My 2019 Reading non-Challenge Final Update

I quite liked this year of reading without specific goals as to type of content. While I drought periods of reading this year, I was still able to read 65 books. Below are the final fifteen that I read this year. You’ll probably notice the typo in the title of number 64. It should read Song of Blood & Stone.

51 through 65

If you are interested in the entire list, you can find the first 25 here and the second 25 here.

Included in my complete list are two excellent works of non-fiction, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham, and Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. There are a few graphic novels and many spy thrillers. I also re-read the first two novels of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandrian Quartet, Justine and Balthazar. I plan on reading the final two this year. There were only a few books that I was disappointed in. They have already been donated to our county library.

If you read my first post (see the link above) you remember that I called this a non-challenge because in past years I limited myself to specific categories of books and had trouble meeting the challenge. This year I read what appealed to me when I felt like it.  As a result I read about three times the number I read last year; enjoying the experience more and clearing room on my TBR bookcase. I plan on doing the same this year.

Oh, and among the books I read in 2019 were enough to meet the challenge if I had gone ahead with it.

If I had challenged myself

Happy reading in 2020!

This is why I haven’t been writing…I think.

Birds on a wire

I took this picture from our car window (Cindy was driving). And when I saw the birds I immediately thought of Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire. Yes, I know there is more than one bird up there, but I thought of the song rather than Hitchcock’s bloody film.

***

If you have been reading this blog with any regularity, you know that I haven’t posted anything truly original in long time, which makes it difficult to read with regularity. But if you had read it in the past you probably noticed that I have attempted to keep my posts somewhat lighthearted. Sometimes I fail, and that bothers me.

It is difficult for me to find the humor in events around me when there is so little humor or good cheer in current events. Yes, the late night comics can me me smile, but the underlying events are too somber. I can’t sustain an upbeat mood. When I’m not upbeat I cannot write worth damn.

I have at least half a dozen posts that I’ve started but haven’t been able to finish. I started one of them two years ago and haven’t been able to frame it properly. I know that I’ve scrapped it and restarted it at least four times. Others I’ve started, gotten about half way through, but have been unable to finish. 

Today or tomorrow the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on articles of impeachment for President Trump. No matter how you feel about his possible impeachment, it is not a day to be happy. I find that this is just one drop in an overflowing bucket of sadness. School shootings have become common; environmental change proceeds with little or nothing being done to halt the damage; hate crimes are on the rise; and these are just a few of the problems we are facing. 

These topics make me angry. So until I can find a way to address these issues with balance, I won’t be writing much. Oh, I’ll occasionally post about non-controversial things like my reading non-challenge, or N-N-1 (anybody want to volunteer to host it?), but nothing heavy. I just can’t do it.

And that’s the reason I haven’t been writing, and I shan’t be writing much in the foreseeable future.

My 2019 Reading non-Challenge Update #2

The second 25

As you can see, the pace of my reading has slowed down. That happens every July and August. Blame it on the occasional good weather we have had.

In this group of books I read a non-fiction book which is the best I’ve read in a very long time, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. I highly recommend this book.

I also re-read Justine by Lawrence Durrell. It is the first book in his Alexandrian Quartet. I first read the quartet in the early 1970’s, shortly after I was released by the army. Each time I re-read it I once again fall in love with the language. I hope to read at least one more of theQuartet before the end of the year.

I had the biography of Thelonius Monk on my bookshelf for a number of years. Finally other things didn’t get in my way, and I read it. I wish I could have gotten to it earlier. I caused me to go on to a listening binge of his music. If you are one of those people who disparage jazz, I can only shrug my shoulders in wonderment.

I hope you’ve had a good summer. Now on to my autumn reading.

An uplifting dream

Is that the mailman?

This is a picture from the last time we doggy-sat Macon. He is staring out of the picture window, trying to decide if what he sees is bark worthy. It was.

***

I had a strange dream late last night, or perhaps it was early this morning. It’s hard to tell what time it flickered in my mind. I just know that it was unlike any other dream that I can remember having. This is the way it went:

I was part of a crew working in a high school setting up a computer lab. Not only were we working on the computers, we were also painting the room black. Definitely a bold color choice. Our work crew was mostly young Hispanic immigrants. Being an old white guy, I’m not sure how I was able to get the job. But I enjoyed working as part of the team.

