These are books I liked quite a bit and heartily recommend.
Before the main entrée, perhaps it's worth noting some consistently great authors in alphabetical order, a go-to list that I only expect enjoyment from every time:
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mario Vargas Llosa
If you haven't tried them, now's the time!
Alice In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Clever word play ahead of its time, and a true wonder to behold. A lyrical work of true magic, here's one of the oldest examples of a work that speaks equally and differently to the child as well as the adult.
All Quiet On the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
War is stupid, and bombs and bullets don't discriminate.
All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren
corrupted populism, a la Huey Long
Del Amor y Otros Demonios (Of Love and Other Demons) - Gabriel García Márquez
A fascinating novella that takes on any number of themes, from the Spanish Inquisition to early colonialism in South America to slavery. Corruption of politic, church and soul lie throughout.
Animal Farm - George Orwell
communism's critique; humans just ain't that way
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
This one can play as elitist, but I think most that like/love it appreciate its commentary on how society tries to normalize the abnormal and render unexceptional the exceptional.
At Play In the Fields of the Lord - Peter Matthiessen
missionaries fight for souls, earnestly & hypocritically
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - Mario Vargas Llosa
One of the great writer's better tomes, and with more humor than usual. An 18-year-old "man" takes up with his aunt's sister while also modestly befriending an odd Bolivian soap opera scriptwriter who has begun working at his same radio station of occupation. An interesting interweaving of the romance and the soap operas, and more shouldn't be said without reading it...
Autumn of the Patriarch - Gabriel García Márquez
another corrupt caudillo in full decay
A Bend In The River - V.S. Naipaul
the hopelessness and helplessness of Africa in vivid color
Being There - Jerzy Kosinski
brilliant media and pop culture critique
The Best Amer Non-Req'd Reading (2002) - Dave Eggers, Ed
random nuggets of great interest
The Best Amer Non Req'd Reading (2003) - Dave Eggers, Ed
random nuggets of great interest
The Best Amer Non Req'd Reading (2005) - Dave Eggers, Ed
random nuggets of great interest
Black Boy - Richard Wright
racism writ large and ugly
Blade Runner - Philip K Dick
the classic stylized future
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
A colorful retelling of the all-too-true happenings in the borderlands of Texas and Mexico, where gruesome slaughter was a way of life that brooked little notice. This changes that. Disgusting; true. Fascinating prose, as usual, for McCarthy.
Born Standing Up - Steve Martin
Perhaps the best or most insightful of the exploding pile of comedian autobiographies, Steve Martin's story is certainly a long journey to success that never fails to be interesting or comic in its telling.
The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
In a more ambitious work by Diaz, three generations of a family from the Dominican Republic - one which ends up in NYC - are explored. An intrinsic chunk of Dominican history in the form of the insane dictatorship of the monster Trujillo is explored along the way, a backdrop that greatly contrasts with the otherwise random interest in science fiction by the main character, Oscar - who not uncoincidentally would love to get laid.
Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
Wicked, absolutely wicked is the 17-year-old who takes over a local mafia in Brighton, England. Angry and entirely lacking in subtlety, he tries to work his way into a place containing a vacuum he's created. Seedy, shuffling, and shifty.
La Casa Grande - Alvaro Samudio
The different sides of a slaughter in a small Latin American town come to life, of workers who aren't going to take it any more, the soldiers sent unwittingly to kill them, and those who give the orders.
Catcher In the Rye - JD Salinger
coming of age gets it bad
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
Perhaps Vonnegut's best, this is the book that originally put him on the map - and deservedly so. No one recounts the foibles of man like this master of prose. Here he takes on the atom bomb and science - and what man in his brilliance does with such things.
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
a mad future drowning in Beethoven
Collected Novellas - Gabriel García Márquez
(Chronicle Of A Death Foretold, No One Writes To The Colonel, Leaf Storm): Three of Gabo's best novellas give sufficiently tasty dips into the enigma that is Colombia and its violent history. Or is "enigmatic" even possibly the word to use when describing the wielding of power to create its too-often by-product, misery?
A Confederacy Of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
his only book, loser makes...good?
