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June 26, 2022

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 06-26-2022 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]

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(click image for larger view)

Welcome to the prestigious, internationally acclaimed, stately, and illustrious Sunday Morning Book Thread! The place where all readers are welcome, regardless of whatever guilty pleasure we feel like reading (full disclosure: I was a copy editor/proofreader for the author). Here is where we can discuss, argue, bicker, quibble, consider, debate, confabulate, converse, and jaw about our latest fancy in reading material, even if it's nothing more than the economic predictions of Paul Ehrlich. As always, pants are required, especially if you are wearing these pants...

So relax, find yourself a warm kitty (or warm puppy--I won't judge) to curl up in your lap, drizzle warm caramel over those cinnamon rolls, and crack open a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?


PIC NOTE

Last week, I tossed out the idea of doing a Sunday Morning Book Thread focusing on short stories. That seemed to be very well received, so here we go! The pic above shows three stacks of books. The stack on the left contains anthologies, which are collections of stories by different authors. They may or may not have a theme tying them all together. For instance, in The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination, all of the stories involve mad science in some way or another. However, Mindblowing SF is simply a collection of awesome stories.

The center stack contains collections, which are groups of short stories by the same author. As with anthologies, there may or may not be a central theme. For instance, The Complete Chronicles of Conan features the titular character in all of his adventures. The Essential Ellison has a lot of Harlan Ellison's nonfiction writings in addition to numerous stories.

The third and final stack contains omnibus editions of various series. An omnibus is simply a group of novels packaged into a single volume. Many of them revolve around a particular series, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, but they can also be somewhat random, such as Dick: Five Novels of the 1960s and 70s, which is just five books written by Philip K. Dick with no central series or theme tying them together, other than being written during a particular time in his life.

What are some of YOUR favorite short stories? Why are they meaningful to you?

Who are some of your favorite short story authors? Why do you enjoy them so much?

BONUS QUESTION: One of the books is in the wrong stack. 500 quatloos if you can identify which book is in the wrong stack and also identify the correct stack in which it should be placed.

THE ART OF THE SHORT STORY

As you can see from the pic above, my interests in short stories tend to be in the realms of fantasy and science fiction. However, short stories can be found in any genre (romance, mystery, horror, western, spy thriller, etc.), including creative nonfiction. I once took a class on how to teach students to write creative nonfiction. I had never really thought about that genre before, but it was an excellent course. We had to write our own nonfiction stories and critique each other in class. It was a very fun experience. You can see some of my work HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE (Long Live the Queen!).

Short stories have been around as long as there has been literature. One of the oldest and greatest anthologies is One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern fairy tales that in its oldest form is more than a thousand years old. It's been radically expanded upon over the centuries. As it was created in a region of the world that was at the heart of many different cultures, it draws upon those cultures for inspiration, such as India and Persia in addition to Arabic culture. There's no question that One Thousand and One Nights has been hugely influential in Western culture as well, even serving as the inspiration for the classic Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales

Another classic colletion of short stories is Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which documents a fictional pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Along the way, each pilgrim tells stories to help pass the time. Apparently there's some debate over whether or not Chaucer actually finished his writing. Whether he did or not, though, doesn't detract from the fact that the Canterbury Tales, like One Thousand and One Nights, has influenced Western literature for centuries.

In more modern times, short stories were often written for "pulp" magazines, so named because they used rather poor quality paper (it was cheap). They could be mass-produced and were quite popular reading material for generations of young men (mostly). Quite a few prominent authors started out by writing for pulp magazines as a way to break into the market. They didn't pay very well, though. So authors had to write a lot of stories just to pay the bills. You can find an awesome archive of pulp fiction magazines HERE.

What does it take to write a "good" short story? I'll leave the answer to that to our actual published Moron Authors who have successfully sold their short stories.

