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
| Reading List 2019
| Reading List 2020
|Reading List 2021|
Kick the Can ~ Jim Lehrer (1988) novel, fiction ( 247 pgs)
Funny, low-key novel of a young man on a road trip of discovery, and the odd folks he meets. Very much enjoyed, and I also discovered that Leher had written "Viva Max!". Not a bad resume.
The Island of the Day Before ~ Umberto Eco (1994) novel, fiction (513 pgs)
Strange and engrossing tale of a 17th century castaway, many odd mechanical devices, and the nature of God and the soul, and lots of mistaken thinking. Quite, quite good.
Saucer Wisdom ~ Rudy Rucker (1999) novel. sf (278 pgs)
Rudy goes into pure idea-riff on what the future will hold, with all kinds of fascinating ideas of what will be, wrapped up in a fun "kidnapped by aliens" narrative framework. (Also did his own illustrations, very much in the Thurber school of art!)
Checkpoint ~ Nicholson Baker (2004) novel, fiction (115 pgs)
Baker riffs on the novel format again, this whole story is set up just as a dialogue between two men in a room, one of whom wants to kill the president. Mostly a rant on how crazy war is, and I mostly (mostly) agreed with much of it.
The King, and Other Stories ~ Joe R. Lansdale (2005) short stories (98 pgs)
Super-short bits and pieces of weirdness from Joe. Definitely something put together for his hardcore fans, like me. There is almost as much space in the book devoted to the illustrations as there is to the text.
Kings of Infinite Space ~ James Hynes (2004) novel, fiction ( 341 pgs)
I loved this! Funny and spooky and clever and great, with a huge wonderfully weird ending, along with one of the most satisfying final lines in a novel I've read in quite sometime.
Towers at the Edge of a World ~ Virgil Burnett (1980) novel / short stories, fiction (208 pgs)
A great book, an accidental find that I'm glad I stumbled over. Wonderful pen and ink illos by the author accompany short stories set at different times through the ages of an ever-changing city.
Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos ~ Donna Andrews (2001) novel, mystery (289 pgs)
Second Andrews mystery novel, and still a fun read, though the humor seemed a bit forced to be "wacky" at times. Loved the behind-the-scenes humor of the historical re-enactment folks, very much like our RenFest experiences.
The Robot King ~ Brian Selznick (1993) shot novel, young adult fiction (80 pgs)
Lyrical and odd tale of two kids and the mystical robot they construct. Simply told, great scenes, and some truly wonderful pencil illustrations by the author.
The Tower to the Son ~ Colin Thompson (w/a) (1997) children's picture book ( 32 pgs)
Ultimately sad little tale of an earth covered in clouds, and the building of a fantastical tower to get high enough to be able to see the sun again. The funny, super-detailed artwork is great, can spend lots of time looking at it all.
We'll Always Have Parrots ~ Donna Andrews (2004) novel, mystery ( 331 pgs)
It's murder at a media-con! Either Andrews does a lot of research, or she has had some intimate personal experience with this type of setting of the gatherings of societies sub-genres!
The Dogs of Babel ~ Carolyn Parkhurst (2003) novel (261 pgs)
Touching, beautiful, scary, sad. I read it straight through and cried at the end. Amazing.
HTML Goodies ~ Joe Burns (1999) computer instruction (498 pgs)
Had only skimmed this in the past, this time I read every word front to back, in an attempt to get jump-started again on writing code for a web site. Good book! (Used it again even as I was working on this section of the site!)
They Walked Like Men ~ Clifford D. Simak (1962) novel, sf ( 234 pgs)
Goofy sci-fi tale of aliens who look like bowling balls, disguising themselves as people to slowly buy up every inch of real estate on the planet in a quite subtle move to conquer us through ownership. Fun.
Hard-Boiled Detectives ~ Dziemianowicz, Weinberg & Greenberg (ed) (1992) shorts, mystery (434 pgs)
About two dozen tales from the early days of "Dime Detective Magazine". A mix of styles, and some of the slang from the earlier stories in the 1930's is amazing to read now.
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship ~Christopher Denise (a/w)(1994) children's pic book (30 pgs)
Beautifully illustrated story based on a Russian folktale. Lovely book.
The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break ~ Steven Sherrill (2000) novel (313 pgs)
A quiet and quirky what-if novel: what if the Minotaur of Greek mythology had lived through the centuries, and was now a steakhouse cook in the southern U.S., just trying to get by? Interesting, different.
Matilda ~ Roald Dahl (1988) novel, young adult (240 pgs)
Fun little story of the precocious Matilda, her horrible parents, and how she found a better life. Nifty illos by Quentin Blake throughout, deceptively simple at times, but with a lot of feeling in those few lines.
