Reading log: August 2012

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Books acquired: none.

Books read: “Men Without Women,” Ernest Hemingway; “The Illustrated Man,” Ray Bradbury; “The Bride of Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer; “Partners in Wonder,” Harlan Ellison; “Family Man,” Calvin Trillin.

Five books read in August, their titles forming something of a romantic arc, if you can picture the Illustrated Man and the Bride of Fu Manchu apart, meeting, marrying, living happily and spawning a family. (Me, I’m in the first phase, living vicariously through book titles.)

Hemingway’s book is an early collection of short stories, one of his best; Bradbury’s is his second story collection and ditto; the Rohmer novel is the sixth in the Fu Manchu series and silly fun; the Ellison book is a collection of not-bad collaborative stories with various SF greats, enlivened by the warm introductions; and the Trillin is a loose-limbed, humorous memoir about life with his wife and two daughters in Greenwich Village.

The Hemingway and Bradbury books were the clear winners with me. I’m of two minds about Trillin’s book. It’s often quite funny, but on the other hand there’s something of the insularity of a Salinger book or Wes Anderson movie.

I’ve owned some of these books a loooong time. Bradbury’s, which still has “10 cents” on the cover in grease pencil, might be the first one of his I bought, circa the mid-1970s. I read it back then but hadn’t touched it since. The Ellison was bought on vacation in Atlanta at the Book Nook in probably 1982 and unread ever since. Yikes! It’s satisfying to see it on my shelf now and know I’ve read it.

The other three are much more modern acquisitions: Trillin came from the former Foozles (!) remainder-bookstore in Ontario Mills around 2003, Rohmer from St. Louis’ Book House around 2006 and Hemingway from Powell’s in Portland in 2007.

So, five more down (and only, um, 523 unread books to go!) means I’ve finished an even 60 books in 2012, the precise number I read in all of 2011. A part of me would like to knock off for the rest of the year, but I’ll press on. New goal, based on what I expect to read in the next four months: 80.

Have you read any of the above? What are you folks reading? Are you getting to some of the books you had been hoping to get to this summer, or this year?

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  • DebB

    This month I followed your lead and went back to my own bookshelf for most of my reading, instead of buying lots of new books. I decided to re-read the few Dick Francis books I have, and found I didn’t remember a single one of them!

    Francis was a Champion Jockey in England during the 50′s, after piloting a bomber in WWII. His books are all mysteries/thrillers, and all revolve around horse racing in some way. Most of them are not in a series, so I can read them in any order. They were written from the 1960s up to his death in 2010, although the last few were written with his son, Felix. This month I read 5 or 6 of them, I think.

    I also read another couple in the Gideon Oliver series by Aaron Elkins. Amazingly, I was able to get an answer on Jeopardy! the other day because of something I learned in one of Elkins’s books!

    I read another in the Charlie Parker mystery series by Connie Shelton, and a couple more in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke. Unfortunately, the Hannah book was the most recent I can afford at the moment, and it ended on a cliff-hanger!

    In addition, I decided to try another new-to-me author – Nancy Martin. The book, How to Murder a Millionaire, is the first in her Blackbird Sisters series. I enjoyed it enough to read more when I can afford them.

    I don’t keep track like you do, but I guess that’s around 10-12 books in August. It was too hot to do much more than read!

    [Nice work, Deb. (If I weren't blogging, I wouldn't be keeping track either.) As for the "Jeopardy!" moment, it's amazing how often, in my life at least, one thing will lead to another. I'll come across a reference to something for the first time, and then a day or two later, I'll see a second reference. -- DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    I have read Illustrated Man and some others by Hemingway before, but none of the others from your August list.

    Last month, it was just three books:

    Thomas Steinbeck’s The Silver Lotus (Not as good as his famous father, but then who could be? It’s in the style of a family history like East of Eden or The Pastures of Heaven. A little too-perfect in story, but still interesting)

    Two Star Wars books, (a behind-the-video-game) Art & Making of Star Wars Old Republic (it is what it is) and Aaron Allston’s novel X-Wing: Mercy Kill (one of the best SW novels I’ve ever read, with all the fun and humor of the movies).

    I believe that makes 59 so far this year (past your 52-means-one-per-week idea), and I hope to read at least one each month to finish the end of time, a.k.a. 2012, with about 64 or so.

    [Yes, best to make no reading plans for 2013. -- DA]

  • Dara

    I just finished reading “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman. It is an amazing story that kept me trying to guess the ending until almost the very last page! This is Ms. Stedman’s first novel and I’m already hoping she’s busily at work on her second one.

  • John Clifford

    Again, woefully behind on pleasure reading. Only one in August.

    A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong. This is an overview of mythology through the ages and how myth has changed as we moved from hunter-gatherer to agriculture to city-state to industrial societies. Pretty interesting.

    [Only one, but it sounds a trifle heavier than "The Bride of Fu Manchu," John, so we'll accept it. -- DA]

  • Doug Evans

    I’m here! I’m chiming in! The reading log is still on the front page so it still counts… I get to get my August reading in!

    Last month I read…

    * The Book Thief by Markus Zusak… Read for a book club… Excellent young-adult novel about a young girl in Nazi Germany who likes books. I received this book as a Christmas present from our German foreign exchange student who lived with us last year. The book’s narrator is Death… Interesting to get his perspective on things (basically, humans baffle and sadden him, and he looks for and remembers rare moments of beauty).

    * The Confession by John Grisham. The September pick for another book club I’m in. A novel about an innocent man in Texas railroaded into a murder confession and then conviction, and the race against the clock to save him. Grisham’s passionate about this capital punishment stuff. Fiction, but easy to see how such a thing could and can happen, and probably is as we speak. Texas sure kills a lot of people.

    * Las Vegas Noir… A collection of short stories from the “Noir” city series published by Akashic Noir. Some stories better than others… Maybe one too many “main character who seems likable and innocent turns out to have the heart of a cold-blooded killer” tales, but the better stories showcase the seamy side of Vegas that tourists like me tend to drive right past on our way from the 15 offramp to the hotel and back.

    So, three books, I guess. I’d like to be doing more but this seems to be about what I do. Once again, I always enjoy reading what everyone else is up to! See you in October, everyone!

    [I've had whole years where I didn't read three books...not many of them, granted, but some. Probably most of us who read wish we were reading more somehow. I wish I were reading three or four per week. But, we do what we can. *shrug* Thanks for chiming in, btw. -- DA]