title={The Spy who Came in from the Cold},
author={Carr{'e}, J.L.},
series={George Smiley Series},
publisher={Ballantine Books},
% Classic modern spy novel. Except it’s more of a courtroom drama than a spy novel, as most of the climax happens in a communist military court. % I didn’t like the way it ended. The twist is great, but he has Mundt – the former Nazi who is also London’s secret agent in communist Germany – kill off the main characters in the last few lines of the book. This doesn’t really makes sense, because Mundt is the one who frees them military prison. This is explained away unconvincingly in a line of dialog, but really it seems like if Mundt wanted them dead, he would have left them to be executed. I guess Mundt actually wanted the girl, Liz, dead, and he had her killed going over the wall? That sort of makes sense.
% Still, I think I would have had Liz leave Leamas (the main character) because of all his lies, and leave them both to live on with the guilty knowledge that they inadvertently helped save a terrible Nazi dude just because he happened to work for the British government. They wrestle with that, but it would have been more interesting, I think, if they had to live with that.

title={The Wretched},
author={Hugo, V. and Donougher, C.},
publisher={Penguin Books},
comment={Supposed to be one of the most readable translations},
% aka Les Miserables / Les Misérables % Perhaps it is the best translation – for instance I found the Waterloo diversion much more enteretaining than when I read it in the previous version in college.
% Still, sure is long. The story is so good, but the diversions can be brutal (many really should be skipped). The translator adds a bunch of notes that don’t really add much and the temptation to read them really slows things down.
% “Fex urbis, lex orbis” – “the dregs of the city make the law of the world” (like, the populace saved Rome and the rabble followed Jesus).

author={Hall, O. and Stone, R.},
series={New York Review Books classics},
publisher={New York Review Books}
% This book is in many ways the complement to Blood Meridian. Where Blood Meridian is about pure evil unleashed on the Old West, this book is about how there is no evil (or good) in the Old West, just people. Some people are better than others, but all believe they are acting in the interest of being decent, even the black-hat cattle rustlers and murderers. So events unfold in a way that the motivations for revenge are based on misinterpretations of events. Or driven by public opinion that is derived from false assumptions. Or by people who have something to prove, or legitimate beefs that need to be settled regardless of the law (like being accused of murder that someone didn’t commit). More than once, someone gets killed by accident, and that gets interpreted as murder by the townspeople and that leads to fallout of more gun battles.
% The overall theme is that the things that motivate people are very complex, but rarely or never actually evil.
% See page 255, where Gannon (the former rustler/murderer who has become deputy with a sense of trying to do right) points out that a man who has been told he cannot come into town or he will be shot, comes to town anyway, perhaps to get shot, and by doing so atone for things that he had done wrong in the past.
% Page 443: Morgan’s last stand. Awesome because Morgan goes out shooting up the town, trying to draw Blaisedell out. At the same time he KNOWS it’s an act. He isn’t serious about what he’s doing, he is just causing a ruckus to create a situation Blaisedell will have to respond to. A fine example of how the motivations in this book are all twisted up and indirect.

title={Guards! Guards!: A Novel of Discworld},
author={Pratchett, T.},
% This book (and presumably this book is representative of all Terry Pratchett) is just exhausting to read. You don’t think you would miss chapter breaks until you don’t have them. The cadence of the monty-python-style jokes is hilarious in small doses, but when it just goes on and on without a breath it’s extremely tiring. And Monty Python has a kind of intelligence behind the jokes, whereas Pratchett seems to just revel in a kinda-dumb kinda-funny British turn-of-phrase. It also has this quality of having been written in one long session without going back to change anything afterward. For instance, he clearly came up with the joke about the “rank” part of rank-and-file about half-way through the book, and then uses it for the rest of the book but never thought that maybe that should be either a one-off or consistent throughout the whole book. Still, it is actually funny in a way that makes me wish I had read Terry Pratchett when I was 15 because I would have thought it was hilarious then, and now I would have nostalgia that overrides the weaknesses. It’s not terrible, but at this point in my reading career it is also not nearly satisfying enough to keep me reading Pratchett’s dozens and dozens of novels.

title={Autobiography of a Corpse},
author={Krzhizhanovsky, S. and Turnbull, J. and Thirlwell, A.},
series={New York Review Books classics},
publisher={New York Review Books}
% I suspect most of these stories are suffering from lost-in-translation. They are heavily philosophical, and I believe the concepts are not coming across well. As a result, most of the stories are pretty dull.
% Page 27: He divides his books into two piles “These went past. Those went through.”
% In the Pupil: This story is about how a woman’s eyes are litterally man-traps: the little man you see in them gets stuck in there.
% ‘Yellow Coal’ is the stand-out story in this collection, head and shoulders above the rest. (I do not understand why I have not seen it mentioned in any of the write-ups, reviews, or introduction to this book.) Humanity has consumed all its energy resources and in a desperate attempt to fuel the world’s industries an inventor comes up with a way to power things on pure human hatred/spite. As a result governments start policies to create anger (narrowing doorways, crowded trams) and encourage hatred between classes and countries, and even between individuals (between wife and husband). Industry flourished under this new power, and eventually realize they can power factories by firing people and causing strikes. BE ANGRY OR GO HUNGRY becomes the motto. Eventually all the human bile is used up, and power starts to run down despite all efforst to make people angry, resulting in the lack of ability to satirize the situation.
% How is this anything but the key parable for our times?
% Page 159 in ‘Bridge Over the Styx’: a description of a suicide booth where you put in a coin and get a bullet between the eyes.

title={The Manchurian Candidate},
author={Condon, R.},
publisher={Jove Books}
% Page 162-163: ridiculous overwritten description of NYC
% Page 224: His glaucous eyes in the long, bony face held some of the terror seen in the eyes of a horse falling on ice.
% Page 225: Marco’s voice attacked. It moved like a starving rodent which gnaws at the flaw behind the doors, mad to get through to an unknown trove of crazing scent on the other side.
% Page 226: The effect of the narcotics, techniques and suggestions, which resulted in deep hypnosis for Raymond, achieved a result that approximated the impact an entire twenty-five-cent jar of F.W. Woolworth vanishing cream might have on vanishing an aircraft carrier of the Forrestal class when rubbed into the armor plate.
% Page 227: He bent, or seemed to bend, into their intentions to halt what he saw as a comic-book plot in which a sinister foreign power, out to destroy America, would achieve its ends by using him as an instrument. <– See, Cordon knows the plot to this book is insane, or mundane. (Not least because they put Marco — the guy who knows he has been brainwashed — in charge of investigating the brainwashing. And also the idea that the US wouldn’t immediately detain a person they know is a brainwashed assasssin. This is, of course, granting that you accept brainwashing is even possible.)

title={All the King’s Men},
author={Warren, R.P.},
series={A Bantam Classic},
publisher={Bantam Books}
%_ %
% There is a strong temptation to read Trump into this book, since it is about a populist demagogue. But Willie Stark is of the brilliant Machiavellian type: power for power’s sake, controlling through deft manipulation and outsmarting the opposition. It is more like a novelization of The Power Broker than a warning of Trumpism. Trump, possibly uniquely among American demagogues, seems to me like a total moron who happened to luck into a political moment where the white working class is so desperate for change that they will take anything he does — even things that would be considered career-ending mistakes by a Willie Stark character from the past — as simply another signal of how anti-establishment he is. This is, of course, idiocy on the part of the public because, outside of crass language, Trump is about as anti-establishment as the Lincoln Memorial. Point is: it’s a mistake to see Trump in Willie Stark, other than his riding to power on the support of hicks.
% Page 9: It was always that way. There was the bulge and the glitter, and there was the cold grip way down in the stomach as though some- body had laid hold of something in there, in the dark which is you, with a cold hand in a cold rubber glove. It was like the second when you come home late at night and see the yellow envelope of the telegram sticking out from under your door and you lean and pick it up, but don’t open it yet, not for a second. While you stand there in the hall, with the envelope in your hand, you feel there’s an eye on you, a great big eye looking straight at you from miles and dark and through walls and houses and through your coat and vest and hide and sees you huddled up way inside, in the dark which is you, inside yourself, like a clammy, sad little foetus you carry around inside yourself. The eye knows what’s in the envelope, and it is watching you to see you when you open it and know, too. But the clammy, sad little foetus which is you way down in the dark which is you too lifts up its sad little face and its eyes are blind, and it shivers cold inside you for it doesn’t want to know what is in that envelope. It wants to lie in the dark and not know, and be warm in its not-knowing. The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can’t know. He can’t know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can’t know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn’t got and which if he had it, would save him. There’s the cold in yotir stomach, but you open the envelope, you have to open the envelope, for the end of man is to know.
% Page 34: Her face seemed to smooth itself out and relax with an inner faith in happiness the way the face of the chief engineer does when he goes down to the engine room at night and the big wheel is blurred out with its speed and the pistons plunge and re- turn and the big steel throws are leaping in their perfect orbits like a ballet, and the whole place, under the electric glare, hums and glitters and sings like the eternal insides of God’s head, and the 5hip is knocking off twenty-two knots on a glassy, starlit sea.
% Page 34: I had just managed to get down the last spoonful of chocolate ice cream, which I had had to tamp down into my gullet like wet concrete in a posthole.
% Page 146: There is nothing like the roar of a crowd when it swells up, all of a sudden at the same time, out of the thing which is in every man in the crowd but is not himself. The roar would swell and rise and fall and swell again, with the Boss standing with his right arm raised straight to Heaven and his red eyes bulging. And when the roar fell away, he said, with his arm up, “I have looked in your faces!” And they would yell. And he said, “O Lord, and I have seen a sign!” And they would yell again. And he said, “I have seen dew on the fleece and the ground dry! Then the yell. Then, “I have seen blood on the moon!” Then, ‘‘Buckets of blood, and boy! I know whose blood it will be.” Then, leaning forward, grabbing out with his right hand as though to seize something in the air before him, “Gimme that meat ax!”
% Page 152: I knew, too, how the newspapers would regard that crowd of people, as soon as they knew the end of the event. They would regard that crowd as cause. “A shameful display of cowardice on the part of the Legislature . . . allow themselves to be intimidated by . . . deplorable lack of leadership . . .” You could look at the crowd out there and hear that undertone in its cry, hoarse like surf, and think that the crowd there could cause the event. But no, it could be said, Willie Stark caused the event by corrupting and blackmailing the Legislature. But no, in turn it could be replied that Willie Stark merely gave the Legislature the opportunity to behave in the way appropriate to its nature and that MacMurfee, who sponsored the election of those men, thinking to use their fear and greed for ms own ends, was truly responsible. But no, to that it could be replied that the responsibility belonged, after all, to that crowd of people, indirectly in so far as it had allowed MacMurfee to elect such men, and directly in so far as it had, despite MacMurfee, elected Willie Stark. But why had they elected Willie Stark? Because of a complex of forces which had made them what they were, or because Willie Stark could lean toward them with bulging eyes and right arm raised to Heaven?
% This above is one of the best single paragraphs of analysis of what’s wrong with democracy that I have ever read.
% If you ever do a re-read, skip Chapter 7. The whole chapter is a flashback to build up the relationship with Anne Stanton and the narrator (so you understand why the narrator is so upset when she sleeps with Willie Stark). But it is super boring. I think because it tries to lay on a huge amount of meaning to a relationship between people who are essentially teenagers — and never sleep together. It may have worked in the 40s, but by today’s standards it’s hard to get on board with the idea that a chaste teenage summer fling creates feelings that last a lifetime (for both parties). Written today, the book would have been better to just drop this chapter entirely, and leave the strength of his feelings for Anne Stanton unspoken.
% Page 328: Half the people in the state knew that the Boss had been tom-catting around for years, but the pictures of the family’ and the white leghorns gave the voters a nice warm glow, it made them feel solid, substantial, and virtuous, it made them think of gingerbread and nice cold buttermilk, and if somewhere not too far in the wings there was a flicker of a black-lace negligee and a whiff of musky perfume, then, ‘Well, you cain’t blame him a-taken hit, they put hit up to him.’ It only meant that the Boss was having it both ways, and that seemed a mark of the chosen and superior. It was what the voter did when he shook loose and came up to town to the furniture dealers’ convention and gave the bellhop a couple of bucks to get him a girl up to the room. Or if he wasn’t doing it classy, he rode into town with his truckload of hogs and for two bucks got the whole works down at a crib. But either way, classy or crib, the voter knew what it meant, and he wanted both Mom’s gingerbread and the black-lace negligee and didn’t hold it against the Boss for having both. % I think this is a thing that those in power don’t understand about Trump. Trump supporters like that he fools around, because they secretly aspire to that themselves. That’s why Access Hollywood did nothing. It was an element people liked about Kennedy too. I think Obama could have benefited from some rumors of dalliances, as he did from the common but quiet knowledge that he smoked.
% Page 435: This has been the story of Willie Stark, but it is my story, too. For I have a story. It is the story of a man who lived in the world and to him the world looked one way for a long time and then it looked another and very different way. The change did not happen all at once. Many things happened, and that man did not know when he had any responsibility for them and when he did not. There was, in fact, a time when he came to believe that nobody had any responsibility for anything and there was no god but the Great Twitch.

