The 2018 Reading Challenge

New snow

It is snowing again. A new layer of white is covering the snow we already have. This is perfect weather for reading. And since the new year is almost here, I think it is time to announce the 2018 Reading Challenge that I have set for myself.

As in past years, I’ve added a new category of book to the challenge. So without further ado, the categories are:

  1. A book by an author I have never read
  2. A biography or an autobiography
  3. A book recommended by a friend
  4. A romance novel or a western
  5. A mystery
  6. A book on a historic subject
  7. A science fiction or fantasy book
  8. A book previously started but given up on
  9. A graphic novel
  10. One book originally published in each decade I’ve been alive, so
    1. the 1940’s
    2. the 1950’s
    3. the 1960’s
    4. the 1970’s
    5. the 1980’s
    6. the 1990’s
    7. the 2000’s, and
    8. the 2010’s
  11. A book of short stories or essays
  12. A book that is part of series
  13. A book that is the basis of  movie or television series (from page to screen)
  14. A book of any kind
  15. A book by a favorite author…or is it a favored author? Is it possible to have more than one favorite? I should know, but I keep confusing myself when I try to think it through. Help would be appreciated.

As always, I can’t use one book to fill more than one category. Each category gets a separate book. In my case that means 22 books this year. If you decide to take the challenge, it will depend on your age. If you are doing a different reading challenge in the coming year, please let me know about it.

Doggy-sitting

Please?

Macon is imploring me to let him out to play in the snow. He has already been out four times today. Guess who gets to dry him off each time he agrees to come back inside? Since he enjoys sitting on the top of the deck, I’m drying more than his back and head.

The first time I let him out this morning it was still dark and just beginning to snow. We now have around three inches with no sign of immediate let up. I hope the highways get well cleared before I have to drive to Indianapolis tomorrow. But let me get back to doggy-sitting.

Are dogs ticklish? I haven’t found any yet who appear to be. Macon doesn’t squirm or giggle when I try to tickle him. He enjoys the attention and seldom wants it to stop, but he is that way about all forms of attention. If you know of any ticklish dog, I would be interested in hearing about it.

Macon also likes to be in on everything that I do. As you can see in the picture above, he is lying directly between my feet. Actually he is on top of the toe of my left foot. He will sleep that way while I watch TV. No matter how many explosions or gun battles may go on in whatever I’m watching, he will sleep through it. But if I try to move, he is instantly awake and watching to see if get out of the chair. I hate to disturb his sleep, but I occasionally like to get up and move around.

Does your dog dream? Macon does. At least the evidence indicates that he does. It isn’t just that he moves his legs as if he were running. Yesterday, as he slept between  my feet, he gave two soft “woof”s. He has also been known to howl in his sleep. I wish I knew what those dreams are about. Or maybe I don’t. The howling dreams sound scary. Or maybe he is just dreaming that he is a wolf. Ill probably never know.

Happy holidays to you all!

Is it Christmas yet?

Decorated hearth

My picture is blurry. Darn! But that fits with my mood. I have to admit that I am not ready for Christmas. Oh, I have all of the gifts bought, and most of them are wrapped and under the tree. And yes, the tree is up and decorated. The rest of the house is decorated s well. We’ve had our holiday party and it was fun. This isn’t a case of Bah-Humbuggery, I’m just not into that Christmas mood, for lack of a better term.

I didn’t do cards this year for a couple of reasons. The first is that we seldom get cards anymore; so far I think only one had shown up in our mailbox. The second is that even when we get them they are usually just signed with no personal notes. Sometimes there are no signatures, just a printed family name. We haven’t even received a card from our insurance agent. What’s that about? I still have a couple of days, so I may design a personal card and email it to a few chosen friends, or perhaps not. It’s that Christmas mood thing again.

For years I used to burn cds with a variety of holiday songs for friends and family. But I stopped doing that because so few people use cds anymore. It is all Spotify or some such now. I ripped some blues tunes to a flash drive to give to Lee while on vacation this year, but he declined it because he said he had no way to access the music. All of his was on his phone, or in the clouds. Speaking of vacation and music,  I had an MP3 player for quite some time, but this year while on vacation, it died and went to electronic heaven. Have you tried to find an MP3 player lately? I fear that I’ve strayed from my topic.

So, I have four more days to try to get into the spirit of things. If I were a pessimist I would give up now. But hope does spring eternal. Wish me luck.

2017 Reading Challenge update #4

Fear Nothing

It seems that I always hit a reading dry spell during the summer months. I read no books during July and August this year. Well, I read one book before that dry spell, Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz. This book was my choice for  science fiction/fantasy selection. I’m sure that I have mentioned in other posts that when Cindy plays an audio book in the car, I fall asleep. Fear Nothing was the exception to that rule when Cindy played it many years ago. This year I bought a physical copy of the book to hold in my hands and read to see if it was a fluke. It wasn’t. I’ve read other books by Mr. Koontz, and none of them are as satisfying to me as his two Christopher Snow novels. I only hope that he eventually gets around to writing the third.

East of Eden

I broke loose from my reading dry spell in September when I took my next selection, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, with me while we were on vacation. It was published in the 1950’s. Steinbeck is another one of those handful of authors who have always made me feel like a hack writer when I read their prose. Perhaps that is the reason that I don’t read them as often as i should. This is a sprawling family story that stretches over generations with echoes from biblical stories, both old and new testament. Once again I find myself swearing to go back and read more Steinbeck. He is worth it.

