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Resolution Off the Charts at 23,749

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If 23,749 was a distance, it would get me back and forth from my home in Reno, Nevada to Pittsburgh five times.

If 23,749 was a height, it would be 10 feet from the summit of Makut Parbat in the Himalaya.

23749 is a Zip Code, or will be one someday, near Norfolk, Va.

Add up the calories in 53 fried Twinkies and you get approx. 23,749.

The 2012 road to reading led me to new adventure.

The 2012 road to reading led me to new adventure. (photo by Marjorie Williams)

If 23,749 were an a circumference measured in miles, it would be more than that of Venus.

If 23,749 were an age by days, it would be 65+ years.

In my case, 23,749 is the number of pages I have read in 2012. Whoa, really? Well, that’s what Goodreads tells me in my stats for the past year.

But more than that, 23,749 means I more than accomplished that goal of reading 75 books this year that I set January 1, 2012.

Me.

I accomplished a New Year’s Resolution. It’s traditionally something I’d be keen on for the first month or so of a new year. For example, running for exercise, giving up butter, sleeping eight hours a night, organizing all the closets — those have traditionally made my lists.

The key to this success? I love to read, I have access to a lot of books and I could measure results. The challenge was time — finding the time to make it happen. Even though my life is busy, busy, busy, choosing books that were sure to compel me to read kept the momentum going. For me, that meant good books — no trash, very few best sellers and portable — the books may or may not be classified as classics but necessarily not high-brow. Good books and never stopping. As in finishing a book and starting a new one the following day or even the same day. Not letting my brain, eyes or fingers for page-turning rest when I had made time.

A bonus to it all has been starting this blog. That in itself has been an adventure and one that will continue into 2013.

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Autumn reading warmed my heart. (photo by Marjorie Williams)

So want to know what I’ve been reading? I did blog back in August about the first 50, so here are the final 34 for the total of 84:

18 Fiction

16 Non-Fiction

I got into an Irish thing in August between Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw reading An Ideal Husband, Dubliners and Pygmalion by each and  add a biography – Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions by Frank Harris.

The looming elections led me to read Common Sense by Thomas Paine, The Theory of Social Revolutions by Brooks Adams, The Souls of White Folks by W.E.B. DuBois, and Griftopia by Matt Taibbi. The books helped me to make sense of our history, economic and social challenges.

The need to totally escape into thriller led me to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Cinema Murder by E. Phillips Oppenheim and the Fortieth Door by Mary Hastings Bradley.

My love of baseball and music drew me to Paul McCartney: A Life by Peter Ames Carlin and Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

Get your English on — with a maiden name like Melton, I must have some connection to John Milton. So I dove into Paradise Lost and continued on to The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, the little-read Anne Bronte with Agnes Grey after Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forester, for non-fiction, the autobiography of Charles Darwin and to round out the English sprint I read Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

My friends, I do buy American and from modern authors too: The aforementioned Flynn, The Road by Cormac McCarthy (intense and good), The Heart is a Lonely Hunger by Carson McCullers, a juvenile read Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway.

I’ve got this ancestry research part in my soul that I love to enrich so to play with the theme: Hey America, Your Roots are Showing by Megan Smelenyak, Maria by Curtis Bok, Chapel Talks for School and Camp by Anne Barton Townsend (a great-aunt to my husband) and Western Carpetbaggers by Thomas Fitch.

Great Short Poems edited by Paul Negri was and is a heart-felt treasure.

Stranger than Fiction by the Voice of Reason radio personality and Don’t Know Much About Geography by Kenneth C. Davis came by way of a visit to the local used bookstore. While Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min came from my Mommy.

I thank the University of Nevada Journalism Department for bringing author Mark Kurlansky to town to lecture. I crammed in advance of the visit to read the epic 1968:The Year that Rocked the World. My 2013 list will include Salt and Birdseye by Kurlansky, for sure.

Ever on my spiritual path I welcomed (along with Milton and  Townsend above)  Jesus, A New Vision by Marcus Borg and Help Thanks Wow, the “new one,” by Anne Lamott.

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The snow flies as the year closes, but the reading continues into every season. (Photo by Vic Williams)

What’s on the bedstand now? I’m in the mid-point now for Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Getting me up to that momentous 23,749.

Far more than a number, reading helped me associate my life with books and my books with my life. It has energized me, lifted me, educated me, entertained me, changed me.

Autumn Nevada Style

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A “guest” blog today is a reprint of a column my dad wrote some years ago for the Reno Gazette Journal

Autumn

The lovely Truckee River on a silky autumn day

Another gorgeous and unforgettable Nevada summer is being bumped aside, to be misplaced forever on your personal Island of Vagrant Memory. The gaggle of tanned human hides has at last reluctantly shifted off the cooling beaches of Lahontan and Pyramid and Tahoe and you can see the sand again for the absence of barely covered skin. Debris left by untidy visitors is carted from view. Swimsuits are stashed for another season, lost beach towels are only briefly lamented and the hoisted boats are having their bottoms cleansed. Those who are timid of either the big crowds or the hottest months, or both, now venture forth to uncongested lakeshores, thankful that at last the visiting hordes have sought happiness elsewhere. The dream that this would be an unending summer is put into dry dock.

Now, those who treasure our territory because it yields four distinct seasons can bask in anticipation. We are awash in the signals that Nevada’s autumn cannot be too distant. No sooner are the depleted vats of Sea & Ski lotion locked away than the final crop of alfalfa is flogged and baled. Soon the tired machines will be wheeled in for a long winter’s nap. The haying crews’ appetites will  diminish, but only a little. Hearts of Gold Cantaloupes will grow sweeter in Fallon, or so the legend goes, and that’s close to the truth. The doves are in the air now as they sense the hunters can be injurious to their health.

