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

Can it just cool DOWN Already? I want to bust out my hoodies, fuzzy socks and snuggy gloves…
I will finish Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly tomorrow. I got the newest Bllom County compilation today…so what am I doing online!!! :smiley:


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.

Last month: August buh BYE!

I just finished the last chapter of the seemingly 50 pound behemoth “The Food Lab”, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. The last chapter being on fried foods. If you are a serious cook or just want to seriously up your game, this book is informative, amusing and full of good recipes.

I am about a third of the way through Adam Becker’s “What is real?” about interpretations of quantum mechanics. Mixed with a lot of history. Best book on the subject I have ever read (and I have read several) on the subject.

Swedish chef!!! bork bork bork

Got stuck in Side Life, an odd and disconcerting science fiction novel. Not sure how I feel about it: it was well-written and thoughtful, but I disliked the main character pretty passionately, and the book is emotionally chilly, and the sense of dread it engendered in me wasn’t real pleasant.

Next up is some generic space opera, far different from Valente’s Space Opera I read last week, I expect.

A few nights ago I abandoned Garson O’Toole’s Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations. It’s too academic, and you have to wade through pages of dry research to find out the truth about the quote/attribution in question (a quick summary at the start of each chapter would have been appreciated). I’ll keep it on my Kindle for reference, but stopped feeling the need to read each chapter.

I started reading book #2 in Mishell Baker’s Arcadia Project series, Phantom Pains. I bought it back in June, immediately after finishing the first book, but there were more pressing titles at the time. I’m only a little way into it, but so far I’m enjoying it as much as I did the first one. Thanks (again) to Left Hand of Dorkness for mentioning this series way back when. :slight_smile:

About 20% into Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, by Herman Melville, his first book, published five years before Moby-Dick. His fictionalized account of his real-life adventures among the cannibals of Nuku Hiva in the the South Pacific’s Marquesas Islands in the early 1840s. Quite good so far.

I finished reading “The Newcomes” by William Thackeray for the third time. I think it would make a really good costume drama. It’s got:

  • “Will they/won’t they?” romance
  • family secrets
  • cruelty and kindness, humour and tragedy
  • financial shenanigans
  • political shenanigans
  • religious sentiment (phony and genuine)
  • surprise twists
  • villains I loved to hate

This weekend I finished Patrick O’Brian’s The Mauritius Command, in which Aubrey finally makes commodore, and he and Dr. Maturin are off to the African coast for another Napoleonic naval adventure, and Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, a very early Star Wars novel in which Luke, Leia, Artoo and Threepio, on a secret mission, crash-land on a jungle world. Both are pretty good. Next up: *The Dogs of Camelot *by Margaret Reed and Joan Lownds, about the Kennedy family’s pooches, and By-Line, a 1967 collection of Ernest Hemingway’s journalism from the 1920s through the 1950s. His distinctive style usually shines through, even in some just-the-facts reporting. Best line so far, from Hemingway’s coverage of an Italian diplomatic conference in 1922: “He had a rich wife, so he could afford to be a communist.”

Just finished The Long-Lost Home, the last book in Maryrose Wood’s fantasy series The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. It was excellent.

Now I’m reading* All My Friends Are Super Heroes*, by Andrew Kaufman.

Finished The Devil’s HIghway, pretty bleak tale of how dangerous crossing the Mexican-American border was even pre-Trump era changes. I get it that illegal immigration is an issue, but I have a hard time understanding why “let them die in the desert” is considered a reasonable solution by some.

Now I’m on to Blood, Bones & Butter, a memoir I’ve had my eyes on for a long time that happened to show up on the Kindle Deal list a few weeks ago. So far, it’s great. She’s as good of a writer as she is a chef, which is unusual in my experience. I’ve waded through far too many chef stories that were so badly written that I wonder why the subject allowed them to be published.

