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 Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists ~ Gideon Defoe (2004) humor, fantasy (101 pgs)
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab ~ Gideon Defoe (2005) humor, fantasy (115 pgs)
A two-sided book, with hilarious stories of a shipload of very odd pirates, takes goofiness in humor to a whole new level. Loved these, hope he does a few dozen more!
Running With Scissors ~ Augusten Burroughs (2002) autobiography (304 pgs)
Blurbed as a darkly funny autobio along lines of David Sedaris. big fan of Sedaris' smart and satirical writing, but this book was more just sad and ultimately depressing tale of a lot of mixed up and odd people I'd not like to meet at all.
Zen For Cats ~ Henry Beard (w) Ron Barrett (a) (1997) humor, cats (88 pgs)
Quick read little book of cute stuff, some clever, a nice grin-inducer for cat lovers.
The Fog Mound, Book 3: Simon's Dream ~ Susan Schade (w), Jon Buller (a) (2008) children's book, graphic novel (198 pgs)
At last, the final volume. Full of ideas, simply presented for little readers, definitely something I would have treasured when I was little, too!
Cheap Laffs: The Art of the Novelty Item ~ Mark Newgarden and Picturebox, Inc. (2004) history, humor, art (128 pgs)
Fascinating history of the oft-neglected field of cheap novelty items like fake vomit and hand buzzers.
Lord of Light ~ Roger Zelazny (1967) novel, sf (279 pgs)
SF takes on the pantheon of Hindu gods in this very different novel. He took that idea and ran like hell with it!
The False House ~ James Stoddard (2000) novel, fantasy (401 pgs)
I loved the first novel "The High House", and while felt this one started a little slow, it built to great new ideas and action. It's been a while, but I hope there will be another novel set in the wonder that is Evermere.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay ~ Michael Chabon (2000) novel (639 pgs)
Deeply layered story of two men at the start of the creation of comicbooks in America. Amazing detail in the history. Great!
Gale Force ~ Rachel Caine (2008) novel, fantasy (306 pgs)
More adventures of the Weather Wardens. Always amazed how she manages to upgrade to even greater threats for the characters even as their abilities increase in each novel. Page turning fun.
Corrupted Science ~ John Grant (2007) nonfiction, science, politics, history (321 pgs)
Great overview of how science has been manipulated through fraud, ideology and politics. Bad news is it happens, good news is science, based on actual real facts, does manage to eventually recover. Though politicians keep trying.
Winkie ~ Clifford Chase (2006) novel, fantasy (240 pgs)
Winkie the teddy bear comes to life and is tried as a terrorist. Just read it, okay, one of those great off-the-edge novels that make it worth searching deep into the bookstores.
Autumn of the Moguls ~ Michael Wolff (2003) business, history, media (368 pgs)
A look at the mass media implosions and bad business mergers of the last few decades. Pretty much slams all involved, and often has quite good insights into why the "always bigger" theme of business is NOT always a good idea.
In The Company of Ogres ~ A. Lee Martinez (2006) novel, fantasy, humor (316 pgs)
Nice mix of humor and straight-ahead fantasy adventure. Very different from his first novel, nice to see he isn't planning on working the same area, but go with different ideas with each novel.
Dewey ~ Vicki Myron (w/ Bret Witter) (2008) non fiction (277 pgs)
The story of Dewey, the small town library cat who became world famous just by being himself. A very sweet little tale.
The War of the End of the World ~ Mario Vargas Llosa (1981) novel (568 pgs)
Based on the real events of the city of Canudos, Brazil at the end of the 19th century. Huge cast of characters, clash of religion, politics, society and people. Epic story, and amazing to think it is based on reality. Fascinating.
The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste ~ Jane & Michael Stern (1990) history, society, humor, reference (331 pgs)
Very detailed look at history or, and critique of, a long list of oddities of American society like mood rings, leisure suits, shag rugs, and hundreds more. Entertaining to read and a great reference book, too!