Summer is almost deader than next season’s unlucky duck and goose. The sun is losing its daytime vigor and isn’t showing itself to us until past 6:30 a.m. The World Series can’t be far away.

Summer had its fling. Labor Day was invented years ago as a legal reason to avoid a day’s work and that holiday has come and gone, followed by the surest autumn sign, the start of school, that lengthy response  to a tired mother’s prayer. Now the tiredness is passed back to teacher for fall, winter and spring. Wary new school bus drivers learn fast that they need more skills than steering. We begin again to abide by school zone limits. Can anything be tastier than the school lunch menu?

Autumn in Nevada’s air: the blitz of wedding stories now beyond the peak and dwindling; the fresh proliferation of flashing motel vacancy signs, still beckoning long after dark; the “Marryin’ Sam,” now pacing more anxiously in their plastic chapels; the small-casino operators tightening the economic screws and the big profit barons doing likewise.

Autumn. Is it my imagination, or is the traffic volume down and aren’t the drivers sweating less and swearing less? Soon the Truckee won’t be a river , and hardly and trickle and, altogether now, let the Indians successfully dance for a rain and snow prayers. Autumn just around the bend. A new nip in the early morning air and the sharper temperature decline after sundown.

Breezes remain gentle, but there is enough zest to tug leaves away from their moorings. Flowers are rearing their beautiful heads a bit more slowly these September mornings.

There it is that early hint of fall color that soon is to go into oranges, yellow , red, violets golds and dabs of purple here and there.

Nature is about to change to a new uniform. The red, red robin, such a regular visitor since May, has been pulling a disappearing act lately. The animals — our feathered friends, grown chubby during summer — are now in shape to survive the lean times. Get ready for the sweet honk of the honkers departing this scene.

Autumn reaffirms that everything changes except discos. Autumn is old experiences come back  to us, fresh again. Down with total water consumption and out with the rakes; the hills all around retreating to brown; the Idlewild and Virginia Lake crowds shifting down to a tolerable few; the desert, ageless, begins resting up for spring. Soon the aspen on the Sierra will glow again; the rattlesnakes will retreat from their rocks; we will cut the lawn less and then, happily, not at all.

As the Holy Author poises to give us again one of His autumn magic shows, the flies and mosquitoes are vanquished by the hints of the new season; we turn the heat up more frequently and lament the cost of fuel with newfound fervor.

The voice of Howard Cosell, part announcer, part huckster, all showman, slugs our ears. Once in a while Frank Gifford inserts a word in edgewise. Autumn and football, inseparable autumn companions, arrive concurrently.

In these parts announcers chant the language of fall above Mackey Stadium; there comes a new season of colliding young men, mauling each other over 100 yards of turf. Hail To Our Sturdy Men, Loyal and True, March, March on Down the Field Oh Silver and Blue.

Autumn. Let’s hear it for the Huskies and the Miners, the Tigers, the Colts, Senators, the Railroaders.

Let’s hear it for the falling leaves, long sleeves and football tailgate party-goers who not only made it home safely, but cheered the winning teams; here’s to the referees, may they call them all correctly this autumn; here’s to the trees getting ready for their late-year nudity act. Here’s to the forthcoming frost on the pumpkin; and to the hot-buttered rums just weeks away; here’s to the summer gamblers who lost and helped keep us green, and here’s to the return scent of autumn in Nevada. Fireplaces kindled anew, fluttering leaves flying amok, families back together after the summer separation.

Here’s to another autumn in Nevada. Maybe the nicest time of the year. And always unforgettable.

 

Written by Rollan Melton. First published in the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1978

 

Amazon to Deliver Guilty Pleasure

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“YOUR BOOK HAS SHIPPED” reads the email slug.

Sounds of the Hallelujah Chorus echo in my ears!

I’ve been denying myself the pleasure of new books since I began my quest to read 75 books this year. Heck, I’ve got 75 books easy that I’ve just been meaning to get to hanging around the house, why spend the money? I’ve been thrifty. I’ve been satisfied. I’ve loved the experience of looking at my shelves and seeing actually-read books living there. I’m up to 58 books since January 1 and I’ve got another three books rotating through my car, purse and bedside right now.

I got me a serious case of Book Love.

But something about a crisp new book waiting for me on my front porch; it’s like hoarding a silken piece of chocolate just for me and savoring it at the end of a stressful day.

Just seeing it waiting for me next to the mailbox when I drive up my street – shivers. Anticipating opening the package and being the first person ever to open the book to the title page – good bumps. Knowing its MINE – priceless.

My excuse for an Amazon purchase is that I get to go see the author in October; I actually get to have dinner with him one night and then see him lecture twice the next day. I am eager to meet Mark Kurlansky, author of about 20 books – both fiction and non-fiction October 9 at the Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer Program on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. (You can come too! Click here.)

The invitation brought me to this dilemma – what to order with so many books to choose from. Should I go with Birdseye, his latest? It’s a story of the enigmatic founder and creative mind that brought us the wonder of frozen food. Or, The Basque History of the World, the book that perhaps brought him to the attention of UNR because of Professor Robert Laxalt’s Basque heritage? How about Hank Greenburg: the Hero Who didn’t Want to be One? My husband would undoubtedly want to read that – but this book is for ME! Ha, ha, ha!

I get to meet this guy!

It’s between two others – how to choose? Flip-a-coin? Pick a number between one and two? I know! Get one as a gift and keep one, but read the present before the gift-ee gets it! Is that wrong? It is? Shoot! Well, I’m doing it anyway, damn convention.

So ye Amazon Man will be dropping to my doorstep soon, Salt: A World History AND 1968: The Year That Rocked the World.

Oh, I hope, I hope I love them both.