Whatcha Readin' (June 09) Edition

My work has tweaked our internet so I don’t get time to read the boards anymore BUT I get more time to read. :slight_smile:


*Adventures of a Mountain Man: The Narrative of Zenas Leonard *
The Golden Torc by Julian May
The Nonborn King by Julian May
The Adversary by Julian May ~ these three were the last of a four-part series that I got bored with pretty quickly. Sure wish I had it in me to give up on books…
Dry Guillotine By Rene Belbenoit ~ Not as exciting as Papillon (as it claims) but still a great find & a great read.
Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez ~ The book was great. The documentary infuriated me.
*The Lady and the Panda: The True Adventures of the First American Explorer to Bring Back China’s Most Exotic Animal *by Vicki Croke
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer ~ Better than what I was expecting, which isn’t saying much. Still, I’m going to go on with the series.
Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Thunderstruck by Erik Larson ~ I liked this one more than “Devil in the White City”.
1984 by George Orwell


The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant ~ It’s a bit dry.
A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin ~ not really getting into this one either. I think I need some fluff reads for a bit.

I’ve just passed my finals, so I have time to get some reading done, and lots of stuff do read:

I just got (and am about half-way through) Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World. I got it on recommendation from here, then was told by my bookseller that it’s an absolutely fabulous book, and I am totally in agreement. Great book.

During the same visit to the book store I bought a cheap copy of pseudonymous Seth Hunter’s The Time of Terror, promising to be the first in a three-part series on a French Revolutionary Wars naval hero in the Bolitho vein. It’s fair enough, I suppose, so far, but the comparison to the compartively poor Bolitho (compared to Hornblower and Aubrey) will stand, I think.

Random other books cracked open:
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Was given the three-volume hardcover 50th Anniversary edition for my birthday in March, and have been reading for ten or twenty minutes before bedtime, my sixth or so read through the Lord of the Rings.

Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. That book’s a slog. I can see it’s a well-needed alternative perspective, but really you can only go so far without losing your audience in exonarating everybody but greedy evil white capitalists. I’ve some fair knowledge of American history, and I find it offensive to complain about English treatment of the Indians in Massachusetts without once mentioning how those Indians came to establish themselves there in the first place, namely by driving off and killing those who were there before them.

Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise. I’m almost through with this, and it was most enlightening. His website, too, is great.

I just finished *The EFT Manual (EFT: Emotional Freedom Techniques). *Some of you may know that I am subject to chronic low-grade depression and so I am often on the look-out for ways to improve.

Most of you can stop now with this review: I really need to learn to start screening my books better.

OK, if you are still reading, here is the rest of the review:
EFT is a technique involving affirmations and finger-tapping “energy points” that is supposed to give you freedom from nearly any problem. Phobias, depression, back-aches, PTSD, the list goes on.
There are four steps.

[li]Rub a special place on your chest (the “sore spot”) while repeating an afirmation.[/li][li]Tap several energy spots while repeating a reminder word[/li][li](I forget step 3)[/li][li]Repeat step 2[/li][/ol]
This combination will balance your energy and make your problems go away.

So I was disappointed. But what the heck, I’m game, this costs nothing (anymore, I mean I already bought the book) and so I will give it a try. I’ve tried weird stuff in my lifetime. My doc wants me to lose at least 20 more lbs so each night I’ll try this with that in mind.

Of course, I have also started jogging and have cut some junk food out of my daily diet, so we won’t have definitive results, even if I lose.

I’m reading Mutiny by John Boyne, a great piece of historical fiction about the mutiny on The Bounty, told from the perspective of the captain’s (fictional) cabin boy. The villian in this rendition is definitely NOT Captain Bligh.

I’m currently reading a book called The Seems. I picked it up at the Five Dollar Store. I read the synopsis on the flap and figured it was only a buck so I can’t go wrong so I didn’t bother flipping through the book. I get it home and it turns out to be kids book, a Harry Potter knock off. I thought it was adult fiction. I don’t feel too bad though, the same thing happened to the reviewer who posted this Amazon review.

Like I said, it is a Harry Potter knock off about a kid who gets recruited into a secret society that keeps reality intact. He is a “Fixer”, one who is called in when the shit hits the fan. It’s OK, mediocre at best. Worth a buck at least. I’ll throw it my kid’s way when I’m done with it.

How was the panda book?

I also thought The Irregulars was surprisingly not that interesting, given the subject matter.

I don’t read many (read any) Star Trek books, but I just finished How Much for Just the Planet which was described as the weirdest ever. Might be. Characters sing to the tune of some familiar songs (the theme from Rawhide for one, as well as Gilbert and Sullivan) and it ends with a pie fight. Some good spots, but I wouldn’t push it on anyone.

Now starting The Congo Cables in my quest to figure out what was going on when I lived there, at 10.

I’m on day 8 of From Whom The Bell Tolls. Still have over half the book left. I can’t read more than a chapter at a time, for whatever reason.

Today I begin the audiobook version of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

Finished *The Killer Book of Serial Killers *and am now on Washington: The Making of the American Capital. I’m from there so I hope to have some familiarity with the subject.

Finished Goldfinger. It’s my least favorite Bond novel so far. Big chunks of this book were just so boring.

Now I’m reading When You are Engulfed in Flames and Over Sea, Under Stone, the first in the Darkness is Rising series. I have a great fondness for children’s literature.

I’m 830 pages into Stephen Erikson’s House of Chains.

My guess is I’ve averaged 60 pages per week over the last couple of years. It’s a wild form of masochism that entices me to read such massive series with such limited dedicated time. On the bright side the last two books in the series aren’t out yet, so the author and I have plenty of time to converge our schedules. Gathering dust in the wings are books by Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, and KV Parker.

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, whose I Know This Much Is True I liked quite a bit, despite the Oprah imprimatur.

This book is narrated by a man who was teaching at Columbine H.S. at the time of the massacre. He wasn’t there that day – he had flown to his boyhood home in Connecticut to deal with the death of an aunt – but his wife, who worked as a part-time school nurse there, was. It’s a lot about Columbine, but it’s also about the guy’s life and his family history, etc. – which is intertwined in the story of a woman’s prison founded by his great-grandmother, said prison being next door to the family homestead. (Lamb teaches creative writing in a women’s prison in Connecticut.)

Very, very dark, but absorbing.

I liked that book a lot, twickster, though it sometimes made me cry.

The Hour I First Believed is on my reading list. I liked both of Wally Lamb’s other books quite a bit, so I am really looking forward to it.

I haven’t read She’s Come Undone – you’d recommend?

I liked it a lot and have read it twice. However, I know that a lot of people seem to hate that book.

There was a scene in it that disturbed me, and I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book enough to make up for that part. I’ve liked all his other stuff, though.

The panda book was really enjoyable. Harkness was definitely a woman of spirit. Reading about life in 1930’s Shanghai was also a treat and I’d actually like to find some similar books on that subject.

And I agree on your impression of The Irregulars. A shame.

Finished Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (both “young adult” books, so ostensibly for work). Liked both of them, though Hunger Games was a bit predictable.

Also working on Asimov’s Nightfall and Other Stories. I am a huge Bradbury fan but don’t think I have read much of Asimov’s work–shocking, I know. “Hostess” grabbed me but not much else so far.

I see from what others are reading that I need to get Cloud Atlas for myself, especially if it’s better than Ghostwritten.