I HAVE MOVED

After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.

Harold

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The ’10 Books That Stayed With Me’ Post

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: September 10, 2014

Mike over at Running Around the Bend got ‘tagged’ on a ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ post, and he tagged readers of his blog to go ahead and do their own lists.


“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great words of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

I did it a little differently than the instructions (what else is new) and chose the 10 books or series that I have read, which affected me in some way and that I decided to keep in my personal library because of how they affected me.


My bookcase, although I have boxes of book and books hidden on other shelves

Picking only 10 was difficult, but as you can see the books I chose were more Heroic Fantasy/Science Fiction (series) than any other genre. I enjoy the coming of age / heroic action, that take me away from the more mundane life that most of us lead.

They are not really in any particular order and some photos are not there.

Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

The classic of the heroic fantasy genre, that I have re-read several times, used as part of a lesson plan to teach history and loved the movie versions by Peter Jackson. This is one of the all-time greats, that I re-read every few years.


Boys of Summer - Roger Kahn
The story of the Brooklyn Dodgers that I read back in high school and when my cousin Mike and I played whiffleball and used lineups from great baseball teams, I would typically chose to be the '54 Dodgers after reading this book. I have always had a copy of the book around the house and re-read it every so often.


The Complete Book of Running - James Fixx
Although I had run off and on throughout high school and in the Coast Guard, this was the first running book or book about running that I read, that actually helped to make me a better runner. Even though some of information is dated in the book and the technology or lack of it is just the way it was, if you go back and re-read it today, you will be surprised at how much of what Fixx wrote is still pertinent.


Sword of Shannara (series) - Terry Brooks
One of my all-time favorite series of books by a great writer, although initially I did not realize that this was a series on post-apocalyptic Earth. I enjoyed the series much more before I realized that it was set in our future and do not like the newer books in the series. The older books, I really like, especially the Sword of Shannara trilogy.



Dune - Frank Herbert

Classic science fiction that has a whole series of books to go with it. I enjoyed the different stages of development that lead Paul from being the son of royalty to being something more and how it affected him and those around him.


Starship Troopers - Robert A. Heinlein

One of the reasons that I went in the military was this book and many of the concepts: duty, honor, service, sacrifice and loyalty that Heinlein has in it - Starship Troopers just struck a deep chord with me and when I read it now, it still makes me think. Although I have changed some of my views, based on my experiences, I still hold many of the beliefs that I first glimpsed or grasped in this book and see the world from a different perspective than I would have - if I had not read it.
The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry Series) -Guy Carvriel Kay

One of those books where you do not want to put it/them down. The messages this series gives on hope, sacrifice and heroism are universally appealing and written in a style that I enjoy.


The Power of Less - Leo Babauta

A short book on minimalism from a blogger that I have followed for many years. This book really made me stop and think about how I do things, how I could do them more effectively/efficiently and lower my stress level - a lot. Every so often when I get to feeling overwhelmed and feeling out of sorts, because of either work or too much going on in my life I pull this out and read through it. Every time I have, I have come up with an idea or two on how to do things differently and then go do it. Will I ever be completely minimalistic type - naw, but some of the concepts are universal and laid out in such a manner that they are easy to incorporate into your life, when you need to or want to.


John Carter of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Classic science fiction, that Hollywood screwed up, but remains a timeless classic.


The Caverns of Socrates (Mithgar Novels) - Dennis L McKiernan
The adventures of gamers who leave our world behind and become something more in a different world. A fantasy that anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons or played RPG games probably has had and I know that I have/do.
Elrik of Melnibone - Michael Moorcock

I never could count. An epic and troubled hero, who overcomes much over the course of the books in the Eternal Champions series of books that Moorcock wrote.



Bonus Book - even though I do not have it in my library

Ball Four - Jim Bouton

The book that dispelled the myth for me that baseball players were more than other men. Before reading this book I had looked up to and admired many of the ball players that were portrayed (probably more accurately than they would have liked), in the book and after reading it, I realized that they were not all that different from the other adults that were around me back in the early 70's with their drinking, drugging, and other vices. The biggest differences were that they were more famous, had a little more money and lived in the big city. 

I think I became a lot more cynical and less naïve than I had been before I read the book. I read it only once and swore that I would never read it again, because reading it had destroyed so many of my childhood heroes and exposed them as simply men. Who knows maybe it is a book that I should go back and re-read, just to get rid of some of the shadows that seem to be lingering around it.

What I read now

Now that I am retired, most of the time I read Sword and Sorcery, Science Fiction, a bunch of running books or maybe once in a while a something on self-improvement. I just read what interests me at the moment or something that I enjoy. Having a book take me away to places I will never go, become someone who I will never be, do things that I will never do and make me see them with my imagination, not that of those in Hollywood, video games or the way that someone else portrays them - you know that each book touches you differently.

Over the years, I have noticed a creep in how writing has changed - at least from my view.
A bit of rant

There is more emphasis today on greater plot details and how intricate the storylines are, writers now seem to have to have 3-6 story lines going at once and do so much more with setting the scene, adding in so much of the mundane, that the story goes dead for me quickly and takes 5-8 books in a series to wade through and with books costing $10 and up...well let's just say there are too many words being written for the benefit, I feel that I am getting. What could be condensed into 2-3 books is now expanded to account for too much boring detail, plot development and less of the action that I prefer.

Hell's bells, I do not worry or care about how my heroes had to battle mosquitoes or stay in a squalid inn, or that the trollop has a blemish on her boob and her make-up is dripping down her face (unless it is directly related to the story) and all those little things, that add (in my opinion) very little to the storyline, other than they have to endure mundane crap like the we do in the real world. Sometimes the old pulp novels of 150-200 pages got it right, get in, get to the action, move on, get to the next action, move on to solve the problem, save the girl, defeat evil, redemption for the hero, get the kingdom and everyone lives happily ever after - at least until the next book when the next problem comes around.

Sometimes I think that editors/writers are attempting to make the stories too complicated or would that be sophisticated, when all I want is to be entertained.

I want to read a solid/entertaining story, that focuses on one or maybe two characters, have good main character and interesting or "different" supporting cast, who over the course of the book I can relate to on some level, lots of fantastical action (even if it breaks the laws of physics or reality - after all there is magic involved), a few unexpected twists/turns along the way and a satisfying solution/ending to the book. Plus I want to be able to finish the damn book in 2-3 days, not 2-3 months.

In other words, a lot like the older pulp books that I used to read when I was growing up.

Were they all perfect - hell no, but they were mostly entertaining and we did not have to read 1,000 pages per book in a 10 book series to finish it. Sometimes the idea of picking up a 500-700 page novel and have it be part one of ten becomes daunting.

Get off the rant machine Harold.

Yeah, I did get off on a tangent didn't I ;-) . Oh well, can't you tell I love to read and have some opinions on where we are.
Moving on

One thing I have noticed is that I am starting to use my Kindle to do more of my reading of books that I "know" that I will only read once.

My physical library is made up of books that I enjoy and have had some effect on me during some time in my life. However, as I looked over my book-case today, I have a feeling that I am going to be going through and purging out some of the books that are part of a series that got too long and bring back in other books that I enjoyed versus having the entire collection of what an author has written.

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