So, what did you read at the beach?

…or by the lake, on the mountain, at the dude ranch, in the break room. IOW, what did you read this summer?

I read nothing on the beach. I made drippy castles and stared out at the Atlantic. In various airports and on planes I read Micheal Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin. It was a satisfying ending to the Tales of the City series, though a bit slower than the previous books. Maybe that’s appropriate, though. It’s been almost 30 years since the first book came out. The whole original fan-base is slowing down.

I also read the YA novel, Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman. Written in diary entries of a young girl in 13th century Britain, it was funny and poignant – a fascinating book. But then I’m a sucker for a good YA novel.

What did you read?

The whole summer?

June was my best reading month ever! Cloud Atlas, The Book Thief, The Anubis Gates, The Book of Lost Things, Francine Prose’s book on reading, The Pesthouse, What the Dead Know, and Softspoken (a ghost story by Lucius Shepard with a shivery ending).

I had company in July and didn’t get much reading done, except for some Chekhov short stories, and The Sea by John Banville.

August has been slow – I’m still reading A Soldier of the Great War :), and Clockers was exceptional, as was Stardust.

So far, Restless by William Boyd, The Sound of Laughter (Peter Kay’s autobiography), and I am halfway through Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years.

Restless was excellent, gripping and nicely told. Peter Kay’s book was slightly disappointingly lightweight but still had its moments, and the Palin diaries are just as fascinating as I had hoped.

Just got back from a trip to Florida. I read ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’ by Truman Capote. Worth a read.

Any or all of the summer, I’m not particular. Coincidentally, I have What the Dead Know waiting for me at the library.

Uh oh.


I just got back from a long weekend in Yosmite. I made it about halfway thru King’s Cell whist enjoying enjoying the ambiance of campsite #45, Porcupine Flat CG.

HP7, of course…also Stephen King’s Blaze. A hearty “meh” to the King book, which makes it better than Lisey’s Story by a mile.

I also read the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, and enjoyed it to pieces. It’s a book about a boy magician who conjures up a smart-ass demon. It’s a whole lot of fun.

I’ve been trying to read some of the classic books I’ve missed also. In that category, I read Albert Camus’ The Stranger, and all but the last ten pages of Heart of Darkness. I started on Rabbit Run but it didn’t grab me. Next up, Howard’s End.

I read some other stuff that wasn’t very exciting, such as Mutants, by somebody Leroi (non-fiction, some interesting pictures), and Dinner With Dad by Cameron Stracher, non-fiction about a dad who spends more time at home and cooks for his picky kids. I didn’t like him much.

I just finished Ratman’s Notebooks, by Stephen Gilbert. It’s the book on which the movie Willard was based. I enjoyed this book although I was unduly upset by the betrayal of Socrates. Now I want a rat army!

I’m currently reading The Ghost Writer, by John Harwood. It’s very engrossing, but I sort of wish I’d taken notes or drawn myself a family tree as I went along. There are several stories within the main story, with similarly named characters in similar roles, and I keep having to stop and try to remember who is related to who in what way and when did such-and-such happen. Anyway, still good.

The Brothers Karamazov, and I was almost arrested on Block Island for violating their “light beach reading” statutes.

I left Blaze off of my June list – yeah, “meh” describes it. King’s influence for Blaze must have been Of Mice and Men, but it didn’t work for me. I had no sympathy for Blaze.

I’m finishing the third book as we speak. The footnotes are great, aren’t they? It’s dark too – all those deaths, most of them kinda funny. It feels a bit perverse to chuckle when an innocent is eaten by a demon. But the hotel manager in the elevator? And the demon picking his teeth with the comb from her hair? Guffaw!

I forgot to mention I read some of Stroud’s other YA books when I got done with the trilogy. It passed the time, but yeah, Bartimaeus is the good stuff! :smiley:

While flying, I read Rocketship Galileo by Robert Heinlein and started Bad, Bad Brawley Brown by Walter Mosely. While flying back, I finished the Mosely and started More than Friends by Barbara Delinsky. And while driving I listened to High Country by Nevada Barr. While driving back, I listened to From Pirhana to Scurfy (and other stories) by Ruth Rendall( I think). And I took What would Barbara Do? with me on my last weekend adventure.

Liked Rocketship Galileo, although I had issues with the chronology–not major ones, just issues with “when did Heinlein write this?–How long after WWII is this supposed to be taking place?” stuff.

The Mosely was fine–fairly typical of Mosely. I enjoy the Easy Rawlins mysteries, but I have a hard time getting in to them–so I often read them on vacation, when my ability to pick up another book is limited.

The Delinsky was OK. I liked most of the book, although I was dissapointed in the behavior of one major character, but I almost put it down for good after the “crisis” happened. (The book is about what happens to two families after a “crisis” takes place. The details of the “crisis” are what bugged me, and are kind of spoilers for the book.)

High Country was ok- I’d enjoy the Anna Pigeon books more if I didn’t so often want to slap Anna Pigeon. Also, the end ended up being horribly complicated and took place about 3 CDs after I thought it was going to end. There are reasons why I generally listen to Nevada Barr on CD.

The title story in From Piranha to Scurfy was good, although a tad creepy for my taste, and I was a little disappointed in the ending. The next story was a story with a twist ending I’d heard before, the one after that didn’t do it for me–and wasn’t really horror, and at that point I decided I’d had enough horror stories for the day and switched to music.

