I'm having some trouble finishing fiction books these days. I have been doing pretty well on the non-fiction, but not so well on the fiction. Looking back on it, three of the books I finished were on baseball - must be Opening Day still in the air! Still adding about as fast as I can subtract, though.
- The Long Season by Jim Brosnan. Wow, what a fun book! It was a fascinating insight into the life of a major league ballplayers, especially a pitcher. And my guess, life still hasn't changed all that much for the overgrown adolescents since it was written nearly 40 years ago. Still playing juvenile games in the bullpen, ragging on each other about salaries, calling guys who actually read books "Professor", etc. Definite thumbs up!
- The Last Best League by Jim Collins. A very good book on the Cape Cod League, which is a summer amateur baseball league down on the Cape. Notable for being one of the few amateur leagues that still use wooden bats (only the pros don't use metal bats), so it gives scouts a good feel for how both hitters and pitchers will fare in the pros. It must be so hard to adjust to "real life", being a sports star in high school, if you just aren't good enough (or healthy enough) to move on. Lucky for me, I was good enough to play a few sports in high school, but never good enough to have any illusions of going anywhere with my "talent". Very well written indeed.
- Cypress Grove by James Sallis. Another winner by the author of Drive which I had read earlier. In fact, I think I liked this one even better. The story of an ex-cop, ex-con who is living a life of seclusion in the south, and who gets drawn into a murder mystery. Very interesting characters and some real sharp writing. My only complaint is the presentation is identical to Drive, with interwoven chapters alternating between the present and retelling his past. Felt a little overused by now even.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Tony Massarotti and John Harper. Not bad, but I'm still looking for the perfect 2004 storybook retelling. Like pretty much all the other books on the season written by sportswriters, it dwells far too much on the personalities, and press relationships for my liking. Don't care, exactly, who treats the sportswriters with respect and who doesn't. Don't care, really, who is a "nice" guy and who isn't. But it was fun reading the NY/Boston interplay between the writers.
- I started but didn't finish:
- Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte - just never clicked with this historical novel of mideval Spain.
- Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott - this historical novel set in 1800s India looked real good, but I just never found the time for it. I will get back to it, though.
- Why Black People Tend To Shout : Cold Facts And Wry Views From A Black Man's World by Ralph Wiley. Race relations are not my strong suit. Nor are books of collected columns.
- 1776 by David McCullough. I wanted to finish this fascinating book of a pivotal year in US history, but our new car doesn't have a tape player, so now I don't know what I'm going to do for books on tape!
Update from last month
- The Tyranny of the Night by Glen Cook. The first book in a new fantasy series called Instrumentalities of the Night, by the author of the Black Company series of fantasy books. I really like the first 1.5 books of the Black Company series, and have been meaning to restart it, as I have the sci-fi book club edition that comes with the first three. He's an interesting writer, in that he doesn't seem to explain much straight off, not even what the narrator knows. It is sort of assumed you know what is going on, and it gradually begins to make more sense as the pieces fall into place. An interesting way of writing, but one that requires more concentration than I am usually capable of, given my 30 minute reading chunks. But it is a rewarding effort, so I want to try again. So I thought I'd try this new one by him when I saw it on the new books shelf of the library. So far, very reminiscent of his prior style of writing. Through the first chapter, a very intricate portrayal of a world in upheaval, both spiritually and physically, and I'm not really clear on what is happening.
- Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier. A fantasy book highly recommended by sci-fi author John Scalzi over at Whatever. I read too many sci-fi/fantasy blogs, or blogs by folks who like sci-fi and fantasy, and keep trying out these kinds of books, although they don't tend to be my cup o' java. But I'm always game to try another. Oh, and Scalzi even pointed out a lukewarm review of his Old Man's War, which actually mirrors my feelings about the book exactly. You can read it here. To be honest, that same ssite also has a pretty warm review of it here!
- Dreaming the bull by Manda Scott. The other thing I keep picking up is historical novels. This series is on Boudicca, the warrior queen of England who fought the Roman armies to a standstill for two years in AD 61. I think there are four books currently in the series, and I saw the latest on the new book shelf at the library. So after checking it out, I notice the library also happened to have the first three, so I grabbed this first one to check it out.
In the Queue
And I really have to get back to my Lifetime Reading Plan and read some more classics. There's nothing quite like a book having stood the test of time - the writing is usually stupendous and the ideas mind blowing. Maybe DH Lawrence or even get back to my Arabian Nights.