2021 Reading Diary Part 3!


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I read twenty books over the summer months of July and August, but I’m not sure if I can keep that pace up as the new semester begins. It will be my lightest workload in a while with no extra classes, but I should take advantage of that time not just to pursue my interests, but also go that extra mile for my students.

Book 51: The Fall Of Hyperion (1990) was open on my Kindle when August became September. I’m not making very fast progess, but I am enjoying it.  I read the last 200ish pages on Friday, September 3. The end really grabbed me, and I could not put it down. (Read between August 23 & September 3)

Book 52: Tau Zero (1970) by Poul Anderson is next. I felt in the mood for some shorter stand-alone science fiction. This is my second Poul Anderson book. The first was The High Crusade (1960), a rather comical account of the consequences of an alien ship landing in Medieval England. Tau Zero, on the other hard, is hard science fiction about an interstellar colony ship that runs into serious trouble on its way to a nearby star. It was a nice quick read, but I found myself getting a little bored with the story at around the 80% mark. My interest returned though as the end drew near. Despite those less thrilling pages, I am certainly up for exploring more or Poul Anderson’s work. (Read between September 4 & 5)

Book 53: The Incredible Shrinking Man (1956) by Richard Matheson was next. I went through a Matheson phase just after getting my first Kindle and I read most of his more well-known books as well as a huge short story collection which I loved, but for some reason, I didn’t read The Incredible Shrinking Man around that time. It’s long been at the back of my mind as a book I need to read sooner or later, and today, I decided that it was time. It wasn’t my favorite of his books, but it did have more heart to it than I expected even though the protaganost was pretty un likeable. That was the point though I’m sure as bit by bit, he unravelled as he shrunk and well, he did have a lot to deal with as his marriage and family life disintegrated along with his size. And being an arachnophobe, his battles with the spider unnerved me to say the least. (Read between September 5 & 9)

Book 54: Excession (1996) by Iain Banks, the fifth of his Culture novels was next. Pretty slow going – I hit the 60% mark on September 18, but I am enjoying it more and more as I get further into it, and I’m loving the communications between the AI minds of the various space ships. And the slow pace is work-related, not book-related, but the Chuseok break has begun! Having said that, I lost track of a couple of characters at one point. Now at 81%, and I’m looking to finish sometime on Monday, Sept. 20. And that I did.  (Read between September 10 & 20) 

Book 55: The Road (2006) by Cormac McCarthy was next after about twenty minutes of indecision. In the end, the deciding factor was the fact that I had never read a word by Cormac McCarthy before. While post-apocolyptic fiction isn’t exactly, a change for me, the voice is new, and well, The Road won The Pullitzer Prize for fiction, so it can’t be too bad. Plus, it’s short – 287 pages short. I made it to the 55% mark before sleeping, and wow, this is a really bleak book. I can’t really imagine a happy ending.  I read it in just over 24 hours, and I have to say that of all the books I’ve read this year, The Road is so far the most memorable and haunting. Ask me in 100 years if I’ve read The Road, and the story and its atmosphere will come imediately to mind. What’s next? I don’t know. (Read between September 20 & 21)

Book 56: The Four Legendary Kingdoms (2016) by fellow Australian Matthew Reilly (we’ve never met) is up next. It’s the fourth in his Jack West series, and like them all, it started with a bang. What the hell is going on? The seventh and final book in the series is out next month, so I decided to make progress with the series, and I know I’m in for a fun and absurd adventure. I flew through it and finished it at the ungodly time of 3:26 a.m. That was my favorite of the series so far, so I’ll read the next in the series (The Three Secret Cities) sooner rather than later – before the year is out for sure. (Read between September 21 & 23)

Book 57: Shadow Of The Giant (2005) by Orson Scott Card, the fourth in his Ender’s Shadow series,  is next as I continue making my way slowly through unfinished series. Progress has been pretty slow due to being busy with my classes and – at least for the first 55% of the book, not being totally captivated by the story. It has had its moments though and I expect things will pick up as draw closer to the end. The pace did pick up and I read the second half of the book over about 48 hours. While I wasn’t entirely captivated earlier on, the beautiful ending almost brought a tear or two to my eyes. (Read between September 23 & 30)

