Thursday, 1 October 2015

Third Quarter Update and other thoughts

While we start to watch the new TV season and cheer on the Blue Jays as they make their way to their first play-off season in 22 years or so, I thought I'd take a look at my recent Blogs. I discovered to my consternation that it's been quite awhile since I last 'put pen to paper' (remember when we used to do that?). I don't know why it's been so long, although I guess I've been sort of out of sorts the past couple of weeks. Nothing major I'm sure, except maybe getting accustomed to the idea that shortly I'll be hitting my 60th birthday and also being forced to retire from the military (we call it Compulsory Retirement Age or CRA) after 40+ years in the Canadian Forces. When I hit 40 and then 50, it just seemed like another birthday, but maybe the double whammy has hit me a bit more than I realised. I'm looking forward to spending more time with Jo and the puppies and I'm sure I'll keep busy, reading, writing my Blog, puddling around trying to do some of the chores I've been putting off and other things.

Work is ok these days. I still go in at the same time and follow the same sort of routine but I am finding it harder to motivate myself. I start to write handover notes for my replacement, but then get bored with them. Anyway, enough feeling sorry for myself. I've got a pretty darn good life here, a loving wife and two yappy dogs, a lovely home. My life is better than I've ever thought it could be. Hey and the Blue Jays are in the playoffs!!! :)

It's a lovely evening tonight, sunny, bright and freshly cool. Sitting her in the den with the window open while Jo is cooling cheesy bacon pasta seems pretty idyllic.

Anyway, back to my Blog. I've been alternating between a series of posts about my Reminiscences as a Military Brat and my normal Blogs about my current/ past/ future reading materiel and other such bookish entries. To get back on track a bit, I think I'll do my 3rd Quarter 2015 reading summary. So let's get on with it.

Goodreads 2015 Challenge - I've read a total of 72 books of my attempt to read 95 this year. According to Goodreads, that puts me 1 book ahead of schedule. (Yay me!) I've also read approximately 23,000 pages. I don't know if that's impressive or not, but it averages out to 320 pages a book. Once again, so what.. lol

Author Gender - Male - 49
Female - 23

Ratings - 5 star - 9
4 star - 35
3 star - 28

Genre - Mystery (spy/ thriller/ etc) - 47
Fiction (post 1900) - 6
SciFi (fantasy/ etc) 8
Classics (pre 1900) - 3
Non - Fiction (travel/ hist/ bio) - 4
War (incl adventure) - 3
Poetry - 1

My 5-star selections
(from most recent to first)
1. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (SciFi) (1955)
2. Excession by Iain M. Banks (SciFi) (1996)
3. The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham ((Fic) (1942)
4. Gallows View by Peter Robinson (Mys) (1987)
5. The Soft Talkers by Margaret Millar (Mys) (1957)
6. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (Classic) (1860)
7. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Mys) (2001)
8. Zoo Station by David Downing (Mys) (2007)
9. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (Fic) (1956)

A nice mix of stories and genres.

As to my other challenges, a quick summary:

1. 12 + 4. I completed this challenge 3 Jun. I decided this year to read the first book in a new series, a good strategy as I've had many sitting on my shelf. My favourite was David Downing's Zoo Station, a spy thriller set during the early days of WWII. I also particularly enjoyed The Eyre Affair (also a 5 - star), A Beautiful Place to Die, a South African mystery by Malla Nunn and a Canadian mystery, Louise Penny's first Inspector Gamache, Still Life (oh wait, there was one other five star selection, Gallows View, the first Inspector Banks mystery).

(I enjoyed this challenge so at the risk of affecting some of my other challenges and, partly due to the fact that I still had a number of other first series books, I made up one more 12 + 4 challenge. So far I've read the 12 books and am currently working on the first alternate, the first Charlie Mortdecai mystery by English writer, Kyril Bonfiglioli.)

My other challenges

Classics (I've read 3 of 4 possible books). My last selection will probably be Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I have already enjoyed The Moonstone, The Mill on the Floss and Vanity Fair, all excellent.

Non - Fiction (I've also completed 3 of 4 possible books in this challenge, all solid 4-star selections) I'm not sure what my final selection will be, maybe The War that Ended the Peace by Margaret MacMillan. I have read a couple others of her history selections and enjoyed very much.

Science Fiction (Fantasy/ Alternate history/ Steam Punk, etc) I've completed 4 or 5 books in this category. It's rekindled my interest in SciFi, which was my favourite genre as a youngster. I am leaning toward Goliath by Scott Westerfield, but might squeeze in another before end December.

Fiction (post - 1900). I've completed 6 of 10 in this genre so far, with some great writers; Metalious, Forester, Maugham, Shute, etc. At the moment I'm working on my 7th, a classic from Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca, featuring Mrs. Danvers. This is my second du Maurier and I'm enjoying and wondering why it took me so long to ever take a chance on it. I should be able to finish this challenge by year end or come close.

Mysteries (series I've already started). This is the genre that will be most impacted by my decision to pick another 12 + 4, but they also were series. So far I've managed to complete 11 of 25 books and am currently reading the 7th Lincoln Rhymes thriller by Jeffery Deaver, that being The Cold Moon. It's a long story but I'm enjoying very much so far.

Mysteries (standalone) I've completed 7 of 10 books in this challenge. My favourite was from Canadian writer, Margaret Millar, that being The Soft Talkers, an excellent story. I've got lots of options left for my final three. I would guess that one of the books will be The Breaker by Minette Walters as I love her writing.

Rereads (Old favourites) - I've read 2 of 5 so far and enjoyed experiencing these stories again; The Chrysalids by John Wyndham and The Borribles by Michael de Larrabeiti, both nice SciFi stories. I would like to read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Leguin and / or Friday by Robert Heinlein before end December. I may still complete this challenge.

Freebies (books purchased in 2015) I do tend to focus on older books, but I did want to make a concerted effort to read books that I bought this year, not that they were necessarily written this year. I've so far managed to read 7 of 15 and for the most part enjoyed them. They featured a mixture of genres, from poetry to Erotica. I often used this category to satisfy some challenges in another book group I'm in.

Anyway, there you have it. My reading for the first 9 months of 2015. I'll have a fair bit of time to focus on my reading after I retire, a couple of good months of reading. I'm quite looking forward to it and am already toying with possibly challenges for 2016.. heee heeee...

Have a great evening!

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