Khadaji's Whatcha Reading Thread - June 2020 edition

I’ve been spending entirely too much of my reading time on twitter and other social media recently. It’s hard to stop refreshing right now. Anyway, I’ve recently read a few of Lois McMaster Bujold’s series of novellas about Penric, a young man who rather unexpectedly acquires a demon and becomes a sorcerer. They’re nice little stories of the sort where you know there will be a happy ending, which is nice right now. Somehow, I’ve never read anything else by Bujold.

I don’t think Scalzi’s nearly as formulaic as all that, not by a long shot, but agree that the book was a “helluva lot of fun” (if bittersweet by the end).

Starting today on The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time!

Ha! :slight_smile:

His non-fiction Paperbacks from Hell is easily one of the funniest non-fiction books I’ve ever read.

I tried out a few fiction books from authors I’d previously read and enjoyed, and was disappointed. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren had such an irritating main character that I abandoned the book very quickly (maybe three chapters in). You ever go out for drinks with a group of people, and one person is screeching and sucking up all the air in the room and has absolutely no interest in conversing with other people, only with outdoing everyone else in the room? That was the main character. No clue why so many other people enjoyed it. If you want a good romantic comedy of a book, I would definitely recommend The Unhoneymooners over this offering.

Also tried An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. This book was far less of a disappointment than the last one. It’s written by John Green, who is an absolutely magnificent writer, and I have been going down the list of books he’s written. I’d already read his more popular, highly rated novels (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and Turtles All the Way Down), and I read this one simply because it was one of the few ones left and I wanted to keep reading his work. And while it is absolutely not at the level of his other books, it was still enjoyable enough for me to read to the end. It just didn’t have as many profound, poetic passages that I swooned over in comparison to his other books.

My latest nonfiction read, on the other hand, was fantastic. It’s called Why Won’t You Apologize: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts by Harriet Lerner. It explores the apology from many different angles. How to craft an effective one, the purpose of an apology, how to distinguish between what needs to go in the apology and what can wait until a later conversation, how to handle a situation where someone else thinks you should apologize and you don’t feel like you have anything to apologize for, how to receive an apology, how to cope when you never receive the apology that you think you’re owed, how to accept responsibility for your own actions without taking responsibility for things beyond your control. So much good information that I wouldn’t have known until I read it in this book, but which immediately made sense based on what I know of emotions and interpersonal interactions. For instance, the author talks about the importance of being brief when you communicate grievances. When you tell a person something they don’t want to hear, they are tempted to tune that stuff out, or to hyper-focus on a slight inaccuracy and ignore the larger point. The more you stick to the point, the less they are able to resort to those self-defense mechanisms and the more likely they are to receive your message. Ditto with apologies – people don’t want long explanations, they just want to hear that you recognize that you hurt them, you take responsibility for it, you’re sorry, and you won’t do it again.

I’m rotating three books

Coriolanus by William Shakespeare. I’ve never seen or read the play, and I’m always curious about the vast amount of ancient history never get taught or generally run across, so it’s a win-win
How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North. I saw this in a store some time after my YA novel The Traveler* came out, and it seemed like a natural read for me. And before I could buy it, my wife got it for me as a gift. I’m just getting around to it now. It’s a quick read – 'm already over 1/3 of the way through.

Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore. Another gift from my wife, just this weekend. It’s hard to resist Moore, and it’s been too long since his last work, Noir. This is the third book about Pocket, King Lear’s Fool, following Fool and The Serpent of Venice. It drops Pocket and his apprentice, the dim-witted Drool, in Greece just in time for the events of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, and chronology be damned.

Double Post

Spies of No Country: Israel’s Secret Agents at the Birth of the Mossad Matti Friedman

The short and well-written history of the “Arab Section” and its role in the years around the foundation of the State of Israel. These were Jewish men who had grown up in Arab countries, and so could speak Arabic and pass as Muslims. They were sent behind the lines in Palestine or to Lebanon or Syria to collect intelligence and conduct sabotage.

