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|
The Last Witchfinder ~ James Morrow (2006) novel (516 pgs)
Engrossing adventure tale, as well as a wonderful indictment of unreason, fear and superstition. Morrow is amazing!
Reading Lolita in Tehran ~ Azar Nafisi (2003) literature, religion, politics, history (347 pgs)
Memoir of a female literature professor in Iran, with an up close view of that turbulent country at the end of the 20th century, and the multiple revolutions and regimes that gripped it. Sad times, with moments of joy.
Fool ~ Christopher Moore (2009) novel, humor (311 pgs)
Have always loved Moore's work, and this certainly has wonderful moments and style, but overall not as impressed. Too much plot getting in the way of story for me.
Crunchy Cons ~ Rod Dreher (2006) politics (247 pgs)
Interesting, albeit I thought obvious, idea for a book: not everyone can be broken into strictly defined conservative, liberal, etc, that there are a lot of areas of gray. Two odd things: he seems surprised that he came to realize this. And second, the sadness I felt that evidently his religious belief is based only on the fact that he felt if he didn't have a God, then he would be unable to control himself and would do all sorts of horrible things. So, he has no real internal moral compass, and thus seems surprised that others might be able to make those moral distinctions on their own.
Monster 1959 ~ David Maine (2008) novel (244 pgs)
Wow, unexpected gem. A serio-comic novel that re-imagines the core story of the King Kong myth, getting inside the head of the creature, having more fleshed out humans, and commentary on the world at the end of the '50s. Loved it!
The One and Only Shrek! ~ William Steig (2007) childens picture books (200pgs) collects:
The Amazing Bone (1976), Caleb & Kate (1977), Doctor DeSoto, (1982), Brave Irene (1986), Spinky Sulks (1988), Shrek! (1990)
Fun little books. The movie Shrek! is the reason this gets the attention, but the sweet story of Caleb & Kate is my favorite, maybe because it is about an adult couple, and quite touching.
Driving Mr. Albert ~ Michael Paterniti (2000) travel, history (211 pgs)
Interestingly weird road trip, some moments ring just "too good" to be true. Plus Paterniti doesn't come across all that well.
Tales from Outer Suburbia ~ Shaun Tan (2008) art, short stories, childrens(?) (98 pgs)
I think this is marketed to kids, but is so much more. Great, sometimes haunting illustrations in variety of styles, and compellingly strange and wonderful stories.
A Lovecraft Retrospective: Artists Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft ~Stuart Gordon, et al (2008) art, history (400 pgs)
Amazing, astonishing, almost overwhelming collection of Lovercraft inspired artwork in huge 12 x 16 volume. Over 40 artists work and bios, full size and over, foldouts. Tons of amazing work!. Lucky to have this monster on my shelfs!
Un Lun Dun ~ China Miéville (2008) fantasy (474 pgs)
Okay, it's official, China can do no wrong. (Now he will probably go and break my heart by writing something that I don't think is just amazing!)
Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea ~ Charles Seife (2000) math, history (230 pgs)
Engrossing tale of how the number "zero" wasn't always with us, and the impact it had on both science and religion.
Men's Adventure Magazines ~ Taschen (Max Allan Collins, George Hagenauer) (2008) publishing, art, history (352 pgs)
Another amazing collection of the weird side of publishing from Taschen, concentrating on the covers of the "men's" magazines of the '50s through '70s. Good historical essays, and a rich source of bizarre reference images.
Freeware ~ Rudy Rucker (1997) novel, science fiction (262 pgs)
Third of his "Ware" tetralogy, and things just keep getting weirder and weirder. Crams in more new ideas and just plain old strange situations than just about any other author. Rucker rules!
The Anthologist ~ Nicholson Baker (2009) novel (243 pgs)
Another great read from Baker. Marked as a novel, it's more of an extended essay on poetry, with a thin fictional narrative framework. But that's okay, because the essay portion is an engrossing read.
Beat the Reaper ~ Josh Bazell (2009) novel (304 pgs)
Dark humor, action, plot twists, this is one hell of a page turner- and it's his first novel! Looking forward to more.
The High Crusade ~ Poul Anderson (1960) science fiction (181 pgs)
Fun old-school sf, when a small army of crusaders from the middle ages turn the tables on invading aliens, and end up conquering half the galaxy themselves.
The Alchemaster's Apprentice ~ Walter Moers (2007) novel, fantasy (372 pgs)
Another wonderfully inventive addition to Moers' "Zamonia" series. One of those writers who seems to have more new ideas per chapter than the average author has in entire books!
And in the End ~ Keith R. Lindsay (2006) nonfiction (243 pgs)
A look at the humorous side of funerals, including odd ceremonies, fashions, eulogies, and gravestone etchings.