Petrogypsies ~ Rory Harper (1989) novel, sf (275 pgs)
A world where all oil drilling equipment is actually amazingly specialist animals that drill, form concrete, tubes, etc. Weird premise, but go with it just to see all the references to old Cepheid Variable members!
The Lunar Men ~ Jenny Uglow (2002) history, science (501 pgs)
Follows the lives of a group of men at the end of 18th century England who were at the core of changes in industry, science, and so many other aspects of the modern world. Great fascinating detail.
Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures ~ Walter Moers (2006) novel, fantasy (688 pgs)
Another immensely inventive fantasy adventure by Moers. His detailed cartoony drawings give the impression of light material, but the darker nature of this adventure ranks it with the best adventure tales in my mind. I have got to find his other books to read!
The Jigsaw Puzzle ~ Anne D. Williams (2004) nonfiction, history, games (206 pgs)
Detailed history of the jigsaw puzzle, much more involved than I had imagined. Even instructions to make your own!
In The Beginning... Was The Command Line ~ Neal Stephenson (1999) tech,computers, history (151 pgs)
An overview of the origins of those plastic brain-boxes now glowing in just about all our homes, and the systems that make them work, and sometimes not work. From punch cards on, he makes it all understandable, at least as history.
Lamb ~The Gospel According to Biff ~ Christopher Moore (2002) novel, fantasy (444 pgs)
Moore fills in the missing years of Jesus' early life in his own off-center way. Another fun and inventive read, at least until the end, when we all know how the last few chapters of the story have to go, and he sticks to it.
What Jane Austin Ate and Charles Dickens Knew ~ Daniel Pool (1993) history,society (245 main text pgs)
A look at all facets of daily life in 19th century England. Helpful in understanding much of the background of stories of that time, not to mention makes me realize I really am glad I'm not living then!
Moist ~ Mark Haskell Smith (2002) novel (323 pgs)
Fast-paced black-comedy crime-caper book with a happy ending for everyone. Now that is a good read!
The Time Ships ~ Stephen Baxter (1995) novel, sf (520 pgs)
Picks up where the original "Time Machine" left off, and flings his protagonist to both ends of time, and everything in between. A hard-sf novel with big ideas, a page turner where always wondered what he would do next.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid ~ Bill Bryson (2006) nonfiction, memoir (268 pgs)
My favorite travel author Bill Bryson takes us back to his youth in America in the '50s, and manages to give a snapshot of that entire time in this country. I've read just about everything Bill has written, and enjoyed it all immensely.
A Nameless Witch ~ A. Lee Martinez (2007) novel, fantasy (320 pgs)
Tale of a witch cursed to be undead, and her quest for vengeance against the killer of her teacher. Believe it or not, with that theme Martinez has done another book with humor, style, and great plotting and characters. He's three for three so far!
This Is My Best ~ Retha Powers, Kathy Kiernan (eds) (2004) collection (555 pgs)
About five dozen fiction and nonfiction authors introduce their own selections of what they consider their best work. Some I was familiar with, many new ones, and a few that I now what to seek out further reading from.
The Undercover Economist ~ Tim Hartford (2006) business, economics (252 pgs)
A good book that almost makes me understand economic theory, by using real world examples. No wonder this kind of stuff drives people nuts!
Jennifer Murdley's Toad ~ Bruce Coville (1992) young adult novel (159 pgs)
Cute kid's tale of getting a talking frog in a mysterious magic shop, and the events that follow. (Quibble: Story point seems to be not to worry if you are not overly-cute, yet cover art has a super-cute girl, totally unlike the description inside.)
The Light of Other Days ~ Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (2000) novel, sf (316 pgs)
New sf done in the classic mode of big ideas: inventions that change all mankind, and exploring the vastness of both the universe, and the span of time. The kind of stuff that grabbed me as a kid that made science fiction stand out from everything else.