The Confessions of Nat Turner - William Styron
the mindset of slavery and rebellion
Corelli's Mandolin - Louis Berniéres
Greece in WWII - partisan hell, plus Italians,Germans
The Crossing - Cormac McCarthy
My favorite of McCarthy's borderland trilogy, which starts with a teenage cowboy rather oddly deciding to return a wolf to Mexico. Hijinks don't exactly ensue, but as always McCarthy's stylish prose takes over to present a better side to the all too worn Western Novel genre.
Demian (Damian) - Hermann Hesse
Like Narcissus and Goldmund, or Siddhartta for that matter, two men take the roles of teacher and student in confronting the vagaries of life's big questions. Elegant observations offer truisms and further questions, which is the beauty of Hesse.
The Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac
idealistic escapism, in the endless search
Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
the WWII Soviet epic
Double Whammy - Carl Hiaasen
trashy Florida funny, this is probably his best
Dracula - Bram Stoker
the one and only original, stolen from constantly
Drown - Junot Diaz
The breakout book for Diaz, short stories which link together fictionally what doesn't appear to be incredibly distant from the life Mr. Diaz has lived. Raw and polished simultaneously.
East Of Eden - John Steinbeck
modern day Cain and Abel in California
The Enigma of Arrival - VS Naipaul
A generally autobiographical account of Naipaul's years spent in the south of England, a curiously outsider view of countryside life there in the 60s and 70s from his somewhat unique Trinidadian-Indian perspective. As always with Naipaul, there is the trained eye that doen's miss the little detail or the musing of the big detail found within.
The Elementary Particles - Michel Houellebeq
crass Frenchness, dark
Empire Falls - Richard Russo
It doesn't take a lot to see why this won a Pulitzer Prize. The guy can write, even if it's "only" about small town life in Maine in the form of a not-quite-loser who's plowing through life's small details while perhaps missing some large ones.
La Fiesta Del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat) - Mario Vargas Llosa
Practically non-fiction, Llosa creates a fictional family to parlay the gory details of life under Rafael Trujillo during his dictatorship over 31 years in the Dominican Republic. The cult of personality, the secret police, the pervasive fear - it's all there in this tome which uses a few story lines (including his killing-not-an-assassination) to complete the picture of what is considered the prototype of the Latin American caudillo/strongman.
Flowers For Algernon - Daniel Keyes
not all that - it's up to you to find out
The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
love it or hate it
Germinal - Emile Zola
the classic story of union class struggle, grim and alive
The Godfather - Mario Puzo
the mafia masterpiece
Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
A sweeping look at the feigned nobility of the southern U.S. from just before to a number of years after the Civil War. The subtle handling of slights comes up against the heavy hand of hardship that can't be ignored. Scarlett and Rhett are two unforgettable characters.
The Good Earth - Pearl S Buck
the hard life of the Chinese peasant
Gorky Park - Martin Cruz Smith
the first of the Arkady series Dark Russia
The Green House - Mario Vargas Llosa
A clever, fascinating book. The former in its unique way of handling two narrations simultaneously, the latter way it works so well to detail a history of various characters whose lives intertwine. Set in Northern Peru, both near the hot coast where Piura sits and in the Amazon not so terribly distant from Iquitos, soldiers and crooks and indigenous folks all try to stay alive in trying circumstances of bleak hope and pillage. A whorehouse rises on the edge of Piura to scorn and acclaim, but its links dig all the way back to the jungle.
Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
And you thought this was for kids - but no. A harsh criticism of government politics from the royal to the democratic, it also delves into corruption of ideas and religion which ends up in war and tyranny. Various make-believe lands (of giants, floating islands, etc) serve as vehicles to hammer the points home. Brilliant satire, and ahead of its time.
The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving
dysfunctional family, indeed
How Green Was My Valley - Robert Llewellyn
Welsh coal miners unionize in a lyrical work
Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
Often considered Twain's masterpiece, it is that indeed while being one of a number of his best to me. Slavery is the most powerful them, but adventure and a snapshot of view of mid1800s life on the Mississippi is not given short shrift. Huck tries to win slave Jim his freedom, but that serious tale is intermixed with any number of comic misadventures on the way.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
one of the better takes on racism in the US
The Idiot - Fyodor Dostyevsky
A prince serves as foil to the foible of a variety of personalities. He says what he means and thinks - is the world ready to deal with such openness?
Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
kind of a self-help Carpe Diem fiction
The Joke - Milan Kundera
The functioning reality that was communism in E Europe
July's People - Nadine Gordimer
In an imagined South Africa that falls to the evils of apartheid, a white family is taken in by their servant. He takes them to his homeland for a temporary hideout that uncomfortably reverses roles to some extent.
Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton
using DNA to bring back the dinosaurs; fun
Kim - Rudyard Kipling
The India of the late 1800s from a British Colonial eye, and one that is a product of its times at that. But color abounds and this is a boy's adventure into adulthood.
Lady Chatterly's Lover - DH Lawrence
all the scandal in its day
The Legacy Of Heorot - Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
fun sci fi and the legend of grendel
The Life Of Pi - Yann Martel
Written so convincingly that you almost want to force it to be true, supposedly one will find God and forgive zoos after reading this one. Neither was true in my case, but such an impressive story of survival and lore it still was. And, indeed, I learned far more about zoos and their interesting niche in society and nature than I ever thought. For the record: a boy, tiger, hyena, zebra, and orangutan are shipwrecked together on a lifeboat when a cargo ship bearing the boy's family and remnants of the family zoo business founders.
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Schoolboys are left to their own devices when their airplane crashes onto a deserted island. With no grown-ups around to help them fend for food, shelter, or rescue, how many steps away from savagery is our civilization in reality?
Love in the Time of Cholera/El Amor En Los Tiempos De Colera - Gabriel García Márquez
Even more magical on its second reading, and I account this far more to being a bit older than reading it Spanish. Lyrical, obsessed, impassioned - it's all there in this tale of man's single-minded will to one day capture the heart of a woman who had briefly been in the palm of his hand as a girl. They grow in parallel universes that sweat under the sultry North Colombian coast, both plodding forward yet not without punctuating events. Every bit the classic it is called.
Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
The world as we know it gets whammied!
La Mala Hora - Gabriel García Márquez
more bad tidings under caudillo rule
Major Barbara - George Bernard Shaw
sign of its times
Memoria de mis Putas Tristes (Memories Of My Melancholy Whores) - Gabriel García Márquez
Ultimately a book on dying or at least aging, a man presents himself with a virgin whore for his 90th birthday. Only to find that it isn't all that he told himself it would be, from any of a number of angles. Bittersweet.
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
A quirky story serves to tell some of the story of Indian Independence and, later, the ensuing violent Partition that begat Pakistan. The story's narrator wins the "lottery" of being the first child born - at midnight - unto the new state, but his fellow new citizens have important, magical connections with him.
The Name Of the Rose - Umberto Eco
Narcissus And Goldmund - Hermann Hesse
In Renaissance times, two monks become fast friends. Over the years they take opposing paths to life without themselves falling into discord. A marvelous discourse in life philosophies, a wondrous peek into the heart of man.
Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
In the Russo pantheon, this could very well be the best. Sully is on the edge of retirement age, living day to day catch as catch can in a deadbeat upstate New York town. Mayhem ensues at the slowest of boils but with the richest of flavor.
No Country For Old Men - Carmac McCarthy
Texas never felt so lonely and real
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
a fable or parable for all time
One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
the gulag system up close and personal
The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosinski
If one wanted to get a feel for the impression of Jews/gypsies in Eastern Europe before WWII, this book would provide it. Yet, for the real horror that the protagonist boy experiences in his journey, the tale told through his eyes doesn't forget his age. As the author was (formerly) a Jewish boy who survived the Holocaust undercover, this book was controversially received.
Pantaleón y las Visitadoras - Mario Vargas Llosa
The straightest of straight arrows of the Peruvian Army is given perhaps the most difficult of assignments - to go a jungle outpost and help pull numerous wayward troops in line. But to do so he'll have to violate virtually all of his previously-held ideals. Procuring prostitutes on a regular basis is just the beginning of the end, and the worst thing is that he's really good at it...
