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Guest Vern Edwards

Here is my summer reading list. Please post your list.

I actually started on these about a week ago. I usually have two or three going at a time. I might actually get through all of them by the end of September. I get through fiction in two or three days, unless it's both heavy and long. No Balzac, Dickens, or Dostoevsky on this summer's list, and most of the titles, fiction and nonfiction, are less than 300 pages. If after 100 pages or so I'm still not interested, I toss the book or set it aside for another try at another time. After college, life is too short to spend reading books that bore you.

Not listed in any particular order. I've included descriptions of only those that I have read or am reading now.

Note: all page counts include the index. Different editions might have different counts.

1. When Worlds Collide by Wylie and Balmer (1932, science fiction, 192 pages). Just finished this. It is bound with its sequel, After Worlds Collide, which I haven't read. An end of the world story. Scientists discover Earth is on a collision course with a rogue planetary body. The dialogue reads old-fashioned at first, which is not a surprise given that it was published in 1932, but the descriptions of the things that happen are sensational, unsettling, and occasionally terrifying. Naturally, people behave badly, to say the least. Made into a movie in the early 1950s. Available in paperback from Amazon.

2. The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland (2014, fiction, 246 pages). Will finish today. A serious novel: a blind woman throws herself into the lions' den at the Bronx Zoo and is killed. A young woman working as a transcriptionist at a New York newspaper realizes she had met the woman and sets out to understand what happened and to understand herself. Deeply affecting story of a young woman making her way in NYC. I hope the ending is okay, because I like the main character.

3. Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters by Louis Begley (2009, nonfiction, 249 pages). Will finish this weekend. The story of the famous injustice in which a French military officer is falsely accused of spying and treason and is sent to Devil's Island.

4. Complex Contracting by Brown, Potoski, Jr., and Van Slyke (2013, nonfiction, 259 pages). Will finish in two weeks. A scholarly analysis of the Coast Guard's failed Deepwater Program and its implications for contracting for big complex programs. Our jonmjohnson told me about it. Very interesting.

5. The Tacit Dimension by Michael Polanyi (1966, nonfiction, 108 pages). Will finish next week. Bottom line: We know more than we know we know or can say we know. Which tells me that we know things that are hard for us to explain or teach to others, which is a problem with on-the-job training.

6. The Great Philosophers by Bryan Magee (1987, reissued 2000, nonfiction, 352 pages).

7. The Eichmann Trial by Deborah Lipstadt (2011, nonfiction, 237 pages).

8. Anti-Semite and Jew by Jean-Paul Sartre (1948, trans. 1965, nonfiction, 153 pages).

9. Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb (2010, nonfiction, 470 pages).

10. The $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy's A-12 Stealth Bomber Program by James Stevenson (2001, nonfiction, 483 pages).

11. Tacit & Explicit Knowledge by Harry Collins (2010, nonfiction, 186 pages).

12. The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle (1974, science fiction, 560 pages).

13. Capitalism by Paul Bowles (2006 (there is a newer edition), nonfiction, 224 pages).

14. Plan Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest Working Creatures on the Planet by Susan Brackney (2009, nonfiction, 191 pages).

15. La Belle France: A Short History by Alistair Horne (2004, nonfiction, 485 pages).

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I've read the two SF novels on your list. #1 is a classic in terms of age, but #12 is considered to be a classic in its depiction of truly different aliens. Hope you enjoy them!

My list:

1. Wine and War by Don & Petie Kladstrup (2001, nonfiction, 248 pages). Just about done with this story of "The French, the Nazis and The Battle for France's Greatest Treasure."

2. Judgment of Paris by George Taber (2005, nonfiction, 312 pages) Subtitled: "California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine."

3. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (2013, science fiction, 384 pages) I ordered this when I heard it was just awarded a Nebula Award for Best SF Novel of the Year by the Science Fiction Writers of America -- which is a peer award not a popularity award like the Hugos are.

4. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan (2013, nonfiction, 372 pages). "The Untold Story of the Women who Helped Win World War II" by staffing the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, TN.

5. Poetics by Aristotle (330 B.C., 60 pages)

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In preparation for another visit to Thailand next month, I have been not only following the news closely, but also re-reading my collection of fiction set in Thailand, by such authors as Christopher G. Moore, Jason Schoonover, Timothy Hallinan, Guy Lilburn, et al. In between, it's been historical adventure in colonial times from Wilbur Smith, the latest from Clive Cussler with a co-author, and the newest from Steven Berry. Most of my recreational reading is purely recreational and includes very little non-fiction, and I go through a couple of novels a week on average.

I'm also a fan of classic science fiction. In high school, walking from school to the bus stop, it was a toss-up whether to stop at the drug store for a banana split, or the bookstore for a forty cent sci-fi paperback. Nowadays the stuff is inexpensive in digital form.

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  • 2 months later...

Just want to pop back here to note the following --

1. Ancillary Justice was as good as I hoped it would be. (The novel just won the Hugo award to go with the Nebula award).

2. I just finished John Scalzi's "Lock In" which is a murder mystery/procedural set in a future world that has been devasted by a pandemic. Breezy dialog, very easy to read. Yet has depth in terms of an exploration of social justice issues. Highly recommended.


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Does my daughter's geometry book count? :P Fortunately that will be spread out over a semester.

Read "When/After Worlds Collide" waaaay back. May do so again now.

I keep a folder of 'best this' or 'best that' lists, recommended reading, articles on authors, etc. One article was on P.G. Wodehouse, so I decided to try a Wodehouse anthology - two novels and several short stories. Almost through now, and worth every page.

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