The Windup Girl ~ Paolo Bacigalupi (2009) novel, science fiction (359 pgs)
Wow, great novel of a fully-imagined future when the entire environment has shifted due to the meddling of humans, with a group of fascinating characters and political twists and turns. Another great sf book stuffed full of ideas and extrapolations.
Fates Worse Than Death ~ Kurt Vonnegut (1991) essays, nonfiction, autobiography (240 pgs)
Haven't read any Vonnegut in a while, and had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Great collection of thoughtful pieces, makes me want to search out his other books that I haven't picked up on yet.
The Preservationist ~ David Maine (2004) novel, (230 pgs)
The expanded story of Noah (Noe) and the ark, Maine fleshes out all the characters, including the sons and daughters, and makes for a more believable telling of the most famous fictional flood in history. An interesting read.
The Vagina Monologues-10th Anniversary Edition ~ Eve Ensler (1998, 2008) history, sociology (223 pgs)
The core text of the play, plus the additions, changes, and commentary about both the play and the state of women around the world since it premiered. Heartfelt stuff.
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell ~ Tucker Max (2009) humor, essays (326 pgs)
Cover blurb from NY Times says it: "Highly entertaining and thoroughly reprehensible." A fascinating read about a horrible excuse for a human being. Bits of self-deprecating humor don't take the slimy edge off. But does write very well, but ultimately, sad to read of such a wasted life.
The Android's Dream ~ John Scalzi (2006) science fiction (396 pgs)
I love how he brings all the disparate elements of this wild tale together at the end. Great ideas, funny stuff, action-scenes any movie would be pleased to have.
A Lion Among Men ~ Gregory Maguire (2008) novel, fantasy (348 pgs)
Third volume of his reimagining of the Wizard of Oz. Just as engrossing as the previous two, though this one feels more open-ended, like there will definitely need to be at least one more to wrap up what he has set up here.
Dracula Was A Woman ~ Raymond T. McNally (1983) history (244 pgs)
A biography of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, another historical figure used in vampire fiction. Interesting at first, but over half of the volume is just padding about other things to make the book seem larger.
History of Beauty ~ Umberto Eco (ed) (2004) art history (429 pgs)
Explores the questions of what is considered beauty, and art, throughout the ages. Hundreds of great images, original- source quotes, and Eco's wonderful frameworking text.
The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear ~ Walter Moers (1999) novel, humor, fantasy (703 pgs)
Okay, finally got to read the first of Moers' wonderful "Zamoria" series. It's just as fun and inventive as all the rest, crazy weird and unlike anything else. Now the only problem is, I have to wait for him to write a brand new one!
Smashmouth ~ Dana Milbank (2001) history, politics (390 pgs)
Subtitled "Two years in the gutter with Al Gore and George W. Bush-Notes from the 2000 campaign trail". Lots of behind- the-scenes stuff and observations on the whole political process. Entertaining, and sad.
Evil: A Primer ~ William Hart (2004) history, religion, philosophy (192 pgs)
A historical look at the idea of evil, and how that idea has changed and evolved over time. Fascinating reading.
Whores of Lost Atlantis ~ Charles Busch (1993) novel (290 pgs)
Fun read about a group of gay-and-other-variants off-Broadway performers getting together to do a series of wacky plays, and the ins and outs of it all. Light and breezy, would probably make a fun art-house movie.
Igraine the Brave ~ Cornelia Funke (1998) novel, young adult (212 pgs)
Another fun YA read from Funke, a gentle tale of magic and knights, with action enough for kids. Nice drawings, too!
Bill Bryson's African Diary ~ Bill Bryson (2002) travel (63 pgs)
Super-short little book from Bryson on a short trip to Africa he took on behalf of Care International. Nice, but very short.
Shakespeare: The World as Stage ~ Bill Bryson (2007) history, biography (196 pgs)
A look at the little that is actually known about William Shakespeare, as well as an overview of many of the theories of his life that have developed over the years. Another great one from Bryson.
Old Man's War ~ John Scalzi (2005) novel, sf (316 pgs) (RE-READ)
Had forgotten I read this only a couple years back, but with my bad memory, got to enjoy it all over again!
Turn of the Cards - Wild Cards 12 ~ Victor Milan (1993) novel, sf (418 pgs)
Been ages since I read the last Wild Cards book. This novel-length entry is dense on plot, but tosses in some good action!
The Wild Colonial Boy ~ James Hynes (1990) novel (356 pgs)
A good page turning thriller, but not what I expected after having read his later, wonderfully odd novels.
Hocus Pocus ~ Kurt Vonnegut (1990) novel (324 pgs)
This was wonderfully sad and bitter, and it's been too long since I read Vonnegut, so searching out the novels I've missed.