I finished Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight last week. An outstanding novel, probably one of the best books I’ve read this year (so far). It’s about a young boy in post-WWII London whose parents go abroad, leaving him and his sister with a man they barely know. The man introduces the teenagers to his slightly shady, somewhat mysterious friends. Then years later, after he has grown up, the narrator tries to piece together what was really going on, especially what happened to his mother as a result of her wartime service.

Now I’m reading two books which could not be more different from each other:

The White City by Karolina Ramqvist about a young mother who spends her days in a house that was bought for her by her partner who was involved in organized crime. She is now on her own with her young baby, isolated from the world, living a precarious existence.

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. This book came highly recommended and the premise is certainly delightful: a group of historians work at the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research which is actually an organization devoted to time travel. I had high expectations but so far the book is a bit of a disappointment. Not nearly as clever or entertaining as I had expected. But I will persist with it a bit more. Maybe it will get better.

Oh man, I loved Splinter. I’ve read it multiple times. O’Brian spins a cracking good yarn as well.

Currently reading Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. Post-apocalyptic fantasy centered in Navajo mythos? Check. Tough female monster-slayer who just might go over to the Dark Side? Check. Well-written and entertaining by the author of a Hugo-winning short story? Also check. I’m enjoying it HUGELY.

Also reading America’s Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake. It’s a little dry in places but provokes a lot of sympathy for the ever-dwindling populations of snake. Fun fact: Evolution is pushing in the direction of rattlers who don’t, well, rattle. Or at least not audibly. The louder the rattle, the more likely the snake is to be caught and killed. Snakes who don’t audibly rattle are surviving better. So we’re slowwwwwly naturally selecting toward snakes who don’t rattle. Not exactly reassuring, is it? Though we’re all in a lot more danger from other organisms than rattlesnakes.

I finished The Dogs of Camelot, about JFK’s and his family’s dogs, which was a quick read with some good pictures I hadn’t seen before. As much as the authors learned about the dogs, though (including more detail on their pedigrees than I really needed), their eventual deaths - years or causes - aren’t mentioned.

Just started Michael Benson’s Space Odyssey, about Stanley Kubrick’s and Arthur C. Clarke’s inspired partnership in creating 2001: A Space Odyssey, and so far I like it. Tom Hanks and Martin Scorsese (both big fans of the movie) even wrote jacket blurbs!

I enjoyed it again (hadn’t read it in more than a decade, I think), but found I was a bit more critical this time. I noticed that

there’s a definite romantic vibe between Luke and Leia since, at that point in the development of the SW mythos (1978), I don’t think Lucas had yet decided they’d be brother and sister. Just a little skeevy, in hindsight. Their dialogue doesn’t always ring true, either, given what we later saw of the characters. There’s surprisingly little grieving for the slain pair of badass Yuzzem, Hin and Kee. And although Luke has a sense through the Force that Vader survived his fall through the temple floor, he doesn’t go and finish him off. And why wouldn’t the crystal just inevitably lead Vader back to him in the future? I’m nitpicking, I know…

i remember reading this one back in the early 80s? it was brand new at the time. I hated it so much I refused to read anything of Foster’s for about 10 years…

Published in 1978, just a year after the original movie came out. Lucas asked Foster to write it so that it could be filmed as a lower-cost sequel: much of the action is on a fog-shrouded jungle planet, only a single X-wing and Y-wing appear, and there’s no space battle.

I hope you’ve tried Foster since then. His novel Icerigger is very good, and I also really liked his novelizations of the Alien movies and of the Star Trek animated series (Star Trek Log One, Log Two, etc.)

I read and adored the “Spellsinger” books.

To be fair, I was 13 in 78 and not quite as flexible as I am now. :smiley:

Rereading Finders Keepers, the second of the Mr. Mercedes books by Stephen King, because we are watching the series on TV. Love the casting of Bill and Brady Hartsfield.

This is one of my favorite King series and I thought they did a great job with the show.