Monday, August 15, 2016

Why I Read

Image result for Man reading a book

Why I Read

-Alan Arnell

In the second grade, I was rewarded by Mrs. Bumgardner for excellence in studentship. I had read 500 books during the school year.  I loved books then and I love them now.  I have a house full of books and have sold or thrown away thousands upon thousands over the years.  

When asked why I liked to read, I replied, “reading takes me to a different place, away from where I actually am.”  Where else can I sail on a three mast sailing vessel and be in an inglorious action with another vessel of larger size other than reading Patrick O'Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin series, a series of sea novels set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars.  

Today I still read, taking myself from a suburban house in Dallas, Texas.   Sometimes I hit the trail with my best friends Gus, Woodrow, Deets and Newt as we hit the trail in an epic cattle drive from the South Texas to Montana as I read the book Lonesome Dove a western novel written by Larry McMurtry. It is the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series, but the third installment in the series chronologically. The story focuses on the relationship of several retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.  I have read the book four times over a period of 30 years.  When I re-read the book, it is like I have gotten together again with an old friend.  Generally, all books by McMurtry give me a fuzzy-pleasant feeling by McMurtry’s tongue and cheek-serious-life and death writing.

I feel that I have lived beyond my my normal if some better that average active life.  To quote Chris Wright in Keep Calm and Read On - The Definitive Men’s Library in his web article (LINK)

I can be slightly more articulate today as to how each book “takes me to a different place”, but the recorded statement from my youth remains pretty wise. The writer in me squirms every time I notice a turn of phrase or scene that crushes my very best prose like an ant underfoot, easily; the editor in me studies, awed, every intense change of tense. On the whole, I strive to withdraw every ounce of knowledge I can find in a great writer’s prose. I relish, too, a relaxing hour of enjoyment where I can still lose myself in a universe that, for the moment, doesn’t include me.

Great books are being read less and less by men, and that’s a shame. Literature is not just an escape from the everyday: it’s a lens that projects foreign ideas onto ourselves. A great book informs, invokes thought and changes the way we view our day. It can be shared; and it can reveal things about the self that were previously hidden in murky unthought. In fact, it’s hard to find a more effective form of being taught by learned, well-educated or inspiring people — barring TED talks and a quiet chat with your old man. Lucky for you, the masses of incredible, controversial and even dubious writers have left behind their legacy. It’s an arsenal that we’re foolish to ignore.

The key to it all, from what I can figure, is reading what you enjoy and taking what you can from characters and authors who demonstrate, in one way or another, what you want to be (or those who are your foil, making major mistakes that you want to steer clear of). You no longer have to go to class and report on reading assignments — unpleasant experiences are no longer being forced upon you (by yourself or that arrogant bastard who gave you a C-). Reading can be an entirely personal experience; no more unsettling grades for you, Mr. Sparknotes.

Another problem, and one just as daunting, is finding a truly great book in a literal (ahem) galaxy of impressive bindings. Try as you might, Brontë or Shakespeare or Hemingway may not even work for you, and that’s not as mortal a sin as some literary prick might tell you. The importance is understanding why, and learning — always learning — from what you love and what you utterly don’t. Don’t! Shout to the rooftops why Poe is preposterous. Spur healthy debate. Bolster your own arguments, back them up with first-hand evidence (nothing worse than a hater who hasn’t actually read) — yet still, don’t be afraid to change your mind. Most of the greats didn’t produce one hit wonders.

So what do I do? I find the author who makes me smile with a turn of phrase, or a clever dialogue moment, or a plot twist that I truly never saw coming. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t guide you with a stern hand toward Roald Dahl for some of the juiciest turns-in-tale ever written, which give me a thrill on my 10th read just as much as they did my first time around.) The author created that moment for me, the treasured reader, to experience. He or she fought spurts of despair, dug deep within his or her own life and experiences, re-wrote and revised, cursed unhealthily and did it all again — just to unearth that group of markings on a page. And once you find yourself there, truly appreciating a person that you’ve never met, in a fictional or non-fictional setting that exists only on the page in front of you, that little tumble of text can and will change your life, whether in hardly noticeable grins, or thought-provoking miles of introspective growth. Turn the page.

My Favorite Technical Book

1955, 1956, 1957 Chevrolet Master Shop Manual (3 in one Unabridged)

My Favorite Authors (in no particular order)

Larry Jeff McMurtry (born June 3, 1936) is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the old West or in contemporary Texas. His novels include Horseman, Pass By (1962), The Last Picture Show (1966) and Terms of Endearment (1975), which were adapted into films earning 26 Academy Award nominations (10 wins). His 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove was adapted into a television miniseries that earned 18 Emmy Award nominations (seven wins), with the other three novels in his Lonesome Dove series adapted into three more miniseries earning eight more Emmy nominations. McMurtry and co-writer Diana Ossana adapted the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain (2005), which earned eight Academy Award nominations with three wins, including McMurtry and Ossana for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Patrick O'Brian (12 December 1914 – 2 January 2000), born Richard Patrick Russ, was an English novelist and translator, best known for his Aubrey–Maturin series, a series of sea novels set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and centred on the friendship of English naval captain Jack Aubrey and the Irish–Catalan physician Stephen Maturin. The 20-novel series, the first of which is Master and Commander, is known for its well-researched and highly detailed portrayal of early 19th-century life, as well as its authentic and evocative language.
James Brendan Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is an American author. He is largely known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross, the protagonist of the Alex Cross series.

