ChrisG regains his mojo in 23

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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ChrisG regains his mojo in 23

Fev 8, 2023, 7:07 pm

I'm back after dropping off last summer. Went into a reading slump & stopped posting. Still finished the year having read 100 books, but 80% of that was thru July.

Got rolling again in the New Year. I'll be returning to reading more sci fi - my first reading love, along with a smattering of classics & modern lit fic, mysteries, history/biography & miscellany.

Here's the list read to date:

1. Dynasty by Tom Holland
2. When the Light Goes by Larry McMurtry
3. The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff
4. It's a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn
5. Rhino Ranch by Larry McMurtry
6. Ghosts ofGuatamala by Collin Glavac
7. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
8. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
9. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
10. Bradbury Speaks by Ray Bradbury
11. A Case of Conscience by James Blish
12. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
13. Ketocontinuum by Annette Bosworth, M.D.

With such a reporting dump, I'm not bothering with my summation, but will return to that with further books. Currently working on The Palace of Eternity by Bob Shaw, and Play Winning Cribbage by Delynn Colvert.

Fev 8, 2023, 7:56 pm

Great to see you back Chris.

Fev 9, 2023, 2:38 pm

Welcome back, Chris! Glad the slump seems to have passed.

Fev 9, 2023, 4:15 pm

Welcome back, Chris, you started the year started well.

Fev 12, 2023, 11:24 pm

Just returned (to Oregon) from Daytonal Beach, FL, where my barbershop quartet participated in the International Senior Quartet Championships. A great time was had by all.

I finished 2 books since the last entry:

14. The Palace of Eternity by Bob Shaw - a 1969 Science Fiction novel that is a good reflection of that time, with strong anti-military/establishment themes. Well written & an enjoyable read.

15. Blood Music by Greg Bear - a 1985 Science Fiction novel about a cataclysmic plague striking North America, the result of biotech experimentation. I know what you're thinking - but it's much, much worse than COVID. I don't do spoilers, but will simply recommend the book - unique in conception & well executed.

Editado: Fev 21, 2023, 7:22 pm

16. The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny - continuing through some older science fiction. I primarily knew Zelazny for his Amber series, one of my favorites in the fantasy genre. His stories tend to involve tricksters and dreams/visions/altered reality. But it was the 60's, so....

Enjoyable read, with thought-provoking trips into the nature of reality. Recommended.

Editado: Fev 21, 2023, 7:22 pm

17. City by Clifford D. Simak - Another older sci-fi book. Getting to ones long on my "been meaning to get around to it" list. Definitely a creature of it's time - a bit sad & pessimistic about humanity, whimsical about future developments on Earth as man fades away. I give it a 3 star - I liked, but didn't love it.

Editado: Fev 21, 2023, 7:23 pm

18. Play Winning Cribbage by DeLynn Colvert - one of my pasttimes is playing cribbage. My children have picked it up & we often play when we get together. But I also play in a club that plays tournament style - we put money in a pot & divide it among the top finishers for the night. Occasionally, I'll play in a much larger tournament - in fact, I did so a few weeks ago and....well, it didn't go well. Thought I'd study up & be able to bring my A game to these situation. This book was written by a man who is the most successful tournament player of all time. Only about half of the book deals with strategy & tactics, the rest is general information. But it was a good reminder for me & I hope it'll improve my play. I'm going to follow that with another such book soon.

Fev 22, 2023, 2:07 pm

19. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. My first 5-star review of the year. I picked this one up because it had won the Goodreads Choice Award for Science Fiction - basically a popularity award, but it made me curious. It takes a fresh twist on both time-travel and "is life a simulation" ideas. Beautifully written, with empathy & thoughtfulness. Can't recommend it strongly enough.

Fev 24, 2023, 9:21 pm

20. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. A Sci-Fi classic from 1961 & quite a unique & weird (in a good way) story. It's a story of alien contact - and the most unusual one I've ever read. Recommended.

Fev 24, 2023, 10:13 pm

Just wanted to say I'm starring your thread, I love sci-fi and am already seeing a few intriguing books. :)

Fev 24, 2023, 11:30 pm

>11 sisyphus_happy: Glad to meet you - I'll check yours out too!

Fev 24, 2023, 11:34 pm

Nice to see you posting, Chris.
>10 ChrisG1: I recently added that one and hope to get to it soon.

>9 ChrisG1: Bumped that up my list too!

Have a great weekend.

Fev 25, 2023, 9:40 am

>13 PaulCranswick: I'm eager to see how you like them, Paul - my 2 faves of the year so far.

Fev 26, 2023, 7:14 pm

21. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin - I'm rereading the original trilogy in the Folio Society reprints that I bought last year. Beautiful editions, by the way, if you're into that sort of thing. I originally read these in high school - and loved them - and am delighted to find they still hold up well for me. The first 1/3 of this volume is fairly grim. A young girl is determined to be the rebirth of the High Priestess of The Nameless Ones & taken from her home to be trained to "continue" her duties. Things become interesting when the mage Sparrowhawk is caught sneaking through the tombs, apparently trying to steal from the treasures of the gods. Excellent storytelling, as always from Le Guin.

Fev 28, 2023, 10:54 am

February Reading Summary:

Books read: 12

Pages read: 2898

Longest book: Ketocontinuum by Annette Bosworth M.D. - 489 pages

Shortest book: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance - 154 pages

Average book length: 241.5 pages - these old sci-fi classics tended to be shorter

Book of the Month: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Dud of the month: No duds to speak of this month - always a good thing.

Fev 28, 2023, 11:03 am

March Reading Plan:

Neuromancer - William Gibson
The Three Body Problem - Cixin Liu
The King of Elfland’s Daughter - Lord Dunsany
The Iron Dream - Norman Spinrad
Winning Cribbage TIps - Dan Barlow
Cage of Souls - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Childhood’s End - Arthur C. Clarke
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor
All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) - Martha Wells
The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett

March being my busiest business month (I'm a CPA with a small tax practice), I'll limit the list to this. Winning Cribbage Tips and Neuromancer are in progress. I think I'm most looking forward to The Color of Magic, simply because so many sci-fi readers love Pratchett's Discworld books & I've held off so long.