The Past Through Tomorrow - Robert Heinlein
Probably Heinlein's best tome, this is a collection of short stories that comprise a "future history" in a parallel universe. Some of the tales are particularly intriguing, even to this day, in predictions of how mankind might live. "The Roads Must Roll" and "The Man Who Sold The Moon" stand out.
A Perfect Spy - John Le Carré
In one of LeC's better works, a British spy takes a sudden leave of absence on a number of levels. It's up to various spy agencies to see where they fall into the mix of his possibly treachery. As always, LeC's prose is the main event.
The Power And The Glory - Graham Greene
Known as one of Greene's best, in it a priest stays one step of the authorities which want to kill him. Set in the turbulent times around the revolution and civil war, one can taste the bitter dust in the air in this one.
A Prayer For Owen Meany - John Irving
A coming-of-age classic that isn't autobiographical, this is Irving's best work - although not the most famous by far. The narrator's relating of incidents in the maturing world of Owen Meany are at times downright hilarious.
Pudd'nhead Wilson And Other Tales - Mark Twain
The other tales would be The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Those Extraordinary Twins, making a threesome of worthy repute. The eponomyous tale in particular is a scathing rebuke of slavery in a way that Huckleberry Finn only begins to touch.
The Quiet American - Graham Greene
Perhaps my favorite Greene book, more about the British reporter than the eponymous American, the days and nights are set in Viet Nam during the war which hasn't completely become America's yet. Few write like Greene.
The Risk Pool - Richard Russo
A coming of age story, a writing par excellance. The author grows up with a mother one foot in the insane asylum and a drunk father who runs about town as its favorite rogue, a man as easy to tap for a buck as he is a train wreck always on the edge of going off the rails. Such writing!
The Russian Debutante's Handbook - Gary Shteyngart
A winning introduction to the world of Shteyngart, a confusion of Russian and Jewishness that's not afraid of what's obviously self-deprecation for the author.
The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hester Prynne is a vehicle for discovering Puritan America and the hypocrisy and mindset of its era and locale.
The Secret Pilgrim - John Le Carré
Told as a retrospective of a career spy in the British Intelligence Service, Le Carré (a former spy himself) relates tales of fiction that touch on almost all sides of the reality of the business.
Shogun - James Clavell
The Japan Meets West epic
A Short History Of A Small Place - TR Pearson
An Opie-ized South that did and didn't exist
Siddhartha - Herman Hesse
A parable in finding inner peace and enlightenment.
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
the Dresden firebombing brought to horrific life
Smilla's Sense Of Snow - Peter Hoeg
a tougher woman you won't meet moves well
Sometimes A Great Notion - Ken Kesey
a logging epic in the closed-off Pacific NW Coast
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John Le Carr&eactute;
LeC here proves early on why he is the master of spy novels, mainly by making them more human novels of quality literature. Here's a spy's last mission, to take out his opponent on the other side who has both taken his lunch and stolen his dinner over the years.
Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse
he lurks within some of us here, but not all there
The Stranger at the Palazzo d'Oro - Paul Theroux
clever tales from the master writer
The Tailor of Panama - John Le Carré
the lightest, yet clever and engaging spy tale you'll read
The Temple of My Familiar - Alice Walker
more racism-dredging: stories need to be heard
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Diaz
Several contemporary tales of misguided relationships undertaken by the same protagonist in a series of short tales. Sharp dialogue and insight with a distinctly Dominican flair.
Three Stories-Hordubal,Meteor,AnOrdinary Life - Karel Capek
from the man who gave us the word robot
Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
More Alice, as well there should be. A worthy follow-up. Every English-speaking child's library should have these books. And the adults, too, for that matter.
The Tin Drum - Günter Graß
WWII in Germany from an unusual viewpoint
The War Of The End Of The World (La Guerra Al Fin Del Mundo) - Mario Vargas Llosa
The bizarre and true story of Brazil's temporary town of Canudos, told in a fictional manner. A prophet-like figure gathers a following over the years and eventually decides to build a state within a state in the hinterlands of Bahia State. As Brazil is transitioning from a monarchy to a federal system, this challenge to the authority of law is a symbolic thorn which the government decides to squash - to the tune of a slaughter of about 30,000 crazed cultlike followers of "The Counsellor". But not without a bloody, staged fight.
