What I've been reading.....
| Reading List 2001
| Reading List 2002
| Reading List 2003
| Reading List 2004
| Reading List 2005
| Reading List 2006
| Reading List 2007
| Reading List 2008
| Reading List 2009
| Reading List 2010
| Reading List 2011
| Reading List 2012
| Reading List 2013
| Reading List 2014
| Reading List 2015
| Reading List 2016
| Reading List 2017
|Reading List 2018|
The Eyes of the Killer Robot ~ John Bellairs (1986) Novel, juvenile (167 pgs)
Picked this up for the combination of Edward Gorey art and the title: it has a robot! It's a quick little "mystery", confusingly mixing magic with science, but, it has a robot!
Good Intentions ~ Ogden Nash (1942) Poetry (180 pgs)
A great collection of Nash pieces, short and small and always clever fun.
Ultimate Treehouses ~ David Clark (2003) Architecture (80 pgs)
A tall but slender book looking at treehouse designs on the grand scale, around the world and plans for the future.
The Style of the Century [Second Edition] ~ Bevis Hillier, Kate McIntyre (1998) History, design (280 pgs)
Overview of changing styles in art, architecture, fashion, etc for the entire 20th century. A nice concise volume for such a large topic, giving a quick look at the main lines of change and evolution over those 100 years.
American Foodways: What, When, Why and How We Eat in America ~Charles Camp (1989) Sociology, Americana (128 pgs)
A very scholarly overview of food in America, first glance very dry, but on reading, quite fascinating.
The Lost Continent ~ Bill Bryson (1989) travel (293 pgs) -RE-READ-
This is the one I stumbled across that introduced me to Bryson's writing. Lost our first copy of this, but Cindy got another, and worth the re-read. Informative, curmudgeonly travels across America. Every once in a while I got the feeling Bill likes people as a group, it's just the individuals that get his goat!
Make Something Ugly...For a Change ~ Dan Reeder (1999) Crafts, weird (80 pgs)
Instruction book to creative papier/cloth mâché beasties. Nothing I can use, but hilariously written!
Hammerhead Ranch Motel ~ Tim Dorsey (2000) novel, fiction (291 pgs)
We need a name for the growing sub-genre of novels set in Florida, stuffed with odd and eccentric characters, and usually revolving around wacky and graphic criminal activity. This was a fun red, but so stuffed with characters that the plot was a minor background throughout.
Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories ~ Nahum Glatzer, ed (1971) fiction, shorts (486 pgs) -RE-READ-
I think I originally read this in my early 20's. I'm now double that in age and reading it again. Still impressively imaginative, though I found it less disturbing and more fascinating than I recalled. More aware of the wide range of topics he tried, and the fascination with details. I'll have to pull this out again in another 25 years!
Adrian Mole: The Lost Years ~ Sue Townsend (1994) Novel, fiction, humor (309 pgs)
Adrian grows up... well, he at least gets older. Still the misunderstood and misunderstanding nerd, but Townsend does give him a happy ending. Since this came out 10 years ago, I wonder if she has delved even further into his life
The Dunwich Horror and Others ~ H.P. Lovecraft (1963) short stories, horror (431 pgs) -RE-READ-
A great collection of adjective-rich horror stories from one of the masters, including "Call of Cthulhu". I love these!
Give Me a Break ~ John Stossel (2004) essays, government, business (294 pgs)
Fine writing on rip-offs at all levels of life, Stossel hits the middle ground between nutty left and right that I think most people would like to live in. But it's always the loons at both sides that keep making life tough for the rest of us.
Milky Way Marmalade ~ Mike DiCert (2003) novel, sf, humor (310 pgs)
Our hero must save the universe from a bad guy who wants to wipe out all music. Pretty good, though sometimes the use of goofy sf-names for just about everything gets tiring, but overall was fun and inventive.
The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide ~ Douglas Adams (1986)sf, humor (624 pgs) -RE-READ-
Omnibus collection of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", "Life, the Universe & Everything" and "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish". The best freakin' sf-humor series ever written!
