Recent Books (Icelandic Edition)

So this is going to be short: it’s just three books. The first is Powers of Darkness, which, yes, is that “Icelandic Dracula” translation that was in the media last year—and yeah, it’s very different from our Dracula—and the others are old Penguin editions of a Icelandic texts titled Eyrbyggja Saga, and an Icelandic murder-mystery titled Snowblind: A Thriller by Ragnar Jónasson (translated by Quentin Bates). The Icelandic Dracula and the murder mystery are from the library, while the two sagas are books I’ve had on the shelf for literally decades and never read, but finally decided to check out. 

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The Middle Passage

A word of warning: though this post is titled “The Middle Passage,” it’s not about African slave transportation routes. It’s titled after the book it discusses, which is a psychologist’s account of midlife crisis. Just in case someone thought it would be something else. 

When the Incomparable Mrs. Jiwaku talked about James Hollis’ The Middle Passage—she’d been reading a Korean translation of the book—she was quite passionate about it, but I found myself skeptical: a self-help book about the midlife crisis, by a Jungian psychologist?

Three sets of alarm sirens went off in my head, which you can guess from the emphases above. I’m not going through that, I thought to myself. No desire to buy a sports car, or run off with someone younger, or get enmeshed in some kind of affair. I’m not that sort of person…

Besides, the author’s Jungian focus… well, artists love Jung, but the man did believe in some kooky things. Where one ought to stand on the more extravagant criticisms of Jung, like those of Richard Noll, I’m not sure: some accuse Noll of sensationalism, others of merely wanting to get out facts that Jungians seem eager to keep quiet. Still, I know more than enough about Jung to be uncomfortable with some of the more parapsychological and occult nonsense he embraced, literally as well as—supposedly—metaphorically; sure, people didn’t know it was clearly nonsense at the time, but we don’t take Paracelsus’ theories all that seriously today, just the same.) 

Plus, you know… it’s a self-help book, right? I tend to avoid those generally, even though a few have been useful to me along the way, because the vast majority of such books are about as useful as the latest diet book.  

Still, what she said about the book made it sound like it was possibly worth looking into, so when I found that it was easy to get a copy, I did so. It’s a month later, give or take a few days, and I’ve just finished the book, and… well, it was fascinating. Hollis was a working therapist when he wrote the book, and he (pseudonymously) talks about some of the cases of people who came to him in the throes of midlife crisis.

And what do you know? I think I found in it some useful insights, in the style of “reminders of things we all know, but often forget.”  Continue reading

Recent Readings: Fiction

Here are some of the books I’ve read recently. (That is, the fiction: nonfiction books got their own post, and  RPG books will getting their own too; I’ve read a lot of those, but I don’t want to mix them all together.) For those who’re wondering what this post includes, have a look at the tags: the authors and book titles are listed among them. 

Beyond that, I’ll note two things:

First, some of these books were loaners from my buddy Justin Howe, who sent me a box of great books to check out. I’m still working my way through them, and more will be showing up in the next post of readings, to be sure. I’m noting that here so that I don’t need to keep mentioning him throughout this post. A couple of others were from the local library (the Sejong National Library in South Korea), which is pretty surprising: I was amazed there was a collection of English books at all, let alone English books I’d want to read. 

Second, I’ve been on an Edgar Rice Burroughs kick, but I gave the three books I recently read from his Pellucidar series their own post, since I’m thinking about organizing the Burroughs readings into a kind of series here on the blog.

Third, this post contains pretty much everything else I’ve read all the way through (outside RPG  books) in 2018 since my last update, early in the year. If it seems like a short list, well… I also finished drafting two books (and a somewhat involved freelance RPG-writing project) on top of a full time job and having a kid to take care of. Time’s been kind of short this year, in other words, but I am reading somewhat more than I did last year!

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Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs: Pellucidar (Books 1-3)

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs

So… this post was originally part of a different post, rounding up fiction books I’ve read in 2018, but for a couple of reasons—length, viability as a post series—I figured I’d instead do one post rounding up general reading, and another specifically tracking my readings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. 

Because the thing is, I’ve been on an Edgar Rice Burroughs kick. It’s not nostalgia at work, note: though I know of Tarzan and Barsoom because I grew up in Western culture in the 1970s and 1980s, and yes, I saw the Disney film John Carter of Mars (and didn’t hate it), I’d never actually read a single book by Burroughs until a month ago. 

I might not have done so, either, except I started researching a creative project—let’s simplify and call it a planetary romance thing. I figured, hey, Burroughs was a big deal in this area, maybe I should check out his stuff, just to get a grounding. That morphed into sort of a diversion, and then a thing-in-itself, and now I’m on a Burroughs kick. Planetary Romance (and the “Hollow Earth” variant of the genre) is bigger than just that one author, of course, and I’ll likely branch out beyond that, but it’s been interesting going back to Burroughs’ work and digging in.

After plowing through a couple of public-domain audiobooks, I took the plunge and bought myself a stack of old Ballantine and Ace paperbacks, including a few of the Pellucidar books (notably the first three), most of the Venus series (except the last volume), both of the two volumes that collect Burroughs’ three-part novel (or series?) The Moon Maid, and the full Mars/Barsoom series, along with a few scattered stand-alone novels. 

Will I get through them all? Time will tell, but I can say that I started with the first three books of the hollow-earth Pellucidar series, and that’s what I’m discussing today. 

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