2019 Reading Diary Part 3!



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Book 48. September and this reading diary began with me half way through Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleeps and Dreams (2017) by Dr. Matthew Walker. The initial attraction was the fact that sleep – or rather the lack of it – is directly related to my interest in cults as sleep deprivation is always a part of an indoctrination process. Of course everyone knows sleep deprivation is never a good thing, but I had no idea just how bad it was for … well everything both in the short term and long term. Beyond the harm caused by a lack of sleep, the book is simply one fascinating piece of information after another. I finished it on Monday evening, the second of September. It was sure left me with much to think about, and I have certainly re-evaluated and changed my mindset towards sleep and along with that, a few small changes to my nightly habits. I’ve started using the blue light reduction function on my desktop and laptop, and I have made my room darker.

Book 49. I then turned to the third of Frank Herbert’s Dune books, The Children of Dune (1976). Ten days after starting it, I just passed the half-way mark. Slow going because of work, but I’m enjoying it more than the first two books in the series. The Chuseok break afforded me more time to read and I read the remaining half in decent time. It as finished a little after 1 a.m. the morning of Monday, September 16. After completing the second book last month, I was not sure I would continue with the series. Now that I’ve finished third, I will definately continue with the series. I may not progress to the many Dune books written by Brian Herbet, Frank Herbert’s son, and Kevin J. Anderson, but never say never.

Book 50. For a change, the decision on the next book to read was a no-brainer. Being what Stephen King refers to as a “constant reader” (someone who reads his work), I just couldn’t delay beginning The Institute (2019), his latest book and my first Stephen King book this year. True, I have read nearly all of them, but I’m not averse to reading some again. That being said, I really should read the ones I haven’t read yet. The Dead Zone (1979) and Cujo (1981) come to mind. Browsing his bibliography, it looks like those are the  only ones I’ve yet to read. It’s Wednesday evening and I’m 25% into it, and I have to say it’s been a long time since I have enjoyed a Stephen King book this much. If I didn’t have other things to do, I could happily finish it one sitting.  I almost did just. I read about 40% of the book on Friday and then finished first thing Saturday morning. It’s been a while since I have been captivated by a book.

Book 51. Next up, I decided to try a new science fiction writer in the form of Alexandra Monir and her novel The Final Six (2018). After two chapters, I was glad I had made that decision. This is going to be an enjoyable and pretty fast read. I finished it on Tuesday after work in one of my favorite local cafes. Once again, I read the second half of a book much more quickly then the first. I’ll certainly read the sequel, The Life Below (2020), which will be published in February, and I’m looking forward to the the eventual movie should it go ahead.

Book 52. I haven’t read anything by Philip K. Dick yet this year, so I decided it was time. I started The World Jones Made (1956) just before I feel asleep on Tuesday night. I finished it on Friday afternoon. Well, he sure has a unique voice and is full of some pretty interesting ideas. It did kind of feel like a few different stories merged together, but I devoured it in pretty quick time.

53. I continued with some more 1950s American science fiction with Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1950). I finished it in a couple of days. I have vague memories of catching part of the miniseries when I was a kid, and I’ve always been curious to read the source material. The book, which is a collection of linked short stories, contained some really interesting stories with a couple being quit indicative of American society in the late 40s. Enjoyable reads all the same.

Book 54. I continued another run of science fiction books with a return to Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series. I loved the first book, and it feels like the right time to read the sequel The Fated Sky (2018). Slow progress the first two days due to lots to do at work, but from tonight (Wednesday, October 2), I should fly through it like a rocket ship on its way to Mars. I finally had time on October 5 to make progress, and yes, I’m really enjoying this. I read the last 20% as Sunday night became Monday morning. It’s safe to say I’ll read the next book as soon as it’s released next year.

Book 55. I decided more science fiction was in order and settled on Shadow of the Hegemon (2000), the second book in Orson Scott Card’s Shadow series which is set in his Ender’s Game universe aka the Enderverse. I started it in a taxi to work on Monday morning. I made some progress on Tuesday, and I have to admit I’m enjoying this more than I had expected to. Any talk about God annoys me and Orson Scott Card is controversial and I disagree entirely with his views; still, I enjoy his books. Shadow of the Hegemon was another book that had a rather unique flavor like a rare and rarely eaten dish. There were slow parts full of dialogue, but enough surprises, drama, and action to keep me reading. I finished it on a bus on Sunday October 13. This is another series I’ll return to at a later date.  

Book 56. That’s enough science fiction for now. While browsing my list of books to read, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results (2013) by Stephen Guise caught my eye, and before long I was one third of the way through it. Obviously, it’s not a big book, but the topic is both interesting and a welcome change. It’s Tuesday and I’m 75% into the book. It’s certainly given me some strategies to try regarding goal setting and habit creation. Another book finished on a bus. The day was Tuesday October 15, and the time was…. I forget… around 8:15 p.m.

