2017 Reading Challenge update #2

True Compass
True Compass

The sixth book I read for the challenge was True Compass by Edward Kennedy. I am using it as the book recommended by a friend. In this case, the friend was Cindy who loved the book and kept telling me that I would love it as well. My story is that I bought this book shortly after it was published in 2009. I wanted to read it and so did Cindy. I told her that she could read it first so she took the book and started reading it. Then she put it down. After a while she would go back to the book, and then put it down for one reason or another. This pattern kept repeating. She finished the book in late 2016. I spent a week reading it.

Kennedy collaborated with the respected Ron Powers in crafting the book. It was released shortly after his death. It gives insight into his life and beliefs. Two things shine through it all, he was a man dedicated to family and he was a man of faith. Together they molded his life. I only wish that he had started working on his memoirs earlier in his life, because there was enough content that he could easily have filled three or more volumes. I would have gladly read that much.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror
The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror

The next book that I read was the graphic novel The Rocketeer:Hollywood Horror by Roger Langridge and illustrated by J. Bone. The Rocketeer was an independent comic book hero from the 1980’s. The comic was created, written and drawn by the late Dave Stevens. I was a big fan of the comic, and when I saw this new story was available I wanted the book. I haven’t actively collected comic books for a couple of decades, so I wasn’t aware that other Rocketeer stories have appeared since those days. But on to this one. It is set in the same time period, the 1930’s, as the earlier comics and The Rocketeer movie. I was a bit confused since I hadn’t read any of the stories since the original Stevens’ works. I was also surprised to see Nick and Nora Charles with a cameo by Asta; as well as  “Monk” Mayfair, “Ham” Brooks, and Doc Savage. The story was enjoyable, but I am not a fan of J. Bone’s cartoonish art and found it a bit off-putting after Steven’s detailed work. I guess, for me, the book was not a hit, but a near miss.

Treasure Island
Treasure Island

I have a number of books in my “to be read” bookcase that would have fit the reading category From Page to Screen, but while browsing in my favorite bookstore I came across Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson. I’ll fit the other books into some other category.

First the book. It was first published in book form in 1883, so even I couldn’t fit it into a book published in a decade that I was alive. It was written as a book for boys, though it was quickly apparent that adult men were also drawn to it. Considering the number of murders and other deaths that occur, around twenty I believe, today’s overprotective parents probably wouldn’t consider it appropriate reading for their children. Considering that it is a story of pirates, buried treasure, and with a boy hero I found it a rollicking good tale. I’ve always wanted to use that phrase, and finally found a place for it.

Now, a bit about the movie versions. I saw two of them on television when I was much younger, but can’t remember enough to say if they were true to the book. What I do remember are the characters of Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins. In the 1934 film (again before my birth) Wallace Beery played Silver, and Jackie Cooper played Jim Hawkins. In the 1950 Disney version Robert Newton played Silver and Bobby Driscoll play Jim. I have to say that Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver is the one I best remember, To me, he is Long John. There was also a television show in which Newton played Silver that I watched as a child.

The Undoing Project

Next I read The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. It is the book that I chose for “a book of any kind.” It probably is best described as a book about science, but it is much more than that, IT is also about the lives, the collaboration, and the friendship of two Israeli psychologists. They studied the way people make decisions, and how “rule of thumb” is not as good a choice as using statistical analysis. I have to admit that I didn’t understand all that they were positing. For me, the more interesting parts of the book were the sections that dealt with the lives of the two men, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, and how they interacted with each other. The book was written by Michael Lewis who has also written The Big ShortMoneyballLiar’s Poker and other well known books. It is an interesting book, and I recommend it.

Savage Season

And then I read Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale. I had originally bought the book as my choice for “from page to screen,” because I had watched the first season of “Hap and Leonard” on television. The first season was based on this book. But since I decided to use Treasure Island for “from page to screen,” and I already had used another book tor the 1990’s, this book is now my choice for “part of a series.” The television show is faithful to the book, which made the reading of this already short novel a very quick read. If you are not a fan of violence and bad language, steer clear of both the book and TV version. Though there is a bit more gratuitous violence in the TV show.


In this year’s reading challenge I still need to read 1) a biography or autobiography, 2) a mystery, 3) a book on an historical subject, 4) a book of science fiction or fantasy, 5) one book each first published in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s 1980’s, 2000’s, 2010’s, and 6) a book of short stories or essays.

What have you been reading?