My other Mostly Mystery colleagues have been writing about the books they’re reading, so I thought I’d take a crack at it, too.
The first thing I noticed is I have stacks of books everywhere that I INTEND to read and a whole lot fewer that I AM reading. The ones I plan to read are probably more interesting than those already in the mill.
For one thing, I frequently challenge myself to read the classics. I had a pretty good grounding in these at one time but then veered off in other directions. So, a copy of Wordsworth sits in a prominent place, turned to the first page, calmly waiting for a strike. It occupies a spot formerly taken by Somerset Maugham’s “The Moon and Sixpence,” which I put in the light classics category. I also put it back in the bookshelf after five pages.
I love history, so almost always some of that is open. At the moment, I’m reading “10 Days to D-Day,” by David Stafford; “A Leaf in the Bitter Wind,” (Ting-Sing Ye), a story of survival during China’s Red Guard scourge; and “Nest of Spies – America’s Journey to Disaster in Iran” (Amir Taheri). Next up among the dozens of planned reads are: “The Mossad –Inside Stories” by Eisenberg, Dan, and Landau; “The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Code” (Mark Urban); and “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond. Finally, there’s “The Last Lion – Winston Spencer Churchill Alone 1932-1940.” I’m looking forward to the Churchill book the way a dog does a bone. Anything William Manchester writes is superb.
In addition to the books I’m reading beginning-to-end, there are those I dip into from time to time. A favorite is “Into the Heart of Borneo,” by English naturalist Redmond O’Hanlon. The book chronicles a trek he and James Fenton, a poet, made through the darkest jungle in a little traveled land. Besides being a very thorough recounting of their trip, it’s downright laugh-out- loud hysterical. Just the fact that one of the trekkers was a middle-aged poet should give an inkling of what’s to come.
Another book I pick up frequently is “The Black Death,” by Philip Ziegler. For some reason, I’m fascinated by this period, and often read Ziegler’s book alongside Daniel Defoe’s fictionalized “A Journal of the Plague Year.” The last book in this dip-in category is “Tropical Nature – Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central America,” by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miata. Perhaps I’m drawn to this book because I live in Panama; nonetheless, it’s entertainingly informative and very well-written.
Finally, there’s fiction. Let me say right off the bat that I almost never read Nobel or other “mainstream” fiction prize-winners. A friend loaned me “Love in the Time of Cholera” and ten pages in I gave up. However, Graham Greene, who never won the Nobel prize but is certainly a giant in current literature, is one of my favorites. “It’s a Battlefield” is open at the moment. So is C.S. Forester’s “Beat to Quarters.” After I finish this, only “Ship of the Line” will stand in the way of completing the Hornblower series.
Since I kill people in my day-to-day work, a mystery is always on top of the stack. The current one is “Badwater,” by Toni K. Dwiggins, part of her Forensic Geology Series. Unlike other genres, I usually keep only one mystery going at a time.
Are you reading anything interesting? Something from the back of the stacks, on the remainder table, maybe at a flea market? If so, love to hear about it. Please share.