title={Get Shorty},
author={Leonard, E.},
publisher={Delacorte Press},
comment={Turns out, training as a gangster in NYC gives you all the tools to make movies in Hollywood. Full of movie-within-a-movie plot discussion and movie-about-movies discussion as well as self-referential concepts. Still a genuine page-turner. Unfortunately the bad dude turns out to be black (for very little plot gain).},
category={Novels} }

title={Station Eleven},
author={Mandel, E.S.J.},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
% Just awful. This book suffers from the same thing modern movies do: it relies on you just accepting huge canned cliches to tell its story. Like modern movies, character development is just taken for granted: “he was a poet” is the entire development for one supporting character. Other characters don’t even get names, instead she comes up with a mechanism where people are referred to by the instrument they play – but only minor characters, more major ones still have names. Derivative in all ways, even the fundamental premise of the book is assumed: a pandemic wipes out 299 out of 300 people. Of course, this would leave more than a million people alive across the US, and it’s not like any of the resources are contaminated. Why would there be a “collapse”? Is it possible that young people (meaning here, the author) have been fed the post-apocalypse scenario so repeatedly their whole lives that they just take it for granted? That they don’t understand that the original post-apocalypse premise was based on nuclear destruction contaminating the vast majority of the resources?
% The book is wholly derivative. But even The Stand (which I would never defend as a good book) left only a few hundred (or was it thousand?) people alive. The “collapse” in The Stand might have been scientifically implausible, but it at least made sense. God, I complained about The Road being derivative, but this makes The Road seem like it cut wholly new ground in the post-apocalyptic genre.
% Page 20: “If Hua said there was an epidemic, then empidemic wasn’t a strong enough word.” Umm, yeah, that word is pandemic, which Emily St. John Mandel would learn a few years after this book was published. Maybe that’s what she’s hinting at? But that’s dumb, the character is a paramedic, he would know the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic.
% Page 20 (next line): “Jeevan was crushed by the sudden certainty that this was it, that this illness Hua was describing was going to be the divide between a before and an after, a line drawn through his life.” Ha! You have no idea Emily St. John Mandel!
% The only thing that really shines in this book is the descriptions of the “Station Eleven” comics that are book-within-book. The vision for “Station Eleven” should have been this book. I know why it isn’t: that would make it a (non-serious) sci-fi/fantasy book, and setting the book in the before-and-after of a catastrophe, it’s supposed to be a ‘serious’ novel, grounded in our daily lives that normal (non-nerd) people can relate to. This is bullshit. The result is a tremendously boring book with a few hints at something that could have actually be creative-flight-of-fancy interesting. Modern fiction sucks the life out of stories.

title={The Grapes of Wrath},
author={Steinbeck, J.},
series={Modern library of the world’s best books},
publisher={Modern Library}
% page 51-52: The cropper being forced off his land threatens to shoot the driver of the tractor, but the driver points out he’s just doing his job, as is his boss. They are being told what to do by the bank. The cropper isn’t killing the right guy. The cropper says, “Well, there’s a president of the bank. There’s a board of directors. I’ll fill up the magazine aof the rifle and go into the bank.” The driver says the bank gets orders from the east. The cropper asks “Where does it stop? Who can we shoot?” And the driver says maybe there isn’t anyone. The cropper says “It’s not like lightning or earthquakes. We got a bad thing made by men and by God that’s something we can change.”
% Tell me that this notion that you can take a rifle and avenge the wrong of losing one’s livelihood to wealthy people is any different than the misery of all the down-and-out white dudes with guns. Who can they shoot? Maybe nobody. Maybe everybody.
% Chapter 15: a short, fully contained vignette at a truck stop full of Victor Hugo style pathos for the poor. Also IITYWYBAD: A sign on the wall of a bar that the customer is supposed to ask: what does that sign say? And the bartender says: If I tell you will you buy a drink? (I had to look this up. It was too obscure a puzzle for me.)
% Page 381: “I know, Ma. I’m a-tryin’. But them deputies — Did you ever see a deputy that didn’ have a fat ass? An’ they waggle their ass an’ flop their gun aroun’. Ma,” he said, “if it was the law they was workin’ with, why, we could take it. But it ain’t the law. They’re a-workin’ away at our spirits. They’re a-tryin’ to make us cringe an’ crawl like a whipped bitch. They tryin’ to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on’y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin’ a sock at a cop. They’re workin’ on our decency.”
% Page 418: Pa tossed his coffee grounds out of his cup. “You got to quit that,” Ma said. “This here’s a clean place.” “You see she don’t get so goddamn clean a fella can’t live in her.” Pa said.
% Page 524: “Cops cause more trouble than they stop.”
% I guess by 1940s standards the breastfeeding ending (it’s the very last lines of the book) was shocking enough that it could bookend a 600 page novel. But it really feels like the ending of a short story (from that time). It kinda leaves the modern reader (that is, me) just wondering: yeah, and then what? It would have been a more enduring ending to make Uncle John floating the dead fetus downstream with the command to go and tell em all the last page of the book, and the breastfeeding could have come slightly earlier. That would have connected the end of the book to events that happen later while still wrapping things up in a satisyfing way. This isn’t to tell Steinbeck how to write, just raising the question of whether an author should go for the move that resonates with the culture of the time? Or the one that will be more enduring? And can an auther even know?

title={The String of Pearls, Or, The Barber of Fleet Street: A Domestic Romance},
author={Rymer, J.M. and Macfarren, G.A. and Smith, A. and Lloyd, E. and Hingston, E.P. and Prest, T.P.},
series={Nineteenth Century Collections Online: British Theatre, Music, and Literature: High and Popular Culture},
publisher={E. Lloyd},
category={Novels, victorian, horror, penny dreadful}
% Surprisingly entertaining, if not actually good and no particular passages of note. I didn’t realize how incredibly long it was because I read the ebook from Gutenberg. But it put me to sleep for many many months.
% Being mostly unfamiliar with the story, I had no idea that the murdered people were being turned into pies, though obviously you can guess it long before it’s revealed. It keeps you reading because you want to find out exactly how it is done!

