Reading log: May 2011

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Books acquired: “Chronic City,” Jonathan Lethem; “Red,” Sammy Hagar; “A Pleasure to Burn” and “Switch on the Night,” Ray Bradbury; “Pale Gray for Guilt,” John D. MacDonald; “Slow Learner,” Thomas Pynchon; “Men and Cartoons,” Jonathan Lethem; “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” Edgar Allan Poe; “An Education,” Nick Hornby.

Books read: “The Book of Philip K. Dick,” Philip K. Dick; “The Hand of Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer; “The Beasts of Tarzan,” Edgar Rick Burroughs; “All Yesterdays’ Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print 1966-1971,” Clinton Heylin, ed.; “The Drawn Blank Series,” Bob Dylan.

May was a five-book month for yours truly. (Alas, it was a nine-book month on the acquisitions front.)

I read the Philip Dick story collection because it contains “The Adjustment Team,” on which the recent, enjoyable movie “The Adjustment Bureau” was based. The Fu Manchu and Tarzan books are each the third in their respective series and were pleasantly pulpy. The Velvet Underground book compiles news and reviews of the band (one of my favorites) from the period when they were still functioning. The Dylan book is made up of color sketches by the musician and several very dull essays by others.

On the whole, an uninspiring month, with the Dick volume probably the best of the lot.

As for when and where the books were acquired, Tarzan came from a vendor at the LA Comic Show in 2001, the next two from various used bookstores the last decade (the details escape me), the VU was a remainder purchased at Moe’s in Berkeley four years ago and the Dylan was bought at Pomona’s Magic Door Books a few months ago.

June is shaping up as a light month. As I write this it’s the 9th and I haven’t finished anything since late May; I’m still in the early stages of two books after abandoning a third. Hope you’re doing better.

Anyone want to share what they’ve read or are currently reading?

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  • DebB

    I decided to reread C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, “Out of the Silent Planet”, “Perelandra”, and “That Hideous Strength”. I’d read them years ago, and had forgotten a lot. The books are more philosophical than I remember, and in a few places I sort of skimmed over the wordy bits. But overall I enjoyed them! I’ve also begun to reread Lawrence Block’s burglar series, featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr.

  • hugh.c.mcbride

    May was a four-booker over here in Casa de McBride (a total that furthers my belief that The Universe will let me approach Allen-level, but would prefer that I neither equal nor surpass it. And I’m OK with that).

    Here’s the list:

    * Luck Be a Lady, Don’t Die (Robert Rindisi) — Book #3 in the Rat Pack Mystery Series

    * Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Manning Marable) — Exhaustively researched, presented in a compelling & highly readable manner, this is certain to be the definitive biography of the ’60s icon.

    * Ransom Seaborn (Bill Deasy) — Coming-of-age novel set in a conservative Western PA college. I was fortunate enough to have been acquainted with the author during our college years (in a conservative Western PA school, wouldn’t ya know), so the narrative had a certain resonance with me. But the novel more than stands on its own — no prior association with author or school necessary.

    * Hey There (You With the Gun In Your Hand) — Book #4 in Randisi’s series. Old Vegas; Frank, Dino, & the boys, & a page-turning detective novel? How could I possibly be expected to resist?

    Things have taken a turn toward the noir thus far in June, with James M. Cain & an anthology of short stories making appearances on my nightstand over the past coupla weeks. Should make for an interesting rest of the month …

    [Maybe I should go back to writing a line or two about each book; you handle that approach well. The Universe may favor you in June: As of the 14th I haven’t finished anything, and in fact I’m only halfway through one and one-fourth through a second, with hopes of reading a mere three. — DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    My summer reading quest has begun, so I’m not sure exactly which were from May, but I’ll try. The Rancho Cucamonga Library is having its first adult summer reading program (its theme? Travel), so feel free to sign up at either branch (the Archibald one or the [Eventually Insert New Name Here] at Victoria Gardens).

    (Broke) Glenn Beck. I wanted to read how nutso his views are. I was not disappointed.

    (The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter) D. Colbert. It was a nice reminder, before the final film comes out next month, of how Rowling uses myths and allusions in her character and place names.

    (Gas City) Loren Estleman. I like his writing style; this was a gritty, urban crime mystery, which was a little too graphic at times, but still a good read.

    (Who Moved My Secret?) D. Gerard. A very short parody of the self-help craze. Cute at times, mostly overdone and overly sarcastic.

    (Star Wreck: The Generation Gap) Rewolinski, L. Another short parody of the original TV show and the Next Generation one. Too cheesy, but it was a quarter at a library book sale (overpriced?).

    [Thanks, Will. Are you trying to read a title from every letter of the alphabet, like last year, or do you have a different motivational goal? — DA]

  • Bonnie

    Have you read “Where Men Win Glory” by Jon Krakauer? It’s the story of Pat Tillman, NFL player who enlisted, was sent to Afghanistan and killed by friendly fire. The attempt to cover up his death by the U.S. government is exposed here. Great read!

    [That sounds like a good choice. There was a documentary on that story last year but I didn’t see that either. — DA]

  • Doug Evans

    Let me type again for the record how much I enjoy this monthly feature, both your original posts and the comments left by readers! I’m typing that partly to ease my guilt over taking so long to respond to this one. I second the idea of your borrowing Hugh’s one or two line write-ups of each book. Makes it kind of organized, somehow… easy to see the quick synopsis/review. Well done, Hugh! Showoff.

    In May I finished John Grisham’s The Testament, chosen for one of my book clubs… good read! Billionaire dude dies, leaving his vast wealth not to any of his five spoiled kids, the products of three failed marriages, but to a hitherto-unknown illegitimate daughter now serving as a missionary in the Brazilian rain forest. Sparked a spirited discussion in the club, which is always the mark of a good book club pick.

    Another book club I’m in read The Milagro Beanfield War, a book I’ve always wanted to read. Alas, I didn’t read it, a rare failing for me, and, since my two book clubs keep picking new monthly books to get through, one I’ll probably never find time to go back to. So I’m going to pretend like that never happened and in fact probably not even mention it here. Just less embarrassing that way.

    Also I finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, thus completing the Dragon Tattoo trilogy (or the Millennium Trilogy or whatever people are calling it). I enjoyed all three, but man, that guy could have used an editor. Also, I keep feeling that the apostrophe in “Hornet’s” is misplaced… surely there’s more than one hornet in the nest?… but I should probably just move on.

    And… I think that’s about it for me. Not much of a reading month for me, especially if you count that second book that I didn’t actually read but stuck in here anyway. but I think I’m off to a better start in June. Sort of the opposite of your month so far, based on what you wrote above. And my teaching semester just ended! Yesterday, in fact! Two weeks all to my own till summer session starts… Giant stack of unread books that just keeps growing and growing, here I come!!

    [Giant stack of unread books that just keeps growing and growing: “Here comes Doug. Finally!” “Oooh, me first, me first!” “No, no, I have a prettier cover!” Anyway, thanks for your comments. I still haven’t finished a book and now it’s June 17. I did read 30 pages yesterday of a Velvet Underground history, but still have 75 to go, and 10 pages of “Captain Blood,” with (gulp) 268 to go. I may have to pull a Doug Evans next month and talk about a third book that I didn’t read and hope no one notices. — DA]

  • Will Plunkett


    Since the library’s theme of “Novel Destinations” is basically about travel, I’m trying to choose books with geographic settings (aren’t they all?) or places as a part of the story, or, just what sounds good. But so far, of my 16 (so far) reads for the summer, 14 authors are from different letters (B and C are repeats).

    [By the time summer’s over, perhaps one theme or another will have prevailed! — DA]