What Would Barbara Do? seemed intriguing–a book about musicals, but got returned to the library mostly unread after I figured out that it’s too much almost chick-litty memoir (and not enough musical facts, history, etc.) for my taste.

(Umm, I have a dreadful fear that some of those titles are not quite right, but I don’t feel like double checking them).

The audio books are great, too. The reader absolutely is Bartimaeus. Of course you have to read the print version to get the full impact of the footnotes. In the audio books, they’re still funny, but they blend more into the story.

I remember one of the footnotes described some minor beings who had a third eye. It wasn’t specific about the placement of the eye, but “suffice it to say you couldn’t sneak up on one while he was touching his toes.” Ha!

I started off the summer with a reading spree, where I read six books in ten days. They were Johnny Mnemonic by William Gibson (a collection of okay short stories - great ideas, decent writing), a short story collection by Brian Aldiss, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (great as a political manifesto, as fiction it suffered the rather fatal flaw of lacking a plot), The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (which I liked so much I started a thread about it), Bill, Galactic Hero and Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers by Harry Harrison (absolutely hilarious science fiction parodies - very surprising to me as the only Harrison book I had previously read was Make Room! Make Room! which can be described as many things but definitely not hilarious) and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (recommended in the thread I started on The Screwtape Letters - I loved it, but I do have some issues with the generally accepted interpretation of it).

Then I slowed down a bit, but kept reading good stuff for the rest of the summer.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Had me bawling. Indescribable masterpiece from start to finish. A must-read for everybody in the known universe.

Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. Not bad at all, but strange in that it is epic in tone but not in scope. At the end I was left wondering if that was really it.

K-PAX by Gene Brewer. Clever little book that I read because I liked the movie. Nothing Earth-shattering, but good.

Shardik by Richard Adams. Very unusual story with an original twist that’s not really a twist. I really should start a thread on this one.

The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. I hadn’t yet read his most famous book - see next entry - so the animal voice thing was new to me. Even though the dogs are clearly smarter than real dogs (they have a mythology for one thing) it felt realistic in that the dogs never appeared to humans to be anything other than animals.

Watership Down by Richard Adams. I preferred The Plague Dogs but will freely admit that the ending had me crying. I’m a sucker.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I was travelling and had finished all the books I brought. I went into a bookstore in Vienna that had a small English-language section, but it was filled with books where the author’s name is bigger than the title, the cover contains any of a rose, a bullet, a crosshair or a woman in a fancy dress, and the title is something like Keyword Platypus. This book was the least offensive one in there, so I bought it. After two pages I asked myself why the hell I had never heard of it before. A great read.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Starts out really creepy (as in really fucking unbelievably creepy), cannot really sustain it, and is a bit short. Still good, though.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I read this in Swedish years ago, never read any other books in the series, but did watch all five movies. After the fifth I wanted to find out what the hell happens next, and I started stumbling across spoilers. I’m not going to work hard to avoid spoilers for the next three years until the last two movies are out, and Dopers advised me to read the first five books instead of going directly to book six, so I reread this one in English. Clearly a book for children, but decent entertainment, and knowing a bit about what happens next it’s fun to enjoy the foreshadowing.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. Got it from the library today and burned through it in a few hours. Not bad, but still a short, easy book for kids. I’m getting Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban tomorrow; I’m told that’s where the series starts to pick up.

Sensitively worded. I had a friend in that area who won’t be reading this one.

On vacation, I got halfway through the last volume of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle (The System of the World). Two years ago was Quicksilver, last year was The Confusion (I’m talking about the three volume series, not what they have divided it up into now). I thought the whole series started slow, but it picked up momentum and reads much faster now. Unfortunately, I can only finish it during weekends now, but I should have it finished by Labor Day.

My latest time killing book (small and portable, good for waiting rooms, train rides, etc.) is Seabiscuit. Yeah, loved the movie but never did read the book until now. About halfway through that, and will finish it depending on my travel plans and/or medical conditions.

After that, I have waiting the lastest volume of Theodore Sturgeon’s short stories (The Nail and the Oracle), and two children’s books: Bridge to Terabithia, and Marian Cockrell’s Shadow Castle. Those will go quickly.

Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The main text is over 1500 pages long, and then there are over 700 pages of endnotes on a separate CD-ROM. I’m about a third done. When the anniversary of the assassination comes 'round in November, I’ll have to start a thread on the topic.

Former prosecutor Bugliosi was the author of the bestseller Helter Skelter, about the Charles Mansion murders, and more recently Outrage, about the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision. In Reclaiming History, he can be something of a sarcastic bully on the topic of assassination conspiracists, but he’s almost always right in his facts and argments.

I’m sorry, Plynck. I am the same age as most of the characters in the series and my comment was purely self-referential. In light of the fact that were, no doubt, many fans of Armistead Maupin who probably died in young adulthood, my comment was thoughtless. My apologies.

:smack: Oh no, please, no apologies needed at all; the apologies are mine for being too terse or cryptic. I really meant it when I said that it was worded well.

And correct, as well. While I was not part of the original fan base (I didn’t catch on until the first PBS show), I am definitely running down. :slight_smile:

:o :smack:

In any event, it’s a hopeful book for survivors of the 70s – old farts, biddies and geezers alike. :slight_smile:

If not for Hurricane Dean :mad: :mad: :mad: , I would be sitting on a beach in Jamaica right now, sipping on a Red Stripe and reading the ‘Wrinkle in Time’ series which my wife picked up for the trip. Now I have to wait until next month to do my beach reading. :frowning: