A little bit of this…

…and a little bit of that.

Last weekend, my goal was to keep it short; this weekend, my goal, to dip into a bit of this and that.

As for last weekend’s goal, my intent was to read:

  • short stories, specifically  short stories from The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois. A friend recommended collections by Dozois so I’m starting here.
  • graphic novels, specifically Ms. Marvel Vol. 5
  • and have to wait until that is returned before getting to 7.
  • Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs.

Sorry, John, but I couldn’t get into the science fiction collection. I think I’m not cut out for esoteric “classic” science fiction (but I loved Isaac Asimov when I was a teen). This weekend, I am trying science fiction again but continuing a series I have read a few in: The Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi. I am planning on at least starting the fifth in the series, Zoe’s Tale, although what I remember from the others, it should be a fairly quick read.

Last weekend, I did finish the other two books, Ms. Marvel Vol. 5 and Postcard Poems, the latter which was very good and the former which was good enough for me to continue on with the rest of the series. I have the next five checked out from the library where I work.

I also have the next in the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri lined up: The Treasure Hunt. However, I own this next one so I’ve had a hard time getting to it because I know it’ll be there whenever

Reading isn’t the only thing that I have planned. I want to get out for a walk or walks as it’s going to be cooler than it has been. And tomorrow, I plan on being in The Chill Out Tent.

What are you up to this weekend? And the upcoming month?

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.

My love/hate relationship with audiobooks

I love them.

I love them not.

I love them.

I love them not.

Eh…I can take take or leave them.

This is my relationship with audiobooks. This past week, I’ve been taking them, or at least one of them, like medicine.

The previous week, Jenny Lawson’s book, Broken, came in from on hold in ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia. When I finally had a chance to read it on Monday, I suddenly realized that I wanted to listen to on audiobook…or, to be more accurate, I didn’t want to have to read it to my wife, which I had started to do because it was so funny. So I got my umpteenth Audible trial so we could listen to Jenny tell her own story.

As I type this first draft, we are listening to her and it’s good, not always funny like this chapter, which is a letter to her insurance company. But it’s all good, in its own way, if for nothing but her honesty, which can be both hilarious and heartbreaking, sometimes all at the same time.

Jenny’s memoir isn’t the first “humor” book that I’ve chosen to listen to, and enjoyed. I think among my first audiobooks were by comedians, specifically comediennes:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

My first audiobook, at least as an adult, probably wasn’t technically a book but a radio drama from the BBC of The Lord of the Rings, most of which we listened to on a trip to North Carolina years ago.

My first proper introduction to audiobooks came via Jennifer of the then blog The Literary Housewife. It was a group listen of James Bond books as read by Simon Vance, which was one of her favorite narrators. I still like Vance, and own one narrated by him: A Tale of Two Cities and another in which he is a participant of a group read: Dune. As they both are long, I have yet to get to them. Before you suggest that I listen to them on my commute to work, I’ll let you know my commute is five minutes. That said, we do have a longer car trip mid-month so maybe we’ll listen to one or the other on the way to and from.

Last year, I did listen to Vance’s narration of part of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, while walking around our neighborhood. During walks last year, I also listened to a public radio drama based on A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. It was well done, but as it was apocalyptic science fiction, in hindsight, it wasn’t the best series to listen to at the start of a pandemic (in April and May last year).

Oh, I almost forgot but would be negligent if I didn’t mention that I also listened to The Poet X as read by the author Elizabeth Acevedo. It was great.

I already know some of you listen to audiobooks and love them and you’ll try to convince me to listen to audiobooks every day or at least on weekends. While I appreciate the thought, I’m not usually good at sitting down and listening to someone read to me for hours or even listening while doing something. However, I will ask all of you, if you read audiobooks, what are the one or two that I need to put on my bucket list to listen to as I do once or twice a year? If you don’t listen to audiobooks, why not? Maybe like me, you don’t have a long commute or a long attention span. Share your thoughts in the comments.