March 2015


What I’ve been reading: 24 through 30…

Four of the books on this list were read in physical form!

Four of the books on this list were read in physical form!

Ah… I’ve been reading. And reading – but not as much as I’ve read before.

It turns out that I left a book off of my last list, so book 24 wasn’t the XYZ Affair, it was Men in the Sun.

A funny story about Men in the Sun – I have the one by David Leddick because a friend of mine wanted the one by Ghassan Kanafani, but didn’t look too carefully at the listing on Amazon before hitting “buy.” The one by Leddick is a collection of gay stories along with photographs of men. The one by Kanafani is a collection of stories about Palestinians. After buying the wrong one, my friend sent it to me before ordering the right one.

Amusing thing: my friend wasn’t the only one to make the mistake. On Amazon, there’s a five star review by Fintago:

So I bought this book for a college class… Of course I had actually been looking for the Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani. That was an interesting class explaining that essay to my professor.
So I see no reason to hit this book with a bad review because I was careless. So for anyone looking for Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani, This is not it!

But if you are looking for erotic pictures of men and poetry, well here you go.

As for this book: entirely forgettable. Photographs I’ve seen elsewhere and a collection of short stories that are probably better off read in the original sources.

As for book 25: it was the XYZ Affair, which I wrongly described as a romance novel set in Wyoming. It’s actually a romance novel and mystery set in Wyoming – Casper, to be exact. It’s not really sophisticated reading on either front, but it did hold my attention as I wondered who did it.

From there I fell into (26) Why We Took the Car (Wolfgang Herrndorf), a teen angst-y novel translated from German into English. The story actually struck a bit of a chord with me – I can understand why it claims to have sold over one million copies. But it only struck a chord with me: it’s aimed at high school students who are not part of the in crowd, exploring how the misfit’s world. I’d certainly recommend it to teenagers, as for adults: it depends on their mental ages. Most overly serious adults wouldn’t get much out of it.

Then I read two books at once: at home, in bed, I was reading Anthony Bidulka’s newest novel, (27) The Women of Skawa Island. Out of the house I was reading (28) Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredibly Voyage. Both of these books were gripping.

The Women of Skawa Island is the second novel in the Adam Saint series – the first was mediocre, the second kept me awake. The first evening I read it, I actually had to keep reading it well past my normal bedtime in order to get past some gripping scenes that would have caused nightmares. I read this book willingly and enthusiastically – nailing it in three evenings, staying up late in order to do so. Anthondy Bidulka’s one of my favorite authors and I’m glad to see that his second series picked up steam with the second novel.

Funny thing about my copy of the book: I own it in paper and on the copyright page it says, “Printed and Bound in Canada.” Fitting because Bidulka is Canadian. On the last page before the back cover, it says, “Made in the USA / San Bernardino, CA / 28 December 2014.” Which is when I ordered the book from Amazon.com…

As for Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage – I read this book after meeting a cat (who died yesterday, March 22, 2015) named after him. His cohabitating family was shocked to learn that I did not know who Shackleton was – so I bought the book in order to learn more. Holy Cow – what a man, what an adventure: sailing a ship to Antarctica in order to cross it by foot: only the ship got trapped in ice and it took a very long time for the men to escape the ice (and the ship sunk) – travelling hundreds of miles across open water to find the relative safety of a desolate island. This is an outstanding book – from 1959 – that I heartily recommend to nearly everybody. I was so in to reading this book that I nearly missed my bus stop at least three times.

Book 29 is What We Hide, a teen novel set in the 1960s. It focuses on the lies that we all tell one another, especially in places where facades matter – like English boarding schools. It’s neither outstanding nor awful, it just is.

Love in a Dark Time, by Colm Tóibín, was book 30: it is a series of 8 biographical sketches of gay men, plus one of a lesbian, that are also not particularly remarkable. What is remarkable is how short and uninformative the last three sketches are. It’s almost like Tóibín was given a word limit – and then after blowing his wad on an excessively long sketch of Oscar Wilde, the other ones had to be shorter, and the last three – one of them was less than ten pages long and said nothing. A friend loaned this book to me – and I finally picked it up to read it because I’d had it for so long that I was feeling a bit embarrassed for not having returned it. Now I’ll feel embarrassed when she reads what I thought of it on my blog – sorry!

Meanwhile I expect to have oodles of time to read over the coming month. I might even knock off most of the new books on my Kindle and have time to re-read old favorites.

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