Now Reading:

Robert Jordan
  • The Wheel of Time - reading it all over again since I don't have quite the access to library audio books that I used to back in Virginia, at least for now...
Howard Coffin
  • Nine Months to Gettysburg: Stannard's Vermonters and the Repulse of Pickett's Charge - just starting...
John B. Keane and I    John B. Keane and I in the author's hometown of Listowel, Ireland

Previously Read:

Peter Ackroyd
  • Venice: Pure City - Fascinating analysis of Venice in all respects - highly recommended! The author really managed to evoke both a lasting impression of the general Venetian temperament and a feeling of the mystery of the city.
Ansel Adams
  • The Camera - an indispensable resource for understanding what your camera does, even if it is automatic. It's also great for understanding how to visualize your picture before taking it, although digital makes this easier to achieve than it was in Adam's day.
Douglas Adams - these absurd humor classics shouldn't be missed!
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • Life, the Universe, and Everything
  • So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
  • Mostly Harmless
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
  • The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Elizabeth Adler
  • Invitation to Provence - This was uber-melodrama, but still entertaining, as an audiobook anyway.
Jeff Alt
  • A Walk for Sunshine - A man hikes the Appalachian Trail to raise funds for a disabled home.
Kingsley Amis
  • Everyday Drinking - This collection of essays and articles by the well-known English humorist and drinker sheds light on various topics related to drink in a witty and entertaining manner. There are also a number of recipes developed by Amis himself, or his refinements of traditional tipples.
Isaac Asimov - classic science fiction
  • I, Robot - actually a collection of short stories, but a great intro
  • Prelude to Foundation - the Foundation series is epic, visionary writing, covering millennia.
  • Forward the Foundation
  • Foundation
  • Foundation and Empire
  • Second Foundation
  • Foundation's Edge
  • Foundation and Earth
  • The Stars, Like Dust
  • The Currents of Space
  • The Caves of Steel - the first of a series of far-future detective stories set in a society where Earth is subjugated by her now far more advanced former colonies, and the impact of sentient robots and their interactions with Man.
  • The Naked Sun
  • The Robots of Dawn
  • Robots and Empire
  • The End of Eternity - on the impacts of time travel and the manipulation of human history.
  • The Last Question - a real thinker of a short story. You can read it here.
  • The Last Answer - another thought provoker, about unwanted eternity.
Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Ludicrous
John Baldwin and Ron Powers
  • Last Flag Down: The Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship - the amazing, ill-fated, and ultimately futile voyage of the C.S.S. Shenandoah was marked nonetheless by extraordinary courage
Angela & Duffy Ballard
  • A Blistered Kind of Love: One Couple's Trial by Trail - An entertaining account of a long and marvelous hike from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail
Bill Barich
  • A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub - Written by an American ex-pat, this book researches the decline of traditional pub culture in Ireland through historical reading, but more importantly, through visits to a number of pubs in varied locations. The interviews with aged publicans and "pintmen" of old shed light on the origins of the pub and the purposes of escape that were so important in yesteryear, in a country tormented by poverty. These days, many Irish seem to be more interested in the cosmopolitan offerings of modern restaurants and bars serving a plethora of food and drink from the global culture. In this climate, older pubs remodel and resort to TV, sports, and quizzes to spice up the experience, since the old regulars and the art of conversation have taken a back seat. I was excited, though, to read about the few gems he discovered around the country. He decries the export of the Irish pub worldwide as a generic experience, and I agree with this as well - too often are pubs in America nearly identical. Still, one cannot expect the same feel, lacking the important aspects of tradition and clientele. This book will, I expect, help me to appreciate pubs in a more critical light, and perhaps look at some of my favorites even more. Only time will tell on that front, but I nonetheless highly recommend this book for the educational and nostalgic aspect. It has reinvigorated my interest in learning about Irish culture, and I hope that digging through its bibliography will be just as enlightening.
  • A Fine Place to Daydream: Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish - A very interesting tale of a trip through an Irish horse racing season, in which the author talks with many trainers, jockeys, horse-dealers, and "punters" - the Irish term for gamblers. And, despite this research, he still manages to lose a fair amount of money by falling victim to the island's chief betting habit.
David A. Bell
  • The First Total War - The paradigm change of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. This period of intense warfare birthed ever-larger armies and battles, and eventually Napoleon came to power through renown for his military glory and political maneuvering. He could maintain his grip on the Empire only through continuous victory, and the scale and perception of violence spiraled out of control. I found this to be a remarkably interesting history.
Karen Berger & Daniel R. Smith
  • Where the Waters Divide: A Walk Along America's Continental Divide - Detailing one couple's long trek from Mexico to Canada along the mostly unmarked/nonexistent Continental Divide Trail
Steve Berry
  • The Venetian Betrayal
John Berendt
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - Another book that I'd forgotten about reading, until I saw it on the shelf of a used bookstore! I picked this up after learning about its association with Savannah, Georgia, after I'd travelled there with a friend in middle school. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and style of this mystery.
  • The City of Falling Angels - this was an interesting portrayal of Venetian personalities, partially revolving around the burning of La Fenice, Venice's venerable opera house.
Maeve Binchy
  • Nights of Rain and Stars - An uplifting tale of a chance meeting between international strangers on a small Greek island. Their coming together, along with a few of the helpful locals, leads to great improvements in their lives.
Dermot Bolger
  • The Journey Home - This is an odd bit of Irish fiction that I'm glad I read. It opens with a young man and woman on the run from the law, though we know nothing of the reasons for this or any details of their relationship. Flashbacks to the young man's recent life are interspersed with the continuing evasion of the law, though it becomes more of a worry than an actual present threat. The flashbacks are the real bulk of the story, and detail living in 1980s Dublin as a poor, disillusioned young man, trying to find his place and meaning in the drudgery of mindless work, only to escape into drugs and alcohol. It also delves into the corrupt underworld of government officials and organized crime. It's often brutal and surprisingly obscene, but the pacing of revelation is perfect and the characters are very interesting.
Dermot Bolger (editor)
  • Finbar's Hotel - This is a rather intriguing collection of short stories set in a fictional Dublin hotel, just before it's about to be torn down. They're all set on the same day, and the characters interact with each other, yet we see their thoughts only within their individual stories. I really enjoyed it.
  • Ladies' Night at Finbar's Hotel - This is a sequel to Finbar's Hotel, which has been sold and remodeled. The stories are an odd and usually entertaining mix. These short stories are all written by women.
Chris Bolgiano
  • The Appalachian Forest: A Search for Roots and Renewal - a fine source of history, ecology, and personal experience
Matt Bondurant
  • The Wettest County in the World - I checked this audiobook out in a hurry thinking that it had something to do with the weather. It proved to be more interesting since it's a family tale from a native son of Alexandria concerning illicit distilling during the Depression in rural Virginia. Quite entertaining.
Charles A. Brady
  • The Sword of Clontarf - sometimes short on detail, but a loving account of the battle that largely ended Viking power in Ireland. It's very passionate about Irish culture.
John H. Briant
  • Adirondack Detective - The language is quite clumsy but I do enjoy the appreciation of the wilds and the morality
  • Adirondack Detective III
David Brill
  • As Far as the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker - Beautiful perspectives on an AT thru-hike in 1979. Evokes a clear sense of belonging in the woods.
Geraldine Brooks
  • People of the Book - a fascinating imagining of the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah.
Dan Brown
  • The Da Vinci Code - interesting ideas and twisted plotting make for a great page-turner.
  • Angels & Demons - intricate detail and the Roman setting made this book an engrossing read.
  • Digital Fortress
  • Deception Point
  • The Lost Symbol - The events largely occur in my "backyard" in this thriller, which made for a much more familiar feeling than what I had gotten from previous Dan Brown books. It exhibits the author's usual talent for suspense and thrill, though the revelations of the story aren't quite as exciting as I had hoped. Still, a lot of fun, and a very quick 500 pages. I'm also happy to say that I got this from the library (like most of my books), avoiding the $30 (list) price that most everyone seems to be handing Mr. Brown!
