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.
The Case of the Lucky Legs by Erle Stanley Gardner
Grabbed this silly little Perry Mason novel from a cool second-hand store in Sumner, Chch, for the cheesy cover mostly. Some parts are undreadful.
Jungle Heat by Dale Wilmer
Read this little bodice ripper only 'cos it was set in Malaya during the Emergency. It's bloody awful. Go Commies!
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
A retelling of mostly Greek myths, with very clever insights into the original writers (Appollodorus = boring but never ridiculous, etc).
Gulliver's Travels (the full monty) by Jonathan Swift
I've wanted to read the unabridged version ever since I found out that my old copy (a writing English prize from a million years ago) not only omitted flying islands and talking horses, but novel ways of putting out fires and Brobdingnag boob action.
The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
Very funny little novel.
Questions of Travel by Michelle de Ketser
Wonderful novel! The Lonely Planet bits a tad distracting for me (but almost perfectly captures the feeling of working there, and with one brilliant caricature).
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Gaiman plus apocalypse = happy Errol. Very fun - leaves Wormwood for dead. Spotted on a workmate's desk.
Ludmila's Broken English by DBC Pierre
Spectacular, weird, outrageous twinned novel that reverses the lives of the main characters to become cojoined. Picked up at the local Op Shoppe for a song.
Stonemouth by Ian Banks
Great thriller, a generation younger than Banks' usual pop-culture niche - devoured in a single day.
The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
Second in the loosely connected Border Trilogy.
Bright Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich
"How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America". Some interesting ideas.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Two-thirds' god, one-third man, and a sidekick who's a little bit of a whinger.
In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood
Musings on other worldly fiction and storytelling. Inspired me to add a few books to the "must read" list.
Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory written & illustrated by Greg Broadmore
A brilliantly funny steampunk gag by one of the Whakatane crew at Weta. Funny and beautiful.
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
"The original spy novel", apparently. Lovin' Carruthers.
Apocalypse: a History of the End of Time by John Michael Greer
Great study of the "apocalypse meme" thru history from Zarathustra thru a thousand Christian variants and up to the silly Mayan business at the moment. Fascinating, and funny too. "The End is (Often) Nigh".
Howl, Kaddish & Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
A Penguin collection. Some brilliant moments, but far too annoying.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
About the third time I'd tried to read this, and really enjoyed it this time. (Struggled to keep all the characters straight tho.)
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
Holden Caulfield goes 21C.
Fathers Raising Daughters by Nigel Latta
Self-help, it's true, but he's got his target audience nailed: tools, zombies, etc.
Learned some stuff, too.
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Infernal Devices by KW Jeter
Steampunk by the man who invented steampunk. Fun little novel.
Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google by William Pounstone
A bunch of fun brainteasers and puzzles, in the midst of a self-help book for getting thru an IT job interview. The job-interview stuff is mildly interesting (and plays into one of my favourite theories: nobody knows anything, but they like to think they do). The puzzles are a lot of fun.
Btw the answer a definitive no. Google : your jobs are safe.
Ragnarok by AS Byatt
A retelling of the olde tale.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The second novel by Mister Kite runner. Love his simple style.
Death of a Salesman by JB Priestly
Haven't read this since school but it's still a great story.
Conan & the Sword of Skelos by
Even for a Conan story, this one's pretty awful.
Guerillas by VS Naipaul
Caribbean revolutionary-slash novel. A bit annoying in places, when it veered into Barbara Cartland territory, but ok. I'll try not to let this put me off other Naipaul stuff, considering the man's impressive rep.
The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck does comedy - weird!
Carrie by King
The Place of Dead Roads by William S Burroughs
Whoah! Crazy man alert.
Red Pony by John Steinbeck
A nice little Western, found in an awesome second-hand bookshop in Kuala Lumpur.
Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
An undiscovered Davies - what a joy!
