Pushing Forward Back July/August 2019

July (which I know isn’t over today, but close enough) was mostly work, work, work as I had two back-to-back six day work weeks, and while I said that because I don’t work that long of days, that I’d still have time to read as many books, watch as much TV and movies, and listen to as much music as I wanted, I didn’t really do that. However, I did…

  • Read two books, both during the 24in48 Readathon on July 20 and 21: Bruno, Chief of Police, by Martin Walker and The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō , Buson, & Issa, edited by Robert Hass. I probably will finish the second Bruno mystery, The Dark Vineyard, this afternoon.
  • Watched Season 3 of Stranger Things, more of the second half of Season 6 of Drunk History and a lot of different seasons with The Office with my wife; more CSI and CSI Miami by myself. I just finished Season 8 in each of the latter ones. We enjoyed Stranger Things, but as with many – at least of these limited run – shows, I liked the first season the best (the epitome of examples, for me: Daredevil on Netflix).
  • Listened to lots of chill music, including this mix by Philadelphia musician Ulla Straus:

On the personal front, I was approved by our insurance company for three gel shots for my left knee, two of which I had this month and the third and final one, next week. I also started physical therapy again and hope to be able to get into a regular routine (after some initial miscommunication and misunderstanding among our insurance company, our doctors’ offices, and ourselves).

August isn’t as heavy on the work front. The major events include celebrating my mom’s 75th birthday with a Southern Gospel concert in a nearby town and my wife and I going on a day trip to Seneca Lake in upstate New York for wine and whiskey. In addition, I would like to…

  • Read more Bruno mysteries. I also have On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, checked out from our library.
  • Watch Season 2 of Derry Girls (Netflix) with my wife. We loved the first season and are looking forward to this one.
  • Listen to the new albums by Sleater-Kinney and Bon Iver, The Center Won’t Hold and i, i, respectively. I also am intrigued to hear the debut album from 20-year-old Clairo (Clairo Cottrill), Immunity, out this coming Friday, Aug. 2. I’ll leave you with the first single she released from that album:

How was your month of July? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you most looking forward to in August? Share in the comments.

Addendum: I also wrote a post this past month in where I was being honest here again, but I lied. I said I wouldn’t be using bullet point lists anymore here on the blog, but as you can see from today’s post, that’s not true. The main thing, though, is I’m still keeping it short here.

My July 2019 24in48 Readathon

This coming weekend, from 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (DST), Saturday, July 20, to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (DST), Sunday, July 21, I am participating in the July 24in48 Readathon, with the idea being to read 24 hours over those 48 hours. Originally, I wasn’t going to participate because I work Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. but then I thought about it and decided that it wouldn’t affect my reading the rest of the time or my normal goal of 12 hours. I’ve never made it 24 hours, but am happy just to set aside whatever time I can for reading for much of the weekend, usually anywhere from eight to 12 hours.

I think I’ll set my goal at 10 hours, right in between eight and 12, over the two days. As for what I’ll read, I have choices (as of Sunday, July 14, when I’m drafting this post, but the list might change completely by the time this is published):

  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: My wife recently read and said I needed to read it. I borrowed this one on e-book from the Free Library of Philadelphia, because I didn’t want to see how little progress I was making if I had it in the print edition (if I even make it through it, to begin with, but more likely to finish if I don’t “see” how much I still have to go).
  • Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck: Our library book club recently read Grapes of Wrath and my coworker who was running the group hated it. I told her she should try this instead, because it was shorter. I’m taking my own advice, although for the record, I loved Grapes of Wrath too.
  • The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō , Buson, & Issa, edited by Robert Hass: I think I have checked this out from our library before, but didn’t get to. Maybe now I’ll get to it.
  • Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry: I stumbled across this while shelf-reading at the library recently. I’m not a dog person, but I like Barry.
  • The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne: I recently wrote about some of my favorite books over my last 50 years and mentioned this so I thought I’d see if I still would enjoy it.
  • The Queen Con, the second Golden Arrow, by Meghan Scott Molin: I read the first one, The Frame-Up, the first in the series after buying it on a Kindle deal. It wasn’t great, but it was good and fun enough for me to want to try the second one, so when I saw this one also was available as a deal, I scooped it up. Sometimes I like to hope that a series will get better
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: Like the book on haikus, this is one I’ve always wanted to get to, but just haven’t. I’m now borrowing through Prime Reading. I have time to get to it, even if not this coming weekend.
  • Like Lions by Brian Panowich: I read his debut, Bull Mountain, which was published in 2015, and it was one of my favorite books from that year. I just happened to see this on the new books shelf at our library and decided to pick it up. It is the sequel to Bull Mountain.