Patricia Fortini Brown
  • Private Lives in Renaissance Venice: Art, Architecture, and the Family - continuing my learning
Bill Bryson
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything - The history of scientific discovery, and many fascinating scientific theories explained in a non-technical manner. Often induces wonder at the grandeur and complexity of nature.
  • A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail - The author decides to experience America from the trail, along with a friend that he hasn't seen for years. Being chubby middle-aged men makes for a rocky start, to say the least. Very entertaining!
  • Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe - hilarious perspectives on a solo tour through much of Europe in the 1990s, including what each country is best and worst at. I'll leave these opinions to the author so he can do the offending...
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - childhood memoir of a baby boomer in typically hilarious style
  • At Home - an interesting if rambling collection of histories on how the layout and various customs of the Western home developed over the centuries
  • The Lost Continent - travels across most of the U.S. in 1988. Culturally speaking, much of the USA was quite unpleasant to the author. Based on the situations he encountered, I too would have been happy to have moved to England.
  • In a Sunburned Country - Australia, that is
  • Shakespeare: The World as Stage
  • I'm a Stranger Here Myself - This could have been subtitled "America: Cultural Wasteland." It's easy to see why he moved back to England, and it's hard to blame him.
  • Made in America - the fascinating history of English's divergent evolution in the United States
Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme
  • My Life in France - interesting autobiography, showing quite wonderful passion for France and its culture
Bill Buford
  • Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany - A crude yet insightful tale of working in a major restaurant kitchen, revolving around the life of chef Mario Batali. The tradtion and techniques revealed are often amazing.
Thomas Cahill
  • How the Irish Saved Civilization - A fantastic read on the transition of Europe from the Roman Empire to the early medieval period. The Irish were the first non-Romanized people to be evangelized in the West, and they took to Christianity in their own unique way, forming great centers of learning due to their lack of cities. These abbeys and monasteries preserved the knowledge of the West while the continent was ravaged by continuous migrations and invasions. After a few centuries, the Irish missionaries re-established Christianity on the continent and brought with them their store of historical writings. The author also posits a position that I had never heard - that the strengthening of Christianity on the continent due to the Irish in turn raised defense against the soon to come Muslim invaders. Without their own passionate religion, the Muslims may have had an easy time conquering and converting primitive pagans. It's a concise and easy to read history. Highly recommended!
  • Sailing the Wine-dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter - This history and treatise on cultural influence is very enlightening. I enjoyed plumbing the depths of the Greeks' influence on every level of Western Civilization. However, the language choice does at times become excessively crude, which detracts from the scholarship a bit. It is at times also quite dense, and my level of attention wavered a bit, which might have slowed my reading significantly if this were not an audiobook. Still, I would recommend this.
Patrick Campbell
  • A Molly Maguire Story - Taking a break from Discworld, this book covers the investigations of a grand-nephew into his relative's execution for murder in the coal regions of Pennsylvania in the 1870s. The law certainly seems to have been co-opted for greedy purposes by those with power. The author even visits Ireland to investigate still-living relations. The Wikipedia article should be a good place to start learning about this part of Pennsylvania history.
Orson Scott Card
  • Ender's Game - Excellent, thought-provoking sci-fi. Very well-performed as an audiobook.
  • Ender's Shadow - Excellent! The story of Ender's Game from a different perspective.
  • A War of Gifts - Christmas at Battle School (a short but fine story)
  • Shadow of the Hegemon - more of the Bean story
  • Shadow Puppets - more of the Bean story
  • Shadow of the Giant
  • Shadows in Flight - the continuing adventures of Bean
  • Speaker for the Dead
  • Xenocide - I'm still interested, but the ideas of bringing back characters in this are getting far too ludicrous
  • Children of the Mind
Tom Clancy - These were a big part of my reading in high school. I'm pretty sure I started with Rainbox Six because of the computer game, but I soon read most of his other books. Their huge size made them often slow to get going, but they were wildly entertaining once the story really started rolling.
  • The Hunt for Red October
  • Red Storm Rising
  • Patriot Games
  • The Cardinal of the Kremlin
  • Clear and Present Danger
  • The Sum of All Fears
  • Without Remorse
  • Debt of Honor
  • Executive Orders
  • Rainbow Six
  • The Bear and the Dragon
  • Red Rabbit
Charles E. Clark
  • The Eastern Frontier: The Settlement of Northern New England, 1610-1763 - quite fascinating to learn of the European development of the region. It took me quite a long time to finish this one, but it really illuminated the period.
Clare Clark
  • The Great Stink - twisted psychological writing, but a bit slow. It involves murder in 19th century London and quite a bit of time in the sewers. Yay.
Stephen Clarke
  • Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French - Quite funny in its explanations of the French mindset from an "Anglo-Saxon" perspective. Makes me want to move to France even more.
  • A Year in the Merde - "Fish-out-of-water" fiction, with an Englishman taking a job in France. Ludicrous and a joy to read!
  • In the Merde for Love - More of the same - a very good thing in this case.
  • 1000 Years of Annoying the French - An examination of Anglo-French relations in hilarious fashion. Full of excellent anecdotes for future sharing too.
Eoin Colfer
  • Artemis Fowl - the series is entertaining at times, but not really recommended.
  • Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident
  • Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code
  • Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception
  • Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony
  • And Another Thing... - a sixth part to the late Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. Really works in much the same style, with some of the author's Irishness tossed in too.
Tim Pat Coogan
  • The IRA - Sometimes critical, sometimes sympathetic. The author has been at this topic for decades. (mostly finished)
Bernard Cornwell - highly recommended historical fiction, especially concerning King Arthur
  • The Winter King
  • Enemy of God
  • Excalibur: A Novel of Arthur
  • The Archer's Tale
  • Vagabond
  • Heretic
  • 1356
  • Gallows Thief
  • Stonehenge: A Novel of 2000 BC
  • The Last Kingdom - The fascinating, brutal beginning to his Saxon series, set in ninth century England during the Danish invasions.
  • The Pale Horseman - the second of the Saxon novels
  • Lords of the North - the third of the Saxon novels
  • Sword Song - the fourth of the Saxon novels
  • The Burning Land - the fifth of the Saxon novels
  • Agincourt
  • The Fort
Stephen Crane
  • The Red Badge of Courage
Peter Cozzens
  • Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign - I began this book in Shenandoah National Park while looking down into the Valley. It was an excellent start, though I did struggle a bit through the detailed maneuvers of the various commands through the region. I am truly interested in the military history of the United States, though I don't need this much information.
Clive Cussler
  • Treasure of Khan - somewhat juvenile adventure story
Julia Davis & Lucian Niemayer
  • Shenandoah: Daughter of the Stars - interesting balance of photos and geological, cultural, and historical information about the region
Lindsey Davis
  • Alexandria - one of a series of novels set during the Roman Empire. Very good first person narration in a crime drama set in Alexandria, Egypt.
Marlena de Blasi
  • The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria - Life in Umbria, Italy is fantastically and intimately described from a foreigner's perspective. She has a marvelous way of describing things, quite simply.
Peter De Rosa
  • Pope Patrick - what just might happen if there were an Irish pope. Very, very good.
  • Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916 - A fictional account of the Easter Rising in a dramatic style, sourced from as many historical writings as possible. Sometimes slow moving, but with an incredibly poignant ending.
  • Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy - a historical critique of the abuses of the popes. Tough but fascinating reading.
Jean Deeds
  • There Are Mountains to Climb: An Inspirational Journey - An Appalachian Trail thru-hiker documents her solo trek. A very emotional, uplifting, and entertaining read.
