Saturday, October 30, 2004

I have a confession to make. I'm not as well read as I'd like to be. This was driven home to me a few weeks ago when I saw a list of a hundred classic books on someone's blog (I think it was Suburban Blight, but I won't swear to it) and in going down the list, I had only read maybe four out of all of them. That set me to thinking that maybe I should broaden my horizons a little.

Now I read all the time, but I will admit that what I read is a bit limited in scope. I read history, primarily Civil War, but there's a good bit of world history in my library as well. I have quite a few books on agriculture and a few books on machinery and tractors. I also have a good selection of equine related books.

In my ficton I'm a bit more diverse. As far as "classics" go, I'm a bit shy other than Sir Walter Scott. I read everything from Tony Hillerman to George MacDonald Fraser to Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O'Brian. That's my "normal" fiction if you will. Hmmp, I just realized that with the exception of Tony Hillerman, almost all of my ficton is historical. My other favorite reading is Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Robert E. Howard to Harry Turtledove and Jerry Pournelle. That's the sort of thing I read for pure escapism when I want to just lose myself for a while.

I decided to try an experiment.

Sweetie and I went to a local used bookstore tonight and I found myself in the "classics" section, so I gathered up a few at random to try and expand my mind a little. Well, not quite at random, but still a departure from my normal reading.

I came home with some different reading material tonight.

The Reivers, by Faulkner. Other than the odd short story in school, I'm ashamed to admit I've never read Faulkner.

The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain. I have read quite a bit of Twain, but only the "mainstream." This seemed a bit "off the beaten path" so I thought it would be a good one.

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. I have read exactly one Hemingway story in my 37 years of life.

The General, by C.S. Forester. Ok, I've got other Forester books... Rifleman Dodd probably being my favorite.

I also picked up a volume of Kipling poetry. I realize Kipling is out of fashion in this day, but I still think he was one of the greatest writers of the nineteenth century and I thoroughly enjoy reading him.

And of course, I had to find some non-fiction. I ran across an interesting history of the U.S. Army remount service. I never even cracked in open. I just tucked it under my arm and didn't even look at it until I got home. That's the sort of thing that may or may not be good reading, but it's fine reference material even if the writing is atrocious. The other non-fiction book I found was a reprint of an older book about warfare during the Crusades. The Crusades, particularly the Templars, have always fascinated me, even more than the Civil War in some ways.

And I almost forgot the best part of my plunder... Everything I know About Women I learned From My Tractor by Roger Welsch. Roger is a semi-retired professor from Nebraska who fell in love with Allis Chalmers tractors late in life and has written several hilarious tomes on the joys of antique tractor restoration.

I have enough reading material now to keep me busy for a least a week or so now. Since the time changes this weekend, I expect to be reading more now that I won't be outside as much. Actually, I'm probably set on reading material until the holidays, because I'm still working my way through Shelby Foote's Civil War narrative.