June reading update

I read 10 books for this month.

I finished books 2-5 of the John Carter/Barsoom series and I’m done with Burroughs-Mars, not going to check any more of it out.  Unlike Tarzan, which was noblebright, and very pure, Barsoom has a lot more camel’s nose under the tent to it.  Everyone is naked, the imagery (particularly of the various creatures John Carter and various other Martians have to battle) is striking and powerful and influenced quite a few sci-fi writers I read back in the day, but it’s frequently revolting and depraved.  John Carter himself grows increasingly vain and bloodthirsty as the series progresses.  I suspect that’s part of why it’s not as evergreen as Tarzan.  It’s “fetish fuel” and would be hard to film even under current mores as a mainstream series of movies.  The Barsoomian world is sciencey and secular, but also incoherent in its sexual and social morality.

Anyway that was four books down.  I finally read Journey to the Center of the Earth, which was epic and featured one of the most realistically terrifying moments I’ve seen in a book.  I also read Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure story of one of his ancestors.

I was working on and continue to work on some other books, but I got distracted by some new e-releases and read those.  They were the second Alt-Hero comic (which is vastly improved in both storyline and art over the first one) and book 2 in the Saga of the Iron Dragon.  I also started reading Dune and finished it.  I read it once 20+ years ago and I’m counting it as a new read because I’d forgotten most of the characters and plot(s). I also read The Reluctant Dragon which literally just turned up and I realized I’d never read, only seen a cartoon of.  It’s cute.

The current count is 50 down, 50 to go.


May reading update

I read 10 books for this month.

I read the entire Dark is Rising series.  It’s a Narnia-response series, probably.  Explicitly anti-Christian, not what I was expecting at all.  Once you take that into account, the Celtic and Arthurian mythos and the take on magic are pretty good.  It’s five books, that was half my reading for the month.  The rest was the Alt-Hero comic (cheesy, but I expected nothing less from a kickstarter superhero comic), Pinocchio (the original), Wind in the Willows (a very lyrical book), the first John Carter book and Larry Correia’s short story collection.

The first John Carter book (some call it “A Princess of Mars”) was not very interesting.  It was always easy to get to a stopping point with it until the last 1/4, when it picked up.  Larry’s short stories were mostly only ok, due to being heavily licensed fiction stuff of games and such I’m not familiar with.

The current count is 40 down, 60 to go.   I made progress with Hippies of the Religious Right, but not enough to write the rest up until a fortnight from now.

April reading update

I read 8 books for this month.  I read the first three Tarzan books, a 30 year old YA book about a boy surviving in the woods, finished the last Avery Hall book, finished a book of usenet-funny work anecdotes, finished an ebook-only assortment of fantasy stories and finally read the Velveteen Rabbit.  I saw it as a kid, but never read the book.  It’s a very sweet story.

The current count is 30 down, 70 to go.   I am mired in the Burton Arabian Nights translation, which is a very spicy meatball.  I didn’t know that before jumping in.  The first 100 or so pages are pretty q-rated and the KJV stylistic approach makes it even denser of a read.  Will probably finish Hippies of the Religious Right this month.  Not really sure about how I’m going to read the remaining 70 books planned for the year.  T.W.O. unpacked a bunch of to-read history and fiction that I was working on before the move and I’ve been in analysis paralysis on where to start or resume.

I feel like my oldest child.  “I’m allowed to check out two more from the library, but I’m already reading nine books, and I wouldn’t finish them before the return date.”

February reading update

I read 12 books for this month.  Two were from a trilogy very popular with Cure fans, four were a super cool post-apocalyptic maritime series with far future Franco-Asians who’ve mastered wind power and Islamic pirates and fightin’ Africans, three were novellas about a very cheesy but amusingly chaste “Master Thief”, one was from the military science fiction series There Will Be War, Castalia reissues.  One was book two in a cute, fairly clean new series called Magebreakers (book one is fun and cute too) and to make a round dozen, I also read a book strictly for the premise.  That one is about far-future humans being flung back in time to the Viking era of the 9th century or so and having to build a spaceship, somehow, for the future.  The guy got people to Kickstarter for it and I will be buying books 2 and 3, when he puts them out, just to see if they build that spaceship.


The current count is 22 down, 78 to go. I’ve also taken up reading the Bible near daily.  I’m still working on a target I can hit every day, but of late I have only missed a day and easily recovered from it rather than falling behind a week or more and feeling overwhelmed.

January reading update

I read 10 books for this month.  Seven were Sherlock Holmes, one was a Clifford Simak collection of four novellas, one was a very weird 1960s short story anthology I bought strictly for a story I can’t read online in full anymore, and one was non-fiction, The Art of the Deal.

Sherlock Holmes was very modern in a lot of ways and extremely refreshing stylistically.  Clifford Simak was ok, but I remembered why I never got into completionist mode with his work.  It’s weak on characterization and doesn’t have a lot of zing.

The short story anthology was very, very, very, very, very 1960s.  It was, except for the story I bought it for (“The Dance of the Changer and the Three”, available partially online due to link rot) and perhaps one other story, totally full of the laddishness the recently deceased Ursula LeGuin criticized.  I can live with that kind of stuff in my sci-fi now and again, but it’s also good there’s a lot less of it these days.

The Art of the Deal was really fascinating as a look into the mind of someone who is nerdy in ways that I am nerdy.

So current count is 10, 90 to go.



What I’ve been reading

I recently finished the D’Artagnan Romances. which consist of The Three (Scandalous) Musketeers, Twenty Years After and Vicomte De Bragelonne.  The last one is around 2000 pages and usually split up into three books called Vicomte De Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask.  The evolution of the Musketeers from rascally 20somethings to middle-aged men to men just waiting to retire and/or die is quite fascinating.  And there is lots of drama and intrigue and action.  And something like 3500 pages total.

I am currently beginning the very long journey that is reading the unabridged (and also steam coming off the 1200+ pages “mature”) Count of Monte Cristo.

I also read some Dorothy Sayers, a couple of memoirs by a 1940s housewife and Winnie the Pooh.  I read all of Narnia, and The Last Unicorn, which is truly magical.

I’m still working on Maria Montessori’s pedagogy.

I have also been reading some demographic analysis stuff, apparently looking into the increase in college education among women and how it was changing their family having patterns was all the rage and then it suddenly wasn’t, around the time they became a majority of all births (the 80s).

And I haven’t done more than glance at it yet, but I have a very interesting book about sorcery, the occult and Christianity and how the neo-pagans of the late 19th century were not creating something new and weird, but echoing long standing occult practices that had been aggressively hidden by Victorians wishing to represent an unbroken line of faithful and untainted Christian practice.  It’s actually about how much of this was carried over the sea by those English and Germans who “founded the country”, but it gets into backstory about the occult in Western Europe up until the 19th century.

I thought I hadn’t been reading much this year, but I haven’t even covered a quarter of what I’ve gotten through and I started on a couple other books.  I guess the Dumas being soooooo long makes it seem like I’ve barely read more than two books in six months, but it’s nowhere near that bad.

Why I didn’t finish Somewhither by John C. Wright.

To be quite brief, I got to the Superwife section early in the book (less than 20% in) and I was done.  I couldn’t keep going much further.  The book is written in mostly teenage boy first person, which I had read from other non-spoiler reviews was a bit rough going in the early chapters, but that was not my real obstacle.  It was the teenage boy recalling his mother, who was Donna Reed (without the housekeepers of course) melded with mannish interests like woodcarving hot rods.  And also melded with the rude homeschool parent caricature growling at school officials coming over politely and reasonably.

It was too fantastical for me, and the book is a fantasy novel.