d e t a i l s

  i try to make reading a daily part of my existence. there are a number of reasons for this but i imagine you're interested in exactly zero of them. so deem yourself spared. as for how i choose what to read, i use a genre-based rotation. the rotation changes from time to time but below is the present pattern:

POPULAR FICTION (e.g. ken follet, dan brown, john grisham)
CLASSIC LITERATURE (e.g. alexandre dumas, victor hugo, charles dickens)
SCI-FI/FANTASY (e.g. isaac asimov, orson scott card, robert heinlein)
PHILOSOPHICAL (anything from raw philosophy to the merits of bhudism)
MODERN LITERATURE (e.g. upton sinclair, william faulkner, theodore dreiser)
INSTRUCTIONAL (something towards making a better me)
HISTORICAL BEST-SELLER (from the kahn reading project)
NON-FICTION (e.g. michael lewis, jon krakauer, bill bryson)

the purpose of the above serpentine is rut and glut avoidance. i am desperate to not become a boorish one-category reader and i also love (!!!) the sweeping arcs of subject matter landscapes this practice forces my mind to ambulate through. from a fox hole in WWII europe to solar systems not yet seen (and in times not yet conceived) to how to make your child laugh more to the roman forum at its peak the potential behind this exercise offers limitless candy and vitamins for your mind (and soul).

if you think i'm missing a category, i'd appreciate to hear your argument. and, i'm ever interested in hearing about people's favorite reads, so please hit me up with yours.

The Clan of the Cave Bear
Jean M. Auel

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Cold Dog Soup
Stephen Dobyns

There's a girl in my computer class who recently told a story about how she and a friend, while driving down the road, ran over and killed a dog. It's not a new tale but in her telling she couldn't help but laugh uncontrollably throughout the narrative. I mean she was in absolute hysterics and repeatedly said, "I know I shouldn't be laughing, but it was just so damn funny I can't help it." The girl who finds humor in running over man's best friend would enjoy this book. I did not.
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Les Miserables
Victor Hugo

Like chess the written word has infinite possibilities, there are countless ways to describe any one moment. Of these possible options each and every instance falls onto a continuum of efficacy. It is this continuum that divides great authors from the pedestrian. It is no secret that Hugo danced on the very precipice of this scale mostly through his specialty; character development. He masterly accomplishes in a few lines what some attempt to achieve in complete works. Of the countless characteristics or observations that can be conveyed, he had the ability to focus on the meaningful points that brought you ever closer to his characters. By the end of this lengthy tome I feel as though I would recognize Jean or Cossette should I run into them on the street.

In fact, after reading on the metro one workday morning, I found that, without even being fully aware, I was crying while walking down the sidewalk towards my building. By my evaluation, that there is some mighty fine storytelling.
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Lucky Jim
Kingsley Amis

So this book did not strum my funny bone the same reading it ten years later. But, I can explain. First, the story takes place on a university campus among some of the most pretentious and pedantic types known. When meeting this book for the first time, that was my life and therefore it spoke to me in a very intimate way. Having left that environment and many of its occupants behind, I no longer see myself planted in its pages. Lucky Jim also deals with the dating game, yet another arena I haven't frequented in many years, although it did take me back to more than one memory. Lastly, and what will still make me call this an overly enjoyable book deals with the main character lucky Jim Dixon.

Now luck, then and now, is something I am very familiar with and not a shred of that humor was lost on me. Bottom line, if you're not at university, in the dating melee or a very lucky person, this British comedy may not whisper secrets in your ear like it did mine and you may therefore not enjoy it as much as I. Buyer beware.
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The Godfather
Mario Puzo

I deprived myself of this encapsulating tale long enough to forget enough to make the second trip through almost, almost, as enjoyable as the first. With the exception of the ten pages dedicated to Lucy Mancini's vaginal reconstruction surgury (which surprisingly did not make it into either of the first two films), this tale is literary wizardry. And, if I could discern the significance behind Mancini's medical miracle, I may even appreciate those ten pages.
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Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
Stephen Pressfield

Gates portrays a mindset most people will never embrace and an era virtually none can conceive. The situations and imagery conveyed here are unfathomable to me and my mind is impotent to divine such a world on its own. Given this mental limitation, I consumed Pressfield's account of what was certainly a unique moment in man's evolution and growth. When the Spartan king lost use of his left arm due to a severed tricep, his shield was strapped to his torso and he returned to the battlefield to fight beside his blood-caked troops. I once stayed home from school for two days because of a festering blemish on the tip of my nose. Like I said, inconceivable to me.
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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (book 4)
J.K. Rowling

This is the best of the series, for multiple reasons. Rowling outdoes herself here and certainly outpaces any expections for this, her fourth in the potter series. She obviously has immunity to whatever funk gets in people's heads after initial success because not only do her books continue in their original vein and sincerity, they seem to improve exponentially in their readibility. The true test for her will be the pending cinema production and if she can continue her craft without letting the ancillary movie efforts cloud her creativity. Secondly, I'm a huge fan of what J.K. is doing for the reading movement on this planet in not only getting kids flipping the pages again, but offering a rather hefty tome (733 pages) as to let young minds not be intimidated by larger works.
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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Carson McCullers

Ok, I need to start by saying I totally got screwed on this book. For any who may not know me or my proclivities, I'm absolutely maniacal when it comes to going in blind on anything enterainment based. In locating the image of this book for this site, I went to amazon and while obtaining it read one sentence of some verbiage in the content area. Wouldn't you know that this one sentence was a 'describe this book in thirty words or less making sure to ruin the ending' kind of sentence. I was absolutely raving. Raving, but not mad in the sense that I'd let the ridiculously foolish act of one person deny me a story written by a woman named Carson. Historically I've not been a fan a female novelist, nothing sexist here, I just can better relate to the prattling-ons of my fellow tripods, but was very impressed with this Carson's Stienbeckian storytelling and eye for the pedestrian. She painted some memorable instances of freaks in an age before my own. Freaks have come a long way. And, thanks for the text and reccomendation Buddy James.
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The Fourth K
Mario Puzo

Nothing too sexy going on in this novel. It reads as much like a Clancy novel as anything else. But, the story is quick and entertaining. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a fast, light and enjoyable read to kill a weekend.
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The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Alex Haley

This is a powerful book. This is a very powerful book. I have never partaken in a more sincere account of a man's inner and public struggle. If the experiences of Malcolm the pauper, the player, the prisoner, the puppet, the brother and finally the sacrifice, do not touch you, black or white, you are not a reasonable individual.
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All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque

Oh to be part of a coddled and privileged generation, floating through our war-eligible years without getting called up stands as quite a boon (for myself and country alike). Because, if a doubt exists in your mind that I would not be the Saving Private Ryan guy frozen and crying in the stairwell, remove it now. And, while I know I can make observations on Western Front like "he made it feel like you were right in the fracas" or "boy, I can just hear the tanks chugging over the hill", I cannot forget that I offer this learned opinion reading, writing and sitting in my chair and a half, fire popping in the hearth and gulping peanut m&m's by the gross. So, for us layman, this compact story of one man's war-time experience presents a concise glimpse into a life that is not our own. And, if nothing else, assures us that it is not a romantic or heroic life, just one rife with fear, agony and the desperate drive to survive. But, on the other hand, if you polled the average American, many would report similar emotions in their daily machinations, the only difference being one is justified and one is not. And, no matter who or how many people would argue the point of relativity, it is not, in any way, relative.
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