like the book so far. Not everyone has to write like Pynchon or DeLilo. The prose here is clean and crisp. IMO, it has something for everyone; for those who can latch on the the nuances teeming under the surface as well as for those who want to read for plot only. I, for one, really like that the prose is simple. I don’t think I would have been able to read something now that demanded effort simply for comprehension.

Non-Fiction: Utts and Heckard’s Mind on Statistics: On the blurb, it says “statistical literacy,” and I succumbed immediately to the pressure this term implies. Much like “coding literacy.” The implication being that if you’re reasonably literate, you better also learn coding and basic statistics. I’m afraid there won’t be a choice about this soon. Nonetheless, this one does demystify the statistical approach.

Finished Gateway , by Frederik Pohl. Meh.

Now I’m reading How the Ray Gun Got Its Zap: Odd Excursions Into Optics, by Stephen R. Wilk.

I really didn’t like Tartt’s The Goldfinch at all, and it didn’t pass my 50-page test.

I liked the premise of Gateway very much but was less than impressed by what Pohl did with it.

You might also want to read this follow-up article he wrote for the Oxford University Press Blog

My daughter just got me to start ‘illuminae’ by Kaufman and Kristoff . She said it’s a bit of a YA book, but it’s got an interesting style, the story is all recounted in transcripts, documents etc for some sort of corporate mystery.
Not bad so far but the style could get tedious.

Thanks. Yes, I did enjoy reading this article, as well as How the Ray Gun Got Its Zap: Odd Excursions Into Optics , by Stephen R. Wilk. I recommended it to my husband, too. My favorite part was learning that the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair (held in Chicago), had its lights turned on using light from Arcturus, which had left that star not long after the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Now I’m reading The Peterkin Papers, by Lucretia P. Hale.

Here’s another book on the same topic by him that came out in March