I'm an ENORMOUS fan of Bill Bryson! True, his earlier books were kind of juvenile; just the sort of travel yarns you'd expect from a smart-alecky 23-year-old. But he -- and his humor -- have really developed into something extraordinary, even erudite. For lighter "waiting-at-an-airport" reading there's "A WALK IN THE WOODS" or "THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING". For more serious and enlightening works I greatly admired "A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING."
Your post reminded me I want to read more.
Anyway, I can't restrain myself from dropping a couple of quotes of his; examples of his wit and humor.......
“The tearoom lady called me love. All the shop ladies called me love and most of the men called me mate. I hadn't been here twelve hours and already they loved me.”
― Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island
“Brain cells last as long as you do. You are issued with a hundred billion or so at birth and that is all you are ever going to get. It has been estimated that you lose five hundred of them an hour, so if you have any serious thinking to do there really isn’t a moment to waste.”
― Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
I never really mind bad service in a restaurant. It makes me feel better about not leaving a tip.”
― Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America
GreatNW, I and Outnabout referenced Smiling Country (I am in the west Methow much of the year). Although I've never met him, Egan and I have several mutual friends. Us fisheaters gots to stick together don't ya know! I like his writing. I'll give a look at the Winemaker.
Out'n'about, the author of The Smiling Country (Sally Portman) is the librarian at the Winthrop library as you enter town from the west. Stop by for a chat any time about the valley. Real nice lady who knows almost everything and everybody about the valley.
I'll do that.
Hey, Pud. Have you read MAZAMA The Past 125 Years by Doug Devin.?
Great book for those of us who know the area. Even shows a picture of the Mazama store in the 1960s. The place has changed too much for me since the late 80s. I still gas up there though before heading over the pass. Ever eaten at Sun Mt?
I'm the only person seemingly in the family who has never eaten or stayed at Sun Mt. I don't usually eat in town either unless I am at 3 Fingered Jacks or the OSB for vitamin Bs. The Mazama store junction is turning into a little metropolis due to the influx of folks from westside seeking a place to outdoors. With the reintro of mountain goats and grizz and wolves it will get more interesting as time passes and the new mainly out-of-state moneyed people come into conflict with them. I support the reintro but it will be interesting. Go Zags!
I've seen David Baldacci's books for years and I know he is a popular author and has written a lot of best sellers, but I had never read one of his books until his recent "Long Road to Mercy", where he introduces a new main character, the female FBI agent Atlee Pine. I enjoyed the book, and it must have been out for a few months when I read it, because not long afterwards I saw that he had released a second book in the new series, "A Minute to Midnight". Just finished it a few minutes ago, and it was a very satisfying read. I don't know if I will try any of his other books, my get-to-it book list grows longer by the day, but I have really enjoyed the two Atlee Pine novels.
Just finished an interesting and ever-so-slightly unsettling history, "The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation", by Rich Cohen (2019). I was already intrigued by the title, but I didn't pay close attention to the author until I got the book a couple of days ago. I had read one of Cohen's earlier books (The Fish That Ate the Whale) and enjoyed it, so I had expectations for this book, and it definitely turned out to be a rewarding read. Title sums it up, it is about a very bad man who robbed and killed with abandon for years before finally being caught for killing the captain and two crew members of an oyster sloop. The scope of his criminal career, which is covered in the last half of the book, is simply astounding, one of those things that if presented as fiction you would probably say is just too unbelievable. This last crime took place right before the civil war began, so you get a good look at the grittier side of life in the earlier to mid-1800's, and it is an eye-opener.
Just finished rereading an older Thomas Perry crime novel, published in 2001. I read it a long time ago and had forgotten about it, and after I got on my current Thomas Perry kick, I went back through his books, and thought that the synopsis of "Death Benefits" sounded familiar. I couldn't remember a lot of the specifics of the book, but I did remember that I had enjoyed it, so I bought it, and a few days ago I found myself temporarily out of library books (the horror!) so I pulled it out and started reading it again. I guess you could consider it a financial thriller in a sense, the overall plot is about a fraud committed on a large insurance company. I know that I keep mentioning Thomas Perry, but I keep finding really good books by him.
Just finished Anonymous Sources, the second book mentioned in my preceding post. Highly recommended.
Michael Hayden, (former CIA Director) also recommends it.
