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June 24, 2020

WEDNESDAY NIGHT OPEN THREAD

Have we already done books we're reading? We can't remember. We're OLD. So whether or not we've already done it, tonight's theme is: books we're reading. This blog and this blog's son are both reading The Last Trial, a legal thriller by our friend and bandmate Scott Turow. We're almost done and loving it. What are you folks reading? We hope not just this blog. This nation is in enough trouble as it is.

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"Big Trouble" by some guy named Dave Barry.

I've gone back to reading the early works of H.P. Lovecraft "The Transition of H.P. LOVECRAFT The Road to Madness".

Not to dash your hopes, (and if we weren't reading this blog most of us would be out roaming the streets looking for trouble) but does the blog count as a book cuz I look at it like back when the grocery stores would hand out a different chapter of a free book every week, except the blog does that every day & night, (usually) so maybe more like a novella?

I'm rereading the latest draft of a book I'm working on. I'll say that it's much less tedious a reread than it has been to write. I've also done my best to write on one side of the issue on both sides of the paper. And yes, marketing is not my strong suit.

ImNotDave: H. P. Lovecraft: weird author of whacko tales, or prescient social analyst? Ha, ha. Trick question, the answer is "both."

I'm planning on rereading "At the Mountains of Madness" myself, to give me some perspective on current events.

Non-fiction:
I've been reading some technical books which will remain nameless.

Got some cookbooks from the Cook's Illustrated people - those folks are like the consumer reports of recipes. They'll make 50 dozen cookies (not an exaggeration) to find the right one recipe. Everything I've tried has been outstanding, even if I cook it.

Also bought "The Food Lab" and "Bravetart". The first is very much in the vein of the Cook's Illustrated people (no surprise because the author worked there), and the second one is by someone who makes amazing - and quite insane - dessert recipes. It has everything. Even a recipe for making sprinkles from scratch. ...like I said... insane!

Fiction:
I went through all the Odd Thomas books and enjoyed all of those. I have a Clancy book I'm working on and I'm going to take a stab at The Tower series from one of The Blog's good friends, Stephen King.

And I've been reading (too many) books about writing - it seems to be appropriate to mangle a Frank Zappa quote:

Reading about writing is like dancing about architecture.

I need to quit stalling and just get to it. The Blog knows what I mean.

Currently up to book 18 in Brad Thor's outstanding series of adventure books. His main character Scot Harvath is fantastic. Just about to start Spymaster, in order to be up to date for the July release of #20.

"A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry. Good novel set in India. Mistry is a natural storyteller, every character gets a backstory, all interesting, some horrible.

"The Ultimate Dinosaur", a coffee-table book that mixes chapters of facts about dinos by various writers, interspersed with short stories about the beasts. Disappointing. The factual chapters lack illustrations of the points they're making. The stories are mostly crap, except for one by Connie Willis.

"The Man with the Heart in the Highlands and other stories" by William Saroyan. Published in 1968, but mostly written in the 1930s. No longer fashionable, with a style nobody uses anymore, Saroyan's short stories are still a treat.

I'm reading Mark Twain's "Roughing It." This is a wonderful account of stagecoach travel, bad guys named "Slade", silver strikes, scams, gunfights, robbery and skullduggery in 1860's Nevada.

Amazing how little that state has changed.

Next will be some Douglas Adams. Then I have Stephen King's latest book. I only wish Carl Hiaasen would write another novel like" Razor Girl." We need the laughs.

I am rereading "Why Me?" by Donald Westlake and "Thank You,Jeeves" by P.G. Wodehouse. Also reading Ron Chernow's "Grant."

You should all be reading Righteous Assassin by Kevin G. Chapman. It was a Kindle Book Award semi-finalist last year, and it's a terrific read!

https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Assassin-Mike-Stoneman-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07JJDZZC1

For those who like history/Mystery, I just finished reading " The Irrationalist ", about the tragic murder (?) of Rene DesCartes.

After watching the "Grant" miniseries, I downloaded his memoirs (free at gutenberg.org). Then a friend told me about "Voices from the Attic: The Williamstown Boys in the Civil War" by Carleton Young based on a historian's dream find of a stash of Civil War letters home. Young fills in nicely between the letters. Going back and forth between the books has been enlightening as well as making me thankful I was born in the 20th Century.

Andrea Camilleri, The Safety Net. This is the latest in the long-running series (there is also a TV series on Italian television) about Sicilian cop Insp. Salvo Montalbano. Camilleri recently died at 93, but he still has at least a couple more books to be published in this country. I've read them all (25 so far), plus a collection of Montalbano short stories. They are good mysteries, nice scenery, delicious food, and humor.