The Chronoliths ~ Robert Charles Wilson (2001) science fiction (315 pgs)
A new twist on time-travel stories: huge monolithic structures from the future are showing up around the world. A page turner to see how it will turn out, I liked the almost low-key ending. A good read.
Little Kingdoms ~ Steven Millhauser (1993) fiction (239 pgs)
Three novellas from the incomparable Millhauser. Struck me reading these how much in the vein of Italo Calvino his strange stories are, and wonderfully so. One of my very favorite writers.
Use of Weapons ~ Iain M. Banks (1990) science fiction (478 pgs)
Banks creates not just worlds, but universes. This novel is part of his "Culture" series. Though I got lost a time or two with the overlapping, time-lapping plot twists, was a great read with many amazing moments and ideas.
The Republic of Dreams ~ G. Garfield Crimmins (1998) fiction, art (96pgs)
Some nice paintings, but many mostly boring bits of old clipart, amateur-level collage (look, a clock head on a nude woman!), and a story full of banal "wonders" make for a very disappointing, unimaginative book.
The Guinea Pig Diaries ~ A. J. Jacobs (2009) non-fiction, sociology (230 pgs)
Jacobs continues to try out various ideas on himself in a series of short pieces: outsource your life to India, be "radically honest" for a month, becoming a mono-tasker, etc. All with wit, depth and insight. Oh, and funny, too!
Signs of the Times ~ David Lehman (1991) history, biography, literature (271 pgs)
A history of deconstruction, one of the sillier of the navel-gazing literary/philosophical ideas out there, and the fall of one of it's leading lights. Highly readable.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ~ Ransom Riggs (2011) novel, fantasy, young adult (352 pgs)
Wonderful story, built up around a series of old odd photos the author and his friends collected over time. Love how he tied all the images together, and he left the end open for further adventures of these mini-Xmen.
The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica ~ John Calvin Batchelor (1983) novel, sf (401 pgs) -unfinished--
Gave this one 250 pages because I was engaged at first, but started to bog down with too many characters toward the middle, and found I was losing all interest. Maybe some other day, but, for now, have other books to get to...
Dog Eat Dog ~ Jerry Jay Carroll (1999) novel, fantasy (297 pgs)
Sequel to "Top Dog", with all the weirdness now set in our own world. Hoping Carroll'll finally make this a trilogy!
Hocus Pocus ~ Paul Kieve (2007) young adult, history, magic (301 pgs)
Fun book that combines a story, biographies of magicians, and a couple dozen actual tricks to do.
The City & The City ~ China Miéville (2009) novel, science fiction (312 pgs)
Brilliant core conceit: two cities co-exist in the same space, and citizens "unsee" what is right next to them if not in their city. Then there's a murder that crosses over both. An Italo Calvino-style setting, but explored more thoroughly. Wonderful.
The Culture of Fear ~ Barry Glassner (1999) society, history, media (210 pgs)
Looks at how overemphasis of the bad side of news, and scewing of percentages and "facts" puts out a much more dire warning about the state of the world than actually exists.
A Box of Matches ~ Nicholson Baker (2003) novel (178 pgs)
Another of Baker's tightly focused, concentrate on the details and minutia of life tales. Not a lot actually happens, more a collection of interesting observations and such. Not his best, but for what it is, a short and enjoyable read.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline~ George Saunders (1996) short stories (178 pgs)
Dark humored look at a bizzare future America. Satire and commentary rolled up in a strange world, with great prose style.
Snow Crash ~ Neal Stephenson (1992) novel, sf (468 pgs)
Astonishing fast-paced novel full of great ideas and settings; fabulous science fiction writing from a modern master.
The Way We Never Were ~ Stephanie Coontz (1992.2000) history, sociology (288 pgs)
Subtitled "American Families and the Nostalgia Trap", it's a detailed look at American family life over the next century or so, showing that the good old days really weren't the good old days many folks want to pretend.
The Soft Machine ~ William Burroughs (1961) novel (143 pgs)
Hard to get through, the style at times seems to be throwing up roadblocks just to keep me from figuring what is going on. Ground breaking for it's time, just kind of ugly and pointless now, anything of value buried under the weird verbiage.
Cockatiels at Seven ~ Donna Andrews (2008) mystery (301 pgs)
Enjoyed the first few of this series, but this one really didn't hold my attention. Less real humor, boring characters.
Fatal Attraction: Magnetic Mysteries of the Enlightenment ~ Patricia Fara (2005) science, history (196 pgs)
The story of magnetism, from mysticism to science, built around the histories and work of three scientists.
