Reading Log: March 2014


Books acquired: “Who I Am,” Pete Townshend; “Walkable City,” Jeff Speck.

Books read: “Silverlock,” John Myers Myers; “Tales From the ‘White Hart,'” Arthur C. Clarke; “The Woman in Black,” Susan Hill.

Only a three-book month here. Is that better or worse than a three dog night? Regardless, all three of my reads last month had significance for me.

“Silverlock” I’ve owned since the early 1980s but never got around to reading. For one thing, it’s 500 pages; for another, the hype that helped sell it — separate introductions by SF heavyweights Poul Anderson, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle — also inhibited actually reading the thing. “You’ll get drunk on ‘Silverlock,'” “an odyssey of the human spirit,” etc., etc. I could never bring myself to read it, yet I could never bring myself to sell it either.

Now that I’m back to taking my bookshelves seriously, I read it, and you know, “Silverlock” was darned good, a picaresque adventure in the Commonwealth of Letters in which nearly every character is taken from literature or legend: Don Quixote, Paul Bunyan, Robin Hood, Leatherstocking, the Green Knight, and dozens more. Great fun, and recommended if you’re well read, or if like me you can fake it.

That book consumed nearly four weeks. I managed to squeeze in two short books on vacation, a collection of scientific shaggy dog stories by Clarke, told by a tall-tale spinner in a London pub, and Hill’s Gothic horror novel, set in England, from 1992. I liked both of those. (The latter was made into a slightly creepy, slightly silly movie in 2012.)

They meant a little more to me because in London two years ago I’d stumbled across a White Hart pub in the vicinity of the one Clarke frequented; research shows that this one is modern and Clarke’s hangout was really named the White Horse, but no matter, I wanted to read the book ever since. Hill’s book I bought during that trip at Foyle’s; I used the receipt as my bookmark. Happy sigh.

Clarke’s book was bought used at a Bookmaster in Arizona some six years ago, and “Silverlock” came from a used bookstore of my youth, the Double R Book Nook in Olney, Ill.

All three books have a color in their title, and I have so many more of these that April looks likely to have more “color books.” I’m wrapping up a yellow and have started a green, with a red, a blue and an amber in the wings, and a white, a black, a gold, another blue and another green probably out of reach unless April has 60 days.

Of my two acquisitions this month, the first was a birthday gift and the second was bought at BookPeople in Austin, my first book purchase of 2014. I’m trying to cut down.

What have you been reading? And has anyone read, or even heard of, “Silverlock”? It’s kind of a cult classic, hence the hard-sell introductions in my 1980 edition, but deserves to be better known.

Next month: a riot of color.


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  • John Clifford

    Big month with 3 completed.

    The Complete Works of Plato, translated and with commentaries by Benjamin Jowett. This has been a year-long effort to read all of Plato (not sure why, but it was a free Kindle book, so why not?). Finally finished. I started out reading the Jewett commentaries on the words at the beginning of each “book,” but soon realized that he was doing so much quoting of the material that by the time I read it, I already knew everything and couldn’t read it and decipher for myself. So after about the third dialogue I started just skimming the commentaries for things that seemed like they might have relevance and then let Plato speak for himself. A lot of fun to see the many parallels between early Greek civilization and today.

    Then some fun books.

    The second “Wearing the Cape” book by Marion G. Harmon, “Villains Inc” was a fun romp in a world where there are superheros who fly over Chicago (and other locales) keeping us safe or supervillians who are putting us in danger. The heroine Astra, is a college Freshman with the “alpha” super abilities who seems to always be in trouble. Just fun.

    Four to Score, the fourth Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich is more fun with bounty hunter Stephanie, her very quirky family, almost as quirky co-workers, and some New Jersey neighbors and residents who keep her on her toes. While the hype is “laugh out loud,” I have to say that there were several times in this book (as well as the previous ones in the series) where I did “laugh out loud.”

    This month I’m getting a head start on Pomona’s coming Together We Read entry.

    • davidallen909

      You have ranged over wide territory this month, John! If you were all-Plato, all the time, you would likely be impossible to talk to, as well as too good for this blog, so good for you for mixing it up.

    • Richard_Pietrasz

      I have good reason to believe the rest of us have a difficult time competing with the Complete Works of Plato.

  • davidallen909

    Gee, one month I’m reading “The Swerve,” the next month someone else is reading it. I feel so powerful and influential. I agree, these modern nonfiction books that take a micro look at something and argue that everything pivots on that one slim moment can be hard to take, but Greenblatt did render this sweeping history in relatively accessible fashion.

    I’ve read the other two Cain books as well and saw the classic version of “Mildred Pierce.” Didn’t really get why it’s a noir as opposed to a weepy women’s picture about a hard-working mom and her ungrateful daughter.

  • davidallen909

    Perhaps so, although they were collected as early as the ’50s. I didn’t read more than three of the stories in a row to preserve some sense of novelty. I own Scarlet Pimpernel and hope to read that later this year.

    If posting to this blog acts as encouragement to you to read more and more diversely, then my work here is done. Um, except that it continues. Writing these posts has a similar effect on me!