While we were working the door burst open and a Kiss tribute band came into the room. Here is an unbelievable part: The band was not only in full makeup, but they were also on stilts. They struck a wild chord and shouted, “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!” They went on, “OUR LORD, JESUS, DOESN’T WANT YOU HERE!” They advanced menacingly.

While most of our crew cowered in fear, a Hispanic girl in her teens stepped forward and kicked the stilts out from under one of the band. She was inspiring.

I found the courage to step forward and start preaching to the band about how un-Christ like they were being. I don’t remember any of my exact language, but it must have been a moving oration because the band was humbled and deeply ashamed. It was like the ending of many movies where the townspeople slink away, chagrined, when they realize how wrong they have been about…well, somebody. 

Now, I am not a religious person, nor do I have any spiritual leanings; but I know it is usually pretty easy to lay a guilt trip on another person. My mother taught me.

N-N-1: The August Edition

Here is another installment of N-N-1, hosted by my fellow instigator, Anju. Great Job!

This Labyrinth I Roam

Our time and space travelling project is continuing to capture real-moments globally, allowing us to see and read about events we can’t currently be there for. And until they invent that teleportation device, we shall live vicariously through the N-N-1 phenomenon.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, go to the N-N-1 collaboration archive to get up to speed on all the cool posts you’ve missed.

Here’s what our global ambassadors have been up to this August.

A Splash Of My Life

“This lil teefer deserves a warm bed and warmer cuddles. After a long, exhausting day at the Ensenada shelter, these pictures give me the determination to do all I can. I hope that they will be out, surrounded by love and care. Soon.” – Princess Butter

The View From A Drawbridge

“I’m beginning to think that the only way to beat the heat in this new global climate change…

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I received an e-mail

I received an e-mail from my good friend cupitonians at labyrinthiroam@gmail.com, the other day. She is hosting our next N-N-1, and I want to share the invitation with you. If you want to participate this time around, please contact her at the email above, or let me know at houseman@comcast.net, and I will forward the information to her.

If you are not familiar with N-N-1, it is a community of people who enjoy sharing photographs and descriptions of what they are doing during a specifics period of time. The project points out both our diversity and sameness. The more the merrier. Below is the text of the email. 

Hello, hello, hello, 

Summer is well and truly here, and so is the season for another glorious N-N-1 post! While we’re all suffering enjoying the high heat of summer, perhaps we could take time to take a photo in the first weekend of August? 

Days: 1st-4th August

Time: Any time you aren’t busy melting

I’ve left the days and times flexible as I understand most of us are living through a heatwave of sorts and so motivation could be up and down. The theme is also open! 

I will send you a reminder closer to the date. 

Have fun and let me know if you have any questions, 

This Labyrinth I Roam

Another look at unproductivity

Tulip tree

This picture serves as my annual reminder why the Yellow Poplar is also called a Tulip Tree. In statute, the State tree of Indiana is named as the Tulip Tree, not a Yellow Poplar. In fact, the Yellow Poplar is not a poplar, but rather a member of the magnolia family.

***

The other day I wrote about the things I did instead of being productive. Today I thought I might build off of that. You will be happy to know that I finally finished my load of laundry. I put down the mystery long enough to do that. Then I went back to the mystery and read the rest of the book. I told you it was a good mystery.

Part of the time I was reading I was playing music in the background. I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning that, but for a statement I heard on TV this morning. The person speaking said that people were perfectly happy to let AI (Artificial Intelligence) do things and make decisions for them. He mentioned Anti-lock brakes (I concur) and choosing music (What?). I know he was talking about Spotify and similar services. I have tried Spotify a few times but have never liked the results. I give it a few songs that I like, and it seems unable to match my preferences. Perhaps I’m too picky. I would probably be the same with an online dating service.

***

I also cut the grass the next day. I am happy that the trend in lawn beauty is  lush stand of grass. I can recall when we were all supposed to have yards that looked like putting greens, very short and smooth. My grass is lush. My more generous neighbors might call it super lush. My less generous neighbors might call it super frickin’ lush. I’m sure that those who really don’t like me have even more colorful terms. At least I have no rusted-out autos in the yard. I could be a worse neighbor.

By the way, a half hour after I finished cutting the grass it started to rain. Timing is everything.