Good Book Hunting, Saturday, June 22, 2024: The Friends of the Christian County Library Book Sale, Clever Branch

It has been five years since I’ve been to a Friends of the Christian County Library book sale. In the old days, they were held in Ozark, Missouri, (and Clever had its own little library which also had an annual book sale). In 2019, I found my way to the new Nixa HQ of the library for the book sale. Last month, I was at that branch again as my beautiful wife was participating in a presentation about Artificial Intelligence, and I grabbed a bookmark/flyer that has the four(!) sales in 2024 rotating amongst branches, and so we made our way down to Clever and its new branch of the Christian County Library for a sale this morning.

And it was bag day, so….

My beautiful wife got some cookbooks and a couple of books for my youngest who has an advanced placement class in American government coming up, and I got two bags’ worth, including:

  • Twelve Louis L’Amour books, four paperbacks and three library bindings. Titles include: Hondo, Silver Canyon, Guns of the Timberlands (two different editions, apparently),How the West Was Won, Son of a Wanted Man, The Man Called Noon, Taggart, Over on the Dry Side, Westward the Tide, Fair Blows the Wind, and The Man From Skibbereen. One of the fellows at the sale said they have a set of his books coming up for sale as a set next time, and I guess I will be there to maybe buy it.
  • Two Patrick O’Brian novels, Post Captain (which I now see is coming undone at the binding) and The Nutmeg of Consolation. Post Captain is the second title in the Aubrey/Maturin books. It’s been some years (fifteen since I read the first book in the series. Now I can continue my reading of them in order.
  • Two relatively recent Carl Hiaasen novels, Bad Monkey (2013) and Razor Girl (2016). The cover of the latter says Author of Bad Monkey because apparently people influenced by that kind of blurb in their purchase aren’t the ones who would remember a book from the 20th century in that position.
  • Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich, a Knight and Moon novel. Not part of the Stephanie Plum series.
  • Voyage of the Armada by David Howarth about the Spanish Armada, perhaps from the Spanish perspective.
  • Diary by Chuck Palahniuk who was apparently a thing at sometime, but I missed it.
  • Of Men and War by John Hersey, five true stories from World War II by a war correspondent.
  • The Carrier War by Edwin P. Hoyt about World War II, natch.
  • Hornblower and the Crisis by C.S. Forester with a cover blurb by Hemingway.
  • Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus by Dave Barry. They had several titles, but I am pretty sure I have the others.
  • Great Flying Stories edited by Frank W. Anderson, Jr. Looks to be short stories.
  • The Enforcer by “Happy Jack” Burbridge, a thug who found Jesus.
  • Smirnoff for the Soul by Yakov Smirnoff. Signed, of course, because Yakov has a show in Branson from time-to-time, and if you haven’t gotten your book signed by him, you must be trying to avoid him.
  • Post Scripts Humor from the Saturday Evening Post, a collection of jokes and cartoons which I will probably read soon if I don’t lose the book in the stacks in a couple of minutes when I put these all up.
  • This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite.
  • All My Best Friends by George Burns with David Fisher. I don’t think I’ve read it.
  • Vermont is Always with You by Marguerite Hurrey Wolf. The name seemed familiar, but that’s because I just read her book The Sheep’s in the Meadow, the Raccoon’s in the Corn. Where solving for “just” in this case yields a result of 2017.
  • Live from the Tiki Lounge by Angela Williams. It might have been the only book of poetry in the room.
  • We’ll Be Back Tomorrow by Patty Chandler.
  • The Art of W.C. Fields by William K. Everson. Not about painting, but more a biography.
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. It’s a relatively new book (originally 1995, but the paperback is 2007), so we will have to see what kinds of lies he means exactly.
  • Scientific Progress Goes “Bonk” by Will Watterson. A collection of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. I might actually read this before the Saturday Evening Post collection.
  • The True Story of the Death Railway & The Bridge on the River Kwai. Given that the cover price is 230 B (presumably bahts), this looks to be a Thai book produced for tourists. One wonders if it belonged to a World War II vet. Given the other books I grabbed, one wonders if they came from a single person’s library.

That’s 36 books for about 6 dollars ($3 a bag), so that is quite a steal. And because the sale is not so huge, I was able to browse them all and pick up some fiction which rarely happens at the big sale in Springfield.

So I have until August until the next one. How many of these do you think I will read by then? I say: Two.

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Good Book Hunting, June 20, 2024: The Lutherans For Life Church Rummage Sale

Gentle reader, I would like to say that I make it to this annual sale every year, but that might not be the case, as I only have posts for it in 2016 and 2017. But that might mean that the gleanings in other years have not been that good as far as books and later books/records/movies go. I know I bought a couple of TI-99 4/As there one year. But the silence of this blog puzzles and worries me. But looking back at those two dates, I’m pleased to see that I have read a couple of the books listed therein, so they’re not all still waiting on the to-read shelves.

At any rate, I took the opportunity presented between three hours of driving and three hours of lawn mowing to make my way to the Trinity Lutheran Church gym (which was not as hot this year as apparently it was almost a decade ago) and looked through their offerings.

I got some books and whatnot.

Books include:

  • Calypso by David Sedaris because I confused him with Jason Sudekis and thought, “Oh, he wrote a book?” In my defense, the author might have come to Springfield at some time and did a thing at a venue where a comedian might perform. Or maybe that was the other guy.
  • The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, a self help book from back in the day which is somewhere between your Norman Vincent Peale and your Robert J. Ringer. The sale had two copies of this side-by-side and maybe another Schwartz title elsewhere.
  • The First Day of the Blitz by Peter Stansky about London when the German bombing began in World War II. For when I get older and start reading all the World War II books I own.
  • Edward the Second by Christopher Marlowe. I don’t have many Marlowe plays. And he was the person Chandler named his detective after.
  • Ancient Mines of Kitchi-Gummi by Roger Jewell. I picked it up on the title alone, as I read fifteen or so years ago a book about copper mining in Michigan by the natives (and a quick search has not yielded the book report for it). But the subtitle is Cypriot/Minoan Trade in North America. Which fits right in with the Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies books I’ve read this month (Walking the Labyrinth and Songs of Three). I wonder if this book is mentioned in the acknowledgements I skipped. Or if it’s fate telling me I am destined to write something in the extended Buckyverse.
  • The Decameron by Boccaccio. I might have a copy around here somewhere, but this is a nice, thick heavy former library book from the Springfield Public Schools libraries. Jeez Louise, you mean school libraries used to have books like this? I am not sure my high school library had books like this. But they had books from the Agatha Christie book club, which was good enough for me at the time.
  • I also picked up an Air Fryer cookbook for my beautiful wife because those things are all the rage now, but in a decade or so, they will read like cookbooks for the microwave oven or the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. We have cookbooks for both, although I think we’ve parted with our various grilling machines in favor of actual grilling.

I picked up some DVDs and videocassettes, including:

  • Fools Rush In
  • Ghost
  • Joe Vs the Volcano
  • A collection of Bob Hope movies
  • Saving Private Ryan on two videocassettes, which was how they did it in those days with high, high fidelity VHS.
  • Pearl Harbor on two videocassettes, and I was surprised they were still doing that that late.
  • The Pink Panther. “The original?” I thought briefly, but, no; it’s the Steve Martin remake which I might already have picked up.
  • Shanghai Noon. After all, I’ve already seen the sequel (two years ago? Already?).
  • Ghost. Which I would like to say, I have only seen once, so lay off, man. Although I have seen The Bodyguard like five or more times, including several times in the theater during its original run. So maybe although I was not the target audience for early 1990s romance films, I was in the market for tales of stoics who broke their reserve for the right woman.

