December reading update and conclusion of experiment.

I read 8 books for this month. It wasn’t quite ebook only, but it was close.  I only read two books in print.

In ebooks, I read the “graphic novel” that was the source for the movie Atomic Blonde in ebook.  It was a very thin story and the movie is clearly more of an actual narrative and even makes more sense, minus the action girl aspect.  I also read a YA story called The Green Futures of Tycho, which was similarly thin, but at least had the excuse of being written for preteens.  I read Alt-Hero #5, which continued to be ok for a comic, and thus way better than comics are these days. My last round of ebooks was a trilogy called “The Hidden Truth”, an immensely dorky alt-history technothriller series and one that is quite cute if you’re familiar with 1990s internet culture.

As for print, I read a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson short fiction that included finally reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  What was striking about that novella was that there were, functionally, no women in it at all and that was not at all the context I had from its numerous pop culture permutations.  The other short stories were interesting and very suggestive of where such a talent as Stevenson’s might have gone if his candle hadn’t been snuffed out before age 45.

I also read the first volume of Tom Jones.  I don’t know Latin, so it was slow going having to check the glossary, but 95% of it isn’t Latin and was hilarious.  Anyone who thinks that “feminism” or “birth control” is what makes people act scandalously has clearly skipped reading Tom Jones.  One of the most surreal things about reading Tom Jones is how modern it feels even though massive portions of everyone’s lives are alien to modern sensibilities.  There isn’t much new under the sun, as ever.  Looking forward to knocking out the second half in the new year.

According to my calculations, I read 102 of 100 books this year.  However, I ended up skipping a bunch of planned nonfiction to read “easy” ebooks of authors I’d wanted to get around to reading various books of, so I didn’t really read the 100 books I wanted to.  I don’t know if I’ll set a goal for 2019.  It seems to be inhibitive past 50 books.

Perhaps there’s the rub, never plan more than a book a week and count any extra chances to finish a book as bonus.  Worth a shot.  Happy New Year!

 

 

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November reading update

I read 7 books for this month.  Another ebook only month, Kindle Unlimited had some good options.

I read Larry Correia’s second high fantasy book, the third is out next year or so.  It was a little thin, but still engaging.  T.W.O. read it too and what jumped out for him as a flaw was the lack of dance.  Dance is deeply important to martial fighters for what are no longer obvious reasons, and it’s usually absent from fantasy fiction involving martial arts these days, and this was, alas, no exception.  I continued in sequels with the latest in a magitek series written very quickly by one of the assortment of modern pulp authors.  It was ok, I’ll probably read a third or fourth.

I also read some more Tanith, short stories and novellas that were easy to check out.  I finally read Cordwainer Smith’s spy novel, published under yet another pen name.  It is all too short, but very action-filled and fascinating.

I also read one of those historical society collections of annotated pictures about a pair of counties in Indiana because it had a paragraph about Gene Stratton-Porter.  I thought it would be more than that, lol.  The evolution of the counties over a century was much more interesting than expected.  Indiana is a major cultural fulcrum point in American literature and social myth.

I have some print books I’ve been working on, but I don’t know if they’ll be done by December’s end.

Anyway, 94 books down, 6 to go.

 

October reading update

I read 15 books for this month.  It was also an ebook-only month, which is pretty unusual for me.  It usually means I’m mentally overexerted and want easier stuff to read.  So almost everything was fluff, esoteric, or esoteric fluff.

I read seven short novella-length ebooks about spies and true crime.  I also read Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s love letter to fandom and when nerds *really* loved science, Fallen Angels.  That one is cute and parts of it remain terrifyingly plausible.

I also continued reading a light D&D-ish series, as the third book was just sent to the mailing list and was a happy surprise.  In similar vein, I read the wrap-up book of a pretty good zombie series, also a surprise release earlier than the author said.

I tried out Kindle Unlimited, and I’ll probably keep it for a couple months.  I used that to read a truly fascinating biography of Cordwainer Smith, a collection of Clifford Simak shorts that reminded me of why I am just not that into his work, a very silly but cool-concept sci-fi book about magic being introduced into the world when humanity is banned from using space technology by evil aliens, and a very cute Tanith Lee novella.

I also used Kindle Unlimited to read the very funny, very sharp, but also very “written by a Boomer” satire “The Narrative.”  It’s by Deplora Boule and quite spot-on.

Anyway, 87 books down, 13 to go.