Mar 2, 2023, 12:18 pm

22. Winning Cribbage Tips by Dan Barlow. OK, I realize this is a very niche non-fiction book, but hey, if you like to play cribbage, it's good to learn to up your game a bit & this book does a great job of helping you play a more thoughtful game.

Mar 3, 2023, 12:37 pm

23. Neuromancer by William Gibson. This one was a struggle for me to get through. I found the author's prose style difficult to follow & confusing. It was perhaps by design, the story being a constant alternation between physical and virtual reality. But in the end, there was very little for me to like. The characters didn't interest me. I know the cyberpunk element was new & fresh at the time, but it's well worn territory now, so I'd say it doesn't hold up well. Moving on to an old school Arthur C. Clark novel - Childhood's End.

Mar 6, 2023, 8:42 pm

24. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. A sci-fi classic from 1953. A bit dated, but Clarke could always present interesting ideas. Earth has been quietly subdued by a race of aliens, to what purpose, nobody knows. They are benign overlords, leading humanity into a period of unprecendented peace & prosperity. Yet there is a hidden agenda, eventually revealed & totally unexpected...

Mar 6, 2023, 8:49 pm

Very focused reading Chris!

Good luck on your busy month ahead.

Mar 8, 2023, 10:52 am

25. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. The first volume of Pratchett's immensely popular Discworld series, but I'm sorry to say I'm not a fan. I can see what appeals to the fans, but it's just not my cup of tea. Ah well...on to Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor.

Mar 8, 2023, 5:20 pm

>22 ChrisG1: I would agree that they are very much an acquired taste, Chris. I too see their appeal but it isn't quite my cup of tea either.

Mar 11, 2023, 12:53 pm

>22 ChrisG1: The Color of Magic is not really representative of later Discworld books, many fans suggest that you skip it and start with another. If you are willing to try again, I would check out Small Gods. It's set on Discworld but is more of a stand-alone; it gets the "flavor" of Discworld and doesn't indulge in as much silliness as The Color of Magic. The first few books almost remind me of the Monty Python style of British humor, which was never my cup of tea either.

Editado: Mar 11, 2023, 5:28 pm

>24 sisyphus_happy: I'm hearing this sort of thing from several people ( I also participate in the SF group). I certainly enjoy humor mixed with a story, but I still want a compelling story. For me, in The Color of Magic, the silliness seemed like the main point. I'm making note of the suggested Discworld books & will one a try before too long...

Mar 11, 2023, 8:12 pm

26. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. This one was a whole lot of fun. A creative take on time travel, humorous dialogue & narration, bad guys, romance. Very entertaining!

Mar 12, 2023, 12:38 pm

>26 ChrisG1: That series is a lot of fun even while coping with some hard topics. I just finished Doing Time which is the first of her spin-off series about the Time Police, it's also great fun.

Mar 12, 2023, 4:52 pm

>27 catseyegreen: Yes, I expect I'll be delving further into Taylor's works in the coming months....

Mar 12, 2023, 4:55 pm

27. All Systems Red by Martha Wells - first of the popular Murderbot series. It's a quick read, both from a page count standpoint, and the pacing.Plenty of action, and the perspective of a bot telling the story was unique. Well told & I'm sure I'll be continuing the series, probably in my one-installment per 1-2 months pace.

Mar 17, 2023, 11:48 pm

28. The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany. A fantasy classic and understandably so. Dunsany's poetic prose sets the sleepy, magical mood of the fairy tale, where the desire of the villagers for a little magic to distinguish their humble valley becomes more than they wished...

Mar 19, 2023, 10:37 am

29. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells. #2 in the Murderbot series of novellas. It makes for a nice, light snack.

Mar 23, 2023, 1:31 pm

30. Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky. A near future sci fi novel which depicts biotech advancements enabling the creation of super soldiers from animals, particularly dogs. The main character is Rex, who just wants to be a Good Dog. At the beginning, that's defined by whatever Master says. But he becomes decoupled from his connection with Master and must begin making choices for himself. Tchaikovsky explores these implications and more, with other related biotech developments. Recommended.

Editado: Mar 26, 2023, 10:09 pm

31. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I had read her most recent book Sea of Tranquility last month and it made quite an impression. Station Eleven was her breakout novel & I'll say I liked it even more, getting my first 5 star rating of the year. There are similar elements in the books - multiple characters who intersect at different points. No time travel here, but she shifts to different periods over a roughly 40 year period, slowly revealing what ties them together. Highly recommended.

Mar 27, 2023, 9:57 am

32. All the Trouble in the World by P.J. O'Rourke. This would have been a better read closer to it's publication date. Much of O'Rourke's humor is topical, hence it was a bit dated reading it now. Still, many of his points remain valid - a great deal of catastrophizing is wrong-headed and, quite frankly, ideologically driven manipulation.

Mar 28, 2023, 11:28 pm

33. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells. Installment #3 in her "Murderbot" series of SF novellas. A good, entertaining, light read. Had started a heftier Alastair Reynolds book, but my work-adled brain was having none of it. So I resorted back to good old Murderbot.

Abr 1, 2023, 9:41 am

March Reading Summary:

Books read: 12

Pages read: 2973

Longest book: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor - 480 pages

Shortest book: Winning Cribbage Tips by Dan Barlow

Average book length: 248 pages

Book of the Month: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - 2nd straight month for this author!

Dud of the month: Neuromancer by William Gibson. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a classic. But I found the prose to be extremely difficult to follow.

Abr 1, 2023, 9:45 am

April Reading Plan:

Nightfall - Asimov & Silverberg
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Eye of the Heron - Ursula LeGuin
The Power - Naomi Alderman
Gateway - Frederick Pohl
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie (Kindle)
Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K Dick
The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
Blindsight - Peter Watts
Beholder’s Eye - Julie e. Czerneda

Basically an all-sci-fi list. We'll see how much I stick to it - squirrel!!!

Abr 4, 2023, 6:21 pm

34. Beholder's Eye by Julie E. Czerneda. A light sci-fi adventure featuring a shape-shifting energy being. It took awhile to warm up to, but in the end I liked it enough that I may try the next one in the series.

Abr 6, 2023, 10:22 pm

35. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. Nominally science fiction, but really a hazy depiction of drug addiction. It wasn't really my cup of tea.

