I had rather a lot of time for reading during my trip. Not so much while I was with family, we stayed busy. But in airports and on planes, I had my trusty tablet, stuffed full of ebooks in a variety of genres to suit whatever mood I was in. I also had a few paperbacks stashed just in case, but the tablet battery held out, with a little charging when I was able to.
I did discover one downside of using Kindle Unlimited, however. I read, then return when I want a new one… and so far as I can tell, there’s no way to keep track of what I’ve read. This will inevitably lead to me re-reading a book. I used to like the old library system of writing my name or card number when a book was checked out, then I could check and see if I’d had it before. Well, that’s long gone, and with KU I will have to make notes on books if I want to remember what I’d read.
In no particular order here are the mini-reviews of books I know I read on the trip.
The Complete Father Brown Mysteries by GK Chesterton
I know I’ve read some, if not all, of these at some point in my life. Reading them in a collection like this, you really see how much repetition goes on. I figured out the best way was to read one, then switch to the other collections I have on the Kindle right now, read a different sort of story, and circle back around after a time. The Father Brown stories are subtle, often moral, and fun to picture in your head as Chesterton has a gift for thumbnail sketches of his characters that really bring them to life.
this was one of the other collections I was weaving in with the Father Brown stories. Uneven quality, sure, and boy, are some of these cheesy. Others are quite good, like The Ray of Madness by Captain SP Meek. Tong Torture by Emile C Tepperman has an unexpected twist I rather enjoyed. I think it was worth picking up on KU and having some fun with.
Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart
This is a rather handy little book of classification and anecdotes about poisonous, intoxicating, and otherwise problematic plants. She puts in some interesting facts with the symptoms and chemistry of the plant poisons, it’s a very useful book given I am researching for a cozy mystery centered around a mysterious poisoning. Many of the anecdotes I was already familiar with, others were less well-known.
Who Killed Bob Teal? by Dashiell Hammett
I’ve been reading a lot of noir fiction, of course, and this collection of tales by the master of detective fiction is a good addition to that. Woven in with the Chesterton it was a startling contrast, with Hammett’s non-very-good men, and the saintly Father Brown. The tales of Hammett are darker, more violent. “But these four men were too close to me; and a gun isn’t a thing of miracles. It’s a mechanical contraption that is capable of just so much and no more.” One of his characters comments “I like my jobs to be simply jobs – emotions are nuisances during business hours.”
Jason Young’s Mastering Digital Photography
I read through this in sections when I needed a break from the fiction. Lots of useful information as I’m learning to use the DSLR, but what’s in this book could be useful even to someone with an advanced point-and-shoot as it covers the basics of controlling light, exposure, and more. Inexpensive and very good for an advanced beginner (which is what I am).
There are more… throwaway (paperbacks picked up for less than a dollar) books included Kathy Reich’s Spider Bones, which was a nice comfort read. Involving Vietnam era missing soldiers and convoluted identification and set partly in Hawaii (which felt a bit forced, honestly) it was a quick forgettable read. Elizabeth Peter’s Summer of the Dragon was a re-read. Not as good as her Peabody books, the heroine feels gauche, abrasive, and annoying. I left my copy of Terry Pratchett’s Eric with my daughters to read, it was fun light fantasy with some depths that might go over their heads but I think they may enjoy it. I don’t think it’s one I’d re-read. Although I am very fond of the Luggage, even if I’m not of Rincewind.
Now, back to my regularly scheduled writing and reading for class, which begins today. Workplace Writing. This ought to be interesting.