What more can you want, especially now?

Let me add to Steve (The 24 Guy)'s list: for those who don't know, the Odd Thomas books are by Dean Koontz. I've read most of them too.

coscolo--If you enjoy good historical novels, have you read Stephen Harrigan's "Gates of the Alamo?" It was a NYT bestseller. I know Steve and have a signed ARC of that book. Also, for literary Westerns, try anything written by my late friend, Elmer Kelton.

I do not read a lot of 'printed' books, hardcover, softcover, newspapers, magazines, etc. I do read some. I have read several of Dave's books in recent times, Lessons From Lucy and Best.State.Ever. I also read Lunatics, well most of it. I have a problem with my eye due to an injury I received 20 years ago. I lost total sight in my right eye due to the injury. Total complete darkness. No light could enter. Blindness.is.no.fun.at.all. I won't go in to details, but over the course of about a dozen years, I fully recovered my sight in that eye. Today I am fine. Unless I read printed material, especially in low light. Blurriness will occur followed by headache, then double vision. I can read printed material, just not in long periods of time.

I am a U.S. History buff of sorts. Before the eye injury I checked out books from the local library and read a lot of history on the subject of U.S. wars. I found a couple of Dave's books at the closeout section and bought them and read them. One was his Book of Bad Songs. This was years ago. I have looked everywhere in the house for that book. I think my kids took it used it as a doorstop and won't admit it.

Re-reading (for the umpteenth time) Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins.

I'm currently reading, The Studmuffin And The Cupcake but just as soon as I'm done I'm planning on reading the complete works of William Shakespeare.

I'm re-reading "A canticle for Leibowitz" first published in 1959. It won the Hugo award for the best science fiction novel in 1961. It's about re-occurring Dark Ages. Kinda perfect for current affairs.

Also reading "The Iliad"; all 27,000 lines. Another grim read for a pandemic.

"The Last Trial" is on my to be read list. I'm quite looking forward to it.

Because my libraries are closed, I am using Libby to borrow audiobooks from the Los Angeles County Library system. I recently finished the following:

"My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry" by Fredrik Backman. Great book. (I also recommend his "Bear Town,"Us Against You," and "A Man Called Ove.")

"A Bad Day for Sunshine" by Darynda Jones. The new Sheriff of Del Sol, New Mexico has her hands full. I hope she continues this as a series. (I thoroughly enjoyed her Charlie Davidson series.)

"Walk the Wire" by David Baldacci. This is the most recent Amos Decker novel. Great characters and an interesting plotline.

I'm now listening to "The Goodbye Man" by Jeffery Deaver.

"Life On The Mississippi" by Mark Twain, 1893. I'm starting to think he was the original Dave Barry, since his stories are not always, strictly speaking and when looked at carefully, while comparing the history books and asking around, true, in the strict sense of the word. Or in any sense of the word.

He was surprised that after the original discovery of the Mississippi by Europeans, nobody bothered to explore it further for more than a century. But in Twain's day, if somebody discovered a creek near the North Pole, the Americans and British would send fifteen parties up there, one to explore the creek and the other fourteen to look for each other.

Adams, Mostly Harmless.
My technical reading has taken the place of my commute

So far this virus season:
"Streak" about Joltin' Joe's 1941 hitting streak,
Dashiell Hammett's complete Continental Op catalog
Tolkien's "Silmarillion"
"Retribution" by Max Hastings (Excellent book!)
Now rereading "Quartered Safe Out Here" by George Macdonald Fraser.

Pikah, our Red Heeler, is my timekeeper for screen time breaks. She cheats on the intervals, though. I read when she insists on going outside. She doesn't really play that much. She just wants me out there.

Evan S. Connell- "The Aztec Treasure House: New and Selected Essays" - Essays on historical science, exploration, and cultural silliness.

" Life on the Mississippi " is a great book. Twain describes how amazingly complicated becoming a river pilot is. A great metaphor for how trying it is to run a business.

It's all either technical books (I think I own enough O'Rielly books to become a silent partner) and guitar books. Just as you can't own too many guitars (I only have 3) you can't own too many books about guitars and guitar lessons.

What great selections!

I just finished Twain's "The Innocents Abroad", great humor and great descriptions. Also: "A Visitor's Guide to Victorian England" by Michelle Higgs, "Laughing Space" edited by Isaac Asimov and J. O. Jepson, and "Three Hearts and Three Lions" by Poul Anderson.

I am reading "Salt: A World History" by Mark Kurlansky and "Mr. Finchley Discovers His England" by Victor Canning.

Medieval Noir Mystery Series by Jeri Westerson. This one is Sword of Shadows.

