In addition to my regular posts here at Kindle Taproom, I’m going to debut a monthly column about what I’ve been reading and seeing, called Brief Asides. Each column will include a bunch of short items and quick recommendations, things readers will hopefully find interesting. Anyway, this is the first installment, which just made it under the wire for January’s offering!
Speaking of January, often at the beginning of each year I’ll try to take on a reading assignment, usually involving reading or re-reading a favorite series of years past. This year it’ll be a sort of combination of those things, as I’m going to put Isaac Asimov’s famous Foundation series in my sights. It’s a combination because I’ve already read the three central novels in the series- Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation (for decades those were the only books in the series, which were collectively described as The Foundation Trilogy), but I had never read the two prequels and two sequels Dr. Asimov periodically added to the central trilogy later in his life. The books are great fun (well, the ones I already read are great fun, anyway), both mind expanding and laced with adventure. So now I’m going to try to do all of them this year, four for the first time.
If you want to join me, here are the seven books in the series, presented in chronological order as their events unfold (that’s how I’m going to read them, not in the order they were written): Prelude to Foundation; Forward the Foundation; Foundation; Foundation and Empire; Second Foundation; Foundation’s Edge; and Foundation and Earth. I’m reading Prelude to Foundation right now on my Kindle, and enjoying it a lot so far.
Oh, one final thought on the topic. HBO and Warner Bros. television are now working to adapt the Foundation series for HBO, with Jonathan Nolan (successful screenwriter and brother of director Christopher Nolan) producing. This is exciting news, and it’s what gave me the idea to read all the books in 2015. I’m sure the show will be great, but I want the original source material fresh in my mind first.
On the television front, I’m also enjoying a few good things on both broadcast and premium channels. On the CW (channel 13 on my Philadelphia area Comcast system), The Flash is great fun, demonstrating that a superhero show can have action, danger, and drama, while still remaining fresh, bright, and upbeat. I hope this one lasts a while.
On pay cable, Banshee is finally back! Now in its third season on Cinemax, Banshee tells the tale of a gritty ex-con who (through a series of unlikely but entertaining circumstances) assumes the identity of sheriff of a small Pennsylvania town in Amish country. And he’s actually a pretty good sheriff, though he still performs (along with his entertaining cronies) the occasional bank or armored car heist in his off hours. Unapologetically violent, sexual, pulpy, and over the top, the series is great fun (I know, I’m using that phrase a lot here- but that’s what this column is all about: things I find to be great fun). Also, I like the fact that the show is extremely cool, but doesn’t constantly remind you that it’s cool: It just consistently does its thing and keeps moving.
For me, January is also a time to check out all the movies that have been nominated for Best Picture Oscars. It’s not that I need the Academy of whatever it’s called to tell me what the very best movies are in a given year, but I find that making an effort every year to see the movies nominated for Best Picture always results in my seeing a bunch of very good movies, some that I might not have sought out otherwise. This year I have a lot of work to do to see them all, as when the nominations were announced earlier this month I had seen only about one or two of the movies nominated (eight were nominated for Best Picture this time). I’ve since seen three more of the films, with a few more to go. Check out my other posts for some thoughts on these movies, but for now I’ll tell you that I really enjoyed The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything. Boyhood was very good, too.