title={My {'A}ntonia},
author={Cather, W.},
series={A Mariner Book},
publisher={Houghton Mifflin},
comment={Little House on the Prarie for educated adults.},
category={Novels, nebraska, prarie}
% Notable for being a very early example of the modern novel where not much happens because having plot might be suspect of low-browedness.
% (Death Comes for the Archbishop is, imho, a far superior book.)
% She chooses the make the narrator a teenage boy, but somehow completely misses the sheer horniness of teenage boys. The whole book is about how hot these immigrant farm girls are, but everyone in town is so chaste that the book has no sex at all in it (at least by page 130). I find this to be incredibly unrealistic. She’s willing to include a part about a homeless dude falling into a thresher, but not willing to go there when it comes to boys rolling in the hay with farm girls? Even in 1900, this just doesn’t feel real.
% I guess on one hand I don’t think Willa Cather has a grip on just how powerful the hormones that sweep through teenage boys are. And on the other, the novel is so modern in style, that it is easy to forget it was published in 1918. The style of it makes you expect more explicit descriptions of lust (by more explicit here, I mean more than, say, the girls who slap a dude for kissing them). It reads like a novel written at least 50 years later than it actually was, so the expectation to not dance carefully around sex is always in the back of my mind, and maybe that’s not fair.
% Page 118: Despite being written by a woman with very progressive views on the world, it is not immune from dwelling on offensive stereotypes of its time: “It was the soft, amiable Negro voice, like those I remembered from early childhood, with the note of docile subservience in it. He had the Negro head, too: almost no head at all, nothing behind the ears but folds of neck under close-clipped wool. He would have been repulsive if his face had not been so kindly and happy.”
% Page 132: a reference to waking from “first sleep”
% Page 139-142: Jim describes being bored out of his mind as a young person in this little town. And describes how Tony would have been so much more if her father had not brought them from New York. Suddenly, for all the idyllic country life we’ve seen so far in the book, now we see the painful absence of the opportunities and vibrancy a city offers.
% If you want to be amused, look at a collection of covers that have been made for this book. It is clear that publishers think the way to get people to read this book is to market it as an up-market romance novel, or a woman’s daydream of playing house on the prairie. All the more reason it should have some sex in it! What’s the point of playing house if there’s no sex?
% Also the foreword included in this version by Kathleen Norris is pretty bad. Totally the canned foreword that talks about why this book is significant and pulls out a few quotes that are supposed to show how Cather is a master of language… less convincing when every one of those pull quotes is from the first chapter or two of the book. Did Kathleen Norris even actually read the book?

title={The Chrysalids},
author={Wyndham, J. and Harrison, M.J.},
series={Popular Penguins},
comment={In a post-nuclear world, humans despite mutant plants, animals, and people. Some humans develop telepathy, and have to get out of their repressive provincial town.}, category={Novels, science fiction, post-apocalypse} } % Super fun quick read. I have the Austrialian version of this Penguin Book, given to me by Sam Holleran.

title={Deus Lo Volt!: Chronicle of the Crusades},
author={Connell, E.S.},
comment={A masterful and violent re-telling of the history of the crusades in a psuedo-novel form.}, category={Novels, crusades} }
% See review:
% The simplest way to describe this book is that it is just like reading The Silmarillion, except everything in it actually happened, and all of the boring bits between battles (like the begats) are stripped out.
% Page 218: “Then out on the plain he rode, riding a mettlesome Spanish charger with high shoulders and pointed ears, long neck, matchless thighs, limbs so perfectly marked that no artist could imitate them.”
% Page 255: “With his shield hung at his neck the king of England grasped a Danish axe and hopped into the sea, followed by Geoggred du Bois, Peter de Pratelles, and other brave knights. And now these Turks stood aghast when they saw King Richard rise out of the water with his axe. They retreated, blood and havoc claimed the shore. The king pursued them and gave no terms but despatched them groaning into hell. They say the haft of his Danish axe splintered and he defended himself with mailed sleeve of his hauberk or his gauntlet, and whichever pagan he struck fell bloody. Not in the history of this world was any man born of woman who abhorred cowardice so much as he.”
% Page 321: slay them all, God will know his own; at Béziers/Beziers

title={A Tale of Two Cities: Introduction by Simon Schama},
author={Dickens, C. and Schama, S.},
series={Everyman’s Library Classics Series},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
} % A great first line, a great last line. Sandwiching Dickens’ worst book. Who knew? A lot of it drags. The French Revolution is confusing. And as Chesterton points out, the title might refer to two cities and while London is definitely in the book, Paris kinda isn’t. I mean, stuff happens there, but there’s nothing in the book that actually feels like Paris.
% Towards the end, things pick up a bit. The battle between Miss Pross and Madame Defarge is pretty epic.

title={Death Comes for the Archbishop},
author={Cather, W.},
publisher={Quality Paperback Book Club},
comment={An astonishingly modern novel for having been written in 1927, this book is a series of vignettes of the life of a bishop and his vicar in Southwest during the colonial period. Cather has a sympathetic (and to me a very accurate) eye towards the treatment of Indians, and an unyielding faith in Christianity.},
category={Novels, old west, catholicism, christianity, mexico, new mexico, native americans, indians}
% This is the most Christian book I have ever read. By that I mean, the
% book is a profile of what it truly means to be a good Christian in the
% real world. The book manifests the hard life in the South East in the
% late 19th Century, and all the challenges of living in that time and
% place in an utterly real (and very modern) manner. And in that setting
% puts two high-ranking Catholics, who strive (and succeed) at being
% good Catholics in a world that is hard, diverse, contains true evil
% and goodness and everything between. It is a study of what it means to
% be truly Christian in a land where many people are non-Christian, and
% many who are Christian believe in a unique way informed by the previous
% religions and cultures of their land.
% Interestingly, I suspect it is read differently by modern readers
% and contemporary readers in the 1920s and 30s. Now, I’m sure, most
% modern educated readers who might read this book (like myself) have
% the perspective of following these studies and understanding it only
% as studies of what it means to be a person of good character,
% the explicit Christianity aspect of it could be left aside. This
% understanding is enhanced by the extremely modern telling of the tale,
% with it’s true sympathies for native cultures, and very realistic
% expression of the world at that time.
% But I don’t think Cather meant it to be read like that. I think she
% probably meant it to be understood as being about a true believer, about
% and for people who have real faith and belief in Christianity. The book
% is about how to be a Christian in a hard world, not how to be “good.”
% And most of the educated readers of her time would have understood it
% that way because most of the educated readers of her time would have
% been true Christians, not the atheists we all are now who still hold on
% to some unspecified desire to maintain a secular spirituality.
% It does make me wonder if we the readers of this book now are doing
% justice to what Cather really wanted this book to be.
% Maybe the best example of this is that to the eye of the modern reader
% it is nearly impossible to read the close relationship between the
% bishop and his vicar as being anything other than homosexual. But Cather
% almost certainly did not intend this. It is supposed to be the purest
% of pure Christian friendships. Both men are far too invested in their
% Catholic faith to even consider the possibility of sexual attraction
% between them. To even suggest it would undermine what Cather was trying
% to achieve, I think.

title={Allan Quatermain: Being an Account of His Further Adventures and Discoveries…},
author={Haggard, H.R.},
series={Collection of british authors.2472.2473},
publisher={Longmans, Green and Company},
comment={Great White Hunters head into Africa to search for more white people.}, category={Novels, adventure, 19th century, africa, colonialism}
% Yet ANOTHER ‘lost world’ book (what is with the 19th century novels and finding lost worlds?) In this case instead of dinosaurs they find a bunch of white people in the middle of Africa (lost indeed) who have attained high “civilization” with princesses and cities and whatnot.
% As you might expect, black people get a generally derisive treatment and occasionally downright offensive abuse. But for all the general assumptions of the superiority of white people, no race in the book is treated as derisively as the French. The lone French character is a stupid coward who is brought along for comic relief. (Even the zulu warrior is treated as a superior specimen of fighting man.) The French guy’s only redeeming quality is he is a good cook. But being British nobody values that particularly highly.

title={The Stepford Wives},
author={Levin, I.},
comment={The ISBN categories listed on the title page are: 1. Female friendship 2. Married women 3. Robots.}, category={Novels, dystopia, suburbs, robots}, }
% This is a fun little book. A quick and entertaining read.
% But it was a real missed opportunity for a feminist classic. When Levin came up with the idea, he should have immediately handed it over to a capable female author.
% Since he didn’t, it tries but sort of misses the critique of society that would be grounded in the experience of the housewife.
% That doesn’t ruin the critique built into the book exactly. It’s just that the critique is more like a punk rock view of suburban life than a particularly feminist one. The critique is still valid, but it’s more about the whole misery that is/was suburbia in general than a close explication of the miseries of being a housewife.
% In the hands of a masterful feminist author, this story could have been told in a way that would have achingly captured the deep horror of suburban housewife life.
% So it’s not that it is a bad book. It’s just the regret that it could have been one of the best books ever written about the female experience in suburbia, and it’s not that.

title={More Ghost Stories: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary},
author={James, M.R.},
number={pt. 2},
publisher={Floating Press},
category={Novels, 19th century}

title={A Perfect Spy},
author={le Carr{'e}, John},
series={Bantam Books},
publisher={Bantam Books},
comment={A high-level British spy, Magnus Pym, is discovered to be a double-agent for the Soviet bloc. This books tells the story of his life that led to his development as a double-agent. The key linchpin being that his father was a high-level con man. The main character realizes by the end of the novel that being a double-agent requires him to lead the same kinds of multiple-lives as his con man father.},
category={Novels, spy}
% This book is kinda slow. It takes something like 120 pages before there’s any actual spying happening. According to Wikipedia, it is a thinly veiled autobiography. MOST of the book is back story filling in the details of what could happen in an aristocratic British person’s life to eventually lead him to become a double-agent and betray his country. It feels like le Carre had some personal stuff to work through regarding his father, and he did that in this book. Which makes it sort-of interesting as a character profile of le Carre himself, but kinda boring as a general adventure story. There’s little in the way of plot twists or action – you know, the stuff people actually want in a spy novel. And the richness of the character development doesn’t really offset that. It would have been a better book if it had ALL of those things: an exciting adventure AND le Carre’s biographical background for character development. It’s also left unresolved, really, whether Axel – the main character’s Soviet bloc handler – was a double-agent himself, or if he was just using Pym. Also (spoiler) having the book end with Pym committing suicide feels like the lazy way to end the book to me. Still, le Carre’s a top-notch writer (though I would prefer he went a bit more for clarity rather than style on occasion) and the book is a fairly compelling read – I never got bored with it.

