What Are You Reading?

Back in February when we were just starting our trip, our friend Sean O’Shaughnessey sent us a list of possible blog topics.  When I feel inspired to write, I pull out his questions and pick one.  Sean wrote:

You are both quite intelligent but I don’t know if you have a hobby of reading – any good books that you have started now that you are care free?

As far as the “both quite intelligent” part of Sean’s question, Timm is indeed brilliant.  As for me, let’s just say tenacity, determination and old fashioned hard work can obscure intellectual deficiencies.  Regardless, I do enjoy reading.

I read books in both traditional book form and electronically on our iPad. For the electronic books, I borrow them from the wonderful public library system.  I have 3 library cards: Boone County, Kenton County and the Cincinnati Public Library.  Here are the books I’ve read during this trip.

I like to have several books in progress at the same time.  This lets me pick what type of book I want to read depending on how I feel or the time of day.

365 Tao Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao – Non-Fiction
I wanted to study Taoism on this trip and got this book especially for this purpose.  I’ve tried daily devotional type reading in the past but never stuck to it for more than a few weeks.  On this trip, I’ve had the luxury of time so have been able to keep this commitment to myself and have read it daily.

Taoism matches my own personal philosophy and world view. It is a way of life, a religion and a philosophy.  It enables us to come into closer alignment with the natural order and flow of life and living.  It is a force that is everywhere, not a sentient being controlling the universe or events in daily living.  This force flows through the entire world, and all living things are affected by it. Tao is everything that’s natural, and includes the laws of physics and science. It affects every living organism, including us humans.  Taoism is about recognizing this natural order and our place in it.

Earth Prayers – 365 Prayers, Poems and Invocations from Around the World by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon – Non-Fiction
I picked this book up at one of the national park bookstores.  It is also a daily devotional book but I don’t read it that way.  I read it on mornings when we disperse camp off by ourselves.  I  usually read it while sitting outside enjoying the solitude.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmond Morris – Non-Fiction
I got this book at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park visitor center in North Dakota.  As a Pulitzer Prize winning book, I chose it over the many Roosevelt biographies.  I wanted to read a biography about Roosevelt because he is the father of the national park and federal lands preservation systems. Roosevelt preserved more than 234 million acres of land, established 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 national forests in the United States.  He was also a Republican, an avid hunter and one of the most well respected presidents of the United States.  And of course, he is one of the 4 presidents on Mt. Rushmore!

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin – Non-Fiction
I just downloaded this book so haven’t gotten very far into it yet.

Sharp Objects: A Novel by Gillian Flynn – Fiction
My sister-in-law Lauren Hoctor recommended Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but I could not get it at the library.  Gone Girl is on the best seller’s list at the moment so it’s in hot demand and the waiting list for it is in the 100’s.  So, instead, I was able to get Sharp Objects.  It’s a murder mystery that involves missing pre-adolescent girls as told through the eyes of a reporter writing a story about the case.  It has some disturbing, very adult content that reminds me of Dragon Tattoo.  I haven’t finished this book yet either but I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends.

The Stand by Stephen King – Fiction
Most know Stephen King for his horror books.  However, few may realize that Stephen King also wrote the books on which the movies Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Stand by Me were based.  I don’t care much for his horror stories (they creep me out) but I do like his other works.

The Stand is over 1,000 pages long and I always wanted to read it but never had the time.  It’s about a military-made virus that escapes and kills most of the human race.  The book then becomes a classic showdown of good vs. evil as embodied by 2 groups of survivors.  For those of you who read King’s Dark Tower series (which I did), the Man in Black (aka Randall Flagg) is a key character in this book as well.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson – Non-Fiction
This book is about the life and events of an American ambassador in Berlin at the time Hitler was gaining power.  I didn’t like this book and stopped reading it about 1/2 way through.  I had read Larson’s The Devil in the White City which I enjoyed.  However, In the Garden of Beasts was repetitive, slow and boring.  It probably seemed that way to me because I have very little knowledge of the players in Hitler’s regime and this book seemed to require prior knowledge in order for it to make sense.  Literary critics and other readers on Amazon rate it very high so it was probably just me who didn’t click with this book.

A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire Series, Book 1 by George R.R. Martin – Fiction
My brother David tried to get me to read this book some time ago.  Given his endorsement and it’s number one show on HBO rating, I figured it must be good.  It’s a fantasy book set in a middle ages England type setting about 2 noble families that fight for survival and the throne.  It also has a healthy dose of good vs. evil, with several interesting twists and surprises.  There are several additional books in the series, which I hope to read in time.

Women’s Murder Club Series, Books 1, 2 and 3 by James Patterson – Fiction
These books center around 4 women: a police officer, a pathologist, a district attorney and a reporter.  These 4 women come together to solve murder cases.  I like stories where the central characters are strong women.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Millennium Trilogy, Book 3 by Stieg Larsson – Fiction
I read books 1 and 2 and thought this was by far, the weakest of the 3 books.  I enjoyed them all, however.  I’ve not yet seen the movie about the first book.

Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan – Non-Fiction
I read Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma in book club some time ago so thought I’d try this book.  It was about Pollan’s 7 years of gardening and the choices he’s made, as well as the way gardening brings one close to nature.

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King – Fiction
This is another of King’s non-horror books.  It’s about a young prince, an evil wizard, dragons and a daring escape from prison.  Fun read!

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Fiction
This classic is about a group of ship-wrecked boys and their progression from civilized boys to savages.

In addition to my reading list, Timm has a reading list of his own.  First and foremost, Timm is a news hound.  He regularly reads the news on his iPhone, often reading it to me as I drive the RV.  He reads USA Today, CNN, Fox News, NPR News, CNet Tech News and Twitter.  Because we’re out of cell phone range so often, he’s gotten in the habit of caching the news when we’re in range so he has something to read when we’re out of range.

Timm also spends hours reading about possible upcoming parks and planning our trip route.  This takes a great deal of time as he has to determine which parks are along the proposed route, which are worth stopping at, where the hiking trails are in each park, and then selecting which trails we would most enjoy. He does most of this on the internet when we are in range and also references several travel books he brought on the trip.

Timm reading outside the RV in Lassen National Forest

Finally, when Timm cannot research our trip or write blog articles, he has a book he reads.  This book is One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith from the journals and photographs of Richard Proenneke.  This book is about Richard Proenneke and is based on his journals written while building a cabin and living alone in the Alaskan wilderness.

I  have always enjoyed reading.  It has been a luxury to be able to spend a good deal of time reading on this trip.

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