Book 58: Guards! Guards! (1989) by Terry Pratchett is the eighth Discworld book he wrote and the first featuring the City Watch. Not sure what that is yet, but I’ll soon find out. This is my third Discworld as they don’t need to be read in order of publication. Well, this is great. I’m smiling and giggling at least one or twice a page. I’ll certainly be returning to Discworld soon. (Read between September 30 & October 4)

Book 59: The Three Secret Cities (2018) is next as I decided another fast and fun rollicking Indiana Jonesish adventure was called for as I begin a busy few weeks at work. I made short work of it, and I enjoyed it so much I read the two Jack West Jnr. short stories as soon as I was finished. (Read between October 4 & 7)

Book 59a: “Jack West Jnr. & The Hero’s Helmet” (2016) was next as I continued with the adventures of Matthew Reilly’s Jack West Jnr. character in the form of the short story prequel. (Read October 7)

Book 59b: “Jack West Jnr. & The Chinese Splashdown” (2020) serves as a short prequel/prelude/epilogue to the next novel in the series, The Two Lost Mountains.(Read October 7)

Book 60: The Two Lost Mountains (2020) was next as I decided to continue with the Matthew Reilly’s Jack West series with the sixth snd penultimate book. The final book, The Impossible Labyrinth, is released next Tuesday, and I just might read that straight after. It depends how big the inevitable cliffhanger is, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a big one. I finished it a day before the final book is released. I think I’ll read one book before concluding the story, but as I type this, I’ve yet to decide what that book will be. (Read between October 7 & 11)

Book 61: “Imperial Radch: Two Short Stories” by Ann Leckie was next and it served two purposes: 1) consisting of two short stories, it offered something I could read in a day while waiting for Matthew Reilly’s The One Impossible Labyrinth to be released, and 2) the two stories are the two remaining stories set in the Imperial Radch universe that I had yet to read, so by reading them I reduced the number of series I’m in the middle of by one. (Read between October 11 & 12)

Book 63: American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race (2019) by Douglas Brinkley was kind of next, and by that I mean that this is a book I’ll read piecemeal fashion over the coming weeks or months. I read the introduction and the first chapter before setting it aside for the time being. (Read between October 11, 2021 & February 13, 2022)

Book 64: The One Impossible Labyrinth (2021) by Matthew Reilly was next as I decided to waste no time in finishing the series. It didn’t disappoint and I read it quite quickly. The absurd action and unbelievable escapes maybe don’t make for great literature, and some parts were predictable, but it was still an enjoyable rollercoaster of a ride, and there were some quite touching moments when the characters stopped running from and into danger and battling the forces of evil in order to save the universe. I do prefer though the author’s less action orientated books. And the man himself?  Watching this 27-minute ABC report on his life and recent activities only solidified my respect for him as a human being. The heartbreak and loss he experienced and then overcame is one of the most moving things I’ve ever heard about a favorite author or artist. (Read between October 12 & 15)

Book 65: Tales of Tinfoil: Stories of Paranoia and Conspiracy (2015) Well conspiracies are everywhere these days, and I have to admit, I count as friends some people who have fallen down that rabbit hole. So in honor of all things tinfoil hat, I’ll make my way through this story by story in between other books. And these kinds of collections serve as great introductions to a slew of authors I might not have heard of otherwise. And there are certainly some gems in this collection. The moon landing one is a favorite so far, but they’ve all been good. (Read between October 15 & November 30)

Book 66: The Knife of Dreams (2005) by Robert Jorden is the eleventh Wheel of Time book and the last he completed before his passing. It took me almost two weeks to read – two weeks that coincided with the busier mid-term exam period. The next book, The Gathering Storm, is the first of the last three books completed by Brandon Sanderson based on extensive notes and recorded oral accounts left by Mr. Jorden. I am looking forward to exploring Brandon Sanderson more and I have on my To-Be-Read list his two major fantasy series and his main science fiction series.   (Read between October 15 & 28)