Book 57: Twenty-five hours later, and I’ve read to choose what to read next. It’s quite unusual for me to go a day without being between the pages of some kind of book, but last night and today until now were both full of events, work, band practice, and responding to students’ homework assignments. I intend to now browse my list of books to read and choose my next book right now. … The decision has been made, but I’ve yet to read a word. With fascinating impeachment news pouring out of the US, a book about a better and fictional president seems appropriate, and the author – or rather authors, are both new to me. The President is Missing (2018) by seasoned author James Patterson and first-time novelist President Bill Clinton who knows a thing or two about being president. And I just read that the book will be adapted for TV. I’m happy with that choice as I still feel this break from science fiction should continue for at least one more book. I was half way through it by Sunday night (Oct. 20), and it became a real page-turner! I finished it the next night at about 15 minutes before midnight. I really tore through that second half.

Book 58: My next book is Feast and Famine (2013), a collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories by the very prolific Adrian Tchaikovsky. With a busy a couple of busy weeks coming up, this may take me a while. I read the first story, a first contact story with what could be an alien life form, the day I started the book (Tuesday, October 22); I know I’m in good hands. I finished the last story in the early hours of Sunday, October 27.

Book 59: Next up is Salvation Lost (2019), the sequel to last year’s Salvation and the middle book in Peter Hamilton’s latest trilogy. I should be making slow progress because I have a lot of work to do, but I just passed the 25% mark on Tuesday morning. I’m enjoying it so much, I’m tempted to reread the first book in the series. I finished on Thursday night, reading more than half of it over the past 24 hours. I shouldn’t have read so much as I have a lot of work to do, but I just could not resist picking up my Kindle every spare moment I had. I might read the first book again at some stage.

Book 60: Next, up is Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher novel, Blue Moon (2019). I began it Friday morning, but I really do have a lot of work to do. It’s nice to be back in Jack Reacher’s world and head. By Sunday night, I was 75% through it. It’s classic Reacher, and I wish there were more Reacher books.

Book 61: Sarah Canary (1991) was next, and it’s my first time reading the writings of Karen Joy Fowler. It wasn’t on my reading list, but I recalled it was mentioned on a list of best science fiction first contact books somewhere. I’m 30% into it, and it’s more historical fiction than straight science fiction, but I I like historical fiction, too. And as a first contact story, it sure is different. Lunch time on Friday November 15 and I’m 75% into the book. Slow going because of a crazy week at work, but I am enjoying it. It certainly provides an interesting look at various characters and beliefs of the mid-late 19th century. I finished it on Saturday evening November 16. I’m glad I read that.

Book 62: Next up was more of the adventures of Jack Reacher in the form of a short story collaboration between Reacher author Lee Child and Kathy Reichs. Faking a Murderer (2019) is my first introduction to her writing and consequently her character Temperance Brennan. I just may explore further one day. Although short, I fell asleep before finishing it. I finished it Sunday morning. Now the long wait for fresh Reacher material resumes, alas.

Book 63: I was surprised to learn sometime last year that the two authors with the collective pen name  James S. A. Cory, the The Expanse novels, also wrote a Star Wars book. In my teenage years, I read seven Star Wars books – ten if you include the novelizations of the first three films. Since then dozens and dozens of Star Wars novels have been released. I don’t really have an urge to read more to be honest, but the thought of The Expanse writers writing in the Star Wars universe has some appeal, especially with the release next month of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Hence, I began reading Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves (2015). I finished it on Sunday afternoon while subwaying across town. I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as The Expanse books, and at times I found reading it to be a bit of a chore. Having said that, there were some enjoyable passages, and there was a certain feeling of nostalgia reading about all those familiar Star Wars characters and space ships.

Book 64: The decision what to read next was made for me as the above book included a short story which details an adventure had by one of the new characters. Star Wars: Silver and Scarlet was a quick 5-minute read. I was almost tempted to out off reading it, but then I noticed it was a short short story, I plowed right in and finished it on the same subway. On the subject of Star Wars book, these are the books I read as a kid: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (1978) by Alan Dean Foster, the ghost writer of the first film’s novelization; the Han Solo trilogy by Brian Daley (no relation as far as I know); and the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

Book 65: Before that day was done, I had read a quarter of The Andromeda Evolution (2019), the sequel to Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain (1969), which I read when I first learned that this sequel was in the works.  Written by  Daniel H. Wilson with the full approval of from Sherri Crichton, Michael’s widow, both books feel very much like the work of the one author. It’s nice to be reading another page-turner. This won’t take long at all regardless of how busy I am with work and with other things. I finished it Tuesday afternoon during the break between classes. The ending leaves open the strong possibility of a sequel. I can imagine reading such a sequel in about a day.

Book 66: I had a difficult time deciding what to read next. I scrolled through my list of books to read, but surprisingly not one of those 350 plus books jumped up and said “pick me!”. I finally decided to read an Ursula . K. Le Guin book. The Eye of the Heron (1978) was chosen simply because it’s not all that long. I knew nothing about it before starting it. I’m now two chapters in and I’m enjoying it. I think this will be another quick read as I’m not all that busy this week and have a rare commitment-free weekend coming up. Thursday morning, and I’m more than half way through. I finished it in a cafe later Thursday night just after 9 p.m.

