August 2019 in Retrospect: What I Read/Listened to/Wrote About

August in a Thumbnail: 7294 pages (500 more than July), 24 books (same as July, and given the amount of time Dark Age took I’m happy about that), Average Rating of 3.9—which is not shabby. But 6 5-Star books??!?!? I’m either getting really soft, or I had an incredible month (my reflex is to guess I’m getting soft, but I’d defend every one of those).

Here’s what happened here in August.
Books Read/Listened to

Teen Titans: Raven The Bitterest Pill Not Home Yet
3 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
The Lord's Supper: Answers to Common Questions Chances Are . . . A Dangerous Man
3.5 Stars 4 Stars 4 1/2 Stars
Heaven on Earth Shady Characters Dark Age
3 Stars 3 Stars 5 Stars
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Life of Christ Black Summer
5 Stars 3 Stars 5 Stars
Kings of the Wyld (Audiobook) Fletch, Too The Swallows
5 Stars 3 Stars r5 Stars
Gilmore Girls: A Cultural History Finding God in the Ordinary Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 4: Soteriology
3.5 Stars 3 Stars 5 Stars
Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City Chimes at Midnight A Time Traveler's Theory of Relativity
3 Stars 4 1/2 Stars 3.5 Stars
Son of Fletch Brotherhood of the Worm
3.5 Stars 4 Stars

Still Reading

The Blade Itself The Editor

Ratings

5 Stars 6 2 1/2 Stars 0
4 1/2 Stars 2 2 Stars 0
4 Stars 3 1 1/2 Stars 0
3.5 Stars 4 1 Star 0
3 Stars 8
Average = 3.89

Reviewish things Posted

TBR
Physical Books: 7 Added, 4 Read, 27 Remaining
E-Books: 1 Added, 0 Read, 21 Remaining
Audiobooks: 1 Added, 3 Read, 3 Remaining

2019 Book Challenges

2019 Library Love Challenge

2019 Library Love Challenge

  1. Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator): An Updated Look into the Empath’s Past
  2. Chances Are . . . by Richard Russo: Russo almost writes a Crime Novel, but manages to avoid it.
  3. Shady Characters by Keith Houston: This geeky look at symbols and punctuation is as informative as it is fun.
  4. Dark Age by Pierce Brown: The blood-dimmed tide is loosed… / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, Jim Dale
While I was Reading Challenge

While I Was Reading 2019 Challenge

Nothing this month. I’ve got the rest of the list picked out, just need to find/make the time.

LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

#LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

    Finding God in the Ordinary

  1. Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams: It’s some effort, but readers will be amused by this
  2. Brotherhood of the Worm by M. T. Miller (link forthcoming)
2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

  1. Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City by Pete Adams: It’s some effort, but readers will be amused by this
  2. A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais: A Routine Errand leads to a Rescue Mission for Joe Pike
  3. Black Summer by M. W. Craven: A Good Detective Faces Off with a Brilliant Criminal for the Second Time
  4. Fletch, Too by Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller (link forthcoming)
    Bitterest Pill
  5. Son of Fletch by Gregory McDonald, Dan John Miller (link forthcoming)
Humor Reading Challenge 2019

Humor Reading Challenge 2019

    Nada.
2019 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge

2019 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge

  1. Heaven on Earth by Thomas Brooks (link forthcoming)
  2. Life of Christ by J. Gresham Machen
  3. Reformed Dogmatics: Soteriology by Geerhardus Vos, Richard B. Gaffin Jr. (Translator) (link forthcoming)

How was your month?

August 2019

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Classically Cool—Let’s Talk Classics!

Last week, Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub posted Classically Cool- Let’s Talk Classics!, and it got me a-thinkin’, what Classics would I mention as faves?

Dickens doesn’t do anything for me, ditto for the overwhelming amount of Shakespeare I’ve read, Hawthorne makes me angry, I don’t get Melville’s appeal (but I also kind of do…I just don’t want to put in the effort)…but by and large “The Classics” (aka the Canon) are Classics for a reason (not because some nameless, faceless group of (now-)Dead, White Males exercised hegemonic powers to impose their tastes, either).

Still, there are some favorites:

Starting with The Oresteia (for chronology’s sake), this is the only existing example we have of a Greek dramatic trilogy. This series showing the fall-out of the Trojan War for Agamemnon and his family/kingdom and is pretty impressive.

Call me silly, but Beowulf has always really worked for me. I don’t know how to rank the various translations, I’ve read a handful and don’t think I ever knew a single translator’s name. I’ve meant to try the Haney translation since it came out, but haven’t gotten to it yet—the same goes for Tolkein’s. From about the same time (a little later, I believe, but I’m not going to check because if I start researching this post, it’ll never get finished) is The Dream of the Rood, a handly evangelistic tool (one of the better written ones) in Old English.