If you are interested in writing short stories, a good way to get started is to simply submit your stories whenever you see a call for submissions. For instance, L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest offers cash prizes every quarter for the best science fiction stories. Taco Bell Quarterly also accepts story submissions as long at there is even a wisp of a connection with Taco Bell and its products...(ht: Peter Zah)

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BOOKS BY MORONS

HowToBuyElectricebookcover.jpg My name is Matt DeLorenzo and I'm a longtime lurker at AoSHQ. I've just written a book titled How to Buy an Affordable Electric Car: A Tightwad's Guide to EV Ownership.

While saving the planet is a laudable pursuit, this book is more about saving a couple of bucks. I largely avoid the environmental and political issues of electric cars and focus primarily on the fact that these vehicles are now here in the market and there may or may not be good reasons why you should buy one. I focus primarily on EVs that cost less than $40,000 (there's currently about eight) and talk about the advantages and pitfalls of driving electric, including range, charging issues including cost as well as tax incentives and rebates that might make an electric a good buy at a time of record gas prices. There are also tips on buying used EVs as well as hybrid and plug-in alternatives. The bottom line is that yes, we will be seeing a lot more electric cars, but they're not going to totally replace gas cars in the foreseeable future. I hope I provide a clear-eyed look on the realities of buying and owning an EV.

How To Buy An Affordable Electric Car: A Tightwad's Guide to EV Ownership: DeLorenzo, Matt: 9798831769586: Amazon.com: Books

Thanks much,

Matt DeLorenzo

Comment: As I told Matt, I think there are some areas where electric vehicles can make sense. For instance, small communities where you just need to get around quickly from point A to point B (e.g., a retirement village). We already see them all over the place in retail stores (e.g. Walmart) for mobility-impaired customers. I see a lot of electric-powered personal mobility devices at the campus where I work. Students love them. I don't think we'll ever see them for large commercial vehicles (trucks, planes, ships, etc.) unless we discover some radical new physics or minitiarization of nuclear technology (or both). We'll probably see some marginal improvement in battery technology for tools and electronic devices. I know EVs can be something of a controversial topic in the comments, so please play nicely below...

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MORON RECOMMENDATIONS

It seems to be a badge of honor of sorts to be featured in the Moron Recommendations section. I do remember how thrilled I was when I first saw one of my recommendations posted by OregonMuse (RIP). Here are a few tips on how to get your recommendation posted here (NOTE: I wish I could include all recommendations, but 3-4 is about the limit. You can always find more Moron Recommeded books at our Libib site.)



  1. Delurk! - I especially like to find recommendations from commenters I've never seen before. Delurking on the Sunday Morning Book Thread led me to become a more frequent commenter at AoSHQ. From there I became a full-fledged member of the most amazing community on the internet. That eventually led me to becoming a COB. If I can do it, so can you!

  2. Provide title of work and author(s) - I know some of you like to provide multiple books in your comments, which is fine because I know you read A LOT. However, a single comment per book, complete with author and title, makes it easier for me to single out as a good recommendation. Although if you want to recommend a series of books, that can also work as a good recommendation.

  3. Tell us something interesting! - What was most interesting and meaningful to you when you read your book? Is it relevant to current events? Does it tell an exciting tale of adventure and heroism? What does it get right? What does it do wrong? You don't need to provide a full review of the book, though you can certainly do that if you like. A short paragraph explaining just WHY you recommend the book gives us a reason to read it ourselves.

I also like to highlight comments from people who have read Books by Morons. I'm sure they appreciate your feedback!

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Sunday afternoon, I read A. H. Lloyd's Three Weeks with the Coasties. Could be subtitled "A Portrait of Bureacracy." It was a quick and entertaining read, and though he says it's fiction, I wonder.

Then I read The DA Breaks A Seal, a Doug Selby mystery by Erle Stanley Gardner. Published in 1946, this is one that I picked up at an antique store. DA returns from the War on furlough, and gets involved in the investigation of a murder caper. Also quick and entertaining.

