Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Catching up

I've been neglecting my blogs. This is due in part to being busy with work. Also, I have the feeling blogging is a bit passe. And for this blog in particular I had gotten into a rut of viewing it as a book review blog, rather than a reading blog.

I have been posting only when I finish a book and if there are any readers they must be amazed at how few books I read. I don't read enough, but I read more books than I finish. For my book group, for instance, I usually make an effort to read some of the book, but I haven't finished that many.

I really liked Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne and read a good half of it. I loved his historical sense, his authoritative chronicle of the Comanches and the early Texas settlers and his vivid descriptions of the terrain. In our book group discussion, several participants said it went downhill in the second part with the actual description of Quanah Parker. That gave me little incentive to want to finish the book.

I also liked Night Soldiers by Alan Furst. I read about a third of it and may get back to it. Some book group members found it too brutal. I have to admit I was losing sympathy for the main character, as I often do for Furst's main character (liking is one thing, sympathy another). I did, however, appreciate his depiction of the deplorable Stalinist mentality, where the practice is so at odds with the ideal. The hero's recruiter in the Bulgarian village represented the ideal, while his training in the NKVD was the reality.

I've also been doing more reviews for the Washington Independent Review of Books -- two thrillers I was not too excited about. The first was Marc Levy's Replay, which was really juvenile, and the second was Ben Mezrich's Seven Wonders, which was more entertaining but pretty shallow. I've signed up for another one, The Empire of the Night by Robert Olen Butler, which will interrupt my reading of The Dog by Joseph O'Neill, a book I really like and will finish and review here.

Also, I've been writing a monthly blog for WIRoB, Words for Thought, which are musings about reading and how books fit into our cultural milieu.

So I am doing a considerable amount of reading, and some writing about it that doesn't appear here. I've decided to be more flexible about what and when I write here, so my posting should be more frequent -- at least until I give up on blogging altogether.

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