Monday, August 30, 2021

The Book Chase September 2021 Reading Plan

Despite my recent difficulties in concentrating on reading as easily as I normally do, it's time for me to take a look at what I have on hand for September reading. Coming in to this new month, I suspect that my reading by the end of the month may bear little resemblance to this list, but here goes anyway:

Beyond Words covers a question I've often wondered about, a tricky question at that: Are animals more like us than we want to admit? Carl Safina, using decades of field observations and some relatively new discoveries about the brain, attempts to answer that question here. I'm about 75 pages into this 411-page book right now (the section on elephants), and I'm fascinated by what I've read so far. The book's subtitle is "What Animals Think and Feel." 


I want to read The Skeleton Road for two big reasons: I've been a Val McDermid fan for a long time, and I've enjoyed other mysteries/thrillers (particularly those of another favorite of mine, Gerald Seymour) using the 1990s Balkan Wars as a backdrop. I realize I'm taking a bit of a chance with this one because it is book 3 in McDermid's six-book Karen Pirie series, but I decided not to wait. I'm hoping it works as a standalone until I can investigate the rest of the series.

Blacktop Wasteland is the novel that made S.A. Cosby's reputation in early 2020. As some will remember, I've recently read and reviewed Cosby's followup to this one, and I really liked it. The plot does sound a little more conventional than that of Razorblade Tears. It concerns a former getaway driver who gets tempted into doing just one more job. He's the "best getaway driver east of the Mississippi," after all. This one got raves last year from everyone that counts in the publishing world.


I've been fascinated by The Hole in the Wall Gang just about forever, and I brought this Butch Cassidy biography home with me from a South Dakota bookstore I visited during my July road trip to the Northwest. There is a whole lot of speculation as to whether Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid did or didn't die in a shootout with Bolivian soldiers, but this one focuses on the "character" of the two men as much as anything else. It amazes me that they were still trying to catch Butch well into the first decade of the twentieth century.

I borrowed The Old Man from Amazon Prime a while back but lost it on my Kindle until recently. You can borrow 10 Prime Books at a time with no deadline to return them, so this is not the first time I've pulled this stunt. Thomas Perry is an exceptional writer of spy thrillers, and this one is really good. I'm over halfway through it, and it's the one I'm coming closest to losing myself in right now. It's about an American agent who has been on the run from the US government for decades because someone badly needs a scapegoat.

I'm in the mood for another nostalgic visit to the home office of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, so I've got Not Quite Dead Enough ready to go. This is the tenth book in the Nero Wolfe series. At the same time, I've unearthed an old 1952 hardback by Ellery Queen (without a dust jacket) called The King Is Dead that I might try to work into September also. I have no idea what it's even about, but I can't remember the last time I read an Ellery Queen novel (maybe never), and I'm curious to see what the book is like. 

Another old friend I hope to visit in September is Wyoming's Walt Longmire. Other than the brand new one, this is the only Longmire novel in the seventeen- book series that I haven't read. This one takes place in the general area of Sturgis during that town's annual motorcycle rally. According to the book flap, Bear (maybe my favorite character in the whole series) won't stop repeating (per Arthur Conan Doyle), "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." I've been saving this one; now's when I need it.

I do have four titles on hold at my library, and I'm hoping that at least one of those turns up in September. The one that frustrates me most is Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro because I had that one on hold for four months prior to leaving on my July trip...and you guessed it. It came in just a couple of days into my drive, and I had to release it to others on the hold list. I'm currently something like number 65 on the list of people wanting it. I also have Christy Lafteri's Songbirds on hold but I started out as number 4 on the list, and a couple of week later I'm still number 4. I also put Louise Penny's new Gamache novel, The Madness of Crowds, on hold, but I'm likely to buy that one well before it becomes available from the library.

The one I'm hoping shows up is The Reading List: A Novel by Sara Nisha Adams. I've made it to number 3 on the list now, so there's a good shot. It's described this way: "An unforgettable and heartwarming debut about how a chance encounter with a list of library books helps forge an unlikely friendship between two very different people in a London suburb." Well, if anyone's heart needs to be warmed right now, it's mine.

So there you have it. I'm cautiously optimistic about my September reading, but only time will tell.

19 comments:

  1. Beyond Words definitely appeals to me. I love books that inform just how similar certain breeds of animals are to us humans. Elephants, in particular, is one species that tends to bring tears to my eyes when I read about them and especially the bond with mom and offspring. Blacktop Wasteland was one I had considered but never read. I have (10) books out from library right now and need to return a couple unread - too many books:(

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    1. The first 135 pages of Beyond Words is on elephants, and I've really enjoyed it (10 pages to go in that section). When the book was written there were only about 400,000 elephants left in the wild and they were being killed at the rate of one every fifteen minutes. That is a terrifying thought.

