Catching Up

Right, well, it’s been a week since my last post and nearly two months since I last gave a brief review of any of the new books I’ve been reading. The last one was War and Our World by John Keegan. 32 books later I’m not going to try to catch them all up. But I think I will try to hit the high points later in this post.

In related news, I’ve set a new record (at least for this year) for both total books read in a month and new books read in a month. 25 books so far, previous best being 20 in May, (and I have another couple days to try to bump that total up a bit) and 22 of those books are ones which I had not read previously, previous best was 10, both in April and May. YTD, 116 books read in total and 69 first-time-reads.

Sense and Sensibility was pretty good, though not up to Pride and Prejudice. As Wodehouse would say, “It failed to grip”. It wasn’t that any part of it was particularly bad, but that none of it was particularly good. Still, Austen has proven interesting enough that I think I shall seek out the rest of her novels, Emma and Northanger Abbey and such-like.

The couple Christie mysteries were pretty forgettable and Asimov’s mysteries were too, though I was once again struck by how widely talented he was. The man was brilliant. And prolific. Here’s his bibliography. I’ve also read a couple more Ellery Queen mysteries, both of which were good enough to keep me interested in the series. By and large he (or “they”, really) play fair with keeping the evidence in plain sight for the reader to find as well as the detective. I’ve also been reading some Perry Mason mysteries by Erle Stanley Gardner. They’re rather different than how I remember the television show. My recollections of the show are rather vague, but the Della Street of the books seems rather younger to me and there’s a lot more sexual tension between her and Mason. Of course, it may be that sine the few shows I saw were as a child, such tension may have gone right over my head. There is also a lot less courtroom drama than I remembered, and most of it is done before the actual trial in most books. Still, they are quick reads and some of the mysteries are rather clever. The titles get on my nerves a bit; they remind me of the McGurk mysteries I read as a child, though I’m sure the influence went the other way.

The couple Thomas Sowell books I read were both consistent with what I had read of him earlier. Each was perceptive and lucid. His memoir was particularly interesting because I knew little about him as a person prior to reading it. I suppose I still don’t really know him, but the sum of my knowledge about him is much greater now than it was.

The Dragon books by Zahn were passable. Soldier, solid but not spectacular. Slave, somewhat lacking. Herdsman, better than Slave but the series began showing signs of Jordan-itis.

He Talk Like a White Boy was okay, but nothing new. A collection of essays musing on the conservative side of life. A bit of an interesting twist with the author being both black and a celebrity (albeit a minor one), but still little I had not read already elsewhere.

The two books written/edited by Hilton Kramer were okay, though Twilight of the Intellectuals was less interesting simply because I find it difficult to care about a bunch of critics whose impact on politics and thought will, I suspect, be more transient than Kramer predicts. It is a difficult thing, after all, to determine what, among the glut of writing, will survive to posterity. The Future of the European Past had the same problem as Mr Phillips’ book, I had really read most of it elsewhere already, though Mark Steyn’s essay was a pleasure to read, as is just about everything he writes, regardless of topic.

Finally, the Prisoner books there at the end of the list (for now) were all pretty mediocre. I was interested in them because I recently finished watching my way through the TV series with my wife. A Day in the Life wasn’t awful and it was the best of the lot. Shattered Visage did little more than retell the series with different characters, right down to the confusing and unsatisfying conclusion. The Companion had some interesting tidbits of information, but these were few and far between and offset by the inaccuracies sprinkled throughout as well.

Whew. I think that about covers it. I’ll try not to fall so far behind in the future.

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