Nelson DeMille
  • Wildfire - a witty first-person investigative tale
Thomas A. Desjardin
  • These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory - analyzes how the common view of the battle came together, and debunks a few legends
Charles Dickens
  • Oliver Twist
Bertha S. Dodge
  • Tales of Vermont Ways and People - often quite funny
J. P. Donleavy
  • The Ginger Man - This is a disaster of a book that I'm not at all happy to have read. It follows the debauched adventures of a man studying law at Trinity College, Dublin. He ignores his wife, daughter, and classes to seek booze and sexual encounters at any cost, pawning any possesions he can get his hands on for the slightest amount of money. He runs up debts with friends and landlords, often running from the latter. I don't understand the literary merit of this in the slightest, and I'm sad that I went the whole way through it.
Roddy Doyle
  • Paula Spencer - Stream-of-consciousness narrative of a struggling alcoholic mother in Dublin
  • Oh, Play That Thing - an ex-IRA hitman escapes to America to make his way during the Roaring Twenties
Alexandre Dumas, père
  • The Count of Monte Cristo - this is at times quite gripping, but often wanders far from what seems to be the main story.
Terry Eagleton
  • The Truth About the Irish - This English author explains various stereotypes and aspects of Irish culture in a wonderfully funny, often sarcastic fashion.
Kerry Egan
  • Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago - an introspective, emotional journey
A. Roger Ekirch
  • At Day's Close: Night in Times Past - A fascinating historical review of how night was perceived and experienced in the late middle ages and early modern era in the West. Hard to imagine with all of the light pollution and easy illumination these days.
Daniel Mark Epstein
  • The Lincolns - the story of Abraham and Mary Todd
Polly Evans
  • It's Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels - funny and entertaining bike journey around Spain (unfinished)
Raymond E. Feist - my uncle David introduced these to me. Quite derivative of Tolkien at times, and real-world languages are used as substitutes for similar fantasy cultures. Still good books.
  • Magician
  • Silverthorn
  • A Darkness at Sethanon
  • Daughter of the Empire (with Janny Wurts)
  • Servant of the Empire (with Janny Wurts)
  • Mistress of the Empire (with Janny Wurts)
  • Krondor: The Betrayal
  • Krondor: The Assassins
  • Krondor: Tear of the Gods
  • Prince of the Blood
  • The King's Buccaneer
  • Shadow of a Dark Queen
  • Rise of a Merchant Prince
  • Rage of a Demon King
  • Shards of a Broken Crown
  • Talon of the Silver Hawk
  • King of Foxes
  • Exile's Return
  • Faerie Tale - an odd but entertaining modern-day sci-fi/horror
  • Flight of the Nighthawks - the awesome beginning of the engrossing Darkwar Saga
  • Into a Dark Realm
  • Wrath of a Mad God
Ronald M. Fisher
  • The Appalachian Trail - A reflective and well-photographed take on an AT hike in the 1970s.
  • Blue Ridge Range: The Gentle Mountains - great National Geographic book on the region - its geology, culture, and history.
Thomas Flanagan
  • The Year of the French - This is a work of historical fiction on the French invasion of Ireland in 1798 in an attempt to defeat the British. It's quite moving and exciting at times, but the pacing was uneven, with long portions of reflection by sometimes only peripherally involved narrators. Still, I enjoyed it (despite the time it took me to finish!), and I would like to investigate this author's other tales of Irish fiction.
Ian Fleming
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service - interesting to hear Bond's thoughts for the first time after seeing so many films
Ken Follett - my mom kept pushing his books on me, but my favorites are the ones I found by myself
  • The Pillars of the Earth - my favorite, along with its sequel next. Great as an audiobook too.
  • World Without End
  • Whiteout
  • Hornet Flight
  • Jackdaws
  • Code to Zero
  • The Hammer of Eden
  • The Third Twin
  • A Place Called Freedom
  • A Dangerous Fortune
  • Night Over Water - in Ireland, we were on a replica of the real-life plane in this novel!
  • On Wings of Eagles - a nonfiction account of a privately financed rescue of Iranian hostages
  • The Key to Rebecca
  • The Man from St. Petersburg
  • Lie Down with Lions
  • Triple (unfinished - I lost this book, and had to pay back the library)
  • Eye of the Needle
  • Paper Money
  • Fall of Giants - works well, like his other historical novels. Just as dirty too...
  • Winter of the World - quite disturbing perspectives on what came before and during WWII through the characters' eyes.
Michael Curtis Ford
  • The Sword of Attila
Frederick Forsyth
  • The Day of the Jackal - a very detailed assassination plot that I highly recommend! There are also a lot of interesting cultural items from mid-century Europe.
  • The Dogs of War
John Fowles
  • The Magus - a strange, fascinating novel that took me quite a while to read. I'm not sure that I got all of it, but it was good.
Michael J. Fox
  • Lucky Man: A Memoir
Tana French
  • The Likeness - Interesting Irish detective novel. Very well written and narrated as an audiobook, with fantastic talent at accents.
  • Faithful Place - Excellent mystery novel set in Dublin. Filled with top-notch idiomatic speech. I thought it was fantastic and tough to put down.
  • In the Woods - Her first Irish detective novel - I had high expectations that weren't quite met. It wasn't bad, though the next novels are a great improvement. I just didn't find myself understanding the behavior of the lead character.
  • Broken Harbor - This was grand! An exciting, shocking read that kept me turning the pages for far longer than normal, looking for revelations that were withheld just long enough.
Neil Gaiman
  • Anansi Boys - a fine, funny novel working with old West African mythology. I can see why he worked so well with Terry Pratchett - their humor is quite similar, at least when comparing this book to most of Pratchett's. I'll be sure to check out some more of Gaiman's after this.
Frank Gannon
  • Midlife Irish - Discovering My Family and Myself - I picked up this travel and investigative tale at random from a used book store. It's a ridiculously funny examination of modern Irish culture and penetrating stereotypes for a man of 100 percent Irish heritage who knew next to nothing about the "real" Ireland. I found it to be an easy and engaging read, and I finished it in less than two days. The majority of the tale has the author and his wife wandering about Ireland at random, using the situations he encounters to reference events from his life, usually humorous ones. In the end, they finally decide to track down his parents' mysterious origins. This proves to be little trouble, since almost right away in the towns they knew to check they found someone who knew the family. This part, though short, proved to be very revealing about how his parents, particularly his father, behaved in America. I would recommend this book for its insights and perspective.
Edward Gibbon
  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - I went through the abridged version of this as an audiobook. It was both fascinating and horrifying, raising thoughts about the cycles of civilization and empire.
Newt Gingrich & William R. Forstchen
  • Gettysburg - a very disturbing alternate history of what might have happened if Lee had acted as decisively as usual
  • Grant Comes East
  • Grant Comes East - pretty edge-of-the seat in its telling.
Robert Emmett Ginna
  • The Irish Way - The author, at age 74, walks the length of Ireland, discussing history, culture, and just about everything else with all sorts. The author presents may anecdotes along the way, and though perhaps the tale strays at times, Ginna's appreciation of Irish culture shines through.
David Goldfield
  • America Aflame - a piece that covers the popular feelings before, during, and after the Civil War. The changes it documents are fascinating and sweeping.
Adam Goodheart
  • 1861: The Civil War Awakening - One evening I was relaxing in Old Town by the Potomac, when a TV crew began setting up. A PBS segment was featuring this book, and, intrigued, I checked it out. It focuses on a few persons, well known and otherwise, and tries to descibe their feelings as the nation became polarized at the beginning of the Civil War. This was most interesting, as was the detailed background and description of the death of Col. Ellsworth, only blocks away from where I watched the segment being filmed.
Mary Gordon
  • Reading Jesus: A Writer's Encounter with the Gospels - a really thought-provoking perspective on Jesus exclusively through the presentation of the Gospels
Al Gore
  • The Future
Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - What a crazy, cool idea! It was at times purposefully cheesy, but quite fun to read.
Andrew M. Greeley
  • The Priestly Sins - fiction written by an actual priest growing up, and later witnessing a crime. Very well done (bought on a whim).
  • Home for Christmas - This was a short, sweet, and awe-inspiring fictional account of a near-death experience and its profound impact.