The 13 Clocks ~ James Thurber (1950) children's fantasy (124 pgs)
Great little story for kids by the amazing James Thurber. Simple, but clever and fun.
What It Felt Like: Living In the American Century ~ Henry Allen (1999) history (158 pgs)
Decade by decade look at the 20th century. Starts up almost lyrical, covering the good and the bad, but as moves into years the author actually lived through, his criticisms seem to get grow. Attitude gets kind of irritating by the end.
Manifold Time ~ Stephen Baxter (2000) novel, sf (472 pgs)
Baxter takes us through all of space and time in another amazing bit of hard-science fiction story telling.
Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas ~ Tom Robbins (1994) novel (386 pgs)
Another weird read from Robbins, with a missing psychic, a jewel thief monkey, stock market crash, and the mystery of the double Dog Star. Amazingly enough, it's the most contained of his novels as well, though still rich with imagery and language.
Bubbas of the Apocalypse ~ Selina Rosen (ed) (2001) short stories (210 pgs)
A future where Yuppies are now flesh eating zombies, and only the BBQ-sauce swigging Bubba's can keep them at bay. Wild collection of stories, some funny, some gross, set in one of the strangest shared worlds I've ever read.
Where The Deep Ones Are ~ Kenneth Hite (w), Andy Hopp (a) (2008) humor, parody, art (31 pgs)
Parody of the classic "Where The Wild Things Are" children's picture book, but this time young Bobby becomes the ruler of all the evil creatures of the Cthulhu mythos. Great on all counts!
Practically Perfect in Every Way ~ Jennifer Niesslein (2007) nonfiction, society (338 pgs)
Niesslein devotes two years of her life to use self-help books to improve just about every aspect of her life, and in the process comes up with a great evaluation of the whole gigantic field of self-help. Funny and well written.
The Sooterkin ~ Tom Gilling (1999) novel, fiction (212 pgs)
Odd little book, less plot driven than just full of wonderful descriptions of the characters, places and scenes that made me want to keep reading. Also, weirdly, kept flashing on a real-world vision of "The Misadventures of Flapjack" cartoon.
Stiffed ~ Susan Faludi (1999) history, sociology (608 pgs)
A look at how contemporary American men feel adrift from the whole idea of what it is to be men. Interesting reading for the history, but at times I just wanted to yell at some of the guys in here: "Quit looking to blame someone, and just get on with your own life."
The Time Traveler's Wife ~ Audrey Niffenegger (2003) novel, fantasy (536 pgs)
Fascinating new twist on doing a time travel story, man bops back and forth through time without control, usually around the people in his life. A love story with a definitely different idea at the core.
Perdido Street Station ~ China Miéville (2000) novel, sf (623 pgs)
Amazing, just plain amazing. Goes right onto the shelf of the best books I've read. It's science fiction, fantasy, horror, a wealth of wonderfully bizarre invention, intricate, page-turning plot, great imagery... just a fantastic read!
The Lecturer's Tale ~ James Hynes (2001) novel (388 pgs)
Wonderful mix of satire of academic ivory tower literary theory and surrealist horror. Second Hynes book I've read, both unique and great reads. Must... find... more....
The Night Listener ~ Armistead Maupin (2000) novel (377 pgs)
Based-on-true-events mystery of the question of a charismatic young abuse victim and new author actually exists or not. Novel spends a bit too much on the protagonist's life for me, but core story is interesting.
In the Penny Arcade ~ Steven Millhauser (1988) short stories (164 pgs)
More wonderment from Millhauser. Highlights are the man who made the most amazing automatons in the world,and the final piece, observations of life in the mythical country of Cathay.
A Wrinkle In Time ~ Madeleine L'Engle (1962) ya novel, fantasy (211 pgs)
Read this as a child but little memory of it. Thought I'd give it another try, but very disappointed. Explains why I was so pleased to get a library card to the grown-up books section, if these simple tales were what were offered to kids then.