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolff - Edward Albee
1984 - George Orwell
and it shall come to pass from time to time
About This Life - Barry Lopez
Essays on travel and life, told with a sharp eye and a lyrical pen.
The Age Of Wonder - Richard Holmes
The heyday of British science coincided with that of British poetry, apparently, or so runs the thesis of this one. True or not, some charismatic characters came along after Newton - ones who were genuinely astounded with the things they were driven to discover. Both the science at hand and the personas get their due in a well-put-together relating of their time and place in history.
Alive - Piers Paul Read
Andes plane crash cannibalism
America Again - Stephen Colbert
Poking fun at American-isms, Colbert's humor is dead-on and clever as hell. The retirement of his persona is the definition of "national tragedy".
An Area Of Darkness - V.S. Naipaul
The sharp eye of Naipaul is taken to India, the land ofthe Trinidadian's forebears. Circa 1960, not long after independence, India is all and not what Naipaul expects, but nonetheless fascinating.
Ascension - Eric Nisenson
John Coltrane's musical journey
Autobiography Of Malcolm X - with Alex Haley
idealism meets reality in a search for justice
Barrel Fever - David Sedaris
quick tales from a funny life
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy - Greg Palast
our corrupt political process (this ain't highbrow)
Cats of Any Color - Gene Lees
Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry - Clark Terry
The long life of the great jazz trumpeter and clinician Clark Terry, from the tough streets and dire poverty of Saint Louis to Ellington's big band and The Tonight Show. His love of life and opportunity abounds throughout.
The Culture Of Fear - Barry Glassner
how fear is used to manipulate in the US
The Dark Side of Man - Michael P Ghiglieri
people are strange... and how!
A Death In Brazil - Peter Robb
A travelogue mixes with a history of Brazilian politics up to Lula
Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris
more wacky tales from the fringe
Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington - Terry Teachout
A much more warts-n-all accounting of the maestro's life than his own, rather elusive autobiography. A genius composer with his personal foibles.
Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser
that crud people eat - back story surprises
Flying Upwards: How We Took To The Air - Richard Holmes
The truly lively history of mankind's first success in taking to the air, aboard balloons. Imaginations are run riot with the possibilities and magic all wrapped in yard upon yard of silk inflated by gas.
Getting Stoned With Savages - J. Maarten Troost
great travel writing in the South Pacific
The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain In The Pacific Northwest - Timothy Egan
In various slices - such as volcanoes, salmon, and the rain in rainforest - Egan gives a mix of natural and human history in the Pacific Northwest. Particularly Washington-centric but lapping over into Oregon and British Columbia liberally, contemporary issues of environmentalism compete with what the land can bear - and greed, the usual culprit.
Guns, Germs, and Steel - Jared Diamond
Probably the most comprehensive book of anthropology related to why populations thrive at the expense of others. This is covered both in terms of conquest and the viability of food gathering and production. Mix in how germs spread and steel trumps wood, one easily sees how timing is everything and the concept of race is but a curious by-product of luck and chance.
The Happy Isles Of Oceania - Paul Theroux
From Chile's Easter Island and Australia to Hawaii, Theroux drops in on the Polynesian extent, paddling a kayak in each island group and surprising natives while relating history and his mind's-eye view of the current peoples.
Hear Me Talkin' To Ya - Nat Shapiro
snippets and anecdotes on jazz
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers
his funny breakout book of picking up the pieces
Holidays On Ice - Dave Sedaris
wacky tales related to Christmas
Hot, Flat, and Crowded - Thomas Friedman
Extending the concepts in The World Is Flat, Mr. Friedman adds in global warming and overpopulation of the planet to the globalization challenge. While trying not to instill panic necessarily, the reality mankind is increasingly being presented with demands action - and real soon.
In the Heart of the Sea - Nathaniel Philbrick
The book that inspired Moby-Dick, the sinking of the Essex by a whale and cannibal survival. A tale of whaling history, Nantucket history, phenomenal mistakes and luck.
