Books bought this month: “The Call of the Wild,” Jack London; “A Canticle for Liebowitz,” Walter M. Miller Jr.; “One Fearful Yellow Eye,” John D. MacDonald; “The Prisoner of Zenda,” Anthony Hope; “Kidnapped,” Robert Louis Stevenson; “Mind Fields,” Jack Yerka and Harlan Ellison; “Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto,” Anneli Rufus.
Books read this month: “Ray Bradbury,” Wayne Johnson; “Robinson Crusoe,” Daniel Defoe; “The Call of the Wild,” Jack London; “Ray Bradbury (Writers of the 21st Century),” Joseph Olander and Martin Greenberg, eds.
First, how do you like the photo? Pictured are my four books from August, arrayed on my living room floor. I’ve gone back and added photos to the seven previous Reading Log entries, which you can find, if so inclined, in the “Books” category. Thought these entries could use some spicing up.
As you can see, it was another four-book month on the reading front, and another month in which I bought more books than I read. Travel (that involves visiting cities with bookstores) will do that. Look for a similar situation in September.
As for what I read, this month’s books represent more evidence that I’m on an esoteric path, one not to be emulated. Really, two out of four completed books are studies of Ray Bradbury’s fiction? And I’m afraid next month’s choices are going to seem even more arcane. Well, I’m reading what I’m reading, not picking books with an eye toward public consumption.
I won’t belabor the Bradbury books: I found them in 1994 at a science fiction bookstore in Berkeley days before moving away from the Bay Area, knowing they might not be of great interest but also knowing if I didn’t buy them, I might never see them again. Fifteen years later, having not seen them again in a store, I read them.
The study by Johnson is worth tracking down if you’re deeply into RB: It explores his themes and preoccupations with clarity. The other book is turgid and academic. All I could do was skim it. The bibliography at the back is useful, however.
“Crusoe,” bought a couple of years back, will be the subject of an upcoming column. Suffice it to say here that while not easy reading, it repays attention.
“The Call of the Wild” is that rare book that I read the same month that I bought it. I got it because it’s the Big Read choice in Pomona this fall. It’s told from the point of view of a dog kidnapped from his Monterey-area life of luxury and taken to the Yukon to work as a sled dog.
I was expecting, and dreading, to read the dog’s “thoughts,” but it’s nothing like that. Buck observes life around him in a way that seems more instinctual than anything else. He becomes more real than any of the humans in the book. As E.L. Doctorow says in the introduction to the Modern Library edition I read, “Call” is a coming-of-age book involving a dog, who over the course of the book sheds rather than gains civilization. But it’s not written in an ironic way; it’s just a good adventure story.
It’s probably the book more of you have read than anything else I’ve listed here this year (it was my 38th book of 2009, btw). Hadn’t I read it in school? It’s possible — it seemed vaguely familiar, and yet I had no recollection of having been assigned it. Well, whatever, I liked it this time.