My Top 10 of the Last 350 Books Read on Goodreads

In November 2019, I wrote about reaching 300 books read on Goodreads since 2014. This past Monday, when I finished Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, I reached 350 (or a little more, considering a few books were collections of books, such as The Lord of the Rings – a reread). Instead of breaking down the numbers like that 2019 post, I thought this time I’d highlight my top 10 of the 350, out of the 50 that I rated five stars.

The only order I’m putting them in is alphabetical order by title:

  1. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
  2. All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver
  3. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  4. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  6. Leaves of Grass: The Deathbed Edition by Walt Whitman
  7. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  8. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  9. The River Why by David James Duncan
  10. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

Two of them, All Creatures Great and Small and All Systems Red, are the beginnings of series; another two, poetry; and five, nonfiction. That wasn’t by design to be split into fiction and nonfiction, but it is nice how it worked out that way. Naturally, I highly recommend all of them, but the one that I think is a must-read is Being Mortal – because, well, we all are mortal (unless there’s something I don’t know about you).


Last week, beyond Project Hail Mary, I mentioned books I might read. Out of those, the next one I’m reading is Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo by Jo Koy. I plan on finishing that either tonight or tomorrow. Kim and I are still listening to the podcast Aack Cast by Jamie Loftus about “Cathy, the iconic and much-maligned comic strip by Cathy Guisewite,” in which Jamie Loftus “weaves between reporting and fiction, putting a cruelly treated cartoon everywoman in context.” I’m still making my way through the final two seasons of Criminal Minds.

And finally, tomorrow afternoon I’m going to a virtual concert with Bob Dylan. Tying in with the mention of Whitman earlier, I’ll leave you with this from Dylan from last year’s phenomenal album Rough and Rowdy Ways:

My Own Personal Sabbath #40

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day, sometimes the day before, and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath.

This is one of those times, I’m posting before my Sabbath.

Reading

The only book that I know for sure that I’ll be continuing to read tomorrow is What is Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life by Mark Doty. As it is split into four parts, I am reading it over the four Sundays in July. [Correction: It’s split into five parts, but the fourth part is short so I’ll read that and the fifth part on the final Sunday in July.] I started it last Sunday. Otherwise, I have a plethora of choices of what else to read, including, but not limited to, the following and obviously am enjoying it or I wouldn’t be continuing with it.

  • Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo by Jo Koy. I’ve had it on hold for a few months at the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) in ebook, and it finally came in this afternoon.
  • Treasure Hunt, the 16th in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri. I’ve been making my way slowly through the series this year and while this one is available at FLP, I bought it on Kindle, which had a deal on it. That way I can get to it at my own speed.
  • The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois. I don’t read much science fiction, but I want to. So I asked for a friend’s recommendation and he recommended that I read any of the collections of each year’sbest science fiction edited by Dozois for 35 years from 1984 to 2018 when Dozois died. I found this collection to borrow at FLP.
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I found it on the new book shelf at our library and grabbed it because I’ve heard the buzz around it is good and I enjoyed The Martian.
  • It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Cataan by Tristan Donovan. I picked up this while shelf-reading at the library. A friend and I play board games online, and I tj

For tomorrow, I’ll probably choose Mixed Plate, since I know there are six people waiting to read it after me and I might dip into the science fiction collection of short stories.

Listening to

Since my wife Kim works 12-hour shifts from early Saturday night into Sunday morning and then early Sunday night into Sunday morning, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each night, we often watch a sitcom or two before she goes to work. Lately, though, we have been listening to podcasts or audiobooks, well, in particular one podcast Aack Cast by Jamie Loftus about “Cathy, the iconic and much-maligned comic strip by Cathy Guisewite,” in which Jamie Loftus “weaves between reporting and fiction, putting a cruelly treated cartoon everywoman in context.” We also have been listening in particular one audiobook, Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson. Since we are caught up with Aack Cast, we probably will continue listening to Broken.

Watching

Last Sunday, I watched all three of the original Bourne movies with Matt Damon back-to-back-to-back ending at about 2:30 a.m. Monday morning since I didn’t have to go to work the next day. This Sunday, I’m not sure what I’ll be watching. I’ve been making my way through the last couple of seasons of Criminal Minds, so I might do that (I’m in Season 14 now, with only Season 15 to go).

So, what are you reading, watching, listening to, or doing this weekend? Hope whatever it is, it’s all good.

