Reading log: February 2011

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Books acquired: “The Female Man,” Joanna Russ; “The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum”; “Blade Runner” (movie adaptation), Les Martin; “They Live,” Jonathan Lethem; “Secret Stairs,” Charles Fleming; “Juliet, Naked,” Nick Hornby.

Books read: “Return to the Planet of the Apes Nos. 1, 2 and 3,” William Arrow; “The Return of Tarzan,” Edgar Rice Burroughs; “The Return of Sherlock Holmes,” A. Conan Doyle; “The Return of Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer.

There were many happy returns last month, in the sense that all six books I read had the word “return” in the title. Oh, I crack myself up.

On the bright side, I’ve plowed through 12 books in two months. On the down side, this was a particularly lightweight month from a literary standpoint, unless I get points for reading three books from a century ago.

I won’t belabor my choices, most of which were indefensible. The elephant in the room, or really the gorilla in the room, is that I read three novelizations of a “Planet of the Apes” animated series, which I happened to be watching on DVD. (The Apes are one of my guilty pleasures.) Part way through the series I remembered I’d picked up these three books in 2007. If I were ever going to read them, this was the logical time. So I read one per weekend, as quickly as possible.

This might represent the nadir of my serious reading life. I’ll have to get back to Mark Twain soon to recover a few shreds of credibility. Compounding my shame, the show and the books were kind of fun.

As for the century-old stuff, the Fu sequel was okay, the Tarzan sequel quite good (if you’ve read the first one, you should at least read the second, which ties off the loose ends neatly) and the sixth Holmes collection was also great.

For those who care, I’ve carried the Holmes book since boyhood, bought Tarzan and Fu Manchu in 2001 at Book Alley and the LA Comics Show, respectively, and the trio of Apes books in the past decade.

What have you been reading? Other than in quantity, surely I’ve made most of you look good this month. No need to thank me. Just doing my job.

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  • Ms. Lois

    David, no need to be ashamed of what you read. The point is your’re reading! Excellent job.

    Oh and happy birthday around here somewhere. I don’t remember the day…

    [The 14th, and I’m flattered you’d remember this much. — DA]

  • John Clifford

    It cracks me up that you crack yourself up.

    Just finished The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. An interesting non-fiction book about the building of the Chicago World’s Fair (the Columbian Exhibition of 1893, which introduced both shredded wheat and the Ferris wheel) juxtaposed against the story of a serial killer, who took advantage of the fair’s hundreds and thousands of visitors to do his dastardly deeds. Quite a good read.

    Also working on Vol. 1 of the Mark Twain autobiography, but the 600+ page hardback is not conducive to reading on the train or in the “reading room.”

    [I’m waiting for the paperback. And I’ve heard good things about “White City.” You’ve picked two winners. — DA]

  • Paula

    I am impressed that you so fully immersed yourself in all that “monkey business.” Such dedication is admirable.

    I read:

    The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris the first in a 3 part biography. I found it AMAZING.

    Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood – Rebecca Wells D

    Reading Remedy – Marion Blank

    Wishin & Hopin – Wally Lamb A little disappointing as I have read some of his other work which was truly great, and this was just dribble.

    [You had a good month! And it’s kind of you to consider my dedication to the Planet of the Apes series admirable. — DA]

  • Kate Thornton

    Just finished Leighton Gage’s BLOOD OF THE WICKED. Fantastic mystery set in Brazil — couldn’t put it down! Next is Sue Ann Jaffarian’s GHOST IN THE POLKA DOT BIKINI. Gotta love my Kindle!

  • Doug Evans

    Planet of the Apes? And not just Planet of the Apes but adaptations of the animated series based on Planet of the Apes? That’s some serious geek cred.

    I’m curious about the Blade Runner book: is it the original “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” novel the movie was based on or an actual adaptation of the movie? I ask because I know that in the ’70s there were a couple of book adaptations of James Bond films based on James Bond novels… meaning that one could buy either “The Man With the Golden Gun” as originally written by Ian Fleming or “The Man With the Golden Gun” as adapted from the movie screenplay. Weird.

    This past month I finished the second of the Dragon Tattoo books, “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” and am now making my way through the third. Also, a book club pick: “Airframe,” by Michael Crichton (good, if you’re a fan of Crichton’s… I’m not, really). And I squeezed in for fun a book called “In the Land of Invented Languages” by Arika Okrent, a look at artificial languages created by people, all the way from Esperanto to Klingon and a bunch of other languages people have created just for fun. More a look, actually, at the kind of people that would create a language that no one is ever going to speak and that won’t help you get rich or score with the chicks (or dudes) or anything. Heck of a hobby. But fun for those that do it! Or so the book made it sound.

    …Planet of the Apes? (No fair bringing up the vast number of Star Trek books I’ve bought over the years.)

    [Shoot. How about the vast number of Tolkien books you’ve read (again and again) over the years? I think I struck paydirt there. Now, does “Blade Runner” by Les Martin sound to you like “Do Androids Dream…” by Philip K. Dick? It’s a cheesy movie adaptation, as you guessed. Have you gotten to the part in “Airframe” where Montclair gets a shout-out? — DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    Sadly, only two, and both were Star Wars-related:

    Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller (set long before even the “new” older films)

    Making of The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler (I’ve been chopping away at this one for months, as it is filled with many wonderful tidbits and details).

  • Chris Brady

    David just so you know in April there is a new comic series coming out based upon the earlier movies of Planet of the Apes!!

    [Best news I’ve had all day. Tell your customers at 4 Color Fantasies to get their stinking paws off my copy. — DA]

  • David:

    Welcome back & congrats on a fine stack of return-themed books this month. Also, under no circumstances should you *ever* apologize for any Planet of the Apes-related fandom (unless you’re talking about that unfortunate remake a few years back, in which case you’re on your own 🙂

    I read at somewhat of an Allen-ish rate last month, putting 7 virtual notches on the ol’ metaphorical bookshelf this month:

    * The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower (Robert Graysmith)

    * Black Money (Ross Macdonald)

    * The Butcher’s Boy (Thomas Perry)

    * The Blue Hammer (Ross Macdonald)

    * The Thin Man (Dashiell Hammett)

    * Pomona Queen (Kem Nunn)

    * The Postman Always Rings Twice (James M. Cain)

    Yeah, been on somewhat of a noir/crime fiction kick lately (and likin’ it, I must add).

    To wrap this up, though this may not be the “correct” post beneath which to do this, I wanted to add my wishes for a Happy 47th birthday, my congrats on your 14th anniversary with the Bull, & my thanks for all you do both online & in print!

    [I’ll accept your good wishes no matter which post you attach them to. Congrats on seven books! I’ve read the last three from your list and enjoyed ’em, so I think you made some good choices last month. Your affection for the Apes may, of course, color my view. — DA]