Reading log: August 2010

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Books bought: none.

Books read: “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” James M. Cain; “No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger,” Mark Twain; “Selected Shorter Writings of Mark Twain,” Walter Blair, ed.; and “The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain,” Lawrence Berkove, ed.

A couple of you thought I was too pokey last month in posting my July books list on Aug. 10. So here’s my August list on Sept. 1. At the David Allen Blog, we aim to please (when it’s convenient).

So: August. One crime noir classic by James M. Cain and three books by Twain, who is on his way to becoming my Ray Bradbury of 2010.

You may remember that I read 24 books by or about Mr. Bradbury last year, out of 58 total books read. This year I’ve read five by Twain and three each by A. Conan Doyle and Samuel Beckett. I suppose that ties Doyle and Beckett as my Edgar Rice Burroughs of 2010; ERB was my No. 2 guy last year (with five books).

Uh, anyway. “Postman,” which has been made into a movie twice, is short, brutal and relentless, well worth reading. Bought that in 2009 used in Scottsdale, Ariz., and read it in one day on a Metrolink trip.

“Selected Shorter Writings,” bought in 1985 for a college class so that we could read one or two stories, includes fiction and nonfiction to show the range of Twain’s talent. It includes the editorially botched 1916 version of “The Mysterious Stranger.”

When I got to that, I stopped and read “No. 44,” a later draft of the same basic idea and almost totally different. Bought this used maybe five years ago somewhere. It’s virtually a fantasy novel involving time travel, dream-selves, duplicate people and sorcery. Good, but strange, and not quite the masterpiece I’d been expecting. I finished that Friday.

Back to “Selected Shorter,” whose hoax version of “Mysterious Stranger” proved more diverting than “No. 44.” Hmm. I read that Saturday, polishing off a book I’d been reading since May.

The “Best Short Stories” collection, bought new in May, was excellent, featuring Twain’s earlier comic tales and his later dark satires on greed and hypocrisy. The latter includes the masterful “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” Likewise, I’d been reading this book for weeks and finished on Sunday.

Boom, boom, boom. Twain sets them up and I knock them down. I might even read another one or two by him before the year is out. (And another one or two by Doyle as well.) At this point, by the way, I’m at 38 books for the year, putting my 50-book goal within comfortable reach.

My plan for September: books with a G in the title. Good gravy, man, get a grip.

Now what are the rest of you reading?

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  • Cheryl


    Why don’t you read some current material? Maybe someone that isn’t under a RIP sign. You could read an oldie, then current. Is your reading log about reading every book a certain author ever wrote, or just about books read? I’m actually keeping a log, just started it last year. It consists of month, title, author, and number of pages. Curiosity was the only reason why I started it. I am reading a biography on L. Frank Baum, “The Real Wizard of Oz” by Rebecca Loncraine.

    [I’ve been meaning to look that book up. About this “reading log,” I started it here in 2009 when my goal was to read 50 books that year, to chart my progress, and have kept it going this year for the same reason. I’m reading what appeals to me, generally from a large backlog of unread books on my shelves. And in September, I’ll be reading a book published (gasp) this century for a change. — DA]

  • We won’t expect you to post your December reading summary on January 1.

    I don’t do as much leisure reading as I should, but the Clemens short stories sound intriguing.

    [Thanks for the New Year’s Eve break, John! — DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    I did make the 26 letters by 26 authors, plus four extras. Since then, only one new book: The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, a documentary about those who stayed in the Dust Bowl region during the Depression (as opposed to the Joads leaving for CA like in Grapes of Wrath).

    [26 authors read this summer, representing all 26 letters of the alphabet? That’s cool. — DA]

  • Brent

    You guys put me in the mood to read something besides Internet-based information. So I decided to read Cows of our Planet, by Gary Larson (someday soon). The Far Side Gallery 2 by Larson is a bit too long (192 pages, with an average of maybe 40 words per page! There are lots of “pictures”, too).

    [Work your way up to it, Brent. You must walk before you can run. — DA]

  • Doug Evans

    Who could possibly have complained last month just because your post was a little late? Geez, people, just be happy David is posting at all. He doesn’t have to do this, you know.


    Here’s a question I haven’t asked before: What do you do with your books once you’ve finished them? Keep them on the shelf as a way to keep track of what you’ve read? Sell them back to used book stores? Lend them out to friends? Such as friends who have never read, say, The Postman Always Rings Twice, but would Iike to?

    (Cough again.)

    Speaking of noir-type books, or at least detective-type books, I recently purchased that Dragon with a Girl Tattoo (got that backwards… but not on purpose!… and it sounds funny, so I left it) book, which I know frequent blog commenter Hugh has read. I’m going to see what all the fuss is about! Can the book possibly live up to the hype? Will I soon be complaining that both the Swedish and the English-language films failed to capture the novel’s essence? Will I get my own Dragon tattoo? The world is holding its breath! Or at least I am. Well, not even that, really.

    [Maybe you’ll get your own Girl tattoo (cough). Since you ask, generally I keep my books. I like seeing them lined up on the shelves. Occasionally I’ll lend one out. To, you know, people who don’t bug me about being late with these Reading Logs (cough again). — DA]

  • I just finished reading Carolyn 101 by Carolyn Kepcher, past Executive VP of Trump Int’l and one of The Donald’s assistants on The Apprentice TV show. It was an excellent autobiography on her life with the Trump brand. She is now an entrepreneur-speaker-coach and founder-CEO of, offering answers for working women. I am now reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

    I really appreciate David’s blog and all the comments by the readers. Many of the readers are my personal friends. “Birds of a feather flock together.”

    [We’re all friends here at the David Allen Blog. — DA]

  • Paula Harmer

    I occasionally get stuck in an author rut too. I like it, I enjoy the evolution. 🙂

    Currently reading Madame Bovary. It is a project, reading it with a friend from junior high, we are tackling the books we were supposed to read in school but somehow avoided. I am enjoying it, surprised myself.

    [I own that book. I haven’t read it, but I own it. — DA]