title={Mrs. Bridge: A Novel},
author={Connell, E.S. and Salter, J.},
comment={A masterpiece of a novel that defies description. More than 100 short vignettes describing fundamentally basic life of a family in 1930s Kansas City country club district. There is very little one can point to when describing why it is good. Yet it is utterly compelling. The only thing I could think of that it reminds me of is the vignettes Roald Dahl would use to set up his character in his childern’s novels. But those are about bizarre events and people. This is about totally conventional Americans. Somehow, it works and it is a joy to read.},

title={The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Collins Classics)},
author={Poe, E.A.},
series={Collins Classics},
publisher={HarperCollins Publishers},
category={Novels, 19th century}
% Poe was one messed up dude. Most of the first part of the book is just a guy trapped in the dark belowdecks on the ship, starving and forgotten – ie indistinguishable from being buried alive. At one point, he describes waking up with the sensation of a demon on his chest – one of the classic signals of sleep paralysis – but it turns out to be his giant newfoundland dog sitting on him.
% There is an interesting bit where Poe talks about stowage on ships, and how grain is incredibly dangerous is stowed improperly because it could roll a boat over (like a slack tank on Deadliest Catch).
% There is a cool gruesome part where survivors drifting on the hulk of a wrecked ship resort to cannibalism. % The second part of this book really degrades into garbage. The main character gets on a new ship, and they go, supposedly, past the ice of Antarctica, where they find a warm land nearer the south pole. There they land on an island full of black “savages” (with lots of description of their black skin and loose lips) and the book descends into racist stupidity. Like, really. So bad, it makes me question the value of reading ANY Poe. At one point, a chapter ends with the cliffhanger line, “we were the only white men left on the island.” In addition, there’s just a lot of totally nonsensical plot points: they tie enough handkerchiefs together to descend a cliff? Use a shirt as a sail? Go towards the south pole to reach a warmer ocean (in the book, the south pole being covered by ocean, not land)? (Even in the book, he acknowledges this goes counter to the current understanding of the south pole – I guess this was written at a time when the general public knew so little about Antarctica, that it was possible anything might be there.)

author={Borges, J.L. and Kerrigan, A. and Reid, A. and Bonner, A. and Temple, H. and Todd, R.},
series={An Evergreen book},
publisher={Grove Press},
comment={A collection of Borges short stories. \emph{Tlon, Qbar, Orbis Tertius} tells the story of a secret society that works across generations to create an encyclopedia of an imaginary planet whose philosophies are grounded in conceptualizations of the infinite – so every book is by the same author, fiction has one plot with infinite permutations, nouns are formed by the accumulation of adjectives. \emph{The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim} describes searching for a single man entirely through questioning the reflections that man has left on others. \emph{Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote} describes a man who carries out a task of writing (parts of) Don Quixote. The narrator reveals that the parts of Don Quixote written by Pierre Menard (though exactly the same as the version written by Cervantes) have a different meaning than the original. \emph{The Babylon Lottery} describes a game of chance, carried out by the Company, that grows ever more popular until all events and circumstance are determined by the lottery (pre-dating of course the possibility that dungeons and dragons/tabletop gaming represent precisely this scenario). \emph{The Library of Babel} is about an (infinite?) library made up of books containing every possible permutation of the alphabet.},
category={Novels, short stories, borges, magical realism},

title={The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure : the “good Parts” Version, Abridged},
author={Goldman, W.},
series={The Princess Bride},
publisher={Ballantine Publishing Group},
category={Novels} } Page X (introduction): Norman Lear gave the money to keep the movie in development moving forward.
Page 335: Do you know the most important six words in the last thirty years in World Culture? I’ll tell you what they are. Peter Benchley came up with them when he was walking along a beach and the words were these: “What if the shark got territorial?” Because out of that came the novel Jaws, and then the movie Jaws, and nothing’s really been the same since.

author={Stewart, G.R. and Rich, N.},
publisher={New York Review Books},
comment={Originally published in the 1940s, this novel tells the tale of a storm—from the perspective of the storm.} } % See review of Stewart’s books in Harper’s \url{}
% Page 25: includes a glyph for an upside down ‘5’, but they printed the wrong glyph.
% Page 42: The term ‘front’ is a military term that may be a phonological accident. The meteorology was developed in the years following the first world war. Stewart suggests that if it had been developed during peaceful times, it may have been a term derived from marriage instead of war — which is just as apt a metaphor for the weather as war is.
% Page 82: The white farmers built levees to keep the river off their land, but when all the white men did this, the river just rose and eventually topped the levees again. This was only fixed (says Stewart) when the engineers looked at the river as a whole, and figure out it needed to be able to flood in places.
% Page 127: A description of the vegetation sucking up countless tanker cars worth of water.
% Page 266: “16 dead by storm!” says the paper. But Stewart says the storm was just the occasion of their death, and the cause was their own mortality. Stewart says if the papers are going to hold the storm responsible for 16 deaths, “why not hundreds? Many invalids died during the days of the storm, their deaths precipitated by chills and heart-depression, attributable to the weather. Some healthy persons suffered wet feet which led to colds, pneumonia, and death within a few weeks. Other colds resulted in weakened resistance which opened the way for various fatal diseases.

title={Das Boot},
author={Buchheim, L.G.},
series={W&N Military},
% Page 13: brief retelling of depth charge set to go off at 300 feet landing on the deck of the boat at 200 feet and rising to the surface. They tossed the hissing depth charge over the side.
% Page 31-33: description of bombed out dock area, with lots of detail of the grime and the scene of industrial decay. Reminds me of when they go through the military depot in Stalker.
% Page 72: reference to coffee as “nigger sweat”. These two words are probably the reason you almost never hear anyone talking about reading this book any more (there is also a second use of the n-word later in the book). Which, fair enough. And as much as I’m against censorship and preserving the historical record, evil and all, why not just remove this line from the book? On the other hand, these guys ARE (technically) Nazis, even if reluctantly so. Maybe it’s interesting to leave it in since just because the German Navy was (supposedly) not very enamored of Hitler, that doesn’t mean they aren’t just good ol’ mid-century racists.
% Page 125: “Actually we ought to be able to get along with a lot fewer men. I keep imagining a boat that would only need a crew of two or three. Exactly like an airplane. Basically we have all these men on board because the designers failed to do a proper job.”
% Page 203: They push the boat beyond 700 feet (the boat is rated to 300 feet) while being depth charged. All the power goes out and the depth gauges explode. So they are feeling around on the floor in the dark for the needle that blew off the depth gauge because without it not only do they not know how deep they are, but they also don’t know if the boat is rising or sinking. “It feels as if all our lives depend on whether this this strip of metal will move or not.”
% Page 350: “If a rivet should give way know it could—as I well know—plow straight through my skull like a bullet. The pressure! A stream of water breaking into the boat could saw a man in half.”
% Page 438: A shovelful of sand under our keel.
% Page 442: “After all, this is exactly what you wanted. You were up to your neck in easy living. You wanted to try something heroic for a change. ‘To stand for once before the ineluctable…’ You got drunk on it all. ‘…where no mother cares for us, no woman crosses our path, where only reality reigns, grim in all its majesty…’ Well, this is it, this is reality.”

title={The Good Shepherd: A Novel},
author={Forester, C.S.},
publisher={Penguin Publishing Group}
% I read this whole novel under the mistaken impression that it was a modern novel by some world war II nerd. But it is in fact a 1955 novel by the guy who is most famous for writing the Horatio Hornblower series (he also wrote The African Queen). He also encouraged Roald Dahl to start writing.
% This is really a terrible novel. It’s 200 pages of order (in dialog), order repeated (in dialog), and then an explanation of what that order accomplished. Repeat ad nauseum. The charcter of the captain is interestingly flawed, but I feel like there’s not much space to appreciate that in a two day real-time retelling of a story (whatever his flaws, they don’t have much impact on the story because they can’t play a role in non-stop war action).
% Even some of the sentence constructions seem to make no sense or they were poorly edited. But more benefit of the doubt has to be given to him if the book was written in 1955. (Maybe the editors just had different standards then, and the minor racist elements can be put aside, I think.)

title={The Lord of the Rings},
author={Tolkien, J.R.R.},
publisher={Houghton Mifflin}
% 1137 pages.
% Page 520: the battle of Helm’s deep: A slow time passed. Far down in the valley scattered fires still burned. The hosts of Isengard were advancing in silence now. Their torches could be seen winding up the coomb in many lines. (etc.)
% Page 564: Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound and enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wide themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell.
% Page 567: What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among the dogs?
% Page 583: Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.
% Page 743: But the Enemy has the move, and he is about to open his full game. And pawns are as likely to see as much it as any.
% Page 744: At the table small men may do the greater deeds, we say.
% Page 804: For the enemy was flinging into the City all the heads of those who had fallen fighting at Osgiliath, or on the Ramma, or in the fields. They were grim to look on; for though some were crushed and shapeless, and some had been cruelly hewn, yet mand had features that could be told, and it seemed that they had died in pain.
% Page 810-811: Description of Grond, and Gandalf’s stand against the Nazgul – Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain! And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.
% Page 822-823: The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! it was a winged creature: if bird, then grater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck. [the best paragraph in the book – I suspect this is where Cormac McCarthy stole his style from. Also read through to the slaying of the Nazgul by Eowyn.]
% Page 826: Eomer learns of Eowyn’s supposed death, and goes into a fey mood, no longer singing but crying: Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world’s ending!

title={The Man Who Knew Too Much},
author={Chesterton, G.K.},
publisher={Harper & brothers},
category={Novels, 19th century}
% Chesterton’s attempt to get in on the Sherlock Holmes deductive detective fad. Chesterton’s detective is kinda a cool character – ‘the man who knew too much.’ But these stories are mostly reallllly boring. He usually sets up like half a dozen characters that all seem the same and then you have to track who killed who and why while it is all wrapped up in oblique and out-dated references to hundred-year-old British politics. There’s a reason this one isn’t a classic.
% Though in The Vanishing Prince there’s a cool twist for how the murder is done by tricking the police into shooting each other through the windows of a tower (or something like that).
% Note: this book is unrelated to the Hitchcock movie.

title={Three Ghost Stories: Charles Dickens},
author={Dickens, C.},
publisher={Independently Published},
category={Novels, 19th century}
% The Signal-Man is a pretty-good classic.

title={Ghost-stories of an Antiquary},
author={James, M.R.},
publisher={E. Arnold},
category={Novels, 19th century}
% These stories are pretty damn creepy for 1905, particularly Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, which, with it’s figure of bed-clothes in the next empty bed is creepy for any year.

