Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pick My Next Book


My house is a veritable landfill of read and unread books. I sometimes dread purchasing a book out of fear that I already own it. My backlog of unread books is probably over fifty. At my average monthly rate of two to three a month that is nearly two years worth, yet I continue to buy more. Out of town this week, I dragged coworkers to an antiquarian bookstore in Austin where I bought an autographed Kinky Friedman novel and a Brett Easton Ellis first edition.

To help me clear the pile, I am dedicated to reading at least one dust collecting tome a month, but I need your help. In the comments, list up to three of the books in the following list that I should be reading as soon as possible.

Fiction
Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban
Florida Roadkill by Tim Dorsey
Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark
Heydey by Kurt Andersen
The Bridges of Madison County by Robet James Waller
The System Of The World by Neal Stephenson
Jittebug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Non-fiction

Fat Man In The Middle Seat by Jack Germond
Googled by Ken Auletta
The Grand Idea by Joel Achenbach
Collapse by Jared Diamond
The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut
Under the Banner Of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead by Crystal Zevon
Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity
Fiasco by Thomas Ricks
The Battle For America 2008 by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the books occupying every horizontal surface in my house, but they are the ones I feel most compelled to read or the most guilty that I haven't read yet. Obviously, I should read all of them, but what I want to know is which I should read next. Use any criteria you want and pick up to three in each category. For extra credit, name one book I should just plain avoid. I haven't quite decided how I am going to count or weigh votes, but I'm likely to be persuaded by impassioned pleas. So help me out, please.

14 comments:

jfruh said...

Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell is fantastic if you like any combination of fantasy, regency lit., or historical fiction.

Catch-22 is one of those books that has become a "classic" which might lead you to believe that it will be boring. It is hilarious and really weird and unexpectedly moving, towards the end. Also interesting in that it's an anti-war book about World War II, the one war that was good, supposedly (though it sure doesn't look good in the book).

I enjoyed reading Collapse, though I've heard a lot of people with bones to pick with Diamond's theories afterwards.

Thumper said...

Shadow of the Giant, if you've read all the books that come before it...but then I love that thread of the Ender series...

Anonymous said...

You must read Catch-22! It's hilarious, and I would think with your background as a military brat, it will ring true. It's been a long time since I've read it, but I loved it. You must also read The Grand Idea by Mr Joel Achenbach. Very, very interesting, especially for the insights on the DC area. I was in awe to learn that Route 7 was the Post Road that George Washington rode down (I think that's right). Also hilarious in spots.

Crystal Zevon's book about Warren is good, but I kind of sped-read it. Carl Hiaasen knew Warren, which I found strange, so I read his parts. I saw her on a panel at the Miami Book Fair - she turned out to be the least interesting one, which I would not have predicted.

Forget about The Bridges of Madison County. Pure dreck - although I don't think I actually read it.

Sue (seasea)

The Baltimore Chop said...

Catch 22 and Jitterbug Perfume.

For someone with a blog named Foma, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Used*to*be*me said...

The Bridges of Madison County by Robet James Waller (because for once in your life, you should read a book that was NOT better than the movie)

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (because I own it and have never picked it up)

Those are the only two I know on your list. For some pure trash reading, read Sex with Kings by Eleanor Harmen. I loved it!

DemetriosX said...

I'll chime in with those urging you to read Catch-22. It has earned its place as a classic of modern literature.

Strange & Norrell is interesting, but occasionally heavy going. Stylistically, it is very much a regency novel, so you can expect convoluted structures and the occasional digression over manners or clothes. If you do read it, it could well be the only book you read this month.

I'd say avoid the Hannity book. Bad enough that you spent actual money on it.

(OT, I'd like to point out that it's March and you wouldn't want your long-time, regular readers to get mad at you for forgetting a certain regular feature.)

yellojkt said...

I have no memory of what bargain bin I picked the Hannity book out of. I've read Coulter, can it be worse?

And March will be getting insane very shortly.

Malnurtured Snay said...

CATCH 22!!!!

DemetriosX said...

Glad to hear the March forecast.

Hannity may or may not be worse than Coulter, but how may assaults on your sanity can you ultimately take?

Jumper said...

I'd dive into System of the World just so you don't lose continuity. I enjoyed Eden Express immensely.

byoolin said...

To echo what others have said, you've got to read Catch-22.

And you should read the autographed Kinky Friedman novel, whatever it is.

Read the Hannity if and only if it is his suicide note. And even then, you can skip ahead to the "Goodbye, cruel liberals!" cry at the end.

Sue T. said...

I'll save you time: ditch the Hannity and "Bridges of Madison County." (Yes, I read it -- "Bridges," not Hannity. My blood pressure couldn't take reading any FOX News personality's book.) Rent the movie of "Bridges" if you really want to know what happens; it's much better than the book. I'd read Auletta's "Googled" soon because it's likely to be out of date shortly, as is usually the case with internet related tomes.

A Free Man said...

"Collapse" is absolutely brilliant. A great read, really compelling for non-fiction. The Hannity book, well, the bin is the only good place for that one.

Ben said...

I second Josh. I'm reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell now, and I have to say Susanna Clarke really hit on something.