225 Down and 775 To Go

On April 7, 2013 · Comments Off on 225 Down and 775 To Go

So way back in 2008 I read an article about how Art Garfunkel had read a thousand books over a forty year period. I was still a bit shy of forty at the time and thought this wasn’t really all that impressive a number. Certainly nothing  I would brag about. I figured over my life time I had read  more like 1500-2000 books. 1500 books over thirty years is just a book a week. Of course I had no way of knowing for certain. Art had been clever enough to keep a list since 1969. You can go to his website and see the list. So I figured I would use this blog as a way to keep track of the number of books I was reading and though I would only have admitted it under duress toot my horn a bit as well. I jumped on this project with a bit more enthusiasm than I usually muster up for project like this but i did keep it up for a little while. Maybe a year.

Of course, the whole idea of making the number of books you read some sort of competition was then and still is silly. Maybe I’ve read more books over a shorter amount of time, but maybe Art actually retained what he read, whereas a big percentage of what I read is comes in through my eyes and just dribbles out of my ears. I lot of people think of reading as some uplifting experience no matter what you read, but to me reading can be as much a mindless escape as the worst three camera sitcom you can imagine. I swear some of the drivel I’ve read lately has actually made be dumber.

That’s beside the point though, the point is I’ve found a much easier way to keep track of how many books I’m reading. Goodreads. (Notice that the R is lowercase, that’s a sign or true class) Check out the widgets on the right. So far since 2010 I have definitely read 225 books, though I only seriously started keep track January of last year. So that’s 225 down and 775 to go. Another six years ought to do it.

Woodrow Wilson – H.W. Brand

On January 28, 2009 · Comments Off on Woodrow Wilson – H.W. Brand

Woodrow Wilson - H.R. Brand

Woodrow Wilson - H.R. Brand

As dire as things look now there was a time not a hundred years ago when they were worse. During the First World War this country was basically a fascist state. The government was indirectly controlling a huge portion of our economy and tens of thousands of people were imprisoned for speaking out against the government. For the last eight years I had to listen to people yelp about there speech being suppressed, but they never seemed to have a problem finding a soapbox to stand on. During Wilson’s presidency people were actually imprisoned for speaking there mind.

And what was Wilson? A Republican? A man of the right? Nope he was a Democrat, but more than that he was a progressive. Remember when Hillary complained about being called a liberal that she preferred the term progressive? Well it was a progressive presidency that ended up imprisoning tens of thousands of his critics. People who a few short years before were his supporters. In my mind there were many other reasons to despise Wilson but that one sticks in your mind.

I got the book for Christmas, it wasn’t a joke, I asked for it. Dad was a little indignant that I had asked for a biography of Democrat but there is a very good reason. The most curious thing about the Wilson presidency is that after such a swing to the dark side, the country swung back. I figured I need to study the dark before I could figure out how we came back to the light.

The book is part of a series The American Presidents they are all short volumes edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. I absorbed it in one sitting and enjoyed it so much I’m thinking about trying to pick up the others in the series. It would be a nice way to fill in the many gaps in my knowledge of American history without that big an investment of time and money.

As you would expect in a series like this the book is not very critical, but it doesn’t paint Wilson as a saint either like some of the other material I’ve been reading about him. Reading of his stroke and death left me with mixed emotions about the man. In a way there was much to admire and his rhetoric could be stirring but the policies he enacted in office and what they inspired a decade later I find despicable.

Middling Meat, Stephen Lackey

On January 6, 2009 · 1 Comments

Have you ever had a good friend write a novel? It’s mostly cool but there are some tiny flecks of suck here and there. First fleck of suck is that green bitch envy, but I squished her between my toes pretty quickly. The only real bit of suck that scared me was the fear that it sucked. Is my buddy of over twenty years expecting praise or is he expecting the truth from me. Luckily for me I didn’t have to find out. My buddy put into my hands a mean little beast of a story. A tribute to all of those goretastic exploitation films from the seventies. Not really my thing. I love pulp but my tastes tend to run towards morally challenged private dicks not hillbillies with separation anxiety. Anyway I was worrying over nothing.  Besides a few misspellings or grammatical suggestions, very few with my command of spelling and grammar, there was nothing in there that I found worth complaining about.

“Nothing worth complaining about” talking about damning with faint praise. Not only could I find nothing to complain about I loved the thing. If it wasn’t written by my best friend I never would have touched it but I loved every greasey little minute of it.

Now that was all a couple of years ago. Now Stephen’s going to be making a movie of the book. Here’s the website. So I thought I would go back and read it again. So I went and bought the pdf from Lulu for $2.50. Would I love it as much the second time around. Would I still get the chill down my spine like the first time I read it. Yes I would and I did.