  • Irish Gold - A superb romance/detective story concerning the assasination of Michael Collins. Very nicely crafted in the dialogue department.
  • Irish Lace - Further adventures of the detective pair in Chicago, investigating a local Civil War connection
  • Irish Whiskey - Investigating a bootlegging mystery from Chicago's past
  • Irish Mist - Nuala Anne McGrail and Dermot Michael Coyne return to Ireland and look into the death of Kevin O'Higgins, among other things.
John Grenham
  • Clans and Families of Ireland - A brief history on social structure and clans. Very well illustrated. Plus I learned that the wife has (ancient) French blood!
John Grisham
  • Playing for Pizza - a story about a third-rate American football QB that heads to Italy to work things out. Great details about real Italian culture, food, and football.
  • A Time to Kill - this legal drama is quite excellent
Allen C. Guelzo
  • Gettysburg - this gave me a new perspective on the leadership failures at Gettysburg, and how the lower-level officers on the Federal side in particular fought the battle.
Thomas F. Hahn
  • The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal - I learned a lot about this local transportation link and its history of plodding shipping. Right after finishing the book the family and I visited the last few locks in Georgetown for the first time in years. It was quite humbling to see just how much effort was made to bring comparatively small cargoes such a short distance by modern standards..
The Halo books
  • Novels, comics, etc. - I've enjoyed these games for years, and the story is quite gripping too. During the back-to-back work breaks, I'm reading through as much as I can.
Tony Hawks
  • Round Ireland with a Fridge - An English comedian hitches around the island with a small refrigerator in tow, based on an absurd drunken bet. This leads to many adventures, free places to sleep, and many, many nights in pubs. Truly a fun read!
Thomas Harlan
  • Oath of Empire - these four books tell the tale of a Roman Empire that survives into the seventh century through sorcery, and new wars with Persia. Intriguing, but lacking good pacing and exposition.span>
  • The Gate of Fire
  • The Storm of Heaven
  • The Dark Lord
Robert Harris
  • Imperium - a well-written tale on Cicero's machinations.
Peter Hart
  • Mick: The Real Michael Collins - A biography of the Irish revolutionary. This was a fairly interesting read, even if it did much to debunk the status of Collins as a true hero. Despite his shortcomings, he was a dedicated patriot who played a critical role in the (gradual) independence of much of Ireland from Britain.
Joseph Heller
  • Catch-22 (unfinished - the circular language and repetition are too tedious, sadly)
Ernest Hemingway
  • A Farewell to Arms - I really enjoyed this, ignorant as I was of the ending. Despite all of the heavy foreshadowing, I was quite hopeful for something other than the expected.
  • Across the River and into the Trees - the thoughts on Venice are very fitting with some of my recent reading
  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • To Have and Have Not
  • Islands in the Stream/span>
  • The Sun Also Rises
Frank Herbert
  • Dune - I listened to this classic as an audiobook, which features a varied cast. An excellent book.
  • Dune Messiah
  • Children of Dune - it was enjoyable, but despite this I've felt like I've missed something, which is how I've felt with the other Dune books. It may be that I've only encountered these as audiobooks and haven't had the chance to review complex ideas and turn the pages back.
C. Warren Hollister
  • Medieval Europe - This is an excellent and engaging history, which shed quite a bit of light on the supposed "dark ages." I picked it up at random, and I'm glad that I did.
Aldous Huxley
  • Brave New World - I didn't enjoy this "classic" too much.
Brian Jacques
  • Redwall
  • Martin the Warrior
Ray Jardine
  • Trail Life: Ray Jardine's Lightweight Backpacking - Full of wisdom and philosophy from the lightweight hiking guru. Among many other things, the cook-fire methodology has been fun!
Robert Jordan
  • The Eye of the World
  • The Great Hunt
  • The Dragon Reborn
  • The Shadow Rising
  • The Fires of Heaven
  • Lord of Chaos
  • A Crown of Swords
  • The Path of Daggers
  • Winter's Heart
  • Crossroads of Twilight
  • New Spring
  • Knife of Dreams
Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  • The Gathering Storm
  • Towers of Midnight
  • A Memory of Light - the long-awaited last volume of The Wheel of Time is an enormous, beautiful hardcover that I had to wait on for quite a while at the library. It's the first one I've read in print versus simply listening to, and the difference was interesting. With the previous books I could listen while doing other things. However, this most gripping conclusion to the series had me hiding out with the book for long periods, doing nothing else but turning pages. It was quite good, even if it didn't tie up all of the myriad loose ends that Jordan scattered all over the place. I'm going to have to read it again for some things I missed, naturally. I'll look forward to it!
James Joyce
  • Dubliners - sometimes interesting collection of short stories set in Dublin around the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Ulysses - unfinished - the odd language, extremely obscure literary and historical references and strange shifting of styles put me off very quickly. I hope to re-attempt this sometime in the future when I'm more widely read and able to take it in, since its impact on modern language and Irish culture is so important.
Sebastian Junger
  • A Death in Belmont - a fascinating investigation into the "Boston Strangler" murders in the 1960s, focusing in particular on the likelihood of a wrongful conviction for one of the murders.
Michio Kaku
  • Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel - pretty awe inspiring, yet purposefully written to be understood without one of those tough-to-wrangle physics doctorates
  • Physics of the Future - quite exciting to see all of the things that are likely to be coming in our lifetimes!
John B.Keane
  • The Teapots Are Out and Other Eccentric Tales from Ireland - A collection of often quite funny short stories that I'm hoping is a good introduction to this famous author's work. The tales were all interesting, some funny, some shocking, but all with some insight into Irish behavior.
Robert Kee
  • Ireland: A History - A succint yet well-illustrated history.
Jonathan Kellerman
  • Survival of the Fittest
  • The Butcher's Theater - a thrilling novel about a series of murders in modern Jerusalem and the investigation that ends them.
  • Therapy
  • When the Bough Breaks
  • Blood Test
  • Over the Edge
  • Bones
  • Compulsion - another detective story - very good as an audiobook
  • Self-Defense
  • Gone
  • Bad Love
  • Rage
  • Obsession
  • Twisted
Thomas Keneally
  • The Great Shame - This is an exhaustingly researched tale of a few generations of Irish men who were sent to penal colonies in Australia and Tasmania by the British Government in the middle of the 19th century. All political criminals, these men include the author's ancestor, a poor Galway tenant farmer, as well as a number of politicians and leading revolutionaries. There are harrowing escapes, and later successes in America and elsewhere. One becomes a Union general, others become leading writers and newspapermen. Often condemned to death, with their sentences later commuted to lifetime or long periods of imprisonment, these men made a tremendous impact in the wider world.
Jack Kerouac
  • On the Road - this is nuts
Raymond Khoury
  • The Sanctuary
Kristin Kimball
  • The Dirty Life - adventures in anti-industrial agriculture
Ross King
  • Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture - An in-depth tale of the construction of Florence's most famous structure. It's fantastic how this amazing feat was accomplished in the environment of tumultuous 15th century Florence, and that it has endured for nearly six centures. It's still the largest masonry dome in the world. I saw it long ago, and would love to explore it again in more detail.
Steven King
  • Cell - I never thought I would find myself reading anything in the horror genre, but I gave this one a chance and honestly enjoyed it.
Barbara Kingsolver
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - a family tries to live much closer to the land. This book marvelously ties together the relationship between people, their food, and the environment.
  • The Poisonwood Bible
John Knowles
  • A Separate Peace
Dean Koontz
  • Sole Survivor - an emotionally charged, metaphysical thriller which is fun to read, though I wish that the exposition had come sooner. Very creepy at times, too.
Gabriel Kuhn
  • Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy - an analysis of the available historical data on piracy from the 17th and 18th centuries, from an anarchist perspective. I didn't actually finish this one since it is a bit too dry and academical for my taste.
Louis L'Amour
  • Son of a Wanted Man - Among other people I've known, the wife's father very much enjoys reading the many Western tales by Louis L'Amour. He has finally convinced me to give them a try, and this is my very first one, based on his recommendation. It is quick, easy, and gripping. There's not much character development or anything, but it's fun.