title={The Canterville Ghost},
author={Wilde, O.},
publisher={CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform},
category={Novels, 19th century}

title={J R},
author={Gaddis, W. and Williams, J.},
publisher={New York Review Books},
comment={An 11-yo boy in Masapequa long island builds a business empire from a phone booth in his school. All about the corrupting power of money and how it infiltrates every aspect of our lives and interferes with efforts to live and work creatively. This is such a good book, and so difficult to describe. It’s nearl 800 pages, almost entirely in unattributed dialog, with no chapter or any other kind of breaks. Somehow most of the things that happen in the book — tons and tons of things happening — happen in the background, and between scenes of dialog. It becomes all about the flow of entropy, expressed through a lens of people’s conversations.}, category={Novels, postmodernism}
} % Page 491: “All we’ve got left to protect here is a system that’s set up to promote the meanest possibilities in human nature and make them look good.”
% Page 587: “I mean somebody’s getting paid to be this weather forecaster someplace telling you fair and warm while you’re like up to your ass in this blizzard I mean like who does anything man, I mean somebody gets a job and like the first they they do they try to figure out how not to do it.”
% Page 595: “Why should I be interesting! I mean, I mean I want my work to be interesting but why do I have to be interesting! I mean everybody’s tring to be interesting let them I’m just, I’m just doing something I have to do so I can try to do what I hope I…”
% Page 641: “Man like that’s what people want’s books that tell them what they already know, I mean that’s why they’re all such bullshit” % Page 642: Rhoda talking about wanting to be a model when she was a little girl, growing up believing it was possible, finding out she’s nothing, but people still want things from her. % It would be cool to turn this book into a stageplay. It wouldn’t be too hard, considering it’s almost all dialog, you would just have to make some decisions in places about who is speaking. (Some Gaddis scholar could probably clear things up pretty easily.) Then giving actors all the lines, with a few off-stage actions like the car crash, would bring the book to life in a way that people who don’t have the patience to sit reading 800 pages of dialog might be willing to put up with. Though it would be, of course, like 20 hours long…

title={The Works of Edgar Allan Poe † Volume 2},
author={Poe, E.A. and Johnson, R.B.},
series={Works of Edgar Allan Poe},
publisher={Prabhat Prakashan}
% The C. Auguste Dupin detective stories (The Purloined Letter and it’s two compatriots) are really really boring.
% They might be the first of the detective genre, but they are hardly good. I have no idea why literary folks are so interested in The Purloined Letter. It’s terrible. % The Fall of the House of Usher is pretty deeply creepy though.

title={The Handmaid’s Tale},
author={Atwood, M.},
series={A Fawcett Crest book},
publisher={Fawcett Crest},
comment={Classic book in which the US is taken over by religous-nazi-like authoritarians who turn women into nothing but breeding stock.},
category={Novels, dystopia}
% Page 230. “The Commander likes it when I distinguish myself, show precocity, like an attentive pet, prick-eared and eager to perform. His approbation laps my like a warm bath. I sense in him none of the animosity I used to sense in men, even in Luke sometimes. He’s not saying bitch in his head. In fact he is positively daddyish. He likes to think I am being entertained; and I am, I am.
% The above line is maybe the best example, but the theme of BDSM-like power-exchange runs through the book. I am not sure how this isn’t the most talked about aspect of the book.
% Improbably though, given the amount of the book dedicated to building up the commander as a character and the protagonist’s interactions with him, when it comes to sex she is suddenly not interested. Soon after that she falls in love with “Nick” – the chauffeur character who is barely described except for a few lines talking about how attractive his body is.
% So all of the slowly-stirred sexual tension in the book is suddenly dropped and replaced with a toke hot-bod who maybe has like 8 words of dialog in the whole book.
% But so let’s say the book isn’t about sexual tension. What is it about then?
% Of the broadly-panned 1990 film, Roger Ebert said: “by the end of the movie we are conscious of large themes and deep thoughts, and of good intentions drifting out of focus.” I have a hard time seeing how that doesn’t apply equally to the novel.
% Oryx and Crake was a better book.

@book{christie1924poirot, title={Poirot Investigates}, author={Christie, A.}, isbn={9780007265206}, series={Agatha Christie collection}, url={}, year={1924}, publisher={HarperCollins},
comment={Short-story collection of Poirot stories ala Sherlock Holmes.}, category={Novels, mystery},
} % Agatha Christie is no AC Doyle.

title={The Mysterious Affair at Styles},
author={Christie, A.},
publisher={E-Kitap Projesi & Cheapest Books},
comment={The twist is that the dark, gold-digging, evil-seeming husband that everyone suspects at the beginning is the one who did it.},
category={Novels, mystery},

title={The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories},
author={Wolfe, G.},
series={Pocket Science Fiction},
publisher={Pocket Books}, comment={A collection of short stories in the traditional style (“And then, big twist in the last sentence!”) Sort of an interesting mix between fairly conventional sci fi of the time (surprise! the young man was actually Jesus!) And the more open-ended and mysterious Gene Wolfe that would come in The Book of the New Sun. The best all-around story is The Death of Dr. Island (not the title story, but one of the slightly revised versions of the book title — and in the copy I have it IS the cover illustration story). It contains a truly unique Gene Wolfe style environment, and all the mysteries that go with that. But it wraps up cleanly with tight resolution and a twist. It would be very satisfying to the person who never could deal with the un-resolvedness of The Book of the New Sun. But I think the stories that are more mysterious, questioning, and magical — the ones that are more like the Book of the New Sun — are better. Namely Tracking Song, set in a frozen future of multiple kinds of people/animals with a journey to an underground city that I could swear Wolfe lifted whole-cloth from the bat-people city of Out Of Time’s Abyss. The story I probably enjoyed the most (even if not technically as ambitious as The Death of Doctor Island) was Seven American Nights — both for being set in a future wasteland version of Washington DC in an America that has been afflicted by what is clearly the exact disaster that the Omnibus Podcast dude fear, and also for it’s totally Lovecraftian horror twist ending.},
category={Novels, sci fi, horror, cities},

@book{guin1976left, title={THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS}, author={LE GUIN, U.K.}, url={}, year={1976} } % It turns out that if you remove gender from a society you get… a really boring all-male society. It seems like either ULG – being a 1970s femenist – may have wanted to avoid acknowleding the value of “feminine” cultural affects and emphasize the “women are just as tough as men” idea so much that she completely neutralized women right out of the book. The people of her planet are stated to be gender-neutral, but that doesn’t really come through in the book. What comes through is an all-male society with some slightly gay sexual interactions that in just a few places in the book manifest themselves as women. She uses the pronoun ‘him’ for all the characters, and they all sound and act male. Ironically for a book that is supposed to center around gender-neutralness, it’s really just a book with no women. % It is also possible ULG just didn’t have the chops to get it there. It would be possible (though probably very difficult) to actually dream a culture up with completely gender-neutral individuals, and have it feel like they are gender neutral. (Perhaps the first step is to just leave aside the mechanics of how they have sex.) But this is really not that book. % The gender thing acutally doesn’t even play that big a role in the book. The world is far more distinguished by being an ice-planet and all the cultural shifts that come with that are far more imposing than any gender issues. That may have been ULG’s point, but if so she’s just wrong and missed the mark. % It does have a big chunk of the book dedicated to an arctic sled journey. It feels like ULG might have read The Last Place On Earth and wanted to incorporate that into one of her books. I like a sled journey story, and this maybe the most interesting part of the book. But a far cry from The Last Place On Earth. Or even Call of the Wild.

@book{guin1975dispossessed, title={The Dispossessed}, author={Guin, U.K.L.}, isbn={9780380003822}, lccn={94132557}, series={Avon SF}, url={}, year={1975}, publisher={Avon}, comment={Anarchists on the moon.}, category={Novels, science fiction} } % Really, just not a super fun book. The anarchists live on the moon. They have issues. The capitalists live on the planet. They have issues too. Everyone has issues. Whoop de do. % It is interesting to note that being written in what was effectively still the mid-20th-Century, the character with the secret door-opening knowledge so coveted by all worlds is a physicist. But that’s because physicists were the ones who gave the US nuclear bombs (in real life) not so long before. Those people were still the coveted elite in the 1970s on Earth. Now it’s been decades since physicists have produced anything more than a blip in a huge database of noise for their hundreds of billions of dollars spent. If this book were written today, the coveted secret-knoweldge person would probably be a computer programmer.

@book{doyle1912lost, title={The Lost World}, author={Doyle, A.C.}, isbn={9781774415177}, lccn={26022291}, url={}, year={1912}, publisher={A. L. Burt Company} } % Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventure story where the protaganists journey deep into the Amazon and make their way up to the top of a tepui to find a place where dinosaurs and ice-age beasts still roam… along with some questionable paleolithic peoples. % It seems, from reading this and the land that time forgot series, that maybe the idea of a land where dinosaurs roam seems cool at first, but then when one goes to write a book about it the author realizes there’s not very much you can do with the idea to keep it interesting. In all the books they end up bringing in native human populations to create some kind of more human element for the characters to contend with, and in both series it feels like the human-to-human interactions totally take over from the characters interacting with the prehistoric monsters.

