It doesn’t fail. As I published my last post, the Ultimate Favorite Books, I remembered those titles I didn’t include. For example, a Travel Category, which should have After You, Marco Polo, by Jean Bowie Shor, and The Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton. These two books are written by travelers in the 20th century, before cell phones, and google maps. They were intrepid people who prided in going where no other western man or woman had been before, and in learning about the different places and their people.
I have read After You twice, and reviewed the book several times. Jen Shor never failed to amuse me. Her sense of humor, her witty remarks, and her southern quality make her an instant friend to the reader. There used to be inexpensive copies of this book, but now I don’t see them anymore. The few existing ones have an exorbitant price. It’s possible that I’ve recommended it and bought it so many times, (to give away to friends), that I’ve exhausted the available copies. At least, it’s pretty inexpensive for Kindle (I know, not the same.)
I also have missed Biographies.
Life and Death in Shanghai, and The von Trapp Family, are two biographical books that have stayed with me. The life of Nien Cheng is a testimony to the devastation of wars, and the horrors of Communism and dictatorships. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was full of humor, and it’s not quite like the famous Julie Andrew’s movie. It’s more realistic, of course, and it goes further in time, to their immigration adventure, with their stop at Ellis Island. Maria von Trapp offers us a candid account of her life as a novice, wife, mom, and professional singer. She tells us her struggles and her joys, and while there were many wonderful moments in her life, and it’s evident they were an upright family who worked and loved hard, there’s physical and mental illness, financial struggles, and the hardships of making a new life in the States, and all of that is also conveyed to the reader in her unique and humorous voice.
And finally I get to Science and Science Fiction.
In the Science, I have to add a biography book, but because it’s a biography of Newton called The Clockwork Universe. It has a lot of science, but science for the ignorant. With the years, I’ve come to realize this is a special book, it reads like a mystery novel, -I couldn’t put it down-, and it also explains why and how it is that Newton’s contributions and discoveries were so important, and what they mean to us. All without any text book trace, ha ha ha, but told in a fascinating way.
My second title is an unknown book I just loved reading and that has stayed with me too ever since. The Biography of a Germ.
And we come to the SF!, -which I’m also going to extend a bit to dystopia, even though I already picked some books in that category.
I’m tempted to add my latest read, The Inverted World, to this favorites list. But I need to let more time pass to see if it’s one of my favorites in the SF/Dystopian genre. At the previous post on favorite books, I mentioned Ray Bradbury. I adore Bradbury. He’s a great story teller, and his Martian Chronicles are a gem, (even if you don’t like SF, I bet you’d love this one.)
When I was younger, I too went through a time when I loved reading more SF. After, I can’t say I’ve continued. I’m bad at series like Asimov’s Foundation books. I prefer stand alone books. And this title, The End of Eternity, fascinated me when I was in my early twenties. I read it last year, and it stood the pass of time well. I still enjoyed the development, the mystery, and how Asimov closes the book. His ending is believable, strong, and satisfying. However, reading this book after the lens of so many other huge titles and classics, makes these type of books appear fine for a distraction, as a palate cleanser, (as my friend Kim said.) However, these books are necessary in my reading life, and very appreciated.
I, Robot, also by Asimov, gets also an honorary mention.
In the Atypical category, I should have mentioned this also unknown book, Speculation, by Edmund Jorgensen.
Some friends recommended it, and like them, I read it in 3 or 4 days. It was a total blast. From Amazon:
Andrew Wrangles has a decision to make. His best friend Sothum, a philosophical and financial genius, has just died and left him a choice in his will: ten million dollars or a sealed envelope.
Andrew’s wife Cheryl doesn’t see this as much of a choice. She wants Andrew to take the ten million, and what little patience she has for his speculating about what might be worth more than the money is wearing thin very quickly.
But as Andrew digs deeper into the secret life of the mind that Sothum lived, he finds a new mystery behind every clue. Does the envelope contain the fate of a vanished mutual friend? A breakthrough that could secure Andrew a place in the history of philosophy? Or is Sothum just playing a final private joke at his friend’s expense?
Great distraction, but quality too. I know I loved it because it’s philosophical, and it has a part on translation I love. It’s also humorous, and the characters are quite credible. They like tacos. And who doesn’t? (At least where I live.) I liked Speculation so much that I read his second book, Other Copenhagens and Other Stories. Less polished, and not as impressive. But I have not given up on this young man. And if no more comes from him, I know at one point, I’ll read Speculation again.
As I finish this second post on favorites, or as a blogger friend says, the books that made me, I know I’ve left some forgotten. I’ll keep sharing as my memory recovers them.