Finished Reading: Killing Floor. Back to Arakis

Now THAT was quick…

Exactly. It seems that working from home and having a temp internet outage really is conducive to reading. Whoda thunk it? I didn’t intend to finish Killing Floor by Lee Child by the end of the day (evening), but once I started I just couldn’t put it down. I found myself at 830p with a decision. Knowing that 345a was just a few hours away and I’d have to once again drag my a$$ out of bed to start work… Did I want to do the responsible thing with only 100pgs left and go to bed, picking up the next afternoon where I left off? Nah… I pushed forward and finished around 11pm. And I’m glad I did. Very good book. I’ll have to borrow the next in the series from the library. But not yet.

Next up? Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finished Reading: The Novel by James Michener

Surprisingly enjoyable read

I just finished this book in a marathon Sunday reading sprint. Actually, it’s only the second Michener that I’ve read, the other was Space in 1985 about the origins and history of the Space Program in the United States. As I remember, that one took me a very long time and I felt it was a bit sloggy. Although my recollection may be tainted by my memory from 35yrs ago. This one, The Novel about the process of writing, publishing and the distribution of stories and fine literature, was easier to stick with and finish as it drew me in to the narrative.

I was afraid that this Michener would be too detailed and dense with facts and figures, history and minutia as I remembered Space to be. And although the beginning of the book, from the perspective of the older Mennonite writer coming to what he received as the end of a long and successful career, was a bit rough and slow… the rest of the story and the people and the places and situations were more than enough to grab and hold my attention and whisk me into the story and increase my interest with every turned page. Overall, I enjoyed this book, the characters and the landscape of the Pennsylvania Dutch which centered and lent it’s charm and deep traditional values to the story. Well worth the time taken, even if you take more than I did to finish it. I can definitely see why my mom and dad’s bookshelves were filled with James Michener’s thick but substantial volumes.

Next Up??

My Next reads will be Killing Floor by Lee Child, the first of the Jack Reacher novels, and Dune Messiah the 1969 follow up book by Herbert to his classic and award winning book Dune.

So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finished Reading: Sapiens

Again, it took awhile

But I finally finished this book. It’s very comprehensive and deals with biology, history, with a lot of politics and economic thrown in for good measure. I recommend the read, but there’s too muchnin there to actually do a review.

I’m still reading The Secret of Santa Vittoria and will be reading Frank Herbert’s Dune after that. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finished Reading: A Dublin Student Doctor

Again, it took awhile

Good Sunday morning to all you patient and longsuffering readers out there. It seems again, for the third time in a row, for I’ve now only read three whole books this year so far, that I’ve taken a very long time to finish a book. This one from a series that I’ve taken a liking to for last several years, Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country Villiage series, The Dublin Student Doctor about the beginnings and origin story of the redoubtable Fingal Flagherty O’Reilly, everyone’s favorite GP of Ballybuckelbo.

I’ve now read seven of the series and the people, places and feel of the country of Ireland in the 1960s, and in this book the 1930s and early 1940s, is very much grown on me. Even to the point of having a pint of The Black Stuff and pulling out my Peterson on occasion… as the feeling of commaraderie may strike me. The Wiley O’Reilly definitely has a way of making his point to you thru Taylor’s writing skill, and the country folk of the Village feel more like family with every page.

This one turns from the old doctors past, back from the present predicament of Donal Donnelly, who having crashed his motorbike coming home from the races where he won a ton of betting money, now needs surgery to relieve brain swelling from a fractured skull. Don’t worry, if you’re a betting man too then you’ll know how it ends. O’Reilly takes the opportunity of waiting to see how it turns out with Donal to turn back the pages of time to when he was still studying for medical practice.

We get to meet his mates, his future love Kitty and learn a good bit of the backstory that made him both the doctor and the man he became. I enjoyed the story and the reading as I always do with Patrick Taylor and this series. I’m looking forward to the next trip to the Irish Country Villiage I’ll take, Fingal O’Reilly Irish Doctor, having finished An Irish Country Wedding earlier.

However… mom’s books await as well.

My next books with be Robert Crichton’s 1966 novel The Secret of Santa Vittoria. He only wrote two novels and this was his first. Mom always wanted me to read it and it’ll be the next on the list. From what she said and what I’ve read so far, it seems like a Caper kind of book set in WW2 Italy. Kind of Peter Mayle meets Hogan’s Heroes. A small village tucked into the mountains of Italy doing what they can to resist and keep their unique identity during the Nazi occupation.

Either way you slice it, you’re in for a wild ride and an enjoyable diversionary treat if you decide to pick these books off the shelf. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finally Finished Reading: The Road to Omaha

Wow.. now THAT took a long time

Good morning all. Long time no write, I know. It seems this year has been a much slower reading year so far than 2019 or even 2018. So far, my journey has only been to finish two books in the last two and a half months. The latest being the 1992 follow up to the 1975 Road to Gandalfo.

As I said in a post before, these books are part of the collection from my mom and dad after they passed that I’m trying to read thru this year. Mom always wanted me to get thru these two in particular and since Ludlum is one of my favorite novelists, I decided they would be the introductory volumes for the reading journey this year.

Both are “Caper” kinds of books with intrigue, humor and silliness wrapped up in government, military, and spy business in a post war context. Gandolfo, the Vietnam War and Omaha the Cold War.

They’re quick paced, funny and very well written. Although I liked the original 1975 Gandalfo about the kidnapping and replacing of the Pope more than Omaha’s premise of petitioning the Supreme Court to turn over land currently “Occupied” by the Strategic Air Command to its former owners.

