Khadaji's Whatcha Readin' Thread - September 2015 Edition

Kids are back in school… or almost back in school, depending on where you live. The temperatures have been incredibly mellow for high desert and some of the local maple trees are turning already!
So whacha all reading? I’m reading The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo. I like it but it took a bit of pushing to get into it.

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 we decided to rename these monthly threads in his honor.

August’s Thread: August Thread

Four-fifths of the way through Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America, 1927 and enjoying it.

I’m a third of the way through The Queen of Poisons – a reference to Aconitum, aka wolf’s bane, but also possibly to a femme fatale not yet introduced. It’s one of a series James Bond-like spy novels, where the South Vietnamese hero Binh – Tong Van Binh – code name Z-28, fights the North Vietnamese communists and criminal gangs and manages to bed copious numbers of young, beautiful women along the way. I’m learning all kinds of new Vietnamese words that they don’t teach in the textbooks.

I just finished another Michael Connelly book, The Black Box, and was totally amazed by it. Red herrings all over the place to conceal a crime twenty years old.

I finished Christian Cameron’s The Long Sword and enjoyed it so much I went and got the first book in the series, The Ill-Made Knight. If you like Bernard Cornwell’s historical novels, but want a bit more blood and guts then these are the books for you.

Just gobbled down Sue Grafton’s newest, X. It was very good, I thought, and she is a pro at weaving together multiple plot lines. Now I’m starting Sara Paretsky’s latest, Brush Back. I usually enjoy her a lot as she combines two of my favorite things, sports (esp. hockey) and private eye, female even. Any other mystery fans here?

I read Kirk Demaris’ Mail Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads, an absolutely essential book. Demaris apparently actually ordered a lot of those old things from ads in the back of comic books and kept them (in pretty good shape). This book has the original ads and the actual item side-by side. The “actual size submarine” (made of cardboard), the masks in the back of Famous Monsters of Filmland (which actually do look like the pictures, although really badly painted), the “100 army men in a footlocker” (extremely flat figures of soldiers), and so on, including the “X-Ray Glasses” (I wrote about these in my own book). To top it off, the printing on the book cover is partially in glow-in-the-dark ink. The back cover has a glow in the dark skull! You NEED this book!
I read Murray Leinster’s The Duplicators and Philip E. High’s No Truce with Terra. I never heard of Price, and could tell he was British by the way his characters acted. Leinster’s book is interesting, and I’ll post a discussion later on the Board. It makes an interesting companion piece to his internet-predicting A Logic named Joe (Baen books, in fact, published both stories together in a Leinster anthology a decade ago). An old Ace Double that I “inherited” recently.
Since I have to read a Jules Verne novel every summer, I’m re-reading The Barsac Mission (in the form of two Ace paperbacks from 1968 – Into the Niger Bend and The City in the Sahara). When I read these earlier it was with a gap of a couple of years between – the books were out of print by the early 1980s, and so I didn’t get to finish until I stumbled across a used copy of the second volume. The book is actually by Jules’ son, Michel, who published his own work under his father’s name after Jules Verne died. Verne scholar hate him for this, and for altering his father’s work. But I think Michel deserves more credit. He was willing to be more adventurous and extrapolating in his science fiction. He seems to have been the first person to use a Tractor Beam in science fiction (in the chapters he added to The Meteor Hunt). In this book, he has flying machines as a major plot element (only shortly after the Wrights flew) and has the first instance I know of someone using a radio to call for help. Pretty forward-0looking stuff that people were excited to give the older Verne credit for, but disdain in the son. (Michel actually did base the book on notes and bits of two novels his father had started, although I suspect the science fiction stuff was Michel’s own – Jules Verne’s later works tended to de-emphasize science fiction, concentrating on geography and interesting cultures). If only Michel hadn’t put his father’s name on his works, I’d be happier with him. On the other hand, I suspect that The Barsac Mission by Michel Verne never would’ve been reprinted in paperback in 1968.

Finally, and certainly not least, I’m reading the Koran. I’ve read it three times in the past forty years, and I keep forgetting what I’ve read. Worse, the only translation I’ve read (the Dawood translation published by Penguin Books) is woefully short on footnotes, and this is a work that desperately needs a LOT of footnotes if it’s to be of any use to a non-Muslim American. There is so much history and theology that is not explained in the work, knowledge of which is taken for granted, that you lose much if it’s not explained. I’ve read the Pelican Ne Testament commentaries and the Anchor Bible commentaries (and others) – these books dissect the writings one line at a time, and explain the heck out of them. I needed something similar for the case of the Koran.

