It’s been a minute, or actually a season, since I checked about what I’m reading. That’s for two reasons. One is that it’s not a list of which I’m terribly proud. The other being, well, I start these sort of series posts and lose steam or in this case, just hadn’t thought about it lately. But now I have so just try to stop me. This year I made reading books 30 minutes or more a day a goal, and as far as I know I’ve got a perfect record. (Daily to me means before going to bed.) So let’s look at the list.
First off, I must confess to not finishing Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. I just wasn’t into the English homework-y vibe. She’s written three memoirs, so I will probably find a better entry point reading those. In the non-fiction realm I’m still grinding my way slowly through Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny. It’s interesting but I’m not great with doing the written exercises. Maybe it’ll sink in anyway.
I did finish What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Marukami. I’ve alluded to it a few times but didn’t review it. Although it’s sort of a “comp” (comparable book) to my own manuscript of a bicycle memoir, I didn’t feel like I had much to say about an esteemed author’s book that’s about running. It’s a deceptively simple book, but also it’s not. He’s humble, but his does some amazing running, and the way he describes the struggle of it is very endearing. He also talks about his running and writing going together, and I can sort of relate. (I don’t think he has a blog, though.) I wonder if he had not been famous novelist if the book would have received much attention. Regardless, it’s a really good book I suspect I will re-read it someday. I recommend it and I think you’ll get something out of it even if you’re not a runner or a novelist or Japanese.
Most of my reading, though, has been by three prolific writers: David Baldacci, Lee Pace, and Stephen King. I’m quite aware they’re all white males. I have some things on the shelf by more diverse authors once I break out of this mode.
Baldacci has several series that I stumbled upon in the library. There’s Amos Decker, an ex-football player who’s a detective; he’s overweight and socially awkward and has synesthesia and a perfect memory. Will Archer is an ex-con in the 1940’s traveling west to become a private eye. Atlee Pine is a badass FBI agent and very fit powerlifting woman who investigates the abduction of her twin sister. Bruce Cable is the possibly unscrupulous lothario and owner of a bookstore on a fictional island in Florida.
I do find them to be page-turners or “beach reads” (literally, in the latter Camino series). Some are stronger than others, but the stories are engaging, characters interesting, and they’re fun — which I’m allowed to have. No Pulitzer Prizes or book awards here, but the guy sure does crank them out and sell boatloads of books, so he knows what he’s doing.
Pace is British but has been in the US a while in entertainment but now has over two dozen Jack Reacher novels. Reacher is an ex-Army military policeman, but more often than not he’s crossing the line into vigilantism. One character — a beautiful woman, whom he seems to bed one in every story — even said, “You’re not a one-man justice department.” Which he then goes on to prove he actually is, without ever really suffering any consequences.
Reacher is virtually indestructible, with his own set of morals, and nary even a backpack. He crisscrosses the country getting himself into ridiculous situations and somehow always shooting his way out. It’s frankly pretty ridiculous stuff much of the time. But I’m up to #13 in the series, so at this point I’m in for a penny, in for a pound. The author does have a way with stories, characters, and descriptions of places that sinks its hooks in and keeps you reading.
As for Mr. King, well, what can one say about the master of not just the horror genre but just a damn good story? He’s written so many books which have been made into movies and TV shows (some more than once like IT and The Stand), it’d take a whole post just to name them all. They are such a part of the American zeitgeist that if you haven’t read or seen at least one thing by him, there’s probably something wrong with you. And don’t say you don’t like horror, because I don’t really either, and yet there’s always an undercurrent of humanity there. Plus, he’s got plenty of stories that are not horror. When you finish a Stephen King novel, you feel as if you’ve been transported to his world. And what worlds he creates!
Take Joyland, which I’m currently reading. It’s about a college kid who works at an amusement park for one summer. Yeah, there’s bad stuff that happends, but no killer clowns, psychic assassins, or possessed cars (so far). I also just finished Thinner, though, which is definitely a very spooky book that gets under your skin and crawls around, burrowing into your organs and squelching around, feasting on your juices. One of his earlier works written under his pen name Richard Bachmann, it packs many a wallop throughout. Speaking of privileged white men, the main character kills a Gypsy woman (now more correctly called Roma), and I’ll just say karma can be a real bitch, or bastard, in this case. I haven’t had a nightmare about it yet, but I just might. I’ve wanted to read this book a long time, so I’m glad I finally did. I felt like I had, but that was just the familiar cadences and frights from King.
A little added footnote: I almost met the man, Stephen King, that is. He was at Joe Bob Briggs’ Drive-In Movie Festival in Dallas at the old Inwood Theater some time in the 1980’s. Hosted by the fake Briggs, a real journalist who created a Bubba-like alter ego, and has been the subject of controversy I won’t bother with here. King talked before some showing of one of his movies. Whatever friend I went with, the crowd and I were all enthralled. But after the screening, right before I got to the top of the line to get his autograph. he hopped in a limo and drove away. I’m not saying I wished the man evil, but he did get into a pretty bad car wreck years later.
By the way, if you’re on Goodreads, you can find and friend me there — same name. Several fellow bloggers have.
What types of books and which authors are you reading?
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