I’ll be lucky if I get through one and a half, but hey, it’s good to have goals.

Day 1

5:35 PM

I just got home from work and the store. Today was a b**** of a day, complications with a new DVD organization system at the library (that were worked out this morning, but still frustrating and not the best way to start the day). As a result, I have adjusted my plans for the readathon, which won’t start until 7:30 p.m. for me (here in northcentral Pennsylvania):

  1. I returned The Goldfinch because I need short books for this readathon so that I can feel like I have accomplished something, by the end of tomorrow. This is basically code for I’m padding my numbers with short books. 🙂
  2. The short books from which I’ll be choosing are in print: the collection of haiku, the Dave Barry, Travels with Charley, Like Lions; and on ebook: Meditations, The Queen Con, Bruno: Chief of Police by Martin Walker, and a graphic novel, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere by writer Mike Carey and illustrator Fabry Glenn.

Day 2

8:30 a.m.: I’m up and ready to go. So what will be my first book of the day? I’m leaning toward Bruno, Chief of Police, but I’m not sure yet. I’ll keep you posted. Off to read some Sunday Salon posts. Hey, it counts as reading, right?

10:30 a.m.

So…I did decide to go to France with Bruno, Chief of Police, but my trip has been delayed, thanks to an accidental purchase of the audio version on Audible. I didn’t even get a pop-up. It just started downloading…

…and then I went to call Audible, they needed to send me a text for two-step verification to confirm that it’s me

…and then my phone wasn’t getting the texts and I hit it too many times to try to confirm so now I have to wait 24 hours for them to try to send me a text again…

…and then I might be able to cancel the transaction, which of course takes 7 to 14 business days to refund.

Now to try to get back into a relaxing frame of mind (shhh, mind, don’t think about the air conditioner continually freezing up…at least, you have one, pal….BREATHE!!!) and read. Right? Right.

3:30 p.m.

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#24in48 update…

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7:30 p.m.

These are a few of my favorite books from my last five decades

Last month Sarah of the blog Puss Reboots recounted how she has been keeping track of her reading for 32 years – in handwritten volumes – since junior high school. Then last week Wendy of the blog Falconer’s Reading looked back on her favorite books at every age she’s been, in celebration of her turning 50 this month. Both of those posts got me thinking about how I’ve kept track of my own reading over the years and compiling my own list of favorite books since I turned 50 last month.

Unlike Sarah, I didn’t start keeping track of my reading in junior high school. I didn’t keep track in senior high school or college either, although I do remember having summer reading lists of books, mostly classics I wanted to read and many of which I did read in high school. Then in college, I didn’t keep track of what I read until I started a book blog in the late 2000s. And then I only kept track sporadically, from LibraryThing, lists on my former book blog, and now Goodreads.

So instead of a list of favorite books that I read each year, I am going to give you a list of my five favorite books, from each decade of my life:

  1. 1969-1979: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
  2. 1979-1989: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. 1989-1999: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  4. 1999-2009: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  5. 2009-2019: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

The last three were all based on recommendations from friends or book bloggers.

Wendy also made a list of her favorite books published in each year she’s been alive. Instead I will give you five favorite books published during each decade I’ve been alive, rounding up to the 1970s to start:

  • the 1970s: The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor (1971)
  • the 1980s: Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins (1980)
  • the 1990s: Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63 by Taylor Branch (1992)
  • the 2000s: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)
  • the 2010s: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)

These are books that either blew me away at the time (the Alexie) or were just so different from anything I had ever read (the Robbins one for example) or from which I learned a lot about a time period I didn’t know much about (the Branch book). I had a class on William Faulkner and O’Connor in college and I admired the amount of research that Hillenbrand put into Unbroken as well as the story itself.

What are some of your all-time favorite books? Ones that you just can’t forget, even without delving back into notebooks or Goodreads or LibraryThing? That ones that immediately come to mind? Others, for me, include All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Truman by David McCullough, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver, The River Why by David James Duncan (one that Wendy also mentioned), just to name another handful.