Reading Log: June 2013

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Books acquired: none

Books read: “Ellison Wonderland,” “Paingod and Other Delusions,” “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World,” “Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled” and “Stalking the Nightmare,” Harlan Ellison; “The Kinks: The Official Biography,” Jon Savage.

There is a theme of sorts in the list above, and it’s not just that five of the six are written by the same guy. All six date to my youth in Illinois and either had not been read by me since then, or had never been read at all.

I made a list of these books a couple of years ago, as best I could determine it from memory or used-bookstore stamps inside (either unread/unfinished books, or ones by Bradbury, Dick and Ellison, whom I’m rereading), and have whittled the list down a bit, one now and then. It occurred to me to devote a whole year to them, there being about the right number for that, but that seemed impractical. Do I really want to spend a year reading nothing but books three decades old? Also, there might be a good reason I didn’t read them before now.

So, here’s one month. As I have more Ellison books from that period of my life than anything else, and I was getting into them again, I decided to just go for it and focus on him, while also reading a biography of the Kinks (God save the Kinks!), also unread all these years, during odd hours. It worked out well for me, although as a reader of this blog, your mileage may vary. In the case of Ellison, I read four of his 1960s story collections, plus one from 1982. I had read about 2 1/2 of the above back then. (Story collections are easy to stop reading.)

Am not sick of him yet, and will do more of the same during July.

Liven this post up, please, by telling me the more varied reading you did during June!

Next month: more of the same, God help us.

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  • DebB

    I had a very busy and stressful month, and really needed to read to relax, so my reading needed to be light and maybe a little fluffy. I decided to re-read Lillian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who…” mystery series. Many of the earlier ones are short enough to read in an evening (plus this is my third time through), so I think I made it through the first 9 or 10 by the end of June.

    • davidallen909

      I have yet to encounter a book “short enough to read in an evening” — reading one with an entire afternoon and evening is the best I’ve been able to do. You’re a speedy reader, Deb!

      • DebB

        I guess I am, but it’s much easier when you’ve read the book twice already!

  • Mark Allen

    In my semiannual update, I proffer 17 for consideration.

    I’m stupidly geeked that after reading 22 in 2011 and 18 in 2012, I’ve hit 17 halfway through the year.

    I highlight in particular “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-1945″ as flabbergastingly astounding.

    Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man – James N. Giglio

    Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End – Ph.D. Philip Plait

    Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus – Kyle Idleman

    They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-1945 – Milton Mayer

    With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 – David Stevenson

    Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power – Andrew Nagorski

    The Black Sheep of the Savior Circuit (Saving Lives) – Brock Harmon

    Columbine – Dave Cullen

    Passchendaele: The Untold Story – Robin Prior, Trevor Wilson

    Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base – Annie Jacobsen

    Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe: Ten Misbeliefs That Keep Us from Experiencing God’s Grace – Gary Kinnaman

    The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71 – Sir Alistair Horne

    The War of the Two Emperors: The Duel between Napoleon and Alexander: Russia, 1812 – Curtis Cate

    Saved without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation – John MacArthur

    Anarchy and Christianity – Jacques Ellul

    Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English – John McWhorter

    Caffeine Makes Me Bleed: And How It Can Poison You, Too! – Susan Lynn

    • davidallen909

      Thanks for the six-month roundup, bro. I hit 49 — so close! Reading 22 ultra-thin books in February inflated my total. I’ll end up around 75 or 80.

  • John Clifford

    Finished 2 and slogging through the complete Plato (almost finished the Dialogues).

    The most recent was the first Fixxer novel by my friend Steven Paul Leiva. A fun romp through some Hollywood show biz adventuress with an interestingly different character. Read on my reader.

    Earlier, I actually read a real paper book, Restless by William Boyd. A World War II spy thriller told in an alternating then/now timeline.

    • davidallen909

      The Complete Plato! (Or incomplete, since you’re not done yet.) Impressive. I haven’t even read the Complete Pluto. You know, Mickey Mouse’s dog.

      • John Clifford

        ALMOST finished Dialogues. Complete may take me ’till the end of the year. But since school starts back up this week and I’ll be traveling by train downtown 2 days a week . . .

  • Doug Evans

    I like your themed approach to reading! Kind of fun to approach it systematically. Or to be completely random! Which is how I continue to do it.

    I read six books last month… all the more amazing (if I can say so myself) as two of them were from the Game of Thrones series, each more than 1000 pages! Here’s the list:

    “A Clash of Kings” by George R.R. Martin. (Game of Thrones Book Two!) (If you want to be technical: “A Song of Ice and Fire” Book Two. “Game of Thrones” was the name of Book One, but that’s the umbrella name HBO is using for the TV series.)

