WWW Wednesdays #1

This is another bookish meme that I have never participated in before now. It was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by “fledgling writer” Sam A. Stevens on Taking on a World of Words. To participate, you just answer the Three W’s:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Normally, this would be pretty easy for me as I have been reading at a glacial speed the past couple of years and I rarely have more than one book going at a time.

Let’s dive in…

Currently Reading:

Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman. Purchase here: (affiliate link) Amazon.com

Song of the Lion is the third book in the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series (or, #20 in the overall Leaphorn & Chee series started by Anne’s father, Tony).

I loved Tony Hillerman’s books while living in northeastern Kansas and his wonderful descriptions of Navajoland made me want to live in that part of the country. A 1992 archaeological field trip to Chaco Canyon, and other parts of New Mexico, caused me to make the move not long after. It was everything the books described and more. I even met Hillerman on a few occasions at book-signings in Albuquerque. I’d already moved to Thailand by the time he died and it was 2015 before I realized his daughter had started writing novels continuing the Leaphorn & Chee series (and bringing Officer Manuelito into the forefront).

I stumbled across Anne Hillerman’s first two novels in 2015-2016 and read books 5 and 6 soon after each was published. But I was missing the other three until earlier this month. I am now about halfway through Song of the Lion and will probably finish it in another week or so.

Recently Finished:

I teach Kindergarten in Thailand and usually spend my evenings preparing games and other materials. We have been on summer holiday since the end of April but school resumes next week. New school year, new curriculum and the school waited until Tuesday to send that to the teachers. Thus, the last week of this break has been taken up by a mad dash to make sure I have all I need for the first few weeks. I generally can only keep my eyes open for “fun” reading an hour or so each night. It can take me a long time to finish a book.

A colleague recently gave me a large stack of books in the Images of America series. These have just a few short introductory chapters and then a number of vintage photographs but with lengthy captions. I can read one of these books in under two hours. Since Sunday, I have finished two books in that series and a cookbook (yes, a cookbook…),

Six Flags Over Georgia by Tim Hollis. Purchase here: (affiliate link) Amazon.com

This was an odd one for me to read as I have never been to Georgia nor am I a big fan of theme parks in general. I do remember a few childhood visits to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm in California, I’m sure we visited Six Flags Over Texas a few times while living outside of Dallas, and we did go to Opryland in Nashville a number of times while living there. There was also a strange little amusement park somewhere in Oklahoma but I cannot recall its name or even the town it was in. By the time I was a teenager, these places held very little appeal for me.

But Six Flags Over Georgia by Tim Hollis was at the top of the pile so open it I did. I found it interesting in an odd way. The photographs of the rides under construction and details of how certain attractions changed over time held my interest. Reading about endless mascots and other costumed characters in the park bored me to tears, although I had heard of a few of them prior to picking up this book.

The “I Love My Rice Cooker” Recipe Book published by Adams Media. Purchase here: (affiliate link) Amazon.com

I actually read most of The “I Love My Rice Cooker” Recipe Book — the introductory matter, and the lion’s share of the recipes. I don’t have a rice cooker. My home might be the only one in all of Thailand that doesn’t have a rice cooker. But I recently stumbled across a YouTube video or several (one always leads to more) showing that a rice cooker is not just for cooking rice. You can cook entire cakes in there! Cheesecakes, even! So, I want to buy one of these but feel I need to know more before I take the plunge (they aren’t expensive but I am frugal).

The two extremely negative reviews on Goodreads notwithstanding, I thought this was a well-done little cookbook. It told me how to properly use a rice cooker and provided a number of easy-to-follow tips. There’s a wide range of appetizers and meals in here; the descriptions before the recipes often made me salivate. The only sections that I didn’t read straight through were for food that I simply don’t like (such as most seafood). I ear-marked a number of dishes that I would like to try cooking. That is, once I decide which rice cooker to buy and which ingredients I can find in southern Thailand.

Theatres of San Francisco by Jack Tillmany. Purchase here: (affiliate link) Amazon.com

Theatres of San Francisco isn’t as odd of a reading choice as Six Flags Over Georgia was. For one thing, I have lots of familial ties to the Bay Area. My parents were actually employed at the same company in the city and kept noticing each other while waiting at a bus stop. Eventually, they eloped and the rest is history. My mom’s younger sister still lives in Vallejo and my dad’s big brother was up in Walnut Creek out past Oakland until he died a few years ago. I also have had a fascination with the architecture of old theatres — the exteriors and interiors alike — as well as an interest in the history of the local music scene (touched upon in this book from time to time).

Some of these photographs brought back memories of places that either I had seen while passing by or actually went to an event inside. I had completely forgotten that I had attended a performance of “Beach Blanket Babylon” during a late 1990’s visit until I saw a picture of the theatre that has hosted it for umpteen years. I was also surprised at how many of the old theatres are still around in some form or another (not always in their originally intended purpose) and often saddened to hear of the demise of others. Tillmany does a great job telling what now sits on the sites of various long-gone venues and what others have become. A great read and wonderful photos throughout.

Reading Next:

Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman. Purchase here: (affiliate link) Amazon.com

Cave of Bones is #5 in Anne Hillerman’s Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series, itself a continuation of her dad’s Leaphorn & Chee series (in which it’s #22 overall). So, I naturally want to follow my current Song of the Lion with this one in the near future. However, sometimes my mood changes by the time I finish reading a series novel — occasionally, I need a change of pace so I have several others that might take precedence:

Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World’s Longest Cave by James D. Borden & Roger W. Brucker. Purchase here: (affiliate link) Amazon.com

Growing up, instead of amusement parks, I had a huge interest in caves. We visited places like Carlsbad Caverns and Mammoth Cave on family trips. I climbed into a number of sinkholes when we lived in the Nashville area but I was too chubby to go too far underground. When I was around ten years old or so, I found a copy of The Longest Cave by Roger W. Brucker and Richard A. Watson. I was enthralled by the experiences of those spelunkers trying to find passable passages underground and have long rated it as one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I have searched in vain for it in recent years.

Recently, I found a copy of Beyond Mammoth Cave which brings the story more or less up to date. Back in 1973 when the cave explorers made the initial connection described in The Longest Cave, the Mammoth Cave system was around 140 miles long. By the time Beyond Mammoth Cave was published, the system had reached 300 miles. It has since reached more than 400 miles! The story of new discoveries underneath the Kentucky countryside is far from over…

I have several other books at the top of my virtual TBR pile (all of these are eBooks other than the Images of America paperbacks) but will have to save those for another time. It’s getting late, nearly past my reading time.

Happy Reading!

2 thoughts on “WWW Wednesdays #1

  1. Pingback: Friday Book Memes #1: Song of the Lion | Mark Joseph Jochim

  2. Pingback: Sunday Summary #40 | Mark Joseph Jochim

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