What I’m Reading: Firearms and Weirdos Edition

My reading habits tend to vary pretty wildly; not long ago I was reading The Age of Innocence at the same time as an early Guy Gavriel Kay fantasy, while popping in and out of Clay Shirky’s text on crowdsourcing, Here Comes Everybody. And this was shortly after juggling a book on education lessons from video games along with the literally and figuratively weighty tome The Meaning of the 21st Century. Historically I’ve tried to avoid sharing everything that I’m reading, for fear that I might start unconsciously self-editing my reading list. But hey, I’m past thirty now, and who really gives a crap what anyone else thinks?

So here’s all the books that currently crowd and shove each other for supremacy on my nightstand (…and living room table… and dining room table). First up we have Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon, along with a few other Northwest-related books: an old National Geographic picture book of the region, and a guidebook to Portland from the late nineties. Lots of strange stuff in the Palahniuk book that could be useful. No, I’m not planning to head west anytime soon. The novel I’m working on is mostly set in a fictional city in the Northwest that bears some resemblance to Seattle and Portland, so I’m filling in some background info to add to my personal experience of those Northwest cities to make my city a little more convincing.

The King’s Coat? Why, it’s the first in a fourteen-volume naval adventure series by Dewey Lambdin that I stumbled upon in the Portsmouth library. Wow, make that seventeen volumes… it’s still going!  Like I didn’t already have a shelf crammed full of books on my to-read list! I’ll let you know if the first book’s any good.

House of Leaves— I am rereading this classic by Mark Z. Danielewski, since I received my very own copy via paperbackswap.com after being on a yearlong waiting list. If you like horror even in the slightest, check it out. Do it.

I’m reading a history of firearms called The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Guns, because I was curious when and where they first came into practice, and how long it was until they could reliably be fired and thus supersede things like bows and swords. Lots of interesting notes on the mechanical progression, e.g. from matchlock to flintlock, and great illustrations of guns throughout the ages. This will be useful for multiple projects, but in particular one that’s set around the technology level of the late 17th century. My girlfriend is still a little worried.

Buried underneath House of Leaves is a freebie I got from my last visit to Crown, called The Book of the Dead:  Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure. I’d read a previous book by the authors, called The Book of General Ignorance (given to me by my friend Emily), so I’m interested in checking this one out once I have a chance.

And we have Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Started off as a lunch break read but was too slow to really look forward to. Now I’ve read 100 pages, and I have to ask– does anything ever actually happen? So much walking around and sitting and lying down. This may be headed for the dustbin if our heroine, whom the author has not bothered to name yet, does not pick up a shotgun very soon and start kicking some ass.

Finally there’s the first book in the Bartimaeus trilogy, The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud, which is currently the book I read on lunch breaks at my temping job and which I find pretty engrossing so far. I may actually be quoting from it soon over on the Great Typo Hunt blog.

Author: Jeff Deck

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