    “A Storm of Swords.” Book Three of the above. I’m a little bit behind the nerd curve on this but I’m loving these books!

    “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. Borrowed from a friend; reread for old time’s sake. My third time through, I think. Well, fourth, actually… I just remembered that my fourth-grade teacher read it to the class!

    “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” by Nathaniel Philbrick. A book club pick, which I was happy to see picked as I’ve owned the book for twelve years and have never read it. The true story of a whale that attacked a whaleship and sunk it, forcing the crew to spend ninety days adrift in three whaleboats, leading to starvation and cannibalism until most (but not all) were rescued. The story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick!

    “The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex” by Owen Chase. Bought at the same time as the book above; never read until now. An account of the above wreck written by the first mate four months after his rescue.

    “Me and Orson Welles” by Robert Kaplow. Fictionalized story of a teenage kid who meets Welles and briefly becomes a member of his famous Mercury Theater group. Made into a movie! That I haven’t seen. Bought this a few years ago at a Borders Closing Sale. I miss Borders.

    I love these reading logs! Just wanted to say that. Happy reading, everyone!

    • davidallen909

      Thanks for saying you love these reading logs.

      You had the quite the month, Whaleship Essex-wise. Smart that you moved directly from the one to the other. I mean, if you were ever going to read a second book about the Whaleship Essex disaster, it would be during the month that you read the first one. Six years from now, you’d be unlikely to say, “You know, I’m finally in the mood to read this other Essex disaster tome.”

      I’ve seen “Me and Orson Welles.” Really charming movie, and especially now that you’ve read the book, you ought to seek out the movie. (Unless you think that in six years, you’ll finally be in the mood. Which I doubt.)

      With all due respect to George R.R. Martin and the powers of alliteration, “A Storm of Swords” is a faintly ridiculous phrase, isn’t it? “Honey, put on your galoshes. It’s raining swords.”

      • Doug Evans

        Hey, “A Storm of Swords” is better than “A Light Rainfall of Swords!” I wouldn’t want to be out in a storm of swords, but, you know, a drizzle of swords I could probably hang with. Just sayin’!

        I’m halfway through a third book on the sinking of the Essex… Wanted to get it in for this reading log but didn’t receive it in time. Another firsthand account by a survivor, this one not found or published till the early 1980′s. You’re right… I would never read these books years apart, probably, but having read “In the Heart of the Sea,” the historical account that draws on these firsthand stories, I feel motivated to read the actual survivors’ tales.

        I’ll check out that “Me and Orson Welles” movie! I read online that the recreation of the Mercury Theatre’s Julius Caesar done for the movie is as close as we’ll ever get to Welles’ actual production.

        • Mark Allen

          “Storm of Swords” is not as silly a title as “Metal Tornado,” which I enjoyed recently. It turned out to be the best documentary about metal tornadoes I’ve ever seen.

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    I finished seven books, although two of them were packaged as part of triple re-releases“ (a great deal for the reader and the rights holder too).

    3 nonfiction:

    Fire, Sebastian Junger, 2002: a collection of magazine articles over his career, beginning with forest fire fighters in the 1980s, but mostly war correspondence.

    How We Die, Sherwin Nuland, MD: a 1994 best-seller that won a National Book Award.

    Coming Into the Country, John McPhee, 1976: a NF counterpart to Michener’s Alaska, a sampler of various communities in Alaska.

    4 fiction:

    The Galton Case, Ross MacDonald, 1959: classic crime fiction from the master successor to Hammett and Chandler, back in the days when detectives had no private lives.

    Deathworld, Harry Harrison, 1960: Competent SF, with Harrison’s usual lighter touch, but with a serious ecological theme.

    Sand Against the Tide, Paul Bishop, 1990: LA crime fiction, maybe it was intended as satire like the Bond movies, but it didn’t work. Notable for the cover blurbs by Jonathan Kellerman and James Ellroy, who actually wrote good crime fiction.

    The Sinister Pig, Tony Hillerman, 2003: #16/18 and typical of the Leaphorn/Chee Navaho detective series, whose strength is its portrayal of the Navajo and their Native American neighbors.

    Except as noted, these were pretty good books. Five of the the authors I’ve read a full book or more of, more than ten in the case of MacDonald and Hillerman.

    I applaud the Doug Evans approach of reading more than one on the same subject from time to time. I did that with the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster: four books, after having followed the news accounts when it happened.

    • davidallen909

      Knowing Doug Evans, he will be grateful to have his approach applauded! Richard, thanks for joining us again. Someday I’ll get to Ross MacDonald. I’m midway through Hammett, have only read one Chandler, and am one-third of the way through the other MacDonald, John D.