My Less Douchey Guys Book Club

In response to this horrifying article (and it’s subsequent mentions on Twitter), here is a list of female authors my wonderful Guys Read book club has read:

Candice Millard

Laura Hillenbrand

Sarah Vowell

Suzanne Collins

Katherine Dunn

Susanna Clarke

Mira Grant

Connie Willis

Josephine Tey

Margaret Atwood

Patti Smith

Dorothy L. Sayers

Natasha Trethaway (she’s local and we invited her but she couldn’t make it)

Dava Sobel

Allison Bechdel

Barbara Tuchmann

Gabrielle Hamilton

Flannery O’Connor

Emily St. John Mandel

Ruth Reichl

Mary Roach

and I’m pretty sure we have done a JK Rowling and I have Octavia Butler and Julia Franks on our to read list…

We’ve also had females accompany us to meetings. It’s a guys book club by default, not by any strong rule.

Ok, back to reading…

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Just when I thought I was out…

I got another Kinlde Paperwhite. I know, I know! I said some time ago that I was cutting back on buying stuff from Amazon because I was reacting to an article about thier questionable treatment of employees.

But I didn’t really like reading on a tablet as much as I thought I would. Reading on my phone is not horrible, but I don’t love it when I’m at home. Out in the world it’s a great convience to not have to remember to carry a book around and be able to read while I’m in line or in a waiting room. But at home I want something else.

And I’m too easily distracted. I’ll check Twitter and the news and the weather and email and look up stuff too much if I have my phone or a tablet. With a Kindle I just read and read and read.

I still listen to audiobooks and I still read physical books. I’m not ONLY going to read on my Kindle. But as I’m winding down the TBR Triple Dog Dare I realized I’m actually coming to the end of my TBR list. Now my list is a little different. I have a long list of things I want to read. Most of the books are in grey, with different colors highlighting ones I own digitally, can get from a library on audio or as a book, or if I actually own the physical book. It’s almost all grey now! I’m coming to the end of my owned TBR stuff!

So then I looked at all the digital books my wife and I have bought for the Kindle over the last few years and there’s a lot more things on there than I remembered. There’s only a couple of ones I paid full price for and knew I needed to get to, but wow! Those daily deals, kid’s books shes gotten for one reason or other that I haven’t read yet, and a few Humble Bundles and I have nearly 30 unread digital books! It was like Christmas adding them to my TBR list.

And I have been to our local B&N a couple of times lately and just…ugh. It’s a nice place, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to look at all the Not Books they carry, I’m not into hardbacks and even new paperbacks ain’t cheap!

So yeah, I’ve been missing the ereader and sorry, but Amazon just does it better. I promise I’ll still by books from independent booksellers on occasion. (But man, those are few and far between out here these days.) I promise to keep supporting my libraries (duh). But I love me a nice ereader (and this was on sale!)

Winding Down the School Year

Which means that I probably won’t be posting regularly throughout the summer (not that I already do).

But I hope to read a bunch and post about that whenever I get the chance even if it’ a big round up at the end of the summer.

I will be reading most, if not all, of our Reader’s Rally books.  It’s an odd list this year so don’t look at me with that famous side-eye of yours when you see some of the random titles.

What have I been reading lately?  Let’s see, did I mention I read Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters last month?  Loved it.  It was strange, because ever since we did one of his books for my book club I decided I needed to read the whole set.  I’ve been reading them here and there between other things and the next one on the list was Wyrd Sisters when it was also chosen for the Sword & Laser online book club for April as well. So that was fun and picked me up from my reading rut where I stalled out on two big ones at the end of the TBR Dare.

I also read Andy Weir’s The Martian but won’t write much about that now since I’ll do a post after our next Guys Read book club meeting where we’ll be discussing it.

