Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Recommended Reading

1. The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Honest to God, the best fifteen dollars I ever spent. Seriously. The book changed my life. If you follow the exercises WITHOUT CHEATING (this is important!) The Artist’s Way will unstick you from any stuckness. Non Fiction, Self Help.

2. 'Alice'- both "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through The Looking Glass", by Lewis Carroll. I suggest the annotated version. Fiction, Children’s.

3. The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E. B. White, often referred to simply as Strunk and White. I wish everyone knew the contents of this tiny tome. It would save me a lot of pain reading garbage written by people who are under the mistaken conception that they can write. Non-Fiction, Writing.

4. Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, or nearly anything she’s written. Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

5. The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell. This is non-fiction and difficult to classify, but it’s about trends, trendsetters, breakpoints, and six degrees of separation, among other things. If you like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you’ll like. Non-Fiction, Sociology.

6. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson. It’s a series. If a man dreams he is a butterfly when he sleeps, how can he tell if he’s a butterfly dreaming he’s a man? By refusing to eat. This is amazing, it really is. Old. Still good. Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

7. 1984, by George Orwell. I read this at an extremely impressionable age, and have been mistrustful of government, especially a government that fucks with language, ever since. Fiction, Sci-Fi.

8. Codes of Love, by Mark Bryan. Absolutely one of my favorite books of all time. Also non-fiction, a touchy-feely sort of book that will, if you pay attention, help you decode how people are all the time saying "I love you" to one another, and why these messages often fall unheard on hungry ears. Non-Fiction, Self Help/Relationships.

9. Graveyard For Lunatics, by Ray Bradbury. This is a novel, and if you liked Something Wicked This Way Comes, you’ll love this. It’s similar, only for grownups. Fiction, Sci-Fi/Action.

10. Travels, by Michael Crichton. I’m very fond of Jurassic Park, et. Al., but this, a collection of essays that form a loose sort of narrative, is my favorite thing of his. So far. Non-Fiction, Travel.

11. A Man In Full, by Tom Wolfe. Wolfe isn’t afraid to create characters that you will hate, and does so with gusto in this book. I enjoyed it more than Bonfire of the Vanities, which evidently has been somewhat tarnished as a book by the making of the movie. Serious miscasting is all I’ve got to say about that. In my opinion. Fiction, Mainstream.

12. Joy of Cooking, Rombauer & Becker. A must have for any kitchen. Explains the basics, the fancy stuff, tells you how to set the table, and is mighty good reading to boot. And, bonus! It has ink drawings instead of pictures, so you don’t get hungry and end up ordering Chinese instead of cooking that ziti casserole. Non-Fiction, Cooking.

13. Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible. This is a fabulous peek into the oldest history book in the world. He digs, delves, gets down to the nitty gritty, and explains what’s going on in these inexplicable passages. His style is dryer than usual, unfortunately. He sounds scholarly, without his usual playful overtones. Well, can’t have everything. At least not all at once. Where would you put it? Non-Fiction, Bible Studies

14. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb. Want to know how to write a literary novel? Read this one. It deserves credit for density alone. Also for intricacy of construction. The story’s not bad, either. Fiction, Literary.

15. The Gate To Women’s Country, Sheri Tepper. This is much better than you’d imagine by the title. I liked it better than I liked The Handmaiden’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, which is also good. But then, Atwood’s a good writer, so I expect that. Fiction, Fantasy/Science Fiction.

16. Creative Visualization, by Shakti Gawain. Well, it certainly won’t hurt you to try, will it? Many of these are exercises you can do without feeling silly. Okay, I didn’t say “all.” Non-Fiction; Self-Help, Occult.

17. Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. Poigniant, irreverent, violent, silly. I haven’t read a book I liked this much since I discovered The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Speaking of which. Fiction, Mainstream/Humor.

18. The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. How have you lived this long without reading this book? It’s so much fun! And if you like it, there’s more where that came from. When I meet someone I like, I often find they’ve read this book. I should make it a requirement that anyone I consider as friend material have already read it some many years ago. This would save a lot of time.Fiction, Sci-Fi.

19. Nemesis, by Agatha Christie. Anything she’s written is wonderful, but I always liked the Miss Marple mysteries best. Fiction, Mystery.

20. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling. Get it in the original English english, as in, from England. It’s the difference between cajun food for tourists and cajun food for Cajuns. If you like this, you’ll love it. But you may not. Not everyone does. Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Children’s.

