This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Science Fact and Science Fiction ( #AtoZChallenge )

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter S


        Science fiction captivated my reading interests at an early age of about nine.  I had already developed a keen interest in movies of that genre.  In my early teen years I began amassing a sizeable collection of sci-fi books when I joined the Doubleday Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club.  During high school if I wasn't reading some piece of literature for school, I was often reading a science fiction book.  Fact or fiction, science has always been an interest of mine and this is reflected by the books I have on my shelves.  But there is more as well...


Science Fact

Einstein Relativity edition by Folio Society

        This book looks so nice that I haven't even taken it out of the plastic shrink wrap.  It's a quality volume that rests well on my bookshelf.  I might actually read this one day after I've read a lot of other books that I own.  That might be a long time.

Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

      Maybe I haven't read the Einstein book yet, but this one by Kaku I have read.  I bought this from Amazon after seeing Kaku on some television programs.  I liked the guy.  This science writer explains things in easy to understand terms.   I was particularly interested in the time travel aspects of this book, but it also discusses other scientific topics that might be helpful research for any writer.

Science Fiction

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

       If you're a sci fi fan then I probably don't need to tell you about this book or its author.  This is a true classic of the genre.  Another book that I acquired as part of the introductory package for the Doubleday Sci Fi Book Club, this is a compilation of three Asimov novels.   Can you believe it?  In the over 50 years that I've owned this book, I still haven't read it.   I keep thinking that I need to remedy that and hopefully eventually I will.  But it is nice to have it on the shelf when I am ready to read it.

A Treasury of Great Science Fiction edited by Anthony Boucher 

       Another part of my intro package to the Sci Fi Book Club, this double set is a wonderful collection of sci fi stories by some of the best authors of the genre.   Since I used to mostly read short stories in the days of my youth, I have read this collection in its entirety.  Excellent content in these pages.

       More from the Sci Fi book club, these volumes contain selections from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a publication that I occasionally bought when I saw it on the news stands where I would peruse magazines.  Just about every story in this series is a winner.   This was a yearly publication for a while and I have at least two in my home library, but there might be others somewhere.

Short Stories

Story Jubilee edited by Whit & Hallie Burnett

        This is just one of many short story compilations that I own.  When I was in middle and high school, I mostly read short stories and I bought many collections of stories through the book club, at the store, or from school book fairs.  I was obsessed with short stories back then, but maybe I was too impatient to read anything longer.  I still enjoy reading short stories, but now I have more time and patience to read longer stuff.  But when I do want to read a short story, I've got hundreds (maybe more) from which to choose.  This particular book is an excellent one and after 50 some years it's still in excellent condition.

Complete Short Stories and Sketches of Stephen Crane

        A purchase from the Doubleday Book Club, I ordered this collection after being very impressed with Crane's The Red Badge of Courage in middle school.  At the time I was disappointed because the writings in this collection didn't seem much like the book I had read earlier.  I think I'd probably appreciate this book more now.  I'll need to read at least some of this one again someday.

Southern Storm by Noah Andre Trudeau

       Another book in my Civil War library.  This story about General Sherman's March to the Sea has undoubtedly got to be interesting.  It gets predominately positive reviews on Amazon so that's something I guess.  My review won't be found there because I haven't read this one yet.  This is high on my future reads list.

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (Folio Society)

        Here's another book from the Folio Society that I purchased as part of a special promotion.  It seems like a collectible copy so I haven't removed the shrink wrap yet.  It looks too nice the way it is.  I'll open when I'm ready to read it.  Anybody else read this one yet?  How is it?  I like Steinbeck's writing and own a few books by him.

Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

        This was such a hugely controversial novel when it came out over thirty years ago that I felt compelled to order it when I saw it offered in the Book-of-the-Month Club circular.  I read it as soon as I received my copy and as I recall I enjoyed it.  But that was over 30 years ago.  I've been thinking about reading this again.

Satan Is Alive and Well and Living on the Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey

       Hal Lindsey was quite the rage in the seventies.  I bought a couple of his books in my college days.  This might have been one of them or perhaps this copy had belonged to my late father.  We were both reading some of the same stuff over the years.  I received most of my father's books after he died.  My brothers and sisters didn't seem to be interested in them.  The rest were given away.  I just couldn't carry all of his books to California with me.  Lindsey's books are probably still relevant for the most part.  I reread this one last year and it didn't seem overly dated.

Self-Help Books

       I've got a lot of self-help books.  There have been periods in my life when I guess I thought they would help.  I might be able to compile an A to Z list of self-help books I have so many.  Instead I'll just list one that blares out on my office bookshelf...

