This is my incomplete reading list that started on January 28th, 2010. I’ve read a lot more than what is below, but I got behind and did not play catchup. Oh, and this is “read” as in past tense and not suggestions, though hopefully something piques your interest.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Hardcover). About: A short book (roughly 180 pages) of a middle-aged man reminiscing about a childhood much different than yours or mine. When this man was seven he brought back an evil … entity from another world and the book chronicles all the bad that happens to the small town and the fight to get rid of the being. Recommended by: It’s Gaiman, I’d read his shit if he put it in a book. Reason: Gaiman is much better at putting words together than I am. Who else should read it? Those who like Gaiman; fantasy readers
- Driving Like Crazy by P. J. O’Rourke (Hardcover). About: A good collection of road trip stories-type stories (the Baja, India, across the country). Made me want to get in a Jeep Wrangler and drive through the jungle at 90 mph sipping a beer. Includes some political commentary, which hippies probably won’t like since he refers to them as the “fun-suckers”. Recommended by: Dad, since I pulled it from his shelf. Reason: I needed a short book for the weekend. Who else should read it? Car lovers; people who dislike government over-regulation.
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Kindle). About: Aaargh. Honestly though, since I never knew what it was about: A teenager finds (is given? steals?) a treasure map a drunken sailor left behind. A doctor and a squire hire a ship and a crew and bring the boy along to find the prize. Once they get to Treasure Island, mutiny ensues. Pirates kills, pirates die. But who will get the treasure? Oh, and Long John Silver is a dick. Recommended by: Every high school English teacher. Reason: It’s a classic! Who else should read it? It is a classic, but if you don’t like murder, adventure, and treachery, then don’t read it. Pussy.
- A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (Kindle). About: The fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This one’s timeline runs parallel to the last one until it forges on ahead. No, the story doesn’t end and still seems books away at this pace. Anyway, we focus on our northern territories and across the sea. Tyrion, Jon, Daenerys, Bran, Arya, and others make up this one. Some more deaths and politics, with a sprinkle of dragons. Always a good mix. Recommended by: And now four books and a TV series. Reason: I read like 4,000 pages in under a month, what was another 1,000? Who else should read it? Again, I just read 5,000 pages in under a month, these were great books. Everyone should read them, but I understand not everyone will like them, unfortunately.
- A Feast of Crows by George R.R. Martin (Kindle). About: Wars and intrigue continue on, but this time we focus on the southern (southron, if it please m’lord) lands of Westeros, with a taste of Braavos and the Iron Islands. Deaths and sex and sex and death. I’d catch you up on the characters, but man are there a lot of them. So many that Martin had to split what is the fourth book into two, promising only a year between them. That was six years ago and the fifth one just came. Recommended by: Three other books and a TV series. Reason: I can barely put this series down, had to keep reading. Who else should read it? Lovers of epic stories; if you like feudal lords saying “your grace” and “if it please”, “perchance”, “mayhaps”, and other great sayings from long ago.
- A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Kindle). About: The war for the kingdom keeps waging on, even though kings keep dropping out of “the game of thrones”. More political tricks, including a horrendous treachery, and fighting abound. The bastard Jon Snow still fights for the realm, but has to turn his coat for a bit. Arya doesn’t think she’ll ever get home, Sansa thinks it’s just her and Snow left of the Starks, and Bran seeks a crow with three eyes. Weird, but you know kids and their dreams. Recommended by: It’s the third book in the series, so the other books recommended it. Reason: I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, they’ve been very hard to put down. Who else should read it? If you like medieval stuff with a dab of fantasy (dragons, walking dead, to name two); if you like expansive stories with no lead character.
- A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (Kindle). About: With a suspect heir sitting on the Iron Throne, three others in the land proclaim themselves kings. War and death-a-plenty in this one, but Arya still runs, Robb still leads, Jon still freezes, Sansa ain’t as happy as she once was, Tyrion seems to enjoy himself as the King’s Hand, and Bran is suddenly having very vivid wolf dreams. Oh, and Daenerys now has some dragons to play with. Recommended by: The HBO show, I guess. Reason: I enjoy the show (Game of Thrones) and liked the first book. Who else should read it? If you like violence and kings and lords and wenches; if you can handle a little more fantasy then the first book (the dragons are alive again, obviously).
- A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (Kindle). About: Lord Eddard Stark is content to rule Winterfell in the north and watch his children grow old. However, his friend, and king, bids him south to be the king’s top adviser. While serving the king, Eddard begins to think that these blonde-haired children of the black-haired king might not actually be the rightful heirs to the throne (sounds like a game to me). Throw in an unfortunate hunting accident for the king, some political intrigue, and war (plenty of limbs lopped off) and let the fun begin. Recommended by: Does HBO count? Because that show is awesome. Reason: I watched the show on HBO, plus Ben had told me to read the books as well. Who else should read it? If you like feudal stuff; if you like bad-ass-ery; if you can handle minimal fantasy (one undead guy, talk of weird things to the north, and a very brief appearance by three dragons).
- Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Kindle). About: A group of people (avouts) from a different universe. These avouts are the most intelligent people on their planet, but live in abbeys like monks theorizing all day. They’ve been overly feared three separate times, resulting in more restrictions on what they can work with (they cannot use technology). When an alien ship comes into orbit, they are called on to devise a plan to broker peace or blow ‘em up. Recommended by: Ben. Reason: Neal Stephenson writes some cool, futuristic ideas that I enjoy reading about. Who else should read it? If you agree with the parallel universe theory, or even know what that is; if you can handle heavy reading.
- The Butcher’s Boy by Thomas Perry (Kindle). About: A professional hitman, nicknamed The Butcher’s Boy, completes a contract on a senator. Instead of paying a man who kills for a living, the mafia decides that they should just kill him. So he kills a lot of them. As hard as it is to kill him, the Justice Department and Elizabeth Waring find it’s equally hard to find him. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: Was at airport without a book and needed to download something, he knows I like thrillers so he said this one. Who else should read it? Anyone who likes thrillers.
- Sleeping Dogs by Thomas Perry (Kindle). About: After pissing off all of the mafia, The Butcher’s Boy hid out in England for ten years. This went fine until a day at the horse races leaves five bodies behind. To find out who knows where he is, he flies to America and really kills some people. Elizabeth returns, still trying to find him. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: He told me about the series, so I had to read it. Who else should read it? If you liked The Butcher’s Boy; if you like thrillers.
- The Informant by Thomas Perry (Kindle). About: The third and final installment for The Butcher’s Boy. Back in England, and another ten years later, he is flushed out of hiding and now pissed off. He tells the mob to leave him alone, but instead heads of all the families meet in the desert to agree to kill The Butcher’s Boy. Once he hears this, he kills a lot of people. Waring, on the other hand, finally gets to meet the professional hitman she’s been chasing for almost 30 years. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: Third and final book in a good series. Who else should read it? Well clearly if you read the previous two and, again, if you like thrillers and reading about people getting capped in the dome piece.
- Decoded by Jay-Z (Hardcover). About: Jay-Z is complex poet who can’t be burdened to write a normal autobiography, no sir. Instead he talks about his career, and then posts some lyrics with such enlightening footnotes. I mean, did you know “ends” means money? So weird, right? Wooten read it for three minutes and said, “what a pretentious asshole.” So yeah. Recommended by: It was a Christmas gift from Dad. Reason: I like rap and it’s a rap book. Who else should read it? Jay-Z fanboys; if you really like rap, you might as well read it.
- The Devil’s Star by Joe Nesbø (Hardcover). About: Norwegian detective Harry Hole seeks out a serial killer in Oslo who happens to like the number five and pentagram diamonds. Harry tries to stay off booze for a while, fix a relationship, and expose a dirty cop. Harry’s not always successful. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: He knows I enjoy the Harry Hole series. Who else should read it? If you like detective novels, thrillers, boozehounds.
- Worth Dying For by Lee Child (Hardcover). About: Jack Reacher, ex-Military Policemen, just wants to get to Virginia. Instead he finds bad things in Nebraska and sets them right, because that’s what Reacher does. Oh, and he maims and kills people. Easily. With like, his forehead. You get to learn things, like what to use in a fight:
“Best are shooting weapons, second best are stabbing weapons, third best are slashing weapons. Blunt instruments are way down the list.”
And knowing is half the battle. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: He gives me all the Reacher books. Who else should read it? If you like thrillers, or stories about ass-kickers. And if you like proper justice.
- Stories edited by Neil Gaiman and Sarrantonio (Kindle). About: A collection of short stories (oh, you saw what they did there?) by different authors. I’m not really huge on these types of books (collections?), but they are good for sporadic readers. Finish a “chapter” and put it down for a week or two; you don’t have to remember any characters. I got this for the Kindle, though its cover artwork makes me wish I got the hardcover. Recommended by: Ben, Neil Gaiman (on Twitter, at least). Reason: It’s got Gaiman’s name on it and one of his stories (“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”). Who else should read it? If you like short stories (duh), and really enjoy reading.
- The Snowman by Jo Nesbø (I read paperback, but link is Kindle) About: The best, albeit alcoholic, detective (Harry Hole) in Oslo is caught in someone’s game. Includes drinking, murders, snowmen, fucking, murders, a pig mask, drinking, fucking, and did I mention murders? Because it has some good ones. (Side note: the cover says “the next Stieg Larsson”, and that is a fucking slap in the face to Jo Nesbo. He writes way better thrillers and has a much better lead character, and having his novels published prior to The Girl… series kinda helps.) Recommended by: Dad, who never gives me the Harry Hole series in the right order. Reason: We both like detective/thriller novels. Who else should read it? If you like thrillers, detective novels, suspense.
