Books by GoonSquadSarah on flickr.

This post was motivated by Kris.

I would like to share some of the really great books that I have read. I read more nonfiction than fiction, although I am a fan of historical fiction. The exception is the genre of horror.

Before I even start, please don’t die without reading Three Cups of Tea One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Your results may vary but here are a few thoughts.

1. The best nonfiction true crime book I have ever read in my life comes from French author Emmanuel Carrere, and it is called The Adversary: A True Story Of Monstrous Deception.

The hook is the first three sentences of the first paragraph:

On the Saturday morning of January 9, 1993, while Jean-Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was with mine in a parent-teacher meeting at the school attended by Gabriel, our eldest son. He was five years old, the same age as Antoine Romand. Then we went to have lunch with my parents, as Jean-Claud Romand did with his, whom he killed after their meal.

2. Best memoir: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. She tells her story of growing up in dirt poverty with dysfunctional and eccentric parents. I rally for, and relate to, the parents. Beautifully written. I cried and I laughed.

The hook: This memoir was on the New York Times Bestseller list for something like 100 weeks:

3. Funniest memoir: I laughed myself absolutely sick when I read A Working Stiff’s Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can’t Remember… by Iain Levison.

The hook: In his job filling oil tanks in high-end neighborhoods, he says:

Instead of a map, one house has a delivery slip that says simply “Fill at the donkey’s nose.” I pull up the driveway and notice a huge statue of a donkey in the front yard, so I go over and examine its nose. The donkey must be a heating oil tank, I decide. Its cement nostrils are large enough to accommodate an oil hose although I don’t see any threading in which to screw the gun. I jam the gun up its nostrils as far as it will go and turn the oil on full blast.

Immediately, the donkey’s head explodes and I am showered with home heating oil and concrete. I grope around blindly for the hose, which is whipping around like an epileptic anaconda…

4. Historical nonfiction must-read: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson.

The hook: Chicago, crica 1893, follows a physician serial killer who constructs a sealed murder chamber in a home at the same time architect Daniel H Burnam was designing the World’s Fair. All during the “blood empire” of the immigrant-worked stockyards. Origins of the Ferris Wheel. You will not be able to put this down.

5. A novel based on a true story that is really almost too painful to read: Giraffe by J.M. Legard.

This one is really almost too difficult for me to talk about. To get the hook read this link:

Under the category called If you watched the movie but have not read the book, you need to are books:

6. Damage by Josephine Hart

-BTW if you like Jeremy Irons, and you don’t feel like reading, you might try watching the movie Lolita, written by Vladimir Nabakov. 6.9 on IMDB (Man do I love films!)


7. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

History-of-this-book hook:

On its release, the literary establishment widely condemned the novel as overly violent and misogynist; though many petitions to ban the book saw Ellis dropped by Simon & Schuster, the resounding controversy made it a paperback bestseller for Alfred A. Knopf later that year.

True enough, this book is controversial, but self-proclaimed satirist Ellis is really good at portraying extreme acts with casual detachment in his Bateman character. I first read this thing on a plane, and I immediately realized that I did not want other passengers to see what I was reading, and so I tucked the book inside an in-flight magazine!

Book banning: Best. Marketing. Ever.

8. Well-written, haunting, leaves you wondering if the book is about evil…or good, is the book The Boy by Naeem Murr. A review:

“The Boy, Naeem Murr’s compelling debut novel is reminiscent of the work of John Fowles. There’s a stunning juxtaposition here of monstrous acts and moody lyrical prose, and a skill with narrative that gives the book the drive a thriller would be proud of.” (Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellan and The Coast of Chicago.)

from his site:

9. You might also want to check this out:

Boy’s Life (1991) – Winner of the 1991 Bram Stoker Award and the 1992 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel [5]
by Robert McCammon.



American Gods is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning[1] novel by Neil Gaiman. The novel is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on a mysterious and taciturn protagonist, Shadow.

11. Stephen King provides a list of must-read books for writers and aspiring authors in his book On Writing.

Please check it out, because reading lists are kinda hard to come by.