 

The Night of Morningstar

Next I went to a book published in the 1980’s, The Night of Morningstar by Peter O’Donnell. It is a Modesty Blaise novel. I believe it is the only Modesty Blaise novel that I hadn’t read. Over the years I’ve read all of the novels, many of the comic strips in reprint books, and I’ve seen the atrocious movie which starred Monica Vitti, Terrance Stamp, and Dick Bogarde. I haven’t seen the made-for-tv movie(s?), and don’t plan to see them. The books, however, are worth reading and re-reading.

The plot lines are familiar. Wealthy men want more wealth and power. Their plot is stumbled upon by Modesty and Willie. Innocent people are in danger. Modesty and Willie insert themselves into action. Modesty and Willie prevail. All is well. No matter how many times I read one of these thrillers, I love it.

Body of Lies

From the 2000’s I chose to read Body of Lies by David Ignatius. He has been writing espionage books for decades, but this was the first of his that I’ve read. I see Mr. Ignatius on television often as a political commentator. He also writes a syndicated column for The Washington Post. Body of Lies was made into a movie in 2008, but I have to admit that I never saw it. I enjoyed the book, It was well written and had an interesting premise. Plus it drew upon the book The Man Who Never Was, which I read when I was in high school. That book was was fact. I shall be reading more novels by Mr. Ignatius.

 

Unbelievable

As the book on a historical subject, I chose Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to The Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur. As you might have guessed, the book is about her coverage of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign for President of the United States. She is a reporter for NBC News, and was assigned to the campaign for what was supposed to be a short time. However, she stayed with the campaign through the election. The book gives can account of life on the road as she followed the campaign. She also writes about her youth, her parents, and how she got into TV journalism. It is an interesting and quick read. I’m sure that if I re-read the book in a few years,it will bring back memories.

The Steel Mirror

Finally, as the book I read from the 1940’s, I went back to an author, Donald Hamilton, whom I had read  for the 1970’s. This is the first time I have read the same author in two categories. I had not planned on doing so. I had started reading 1984, but found that I wasn’t able to really enjoy it. It was too serious at a time when I didn’t want serious. I wanted an easy read. So I dug out my copy of The Steel Mirror. I read the book so long ago, and it had made so little impression on me, it was like reading it for the first time. It is something of a pot-boiler that is hard to take truly seriously. Or perhaps  it is that I’ve become more cynical as I age. Still, you can see the germ of Hamilton’s more famous creation, Matt Helm, in the actions of the male protagonist of this story. I may dig out some other older Hamilton books and give them another read.

I successfully finished my challenge for the year! And I still have enough time to read a couple of books that I don’t have to try to fit into a specific category. I am pleased.

What the? and wonderment

It’s almost time

I put the tree up so that it would be ready for our party last weekend.

***

Talk about strange dreams! A few nights ago, in a dream, I found myself laying on a couch in our living room. Only it wasn’t our living room. It was similar in layout to the living room in my parent’s house, and Cindy and my first home, as well as our present house. The couch was facing a picture window onto our front yard. But the front yard was not one I had ever seen before, because there were tall, hedge-like bushes in front of the window.

Also in the room with me were two women whom I did not know. They said nothing. I knew that they were friends of a non-carnal nature. They were just sitting there.

Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from somewhere behind me. I arose and walked into the back of the house. I saw nothing unusual, so I looked out a window into the back yard. I saw a maple tree sappling and beside it was a bird bath and a wheelbarrow. On the ground was a very large log. I instinctively knew that the log had been dropped there, and that was what I had heard. I saw no one in the yard so I went back to the living room and once again lay down. The women said nothing and neither did I.

All of a sudden I heard another noise in the back. Once again I arose and rushed to the back. I looked out the window. Again there was no one there. But the log was now balanced in the wheelbarrow.

I went back to the living room and resumed my place on the couch. The women said nothing, and I said nothing to them.

I glanced out the picture window at the hedge-like bushes. Wait. I thought I saw something move in the bushes. I stared where I thought I had seen the movement. And then I saw a man standing in the bushes. He was wearing a fedora and had a camera strapped around his neck. And then I could make out another man over the first’s right shoulder. The second man was wearing a pork pie hat and appeared to be holding sound equipment. I looked back at the man in the fedora and clearly saw his face. He knew that I had seen him. He wasn’t smiling, exactly; it was more like a sheepish grin that had gone wide.

I started to get up to confront them. That’s when I woke up.

I have no idea what that dream was about. I would be happy to hear your theories.

***

I was ripping music from of my favorite albums for a dear friend the other day. When I came to my albums by The Beatles, I started looking through the songs from their early albums through Abbey Road. As I went through those albums I marveled once again how quickly their music evolved. I liked The Beatles the first time I heard them. That wasn’t true of many of my high school classmates. But, back to The Beatles’ (R)evolution; while I liked music from all stages of their career, I do have two albums above all of the others. In my opinion, Revolver and Abbey Road are the best. Feel  free to argue with me, but you won’t change my mind. Which album(s) do you prefer?