Reading log: June 2010

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Books bought: “Why Call Them Back From Heaven?” Clifford D. Simak; “The Diaries of Adam & Eve,” Mark Twain; “If You’re Feeling Sinister,” Scott Plagenhoef; “The Farther Shore,” Robert M. Coates; “Bright Orange for the Shroud,” John D. MacDonald; “Booked to Die,” John Dunning.

Books read: “Why Call Them Back From Heaven?” Clifford D. Simak; “The Diaries of Adam & Eve,” Mark Twain; “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” A. Conan Doyle; “If You’re Feeling Sinister,” Scott Plagenhoef; “The ‘Reel’ Benchley,” Robert Benchley; “Millard Sheets: The Early Years (1926-1944),” Gordon McClelland; “The Bob Dylan Scrapbook, 1956-1966,” Robert Santelli.

Seven books in June — not bad for a fellow who hadn’t finished even one by June 21, if I do say so myself. I also managed to finish three of the six books I acquired, as well as one acquired the previous month (and one each in 2007 and 2005, and another from, er, 1976 or thereabouts).

To run through this quickly, and in order: the Simak was an intriguing SF novel about cryogenics and faith; the Twain a minor work, unfinished, but perhaps my favorite of the month’s reading; tied with the first collection of Holmes stories, most of them classics; the Plagenhoef, about a Belle and Sebastian album, is padded even at 105 pages; the Benchley is a curio from 1950 of stills and transcripts of six of his comedy shorts; the Millard Sheets reproduces 93 of his paintings, paired with a biography of the Pomona native that is informative, dull and horribly copy-edited, with a minimum of one mistake per page (the man credited as “text editor” was overpaid even if he volunteered); and the Dylan is a basic but gracefully written bio with many photos and inserts of repro’d handbills, handwritten lyrics and the like, a fun collection.

And, for those who like to know such things, I bought Simak used at St. Louis’ Book House, Twain new at the Montclair Borders and Plagenhoef new at St. Louis’ Subterranean Books, all in June; Sheets in the gift shop of the Pasadena Museum of California Art in May; Holmes new somewhere circa ’76 (and read it then as well); Benchley used at Portland’s Powell’s in 2007; and Dylan at Rhino Records upon publication in 2005.

In the latter case, it’s a bit embarrassing that it took me five years to get to a book that took three hours to read, and in the meantime was remaindered for a fraction of its $45 purchase price, but at least I read it now.

Halfway through 2010, I’ve read 30 books — more than expected, since my goal was 50. Either I’ll coast the last half of the year, or I’ll double my total to 60. (Already in July I’ve finished one.)

Whew! Now, what are you reading?

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  • Sean

    Just got done reading Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. It took me the better part of 3 years (intermittent reading added to the episodic nature of the book) but it was really great.

    [How do you follow up a three-year book? -- DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    I always set a goal of reading 30+ books (and to get near 10,000 pages) each summer, because as a teacher, reading during the school year gets tougher and tougher. This year, the first few books were all from different authors, and different letters, too. So, I’m amending my goal to read exactly 26 books, each by a different letter of the alphabet. So far?

    A = Steve Allen’s Make ‘Em Laugh
    B = Will Brooker’s Using the Force
    E = Loren Estleman’s Frames
    G = Christie Golden’s Star Wars:Allies
    K = Gene Franz’s Failure Is Not an Option
    P = H.B. Piper’s Space Viking
    S = John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday
    U = Brady Udall’s The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint
    V = Voltaire’s Candide
    W = Rich Wolfe’s For Buckeye Fans Only!

    [Interesting idea, Will. I'm doing something related for the month of July: reading books with a certain letter in the title. Well, we're both keeping things interesting, in a weird way. -- DA]

  • Mary Kent

    The Benchley book sounds interesting. Once read and still have “The Benchley Roundup,” which I found entertaining.

    Currently reading “Sophia Tolstoy: A Biography” by Alexandra Popoff. An enlightening story of Leo Tolstoy’s wife.

    Happy reading!

    ["The Benchley Roundup" is a best-of and is recommended. -- DA]

  • Sean

    Follow-up to 3 years read? Maybe I’ll buckle down and finally finish the last 2 chapters of Atlas Shrugged…

    [If you got past John Galt's 60-page monologue, it's all coasting from there. -- DA]

  • Doug Evans

    The internet world will be glad to hear that I finished J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Unfinished Tales” that I mentioned in this space a couple of months back. Having read that, plus “The Silmarillion,” I’m now two books into reading all the stuff Tolkien wrote that he never actually published in his lifetime. I have, no joke, twelve books to go. But, um, I may wait a while before getting to it.

    Enjoyed this month’s round-up as usual! Especially enjoyed reading where the books came from… I don’t know why I’m such a nerd that that appeals to me, but it does. Keep your World Cup Madness, world! I’ve got David’s blog to keep me happy.

    [Glad to oblige. Oh, and Doug, you've certainly showed that J.R.R. Tolkien a thing or two. He couldn't finish his own tales, but you did. Boo-yah! -- DA]

  • John Clifford

    I’m currently reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third in Stieg Laarson’s “Millennium Trilogy” which started with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. My just completed book was Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet. But I’m a slllloooowwww reader and the Lincoln book was 754 pages.

    [Sounds like you're mixing it up, always a healthy sign. I'm a pokey reader too. -- DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    I have finished a few more, still all from different letters, to put me more than halfway there:

    F = Melissa Francis’ Bite Me!

    M = Karen Miller’s Clone Wars Gambit: Siege

    T = Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter

    Z = Robert Zubrin’s First Landing

    And I have letters D, I, N, and O waiting to be opened and perused!

    [Dino! -- DA]