Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Books, Books, and More Books!

Power Line is running a poll on their Power Line News to determine which is the best American Novel among 21 books they've chosen. I've only read eight of the books (starred) on the list, but there are several dozen books I've read that I wonder why they haven't been selected. For instance, I consider Tom Sawyer a better book than Huckleberry Finn from Mark Twain. I personally prefer The Old Man and the Sea over A Farewell to Arms. Where is Jack London's Call of the Wild, or James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans? Where are the works of Leon Uris, or James Michener, or Arthur Hailey? There's Halran Ellison's Invisible Man and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, but where are the works of Robert Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, or a raft of equally as good (or better) AMERICAN science-fiction writers? I don't see anything from Zane Grey, nor any of the works of any of the mystery writers, nor Gone With the Wind, nor any of the dozens of other great novels I've read over the last 50 years or so (I started early, and haven't stopped).

While it's great to celebrate the best of the US, it's not exactly the best way to create a summer reading list. I love quite a few foreign authors, including Rumer Godden, Arthur C. Clarke, Mary Stewart, and dozens of others in many different categories.

I live in a house where everyone reads - me, my wife, my youngest daughter, my granddaughter. We expect the dogs or cats to pick up a book any day now. We have a library of some 4000 books, including more than a hundred Readers' Digest condensed books - not always the best way to read a good novel, but an excellent way to be introduced to new writers. I read books for one of two reasons: to learn something new, or to be entertained. Some of these books do both, but so do a hundred other books. I think a much better poll for summer reading, but one that would require considerably more time, is to have all of Power Line's thousands of readers to submit their five most favorite books, one submission per email address. Power Line could then catalogue the top 25 books, along with a more substantial list of all books that got more than x-number of submissions. I'd do it, but I don't have enough readers to make it worthwhile. What few readers I do have are quite welcome to send me their submissions. If anyone does send me a submission, please put a category (historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, western, biography, etc.) next to the name. I'll publish the results (if I get any) by the 20th of June.

Here's their list of books:

Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

*Melville, Moby-Dick

Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin

James, Portrait of a Lady

*Twain, Huckleberry Finn

Cather, My Antonia

Wharton, The Age of Innocence

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

*Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

*Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Warren, All the King's Men

Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March

*Ellison, Invisible Man

Chandler, The Long Goodbye

*Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Updike, Rabbit, Run

Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor

*Heller, Catch-22

*Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

Nabokov, Pale Fire

Roth, The Great American Novel


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