 

September reading update

I read 8 books for this month.

I finished the last two books in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy.  It was pop cheese, but there was also a lot of emotional resonance with the wartime love that was a major subtext of the trilogy and a major plot point in the last book.  On an ACU scale, the series was quite authentic and universal but not all that great on craft.

I continued with Alt-Hero, there’s a dozen or so planned in the initial crowdfunded set, so I’ll be reading at least that far with this alternate history comic book world.

I read an amazing book by Margaret Kennedy and it is a rare instance of reading without spoilers being absolutely appropriate.  It is called The Feast and even reading the book jacket is not recommended, because for some weird reason the publishers spoiled the entire book there.  It’s a tour de force.  I look forward to continuing to read her work, she is a most astonishing and excellent writer who is unjustly consigned to dustbins even among people who like old books.

I also read four Kate Wilhelm books.  She is known for her “clone wars” book Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, and I finally read that and a bunch of her short stories in various collections.  She is a better writer than her husband Damon Knight, but that’s not high praise.  She mostly writes deeply authentic character fiction about people in her area, but with sci-fi sprinkles.  Her clone novel is full of 70s ideas, with all the bad that entails and little of the good.

So, 72  books down, 28 to go.

 

August reading update

I read 13 books for this month.

I read two Frank Herbert books that touched upon elements expanded and explored in Dune (selection pressure, genetic experimentation in pursuit of immortality, nasty side effects of messing with nature for personal gain) and I will probably continue reading more Frank Herbert some time in the future, though probably not this year or even next.

I read more Alt-Hero, which now reads and looks like an above-average comic.  It’s a comic book, turns out it doesn’t take long to get decent when you start with experienced comic book artists.  I finished Stalky and Co., a Kipling boarding school book that is absolutely fascinating and charming, but also a bit shocking.  I read a reprint that was done in the 1960s explicitly as “We are reprinting this book about young boys subverting authority FOR SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS”.  The irony, very much lost.  I also finished Sheila Jeffries’ groundbreaking and extremely useful book about Victorian-era and WW1-era spinsters and their work trying to protect women and children from a rampant climate of abuse and exploitation, including excessively youthful prostitution.  Radical feminists have their own major biases, but they tend to be where I have to go for useful historical background on women, particularly when looking at the last 200 years or so, but sometimes they’re the best game in town further back than that, too.

I finally read the Space trilogy by Lewis and it’s still banging around my head, shocking me with its prescience but shocking me even more with how even Lewis could not predict or suspect the sheer eagerness of people to go much further than his own characters.  It was a more innocent time, or at least he was more innocent in some real and very beautiful ways.

I also read a book by Janice Holt Giles, an astonishingly depthful and accurate historical fiction writer who did a little memoir-work as well and who has apparently disappeared down the memoryhole, despite being extremely prolific and high-selling in the 1960s and 1970s.  There are a bunch of American women writers like this, they were popular essentially until 1980s trash romance took over women’s pop fiction.  And they competed ok through a fair bit of the 1980s in some cases.

I read a simply awful Alfred Bester novel he wrote late in life after 20 or so years out of the sci-fi game.  It was dated sounding, trashy and weird, missing all the charm he had in his 1940s and 1950s stories.

I read some MFK Fisher, in particular her book about how to get along deliciously during wartime or other instances of rationing.  It is a cool little book and many of her tips for how to cook well and enjoy food under extreme deprivation conditions hold up.  She had no animus towards things in boxes if it was what you could get.

I read Crazy Rich Asians.  It was an extremely useful read, but golly, some of the foreign-language profanity was much more graphic than I was expecting somehow.  Since I’ve heard quite a few of those words, having spent much of my life in Asian diasporas or neighborhoods, knowing what they mean will now be…interesting going forward.

And at long last I finished Hippies of the Religious Right.  I didn’t think I could get any more militant and radicalized, and then I finished reading this, including the lengthy notes section.  Welp.

Anyway, 64 books down, 36 to go.

 

July Reading Update

I finished one book this month.  It was Burton’s Arabian Nights translation, which I’d started on a long while back.  I decided to just focus on finishing it.  It had its ups and downs after a pretty spicy start.  The ending was a little unexpected.  Someday I’ll try another translation of the complete text, but not anytime soon.  I spent the time not reading other books figuring out what I was hoping to knock out for the next three years.  It’s maybe 300 books, but I didn’t do an exact count.

The current count is 51 down, 49 to go.