Friday, July 8, 2016

A List of Book Recommendations

A good book recommendation is a great gift. Here are some of my favorite authors and books. 

I don’t include books and authors that are incredibly popular and well-known, such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, JK Rowling (Harry Potter), JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings trilogy), and others. 

Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite authors. He is revered by SF fans but is much more than that, more of a historian with a science bent. A quick read and one of my all-time favorite books is Snow Crash. Cryptonomicon is an absolute masterpiece: long, convoluted, but ultimately well worth the effort. I've not been able to get through his later very dense three-part novels like The Baroque Cycle.  Reamde is a light book, somewhat entertaining.

Anything by Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The New New Thing, The Big Short) or Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers, Blink, The Tipping Point). They write nonfiction about things that you would normally take for granted or not think about.

Anything by Richard Preston, a great nonfiction writer.  I picked up his book The Hot Zone and was immediately hooked.  I was fascinated by The Wild Trees, about folks who explore the redwood canopy in Northern California.  I bought his book First Light, about astronomers, but have for some reason not "gotten into" this book like his others. 

Cormac McCarthy is a genius: All the Pretty Horses, The Road, and No Country for Old Men (which the movie follows very closely).  Great writing about characters of the American and Mexican West. 

Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun "is a long, magical novel in four volumes." Shadow & Claw contains the first two: The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator.  The four books in this series are excellent, different. 

Mystery/crime novels, not serious reading: anything by Michael Connelly. Start with The Poet, and you may likely want to read the rest of his books. 

Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barret: History of the Franklin expedition, told in an interesting and riveting way.

A Fish Caught in Time by Samantha Weinberg: well-written book about discovery of the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish thought to be extinct. 

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn: absolutely bizarre, but a good read. 

Worst.Person.Ever by Douglas Coupland.  Hilarious light read.  (Thanks F-Bomb for the recommendation)!

Isaac Asimov is too well-known to be included in this list.  But I have to give a shoutout to his Foundation Trilogy, which I read every eight years or so.  It's a masterpiece. 

Recent good reads:
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan: excellent memoir about a journalist's lifelong love of surfing.  This book won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. 

Scott Turow's Innocent was surprising good.  His other books put me to sleep. 

Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace autobiography rambled, but was worth a read. 

Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, Steel.  I listened to the audiobook version while swimming laps.  It was interesting.  I am not sure I would have been able to stay awake if I read the text. 

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