All The Books! All The Life! June 2016

All The Books!

26073078Last book read: City of Jackals, the fifth in the Makana series by Parker Bilal, the pen name of British-Sudanese writer Jamal Mahjoub.

On hold: 

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl: One of the books I want to read as part of my 47 Things I Want To Do In My 47th Year as is the next book I’ll mention…
  • When Breath Become Air by Paul Kalanithi: Recommended by Melissa Middleman Firman and one I want to include in my eight books before Labor Day, to bring my grand total of books to eight.
  • Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh: Because of the subject, drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, which is happening in the county where I live.

Checked out:

  • Volumes 3 and 4 of Ms. Marvel
  • Dead Man’s Float, a collection of poetry, by the late Jim Harrison
  • Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry

Rereads planned before Labor Day: The Hobbit and Invisible Man (the Ralph Ellison one, not H.G. Wells).

A lot of this are rehashes of previous posts, but I’m hoping to put a dent in my reading this coming weekend as I’ll have a four-day weekend for the Fourth of July. When I started this month, my goal for my birthday month was to reread several books, including those mentioned above, but I read none of them. I guess there is always July!

All The Life!

As for my goals for my birthday life in regards to life (l’chaim), I succeeded at all but one. That one was the 99 Days of Summer Blogging, which I bowed out of earlier this week. On the flip side, the successes were numerous:

  1. 20160625_140808A drinkalong with a groupline online on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) for my birthday on Saturday, June 11, at 9:30 p.m. ET. The movie was Smokey and the Bandit, one of my favorites.
  2. A cookout on my birthday, June 9, with neighbors. My wife made shish-kebobs on the grill.
  3. Went on a luncheon cruise on Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in New York, for our neighbors Mike and Kathy’s 25th wedding anniversary. They invited a small group of family and friends, and we were honored to be among that group.
  4. Purchasing (finally) a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones that I hoped would help with my tinnitus and not hearing as much in our neighborhood. I don’t think they’ve helped with the tinnitus, except for masking it as well as most of the noises in the neighborhood, especially the big ones: a nearby factory and neighbors’ dogs.

I also survived our library’s book sale not once, but twice.

As for July, besides the books above and the four-day Fourth of July weekend (and being invited over to the neighbors for a picnic), I don’t think we have much else planned. I guess we’ll just play it by ear. Speaking of ear, I’ll leave you with my favorite album of the month:

So how was your June? Any good books, music, movies, TV to recommend? What’s on tap for your July?

Keeping It Short

When I left you last week, I was reading City of Jackals by Parker Bilal and waiting for three other books on hold. Since then, I’ve finished City of Jackals, which was just okay, and still am waiting for the three books, which I hope will be better.

In the meanwhile, as we approach the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, I’ve picked up a few shorter works for today as I also continue convalescing from the library book sale. Yesterday morning, I woke up (read: one of our cats Seamus woke me up) at 5 a.m. and I couldn’t get back to sleep because my legs were so sore. I think all the carrying boxes from downstairs in our library and just walking inside and outside to check on volunteers manning the porch and two tents finally caught up with me.

The books

  • 25066780Volumes 3 and 4 of Ms. Marvel:…despite the fact that I didn’t love the second volume like I loved the first. For a non-comic book reader like myself, I’ll admit I got lost in the second one with characters whose names comic book aficionados can recite as if the characters are part of a Litany of Saints, but with whom I don’t even have a passing familiarity.
  • Dead Man’s Float, a collection of poetry, by the late Jim Harrison:…despite the title and that Harrison died recently, and that “we” have heard more than enough about death the last couple of weeks.

In addition to the books on hold, I do have two rereads planned before Labor Day: The Hobbit and Invisible Man (the Ralph Ellison one, not H.G. Wells). However, I just don’t feel like committing to either yet. I’ll have a four-day weekend for the Fourth of July, so hopefully then.

What are you reading this week?  Anything good?

This is Day 21 of 99 Days of Summer Blogging.

Updating y’all on my reading

So it’s been a while since I’ve given y’all an update on my reading. I’ve given you umpteen updates on my life, my birthday, which was this past Thursday but lasts all month (in my mind), but not much on what I’m actually reading or what books are on hold and in the immediate future.

What I’m actually reading right now

26073078 City of Jackals, the fifth in the Makana series by Parker Bilal, the pen name of British-Sudanese writer Jamal Mahjoub: I think I found this series through Overdrive at the Free Library of Philadelphia and I’ve been hooked ever since. This one, I actually bought for my birthday with it just being published this past Monday and although not very far in it, I’m loving it, just like I did the others. The series follows Makana, a former police detective from Sudan who is a private investigator in Cairo. In this one, he is working on two separate cases: a college student who has gone missing and a Sudanese immigrant whose head is found in the river never where Makana lives.

In response to a post about my wife analyzing my reading, Michelle of the blog That’s What She Read said this:  “I like that she challenged you to consider moving outside the realm of mystery. Are you going to try it?” Well, based on this being the next book I’m reading since that post, I’m going to answer, “No.” However, based on what I have on hold at the library, for the next few books, I’m going to answer, “Sure.”