  • Jubal Sackett - Detailed wanderings of an early American frontiersman. This was quite good.
  • Hondo
  • Galloway
  • Ride the Dark Trail
  • The Lonely Men
Stieg Larsson
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo - This was great, truly. Creepy, but great. I saw the Hollywood film first. Now there's a lot more to experience - the two other books in the series, the already produced Swedish films of the whole trilogy, and the forthcoming Hollywood films.
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire - probably not as good as the first, but still interesting
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - wild, full of intrigue
David Lebovitz
  • The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City - An American chef documents his experience in moving to Paris. Full of very interesting (and funny!) cultural observations and great recipes.
Harper Lee
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
Tanith Lee
  • The Gods Are Thirsty (unfinished - I couldn't get into this French Revolution novel. Kind of tedious.)
Janna Levin
  • How the Universe Got Its Spots - cool format - a series of letters regarding the work of a physicist and her views on the always-developing science
C.S. Lewis - classics for a reason! Everyone should read these.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Magician's Nephew
  • Mere Christianity - I need this as a counterpoint to Atlas Shrugged. It was pretty illuminating in some particular points and I do find that Lewis was able to make great analagies. It doesn't cover everything but it is a good read and a good start.
  • The Last Battle
Norman Lewis
  • In Sicily - A brief visit to the author's beloved island reveals strange beauty and customs as well as the mysterious Mafia influence.
Thomas A. Lewis
  • West from Shenandoah: A Scotch-Irish Family Fights for America, 1729-1781: A Journal of Discovery - I've continued my learning about Appalachia with this fine bit of research regarding a Shenandoah Valley resident's history of a family who made a great impact in the early history of Virginia and the United States. The author is not even certain that the family he has researched are really his ancestors, but he feels a deep connection because of their shared appreciation for the Valley. Very well done.
James Leyburn
  • The Scotch-Irish: A Social History - This provided substantial information on the Scotch-Irish ethnic group, as it is known in America. It spans the period from the Reformation in Scotland, through the Plantation of Ulster, Colonia America, and the early United States. I am apparently descended in part from these people, and it seems that my ancestors made a substantial contribution to American society. They quickly disappeared, for the most part, as a distinct ethnic group as they mingled and began to refer to themselves as Virginians, Pennsylvanians, etc. Still, many marks remain, from Ulster place-names in the Eastern U.S., as well as the many Presbyterian churches.
Rob Lilwall
  • Cycling Home from Siberia - This author's travelogue covers an enormous cycling journey of over thirty thousand miles, beginning in Siberia and going to some very wild places. I've been enjoying reading about the author's triumphs and recollections. The author meets probably hundreds of extremely helpful people along his journey who give him food, shelter, and entertainment. I found this story by sheer accident when looking around the web for info on bike ice tires. I contacted the author via email before he had even come home, and once he had written a book he asked if I wanted a copy. It has been well worth it!
Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger
  • Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 - I read this after I saw the movie when it was new (1995). I was very interested in space technology then as well as now. I think I need to see the movie again...
Eric Van Lustbader
  • The Bourne Legacy - Mom recommended this book, which takes up the Bourne story where Ludlum left it. I still haven't read the Ludlum works, though I've loved the movies.
Larry Luxenberg
  • Walking the Appalachian Trail - A study on many different aspects of the hiker's experience
Thomas Mann
  • Death In Venice and Other Tales - a translation from the German. I got this on a whim, I think, because of a mention in a write-up of an Ernest Hemingway novel. It turned out that I really didn't enjoy it.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Love in the Time of Cholera - I'd forgotten that I'd read this until a book list of my sister's reminded me! I read this in college for an unknown reason, and found it very involving and atmospheric.
Robin Maxwell
  • The Queen's Bastard - A fine historical novel detailing the supposed life of an illegitimate child of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Peter Mayle
  • A Year in Provence - I checked out this audiobook on a whim, and I'm very glad that I did! This is a fascinating journal of the characteristics of the inhabitants, culture, weather, cuisine, language, and environs of Provence. The English narration is fantastic, too.
  • Toujours Provence - The follow-up to Mayle's first work on Provence, continuing with the same level of entertainment.
  • Provence A-Z - This eclectic collection of Provençal facts and impressions is wonderful, and leading me to great appreciation of this region and its culture. It is simply an alphabetical guide to items that piqued the author's interest, but this simple list is funny, appetizing, and quite informative.
  • A Good Year - My first trip into Peter's Mayle's fiction was worthwhile. It's a simple tale of appreciation of Provence, but quite enjoyable. The film was pretty bad, though.
  • Acquired Tastes - Mayle investigates life's (sometimes taboo) luxuries in classic style and with much passion.
  • French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew - A friendly and appetizing exploration of some of the best victuals that France has to offer. It makes you want to go out for some frog legs and escargot!
  • Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France - Mayle returns to Provence after years away, and continues to romanticize this splendid corner of the world.
  • Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence - A wealthy, disillusioned London businessman starts a hotel in Provence. It's charming, funny, and a quick read.
  • Chasing Cezanne - A fast, entertaining novel about art forgery and, of course, the pleasures of France.
  • The Vintage Caper - A novel based on tracking down the culprit of a million dollar wine heist. Entertaining, with quite a bit of info on fantastically expensive wine.
  • Anything Considered - A fun, quick crime caper set in Monaco and the south of France.
Cormac McCarthy
  • Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West -This is the first audiobook I've used in recent memory. It eased commuting, though its tremendous brutality and pompousness were not endearing. It was often gripping, but the ending is a mystery, and the author has never made the fate of the protagonist clear. I wouldn't recommend this book at all.
John McCarthy (editor)
  • The Home Book of Irish Humor - often hilarious anecdotes and excerpts. Borrowed from the grandmother-in-law.
Pete McCarthy
  • McCarthy's Bar - A Journey of Discovery in the West of Ireland - This book was written by an English journalist of Irish heritage, who spent many of his summers in West Cork. He documents the subtitled journey in an almost stream-of-consciousness manner, while maintaining a balance between humor and reflection. His journey carries him through encounters with tourists of many nations, locals, and newly-settled foreigners. Particularly stirring are his descriptions of the Aran islands and the Dingle area. The author even ventures to the ancient pilgrimage site of St. Patrick's Purgatory, where he endures and is somewhat transformed by the extreme experience. I hope to experience the West of Ireland in this same manner someday, meandering almost at random between small towns. It's a grand read. Oh, and the title? It comes from the saying "You should never pass a pub with your name on it." In the West of Ireland, this leads the author into many pubs. For me, sadly, this is not the case.
  • The Road to McCarthy - Pete travels the world in search of Irishness, following both the historic paths of Irish convicts and far-flung members of the M(a)cCarthy clan to Tasmania, Morocco, Montana, and Alaska, to name a few. It's a really humorous read.
Frank McCourt
  • Angela's Ashes - I've heard I should read this for quite some time, but the opportunity has finally presented itself as an audiobook. It's narrated by the author himself, and very well done. However, the tale is often exceptionally vulgar and shameless, so I wouldn't exactly recommend it.
Malachy McCourt
  • History of Ireland - a wonderfully easy-to-read compilation of the ups and (mostly) downs of Irish history, from before St. Patrick to the present. I highly recommend this to everyone!
William S. McFeely
  • Grant: A Biography - the U.S. president and Civil War general. It was amazing to see his rise from obscurity to command the victorious Union armies. His later careers as president and businessman were frought with problems and corruption, but interesting nonetheless.
John McGahern
  • By the Lake - I read a review of this book, which said something like "...little more than an extended character study." This is indeed true, as the story is simply a series of regular and mostly minor events in the lives of a few people living in rural Ireland. However, it is splendidly and emotionally told, and the details of ritual and behavior may be interesting to anyone with a passion for Irish culture. Though I have learned that this is quite different from the author's other works, I will try to find some more of them.