I listened to the third Dave Barry/Ridley Pearson Peter Pan book called Peter and the Secret of Rundoon read by the irreplaceable Jim Dale.  It’s funny, My Lovely Bride doesn’t like listening to him read anything since the Harry Potter books.  She doesn’t want to be thinking of Hagrid when hearing him do mean pirates.  It was an exciting end to a trilogy (although I hear they’ve done more since this one, but this was a good trilogy-ender so that’s what I’m calling it).  They did a much better job switching between the three storylines and brought a depth to the character of Peter Pan and his history that I really appreciated.  Fun stuff.

As a family we finished reading Anne of Green Gables a week or so ago and the other night watched the whole thing on DVD.  I’ve read it and seen them both before but it’s fun when your daughter is 12.  I must say, though, that I know this will be controversial but I actually had a Lord of the Rings thing happen where I liked the movie better than the book.  The movie is cast perfectly and has all the best parts.  In the movie she says she never shuts up but only babbles on and on during that first carriage ride.  In the book I would have to read three page paragraphs of her babbling and it got old.  So Megan Follows for the win!

In the library I’m winding it down.  It’s pretty crazy but I just got a big shipment of new stuff in I’m getting ready for next year.  One title, El Deafo, was read in turn by me, my daughter and My Lovely Bride all in turn.  We’ll have to get together and have a family book club I guess.  It was an excellent addition to the Smile school of comic art autobiography. Check it out if you can.

Spring Break Report

Did you have/enjoy a spring break?  We went up to  state park for a few days with some friends, then have been spending the rest of this week quietly as a family.  The weather switched from one day being cloudy cool and rainy to the next wit us switching to the air conditioner and digging out shorts and flip flops.  Feels like full on summer already!

I finished two books over the break.  The second John Flanagan book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. My Lovely Bride teaches 5th grade and loves pushing these so I want to familiarize myself with the whole thing eventually.

I came by the next book in a circuitous way.  I’ve always enjoyed the work of skeptic and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci so when I read this in the NYT I was intrigued.  It’s about how he’s been studying the philosophy of the Roman Stoics (mainly Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and such) and has basically adopted the philosophy as his own.  Then he created this blog about his studies of this philosophy of life.  So I decided to start working off his reading list and began with the first and most accessible book written by William Irvine.  Irvine gives a brief history on the travels of Stoicism from the Greeks to the Romans and gives an overview of the main Roman Stoic thinkers (whose work survives). Then he gets into how he believes the ideas can be applied to us moderns.  It was great and even though I’m not into self-help nonsense I liked this because it harkens back to Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, book I reviewed long ago. Burkeman looks into Stoicism and Zen Buddhism among other things.

Interestingly enough, Irvine was more into Zen Buddhism but was looking at other, similar philosophies which were based on tranquility and the more he read about Stoicism, the more he decided that it was actually better than Zen in many ways. The main problem with Stoicism is they don’t have a good PR guy. Zen evokes tranquility. Lower-case stoicism evokes stiff-upper-lipped folks repressing emotions.  That’s not what capital S Stoicism is. The name comes from the Stoa that Zeno taught his philosophy from beginning around 301 BC.  A Stoa is a big portico.  So the Stoics were basically the guys hanging out on the porch discussing how to live a more joyful and tranquil life.

Sounds good to me.

Time to Call It

Time to call an end to this year’s TBR Double Dog Dare, for me at least. It was not my best showing, that’s for sure.  I only completed eight books.  I abandoned two super long ones.  I abandoned an over 600 page non-fiction history book chosen for my book club at about 30% in (you can tell I was reading it on a Kindle). I just now decided to give up on the over 700 page fantasy novel I’ve been plugging away at for the last 400 pages.  I am just really starting to hate the main character so much that I just don’t care what happens anymore.

Of course another way to look at it is that hey, I knocked eight books off of my TBR pile and read great swathes of two big books that, while I ended up abandoning, I enjoyed reading for the most part and still got some things out of. The TBR Dare isn’t really about racking up the numbers, at least not for me.  It’s mostly a chance to read the things I’ve bought in the past and never gotten around to.  Doing the Dare every year has made me closer than ever at seeing the light at the end of my TBR tunnel.