Abr 8, 2023, 2:30 pm

36. Blindsight by Peter Watts. A fine example of hard science fiction. It's a novel of First Contact in which the aliens are...truly alien. Blindsight takes place in the late 21st Century, when most humans are genetically engineered before birth and almost all maladies are correctable afterward. Many in the human race are abandoning their analog lives for digital ones - permanently plugging themselves into "Heaven." Expect to explore issues of the philosophy of consciousness and what it means to be human in an increasingly digitized and biologically engineered world. It's a dense read, yet I was surprised how quickly I flew through it, as Watts definitely pulled me in.

Abr 10, 2023, 8:57 am

37. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I'll confess that YA fiction is not my thing, but Ready Player One was a kick in the pants & I enjoyed it quite a bit. It appeals to the nerd in me. If you like vintage video games, 80's pop culture (my teen years were in the 70's, but I got enough of it to enjoy it), and clear cut good guys vs. bad guys story lines, you'll enjoy this book.

Abr 12, 2023, 3:09 pm

38. The Eye of the Heron by Ursula K. LeGuin. Loved this book. While the setting is science-fictional, the story could just as easily have taken place in Australia or the American West. Two groups of exiles, sent 50 years apart to a planet being used as a penal colony, find their differing values and ideas coming to a head. LeGuin's prose is excellent, her exploration of the interaction of differing cultures is thoughtful and insightful. Highly recommended.

Abr 17, 2023, 9:27 am

39. Nightfall by Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg. A story of a worldwide apocalypse - not on Earth, but on another planet. It shows the prelude, event & result on a group of characters, mostly university professors. Decent story, but I found the characters rather two-dimensional - a frequent criticism of Asimov's writing.

Abr 19, 2023, 3:23 am

I am a fan of Wells, Taylor, Asimov, Silverberg, Cline, Mandel and LeGuin. And I live in Portland!! Starred your thread. : )

Abr 19, 2023, 12:08 pm

>44 Berly: Welcome aboard! I've starred you back.

Abr 20, 2023, 10:28 am

40. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. My first by this author & I can see why she's highly regarded. Dystopian novels are not my favorite, but the writing & characterization engaged me. Written in 1993, the "near-future" is nearly the present - from 2024-27. Global warming is the cause of a breakdown of the economy & society in general. The main character is a black teenage girl whose resilience & resourcefullness is constantly put to the test as her world crumbles around her. Highly recommended.

Abr 21, 2023, 3:29 pm

41. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells. 4th installment in her popular Murderbot series of novellas. Makes for a good light read, which I needed between a couple of heavier reads.

Abr 21, 2023, 4:26 pm

>46 ChrisG1: Such a good book! And if you're up for it, she wrote a sequel called "Parable of the Talents".

Abr 21, 2023, 6:21 pm

>48 ocgreg34: I've definitely added it to my TBR list!

Abr 22, 2023, 12:22 am

I'm ahead of you on Butler and behind you on Wells! LOL. Happy weekend.

Abr 23, 2023, 10:35 am

42. The Power by Naomi Alderman. This was a mixed bag for me. The premise was...too improbable, rather like in comic books, how Peter Parker got his powers by being bitten by a radioactive spider. Not a fatal flaw - many sci-fi books require a suspension of disbelief to enjoy. The main characters are not admirable or easily identified with. It's mostly about power & how the new powers gained by women change power dynamics - I'll confess a dislike for power-dynamics based analysis - and taking it in an ultimately nihlistic direction. On the other hand, it's extremely well written. I can see why it's gotten a lot of positive attention.

Abr 25, 2023, 10:09 am

43. Gateway by Frederik Pohl. The narrative alternates between a tale of exploration and the journey inward after the fact. Pohl considers this his favorite novel he wrote. Recommended.

Abr 28, 2023, 8:54 pm

44. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This one took me awhile to warm up to, mainly due to alternating timelines. But I knew it was a popular book & I trusted it was for good reason & it came together for me. Now I expect I'll continue the trilogy down the road.

Abr 30, 2023, 9:37 am

45. The Stars My Destination by Alfren Bester. Rather a weird one. A revenge tale in a future where teleportation becomes not only possible, but commonplace. Considered a sci-fi classic, but only so-so for me.

Abr 30, 2023, 9:09 pm

>52 ChrisG1: That one caught my eye, Chris. I need to read me some Pohl!

Editado: Maio 5, 2023, 3:39 pm

Oops - just realized I hadn't gotten around to the April monthly summary, so here it is:

Books read: 12

Pages read: 3801

Longest book: Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie - 416 pages

Shortest book: Exit Strategy - Martha Wells - 176 pages

Average book length: 317 pages

Book of the Month: Blindsight by Peter Watts

Dud of the month: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick - just not my cup of tea

Editado: Maio 5, 2023, 3:40 pm

May 2023 Reaing Plan:

Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert
Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Embassytown - China Mieville
The Sheep Look Up - John Brunner
Lagoon - Nnedi Okorafor
River of Gods - Ian McDonald
The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin
Recursion - Blake Crouch
Have Space Suit Will Travel - Robert Heinlein

Maio 5, 2023, 4:04 pm

46. Hyperion by Dan Simmons. I've seen this book on just about everybody's Top 10 Sci-Fi books of All Time lists & never got around to it. Well, I got around to it. Did it live up to the hype? For me, I must say it did. Conceptually brilliant, lovely prose, the individual tales of the main characters are by turns tense, tragic, horrific, mysterious, romantic. Be warned, the "ending" is a cliffhanger, as the story continues in The Fall of Hyperion. I had to be amused by the manner in which he ended it - I won't reveal it, as I don't do spoilers, but if you've read it, you know what I mean. Since my May reading schedule is full, I'll have to put Fall on my June schedule - don't want to wait long to close this one out. Hyperion is only my second five star rating of the year to date - highly recommended!

Maio 7, 2023, 12:08 am

47. Recursion by Blake Crouch. Quite a roller coaster of a story - a "rippin' yarn" if you will. I'd say it's the most effective use of time travel - and the most original form of it - I've come across. Highly recommended.

Maio 9, 2023, 11:41 pm

48. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. Sequel to Dune, continues the saga of Paul Atreides, who feels swept away by powers beyond his control, in spite of his prescient powers. Definitely worth reading & I'm glad I finally got around to it. I expect to read Children of Dune in the next month or two.