Moving ahead a couple of centuries (I’ll pick up the pace, don’t worry, the post won’t be that long) and we get Gawain and the Green Knight, which is fun, exciting and teaches a great lesson. Similarly, we have that poet’s Pearl, Patience, and Purity. I don’t remember much about the latter two, beyond that I liked them, but the Pearl—a tale of a father mourning a dead child and being comforted/challenged in a dream to devotion—is one of the more moving works I can remember ever reading.

I want to throw in Tom Jones (technically, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling) by Henry Fielding here, but I’ve never actually completed it. Which says more about my patience and how distracted I can get than the book—which is an impressive work. I’ve gotta get around to actually finishing it at some point.

I can’t remember the titles for most of the Robert Burns poems I’ve read—”A Red, Red Rose” and “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November, 1785” (one of the best titles in history) are the exceptions—but most of them were pretty good. And I’m not a poetry guy.

Skipping a few centuries and we get to Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. If all you know is the story from movies, you’re in for a treat when you actually read this thing. I’ve read it a few times, and each time, I’m caught off-guard at how fast-moving it really is, how entertaining and exciting it can be. It’s not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel compelled at this point to mention that the book about Dumas’ father, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss is a must-read for any fan of Dumas.

I don’t remember how Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott ended up on my bookshelf (I think whatever relative took me to the bookstore said I could get something silly and trashy (in their view) if I got a Classic, too). But a few years later, I finally got around to reading it at about the same time that another kid in my class (we were High School sophomores) was reading it—both of us talked about how it was pretty good, but too much work. Until we got to a point somewhere in the middle (he got there a day before I did, I think) and something clicked—maybe we’d read enough of it that we could really get what was going on, maybe Scott got into a different gear, I’m not sure—and it became just about the most satisfying thing I’d read up to that point in my life.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of my favorite books, probably belonging in the Top 3. Go ahead and roll your eyes at the idea of me saying that about a romance novel, that just means you’ve misread the book. This tale about integrity, about staying true to what one holds dear, what one believes and to what is right despite everything and everyone around you is exciting, inspiring, fantastically-written, and so-memorable. And, yeah, there’s a nice love story to go along with that 🙂

Speaking of love stories, we now get to my favorite, Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. I steadfastly refuse to learn anything about the actual figure, because I don’t want anything to ruin this for me. When I first read the play in junior high, I considered the best parts the lead-up to the duel in Act I, and Christian’s trying to pick a fight with Cyrano the next day. Now I know the best parts are Christian’s realization in Act IV and Cyrano’s reaction to it and then, of course, Cyrano’s death (I’m fighting the impulse to go read that now instead of finishing this post). And don’t get me started about how this play’s balcony scene leaves any other romantic balcony scene in the dust.

I can’t pass up an opportunity to praise, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain’s tour de force. Satire, social commentary, general goofiness and some real heart. This book has it all.

I’m not sure that Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictdionary is technically a “Classic.” But I’m counting it as one. It’s hilarious, it’s incisive, it’s a great time for those who like to subtly (and not-so-subtly) play with words. Yeah, it’s cynical—but it’s idealistic, too (as the best cynics are). If you haven’t sampled it yet, what’s wrong with you?

I feel strange dubbing anything from the Twentieth Century as a Classic, so I won’t talk much about The Old Man and the Sea, The Great Gatsby, Winesburg, Ohio or Our Town (the best way short of having a dog die to make me cry is get me to read/watch Act III). But I do feel safe mentioning To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the ground-breaking, thought-shaping, moving, inspiring, and (frequently) just plain fun look at a childhood in the south.

When I started this, I figured I’d get 4-5 paragraphs out of the idea. I guess I overshot a little. Anyway, that’s what came to mind when I read W&S’ post—maybe other works would come to mind if I did this another time, but for now, those are my favorite Classics. What about you?

Saturday Miscellany — 5/11/19

It’s been one of those weeks where I can’t just seem to get to the keyboard when I have energy enough to write. Which is frustrating — I have 2 books I can’t wait to talk about (well, 3 after last night), if only I didn’t need to move ideas from my brain to my blog via some sort of mediator (in this case, fingers and keyboard, etc.) — if I could just think them and they’d post, this blog would be busier.

The lack of keyboard time also translates into a short list of odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. But I like these, so I’m okay with the length — you’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    A Book-ish Related Podcast Episodes you might want to give a listen to:

  • O&F Podcast, Ep. 195: Delilah S. Dawson & Kevin Hearne Strout talks to Dawson & Hearne about the Pell books (not enough for me — but I’m not done with the episode yet), their individual works and more.

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs — The latest Mercy Thompson book — I finished it yesterday and it’s great.
  • State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts by Nick Hornby — The basis of/based on the new Sundance series (I’m not sure which came first, honestly). But the concept is great (10 conversations between a couple just before they go to their weekly marriage counseling sessions). And well, Hornby, so duh.
  • The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich and Peter Evanovich — Fox and O’Hare are back after a 3-hiatus (at least for readers, probably not for the characters). I’m not sure what this series will be like without Goldberg (don’t know if I’d have tried it without him), but I’m curious enough to grab this.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to Ailish Sinclair for following the blog this week.

