Whatcha Readin' Jan 2011 Edition

A wish of a happy and joyful new year - and some great new reads!

Just finished Jim Butcher’s Side Jobs a collection of short stories from Butcher’s Dresden Universe. Based on something I had read on the dope, I had feared that I might have already read most of the shorts. Luckily I was wrong, and only had read one before.

It was a quick easy read and I enjoyed most of the shorts. It isn’t the same as a full-length novel, but the next one isn’t due until April…

December’s link.

Be safe tonight!

I’m gonna start the new year with King’s Full Dark No Stars. Not a mega fan but I’ve read some of his books and I think he’s best when he writes short stories or novellas.

I’m pretty sure it’s still December, but I’m also pretty sure I’m not going to finish this book today:

A Devil To Play by Jasper Rees. It’s a year long memoir of a 40 year old British journalist who hasn’t touched his French Horn since he graduated from high school, and set a goal of re-learning the instrument and performing Mozart’s 3rd Horn Concerto in front of a live audience at the end of the year.

Got home just before 9pm. We’ll watch the city fireworks from atop our 36-story building. Close to 10pm now. (We’re 7 hours ahead of GMT and this time of year 12 hours ahead of the US East Coast.)

I’m almost halfway through The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James. It’s better, IMHO, than his The Ambassadors, so I would recommend reading this before that. I believe this one was written first but appeared a year after The Ambassadors. The language is still somewhat plodding. I am familiar with many authors of the same period, and they don’t do that, so I’m not sure why he felt he had to write like this. But I am enjoying this one. Although I did see the 1997 film version with Helena Bonham Carter, I don’t think that really helped, as that was so long ago.

Well, I got a Nook e-reader for Christmas, and my hubby pre-loaded it with 628 books! This allows me to do something I love, which is to read a number of books at one time. Currently, I’m reading Freakanomics (forget the authors names), Stephen Hawking’s A Briefer History of Time, George Carlin’s Brain Droppings, James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider, and am re-reading Stephen King’s It.

Oh, I’m a happy camper!

Oh, and when I’m not reading it, my 11YO is reading Coraline and starting on the Percy Jackson series. :slight_smile:

Henry James takes his lumps in this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=530227

Still enjoying Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, and almost done with the Star Trek novel Gods of Night by David Mack, which is all right (if only he didn’t have characters smirking every other page).

Since the movie The King’s Speech isn’t showing in my area yet (if ever) I’m reading up on George VI, with Sarah Bradford’s biography The Reluctant King. It’s very good, so far. I’m up to 1936, the year of three kings. I’m always shocked to read about how George V’s doctor hurried along the king’s death with morphine and cocaine so that the Proclamation of the new King could make the morning papers.

I am just starting Scott Turow’s Innocent (a sequel to Presumed Innocent) and just finishing Miracle and Other Christmas Stories (a dandy collection of Christmas-themed short stories by the incomparable Connie Willis).

Started two new books today: Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America by Benjamin L. Carp and The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth. Both Christmas gifts.

No doubt he cried all the way to the bank. :smiley:

Currently slogging through the blood, sh*t & corruption of Patricia Cornwell’s Blow Fly.
Not impressed. I more often read non-fiction but pulled this one off the shelf because I was bored. Think I need to make a trip to Barnes & Nobel.

Doing another run through Discworld. It’s been a while, and I’m enjoying it a great deal. Putting off Gary Taubes’ (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories) new book, as I may become convinced (again) to change my lifestyle and I want one last weekend of relative gluttony.

Yesterday, I started Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life. After a couple of chapters, my initial thought is that he really, really likes his lawyer.

The writing style comes across as somewhat stream-of-consciousness, which isn’t really working for me, at least not in these early pages where he’s covering his childhood. I think (hope) it will fit better once I reach the parts about the Rolling Stones.

Finished Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There”, about his travels in Europe. Very funny stuff, especially if you’ve spent any time in the locations he’s describing. Started a book called “Yellow Dirt”, about how the government screwed over the Navajo in the search for uranium.

I’ll be very interested to hear how you like it; Presumed Innocent is one of my favorite legal thrillers. His nonfiction Ultimate Punishment, about wrestling with the pros and cons of the death penalty, is also excellent.

I love Bryson. His **A Short History of Everything **is on my Amazon wish list. I never read anything by him I didn’t like, and a couple of books (A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country) I’ve read and reread and reread–they’re just that good.

At present, I’m 2/3 of the way through John Grisham’s **The Confession **on my Kindle. I cried when they actually executed Donte Drumm

**Full Dark No Stars **is next up.

“Short History” is brilliant. I also really like his new one, “At Home”.

I stumbled upon Neal Asher over the holidays, and am now comfortably ensconced in the Polity World he has built. Currently working my way through the Spatterjay series. I also got the Baroque Trilogy on my new kindle, so I’ll be re-reading that for a few weeks at least.

Finished Black Dust Mambo a very mediocre urban fantasy.

Kallie Riviere is a hoodoo apprentice who wakes up to find that her last night’s lover has been killed by a hex. The book follows her adventure in tracking down the killer.

The dialog was poor, the magic was silly: Heart beat heart beat, keep the blood flowing neat. Death needs to be cheated, for this man is needed. Heart beat heart beat, keep the blood flowing neat.

This next part isn’t a major spoiler, but I’ll spoiler it anyway. It was one of the more stupid moments in the book.

At one point a homosexual man is killed and he inhabits another man’s body (a “Vessel”) The man is so turned on by his new body he takes some time to fantasize about it and masturbate in his new body.

I won’t be reading the next installment.

Just finished Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians”. It was a well-written interesting take on the “Harry Potter” magician’s school, and yet it somehow sucked all the fun out of magic. I guess the main problem is that the protagonist is a whiny, drunk, useless, aimless emo bitch for most of the book. Every time his heart’s desire is granted, it’s not good enough for him (which I guess is sort of the point of the book, but man, it made reading it a drag).

The other thing that sort of irritated me is that although the main character is a hot shot genius who has spent years tediously perfecting his art, he doesn’t seem to use magic very much at all, and it’s rarely his go-to option when things turn all pear-shaped.
Currently reading “Blackout” by Connie Willis. It’s a curious alternate history, because apparently cell phones have not been invented, or are for some reason forgotten. Half of the muddling that the characters do (in the “present”) would be resolved if they had text messaging. The best part of Blackout (as in all of CW books) is the little tidbits of fascinating historical minutia that she scatters throughout the book. She does have this giant author-crush on St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Blitz, though.