Khadaji's Whatcha Readin' thread -- December 2018 Edition

Oh look FINALLY!

My apologies, real life was a bit busy yesterday but there is food in the house now so the hubby and offspring can stop looking at me like I’m trying to starve them. :wink:

On with the show! Whatcha all readin?

I’m currently reading:

The Landlocked Baron by Sahara Kelly. A het romance where the author seems to have said what if I make the lead male charming but a touch overwhelmed by being a baron and I make the lead female, interesting, intelligent, strong willed but not a shrew… and I throw in a bunch of other interesting people, a load of humor and bit of a mystery?

Her Majesty’s Will: A Novel of Will and Kit by David Blixt. So what if Will Shakespeare & Kit Marlowe meet during an espoinage event gone bad and then end up being wanted by the very people they were trying to help? It’s not bad, he has the rhythm of the period language but the overall plotting in a bit uneven and the story stalls in places.

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. Enjoying it as expected.

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 2013. Consequently when he suddenly and quite unexpectantly passed away, we decided to rename this thread in his honor and to keep his memory, if not his ghost, alive.

Good bye November, we hardly knew ye

Last night I began a re-read of Little Women. I’m enjoying it now much more than when my mother made me read it as a kid.

I went to the library this week to pick up The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi. It’s a sequel The Collapsing Empire, which he wrote about a year ago. When I got there I saw they also had Head On, which is a newly released sequel to Scalzi’s Lock In. I finished Head On Friday (which I guess makes it a November book) and started The Consuming Fire yesterday.

Halfway through The Confessions of Nat Turner, by William Styron. It’s very good.

I can’t think of Little Women without remembering Joey reading it on Friends if Rachel read Stephen King’s Cujo and really got into it.

Whoa, December already! And here’s a thread about how you count the books you’ve read:

Just finished Stephen King’s 1987 thriller Misery, about a writer confined in a remote Colorado cabin and forced to write by a crazed ex-nurse who insists she’s his “Number-One Fan.” I read it just after it first came out, but not since, and it’s just as good the second time around - tense, gripping, and with some interesting insights into the compulsions that dedicated writers share. I’d missed his passing reference to the Overlook Hotel (scene of The Shining) last time.

Now about halfway through Philip Kerr’s March Violets, about a private eye in 1936 Berlin, investigating the deaths of a steel magnate’s hard-drinking daughter and her SS-officer husband. It seemed a little clunky at first but I like it better now. I think I may have figured out whodunit, and am eager to see if I’m right.

I’m really enjoying Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, about the 1986 fire which devastated the L.A. Public Library. I’ve never read an Orlean book before, and it’s great. It’s as a much a love letter to libraries and a history of Los Angeles’s bibliophiles as a true-crime tale of epic arson and its aftermath.

I’m a big Scalzi fan and have The Consuming Fire on my stack, but haven’t started it yet. Hope you like it!

I was in Southampton County, Va. not long ago, and had a tour of the first house that Turner’s rebels attacked. It’s now being restored. Quite a chilling story.


I just finished We Sold Our Souls, a novel about metalheads and (sort of) demons. It was just barely good enough to keep reading, but I found the underlying worldview–boilerplate “we misfits are the true heroes, wake up sheeple!”–pretty gross.

Now I’m reading Record of a Spaceborn Few, Becky Chambers’s companion to A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It’s not, so far, as exciting as her other works, but it’s pretty radical: in all the science fiction I’ve read, and that’s a metric Neptunian shit-ton, this may be the first book about ordinary people doing ordinary things in their extraordinary environment. The most violence there’s been so far has been a toddler flushing his pajamas down the space-toilet. It’s deeply human, despite not all the characters being human, and I love it.

I love Grady Hendrix, but I must admit I mostly love him for My Best Friend’s Exorcism.
Elendil’s Heir, I think Misery is my favorite of all King’s books.
I just finished A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs, fourth in the Miss Peregrine series. A perfectly cromulent series entry, but I’m starting to feel things have gone on long enough. Or it may just be that I’ve been champing at the bit to start the next book in the TBR pile, Exit Strategy by Martha Wells.

It’s right up there for me, although 'Salem’s Lot, The Stand, 11/22/63 and The Dead Zone are contenders for the top spot, too.

And bonus points for writing “champing” and not “chomping.”

The Prisoner of Zenda!. For the first time! Now I want to watch the 1937 movie again.

Also starting a re-read of The Passionate Epicure, a bizarre 1920s novel about a provincial French gourmet, possibly the first foodie novel written. I lent my first copy to a friend who left the city for Portland, Maine, nearly ten years ago to become a cook, and he took it with him. I just got my second copy.

I’ve never read **Misery **in paper format, but I have read it as an audio book, and I recommend it. Normally I don’t like audio books as much, but the narrator did a terrific job voicing the crazy woman.

I’ve been home sick with pneumonia the last couple weeks, so I’ve had a lot of time to read.

Fiction choices:

  • Someone recommended the book Bellwether to me in one of these threads when I asked for books/authors similar to Robin Sloan. I forget who recommended it, but if anyone wants to speak up and get the recognition they deserve, thank you! It’s a fun, quirky book.

  • The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a seriously creepy book at first. The second half of it gets so preposterous that it’s not as creepy, but it’s still a fun, unique book that I recommend.