Maio 14, 2023, 11:05 am

49. Network Effect by Martha Wells. Installment #5 in her popular Murderbot series & the first at a full novel length (350 pgs). While I think I prefer these stories at novella length, it was still a good read & advanced the saga of our beloved rogue SecUnit.

Maio 15, 2023, 9:56 am

50. Have Space Suit, Will Travel by Robert HeinLein. A classic old Heinlein juvenile, it was a fun little read. I like how he always managed to slip a few interesting ideas to chew on. It was written in 1958 - the year I was born & it shows. I discovered Heinlein juvies in my Jr. High library & flew through several of them, so this was a trip back in time.

Maio 20, 2023, 6:31 pm

51. River of Gods by Ian McDonald. How much did I like this book? I changed my mind several times as I went along. Initially, I was aggravated by having 10 different POV characters - that's a lot of introductory ground to lay. I stuck with it due to the reputation of the book & author & it paid off. He makes you work for it, but I found it to be one of the better novels I've read in the cyberpunk sub-genre.

Maio 24, 2023, 10:33 am

52. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. As they used to say on Monty Python: "And now for something completely different!" I'm not really sure how to describe this novel. I'd say, don't come to this expecting a coherent story - it's a bit of a mish-mash. Part sci-fi alient invasion, part super hero, part african mythology, part commentary on modern Lagos, Nigeria. If you can manage to just go with it, you can be fairly entertained.

Maio 28, 2023, 6:20 pm

53. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. This is the second installment of Jemisin's highly awarded "The Broken Earth" saga. Highly original & well told science-fantasy. Lots of turns & twists - highly recommended. I'll be certain to arrange my reading schedule to get the last installment read in July.

Editado: Maio 31, 2023, 10:02 am

May reading summary:

Books read: 8

Pages read: 3237

Longest book: River of Gods - Ian McDonald - 597 pages

Shortest book: Have Space Suit, Will Travel - Robert Heinlein - 276 pages

Average book length: 409 pages

Book of the Month: Hyperion - Dan Simmons

Dud of the month: Embassytown - China Mieville

Editado: Maio 31, 2023, 3:14 pm

June 2023 Reading Plan

The War of the End of the World - Mario Vargas Llosa
The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons
The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. Le Guin
Children of Dune - Frank Herbert
Red Rising - Pierce Brown
Bark to the Future - Spencer Quinn
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg
Fiasco - Stanislaw Lem

Jun 3, 2023, 11:07 pm

54. Bark to the Future by Spencer Quinn. Yet another installment in the somewhat silly, but entertaining Chet & Bernie mystery series. As always, well plotted & amusingly narrated by Chet the dog.

Editado: Jun 5, 2023, 7:40 pm

55. The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin. Third volume of her Earthea cycle. A reread, although it's been so long since I'd read it, I remembered none of it. But I enjoyed it immensely. Le Guin's prose in this series is borderline poetic compared to her science fiction writing. You have the feeling you're reading a classic epic.

Jun 7, 2023, 12:51 pm

56. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I believe I last read this in a high school literature class, but appreciated it a great deal more this time around. It seems to me that we're moving closer to a world of the kind of social control that Huxley imagined - particularly control by limiting information & encouraging pursuit of comfort & pleasure above all else.

Jun 7, 2023, 1:06 pm

>69 ChrisG1: I haven't read the Earthea series by Le Guin yet. So noted!!

Editado: Jun 9, 2023, 3:11 pm

57. Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg. Widely considered to be Silverberg's "masterpiece," it's far from a typical science fiction novel. I'd describe it as a deeply introspective character driven novel. The only science fiction-ish element is that the central character is a telepath - and the "dying inside" of the title is that he realises he is gradually losing that power & thus his sense of identity, as his entire sense of self has been wrapped up in this power which he has mostly kept to himself his entire life. The book was written in 1972 & is very much a product of it's time & place - New York - and the contemporary events of the character's life. Highly recommended.

Jun 14, 2023, 9:18 am

58. The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. This book completes the duology started in Hyperion. It's not hard to see why it rates so high on so many "best of" lists. Easily also on my personal Top 10 in Sci Fi.

Jun 14, 2023, 11:39 am

59. Atomic Habits by James Clear. The "self-improvement" genre is not one I indulge in frequently, but I'd heard good things about this one & gave it a try. It's not earth-shakingly original, but the advice is solid & practical and the kind of thing that is certain to produce improvements in whatever area you choose to apply it. The writing is clear (author name pun!) and easy to stick with. I give it a solid 3 & 1/2 star rating.

Jun 20, 2023, 10:40 pm

60. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert. The third installment in Herbert's famous series. This one took awhile to set up, but it was well worth it.

Jun 27, 2023, 7:00 pm

61. Red Rising by Pierce Brown. A sci-fi dystopian future-ish novel. This one took much longer to read than it should have & I almost DFA'd it a few times. I found the premise & the world building to be...implausible. I guess it's a kind of marxist parable of sorts, in terms of a highly stratified society with very defined social classes brutally enforced. The main character is impossibly noble and self sacrificing. And yet. And yet, the further I got into the story, I was able to set aside my objections and go with the flow and halfway enjoyed it. Will I read the sequels? I'm not sure. I may at least give the second one a shot. We'll see.

Jun 30, 2023, 5:52 pm

62.. Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells - #6 in the Murderbot Diaries series of novellas (actually, one was novel length). I find these stories an enjoyable break in the midst of longer & often heavier reads.

Jun 30, 2023, 5:59 pm

June reading summary:

Books read: 9

Pages read: 3031

Longest book: Children of Dune - Frank Herbert 609 pages

Shortest book: Fugitive Telemetry - Martha Wells - 168 pages

Average book length: 337 pages

Book of the Month: Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Dud of the month: None - I DNF'd one book 20 pgs in, but I just wasn't in the mood for it & won't judge it.

Jun 30, 2023, 6:12 pm

July Reading Plan:

The Stone Sky - N.K. Jemisin
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Kindred - Octavia Butler
To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip Jose Farmer
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
Swamp Story - Dave Barry
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury
Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne

Jul 4, 2023, 12:04 pm

63. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. The final installment of a truly exceptional trilogy. All three books won the Hugo Award, the only time that's ever happened. One can argue if it's THAT good, but it ranks right up there for me. Highly original, richly conceived, believable characters, it had it all.

