Khadaji’s Whatcha Reading Thread - September 2022 edition

Finished The Employees, a science fiction novella (or possibly novelette) by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitken. It was quite interesting. I especially enjoyed its triple twist ending, considering how much I like ones with only a single twist.

Now I’m reading Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything, by Philip Ball.

I recently read “The Decay of Lying” where Oscar Wilde says that Henry James wrote fiction like it was a painful duty. Very accurate.

I only know The Beast in the Jungle as the book that the Pinch-Faced Wife* was reading in The Screaming Skull. Not a good endorsement, that.

*Peggy Webber who was a much better actress on the radio than she was on film.

Finished The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family, by Ron Chernow. Very good. With this and my recent reading or Chernow’s book on the Morgan family, I have learned a lot about the history of international banking and finance. The Warburg bank was founded in Hamburg in 1798 to serve the Jewish community. From the 1890s they had family members on Wall Street and from the WWII era in London. One especially interesting thing I learned is that while anti-Semitism remained rife in Weimar Germany, reforms in that period gave such profound new opportunities to Jews that it not only prompted Warburgs to become an international operation but also raised the hopes and expectations of German Jews to such an extent that they tended to think this new Hitler fad could not possibly last long. Sadly, that probably prevented many from fleeing Germany when they still had the chance. Think of the proverbial frog in a pot of water who does not at first realize what is happening as the temperature is slowly increased. The Warburg name was unknown to me until just recent years, they don’t seem to have been as famous in the US as, say, the Morgan or Rockefeller families – this despite Paul Warburg essentially being the father of the Federal Reserve Board – but I cannot help but wonder if the name of the Daddy Warbucks character in Little Orphan Annie was taken from Warburg.

Have started reading The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors, by another favorite historian, Dan Jones.

Just finished Rough Draft by Katy Tur, and it made me want to be a journalist.
Am now reading Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson.

It’s almost required , when complaining about Henry James, to repeat the story Edith Wharton wrote about the time Henry James asked for directions. True story, recounted in her book A Backward Glance:

Found in, among many other places, here – When Henry James Asked for Directions by Edith Wharton - The Best American Poetry

I finished Stephen King’s newest, Fairy Tale. It was just okay. I mean, I was delighted to have it, and it kept me happy for the last week or so, but I’m not going to run around recommending it to anyone. Spoiler if you want to know whether the dog dies, he does not.
The first part of the book takes place in our world, and it’s all that slice-of-life thing King does so well. The second part takes place in another world…it was fine. I didn’t care as much for those characters, though.
No politics in this one, although I was amused at the illustration on page 431. Apparently the Big Bad in that world strongly resembles a Big Bad in our own.

^I don’t feel so bad putting off Fairy Tale while I continue rereading Robert Crais novels in order. Finished The Watchman and Chasing Darkness this past weekend. Started The First Rule.

I kinda miss the times when King wrote horror, short and to the point.
Well, ya know, relatively short.

Started today on a thriller called The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. It’s about a writer who steals a book idea from a student who died before he got a chance to write it. A couple of Dopers posted about how much they enjoyed it, so I’ve been looking forward to it too. I can’t remember who they were though!

“The Plot is one of the best novels I’ve ever read about writers and writing. It’s also insanely readable and the suspense quotient is through the roof. It’s remarkable.”
―Stephen King

I was probably one of those folks, and, yes, I thought it was an excellent read!

Well, thank you for the recommendation! I will try it despite the blurb from King. :slightly_smiling_face:

Finished Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything, by Philip Ball, which was okay.

Now I’m reading The Downstairs Girl, a YA historical mystery by Stacey Lee.

I finished This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies by Renee Pawlish last night. It was light potato chip kind of mystery, no murder but there were a couple instances of assault.

Finished The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee, which was okay.

Now I’m reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

I’ve kinda bogged down on Kaiju Preservation Society… Wil Wheaton’s over the top, over enthusiastic narration has gotten on my nerves. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for an inexpensive used copy.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Mary Roach

A light-hearted take on the science of sustaining human life during space flight, with a lot of focus on the more prurient challenges - motion sickness, bodily functions, sex…

I enjoyed it as much for the snarky humor as for the science.

I agree that Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle really is that bad - I forget which critic said that reading James is like eating a pillow - but I enjoyed Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow.

There are certainly no gun battles or car chases in it, but as a character study of an interesting (to me, at least) person, and as an exploration of a particular community (a luxury hotel) and its members over the span of decades of Soviet history, I found it very engaging.

Finished The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, which was quite interesting.

Now I’m reading The Listeners, by James E. Gunn.

I finished a new edition of The Wall by Marlen Haushofer, which was first published in German in 1963.
A woman finds herself alone in the world (apart from a dog, a cat & a cow!), imprisoned in an Alpine valley behind an invisible wall. Everybody else appears to have died.
Not a lot happened and, tbh, I preferred the film of it that came out a few years ago.

And now I’ve just started Paul McAuley’s latest book, Beyond the Burn Line. SF set on Earth in the far future where the Anthropocene is merely a minor geological band in the rocks… Not very far in, but enjoyable so far.