Time On My Hands ~ Peter Delacorte (1997) novel, sf (397 pgs)
Go back in time to keep Reagan from becoming president! OK, now that's an interesting idea, though it seems there is a much longer list of names before Reagan that most people would want to deal with. Dances around the paradox problems of time travel, an interesting read, but the ending is just so-so.
Versus ~ Ogden Nash (1949) Poetry (169 pgs)
Another cool collection of funky, inventive, fun poetry.
Flim-Flam:Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and Other Delusions ~James Randi (1982) science(342 pgs)RE
Randi's seminal work exposing the weirdness of the paranormal crowd. Educational and entertaining.
Fenwick Travers and the Forbidden Kingdom ~ Raymond M Saunders (1994) novel (296 pgs)
Picked this one up for the comparison to the Flashman series on the dustjacker. Not really quite that level of style and wit, but an interesting take on the idea of re-writing historical events with a fictional character.
The Verse by the Side of the Road ~ Frank Rowsoe, Jr (1965) History, Americana (121 pgs)
Story of the roadside Burma Shave signs for the early 20th century. A great story, and it also prints all 600 or so of the rhymes. Too bad these things are gone now.
(Alfred Hitchcock's) Anti-Social Register ~ Alfred Hitchcock (ed) (1965) short stories, mystery (206 pgs)
15 short stories, usually revolving around a murder, some quite clever, some with an ending you can see a mile off.
Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead ~ Dave Barry (1985) humor, (82 pgs)
A Great parody of the fifty-zillion diet and fitness books, with lots of fun illos by Jerry O'Brien adding to the writing.
Third Girl ~ Agatha Christie (1966) novel, mystery (218 pgs)
The first Hercule Poirot story I've ever read, and ended up with too many characters and too many scenes to keep me interested in trying to figure out the mystery myself. Must just be me.
Aunt Erma's Cope Book ~ Erma Bombeck (1979) humor (256 pgs)
Light fun from Erma, a satirical look at all the various self-help/improvement books flooding the market at that time.
Tricky Business ~ Dave Barry (2002) novel, humor (320 pgs)
Another great page turner from Barry, a "caper" flick set on a gambling boat with a motley and funny mix of characters. It's not literature for the ages, but it is a good, fun read.
1939: The Lost World of the Fair ~ David Gelernter (1995) novel, histori-fiction(?) ( 418 pgs)
A grand, detailed look at the 1939 NY Worlds Fair, and the state of the world and society at that time. There is a fictional narrative to serve as a framework for the history, but it is the factual material that is really the fascinating part of this.
Tour de Force ~ Philip Cleife (1971) novel, mystery (222 pgs)
I picked this up for the nifty cover drawing of a strange airplane and Dali-faced moon, and the promise of a story built around art forgery. Ended up as a not bad, but not particularly good, mystery tale.
Mama Makes Up Her Mind ~ Bailey White (1993) short stories (230 pgs)
Sleeping At the Starlite Motel ~ Bailey White (1995) short stories (238 pgs)
Two wonderful, touching, funny and clever collections of stories and essays. Hope she's had more books since these!
Native Tongue ~ Carl Hiaasen (1991) novel (407 pgs)
Another fun romp through the wilds of weird Florida and the twisted folk Hiaasen peoples the state with. A page turner.
Young Men and Fire ~ Norman Maclean (1992) history (301 pgs)
Historical investigation of the deaths of 13 firejumpers in a forest fire 40 years ago. Fascinating analysis of a mystery.
The Theatre of Revolt ~ Robert Brustein (1964) history, theater (435 pgs)
Looks at eight playwrights (Ibsen, Chekhov, Shaw, Brecht, etc) as sources of rebellious theatre. Some of these make you curious to see the plays, some very happy not to ever have had to sit through any of it!
Corrupting Dr. Nice ~ John Kessel (1997) novel, sf (316 pgs)
Interesting take on time travel, where it is now a tourism industry, as well as the "creation" of multiples of a person travelling through time, and meeting each other. (There are two young and one older version of Jesus co-existing in the future)
Alice in Wonderland ~ Lewis Carroll (w) Ralph Steadman (a) (1967/1981?) children's book (132 pgs)
Alice as seen through the eyes of the wild Steadman. This is an updated version of his original from the mid sixties, with some unique and fascinating political interpretations of the characters.
Where's My Teddy? ~ Jez Alborough (w/a) (1992) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Wonderful, simple, and wonderfully surprising little tale. This is a great book!
Temporary Tattoos ~ Erick Aveline & Joyce Chargueraud (2001) art & craft instruction (64 pgs)
Henna From Head to Toe! ~ Norma Weinberg (1990) art & craft instruction (76 pgs)
Two books for reference and resources. Might try doing some of my own body-art on folks down the line.
The Forgotten Garden ~ Caroline Repchuk (w) Ian Andrew (a) (1997) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Deceptively simple yet elegantly illustrated for this wonderful story of a man who brings a neglected garden back to life.
A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions ~ Jo Hernandex, et al (1997) art & architecture (136 pgs)
Phenomenal, bizarre in the best way, the work of a man who created his own world of richly detailed fantasy architecture. Absolutely incredible work, coupled with the story of the sadly solitary life of the man who created it. AMAZING!
Just So Stories ~Rudyard Kipling (1902) short stories, fairy tales for children (172 pgs)
Highly inventive "new" fables about the origin of the alphabet and writing, how the rhino got his wrinkly skin, the camel his hump, etc etc. Stuffed full of evidence of a writer with a great imagination
Doc Sidhe ~ Aaron Allston (1995) novel, sf/fantasy (337 pgs)
Rip-roaring adventure with a new twist, Doc Savage crossed with a world where magic "works". Heroes are responsible for the fate of all humanity, with nasty bad guys and noble good guys, a real page turner, and lots of fun.
Poppy's Puppet ~ Patricie Lee Gauch (w) David Christiana (a) (1999) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Beautiful, funny watercolor illos for this story of a toy maker and his troupe of puppets, and one very special puppet in particular.
This Other Eden~ Ben Elton (1993) novel, fiction (395 pgs)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and seen as only Elton can, with great satire and observation on society running itself ragged in this too-close-for-comfort future. Dead funny.
The Travels of J.B. Rabbit ~ Doris Susan Smith (1982) children's picture book (40 pgs)
Gentle little tale of a rabbit visiting his cousin at the seashore. Deceptively simple art shows a great eye for details, and worth looking at closely.
Bloody Moments ~ Gael Jennings (w) Roland Harvey (a) (2000) children's(?) picture book (70 pgs)
A look at major moments in the history of medicine, with wonderfully gross drawings of the body breaking down. ick! We got this one to give to Natalie.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius ~ Dave Eggers (2000) novel (375 pgs)
Humorous, self-deprecating, scary, different, incomparable to anything else. Either he really is a genius, or totally wrapped up in a kind of masochistic narcissism
Beyond the Void ~John E. Muller [ie: Robert Fanthorpe w/ John Glasby] (1965)science fiction (158 pgs)
This skiffy retelling of "The Tempest" is not the best of the worst of Fanthorpe, possibly because it is a co-written effort, but still a fine example of the author's uniquely bad story telling skills.
The Accidental Pope ~ Raymond Flynn & Robin Moore (2000) novel (394 pgs)
The pope dies, and an ex-priest ends up becoming the new pope. Very much pro Catholic, and a surprisingly amateurishly written bit of fantasy wish fulfillment.
English Passengers ~ Matthew Kneale (2000) novel (446 pgs)
Interesting historical novel with great characters on an expedition to Australia in the 19th century. Uses humor to good affect to make some sharp points on race and empire. A good read.
The Wind in the Willows ~ Kenneth Grahame (w) Inga Moore (a) (2000) children's book (182 pgs)
New, lavishly illustrated edition of classic kids tales. Gentle and fun humor, and the illos are wonderful, very evocative of place, landscapes, cityscapes, and nice touches of humor in the figure work.