The Bad Beginning ~ Lemony Snicket (1999) ya novel (162 pgs)
The Reptile Room ~ Lemony Snicket (1999) ya novel (190 pgs)
The Wide Window ~ Lemony Snicket (2000) ya novel (214 pgs)
The Miserable Mill ~ Lemony Snicket (2000) ya novel (195 pgs)
The Austere Academy ~ Lemony Snicket (2000) ya novel (221 pgs)
The Ersatz Elevator ~ Lemony Snicket (2001) ya novel (259 pgs)
These are the first volumes in the "A Series Of Unfortunate Events" series. A great deal of fun to read, and the worst part is I now have to track down the final seven volumes. Yes, I must, for the saga of the poor orphans continues, and I must see it to the end!!
Invasion: Earth ~ Harry Harrison (1982) sf novel (211 pgs)
Lightweight genre book: aliens show up and are defeated. A nice core idea, but written like something for a 50's B-grade movie. Harry's done better. Oh, and truly annoyingly bad illustrations, which seems to fit well with the "eh" story.
Son of a Witch ~ Gregory Maguire (2005) novel, fantasy (407 pgs)
Sequel to the amazing "Wicked" book, this was a good read on it's own, exploring the world of Oz from the different direction Maguire set up. But also still feels like it's just the middle of a whole series, so looking forward to the next one.
Bait and Switch ~ Barbara Ehrenreich (2005) business, society (237 pgs)
Read her earlier book on trying to survive at minimum wage, she now brings a look at the frustrating world of trying to get a white-collar job late in life. Subtitled "The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream". Kind of depressing, ya know?
In the Sea Nymph's Lair ~ F. J. Hale (1989) novel, fantasy (209 pgs)
Basic fantasy adventur. Reads like it was geared toward a young readership, though not marketed as such on the book.
Sexy Origins and Intimate Things ~ Charles Panati (1998) history, language, sociology (514 pgs)
History of sex with a sense of humor and deep depth of research. The world is, and evidently always has been, much kinkier than most of us could ever imagine!
Quite a Year for Plums ~ Bailey White (1998) novel (220 pgs)
I really enjoyed White's two colletions of essays, but somehow just couldn't get into this novel. Great mix of odd characters,and some wonderful scenes as individual chapters, but it never came together as an engaging story for me.
Cape Storm ~ Rachel Caine (2009) novel, sf (305 pgs)
The eighth "Weather Warden" novel, and yet again Caine manages to top herself with even bigger action and more unexpected plot twistings. Rumored only one novel left it the series... sad, sad to hear.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ~ Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith (2009) novel, satire (319 pgs)
Too much Austen, not enough zombies for me, though will admit I'm not a big Austen fan. Think it Would have worked better as a short parody rather than a full length novel, but since this is the 13th printing, I'm clearly in the minoritty on that!
The Automatic Detective ~ A. Lee Martinez (2008) novel, sf (317 pgs)
After a string of fantasy-oriented novels, Martinez tackles science fiction and comes up with another group of great characters, new ideas, and page turning writing that is both clever and surprising. Not disappointed yet, a great writer!
How the Republicans Stole Christmas ~ Bill Press (2005) politics, history, society, religion (269 pgs)
A Christian's view on how the far-right of Christian evangelists has highjacked the Republican party over the past couple of decades. Hits all their major arguments and knocks 'em all down. Is this country full of crazy folks or what?
Dragon Rider ~ Cornelia Funke (1997) ya novel, fantasy (523 pgs)
Fun fantasy adventure of a boy, a dragon, and a bunch of other strange characters. Kind of thing I would have loved as a kid, and can still enjoy on it's level as an adult. Also some nice pen and ink illos by the author throughout.