I also picked up five LPs from two small boxes of the same:

  • 80’s Ladies by K.T. Oslin. PWoC. Bonus for being a PWoC from the 80s, and the album title even says so.
  • For the Working Girl by Melissa Manchester. Also a PWoC, but I think my wife likes her. Or liked one of her songs, which has led me to buy all of her records that I find.
  • Auf Wiedersehn by Ralf Bendix, Germany’s favorite singer. We will see. But it’s a nice cover, with a TWA plane. Ask your grandpa what TWA stood for. Especially if he grew up in St. Louis.
  • Too Stuffed to Jump by the Amazing Rhythm Aces. I thought I recognized names of band members and thought it was an obscure super band. But apparently not.
  • Los Favoritos de Todo El Mundo by Trio Los Panchos. Hey, if they recorded with Eydie Gorme, they’re good enough for me.

I also picked up an electonic device for a couple of bucks that I was not sure what it was. After putting in new batteries and pressing the three buttons (On/Off, Light, Reset), I think it’s an early touch screen calculator or calendar, but the touchscreen is no longer good. I’m not sure what to do with it, but I will likely throw it in a box with the thought that I might replace/upgrade the screen, but likely I will discard it in a purge of some sort in a decade.

What I did not really look at: Cheap supplies for any of the handicrafts that I might have thought to do in the past. In sales like this in the past, I’ve picked up wood to burn, things to make into clocks, and sometimes glass to paint, etch, or something else. But I have decided recently to clean the garage a bit and maybe discard some of the unused materials. So my perhaps 90-day resolve is still in effect. Next year, or perhaps the next garage sale I go to (which might be next year), the resolve might be gone (but not likely the junk in my garage).

The total was under $20, but I told them to keep it. I can fit the books on my book shelves. The films are piling up. And, oh, lawdy, the records are still stacked on my parlor desk from the wedding gifts in May. I really, really, need to build additional shelving. Maybe that should be my goal this weekend.

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Book Report: Songs of Three by Shirley Gilmore (2018)

Book coverThis is the second book in the Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies series; I read the first, Walking the Labyrinth, immediately before it.

So this book only clocks in at 584 pages before appendices, which is shorter than Walking the Labyrinth, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice. It’s also a little more soap opera than the preceding book.

In it, the people of Turn Back are having dreams of a cave. Secrets emerge as Bucky learns that her father, erm, fathered a child after a drunken encounter while on a book tour, and that the mother sent pictures of the baby until communications stopped when the baby was about a year old. In an amazing coincidence, that is the boy next door–the boy whose parents died when he was only one year old and is being raised by his great-grandmother, and it turns out that since he is Simon, the father’s son, the boy is not actually the great-grandmother’s blood relation. Meanwhile, Bucky, the 10-year-old girl, has dreams about her mother returning and trying to kill her. This comes to a head when the mother actually does show up, eight months pregnant and seemingly unaged since her disappearance. We learn about the two types of others who come from elsewhere and can cross over at mystical springs like the one at the old resort where they live, and they think Simon is a great Hittite who did them a good turn several thousand years ago. After a blow to the head, Simon starts having visions that he is such and that he and his wife and even Bucky have been intertwined through many incarnations. Things with the local fundamentalist preacher who has been harrassing Bucky and Simon come to a head in a sudden climax that should take him out of the picture in future books. And they find a cave with Minoan writing along with some Latin from later Spanish visitors. Oh, and I forgot to mention Ian, the boy next door, gets hurt near the cave and part of the book is his recovery.

I am not sure what to make of the reincarnation themes intertwined with the church-going. I wonder where that will lead.

But the book is thick with details and incidents of everyday life in Turn Back, and the plot events are few and scattered over the book’s length. I mean, the writing is easy to read and the pages fly by, but about page 300 of this book, I realized I was 1000 pages into the ongoing saga and not half done. So I will take a break from this series and read something else (besides poetry) for a while.

I think reading these big series is easier when they come out at a book a year; however, a shelf full of them and thousands of pages daunts me. Not just this series, but I have Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series (complete, I think). I read the first two right after college, but they got thicker as time went on, and I collected the rest, and there they sit behind me, thousands of pages. I’ve probably mentioned this when binge watching episodic comedies recently (Red Dwarf and Sledge Hammer!). They, too, were easier to watch back in the day in weekly installments rather than dedicating weeks of nightly watching to plow through them all. It’s a harsh realization as I have a lot of DVD sets and book series to somehow plow through. Perhaps here and there, a bit at a time, as they were intended.

That said, the books are pleasant and easy to read. I get the sense they’re more cozy fantasies for older ladies, who might be more interested in the geneology that plays heavily in it, the church events, and the cooking. I will get through the rest of the books I have from this author before long, and I’ll buy others in the series when I catch her at ABC Books. So let that be my endorsement.

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Book Report: The Way by Salesian Missions (1983)

Book coverI got three of these little Salesian Missions poetry collections a year ago at the Friends of the Library Book Sale, and this is the first of them that I’ve found to read. Actually, I had it on the lamp table beside the sofa upstairs which became a minor book accumulation point after last summer’s vacation, where I carried the habit of lying on the sofa reading a book home. But a couple of collections of poetry (including this one) lingered there since autumn or winter as I’ve started a new tradition of reading a magazine in the chair in the bedroom as the final step-down to bedtime.

This book was a free giveaway to potential supporters in mail campaigns in the 1980s. I remember that one or more of them passed through our household, although I am not sure whether my sainted mother would have given money to them. After all, Salesian Missions is a Catholic charity; perhaps they had my father’s name on the envelope, as he was nominally Catholic.

This volume is 32 pages of grandmother poetry focusing on religious themes, but generic Christian religious themes–you get Jesus and you get God, but no Mary. The small pages are akin to Ideals magazine, with the poems set on pages surrounded by illustrations of homey and old-timey scenes and landscapes. Basically, the target crowd overlapped a lot with people who would subscribe to Ideals. They’re poems, too, not prayers; some are addressed to God, but most of them talk about God instead. Quality varies from meh to okay, but really, this is everyday poetry, the kind that people who were not academic poets or kept by patrons wrote. Normal people. I mean, jeez Louise, my father wrote poetry not unlike this. So it’s not designed to be profound, meaningful, or obscure to differentiate the Poet from the Rubes without advanced degrees in literature. So it was nice, and a quick read, and I suppose it could fit into one’s daily devotions if one were so inclined.

At any rate, it was a quick read, which I needed as I’ve been reading large tomes lately. And I kind of look forward to the little respites (and the incrementing of the annual blog total).

You know, I wish some of the charities wishing to entice me today would send out little books of poems. I get a lot of come-ons from Catholic charities (but not Salesian Missions) as a subscriber to First Things, Touchstones, and maybe The New Oxford Review. I get a lot of address labels, a couple of notepads, a coin from time to time, and a pin once, but no poetry. I guess the middle class of potential donors has moved on from reading for the most part, more’s the pity.

