Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - October 2022 edition

Halloween is coming… and hopefully cooler temperatures as well. Meanwhile bust out the ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties that go bump in the night!

I am almost finished with Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I had forgotten how long winded the old girl could be…

I am also reading, on Kindle, the Klowns of Kent by Steve Higgs. A clown cult? Do NOT sign me up, I want to be as far as possible from THAT!

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: Time to go summer

I’m currently reading Luda by Grant Morrison, a novel about a drag queen with occult powers. It’s, uh…interesting. The writing style is very flashy and fun, and keeps me going more than the plot, which hasn’t really emerged yet.

P.S. – Thank you, @DZedNConfused for starting the thread early! Also, you have a teeny typo in the thread title.

I usually do this time of year…it’s month 10 and 3/4s :wink:

Finished The Immense Journey by Loren Eiseley, which I enjoyed.

Now I’m reading The Unbearable Bassington by Saki. (I hadn’t realized that he wrote novels as well as short stories. )

Almost finished with The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors, by Dan Jones.

I finished Rebecca yesterday and I must say thirty years has changed my perspective a LOT. I found the narrator to be tedious and colourless and Maxim to be over emotional and controlling. I was especially disgusted at his response to her copying the costume, how would she know if you NEVER once talked to her about your dead wife?!

I had to give up on Luda. The writing was fun to read, but also just too much. Looking at the reviews on Goodreads, it seems a lot of people had the same problem. I checked out the author biography and saw he was one of the creators of the Sci-Fi Channel show Happy! My husband and I liked that show, but it was truly bizarre and in the end it just fizzled. I assume Luda would do the same.

Moving onward today with Aurora, a novel by David Koepp in which sun activity wipes out all electricity on earth. Liking it so far.

Finished The Unbearable Bassington by Saki, which was okay.

Now I’m reading Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children’s Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls, by Mitali Perkins.

I finished reading four collections of Isaac Asimov columns from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The historical essays and essays about basic questions and facts generally age pretty well (the articles are 50+ years old at this point), but some of the speculation is a bit off, and anything depending on contemporary culture seems quaint. What surprised me is that his article on the four largest asteroids is completely off – the sizes of the asteroids are completely incorrect, to the point where his largest four are no longer the largest four. I’m surprised that as recently as the 1960s the diameters of the largest asteroids were so poorly known. But there were careful observations of occultations in the 1970s, and new techniques used that completely re-arranged the list of asteroids. This was definitely an unheralded change.

I finished reading a e-book collection of Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne stories (Lin Carter was going to put together a collection of these (to go along with his collections of Smith’s Hyperborean stories, and the Poseidonis ones, and Zothique), but didn’t get around to it, so I’m glad this collection became available.

I’ve been reading another collection of Smith’s dark fantasy, but I’m unimpressed with it. It’s as if all the good Smith stories were taken already.

Also on my e-reader, I read American Psychosis by David Corn. It’s a history of the Republican party’s dance with fringe right extremists since the 1940s, and it’s fascinating reading. I had to ask myself if he might not be cherry-picking things to help make his case. But there appears to be a consistent dependence upon getting out the extremists and bigots in order to help get them over the top in so many cases and for so long that it’s hard to dismiss the pattern. Reagan and Bush II were able to keep it largely out of the limelight, but it’s always been there. Trump just brought it out into the open.

I just picked up a copy of The Frozen Water Trade: A True Story by Gavin Weightman, about the trade in frozen pond water taken from New England down to the tropics and elsewhere. I have been familiar with this for years. I’ve read about it in books and articles, and knew that Wenham Lake (just north of Hamilton in Massachusetts) and Fresh Pond in Cambridge were sources for icethat was sawn our in rectangular blocks, packerd in sawdust as insulation, and shipped out in trade before efficient refrigerators were invented. But I thought it was a natural trade that pretty much grew up by itself. Not so, it turns out. That the Ice Trade existed at all is mostly due to the perseverence of one man – Frederick Tudor. He had to overcome ridicule and resistance to the idea and local corruption (not to mention two embargoes and the War of 1812) to get his business rolling, and even then it took years to nurture an interest. Tudor ended up a millionaire, living in Nahant, Massachusetts where he built an amusement area I hadn’t heard of before – Maolis Gardens. I drove over there to look it over yesterday, but nothing remains of the Park.