But it’s time for me to move on.  I don’t want to read the rest of this book and don’t have anything lying around that I can probably read in the next couple of days.  But I do have an Amazon gift card I’ve been holding on to so I’m going to go blow it on things to add to my TBR list!

This was a hard TBR Dare in another way.  The poster girl for the Dare was a lovely dog named Dakota.  I’ve been seeing pictures and reading anecdotes about Dakota for almost as long as I’ve been blogging.  Dakota said goodbye to this world in January. She was deeply loved while she was here and she will be missed.

Thoughts on e-reading

ebksMy Lovely Bride has completely gone over to the other side.  I remember getting my first Kindle.  She didn’t really like it until we were reading a book out loud to our daughter and we found ourselves finishing it on vacation.  We could have driven to a bookstore or we could find the nearest wifi spot and download the next one on the Kindle.  Then we downloaded the third one in the series before we left for home and just kept on reading.  It was like magic.

She got the first generation iPad and read some book on there.  Later she got the iPad mini and that’s now where she does most of her reading.  This past summer she still bought some paperbacks, but recently she left a book she was reading in her classroom and basically said, that’s it, all ebooks from now on.  She just likes knowing whatever she is reading is right there.  If she leaves the iPad downstairs after going to bed and feels like reading she can pick up right where she left off on her phone.

She also likes the iPad because she’s not locked in to one source.  If she has a balance on Amazon, she’ll get the book on the Kindle app.  If she gets an iTunes card as a gift, she’ll grab something in iBooks.

I’m still happy with the Kindle Paperwhite, though.  Easier on my eyes than a tablet.  Though I also will pick up where I left off on my phone at times.  That is one of the biggest conveniences.

I’m a pretty cheap reader, though.  I’ll still just get a book at the library once in a while rather than pay.  Most of my ebooks were deals of one sort or another.  I’m not a format fascist.  I’ll listen to or read a book in all manner of formats.  But the other day when I heard our book group will be doing The Name of the Wind next year and saw it in a bookstore, I knew I’d be happy to get that 700 page behemoth on my always light Kindle, that’s for sure.

I finished the Triple Dog Dare!

The TBR Triple Dog Dare put on by James Reads Books.  The idea is to read only books you’ve already bought or checked out or whatever and have on your To Be Read pile and while you may buy new books, you have to wait until the dare is over to read them.  The dare runs from January 1 until April 1.  It’s a great yearly thing to do for me.  It forces me to really look at my TBR list and think about what can stay, what can go, and what needs to be READ.

I actually didn’t do a lot of reading this quarter anyway, so it wasn’t much of a challenge for me.  Since we decided to try to get a new house and unload ours things have been super crazy with a capital CRAZY so my mind has been on other things than reading.  I read the book club book for April, Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up, which was good.  And it was good in a different way than I expected, so that made it even better.  I read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars which was also good, but not really meant for me.  I mean I liked it, but I doubt I’ll see the movie or anything.  When kids talk like they wish they could talk rather than how they really do it can work on the page but can be annoying in movies.  What do I know, they might pull it off.  I’ll wait and see.

I also have started working my way through Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld which could very well take me the rest of my life (sine there are now FORTY BOOKS in the series) so I won’t go into to much detail on those other than to say I love them and don’t know why it’s taken them this long for them to find their way to me.  But man they are a hoot.  You’ll either love them right away or you won’t.  So far I think Guards! Guards! is the best, but who cares about best or worst in such a long running and brilliant project?  But yeah, start there if you’re curious and if yo like it then go for it.  If not, then you’ll have more time to read all the other books in the world.

“His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools — the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans — and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, ‘You can’t trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink.”
― Terry PratchettSmall Gods

Cheers until the next TBR Dare!