MAY TO AUGUST
On the first day of May, I finished reading The Unwomanly Face of War (1985) by Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. They were so young – younger than my freshman university students – and they rushed to the front lines to meet the might and ruthlessness of a Nazi invasion. Some paragraphs left me utterly stunned and will probably haunt me for a while.
I am certainly interested in reading more about the Eastern Front of World War 2, but not just yet. I don’t know what I’m going to read next – I’ll make that decision in a few minutes, but it’s definitely going to be something light that doesn’t concern Nazi tanks crushing children, battlefield amputations, Gestapo torturers, and Stalin. Not that the book was all about the brutality of war – love, compassion, and forgiveness had their pages, but the shocking paragraphs will be the ones I think of when this astounding and important book comes to mind.
Browsing my Kindle, I decided to check out the first few pages of Garden of Rama (1991), the third book in Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee’s Rama quartet. I read the Rama books when I was younger, and I reread the first one soon after acquiring my first Kindle in 2011. I reread the second a few years later in 2014. The first is a classic written by Arthur C. Clarke alone while the sequels were written by Gentry Lee under the supervision of Clarke. No offense to Mr. Lee, but the lessened involvement of Clarke isn’t exactly a selling point. Regardless, I read a few pages and then decided to read something else. I read a few more pages and then decided again to read something else. Repeat. A day later (May 3), and I’m about a quarter of the way through it, so I might as well keep going. The book has some really terrible reviews, but I’m a SF addict. Any story set on an alien space ship makes me go gaga. Well, I finally finished it on May 11. Some parts I enjoyed while others just were not engaging at all and reading them felt like a chore.
After that not entirely positive reading experience, I went for a sure thing with the twenty-second and latest Jack Reacher book which is entitled The Midnight Line (2017). I have yet to read the twenty-first, but that’s no problem as they don’t need to be read in order of publication. The twenty-first one, for example, is set in Jack Reacher’s younger days. I’m a few days and almost halfway through it, and it’s sure nice to be back in Jack Reacher’s world. I finished it a little after 1 am on the morning of May 18. A little slower than some of the others, and the ending wasn’t quite as spectacular and violent. Nonetheless, it was another enjoyable and quick read.
Next up, a book by an author new to me: Children of Time (2015) by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I read the first tenth of it in one sitting. Needless to say, I’m getting into it. I have my favorite authors, but a new one is usually a welcome breath of fresh, air, words, and sentences. By 3:30 that afternoon, I was a quarter of the way through it. Suffice to say it’s been a while since I found a book so hard to put down. Almost at the 80% mark by the close of Saturday night, and I finished it around 1 pm the next day. It’s been a long time since a book so held my attention. I absolutely loved it. Five stars out of 5., Ten stars out of ten, and so on.
Next up, over a Sunday afternoon latte, “Good and Valuable Consideration” (2014). In it, Jack Reacher teams up with Nick Heller, the hero of another series of novels. And it is a series I think I shall soon explore.
Some more Philip K. Dick was next in the form of The Man Who Japed (1956). I finished it the next day on Monday, May 21 as it was quite short. I didn’t love it; I didn’t hate it, but it it gets points for describing a totalitarian state.
More science fiction followed with Artemis (2017) by Andy Weir, author of The Martian.