Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - September 2021 edition

Yes, I’ve read Innumeracy, which I consider the better book of the two.

Bowl of Heaven Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

A spaceship carrying humans to a distant star for colonization stumbles on a gigantic “bowl-world”*, a sort of Dyson hemisphere. Some of them fly down to the bowl and then wander around for hundreds of pages, eating space lizards and dodging alien ostriches.

I was disappointed that two distinguished authors could start with an intriguing idea and then write such a mediocre book. The plot goes nowhere, the characters are shallow and uninteresting and there are continuity errors. One poor guys gets a piece of metal in his arm and then has it removed twice, for example.

Not recommended.

*Not to be confused with a ringworld, the titular subject of a much better book by Larry Niven

Do those authors suggest that there are three kinds of people in the world, those who understand math and those who don’t?

Just started The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein, a creepy 1942 novella I first read in high school that really stuck with me. Glad to come back to it now, after all this time.

Iz firmly in the third that don’t understand numbers :wink:

Finished Camino Winds, by John Grisham. The sequel to his Camino Island. As in the first novel, lovable rogue Bruce Cable owns the bookstore Bay Books on the fictional Florida island and is the de-facto leader of a small cadre of writers who live there. A Category 4 hurricane strikes, and one of the writers is killed in the storm, found outside his condo and apparently battered by debris … or is that how he died? The writer is a former lawyer with a large San Francisco law firm who blew the whistle on an arms-dealing client and subsequently became the author of popular action novels a la Tom Clancy. The new novel he was working on at the time of his death may reveal secrets that someone would rather leave secret even if it is a fictionalized account. A nice change from Grisham’s usual legal thrillers. I would like to see more of the character and hope Grisham continues the series. Interestingly the action in the book takes place from August 2019 to June 2020, and the book being written before the pandemic, there is no pandemic or mask-wearing in 2020. No way Grisham could have predicted all that of course, but it’s interesting to note what inadvertently turned into a parallel universe.

Next up will be The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. This will be my first Larson, who got on my radar after I read favorable comments about him on this Board. It will have to wait until maybe next week though, as I’m going to be pretty busy these next few days.

Finished Till We Have Faces , by C. S. Lewis. It was very good. People who enjoyed Circe by Madeline Miller would be interested in this, too.

Now I’m reading Crafted: A Compendium of Crafts: New, Old, and Forgotten, by Sally Coulthard.

More than halfway through The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein. Good stuff; an interesting mix of kinda-Cthulhu and Nick and Nora.

I’ve now started Monty Python Speaks! by David Morgan, a collection of interviews with the original cast and colleagues, friends and supporters such as Carol Cleveland, Douglas Adams, Ian MacNaughton and others, covering both the troupe’s TV and film years. Not much that is new to me, but I like it so far.

Finished Crafted: A Compendium of Crafts: New, Old, and Forgotten , by Sally Coulthard. It was very interesting. One section was about trug making, which I thought was a typo for rug making. Actually, a trug is a flat, shallow basket, often used in gardening and farming. (Trug makers were exempt from the British draft during WWII because trugs were considered essential, according to the book.) I’ve never heard the word trug before, but my spellcheck doesn’t mark it as incorrect.

No I’m reading Moo, by Sharon Creech.

Finished Moo, by Sharon Creech. Meh.

Now I’m reading The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge, M.D.

This weekend I finished both The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein (a creepy supernatural detective story, almost as if H.P. Lovecraft had written a Nick and Nora novel), and The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (cool distant-future military sf with a bittersweet but very satisfying conclusion).

Thanks to a recommendation from Left_Hand_of_Dorkness upthread, I’ve begun Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. It’s a YA novel about an aspiring magician and an overachieving brainiac at a magnet school. Not my usual cup of tea, but not bad so far.