Books 2013: A Healing Post

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For our month-long stay-at-home summer holiday, Bennie and I have been good boys.

Very, very good boys.

Heaps of eating out, of course, but that’s been countered by … breakfasts of our homemade muesli with fruit and yogurt, and lots of salads and pulse dishes.

Outings that have involved much frisbee tossing, a past-time at which I am ecstatic to find Bennie has really started to enjoy.

Lots of down time.

The frequent late nights have been ameliorated by the complete non-necessity for alarm-setting.

Long sleep-ins rule!

So it was a thoroughly unpleasant shock last night when my wobbly disc chose to throw a wobbly, bringing with it the usual intense pain.

Usually it happens only when I’m tired, stressed, anxious, rundown or all of the above.

Intellectually and through long experience, I know this is simply a matter of rest, sleep and a few days’ time.

But in my heart and soul, it’s frightening just how quickly the pain and discomfort can see me sink down to a dark place in which I feel old, friendless, gloomy, bleak and darn right pessimistic.

My instincts are always to fight back with whatever is at hand.

Rest, the appropriate drugs, light exercise, healthy food, reading … and lots and lots of music.

Thanks very much to Lionel Hampton, Blind Willie McTell, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lee Hazlewood and Texas whorehouse pianist Robert Shaw for the latter, with lots more to come.

What else?

What about a blog post? A great pick-me-up they are!

Already done one today, but OK here’s another – inspired by my good pal and fellow blogger Caron and her similar list at The Crayon Files.

This one – a fun look back at my reading highlights for 2013 – is for me.

If you come to Consider The Sauce for food stuff and nothing but, please ignore!

Thelonious Monk – The Life And Times Of An American Original by Robin D.G. Kelley

Still working my way through this one and enjoying doing so. This has been hailed as being everything a jazz biography should be.

I’ve never considered myself a Monk junkie, so am somewhat bemused that through the Blue Note and Prestige sides, the Riverside Records box, just about all the Columbia albums and a few other odds and sods, I have amassed the greater proportion of his discography and certainly all the key moments.

That’s the kind of thing that can bring a book alive!

Creole Trombone – Kid Ory And The Early Years Of Jazz by John McCusker

A compact but wonderful look at the great trombonist that paints him as much more than a mere sideman for the likes of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver.

Bonus: Being inspired to boost my until-then rather slim collection of Ory-as-leader.

Having been on an intense deep soul kick for the past six months, Robert Gordon’s Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion awaits my reading pleasure.

Shane by Jack Schaefer

Comstock Lode by Louis L’Amour

I’ve read quite a few famous, historically important westerns in recent years.

They can be hard work and slow-going.

And it helps to have a high tolerance for the politically incorrect – frequently they are very much a product of their times.

I enjoyed Shane in that sort of context.

But Comstock Lode was much better.

L’Amour is often touted as the most read author ever – or maybe the most read American author ever.

Whatever … I never expected to find myself reading his books, let alone enjoying them.

In my ignorance, I feared an excess of Boys Own and “Mills And Boon for blokes”. And I also feared I would be appalled and angered by his treatment of North America’s natives.

In terms of the latter, I have been pleasantly surprised – in this regard, it seems, L’Amour was well ahead of his times.

Yes, the stories can be slow and repetitive, and there is a good deal of unrealistic mythologising.

But there is no doubting the craft and feel of his writing.

Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey

Thanks to Courtney and James for the hot tip on this trilogy!

I’ve never been drawn to the space opera genre.

It’s always seemed too geekish, too overtly macho and militaristic for me.

These three books have changed all that!

What enormous fun – I galloped through them.

Yes, there’s all sort of space wars nonsense.

But there’s also a real nice noir feel, a touch of Pulp Fiction and great humor.

Midst Toil And Tribulation by David Weber

Nor have I ever been drawn to what I have unkindly and forever thought of as sci-fi hacks or journeymen such as David Weber.

But I’m thrilled I took on a punt on his Safehold series, of which Midst Toil And Tribulation is the sixth book.

I’ve loved them all!

Adventure, romance, sci-fi meets the high seas, magic, terrific politics … and probably the best villain I have ever come across.

Imagine the Pope meets Adolf Hitler …

I suspect this series will run and run and run, but for once I don’t care.

Weber is so prolific that I’m assured of a book a year, so the chances of a case of “George R.R. Martin syndrome” happening are exceedingly slim.

Iron Curtain – The Crushing Of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum

One of the oddities of being a late-blooming baby boomer dad in the early years of this new century is this … for my son, the Soviet Union will be little more than a textbook topic, if that, and maybe even just an obscure historical abstraction.

For my generation, the scowling visages of the Soviet leadership cast gloom and anxiety across our world in profound ways – not jut politically, but socially and culturally as well.

I still find it remarkable that it is no more!

I found this history of the communist takeover of eastern and central Europe a brilliant read.

And not once did I tire of the depth of detail.

The Dark Tower Series and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

I’m three books into the Dark Tower Series, one of the few major King works I have not read.

Halfway through book two, I thought I was well on the way to being fully captivated.

You know – unplug the phone, take leave owing, shun friends, housework and dirty dishes … that sort of captivation.

The pace has slackened somewhat, but I am sufficiently taken with the Gunslinger and his cohorts to expect I’ll finish all eight books by the end of the year.

Doctor Sleep was an OK sequel to The Shining, but falls, I reckon, into “for fans only” territory after the return to form displayed by Under The Dome and 11/22/63, both of which I enjoyed immensely.

****

Well, do I feel better after banging that out?

Hell, yes!

6 thoughts on “Books 2013: A Healing Post

  1. Thanks Kenny for this heartwarming post. Agree that music, books and home cooked grub are good food for the soul. Looking forward to a few more posts soon (from a longtime lurker)

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  2. Really interesting post, Kenny, and thanks for the mention of mine—as you know, I love all things books! I agree that books and music are a great way to help get through hard times.
    Regarding Stephen King, have you read his fantastic memoirs/writing book On Writing? I recommend it.

    Like

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