@book{burroughs1924land, title={The Land that Time Forgot}, author={Burroughs, E.R. and John, J.A.S.}, lccn={24014882}, url={}, year={1924}, publisher={A.C. McClurg & Company} }

@book{burroughs1918people, title={The People that Time Forgot: [Illustrated Edition]}, author={Burroughs, E.R.}, isbn={9786257120456}, url={}, year={1918}, publisher={E-Kitap Projesi & Cheapest Books} }

@book{burroughs1918out, title={Out of Time’s Abyss}, author={Burroughs, E.R.}, url={}, year={1918}, publisher={Ace Books} } % The three books above by E.R. Burroughs form a trilogy that is basically a total rip-off of Doyle’s Lost World. These books are overall terrible despite the fact they feature a U-boat. The main characters all have exactly the same voice and though each book is told about a different dude, they all sound exactly the same, and they all have the same relationship to the local women. % The main distinction from Lost World is a very complicated evolution/tribal system where humans on the lost island evolve through different stages that emigrate to the north end of the island… and then the next generation are laid as eggs that flow down to the south end of the island to hatch as… tadpoles. % This is the most creative thing about these three books, and the central mystery that gets revealed. It’s also incredibly stupid, and hard to fathom why the author thought this would be an interesting piece of sci fi. He might as well have set the thing on another planet, it would at least give a believable undergirding to why the ‘humans’ are so alien. % Also, the main antagonists are humanoid demons with giant bat wings that murder each other all the time. Both weird AND stupid.

title={The Mike Hammer Collection},
author={Spillane, M.},
number={v. 1},
series={The Mike Hammer Collection Volume 1 Series},
publisher={New American Library},
comment={Mickey Spillane’s gritty mid-century detective Novels about Detective Mike Hammer. Set in NYC, hyper-masculinity rules the day. I read \emph{I, the Jury} and \emph{Vengeance is Mine!} but not \emph{My Gun is Quick}. Vengeance is Mine is particularly ridiculous when the the whole twist revolves around how the only way a woman can run a crime empire is by secretly being a man — revleaed only in the last line of the novel.}, category={Novels, mysteries, crime, detectives, mid-century, nyc},
% Mickey Spillane was definitely not the quality of writer that Raymond Chandler was. These stories are totally readable, and it’s nice that they are set in NYC instead of LA, but they aren’t aging well.

title={The Crying of Lot 49},
author={Pynchon, T.},
series={A Bantam Book},
publisher={Bantam Books}
% Page 14: “What the road really was, she fancied, was this hypodermic needle, inserted somewhere ahead into the vein of a freeway, a vein nourishing the mainlined L.A., keeping it happy, cohered, protected from pain, or whatever passes, within a city, for pain.”
% Page 18: The little submarine in the movie they are watching is named the “Justine”
% Page 31: They go to the bar The Scope (named after oscilloscope) where all the engineers from nearby Yoyodyne industries hang out. The music playing is by Stockhausen and The Scope is the only bar in the area with a strictly electronic music policy. They have a live jam session and extra electronic junk stored for anyone who wants to sit in, but forgot to bring their ax. (This book was written a decade before Kraftwerk.)
% Page 34: the muted horn symbol
% Page 61, 64: the myth of the american inventor: an individual genius, Edison with his lightbulb, Bell with his telephone. Then they grow up and sign all their rights over to some monst corporation, and they get put on some ‘project’ or ‘task force’ or ‘team’ and ground into anonymity. Nobody wanted them to invent.
% Page 116: “The illustrations were woodcuts, executed with that crude haste to see the finished product that marks the amateur. True pornography is given us by vastly patient professionals.” % Page 118: “a mail coach belonging to the ‘Torre and Tassis’ system, which Oedipa figured must be Italian for Thurn and Taxis.”

title={I, Robot},
author={Asimov, I.},
publisher={Fawcett Crest},
comment={Classic sci fi book where Asimov extrapolates stories from the “three laws of robotics” that he lays out at the beginning. The whole book is framed around interviews with an aging female “robopsychiatrist” whose career followed the rise of robots from non-speaking machines to president of the world. },
category={Novels, sci fi, robots, asimov}
% It’s a neat idea to set up a set of rules for your stories and then work them up.
% Though it doesn’t always work: there’s a number of places where you’re like “why don’t they just ask the robot what the hell it’s doing?” or some other super simple solution that Asimov side-steps to make his point in the story.
% Also many of the characters are extremely weak. I can’t even tell the difference between the two main male characters when they are speaking.
% page 158: A human who lives by the three laws of robotics would make an extremely good human — perhaps (it’s indicated) better than any human actially is. (This is implied about the robot who becomes president of the world.)

title={The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story},
author={Adams, D.},
series={Literary Classics (Gramercy Books) Series},
publisher={Gramercy Books},
comment={Hardly needs a comment.},
% The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in a moment of reasoned lucidity which is almost unique among its current tally of five million, nine hundred and seventy-three thousand, five hundred and nine pages, says of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation products that “it is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all. “In other words—and this is the rock-solid principle on which the whole of the Corporation’s Galaxywide success is founded—their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws.”

title={Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World},
author={Murakami, H.},
series={Vintage International},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
% meh.

title={The Complete Chronicles of Narnia},
author={Lewis, C.S. and Baynes, P.},
comment={Classic children’s series.},
% Note: there is the reading-order problem, see Wikipedia. I read them in publication-order, and it’s pretty clear that’s best.
% Some of the books are WAY better than others. The good ones are: LWWD, the
% Dawn Treder, and The Silver Chair. The Magician’s nephew has some cool stuff
% in it, like the journey to the dead world where they awaken the white queen
% (with allusions to nuclear haulocaust) but then it descends into a boring
% recount of the beginning of Narnia (though the origin of the lamppost is
% cool).
% The other books range from weak to terrible. Particularly The Horse and His
% Boy and The Last Battle, which are not only largely dull, but often pretty
% offensive. (In one case they literally put on brown-face to disguise
% themselves among the brown people, and there’s a number of
% references to how good it is to be white.)
% With a modern perspective, it probably wouldn’t be ok to give these books whole-cloth to kids.

title={A Study in Scarlet},
author={Doyle, A.C.},
series={The Penguin English Library},
publisher={Penguin Books Limited}
comment={The first book with Sherlock Holmes in it},
category={Novels, mystery}
% Interestingly, this book has a whole section
% about Utah and Mormons. The Mormons pick up two characters in the book
% as they are wandering the desert and those characters arrive at SLC
% with the Mormons. Bringham Young is actually a character in the book.
% And the murders Holmes solves are revenge killings for persecution by
% the Mormons of a family that didn’t turn over their daughter to be
% married to Mormon elders.
% On page 25 he says his brain is full, and adding something makes something else pop out

title={The Sign of the Four Illustrated},
author={Doyle, A.C.},
publisher={Independently Published},
category={Novels, mystery}

title={The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes},
author={Doyle, A.C. and Wolfreys, J.},
series={Classics Library},
category={Novels, mystery}

title={The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes},
author={Doyle, A.C.},
series={Dover Thrift Editions},
publisher={Dover Publications},
category={Novels, mystery}

title={The Hound of the Baskervilles: Another Adventure of Sherlock Holmes},
author={Doyle, A.C.},
publisher={Grosset & Dunlap},
category={Novels, mystery}

title={The Return of Sherlock Holmes},
author={Doyle, A.C.},
publisher={A. Wessels Company},
category={Novels, mystery}

title={The Valley of Fear},
author={Doyle, A.C. and Edwards, O.D.},
series={Oxford Sherlock Holmes},
publisher={Oxford University Press},
category={Novels, mystery}
% A Pinkerton agent goes undercover and breaks up a secret society of organized crime in a US coal town.

title={His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes},
author={Doyle, A.C.},
series={Standard Collection of British and American authors},
publisher={J. Murray},
category={Novels, mystery}
% The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans is the basis for the Sherlock BBC episode with the body found on the railroad tracks. It is a really good Sherlock Holmes story, and in the original version the plans are for a secret submarine.

title={The Recognitions},
author={Gaddis, W. and Gass, W.H.},
series={American Literature (Dalkey Archive) Series},
publisher={Dalkey Archive Press}
% “The Recognitions” was mispelled on Gaddis’ tombstone!
% \url{}

title={A Scanner Darkly},
author={Dick, P.K.},
series={S.F. MASTERWORKS},
comment={Classic semi-autobiographical drug story, where the main character is charged with watching himself. Eventually he finds out the drugs are supplied by the drug rehab organization.},
category={Novels, scifi, drugs}
% This book feels pretty dated to me. Not just in its “drugs dismantle people, and they are a problem of society, not individuals” message,
% but also in that it is so male (the women are barely anything in the book)
% Overall, it just seems rather simplistic of an idea for a novel.
% Page 195 - Charles Freck plans to kill himself. He lays a copy of The Fountainhead next to him, and buys a bottle of wine at Trader Joes.
% Then he takes a bunch of psychedelics that he thought were barbituates, and a being comes to visit him and read him all his sins.

title={The Hunt for Red October},
author={Clancy, T.},
series={A Jack Ryan Novel Series},
publisher={Berkley Books},
comment={The rapidly-becoming-ancient Tom Clancy tale of a Russian submarine defecting to the glorious United States.},
category={Novels, submarines, nationalism},
% This book is really kinda terrible and boring. The good part is really
% only the sub battle at the end. Because of Clancy’s obsession with
% naval technology, you really get the sense of how much of sub warfare
% is about sound and noise. Much of it is sorting signal from noise or
% creating noise to hide a signal. Where the movie relied on visuals to
% show what was happening (how else could they?) the book is mostly about
% what people are hearing in the subs. A brilliant submarine book could
% be written from the sonar operator’s perspective, and be entirely about
% sound - it could be a work of art. Clancy doesn’t have these kind of
% chops, even if he were trying to.
% Other interesting stuff is mostly funny anachronisms, like a lot of
% stuff about how awesome Apple computers are.
% There is one particularly amusing part where they are trying to
% convince a bunch of rescued soviet sailors to defect - by showing them
% the traffic of DC and telling since everyone has their own car the
% only reason to take public transit is to avoid traffic.

title={Go Tell it on the Mountain},
author={Baldwin, J.},
series={Vintage International},
publisher={Vintage International},
comment={A coming of age tale of a young dude in Harlem.},
category={Novels, harlem, nyc, african-american}
% meh. good writing, boring story.

