A low-fi list of books I've read over the last 20 years or so. These entries in bold are the books I particularly liked.
Purgatory by Dante
A bit of a go at some ancient poetry, helped thru my anti-poetry forcefield by copious nerdy footnotes. I love the trainspotter Catholic stuff - how many years does it take to purge specific sins, who ends up on which level, etc. So nerdy, but fun. Might have a go at Inferno after this. wiki
Ubik by Philip K. Dick
Great story. Pulp characters. Really winds up in the second half.
The Lost Civilization of Lemuria by Frank Joseph
'The Rise and Fall of the World's Oldest Culture'. There's some nice stuff about Pacific archaeology in here, but always thru the filter of hardcore flakiness. The usual reincarnations and dodgy science abound. My favourite quote so far is Frank when quoting from a source who got his information via trances "Doubtless, including the trance-state utterances of a psychic will only drive sceptics further and faster away from any consideration of the subject. But no amount of unimpeachable evidence can ever win over such closed minds." Funny.
Perhaps because he hasn't travelled the Pacific like Mark Williams, the book is riddled with errors minor and major. flaky review .. flaky review #2 .. the author's amazon reviews
Lord of the Flies by Golding
Second or third time through. This really is a great story! I love the imagery and the iconic characters (Jack, sooo wild), Ralph (soo charismatic, sooo torn), Simon (so dreamy, sooo desperately GOOD)... but it works well as a story too. The conversations are really plausible considering the age of the kids. Even the horde of nameless littluns are convincing.
Atoll by Colin D. Peel
Rather magnificent little pulp adventure set around Moruroa Atoll in French Polynesia, complete with ruggedly handsome heroes, winsome/doomed girlfriends and dastardly French agents. Mon dieu! Ce'est merde! Apparently Colin writes one of these per year - that must be fun!
The Collector Collector by Tibor Fischer
Similar to Tom Robbins in just a few too many ways, which is a shame, because this came damn close to being a favourite novel ever. Some really nice language and lots of great stories... but in the end it was like one of those people who are so desperate to talk about themselves they won't shut up. Ah well, it's still a great read. wikipedia .. amazon
White Fang by Jack London
Comes and goes .. trying to speak from the wolf's perspective gets a bit silly sometimes. Weedon Scott is a selfrighteous prig of Biggles proportions. wikipedia
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
Historican novel set around the Sydney convict settlement. There's some slightly silly debate raging through the leather-armpatched brigade about whether this novel redefines or destroys history as storytelling. Get ya hand off it. article .. authors' website (delightfully daggy)
The Iliad by Homer (not Simpson, the other Homer)
A mythological Who Weekly, complete with convoluted sentences and squabbling gods. Fantastically, lovingly gory! ('His eyes popped out and rolled at his feet'...) wikipedia .. who's who
Tristan in Brittany by Thomas the Englishman
The amusingly tragic tale of Tristan and Iseult. Pieced together from various sources, some poetical (I survived, but barely). wikipedia
Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey
Late 19th-century western by the bloke who wrote the book (and talked to fair dinkum Texan outlaws 'n' rangers, so he's got some cred). Apparently this book was the inspiration for the Lone Ranger, who was my very first superhero, and the first comic I ever bought, so I have affection for the masked chap. wikipedia
Newton's Wake by Ken Macleod
One of the cleverest scifis I've read in a while. Ian Banks liked it. (And was generous enough not to mind the borrowings?)
Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
Lacks the magnificent castle itself, but the introduction of a bit of modernity helps (Muzzle's car is great!). Slightly less convoluted writing style perhaps the result of someone else finishing it off. mervynpeake.org .. wikipedia
The Time Traveller by HG Wells
Good story despite the painfully transparent social morale. The ending is nice and open; apparently someone else wrote a sequel, which would be worth finding.
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Second in the series. So nice.
Dead Sexy by Cathy Lette
Lette is a poster-child for 'chick lit'. Sorry, for me this was just endless one-liners and a fairly lame plot. Maybe it's just that I'm a male pig?