Editado: Jul 4, 2023, 4:28 pm

>80 ChrisG1: Hi, Chris, from another PNW'er (up the road in Seattle). A lot of your books from this year are either on my TBR or Read list - I'm going to have to follow you closely! Starred...

The Jemisin trilogy sounds marvelous. I've not read any of her books, but several (including the first of the trilogy) are in my monumental TBR list. I'll move it closer to the top!

Jul 6, 2023, 6:19 pm

64. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Much to my surprise, it was not a sci-fi novel. Rather, it was a semi-autobiographic depiction of boyhood in a small Illinois town in the summer of 1928. Bradbury's prose is full of nostalgia & sentiment. The anecdotes cover a wide range of human experiences & emotions. I found it mostly enjoyable, sometimes tiresome, but overall worth reading.

Jul 8, 2023, 3:30 am

>82 ChrisG1: That is a fair summation of Bradbury's book, I think, Chris. The tone was enjoyable but some of the anecdotals didn't quite work so well.

Jul 9, 2023, 7:16 pm

65. Swamp Story by Dave Barry. Barry has long been a favorite humor writer of mine. His annual "Year in Review" column is a national treasure. This novel is basically one long "Florida Man" story. Good, silly fun - exactly what I was looking for from him.

Jul 19, 2023, 5:26 pm

66. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. While this one took me a long time to get through, it's not because it's poorly written, or slow paced. Mainly, I just had more going on in life than usual. I'd call this novel a story of how two different species' civilizations headed for an inevitable clash. It combined the rather common trope of a "ark ship" containing what was likely the last of humanity seeking a new home with the development of an intelligent species of spider on a planet terraformed by human predecessors. The story was well thought-out and executed, with ingenious turns & twists. This will surely be in my top 10 list at year end.

Jul 20, 2023, 12:55 pm

>85 ChrisG1: I just loved Children of Time, Chris - although those spiders seriously creeped me out. I have the two sequels also, but haven't gotten to them. Do you plan to read them?

Jul 20, 2023, 4:39 pm

>86 PlatinumWarlock: It might take me awhile, as I've got plenty on my TBR list, but I may.

Jul 22, 2023, 12:12 pm

67. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer. Another in a long list of sci-fi classics I've wanted to get around to. Farmer builds a strange world in which the entire human race is resurrected along a seemingly endless river - the first in his famed "Riverworld" series. The protagonist is Captain Richard Francis Burton, famous 19th century explorer, writer, soldier, oriental scholar. Farmer used a number of historical characters, including Hermann Goring, Alice Liddel Hargreaves, and many others, to populate his world. Quite enjoyable & I expect I'll continue the series.

Jul 25, 2023, 6:21 pm

68. Kindred by Octavia Butler. Butler's protagonist (Dana) is mysteriously transported through time & space from her home in Los Angeles to the antebellum South several times - each time to save the life of her slave owning ancestor (she comes to discover). I would call the premise more of a "magical realism" story than science fiction, personally, but it is certainly a brilliant novel. The danger & suspense experienced by Dana, as a black woman, in these encounters is palpable. The myriad ways in which slavery distorts human relationships is aptly depicted. Highly recommended.

Jul 28, 2023, 5:01 pm

69. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. I had recently acquired a lovely Limited Editions Club edition of this classic & decided it was time to dive in. It was a fun little adventure story and made for a quick read.

Jul 31, 2023, 10:42 am

70. Orphans in the Sky by Robert Heinlein. A generation ship from Earth that lost it's memory of it's mission. A single rebel rediscovers it's history & struggles to convince others. Nothing special, but enjoyable enough.

Jul 31, 2023, 10:52 am

July reading summary:

Books read: 8

Pages read: 2570

Longest book: Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky - 608 pages

Shortest book: To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip Jose Farmer - 220 pages

Average book length: 321 pages

Book of the Month: 3 books I starred (Children of Time, The Stone Sky, Kindred)...I go with Kindred

Dud of the month: No duds this month

Jul 31, 2023, 3:52 pm

August 2023 Reading Plan

Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie
Tau Zero - Poul Anderson
The Three Body Problem - Cixin Liu
The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula LeGuin
The Mote in God’s Eye - Larry Niven
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) - Dennis E Taylor
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Klara & the Sun - Kazuo Ishiguro

A nice combination of newer & older SF works...

Ago 5, 2023, 3:34 pm

71. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. The second installment of her popular Imperial Radch series. Leckie has plenty of story to tell in this universe she has created & I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

Ago 6, 2023, 9:35 pm

72. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin. Written in 1971, with a near-future dystopia backdrop, a man finds that his dreams can affect the world around him. His psychiatrist becomes obsessed with "curing" the ills of the world in his treatment, with results reminiscent of 3 wishes to a genie. As always with Le Guin, well written & worth reading. Recommended.

Ago 8, 2023, 8:21 pm

73. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Like Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro creates an intriguing alternate dystopian Earth, which he slowly reveals through the lives of his characters. Always interesting & insightful, I was fully hooked into the story. I'd put Never Let Me Go a half star better, but a good one, all the same.

Editado: Ago 11, 2023, 10:08 pm

74. We Are Legion by Dennis E. Taylor. The author is a retired computer programmer & it fits - in the geeky-techy material & cultural references. It's a fun, light read.

Ago 13, 2023, 6:24 pm

Oh, yeah! One of my faves. We did the audiobook version on a long car ride recently - really made the miles fly by.

Ago 18, 2023, 10:59 pm

75. The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. I've been meaning to read this for ages and enjoyed it pretty well. It's a bit dated in some respects - not surprising in a 50 year old novel.

Ago 20, 2023, 5:49 pm

76. Tau Zero by Poul Anderson. An interstellar exploration gone wrong. The ship is unable to decelerate. Quite a bit of conceptual physics involved, no doubt much of it speculative, but it ends up making for a good story.

Ago 21, 2023, 4:48 pm

Congrats on zipping past the goal!

Ago 22, 2023, 4:50 pm

>99 ChrisG1: Congratulations on reaching 75, Chris!

Ago 22, 2023, 9:49 pm

Ago 23, 2023, 4:42 pm

77. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury's imaginary Mars has nothing to do with any attempt at a possible scientific representation, but rather is a useful metaphor for human aspiration, striving and, ultimately, our human failures. As always, his prose is finely written, full of nostolgia and his judgement of humanity is both bleak and affectionate.

