Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Year in Books

I finished up my 50th book of the year - Denis Leary's Why We Suck - an extremely irreverent look at life - as you would expect from Denis Leary. I checked this out of the local library and have marveled over the last few years at some of the books that libraries have on the shelves. It takes a lot to offend my sensibilities and Leary's language is certainly not going to do it. In all honesty, that's pretty much how I talk as well. However, I can't imagine this book and many others that I've gotten from the library in recent years even being on the shelves years ago. Times have certainly changed. I'll let you decide if that's for the better or worse.

I read a variety of things last year, some who-dunnits/mysteries, history stuff, biographies, and a little more of this and that. Two of the best in the biography department was the one about Emile Zatopek and the Louis Zamperini one about his life after the war years. I also enjoyed Lost Horizon that I was lucky enough to find in one of the free book stands in downtown Indy. Re-reading Blue Highways was a pleasure as well.

I'm trying to decide now if I want to continue on my quest to again read fifty books in 2018. I haven't had much difficulty the last few years achieving the goal. Actually, since I started keeping track in 2011 there's only been one year, 2014, that I didn't read at least 50. Adding the totals of the past seven years, I've read 352, so I've averaged 50 per year. I don't pay much attention to page count normally. As long as a book is less than 500 pages, I'm game. However, I'm thinking that for 2018 rather than trying to knock out a book per week, maybe relax a bit and change my approach.

I do have a big fat biography on Henry Ford I'd like to dive into. No way I could finish that in a week - or maybe ever. Lots and lots of pages in that one. I also want to read and re-read some things in particular: Jack London, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle and Melville's Moby Dick. If I remember correctly, that one's a good 500+ pages. I'm thinking also re-reading The Razor's Edge would be time well spent. That's probably my favorite book. Maybe see if I can find the movie version of the book starring Bill Murray, rather than the older version with Tyrone Power. It's not a typical role that you would associate with Bill Murray but I watched the movie years ago and would like to see it again - especially if I'm going to be reading the book again. Maybe try something else by W. Somerset Maugham also.

I'm also going to be taking a class or two at the college which will cut into my reading time and getting my ham radio license is a high priority for the upcoming year, which will require some study time. So even though I should have more free time coming up this year, maybe put the 50 book thing on hiatus and just take it as it comes. It's not like I'm going to stop reading. That'll never happen.

To all of you out there, read. Read to your kids and get them reading on their own. Go to Dover and buy yourself a few of the cheap classics to stockpile for when the electricity quits flowing, along with a few candles or a decent lantern. Moveable type - it's one of the greatest, if not the greatest invention of all time. Even greater than indoor plumbing and the cordless drill. And, once again, some of the greatest advice ever to young people from the now defunct Starlet Showcase blog:

Anyway, here's my advice: read a book, read lots of books, keep your face washed and don't worry about your complexion too much, don't give your teachers a hard time, don't be late for everything, always use condoms, get plenty of sleep but not during class, and if you go home with someone and he doesn't own any books, don't sleep with him. That's basically it. Have fun.


Surly said...

Here's about a gazillion free books -

Shop Teacher Bob said...

I took a quick look - gadzooks! The only problem I see is the Survivor Library requires electricity to access. Maybe I should get busy reading before the power goes out.

Kevin Kaluf said...

I'm closing in on my 50.... While I like your possible 2018 approach, don't you think you should have discussed this potential new reading pathway with me first? :-) Just kidding!

Shop Teacher Bob said...

Maybe that was the purpose of the post - give you time for some input. What I really want is to take the pressure off of myself to reach that magic number of fifty. I'm trying to plan how I'm going to spend my time in retirement. Set time aside for a regular exercise program, work a few hours everyday on projects, chores and have a time set aside for reading. Try to be somewhat regimented so I'll get things accomplished, but not so strict that I can't deviate from the schedule if something interesting comes along. I just don't want to lay around the shack eating chocolate bon-bons and have nothing to show for the day. Actually, I want to do whatever the hell I feel like doing but still make sure things get done that need to be done.

Traveling Pirate said...

I've got my usual 30 books read for the year. I may hit 31 or 32 depending on what I do in the next few days. Do you every listen to audiobooks? I find them great for longer things like Moby Dick and they're good to do during commute times like to your classes (now that you're fully retired). I also listen as I clean and whatnot. I love to listen to memoirs as read by the author. Hillbilly Elegy was good. Bruce Springsteen and Trevor Noah's memoirs were good. It was like Bruce Springsteen was telling me the story of his life personally (because he was the narrator). Alan Cumming's memoir was also good as was Sonia Sotomayor's. I checked and it looks like Moby Dick is around 21 hours. Happy reading! I'm hoping to have a fireplace by this time next year for my reading pleasure.

Shop Teacher Bob said...

I've done a few audio books. My mother had Sophie's Choice on cassette tapes that I got after she passed away. I was listening to it on a trip out east and was enjoying it until I got to the last tape and it wouldn't work - never did find out how the story ended. Other than that one isolated incident, the only problem with the audio books is they don't really satisfy my desire to read. I'm still going to read whenever I have a free moment - books, magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, you name it. I'm reading some Sherlock Holmes short stories now and I bought the Five Classic American Novels from Dover I'll be reading after that. I've read all of them in the past but it was years ago. Time to revisit them.