Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oh No! Not another, "What I'm Reading List."

Yup, as I mentioned in my opening blog, keeping a blog about what books I am reading is one of the reasons I started doing this. However, this is more for my benefit than anyone else. I find that if I am tracking something like this, especially publicly, it forces me to not be so lazy (some of you may call it getting at least five hours of sleep a night) and read more. So really, you probably don't want to read any further, but if you insist on not hitting the back button...

Over the years I have found it convenient to have different books in different locations, rather than lugging one book with me everywhere I go. So yes, I read three or four, sometimes even five, different books at a time. The trick is to not read two books by the same author at the same time. This is what I'm reading now:

In the bedroom: Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell. Checked this out from the library because I hate meeting an author (even at something like a book signing) and having to admit that I have never read anything by them (see below). I am enjoying the book, but because I have been getting to bed so late I have not been able to read more than 25 pages at a time. I usually read until I fall asleep somewhere between midnight and 2:00am.

In the downstairs bathroom: I just finished Big Money by one of my favorite authors, P. G. Wodehouse. Not as much fun as a Jeeves and Wooster novel, but almost nothing in this world is. I finished that library book and had another ready to take its place; Death of a Gentle Lady by M.C. Beaton. I really enjoy her Hamish Macbeth series (can't stand Agatha Raisin though) but I have to admit that you can't read the more recent ones without reading the earlier ones. At some point she appears to have decided that anyone reading a Macbeth novel has read all of the previous ones and so are familiar with the characters. The first 20 to 30 pages fly along so fast they read more like a book report synopsis of the book. By the time Hamish has a murder to solve things settle down to a more novel-like pace.

At the office: Monday I finished reading The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. I try to read either some non-fiction or "literature" (you know, Cervantes, Hemingway, Faulkner...that--usually pretty good--old stuff) every couple of months between all the science fiction I have piled up. I usually do these on tape though. I am now reading The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. I devoured the first book in this series, Old Man's War, last week. I actually finished it in less than 24 hours after I got it from the library. This is something I almost never do, I just don't have time and do need a least a few hours of sleep now and then. But, I really couldn't put it down. I'm taking it easier with The Ghost Brigades. By the way, when I say I am reading a book "at the office" it pretty much means, in the bathroom at the office. I may actually read more "at the office" than anywhere else...

Another thought about reading Old Man's War in one day. Sometimes I go through periods where I read several books in a month, and sometimes I only read one book over several months (having a Kakuro book in the downstairs bathroom killed my average earlier this year). Right now I am in one of those phases where I am reading a lot. Hopefully this blog will keep me there.

In the car: For the record, books on tape (and cd) saved my life. When I was driving to work five days a week, stuck in the car for 15 or more hours a week, forced to listen to the crappy radio stations we have in Atlanta, I had a lot of stress in my life. I would come home from work in a bad mood ready to kill someone, all because of the traffic. This changed the day I started listening to books in the car. I may talk about this more later, but this blog is long enough already.

Last week I tried to listen to the Modern Scholar series' Giants of Irish Literature by George O'Brien. It started off well, the historical background information in the first (of fourteen) lessons was really interesting. I enjoyed the lessons about Oscar Wilde, but by the time we got to Yeats I found my mind wandering while listening and that was it. If a BOT can't hold my attention I'll usually finish that tape (or disc) then give up. The Modern Scholar series on the whole has been fantastic; respected college professors recording their lectures. I am grateful my library system carries so many of these.

So now I'm listening to Slan Hunter by A.E. van Vogt and Kevin J. Anderson. I mostly picked this up because Kevin Anderson, like Tobias Buckell and John Scalzi mentioned above, will be together at a panel and book signing at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend. And as I said, I hate meeting an author having not read any of their work. I'm enjoying the book as I still love "classic science fiction" but I do have one problem with it. I know it is a direct sequel to a book written in the 1940s, and the events are taking place right after the events in Slan, but I think Kevin could have done more to make book read less dated.

For example, instead of having a member of the secret police demand that a nurse give him the "carbon copies" of all the recent records, why not just ask for "copies" and let the reader fill in their own minds if these are paper, digital or something else. He could also mention the large banks of computers, which seems outdated enough in this age of miniaturization to keep the book enough like the original, without mentioning the punch cards and making the book sound really dated. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying Slan Hunter, I'm just not sure why he did this.

Ok, that is all I'm reading at the moment. The question now is how often do I update this? Anytime I finish one of the above books and start on something else? Or when I've finished them all? Or maybe just once a week? And perhaps more importantly, will the next blog be under 1000 words? I have the feeling that a competent writer could have conveyed the information in this blog in 1/4 the words (and without using so many parenthetical statements as I have a bad habit of doing). It also occurs to me that I could have read about 100 pages in The Ghost Brigades, or an entire Hamish Macbeth novel, in the time I have spent on my first two blog posts today.

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