Fantasy series "The Witcher", also a popular game for computers/consoles.
Sci-fi series "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons, not typical sci-fi
"A Confederacy of Dunces" - funny and bizarre.

We are currently reading “Divine Intimacy” by Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

Qaz--If you enjoy fantasy, check out Robert E. Vardeman, he's a friend who lives in Albuquerque. His 1985 novel. "God of War," is now a rather successful Internet game. I liked his Cenotaph Road series with Krek, the 6 ft, sentient spider who is fleeing for his life after mating with his wife since she now wants to eat him.

@Qaz - I read "A Confederacy of Dunces" back in the late 1990s and thought it was quite clever. Then I reread it for a book club a couple of years ago and was much less impressed. I'm not sure what changed in the 25+ years between readings.

Humpty Dumpty In Oakland

I finished "Indianapolis" by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. It's about the USS Indianapolis incident in WW2. Exhaustively researched, includes material from extensive interviews from survivors. Also shows in depth how the captain was railroaded by Navy politics. Goes from the kamikaze attack the ship survived early in 1945 to its location on the seafloor in 2017. Incredible read.

Le Pet, I think I've read most of Elmer Kelton's books over the years, will look up "Gates of the Alamo." My all-time favorite remains the original version of Francis Parkman's "The Oregon Trail." A partial copy of the edition with Remington illustrations was in the book cupboard at the farm with my uncles' early 20th Century school books, "Ivanhoe" and lots of Zane Grey books when I was little. I first read the broken "The Oregon Trail" when I was about 8, now read the Library of America edition at least once a year. Parkman edited later editions of the book to remove rougher parts he may have felt not suitable for his standing at Harvard. Read the Library of America edition but look at the last one for the great Remington illustratios. For those who haven't encountered it, Parkman made a trip west after graduating from Harvard, and "The Oregon Trail" is his report on his experiences. He returned to Harvard and never left again. Incidentally, when Parkman mentions the 'Black Hills,' he's talking about what now are called the Laramie Mountains in WY, not the Black Hills of today's SD. The Paha Sapa of the Lakota are far from the Oregon Trail while historic Fort Larimie is east of the Laramie Mountains, and present-day Laramie and the Laramie Plains where Parkman hunted bison are west of those mountains.

I am reading the Complete Galloping Gourmet Cookbook by Graham Kerr. One of the more delightful recipes is Spaghetti Kareena. It includes 20oz of Kangaroo Tail Soup.

Papa John mentioned George MacDonald Fraser. The "Flashman" series he wrote are books that will teach you a bit about history while have you falling out of your chair laughing. They are brilliant, as the Brits would say.

I dunno about books, but I've been doing a hella buncha streaming lately. Seems like that "12 Monkeys" series has been like a playbook for the news these days...

I'm just starting "Smell Detectives: An Olfactory History of Nineteenth-Century Urban America" by Melanie Kiechle. I suspect the book itself smells better than the subject matter.

I'm reading the Lucy Holmes adventures (half-American daughter of Sherlock), and rereading some of the 187 or so Doc Savage adventures, and a few of The Shadow.

For anyone looking for a change of pace and an homage to Huckleberry Finn I highly recommend This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger.

There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say-Paula Poundstone.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (AKA Daniel Handler). A masterpiece.

I read the news today...Oh, boy.

Sorry I did.

Currently reading Wallace Stegner’s Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: Tells the story of one armed Major John Wesley Powell and the exploration of the Grand Canyon. They’re down to less than one sack of flour and some coffee for food and drink at this point, with at least 90 miles to go, at 10-35 miles/day....

Also reading The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel. Last (and saddest) of the books about Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII.

        THE GRAND DESIGN, a book by Donald Stoker about strategy in the Civil War Between the States.  And THE GRAY AND THE BLACK, by Robert F. Durden, a CWbtS book about the attempt to recruit black soldiers for the Confederacy.

Voracious reader here, especially like mysteries, history, political and current affairs, some sci-fi. As far as mysteries, I highly recommend authors Elizabeth George, John Sanford, Philip Kerr, Michael Connelly, Peter Robinson, and Ian Rankin. An utterly fascinating book by Graham Hancock called “Fingerprints of the Gods“ explores evidence of earth’s ancient and forgotten civilizations. It was published in the 90’s, and is still widely available in print today. Another book in a similar vein is Uriel’s Machine by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, which explores the secrets of Stonehenge, Noah’s flood, and the “megalithic yard” among other interesting items. And anything by Joseph Wambaugh. Also, if you need a good laugh, check out some guy named Dave Barry and his Complete Guide to Guys, a book I can definitely relate to as I are one.

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