The Everlasting Story of Nory ~ Nicholson Baker (1997) novel (226 pgs)
Truly does read like a real "children's" book in that he's managed to capture the tone and speech patterns of a some-what precocious 9 year old girl. No real story, just a series of events, another fascinating literary experiment from Baker
A Darker Geometry ~ Mark O. Martin & Gregory Benford (1996) novel, sf (419 pgs)
Authors revise and expand a book that used characters from other authors. Nice space opera action, though it's nothing I'd re-read.
Ian Shoales' Perfect World ~ Merle Kessler (1988) novel (204 pgs)
A somewhat stream-of-consciousness romp through the weird world of Kessler's hacked-off social critic Ian Shoales. Hard to keep track of the plot at times, but it's a great ride along the way.
Light House ~ William Monahan (2000) novel (223 pgs)
A gathering of eccentric characters in an isolated inn in the midst of a deadly storm, this struck me as the bizarre lovechild of PG Wodehouse and Thomas Berger. Even though I know I missed a third of the references, still a fun read.
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds ~ Charles Mackay (1852) social science and history (724 pgs)
Thick book looking at alchemy, end day prophecies, astrology, witches, etc etc, and just going to show that, even after a couple of centuries, people continue to be just as stupid as ever.
Couplehood ~ Paul Reiser (1994) humor (348 pgs)
Very funny observations on what it's like to go from single to couple. And why, in the end, it might be worth it.
The Haunted Tea-Cosy ~ Edward Gorey (w/a) (1997) humor (66 pgs)
I am a huge fan of Gorey's work, but must admit, had I not known going in that this book was done by him, I would have thought it was actually a weak imitation of his work by a lesser talent. Only bits of the genius that is in most of his work.
Comet Fever: A Popular History of Halley's Comet ~Donald Gropman (1985) science, history (189 pgs)
A wide ranging look at the history of the comet, and the most interesting part, the press frenzy around the 1910 appearance.
The Book of Sand ~ Jorge Luis Borges (1977) fiction, short stories (125 pgs)
Interesting collection, some weak, some like "The Disk" and the title piece are quite outstanding!
Songs of the Doomed ~ Hunter S. Thompson (1990) essays, society (317 pgs)
A quick ride through the decades with the godfather of Gonzo, always worth the price of admission.
Plowing the Dark ~ Richard Powers (2000) novel (415 pgs)
Two parallel stories of different kinds of reality. Fascinating ideas, nice detail in his descriptive powers, and some true horror generated in the sections with the terrorist hostage. Give it a strong B+
Switch Bitch ~ Roald Dahl (1975) fiction, short stories (210 pgs)
I know Dahl more through his kid's-books-with-attitude. This collection of tales for adults is very much of the 60's-style of randy men always trying to hump women, cheat on wives, etc. Some have some nice twist endings to them.
Politcally Correct: The Ultimate Storybook ~ James Finn Garner (1998) humor, parody (293 pgs)
Collects the hilarious trilogy of "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories", "Once Upon a More Enlightened Time" and "Politically Correct Holiday Stories". Great parodies of the over-the-top, offend-no-one movement. A keeper.
Cotton Mather on Witchcraft ~ Cotton Mather (1692) history, society (172 pgs)
Exact reprinting of Mather's discourse on the witch trials held at the end of the 17th century. Eerie to read, the total certainty in the "facts" of witchcraft, and in a style that reminds me very much of the crazed-fringe-folk writers today. Another stake in the heart of the overly religious factions.
The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self & Soul ~ Douglas Hofstadter & Daniel Dennett (editors and commentaries) (1981) science, religion (501 pgs)
A Collection of fictional essays and stories around the nature of what is brain, mind, the self, ego, AI, high consciousness, etc, with follow up comments from the editors. Full of great mind-blowing (pun intended) ideas to ponder.
Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? ~ David Feldman (1987) history, reference (251 pgs)
239 answers to questions like: why a 2x4 isn't, and how military cadets find their caps after graduation, and so much more that the inquirying mind really needs to know! A priceless reference book.