Posted by: April--dash my lace wigs! at June 19, 2022 09:23 AM (OX9vb)

Comment: This is a great example of a commenter posting about a Moron Author's works. According to the author, it's a work of fiction, but based on real events drawn from his own experiences assisting in the Deepwater Horizon disaster relief efforts.

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I've been in a re-reading mood this month and am currently involved in A Confederacy of Dunces. This is a crazy book with several crazy characters! Funny is many ways.

Posted by: LRob in TX at June 19, 2022 09:24 AM (KTPXo)

Comment: Depending on who you talk to, this book is often hailed as one of the funniest novels ever written. According to TV Tropes, there have been numerous attempts to adapt the book into a movie version. However, the actors who could have played the lead role of Ignatius (John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley) all died before they could accept the role. Other weird events seem to conspire to prevent the film from being made, such as the murder of the head of the Louisiana State Film Commission (the book takes place in New Orleans) and Hurricane Katrina devastating Louisiana.

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The Americana in the Eric Sloane books put me in the mood for such things. I got out my copy of Out of the Northwoods: The Many Lives of Paul Bunyan, With More Than 100 Logging Camp Tales and The Hair of the Bear by Eric A. Bye. (He wrote an excellent book on fllintlocks.) These are imaginative, silly, sometimes absurd stories that might be told around a campfire. Between bouts of laughing I can feel my blood pressure lowering. Wonderful, relaxed reading.

Posted by: JTB at June 19, 2022 09:35 AM (7EjX1)

Comment: Tall tales are a proud American tradition. Other classically rugged American folk heroes include Pecos Bill and John Henry. I loved reading these stories when I was a kid.

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I'm still reading Pliny's Natural History. I'm actually learning a lot about ancient place names.

There are a lot of questionable facts though. For example, I learned of the Himantopodes, which are "a race of people with feet resembling thongs, upon which they move along by nature with a serpentine, crawling kind of gait" and the Blemmyæ who are said to "have no heads, their mouths and eyes being seated in their breasts." I remember an old Tarzan comic strip with a tribe of characters like that, the Onoes or something like that. I wonder if that's where they got the idea.

Posted by: Guy who stores nuts in his pants at June 19, 2022 09:37 AM (vrz2I)

Comment: Based on the description above, it's possible Pliny had overindulged on particular mushrooms while compiling his Natural History. But it does seem to be pretty comprehensive, covering a wide range of topics from astronomy to mineralogy to geography to art history and more. You can find a translation at Project Gutenberg.

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (240 Moron-recommended books so far!)

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WHAT I'VE BEEN READING THIS PAST WEEK:

  • The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton -- Book 3 in The Void Trilogy. It really is like a mashup of Star Trek V and Star Trek: Generations, but quite good.
  • The Devil You Know Better edited by R. J. Carter -- Except for a couple of short stories at the end, very enjoyable. Troy Riser's story could easily be the introduction to a series of novels about a hard-boiled detective hot on the trail of the Devil as he makes deals with Hollywood celebrities.
  • The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis -- Very thorough deconstruction of the Leftist mindset through reasoned argument. Absolutely recommended.
  • Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead) edited by Susan D. Blum -- This is for my day job. We're hosting a summer book reading program with several of our faculty. We will be discussing this book, which looks at alternative forms of assessing students instead of assigning them a grade.

That's about all I have for this week. Thank you for all of your kind words regarding my Sunday Morning Book Thread. This is a very special place. You are very special people (in all the best ways!). The kindness, generosity, and wisdom of the Moron Horde knows no bounds. Let's keep reading!

If you have any suggestions for improvement, reading recommendations, or writing projects that you'd like to see on the Sunday Morning Book Thread, you can send them to perfessor dot squirrel at-sign gmail dot com. Your feedback is always appreciated! You can also take a virtual tour of OUR library at libib.com/u/perfessorsquirrel. Since I added sections for AoSHQ, I now consider it OUR library, rather than my own personal fiefdom...

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 06-19-22 (hat tip: vmom stabby stabby stabamillion) (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)

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