It was a great month for reading. Not sure why. I read 8 books in June.
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- Guerrilla Season by Pat Hughes
- Deep State by Walter Jon Williams
- Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
- Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
- The Silicon Dagger by Jack Williamson
- The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore
There were three non-fiction books this month:
Outliers was interesting. I had heard his argument that you need 10,000 of practice before becoming an expert at something. It makes a lot of sense to me. It was interesting to see how the extremely successful people he wrote about were in the right place at the right time to be successful, and I think I agree that it isn’t all about individual effort. Not if you are talking about being really, really successful. Or maybe I think that because I am not what would be considered successful, and i would rather not blame that on myself! (Actually, I don’t blame myself or anyone else at all. I have never wanted that kind of success.)
Becoming a Writer was interesting not so much for what it said but for the fact that it said it in 1934. Much of the advice I have gotten in writing workshops and from other writing books can be found in Brande’s short book. She talks about regular writing practice and writing when you first get up in the morning so you can tap into the unconscious more easily. She says that when you do that early morning writing, you shouldn’t read it right away but go back later to mine it for gems. It was an easy read and a good one.
The Incredible Life of Henrietta Lacks was one I had meant to read for some time but just never did. It was, as I am sure everyone knows, an excellent book. I admire Skloot’s persistence. More than that, though, I admire the Lacks family for accepting her into their somewhat fractured existence. This took place in my lifetime and to people who are roughly my age (Henrietta’s children). It was hard to believe, and yet I know it was true.
Two were books were ones that I read as possible choices to use with my students in the fall: Guerrilla Season and Sunrise over Fallujah.
I must admit that I had read Guerrilla Season several years ago, again thinking to use it with a class. (That was when the program closed, and I never used it.) I knew the basics of the story, but that was about all I remembered. I enjoyed reading it again. The story is set in Missouri during the US Civil War, but it is about so much more. It is about a young man growing up, about his attachment to the land, choosing between friends and family, and about the exceptionally cruel way the was played out in Missouri. One of the characters, you learn at the end, is Jesse James, so you get to see part of what made him be the outlaw we know him as. It was a good book.
Sunrise over Fallujah was deemed acceptable to sue with my classes in the fall, so I will be reading it again at least once before this year is out. It was a great book, too. It isn’t a book I would probably ever have read if I hadn’t been looking for books for this class, but it is one I am glad I read. It deals with the experiences of a young soldier who goes to Iraq as part of a Civil Affairs Unit early in “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. This soldier writes letters home — mostly to his uncle who was in Viet Nam. Myers does a good job, I think.
The other three fiction books were science fiction and fantasy.
Deep State by Walter Jon Williams has the same central character as in This is Not a Game. This time Dagmar is helping to create revolution in Turkey using social media. Now, this sounds like what we have seen happen around the world lately (Not always successfully, of course!), but Williams actually wrote this before it actually happened in real life! He did a great job of forecasting this type of thing. It’s a good read.
The Silicon Dagger by Jack Williamson was considered by Publisher’s Weekly to be an “ill-conceived scenario”, and that is one of the nicer things they said. I can’t say that I thought it was a great book, but I enjoyed reading it. There were some things that bothered me — things that I think he thought were futuristic in 1999 when he wrote it, but things that don’t ring true today. The biggest failing of the book, in my mind, was that it wasn’t set far enough in the future to allow for things not to be “right” according to what we know today. I didn’t see it, as Publisher’s Weekly did, as “a thesis against the Internet and its intrusiveness”, but then, I am biased!
The Demon Awakens is a book my son has been after me to read for ages. Well, maybe not that particular book, but any book by RA Salvatore. And I have to say, I am glad I read it. I am sure I am the only person who focused on this, but I was fascinated by the way he presents the Abellican Church and its monks. The story was good and kept my attention — although I must admit there were more battles in more detail than I really enjoy!
That’s 2721 pages for the month of June. Don’t think I’m going to make my 45,000 page goal. But you never know!