  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

            You probably have this book too.   Or at least you've heard of it.  This book was huge several years ago.  Have you read it yet?   Should I read it?  I can't remember if I have or not.  I'd say I likely at least started reading it, but now I can't recall.  Oh, I can be so ineffective.  

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1990)

      My father died in late 1990 so it's conceivable that he purchased this giant book before he passed.  But then again, I don't know that he was still buying books that year so it's possible that I bought this book and if I did it was likely part of a book club offer.  As the title says, this book is exhaustive.  I wouldn't want to carry it around for very long because it's heavy and big.  Before his death, my father had been apparently working on a Bible book of his own.  He had several reference books of this nature.  He never finished writing his book and now I don't even know what happened to what he was working on.  I only remember that I saw a working copy where he had clipped and pasted Bible verses and had written out his own commentary about them.  What exactly he was doing I don't know and my mother didn't even really know anything except that he was working on a book.  I wish I knew what happened to all of his research and the work he did.  Even better, I wish my father had stayed around long enough for me to talk to him about it.

Six by Seuss

       No modern library is complete without something by Theodor Geisel or Dr. Seuss as he is more famously known.  The Doctor's first books started coming out when I was in elementary school and I absolutely loved his nutty writings when my teacher read them or I heard them somewhere else.  I never owned a Seuss book when I was a kid, but my younger brothers and sisters acquired many which are now long gone.  My mother enrolled in a Dr Seuss book club in the seventies and had just about all of his works and more up to that time.  I've got this nice Seuss collection on my shelves, but it's not really mine.  As seen by the homemade bookplate that one of my daughters inscribed on the inside.  I guess I need to give this to one of them.

      What are some of your favorite sci fi books?   Do you find self-help books to be useful?  Is Dr. Seuss overrated and is it relevant in our times?  


  1. Jamie (
    I read some sci-fi once in a while and when I want to get out of my reading comfort zone, I may dive into self-help.

  2. Favorite SF book? I was a big fan of the Foundation Trilogy (I highly recommend you go ahead and read it). I also loved "I, Robot" and some of the Susan Calvin short stories that are part of the positronic robot universe. I can also recommend "The Caves of Steel" and "The End of Eternity". I've read a lot more than Asimov in my lifetime, but you have me thinking of him, so there.

  3. SciFi isn't my thing, but I do critique it regularly since several of my writing group members write in that genre.


  4. Definitely love Kaku, his way of explaining is better than a "for dummies" book. Also read some Asimov and Lindsey. That Einstein book would fascinate me- if not too dry.

  5. Hi Lee -
    I was interested in book clubs, but only specific types. I never liked Readers Digest because they abridged books, and I wasn't interested in the BotMC because their choices were simply too varied and every month was a crapshoot. I belonged to the SciFi Book Club and the History Book Club because they focused on genres I liked. And I belonged to both the Heritage Book Club and The Folio Society of England because they were fine books of classical literature that everyone should read. And I read most of them. I've gotten rid of and lost some books, but I think my library is still 3500 books.

    From your list under "S" of A-Z I have not specifically read "Relativity," but physics is a subject of interest to me and I've read 8-10 physics books in the last 10 years.

    I read 1/2 of a book by Michio Kaku on future science and then I put it down. I got annoyed because I believe he was buying into some junk science concepts outside of his specialty and then pontificating about them, rather than using the scientific method to question premises to test truth.

    The Foundation Trilogy was great when I read it 55 years ago, but when I started on it again 10-12 years ago I was less impressed. The premise is interesting and I love Azimov... but the writing style that my 13 year old brain loved seemed cartoonish to my older one.

    I own and have read the "Treasury of SF." I have several volumes of "Best of Fantasy and SF"... all of which I have read. I have read ALL of the Covey books including the first: "7 Habits." Read it. It is a very useful guide to self improvement. The best self help guide around other than the Holy Bible. Speaking of which: I have "Strong's Concordance" and use it often. At one point we had and owned and read ALL the Dr. Seuss books to our kids. Most of those were lost in a flood (we had 1200 kids books ruined when our basement flooded.)

    Sixgun McItchyfinger
    PS - unwrap those Folio Society books and read 'em!

  6. I have the same edition of Relativity! (and different editions of Steinbeck and Asimov). Kaku's book is on my wishlist. I really enjoyed Relativity because I felt I understood it while reading. But ask me to explain any of the concepts now and I can't!


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