In Patagonia - Bruce Chatwin
History and geography are explored as Chatwin retraces the places of note of famous robbers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they removed to South America to escape the law.
Jazz Anecdotes - Bill Crow
uh, anecdotes about jazz?
The Journey Home - Edward Abbey
Essays over a number of years from the U.S.'s resident ecological messiah/crank. Prophetic, disturbing.
The Kingdom By The Sea: A Journey Around Great Britain - Paul Theroux
at the time of the Falkland's "business," Theroux walks the british coast, observing all
King Leopold's Ghost - Adam Hochschild
The brutal history of what's been traditionally called the Belgian Congo, but what in reality was King Leopold of Belgium's personal fiefdom. This is what inspired The Heart of Darkness and numerous human rights campaigns for its utterly horrific allowances in essentially raping an unsuspecting land of its people and resources.
The Last American Man - Elizabeth Gilbert
A fascinatingly complicated individual is Eustace Conway, an independent American original. Told by a friend and a woman who respects honesty more than hype, the insight is particularly intriguing.
Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them - Al Franken
boo on Fox News and the right wing nutjobs
Life On the Mississippi - Mark Twain
recollections that comprise a time capsule
Louis Armstrong - An American Genius - James Lincoln Collier
perhaps the best on the life of the legend
Lost On Planet China - J. Maarten Troost
Troost maintains his humorous eye in serving up the details of an extended trip in China some handful of years after the turning of the millenium. Unlike his first two books, where he lived in the focused area of his writing, he nonetheless gets the details in and the foibles out of all the people he runs into.
Made In America - Bill Bryson
The American Dialect of English in particular is given to the magnifying glass. Anecdotes abound to the roots of words and sayings while handily giving a dose of American history.
Maximum City - Bombay Lost And Found - Suketu Mehta
A local to Bombay, Suketa Mehta left for a good number of years before coming back. Here he relates the many peculiar aspects of Bombay that only a local could explain, from its crime scene to its politics and corruption, from its brothels to its movie industry - and how they all come together in a stew that only can be explained as Bombay (Mumbai).
Mayflower - Nathaniel Philbrick
A great telling of the story of the Pilgrims and Puritans who landed in present-day Massachusetts. This is a worthy lead-up to Bury My Heart At Broken Knee, though mostly from the writings of these first English settlers in the area. It's damning and tragically fascinating nonetheless.
Meet Me At Jim & Andy's - Gene Lees
Me Talk Pretty One Day - Dave Sedaris
funny stories from his life
The Middle Passage - V.S. Naipaul
A Trinidadian by birth, Naipaul returns home and to some of the nearby lands of the islands. All still suffer the consequences of the slave trade and colonialism of long and not-so-long ago, but in different ways. Leave it to Naipaul to discern between them.
The Monkey Wrench Gang - Edward Abbey
the beginnings of eco-terrorism/activism
The Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson
roots of so much English Anecdotes galore
No Logo - Naomi Klein
what has our capitalist economy wrought?
The Old Patagonian Express - Paul Theroux
Theroux rides the trains from Boston to Patagonia and directs his critical eye to the glamour and squalour which abounds along the way through a very poor and oft-forgotten slice of the world.
One River (Explorations and Discoveries In The Amazon Forest) - Wade Davis
Richard Schultes spent over a dozen years in the Amazon Basin cataloguing plants and researching the properties of ayahuasca, the legendary shamanic drug of the jungle. His story and many side-stories stemming from it tell of a time and peoples gone by that are well worth learning about. And interesting as hell. Colombia gets the focus, as do the regions beyond it that produce the coca leaf, peyote, and rubber.
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
Once again Gladwell looks at our modern reality with a different eye. Fascinating statistics and analysis make one wonder how much of what we see ourselves as is influenced by chance and misunderstanding.
Panama Fever - Matthew Parker
A walk-through of why the Panama Canal was so desired, followed by the work that went into convincing investors to build it. Then the disasters began, one after the other.
Papillon - Henri Charriere
the remnants of France's version of Australia
Passage to Juneau - J. Raban
Color and commentary in sailing the Inside Passage from Seattle to Juneau. Reflections on the cultures of the area and the initial (non-indigenous) explorers' impressions.
