Thoughts on 3 Books #8

Cold feet

Howdy from lovely South Beach, Miami, Florida, y’all!  Ahem.  Actually, I’ve been back home in Tennessee for over a week, but y’all know my diligent ass had to get caught up at work before I could get back to bloggin’.

That pic there represents the only moment of a 3-day, 3-night conference trip that I had to visit the beach.  It came only after we were dismissed on the final day of the conference and just a few short hours before our flight home.  Miami was nice.  The weather was perfect.  And I sat in an air conditioned hotel for almost the whole time listening to other professionals in my field.  I’m grateful I got to get my feet wet, but damn, that water was cold!

I know y’all are just dyin’ to hear what I’ve been reading and what I think about what I’ve been reading, so I’ll get to it.

I already posted these reviews on Goodreads.  If y’all’re interested in reading any of the synopses, just click the linked titles below.  And if you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you think in my Comments section.  You know, way down yonder at the bottom.

Cosmic Puppets

The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick, audiobook read by Nick Podehl.  I rated it 1 of 5 stars, “did not like it”, on Goodreads and shelved it there as fantasy, fiction, novella, & sci-fi.

I read quite a few Philip K. Dick stories and novels in my teens and liked them okay, but never as much as I liked Heinlein, Asimov, & Clarke. For the most part, I think the movies based on Dick’s works are much better than their literary sources.

I may’ve really liked The Cosmic Puppets as a teenager if I’d read it back then because it’s pretty juvenile. But dadgummit, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish this one. There were a couple of chapters that had me thinking it was right on the verge of turning into a good story, but nope! The narrative doesn’t hold up under the weight of its inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and abandoned plot elements. To make matters worse, narrator Nick Podehl has a voice like a kazoo and read the story as if it were the script of a Saturday morning kids’ cartoon.

Or maybe I’m becoming more cranky as I age?  Nahh…

Nonverbal Communication

Understanding Nonverbal Communication (The Great Courses series), audiobook read by Professor Mark G. Frank.  I rated it 2 of 5 stars, “it was ok”, on Goodreads and shelved it there as educational.

Professor Frank is an engaging narrator, and this course is a decent introduction to the basics of nonverbal communication in all its forms, but I was disappointed in how little time was devoted to microexpressions and using observation of them to detect deception. I guess maybe that’s a whole separate, more detailed course probably best delivered in an actual classroom setting with hands-on training.  This was decent for what it is, but it’s not quite what I was looking for.

Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.  I rated it 3 of 5 stars, “liked it”, on Goodreads and shelved it there as fiction, historical fiction, memoir, military, and warfare.

The Things They Carried is a solid collection of moving stories about what it was like to serve as an American combatant in Viet Nam. Y’all’ll probably think I’m nuts for shelving it as both fiction/historical fiction and memoir, but hey, it kinda is.

O’Brien narrates the events of these stories with such searingly painful honesty that I can’t help but read them as anything other than barely fictionalized events. He may’ve changed the names, but he damn sure didn’t change much else.

I was given The Things They Carried as a Christmas gift. It’s not a book I would’ve bought myself, but it’s definitely a keeper.

So what’ve y’all been readin’ lately, and what do you think about your reading choices?  Have you read any of the above?  What’re your thoughts about ’em?  I’d love to hear from you.

‘Til next time, cheers!


14 thoughts on “Thoughts on 3 Books #8

  1. Cheers – where’s your Speedo? You can’t wear jeans in the surf?! LOL! Maybe next beach trip? I finished Stephen King’s Rose Madder while on our trip to Jamaica. I read it all, but frankly, it wasn’t my favorite reads. It just got too weird and gross for me. I’m now reading Where the Forest Meets the Trees and so far I love it. I used to love reading Educational books like your middle book, but lately, I’m feeling love for novels. Happy Monday to you!! Hope you have a great week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read Rose Madder when it first came out, at which time I was 24. I remember nothing about it now, so I must’ve thought it rather unremarkable for King, one of my all-time favorites. I think it’s still on my bookshelf. Maybe I’ll give it another go one of these days.

      Trust me, I look MUCH better in rolled-up jeans that I would in a Speedo. Be grateful!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do tell if you remember and that you enjoyed the book. LOL on the Speedo – Mr. says Speedos aren’t for everyone. We saw our share on 7-mile beach. The jeans looked splendid, especially for you saying the water was cold!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love PKD, but he tends to kind of stop being a writer in many of his novels — like he’s lost interest — and he rushes to the end. Bladerunner and Total Recall are (ultimately) not even his stories (IMO).

    Galactic Pot Healer is and will always be one of my favorite books. I love the metaphor that God is a great underwater cathedral made of pottery that needs to be mended. And, I didn’t read them as a teenager. I read them in my early 40s. 🙂


  3. The Nonverbal Communication is a fascinating topic, disappointing the book didn’t seem to exploit that well. Leaving reviews on Goodreads recently has made me realize how few I’ve done for non-fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Whew! I’m glad you got to fit in at least one visit to the beach. That must have felt like it was the reward at the end.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word ‘kazoo.’ Okay, googled it. So, the narrator sounds like a musical instrument, I didn’t even think that could be possible.

    Dr. Phil recommended ‘400 Things Cops Know’ which apparently delves into something similar to microexpressions (not completely sure if it does). So with you on how microexpressions are so interesting, but you can only learn so much as long as you’re exercising vigilance. But I think that’s what intuition is there for, those microexpressions that we detect, our intuition has a funny way of telling us what they mean. But I don’t know if it’s purely women’s intuition. I don’t know, how often can detect the underlying meaning of microexpressions, perhaps that’s something you can tell me!

    I read a preview of The Things I Carried recently. Very poetic and atmospheric and even if it wasn’t shelved as a memoir, it reads very much as non-fiction in that it feels very real. As if you’re right there with them. I don’t know if I’ll get a copy though because I know it’ll just make me feel sad. The Vietnam War was just tragic. I learned enough about it in college to know that it was a terrible waste of lives and utterly horrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you googled kazoo, did you listen to an audio clip? My comment about his voice was not a compliment. Musical instrument it may be, but it produces an atonal, dissonant, buzzing sound.

      I think one would have to spend years doing intensive study & observation of microexpressions in order effectively to use them to help detect deception. My job is more about using larger, more visible motions of body language than microexpressions.


      1. Sounded like someone was blowing their nose really badly with a trumpet lol! Kazoo. Huh. That must have been a nasal listening experience.

        Ah, then I don’t know, there’s a lot of research available on the internet about body language and I guess you could play good cop by mirroring the witnesses body language? How fun would it be to be a cop for one day?!!!?!


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