Category Archives: Books

15 Things About Books and Me

There’s a meme going around (started here) wherein readers list 15 (or more) things about the relationship they have with books. The numbers of people who have already done this are huge, and I suspect that I’m the last person in the blogging galaxy to be doing this. But here are some anyway.

  1. According to my mother, I was reading at an extremely early age. I have no memory of what it is like to not be able to read.
  2. And I think I could speed read as a child, but school taught it out of me.
  3. I am allergic to a gum used in printing ink, and to a series of molds that grow on paper. Therefore, I am allergic to books…
  4. …which is too bad because I love “old book” smell.
  5. My wife gets so into reading that I can talk to her while her nose is in a book and she won’t hear me at all. I wish I could do that.
  6. Since I write fiction, I tend to be so critical of it that when I read for enjoyment, it’s usually non-fiction…
  7. …but there are some authors, such as Elmore Leonard, who are so good that it doesn’t feel like I’m reading fiction.
  8. I once tried to retaliate against a bully by bonking him on the head with the biggest, thickest book I could find – my 7th grade biology textbook. It was a disaster.
  9. I hardly ever buy books anymore. I try to get everything I want to read from the library.
  10. I can read several books at once. And I can put a book down and pick it up months later and keep reading with no loss of continuity. This drives my wife crazy.
  11. I am shamefully underread when it comes to the classics.
  12. I went on a kick to try and read more classics. I started and loved what I read of Moby Dick but haven’t picked it back up yet. I’ve hated Ernest Hemingway since High School and couldn’t get through one of his books. But I loved F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
  13. I once tricked a good friend into reading a really bad novel by telling him it was wonderful and Vonnegutesque. He hated it and asked me to take it back. I “forgot” to take it home. He brought it to my house and left it. I took it back to his house and hid it. This set off a years-long war where we would find clever ways to pass the book back and forth. Then one day the book disappeared. My friend says I have it. I think he threw it away and is lying. Or maybe one of our wives got sick of the whole thing and tossed it.
  14. I read in spurts. I will go for months without reading anything. Then I go on months-long binges where I read and read and read.
  15. I have this fear that I will lose respect from readers and/or friends if they found out which books and/or how many books I haven’t read.
  16. BONUS ITEM #1: People think I’m joking when I tell them that I have so many copies of my own novels that I use them to prop up the low corners of the refrigerator and washing machine.
  17. BONUS ITEM #2: The Bible gets more and more amazing every time I read it.

Coming up next: 15 Things About Writing and Me (the mutant version of the above meme).

Listening: Brian Protheroe, “Take Up Your Beds” (via iPod Shuffle)


Ten Favorite SF Novels

I was asked in an e-mail what my favorite science fiction novels were. It was a real trip down memory lane, since I haven’t read much if any SF in a while now (I don’t know if Cryptonomicon counts or not).

I got to thinking about it, and before I knew it, I had enough for a decent sized list. So here are my off-the-top-of-my-head choices for my ten favorite SF novels, alphabetically by book title and subject to change to allow for ones that I forgot:

1. The Andromeda Strain (Michael Crichton)
The novel that inspired me to want to write books.

2. Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke)
I have always admired Clarke for his stunning ideas (his characterization always left a lot to be desired). This is his best novel.

3. The Diamond Age (Neil Stephenson)
Nanotechnology meets the cultural precepts of Victorian England. The book is hobbled because it comes off the rails at the end, and really needed another 50 pages to end properly, but up to that point it’s an impressive read.

4. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
Another classic, this one with one of the greatest opening lines of any novel I’ve ever read.

5. Mother of Storms (John Barnes)
A brilliantly realized novel of global catastrophe (imagine a hurricane that scrubs all forms of life off of the Hawaiian islands) and the dark side of human survival. Graphic and disturbing in places (hey, it’s John’s divorce book – can you blame him?).

6. The Past Through Tomorrow (Robert Heinlein)
A collection of short stories and novels that formed Heinlein’s “Future History.” Ambitious, classic SF.

7. Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)
I think Vonnegut wanted this to be his “bitter old man writes anti-war screed” novel. That doesn’t matter to me – this book is a fascinating read that uses time travel to turn storytelling upside down. This book is why Vonnegut was an important writer at one time.

8/9. Starship Troopers (Heinlein) and The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
Forget the movie of the former. These two books are now fused together in my mind because they both take the same concept – future fighting men wearing suits that give them extraordinary fighting abilities – and look at them from two different angles. Heinlein’s book is hawkish and jingoistic; Haldeman’s is an examination of war’s insanity. Both are excellent.

10. Startide Rising (David Brin)
My favorite SF novel. Great plot, great vision, great characters. A book that really stirs up my sense of wonder.

11. When Gravity Fails (George Alec Effinger)
Cyberpunk in a world dominated by Islam. You’ve never read anything like this before. Great stuff. George will be missed.

Okay, so it goes to eleven. Call me Nigel Tufnel.


On today’s writing front, I was so busy at work that I actually forgot to work on Deadline over lunch. I’ve been suddenly crushed by three of the other kind of deadlines all at once, so my lunch was kind of an eat-and-run kind of affair.

I think I could have written more tonight, but I simply ran out of steam. The last couple of weeks at work have been long and involved, ditto goings on at Church, ditto the weekend spent working on making a stall in the barn a more suitable chicken coop. That’s okay. I’ll still take these numbers.

Today’s Scorecard
And/News – Chapter Twenty
673 pages (+6)
148,180 words (+ 1258)

NP – iTSP (Evita OST, “Requiem for Evita”)