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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Nothing quite like mining the posts of yore when trying to dream up a new thing to ramble on about. Hey, Hollywood does the same thing (see here and here for examples) so I am in good company.

Today’s post harkens back to a 2011 post where I listed off all the books I read in the previous year.

Instead of looking back, I will look forward and tell you what is on tap for me for this year.

ALREADY COMPLETED:
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed. A Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the events and people that led to the Great Depression.

Redshirts by John Scalzi. A brilliant take on the Star Trek trope of how the security folks on an away team (the eponymous redshirts) always get killed. But, it is so much more than that.

CURRENTLY READING:
Becoming Ray Bradbury by Jonathan Eller. I told you that one day I would get around to this book.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Instead of sitting through the movie John Carter of Mars, I thought I would go right to the original source about tales of Barsoom.

ON THE SHELF AND WAITING:
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. Yes, I know it deals with zombies, but since I did sit through the movie starring Brad Pitt, I thought I should read the real book (which is always – with one exception – better than the movie).

The War With Mexico by Justin Smith. Another winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Macroscope by Piers Anthony.

Collision 2012 by Dan Balz. A recounting of the 2012 Obama vs. Romney presidential campaign.

The Run to Chaos Keep by Jack Chalker. The sequel to his The Demons at Rainbow Bridge.

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings. I hope to complete this book about the origins of World War I before this anniversary year is out.

Under the Dome by Stephen King. This one has been on the shelf for quite some time. This may be its year…or next year.

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. Because I want to be even more depressed about that state of American politics than I already am.

Wish me luck and we’ll see how many tomes I can drop off the list.

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Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

–Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

As I perhaps have mentioned a few times here and there and over there also, I love reading.

However, as much as I love reading, I loathe e-books.

I could have served as the model for the female physical book-loving character in the Amazon Kindle commercials because I believe all the things she does.

I love the feel of a book in my hand. I love being able to dog-ear a page. I own bookmarks just so that I can put them in books. I love having a physical library where I can look at the spines of books. I love that “new book” smell. I love being able to write notes in the margins in my own handwriting…and then come back to them years later and wonder what the hell was I thinking (both my copies of Democracy in America and The Prince are filled with what I thought was wisdom when I was twenty).

My wife bought a Nook and it was like bringing home garlic to your vampire spouse. She enjoys the portability of the e-book and the vast library of free material and I thought it was a lovely doorstop.

I have treated this device like a turd at Thanksgiving dinner. I have shunned it and done my best to avoid it. I vowed to win the battle against this thing that, to use Adams’s words, “went against the natural order of things.”

I lost.

Last month, my oldest son, Christopher, was having an issue at school. His English class was requiring him to read a book every two weeks and write a book report on what he had read. However, in our haste to move, we did not pack enough appropriate reading material for him. So, my wife suggested we use the Nook and for him, I downloaded all five Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams. I now have my oldest son hooked on the misadventures of Arthur Dent and 42.

Like an infection, once I touched the e-reader, its tendrils took hold of me and began to sing its temptations. I resisted this e-vixen body and soul until I lost a few days ago.

While reading his blog and Twitter feed (@wilw), I discovered that Wil Wheaton had written a book about his time as an actor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Entitled Memories of the Future: Volume 1, it is billed as an insider’s look into the first half of the first season of ST:TNG.

I was a fan of ST:TNG when it first came out my freshman year in college. This show was appointment television for me and some of my friends as we would hijack our dorm’s lobby and take over the TV so we could watch the further adventures of the starship Enterprise.

There is no doubt about it, the first season was corny. From the pajama-like Starfleet outfits, to Troi’s cheerleader uniform, to the plots having to reach back to the original series for ideas (I’m looking at you “The Naked Now”), and even to the music, this series screamed “cheesy” and “cancellation”.

Thankfully, just like the man who was turned into a newt in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the series got better.

I am looking forward to reading Mr. Wheaton’s comments about that first season because, curses be upon him, his book was only available to me in electronic form. I have bitten the bullet and drank the Kool-Aid as the first e-book I now own comes from the hand of Wil Wheaton.

Curse you!

DECEMBER 1, 2011 UPDATE:

I see, courtesy of TechCrunch, that I am not the only one to reluctantly come around to e-books. I like it when I am on the same side as a giant in the field.

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As I have mentioned before, I enjoy reading. With my move to a new location and with my new status as a flaneur (Ah, Tish, you’re speaking French), I have brought with me half a score of books that I hope to complete in my time here in the City of Lights. And here they are…

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley;
Changing Planes by Ursula K. LeGuin;
Talk Show by Dick Cavett;
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton;
Ulysses by James Joyce;
Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman;
The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi;
Under the Dome by Stephen King;
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marissa Pessl; and
Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World at ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

Other than letting you know what is on my bookshelf to tide me over for the next few years, this post (and the last book on my list most importantly) was also my way of saying Happy Birthday to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (commonly referred to as ESPN) which debuted 32 (there’s your number for the day) years ago today.

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I’m sure it will come as no surprise to those of you who read these postings, but I enjoy reading. During the past year, I completed a dozen books and let me regale you with that list:

The Battle for America: 2008 by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson details the election of Barack Obama as President, but also goes into detail about the primary elections for both parties. I have a series of books about presidential elections as I have tomes about the elections of 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1986, 1960, 1876, and 1800. Does anyone know of a good book about the Carter-Ford election of 1976?

The 2012 Story by John Major Jenkins. Personally, I find the whole “world-will-end-on-2012” thing silly, but this book was a gift so I read it. I was surprised to see this author take the tack that 2012 will not be the end of the world, but instead sees this date as something different. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. After reading this book, there are now only seven Americans who have not read it. I could spend hours discussing why I loathed this book, but suffice it to say to that septet of Americans who have not cracked open this book…DON’T !

Last Words by George Carlin. Published after this death, I enjoyed reading this autobiography of one of creative heroes. It was fascinating to read how he stumbled into stand-up comedy and how me managed to bring himself back from the brink.

The Fire by Katherine Neville. This book was the long-awaited sequel to a book I would recommend in a heartbeat, The Eight. I describe the sequel as “long-awaited”, because I could have waited longer. This follow-up to The Eight seemed less focused and more scattered than the original and (my opinion only) appeared to be written solely to cash in on the cult following of masterful original.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. I have read four books by Sedaris including his witty Holidays On Ice and I have yet to come across any of his writing that disappoints me. This latest tome, to me, shines, but then again, maybe it’s because I can relate to the theme of aging and maturity like he is.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis. If you want to understand the financial meltdown of 2008, READ THIS BOOK !

Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago. An interesting tale about what would happen if people stopped dying. This narrative had a quirky style to it that I am still trying to figure out if I liked it or not.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin. Not a book for the faithful…of any faith. My second book this year by the master. Now that I have read it, I only need to read Sometimes A Little Brain Damage Can Help to complete his entire writings.

Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell. I like to try and read one “classic” each year and this ancient text was 2010’s selection. I was entranced by the imagery and the themes of this text.

Mop Men by Alan Emmins. This is a wonderful book about the world of those who clean up crime scenes. Not for the faint of heart with some of its descriptions of what gets left behind after a suicide or murder, but still an entertaining read about a business I was not aware of.

Ohio’s Kingmaker: Mark Hanna, Man & Myth by William T. Horner. Putting the memoirs of Carlin and Sedaris aside, this was the best non-fiction book I read this year. Having known little about Mark Hanna (and what I did know only through the lens of the media), this book was an eye-opening read about how the media can (willfully and through laziness) distort history and it was a fabulous introduction into the life of Mark Hanna.

And now…of we go with my 2011 reading list.

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