Book 67: Next up is Rescue Mode (2014) by Ben Bova and NASA scientist Les Johnson. I began it just before bed on Thursday night having just chosen it mainly because I haven’t read any Ben Bova books this year and being a prolific writer, my reading list contains quite a few of his titles. I read six of his books last year after reading a two or three when I was a teenager. I’m 40% into it the morning after I started it, and I think I’m enjoying this more than that sic books I read last year. Perhaps I should explore the writings of Les Johnson. I finished it Sunday afternoon. That was another enjoyable quick read.

Book 68: Next up is Stories Of Your Life and Others (2002) by Ted Chiang, which contains the short story the film The Arrival (2016) is based on. I read the first two stories in the one sitting and then finished the third Monday morning taking me just past the half-way point. These stories are amazing. I finished the last story during a break in my second Tuesday class.

Book 69: After a run of 12 fiction books, most of them science fiction, I turned to the non-fiction Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It (2016) by FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss. It’s another one of those books that hooked me from the first page. I finished on Monday evening (Dec. 10) in a taxi on the way home from work. The descriptions of hostage negotiations were fascinating, and I learned a few negotiating tricks that would have come in handy a couple of months ago. Alas.

Book 70: I’m having another hard time choosing what to read next. I’m in a favorite cafe again and nothing from my reading list is jumping out at me. I soon decided upon The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a book that had been on my radar after spotting it at an airport bookshop and then afterwards reading some glowing reviews. I read the first few pages and then was surprised to read it is rather controversial. That did come as an unwelcome surprise, but I’ll continue with the book and keep the criticisms in mind. I have to admit though that my interest in the story just dropped a few notches.  And a few more notches when I read that the sequel, Cilka’s Journey (2019), received similar criticisms. Once bitten, twice shy. I’ve only read a few pages, and think that’s enough. I may return to it one day, but for now it’s goodbye to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It could still be a good story in itself though, and it does feel strange to abandon a book.

Book 70: I then turned to a story I knew I would enjoy: Auberon (2019), the latest novella set in James S. A. Corey’s The Expanse universe. I started it Tuesday morning, but with a busy day and not a great deal of sleep the night before, I only read the first few pages.I finished Thursday morning at a Starbucks over breakfast. That was good, I enjoyed it. With only one novel left in the saga, this is definitely one journey I’ll be sad to reach the end of.

Book 71: Another science fiction novella set in an established science fiction world. The Martian in the Wood (2017) by Stephen Baxter continues H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds with the premise that not all of the Martian invaders died. I finished it on the subway on Friday morning.

Book 72: Before I decide what book book 72 is, I need to do some work. Alas. I had a really hard time deciding what next to read. I browsed the first few pages of several books before letting my previous book guide me to H. G. Well’s The War Of The Worlds (1898). I’m surprised I had yet to read this. Apart from being something of a science fiction fan, I usually read books that are adapted into films scored by John Williams. Schindler’s List, Memoirs of a Geisha, Angela’s Ashes, The BFG, Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, The Minority Report, the first three Harry Potter books, and The Book Thief were all read before or soon after their cinematic release. For some reason, The War of the Worlds slipped through the cracks.  Jaws is another, but I’ve never really thought about reading that. I finished The War of the Worlds on Monday afternoon. It was certainly an interesting read and an interesting little history lesson on British society in the last years of the 19th century.

Book 73: Although Provenance (2017), my first introduction to Ann Leckie, didn’t blow me away, I have heard good things about the Ancillary trilogy. I decided then to read Ancillary Justice (2013) after browsing my list of books to read with a particular eye on authors I have not read this year. I’m about 20% in and I am enjoying more that Provenance, which by the way is set in the same universe. Between the 20 and 34% marks, the story got real. Thoroughly enjoying this now, but am still making slow progress due to end-of-semester grading and paperwork. Once again, the final 50% of a book was completed much more quickly than the first. I finished Ancillary Justice on Christmas Eve afternoon in one of my favorite local cafes.

Book 74: I liked Ancillary Justice enough to begin on Christmas Day its sequel, Ancillary Sword (2014).  I’m making much faster progress partly because I wrapped up my work for the semester last night and partly because I’m enjoying this sequel more than the first book now that I’m more familiar with the characters and the galaxy they inhabit. I finished it late Friday night. I am really tempted to immediately begin Ancillary Mercy (2015), the concluding book in the trilogy.

Book 75: I decided to save the conclusion of the Ancillary trilogy until next year. With that decision made, I now have to decide what to read next. I’m about to make that decision now. Ancillary Sword ended with a preview of Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas (1987), the first in a series of nine novels and one short story collection set in his Culture universe. The preview intrigued me enough to begin reading the book, and Mr Banks is an author I have been meaning to explore sooner or later. He certainly comes highly recommended. I began it on the last Saturday morning of 2019. 2019 ended with me at the 31% mark.