Editado: Ago 26, 2023, 7:48 pm

78. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. I had high expectations for this one, but only found it to be a so-so offering. I suspect it's a function of being a translation from Chinese. For me, the writing style & dialogue was stilted. Not sure I'll go on to the next in the series.

Ago 27, 2023, 12:26 am

79. Glinda of Oz by L. Frank Baum. After a few years hiatus, I've gotten back to reading my way through the Oz series. I have a collection of first edition hardcovers - a tribute of sorts to my childhood love of Oz - and so, am reading them. This book is #14 of the 40 "official" Oz books published & the last written by Baum before his untimely death at the age of 63. As in a number of other Baum Oz stories, a previously unknow corner of Oz causes trouble & the usual heroes - Ozma, Dorothy, Glinda, the Wizard - have to come to the rescue.

Ago 28, 2023, 12:05 am

80. From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks. The subtitle - "Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life" is a fine description of the content of the book. I found his thoughts on this insightful & highly recommend the book.

Ago 31, 2023, 5:23 pm

August reading summary:

Books read: 10

Pages read: 3210

Longest book: The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle - 596 pgs

Shortest book: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin - 176 pgs

Average book length: 321 pages

Book of the Month: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Dud of the month: The Three-Body Problem was a bit of a disappointment for me, perhaps my expectations were too high.

Editado: Set 1, 2023, 11:35 am

September Reading Plan:

Tehanu - Ursula K. Le Guin
Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds
The Gods Themselves - Isaac Asimov
Norstrilia - Cordwainer Smith
Spin - Robert Charles Wilson
Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer
The Last Kind Words Saloon - Larry McMurtry
Shards of Earth - Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Complete Stories - Flannery O'Connor
The Evangelical Imagination - Karen Swallow Prior
Love your Enemies by Arthur C. Brooks

Mixing in more non-SF material this month

Set 3, 2023, 7:56 pm

81. The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor. I've been wanting to get to this for a long time & finally got to it. 31 stories in it's 555 pages, it's a large dose of her fine writing. She had a fine eye for the foibles of people. The self-satisfied would be shown in all their pettiness & usually get their come-uppance. Highly recommended.

Set 5, 2023, 9:48 pm

82. The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry. I've been making my way through McMurtry's writings for the last few years. This was, I believe, his last novel - more of a novella, really. A fictional account of legendary characters of the old west - Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp (and his brothers), Charlie Goodnight, the shootout at the OK Corral, told in his characteristic quirky humorous style. I enjoy pretty much anything he writes.

Set 7, 2023, 9:18 am

83. The Evangelical Imagination by Karen Swallow Prior. I've been a fan of Dr. Prior's other books about her love of classic literature & have also followed her brave stance against the leadership of her previous employer (Liberty University). This book is something of a love letter/critique of her evangelical faith and, most particularly, the imagery & ideas that have influenced evangelicals through their history, for good & ill. She's an insightful thinker & worth reading.

Set 8, 2023, 7:36 pm

84. Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith. Meh. This one was a disappointment, just couldn't get into the story.

Editado: Set 10, 2023, 7:15 pm

85. Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin. I had heard this was a step down from the original trilogy, but can't say I agree. It's vintage Le Guin - the lyrical prose, richly imagined characters & storyline. Highly recommended.

Set 10, 2023, 9:55 pm

>114 ChrisG1: I need to read more of Le Guin, Chris. It seems an age since I read Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness.

Set 11, 2023, 12:16 am

>115 PaulCranswick: If you haven't read The Dispossessed yet, you must - it's excellent!

Set 11, 2023, 1:07 am

>116 ChrisG1: I'm pretty sure that it is on the shelves, Chris........maybe next month.

Set 15, 2023, 8:58 am

86. Love Your Enemies by Arthur C. Brooks. This is a book I wish had gotten more attention, as it addresses what I believe is most wrong in our culture today - a culture of contempt for "the other." And his title, quoting one of Jesus' most memorable teachings, holds the key to overcoming contempt. We must refuse to dehumanize those who simply disagree with us, but rather love them - and be able to see through their eyes & empathize with their concerns. You don't have to ultimately agree with them, but don't listen to the voices that urge us to destructive attitudes of contempt.

Editado: Set 16, 2023, 4:08 pm

87. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. This was a reread - I previously read it when it first came out in 2005. It held up well - Wilson is an excellent storyteller. This time I'll move on to the sequels.

Set 20, 2023, 10:49 am

88. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov. Turns out this was a reread - I wasn't sure if I had read it before until I got to the middle section that focused on aliens who have 3 sexes. Funny how that was the momorable part. Pretty good ideas explored, worth a read.

Editado: Set 24, 2023, 12:09 am

89. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. Well, that was a weird one. There's a lot left unexplained by the author. A group of people go into a mysterious "Area X," identified only by their occuptions. The protagonist is The Biologist. The prose is vague & mysterious, as is the plot. While the book is classified as Science Fiction, there weren't particularly any science fiction elements to it - more like horror, although even that is more psychological than anything else. I found it interesting & worth reading, but won't say I loved it.

Out 1, 2023, 4:40 pm

90. Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky. A good old fashioned space opera, complete with interesting aliens, danger, adventure, a "den of villainy" planet, mysterious mental powers & more. Well told & very entertaining. I will certainly read the next two volumes of the series & sooner, rather than later.

Out 1, 2023, 4:53 pm

September reading summary:

Books read: 11

Pages read: 3511

Longest book: The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor - 555 pages

Shortest book: Annihilation by Jeff MerderMeer - 195 pages

Average book length: 319 pages

Book of the Month: The Complete Stories

Dud of the month: Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith - this one fell short for me.

Editado: Out 1, 2023, 4:58 pm

October Reading Plan

Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds
A Memory Called Empire - Arkady Martine
To Die in Italbar - Roger Zelazny
Stringers - Chris Panatier
Axis - Robert Charles Wilson
For We Are Many - Dennis Taylor
Legacies - L.E. Modesitt
The Pride of Chanur - C.J. Cherryh

Out 2, 2023, 6:46 pm

91. To Die in Italbar by Roger Zelazny. The story revolves around a man whose body collects diseases - he contracts them & overcomes them, and can use his immunity to save lives, but he also becomes periodically contagious. Interesting premise & made for a decent story. It turns out this is a sequel & not a standalone novel, which explains why it took awhile for me to get oriented. Worth a read, but probably better if you read Isle of the Dead first.

