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Here we are in mid-May 2020, and I have been working from home for a solid two months. It sounds like I will work from home until the end of June 2020, though upper management states it may be longer than that. I work for one of the largest counties in Oregon (my day job). Before joining the county, I worked from home for several years, so the transition has been mostly seamless. What is different this go around, is the schools are closed, as you know, thus I have to work and home school my children (my wife is a registered nurse who is still seeing patients). Frankly, this is a major pain in the ass. I have always appreciated teachers, and feel that they are under-paid, and this last couple of months has only confirmed this understanding of what they provide for our children. Thank you teachers! Side note: my daughter’s teacher stopped by the house today to see how she was doing and to drop off her supplies she had in her desk. How awesome is that? She rocks!
I thought I would have more free time during the pandemic stay at home, but in my case this has not been the reality. I haven’t been unproductive, in fact I have been working on several projects around the house. Besides trying to tame my wild yard during Oregon spring (way too much growth), my wife and I have been working on re-landscaping our backyard to fix some seasonal issues, add a fire pit with seating, and an outdoor living space for summer. There have been several hours of final edits and preparation to publish my dystopian short story, “We Were Like Brothers” (now available on Amazon). Rounding out my non-reading activities, I’ve been binging Master Classes. A couple of writing courses by Judy Blume and Joyce Carol Oates and a cooking course by Gordon Ramsey. As a life-long learner, I love Master Classes, and I can’t wait to take classes by some of the best writers of our modern age, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, James Patterson, and others.
So what have I been reading the last six weeks? Since February, my reading list has been fiction heavy, so I have worked more non-fiction into my reading rotation. I usually try to have one non-fiction book in play, a fiction audio book, and a fiction eBook. Not that my opinion matters, but as Stephen King says, to be a talented writer you need to be a diligent reader (or something to that effect). I’ll take it one step further in saying that you need a balanced approach to reading, non-fiction and fiction. I read non-fiction to gain insight into people or influential persons. To understand people is not only fascinating, but helpful in writing characters.
I don’t know about you, but with everything going on in my life, I find I am listening to more and more audible books. I can listen in the car, while I mow the yard, or while at work. I have been listening to Audible for several years now, as well as downloading audio books from my local library using OverDrive. If you can’t get the book you want at the library, check out Audible. (Full disclosure … I get a cup of coffee if you use this link.)
“Wolf: The Lives of Jack London” by James L. Haley
Wow! Jack London lived an amazing, though brief life. I admittedly didn’t know that much about Jack London. What an interesting person, full of adventure and overcoming setbacks. Before he turned twenty, he had experienced life well beyond his years. There are things in this book, that by the author’s account, aren’t in other biographies about Jack London. I’ll let you read the book to find out for yourself. I will say this about the book. The author seemed to drag out some periods of Jack’s life that could have been told in a more concise manner. That sums up the book, lots of significant information and stories about one of the greatest American authors, that could have been told in a less drawn out fashion. It was hard to stay with the slow parts, but Jack London is larger than life and that motivated me to press on.
“Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom” by Thomas E. Ricks
I enjoyed the comparison between these two men Winston Churchill and George Orwell. I knew little about Winston Churchill, so learning about him, beyond the generic brevity of information, was intriguing. George Orwell has been a favorite author of mine since I was a teenager. I wish he lived longer, as he was just into his best work before he died in his late 40s. I didn’t know his actual name was Eric Blair. As I mentioned earlier, the comparison between these two men, during the lead up to WWII, the war itself, and post WWII was fascinating.
“Fascism: A Warning” by Madeleine K. Albright. [Currently Reading]
I don’t have a lot to say about this book as I am still reading it. I will say I am enjoying the book, and the description of Benito Mussolini’s rise to power and mannerisms remind me of someone who occupies the White House. It concerns me about the similarities between the 1930s and our current situation.
“Path of the Assassin (Scot Harvath #2)” by Brad Thor
I am only two novels into the Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor, but I am totally hooked. What a brilliant character and intriguing storylines. I will definitely ride this series to the end. There is something that sits with me as… well, silly. That is the best way I can describe it, but it is also common for books of this genre (unless written in the last few years). Scot Harvath (which you have to attribute to the author and it has been in both books) constantly thinks about how the female character he has teamed up with on the mission is the ‘most attractive woman he has ever seen’. I think we all recognize and enjoy seeing an attractive person, but it seems over the top. Other than that, two books in, I really am enjoying this series.
“The Darkest Path” by Jeff Hirsch. [Currently Reading]
I am only about a third of the way into this novel, so I’ll talk more about it in another post. I will say I like the story so far.