Whatcha Readin' (May 09) Edition

First of all: cool name, this is the first time I’ve noticed a post by you.

To answer the OP: I’m currently reading Missionary Stew by Ross Thomas and A Heritage of Images by Fritz Saxl-- when I get a chance to make any progress at all on them, that is (usually lunch hours).

Twickster, I sort of took your advice–I just skimmed through the last 200 pages or so, hoping to run across a good section. I guess if you were taking comparative religions, this would be a good book for assigned reading, with a six-page paper to follow. Most of the book is comparing Islam and Hinduism/Buddhism, and how the two religions correlate in their beliefs. One section is just focused on trying to compare righteousness in Islam with charity in Buddhism. This is not a novel. This was a thesis.

Affinity is in my TBR pile, so I’m adding The Little Stranger too.

It took me so long to get the Dresden Files books from my library in the correct order that I’m stuck reading those for a while, but I still like them a lot.
I started a new audiobook today, Thunderland by Brandon Massey. Something to do with a teenage boy’s bad dreams and encounters with the supernatural. I’ll give it a fair shake, but the reader is already getting on my nerves. He’s performing scenes about stuff like domestic violence and divorce with this perky, children’s librarian at storytime voice. It may be a little hard to take this one seriously!

You may also enjoy The Basic Eight, by Daniel Handler. It sounds similar.

It has not been a good month for reading time. I had to do a square for a baby quilt which kicked my ass. Hopefully May will stay duty-free.


Heartsblood: Hunting, Spirituality, and Wildness in America by David Petersen ~ Yes, still reading. I lost it for a bit but rediscovered it yesterday and resumed reading.
Adventures of a Mountain Man: The Narrative of Zenas Leonard ~ almost done!
*The Golden Torc *by Julian May ~ Book 2 in a series


A History of Dogs in the Early Americas by Marion Schwartz ~ really interesting
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón ~ enjoyed!
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin ~ not bad
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray ~ wordy, very wordy. Almost a slog.
The Many-Colored Land by Julian May ~ this book tortured me. There is so much that seems familiar about it but I’m positive I’ve never read it. It’s like literary deja-vu to the extreme.
Wolf Totem: A Novel by Jiang Rong ~ hated it

I’ve also been meandering through Spike Milligan’s war memoirs.

Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall
Rommel? Gunner Who?: A Confrontation in the Desert
Monty: His Part in My Victory

I finished *The Hunger Games *by Suzanne Collins today. It reminded me a lot of Battle Royale, except the violence wasn’t so brutal and the social commentary not so overt. What I really appreciated about The Hunger Games is that it’s a young adult novel that gives young adults the benefit of being very intelligent and mature.

I’m still reading The Ethical Assassin by David Liss. I enjoy it in short one-chapter-at-a-time segments, but I can’t read it for extended periods.

I’m considering starting Duma Key or Diana Galbadon’s Outlander next, if anyone has read them and would be so kind as to offer opinions…

I’m still working on Arabian Nights although I’m losing interest already. I might just give up on it.

Just started reading the The Dark Tower novels.

I’ve read those – I think a lot of Dopers have. I like time travel fiction so I was ready to like Outlander (even bought it in hardcover!) but there were a couple things I didn’t like. Claire was a strong woman but Gabaldon has her falling to pieces as a prelude/excuse for sex with Jamie. If I remember right (it’s been years), some of the sex was the bodice-ripping variety, and I think Jamie even struck Claire once. I could be misremembering though. It put me off – Claire being independent one minute and dependent the next – and I didn’t read more in the series.

I liked Duma Key but also have a couple of quibbles. King foreshadows something that IMHO shouldn’t have been foreshadowed. Sometimes foreshadowing builds tension, but it also lessens the impact when the event takes place. There were a couple of plot holes, one being the basic premise of the book. Saying more would spoil it. But it was a fun read, almost like old King.

I LOVED the experience of reading Duma Key.It was almost joyous getting sucked into an old fashioned hulkin’ King potboiler. In fact, one of the characters (Wireman) was, IMO, among his best creations. That said, if you do read it, I agree with AuntiePam that you probably don’t want to undertake a close examination of the plot – especially the ending.