As Long As She Needs Me ~ Nicholas Weinstock (2001) novel (245 pgs)
Predictable fluff story, competently written, but something completely forgotten in a few weeks.
Dreams and Nightmares: The Fantastic Visions of Winsor McCay (2005) art, comics (173 pgs)
Lesser-seen strips and editorial work from the amazing McCay!
The Russian Debutante's Handbook ~ Gary Shteyngart (2002) novel (476 pgs)
Not what you might think from the title, another tale of the post-Soviet chaos that enveloped Eastern Europe, done with wit and satire, and some dark humor- very dark.
Hirschfeld's Hollywood: The Film Art of Al Hirschfeld (2001) art (96 pgs)
A great collection showing samples of the wide range of styles Hirschfeld worked in early in his career, along with much of his gorgeous line work, concentrating more on movies than the usual theatrical stuff. Man must have drawn non-stop!
Fluke: or, I know Why the Winged Whale Sings ~ Christopher Moore (2003) novel (321 pgs)
One of the wildest of Moore's great flights of funny-fancy. Yes, I'm a fan, get all his books!
Ill Wind ~ Rachel Caine (2003) novel, fantasy (337 pgs)
A great core idea here, with a group of people with special powers organized together to conrrol the worst of the weather on the planet. A fun page-turner read.
Parnassus on Wheels ~ Christopher Morley (1917) novel (160 pgs)
A gentle tale of love, and the love of books, from the author of "The Haunted Bookshop".
Artemis Fowl ~ Eoin Colfer (2001) novel, young adult (280 pgs)
12-year old criminal genius Artemis versus the world of faeries, trolls and goblins, who are much more hi-tech than we humans are. Infinitely inventive, fun reading.
Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code ~ Eoin Colfer (2003) novel, young adult (309 pgs)
Artemis back in action, though he's a little bit more mellow this time, as he teams up with the fairy folk to combat an adult international criminal. (Third in the series, I'll have to keep an eye out for the one I missed!)
Love Conquers All ~ Robert Benchley (1992) essays, humor, social criticism (310 pgs)
Dozens of short snippets of wit and humor. I particularly loved the book reviews of things like time tables and brick laying manuals. And a screed against an evidently highly popular writer of the time that Benchley accurately dismissed with "I should like to lay a little bet that he will not be heard of again."
Love Me ~ Garrison Keillor (2003) novel (272 pgs)
Struggling writer ends up at the New Yorker magazine and finds it is run by the mafia. This is a fun read, but a gentler Keillor, more for readers who are into the whole world of writers and writing.
The Muse Asylum ~ David Czuchlewski (2001) novel (225 pgs)
Very cool tale of overlapping narratives, one character is obsessed with learning about a reclusive author, the other thinks that same author is stalking him. A great read.
Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang ~ Ian Fleming (1964) young adult novel (115 pgs)
Family adventure with a magic flying car versus the bad guys, Fleming shows a good knack for "read-out-loud" style here.
The Bottoms ~ Joe R. Lansdale (2000) novel (328 pgs)
Another gripping tale from Joe, more "real", if that makes sense, and thus even more frightening
How To Murder the Man of Your Dreams ~ Dorothy Cannell (1996) novel, mystery (292 pgs- not finished)
I read 85 pages in and gave up on this one. Not bad, just kind of over-written for me. It's got some humor, but since I'm not familiar with the romance genre she's talking about, I'm not getting the jokes. Dialogue just doesn't "sound" right in my ear.
Love Bites ~ Lynsay Sands (2004) novel, "paranormal romance" (373 pgs)
A funny take on modern vampires. Not monsters, but bioengineered Atlanteans! Never thought I'd be reading anything that was classified as a "paranormal romance", but an easy page turner, fun watching ideas work out, and some "hot" stuff, too!
Marsupial Sue ~ John Lithgow (w) Jack E. Davis (a) (2001) children's picture book (40 pgs)
Cute idea using "funny" Australian words, and some great illos.
Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the UFO ~ David Alder (a:Susanna Notti) (1980) young adult (58 pgs)
Picked this up to see what they have tried in a simple story to teach kids to be curious and skeptical. Pretty good job.
Fanny ~ Stephen Cosgrove (w) Robin James (a) (1986) children's picture book ( 28 pgs)
Sweet pictures for a story of accepting everyone, even if different, featuring Fanny the three-legged cat
Millions of Cats ~ Wanda Ga'g (w/a) (1928) children's picture book (30 pgs)
Great old woodcut-style illos for this story of trillions of cats
Lullabies, Lyrics and Gallows Songs ~ Christian Morgenstern (w) Lisbeth Zwerger(a) (1992) children's picture book (40 pgs)
Offbeat watercolor illos for a collection of poems that, in the end, seemed more for adults to appreciate for their oddness, than even the most precocious child could.
