Khadaji's Whatcha Readin' thread - September 2014

Well here we are, summer reading is about over and time to gear up for fall! So what are you reading this autumn?

I am currently reading the second John Rain book Hard Rain by Barry Eisler. It’s quirky and a bit violent but I can’t really cry over yakuza getting hurt. I know, I’m a bad, bad, bad person!

Khadaji was one of the earlier members of the 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; and he started these monthly book threads. Sadly, he passed away in January 2013, and it was decided that we should rename these monthly threads in his honour.

Finished Lock In and Legend; still working on Kludge and the book on pentecostalism.

Just finished The Pelican Brief, John Grisham’s third novel. Very good. More of an action thriller than a legal procedural. Two US Supreme Court justices – the oldest and the youngest – are brutally murdered hours apart by what appears to be the same assassin or group of assassins. The two justices were not similar ideologically, and the authorities are stumped for a motive. Then a second-year law student stumbles across the motive, and now she’s being hunted.

Next up is a more recent Grisham: The Broker.

Almost forgot. A fun part of The Pelican Brief for me was when the protagonist hod out for a while in the Tabard Inn in Washington. That’s a wonderfully quirky little place. The wife and I stayed there two years ago. Recommended.

I just got Carthage from the library and am going to dive in tonight. It looks really big and I only have till 9/17.

I reread The Adventures of Roderick Random; time to load up some new books on the ol’ e-reader!

I just read Kate Atkinsons’ Life After Life and Jo Walton’s My Real Children more or less back to back. It was a fascinating juxtaposition, because they’re both about alternate lifelines for the main character, although there are dozens of lifelines in Atkinson’s book and only two in Walton’s. I enjoyed both of them. I found it intriguing how the Atkinson’s Ursula differed so much across the different life courses, but Walton’s Patricia ended up in essentially the same place, despite making very different choices along the way.

Read Post Office by Charles Bukowski. I had liked the two previous Henry Chinaski novels very much, but that one was BRILLIANT. Chapters 13 and 14 made me cry; then it got better. I’m normally a Victorian, Booker Prizewinner kind of reader, but Bukowski… he is good.

Read Promises to Keep by Katharine Tree. Entertaining stuff, and she sure has set the stage for the next book to go kersplooey. Here’s a land mine, and here’s a land mine, and here’s a land mine… which one will get stepped on first?

And I am still about 35% through Written In My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon. I love Outlanders books 1 and 4-6 with a passion, but the Revolutionary War stuff just turns me off, and I cannot make myself care about either William or Lord John. Alas.

I wish My Real Children were available on Audible.

I bought a copy of Jo Nesbo’s new book The Son and mentioned it at work. A colleague suggested I should read his books in order, so The Son is back on the shelf while I’m reading The Bat with others to follow, should I enjoy the first one enough to want to continue.

I’ve finally gotten into Ryu Mitsuse’s 10 Billion Days and 100 Billion Nights after buying it in May. Good stuff so far, especially the chapter “Maitreya”, which is filled with great descriptions of fascinatingly dream-like imagery.

I just picked up a copy of The Bat as well. I need to finish the book I am currently reading, then I will dive into it.

I read that and liked it very much, although the Hitler subplot seemed a little contrived/done before.

Just zipped through Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale by Joss Whedon et al., a 2010 graphic novel giving much of the backstory of the enigmatic Firefly clergyman. The plot was more or less in reverse chronological order and had some interesting points; the artwork, however, was crude.

Picked up Archie: 1000-page Comics Bonanza, a new reissue, on sale. I was a big Archie fan as a kid, and it’s fun to see these stories again. Veronica and Betty are beautiful in any era, but seeing their and the guys’ clothes change over time is funny - from bow ties and plaid pants to surfer gear and T-shirts.

On the home stretch in George R.R. Martin’s Dreamsongs, Vol. I, a collection of his reminiscences and early short stories including “Sandkings,” the first story of his I ever read and long a favorite, and (new to me) “The Meathouse Man,” a deeply weird story about, er, hightech necrophilia.

