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

Nonfiction:

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart M. Brown, Jr. A great reminder that life isn’t just about tangible achievements, and that focusing too hard on outward success can set you up for misery. Also some guidance on how to reconnect with your inner child and reintroduce play into your adult life. I did think the book could have been written better: some parts were repetitive, and others touched upon an interesting study for only a single paragraph before switching the focus elsewhere. But overall, I think it was worth reading.

Be the Hands and Feet: Living Out God’s Love for All His Children by Nick Vujicic. It says right in the title that this book is about God, and the synopsis makes it clear that it’s about Christianity, so i can’t be too mad for the book being exactly what it said it would be. But … Nick Vujicic is a magnificent motivational speaker; he inspires me and cheers me up, but I’m not Christian. And the more books he publishes, the more he promotes Christianity, and the more I have to dig around to glean inspiration. There were still parts of the book that were entertaining and inspiring, but I wish he’d write another book like his first book, that didn’t feature Christianity quite so prominently.

The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy. I wouldn’t recommend this one. It’s basically “I’m rich and married, don’t you want to be like me? Let me tell you my morning routine, my evening routine, and my life philosophies. This guy didn’t follow my advice and his life sucks. Now give my book to other people so they can be like me, too.” No thanks.

Fiction:

Love, Alice by Barbara Davis, a sweet book about a woman grieving over her fiance’s death. It involves a mystery in the past that she’s trying to solve, and some unlikely friendships are formed in the process. I liked it.

Paper Towns by John Green. I love this book so much. It starts out with a grand midnight adventure where the main character, Quentin, is approached by his crush, Margo, to drive her around and exact revenge on everyone she doesn’t like. Then Margo disappears, and the second part of the book is looking for clues as to where she went. Then Quentin thinks he’s found her, and the third part of the book is him and his friends taking a road trip to try to get to Margo. The book is funny but also insightful.

Finished Andrew Kaufman’s magical realism novel, All My Friends Are Super Heroes. Not bad. The title’s misleading; many people have powers (or have character traits that are perceived as powers, although they really aren’t), but it doesn’t really affect their lives. There are no super villains, either; some people with powers call jerks with powers “super villains”, though.

Now I’m reading The Outcasts of Heaven Belt, a science fiction novel by Joan D. Vinge.

Finished The Sicilian, by Mario Puzo. Not exactly a prequel/sequel to The Godfather, although it has a couple of the same characters as a framing mechanism. Mostly it is a story about a Sicilian Robin Hood figure. Not bad, once I was able to accept it on its own terms and not try to read it as Godfather Part II. Currently almost halfway thru Omerta by the same author. Much more plot-driven. A Mafia Don is killed three years after his retirement, and all the various machinations of who and why it was done, and what his children should do about it, etc. It’s holding my interest.

Also read Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, which I skipped for some reason. Okay - the ending was a little anti-climactic and Heinlein can’t seem to write a romantic relationship to save his typewriter. It’s what has become a standard plot, where aliens from Titan take over the minds of earthlings for Evil Purposes. The creepy paranoia part worked, but Heinlein cribbed/re-used/parallelly invented the way the aliens are defeated. Once I accepted that the aliens could take over the brains of species from a completely different planet, I had to accept that they could be killed by a disease from a different planet - but I didn’t have to like it.
I think I am going to try to get Jordan Peterson’s Twelve Rules for Life, because I listened to a lecture he gave on the topic and would like to hear more.

Regards,
Shodan

You might like Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, a clever take on the superhero genre, mainly focusing on a constantly-thwarted and increasingly-frustrated supervillain. I really enjoyed it.

Didn’t know there was a TV series. While reading, I pictured Holly as Amy on The Big Bang Theory even though I think King mentions at least once that she’s on the scrawny side.

I’ve read that one, and I agree that it’s excellent. Thanks for the recommendation!

Glad to. The movie *Megamind *has a similar theme, and is even funnier IMHO.

I wound up imagining her as being like Amy Acker – specifically, the Fred character she played on Angel.

I enjoyed Megamind as well.

Finished The Outcasts of Heaven’s Belt by Joan D. Vinge, which I did not enjoy, although it wasn’t horrible. It reminded me of a mediocre Star Trek episode, although more than one character got to give the Kirk-type noble speech.

Now I’m reading Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama, by David Mamet.

Late update, I’ve been down since Monday with my first cold of the school year… two weeks in. :frowning:

I finished Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly over the weekend. For the most part it was an enjoyable read, the author is definitely not a trained historian because her writing was terribly tangentital and almost more about segregation and civil rights than about the women, black or white, who worked at Nasa in the 40s, 50s and 60s. I was actually rather disappointed with the short shrift she gave to the space program.

I just finished A Casual Weekend Thing by A. J. Thomas. A m/m mystery with cops, suicides, old secrets and pedophiles… Nothing squicky but rather similar to the first Alex Delaware book in tone.

I finished reading Mark Twain’s “Pudd’nhead Wilson”. The idea of a white child and a mostly-white slave getting switched at birth is an interesting premise, but Twain isn’t much of a mystery writer (by modern standards) and the use of stereotypical racial dialect was off-putting to me.

Stars Uncharted is a pretty standard space opera, well-enough written, but not breaking any new ground. Evil corporations, mysterious planets, intrepid explorers, shipboard flirting–if you like this sort of thing it’s fine, but won’t blow you away with its genius.

Finished Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama by David Mamet. Interesting essays, even though I disagreed with much of it. It did give me a real insight as to what’s going on in Mamet’s head.

Next up: Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History, edited by Mike Pesca.

I shipped off my old Kindle to Amazon to take advantage of the 25% off deal they have going, so I’ve had to revert to paper. I’m rereading Cradle of the Storms by Bernard Hubbard, S.J. Hubbard was a Jesuit who taught at Santa Clara University. In his off time, he did extensive exploration of southwestern Alaska, climbing many of the volcanoes there and exploring the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, with little more than basic provisions, some leather boots and a few dogs. Written in the 1930s, this book and his other tome: Mush, You Malamutes, read like real life Alan Quatermain adventures. Both of my copies are 1st edition, signed, and I have some ephemera relating to Hubbard. Yeah, I was a bit of a fanboy some years ago.

I am current reading what can only be described as “What if Dickens wrote m/m erotica?” Although written in 2013, the style, tone and wordiness is straight out of the 1880s. I’m absolutely exhausted and I’m not even a fifth of the way finished.

The Second Footman by Jasper Barry is all the things I like about Dickens: wry humour, spear point commentary, colorful characters, but all the things I hate too: long sentences, little dialogue and soo so much telling.

Clockwork Boys, by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon, of Castle Hangnail fame around these parts), is a super-fast, fun read about an assassin, a fallen paladin, a forger, and a misogynist virgin scholar who go on a suicide mission. Highly recommended, and it contains my new favorite simile:

YES!!!

Read The Wonder Engine now, it’s a page turner!

It’s next up, and by my bed!

Just about finished An American Marriage: A Novel that I had picked up on a whim during one of those cheapo Kindle sales. A week or so later, Obama mentioned it on his summer reading list along with several other books I’d read and enjoyed, so I bumped it to the top of my reading list. And it was worth it - well written and poignant, a really good read.

Next up: Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House, God help me. :smiley:

That is a damn good simile.