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Rug - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.


What I am reading now is Lewis Shiner's Collected Stories, which I am reading slowly, carefully and with great interest and joy. More than a decade ago, I stumbled on his Deserted Cities of the Heart, about a trip to Mexico that my mother and I had nearly duplicated, although neither of us engaged in any time travel.

We went to the same places in a similar order, so I strongly identified with the story and have read every book I could find with a story by him in it. I like having all his shorter stories gathered together in one place. I like his style and am interested in various musics like he is.

His take on stories, science fiction, fact and other stuff has become fascinating to me.

For more than a decade, nearly all the books I read were by Orson Scott Card. Then he wrote, and I read, a book that showed a very Conservative side of him — that I and other book-reading friends thought was evil, and we quit reading him.

I've since begun reading him again, and not finding the Conservatism, but I had got fed up of some of his ongoing series for reasons of tedium and all but bored with his endless Ender series, which had once utterly fascinated me.

But I needed something to read, so I'd been taking recommendations. At Book People in Austin, I bought one of the science fiction books recommended by a staff member. By Philip K. Dick, it was fascinating as long as the narrative was by the paranoid (as was Dick) main character's friend. When it switched to the paranoid's I lost most of my interest.

I still plod through some pages from time to time, but I wonder whether I'll ever finish it.

Meanwhile, while in a WalMart to buy a toy camera for a four-year-old friend, I saw The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson for $10.97. I figured it would not, like most of the junk in that store, help in any way the fortunes of Red China.

And it was almost exactly what a enovel would cost for a Kindle or the iPod Touch I'd thought about buying when Audible.com had a hundred-dollar deal — they'd take $100 off my purchase, if I'd sign on to Audible for one year, a proposition that greatly appealed to me, except when I tried to execute it, Audible had pulled the promotion.

I keep thinking about buying a Kindle or a Touch, but reading an actual book that costs as little as an electronic version was very appealing. I bought it, and I am reading it.

About a decade ago, I began having trouble reading. I was in a Reading Group, and reading more than a few paragraphs had become very difficult. I used to rent audio books from a place out on Forest Lane, near where my reading group met once a month, then I discovered the same form, available for free from the Public Library, and was happy with that arrangement until the library switched to CDs, which I've never much appreciated except on long car trips, when mystery and other novel's linearity kept me sane and from being bored by driving and driving and driving.

I stayed away from attempting book form reading for too long a time apparently. When I took up with it again this year, I was able to read easily. It may be that now I have much better control over my diabetes. Or the reason may be completely mysterious. It hardly matters. I keep remembering me prone on the floor of my boyhood home reading all the Mark Twain books I could find. I've always loved reading books, I might as well enjoy it again.

The Audible.com deal for an iPod Touch seemed almost too good to be true, then proved that it was, so now I am reading books again. I'd seen The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, and shortly after starting Playing With Fire, I watched it again on instant Netflix to regain a sense of the characters.

I read 92 pages on my first sit-down with the book, and I read a chapter or a bunch of pages almost every day. It helps that I have not got either of my two-decades-old TVs out of storage. I do publishing, maybe some art crit. bird photos, one of my blogs or listen to NPR or iTunes or watch some movies on my elderly Mac most of my days, then I read Stieg's book. A good life.