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Book Report: Walking the Labyrinth by Shirley Gilmore (2017)

Book coverI got this book and four others in its series and a related stand alone novel in July 2022 in a trip that was noteworthy as I had instructed my oldest on how to parallel park, and he drove us to ABC Books. Reading the book comes at a parallel time as my youngest is completing his instruction and needs to learn how to parallel park. Will we make it to ABC Books as well? Maybe not.

At any rate, this book is the first in the series about a 10-year-old girl who moves to a small town, Turn Back, in southeast Missouri. Her father, a famous and successful mystery author, has bought an old spring resort to keep her in seclusion because every time she cries, mysterious scars on her back open, and she bleeds. She might be his daughter, though, as the author’s daughter disappeared one night in her crib and someone else apparently took her place–a larger baby whom the author raised by himself as the wife disappeared shortly thereafter.

So they come to Turn Back and try to keep to themselves, but a neighbor boy about Bucky’s age is drawn to them, and they meet his great-great grandmother who is raising him, and they start to attend the local Methodist church which leads to Bucky beginning a “prayer walk” in the city park which leads to the participants sharing dreams, first of mastadons (which stop when flooding reveals a number of mastadon fossils) and about ships (which stop when they find an ancient stone with Hittite markings on it). Along the way, hints of a greater mystery are doled out: Did ancient seafarers reach the center of the United States? Why does the father keep calling Bucky Imala by accident? The major conflict, such as it is, is with a local firebrand preacher who torments the prayer walks as sinful and calls the father “the Devil.”

I am not sure that the cozy fantasy exists as a genre, but that would describe the book. It is just short of 700 pages, and for that bulk, not a lot of plot happens. To be honest, some of the characters outside the father and daughter are still kind of ciphers. But we get a lot of what it’s like living in a small town, going to church in a small town, and so on. We get chapters, chapters where the characters have dinner or hold a talent show, which doesn’t exactly drive the plot forward. But the writing is very good, and it carried me along so that I would read over a hundred pages or even two hundred pages in a sitting and only then think critically, “but what has happened?”

The book ends with a solution to one of the mysteries, but others remain for solution in future volumes.

So, gentle reader, what do you think: Will Brian J. jump right into the next volume or read something else in the interim? Stay tuned!

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Book Report: The Hour of the Dragon by Robert E. Howard (2008)

Book coverI was going to say that I just read this, but it turns out that “just” in this case means ten years ago as this title, the only Conan novel that Howard wrote, was included in The Bloody Crown of Conan.

In it, Conan has become king of Aquilonia, but the Zemedians hope to conquer Aquilonia and place a puppet on the throne, so a shadowy group resurrects a sorceror who has been dead several thousand years. When Conan arrays his forces against the invaders, a magic spell paralyzes him in his tent, so he sends out a friend in his armor to lead the battle. But the friend is killed by magic along with much of the cream of the Aquilonian forces, and Conan is captured. He escapes from his dungeon and has to go looking for a jewel that can thwart the sorceror so he can reclaim his kingdom. Along the way, he rejoins some of his colleagues from his corsairing days and has to outwit a vampire in an ancient temple while being stalked by assassins from the east.

So it’s a good yarn, but the whole get-the-sorceror’s-gem plot is very close to Conan the Invincible. So I’ll probably lay off the Conan and sword-and-sorcery titles for the nonce.

The book also contains “The Hyborean Age”, which is Howard’s accounting of the history of Conan’s world and ties it in as unknown history of our world in a forgotten age. But I bogged down in it. It was a lot like reading from The Story of Civilization but without the benefit of making progress in that set. And I just read it. Ten years ago.

Still, it’s nice to revisit these stories and re-read them.

I’ve also determined how much this particular pulp style has influenced my own writing style. I’ve found myself chaining prepositional phrases a bunch, and Howard does that, too. It adds a bit of rhythm to the in-your-head reading that the staccato of choppier sentences lacks. I’ve sometimes tried to iron that tendency out of my writing, but perhaps now I will embrace it a bit more. When I get around to writing any fiction or anything aside from this blog and the occasional LinkedIn post, that is.

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Book Report: Conan the Invincible by Robert Jordan (1982)

Book coverThis book is another of the paperbacks I bought in Berryville in 2021. Clearly, I’m all-in on the Conan/Robert E. Howard books this month (see also Tigers of the Sea and….well, the book I’m reading now, which we will get to by-and-by). This one was written by Robert Jordan who would later become known for his Wheel of Time series which I haven’t picked up, as large fantasy series daunt me these days when they’re mostly done and you can see the thousands of pages ahead of you sitting on a bookshelf. A bunch of Conan stories and novels, though….

At any rate, in this book, Conan is in town and is hired by a “merchant” to steal some jewels from the king. The merchant is actually a member of a circle of sorcerors looking to get his/its hands on a gem to use against a more powerful sorceror. Conan’s attempt is thwarted when he discovers five dancing girls in the palace wear the pendants. He plans to come back the next night and vows to rescue the girl whom he met, but as he prepares to depart, another group steals the gems and the girls, and Conan strikes out after them. Along the way, he rescues the red-haired leader of a band of raiders, keeps one step ahead of the soldiers looking for the raiders (whom they presume has stolen the gems), and confronts the very wizard who should not get his hands on the gem.

It’s a rip-roaring book, pulpy but more modern than Howard’s work, and something that would not be written today. I liked it and will consider picking up the other Jordan Conan books if I see them in the wild.

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Those Are Rookie Numbers

Apparently, Steven Hayward of Powerline only has ~2500 books. And he’s a professor never the less!

What’s the size of your collection? How has it contracted or expanded over the years?

No idea. I tried counting up my books about thirty years ago, when I went over 1,000, and I’d guess I have maybe 2,500 or more by now. But I am going to shed a lot of books I used for research on books or academic projects from twenty years ago or more and am unlikely ever to need again.

Jiminy crickets, I have that many bogging down my 20-year-old book database, and that only counts books that I have read or reference books, not the other half of my library which I have yet to read (and none of my beautiful wife’s books are in that tally).

And, yes, I did look at all the pictures in the article to see what overlap we might have, and the only thing I spotted was the set of Churchill’s World War II books. Which I might get to after finishing Durant’s The Story of Civilization in 2030 and perhaps before Summa Theologica.

(Link seen on Powerline, natch.)

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Book Report: King Solomon’s Mines by Rider Haggard (1885, 1961)

Book coverI picked up this book, another Berryville score, simply because it was not a Robert E. Howard or Conan book. I’ve passed over Haggard’s She on a couple of occasions–it’s on the book shelves in the hall, which I have looked through when looking for something to read from time to time, but never seemed the right moment for it. This title, on the other hand, shares the title with one of the two Richard Chamberlain Allan Quatermain movies from the 1980s–which was on Showtime, so I saw it a bunch. So I picked it up first amongst the Haggard books. The two I have. As it turns out, this is the first Quatermain book and the book Haggard published before She, so I accidentally got the order right.

