2018 Reading Challenge – Update #2

If you aren’t aware of what my person reading challenge encompasses, you can read about it here.

I posted recently that I am currently in a writing slump. I also went through a reading slump, but have climbed out of it somewhat. Here is what I have been reading recently.

The American

The American by Martin Booth was my choice for the “From page to screen” book. The book was originally titledĀ A Very Private Gentleman, but appears to have been changed to match the movie title. I can only assume that the American in the title refers to George Clooney’s character in the movie. The book centers around a person who is nearing the end of his chosen, illegal career. He is proud of the work that he has done, but realizes that he as reached a point where he wants to settle in somewhere. There is a lot of interior dialogue which offers insights to his personal history. I enjoyed the book. If you come to this book after having seen the movie, as I did, or vice versa, be prepared to accept that there are major plot changes, new characters, removed characters, and other differences. For instance, the very private gentleman is not an American.

Tarzan: The Beckoning

Next I chose to read, and view, the graphic novel, Tarzan: The Beckoning by Thomas Yeates. This book finds Tarzan and Jane in a more modern-day environment, fighting illegal ivory trade. If you’re wondering how a man born before WWI can still be alive and kicking, Tarzan fans know that he has become immortal, but they may not know that Jane is also immortal. At any rate, some familiar Tarzan tropes are present, such as a plane crash and amnesia. It is an interesting graphic novel, and the art is very good. My only complaint is that the final chapter seems to come to a rushed conclusion.



The Elements of Eloquence

I have a category called “A book of any kind,” that I think of a as my miscellaneous category. This year I chose The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase, by Mark Forsythe. I bought a copy of th book as a gift to a friend, and thought it looked interesting enough to purchase a copy for myself. The book explains, with examples, thirty-some figures of rhetoric. Don’t let that turn you off, because Mr. Forsythe’s writing is engaging. Once you read the book you’ll find yourself noticing examples in the things you read and hear. I notice them especially in television commercials. I have been noticing them a lot on the morning political talk shows, most noticeably Morning Joe. The namesake of the show, Joe Scarborough, has the annoying habit, while on a diatribe, of stringing together a group of complaints and starting each sentence with the same words. This is called anaphora. I’m happy to know the term for what he does. It doesn’t make it any less annoying, but now I have the name of what he does.

The Last Gunfighter: Slaughter

The western I chose this year is The Last Gunfighter: Slaughter by William W. Johnstone & J.A. Johnstone. This is a collaboration between a dead man and his living nephew. It is hard for me to say how much William contributed to the book since I’ve never read anything that he wrote while living. I understand that William was dead for three years before his reading public was informed of his demise. But that is just tittle-tattle, let me say a few things about the book. To me, it read like a the pitch for a western movie made in the 1930s or 40s. The drifting cowboy comes to town and stops a war between the ranchers and the oil drillers. With him he brought his faithful horse who comes to him when he whistles, and his dog who is very intelligent. The dog understands everything he is told, saves his owner from being shot, and could probably throw down the rope and pull Timmy from the well without going for help. He is that good! One thing different from the movies is that the hero got neither of the attractive female characters.

Walking With Grandfather

Next I read Walking With Grandfather: The Wisdom of Lakota Elders by Joseph M. Marshall III. This was the book recommended by a friend. My friend was Cindy, who bought it while on vacation a couple of years ago, and passed it on for me to read. It offers a perspective on life based upon the lessons the author learned from his grandfather, while growing up on a Sioux reservation. It is an interesting, informative book that doesn’t preach. I enjoyed it.