Year's Best Fantasy (2nd)~ Ellen Datlow,Terri Windling (eds) (1988) fantasy, horror, shorts (580 pgs)
Great, not only for the almost 50 excellent stories, but the editors contribute long articles of the entire field for the year.
The World-Wide Dessert Contest ~ Dan Elish (1985) young adult fiction (207 pgs)
I felt this should have been better, as it was more silly and illogical than fun and clever, which it could have been. The illustrations by John Gurney are GREAT, though.
Decadence: The Strange Life of an Epithet ~ Richard Gilman (1979) language, society, art ( 180 pgs)
An engrossing look at the history of both the use and changing meaning, of both the word and the idea of decadence. Full of great observations on many levels, this is a keeper.
The Man in the Ceiling ~ Jules Feiffer (1993) young adult fiction (186 pgs)
Multi-leveled for a young adult book, the story of 10 year-old Bob who just wants to be a cartoonist, and those around him who don't understand. I certainly relate to the core of the story, his inability to draw hands. A sweet little tale.
Fire ~ Sebastian Junger (2001) nonfiction, reporting, society ( 224 pgs)
The opening essay is on forest fire fighters, and the rest deals with horrible civil war conflicts around the world. Good reporting, and when I was done, had a deep feeling of disgust with much of "humanity" on this planet. People are crazy.
Monty Python and Philosophy ~ Gary Hardcastle and George Reisch (eds) (2006) nonfiction, humor, philosophy (291 pgs)
Essays using Python skits as jumping off points to philosophical theories. Could lead to deeper reading in philosophy, if you need to spend more time in navel-gazing fun.
James and the Giant Peach ~ Roald Dahl (1961) young adult novel (126 pgs)
Fun and slightly twisted (of course) tale from Dahl, with cool new illos by Lane Smith in this new 1996 edition.
Kovacsland ~ Diana Rico (1990) biography ( 312 pgs)
In-depth bio of Ernie Kovacs, a man of much vision, but had some terrible problems with gambling and a lack of control of money that seemed to keep his life in turmoil.
Roger Corman:Blood-sucking Vampires, Flesh-eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers~Beverly Gray (2004) biography (318pgs)
Look at the life and career of the King of B-pictures. An interesting story of a rather colorful careet, both good & bad sides.
The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud, and the Search for Hidden Universes ~ Richard Panek (2004) science, history (207pgs)
A look at the surprisingly parallel approaches to the search for the new by both Einstein and Freud. Very readable, both in making their complicated theories more understandable, and the whole scientific process.
Clockwork ~ Philip Pullman (1996) children's book ( 109 pgs)
Eerie little simple tale for kids of a mysterious clockmaker and his deadly creatures. Lightly creepy, interesting illos.
A Graveyard for Lunatics ~ Ray Bradbury (1990) mystery (285 pgs)
Not as strong as his first mystery I read, but still full of wonderful phrasing and imagery, plus nice to see Ray Harryhausen worked in as the basis for one of the main characters.
The Hundred Brothers ~ Donald Antrim (1997) novel, fiction (206 pgs)
So very odd, and wonderfully so. Not a book I feel I could recommend widely to people, but I liked it a lot, because it is so very, very...odd
Why the Toast Always Lands Butter Side Down ~ Richard Robinson (2005) nonfiction, science (240pgs)
Great exploration of how the brain works, relating it to Murphy's Law and why so many things we "know" to be true aren't really true at all, if you really look at them.
Bushworld: Enter At Your Own Risk ~ Maureen Dowd (2004) history, politics (523 pgs)
A look at the Shrub administration. To quote the author: " It's their reality. We just live and die in it." This little pissant of a president and his team have destroyed the real power of this country in the world for decades to come.
Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright ~ Steven Millhauser (1972) novel (305 pgs)
Fascinating, unlike anything else I've read. The life story of an eleven year old by his best friend, both precocious beyond their years. Eerie ending as well, I loved this one!
The Givenchy Code ~ Julie Kenner (2005) novel ( 351 pgs)
A nice enough read, though I was expecting more humor based on her previous book. This one was more of a straight-forward adventure, but with a light touch that kept it all feeling more "cute" than dangerous.
The Golden Compass ~ Philip Pullman (1995) novel, fantasy (351 pgs)
Wow, a great read that had me skipping from getting needed work done around the house to just keep on reading.
The Subtle Knife ~ Philip Pullman (1997) novel, fantasy (288 pgs)
Things get more involved in this second volume of the trilogy, and a deeper revealing of the core plot and theme of good vs evil, though in a different way, is slowly unveiled.
The Amber Spyglass ` Philip Pullman (2000) novel, fantasy (465 pgs)
Lots more epic ideas, and some nice questioning of the whole idea of the nature of belief. A great trilogy.