So: A British nobleman and a retired Navy captain engage Allan Quatermain, an old elephant hunter, to take them into uncharted Africa in search of the nobleman’s brother who sought to find the legendary mines of King Solomon. Quatermain comes up with a map from an explorer from several hundred years ago purportedly showing the way, and they take off, doing a little hunting along the way. They encounter difficulties crossing a desert and then the mountains, but they find Wakanda Kukuanaland, a hidden tribe in a fertile valley surrounded by mountains. It is ruled by a brutal warlord who deposed his own brother and who follows the advice of an ancient witch who encourages him to conduct annual purges of tribesmen to keep himself in power. Quatermain and party convince the natives that they’re from the stars, but when the warlord starts to doubt, the group helps the most noble of their porters, Umbopa, the son of the deposed king, to lead a rebellion. After which they are shown the mines by the witch, who dies trying to trap the men in the mines. They escape with but a couple pockets’ full of stones but with their lives, and they find the nobleman’s brother at an oasis on the way back to civilization.

So the film, which I saw over and over, differs greatly from the book as it was recast/recut into an Indiana Jones-style adventure (so common in the 1980s) with a female love interest and whatnot. Still, it made me want to watch the films again.

I was going to call this book a cross between Rudyard Kipling and Edgar Rice Burroughs, but that’s a bit dismissive. The book is credited with being the first of the “lost world” (not “hollow world”) genre, which means it spawned the whole type of adventure story that would influence Robert E. Howard and generations of pulp writers. And Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling were life-long friends.

The book might get knocked for its colonialism and portrayal of African natives by facile interpreters hungry for an A or tenure, but it, like so many works, provides a fairly balanced view of Africans as human with a variety of virtues and vices, but that they did not have the Gatling gun and organization that set the West apart at the time. It’s a shame that the work gets dismissed for academic clout and huzzahs. This is a Penguin edition, though, which meant that at least as late as the 1950s it was studied in school.

It reads like a piece of the time; the writing is vivid and has a great deal of depth, but it’s a little slower than pure pulp. Still, it’s not especially archaic, and it should be accessible to any literate person of our time.

So maybe I will get to She sooner rather than later, but I do have a lot of more pulpy works from Berryville which I will likely get to first especially as they have remained together instead of being scattered amongst the Nogglestead stacks.

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Book Report: Tigers of the Sea by Robert E. Howard / Edited by Richard L. Tierney (1979)

Book coverAh, gentle reader. You are forgiven if you think that I’ve not been reading much these days, but it’s sort of true. I’ve divided my evenings between watching DVD sets that I bought twenty years ago (like Red Dwarf) with reading, and in that reading, I have taken up the second volume of The Story of Civilization, The Life of Greece. I’ve been interspersing it with the old hardback Houghton Mifflin poetry primers like The Deserted Village and Other Poems and Longfellow’s The Courtship of Miles Standish and Elizabeth), but instead of 19th century writing, I picked up a volume of Alexander Pope from the 18th century which is harder to read and is not as compelling of a narrative. So I picked up this little paperback, part of my 2021 haul in Berryville, Arkansas, to intersperse with all of the above. And it was just what I needed.

This book collects a set of stories featuring Cormac Mac Art, a Gael, and Wulfhere, a Viking leader, in their various adventures in Britain not long after the Romans retreated. We’ve got four stories of how the odd couple and the ship which follow a fairly basic pattern of Cormac infiltrating and then the Vikings bringing the hammer, whether they’re tasked to rescue a princess or dealing with Picts or what have you. They’re fun reads, but they’re not going to stick with you. To be honest, I finished the book two weeks ago, and I could not easily nor quickly distinguish between the four stories by their titles (“Tigers of the Sea”, “Swords of the Northern Sea”, “Night of the Wolf”, and “The Temple of Abomination”) nor by a quick skim of the contents of the first. So a fun read, but nothing to stick to your ribs.

Still, this might be my reading pattern going into the summer: A little of the Durant, a little of the old-timey poetry, and then one of the Howard and Howard-related paperbacks from Berryville. There are worse things, and they’ll ensure that I keep slogging at the Durant.

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Book Report: The Deserted Village and Other Poems by Oliver Goldsmith (1894?)

Book coverAfter reading a century-old copy of The Courtship of Miles Standish and Elizabeth, I quickly picked up another one of these old, old elementary school (!) textbooks. This one bears the copyright date of 1894 but is likely newer. Although it has an owner’s name penciled in, it’s less legible and would likely yield a less interesting account of the previous owner.

So: Oliver Goldsmith is most known for The Vicar of of Wakefield, but these poems are what really put him on the literary map right about the time of the British Transcontinental Civil War Revolutionary War (we won, we call it what we want).

“The Deserted Village” is a response to the industrial revolution and how the rural areas were depopulating as people moved to the cities for work. Wow, this was a thing before the 20th century? Of course it was; but by not reading these things in school any more, we don’t need that perspective about how some things, themes, and sentiments or concerns precede the solutions that salesmen and politicians would offer us today for our completely novel troubles. “The Traveller” is a, well, travelogue of someone visiting the continent and comparing the different places and their foreigners to England (which is clearly the best). A couple of shorter poems appear to fill out the thin (96 page) volume.

These poems and The Vicar of Wakefield represent the bulk of Goldsmith’s work (although he had a couple plays put on and a couple other novels). But he was lauded in his time. We have forgotten so many of the people who were big literary stars in their time.

The poems are easy to read. Long lines and end rhymes, attention to rhythm. Meant to be read aloud, perhaps to friends, but that’s not how the party people do it these days.

So, again, suddenly I am enjoying these century-old poem collections, so don’t be surprised to see me pick up another in the future. So many of the ones I have, though, are Longfellow, so I will try to pace them out.

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Not Mentioned: Gorean Communities Violate Internet Terms of Service

Anachronomicon has a short post in a series on real banned books covering John Norman’s Gor novels.

Kulak mentions how Gorean communities for, erm, role-play sprang up. But Kulak does not mention, or probably know, that such communities violate at least one Internet Service Provider’s terms of service as late as 2021.

I told the story of how I first encountered Gor books back when I was actively dealing on Ebay and found a number of first and second printings for a quarter each and made quite the multiplier on them (I told the story, briefly, in my review of The Priest-Kings of Gor in 2006).

I later filled out a set of the first ten(?) at Patten Books back in the day, and I think I’m down to my last one or two (I read the eighth, Hunter of Gor in 2020). I think I only have one left on the to-read shelf along with Time Slave, a non-Gor book by Norman, which I have tried to pick up a time or two since I bought it in 2017.

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Book Report: The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (1922, 1962)

Book coverI bought this book in 2007 (that’s right, seventeen years ago, when I was attending more than one book sale per weekend whilst living in Old Trees), and I picked it up now because I just read The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, and I was prone to confusing the two. After all, both were Middle-Eastern-flavored collections of poetry and parables which were huge in their day and which were still found around middle class households in the late 70s and early 1980s. I am pretty sure that my “rich” aunt and uncle had a copy of this book if not both.

So: The frame is that a “prophet”–a wise man or hermit of some sort–has lived on the edges of an island’s society for some number of years, and a ship has come to take him to his native land. So as he makes his way to the docks, the people want him to make a speech, and he does: 90 pages of individual poems on the philosophy of various topics such as friendship, death, prayer, joy and sorrow, and so on.

To be honest, it kind of read like a garlic-infused Rod McKuen for the most part, but some segments hit me. Like this one:

You may give them [children] your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Day-um. As I mentioned, my oldest graduates high school next week. So, yeah, this rang true.