title={In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex},
author={Philbrick, N.},
publisher={Penguin Books},
comment={The telling of the true story of the whaleship Essex, which was rammed and sunk by a giant sperm whale as far from land in the Pacific as it was possible to be. And then its crew set adrift in small whaleboats across thousands of miles of ocean, is forced to resort to cannibalism to survive.},
category={Novels, whaling, essex, cannibalism, Humanity}
% In the early part of this book there’s an interesting bit about why Nantucket
% became such a whaling hub. Initially they just rowed out from the beach and
% caught whales, but soon there were no more whales and they had to go further
% and further from the island to catch them. Because of their initial effort to
% catch whales, the economy grew around whaling. Even though it seems like it
% must have been an inconvenience to supply the ships from the island instead
% of the mainland, the whaling started there, and so it continued there.
% Page 100: The captain is described as not being “fishy” enough (that is
% bullying) to manage the crew in a survival situation. So he
% goes with the democractic choice to sail for South America, rather than his
% instinct to sail for the polynesian islands. This seems to me like just
% chance that his instinct was right. It could easily have been the other way
% around. This section just seems deeply flawed and subscribes to the myth of
% the hard-driving leader.
% Page 115: after a week or so in the boats, the captain’s boat is attacked by a
% second whale (a killer whale) and repairs have to be made.
% Page 174-175: The story of the Peggy, where lots were drawn on who was to be
% eaten. A popular sailor is chosen, and he asks for some time and is given
% until the next day. Before he is executed, a ship finds them, but he has
% already gone mad.
% Page 175: The story of the Polly - where they choose to use the first who
% died as bait for sharks, on which they live.
% Page 176: They draw lots and Owen Coffin loses, and is shot by his friend.
% Page 182 “carried down alive to the wondrous depths, where strange shapes of
% the unwarped primal world glided to and fro.”
% Page 186: the first food they ate when rescued was tapioca pudding
% Page 218: The first four men eaten were all black, but nantucket was an
% abolitionist stronghold, and the community had a tough time reconciling this.
% Page 221: the whaling business dies off in Nantucket, quakers losen their
% rules about not showing off wealth, and the town starts to develop
% ostentatious displays of wealth, particularly in their housing. Then a big
% chunk of the town burns down.
% Page 223: The year from the 19th century with the most whales taken was 1837
% with 6767 whales. The year from the 20th century with the most whales taken
% was 1964 with 29,225 whales. (Even though a narrative running through the
% whole book is the Nantucketers going further and further
% around the world looking for whales because they keep killing
% of more local populations, you get the feeling the author
% includes this statistic as the justification for romancing
% the 19th century whaling industry - because HE is clearly
% romanced with it. I’m skeptical of his 20th century whales
% killed stat. WHAT whales? Maybe it includes 20k pilot whales,
% or even more likely, minkes - small whales that there are
% huge numbers of in the ocean. Not to defend 20th century
% whaling, just that I really believe 19th century whaling
% can’t be defended.)
% page 224 - the ships pusie hall, the lydia, two generals, and pocahantas are
% attacked by whales in later decades.
% 224-227 the story of the ann alexander, sunk by a whale in much the same manner
% as moby dick in the year of its publication, in the same waters as the essex.
% With whaleboats crushed they chase the whale down, while the captain stands in
% the bow of the ship with a lance. The whale sinks the ship. Later the whale is
% killed, weapons are found in its side and head. Melville hears of this and
% wonders if his evil art has raised this monster.

title={The Jungle Book},
author={Kipling, R.},
series={The English library},
publisher={Century Company},
comment={Different stories of sentient animals (with human personalities). The first few chapters are about Mowgli, raised by wolves, with the familiar characters from the Disney film. The second chapter is about a white seal, who goes looking for the sea cow because they know a place safe from human seal hunters. After traveling the pacific he finds the sea cows at Copper Island. The third story is the battle between Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the cobras. There’s also a story about elephants and one about war animals.},
category={Novels, animals}
% Copper Island is also (briefly) mentioned in Jack London’s The Sea Wolf - about a ship going seal hunting.
% Copper Island was in fact the home of Steller’s Sea Cow, a 30’ long kind of manatee
% The sea cow was extinct already for about 100 years before Kipling was writing from hunting by humans.
% (Though there are legenday later sightings.)
% The Jungle Book contains a number of uncomfortable references to race and the superiority of white men.

title={The Sea Wolf},
author={London, J.},
comment={About a gentleman shanghaied by a sealing ship with a megalomanaical captain.},
category={Novels, fiction, jack london, arctic}
% Chapter XVII:
% He had opened up for me the world of the real, of which I had known
% practically nothing and from which I had always shrunk. I had learned to
% look more closely at life as it was lived, to recognize that there were such
% things as facts in the world, to emerge from the realm of mind and idea and
% to place certain values on the concrete and objective phases of existence.

title={The Haunting of Hill House},
author={Jackson, S. and Miller, L.},
series={Penguin classics},
publisher={Penguin Publishing Group},
comment={The genre-defining haunted house story. Possibly one of the scariest books ever written.},
category={Novels, Humanity, horror, ghosts, haunted houses}
% Neil Gaiman said in a NY Time’s piece that this is the scariest book he’s ever read.
% The doctor’s wife is late to join the house because she had to stay in the city for a yoga class!
% The 1963 movie is pretty faithful to the book. But the book does a cool thing where you get to see how Nell turns into the presense in the house before the end.

title={Bleak House},
author={Dickens, C. and Bradbury, N. and Eagleton, T.},
series={Penguin classics},
publisher={Penguin Books Limited}
% On page 22: “How Alexander wept when he had no more worlds to conquer,
% everybody knows–or has some reason to know by this time, the matter
% having been rather frequently mentioned.” The note indicates this is
% “reported by Plutarch.” Though I have read elsewhere that this quote
% is disputed. One note says it was first reported as a quotation in
% Readers Digest in the 1920s. Here, Dickens doesn’t quote it, but
% just says it as a thing that is commonly known.

% Jack Donaghy, in 30 Rock, correctly attributes the quote:
% “‘And Alexander wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.’ Hans Gruber, Die Hard.”

title={Oryx and Crake},
author={Atwood, M.},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
% “Every time the women appear, Snowman is astonished all over again. They’re every known colour from the deepest black to whitest white, they’re various heights, but each one of them is admirably proportioned. Each is sound of tooth, smooth of skin. No ripples of fat around their waists, no bulges, no dimpled orange-skin cellulite on their thighs. No body hair, no bushiness. They look like retouched fashion photos, or ads for a high priced workout program.
% “Maybe this is the reason that these women arouse in Snowman not even the faintest stirrings of lust. It was the thumbprints of human imperfection that used to move him, the flaws in the design: the lopsided smile, the wart next to the navel, the mole, the bruise. These were the places he’d single out, putting his mouth on them. Was it consolation he’d had in mind, kissing the wound to make it better? There was always an element of melancholy involved in sex. After his indiscriminate adolescence he’d preferred sad women, delicate and breakable, women who’d been messed up and who needed him. He’d liked to comfort them, stroke them gently at first, reassure them. Make them happier, if only for a moment. Himself too, of course; that was the payoff. A grateful woman would go the extra mile.
% “But these new women are neither lopsided nor sad: they’re placid, like animated statues. They leave him chilled.” Page 100
% “What is toast?” says Snowman to himself, once they’ve run off. Toast is when you take a piece of bread – What is bread? Bread is when you take some flour – What is flour?
% We’ll skip that part, it’s too complicated. Bread is something you can eat, made from a ground-up plant and shaped like a stone. You cook it . . . Please, why do you cook it?
% Why don’t you just eat the plant? Never mind that part – Pay attention. You cook it, and then you cut it into slices, and you put a slice into a toaster, which is a metal box that heats up with electricity – What is electricity? Don’t worry about that. While the slice is in the toaster, you get out the butter – butter is a yellow grease, made from the mammary glands of – skip the butter. So, the toaster turns the slice of bread black on both sides with smoke coming out, and then this “toaster” shoots the slice up into the air, and it falls onto the floor . . .
% Forget it,” says Snowman. “Let’s try again.” Toast was a pointless invention from the Dark Ages. Toast was an implement of torture that caused all those subjected to it to regurgitate in verbal form the sins and crimes of their past lives. Toast was a ritual item devoured by fetishists in the belief that it would enhance their kinetic and sexual powers.
% Toast cannot be explained by any rational means.
% Toast is me.
% I am toast.” Page 98

title={Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven},
author={Twain, M.},
publisher={Harper & Brothers},
comment={Tells the story of a man who dies and goes to heaven and finds that the common conceptions of heaven are pretty far off the mark. Of note is that the American section of heaven is filled with native americans, since they had lived and died there far longer and in far greater numbers than white people.},
Category={Novels, native americans}

title={Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland},
author={Carroll, L. and Tenniel, J.},
publisher={Macmillan Children’s}

% I found both of the Alice books pretty dull, overall.

title={Through the Looking Glass: and What Alice Found There},
author={Carroll, L.},
publisher={Rand, McNally}

% I did like the Jabberwocky and Of Cabbages and Kings in this book.

title={The Doctor Stories},
author={Williams, W.C. and Coles, R.},
series={A new directions book},
publisher={New Directions},
comment={A set of fictional short stories by the poet and doctor William Carlos WIlliams about doctors visiting homes in 1930s New Jersey. Also includes a few poems and one autobiographical story.},
category={Novels, doctors, poetry, new jersey}
% The short stories are pretty interesting, mostly as documents of what it was like to treat people at home in 1930s New Jersey.
% The poetry, like virtually all poetry, seems dependent on cloying cliches. Is it impossible to write poetry that is neither so abstract as to be virtually meaningless, nor so dependent on cliche as to be boring?
% The most interesting piece is definitely his short autobiographical piece about what writing means to him.

title={A Canticle for Leibowitz},
author={Miller, W.M.},
comment={Classic post-apocalyptic novel written in 1959 about monks of the future preserving 20th Century documents through the post-apocalyptic dark ages.},
category={Novels, science fiction, post-apocalypse}
% Outlines an interesting idea about how a church enduring for hundreds of years whittles out any art that is not both pleasing on the surface for uneducated, and pleasing at a deep level for “sages”. Page 154
% This book makes use of a technique that sometimes comes up in science fiction that for some reason I can’t explain is deeply appealing. That is, telling a story at one point in time, where the characters are dealing with objects that are still present, or are discovered much later in the future as part of complete unrelated other people’s stories. In this case some documents (which are the central McGuffin of the book) and also a wooden statue, carved in a minor scene in the first part of the book, and reflected on hundreds of years later in the second part of the book.