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
Nice, readable fantasy. King in his storytelling mode is really great fun. amazon
The Quest of the Holy Grail by someone or other in the 13th century
Really nice mix of Biblical and Celtic mythology along with an obsession with virginity. Gawain, poor dear, dim Gawain, was easily my favourite. (Galahad needs to get himself laid.)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
One of the first scifis. Harry the perpetual whinger needs a good bop in the nose.
How it Works: the Motor Car A Ladybird Book
The main reason for reading this was the illustrations of well-dressed young men in cardies and neatly parted hair. But frighteningly enough I ended up learning a couple of things!
Conan by Robert E Howard
The first collection of Conan stories. Marvelous trash. As his editor points out, he may have shortcomings as a writer but he's an adequate storyteller. Lots of flexing of mighty thews - and even the appearance of a few Lemurians! wikipedia
The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester
Run, Johnny, Run by Mungo MacCallum
"The Story of the 2004 Election". Not even pretending to be unbiased. Some really funny stuff! (Some really edgy stuff too - "could he please explain the precise nature of his relationship with Barbara Williams?") review
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Even better than the first part of the trilogy. The crumbling castle and it's crumbling occupants continue their dark complicated rituals... I love this book. It think it might just be my new most-favourite novel ever!
The day after I finished reading this book I stumbled across the third in the series in a wee 2nd-hand bookshop. Karma baby. amazon .. mervynpeake.org
1984 by George Orwell
Second time through but I haven't read this for YEARS either. Ruder than I remembered and generally a lot deeper and more enjoyable than when I read it as a kid. Concepts such as doublethink, oldthink, bellyfeel are very funny when you think of them in context of corporate culture! amazon
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Second or third time through but I haven't read this for YEARS. If I had been a member of the Wyndham family, I would have been a little concerned by how eager Johnny seemed about the idea of losing everybody. amazon
South Seas Myths & Legends by Donald A. MacKenzie
Second time thru this 1930s ramble. Some of the (rather painfully constructed) links to "classical" Euro/middle-Eastern mythology are cool, along with crazy, crazy theories. A bit of googling reveals that Donald A. MacKenzie was published in Babylonian mythology too.
LA Confidential by James Ellroy
A distracting way to tell a story - full of violent staccato and 1950s cop jargon. Once you get into it, though, it's hard to put down, and once the plot starts to reveal itself, it's GOLD. I'm not convinced I like the end itself though ... a little dis-satisfying to virtually introduce an entire subplot to solve the case, rather like 'it was aaaall a dream'!. amazon
Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie
'This is quite fun!' amazon
Magical Thinking by Augusten Burrows
More stories of drugs, debachery and the advertising industry. Not up to his previous standard - Feels like he's stretching for material too often. "How about escalators, huh..." amazon
Kon-Tiki & I by Erik Hesselberg
A cute large-format illustrated diary by one of Thor Heyerdahl's sailing companions. Cool illos. amazon
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
For obvious reasons. amazon
Oceanic Mythology by Roslyn Poignant
A great collection of Polynesian, Melanesian, Micronesian and Australian mythology - lovin' the Polynesian stuff: the slightly different takes on familiar tales (Hina, Maui, Tangaloa) in different islands are fantastic. This is one of the few books I've read that actually looks at the differences between the myths as well as the similarities. Also really strong on themes in Melanesian and Micronesian myths - oft ('oft'?) ignored in favour of the 'tidier' Polynesians. Some great pics of old carvings too. Sad. amazon
Lion Boy by Zizou Corder
An older kids' book but good fun. King Boris' best quote: "Do I look like the kind of king who would hand stowaway Lions over to a railway funtionary? You insult me.". amazon
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
A book I bought largely on the basis of the trick worn-out-looking cover (not the one on amazon) but turned out to be great! Almost inspired me to read Jane Eyre, except that I've so recently waded through Pride & Pontification and am slightly over ancient chick lit. for the time being. amazon
The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson
Gonzo travels in Hawai'i, plus tales of Cpt Cook and Hawai'ian mythology. Wonderful illustrations by Ralph Steadman. amazon
A Man's Got to Have a Hobby by William McInnes
Stories from McInnes' childhood. He's a great storyteller. His Dad reminds me of my Dad.