Your reason and your passion are the rudder and sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

So to call it Lebanese Rod McKuen diminishes it too much. It’s lightweight poetry, easy to read, with aphorisms that will speak to a variety of readers spread throughout. It’s poetry that you could read aloud with the lyric and narrative rhythms to match. And with a taste of the exotic even though Gibran was Lebanese-American and not tenth century Persian (like Omar Khayyám). Still, the sum of these parts explain why the book was very popular; the hardback I have was the 67th printing, forty years after the book first appeared. I wonder if it’s still in print and still read–given that the author was a hyphenated-American, he would not have been eliminated from the curricula based on race.

As I mentioned, I picked up the musical version of it this weekend, and I will have to give it a listen soon. I bet it translates pretty well to music.

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Good Book Hunting, April 27, 2024: Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale

Technically, this is not so much a Good Book Hunting post as I really only bought a couple books. I dragged my youngest away from his video games for a couple hours yesterday to head up to the sale’s Half Price day, where records, DVDs, and most books were fifty cents each. First, we hit the records:

I got:

  • Several Tennessee Ernie Ford spiritual/gospel albums since his A Friend We Have has replaced the Swedish Gospel Singers and The Teen Tones as our Sunday morning spin as they have disappeared into the disorganized LP library of Nogglestead. I cleaned the desk in the parlor before going to the book sale, so it, too, is probably lost. Instead, for the next couple of weeks, undoubtedly we will listen to the new platters, Jesus Loves Me, Nearer the Cross, and Tennessee Ernie Ford Sings from his Book of Favorite Hymns. The sale had a lot of his work and several copies of each of these.
  • A couple of pianist Frank Carle’s platters: Frankie Carle plays the Great Piano Hits, Favorites for Dancing, and Let’s Do It, which appears to be a later record as he is much older in the cover photo.
  • A couple of Florencia Vicenta de Casillas-Martínez Cardona Vikki Car records: For Once In My Life (which I might already have) and The Best of Vikki Carr (which I also might already have).
  • Music for Trumpet and Orchestra by the Unicorn Concert Orchestra. Because I can get away with these spending sprees if I bring at least a couple of trumpet records home.
  • George Jones and Gene Pitney which features both artists and many duets from the middle 1960s. I don’t usually buy country records unless there’s a Pretty Woman on the Cover (PWoC), but, c’mon, early George Jones, y’all.
  • The Beat of the Big Bands: Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra.
  • Bergen Sings Morgan by Polly Bergen. The PWoC sings the works of Helen Morgan.
  • Bach Live at Fillmore East by Virgil Fox / Heavy Organ.
  • The Prophet: A Musical Interpretation Featuring Richard Harris which was a timely pickup as I just finished reading The Prophet on Friday night (as you will soon see or, perhaps, have already seen if you’re not visiting every day and this post appears below the book report).
  • The New Limelight by Frank Chacksfield and his Orchestra. Close enough to Frankie Carle. Also, it has and his orchestra which probably means I’ll like it.
  • The Tender Touch by Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra. See? I already know I like Nelson Riddle who worked with both Frank Sinatra and Linda Ronstadt.
  • The Bravado Brass by Brass Busters (or Brass Busters by the Bravado Brass). Another trumpet record to please my beautiful wife.
  • Stereo and All That Jazz. Which has jazz in the title, so it’s likely something like and his orchestra, a safe jazzy record for squares in the 1960s.
  • A couple from Placido Domingo: A Love Until The End of Time and Great Love Duets with Katia Ricciarelli. Because he is not Mario Lanza.
  • Hurra Die Games by Orig. Mürztaler Musikanten. An Austrian LP from 1985 that might well be the find of the sale, as Discogs says this band’s records list for $100 on Ebay.
  • Swing Softly With Me by Steve Lawrence. Arranged and produced by Don Costa, who is not as pretty as Gal Costa but who did good work.
  • A couple of Nonesuch Records entries: Virtuoso Wind Concertos and Yankee Organ Music. I will pretty much by a Nonesuch Record on sight, as my youngest, who carried the growing stack of records, learned.
  • The Bells of the Protestant and Orthodox Center at the New York Worlds Fair played on the world-famous Schulmerich “Americana” Carillion by John Klein. C’mon, man, you know I’d never see this again. This disc is so rare that the Internet and Discogs do now know it exists. So maybe it’s worth more than the Austrian record above.
  • Festival De Éxitos En Voltops Vol. 10, a 1972 collection of South American pop (I presume). “Que es ‘voltops’?” I asked my son, who speaks remarkably little del español for someone actively studying it in school. “You’re getting records in other languages now?” he said, ignoring the fact that he was already holding records in German and, presumably, some Italian.
  • Look To Your Heart by Perry Como. I passed over a number of other records of his that I already had.

27 records for $13.50, y’all. Including a couple that made the trip a financial gain.

I spent most of the money on audiobooks and audio courses. I got one audiobook from the dollar section, but the Great Courses/Teaching Company and Modern Scholar courses were in the better books section, where prices ranged from $1 to $7.50. I bought a ton. Well, if not a ton, several cubic feet.

They include:

  • Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners
  • Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition
  • Great World Religions: Hinduism
  • Great World Religions: Judaism
  • Great World Religions: Christianity
  • Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku, the aforementioned fifty cent audiobook
  • The Masters of Enterprise: American Business History and the People Who Made It
  • The Lives and Works of the English Romantic Poets
  • WWII: A Military and Social History. Oh, boy, social history.
  • The Long 19th Century: European History from 1789 to 1917. This might only be part of the full course.
  • Philosophy and Religion of the West
  • A History of the English Language

Most of them are on CD, which means car listening. But I’ve been trying to venture out to the gym a couple times a week which might give me a chance to listen to some of the audio courses. But for now, they’re relegated to boxes in the closet.

I went quickly by the DVD tables. They were both crowded and mostly picked over, so I only got a couple.

I got:

  • Assassins with Stallone and Banderas. How did I not hear of this film? Or had I forgotten it?
  • Bill Cosby: Himself
  • Police Academy: Mission to Moscow. My son asked if this was the second film in the series; I said no, and I guessed the fifth. But this is actually the 7th film in the series, released 10 years after the original.
  • Butterfield 8. Not sure what it’s about, but it has a lovely Elizabeth Taylor on the cover. I might have to introduce the PWoDVDC abbreviation.
  • Epic Movie by the people who did Not Another Teen Movie and Date Movie. So I know what I’m getting into.
  • Denis Leary: The Ultimate Collection which includes No Cure for Cancer and Lock ‘n’ Load along with other clips.
  • Git-R-Done by Larry the Cable Guy.
  • The Right Stuff
  • Posse starring Mario von Peebles, Stephen Baldwin, and Billy Zane. I can guess what I’m getting into here.
  • The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts featuring the roasts of Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan, or parts thereof. After watching videocassettes in the The Best of the Dean Martin Show set a couple years ago, I wondered if I’d find volumes in the celebrity roasts set. This is on DVD instead of VHS, so it seems newer, but they probably both sold to the same audience with different home video formats in the middle 1990s.

Ten DVDs. Five bucks. And, best of all, the stack is not so big that I’ll have to figure out where to put it. They should fit in the cabinet where I’ve created space by actually watching films and whatnot recently.

Oh, and it’s a book sale? Well, I did pick up a couple.

As is my wont, I looked through the lit section and the poetry section of the dollar books. The poetry section had three bundles of chapbooks and pamphlets banded together, but one band had Journey through Heartsongs and another had One World, One Heart facing out, so I skipped them.

