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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.