title={The Pushcart War},
author={Merrill, J. and Solbert, R.},
series={A Yearling book},
publisher={Dell Publishing Company},
comment={The classic novel covering the battles of the war against trucks in NYC by street vendors.},
category={Novels, nyc, trucks, street vendors, pushcarts, Urbanism}
% One of the classic books that should be in the canon of urban planning books.
% “Wenda Gambling was hardly an expert on traffic. But as the three other panel members were elderly men (one stout, one bald, and one near-sighted), the moderator of the program thought that the panel would be more interesting to the audience if Wenda were at the table.” Page 36
% An author writes a book called The Enemy In The Streets against trucks. Page 34
% “in crowded traffic conditons, the only way to get where you wanted to go was to be so big you didn’t have to get out of the way of anybody. This was known as The Large Object Theory of History.” Page 30.
% The mayor makes his peanut butter speech arguing that being against trucks is being against progress, and maybe even peanut butter. Page 33
% There’s a weekly free newspaper called The Ears & Eyes Of The Lower East Side which is funded by a trucking company and talks about the pushcart menace. Page 48
% General Anna complains about plastic bags: how you can’t examine the fruit or see how clean the hands of the person putting the fruit in the bag (in the back of the store) are. “You ask me what is the menace,” Said Old Anna. “And I will tell you. It is the plastic bags!” Page 52
% “to cause a little trouble now and then is maybe good for a man.” Page 73

title={Lost Face},
author={London, J.},
publisher={Macmillan Company}
comment={A collection of Jack London short stories, including his most well-known one “To Build A Fire”.}
category={Novels, fiction, short stories, jack london, dogs, arctic, cold}
% To Build A Fire really holds up well. That is one seriously compelling short story. I don’t know if that’s because it appeals to the manliness/death/battle side of me or what, but I loved it.

title={The Call of the Wild},
author={London, J.},
series={Macmillan’s standard library},
publisher={Grosset & Dunlap}
comment={The classic story of a dog who starts in warm California and works his way north and finally joins a wolf pack in the wild.},
category={Novels, fiction, jack london, dogs, arctic}
% Surprisingly well written. It’s use of masculinity as a theme is pure and unironic.

title={White Fang},
author={London, J.},
series={Nelson’s continental library},
publisher={Grosset & Dunlap}
% White Fang goes the other way from Call of the Wild, the dog travels from the far north down to the south.
% There is some deeply problematic race stuff in this book, where White Fang “naturally” respects white people more than brown ones.

title={Gravity’s Rainbow},
author={Pynchon, T.},
series={Penguin books},
publisher={Penguin Books},
comment={776 pages of insanity hammered out with deft English language and lost cultural references.},
% All I really remember of this book was slogging through long sections having no idea what was going on, insterspersed with occasional bouts of some of the most amazing writing I’ve ever read.
% The only two things in particular I remember though are the Disgusting English Candy Drill: \url{}
% And the Nazi toilet ship.

title={Their Eyes Were Watching God},
author={Hurston, Z.N. and Washington, M.H.},
publisher={SAGEBRUSH Corporation}
comment={The classic story of a black woman growing up in the south.},
% There’s an interesting bit about how a town is formed - her husband comes to a new town for blacks only, and buys up a big chunk of land and subdivides, as well as starting a store and a post office.
% The only thing I remembered before re-reading this book was her description of an orgasm as a pear tree.
% For that reason, I thought this book was about young people.
% But it’s actually about a 40-year old woman. This is one of those books that we stupidly give to teenagers, but they are completely the wrong audience.
% This book is great - for adults. The language is exceptional. I suspect it’s a much better book for 40 year old women to be reading than Eat Pray Love.
% The other remarkable thing about this book is that it is so old. It’s from the 1930s, but it’s about issues of female self-determination that wouldn’t become public topics until the 1960s. It’s WAY ahead of it’s time, while being about a pretty old-fashioned time period.
% “All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.” - Page 216

title={Roadside picnic ; Tale of the troika},
author={Strugatski{\u\i}}, A.N. and Strugatski{\u\i}}, B.N.},
category={Novels, scifi}
% This is the edition I read an ebook of. There’s another edition out there with an Ursala K. Leguin introduction.
% It’s a pretty good read. It does a nice job of keeping you wanting to find out more. But definitely sci-fi of it’s time. The whole point is that the technology that aliens left in the zone is so far ahead of our own that scientists can only marvel at it and call it a miracle, not understand it.
% The part where the zone is described as a “roadside picnic” of aliens is pretty good. Near that section (the same character dialog) are some interesting thoughts about the rationality of man - as in what the hell do we even think it is? And some neat points about how the smartest among us are panicked because they realize how little they know.
% That same section has some thoughts about the military-industrial complex.
% The Tarkovsky film was from a screenplay by the same authors, but is best understood as a complete reboot. While this is more or less schlocky 1970s sci-fi, the film is a reboot that throws out the schlock and instead focusses on heavily-lifted concepts of human meaning.
% The funny thing is that while the book is really from the perspective of some 1960s-70s “everyman” and the movie is from the perspective of high-minded art and philosophy, I would think a real-life stalker going into the zone would be neither of those things, but have elements of both.
% Oddly, the book is set in Canada.
% There’s some interesting hints about the economics of the city that grows up around the Zone. Reminds me of the city that is built around the crashed ship in Robotech.

Author={Grey, Tobias},
Title={The Legacy of ‘Les Misérables’: Charting the Life of a Classic},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A review of a book — THE NOVEL OF THE CENTURY The Extraordinary Adventure of “Les Misérables” By David Bellos — about the history of Les Misérables. Talks about how the first English translationg ended up being bastardized to remove references against slaverly, which led to it becoming an inspiration in the South during the Civil War. And how later film versions put religion back in, which Hugo deliberately left out. Among other historical notes.},
category={Novels, The Art, literature, france, les miserables, tomes}

author={McCarthy, C.},
series={Vintage International},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
% This is the second-best McCarthy book I read. Though the only thing I really remember was the main character spitting while peeing, and then questioning germs’ ability to travel up a stream of spit, sucking his spit back up.

title={The Road},
author={McCarthy, C.},
series={Vintage International},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
% This book is weak. McCarthy didn’t familiarize himself with the vast body of post-apocalyptic work before writing this.
% I liked his description of obsidian blades towards the beginning.

title={All the Pretty Horses: Book 1 of The Border Trilogy},
author={McCarthy, C.},
series={Vintage International},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
% This book sucks. It’s a really boring love story. I couldn’t even make it through all three books because it’s so boring. There’s some part, maybe in the second book, with a wolf that isn’t terrible.

title={Peter and Wendy},
author={Barrie, J.M. and Bedford, F.D.},
series={May G. Quigley collection},
publisher={C. Scribner’s Sons}
% It’s impossible to read this book after having read Lost Girls without reading a whole second story between the lines about maturing sexually. It has some interesting narrative bits, where the narrator addresses the reader directly, and sometimes the narrator influences the plot (for example, waking up the kid’s mother). For me it is also hard to read this book without hearing the broadway musical in the lines.

title={Desolation Island (Vol. Book 5) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)},
author={O’Brian, P.},
series={Aubrey/Maturin Novels},
publisher={W. W. Norton},
comment = {The Aubrey/Maturin novel where they are chased by and sink a giant Dutch ship, the Waakzaakheid.},
category = {old ships}
% Probably my favorite of these novels.

title={Super Sad True Love Story},
author={Shteyngart, G.},
comment = {},
% I find many things in this book that feel like they will seem very dated in a few years. I should have applied my 10-year rule not to read anything newer than 10 years old to this book.
% Sam says:
% Super Sad Love Story is a little annoying (Shteygart is a big nebbish) but he’s so prescient about so many things:
% NYCHA infil [check]
% anti-aging conglomerates [isn’t that part of Google’s new Alphabet program]
% protesting squatter encampments [Occupy]

title={Shadow & Claw: The First Half of ‘The Book of the New Sun’},
author={Wolfe, G.},
series={New Sun},
publisher={Tom Doherty Associates},
category = {scifi, fantasy, fiction}
% A good intro to Gene Wolfe’s stuff: \url{}

title={Sword & Citadel: The Second Half of ‘The Book of the New Sun’},
author={Wolfe, G.},
series={Book of the new Sun},
publisher={Tom Doherty Associates},
category = {scifi, fantasy, fiction}

title={The Urth of the New Sun: The Sequel to ‘The Book of the New Sun’},
author={Wolfe, G.},
series={Book of the new Sun},
publisher={Tom Doherty Associates},
comment = {Not nearly as good as the first two, which were among the best books I ever read.},
category = {scifi, fantasy, fiction}

author={Wolfe, G.},
publisher={Tom Doherty Associates},
category = {scifi, fantasy, fiction}
% The mobility furnished---or, rather, dropped raw and unfurnished---imto the hands of young people by the invention of the automobile has often been commented upon. The mobility conferred at a much earlier age by the bicycle has been wholly neglected.'' Page 142 % secret society called Seven Bamboo’’ page 148
% A thought I had: Before grading (roads like highways), roads rolled up and down with the landscape - and thus were much the more pleasant for bicycling.

title={A Wizard of Earthsea},
author={Guin, U.K.L.},
series={The Earthsea Cycle},
publisher={Houghton Mifflin Harcourt},
category = {scifi, fantasy, fiction}

title={The Tombs of Atuan: Book Two},
author={Guin, U.K.L.},
series={Earthsea Cycle},
publisher={Gallery Books}
category = {scifi, fantasy, fiction}

title={The Farthest Shore},
author={Guin, U.K.L.},
series={Earthsea Cycle},
publisher={Atheneum Books for Young Readers}

title={Tehanu: Book Four},
author={Guin, U.K.L.},
series={Earthsea Cycle},
publisher={Atheneum Books for Young Readers}
% The others in the cycle were great. This one is really boring.
% Most of it is just the main characters as old people hanging out on a island.

title={Lost Girls},
author={Moore, A. and Gebbie, M.},
publisher={Knockabout Comics},
category = {graphic novels, erotica, Allan Moore}

title={League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Omnibus},
author={Moore, A. and O’Neill, K.},
publisher={Titan Books Limited},
category = {graphic novels, Allan Moore}

author={Moore, A. and Gibbons, D.},
publisher={DC Comics},
category = {graphic novels, Allan Moore, superheroes}

title={From Hell},
author={Moore, A. and Campbell, E.},
publisher={Top Shelf Productions},
category = {graphic novels, Allan Moore, serial killers, Jack the Ripper}