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text 2019-05-02 04:15
Summer reading is here again!

As April turns into May I find myself thinking more about the approaching reading opportunities the summer will provide. In years past, I've set some ambitious goals only to disappoint myself by not fulfilling them, so this year I'm keeping it modest.


The first is my reading for my summer trip to England. This is really just a gussied-up way of getting through some of the English history books I've had on my shelf for ages, with a couple of Jane Austen novels thrown in for background for our stay in Bath. I have quite the stack I could read, but getting through even just a half-dozen titles would be progress that would enrich my trip.


Reading biographies of English monarchs is also a priority as my website moves forward. Here my pace might be slowed by the pace at which I can acquire the titles, but I'm hoping to at least make it though Cnut by the end of August.


Finally there's the summer reading challenge my local bookstore is offering. This shouldn't involve too many books, but I think I'll benefit from the diversity the challenge will introduce to my usual diet of books.


All of this, of course, is on top of the books I'm reading for interviews, the book I'm reviewing for publication, and the "Seven Days of Star Trek" which will be the official kick-off of my summer reading. It's a hefty list, but as the saying goes it's better to aim for the stars and hit the treetops than to aim for a puddle and make it. I hope you enjoy the reviews!

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text 2019-04-29 15:49
Breaking out of my reading comfort zone

Saturday was Independent Bookstore Day, which my local independent bookseller used to launch their annual Summer Reading Challenge for their younger customers. This will be the fourth year in a row in which my son has participated, and his eagerness to participate is one of my prouder parenting achievements.


This year, though, we were greeted with a surprise: they're holding a reading challenge for adults as well!


Naturally I'm planning on participating. It should be interesting for me, as to achieve BINGO in any of the categories requires me to break out of my reading comfort zone, which is never a bad thing. I suspect that the second column will be the easiest to complete, though I may cheat by reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (which has sat unread on my shelf for a couple of years now) for it, even though I saw the movie adaptation decades ago. By way of compensation I intend to submit at least two completed cards, which means I will be reading more than a couple of books that I would probably otherwise never undertaken.

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text 2019-04-26 18:31
Plowing through my stack of Star Trek novels
The Wounded Sky (Star Trek #13) - Diane Duane

Over the years I've come to appreciate that my book collection offers a variety of insights into who I am. in one sense, it reflects my interests and the knowledge I prize most; in another, the type of person I aspire to become. And on another, less-appealing level, it also reflects the detritus of my unfulfilled ambitions in the form of the books from the various embodied the uncompleted reading projects that I've embarked upon over the years. What were once eagerly anticipated experiences evolved into titles taking up shelf space or piles of books cluttering my floor.


One of those piles is a stack of Star Trek novels that I had acquired last summer as part of my project to go back and read a series I remembered fondly from my youth. Whether they were good or bad, reading them proved every bit as enjoyable as I anticipated, yet I ended up moving on before getting through all of them. Now they sit as a silent reminder of yet another project started but left unfinished.


Now that I have more time to read, though, I intend to spend some of it to finish what I started. Once the semester is over I plan to embark on what I like to think of as "seven days of Star Trek," with the goal being to finish a novel a day. This will reduce the mound by a third, which is a start, but more importantly if I enjoy the experience it will give me a way to polish off the rest of them in a relatively short period of time. So if you like reviews of Star Trek novels, you have that to look forward to in just a couple of weeks!

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text 2019-04-12 15:02
My evolving reading tastes
1812: The March on Moscow - Paul Britten Austin

As a regular visitor of used bookstores, there are certain titles that I often run across. Some of them are books that have enjoyed numerous reprintings for one reason or another, while others had a large initial print run and have a persistent presence because of it. And there are those which while not bestsellers have an enduring appeal that leads to copies being recycled due to their continuing demand. Paul Britten Austin's trilogy on Napoleon's invasion of Russia probably fits in that third category, as while it was never a New York Times bestseller it draws interested readers because of its subject matter. It's one of those titles that I think of as a "dad book," as it seems marketed towards an audience of middle-aged white dudes.


Over the years when I have seen copies on the shelf I passed on them with a degree of unjustified disdain. Lately, however, the idea of purchasing a set has started to appeal to me. Part of it is likely my long attraction to multivolume works of history, with the depth of understanding they provide (not to mention how awesome they look on my bookshelves). But I also think that it's a reflection of my own evolving tastes as a reader. Perhaps now that I'm now a middle-aged white dude the books look more interesting to me than they did when I was younger.


I suspect there's another factor at play, though. As I get older I'm starting to contemplate more what books I will want to own once I retire. Though that day is still many years in the future, it's something I use as a factor in deciding what to dispose of when I cull my bookshelves. But lately I also think more about what I might want to re-read once reading for pleasure becomes the primary factor in my reading decisions. This has long driven my choice of the fiction I own, and I have a choice selection of classics and sci-fi in my collection because of it. But now I think of it as well in terms of the nonfiction I may want to revisit because they're well-written narratives recounting epic adventures and fascinating people. So perhaps I'm just starting to act my age as a reader.


Or maybe I'm just fabricating an excuse to buy more books. I still haven't decided yet.

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text 2019-03-08 04:29
Spring break reading

Spring break is essentially here, which brings thoughts of what to read now that I have a block of free time in my schedule. At the top of my list is the Landmark Julius Caesar, but as I'm required to read it for a podcast I'm searching out for something more appealing.


So this afternoon I poked around the shelves in my office and came up with these:


None of these may not scream "beach reading," but all of them have an appeal. The first one is something on my list to read prior to my trip to England this summer, while the second one popped to the top of the pile after reading about the "hungry novels" in a recent essay in the TLS. The last one has been a longtime resident of my "to read" shelf that I might read as much to clear it off as anything else, though its portability will definitely be an asset when I travel next week. And who knows? Perhaps ten days from now all three will be in the book box and I can find new books to fill their space on my shelves.

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