Mermaids on the Moon ~ Elizabeth Stuckey-French (2002) novel (256 pgs)
Tried to get into this, had some interesting characters, but in the main it was mostly concerned with relationships and "pasts" of fictional people that I never cared about.
Chris Ware ~ Daniel Raeburn (2004) art, comics (112 pgs)
A great overview of the career (so far, and may it go for decades more) of amazing comic artist Chris Ware. I'm in awe!
Tick Tock ~ Dean Koontz (1996) novel, thriller (338 pgs)
Something different, starts off like part of "Trilogy of Terror", moves into "After Hours" crossed with "Big Trouble in Little China", and then wraps up in "Bringing Up Baby" territory!
Josh Kirby: A Cosmic Cornucopia ~ David Langford (1999) art (112 pgs)
An overview of the wonderful illustrations of Josh Kirby, with special emphasis on his work, published and non, for the Pratchett Discworld series. Josh left us just after the turn of the century, but fortunately a huge body of work left.
Bridge of Birds ~ Barry Hughart (1984) novel, fantasy (278 pgs)
Wow, a wonderful tale of fantastic adventures in "An ancient China that never was". I loved this book, and was pleased to find out that Hughart wrote two more before deciding it wasn't worth the effort to fight his publishers. A great read!
The Zombie Survival Guide ~ Max Brooks (2003) sf, humor(?) (260 pgs)
Interesting idea, but feels more like a manual for a zombie role-playing game, more mundane details than I was interested in. (List of "recorded attacks" is like a huge collection of outlines for dozens of zombie short stories that might be good.).
Rosemary and Rue ~ Seanan McGuire (2009) novel, fantasy (346 pgs)
Main character spends a lot of time running around getting hurt in various ways, with anguish over old relationships and perceived slights, misunderstood and unsaid things. Saw who the "surprise" bad guy was halfway in. Not for me.
Pontoon ~ Garrison Keillor (2007) novel (248 pgs)
Keillor returns to the people of Lake Wobegon for another combination of nicely odd characters and some subtle yet sharp observations on life, faith, and a bit of most everything else.
The Magus ~ John Fowles (1965) novel (668 pgs)
High hopes going into this, teased with interesting setups and scenes, and some gripping commentary on war. In the end I didn't care about the lead, and felt the whole thing just kind of wandered off without any resolve, all flash and no sustance.
Food - Ogden Nash (1989) poetry, humor (78 pgs)
A slender selection of Nash work, but anything from Ogden is better than none. Nice artwork by Etienne Delessert, too.
Iron Council ~ China Miéville (2004) novel, sf (564 pgs)
Another strong novel from Miéville. A slower start for me than the fabulous "Perdido Street Station", but once it going,another amazing read, and I loved the ending, came as totally unexpected.
The Name of the Rose ~ Umberto Eco (1980) novel (611 pgs)
A great read. Core is a murder mystery, but Eco sets it among discussions of faith and knowledge, religion and vice, that are the real meat of the book. Oh, and a monastery with a library labyrinth is cool, too!
Doodaaa ~ Ralph Steadman (2002) novel (324 pgs)
The first novel from wild artist Steadman, it's the life of a fictional artist named Gavin Twinge, a sometime stand-in for Steadman himself, and a chance to explore the craziness of creativity and the world of making a living as an artist. Great!
The Illuminatus! Trilogy ~ Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (1984) novel, sf (805 pgs) collects:
The Eye in the Pyramid (1975); The Golden Apple (1975); Leviathan (1975)
Okay, I read it. Some interesting stuff in here about conspiracy theories all brought together, even some fun bits. But having to wade through the stream-of-consciousness, guess-when-the-scene-shifts writing style started to get a bit trying.
Hooking Up ~ Tom Wolfe (2000) essays, society (293 pgs)
The master of observing society and pointing out why it's so crazy. Comes with a bit more prersonal stuff this time, about reaction to his own novels, and it's all greatly readable.