- Freakonomics by Stephen D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Kindle). About: How incentives rule people… which is called “economics”. Whoa, sumo wrestlers cheat because their system is totally set up for it? Wait, names don’t mean shit except to explain the parents? Next you’re gonna tell me that abortions helped reduce the crime rate by limiting the population. You already did? Recommended by: The public, but picked it on my own. Reason: Hadn’t used my Kindle in awhile and it’s supposed to be an important economic book. Who else should read it? If you know nothing of economics, this will be mind altering. If you understand that incentives rule people, then the only fact that’ll surprise you is that a good economy doesn’t really help the crime rate as much as you think.
- The Redeemer by Jo Nesbø (Paperback). About: The fourth installment of the Harry Hole series, and in this one Harry has to stop a hitman from wreaking havoc on the Salvation Army, which actually considers itself an army. Some good killings (someone has an eyeball sucked out of their socket) with some bad sex. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: I liked the first book (Redbreast, below). Who else should read it? If you like mystery/thrillers.
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (Paperback). About: Lemuel Gulliver recounts his journeys to unseen lands. The narrator repeatedly states that he is merely telling you the facts… as he describes a society of 6″ tall people, one of whom thinks Gulliver is having an affair with his wife. It’s a parody (of travel books circa 1700), a satire (on human nature), and a comedy (a 6″ dude thinks Gulliver is banging his wife, didn’t I already tell you this?). Recommended by: Every English teacher ever, right? Reason: It was published in 1726 and still relevant, the fuck you gonna write that someone in 2294 will be reading? Who else should read it? People into classics; any reader, really.
- Lords of the Sea by John R. Hale (Hardcover). About: Athens circa 400 BC and its rise and fall and rebirth and fall. Or something. A bunch of battles with names I can’t pronounce in places I can’t pronounce with ships I can’t pronounce. Recommended by: Ben gave this to me. Reason: He knows I liked John Adams, mythology and therefore ancient Greece, and he wants me to be more into politics. Who else should read it? Political and history buffs; Greek buffs. (I started this in December and finished in July, so take that for what it’s worth.)
- 61 Hours by Lee Child (Hardcover). About: I’ll write this like Lee Child. Jack Reacher. Ex-military cop. The bus he is on crashes in a small town. Bad things happen. He makes them right. Bashed heads and murders. To be continued. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: Reacher has become a favorite character of ours, love this type of novel. Who else should read it? The Reacher series is classic, everyone should read it. Do you want to know how to properly hit someone? How to aim a gun? Find out which guy to attack first in a party of three? Read Reacher. Start with The Killing Floor.
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (Hardcover). About: The third, and final, installment of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl… series. This one is about “the girl”‘s upcoming court case (remind me to never get myself into a trial in Sweden) and what the evil people will do to try to stop the truth from coming out. Reporter Mikael Blomkvist will do whatever it takes to help his friend and expose the Swedish government. Recommended by: Dad, but I would have gotten it anyway. Reason: I had read the previous two and enjoyed them, would you really not read the finale? Who else should read it? Clearly if you like The Girl… series; myster/thriller fans.
- Redbreast by Jo Nesbø (Paperback). About: A detective tries to stop an assassination. Detective Harry Hole has run-ins with Neo-Nazis in Norway circa 2000. The story also ties in World War II and Norway’s involvement/reaction/punishment of its people. Killings, head-cappings, and baseball bat beatings. Recommended by: Dad. Reason: We both love mystery/thrillers. Who else should read it? If you like the setting of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, then give this one a try. Any mystery/thriller fans.
- The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt (Paperback). About: Archaeology in space. About 200 years from now we’ve only found one suitable planet to live on other than Earth. Due to a monument made by a third species of intelligent life (our planet, this planet, and the so-called “Monument Makers”), we learn of an impending doom. Crap, that summary sucks. It’s a well-written mystery novel set in the future and in exotic locales. Sex, blood, suspense, and tough to put down. There, better? Recommended by: Yeah, there’s a pattern here, Ben and Dad. Reason: Sci-Fi, respected author. Who else should read it? If not familiar with sci-fi but love a good mystery, try it, plus anyone who likes sci-fi.
- Terror by Dan Simmons (Kindle). Genre: Historical (science) fiction. About: The Sir John Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror get stuck in the ice in 1846. And hilarity ensues! No, not really. Not at all. If the cold doesn’t get them, if the poorly canned food doesn’t get them, if the scurvy doesn’t get them, and if the massive bear or thing (the science fiction part) on the ice doesn’t get them, then maybe they’ll get free (they don’t, but you knew that because you know your history). Recommended by: Ben, Dad. Reason: I read Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos (which I recommend if you want to get into science fiction). Who else should read it? If you read Into Thin Air you’ll be amazed by how they dressed for the cold in 1845; if you like history; if you like science fiction.
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Kindle). About: Hackers and linguistics. Was published in 1992 and is written like it’s an alternate-history present. The “Metaverse” (or virtual reality/Second Life) has a virus that infects hackers. Hiro Protagonist, the protagonist, carries samurai swords and uses them to stop a religious/power hungry nut job. Lots of history of language, focus on the Babel story. Recommended by: Ben. Reason: Sci-Fi, likes the author. Who else should read it? Sci-Fi fans, not a book for an outsider. Or fans of the of the Babel story, I guess.