G is for Genre

There is a scene in the (original, of course) Blues Brothers where the proprietor of a honkey tonk explains to the boys that they carry both kinds of music, country and western. For a long time, my reading was like that scene – I read both kinds of books, fantasy and science fiction. It wasn’t always that way – a glance at the books I read before I was (arbitrary age) 30 had some variety in it. Most of that came from the decade or so starting my freshman year of high school when I worked in a library, always surrounded by books. Exposure to massive amounts of books can have a lasting effect.

But in the last few decades, I’ve read pretty much only science fiction and fantasy. There’s nothing wrong with that, I have very fond memories of many series, and have made friends along the way as a result of that reading. This year, though, I’ve drifted from my old friends (the book ones) more than usual. In fact, although I’m on track for reading 52 books this year (I’m at 48 so far), a mere 13 have been from my old stomping grounds, and 12 were in the first few months.

I don’t want to blame the pandemic, and yet in some ways, it’s probably a factor. It’s hard to read books that take place on a near future Earth when current present Earth is such a mess. But spy novels that take place in the past, or horror novels, they have a set place in time that works because they can’t violate causality with the world we really live in now. Or at least mostly.

So I’ve been reading a lot of Stephen King lately if you follow my Goodreads. Not because he’s the best per se, but he is consistent in what he delivers, and he has a lot to deliver, and I appreciate that. I’ve also learned I’m not a big fan of short story collections, which feels horrible to admit. I can read them, and enjoy them, but only in short bursts. In the collected form, I grow…discontent. I want a story that occupies me for days or weeks, not hours. I’m also trying to work my through a poster my oldest got me for Father’s Day of “great books to read.” I question a few titles, but there are many I haven’t ever tried, and that helps fill in some of my reading time.

So what are you all reading these days? I find I’m reading more than ever before and at the same time veering towards a paper only reading habit. Hit me up in the comments if you want, or find me on Twitter @kodermike.

A bit of a side note here. I know my blogging was doing better, then I dropped off again for a few weeks.


What can I say? The last week is easy to excuse – we’ve been preoccupied with the lack of breathable air here in Portland (at its worse, we hit the top of the AQI scale and the caption “AQI out of index”). I appreciate everyone that sticks around this blog and reads despite my incredibly inconsistent posting.

F is for Fourteen

When I planned for this week, I originally thought I might do F is for Focus. Focus (with a capital F) is that name I use to describe a synergy of factors that help me be productive.

Then I looked at the calendar and realized there was a far more important thing to mention this morning. Today is my youngest child’s 14th birthday.

Being the youngest of three, you’d think I was used to this feeling of another year slipping by, watching one of our kids turning a year older. This is, after all, the third 14th birthday we’ve had. What could be different? The short answer is, it’s the last 14th birthday we will have. Our kids are well on their way to being grown-ups (ok, ok, one of them already is, and that puts grey hairs in my beard). Time, which seems to drag and ebb more than it flows at times, is suddenly accelerating past us exponentially.

The kids, of course, roll their eyes at me. Dad is overly sentimental, prone to waxing about years past. But in a year that just keeps on giving, 2020 has at least a few good days in it, and today is one of them.

And if you happen to stumble onto this page, Happy Birthday!!

A quick side note. I’m reconsidering when these posts go up – maybe first thing on a Saturday morning isn’t as reasonable as I originally thought. Coming weeks will see me shifting these posts around while I find the right time slot. I’m currently leaning towards either Sunday mornings, or first thing Monday’s (giving me the weekend to actually write something).

E is for Erratic

A month ago, I set out to blog once a week. By accident, I set out with a theme of titling each blog with the next letter of the alphabet, and this week is no different. Picking what the word for E was going to be, that was the hard part.

My first choice was e-reader. Earlier this year, when my Kindle started growing long in the tooth, I decided it was time to finish my separation from an Amazon centric world and bought a Kobo. Of the Kobo, let me say, I love it. I like the independence from the Amazon ecosystem, but more so, the builtin integration to browse both my local library and my Pocket collection. There are some rough bits around the edges, but all in all I like the device.

The problem with that theme is that I’ve been slipping back into physical books of late. It seemed disingenuous to talk about e-readers when the last three books I’ve read, and the book I’m currently reading, are all paper books.

To say e-book was out goes without say.

So I floundered, looking for a topic for this week. I was late at the start – through a series of (unusual for me) circumstances, I woke up extremely late yesterday (Saturday) morning. So late that I had already missed my self imposed deadline for having a new blog post.

I did what any self respecting writer with a themed topic would do, especially when that theme was simply titling each post with the next letter of the alphabet.

I turned to the dictionary.

But not at first. First I turned to the thesaurus, sure that it would have an appropriate synonym for words like procrastinate or delayed or even just put off. Luck was not with me, or my yellowed Rogett’s was just too geared for younger students. So I turned to my two volume, 1976 dictionary set, and started paging through the E listing. I knew e-books and e-readers, and anything e-centric, wouldn’t do. I had a few contenders, fingers holding my place as I leafed, when I realized what the root of the problem was.

I haven’t been blogging consistently the last year or so. I have my rational, and I’ve talked about it before, but I am trying to make up for that. Writers write, as they say, and how can I be a writer if I never write? And while the blog isn’t fiction, and isn’t even decent small town editorial quality, it is something I can point at. But of late, I’d become rather erratic in my posting.

And that’s how we got here today, folks, with E is for Erratic. I can’t promise it won’t happen again – it might even happen next week. But if it does, I’ll just point at this post with an apologetic smile and point out that I admitted early on these were going to be erratic at times.