Concise and enjoyable book.

Finished Nature Girl, by Carl Hiaasen. Not bad. Very reminiscent of Tim Dorsey’s Serge Storms novels, which I prefer.

Now I’m reading The Greatest Music Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from Music History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy, by Rick Beyer. So far, I’ve read most of these stories before elsewhere.

Now reading:
The Golden Skull (Rick Brant #10), by John Blaine – Hardy Boys-style adventure
The Man Called Brown Condor, by Thomas E Simmons – biography of a black American pilot who flew for Ethiopia during the 1930s war with Italy

Up next:
Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth – first volume of memoirs by a nurse in the East End in the '50s

Coming soon:
In Full Flight, by John Heminway – biography of a Frenchwoman who went from med student to Resistance fighter to collaborator in a Nazi concentration camp to flying doctor in Kenya
A Study in Sable, by Mercedes Lackey – fantasy involving John and Mary Watson as magicians and Sherlock Holmes as a non-believer

I finished my reread of Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch and I REALLY didn’t remember the ending! :eek:
I will be going on to the newest one after a short break from our sponsor:** The Monster With a Thousand Faces: Guises of the Vampire in Myth and Literature** by Brian J. Frost.

I really enjoyed Ralph Fiennes’s gritty, modern movie adaptation of the play: Coriolanus - Movie Trailer (2011) HD - YouTube

The Greatest Music Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from Music History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy, by Rick Beyer. I’ve read most of these stories elsewhere. Still, it was entertaining. My favorite story new to me was about a band which saw the building in which they were scheduled to record the following week burn down. When they finally found another place to record, they had a new song, inspired by what they’d seen the night of the fire: “Smoke on the water…” (They had been across a lake.)

Now I’m reading Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales, edited by Gordon Jarvie.

Finished Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales, edited by Gordon Jarvie, which was okay. I especially enjoyed “Katherine Crackernuts”, whose heroine, Katherine, rescued her stepsister from the heroine’s own wicked mother. I also liked “The Sprightly Tailor”, which is not a variation on “The Brave Little Tailor”.

Now I’m reading The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse that Inspired a Nation, by Elizabeth Letts.

Finished it. Not Parker’s best, and the solving of the case - if that’s what you can call it - is a bit rushed.

Just starting Receptor by Alan Glynn, a sequel to his technothriller The Dark Fields, which was adapted into one of my favorite recent movies, Limitless.

Finished The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse that Inspired a Nation, by Elizabeth Letts. I enjoyed it, although I was “spoiled” about many of its events, which I had read about as a kid in another book.

Now I’m reading Secrecy, by Belva Plain.

Based on recommendation from my wife, and from folks here, I just finished The Twisted Ones, a spooky/eldritch horror novel set in the rural areas near Chapel Hill. Bonus: I read it while visiting my mom in the rural areas near Chapel Hill.

It didn’t scare me as much as I expected, which led to an interesting conversation with my wife about how she’s more scared by spooky horror and I’m more scared by body horror. But T. Kingfisher is an excellent writer, interspersing a rollicking horror novel with her wonderful wry wit, and I enjoyed it a lot.

I’m currently finishing *Network Effect, *Martha Wells’s latest Murderbot book. I deeply love the audiobook narrator’s dry, bored delivery, which is perfect for Murderbot. I’m also about to finish The Grammarians. I like it but I’m not sure how well it will wrap up yet.

ETA: Scalzi read by Wil Wheaton is better than Scalzi on the page.

About a third through. It’s meh so far, alas.

Finished The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian, by Robin Lane Fox. Covers about 900 years, from 800 BC to the early second century AD, with the years 60-19 BC given slightly more space. Quite good, very thorough.

Next up: Michael Connelly’s new novel, Fair Warning. A return to his Jack McEvoy, veteran reporter, protagonist.