I bought a bundle that contained:

  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Hour of Lead: Sharing Sorrow by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Memoirs of Ms. P. by Amy Petrus
  • Recipes of Hope: Holiday Stories for and From the Kitchen (with a special gift of Christmas stories from David L. Harrison, the local children’s book author with a school named for him here in southwest Greene County). The Kitchen is a local non-profit.
  • One Story, One Story Among Many…. which looks to be a fundraiser for and/or history of a church damaged by a tornado in Stockton, Missouri. Strangely, this is shaped like a chapbook, saddle-stitched, but the text is laid out on 8.5″ by 11″ page, so that it’s oriented so that the staples are in the middle of the page, and you read the book sideways.
  • A Thistle Flower From the Prairie by Jens Christian Bay, a story.

I also dropped fifty cents on Sonnets and the Ballad of Alanna McDale by Michael J. O’Neal. Because, hey, sonnets.

Then I breezed through the Better Books section. I went looked over the collectibles/antique books section, the Books about Books section, and breezed over the local interest books before loading up on the aforementioned audio courses and looking over the disappointing set of better records.

I got:

  • Lieutenant Hornblower by C.S. Forester in a nice 1952(?) Book of the Month Club edition with a nice mylar-wrapped dust cover. Has it been seven years since I read a Horatio Hornblower book? Yes. To be fair, they’re not exactly easy for me to spot in the wild since I’m mostly looking at record crates.
  • The Play Goes On, Neil Simon’s memoir. Jeez, Louise, has it been thirteen years since I read a Neil Simon play? Yes. I keep passing over one of his novels. Maybe I should get to that and then read this, or vice versa.
  • Book Finds: How To Find, Buy, and Sell Used and Rare Books by Ian C. Ellis. I just read A Pound of Paper, I bought a $100 record for fifty cents, and I might have a lot of free time soon for scavenging estate sales and rural junk shops. Maybe I will turn this hobby again into a slightly profitable endeavor.
  • Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry edited by Gary Mex Glazner. I’d hoped for a history or discussion of the poetry slam, but it looks like it’s more of a collection of poetry slam-style poetry. You know, poetry open mic nights and poetry slams greatly influenced my poetry, transitioning it from the traditional to the fun to read somewhere in the middle 1990s. Between the Unrequited and Deep Blue Shadows chapbooks and Coffee House Memories. We will see if I enjoy this collection. More than Insta-poetry at least.
  • Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I already have a copy, of course, so I have two options with the lesser copy: 1) save it so both my heirs have a copy or 2) put it on the free book cart at church or in a little free library. It cost $1, so either option is good.

All told, I spent $70, mostly on the audio courses (which sold new for, what, $60 or $100 each)? Given that I’m only going to the two Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sales each year, I can probably splurge. It’s certainly less expensive than going to ABC Books every week.

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Book Report: The Big Frame by The Gordons (1957)

Book coverTo be honest, I don’t know where I got this book. It doesn’t show up in almost twenty years’ worth of Good Book Hunting posts, and it has no distinguishing price marks. So did I pick it up before the turn of the century? Inherit it from my aunt? Who knows? All I know is that it is bound in the light brown Walter J. Black-esque cover used by book clubs that sent you books on subscription in the middle of the 20th century. This is, in face, a Doubleday Crime club selection. Only one book in the cover, though, unlike the three-in-one book club editions of which I have many.

At any rate. This is a police procedural, but it is more in the vein of what you would find in an Ed McBain novel than the one I read earlier this year (Blood Count, which is almost thirty years younger than this book but reads much older). The book has multiple plot lines: A police detective is hunting for a murderer in a case going cold, and he suspects a local private investigator/fixer is behind it. The PI’s current mistress suspects he is about to throw her over, so she has turned informant, but the PI suspects it. So one of his hard men is watching her, and the hard man hatches a plan for her to escape which involves killing and disfiguring another woman in her place. Meanwhile, the police detective is scheduled to testify before a state legislature hearing about corruption in the police department, and a local newspaperman dogs him in service of that syndicate to get him to change his testimony–even digging up the fact that the detective’s wife tried to be a prostitute before he arrested her and later married her after she’d gotten a real job.

I cannot help compare it to the disappointing Dell Shannon/Elizabeth Linington book. This one has a moving plot, maybe a little too complex in places, and the characters are for the most part well-developed. The book contains some series business–presumably the courtship/marriage/etc with the detective and his wife was mentioned in earlier books, and they have two adoptive children who probably played a part in earlier books. But it’s handled well and doesn’t overwhelm the main plot–actually, some of it actually influences or affects the main plot.

The end doesn’t quite resolve everything, but the main points/crimes are covered. Perhaps a little too patly, but one could say the same about one or more McBain novels. The location is never really identified clearly–it seems Californiaish but the places are not sharply identified, which is good as things would have changed in the last seventy years enough to make it dated.

I noted a couple of things in the book to comment on:

  • About the only hard facts in the case were that she had been shot twice in the left lung with a .32 between the hours of 10 P.M. and 4 A.M., and that she had been found by the ten-year-old around eleven the next morning.

    People were always getting shot with smaller caliber guns in old books; .25s and .32s. Nowadays, it’s .38, .45, or 9mm. You could also have told, in the old days, that I read a lot of old books because I thought my first handgun would be a .32.

  • He heard the record player spinning. Sarah Vaughn and Dave Brubeck.

    Perhaps these books seem less dated to me because this could be any night at Nogglestead in the current year.

  • He fired for the target his ears picked up, and again there was bursting and splintering of glass, explosive in the cavernous stillness. He heard two more blasts and lay suddenly quiet, mystified they had found no mark near him.

    He was still a long time, his hearing reaching out with such intensity he felt the ache in his head.

    After letting off a couple of rounds, even .38, I would suspect his hearing was not that acute.

  • Chico, only ten, was an I-NS case, a Mexican illegally in the country and scheduled to be shipped back any day now.

    All right, this dates the book. The boy is one of the adoptive children, a Jewish refugee who ended up in Mexico before coming to the US. It probably made more sense in the book in which it happened.

  • “Most of us have little pet tunes–and they often give our age away.”

    “Hearts” by Marty Balin and “The Pocket of a Clown” by Dwight Yochum aside, during the time I was reading this book, I might have sung or hummed any number of tunes that would give my age away. Although they don’t come to mind right now. Never mind.

  • He laughed, and then remembering what an iguana was, said, “Great Caesar’s ghost!”

    Which is funny, because last week, while I was reading this book (but before I got to the last page, where this quote appears), I said “Great Caesar’s ghost!” in a LinkedIn comment. I, of course, remember it from the old George Reeves Superman television show (which I did not see in first run, thank you very much) where Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet, exclaimed it once per episode (except the one where he sees Caesar’s ghost, of course).

At any rate, I took great comfort and courage in enjoying some mid-century crime fiction. I read a bunch of it when I was a kid, when it was but thirty years old, and I liked it. But some of the things I’ve read recently (recently might here mean “in the last quarter century”) have had me a bit down on it and reluctant to read more. Which is a problem, since I still have 42 of the 3-in-1 book club books that I bought in 2009 to go through. Slowly. But perhaps not as slowly as if this book had sucked, which it did not.