On audio I’m finishing up Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs’ novel Diablo Mesa, not part of their Agent Pendergast series, but their Nora Kelly series (a spinoff). It’s best described as “Elon Musk takes an Archaeology Team to the Flying Saucer crash at Roswell”. As usual, if they don’t do at least one thing that makes you say “I can’t BELIEVE they did that!”, then they aren’t doing their job.

I’m churning through Robert Crais novels in order. The First Rule, The Sentry, and Taken (all Joe Pike books) were enjoyable.

Finished Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children’s Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls, by Mitali Perkins. Meh.

Now I’m reading The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller. It’s a fantasy/mystery.

I finished Patrick O’Brian’s last complete Napoleonic naval adventure novel, Blue at the Mizzen, in which Capt. John “Lucky Jack” Aubrey heads off to South America aboard his beloved frigate Surprise for an oceanographic expedition. The expedition is actually, and more importantly, a cover for his friend and ship’s surgeon - and Royal Navy spy - Dr. Stephen Maturin’s secret mission to help Chilean rebels. I really enjoyed it. The last chapter, with Aubrey very happily learning from Stephen that he’s been promoted, at long last, to admiral, is a fine note for the series to end on. Someday I’ll get to O’Brian’s unfinished final novel, titled in some editions 21, but I don’t feel in any particular hurry.

I’ve now begun an audiobook of The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson, a breezy, fun discussion of the language and its (sometimes slow, and sometimes remarkably fast) evolution to become a dominant language across the globe. I have my doubts about Bryson’s scholarship, though. He listed eight words that Shakespeare allegedly coined, but I checked two dictionaries and neither gave Shakespeare credit for those words; several of them long predated the Bard. Bryson also refers to Tolkien’s “Hobbit trilogy,” an error which certainly brought me up short. Still, I’m enjoying the book.

Finished The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller, which was very good.

Now I’m reading The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges.

Finished listening to The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn. This is a psychological thriller and a fine debut novel by the author. I found it very entertaining.

Reading The Brothers War by Jeff Grubb. Back n the day Magic the Gathering released novels in the vein of the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books. Way back when I had tried a couple and didn’t like them at the time but since an upcoming set revisits this bit of lore and the Kindle version was cheap (the physical paperback is long out of print and expensive) I took a shot and so far I am pleasantly surprised. I have read Jeff Grubb before (he was a staple of tie in fiction back in the day) so I knew it wouldn’t be terribly written and it is in fact really breezy and fun to read so far. It takes me back to my days of getting the latest Forgotten Realms novel from my local Waldenbooks.

I finished Aurora and liked it, but it wasn’t the post-apocalyptic kind of book I thought it was. I mean, there was a catastrophic event, and the breakdown of society, but the meat of the story didn’t really require such a dramatic backdrop. It was a decent thriller novel.

Finished The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges with Margarita Guerrero, translated by Andrew Hurley, which I enjoyed.

Now I’m reading When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson, edited by Ellen Datlow.

Oooooo! I find Datlow’s picks kind of hit or miss so I’ll be interested in your overall opinion.

Finished The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors, by Dan Jones. Very good. Details the almost 200-year history of the Knights Templar, from their founding in 1119 until their disbandment in the early 14th century with many burnings at the stake. The Templars, who were supposed to have been practicing poverty, had grown so wealthy that France’s Philip IV decided that making them scapegoats for losing the Holy Land would enable him to confiscate their vast riches. From his description, he sounded like a medieval version of our previous president.

Have started Lost Stories, a collection of 21 Dashiell Hammett stories never seen again after their original publishings.