Finally gave up on Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do almost halfway through. Just didn’t hold my interest, and there are other things I wanted to read more.

Just finished re-reading an old favourite: Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the Dog!).

It’s about three young clerks in the Victorian period who go on a fortnight long boating trip on the Thames. Not a lot happens, but it’s the way it doesn’t happen that is funny. It’s got some wry smiles, some chuckles, and some laugh-out-loud bits.

It’s also a lovely little snap-shot of a moment in mid-Victorian time and society.

I love that book! You might like Three in Norway by Two of Them, by Walter J. Clutterbuck, published in 1882, which supposedly was the inspiration for Three Men in a Boat. It’s about three British men spending a summer hunting and fishing in Norway. It’s available from Project Gutenberg.
I just finished an interesting read: The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, by Deborah Blum. It’s about the efforts of the NYC chief medical examiner and a dedicated toxicologist to investigate poisonings, both accidental and deliberate, in the 1920’s. The book focuses on several specific poisons: chloroform (still used in surgeries, used to subdue robbery victims); wood alcohol (killed thousands during Prohibition, as did industrial alcohol which was deliberately poisoned by the government); cyanide (widely used in fumigation, popular for suicides); arsenic, mercury, radium (those poor factory girls painting radium on watch faces), carbon monoxide, and thallium (sold in depilatory creams, used for pest control).

The White War by Mark Thompson, a thorough enough history of the Italian Front of WWI with plenty of stuff I didn’t know (or consider: such as that Gabriel D’Annunzio really was the Ayn Rand of his age).

Unfortunately, it omits equal treatment and equally interesting coverage of the Austro-Hungarians’ perspective (as these books always seem to do), and entirely omits the minimal yet interesting involvement of the US Army in the last days (hours, actually) of Italy’s war.

I believe I spotted Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception by Claudia Hammond on the New Books shelf of the library; I picked it up & found it to be a somewhat repetitive, but interesting contemplation of how we perceive time.
Hammond weaves together research in neuroscience and psychology with real-life narratives of hostages and other isolated individuals, sprinkling in literary items as well (Proust, Constantine, etc). Synesthesia was touched on, as well as several amnesia cases. She wraps up the book with some general techniques for dealing with time passing too slowly or too quickly, based on the findings discussed previously.

One scenario to determine how you view yourself relative to the passing of time I found quite interesting. **A meeting you have scheduled for Wednesday was moved up two days. What day of the week is meeting now on? **
My answer was “Friday” … which she linked to the perspective of the self moving forward to the future. An answer of “Monday” relates more to the feeling that the future is moving towards you. Either way - there’s a potential of mis-communication with the other meeting attendees! :slight_smile:

I did have one minor quibble - she states that while we often speak of time in distance terms (a “long” time) - we don’t do the reverse. Maybe that’s her UK bias showing, but here in the MidWest US, it’s common to speak of destinations being X hours away… (where approx 60 miles = 1 hour).

Recommended to those with an interest in pop psychology and case studies - worth at least a library read.

Never heard of that. Tell me more, please, either here or in a PM. Thanks!

Interesting, Politzania. I’m also Midwestern and it hadn’t occurred to me that there could be confusion about a meeting being “moved up”. Because if it had been moved to Friday, it would have been “moved back”. It’s so weird to come across these pitfalls.

That makes me think of a line from Hamlet. Somebody says “the future is yet behind” or something similar; I just tried to Google the line and couldn’t find it… but anyway, the assumption is that one moves through time while facing the past, because that’s the part of it you can see. The future is unseen, so your back must be to it.

I had to give up on The Hundred-Year House. I started it last Thursday, read more on Friday, and still wasn’t hooked. I knew I wouldn’t pick it up again after the three-day weekend, so back to the library it went.

Now on to a haunted house novel from the 70s, Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco. The writing feels weird and dated, but I’m liking the story so far.