JANUARY TO APRIL
The year 2017 came into existence while I was reading for the second time Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower saga. I decided to revisit The Gunslinger, the first in the series, to refamiliarize myself with the story ahead of the upcoming quasi-sequel film. That odd phrase “quasi-sequel” makes sense of you’ve read all the books. The first book led me to the second, and now here I am on January 1 nearing the end of book five with 25% of it remaining. I finished it at around 12:30 am on the morning of January 3.
I wasn’t my intention, but after browsing my Kindle in the minutes after completing the above, I went right on to Song of Susannah, the next book in the The Dark Tower series. January 7 Update: At the 39% mark. That’s slower progress than I anticipated as I’ve been reading less these past few days due to band practice, preparations for next week’s classes, and work on my cult site. January 11 Update: At the 77% mark. My reading sessions these past few days have been limited to my short commute to and from work. I finished it the evening of Friday January 13. Not a bad date to finish reading a Stephen King.
I then returned to the the lonely and action-packed world of Jack Reacher with The Hard Way, the tenth Jack Reacher novel. I’m half way through some 36 hours after starting it, and I’m enjoying it as much if not more than the previous books in the series. Which reminds me, I skipped book 9 One Shot essentially because the first Jack Reacher movie is based on it and after rereading two Dark Tower novels, I felt like diving into a story completely new to me. I finished it in my nice warm bed the cold evening of January 16. I never want to run out of Jack Reacher books to read.
Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee has been on my list of books to read since before its publication. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance when Sungju won the first Teach North Korean Refugees speech contest on February 28, 2015. Although I’ve heard many speeches since, I still remember parts of his speech, in particular an anecdote about adjusting to life in South Korea. That’s a good a sign as any that he is an intelligent and passionate speaker worthy of a wide audience. The good folks at the the BBC are in agreement. I completed it on the evening of Sunday, January 22 with tears in my eyes. Those same eyes also shed a couple of tears the night before at a talk given by the author I was lucky enough to attend.
And then it was time for another action-packed Jack Reacher novel in the form of Bad Luck and Trouble. Once again, author Lee Child didn’t disappoint; I was hooked from page two, and I finished it two days later late on the night of January 24 while waiting for an emergency pizza. The Jack Reacher novels just keep getting better and better. It’s not fair there are only twenty-one of them to date.
I next returned to the world of time-travelling nurse Claire Fraser and her Highlander husband Jamie with A Breath of Snow and Ashes, the sixth book in Diana Galabon’s Outlander series. I began it the night of January 24, and since it’s eight pages shy of a thousand, this one is going to take some time.
January 30 Update: I’m at the 30% mark and am totally enjoying it. It did start quite slowly like the previous book, but that neither bothered nor bored me this time. The initial slower pace of A Breath of Snow and Ashes was a breath of fresh air and a welcome change of pace and style from the factual horrors of North Korea, the incredibly action-packed life of Jack Reacher, and Roland Deschain’s long quest to find and save The Dark Tower.
February 5 Update: I’m now at the 61% mark, and while I have entertained the idea of taking a break to read a Jack Reacher novel, as each chapter ends, the beginning of the next invites me to continue. I flew through the remaining pages and finished the book in evening of February 8. In addition, I can confirm book six is my favorite of the series so far. I actually continued with the first five chapters of the next book, An Echo in the Bone, but I think I’ll save the rest for later.
After a few minutes of indecision in which I contemplated continuing with Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga, I finally decided on more Jack Reacher in the form of Nothing to Lose, the twelfth Jack Reacher novel. Today is Monday, February 13, and I’m at the 82% mark. While I’m racing towards the finish, I have to admit it’s my least favorite of the series so far, and I’m not alone in feeling that way according to some of the reviews on Amazon. I finished it later the same evening.
Next up, a return to the worlds of Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga for the seventh and concluding novel which is simply and aptly titled The Dark Tower.
I’m 34% in on February 23, and I just added Hearts in Atlantis to my list of books to eventually read/reread as it tells a related story that I remember very fondly from my first reading 15 or more years ago. Speaking of upcoming books, here are two I recently added to my list: Writings from Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson and Your Best Body at 40+ by Jeff Csatari.
On March 1, I finished part two of The Dark Tower. Part three begins just shy of the half way mark (49% according to my Kindle) which is as good a time as any to excuse myself temporarily from Roland’s quest to scale The Dark Tower and save the universe. My fitness campaign is gaining momentum, so it feels like the right time to merge my exercise and reading habits. And since I am now technically in my 40s, Your Best Body at 40+ is the perfect choice. A quick read; I finished it the evening of March 3.
From middle-aged health to tales from the distant past with Toby Wilkinson’s Writings from Ancient Egypt. I read his previous book, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, in 2015, and it was one of the most fascinating non-fiction books I’ve ever read. Hence, I was really excited to learn of this book a week or so ago. I finished it the morning of March 9 over breakfast and was not disappointed.
After the above excursions to the realms of middle-aged fitness and Ancient Egypt, I returned to the Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. I raced through part 3 the next day and began part 4 the morning of March 11. The end of The Gunslinger’s quest is nigh. My addiction increased, and I finished The Dark Tower for the second time – and isn’t that kind of appropriate? – at exactly 10:40 pm on the night of March 12.
Looking back over part three of my 2016 reading diary, I see that I began rereading The Dark Tower series on July 27. The journey, almost eight months long, was one I am glad I made – or remade, rather. Much I had forgotten, and there is much to cherish in the story. There is still another Dark Tower tale to reread – The Wind in the Keyhole. I will reread that soon, but for now it’s farewell to Roland and co.
Back to the writings of Lee Child with 61 Hours, the 14th Jack Reacher novel. I temporarily skipped the 13th novel simply because the 14th is shorter. I finished it over a Sunday morning bagel on March 19. Well, I enjoyed that much more than the 12th Reacher novel which didn’t do much for me at all despite having a religious loon/terrorist as the villain.
I immediately continued my Dark Tower reread with the most recent Dark Tower novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole, which I first read in late 2012. Since I have reread the other seven books, I might as well complete the series. Although it is the most recent written, it fits between books 4 and 5 of the series and primarily tells more of Roland’s backstory. I do remember it fondly and am looking forward to reliving it. Well, my fond recollections of the book were not in any way amiss. I finished it over a cafe breakfast on the morning of Saturday, March 25 with a touched heart and almost a tear in my eye. Another reading limbo moment followed as I thought about what to read next but failed to make a decision.
The choice was soon made, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest, New York 2140, was the winner. I began it on March 25, but due to a busy week, I only read 47 pages in the week that followed. Slow and steady apparently wins the race – I’m not convinced, but if I read that slow and steady, I’ll never finish all the books I want to read. April 5 Update: I’m only up to page 66, but I have been productive work wise. April 20 Update: Well, my stretch of decreased reading continues. I’m only at the 20% mark (page 133). I am enjoying it believe it or not, perhaps from today my reading will return to more normal levels. I’ll be utterly ashamed of myself if I don’t finish it this month.