Recent Reading: Old and New

There’s been no pattern to my reading lately–maybe it’s too early in the year for patterns.  Not that I’ve found much time for reading, but I keep trying. 

One night when I found myself staring in semi-panic at the proliferation of unread books in my bedroom, I snatched up something close at hand:  The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham.  First published in 1955, and known in the US as Rebirth, this copy was a replacement for the worn and yellowed 1969 paperback on my shelf.  Wyndham is largely out of print in the US, but his books are available through The Book Depository.

Told in Wyndham’s favorite first-person narrative, The Chrysalids is set in an unspecified future, long after The Tribulation, a mystery to the book’s characters, but clearly a nuclear holocaust of some sort.  In the 1950s that meant radiation and genetic mutation, and the central conflict in the book involves the fanatical efforts of the local leadership to maintain mankind, as well as the animals and crops, in pure form.  David, the protagonist, is a telepath.  He and the handful of others with the same gift appear to be perfectly normal, but in time it becomes clear they are not.  When others reach the same conclusion, the telepaths run for their lives.  Always the philosopher, Wyndham wonders which is more valuable, stability or change, regimentation or chaos?

Margaret Maron’s Three-Day Town is the latest in her Judge Deborah Knott mystery series.  Deborah and her husband venture away from their home in North Carolina to visit New York City, where they cross paths with Sigrid Harald, the NYC detective protagonist of Maron’s earlier series.  I enjoyed another visit with Deborah, but I didn’t find Sigrid particularly compelling (I haven’t read her earlier stories), and I missed Deborah’s enormous family and the often hilarious cases that pass through her courtroom.  I trust she and Dwight will be back home when we meet them again in Maron’s next mystery.

Meanwhile on my Kindle, I was reading Three Days at Wrigley Field, by K.P. Gresham.  Disclaimer here:  Kathy Gresham is an old friend and one-time critique partner of mine who decamped a few years ago to Austin.  When I heard that she had independently published this novel, which I had heard about but never read, I jumped at the chance.  I’m not much of a sports fan, but Kathy is, and her love and knowledge of baseball permeate this story of the first woman to try out for a major league team.  The book is about much more than baseball, of course, and well worth reading.

I half-read, half-skimmed my way through The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and frankly, I still don’t understand.  Why would I want to keep the friends of the friends of my friends posted on my activities?  Why would I want to follow theirs?  I have friends (actual in-the-flesh friends) who practically live on Facebook, and others who have pages there but only look at them every few weeks.  Just the other day my dental technician told me about someone who found her through Facebook–and she really wishes he hadn’t.  I guess I’m just not ready to join the party, spend the time, or invest that much effort in keeping up with the ever-changing privacy settings.  I feel a whole lot more secure here on my blog.


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