I finally found a copy of such a book a couple of weeks ago. It’s awesomely thick, has the text in English and the original Arabic, and a lengthy screed of explanation in tiny type below. But I’m not just reading this text – I’m reading the Dawood translation and four other translations I’ve picked up over the years (I actually have more translations of the Koran in my house than I do of the Bible, I’m surprised to find). Simply having different translations helps enormously in understanding obscure passages – sometimes the translators err on the side of poetry over comprehensibility, and my aim is to understand, rather than to have gorgeous text. The thick commented copy actually takes one of my other commented translations to task over its interpretation of the text at one point.

This will be slow going. It’s bedside reading, and I’m not even through the second surah yet. (“The Cow”, in the traditional order. It’s the longest in the book)

Christian Cameron is an awesome writer. I love his stuff.

I went to a reading he was giving last year … and he showed up in full medieval armour & gave a sword-fighting demo with some likewise armoured friends of his! Definitely an unexpected sight (at least, to me) in a Toronto public library. :smiley:

Yes, however I loathe Kinsey Millhone’s self righteous little arse. I will take Eve Dallas in all her glorious Mary Sue checklistness over Millhone.

I am almost caught up with both the Harry Bosch books and the Mickey Haller books by Michael Connelly and just recently dove into Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole Series and Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books.

I finished Michael Koryta’s newest, Last Words. It wasn’t as awesome as some of his other stuff, but still pretty good. This one is first of a series, and I will totally BE THERE when the next one comes out.

Currently I’m reading a non-fiction book (rare for me) called Women In Clothes by Heti, Julavits, and Shapton. The premise is that a lot of women answered questions or wrote short pieces on the topic of clothing, and the result is rather a mishmash of scraps. I’m having a hard time with it because my eye wants to jump all over the page picking up bits and pieces, and then I force myself to go back and read it all in order. Furthermore, the women they interviewed are “writers, activists, and artists”, so it seems everyone is trying to be quirky. Or maybe I’m just a boring white-bread middle-aged married secretary, it could be that.

Psst Dung Beetle The new Lockwood and Co is out this month! Put a hold on the library’s future copy yesterday. :smiley:

Sadly Stiletto is pushed back until January (hopefully)

The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett’s final Discworld novel.

It’s good, but a little difficult in that I recently lost a close family member, and along with the deaths of Sir Terry himself and (in the book) a major character means it’s a bit emotional for me.

It’s better than the patchy last couple of Discworld books, and I get the feeling TP was saving it for his swan song.

So glad you reminded me! I always comb the catalog for new orders and that one had somehow slipped through the cracks. I hate it when that happens.

They are holding The Shepherd’s Crown for me, though.

I have Miss Tiffany’s last book on pre order at Amazon. It will be a hard book to finish…

I thought about reading that. I’ve read every novel Julavits has written, plus her nonfiction offering that came out earlier this year and one of her short stories that’s hard to find in print. I totally adore Julavits’ writing, but that’s honestly the only reason I wanted to read this book. The premise didn’t sound appealing to me (I don’t like clothes shopping, and reading about clothes sounded dangerously close to shopping for clothes), and it’s not even written by Julavits, just edited. It sounds like you’re not a big fan of it, and I’m sorry you’re not, but I’m also kind of glad, because it reinforces my decision to not read it!

Am rereading The Goldfinch. I love that book. Later today will download The Girl in the Spider’s Web for my upcoming trip. Just finished Jim Gaffigan’s Food: A Love Story and laughed all the way through it.

The wind, I wouldn’t recommend it. I haven’t read anything else by Heidi Julavits though. I agree with you about clothes shopping…I’m nearly phobic about it. My feelings about clothes are complicated. :slight_smile:

Well, you know, I love Michael Connelly but I think “self righteous” could also apply to both Bosh and Haller at times. What is it about Kinsey you dislike so?

**Dung Beetle,**I appreciate the mention of Michael Koryta as he’s been on my list of people I should read for a long time. Do you have a specific one you’d recommend?

Everything… sad to say.

That sounds awesome. I’ll look into his other series while I wait for the next book in this one.