Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Q1 review: six books short

Classic Words Free, the Android version of the classic board game Scrabble (or Spellofun as I knew it in childhood), is to be blamed for the fewer number of books I read in the first quarter, January-March. I've been addicted to the game since early February that cost me at least six books if not more. The six books I didn’t read would have covered one each of espionage, science fiction, horror, and fantasy, and two of nonfiction.

My target was 15 books and an unlimited number of short stories. Instead, I read just nine books and twenty short stories, and a dozen comics I didn’t keep track of.

The only consolation, as I see it, is that I learned new and often unpronounceable words. The built-in Scrabble dictionary is from another planet. I also played a few games online, with other sleep-deprived zombies, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did playing against my tablet. As of today I've won 80 out of 108 games, a success rate of 74.1 per cent. I was winning most of the games until I switched over to ‘Extremely Hard,’ the toughest level. So far my best word is ‘Untaxing’ that earned me a bingo and my best final score is 491. Is ‘Untaxing’ even a word? Whatever, I've added it to my Word dictionary.

Here then are the nine books I read over the past three months…

Thriller: Touch the Devil and The White House Connection by Jack Higgins

Splatterpunk: AN.AL—The Origins by Athul DeMarco

Mystery: The Rome Express by Arthur Griffiths and A Body in the Backyard by Elizabeth Spann Craig

Western: The Renos by Wolf Lundgren and A Noose for the Desperado by Clifton Adams

Humour: Beating Around the Bush by Art Buchwald

General: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

…and here are the twenty short stories.

Charles Allen Gramlich: Killing Trail, Showdown at Wild Briar, Powder Burn, and Once Upon a Time with the Dead, from Killing Trail

Ross Rocklynne: Sorry: Wrong Dimension

Philip K. Dick: The Father-Thing

Isaac Asimov: Rain, Rain, Go Away

Shirley Jackson: Charles and The Witch

Edith Nesbit: The Mystery of the Semi-Detached

Ernest Bramah: The End of the Beginning, In the Thick of It, and The Beginning of the End, from Smothered in Corpses

Dorothy Les Tina: Nice Corpses like Flowers

Evelyn Waugh: Edward of Unique Achievement, Fragments: They Dine with the Past, Conspiracy to Murder, Unacademic Exercise: A Nature Story, and The National Game, from The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

Julia Greene: Whiffet Squirrel

There are no favourites. I liked all the books and short stories I read. They belonged to various genres and were written by gifted writers. Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury was a difficult read, like climbing the face of a mountain without gear.

So what do I take away from Q1? I’m back to reading contemporary authors. This time around I read Jack Higgins, Charles Allen Gramlich, Elizabeth Spann Craig, and India’s Athul DeMarco. The review of Charles’ Killing Trail is accompanied by an in-depth interview with the author. The only book I haven't reviewed is Elizabeth’s charming mystery A Body in the Backyard and that will happen soon.

I have a feeling Q2 will be better, in spite of the Android and I continuing to engage in a war of words over Scrabble.


  1. My reading has decreased lately too as I've been distracted by various real life dramas. And maybe a little by SKyrim!

    1. Charles, my son plays Skyrim often though I've never tried it. There was a time when I was hooked to video and computer games, especially the early Dos games like PCman, Paratrooper, Dave, and Prince of Persia followed by Tetris, Islander, and Mario.

  2. I remember enjoying Art Buchwald's columns in the daily newspaper when I was in school.

    1. Ron, Buchwald's syndicated column was very popular among Indian newspaper readers. I particularly looked forward to his political satire which, if I recall correctly, was rather mild. While he was renowned for his humour, he wasn't always funny.

  3. Prashant - nice summary. Reading is reading - I'm sure you'll catch up Q2. I want to try and stay on top of all the short stories I pick-up online. A bit more organisation and I'll do that.

    I've lost reading time playing Breaking Bricks myself!

    1. Col, thank you. I better catch up if I hope to read as many old and new authors as I want to including the classics. I'm now comfortable reading short stories and plan to read as many as I can every month. But sometimes I just forget. I have never played Breaking Bricks and I wonder if it's anything like Tetris. Let me find out.

  4. I've got a book by Buchwald on my TBR pile, I should get it out. When I was much younger I read several of his collections and enjoyed them very much. I was very amused and entertained by your description of the addiction to Scrabble!

    1. Moira, I read Buchwald's syndicated column in the 80s and 90s and since then I'd forgotten about him until his death in 2007. He wrote political satire but, I think, he took care not to ruffle political feathers. His wit and observation were sharp. I continue to play Scrabble, and read by the side!

  5. Prashant, I may have to try that Scrabble game. I love words but I do get frustrated with games like that sometimes.

    This was a good summary and your reading efforts are just fine. Do what you enjoy doing is the most important thing. I look forward to your review of Body in the Backyard.

    Sorry to be so late in checking in on your posts. I am getting ready for a trip to Alabama and distracted from both reading and blogging. Everything has been slower for me.

    1. Tracy, thank you and please don't apologise. I hope you have a wonderful trip to Alabama. I enjoy solving crosswords in newspapers and playing Scrabble on the computer although it's more fun playing on a real boardgame with real people. I'm looking forward to reviewing A BODY IN THE BACKYARD, a cozy mystery, by writer Elizabeth Spann. I don't read many of those. And read more contemporary authors this year.