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Book Report: Longfellow’s The Courtship of Miles Standish and Elizabeth by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow (c1913)

Book coverI got this book as part of a book order back when ABC Books and everything else was in a timeout in 2020. I’ve picked up a number of similar editions and have grouped them together, so maybe I’ll be reading elementary school textbook poetry a bunch this year.

So: This book collects a number of Longfellow’s poems, including “The Courtship of Miles Standish”, “Elizabeth”, and some shorter ones. In “The Courtship of Miles Standish”, the military captain of the struggling Plymouth colony loses his wife in the first winter and asks his friend John Alden to ask Priscilla for her hand in marriage–but John and Priscilla already have eyes for each other.

In “Elizabeth”, a settler is taken with a travelling preacher, and he returns her affection. The poem includes a bit of a parallel between the maidservant and the hired man.

“Enceladus”, which I read like James Hetfield singing it. I mean, can’t you see Lovecraft taking some inspiration from this?

Under Mount Etna he lies,
It is slumber, it is not death;
For he struggles at times to arise,
And above him the lurid skies
Are hot with his fiery breath.


They talk together and say,
“To-morrow, perhaps to-day,
Euceladus will arise!
And the old gods, the austere
Oppressors in their strength,
Stand aghast and white with fear
At the ominous sounds they hear,
And tremble, and mutter, “At length!”

The other short poems include the standard landscapes and a paean to John Greenlead Whittier delivered during a dinner in the latter’s honor. I remark on this because I was just telling my wife about how I confuse him with James Whitcomb Riley. I was talking about Whittier because “Elizabeth” comes from a collection of poetical stories told by travellers thrown together at an inn (Tales of a Wayside Inn) much like The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer or Tent on the Beach by Whittier (or is it Riley?) which I started in one of these early 20th century editions but put aside.

So, yeah, one can draw a pretty direct line from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Longfellow. He draws from real sources for his stories and writes of events from hundreds of years prior for his narratives. His poetry style is breezy, hexameter with some end rhymes (I know, “Enceladus” above does, but “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and “Elizabeth”, also known as “The Theologian’s Tale”, do not). The other work bears the influences of the English Romantic movement and probably Whittier (although I have not actually read enough of his work yet to know too much about it).

“The Courtship of Miles Standish” and some of the other poems have footnotes–“The Courtship of Miles Standish” has a bunch of them, taking up half of some pages, where the editor of this textbook, not the poet, defines some terms, highlights allusions to other work, or identifies historical records which corroborate the narrative. I read many of them and said, “I already know that,” but it is an elementary school textbook (!). One that I read in the middle of “The Courtship of Miles Standish” indicated, for example, that Bradford’s history of Plymouth mentioned Priscilla was a real person who married John Alden and had eleven children with him. Which is to say, the footnote contained a spoiler alert just when the poem was getting good.

The book also has some other educational material, including a short introduction and study helps like ideas for lessons based on the book which I just skimmed.

I enjoyed the book, and I enjoyed The Song of Hiawatha when I read it six years ago (!). As I said, I’ll probably read another couple of the like this year.

And I mentioned it was an elementary textbook almost 100 years ago. Here’s the little girl’s name:

I found the obituary for that little girl, who died at 90 in 2007. You know, a lot of times books have inscriptions or names in them, but finding this particular obituary made reading the book poignant indeed. After all, I am but a temporary owner of it as well, and I’m not even leaving my mark in the book itself.

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Book Report: After Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer (1934, 1973)

Book coverWhen I bought this book seventeen years ago, I mentioned that I’d read When Worlds Collide, the book that precedes it, in middle school or high school. Now, I think I read the earlier book in sixth grade: I think it was on the metal spinning racks of paperbacks that my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Pickering, had in her room so that students could borrow them and read them (I also think I read Profiles in Courage from that rack as well, and I’ve got my own copy somewhere here in the stacks). It’s weird to think you remember something more clearly after almost 20 years have passed (between the Good Book Hunting post and this, gentle reader, not sixth grade and now, which is about twenty and a half years, give or take). I doubt my own memory on many things, and wonder if I’m retconning my initial reading of When Worlds Collide. Regardless, it has been a long time since I read the first book.

Fortunately, though, the first chapter is a brief recap: Astronomers discover a pair of runaway extrasolar planets that are hurtling into our solar system. The larger of the two will likely smash into the Earth; the smaller of the two looks like it might be habitable, and it looks as though Sol will capture this planet into an elliptical orbit ranging from just outside Venus’s orbit to just inside Mars’s orbit. So a group of scientists decide to build a couple of space ships to try to reach the second planet and save some bit of humanity. But they encountered challenges, including those not selected to escape storming their compound in Michigan, before they were able to lift off successfully in two ships. The recap kind of fleshed out what I’d remembered. Which was planets colliding and some scientists getting their rockets off.

So this book handles what happens next. The smaller of the two ships lands successfully and scouts for a place to build their homes that will weather the long and harsh winter (and the long and harsh summer). They discover the roads of a civilization on the planet from the time before it went extra solar; that the tailies have also crashed onto the island (sorry, that’s Lost which came later) the other ship from their group crashed elsewhere, and that the Nazis landed on the moon first (sorry, that’s Rocket Ship Galileo which came out later) a Russian/Asian communist rocket reached the planet first, and they’re months ahead in learning how to use the perfectly preserved machines in the domed cities of the missing aliens, and they’re using the technology to conquer the new world.

So most of the book kind of sets this up in an kinda talky way. It has a lot of action, but it has long sets where people tell other people what they’ve done and a lot of musing on the enormity of what happened–and not in a particularly individual or character-building way. And as we came closer to the end, I wondered if it was setting things up for a third book, where the protagonists would tackle the commies over a longer timeline and maybe unravel further mysteries of the human-like aliens who populated the planet so long ago, but, no. The commies cut the power to the city that the protagonists hold, so a small group hides their plan to infiltrate a third city to use its service conduits to infiltrate the enemy city. But they don’t report in. And, finally, and awfully quickly in the narrative, a pretty woman steals a car from the protagonists’ city, runs to the antagonists’ city, ingratiates herself to the bad guy leader, kills him in his bath, disables his minions, and allows the English survivors of another rocket’s crash to rise up and liberate the city/planet. And finis! But that resolution comes out of nowhere in the course of a couple of pages–I have to wonder if the authors were running out of runway in the magazine space they had left–this book was originally serialized, apparently–so they just wrapped it up in a hurry. And rather unsatisfyingly. No wonder it takes me several decades years between them. It is not a series, though–just the two books. So I don’t have another one to look forward to in 2064.

A couple things, though: One, notice the copyright dates above. This book first came out as a book in 1934, and it was still in print forty years later. That’s not a bad run, ainna? I cannot imagine much written now that will be in print in 2064.

Second, the book proved that I’m reading my library in the proper order. Page 107:

Eve disappeared into the darkness which was all but complete. In the north, toward Bronson Beta’s pole, hung a faint aurora, and above it shone some stars; but most of the sky was obscured. There was no moon, of course. Strange, still, to expect the moon–a moon now gone with “yesterday’s sev’n thousand years.”

That’s from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám which I just read, and I was pleased to recognize it. Of course, the book’s characters casually alluded to and quoted Shakespeare and Kipling. A testament probably to the benefits of a turn-of-the-20th-century British education, and it’s rare to find that sort of thing and references to God in anything past the middle of the 20th century.