GUEST POST – The Books That Made the Largest Impact in the World

Back in December, I had a guest post about Literary Road Trips, featuring a brilliant infographic (you should read it if you haven’t). The designer (creator? author? maker? I really should’ve run this by her), Keilah Keiser is back with another very cool post. Read her intro and then be sure to click the link at the end of the post. I might quibble a bit with some of the reasoning behind the picks — but there are some great books featured in this project. Great design work, too. I’m babbling — read what Keiser had to say instead.

Books give writers the freedom to express their unique world views so they may share them with the rest of the world. Since before 1000 C.E. up until the modern age of the early 2000s, a select few titles continue to be read worldwide.

Their ideas have a lasting impact because they challenge political thought, scientific research, faith, and philosophical themes. These writers continued to pen their thoughts in their work even if it meant that they crossed the line for what was considered socially acceptable throughout history. At times, their books put their own lives in danger, because they were that special and unheard of by others.

John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” cemented the foundation of new liberalism, Upton Sinclair exposed the meatpacking industry working conditions, and Malcolm X commemorated his legacy to civil rights.

To celebrate these authors and their iconic works, Largest put together this list of books that have made the largest impact around the world. And if you haven’t already, be sure to put them on the top of your reading list. Prepare yourself to explore each of these writers’ groundbreaking ideas. Discover why they’re each unique in their own way, and why they’ll continue to be read in the future. Crack open the pages and get reading.

GUEST POST – The Open Road Awaits: Your Guide to Literary Road Trips

I’m very happy to have this guest post today — and not just because I need some time to finish a couple of things you won’t see for a few weeks. I love a nicely designed (and informative) infographic and this one hit the sweet spot for me. When I was asked if I’d be interested in posting this, I jumped on it. Give this a read and check this out. Then maybe plan a trip?

Literary Road Trips Across AmericaScott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac and Tom Wolfe…

These are a handful of renowned authors responsible for writing some of the most iconic books we know and love. The sources for their inspiration came from their life experiences, including some at the heart of American culture—road trips. From adventures lasting ten to over one hundred hours, these famous works of literature account for the national parks, cities and cultural events each author explored.

For example, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, follows the story of Sal Paradise and his friends. The crew of young, broke hippies in love with life travel from New York to San Francisco. Through his young characters’ adventures, Kerouac’s work captures the spirit of freedom and the American dream. The narrative draws from Kerouac’s personal experiences traveling across the country.

The experiences of many authors are brought to life through the words crafted in their stories, making it incredibly difficult to put these books down. And each year, thousands of Americans, inspired by wanderlust and words, set out on their own adventures. The freedom of a cross-country road trip, whether on your own or with a group of close friends, never fails to enchant. There’s something intensely clarifying about hitting the open road. You’re suddenly able to disconnect from the routines of everyday life. You become what’s happening in that moment. You are living outside time.

Inspired by the need for adventure and the words of iconic authors, CarRentals created a guide to literary road trips across America. Instead of simply living them through the pages of your favorite novel, you can set off on routes that follow the narrative arc of six iconic books. Create new stories of your own by exploring the paths of these famous American authors. The road awaits!

While I Was Reading 2018 Challenge

All right . . . one more.

The blog While I Was Reading (great name, btw), is running a challenge this year, here are the categories:

  • Read a book that takes place in one day.
  • Read a memoir or biography of a musician you like.
  • Read a collection of poetry.
  • Read an audio book with multiple narrators.
  • Read a self published book.
  • Read a book you received as a gift.
  • Read a book about a historical event you’re interested in (fiction or non).
  • Read a book written by an author from the state where you grew up.
  • Read a book recommended by one of your parents (in-laws count).
  • Read a book with your favorite food in the title.
  • Read a book with a child narrator.
  • Read a book you chose based on the cover.

Details/sign up/etc. are here at this page.

I’ll be tracking my reads here or you can see the posts about the books here.

2018 Reading Challenge: Indie-Fever!

One more 2018 Reading Challenge: Indie-Fever!


(text stolen from the sign-up page)

‘Read & Review as many Indie Books as you can!’

Points to Know:
1. Read and Review as many Indie (Self Published) Books as possible during this year.
2. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. However, you have to post a review on some site in order to participate. It can be on Goodreads and/or Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble and/or Smashwords.
3. If you are a blogger link up your permalink to the review posts. If you aren’t a blogger, then link up the permalink to your reviews from whichever site you have chosen to post the review on.
4. The books can overlap with other reading challenges.
5. Books read may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
6. Post your links to your reviews each month to share with other participants.
7. The challenge runs from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. Its never too late to Join In!

Sign Up Here. I’m at least going for the Amateur level, maybe the Lover.

I’ll be tracking my reads here or you can see the posts about the books here.