Bad Prince Charlie ~ John Moore (2006) novel, fantasy, humor (230 pgs)
Another great fantasy comedy from Moore, I've enjoyed every book he has written!
The Prophet ~ Kahlil Gibran (1923) spiritualism ( 96 pgs)
Another title I've heard of forever, big with the newage crowd. Very much of a snoozer, but mercifully short.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1886) fiction, mystery (114 pgs)
Another classic I'd never actually read 'til now. I actually wish it had been longer, going into a bit more detail and depth with both the story and characters. It was a surprisingly quick read.
Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates ~ Tom Robbins (2000) novel (415 pgs)
More great ideas and pure writing from Robbins, though I have to admit to having been a bit disappointed with the somewhat mild ending to it all.
Lord of the Flies ~ William Golding (1954) novel ( 208 pgs)
A disturbing look at the nature of man, and scary parallels to the present Neanderthal mentality of American government.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ~ Jules Verne (1869) novel, science fiction (288 pgs) -RE-READ-
I last read this in elementary school, one of my introductory books to sf. Seems a bit more stilted in approach now, but the very factoid-based listing of the undersea wonders serves to show how unknown much of the world was not that long ago.
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part I: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets ~ Dav Pilkey (2003) weird kids book ( 176 pgs)
More hilariously tasteless adventures of Captain Underpants. It's a kids book/picture book/comicbook/ mini-comic...all in one!
The Life of God - As Told by Himself ~ Franco Ferrucci (1986) novel ( 281 pgs)
Great idea and had a good start, but tended to lose its own internal logic as the author started to bounce around various stand-alone, slice-of-life vignettes. Still, an interesting attempt at something different.
The Unhandsome Prince ~ John Moore (2005) novel, fantasy, humor (266 pgs)
More of John playing with the basic tenets of fantasy and fairy tales, and turning them upside down. Clever and funny.
Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe ~ Edgar Allan Poe (1940) short stories, poems (432 pgs)
Classic stories, wonderfully written in a style becoming rapidly more archaic to read, but still beautiful.
L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz ~ Katherine M. Rogers (2002) biography (304 pgs)
Fascinating account of the life of Baum, much detail on both his personal and professional life. Includes quite detailed looks at all of the fiction he created, both the obvious books and so many others less known now.
Heat Stroke [Weather Warden Book 1] ~ Rachel Caine (2004) novel, fantasy (335 pgs)
More great action/adventure tales with a novel core idea, people who can control the weather all around us. This one is kind of open-ended, so now I have to (willingly) go find the third volume!
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator ~ Roald Dahl (1972) young adult novel (164 pgs)
Follow up to "Chocolate Factory". Not as strong a piece as that one, but still much fun to read.
America's Parade: A Celebration of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade ~ "Life" Editors (2001) history, photo book (176 pgs)
Wonderful photos and anecdotes of and about the history of this huge annual parade in New York City.
The Barnum Museum ~ Steven Millhauser (1990) fiction, short stories (237 pgs)
More strangely beautiful, and sometimes disturbing, short works from Millhauser. Always a pleasure to read.
The Buddhist Monastery ~ M.N. Rajesh (photos: Thomas Kelly) (?) religion, history, architecture (98 pgs)
Overview of Buddhist monasteries, complete with an attempted overview of the confusing pantheon of deities and sects, but mostly some amazing photos of high mountain structures.
Thieves in High Places ~ Jim Hightower (2003) history, politics (270 pgs)
Commonsense and humor in looking at the political situation in our country today. It's sad what has happened to a country that used to have such respect around the world, but Hightower gives both hope and direction
Will H. Bradley: American Artist in Print ~ Robert Koch (2002) history, art (192 pgs)
Gorgeous art book on Bradley, wide ranging approaches, skills, and styles covering art nouveau, arts & crafts, deco and beyond.
Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce ~ Douglas Starr (1998) history, medicine (422 pgs)
"Epic" is right. Engrossing history of mankind's relationship to, and harvesting of, the blood within us all.
Sundiver ~ David Brin (1980) novel, science fiction (340 pgs)
Hard sf, lots of action and big ideas, got my old "sensawunda" going again!
Cryptonomicon ~ Neal Stephensen (1999) novel (918 pgs)
Dense, multi-plotted tale of code breaking in WW II, and the search for buried gold today... and lots of other stuff, too. For all it's bulk and shifts in time and place, it was definitely a page turner all the way through.
The River of Time ~ David Brin (1986) sf, short stories (366 pgs)
For some reason I just kept glazing over here. After reading the first few, scanned the rest but nothing seemed to engage me. Sorry David, (loved your last novel I read up above!)
Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers ~ Mary Roach (2003) history, medicine, society (304 pgs)
Full of fascinating information, written with great humor, wit and thoughtfulness. Hey, I'm donating mine when I'm done!
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