Book 67: Better Off Dead (2021) by Lee Child with the assistance for a second time from his brother Andrew who will eventually take over the series as Lee enjoys all his well-earned profits and takes an equally well-earned break. The first chapter was again posted by the publisher earlier in the year, and it all came back to me. It certainly was a memorable opening chapter that served up both a mystery and a cliffhanger. It was a quick enjoyable read as always, but Reacher really didn’t seem himself in the early chapters – he acted like he had lost a few IQ points since we had last met. (Read between October 28 & 31)

Book 68: Over My Dead Body (2021) by Jeffrey Archer. This being the fourth and last book in the William Warick series, I decided to waste no time finding out what life had in store for Detective Warwick. Once again, it took me a few days to get to the halfway mark, and then once I did, I raced to the finish in less than a day. Of course it helped that I have no classes on Friday.  (Read between Oct. 31 & Nov. 5) 

Book 69: Once Upon a Time in the North (2008) by Philip Pullman is a novella set in the author’s His Dark Materials universe which tells the story of how two characters in that series first met. Perhaps this would have been better read before the The Amber Spyglass, the third His Dark Materials novel.  I then read a new Stephen King short story, “Red Screen” (2021) before returning to the short stories in Tales of Tinfoil and the non-fiction American Moonshot. (Read November 5) 

Book(s) 70:  Witness to a Trial & The Whistler (2016 ) both by John Grisham, the first is the short story prequel to the second. I read the short story in bed in the early hours of November 11, and I then decided to proceeed with the novel. I’m about due for a John Grisham. I’m enjoying this! (Read between November 11 & 14)

Book 71: Dogs of War (2017) by Adrian Tchaikovsky wasn’t on my immediate list of books to read, but I suddenly felt in the mood for the author, and I was not let down. The title doesn’t sound all the deep and touching, but it’s a beautiful book indeed. I just may have to make 2022 a year in which I read a lot of his books. (Read between November 14 & 16)

Book 72: Blood Rites (2004) by Jim Butcher is next as I contiue his The Dresden Files series with its sixth book. This has been slow going because of a busier couple of weeks, and once again, I read the second half much more quickly than the first half. And I’m looking forward to continuing this journey next year. (Read between November 16 & 29)

Book 73: Leviathan Falls (2021) by James S. A. Corey is the ninth and last book in The Expanse series, and I just couldn’t wait to start this. My timing was perfect: I finished Blood Rites yesterday, and then between then and today’s release of Leviathan Falls, I read the last story in Tales of Tinfoil. Now to see how humanity fairs against the unfathomable intelligence of the mysterious alien race the destroyed the original ring builders. I suspect we are next.  I passed the half-way mark late Friday night, December 3. With some more time on my hands, I’m aiming to finish it by Sunday or Monday. Wednesday was the day I finished it, and well, I was a little underwhelmed.  I enjoyed the eight book, Tiamat’s Wrath far more. (Read between November 29 & December 8)

Book 74: Superintilligence (2014) by Nick Bolstrom appeared on a list of books recommended by Elon Musk, and the title sounded intriguing. After making a start, I quickly realized it seems the author has some superintelligence of his own. (Read between December 8 & … )

Book 75: Blockchain Revolution (2016) by Don Tapscott was started while I was still reading Superintelligence. I decided it was time for break from the fantasy and science fiction that take up the bulk of my reading, and that break is in the form of two related non-fiction books about new technologies. Blockchain Revolution was very readable and thankfully not too technical as it explores the uses and ramifications of blockchain adoption rather than the maths behind the idea.  (Read between December 11 & 19 )

Book 76: The Gathering Storm (2009) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is the twelfe novel in The Wheel of Time series and the first published after the passing of Robert Jordan. With the first season of the TV show nearing its end, I decided to return and finish the year with this book with an eye to reading the remaining two early in the new year. Mmmm… The cover doesn’t really capture the flavor of the story at all, but it is accurate in terms of that big hole in the house.  I finished the year about 46% into the book, and I am finding it slightly more readable than earlier books, but that could be because the climax is getting closer and closer. Certainly, I haven’t noticed any big changes in the style of writing. (Read between December 19 & January…. )

And that was all I read in 2021. Now, onto 2022…