Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - September 2022 edition

Would you agree with me, given life in the USSR around then, that the ending was implausible, Railer13?

From what I’ve read about the Soviet Union in that period, I would certainly agree with you. In fact, the entire premise of the plot seemed a bit farfetched, but I suppose it could have happened.

Also true. Thanks.

Finished Grand Union by Zadie Smith. It’s a collection of her short stories, of which the best is “Downtown”.

Now I’m reading Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson. It’s a Longmire mystery.

Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado David Owen

An exploration of the convoluted history and current dire situation* of the Colorado River, a relatively modest stream on which 36 million people depend for water, from Denver to Tucson to Los Angeles.

Very well-written book about an important topic. Highly recommended.

-*The book was written in 2017, so it’s even worse now.

Finished Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson, which is one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

Now I’m reading Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, by Gretchen McCulloch.

My book club decided to read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier for this month. I must say there’s a world of difference in my interpretation of the book between age 21ish and age 57. I’m only 61 pages in and I’ve said “Oh honey…” at least a dozen times to our unnamed protagonist.

I can certainly see why. I enjoyed Rebecca very much, and recommend Du Maurier’s The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories. It includes her essay on how she wrote the novel, her working notes on the first draft, and the omitted epilogue. There’s also an interesting essay on Menabilly, the broken-down Cornwall estate which inspired Manderley, and several short stories from various points in her career.

And for all the bibliophiles here:

I enjoyed it very much as a 20 something and am enjoying it now. I am very amused in how my view of the events in the book has shifted over 30+ years of life.

Just started Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and his son Owen King.

Why did you finish it if you thought the story was too long and didn’t contain much drama or action? I’m not trying to pick on you, I’m just genuinely curious because I absolutely agree that the story was boring and too long – so I gave up and didn’t finish it.

You know, I asked myself the same question. Here is why I continued:

  1. I usually try to finish reading what I started
  2. I was hoping that something, anything would happen in this book to make it more exciting

Haha okay. I’m very much in the habit of quitting a book if I don’t enjoy it, because I have so many books on my to-read list that I don’t want to waste my time with anything I don’t enjoy.

I tried extra hard with this one, though. A friend of mine gave me the book for my birthday, and I avoided reading it for months but figured I probably should read it at some point. Then, a Russian friend suggested we start a two-person book club where we read a book and discuss it together, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally read A Gentleman in Moscow. I actually would have quit reading it much sooner, but I kept reading for the sake of the book club. And then when I reached the beginning of Book Three, and the author devoted several pages to describing the act of waking up in the morning and putting a cup of coffee on to roast, I finally texted my Russian friend and said “This is a bad book. I don’t want to finish it.”

I can only think of a couple of books that I haven’t finished. One was Something Happened by Joseph Heller, a book in which absolutely nothing happened.

Try reading The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James. Despite the promising title, it’s another book in which nothing happens. The entire point of the book, in fact, is that nothing happens. But it takes an awful long time not to happen, described in sentences that are often as long as a page.

This is why I am not a fan of Henry James.

The man could make a ghost story boring. And did.

I tried to read Turn of the Screw about 4 times before finally just shrugging and walking away forever. Seriously, why write a boring ghost story?!

That’s not the entire point of the novella. At the end, the main character has a crushing epiphany in which he realizes what his life could have been like if he hadn’t been such a total dipwad. Instead, having missed “the beast” that was right in front of him, he lives the rest of his life alone and in misery.

Perhaps the novella has more emotional resonance for those who have lost someone they loved dearly, while never having to question if they allowed that love to enrich their souls. James’ (overwritten) story is the horrifying - and soul-destroying - antithesis of that.

Right. Nothing happens because he does nothing.

I just finished Tamora Pierce’s “lady knight” series. Fun, in a light hearted “the good guys will win” way.

Finished Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, by Gretchen McCulloch, which I enjoyed.

Now I’m reading The Employees, a science fiction novella (or possibly novelette) by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitken.