On Books

All things books.  I will review, discuss trending topics, and post whatever comes to my mind about books.

10 Books Every Modern Gentleman Should Read

Are all these books manly reads?  What do you think?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  - Mary GrandPré, J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  - J.K. Rowling

A few years back I started a rotation of book reading.  I would read something from Stephen King, something “classic”, something non-fiction, something horror, something sci-fi, maybe a spy novel (think Vince Flynn), and a general fiction novel.  I did this to expand my reading genres beyond just Stephen King and other horror novels – that and they started to no longer hold my interest the more and more I read them in a row, which is me treating my favorite genre like a high school girlfriend, they’re great but when you spend too much time with them, you’re ignoring your other friends and becoming an all around boring person.


This is how I forced myself to read all of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowlling.  I read them as part of my classic rotation.


*Side note* This rotation I write of isn’t something of a rule.  If it was I would be violating it all the time.  It is more just of a guide to make sure I’m a well-rounded boy, unlike Jack who works all day.


I swore, when the movies first started coming out, that I would never read anything like this.  I thought they were more for kids and adults wanting to be the same.  I never did buy into the whole “witchcraft” craze brought on by the church but I still wanted to rebel against the popular Potter movement.


Now I wish I never did.  Let this be a lesson to me, just because it is a craze, it doesn’t need to be baulked.


I consumed the whole Harry Potter series much like the proverbial fat kid and cake.  I started sometime in October 2012 (by the way, the dates on my self here on Booklikes, are way off) and finished the last day of the year with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I wonder if this is how people felt first reading C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles Narnia?


Harry Potter really spoke to me in a way that I still don’t understand.  Maybe the whole witchcraft thing was true in that J. K. Rawlling put a spell over the books to make all who read them intoxicated with the desire to buy them all and read and read and read.  Would this be such a bad thing?


Here’s my attempt at understanding.  Harry Potter brings us a simplified world.  Something closer to a black and white world.  Good and evil.  We don’t have to try too hard to develop new paradigms about what witches and wizards are like.  We don’t have to do the same for and understanding of parents vs kids or teachers vs students or of the world in general.  All we have to do is sit back and read, read, read an entertaining story about kids in a wizarding school.  We aren’t preached at, we don’t have toothaches from too much sweetness in the story, we gag on an imaginary romance that we compare our current relationships to, we don’t read about guts and death, and we aren’t told that we need to rebel from the fascists.


Harry Potter is a nice break from what the trend in books is.  They are a series of books that I can imagine reading to my kids someday.  Something that I would like to pass down to the other generations; a repeave from all of the crap that is produced today.  Maybe with these books our predecessors can forgive us for what passes for literature today.


Guys Read: a web-based literacy program for boys founded by author and First National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka.

Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3 - Clive Barker

I enjoyed Books of Blood 1 when I was a teenager but now not so much. The only reason that I have it the three stars is because of "The Yattering and Jack", which is still one of my favorites. I guess my tastes have started to change when I can no longer enjoy Clive Barker like I used to or maybe, just maybe he really is just a sick bastard.

I've also begun to wonder why it is they would label this book as horror. It isn't scary as much as it is sick. I enjoy horror and it is my favorite genre but there just isn't a point to some of the filth that is in this book. If he had taken out half of the talk about boners and replaced it with elaboration of the scene or better description of dread, then they would have been half descent and along the lines of H. P. Lovecraft.

Reblogged from Karen's books:
A Winter Read
A Winter Read
Reblogged from Kate says:

So true...


But, I seem to read so many books that were movies.

A Stir of Echoes - Richard Matheson

Another Matheson great.


Tom Wallace was placed under hypnosis one night at a party by his brother-in-law (unlike the movie).  When he awakes he finds that he is able to sense what other people are thinking and feeling, and he seems to have picked up a person from the past who finds his new openness a way to help solve a murder.


I found the hardest part for me was separating the movie from the book.  Normally this isn’t a problem but this was based in the ‘50’s, so I had to keep reminding myself of this.  You wouldn’t think it but trying to understand why they weren’t using a cell phone to call people is harder now that cell phones are the norm.  This is even from a guy who grew up with landlines.


Though time problems aside, I found this book to be a wonderful haunted house story, which is what I think is missing from a lot of horror novels of our day.  Yes, mostly it deals with ESP, but the ghost trying to make contact is prevalent and a key to the story.  But my original point stands, I think that there needs to be more haunted house novels in our genre today.  There is nothing more scary than going to bed wondering if there is some unseen person walking around in your livingroom.

A short story is the written version of a television show.

Island in the Sea of Time - S.M. Stirling

The whole island of Nantucket and the Eagle, a U.S. Coast Guard ship, were transported back in time to roughly 1250 B.C. by some mysterious happening they called “the event.”  Nantucket’s chief of police, Jared Cofflin, quickly works to restore order and peace to the island as they try and figure out what happened to them.  He starts organizing the people with the help of people like Doreen Rosenthal, an astrologer; Ian Arnstein, a historian; and Marian Alston and her crew aboard the Eagle.  The people appoint Jared as the head of an Emergency council and Commander Alston as an emissary to the forefathers of England.  Along the way the people of the Nantucket learn to start adapting to life without electricity, running water, automobiles, and several other modern advances. 


At first I tried to like this book.  A majority of the book I listen to on audio (I know that is a bit of cheating) and trudged through the rest as an e-book.


When I first started listening to the book on my iPod, the beginning was a bit enthralling.  It is interesting to listen to how people adapt and cope with not having modern advances to help them.  How people go from having running water and electricity to surviving off of whale oil and limiting their water usage.  How people chip in as a community to raise food by harvesting the crops by hand.  Finally, how people start trading and interacting with characters that have a different moral compass than the ones we were brought up with.


All of that was at first.  Stirling seemed to try and get as much of the survival out of the way as possible.  Then he introduced his social ideals into the mix.  Frankly I could care less if one of the characters is a black lesbian but he constantly pointed out.  That character becomes involved with a local woman out of what would be England later on.  Again, I want to emphasize that I don’t care that she is a lesbian but the way in which Stirling detailed their love making and how often he did it, made me seem like he was trying to push this book into porno land.  In any other book there may have been one love scene between the two but he seemed to put it in every chapter.  He goes into more detail and, again, does so more often than any other relationship in the book.  It was distracting and took away from the rest of the content.  Hell, I bet the book could’ve been a hundred pages shorter if he had just cut out a few of the love scenes.


Another issue that the Stirling has is he seems to transition around his characters at random.  In one moment he’ll be describing what is going on around Cofflin and describing Cofflin’s thoughts and feelings on a subject and the next paragraph he’ll be starting on what is going on with Swindapa in England.  And to boot, he plays hell with a time line.


Stirling also does a poor job breaking up his chapters.  Where other authors will have some sort of standard start and stop to a chapter, Stirling let his go on and on.  There did seem to be somewhat of a rhythm to them but I found myself wondering when a chapter was going to end most time.  These would go on pages and pages at a time.  In fact I bet I could say that he is the antithesis of James Patterson when it comes to chapters.


Overall, I do not recommend this book.  I found parts to be interesting and fun to read but they were so few and far in between that drudging through the boring stuff just isn’t worth it.

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