The Professor’s House by Willa Cather. It’s going slowly for me for some reason.

I love this series, but yeah, that’s an eyebrow-raising scene. He doesn’t just strike her, he beats her with a belt. Their relationship was new, it’s what his peers expected him to do in the particular situation, and what he would have done to any man or woman who had committed the offense that he believed she had committed. It offends modern sensibilities but I thought it was reasonable for the period. (He never does anything like that again in the rest of the series, if that matters, and they develop a lot of respect for each other.)

When I first read *Outlander *I was more worried about the very sensational scene with Jamie at the end of the book, because I thought Gabaldon would try to top that with something more graphic in every book, but she didn’t go in that direction.

The newest book in the series is due out in September, and I can hardly wait.

Didn’t they have make-up sex after the beating? I was okay with his reaction – like you say, he’s a man of his times – but not with Claire’s. IIRC the beating turned her on. I could have gotten past that – I’ve enjoyed more than my share of hawt historical romances – but I was worried that Gabaldon wouldn’t let their relationship mature. I’m glad to hear it only happened once. :slight_smile:

1491 by Charles Mann. It’s very well written and engaging but I’m raising my eyebrows at his selective editing of theories on why certain cultures engaged in certain practices. It’s fine if he wants to stress the viability of one theory over another (esp. since the thesis of the book is “reevaluate what you were taught about the Americas”) but it’s misleading to only present the ones you like and ignore a particular viewpoint that continues to be widespread.

He also throws in several random rants that don’t make sense-like how the Aztecs may have committed human sacrifice but didn’t the Europeans hang people publically and whatnot.

No, it didn’t turn her on. Jamie spent that night elsewhere, and Claire didn’t talk to him for a while, maybe a couple of days. The men they were travelling with, who had been really pissed at Claire (she had done something that put them all in danger) forgave her. When Claire would let him near her again, Jamie started telling her stories about the times he’d been justifiably beaten by his father and uncle. She finally forgives him and makes him swear that he’ll never lay a hand on her again, and he does so willingly. (Too willingly, I thought, since he has just spent all that time explaining to her why such beatings are necessary in the first place.)

There is more romantic volatility in book 2, but eventually their relationship matures into a fantastic partnership. She comforts/supports/rescues him as often as he returns the favor and they balance each other nicely.

Mild spoiler for the series, something you would get from reading the blurbs on the back covers of the books:

At the end of book 2 Claire returns to her own time. In book 3 (my favorite) they are reunited after 20 years have passed for both of them, and their relationship picks up from there. It’s nice to see a love story between people who are in their 40’s and 50’s. (Claire is about 5 years older than Jamie.)

I enjoy these books way too much.

Thanks for clearing that up. (I couldn’t remember for sure). :slight_smile:

Just finished the last one about 2 months ago. It took me over 20 years to finish those books. In all fairness, I can read them a heck of a lot faster than Stephen King can write them.

Just finished that one this weekend. I liked the story and philosophy a lot better than her actual writing style. She tends to ramble and her characters don’t really talk like normal people and tend to go into philosophical dissertations a lot.

I have just recently discovered The Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher. Very well written; I put them up with Glenn Cook and the Garret P.I. novels.

I’m reading my book club’s latest pick, Michael Daly’s The Book of Mychal, a nonfiction bio of Fr. Mychal Judge, the saintly but closeted-gay Catholic priest and FDNY chaplain who died on 9-11. It’s better than I thought it would be.

I’m also enjoying Charles Stross’s Saturn’s Children, a sf novel about a beautiful android courtesan on the run from her robot foes throughout the Solar System, centuries after the fall of humanity. It’s a Hugo nominee and has a very breezy, funny style, set against a ultra-hightech but mostly plausible backdrop.

I recently read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. I loved it, so I just picked up her book Prep…hoping it will be as good.

As a long time fan of both, I think I’m going to give the nod to Butcher’s stuff. I think his is more consistent. None-the-less, I’ll read Garret’s next adventure. (if there is one.)