Final Play, Don Pendleton

On January 6, 2009 · Comments Off on Final Play, Don Pendleton

Any body that has read more than two or three SciFi or Fantasy novels has picked up and started reading a book in the middle of a series or trilogy. After all there have only been fourteen standalone SciFi novels published since 1957 and Fantasy is even worse.  So if your picking a book at random you’ve only got a one in four chance of picking up the first book in a series. Well the other day at the The Great Escape I picked up volumes #298, #299, #301, #302, #303 and #304 of Pendleton’s Executioner series. Obviously I knew I was picking up in the middle of the series, but wouldn’t you know it that #298 is the third book of a trilogy embedded in the series.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t like it to much. I barged through 75% of it in one night and it took another two weeks to finish it off. I was expecting some rough and ready pulp style action, what I got was a bunch of people talking on cell phones and downloading dossiers, punctuated by an explosion or two.  I’ll give the other five a chance, they are quick reads if you can stay focused, because I so want to like this series.

Why you ask. Because there are over three hundred of them, that’s why. I’m still not over the heartbreak of discovering Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin books after reading George Will’s obituary of O’Brian. Not the best way to find out about an author.

Watchman, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

On December 21, 2008 · 1 Comments

I finished this one a couple of weeks ago. Everybody I talked to that had read it said it was best to read a chapter then sit it down and wait a while, then read the next. Well I don’t do that. I didn’t finish it in one sitting, but it was done by the end of the weekend. I suspect that my friends were correct, because I still don’t quite what to make of it. I went through a couple of years in my preteens being a pretty heavy comic book reader.

About the age of twelve or thirteen, it was about two issues into Crisis on Infinite Earths, I dropped all of my subscriptions to save up for a floppy drive for my TRS-80, man does that sound geeky, never did get that floppy drive. That was over twenty years ago so I’m far from a comic book expert. It’s possible I read books back then that were this rich, and just I wasn’t old enough to appreciate them, but this book blew me away. This book had a lot of hype to live up to and it does, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a great book, but I can’t make up my mind whether I like it or not. The ending. I never would imagined an ending could be so climatic and anti climatic at the same time. This is the most frustrating ending I have ever encountered. That doesn’t make it a bad ending or ruin the book necessarily, but it does leave me asking “what the hell was this all about?”

The buzz is that the movie will have a substantially different ending. I can certainly understand why.

I think I’m going to have read it again.


The Glorious Cause, Jeff Shaara

On December 21, 2008 · Comments Off on The Glorious Cause, Jeff Shaara

I borrowed this book from my parents several months ago. I don’t know what made me pick it up just now. I love historical fiction but I had never really got into the American Revolutionary War period. This book is actually the second of two books is a novelization of the American Revolutionary War centered on Washington and his Generals, Cornwallis, and Franklin. The subject matter is fascinating, but the book reads a little dry for a novelization.


Devil in the White City – Erik Larson

On December 6, 2008 · Comments Off on Devil in the White City – Erik Larson

There is a corridor in the library in downtown Nashville that has murals of the Centennial Fair in Nashville in 1886. There are also some murals of the Fair along a staircase in Opryland Hotel. It took place in the aptly named Centennial Park, or I guess it’s more accurate to say that Centennial Park is the bones of the fair. While we still have the Parthenon, most of the other structures are gone. Any images I’ve managed to glimpse of the Centennial Fair have always interested me. I don’t know why. In 1982 I went with my parents and some aunts and uncles to the Knoxville World Fair. That was interesting but disappointing. The only really amazing thing about it was the crowds, but at least we comforted ourselves with the fact that we could say we had been. Which is funny because I could probably count on one hand the times I had an opportunity to tell someone that I attended the Knoxville Worlds Fair. Do they even have Worlds Fairs anymore?

Anyway I’m rambling, the Devil in the White City is about the Colombian Exposition in Chicago during the last decade of the nineteenth century. A literally world changing exposition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus landing in America. Reading about the size and grandeur of the Exposition grounds It’s hard to believe such an undertaking could be accomplished now, but a talented group of people pulled it off over a hundred years ago.

Intertwined with this story of what the combined might of an industrial America could pull off was the story of a very sick indivudual. A serial killer who over the years refined his habits and treated the Columbian Exposition like a buffet.

And it’s all true. Larson backs it all up. The last fifth of the book are footnotes and bilbliagraphies.

I suppose there is a lot of material to compare and contrast and deep meanings to extract from the book and if I wasn’t so tired a few my float into my frontal lobes but even with out examining the book in any depth it is a facinating and thorughly entertaining glimpse at a by gone age.


The Keepers of the Trail – Joseph Altsheler

On December 6, 2008 · Comments Off on The Keepers of the Trail – Joseph Altsheler

Another tale of the early days in old Kentucky. These are mesmerising.


The Young Trailers – Joseph Altsheler

On December 6, 2008 · Comments Off on The Young Trailers – Joseph Altsheler

This was one of my Dad’s favorite series when he was a young man. It tells the story of the first settlers in Kentucky and one very talented outdoorsman. I couldn’t put this one or the next one down. Now I’ve got to find the others in the series.


Clear and Present Danger – Tom Clancy

On December 6, 2008 · Comments Off on Clear and Present Danger – Tom Clancy

Is it too soon to call this a classic. It’s been around twenty years. I took a little trip to Gulf Shores a week or so ago. Instead of finishing my NaNoWriMo project I read this and drank Salty Dogs and pretended I wasn’t freezing.


Our Moto
Not doing what needs to be done for over forty years.
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