That list of 91 recommended books is here.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading In The Garden Of Beasts by Erik Larsen. The setting? Germany, during Hitler.

What is your favorite book store?

My favorite bookstore is East West Bookstore, 6500 Roosevelt Way, Seattle, WA:

Although I have to tell ya, I have only been to Texas a couple of times, but what’s that town with the um…orange team color? Just hideous, but anyhow, they’ve got someplace called BookPeople, I think, and it really is awesome!

BookPeople in Austin, TX has a really good site, if you are wondering what to read:

  1. ed nelson says:

    Little bit slow moving today, but great to get some book ideas! Books are a good reason not to get drunk, I tell myself often enough… sheesh.

    I’ll be looking at some of those, the one about the murder didn’t move fast enough, will revisit.

    One author who wrote some good non fiction ones: Peter Maas, “The Terrible Hours: Greatest Submarine Rescue in History”

    “In a Child’s Name: Legacy of a Mother’s Murder”

    “Manhunt: The Incredible Pursuit of a Cia Agent Turned Terrorist”

    And though I don’t think I read it, this one thanks to the Amazon site:


    [[“5.0 out of 5 stars
    Marie — A Real Heroine!, October 27, 2011
    “The Literary Lioness” (USA) – See all my reviews

    This review is from: Marie: A True Story (Hardcover)
    Peter Maas was famous for his book on Frank Serpico, a whistleblower in the New York City Police Department. He also wrote other fine books about crime. But my favorite is “Marie: A True Story.”

    “Marie: A True Story” is about Marie Ragghianti, the woman who blew the whistle on the corrupt Tennessee government in the 1970’s. Marie was a former beauty queen and abused wife when she entered Tennessee politics as an extradition officer. Marie eventually became the chairman of the Tennessee Board of Pardons and Paroles when she discovered that criminals were paying politicians for paroles and pardons. If you could pay the price, you would be set free. It didn’t matter if you were a rapist or murderer — the money was what counted. Marie finally contacted the F.B.I. and showed great courage in fighting against the corruption that she found. Several people were murdered during the course of the investigation, and Marie’s life was in jeopardy. Finally, the governor of Tennessee fired Marie, after setting her up by having her arrested for drunk driving. But Marie fought back, and sued to get her job back.

    Peter Maas makes you really understand why Marie was so persistent in fighting corruption and why she just couldn’t look the other way. It makes for gripping reading. “]] Amazon….

    • Outstanding suggestions, Thank you so much! I am intrigued by all of them, and I will definitely check out Peter Maas. The submarine rescue sounds harrowing, as does Marie.

      I have an Amazon gift certificate that I have not used, because I was looking for a few suggestions- Thank you!

  2. ed nelson says:

    GOod deal!, I have read many good books, since after I got out of HS, I can remember the substance in the books better than the titles/authors, though I have it in there somewhere’s. It is great that you see the value of sharing scourses/books/reading lists, and is one of the things that makes a book (in and of itself ) good, when the author annotates with lots of footnotes, so you can go from one book to many others and get a mini course, right there in the libary… (haha),

    another author I like, is the esteemed UoP Literature prof: Paul Fussel:

    “Class: A Guide Through the American Status System”

    “The Great War and Modern Memory”

    and a whole slew of good war reality non fiction, he puts you in touch with many thinkers via footnotes.

    AN Other good one… I thought so, back when Book TV was still halfway not total neocon dominated prop, was there introduced, who was:

    “No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945” by Norman Davies, he supplies ideas/that help make more sense of what that all was…

  3. ed nelson says:

    And to add acouple more, good reads: I can remember more as the day goes on… authored byTom Wolfe:

    “From Bauhaus to Our House”

    “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’

    “Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers”

    “The Right Stuff”

  4. Tom Wolfe is really good. I love your suggestions, in particular, I read quite a bit about WWII.

    Thank you so much!

  5. Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn:

    is a memoir where he reunites with his estranged father in a homeless shelter.

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