What I have on hold

1044863 Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl: This is one of the books I want to read as part of my 47 Things I Want To Do In My 47th Year as is the next book I’ll mention…

When Breath Become Air by Paul Kalanithi: This one was recommended by Melissa Middleman Firman and one I want to include in my eight books before Labor Day, to bring my grand total of books to eight.

24584923Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh: I forgot I had this one on hold, to be honest, until I looked today. This isn’t a typical one I’d choose, but because of the subject, drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, which is happening in the county where I live, I thought I’d give this one a try. If I actually read it, I’ll let you know what I think.
So what are you reading? And what are you planning on read in the near future?

This is Day 14 of 99 Days of Summer Blogging. In Day 13, I started a new feature, Saturday Spins, in which I share what’s on my virtual turntable for the previous week.

47 Things I Want To Do In My 47th Year

47

Or goals for my birthday year, as I already did “Goals for my birthday month”:

  1. Celebrate 20th wedding anniversary with my wife Kim in November.
  2. Save ahead for 25th. Trip to Scotland.
  3. Celebrate birthday this afternoon with wife, who is making steak shish kebobs on grill, and neighbors,who are joining us.
  4. Celebrate birthday with online friends Saturday night with drinkalong of Smokey and the Bandit on Internet Relay Chat.
  5. Celebrate neighbors’ 25th wedding anniversary with them, family, and other friends on luncheon cruise on Seneca Lake later this month.
  6. Continue participating in 99 Days of Summer Blogging through Labor Day.
  7. Walk more.
  8. Walk to work more, or at all, especially here during summer and fall.
  9. Eat better. Always.
  10. Drink better. Er, not more…um, except for this weekend.
  11. Sleep better. Slightly earlier.
  12. Read eight books before Labor Day to bring total to 20 for year.
  13. Reread The Hobbit among those eight books.
  14. Reread A Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl among those eight books.
  15. Reread The Lord of the Rings within the next year. One I read several times as a teen.
  16. Reread Modern Man in Search of a Soul by Carl Jung within the next year.
  17. Read When Breath Become Air by Paul Kalanithi among those eight books as recommended by Melissa Middleman Firman.
  18. Go to church at least once a month. Not once a year.
  19. Recommit to daily devotions.
  20. Continue with winding down routine at night.
  21. Work on more physical wind up routine in morning.
  22. Walk!
  23. See one movie in theater. That’s worth seeing.
  24. Go to one concert.
  25. Go to one author event. After several failed attempts to see Sherman Alexie.
  26. Play cards more with neighbors.
  27. Play cards, games with Kim rather than just binge-watch TV with her.
  28. Go on hikes with her.
  29. Go on bikes with her.
  30. Go on day trips with her.
  31. Visit Corning Museum of Glass again.
  32. Go to Seneca Lake again for wine tour.
  33. Go one other place nearby, where we haven’t been.
  34. Visit parents.
  35. Visit sister.
  36. Visit with Kim’s family.
  37. Vote for the next President of the US.
  38. Vote for the first female President of the US.
  39. Continue to listen to, and explore, new music…after all, I’m not 50 yet.
  40. Delve into “old” music…after all, I’m almost half a century old!
  41. Go to NASCAR race with neighbor. And Dad.
  42. Practice what you preach.
  43. Be quick to listen.
  44. Slow to speak.
  45. Slow to anger.
  46. Talk less.
  47. Smile more.

This is Day 11 of 99 Days of Summer Blogging and this post was inspired by Debi’s 53 things she wants to do in her 53rd summer post.

Further analysis of my reading by my wife

I guess it was more observation than analysis on my part, I just notice that the books that make you say ‘Wow, that was amazing’ are the ones that share truth, particularly from someone whose culture and life experience differs tremendously from your own. Which is one of the things we have in common. The ‘breadbasket on the table’ books, where a brilliant but world weary detective with crap interpersonal skills solves a mystery because of some longstanding internal conflict….meh. We’ve all been there a hundred times.

This was the comment my wife made to yesterday’s post, and further enhances what she already said, especially the part: “particularly from someone whose culture and life experience differs tremendously from your own.” That is even true with the crime fiction novels I like, from Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins set in L.A.’s Compton to Parker Bilal’s Makana Investigation series which are set in Cairo, Egypt.

Another point that a friend, Jenn Thorson, made on my Facebook made helps clarify my own view on the books I like:


This is a valid point as when I include books marked as favorites on my Goodreads shelves, that initial list of a dozen increases by 20 to 32.

my favorites shelf:
Bryan G.'s book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (favorites shelf)

That also accounts for the mysteries that weren’t included in yesterday’s post.

On the point, though, my wife made about being there a hundred times with a brilliant but world weary detective solving a mystery. Part of the appeal too is to see how, or if, the author can create something different, even if slightly different, within the genre.

So do you differentiate between books you rate five-stars and favorites?

This is Day 8 of 99 Days of Summer Blogging.