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winter 2013-14 075

Reading is a lot like a river.  I may be reading a book in one area and it leads to another branch of the river which may lead me to another branch as well.

It is not always on purpose.  Sometimes it is serendipity that a book turns up after I have just read another book on a similar subject.  Sometimes, it is because people say that if I enjoyed one book, I might like to read one they recommend.  I am happy for that.

Sometimes it just seems to cascade in one year so that when I look at the list of books I read I am surprised how they overlapped.  

For example, I finally read A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell that was a fiction book about Italy in WW II.  It was powerful.  It led me to take a book by Primo Levi from my to-be-read book pile, Survival in Auschwitz.  Primo was Italian.  I ordered The Reawakening by Levi to have the part of his story in which he travels home after being freed.

After finishing Primo’s story, I picked up A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal.  I had just finished The Orientalist by Tom Reiss about WW II, in which the subject of the biography escaped over and over, from Baku to Berlin to Austria to Italy.  

I read a poignant fiction story set in St. Malo, France, during WW II, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and followed that with the true story Sisters in the Resistance by Margaret Collins Weitz.   That was followed by The Dog Who Could Fly by Damien Lewis which is a true story of a dog named Ant who was four weeks old when he was found in a deserted farmhouse in no man’s land by a Czech gunner whose plane was downed between the French and German lines.  I also ordered the book Lewis recommended to learn more about Ant and Robert, Freedom in the Air by Hamish Ross.

I moved Code Talker by Chester Nez with Judith Avila up to the top of the pile.  Many years ago I read a small book about Code Talkers, but I want to read this one that a friend said was really good.  I also have on my TBR pile the book Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie which will take me from Nagasaki in 1945 to Afghanistan according to the blurb on the back cover.

I finished reading the second book this year about WW I, and Trieste is mentioned.   I will soon pick up Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere by Jan Morris.  The Keegan book, The First World War, is different from Tuchman’s Guns of August because it covers the whole war, but they are bookends in my learning experience.  When Keegan mentions Italy joining the war there are not many paragraphs about it, but I remember vividly the fiction story, A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin that was set in the Alps.  

I also just finished The Desert Queen about Gertrude Bell in WW I.  Next I read about the Sahara in Paul Bowles’ book, Travels.  With him I visited Fez, Tangier, Casablanca, and the Atlas mountains.  Waiting on my TBR pile are more books about the desert. I have The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad, and The Gobi Desert, the adventures of three women traveling across the Gobi Desert in the 1920’s.  I also have Beyond War: Re-imagining American Influence in a New Middle East by David Rohde, and Daughter of Persia: A Woman’s Journey from Her Father’s Harem through the Islamic Revolution.

I recently finished a story based on two women working for the Union in Richmond, VA during the Civil War, The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen, and as soon as I finished it, I quickly read a gritty YA story about the Underground Railroad set in 1859, Trouble Don’t Last by Shelley Pearsall.

I am reading a non-fiction book, Africa, by John Reader, and at the same time I am visiting Nigeria in a fiction story, Americanah by Adichie.

I have read many other books that go with these stories in the past years.  The stories have broadened my mind and made me curious to know more.  That is the reason for reading.  It helps to have layers of books adding information and pointing me to more stories.  It is good to examine history from many different sides.  

Yes, I do read lighter books as well.  I really enjoyed Paw and Order by Spencer Quinn.  If only Chet could talk or if only Bernie would pay attention when he is trying to point something out.  I re-read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson that often made me laugh, but that told me a lot about the history of the Appalachian Trail, too.

Have you had this happen?  Do you have books on your TBR pile that are related to another book you read?  Do books on similar topics fall into your lap or do you seek them out?  

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Robert Fuller says:

The new Rowan Tree chapter is here:

My whole profile on Smashwords:

By using Smashwords, in addition to Amazon, I've been able to make a number of my books available for free including my memoir Belonging, my father's memoir (The Making of a Scientist), and a couple of extended essays that were previously published as serials on Daily Kos - Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship and Genomes, Menomes, Wenomes: Neuroscience and Human Dignity.

I would love all of these books to be free on Amazon as well (some already are, such as my novel The Rowan Tree), but something is missing from the mix. Enough Price Match requests? Enough reviews? I'm at a loss. I welcome any insight on the problem, because I have no need, at this stage in my life, to make money off of my musings. I publish for the pure pleasure of it.

(cfk added these from last week):

The audiobook of The Rowan Tree has been discounted to $1.99 for people who already own the (free) Kindle ebook.



Memoir Belonging on Smashwords:

Calvin S. Fuller's memoir (Robert’s father)

My father's memoir is also now available for free on Smashwords:


NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


What is sitting on the top of your TBR pile right now?

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