Clive Eric Cussler (born July 15, 1931) is an American adventure novelist and underwater explorer. His thriller novels, many featuring the character Dirk Pitt, have reached The New York Times fiction best-seller list more than 20 times. Cussler is the founder and chairman of the real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), which has discovered more than 60 shipwreck sites and numerous other notable underwater wrecks. He is the sole author or lead author of more than 70 books.

David Baldacci (born August 5, 1960) is a bestselling American novelist.  Baldacci's first novel, Absolute Power, tells the story of a fictional American President and his Secret Service agents who are willing to commit murder in order to cover up the accidental death of a woman with whom the President was having an affair. It was made into a film, Absolute Power (1997), starring Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman.

Michael Connelly (born July 21, 1956[1]) is an American author of detective novels and other crime fiction, notably those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller.

Stuart Woods (born January 9, 1938 in Manchester, Georgia) is an American novelist.   Woods has written several other character-focused series. These characters include Holly Barker, a retired Army major and Florida police chief recruited to become a CIA operative; Ed Eagle, a Santa Fe defense lawyer; William Henry Lee IV, a Georgia senator who is elected President of the United States; and Rick Barron, a police detective who becomes a security officer and later chief of production for a Hollywood movie studio in the 1930s. All of Woods' novels take place in the same universe and characters frequently appear in other series.

John Sandford (was born John Camp on February 23, 1944), in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He wrote the Prey series where Porsche-driving Lucas Davenport, a police detective protagonist, who is confronted by the worst of Minneapolis, Minnesota's clever and chilling fictional antagonists.

Gore Vidal (October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was an American writer (of novels, essays, screenplays, and stage plays) and a public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing.  In his books In Burr (1973) and Lincoln (1984), the protagonist is presented as "A Man of the People" and as "A Man" in a narrative exploration of how the public and private facets of personality affect the national politics of the U.S.

Stephen Coonts (born July 19, 1946) is an American thriller and suspense novelist.  He is known for his writing Flight of the Intruder series and a movie of the same name.

Robert Ludlum (May 25, 1927 – March 12, 2001) was an American author of 27 thriller novels, best known as the creator of Jason Bourne from the original The Bourne Trilogy series. The number of copies of his books in print is estimated between 290 million and 500 million. They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd.

Charles McColl Portis (born December 28, 1933) is an American author best known for his novels Norwood (1966) and the classic Western novel True Grit (1968), both adapted as films. The latter also inspired a film sequel and a made-for-TV movie sequel. A newer film adaptation of True Grit was released in 2010.

Mario Gianluigi Puzo October 15, 1920 – July 2, 1999) was an American author, screenwriter and journalist. He is known for his crime novels about the Mafia, most notably The Godfather (1969), which he later co-adapted into a three-part film saga directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the first film in 1972 and Part II in 1974.

Leonard Patrick O'Connor Wibberley (9 April 1915 – 22 November 1983), who also published under the name Patrick O'Connor, among others, was a prolific and versatile Ireland-born author who spent most of his life in the United States.  As Patrick O'Connor, he wrote the Black Tiger series on auto racing, for young adults.

Karl Stig-Erland "Stieg" Larsson 15 August 1954 – 9 November 2004) was a Swedish journalist and writer. He is best known for writing the Millennium trilogy of crime novels, which were published posthumously and adapted as motion pictures. Larsson lived much of his life in Stockholm and worked there in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism.

He was the second best-selling author in the world for 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini.[1] The third novel in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010, according to Publishers Weekly.[2] By March 2015, his series had sold 80 million copies worldwide

Leon Marcus Uris (August 3, 1924 – June 21, 2003) was an American author, known for his historical fiction. His two bestselling books were Exodus (published in 1958) and Trinity (published in 1976).

Tony Hillerman
Jonathan Kellerman (born August 9, 1949) is an American psychologist, Most of his fictional stories feature the character of Alex Delaware, a child psychologist who consults for the police, assisted in his investigations by LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, who is what Kellerman describes as "gay, but so what?

Arthur Hailey (5 April 1920 – 24 November 2004) was a British/Canadian novelist, whose works have sold more than 170 million copies in 40 languages. Most of the novels are set within one major industry, such as hotels, banks or airlines, and explore the particular human conflicts sparked-off by that environment. They are notable for their plain style, extreme realism, based on months of detailed research, and a sympathetic down-to-earth hero with whom the reader can easily identify.

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was an Irish-Scots writer and physician, most noted for creating the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and writing stories about him which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.


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