  • Amongst Women - The life of a rural family led by a father who remarries. A good read.
Patrick McGrath
  • The Grotesque - This is an unusual tale of suspicion and intrigue by a man who reflects on incidents leading up to his complete paralysis. I really enjoyed the downright creepy nature of the English town and its decrepit manor house.
Evan McHugh
  • Pint-Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness - This is perhaps the most fundamentally entertaining of all the Irish books I've come across so far. It's a travelogue by a witty Australian, with a focus on pubs and of course finding good Guinness (just about everywhere in Ireland). The book is short and easy to read, yet often leads to laugh-out-loud situations. Highly recommended!
Bill McKibben
  • Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape, Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks - beautiful landscape and personality portraits
James M. McPherson
  • Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam
  • War on the Waters
Bridget Mary Meehan & Regina Madonna Oliver
  • Praying with Celtic Holy Women - The wife's grandmother copied out an excerpt from this book when she was looking for famous bearers of our daughter's name. I decided to read the book myself, and I think I've learned some interesting things about Irish, Welsh, and Cornish woman saints from the distant past. Who knows just how much of these stories are legendary? However, the authors present the known data to allow you to interpret things for yourself.
Andrew Meier
  • The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin's Secret Service
James A. Michener
  • Centennial - a sweeping saga spanning generations of people and the very history of the planet. I found the setting in Colorado fascinating.
  • Chesapeake - this is most excellent
  • Mexico - among many other things, I gained a great deal of knowledge readrding bullfighting from this
  • The Source - this is an amazing depiction of the development of Judaism and the history of the land through many thousands of years.
Angela Miller and Ralph Gardner Jr.
  • Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life - adventures in "cheese farming"
Mil Millington - what a name!
  • Love and Other Near Death Experiences
David Monagan
  • Jaywalking with the Irish - Yet another tale of Americans moving to Ireland. This family of settled in Cork City for a few years, and the father chronicled their integration into society. There are joyful and sorrowful moments, including the conversational versatility of the Irish and some odd xenophobia. It really is a fantastic read.
T. W. Moody & F. X. Martin (editors)
  • The Course of Irish History - a set of historical essays that are quite well done. It was published in 1967, just before the outbreak of the latest round of The Troubles, and it has a very optimistic outlook. Great perspective.
Christopher Moore - the most hilarious writer I've come across
  • Bloodsucking Fiends
  • You Suck
  • A Dirty Job
  • The Stupidest Angel
  • Fluke
  • Lamb - Supposed to be the "Gospel According to Biff, Christ's childhood pal." Also, Jesus knows kung fu. A spectacular humor book.
  • The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
  • Island of the Sequined Love Nun
  • Coyote Blue
  • Practical Demonkeeping
  • Fool - This is a most bawdy, absurd, and wonderful anachronistic retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear. It's narrated by the king's fool, whose ridiculous adventures and wit make this a wonderful read. Throughout the book, there are also many references to the perceived opinion the English have of the French. From the author: 'As one English friend explained to me, "Oh yes, we hate the French, but we don't want anyone else to hate them. They are ours. We will fight to the death to preserve them so we can continue to hate them."'
  • Bite Me
Tim Moore
  • Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago - wildly funny if quite crude. The characterization of Shinto the donkey is hilarious. Culturally interesting too. I really enjoyed this one and will certainly pursue the rest of the author's works.
Cole Moreton
  • Hungry for Home: Leaving the Blaskets: A Journey from the Edge of Ireland - An account of the last full-time residents of the isolated Blasket Islands. Great reading resulting from much on-the-ground research. I really want to visit Dingle and the Blaskets some day.
John Muir
  • The Yosemite - This is a marvelous text describing the virgin wonders of Yosemite, along with lovely photos by Galen Rowell.
John J. Nance
  • Pandora's Clock - I saw this on NBC in 1996 as a made-for-TV movie, and got a kick out of it. The book was even better, as a mystery/thriller about a possible deadly virus on a flight, and where and whether to allow it to land.
Eric Newby
  • Love and War in the Apennines - The tale of a British POW's war years in Italy. The author met many interesting rural Italians, who risked much in hiding him.
  • Round Ireland in Low Gear - The tale of a rather elderly man who cycles around Ireland with his wife. The story rambles quite a bit at times, but I very much enjoyed the author's detailed examinations of the history peculiar to each area, which then moved into his observations of the current state of the place and its people. Some interesting conversations certainly came out of this, though the author viewed everything through a distinctive English mindset, often commenting on the rude and archaic nature of society and Irish infrastructure. The book actually documents four separate trips taken in 1985 and 1986, with wildly varying weather all over the Island. It's an interesting read, and I plan to pursue some of the author's other works.
Flann O'Brien
  • The Third Policeman - This is doubtless the oddest book I've ever read, but I nonetheless highly recommend it. The story involves a murder and its mysterious consequences in a world filled with strange spatial dimensions that is obsessed with bicycles. The manner of speaking used by the characters is frequently hilarious, as are the deep citations of the works of a very eccentric (and fictitious) writer, which the narrator frequently muses on.
  • At Swim-Two-Birds - A multi-tiered comic story of an author penning a tale of a man writing a tale, whose created characters then take extreme literary revenge on their creator. It was a tough read at times, but I did enjoy it. It's certainly regarded as a classic of Irish literature, and it brought on quite a bit of laughter at times.
Dáithí Ó hÓgáin
  • The Celts: A History - a detailed history of the Celtic people, spanning their known history from their emergence out of central Europe to the Middle Ages. Essentially, it's a sad tale of initial expansion, then centuries of brutal conquest by the Romans (mostly), which pushed the Celtic remnant to the very Western edges of Europe, where the last vestiges endure in such places as Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany. Outside of the Celtic realms, the remaining peoples were assimilated into the dominant culture. However, Celtic placenames are still scattered from Asia Minor to Western Iberia, which proved to be very interesting to learn.
Brian O'Neill
  • The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the Twenty-first Century - trying to learn more about a city that I'm becoming increasingly fascinated with
Charlton Ogburn
  • The Southern Appalachians - Filled with deep observations on the "Range of Shadow." This book brought further appreciation to my local mountains, more so than anything else I've read concerning them. Highly recommended!
Garrett Oliver
  • The Brewmaster's Table - a golden resource for understanding everything about the world's beer styles and food pairings.
Tim Palmer
  • Rivers of America - This is a fantastic book filled with glorious photographs of every sort of American river, along with passionate descriptions of experiences along them and the need for conservation.
Scott C. Patchan
  • Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign - I think these detailed campaign histories are too much for me. Some of the character portraits are interesting, but the tactical information is not in my interest. Oh well...
George Pelecanos
  • What It Was - a Washington, DC crime story set in the 1970s. I really liked the style of this one, and will try to seek out some of the author's other novels.
Ralph Peters
  • Cain at Gettysburg - a novel of from a different perspective of the seminal The Killer Angels. Very enjoyable.
C. Wylie Poag
  • Chesapeake Invader - The tale of the research leading up to the conclusion that an enormous meteor crater lies beneath the Southern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. I don't think I've ever read a book on geology, but this book made it very interesting. It also crossed over into many other scientific areas related to the impact. I'm glad that I'm learning more about the region in which I live - it feels better to know more about this wonderful environment.
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - an angel and a demon work together to avert the Apocalypse, among other entertaining subplots. A fine collaboration that's full of laughter and reflection on human nature.
Terry Pratchett & Steven Baxter
  • The Long Earth - this was certainly fascinating, and had a bit of the usual Pratchett humor
Terry Pratchett
  • The Colour of Magic - The grand beginning of the Discworld set
  • The Light Fantastic - This was an absurd take on averting an apocalypse through luck and cowardice. Brilliant!
  • Sourcery - Absurd amounts of magic enter the Disc in this one
  • Eric - A parady of Faust, very laugh-out-loud
  • Interesting Times - The attempts at civilizing the "elderly barbarian heroes" are ridiculously funny.