Out 9, 2023, 7:32 pm

92. Legacies by L.E. Modesitt - the first volume of an epic fantasy series. I picked up a huge ebook bundle on a promotion - 36 of Modesitt's bibliography. Well, Modesitt doesn't write short books - this one at just about 600 pages. But they are of the light adventure style, so it goes quickly. I enjoyed it for what it is. He's a good storyteller & created an interesting world to explore. The are 7 more books in the series & I expect to continue at one every month or two.

Out 10, 2023, 11:47 am

93. Breath by James Nestor. Interesting book - the author has seemingly made a lifetime obsession with breathing. He strongly advocates nasal breathing over mouth breathing, and even advocates taping your mouth at night to prevent your jaw dropping & switching to mouth breathing, causing snoring & worsening apnea. He also explores numerous practices of eastern mystical groups regarding breathing. So there's a mix of both scientific & pseudo-scientific ideas.

Out 13, 2023, 1:36 pm

94. The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh. This has been on my "been meaning to get around to it" (imaginary) list since the '80's, when it came out. Good fun space opera. It's unique feature is that the main character is non-human (sort of a standing upright lion) in a multi-species collection of societies (The Compact), when a human character emerges as the "alien" and shakes things up. Lots of action & the view of the human as the alien made for an interesting angle. First of a series & I do think I'll get around to continuing.

Out 23, 2023, 7:41 pm

95. Why We Love Baseball by Joe Posnanski. This is the second Posnanski baseball book I've read recently & I love what he does. He's a fine writer with a great eye for what baseball fans appreciate about the game. It seems like I had a big grin on my face with every story he told. Highly recommended.

Out 25, 2023, 6:05 pm

96. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. Reynolds has become hugely popular & I finally decided it was high time I read him. This was his first novel & it's a dandy, but not for the faint of heart. It's pretty science-y & longish (529 pages). His story-telling style requires some patience. But boy, does it pay off. I'll certainly read more of his books.

Out 31, 2023, 9:36 pm

97. Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky. 2nd volume of The Final Architecture trilogy. I'm enjoying this series quite a bit - great world-building, interesting characters, well written & paced. I'll probably tackle the final volume in a few weeks.

Out 31, 2023, 9:56 pm

October reading summary:

Books read: 7

Pages read: 2756

Longest book: Legacies by L.E. Modesitt - 597 pgs

Shortest book: To Die in Italbar by Roger Zelazny - 174 pgs

Average book length: 394 pages

Book of the Month: Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

Dud of the month: None

Out 31, 2023, 10:00 pm

I'm foregoing a reading plan for November - I've been deviating significantly, so I'll just follow my instincts. Starting with The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner & expect I'll tackle The Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky to finish The Final Architects series sometime soon.

Nov 2, 2023, 7:09 pm

Well, after 3 days of struggling & forcing myself to go on, I finally had to DNF The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I guess his writing is an acquired taste that I haven't acquired. He definitely comes from the "modernist" school from a century ago that valued experiments in form that would tend to lose an ordinary reader such as myself. Sorry, but I want to understand what the hell is going on. Call me crazy.

Editado: Nov 6, 2023, 4:34 pm

98. The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. An entertaining bit of parallel Earth sci-fi. Scalzi combines a good premise with witty banter and a worthy Bond-type villain. Recommended if you like that sort of thing (I do).

Nov 6, 2023, 9:19 pm

>135 ChrisG1: Me too. It’s definitely my favorite Scalzi.

Nov 15, 2023, 11:25 pm

99. Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Third and final volume of The Final Architecture series. It's a huge, sprawling space opera. Excellent world building & solid storytelling. Tchaikovsky is one of the best scifi writers writing today.

Nov 19, 2023, 2:10 pm

100. The Smallest Minority by Kevin D. Williamson. The subtitle "Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics" is revealing of the thesis. Williamson has a unique writing style - he holds nothing back & attacks his targets with gusto & relish. He's a conservative who detests Donald Trump and his descriptions of him are...hilariously vile. He criticizes the meme-ification of political dialogue, which he compares to dogs barking at each other. Of social media based outrage mobs, he says: "Outrage is intoxicating, and like other intoxicants, it makes people stupid." His writing style may be too over the top for gentler souls. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.

Nov 22, 2023, 8:12 pm


Happy Thanksgiving from an appreciative non-celebrator.

Nov 22, 2023, 11:32 pm

>139 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul - I approve of your "gang."

Nov 24, 2023, 10:13 am

101. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. One of Heinlein's best novels, it's a story of a revolution - on the moon. In many ways, a retelling of the USA's, with a bit of Australia thrown in, as the moon was being used to transport criminals. But the "loonies" are classic can-do colonists who wake up to the fact that the home world is exploiting them for their own gain. Lots to think about with this one - recommended.

Nov 24, 2023, 8:55 pm

102. Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. I greatly enjoyed this lovely 1941 illustrated Heritage Press edition of these stories. Poe's prose has a magic of it's own & cannot be rushed. I spread out the reading over a 3 week period, which worked better, I'm sure, than trying to read a lot of stories consecutively.

Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 8:26 pm

103. Chanur's Venture by C.J. Cherryh. Second in the series, I found this to be a bit disappointing. Almost as if the author wanted to tell the same story, but changing a few things from the first. Also, it ended with a cliffhanger, so not a complete story. Ah well. I've got the third (and 4th, for that matter) on the shelf. We'll see if I get to it.

Nov 29, 2023, 4:19 pm

104. FLowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. One of those books I've been meaning to read for a long time & finally got around to it. Certainly lives up to the hype - a terrific novel. Charlie is "mentally retarded" (the approved label when this novel was written in 1966) and is eager to become smarter. He is referred for an experimental surgery that makes him brilliant - will it last? The form is a series of diary entries by Charlie starting before his surgery, then after, through his increasing intelligence & journey of discovery. Terrifically well told & highly recommended. One of my top reads of the year.

Nov 30, 2023, 12:51 am

105. Starter Villain by John Scalzi. This was my first foray into audiobooks. Since part of my recovery from total knee replacement surgery involves lying on my back with feet elevated while icing my knee for 20-30 minutes several times a day, I thought that would help pass the time, which it has. The narrator, Will Wheaton (a.k.a. Wesley Crusher on Star Trek TNG) did a great job with a fun, sometimes even somewhat ridiculous story. Mission accomplished. Now to find another book on audible to use my bonus dollars on....