Oh, and a note about the 1973 paperback. The print is tiny, and the pages’ luminosity has faded. It was reading tiny black marks on a beige or darker background. I contemplated cheaters, gentle reader, but they didn’t help a whole lot. Perhaps this will get me out of my habit of reading paperbacks and into hardbacks. Maybe large print books at that.

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Good Book Hunting:
ABC Books, Saturday, April 6, 2024

Ah, gentle reader, as I recently had to tell you I bought a book recently because I had not done a proper Good Book Hunting post containing it (Maurine and Other Poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, mentioned in the book report for Lake of the Ozarks). So I have vowed to do a Good Book Hunting post for every trip to ABC Books, and the longevity of that vow is probably only this post.

But on Saturday, I made my way up to the book signing this weekend. Unfortunately, I cannot make them all, as they have one just about every Saturday these days. Which is probably for the best, as my book reading has slowed since the Winter Reading Challenge ended.

I got the book being autographed and a couple other things.

The signed book is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Rocky Ridge Farm: A Detailed Look Behind the Scenes by Michelle Underwood, a tour guide at the home. I also bought Ideals Easter Issue (1977) and a set of Karate flash cards that unfold and show various exercises and whatnot. I’m not sure I can count it as a book, and I’m not sure that I will ever make use of it. But I did, however, again empty the martial arts section of the book store. I should perhaps put this book on the shelf with the tai chi walking books or the assortment of other books that I have yet to read about karate, aikido, and whatnot.

At any rate, I shall likely read these book about Rocky Ridge Farm first of these. Whether I read it before I actually make the journey to Mansfield remains to be seen.

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Book Report: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám translated by Edward FitzGerald (1970)

Book coverGentle reader, I picked up this book to consider it for the 2024 Winter Reading Challenge in the Author of a Different Race/Religion Than Your Own category. I mean, hey, a Persian poet is most likely Moslem, to use a spelling that was commoner when I was younger. However, as I got into the introductory material, I learned that the translator, Edward FitzGerald, re-organized the collection of rubāʿiyāt, the quattrain poems, into a more coherent whole. And given that the quattrains all have end rhymes in English, one has to think that the translations are as much of the work of FitzGerald as Khayyám. So I didn’t count it for the reading challenge, but I did keep it off of the bookshelves to read in patches between other books.

This is a Classics Club edition–as you might remember, gentle reader, I’ve picked these up when I’ve found them over the decades and have a shelf full of them, but I’ve only now read two of them (although I did read three of five Plato dialogues in another at some point). It says it’s the Five Authorized Versions–it had five editions in the 19th century–but it’s really only three. The first two and then a comparative edition which is the third through fifth editions with footnotes identifying the variation. The versions run between 100 and 110 selections from a larger body of Khayyám’s work.

Themeatically, the poems are hedonistic or Epicurean in nature. Drink, eat, love, for we soon die. We’re but specks of dust in history. And so on. The English versions are good, as I mentioned with end rhymes and tight units that FitzGerald has put in an order to sort of tell a story, although the telling is repetitive and the collection is best read over time. I’d recommend not reading all “five” versions at once–or three as I did–as they’re very, very close to one another. Although I was able to spot the one in the third-through-fifth version that was not in the first or second version as I did not follow my own advice.

So a quick enough read. I think it was more popular in the past than it is today, but I think that about most things that were popular in the past, especially if they were literature of some sort.

So now I have to find the other one Classics Club book that I already read (Meditations by Marcus Aurelius) and put the two together to show that I am making progress on this set (two in fifteen years–not bad!). I did run my hands along the spines of the exposed books (those not in the second rank of books on the shelf) when looking for another book to read after this one and thought Not today. Which I think a lot, apparently.

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Book Report: Lake of the Ozarks by Bill Geist (2019)

Book coverGentle reader, I cannot find this book in a Good Book Hunting post, and I apologize as I know you, like I, relish the chance to revisit when and where I bought a particular book in the last 20 years. Now, as this is a 2019 book, clearly I did not buy the book before starting the Good Book Hunting posts. As it is in very nice shape and has no penciled prices in it, I have to guess I bought this new, perhaps as part of spending Christmas gift card or picked up while picking up Christmas gift cards. It has all the marks (figurative) of browsing the local interest section of the book store. Or perhaps I am a kleptomaniac who stoled it and don’t remember doing so.

Anyway: Purportedly, this book talks about his experiences working at his uncle’s resort at the Lake of the Ozarks in the 1960s. But, unfortunately, the book is lightest on that which would be the most interesting.

It begins a bit with a contemporary frame story: The author is driving a rental car along I-70 to catch a plane from Lambert to La Guardia when he comes to the exit that one would have taken to get to the Lake of the Ozarks. Not me, of course, as I would come up I-44 to Lebanon and turn north. But he decides he’s going to see what the lake is like now, and we get a bit of a rambly prologue.

He then does describe his aunt and uncle who end up running the place and how they, and he, from Champaign, Illinois, ended up there. Then we get some stories woven into the chapters, and then we get some short chapters that are brain dumps of the stories, some photos of what the place where the lodge had been had it not been demolished decades ago, and finis!.

So it’s a little light in what would have been the most interesting part of it, recreating the scene of the lodge in the 1960s. And what we do have has a double-effect narrator who pops in to point out that in the 1960s, people were not as right-thinking as 21st century New York media personalities are, so we get mea maxima culpa bits about off-color humor or the cultural appropriation of waitresses who dressed as stylized squaws (and that’s badthink!) We also get a paragraph of how the author knew a certain developer was a LIAR! a long time ago. Shut up, you putz: Up until 2016, when you had contact or interviews with Donald Trump, you probably thought he was a good get or good for some colorful column inches or a segment on national television, not that he was clearly the Biggest Threat to Democracy the World Will Ever Know (Until the Next One).

So, a bit of a hard pass here. Not a lot of the nostalgia/history that I like, and certainly I don’t like it in a tone that looks back with judgment for variance with modern sentiments of the elite.

One thing I will note is that the book starts out with an epigraph from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

That’s from her poem “Solitude”.

Gentle reader, I have been holding back on you: A couple of weeks ago, I went to ABC Books for a book signing for Trina Wilcox, a local author whom I’ve met and whom I’ve followed in various 5Ks (she being a serious runner, me being someone running the 5Ks because I didn’t want to make small talk with other parents of the middle school cross country team when they, the team, ran the 5Ks). I didn’t write a Good Book Hunting post on the trip nor book reports for the children’s books I go signed. I did however pick up an Ella Wheeler Wilcox collection, Maurine and Other Poems. Which was lying atop this book.

“Solitude” is not in this collection, but I was tickled to see the epigraph in a book adjacent to a book by the same poet. Things like this happen at Nogglestead.

And as I told my beautiful wife about the book, I mentioned that the author is (was) a color/humor commentator on CBS, and she had no idea who he is–nor did I. However, I asked my mother-in-law on Easter, and she said, “Willie Geist? On the Today show?” Oh, so close. Willie Geist is the author’s son, the heir to the mediastocracy. To be honest, my mother-in-law watches a lot of television news, so she’s probably seen the author as well.

Although the author has written, what, eight other books, I don’t think I’ll pick them up. I don’t know why modern humor writing leaves me so cold, but anything besides Dave Barry…. meh.

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