I Should Have Stayed In Oz ~ Selina Rosen (ed) (2011) fantasy, short stories (146 pgs)
Fun idea for a collection, Tracy Morris' was most effective for me, and seems like could be expanded on more!
The End of Faith ~ Sam Harris (2004) religion, history, science (301 pgs)
Hard-edged look at how some religious beliefs can bring about the worst in the world.
In Persuasion Nation ~ George Saunders (2006) short stories (228 pgs)
Brilliant, twisted, wonderful short tales from Saunders. Have never been disappointed reading his work.
Here Be Monsters! ~ Alan Snow (2005) children's novel (544 pgs)
Heavily illustrated funky fantasy novel for kids. Fun, not earth-breaking, but lots of fun to read
Strange Creations ~ Donna Kossy (2001) history, fringe science (248 pgs)
Great new collection from the author of "Kooks", more looks at crazy science and religion ideas. Gotta love them crazy folks!
Timequake ~ Kurt Vonnegut (1997) novel (250 pgs))
Less a novel than a wandering autobiography around pieces of a fictonal tale. Not his best, but still a joy to read.
The Next Queen of Heaven ~ Gregory Maguire (2009) novel (347 pgs)
More real-world soap opera than in his fantasy novels. A good writer, but this is not a favorite of mine of all his work.
Too Many Curses ~ A. Lee Martinez (2008) novel, fantasy, humor (316 pgs)
A great fun read: humor without being jokey, characters I like, and fun plot twists. Wanted to read it all in one sitting.
Witches Abroad ~ Terry Pratchett (1991) novel, fantasy, humor (320 pgs)
Slowly, slowly catching up on the great Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. One of the greats for sure.
Working Stiff ~ Rachel Caine (2011) novel, action (306 pgs)
Rox's new series: people brought back to life and fighting sinister organizations. A page-turner, as always.
Me of Little Faith ~ Lewis Black (2008, 2009) essays, humor, religion (256 pgs)
Black's take on faith, both dark and some surprisingly "light" moments. Extras include responses to reviews.
Changeless ~ Gail Carriger (2010) fantasy (374 pgs)
Steampunk/vampire/werewolf world. Wanted to like it, but never really connected for me, probably won't read more.
The Arts of Deception ~James W. Cook (2001) history, culture (308 pgs)
Fascinating account of ‘fraud” through magic and the likes of P.T. Barnum, and how society responds. Even read most of the 40-odd pages of notes at the end, which contained more wonderful information.
Agnes and the Hitman ~ Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer (2007) novel (419 pgs)
The prolific chic-lit author Crusie teams up with “action” write Mayer for this fast-read novel with a bit of both genres mixed well.
The Science of Good and Evil ~ Michael Shermer (2004) science, religion, (292 pgs)
Excellent, in-depth look at what has come to be known recently as the “being good without God” idea, that morals do not need a supernatural source, but have risen naturally in humankind.
Expecting Someone Taller ~ Tom Holt (1987) novel, fantasy, humor (218 pgs)
Evidently Holt’s first novel. Not as strong as his later work, but all the elements are there for a fun an inventive read.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe ~ Charles Yu (2010) novel, sf (234 pgs)
Science fiction meets the meta novel in this wonderful book. Different than anything else I’ve read. Loved it.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making ~ Catherynne M. Valente (2011) novel, fantasy (247 pgs)
Explores the territory of Wonderland, Narnia, and all the rest, of a young girl in fairy land, but with edges of darkness that give it a realism all it’s own. A modern slant on an often explored idea.
Autobiography of Mark Twain – Volume 1 (2010) history, literature, culture (679 pgs)
Tons of background material before and after the actual autobiographical section that adds to the reading. Amazing detail, definitely an interesting life, and this is only the start of it.
The Gormenghast Trilogy ~Mervyn Peake (1988) novel, fantasy (1,023 pgs) RE-READ
collects: Titus Groan (1946), Gormenghast (1950), Titus Alone (1959)
Fourth time to read the trilogy, once again immersed in the wonderful style and odd world Peake created in Gormenghast. First two volumes stil the strongest; the final one feels more like the skeleton that a fuller novel would have been built on.
Stuff of Legends ~ Ian Gibson (2010) fantasy, humor (293 pgs)
Wonderful parody of the fantasy barbarian/adventurer/hero novels. Making fun of a genre while still loving it.
Escher on Escher: Exploring the Infinite ~ M.C. Escher (1986) art, design (153 pgs) RE-READ
Escher’s own thoughts on hisamazing works and techniques. Invaluable for inspiration
What the Dickens ~ Gregory Maguire (2007) fantasy (322 pgs)
Fun read, but clearly Maguire was aiming for a younger audience with this, and it’s not as strong as his better works.
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