Either way you slice it, you’re in for a wild ride and an enjoyable diversionary treat if you decide to pick these books off the shelf. So… what are you reading these days?

-mike

Finished Reading: Moby Dick – The White Whale

Well… wow… well…

I just want to say first off, that Moby Dick is a book I’ve been trying to finish for “well” over a month. This is not going to be a full review of the book or the theme or the subject of Cetology or what I’d call “Cetacide” in the 19th century Atlantic and Pacific oceans. After 462 pages of whales, whaling, crusty and dusty old mariners and sea dogs, I’m tired. “I just… Can’t”, as the kids say these days.

I was warned, every bit as much and nearly as incessantly and vociferously as Starbuck warned the Captain of the Peaquod, that should I up anchor on this classic by Herman Melville, I’d better be prepared to learn all there is to know about whales, their biology, their habitat and ranging habits, and life on board a whaling ship in the mid-1800’s… All before even getting to the famous scenes of battle and confrontation between man and the “White Whale” whose name marks the front cover as well as the minds and hearts of English Majors and readers everywhere.

Many a reader has attempted the voyage with Ahab and his crew only to be worsted by waves and wind, only to be crushed against the rocks and “shoals” of detailed writing and centuries of pages in set up and background. I understand why Melville did it. He wants to immerse you, baptize you, “Ensoul” you as it were in, if it be possible, into the world of Whales and Whaling. He wants to OJT Train you as a “ship mate” of the crew over the course of the vast majority of the book so you understand as he does, as Ishamel does, the business that you have given both your consent and “signature” when you agreed to this adventure.

Moby Dick is first and foremost a story of heartache, loss, bitterness, frustration and misplaced anger and vengeance. The Whale has been anthropomorphized by The Captain as the reason for his own personal losses, not only of his leg, which was easily replaced with a stump fashioned of whale bone, but I think the loss of his youth and vigor at such a late stage in his life. Though only 58yrs old in the story, for a whaler and a captain of a whaling ship in the period, his whole life would have been spent on open seas, away from land, away from any hopes of “normal” family life… for years at a time, with only the briefest of interludes of “Home”.

Though later in the book, during a talk with his First Mate Starbuck, we learn that both men have wives and at least one child, back in Nantucket, we get the impression that Ahab’s is a younger wife and his child is one “of his old age” as was Benjamin in the Old Testament story. Both are growing up without him, as he is aging and he perhaps feels his life is coming closer to a close without them.

The original “Midlife Crisis” story? You be the judge. However, he is older and so much has happened to him that I think he would look for a scapegoat to pin all of his “sins” and consequences of his sins on. Thus, his “monomaniacal” focus and determination to kill the Whale that took one of his “sea legs” away.

Starbuck was the calm second in command/XO who from the first of story to the last bitter and tragic sinking of the ship and all thereon was warning, threatening, imploring, even begging Ahab to desist his delirious and ultimately disasterous hunt. Yet, he never did what I thought he should have, mutiny and turn the ship around. Though late in the book is vignetted his self-talk of perhaps saving the whole ship and crew by shooting his Commander in the head with his own pistol.

All in all, Moby Dick was an enjoyable, yet very difficult and dense read. I can see why it’s a classic held is such high regard since its publication in the 1850s. It’s definitely on my “Recommended” list as a Bucket List Read.

-mike

Finished Reading: Samuel Adams- A Life by Ira Stoll

No… not the Beer Company in Boston.

I have on my shelf, and have read David McCullough’s large biography on President John Adams, but this is the first time thru the biography of Samuel. Intelligent, hard working, common man but not a “common” man by any stretch. His actions and words fill the very Genesis of our Revolutionary history. It’s confusing and unfathomable that his story isn’t more widely known or told.

I’ve just finished the book yesterday. I would probably describe Samuel Adams as a religious zealot, reformer, “community activist”, local and state leader and hero… but ultimately not the one you’d want to actually govern the nation as a whole. He was a politician, as colonial delegate to the pre and post revolutionary congresses, as a state representative and later as lieutenant governor and governor. But he was no… Politician in the manner one needs to be in leading and guiding a diverse and growing nation.

Perhaps that is why when the revolution was over, or nearly so, that he chose to step away from national affairs, and never was called on for international representation of the new republic as an ambassador, like his cousin and more well know to history books now, John.

Samuel Adams’s voice and pen rose to call for liberty and freedom for America when no one else had the courage to do so. His name and that of John Hancock were the only two specifically exempted early on in the rebellion and then in offers of negotiated peace during the war, from amnesty. All others were extended pardon and their lives if only they would drop their arms and submit… except Samuel Adams. So well known to the British overseas at the time as the instigator, Propagandizer, protagonist and antagonist that when John Adams was sent to Europe to represent America, they expected “the other” Adams.

We owe much of our freedom and country to Samuel. The first to call for rebellion. The first to try to gather the other colonies in support of Massachusetts’ cause, which lead to the continental Congress. The first to urge and push for Declaration of Independance from Britain. John Adams may have been the ambassador, the vice president, the President… but Samuel was the Revolutionary and the Instigator of our Liberty.

It really is tragic that more people don’t know this man the way he was in history. History books refer to him now more as a stirrer of mobs and an agitator. But he was much more than that. He was the Father of the very idea that we could be an Independant and Free republic apart from King George’s Britain. His was a Life that truly gave us and our Nation life.

What do you think? Have you read this book? Any thoughts to add? In the bucket down below… you know what to do. Thank for reading.
-mike