Widows of Eastwick by John Updike
The Warlock by Michael Scott
The last in the Nicholas Flamel series, and the superlatives and breathless! chapter! endings! go supernova as we witness the end of Atlantis and find that everyone is related to everyone else, unless you thought they were, and then they're not!
The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw
Spectacular physics-pop book. Haven't read anything for years that has so-often made me lunge for the slide rule. nerd nerd nerd.
Round the Moon by Jules Verne
Lovely old book from a 2nd-hand shop in Smith Street. Lots of technical detail, but a distinct lack of satisfying storyline oomph. Where are the MoonMen, Jules?!
Doc Savage : Death in Silver by Kenneth Robeson
OMG how have I never discovered Doc Savage before - he is magnificent, and his band of merry men superb! Chap-lit of the finest calibre old boy!
With strength unequalled, with a mind all-encompassing, Doc Savage - man of bronze - fights, against unbelievable odds, for truth and justice wherever evil exists.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Infinite bloody Endnotes.
The Hottentot Room by Christopher Hope
Wonderful novel - South African exiles in a dark club in London. The Zulu's grin seals it.
The West & the Map of the World by Matthew Richardson
Published by the Victorian Library, using old maps in their collection to tell the tale of the birth of Western civilisation. Beautiful maps! (I am such a map geek). But I also learned quite a bit about European history from this, cos the story is told so engagingly (and those maps!)
Innocent Erendira by GG Marquez
Short stories. Some of them quite Lovecrafty.
The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer
Personally I'm more interested in the lit and the art than the clothes, but the history of the lit via Wells/Verne/Jeter is pretty interesting.
Rough Guide to Climate Change
Very comprehensive. (One small criticism: Foreword a mistake, I reckon. Should've been the CEO of Lloyds or British Petroleum.)
On Writing by Stephen King
Interesting little mini-bio from a great storyteller. I liked his notes on the craft and graft of being a novelist. But my favourite of all was this line from someone else's short story included (generously) at the end:
"It was five thirty when the man jumped. It was five thirty when he landed. The mall was not due to close 'til six."
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A beautiful little novel even before the teaser at the end. Loved the floating island, shades of Prince Caspian or Sindbad.
A Certain Chemistry by Mil Millington
Second time thru. Hilarious novel. Amy the agent needs a sequel (actually, a prequel).
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
I hadn't hunted this out yet, perhaps just because I'm not a great Dickens fan. But it's GREAT. Devoured in a single evening.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Loved this novel - complex and fun.
Stamboul Train by Graham Greene
Slow-starting thriller set on the Orient Express.
Bluebeard by Angela Carter
Short stories - retold fairytales.
Don't Tell Mum I Work The Rigs (She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse by Paul Carter
Basically, a diary of life working rigs, and whatever else happened to be happening at the time. Not a great writer but a good storyteller, and there are some cool stories.
How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier
Manhood by Michael Chabon
Various pop-culty musings on being a bloke/dad. Cool.
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
One I read as a teenager - re-read to see what it looks like now...
Breathless, is what it looks like - Ludlum must have worn out the "!" key on his Remington multiple times.
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
The man cannot write a bad novel. This was magnificent, despite my inability to read Spanish.
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
Incredibly powerful novel.
How to be Good by Nick Hornby
A bit light on.
Centauri Device by John Harrison
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Nice little tale. I did like the ending, even with all the ambiguity.
The War at the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa
Great novel set in Brazil at the end of the 19th century. Lots of crazy churchfolk seeing in the Apocalypse - just my thing. revolution as ritual
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Enjoying the flibbertigibbet story and writing styles, tho the airport novel-esque style quite annoys (liked the VW's hood tho).
The Alchemist Part 5 by Michael Scott
Get on with it.
Transit of Venus by Nick Lomb
It's Astro-nomical. It's Explora-tological. It's Pacific-ological. Nerd Lightnin'. (I'm a happy nerd.)