21. Night Probe!, by Clive Cussler. Okay, it’s purple, and it’s predictable. It’s also a lot of damn fun. All his books are. However, because in his divorce, his wife got half the rights to Dirk Pitt, Cussler’s not writing any more Dirk Pitt novels. Still, if you’re unfamiliar with Cussler, there’s several to choose from. Fiction,Action/Adventure

22. The Worst Band In The Universe, by Graeme Base. What a rollicking good spacefaring adventure, done in some of the most well executed rhythmic rhyming I’ve seen since Seuss. The pictures are phenomenal, as are all of the pictures that Graeme Base does. And what a nice, nice guy. We met him at The Children’s Bookstore in mid-October. He showed us the spotted glerch on the one page that we failed to spot him. Base is tops in picture books, and recently produced his first novel, Truck Dogs. Fluffy thought it was terrific. Fiction, Children’s/Picture Books.

23. Fortress In The Eye Of Time, by CJ Cherryh, and the rest of the Fortress series. This is a slow-paced book (it took some time for me to learn to appreciate slow-paced books) but as it progresses, it gains momentum, and the characters are well detailed. Also good is her Foreigner series. Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi

24. The Complete Guide to ADHD, by Thom Hartman. Called a 'Hunter In A Farmer’s World' book, this is the first book I’ve seen to suggest that we look at what we call ADHD from a different, Neolithic, perspective. Farmer can hoe and sow and plant and weed, and get interrupted and go back to what he’s doing, and focus on a long term goal. Me, I’m a Hunter, and what I like best is to dance. When I get hungry, I’ll grab a stick and beat a bush for some berries, or hope that a rabbit runs out. At which point, I will chase down that rabbit with single-minded intensity….until a deer runs across my path. And now I will desist chasing the rabbit and chase the deer, because it will feed me and all my friends longer. I drag it home, and if I’m not too hungry, I’ll cook it, we'll eat, and then I and my friends will get back to dancing.

25. Enchantment, Orson Scott Card. I always like anything by Orson Scott Card, of Ender’s Game fame. He’s got beautiful details and elegant themes, and never beats you over the head with anything. But if more writers wrote like Card, the world would be a brighter place. Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

26. All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum. This book is a reminder of the really important stuff, and is just plain fun to read. Not preachy, either. Non-Fiction, Essays.

27. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke. It’s old, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost its flavor. Also good, but with completely different angles are Songs of Distant Earth and Childhood’s End. Fiction, Sci-Fi.

28. On Writing, by Stephen King. This is part memoir, part instruction manual. He’s really quite lucid and friendly. Gives due respect to that revered pair, Strunk and White. Maybe not the best book on writing there is, but it’s really quite good. Like the movie Howard Stern’s Private Parts, you don’t even really have to like the guy to like this product. Non-Fiction, Writing.

29. The Naked Sun, by Isaac Asimov. Sequel to Caves of Steel. Of course, if Asimov’s written it, I like it, so there you have it. Fiction, Sci-Fi.

30. Eats Shoots and Leaves, by Lynn Truss. This is just fucking hysterically funny. Yes, a book on punctuation is very funny. Take my word for it. Read this. I snarfed. A lot. Non-Fiction, Language.

Current Reading:

Christopher Moore, Practical Demon-Keeping- Very funny, for those who like twisted humor, which is everyone I know. No, scratch that. NOT everyone I know. Only everyone I LIKE.

Augusten Burroughs, Running With Scissors- billed as hysterically funny, it’s often amusing, always entertaining, but mostly sad. It’s a memoir, and the first in a ?pair ?trio ?series? which I find a disturbing concept. A serial memoir. Pfah.

Starbuck O’Dwyer, Red Meat Cures Cancer- dreadful. Don’t waste money on this. Or even time, should someone offer it to you. Maybe if you’re at the beach and really desperately bored, which is inconceivable to me, but hey, weird exists. It goes in the same category as The Nanny Diaries, to be given away immediately and not missed at all.

Ray Bradbury, Vintage Bradbury- Short stories. Old short stories. Old short stories by Ray Bradbury. Lovely.

Stephen King, Insomnia- This amazed me. Mr. Scary has undergone some serious changes, all to the good, it seems. If I tell you much about it, it will spoil everything, so let me just say, it’s a great read because in addition to being a rather weird man, Stephen King is a brilliant, brilliant storyteller.

On Deck:

A Beautiful Mind, by Sylvia Nasar. I think I love the soundtrack to the movie, which Frisco used in his workshop, if I’m not mistaken. Maybe I should buy it to play while I read?