Riding the Iron Rooster - Paul Theroux
traveling China's rails circa 1980 a time capsule
Roughing It - Mark Twain
When the U.S. Civil War broke out, Mark Twain got sucked into it. About two weeks into his service, he ran right back out of it... and into The West. Tale after tale describes his journey out as an unsuccessful miner and more successful budding writer.
Sailing Alone Around The World - Joshua Slocum
Over 3 years ending in 1898, Slocum was the first to solo sail a world that will never be seen again. He endures numerous life-threatening events and relates a time capsule of meetings and acquaintances made.
Savages - Joe Kane
in the Amazon with the exploited Huarani
Seven Years In Tibet - Heinrich Harrer
a grand adventure into the forever lost world of isolated Tibet in the 1940s
The Sex Lives of Cannibals - J Maarten Troost
fun travel writing in the South Pacific
A Short History Of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
Bryson takes on science, and very successfully so. Masterfully approached in layman's terms, everything from the big bang to quantum theory is touched and explained both in an informative and humorous way that both gives respect to the leaps found in ideas and the pomposity often not left far behind or to the side.
Sir Vidia's Shadow - Paul Theroux
Theroux's famously unsparing book about his mentor and longtime friend, V.S. Naipaul. There are plenty of warts exposed in this revisiting of over 30 years of a friendship, but it comes across far more as candid than bitter. Revealing in the better sense about the writing profession, too.
Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong - Jean-Benoit Nadeau
meet/understand the French
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen
philosophy in the Himalayas
South - Sir Ernest Shackleton
the amazing story of survival in Antarctica
Stupid White Men - Michael Moore
more reasons to be pissed off about US politics
Sunrise With Sea Monsters - Paul Theroux
F & NF, Various essays from early on in Theroux's career, including a number of critiques of wellknown (traveling) authors.
Take The Cannoli - Sarah Vowell
A combination of coming of age and U.S. history both, this might well be Vowell's best work. From a number of her recordings and articles, this nevertheless reads like a story worth telling as she comes to terms with who she was, is, and has become: one of America's funnier and informative historians.
The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
How fads and styles come to be
To Be Or Not To Bop - Dizzy Gillespie & Al Fraser
the story of Dizzy the Great
Touching the Void - Joe Simpson
amazing mountaineering fall survival in the Andes
A Tramp Abroad - Mark Twain
Some 20 years after The Innocents Abroad, Twain this time takes to Europe again, particularly in Germany and Switzerland. Once more his biting pen takes to the peacocking of the upper class in Europe and the lifestyles of the Germans, Italians and Swiss particularly as regards tourism.
Tuesdays With Morrie - Mitch Albom
life-affirming nuggets of gold Carpe Diem, m'friend
Under the Banner of Heaven - Krakauer
All that is Mormon Strange but true
Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
The true and frankly astonishing story of Louie Zamperelli, in particular his post-Olympian years spent in WWII - where he both survived a plane crash and its ensuing (and record-breaking) 40+ days journey aboard a liferaft PLUS a few years spent under a sadistic corporal in Japanese POW camps. "Wow" doesn't quite cover it.
Unfamiliar Fishes - Sarah Vowell
In another witty plunge into U.S. history, this time on the origins of Hawaiian statehood, Vowell brings to bear the odd anecdote mixed with her personal travels on the islands doing research.
Walden - Henry David Thoreau
the minimalist and ecologist classic
The Way Things Work - David Macaulay
explaining the machines about you simply use
What Is the What - Dave Eggers
a Lost Boy of Sudan tells his story
What The Dog Saw - Malcolm Gladwell
A collection of essays printed in The New Yorker and bound in book form by the inimitable Mr. Gladwell. In varied subjects his eye is turned toward the statistics and other facts behind the (sometimes false) story. Guaranteed to hold a revelation or ten for any and all.
When You Are Engulfed In Flames - David Sedaris
More funny essays on the forthrightly gay life of Sedaris in his inimitable self-deprecating style.
You Can't Steal a Gift - Gene Lees
four jazz profiles
Back to Books and Movies Menu
Back to triptrumpet.com