It’s June, which means it’s time for summer reading. And when I think of summer reading, I think of potboilers — fiction that has no pretensions or delusions of grandeur, but is written solely to provide some pleasant leisure reading at a beach or resort.
I go to the library and look for something basic. Some people like the romance novel, others go for family dramas. I like historical fiction, science fiction, and your basic action novel. This time, I picked up a paperback in the latter category — The Last Templar, by Raymond Khoury, which apparently was written in 2005. It’s the first time I’ve read anything by Khoury, or for that matter heard of him, but the brief description of the novel on the back cover fit what I was looking for.
I don’t know where modern action fiction would be without the Masons, the Nazis, and the Knights Templar. All have long been the subject of curiosity and conspiracy theories, and they provide a convenient launching pad for the kind of breakneck plotting that tend to define these novels. A little historical back story, a shocking modern day occurrence, a scholar unexpectedly turned action hero, and you’re off to the races.
I’m more than 100 pages in to The Last Templar, and it’s a perfectly acceptable, entirely implausible page-turner. That’s great, because I’m looking for relaxation, not intellectual challenges.
Today Richard starts a summer position with the San Antonio Express-News. It’s a new job, in a new city. We’ll be thinking of him today, and wishing him well.
We’ve all started new jobs in a new city. It’s exhilarating, charged with adrenalin . . . and a bit scary. You’re starting from the ground up. The most basic elements of daily existence — What’s the best way to get to work? What radio stations are good? Where should I shop for groceries? — are brand spanking new and completely unsettled.
You’re dealing with a new workplace, with its own special rhythms. You’ve got a new boss, a new desk, and new co-workers, with new rules and expectations and policies. You don’t know anyone and you don’t have an existing social network to fall back on. But that can be a good thing, too, forcing you to be a bit more outgoing and interactive.
So you start on your first day, with your social antenna quivering and your energy level cranked up to 11. You soak up information about your new workplace and your new city like a thirsty sponge. Then you make friends, and you start to learn interesting things about your new city, and figure out where to hang out, where to eat a good meal, and (in Richard’s case, at least) where to jog. After a few weeks you’re settled in, and when friends and family visit you can show them around like a quasi-native.
It’s a hugely exciting time. Good luck, Richard!