J.D. Salinger

It’s been a couple weeks now since the author of the wildly popular book, Catcher in the Rye, passed away.  I am probably one of a small minority of people who consider themselves reasonably culturally literate but haven’t read this book.  With a three-day weekend dead ahead (thank you, President’s Day!), I think I may give it a shot.  I was reminded of Salinger when surfing at lunch and saw the following on NPR’s site.  Interesting stuff.

Damn, my lunch hour is expiring as we speak.  I’ll update later on whether or not I got to this book over the weekend…

Blast from the Past I

This is my first post of a new category: (I.e. When I don’t get much reading done on my current books so I talk about something i’ve read in a prior year…)

The book I want to talk about now is The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe. Back in October, my book club had an “Edgar Allan Poe Month” where we read a selection of his shorter works. My old paperback of Poe works also had several other Poe stories which were not part of our club’s reading list, and the long story above was one of them. I believe it is EAP’s longest work.

What was memorable to me were the meticulous descriptions of the privations endured at sea after a mutiny and storm left the protagonist and a few others with no water & provisions (cannibalism even makes an appearance – ugh!). Then, late in the book, the story takes a sci-fi turn featuring hollow-earth theory overtones. A peculiar, short little novel, but I enjoyed it very much.

My Book Club’s website

For any of those interested, following is the url for my book club’s website http://ircbookclub.wetpaint.com/ ;it was conceived over lunch in September 2006 at the City Market in downtown Indianapolis, and began meeting the following month when we read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (see! I’ve learned how to underline text now – Thank you, WordPress for Dummies!) .  I think we’re up to our 40th book now.

Anyway, take a look if you’d like. There’s not a whole lot of activity there, but there is a list of everything we’ve read, might read, or are about to read.

Finished Book #6 of 2010

Good morning all,

“Snowed in” this morning (well, not technically) so trying to get some work done on my blog.  Late last night I finished the 439 page “Storm Over the Land”.  I enjoyed it very much.  This book is actually ‘condensed’ down from Carl Sandburg’s famous 4-volume biography:  “Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.”    Someday, when I am feeling particularly ambitious, I may give that a try.  I am also happy that this book kind of ‘covered the bases’ in terms of the major points of the Civil War.  I believe this will give me a good framework for other books in my Civil War reading project.  Next up (in Project: Civil War (P:CW)) will be “Company Aytch” by Sam Watkins.  Looking forward to it

Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, I might try to commit the Gettysburg Address to memory.  For anyone out there who wants to join me, here it is:


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in
a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great
battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their
lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and
proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot
dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.
The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated
it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will
little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here
have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here
dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these
honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this
nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the earth.

Guy Mannering

I have decided to try to read the second of Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverley Novels”. This book is one of the free ones available on my iPhone “Free Books” app. (well, the books are free, but the app is $1.99).

I am really finding the ‘ornate’ language of Scott’s books interesting. I’m also enjoying ‘knowing’ that I may likely be the “only person in the world” who is currently reading this book. I did a little research on the internet, and it’s always listed among his books, but there isn’t much ‘information’ out there.

“Forgotten” books like this kind of remind me of being on an “old road” or walking down an old lane that – though once a main thoroughfare – is rarely used anymore. One gets an odd feeling when walking or traveling along such byways (I’m remembering some around where my Granddad lived in West Virginia) that I find pretty cool…

More on Storm Over the Land

Several times in this book, the author illustrates the ferocity of a particular battle by relating how many bullets were dug out of a tree in the line of fire or, in one case, how a tree “22 inches in diameter” was “gnawed and cut down by bullet fire.”

Makes me wonder who these people were digging out and counting these imbedded bullets…

Storm Over the Land

Just finished reading chapter 15 (Lincoln Speaks at Gettysburg) of this book and was blown away. The Gettysburg Address was only 10 sentences and about 5 minutes long, but he sure ‘nailed it.’ I’d heard before -and re-read tonight – that Lincoln was not the ‘featured speaker’ that day; instead, it was a man named Edward Everett, who orated for roughly two hours. No one remembers him or what he said…

I think perhaps I should commit the G.A. to memory as ‘extra credit’ work in my PCW…

Completed so far in 2010:

Here’s my list as of today:

(In the order in which I finished them)

1. The Smartest Guys in the Room (1/3-1/16) 14 days

2. Some Buried Caesar (1/18) 1 day

3. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1/19-1/26) 8 days

4. The Quickie (1/29-1/30) 2 days

5. Waverley (12/5-1/31) 58 days

45 books to go in 2010!

On tap for February reading

What are my “four books” to read for February? Well one spot is taken by my book club’s book, “The Quickie” by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (actually I read this over the past weekend – it only took just over three hours), not the kind of recreational read that I would pick for myself, but it was interesting enough, I suppose.

Book #2 is from my Project: Civil War, and is “Storm Over the Land” by Carl Sandburg. I’m already about half way through this one too – in just a couple of days.

Slots 3&4 are still open but I’m considering Sir Walter Scott’s “Guy Mannering”, Shakespeare’s “MacBeth”, and Mary Shelley’s “The Last Man”. Another possibility is “Farenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, which is the Bookmama’s bookstore book club’s February book.

Of course, I’m open to other suggestions if you have any…

Okay, so it’s “Waverley”

I just realized I’ve been misspelling this in prior posts. The good news, though, is that I finally did finish Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverley” Sunday morning. That is my fifth book completed this year. (Waverley, however, was the one ‘straggler’ that I actually started in 2009). It was tough going – about 2 minutes per page reading – mainly because of the language and numerous notes to the text.

I’m glad I stuck to it, though, and consider Scott a fine writer (as countless fans apparently did in the 19th century). I would like to read more of his works. I found a chronology of his published works on Wikipedia and would like to continue on (they all appear to be among my “freebooks” options on my iPhone app), but I must try to read them without other books distracting me – as I allowed to happen with Waverley.

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