Top of my Best Book List

June 12, 2021

Every once in a while I run across a question on Twitter or Facebook that goes something like this, “what are some books you read and still think about? Or, what’s your favorite book or author?”

That’s a really hard question to answer for anyone who is a life-long reader such as I am. And, anyway, I always go especially blank when I see those questions. So, I started making a list that, over time, probably includes some of the books that answer those inquiring minds.

This is a quote from a reviewer on Amazon who tells it better than I could. Sir Richard Francis Burton was a mid 1800’s British explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat. (and I’m going to add ‘lover’) Known for entering Mecca as a non-believer disguised as a Muslim, a act that would have brought him death had he been discovered, is also credited with translating the entire original sixteen volumes of “The Arabian Night” and Kama Sutra. Furthermore he is known for his public debate with Captain John Hanning Speke over the discovery of the source of the Nile. After I read this book I thought, If they ask me what deceased person I would like to meet, I will always say Sir Richard Francis Burton first. He could teach me some Kama Sutra poses. Also, check out the excellent movie “Mountains of the Moon” about the trip to find the source of the Nile.

The Scar by China Miéville This book won many awards in the Sci-Fi genre. I have a hard time imaging the brain this book came from. What a long strange trip it was reading. And, I’ve never forgotten the wonderful uniqueness of this book. Shucks, I might read it again!

Gertrude Bell Queen of the Desert If you saw the movie about this book with Nicole Kidman–forget it!. Read the book! Seven facts about Ms. Bell from Wendy Mead

Bell was the first woman to earn first-degree honors in modern history at Oxford; Bell was unlucky in love; A skilled mountaineer, Bell almost met her end on a slope; Bell’s fascination with the Middle East began with a visit to Iran in 1892; Bell was passionate about archaeology; Bell was the only woman working for the British government in the Middle East; Bell helped establish what is now the Iraq Museum.

Read the book especially if you are a woman. You’ll say, “Why haven’t I heard of her before?” Yeah! good question.

Whatever your reading pleasure–just do it.


The Future looks a lot like now

June 15, 2019

I recently rediscovered the amazingly good science fiction novels by Jack McDevitt. I’d read a number of his books published in 2000-2012. His stories specifically interested me because they were action loaded, pithy, and plausible–in a sci-fi kind of way. The Priscilla Hutchins series starred a strong female character, which I like as well. space

Now as I re-read them in order, I see that almost 20 years ago he was telling the far-away future, with insights that are still quite relevant today. The following are some quotes that made me think he could have written these stories last week.

“There’d been studies over the years supporting the proposition that groups composed exclusively of women usually made intelligent decisions, that exclusively male groups did a bit less well, and that mixed groups did most poorly of all, by a substantial margin. It appeared that, when women were present, testosterone got the upper hand and men took greater risks than they might otherwise. Correspondingly, women in the mixed group tended to revert to roles, becoming more passive, and going along with whatever misjudgment the males might perpetrate.” Chindi (The Academy series (Priscilla Hutchins) Book 3) by Jack McDevitt

“There is, he’d said, an inverse correlation between the amount of power a person has and the level at which his or her mind functions. A person of ordinary intelligence who acquires power, of whatever kind, tends to develop an exaggerated view of his own capabilities. Sycophants gather. There is little or no criticism of decisions. As his ability to disrupt the lives of others advances, these tendencies become stronger. Eventually you end with Louis the Fourteenth, who thinks he’s done a good job for France, although the country he left behind was ruined.” Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt

https___cdn.pixabay.com_photo_2018_08_29_04_20_planets-3639154_960_720“Freedom and idiots make a volatile mix. And the sad truth is that the idiocy quotient in the general population is alarmingly high.”

“It is not faith per se that creates the problem; it is conviction, the notion that one cannot be wrong, that opposing views are necessarily invalid and may even be intolerable.”  both attributed to Gregory MacAllister, “Downhill All the Way” in the book Odyssey (The Academy series(Priscilla Hutchins) novel Book 5) by Jack McDevitt


Spring has sprung in South Texas

March 12, 2018

Over the past two weeks Spring arrived in San Antonio. Green leaves are budding out on just about everything, and our back courtyard citrus trees are full of baby blossoms.

Last week:

I went to the movies, again!  “Annihilation”  is a very cool sci-fi flick with an all-woman team front and center of the action. After not attending movies in a theater for a long while, I’ve really enjoyed getting back into it.

I voted. Democrat. Lots of women. Beto O’Rourke not Ted Cruz.

I drove someone older than me to their doctor appointment for Northeast Senior Assistance (NESA). Fastest trip ever. Sometimes you have to wait and wait and wait.

The Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors, of which I am President, went to a Premier Escape Room “where  a group of friends or fellow coworkers are locked in a room, and you have 60 minutes to escape” by solving the clues–in this case, to determine the foreign agent. It was interesting and fun. You’ll have to guess if we succeeded.

 

 

 


Retirement–what I’m reading

November 23, 2014

Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

I am a book hoarder. I always like to have many books stashed away–either on my shelves or in my Kindle–to read at some future time. The last few months, I made it a goal to read all the hardback books I’d been saving for retirement, plus a couple of library books.

All of the following books are very good to excellent, except for the last one which was so-so–my opinions only. I’ve linked them to their page in Amazon for your convenience. Also, they are all over the map as far as genre is concerned.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbuagh

Oral History by Lee Smith (highly recommend though you may talk like a hillbilly in your head for a week afterward)

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

The Wayfinders by Wade Davis (I wrote about this one already)

Shoot an Iraqi by Wafaa Bilal and Kim Lydersen (not what you might think and very interesting)

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Bayne (sad indicator at 10)

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis Rodriguez (read for banned book week)
 The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (library book, five star rating for post-apocalyptic genre)

Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux Book 11) by James Lee Burke (library book. I’m kinda hooked on James Lee Burke at the moment)

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen

Let me know if you read any, how you like them.