  • The Last Continent - All about the Disc's newest land, XXXX. It's not Australia, but you'd be hard pressed to tell. Rincewind is accidentally responsible for a great deal of "Ecksian" culture, naturally. Nullus Anxietas...
  • The Last Hero - Possibly 90-year-old Cohen the Barbarian's last adventure. It's beautifully illustrated in ridiculous fashion.
  • Guards! Guards! - A naive and adopted "dwarf" joins an exceptionally lazy police force amid a time of dragon summoning. A great comedy of ignorance, and the introduction to the City Watch.
  • Men at Arms - "Affirmative action" in the City Watch leads to the hiring of a dwarf and a troll, among other minorities. Perhaps not as good as some of the Discworld books I read earlier, but still worth it for a lot of laughs.
  • Feet of Clay - This Disworld book introduced golems, which led to some "half-baked" relations to Asimov's robot themes. Good stuff.
  • Jingo - This one was very, very good. Laugh out loud funny (even more often than normal for a Discworld book). Plus, the book's title reminded me of a term I'd forgotten.
  • The Fifth Elephant - Watch Commander Vimes gets another promotion of sorts, and leaves the city for Uberwald, where silver and garlic are illegal, due to the werewolf and vampire rulers. "Fat mines" are introduced. This one is really quite excellent.
  • The Truth - The printing press is introduced to Ankh-Morpork society. This book really hits new levels of hilarity, with the vampire "iconographer" that disintegrates most of the time when taking a picture, and the thieving ways of society, including a failed "licensed robbery."
  • Monstrous Regiment - A very humorous take on cross-dressing, the army, and quite a few stereotypes. I loved this one.
  • Night Watch - Perhaps the best one yet. A fantastic and incredibly funny take on time travel and ensuring a proper future.
  • Thud! - An interesting tale that involves violence due to ancient strife, with a Da Vinci Code-like subplot.
  • Mort - An earlier Discworld book, in which Death takes on an apprentice, which naturally leads to comical near-disaster. Pretty good, but I've been spoiled by the length, depth, and even greater humor of some of Pratchett's later novels.
  • Reaper Man - Death takes a break in this odd book, even among its fellows. It had some good humor, but for the most part I didn't enjoy this one much.
  • Soul Music - Wow, this one is full of more music and pop culture references than any other Discworld book by far. I really felt like I was missing out on something, and I was right - when I looked at the Wikipedia article on the book, I found that I didn't get that many of them. Still, it made for some great realizations afterwards. A very good book.
  • Hogfather - An interesting spin on Santa Claus and the reasons for belief. It's not the best, but a big highlight is the "oh god of hangovers," who never drinks, but gets hungover for everyone else.
  • Thief of Time - This had some high points, like the use of chocolate weapons and deja-fu, but I think the characters just aren't the best.
  • Equal Rites - One of the best early Discworld books I've read. The central witch's ways are hilarious.
  • Wyrd Sisters - I got a kick out of the Shakespeare references, the witch stereotypes, and the Fool character in this one. Pretty good.
  • Witches Abroad - The "Witches" group of books gets better and better with this one. As usual with Terry Pratchett books, the humor improves as the books get newer. I particularly enjoyed the voodoo associations in this one.
  • Lords and Ladies - A good read, involving a lot of folk tales regarding elves. I also liked the blending in of the witches and the odd wizards from other novels.
  • Maskerade - Another of the witch tales, this time based on The Phantom of the Opera. Though I wasn't familiar with the original, I loved this book, especially since any situation that Pratchett places his witch characters in becomes hilarious.
  • Carpe Jugulum - This is a ridiculously funny book relating to vampires who have worked on "modernizing" by getting used to sunlight, garlic, and holy symbols. This clashes with other's traditional expectations, and causes a lot of problems for them...
  • Pyramids - This was perhaps one of the funniest Discworld books I've read, not just good for an early one! It mocked Egyptian themes, Greek philosophy, and blind tradition. It also asserted that camels are nature's finest mathemeticians, and carried this thought to very interesting places. This would be a wonderful book to start the series with!
  • Small Gods - It parodies the medieval Catholic Church in many ways, as well as exploring the odd nature of the relationship between gods and their believers that is peculiar to Discworld. And of course, it's hilarious.
  • Moving Pictures - "Holy Wood" comes to the Discworld with the discovery of film, and this naturally causes reality to break down. This of course makes for an excellent laugh.
  • Going Postal - Simply an incredible Discworld book taken to extreme heights of absurdity. The Ankh-Morpork Post Office is to be revived to compete with the semaphore telegraph, but decades of undelivered mail have made the post office building unstable magically due to the accumulation of words in such cramped quarters. This is only the beginning of the madness...
  • Making Money - Con man turned civil servant Moist von Lipwig takes over the post office in this wonderful book. As of April 2009, this is still Pratchett's newest Discworld book, and they have continued to improve and become even funnier. For example, try to imagine using "encustarded" in context. This is the kind of foolishness that I've come to love from Discworld books.
  • Unseen Academicals - This brand-new Discworld book was an entertaining, laugh-out-loud story, which was of course quite expected. It pokes fun at sports fandom, and sheds some more light on the wizards' den of Unseen University.
  • The Art of Discworld - Pratchett's characters are fully fleshed out here by cover artist Paul Kidby. The paintings and sketches are often beautiful (or funny!), and the details that Kidby includes are a bunch of Easter Eggs for fans who look closely.
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents - This was full of some great rat-based humor, and I learned a little about the pied piper myth, too. It is a "Young Adult" book, so it's simpler than many others, but it was certainly still worth a read.
  • The Wee Free Men - Ridiculously funny! The foul-mouthed, Scots-like "pictsies" called the Nac Mac Feegle make this a very laugh-out-loud Discworld book.
  • A Hat Full of Sky - Another fine book concerning young witch Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle.
  • Wintersmith - This is a fine, odd blend of the Discworld witches and some seasonal mythology, along with the grand antics of the Nac Mac Feegle.
  • I Shall Wear Midnight
  • Johnny and the Dead - a boy is the only one that can speak with the spirits of the dead loitering where they were buried in the local cemetery. Quite funny!
  • Nation - another humorous and philosophical work outside the author's usual Discworld series. Very well done as an audiobook too.
  • Snuff
Steven Pressfield
  • Last of the Amazons - a book picked up on a whim, which turned out to be a well-told tale of warfare between very ancient Greeks and their neighbors, including some wild Amazons
Douglas Preston
  • Blasphemy - a gripping techno-religious thriller, recommended
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  • Fever Dream - A twisting murder-mystery crossing continents and great stretches of time. Very well narrated as an audiobook.
Ayn Rand
  • Atlas Shrugged - It was interesting but ultimately repugnant in its core values. I know I'm not philosophically equipped to argue with a novel that puts forth its premises in speeches of many hours, but it simply does not feel right. While all of its theories of self interest are to me not worthless, its roots are incompatible with my beliefs.
James Garfield Randall and David Herbert Donald
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction - the fascinating, definitive history of the period
Carolyn and Jack Reeder
  • Shenandoah Secrets: The Story of the Park's Hidden Past - an interesting read describing some history of the national park's inhabitants, and where to find some remnants in the areas reclaimed by forest.
Bob Regan
  • The Steps of Pittsburgh: Portrait of a City - I had heard that Pittsburgh had some stair-sidewalks, but now I've learned that not only does it have hundreds of these, but also stairs signed as public streets with intersections! The city has more than 700 stairs, with a number exceeding 300 treads. I'd like to get climbing!
Graham Robb
  • The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War - A fascinating historical perspective on the great divisions in French society and the magnitude of the transitions during this period. Researched by the author in the library and through thousands of miles in the bike saddle.
  • Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris - Strange and fascinating true narratives from the history of Paris.
Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Red Mars - this was really pretty cool, even if I found the speculative science stuff far more interesting than the fictional personalities involved.
