Reading Right Now: June 15

How many books is too many? I usually try to make myself finish one book before starting another, because I know how chaotic my sister’s reading stack gets. Still, this month I have started several and they have all just dragged on. Today I intend to finish at least one book. Here are the ones I am working on:

The Poorhouse Fair , by John Updike

This is a very short book, only 127 pages long, and it isn’t terrible, but it is one my brother foisted on me, and whether he admits it or not, my brother’s grammar is sloppy (he thinks he has perfect grammar, of course). He loves John Updike, and has several Updike books in the big milk crate of books he sent over for me to borrow and read. This author is as sloppy with his grammar as my brother is, only Updike’s errors passed his editor’s scrutiny somehow. I get very irritated by poor grammar, especially in mainstream published authors. The book itself is about a bunch of poor elderly people in a poorhouse, and so far after about 1/3 of the book, nothing has really happened. Nothing. Well, a badly injured cat turned up on the property and the caretaker’s assistant was sent out to put it out of its misery, which he did, and the soda-truck ran into the wall near the house because the delivery boy was an inexperienced truck driver. These incidents in the hands of Ray Bradbury could have taken 100 pages and would have been very entertaining, with some brilliant insights about life and aging, but in Updike’s hands these incidents are drained of all life and are flat and boring. I’m on page 49, so I have 72 more pages of this thrilling book left.

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization , by Steven Solomon

This is a good book. It is a library book, so I don’t bring it with me when I go out, even just to Mom’s house, because losing it would be expensive, thus it is not one I’ve finished yet. This lovely book has 492 pages, of which I have read 92, so I have a whole 404 pages left to read, but there is a good chance that I will finish this one before the Updike book. Solomon traces threads of history all over the world that relate to water as the source of power and sociopolitical stability. His thesis is that behind the many events of history one can almost always trace events back to the patterns of water availability, so even when the stated causes of the conquests, declines and collapses of human civilizations are not attributed directly to water, they are inherently driven by water scarcity and water management. It’s pretty convincing.

The Naturalist’s Guide to the Southern Rockies , by Audrey DeLella Benedict

Very few people actually read field guides, cover to cover, as reading-books, not reference books. It’s a shame, really. Benedict obviously wrote her chapters with the hope that someone will read and enjoy and learn from them, and she writes very well. But this book looks just like every other field guide on the library shelves, so I’d bet most people just use it to look up birds and wildflowers. I’ve only read 40 pages, out of its 628 pages, but I plan to read the whole thing, and so far I am enjoying it. It is also a library book, so it stays home, and I lose track easily of what page I last read, but once I add a bookmark and get that $& *& % Updike book out of the way, I’m sure this one will go fast.

I have two new books, as well, this week, that I bought at Goodwill 2 days ago- Careless in Red, by Elizabeth George, and London, by Edward Rutherfurd. They are both very fat paperbacks, and look promising.

What are you reading? Have you acquired any new books this week?

About Ravenmount

Independent science nerd/writer/music blogger/arts enthusiast/theorist currently in Colorado.
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