The Golden Age of Television

This week, I thought I’d share a few links a friend, John, shared with me from an online course for adults he’s been teaching at a suburban Philadelphia university. The course is on “The Golden Age of Television,” with each session covering a TV play from the early 1950s. Here are the three plays in chronological order of when they aired, with a few notes from John:

Marty; broadcast May 23, 1953 on NBC’s Philco Television Playhouse

The Strike, broadcast on Studio One, June 7, 1954, on CBS:

This was Rod Serling’s first major teleplay about war, based on his personal experiences and observations in World War II.

Twelve Angry Men Restored Kinescope. Originally Broadcast live on Westinghouse Studio One, September 20, 1954:

It was written by Reginald Rose, produced by Felix Jackson, and directed by Franklin Schaffner. The cast was Robert Cummings, Franchot Tone, Norman Fell, Edward Arnold, John Beal, George Voskovec, Joseph Sweeney, Lee Philips, Walter Abel, Bart Burns, Vincent Gardenia and Larkin Ford. Fell, you might remember, as the landlord from Three’s Company: Gardenia, the father in Moonstruck. For those older folks among my reader, Furness was the long-time spokesperson for Westinghouse who said at the end of the commercials “Remember, you can be sure if it’s Westinghouse.”

John also shared this interview with Delbert Mann who directed Marty talking about the television production and Paddy Chayefsky:

My Own Personal Sabbath #31

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath.

Tomorrow, the plan is simple: recharge, read, and rest.

Recharge after energy depletion from doomscrolling and what Kim and I call “our daily five minutes of anger” after looking at the news usually at the end of the day. Unfortunately, sometimes it is longer than five minutes and even if only is five minutes, it sours the rest of the night. What has helped, though, is we have been watching a show on Netflix with meditation exercises.

So I plan to start tomorrow with meditation as modeled by the late John Main, reciting the word “Maranatha” for 20 minutes.

Read after not taking the time out to read all week. Instead, we watched lots of episodes of The Simpsons and Hamilton since we subscribed to Disney Plus. We finally caved when we saw the five seasons of the original The Muppet Show is coming to the channel later this month.

I’ll be continuing with the Inspector Montalbano mysteries that I started last month. So far, I have read the sixth, seventh, and eighth in the series, The Smell of the Night, Rounding the Mark, and The Patience of the Spider. I already the ninth and 10th in the series, The Paper Moon and August Heat checked out on ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Rest after, at times, a mentally stressful week. My mother had to get a test for covid, which turned out to be negative (but she’s still not feeling well). At work, I’m navigating through miscommunication, sometimes perceived vs. real, with coworkers. And then there’s the aforementioned doomscrolling. Rest will involve most likely a nap…and music…and TV or movie watching.

I’ll check in later tomorrow to let you know how it went.

Sunday Update:

9 a.m. I’ve been up for about an hour and didn’t start the day with meditation, but I’ll be getting to that this morning. After eating first breakfast, I started reading The Paper Moon and appropriately it began with a passage about waking up that fit the day. The passage is too long to quote here, but the gist of it is like in the movie Dead Poets Society: Carpe diem (in a whisper). So I’m going to seize the day and do what I want right now, which is reading this book.

Noon: So…I’ve read one chapter so far of The Paper Moon. Most of the morning, I’ve been on the phone: checking in with my mom and dad (twice, actually, after seeing a blog post that reminded me of something I wanted to tell my dad) and our landlord about a few minor issues at our house. Now it’s after noon here and I still haven’t “meditated.” So I guess that’s next. Update on my mom: She’s still not feeling great, but maybe slightly better. If it doesn’t clear up by mid-week, she’ll get a doctor’s appointment.

4 p.m.: So…I’ve read one chapter so far of The Paper Moon. Pete and Repete were sitting on a wall. Pete fell off. Who was left?…But it’s true. I ended up meditating finally, then after falling asleep in my recliner, I took a short nap. Now here I am.

9 p.m.: So…I’ve now read three chapters in the book. Kim goes to work at 7:30 for a 12-hour shift, so before then, we had dinner and watched a few of The Simpsons. Now I’m ending the night with trying WandaVision. So far, I’m not sold on the laugh track, but I’m soldiering through with the assistance of wine and cheese.

What are you up to this weekend? Reading, watching, listening to anything good this weekend? Share in the comments.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this film from deejay My Friend Dario to which I was introduced during last weekend’s edition of The Chill Out Tent: