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Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-01 4:52 AM (#23638)
Subject: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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Her we go again. A new year,new books.As usual I will be reading a lot of good old fashioned pulp from the 30s and 40s, classic short stories,a few award winners. But my main focus is to read more of the Hugo nominees. I've read175 of them,but still 157 to go.
I may also read some Nebula nominees,,but that will be a long time project,as there are no less than 238 still unread. EEK.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-08 5:47 AM (#23680 - in reply to #23638)
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Thoroughly enjoyed C S Lewis allegorical novel,The Great Divorce. The writer, in a dream, boards a bus on a drizzly afternoon and embarks on an incredible voyage through Heaven and Hell. He meets a host of supernatural beings far removed from his expectations and comes to significant realizations about the ultimate consequences of everyday behavior. This is the starting point for a profound meditation upon good and evil..Written in 1945 we see almost a shadow version of the heaven of The Last Battle in the Narnia books where even the most beautiful things of earth are mere shadows of the super reality of the new world. Fascinating,and there is plenty to wince about shamefacedly as so many of our excuses,hypocrisies and selfishness are exposed,and many of the visitors to heaven get back on the bus to return to Hell. Giving up on vices and pleasures is just too much for them! lol.Good stuff.
From the sublime to the ridiculous,a guilty pleasure was Scrapyard Ship, by Mark Wayne McGinnis,where an ex-navy SEAL discovers an alien spaceship hidden in an dry aquifer cave under his father's scrapyard - as you do - and is soon fighting off evil alien invaders. Totally preposterous but enormous fun. Just what I need when grounded by ill health and withrampant covid just beyond the front door.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-11 3:07 AM (#23698 - in reply to #23638)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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I rarely read horror,I am too wimpy. I am not keen on post apocalytic/dystopian works,they depress me. And I am not so keen on AI stories,which rarelyend well for we humans.
So how come I have just finished Harlan Ellison's Hugo winning short story, the harrowing and nightmarish ''I Have No Mouth...and I Must Scream''.?
I suppose it is far too late to become a Luddite and destroy all machines. We are well on our inevitable way to meeting AM.
Enfant terrible Harlan sure could write. Iconic,disturbing story,,even more apt today,55+ years later.Frightening masterpiece
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daxxh
Posted 2022-01-11 8:19 PM (#23700 - in reply to #23638)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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@Dusty - I had to go re-read I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream after your comments. It has been many years since I have read it. Love it.

And since I was reading Ellison, I just had to re-read my favorite short story - Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman. Still relevant.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-12 4:58 AM (#23701 - in reply to #23700)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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Daxxh,I read Tick Tock Man a few months ago.,and as you say,it is still relevant.I have been reading top SF short stories over the last year or so,after decades of sticking to novels only..and am thoroughly enjoying it.
Way back in 1961,on my 13th birthday I was so happy to get my adult library card. My first two selections were ERBs Princess of Mars and Ray Bradbury's Golden Apples of the Sun. Probably 2 out of 3 books on the shelves were either fixup novels ,short story collections,or anthologies.Damon Knight was the king of editing anthologies, Ted Surgeon,Clifford D Simak,Fritz Leiber ,Asimov,BradburyVan Vogt were at the top of their fame,and form,so we were spoilt for choice with great short fiction. But times were already changing,the magazines were fading somewhat,and the rise of the novel was on the way. Within a decade,short SF was very much rarer,and the novel reigned supreme.So I am happy to read some of the greatest stories,either as rereads after decades,or read for the first time.Good stuff.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-30 6:48 AM (#23759 - in reply to #23638)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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Hands full sorting out visas,cobid tests, vaccine records,tickets etc etc for Mr Dusty's trip to Africa so very distracted from reading. Read some Winston juveniles,some Simon R Green's Ishmael Jones series,and Joe Haldeman's Mindbridge,plus Jay Kristoff's Illuminae,fast fun read,but reading a gazillion texts is a bit wearing so I wont be reading sequel Gemina!
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-31 2:56 PM (#23769 - in reply to #23638)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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First month of Pick N Mix challenge complete. I had a good month,14 titles for the challenge.
15 active participants have read 64 books Off to a good start.
My best book of the month,though harrowing for wimpy me,was Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.Enfant terrible or not,the guy could write
Most thought provoking read,C S Lewis The Great Divorce
Most fun fast paced romp Jay Kristoff Illuminae
Most disappointing,Mary Robinette Kowal - Calculating Stars .
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-06 10:56 AM (#23796 - in reply to #23638)
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Mr Dusty went off to Africa on Friday after multiple problems,including getting the NHS app to show he'd been vaccinated,plus getting covid PCR test results,only 4 hours before we had to go to the airport. There he had trouble because his tickets were mislaid. He missed his connection at Dubai,was diverted to Nairobi Kenya and had to go 100s of miles by bus to get to Uganda border. Was expecting a call saying he had arrived at 11.20 am my time,and didnt hear from him till 820pm,so you can imagine my nerves by then! lolComplications and problems at every stage
Oh well,from tomorrow I can hopefully settle into reading. Exploits of Engelbert and Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness should be completed soo. So far this month I have read Winston series juveniles and some fluff about Brian Helsing,the World's Most Unlikely Vampire Hunter,just short fun romps.Not classics in any shape or form,but all my brain could handle!
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Weesam
Posted 2022-02-06 2:04 PM (#23798 - in reply to #23796)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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That is a long, hot, bumpy bus ride your husband just took! I've done that trip by train and car, but never bus.

Your story brings back memories of the 5 years I lived in Nairobi. I was supposed to be flying from Dar-es-Salaam to Nairobi, but got diverted to Mombasa, where I ended up having to take an overnight train back to Nairobi. Happens a lot.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-06 2:47 PM (#23799 - in reply to #23638)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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I only visited Nairobi once while I lived in Uganda,in Jinja. Jinja has such a pleasant climate,it only fluctuates from 74-82 F,.We always had a cooling breeze from Lake Victoria,and at about 3500 feet altitude that kept the heat down. There was a single railway track,trains would have to get off on a siding while a train came the other way. It took 24 hrs to to get there. We were shivering in the highlands at night,teeth literally chattering.while next day in Nairobi it was 100 degrees,and I got sunstroke. Even my Ugandan friends after a morning walking around in a temp 20 degrees higher than usual had developed scabs on their cheeks and lipsNone of us had the sense to have a hat. I looked exactly the colour of a lobster lol.
Such are the joys of African travel.........
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Weesam
Posted 2022-02-06 11:05 PM (#23801 - in reply to #23799)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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Such a small world, I've spent a bit of time in Jinja. I had friends who lived there and used to go there for holidays. It's a beautiful place. Used to love spending a week's holiday there just chilling, sitting on the verandah watching the fishermen and boats out on the lake. Good times.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-08 5:16 AM (#23804 - in reply to #23801)
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Cool!Life is very relaxed there.I particularly loved the glorious sunsets. All the open wood fires contributed to magnificent sunset displays And I still miss those clear black night skies teeming with stars. Here in northern England there are always clouds obscuring the stars - or it is raining!
I lived there during the horrendous years of brutal dictator Idi Amin,and saw terrible things,but I have many happy personal memories of life.
Would love some matoke or cassava right now!
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-08 5:17 AM (#23805 - in reply to #23638)
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Finished Zelazny's most over the top work,Creatures of Light and Darkness. Despite having a fairly good grasp of egyptian mythology this was very confused and confusing but I still enjoyed it,and will definitely reread it sometime.I'm sure it will make more sense then. Still great fun.
Also completed Neil Gaimen's fabulous Season of Mists #4 in the Sandman series.Rich,dark,complex and spooky.Loved it!I read all the rest of the series several years ago from the library,and this volume was missing,presumably stolen.So glad to finally fill the gap. I see why this is probably one of the most popular in the series. Not so keen on some of the artwork,but the storytelling,plot lines,characters and pacing are all spot on.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-24 2:09 PM (#23857 - in reply to #23638)
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Finished a Winston series book,Moon of Mutiny the third of an enjoyable group of 3 linked tales. Del REy has such a good touch with clearly explaining science points,while having plenty of action and sympathetic young characters with real motivations and layered emotions and responses.
Started Jack Vance's Dying Earth , surprisingly influential little book,(only 170 pages)of fix up stories really,but the setting in a world far far in the future with a dying sun really captured the attention of other writers,such as John Brunner,Brian Aldiss,George R R Martin,Michael Moorcock.....oh and someone called Gene Wolfe,wonder what happened to him.......
Wow. I found Chip Delany's The Star Pit amazing,intricate,sad and downbeat,though it may have smidgen of hope at the end. Densely written,oblique and masterfully constructed it has several themes,but particularly the desperate frustration of not gaining freedom and the sadness of being refused the chance to get away from the confines of society's restrictions.Delany was this brilliant young writer in his early twenties at the time,and to us the enormous difficulties of his life as a man both black and gay shouts out to us today,but all can relate to the disappointments and failures of life.And the worldsetting,the outer reaches of our galaxy,is fascinating.I definitely felt the urge on finishing the tale to begin a reread at once.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-24 2:18 PM (#23858 - in reply to #23638)
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Remember in Alice Through Looking Glass where she read Jabberwocky? (Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe etc).She mused ;-
"It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!" (You see she didn't like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas?only I don't exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that's clear, at any rate."
Exploits of Engelbrecht is living in the same topsy turvy surreal world as Alice,but much more bloody..(He is after all a dwarf surrealist boxer! lol).
Each story starts out with a simple premise,a boxing match,a golf tournament,or football match,a hunt ball or a horse race (and dont forget a quiet game of chess). From a simple opening we steadily drift away from any realityI love the priceless satire on the huntin' fishin' and shootin' upper classes,(shades of Bertie Wooster and the like),which then spirals out into absolute crazy chaos.
The steady deadpan mundane narration which is depicting absolutely crazy events is a priceless feature too. Definitely my fave read of the month.
Fave exploit? Hard to pick,but the horse race with Engelbert winning the race riding Medusa is just pure gold.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-24 2:22 PM (#23859 - in reply to #23638)
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Wow,Jack Vance's Dying Earth was a fascinating read.Published in 1950 it predates Lord of the Rings by 4 years,and is a very different kind of fantasy to LOTR. It is a series of 5 interlocking stories set far far into the future where the ancient sun is dull red in a violet sky,ruins of cities untold millennia old are scattered over empty wastelands,and humans are decreasing over the world. Technology is forgotten or classed as magic,and for the most part people are mostly cruel,selfish and brutal.I was put in mind of an old illuminated manuscript,it certainly felt mediaeval.
They say good writers borrow from other works,while geniuses steal outright,then transform the theft into something marvellous. Well for sure Gene Wolfe freely admitted that he took over the idea of a dying earth and produced the wonderful Book of the New Sun.
Good stuff.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-27 3:51 PM (#23865 - in reply to #23859)
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Finished Clifford D Simak's The Enchanted Pilgrimage,a lesser and late Simak work ,and an odd mix of Tolkienesque quest,alternate earths,robots and aliens.I much prefer his straight SF.
T E D Klein's The Events at Poroth Farm was a rather creepy mix of gothic merging with weird fiction,with a unreliable narrator who may be a little insane, a creepy cat possessed by something that entered our world through a rent in reality and murder and an ominous feeling that things are going very wrong for mankind soon.Klein goes at a leisurely paced,but quietly ratchets up the tension and unease.A nice tale with many nods to Lovecraft.
Also enjoyed Alfred Bester's Fondly Fahrenheit,the rather bonkers short story about a rich man and his very very expensive robot,which tosses off all of the Asimov robot rules to become a murderer. The owner also becomes crazy and the narration veers between 1st person owner and 1st person robert,often from one sentence to the next. Most strange,but blackly humorous too - and with a very nasty sting in the tale in the last short paragraph.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-28 12:13 PM (#23868 - in reply to #23865)
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Thats February done. 17 Pick N' Mixers have now completed 131 books.Excellent.
My favourite read : Neil Gaiman - Season of Mists. Compelling,fascinating storytelling,pivotal to the rest of the series

Most bonkers : Maurice Richardson - THe Exploits of Engelbrecht. Hilarious,crazy and unique, Let's hear it for the dwarf surrealist boxer!

Most influential : Jack Vance - The Dying Earth. Inspired a whole subgenre and numerous writers,especially Gene Wolfe 's Book of the New Sun

Best romp : Mur Lafferty - Six Wakes. Pace mystery ,with clones. Cool.

Most disappointing : James S A Corey - Abaddon's Gate..I only read this because it won the Locus. I read the first two in the Expanse series in preparation,and I liked each book in thr series less than the one before! lol.Wont continue with the series

March here we come.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-03-31 4:10 PM (#23901 - in reply to #23638)
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Not a lot of reading done in March.
Completed the Inheritance trilogy with Kingdom of GodsI prefer this trilogy to the Broken Earth series. The world building is superlative,the gods are fascinating,(rather like the greek pantheon,but more complex) and the plot complicated so you need to be alert.lol.
Finished Network Effect,pleasant but not earthshattering enough to win all those awards..Not sure why people got so excited,there was nothing really new to old timers of SF robots andandroids. So the android likes soap operas and old TV shows.is that so striking as to win awards?
Completed the 2nd and 3rd books of the Bobiverse,For We are Many and All these Worlds . Diminishing returns of course,but For We Are Many was good fun. Its gratifying to have read so much SF so as to get all the references to so many books of the past. Agreeable fluff really,and I didnt find All These Worlds very engaging.It was repetitious and rather to IMO.
Far far behind with my TBR this month,too distracted with health and family matters to read serious stuff,as I am only getting brief 10 minute stretches of reading time,so I am reading SF lite books which dont need much brain power.lol.I am going to wait for a new month and hopefully a new mindset.
For now I think I'll only read short stories or fluff
Read Angela Carter's famous short story,The Bloody Chamber. I am a real fan of fairy tales and was interested to see Carter stuck quite close to Perraults version of Bluebeard. Carter shocked the literary world with her collection of tales based on fairy tales. Many were shocked by her often brutal and sexual takes on the stories,but those interested in folk and fairy tales will not be so shocked. The old tales were very brutal,cruel and callous,all she did was highlight the nasty or decadent tropes with a feminist twist,making the females less passive and helpless.
I understood her decadent slant on the tale,and the first part of the story was excellent,but then the transition to the horror part was faintly risible and incredible to me,and the end with the heroine(?) being rescued by her mother galloping in on a horse and shooting the Bluebeard character was a little odd!
The only other Carter book I attempted was Nights at the Circus,and I gave up after 50 pages,I hated the characters,plot and style so much. Extremely rare to DNF a book,possibly only 1 or 2 a year. So I am definitely not an Angela Carter fan!
Really enjoyed Murray Leinster's iconic 1934 short story Sidewise in Time
The Sidewise Award for Alternate History stories is a reference to this story,possibly the earliest alternate world/timeline story printed. It spawned a whole subgenre which is very popular to this day. Isaac Asimov said it had a strong influence on his The End of Eternity
It is quite pulpy and has,for a change ,not a mad scientist (so ubiquitous to the 30s magazine stories),but instead a mad mathematician! lol.The explanations of the altertnate timelines erupting into modern day,with dinosaurs,an ice age,roman legions,confederates winning the war between the states all tossed off carelessly are a bit wordy by todays standards but at the time must have been truly astonishing,and though pulpy and a bit clunky,the story is still readable today. Good fun.
Nearly finished Ill Met in Lankhmar.Pratchett claims it wasnt a direct influence on his Ank Morpork,but a bossy overlord who interferes with social systems,a very smelly river,and a Thieves Guild all seem somehow linked with this Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser tale. Not my sort of thing really,but at least there is humour and a lightness to Leiber's fantasy stories. Conan and Elric of Melnibone are not exactly laugh a minute. I wonder if there wasnt a touch of satire at work here,something often found in Leiber's work

And thats about it for March. No really great or memorable reads,but I must admit to being very distracted most of the month.

18 Pick N' Mixers have now read 189 books for the challenge so far this year. Only 56 books,below earlier months. We all seem to be in the doldrums,lets hope for strong winds to push us forward next month!
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-04-22 3:27 PM (#23930 - in reply to #23638)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix challenge 2022
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Read a few short stories in Lafferty's Nine Hundred Grandmothers A little goes a long way,I will read a few at a time. Quite amusing,but not quite my cup of tea,but I'll complete it eventually.
Anne McCaffrey's Nimisha's Ship was one I'd missed somehow (read 58 of her books),pleasant enough but rather bland and very YA.
FINALLY finished Name of the Wind. Read about 100 pages 2 years ago and abandoned it as boring. Started again this January,and quite enjoyed the section with Kvothe at the university and then got very bored with his journeys with Denna and put it aside once more. But I am very annoyed when I see it on WWEnd lists and I cant tick it off so I plodded on through the last 100 pages this week and am relieved to be done with it.Not a fantasy fan at the best of times and this YA stuff just bored me stiff most of the time. Will NOT be reading the follow up,and am unfazed that book 3 is yet to surface
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-04-22 3:36 PM (#23931 - in reply to #23638)
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I loved rereading Way Station,one of my all time favourite SF books. Amazing how many different themes Simak packed into around 200 pages. A very leisurely pace,which I enjoyed as it allowed for contemplation on Simak's deeper themes as well as the usual delightful descriptions of nature ,as one would expect from this master of the so called pastoral SF sub genre. Add great characters,weird alien tech,philosophy and the hero's longevity (120 and counting,and this book still pleases me and shows new facets every time I read it. Doubt if younger people new to SF would have the patience to read this though. Modern tales are so quick paced the oldfashioned style of Simak would probably be frustrating ,boring or annoying to some. Tough ,I still love it.
I also enjoyed a short story of his,New Folks Home. rather slight but a nice little read.. All of Simak's short stuff has been republihed in a series of collections these last few years. I will be dipping in and out occasionally.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-04-22 3:45 PM (#23932 - in reply to #23638)
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I have mostly been reading really light fluff stuff this week,and some crime fictio,and some Anne McCaffrey stuff.
. I saw Throne of Glassand decided to read it since Booktubers who read a lot of YA fantasy were in raptures over it for about a year.
Actually it wasnt too bad a read at first,it was fun reading about this young assasin,but the middle dragged as the inevitable love triangle developed. Oh boy,I cant stand love triangles! lol.So I read the last 200 pages quite slowly.Wont be reading more of the series. Name of the Wind and Throne of Glass were quite enough YA for me for a long while.
Still have Deathbird and A Memory Called Empire to keep me out of mischief for the rest of the month.And have to finish a Doc Smith Lensman book and Doc Savage and the Thousand Headed Man. Pure pulp,but fun.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-05-26 1:45 PM (#23983 - in reply to #23638)
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Sorry not to be around this month. I am having eye problems. A pocket behind my eye has filled up with fluid,and I've pretty much lost vision in that eye for now. I need laser surgery to bore a hole for the fluid to drain out. Fairly standard procedure,but with only a handful of high skilled eye infirmaries in the country and with covid's depradations,the waiting lists are long. I have no idea how long I will wait,could be 10 weeks,could be 12 months!EEK. Who knows.
As a result I am pretty much reliant on my one myopic eye,and I get eye strain quite quickly,so reading sessions rarely last more than 15 minutes,so my reading lists are rather pathetic for now..I read on kindle a lot because I can make bigger fonts,but its not very ideal.
Well,I'll soldier on. Not many books read altogether lately,but I will attempt to get in some comments maybe in a few days..bear with me folks.

Edited by dustydigger 2022-05-26 1:50 PM
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-10-03 4:45 PM (#25481 - in reply to #23638)
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.Well,that was good. I thought all our posts had been lost,but on patiently clicking through the pages of threads I discovered that my Pick N Mix was actually still here. Only 4 months of books to add!
Actually,my reading has been sporadic . Still no signs of an op for my wonky eye,the other one,very myopic is slowly getting more useless.Reading physical books is getting more difficult,print too small or blurred Cant read text or subtitles on TV screen unless within 6 ft of the screen,so my eyes get tired easily.At least with the computer I can increase font size The chaotic year we are having in UK is very unsettling too,so I must confess to barely reading much classic stuff,many of my reads are light fluff kindle unlimited stuff not to be found on WWEnd lists,or are off genre,so I've struggling a bit with this challenge.But I am now on 66/80 though,and intend to made efforts to read more than 3 reasonable quality books a month lol.
I may go back and try to add some of my reads to this thread,though possibly no one will see it to read it! .
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-10-03 4:57 PM (#25482 - in reply to #23638)
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If anyone wants to look back at Roll your Own threads,they start appearing on page 37 I think.
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