  • I’m about 2/3 of the way through The Hideaway. It’s dual timeline (which I’m a sucker for) and takes place in the South (which I’m also a sucker for), and it’s charming and enjoyable.


  • I did an audio book re-read of one of my two favorite books: Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel. A very comforting read that I have gleaned a lot of inspiration from. It’s a memoir, but it’s also partly self-help, and it has helped me tremendously in my own life.

  • Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts was an unexpected treat. I love reading books on behavioral economics, but by now I’ve read a whole bunch of them, and all the writers I read cite one another’s books and studies, and the more books I read, the less new information I’m getting out of them. I discovered Duncan Watts a few years ago when I read his book Everything is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer, which related much more directly to behavioral economics. Six Degrees has to do with network theory, which I don’t know much about, and I wasn’t sure if it would hold my interest the same way. But oh my goodness. Network theory is like large-scale behavioral economics, where instead of studying the behavior of individuals, you study the behavior of groups of individuals, and how one person’s behavior changes according to other people’s behavior. It adds a new twist to a topic I love, and very little of what I read was redundant, but it was all fascinating! I’m happy I finally dared to pick it up and delve in.

  • I have one chapter left in Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change by Leonard Mlodinow. This is a book that starts out decent and gets better. It’s a bit less dense than I would have preferred, with lots of brief anecdotes and not quite as much detail on scientific studies as there could be. But it’s an intriguing subject matter, and I find the stuff I’m learning from the book drifting into my thoughts as I go about my daily life. This is my third book that I’ve read by Mlodinow, and I’ve enjoyed every one.

Dead Zone was one of my first, if not first King books. It and Firestarter are still my favorites.

I like Firestarter, too, although I reread it a few years ago and it just didn’t hold up as well as the others.

I just finished that series, and loved it! Agree with you on the third book - it’s pretty neat to read about normal people living normal lives IN SPACE. I dunno how she pulls it off, but she does. I can’t wait for her to write more books.

I also just finished Otherworld, and I can’t recommend it. I’m not going to read the next book in the series. It’s supposed to be sorta like Ready Player One in that it’s partially set in a virtual world, but the authors do the virtual world so badly that I just couldn’t get into it. They literally made it so dull that I found myself more excited about the bits that happened in the real world. And those weren’t even that exciting.

Now I have to pick what to read next. I have a bunch on my Kindle that I’ve picked up for cheap over the years, but in my typical fashion I find myself wanted to read books I’d have to buy. Mainly Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series, starting with Katherine of Aragon. We’ll see if I can resist the urge to buy 'em.

I got Girl in the Spider’s Web from the library, and to my shock I realized I had already read it. It must not have made that big an impression on me, so I decided to skip Eye for an Eye, which I also got from the library, and dived back into feudal Japan, aka Shogun.

Finished it and loved it. My only critique is that there wasn’t a lot of action and the tense scenes were resolved in just a couple pages, but other wise a fun read.

I’m reading a bunch of books.

I picked up a used copy of Edgar Pangborn’s Davy, a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time. The book was immensely popular when it came out in 1964, but virtually forgotten today. I’m convinced that part of this was due to a liberal dollop of well-written sex, still a relatively new thing. The nonlinear post-apocalyptic narrative is great without it. Reading it, I can see how someone might think my story George Washington and the DRagon was done in imitation of it, but I’d never read Davy before.

I’m also reading Hobbes’ Leviathan. I like reading some classic work in the fall – I think I get nostalgic for my college days. So I’m readin’ me some 17th century political philosophy. Yum!

Pepper Mill got me Frederick Forsyth’s latest, The Fox It’s good, with Forsyth’s typical attention to detail. As in one of his earlier books (The Cobra, I think), this one features a socially introverted computer hacker. Forsyth clearly isn’t comfortable with the cyberworld, and this seems to be his way of handling his computer experts so he doesn’t have to spin their personalities. Fortunately, he spends much more time on politics and cloak-and-dagger, his strong points.

I picked up an absolutely wonderful book yesterday. I don’t know whether to give it as a gift or keep it. Rocket Science for Babies by Chris Ferrie is exactly what the title promises – a very basic primer for – well, toddlers, if not babies.

There are no equations, of course, so the little engineers can’t appreciate the beauty of Tsiolkovsky, but it does a pretty decent job. I dithered between this and Quantum Physics for Babies, which was just as good. Apparently there’s a whole series of these, as you can see from the Amazon page.

I’m coming around the final bend of graduate school, taking an MA in history. Thus, most of what I’ve been reading for the past several months / years / decades (or so it feels like) have been historical monographs.

One particularly interesting one is The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America by Ed Blum and Paul Harvey. It examines how our image of Jesus Christ — white skin, light brown hair, blue eyes — came to be and how it has been used to justify everything from slavery to the war in Iraq. It’s a fascinating read.

Over the Christmas break I plan on reading The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn. Guinn is a journalist, not a historian. 4 years of studying history has taught me to be very wary of any historical monograph not written by an actual historian. However, this book has good reviews and I haven’t found any particularly negative press regarding this book or Guinn’s work. I scored a free hardcover copy, so it’ll be my “light” Christmas reading.

I was also gifted several months ago a beat up paperback copy of And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi of Helter Skelter fame. I read the first few chapters before school work took over; if I have time I’ll try to finish that one as well.