January 2019

God damn! I burst into it this year on the other end. Last year I trounced 15 books my first month for my largest reading total to date. This time I did a modest 7, but cranked out 35,000 words on my writing project. I’m not entirely good at recalling my much older works, but I think is one of my best word counts to date. I could be wrong as the Chewy books only took on average two months to write, but they were also substationally smaller in comparison.

Books Read

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1) John Irving—The Cider House Rules

I chose this one because I wanted to copy last year’s start when I finished World According to Garp. I liked it enough to do this one that was sitting on my bookshelf for free from a colleague. Unfortunately, unlike his other works, this one didn’t land well. Maybe I expected more, recalling good things from the movie, but here the book didn’t match up. For one, all the events just happened—there was no tension or failure for the character’s desires. Everything went according to a script, while his other novels didn’t have that feel. Still, it was hyper-described, but the characters just felt quirky, not interesting.

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2) Chuck Palanuik—Rant

I tossed one of his others down last year, so I went after this e-book that has been on my device for a while. At first it was strange—no surprise for Chuck. Eventually, as I got into it, the multiple perspectives was interesting, not to mention how each chapters has a solidity to it like its own world. As a whole, I wouldn’t say there’s much to say about the story—that is to nail down the exact plot. But the pieces together give an amazing image that is uniquely its own.

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3) Yu Jeong Jeong—The Good Son

This book was highly rated, so I thought it would be fun, and although the middle had some good tension and writing, overall a lot of missteps were in this book. For one, the whole first section is just the main character ruminating in his head. With little to no interaction with the outside world, this part dragged. Then it picks up when people start bothering him about his missing mother. The slow build and reveal of the plot was interesting, but again was shattered by the lackluster ending.

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4) John Lott—War On Guns

I read this to get a different perspective on the gun debate. At first, this book comes on strong with a lot of gusto, but with a sharp eye you can see that he comes with big claims—all claims you expect him to eventually support—but you soon realize he’s all hype and no content. Half the book is reference material, but surprisingly, all the referencing are supporting the resources he got that proves the media has an anti-gun slant. Okay, point taken. The media doesn’t like guns, but none of the resources supports his claims that guns make America safer, or any of the other ideas of his. In fact, many times he slams anti-gun right advocates for certain thinking and behavior only to do the same thing pages later. He’s a whirlwind of contradiction and a masterful propagandist.

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5) D.H. Lawrence—Lady Chatterley’s Lover

I did this as a reread because my student’s parent recalled it was too sexual. I didn’t, so I wanted to refresh myself. Yes, there’s sex. Yes, they say fuck and penis sometimes, but the actual sex scenes usual reflect Constance’s thoughts and feelings, never Fifty Shades of Gray description of the actual act. This isn’t porn, though some may think so. If anything, this was so famously banned because the main character is a strong woman defying the patriarchal world. At the time, and still to some people, a strong woman is appalling. Nonetheless, now that I’m older the imagery and sensation of finding a new world inside isn’t as striking, so it has dropped in that regard.

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6) Jon Krakauer—Into The Air

Again—a reread for my students. Like before, I loved it again even though it hasn’t even been three months. The build and mystery just pulls you in, including the sense that everyone gets reading books like these: you can’t help putting yourself in their shoes and wondering—could I survive it? Ultimately, a good book about a horrible event.

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7) William Gibson—The Neuromancer

This is the book that started steam-punk and kicked Sci-fi back into high gear in the 80’s. I’ve heard of it many times, so quick rented it from the library. Although the writing is crazy with its focus on the minutest points of detail and every page is riddled with indecipherable street if not technological slang, the book’s plot is very elusive as well as a longing connection with the protagonist. All that being said, I didn’t hate it, and it was a fast read, but it didn’t leave me going wow.

Progress on 2019 goals

1) Finish American Snowflakes: 145,000 words

2) Chewy Noh (graphic novel): I hope the full book will be drawn soon!

3) Student Story workbook: In progress

4) Spring Reading:

                  Hopscotchx1: Not yet!

                  Hopscotchx2: Not yet!

5) Read 75 books: 7

6) Get into next book—Chloe: Not yet!

Next Month’s Agenda

Next month I should be able to mark off a lot of the above—my student book, American snowflakes and so on. I have a trip to Hawaii so it may slow me down a bit, but I hope not.

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