      I'm definitely going to get to Blacktop Wasteland this month because I'm really curious. Razorblade Tears was a little over the top, and I'm hoping that this one is a little more realistic.

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  2. Beyond Words appeals to me too so I hope you get to it and tell us about it. I have The Reading List on my Kindle. I don't normally buy books that are new out and pay full price for a Kindle edition but this one had me very intrigued and I sort of had to have it. Enjoy your September reading, Sam!

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    1. Do you plan to read The Reading List soon, Cath? The plot description hooked me immediately, and I've heard a few good things about it, so I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. I'm number three, still, on the list, a list that only seems to move every 10-14 days.

      Beyond Words, at least the elephant part, is very well written. It really makes you think about what's going on inside the heads of animals as we merrily go along our way thinking how superior we are to all other animals.

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    2. No, I don't plan to read The Reading List just yet, Sam. Not sure when to be honest. LOL

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  3. I read Blacktop Wasteland last year. I'll be interested to see what you think of it. And I remember quite well reading and rereading Not Quite Dead Enough long, long ago. Several of the books you have in your September queue are on my list as well, although I don't know if I'll actually get to any of them in September. I seem to be falling behind on my list of books to read even though I'm reading more than ever.

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    1. I'm still struggling to get back in the rhythm of my daily reading. I have been reading 125-150 pages a day for a long time, and now I feel that 80-90 has been a good day. Some days, I don't even make it to 50 pages. That's part of the reason I'm looking for "nostalgic" books, even re-reads, right now.

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  4. Interesting list, and I look forward to your opinions. Some are already on my radar, but there are some new ones here. S.A. Cosby is definitely of interest.

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    1. S.A. Cosby is most definitely a writer. I'm looking forward to reading that first one of his in a couple of weeks. Right now, I'm loving the Thomas Perry book. I'd forgotten how much I like his novels...been a long time between them for me.

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  5. If you like Beyond Words (I haven't read it yet myself but it's on my list too!) you should try Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are by Frans de Waal. Fascinating.

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    1. Jeane, thanks for the recommendation. I'm enjoying Beyond Words a lot...about to finish the elephant section and move on to the sections about wolves, whales, and more general topics on the same subject.

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  6. I love elephants! I got to see some painting in Thailand, and bathing in the river, and chasing after bananas. They're so funny and charming. I'd read Beyond Words just for that part on elephants. The Old Man sounds intriguing, too. Happy Reading! :D

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    1. I've seen a video from Thailand about the painting elephants. Looked like they were really enjoying it; you are lucky to have seen that in person.

      The Old Man has been fun...about 80% of the way through it now.

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  7. My reading has also slowed down in the last week or two. It's a lot harder to concentrate on(or escape into)books with everything happening in the world. Beyond Words does sound appealing though, and I'm curious about Blacktop Wasteland. Hope you enjoy your September reads.

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    1. Thanks, JoAnn. I'm still struggling to read for more than a few minutes at a time. Everything I need to do...or want to do...seems to take longer than it used to take. I'm spending so much time trying to keep up with the disaster created by our experts that it's on my mind even when I try to tune it all out for a few minutes. Hang in there.

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  8. I actually got THE READING LIST from the publisher a few weeks ago. If I get to it sometime soon, I'll send it on to you. It sounds like a cute read.

    You read Kay's blog, don't you? She wasn't very complimentary of A MADNESS OF CROWDS. Makes me worried. I'm not there yet anyway—currently, I'm listening to A GREAT RECKONING.

    Enjoy your books!

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    1. I appreciate the offer, Susan. I did move up to number two on the list yesterday, though, so I should have it within a couple of weeks.

      The new Louise Penny book is getting quite a few harsh reviews...something about the tone of the book, maybe its pessimism, not sure, seems to be bothering a lot of her fans. I'm more and more curious now. I hope they are wrong.

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  9. Two thumbs up on Blacktop Wasteland. I liked Bugs the lead character. & it has a lot of action towards the end. I need to get to his 2nd one Razorblade Tears. I can relate to your library story about Klara & the Sun on Hold. I often "miss" books that Finally become available & then for some reason you can't get to them in time, ugh ... the story of our lives ... ha

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    1. I'm really looking forward to Blacktop Wasteland...still haven't read or heard a negative comment about the book.

      Klara and the Sun showed up this morning as an audiobook...not really the way I wanted to experience it, but I think I'll at least start it in that format while still hoping the book comes to me in time to finish up that way. Still juggling this one. :-)

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