Sunrise with Seamonsters: Travels & Discoveries ~ Paul Theroux (1985) nonfiction, essays (365 pgs)
An engaging, thought-provoking collection of essays covering several decades and a variety of topics. Travel writing that focuses on the people and politics, essays on writing that also speak to the core of creativity. A top-notch collection.
By Rocking Chair Across Russia ~ Alex Atkinson; illos by Ronald Searle (1960) humor (95 pgs)
Funny "fake" journey into Russia in the middle of the cold war, with great Searle illustrations!
The Failure of Modern Architecture ~ Brent C Brolin (1976) architecture (128 pgs)
Encapsulates many of my own misgivings about the state of architectural design at exactly the time I was studying it in college. Good thing, too, or I might be a miserable half-assed architect now, rather than a happy half-assed artist.
Honk if You Are Jesus ~ Peter Goldsworthy (1992) novel (290 pgs)
A great title and a good idea: reclaiming the DNA of Jesus off of the few "real" holy relics, to have him then "born again"through science. But doesn't follow through, a lot of good setup with no payoff, dances around the pool that writers like Morrow plunge straight into.
Girl With Curious Hair ~ David Foster Wallace (1989) fiction, short stories (373 pgs)
I was really looking forward to this, as loved his "A Supposedly Fun Thing..." collection. But, aside from a couple of the short tales, had a hard time getting past the, well, "thickness" of the writing style to even finish it. So, a plus and a minus.
A Universal History of Infamy ~ Jorge Luis Borges (1972) fiction, short essays (146 pgs)
Another slight disappointment from an author I have previously enjoyed. This is very early Borge ('30s) and not as wildly imaginative as his later works.
Richthofen: A True History of the Red Baron ~ William E. Burrows (1969) history, biography (269 pgs)
A straight forward and detailed biography, a good read
Ramona the Pest ~ Beverly Cleary (1968) young adult novel (192 pgs)
Ramona actually is a little pest, and would probably drive me nuts, too. But I do like interior illos by Louis Darling.
Know Your Cat's Purr Points: The Art of Cat Massage ~ Margaret Woodhouse (2002) humor (64 pgs)
Funny and oh so truthful, I've tried all these moves and had plenty of happy cats around in return
Asimov's Guide to the Bible, Old and New Testaments ~ Issac Asimov (1969)history, religion (1,295 pgs)
A detailed analysis of the bible from historical, geographical, biographical and political/religious background, with minimal attention to the miracles. Just a placing of it all into the real context of history, noting omissions, conflicts, etc in a straight-forward manner. Need this on hand anytime referring to the original big book!
Last Chance to See ~ Douglas Adams & Marck Carwardine (1990) travel, nature (220 pgs)
Adams travels around the world to search out vanishing species. Gets the message across, but still in the hilarious, inventive Adams writing style. Kind of wish he and Bill Bryson had traveled together at some point and written about it!
The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time ~ Douglas Adams (2002) fiction, essays,etc (300 pgs)
Collection of various short essays and what was completed of the last book Adams was working on when he died. It's all great, but his essays on being an atheist were the best, to the point, excellent writing.
The Invisible Pyramid ~ Loren Eiseley (1970) science, philosophy (174 pgs)
Essays about man's place in nature, about nature versus scientific progress, etc. Makes a couple of good points, but at the core is a little too touchy-feelly and navel-gazing for me, seems to have that man-is-bad-because-he's-man thing going.
Just Say Noel: A History of Christmas from the Nativity to the Nineties ~ David Comfort (1995) history, humor (256 pgs)
Sub-title says it all. A nice reference volume to keep on hand with all kinds of Christmas trivia.
The Art of Folly ~ Paul Tabori (1961) social science, history (259 pgs)
The same idea as in "Extraordinary Popular Illusions" (see Oct 04 notes) but written 100 years later, and showing how, even with the passing of a century, the stupidity level of the mass of humanity is still right up there with a broken rock.
A Short History of Nearly Everything ~ Bill Bryson (2003) history, science....everything! (544 pgs)
It's what it says it is, a history of life on earth, of earth itself, and the process of discovery through scientific thought. A great read!
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