Khadaji's Whatcha Reading Thread - June 2020 edition

Summer for the North, Winter for the South… and probably no noticeable difference for the penguins on Antarctica. Me? Just sitting here watching my country go up in flames… and my dog sleep.

Anway, more importantly, books!

Still reading Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. I had to adult yesterday so didn’t get any reading done, but there’s nothing much on my plate today and tomorrow.

So what’s making your days lighter?

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 the early 2000s. Consequently when he suddenly and quite unexpectedly passed away in 2013, we decided to rename this thread in his honor and to keep his memory, if not his ghost, alive.

Last month: Is May gone already?

A little over halfway through The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian, by Robin Lane Fox. Enjoying it.

I finished Company of Liars by Karen Maitland. It was a book about a group of strangers journeying through England during the time of the plague, and each of them had a secret, which was generally revealed when the traveller was killed. I was interested at first, but after a while, it was, “Okay, who’s next?” I guessed most of them except the secret of the Camelot, and then on the last page was one final twist which just made me shrug and close the book with relief.
Next up, a biography! :eek: I never read those, because I don’t want to find out that my idols have feet of clay, but I’m feeling pretty safe with Weird Al, Seriously.

Repeating my May post, as it was the final post in that thread:

Just Finished: The Mystery of the Iron Box (Ken Holt #7), by Bruce Campbell
Just started: Marie, by H Rider Haggard
Next in line: The Golden Skull (Rick Brant #10), by John Blaine

Project Gutenberg has been a lifesaver while the public library’s been closed! (It reopened today, curbside service only.)

Weird coincidence; I watched the movie version of King Solomon’s Mines last night. Couldn’t stay up to watch She so we recorded it. It’s been quite awhile since I read any H. Rider Haggard books but I remember enjoying them.

Six-book series called: “Destiny’s Crucible”. Almost through the second book: “The Pen and the Sword”.


Chemistry expert from San Francisco is flying to a conference in Chicago. [Stuff happens] and he ends up cast away on an earth-like planet with a human population at roughly a 1700s technology level. Mostly similar to Earth but with enough differences to keep it interesting. He has to hide most of his advanced tech knowledge and sparingly use some of his chemistry background to make a place for himself in the new culture.

I’m about three-quarters of the way through Patrick O’Brian’s Napoleonic sea adventure The Letter of Marque. Capt. Aubrey just buried his rascal of a father and may be about to leave for a mission to South America with his friend, the ship’s surgeon, naturalist and occasional spy, Dr. Maturin. Good stuff, as usual.

Also reading excerpts aloud with my teenage son from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales. The latest bit was about the Battle of the Fords of Isen, in which Theodred, Theoden King of Rohan’s son, was killed by Saruman’s forces. We’ve also finished the narrative portion of The Lord of the Rings and will soon tackle some of the more interesting appendices.

Finished Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky. It’s about the beginnings of crowd-sourcing, including Wikipedia. It’s okay, but it would benefit from updated information, since it was published in 2008. As a result, it tells little about Twitter and Facebook.

Now I’m reading New Kid by Jerry Craft. It’s the latest winner of the Newbery Award, and the first graphic novel to do so.

Salonica: City of Ghosts - Christians, Muslims, and Jews 1430 - 1950

Salonica, now known as Thessaloniki, is a city in northern Greece with a history going back to 300 BC.

In 1430, it was captured by the Ottomans, who ruled it for hundreds of years. Shortly afterwards, Spain expelled its Jewish population, many of whom settled in Salonica. So by 1600 the city was composed of roughly equal numbers of Greek-speaking Christians, Turkish-speaking Muslims, and Spanish-speaking Jews; and they mostly got along with each other.

Of course, the 20th Century put an end to all that, first with the expulsion of the Ottomans around World War 1, and then the horrors of the Nazi occupation.

Although the book is rather academic (it seems like the sort of thing that would be assigned in an undergraduate class) the history is intriguing and I enjoyed reading it.

Gitcha self a copy of The Annotated She. One of the most enjoyable and informative annotated novels I’ve read. The original is so full of arcane horseshit it’s a pleasure to have an academic untangle it for you.

Which She did you record? The one from the 30s starring the woman who later ran against Richard Nixon in California and got smeared as a commie? Or the one from the 60s starring Ursula Andress?

I’ve never seen the Andress version, and the earlier one was pretty good except for relocating the story from Africa to the North Pole. Why the hell did they do that?

Simultaneously reading Otfried Preussler’s Krabat, ostensibly a YA novel but actually a pretty cool adult fairy tale, and Alan Brinkley’s Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression, a history written in the early 1980s.

Bitterly amusing to see that the author’s take is “By god, this sort of authoritarian leadership is purely a thing of the past! We will NEVER see its like in the US again!”

It’s the Ursula Andress version. It may be a little while before we actually get around to watching it!

Wowie zowie! I can watch the whole damn thing for free on YouTube!

Thank you, now I have this evening’s after dinner plan.

I should take a look too. I remember listening to a radio adaptation of She, somewhere around 1980 and then picking up a copy of the book. I couldn’t get through it, lack of patience with 19th century story telling most likely…

Yeah, it’s the kind of writing you really have to be in the right mood for. :slight_smile:
I’m still reading my bio of Weird Al. Spoiler alert: He really is a nice guy and a genius.

Finished New Kid by Jerry Craft, which was very good.

Now I’m reading Foxfire Story: Oral Tradition in Southern Appalachia, edited by T. J. Smith.

Just finished O’Brian’s The Letter of Marque. Good all the way through, and with a happy ending in Stockholm that I really didn’t see coming.

Next up: Taming a Sea-Horse by Robert Parker, the next in his series on the tough, sardonic Boston private eye, Spenser. In this one, Spenser searches for a missing hooker.

Finished Gwendy’s Button Box, a Stephen King novella about the corruption of power. It reminds me a bit of From a Buick 8, an old book of his where a bunch of good old boys find a Lovecraftian horror dimension portal in the trunk of an old car and

never do anything with it, because they’re not idiots–it’s a delightful twist in what most people do in Lovecraftian horror novels

Enjoyable, nothing to write home about.

I read Under the Pendulum Sun, by Jeanette Ng. This is one of the most delightful bits of weird fiction I’ve read in a long time. The voice is properly and primly Victorian, although the novel itself is anything but prim. The fae in the novel are not your simpering flitting Precious Moments fae, nor are they edgelord goth hairspray fae: they’re the most alien fae I’ve ever read. The mystery at the heart of the book unfolds beautifully and horribly. Highly recommended.

Finally, I just finished The Last Emperox, by John Scalzi. Scalzi never blows me away; when I pick up one of his books, I know I’m going to get pretty much the same snarky, irreverent protagonist getting into the same sort of hopeless situations at the hands of the same sort of loathsomely conniving villains and solving them through some unpredictable cleverness. It’s pretty formulaic.

But that formula is a helluva lot of fun. The Last Emperox doesn’t deviate from it; and if you’ve read previous books by him, you’ll probably feel about this one the same way you felt about those others.

Finished Foxfire Story: Oral Tradition in Southern Appalachia, edited by T. J. Smith. It was interesting, especially the section about people’s memories of the 1918 flu pandemic (and the dysentery epidemic that followed in that area). One man remembered being in a graveyard where men were digging a grave for a boy who had just died the day before. Suddenly an old man galloped up on a mule and told them to make it bigger, as the boy’s brother had just died. Heartbreaking.

Now I’m reading Nature Girl, by Carl Hiaasen.