Old Man's War ~ John Scalzi (2005) novel, sf (316 pgs)
Old fashioned space opera sf. Lots of fightin'-the-aliens. No grand themes, just lots of cool future stuff and page-turning action.
Pincher Martin ~ William Golding (1956) novel (208 pgs)
Sailors attempts to survive stranded on a tiny rock island. Not a nice guy, memories of his past work into thoughts of survival. Different, takes some attention to follow the shifts, but a fascinating ride by Golding.
Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked Man ~ Tim Allen (1994) humor (210 pgs)
Funny observational humor bits on life from Allen, with a touch of autobiography.thrown in.
Crash ~ J.G. Ballard (1973) novel, horror (224 pgs)
Despite the blurb as a "classic work of cutting-edge fiction", it read more to me as an attempt to see how gross you can get combining victims of auto wrecks and weird sex. As a short story, would have worked. At novel length, it's just creepy.
The Yiddish Policeman's Union ~ Michael Chabon (2007) novel, (434 pgs)
Chabon sets a murder mystery in an alternate history world that often reads like exploring an alien planet. Good stuff.
The Picture of Morty & Ray ~ Daniel Pickwater (w) Jack E. Davis (a) (2003) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Pinkwater does a weird little take on Dorian Gray, moving into Dahl territory with the somewhat twisted ending!
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident ~ Eoin Colfer (2002) novel, young adult (277 pgs)
The second Artemis book, and there is less of Artemis and more of the strange underground world of high tech fairies. Fun and inventive stuff, but I want more of the "youngest criminal mastermind" in his own books!
How Not To Live Abroad ~ Shaun Briley (2004) nonfiction, travel, humor (282 pgs)
Very funny true story of a young non-Spanish couple trying to make their way in "rustic" country of Spain. Shows why you really need to know what you are getting into!
Mirth of a Nation ~ Michael J. Rosen (ed) (2000) essays, short stories, humor (619 pgs)
Great collection of contemporary short humor, writers I know and some fun new ones to look for more from. Loved the depth of this, down to fake submission guidelines and index. A wonderful collection, I'll have to look for more in the series.
The Wicked Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House ~ Mary Chase (1968) young adult novel (128 pgs)
Short and simple little book. I could definitely see this adapted to the screen as an old 40's b&w weird movie.
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence ~ Amy Sedaris (2006) humor, food (306 pgs)
Very funny, yet also a very real, advise on entertaining, and tons of recipes. Photos and art are a major plus!
A Primer of Higher Space ~ Calude Bragdon (1923) math, theology (81 pgs)
Starts with some pretty good explanations of how to get your head around the concept of four dimensions by moving through one, two and three. Then shifts to equating this with Christian theology, and things get odd.
Lost ~ Gregory Maguire (2001) novel (338 pgs)
Has interesting intermingling and overlapping plots, and some cool ideas. But I just couldn't connect with the characters as much as I did in his other novels. Still a great writer, but somehow this one book didn't work as well for me.
Nothin' But Good Times Ahead ~ Molly Ivins (1993) essays, politics, society (255 pgs)
More brilliant short essays by Ivins. Pissed but also easily amused by idiots, she always gets to the heart of things.
A Measure of All Things ~ Ian Whitelaw (2007) history, science (157 pgs)
Fascinating look at the origin of almost all units of measurement: length, volume, mass, temperature, time, energy, speed, force and many more. Concise explanations, shows the history of the human need to understand and quantify the world.
Ulysses ~ James Joyce (1922) novel (783 pgs)
I've had this for 30 years, and finally got around to reading it. Scared off by tales of "the most difficult novel in the world", while there were long sections I had to slog through, also much humor, amazing writing, and clever use of the form. Not something I would probably read again, but certainly well worth the time!
Violent Veg ~ Bernard, Knight & Shipley (2006) humor, photo book (90 pgs)
The world of anthropomorphic vegetables is dangerous and full of bad puns!
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