Nov 30, 2023, 6:14 pm

November reading summary:

Books read: 8

Pages read: 2775

Longest book: Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky - 608 pgs

Shortest book: The Smallest Minority by Kevin D. Williamson

Average book length: 347 pgs

Book of the Month: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Dud of the month: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (yes, I know it's considered a classic masterpiece, but for me it was an incomprehensible mess),

Dez 4, 2023, 3:29 pm

106. The Royal Book of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson. I've been gradually reading through my Oz book collection - I have all 40 books, mostly first editions & all very early otherwise (yes, I spent a pretty penny for it). This is book 15 in the series & the first not written by L. Frank Baum. The publisher falsely credited the book to Baum on the cover. I found it a delightful story, very much in the spirit of Baum's stories. Thompson introduces us to some new characters - Sir Hokus of Pokes, the Comfortable Camel, and the Doubtful Dromedary. The Oz series was the Harry Potter of it's day - I discovered there was more beyond the original Wizard of Oz book by finding old books at my grandparents home - I still have those copies, Christmas gifts to my uncles in 1939 - the year the movie came out. Recommended if you're into this sort of thing.

Dez 8, 2023, 2:08 pm

107. System Collapse by Martha Wells. This one was a disappointment. The problem may have been that I went with the audiobook version. Frankly, I was bored out of my skull & struggled to go on with it. I was listening during my "elevate & ice" sessions for my post-knee-surgery recovery (gotta do something while lying on my back). Perhaps this would have gone better reading in print.

Dez 9, 2023, 5:10 pm

108. Coolidge by Amity Shlaes. I was intrigued when I saw Shlaes had written a biography of Coolidge. And when it popped up on sale on Kindle for $1.99, I bit. Coolidge had a well-deserved low profile reputation among presidents. He was known as "Silent Cal" for his reserved demeanor, unusual in a major political figure. Elected as a Vice President, he came into office upon the sudden death of Warren Harding. His passion as President was budget cutting and paying down the debt that mushroomed during WWI. In this, he succeeded. I actually found the first half of the book, covering his roots & rise more interesting than the portion covering his presidency.

Dez 11, 2023, 10:13 am

109. The Time it Never Rained by Elmer Kelton. I picked this one up after stumbling on to an online article proclaiming it to be "the greatest western novel ever written" - superior to Blood Meridian or Lonesome Dove. I've not yet read Blood Meridian, so I can't make that comparison, and I'm unwilling to put it ahead of Lonesome Dove, but it is certainly a fine novel & I'm glad I read it. It's really more of a "modern" western novel, taking place in the 1950's in west Texas, focusing on a small west Texas rancher & his community & how an extended drought changed their world. Highly recommended.

Dez 12, 2023, 4:02 pm

110. The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens. A couple years ago, I decided to read all five of Dickens' "Christmas Stories" - one each year. This year it's The Cricket on the Hearth. Dickens brings magical elements to these stories & in this, it is the character of the cricket, who sings to bring happiness to the home, but in difficulty is shown to be a manifestation of faery. A misunderstanding almost takes a marriage apart, but all is well in the end.

Dez 17, 2023, 9:16 pm

>151 ChrisG1: A Christmas Carol is one of my absolute favorite stories, Chris, but his other Christmas "books" (stories really) have charm of their own.

Dez 18, 2023, 10:58 am

111. Darknesses by L.E. Modesitt. 2nd in his Corean Chronicles series. I've taken to Modesitt's writing - he's a good story teller - nothing fancy, just well-told narrative & some good world-building, making for an enjoyable fantasy read.

Dez 20, 2023, 11:39 pm

112. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This one showed up as a $1.99 bargain on Kindle. I'd seen it on a lot of lists as a favorite of the year & the premise - a retelling of the Trojan War for a modern audience - appealed to me. I've yet to read The Iliad, but plan to in 2024. Apparently, there is disagreement among scholars as to the nature of the relationship between Achilles & Patroclus - whether they were close comrades, or lovers. Miller goes all-in on the latter & the story goes the route of a coming of age/gay romance tale. Overall, I found it to be successful. Miller's prose is worthy and, while the plot lagged at times, I think she brought it together in a satistfying way.

I got a kick out of some of the negative reviews on Goodreads. The interpretive liberties she took definitely pushed some people's buttons.

Dez 25, 2023, 4:32 am

Thinking about you during the festive season, Chris

Dez 25, 2023, 11:16 am

113. Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead. I have yet to read a book by this man that wasn't excellent. He is a truly gifted storyteller. Crook Manifesto is a sequel to Harlem Shuffle and shows 1970's Harlem in all of it's gritty, grimy glory. Furniture retailer (and sometimes stolen goods fence) Ray Carney juggles his straight and crooked sides, with help on the crooked side from his old friend Pepper, dealing with the Black Panthers, Black Liberation Army, local hoodlums, and firebugs. Highly recommended!

Dez 26, 2023, 9:45 am

114. Captain's Rangers by Elmer Kelton. I finished this one off in a day - a short & action-filled western, firmly based in Texas history. The "Captain" in the title was L.H. McNelly, who led a group of Texas Rangers during the border skirmishes with Mexican bandits in 1875-6. The protagonist was a cowboy who lost his livelihood to the raids & so joined the Rangers. Kelton weaves a good yarn.

Dez 29, 2023, 4:54 pm

115. Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I finally got around to reading a Hardy novel & found it very worthwhile. It's not hard to see why he's popular. This will likely be the last book I finish for the year & am pleased with 115 - my second highest total ever, behind only the pandemic-dominated 2021.

Dez 30, 2023, 7:59 pm

2024 Reading Summary and highlights:

This was to be the year of returning to Science Fiction & Fantasy - my first love, reading-wise - and a large majority of the 115 books I read this year were indeed SFF. Still mixed in some history/biography, some classics & contemporary lit fic & miscellaneous other. The following were my favorites, in no particular order (not counting rereads):

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
Blindsight by Peter Watts
The Eye of the Heron by Ursula Le Guin
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
Kindred by Octavia Butler
The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
The Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Time it Never Rained by Elmer Kelton
Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead