13
Jul

A few good books

I am a decent reader with one or two books going all the time. I have a wish list of about 400 books that I keep an eye out for when checking the library web site, gutenburg.org, etc. Most of them are classics or represent a highly rated story by a noted author. 

These days, books can be found cheap or free in many cases. So, having plenty to read is not a problem as it would have been even 100 years ago. 

But, a thought occurred to me. What if we could only read a limited number of books so instead of quantity,  we had to focus on quality. Those books would become dear friends and would be reread over and over until they became an integral part of our being.

So, if you could only read 25 books, what would those books be?  I have some ideas of what my list would be, but it will take much more thought. 

17
Jan

Reading 2015 Summary

I completed 2015 by reading 64 books. There were some enjoyable highlights.

Science Fiction "Forge of God" and "Anvil of Stars" by Greg Bear are in the classic science fiction mold. In addition, Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama were fascinating. First time reads for all of those. Spent time re-reading some old favorites. Three of Isaac Asimov's Foundation books, and two of Frank Herbert's original Dune Chronicle's book. Also read some classic Robert Heinlein, The Puppet Masters and The Red Planet. I probably read them as a teen, but don't really remember. There were both fun, but not too serious.

Finally got to read Phillip K. Dick's, Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep. Read Jurassic Park for the first time. Found the movie followed the book quite closely. Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles" did not really resonate with me, although there were parts that were good. Finally, Cloud Atlas with David Mitchell, was very good.

Classics I always try to throw in some classics on my reading list. 2015 included... Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol (had seen so many different TV versions that it was kind of ruined for me).
Alexandre Dumas - The Count of Monte Cristo. It was awesome.
Erich Maria Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front. Sad, but good. It has piqued my interest about World War I.
Louis de Bernieres - Captain Corelli's Mandolin - highly recommend, it was great.

Other Standouts.

Louis L'Amour - Last of the Breed... not his typical western, but about a U.S. pilot downed in cold war USSR. Robert Ludlum - The Road to Gandolfo. A little bit crazy. Terry Pratchett - Raising Steam. Discworld is always amusing. Steven Manchester - The Rockin' Chair. Heart warming. C.S. Forester - Hornblower and the Hotspur. Perfect companion to the Patrick O'Brien Aubrey-Maturin novels. John Scalzi - Agent to the Stars - Hilarious.

Disappointments.

I do read books by new unproven authors. For the most part, I give those folks a pass if the writing is not up to par since they are starting out in their writing career. The books I mark as disappointments are ones that came highly recommended or I had expectations of the book being pretty good.

H.G. Wells - The Invisible Man. It was on my long time wish list, but it didn't do anything for me. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. - The Towers Of The Sunset. I really enjoyed the first Saga of Recluce book. So, I guess my expectations were a little too high. I didn't think this one equaled the first. Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl - Good story, but so loaded with profanity that it ruined it for me.

64 books in 2015 was down from my all time 2014 high of 80 books. But, then I had more opportunities for reading in 2014, so that will probably remain a record for a while. Here are the numbers for the last five years.

  • 2011 52
  • 2012 57
  • 2013 62
  • 2014 80
  • 2015 64
18
Oct

First Church Reading List

Reading is a good habit. With that good habit, we can also develop a bad habit of reading book after book in one or two genres that we are particularly fond of. In trying to combat that trap, it's good to look for additional sources of reading inspiration. My wife and I attend a church where the pastor is definitely a bibliophile. He routinely draws sermon inspiration from a variety of literature. It also seems that visiting ministers will often mention books that inspired them. So, I began to jot down books and author that I heard at church. So, I dub this, the first installment of the "First Church Reading List".

26
Jun

Rules for Reading

readingReading is a habit that needs to be cherished and cultivated. During my teen years, I always had my face in a book. Unfortunately, I reached a point around there year 2000 where I couldn't remember the last time I had read a book from cover to cover. That was the catalyst for me to rekindle a reading habit. I came up with some guidelines to keep in mind that I'd like to share. Hopefully, this will be food for thought for others and encourage you to read more.

Keep Track of Progress

Stay motivated by keeping track of your progress. I started with a spreadsheet and eventually migrated to a web site. Google docs works great for building a spreadsheet. The fields that I used in my spreadsheet were: Title, Author, Genre, Format (paperback, hardback, ebook, audio), Year read, Series, Notes.

Goodreads is a good choice since you can track what you read and get recommendations for future reads. Read more...

14
Jan

It All

Where did it all begin?

Some are amazed by the wonder of it all.

Some have it all.

Some end up throwing it all away.

Some have seen it all.

Some want it all.

Some want to get away from it all.

Some ask, “what is it all about”?

Try to sort it all out.

It all adds up.

When you do it all,

is it all over?

Try to stay above it all.

It all worked out.

Some know it all.

Jesus paid it all.

Was it all in vain?

That’s the long and short of it all.

14
Jul

A Flash of Lightning (a story for Alina)

Chapter 1

Mac stepped out on the front porch.  The air was filled with the rich aroma of spring flowers in bloom.  She smiled as she saw the gardenia’s her mother had planted by the front walkway.  They were loaded with white blossoms and the little bees were very busy as they hovered over one flower and then buzzed to the next.  She breathed in deeply and stretched, enjoying the warmth of the day.

She walked along the front porch and descended the stairs at the side.  Mac gasped in surprise as she rounded the corner and caught sight of the corral.

“Oh, my!”, she exclaimed.

There, trotting around the corral was a young mustang mare.  Her black coat glistened in the morning sunlight.  She had a brilliant white tail.  The bottoms of her four legs were white too.  But the amazing thing was there was a streak of white running through her coat.  It started at the top of the mare’s head, zigzagged across her shoulder and down her side.

Mac said to herself, “I already know your name.”  “Your name is Lightning!”

When the beautiful mustang saw Mac standing there staring towards her.  She reared up and waved her forelegs in the air.  It was like the mare was saying, “Welcome.”

With a rush, Mac ran toward the corral fence.  She climbed up on the first rail of the fence, leaning over the top rail.  She began to clap her hands excitedly.

Just then, Mr. Reynolds came out of the stable, wiping his hands on the front of his leather apron.  He beamed a big smile when he saw his daughter leaning over the fence rail.  “She’s a beauty.”, Mac’s dad said as he walked up to her.

“Oh, Daddy”, Mac gushed “she is amazing!”  “How did you get her?"

Mr. Reynolds explained that Mr. Franks, from the farm in Millville, had asked Mr. Reynolds if he could take care of Lightning while his barn was being repaired.  When Mac heard her dad say, “Lightning”, she shouted, “I knew it!”  “The instant I saw her, I said to myself, her name is Lightning.”

“Oh really”, teased Mr. Reynolds.  “If you had heard the sound of her hooves running, you would say her name was Thunder.”  “If you saw her running, you would say her name was Tornado.”  “But, you are right, her name is Lightning.”

“So, we don’t get to keep her?” Mac asked.

“I'm afraid not.”, replied her dad.  “We are only keeping her until Mr. Frank’s barn is fixed.”

Mac wanted to be sad, but she couldn’t.  When she saw Lightning prancing around the corral she just had to laugh.  “Well”, she said, “I am glad we get to keep her for a little while.”

Mr. Reynolds stuck his hand in the pocket of his leather apron.  “Watch this”, he said as he pulled out two carrots.  He handed one of the carrots to Mac.

When Lightning caught sight of the delicious treats, she trotted over and nosed Mr. Roberts hand.  She gingerly nibbled the carrot and in a second it was gone.

“Now you try, Mac.”

Mac held up the carrot and watched intently has Lightning nibbled the carrot, her lips brushing across Mac’s fingers as she ate.

“That is so cool!”, Mac whispered.

About that time, Dahlia Roberts came out on the back porch and called out to them.  “Clyde, Mac, time to eat”

Mr. Reynolds said, “Come on, Mac.  You can visit Lightning again later.”

Mac reluctantly turned and headed for the bathroom to wash up for dinner.  She suddenly realized that she was starving!

2
Feb

Triple Homonyms

There are a lot of homonyms running around out there in the wild.  I’ve collected this list of triple homonyms over a period of time.  They are words that are spelled differently, have different meanings, but sound the same.  I’ve also avoided using proper names in my list.

  • aid, ade, aide
  • aisle, isle, I'll
  • balled, bawled, bald
  • bleu, blue, blew
  • boor, bore. boar
  • braise, brays, braze
  • by, buy, bye
  • cored. chord, cord
  • do, dew, due
  • doe, dough, do
  • eye, aye, I
  • flu, flew, flue
  • freeze, frieze, frees
  • heal, heel, he'll
  • heir, air, err
  • him, hem, hymn
  • idle, idol, idyll
  • kneed, knead, need
  • lier, liar, lyre
  • mall, maul, moll
  • meat, meet, mete
  • new, knew, gnu
  • not, knot, naught
  • or, ore. oar
  • pair, pare, pear
  • peak, peek, pique, peke
  • pore, pour, poor
  • rain, reign, rein
  • raise, rays, raze
  • right. rite, write
  • road, rode. rowed
  • seal, seel, ciel
  • sees, seas, seize
  • since, sense, cents
  • site, sight. cite
  • so, sew, sow
  • staid. stayed, stade
  • tee, tea, ti
  • there, their, they're
  • toed, toad, towed
  • two, too, to
  • way, weigh, whey
  • you, ewe, yew

It’s kind of exciting whenever I stumble across another one.

20
Nov

On Being a Reader

During my childhood and teen years I was a voracious reader.  But, as I entered my adult years with all the responsibilities of life, I gradually read less and less.  It got to the point, I could no longer remember the last book I had read.  I resolved to change that.

One of my life rules is: "Never stop learning."  Reading helps me to accomplish this. Read more...

14
Nov

The 360 Degree Leader

During my performance appraisal at work this year, my boss recommended I read, "The 360 Degree Leader" by John C. Maxwell.  So, I did.  I didn't know how well I would enjoy the book when the table of contents indicated a rigorous, methodical layout for the book.  But, as I began to read it, I came to appreciate the structure of the book. Read more...

15
Jun

South Carolina: A History

Just finished listening to South Carolina: A History by Walter EdSouth Caroline: A Historygar.  In a way, historical books, such as this, are boring and fascinating simultaneously.  The book goes in to great detail on the early history of the Palmetto State and the efforts to carve out a settlement in the American wilderness.  It covers the social, economic and political aspects of the colonization of the new world.

This audiobook was read by the author, which added to the listening experience.  Reading it has helped me gain an appreciation for the people and heritage of South Carolina.