New Arrivals, Current Reading February 25 – March 3, 2013

NEW ARRIVALS – not a thing this week. There have been enough lately, and there always seems to be something in the pipeline, so this week is more of a relief than a disappointment.

CURRENT READING – lots to say here.

Short Stories – To begin, In early January 2013 I said:
“What I’ve quickly discovered is that I’m not especially good at limiting my reading to only short stories. My solution? Read a novel and, after a chapter or two take a break and read a short story. Then go back to the novel. Between novels read a bunch of short stories My plan to plow through lots of short story collections is going to have to be modified. Less stories, but a novel gets read too.”

That plan sounded great, but it’s not what happened. Instead of cutting back on the number of collections I was reading, while reading a novel here and there, I started reading even more collections. Suddenly it seemed every interesting book I saw reviewed or looked at was short stories, so instead of reading one or two sets of stories the number has increased. I am now reading these short story collections (in title alpha order):

  • 50 in 50 – Harry Harrison – 50 stories 
  • A Killing Climate – Eric Wright – 16 stories
  • The Black Lizard Book of Black Mask Stories – various authors – 53 stories
  • The Cobra – Richard Sale – 8 stories
  • Complete Casebook of Cardigan vol 1 – Frederick Nebel – 11 novelettes
  • Complete Father Brown – G.K. Chesterton – 54 stories
  • Complete John Thunstone – Many Wade Wellman – 18 stories
  • Gibbsville, PA – John O’Hara – 52 stories
  • More Than Honor – various authors – 4 long stories
  • Playgrounds of the Mind – Larry Niven – 49 stories

I’ll save you the math, that’s 315 short stories in ten – count ’em, ten – books of short stories I’m working my way through, plus the novels I’m trying to intersperse between. Yikes! No wonder it’s taking me forever to get through these books, and that some have gotten set aside temporarily. I’m trying to read at least two stories every day but it’s still going to take a long time.

mr-penumbras-24-hour-bookstoreHere’s what is most frightening, or delightful, depending on how you look at it: I have several hundred more books of short stories – many of them that I’ve read but could read again – on the shelves. All the pulp reprints, all the Crippen & Landru collections, mystery and science fiction collections and general fiction collections plus non-fiction collections of travel writings, essays, letters, and the like. I  could probably read nothing but short stories and other short works for years!

Novels – I finished another Perry Mason novel. I picked The Gift of Rain back up from the bottom of a pile but have read only a few pages. It’s a book that needs to be read straight through, without frequent interruptions. I’m currently a third of the way through The Chinese Parrot, a Charlie Chan novel by Earl Der Biggers and almost halfway through Robin Slone’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore which came from the library two days ago. Both books are a lot of fun.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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15 Responses to New Arrivals, Current Reading February 25 – March 3, 2013

  1. Redhead says:

    I’ve heard good things about Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore, I’m interested to hear what you think of it.

    and holy cow, that is a LOT of short stories! I’m trying to read more short stories, and I’ve the idea of read a few chapters of a novel, take a break with a short story. I’ve read maybe a dozen short story collections in the last year or so, and for me, that’s a lot.

  2. Richard says:

    Red, I had heard lots good about Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore too, which why I got it from the library. So far, it’s great. Yes, it’s a lot of stories, and it will take a goodly while to get through them!

  3. I can relate to the overabundance of short stories! In my opinion it is a good problem to have. I have several unread collections on my shelves plus each month am getting three SFF magazines plus the individual short stories that seem to crop up all over the place, including on sites like and Nightshade. I’m loving all the short story reading but it does cut into the time to try to get some novels read.

  4. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Mr. Penumbra’s, so I’m curious about you have to say about it! I just picked up Matrimony by Joshua Henkin (who wrote an amazing book called The World Without You, and am about to start Tenth of December.

  5. Richard says:

    Allison, thanks for stopping by! So far, at the halfway point, I’m enjoying Penumbra, but can’t see where it’s going at this point. I hope it will be as good the rest of the way as the first half. I’m not familiar with Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, nor The World Without You. I’ll have to check out Tenth of December.

  6. You have some great short story collections there, Richard. I have been meaning to read G.K. Chesterton’s and O. Henry’s short stories for a while now. I usually read stories between novels too as it also helps break the monotony.

  7. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Welcome to my world. Now you know how I feel. At one point I managed to get through almost every short story collection I then owned. Of course the solution was obvious, and since then I’ve picked up more – especially science fiction collections. And don’t even mention ebooks, though I have been reading a lot of stories in that format.

    I read 51 more stories in February (62 in January). This week I read THE AGE OF DOUBT by Andrea Camilleri, latest Insp. Salvo Montalbano book (though I saw a newer one in Barnes & Noble last week); THE BOX & OTHER ODD STORIES (ebook) by Steven Torres, many of them previously unpublished and for the most part less good than his Precinct Puerto Rico stories; A LIGHT IN THE DARK (ebook), science fiction by Nathan Lowell (reeadable but instantly forgettable); EIGHT LIES (ABOUT THE TRUTH) (ebook), the first book I’ve read by Sean Chercover and one I liked a lot (mystery short stories, several about his Chicago pi); and FESTIVAL FOR SPIES by David St. John (E. Howard Hunt), in his Peter Ward series. I didn’t think it was as good as most of the others I’ve read. This one is set in Hong Kong, which someone at Signet seemed to think was in the “Near East.”

  8. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I read Mr. Penumbra recently too and though I thought that the second half ran down a little it was a good one.

  9. cgramlich says:

    I like Harry Harrison pretty well but have only read a few of his short stories. Didn’t know there was a 50 story collection out.

  10. Richard says:

    Prashant, both those authors are well worth reading. Just a story every day or two and zip! you’re through a book. Especially the O.Henry, many of which are quite short.

    Charles, it’s a very nice hardcover and well worth the price, with introduction and comments by Harrison and broken into types of stories (aliens come to Earth, first contact in space, when things go wrong, robots and machines, etc. Really solid stuff.

  11. Richard says:

    Jeff, if I were reading short stories at your pace I’d finish some of the collections by now. I’ll be reporting my progress over time. I’m not surprised about the Lowell, his novels declined in story quality, in my opinion, as they went along, which is why I quit after the 3rd. If I ever dig out of the morass of books here I’d like to try Camilleri.

  12. Patti Abbott says:

    Am really enjoying GIBBSVILLE. Thanks!

  13. Richard says:

    Patti, I’ll bet you’re already further along than I am.

  14. I’m with Jeff on Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I just finished DETROIT: AN AMERICAN AUTOPSY and the next book I’ll be reading is about the Civil War. But, as I’ve done for years after Jeff Meyerson inspired me, I read a short story per day. I’m counting the days until Volume 3 of Jack Vance’s short stories, MAGIC HIGHWAYS, gets published at the end of March.

  15. Richard says:

    George, I saw the listing for that forthcoming Vance collection, George, figured you had it on order. I finished Penumbra last night and agree with Jeff’s statement. Review soon.

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