This is not a new book, but it's one I really enjoyed, and highly recommend it for anyone who likes a good spooky read. "Night Magic" by Thomas Tyron (1995). Thomas Tyron was a film and television actor (born 1921 died 1991) who started writing novels, screenplays, etc in 1969. Not a prolific novelist, but he did write several books, of which "The Other" is probably most widely known and usually cited first when discussing his literary works. Another of his books, "Harvest Home" was made into a television mini-series starring Bette Davis. As you can see from the above dates, "Night Magic" was published posthumously.
As with all fiction books, I am reluctant to get into the plot, as I am always afraid I'll give away too much, so pardon me if I don't get into specifics about the storyline. I have long been a fan of the horror/supernatural/ghost story, and "Night Magic" was an unexpected delight. I wasn't expecting all that much from it (I read "The Other" but didn't care for it very much), but when I finished the book, I put it down and said, that's one of the best, creepiest scary books I've read in a long time. It's not gross, or full of gore, the main impact is more from suggestion, and just the horrifying progression of the storyline.
This book has stayed with me like few others have. I was reminded of it when filling out an online book order, and on a whim I toggled over to Amazon, and amazingly enough, they had one (new) on offer for $23. I've already ordered it, and for me to spend $23 on a book (I'm a veteran bargin hunter on books), well, that is a ringing endorsement.
If you like the genre, give this book a try. If nothing else, should be able to check out a copy from the public library.
It's reeeeeeally good!
I continue my attempt to fill in my historical blank spots, reading "LOST TO THE WEST", a history of the Byzantium Empire by Lars Brownworth. An engaging read that is, over all, frustrating and depressing. The Byzantines regarded themselves as heirs of the Roman Empire as Russians today, in a deep sense, think of themselves as heirs of Byzantium. (The two-headed eagle seal of Russia was the seal of Constantinople.)
The history is frustrating because this brilliant civilization couldn't solve basic and pressing problems, first of which was succession. For centuries, every time an emperor died the government would be thrown into another bloody crisis as sons, nephews and strongmen would butcher and betray each other until there was one man standing. One young king had a problem when his mother (a widow) remarried and had another baby. The king solved his problem by inviting his mother to the palace for dinner. While they were dining, he sent a couple of henchmen to her quarters to kill his half-brother, the infant. (Saved a lot of problems later.)
More skullduggery: say a hostile neighbor, the Bulgarians, were invading you (it happened all the time). Instead of trying to raise your own army, you might go to some enemy of the Bulgarians and say, "Look, the Bulgarians have let their guard down to attack us. This is a great opportunity for us to be allies. You can attack THEM and -- to sweeten the pot -- here's a couple of trunkloads of gold to pay for your war." Worked like a charm, again and again.
Today we often forget that early Christianity was essentially an eastern religion (Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Greece) that did not get a strong foothold in the west until some centuries after Christ. Though the pope in Rome was regarded as the "first among equals" in the hierarchy, the Italian Catholics came to regard Rome as the final arbiter, something the Byzantines never accepted from the upstart westerners whom they regarded as recently washed barbarians. They quarreled over the most ridiculous topics, like in Christian faith, does the Holy Ghost descend from God the Father .... or from the Father AND The Son?
There are too many emperors and generals for me to recount or remember, but for hundreds of years it seemed someone would always arise to throw back the invading hordes from the east and save Constantinople for another half century or so. But when Jerusalem fell and Islam threatened the City yet again, the pope called for a crusade TO RE-TAKE JERUSALEM ..... BUT NOT to save CONSTANTINOPLE. From the start, the Byzantines never trusted the westerners and watched, horrified, as the crusade got under way, sacking Christian towns en route if supplies were not generously forthcoming. At one point when the crusaders needed transport and supplies. The Venetians promised them everything they needed IF THEY AGREED TO ATTACK THEIR COMPETITORS, CONSTANTINOPLE. They did, and sacked the city. Few know that the great bronze horses which stand in Venice today were the prize the Venetians took home when they wrecked Byzantium. The eastern Christians never forgave nor forgot the western treachery and many, in the end, regarded Islamic invaders as the lesser evil.
Worth reading for anyone interested in history.
Richard, love that stuff. Read 1453, The Middle Sea and Empires of the Sea. All good. Was actually going to Malta because of my interest in the history until this Walking Dead virus hit us here. Now reading Habits of Empire about American expansion. Drier than I'd like but given the topic not unexpected.