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What I Read in January

I started the year’s reading on a rough note. I bailed on thirteen books. I am pissed off by that. I hate bailing on books. But I don’t have time to continue on with books that don’t interest me. That said, I did enjoy several of the books I read this month.

I won’t list the bails. So, I will only write up the books I completed.

Star Trek: Treknology by Ethan Siegel is okay in a workman like fashion. The science is interesting. But Michio Kaku’s Science of the Impossible is far better.

Someone by Alice McDermott is good. But I found it rather dull as the story goes on.

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie is delightful even on reread. A much needed reprieve from my reading slump.

Line by Line by Claire Kehrwald Cook is a very useful source for learning to editing one’s own writing. But, the book is dated.

Alexander the Great and His Empire by Pierre Briant is amazing. I absolutely loved this book. Probably my second favorite book this month.

Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy by Lauro Marines is exhaustive and exhausting.

Texas Blood by Roger D. Hodges is an idiosyncratic exploration of Texas through one family’s generations long experience in the state. It mixes family and personal memoir, history, reportage, and literary criticism. The problem is that Hodges fails to capture what it means to be Texan (largely because that is an impossible task). Indeed, the book lacks focus. I will say the critical analysis of Cormac McCarthy is engaging, though.

The Vast Southern Empire by Matthew Karp is my favorite book of the month. It is an awesome exploration of Southern dominated American foreign policy in the years before the Civil War.

The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham is exhaustive and exhausting.

The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Philip Athans is a wonderful guide to writing science fiction and fantasy. I especially like his question heavy strategy.

Pastel Pointers by Richard McKinley is a really good intermediate book on pastels. Of especially interest will be the chapters on plein air and the business of pastels (which, let’s face it, is never usefully explored in any of these books).

So, that is all the books I finished in January. Hopefully, I will have a better month in February.