Eric Roth with Eileen McNamara
  • The Parting Glass: A Toast to the Traditional Pubs of Ireland - A beautiful photo tour of some of the Republic's finest pubs. Sadly I've only seen a few of these!
J. K. Rowling - I jumped on the bandwagon and loved these great books! Starting with Goblet of Fire, they balloon in size, depth, and suspense, and you find yourself losing sleep trying to finish. Every time I read them, I'm impressed by their ability to draw you in. I have never come across books so difficult to put down!
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Quidditch Through the Ages
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard - This was a very interesting, albeit extremely short read. I enjoyed seeing other tales in the same vein as "The Tale of the Three Brothers" used in the main story.
  • The Casual Vacancy - hmm, when you read this, you often find yourself thinking, "This came from the same mind as the author of Harry Potter?" Honestly, the mundane setting and rather shocking vulgarity of the tale were not pleasant. I really don't know what to think, but it did prove, eventually, to be an interesting read.
Robert Alden Rubin
  • On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage - A very introspective account of a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, and the impacts it can have on mind, body, and relationships. Nicely written.
Simon Schama
  • The American Future
  • A History of Britain - quite fascinating to learn of the competing motivations through every stage of documented British history
Stacy Schiff
  • Cleopatra: A Life
Lynn Schooler
  • The Last Shot: The Incredible Story of the C.S.S. Shenandoah and the True Conclusion of the American Civil War - This is a real page turner of a history. The Shenandoah has an amazing story.
Stephen W. Sears
  • Gettysburg - quite illuminating and well-written
Jeff Shaara
  • Civil War Battlefields - Fascinating battle details along with current places to see in the preserved parks
  • The Rising Tide - I learned quite a bit about the North African and Sicilian campaigns in WWII. They weren't quite as simple as I had believed.
  • The Steel Wave
Michael Shaara
  • The Killer Angels - This historical novel forms the basis of the film Gettysburg, of which I am a big fan. The book is wonderful too, if you're into the American Civil War.
Bob Spitz
  • Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child - aptly titled! Not that I agree with her on everything, but her passion and talent have greatly inspired me and her recipes have been quite fun and succesful.
John Steinbeck
  • East of Eden - I've not touched much classic literature, but this was an excellent read about the nature of good and evil, set mostly in Steinbeck's native Salinas valley. Great language. The movie wasn't so great.
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
Caroline Stevermer
  • A Scholar of Magics - a very interesting tale of alternate history, in the early 20th century, where magic is studied and supported by the state. Set in England.
Mary Stewart
  • The Crystal Cave - these are masterful tales of the Arthurian legend, from Merlin's perspective
  • The Hollow Hills
  • The Last Enchantment
  • The Wicked Day
Paula M. Strain
  • The Blue Hills of Maryland: History Along the Appalachian Trail on South Mountain and the Catoctins - pretty interesting details from this short portion of the AT, and picked up for free from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club!
J. M. Synge
  • The Aran Islands - This brief book documents a famous Anglo-Irish playwright's long sojourns on the Aran Islands at the turn of the 20th century, where he learned the Irish Language and culture. It has its high and low points, but at the best an appreciation for the most isolated people living in Aran comes through.
Alice Taylor
  • The Village - A fun, short series of vignettes about life in a small Cork village. The characters were well-realized.
Henry David Thoreau
  • Walden; or, Life in the Woods - so much has been said about this landmark work already. I can only say that I admire it and seek to emulate many of Thoreau's ideas as I can in my life
Charles Timoney
  • Pardon my French: Unleash Your Inner Gaul - Unusual French customs and expressions. Quite funny and interesting.
J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Lord of the Rings - one of my favorite works of fiction. Astounding in its depth and drama.
  • The Silmarillion - a great read on the tragic history of Tolkien's world and its peoples.
  • The Children of Hurin - a finely edited version of the longest tale first published in the Silmarillion.
  • The Hobbit
  • Unfinished Tales - filled with rich short stories from Middle-Earth.
  • The Book of Lost Tales, Part One
  • The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two
  • The Lays of Beleriand
  • The Shaping of Middle-earth
  • The Lost Road and Other Writings
  • The Return of the Shadow
  • The Treason of Isengard
  • The War of the Ring (unfinished - I got a bit tired of reading about the evolution of the story at this point - there are a few more after this)
Connie Toops
  • Great Smoky Mountains - very impressive photographic account of the mountains
Peter Tremayne
  • The Leper's Bell - An ancient Irish mystery novel, and part of a large series that I may delve into further
  • The Spider's Web: A Celtic Mystery - This book really got my interest in Tremayne's setting in characters going. I expect I will be coming back to this series in the future. The ancient Celtic setting really fascinates me.
Mark Twain
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - a witty, satirical classic
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Lou Ureneck
  • Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine - this is a fascinating blend of a naturalist's biographical reminiscences and the actual building of a rustic cabin from the ground up.
Michael Vitez (author) and Tom Gralish (photographer)
  • Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope, and Happiness at America's Most Famous Steps - This is a fun compilation of the stories of different people caught climbing the famous steps in Philadelphia. It helps if you've been, of course, but the tales are often quite touching nonetheless. The full-page photos accompanying each story are also very nice.
Bill Walker
  • Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail - An utter novice hiker sets out to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail alone. It's an entertaining journal of the miles and of the people met along the way, and it does manage to convey a real sense of both pain and achievement.
Gully Wells
  • The House in France - a memoir picked up due to my Francophile leanings. It's not at all what I expected, but I enjoyed reading about her wild family and lifestyle.
Anne Mitchell Whisnant
  • Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History - an academically detailed history. Due to the focus on the political maneuvers in routing the parkway, I was unwilling to finish it.
Dan White
  • The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind - and Almost Found Myself - on the Pacific Crest Trail - Funny and profane, this autobiographical account of a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike and its associated life changes was well-worth reading, even if I often thought that the author was completely insane.
Niall Williams & Christine Breen
  • O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare - This is a fantastic journal detailing a couple's move to rural Western Ireland in 1985. They left comfortable New York for the manual labor, isolation, and wet weather of Ireland to take up farming and look for inspiration. Living in Clare permanently, the couple marvelously integrates with the locals and becomes a part of the community, which allows them to observe the customs of a society that was slowly modernizing.
  • When Summer's in the Meadow - The continuing adventures of a transplanted couple in rural Ireland. The couple expand their cottage, continue to learn farming and animal husbandry, and adopt a daughter.
  • The Pipes Are Calling: Our Jaunts Through Ireland - The family sets out to see more of Ireland than just their quiet corner in Clare. The places and people they encoutner are very inspiring, and the travels point out more than a few places that you might not hear about anywhere else. Wonderful, as is everything else from this couple that I've read. And their use of a baby seat on a mountain bike on Ireland's rough boreens really makes me want to get one for Aidan!
  • The Luck of the Irish: Our Life in County Clare - The growing Williams family documents the changes of rural life as they continue to find their place in the community.
Niall Williams
  • Four Letters of Love - Amazing! After having read Niall's nonfiction journals of rural Irish life which he co-wrote with his wife, I can see the influences of his experiences and understand his work perhaps a bit more than if I had come to this story without preparation. The story is an emotional rollercoaster of love, destiny, hope, and despair that leads to a wonderful ending.
  • As It Is in Heaven - Another love story laced with tragedy, this story is quite an achievement for the span of emotions it describes so well. The language is truly poetic, and the intertwining with music is wonderful too.
  • The Fall of Light - A decent read, though more rambling than I thought necessary. This is a tale of a fugitive family in Ireland that is sundered early in the book, and comes together partially at various times. The narrative is often poignant, but I was uncertain about the actual story it was trying to tell, with so many family members going in their own directions.
  • John - A novel exploring the possible life of the ancient apostle in his exile on the island of Patmos. I enjoyed the setting and ancient mood of the story, but the pacing and the actual plot were lacking vigor. The very use of words, though, was quite charged with emotion and descriptions of faith, which has always been done well by Williams.