Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - October 2022 edition

Started today on a YA horror, Into the Sublime by Kate Boorman. Four girls go on a wilderness trek, three girls return! :scream:

Finished When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson, edited by Ellen Datlow. There were eighteen stories, and about half were what I’d call good. The best, in my opinion, was “Take Me, I Am Free”, by Joyce Carol Oates.

Now I’m reading Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, by Frank Deford.

Just began Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums. My edition is introduced by Ann Douglas, and her introduction is by far the most critical, informative, and rewarding one I’ve read in a long time. It touches upon what Japhy Ryder (Gary Snyder in real life) regarded as Kerouac’s oversimplifications of Buddhism, Kerouac’s inability to forget his deceased brother, as well as Kerouac’s distaste for upward mobility. Approached from this context, The Dharma Bums is a fascinating read, the reading experience enhanced by the critical introduciton.

Other than that I’m also doing some readings related to philosophy of nature, or the philosophy of the natural. Inevitably, this way of probing things problematizes our tendency to regard scientific explanations as the final word. While there are scientific explanations for questions such as “what is air?” “what is death?” “what is fire?,” we tend to forget that these are accurate but ultimately limited descriptions. For example, a scientist would say that “air is a mixture,” but wouldn’t necessarily be able to explain why air exists, or why humans and non-humans “experience” air as they do. This is true also of questions such as “what is matter?” In response, we can only state how what we now think of as fundamental particles behave. This is not to belittle science, of course, just to point out the enduring relevance of philosophy .

My gf recently read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. She really liked it and has been after me to read it. So, I started it. It was really dragging and I was tempted to quit, but because she liked it so much I soldiered on.

I’m 25% into it now. Not my cuppa, but I will finish it.

It was…okay. You’ll make it through, I’m sure.

Not a fan of historical nonfiction, but I’ll preserver. :slight_smile:

Finished Into the Sublime, which would have been better titled Into the Dire. Four teen girls who don’t know each other go into a dark cave and bicker about nothing for a long, long time. I’m not even sure what happened in the end because by then I was just skimming so I could say I finished it.

Or even persevere…?

Just finished The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson, which I mostly enjoyed although, as I noted upthread, the author makes several claims about word origins that I could not confirm elsewhere.

I’ve begun an audiobook of David Sedaris’s early short-story collection Me Talk Pretty One Day, which I haven’t read in many years. Sedaris himself reads it in his own distinctive style, which is at least half the fun.

Finished Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, by Frank Deford, which I enjoyed.

Now I’m reading Stand Tall, by Joan Bauer.

Currently enjoying Beyond the Burn Line by Paul McAuley, sf about Earth’s post-human history.

The Ice at the End of the World Jon Gertner

A history of the exploration of the Greenland Ice Sheet, from the first dogsled adventurers to today’s scientists who are drilling ice cores to understand climate change.


Mimi and Toutou’s Big Adventure Giles Foden

One of the strangest and most fascinating stories from World War 1. Germany, operating out of their colony in Tanzania, took control of Lake Tangkaniya and used it to harass Free Belgian forces in the Congo.

So the British came up with the scheme to haul two boats overland from South Africa onto the lake, and attack the German ships patrolling there.

Wonderful book. Highly recommended.

Finished Stand Tall, by Joan Bauer, which was very good.

Now I’m reading The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon’s Battle to Men the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I, by Lindsey Fitzharris.

Currently reading Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert. Told in turns by Ivy, a teenage girl who realizes that her mother’s witchcraft is causing ominous events, and Dana, Ivy’s mother, who tells the story of how she and two others learned the dark arts. Liking it so far.

Just saw on the NYT that Cormac McCarthy is coming out with a new novel later this month, his first since “The Road” in 2006. The linked article has a lengthy excerpt from the book.

Right now, I’m reading Stephen King’s latest, which has already grabbed me.

Two novels, in fact - there are two volumes of a 2-part series. The second comes out in November or December (I see conflicting dates for it). I’m anxiously awaiting it.

Ditto, I’m sucked in.

I just finished reading Edmund Hamilton’s novel The Star Kings. I actually picked up a copy of the 1947 issue of Amazing Science Fiction (which was in abysmal shape) and read it there, original illustrations and all.

I admit that it was rough going. I’ve read a lot of Hamilton’s stuff, but this was space opera at its most space operatic, and pretty late in the game. It’s apparently an sf retread of The Prisoner of Zenda (which I’ve never read), and I can’t help but think it must have felt about as corny when it came out as it does now. Some interesting twists and turns, but it felt forced. I know that I should be prepared for anachronisms, but it still othered me to have them using vacuum tubes thousands of years in the future (both in the story and the illustrations). Hamilton gets points, though, for even considering a host of scientific problems (like “how can humans even survive the tremendous acceleration his space travel; requires?”) and giving the answers in a series of footnotes (better than forced expository dialogue in these cases), even if the answers relied upon gobbledegook. Glad I read it, but I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequels.

Now I’m reading the “Images of America” book on Nahant, whose history I got interested in after reading The Frozen Water Trade. I went to the Nahant Historical Society and read through some of their files, then traded them a copy of my book Lost Wonderland for this.

After that it’s on to Roy B. Manstan and Frederic T. Frese’s Turtle: David Bushnell’s Revolutionary Vessel, about the first submarine used in war. Interesting fact – Bushnell himself never called it “The Turtle”.

I’m of two minds. They guy has written some really good books, but “Blood Meridian” was a really depressing slog of blood and violence. And he apparently believes that being famous means not having to use punctuation. No quotation marks for dialog, no apostrophes in words like “cant, aint, isnt” etc. It interrupts my reading rhythm.

Eh, his lack of punctuation and “interesting” sentence structure has been a feature of his writing since before he was famous. It takes me a little bit of adjustment when I start reading one of his books, but I can appreciate what he’s doing. It gives the stories a certain feel. And it took me three tries to get through Blood Meridian, but it’s now one of my favorites.

I get the “two minds” aspect. There are times I want a good enjoyable read, and his books are not for those times. They take some work.

Is this Fairy Tale?

Yes, sorry. IMO, King does his best writing from the perspective of a pre-teen or teenaged boy.