Reading list

I am reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Murakami writes a kind of
magical realism that is quite languid and rambling. I never have any
idea of where his stories will end up. This one is 2 separate story
lines in alternating chapters that don’t seem to have any point of
convergence. At least not yet, and I’m about 1/3 of the way through
the book.

I recently finished a trilogy of Elmore Leonard novellas. I’m a fan.
He tended to write write grey characters. Rarely all good or all
bad; at the very least, flawed. Get Shorty was almost verbatim
the movie. (I think he generally wrote books that were easily adapted
to screenplays.) Tishomingo Blues had a happier ending that I
tend to expect from Leonard. Killshot had me nervous the whole
time I was reading it, waiting for something awful to happen to the
main characters because the bad guys were absolute psychopaths.


Wheel of Time

I just finished listening to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The series is 14 volumes and they are all over 20 hours long; some over 40. I had started them when they first came out, but got frustrated by the need to reread them when the new ones were released in order to remember all the characters and decided to wait until it was finished.

It’s a sword and sorcery fantasy series. I like the story. I, generally, like the characters. However, Jordan’s writing style is Dickensian. He describes what everyone is wearing EVERY TIME YOU ENCOUNTER THEM. All the horses get names. And descriptions. I tend to skip over battle descriptions when I read a book. You can’t really do that with audio.  Also, the raging sexism is tiresome.

Am I sorry I spent the time listening to them? No. I was going to be listening to something, anyway.

Do I regret giving time to this story. No. I was satisfied with the finished product. Although, I did get frustrated with the slow pace caused by the excessive descriptions, sometimes.

Will I listen to it again? Hard to say. I might decide to revisit it in a decade.

Do I wish I had paid $28 per hardback to read it sooner? HELL NO. I really do feel like half the paper was wasted.

That smile

Yesterday, I was listening to Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels.  I’ve really been enjoying it.  It’s incredibly grizzly and completely over the top.  (It’s about Pinhead, of Hellraiser fame; so, that’s to be expected.)

One of the characters was described as having a “Gioconda smile.”

The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda or La Joconde, or Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo)

The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda or La Joconde, or Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo)

I like Barker’s use of language as much as I enjoy the stories he tells.

Paste magazine’s list of 30 of the Best Horror Books

Yes.  I realize there are 31 books on the list.  Not my fault Paste is a little tweaked.

This is the list from the article found here:

Bold means I’ve read it.  Italics means I only saw the movie.  Both means I read it AND saw the movie.

  1. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  2. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  3. Books of Blood, Vol. 1-3 – Clive Barker
  4. Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes
  5. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  6. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
  7. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker
  8. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  9. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  10. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus – Mary Shelley
  11. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  12. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  13. Haunted – Chuck Palaniuk
  14. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  15. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  16. Horns – Joe Hill
  17. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  18. I have No Mouth, And I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  19. It – Stephen King
  20. John Dies @ the End – David Wong
  21. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  22. Little Star – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  23. The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft – Howard Phillips Lovecraft
  24. Lunar Park – Bret Easton Ellis
  25. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  26. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  27. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  28. Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  29. The Shining – Stephen King
  30. The Tune of the Screw – Henry James
  31. World War Z – Max Brooks

I’m saving this for the times when I can’t decide what to read next.

MY book list

There was another “100 Books to Read Before You Die” list on FaceBook last year, and, of course, I took the quiz and, of course, I’ve read a bunch of them.  I have always read a lot and I have made a point in my life of trying to see what They think is worthwhile before forming my own opinion.  There are some books that always seem to make those lists that I think are crap.  Or, I think they were good when they were written, but are dated, now.

Because I’m so opinionated, I’ve been thinking about books that I think people should have read at some point.  I’m going to try making my own list and tell why I think the book matters.  I’m curious to see what I come up with.  Sometimes, I think it worth having read a thing in order to have an informed opinion whether or not it is a book you find entertaining.

  1. All 4 of the Gospels.  In the US, Christianity is the predominant religion.  It is, originally, based on the Gospels.  If you are going to discuss anything based on Christian Faith, this is the best reference.  Everything else is dogma, in my not particularly humble opinion.
  2. One each of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies and histories.  His use of language is magnificent.  I prefer the histories.
  3. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway.  This is the best thing Hemingway wrote.
  4. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck.  Or Grapes of Wrath.  OM&M is shorter.  They both tell the story of a particular people in a particular time and place.  I enjoy Steinbeck as much for how he tells the story as for the stories themselves.
  5. Tao te Ching.  I prefer the Stephen Mitchell translation.  I’m not sure if that is because it is truly the best.  It may simply be because it is the first one I read.  I have  a collection of several translations because I was curious to see the differences.  Translating Chinese to English must be a daunting task because  they are very varied.
  6. Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin. An excellent starting place to look at gender prejudices of cispeople.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s a good beginning
  7. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.  The only book he ever wrote that wasn’t serial and it shows.
  8. Tomorrow’s Children edited by Isaac Asimov.  It is a collection of short stories by most of the Golden Age writers.  There isn’t a bad story in the book.  Most have been made into movies.  It was among the first science fiction I ever read and it opened a new world to me.
  9. Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka.  It’s referred to too many times to skip it.
  10. The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde, see #9
  11. Frankenstein’s Monster, Mary Shelley, see #9
  12. Dracula, Bram Stoker, see #9
  13. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess.  OK.  I will grant thi sisn’t for the faint of heart.  It is violent.  It is also the first book I remember reading that made me  sympathetic to a psychopath.  It is where I started learning that evil is a shade of grey, even thought it may be so dark that it appears black.

I’ll come back to this later.  It requires more thought.