Thursday, June 01, 2006

Recent Reading List

I've been busy with both research and reading for pleasure. Here are some of the books I've been into lately.

Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History by William Safire. Amazing how many situations that we're dealing with now have been discussed in the past.

The Big Book of Noir edited by Ed Gorman, Lee Server and Martin H. Greenberg. Part of the research for my novel. A collection of articles on noir films, stories, radio and television. One of the best noir writers, Charles Williams, was from San Angelo, Texas. Go figure.

How To Talk To a Liberal (If You Must) by Ann Coulter. A humorous, sharp-tongued collection of her columns.

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Not what my 13-year-old daughter thought it was. Bierce was H.L Mencken before Mencken was.

The Abs Diet by David Zinczenko. Because I recently turned 48 years old, and hope springs eternal.

Life Matters by Roger and Rebecca Merrill. Trying to get a handle on life. I mainly bought this because The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey rocked my world, and I thought this would add to that.

How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. An odd choice maybe, but my reading habits have gotten sloppier as I get older, and this book is a big help in being a better reader. A key passage: "It is true enough that many people read some things too slowly, and that they ought to read them faster. But many people also read some things too fast, and they ought to read those things more slowly. A good speed reading course should therefore teach you to read at many different speeds, not just one speed that is faster than anything you can manage now. It should enable you to vary your rate of reading in accordance with the nature and complexity of the material." True dat, as my kids say.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. Because of the type of story I'm writing, I googled the term "Texas noir" and this book came up. This story set in west Texas by an award-winning author will break your heart. Read it at your own risk.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I first read this book a couple of years ago, and didn't think much of it. It's as though a puzzle geek put all these different puzzles and codes into a sub-par short story. Now that it's sold a zillion copies and been made into a bad movie, I read it again, and my opinion hasn't changed. A travelogue through Christian symbolism and conspiracy theories.

The Western Guide to Feng Shui by Terah Kathryn Collins. If you don't know a bagua map from a cheese log, then this book is for you. Forget any mumbo-jumbo you might have heard about feng shui; this book gives practical guidelines like: 1) Live with what you love. 2) Put safety and comfort first. 3) Simplify and organize. I read this book while working on the design for the dream home Kathy and I hope to build when we turn 60.

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. Because I'm a compulsive buyer and reader of books on writing. This book has a lot of good stuff, but one page is marked because of this passage: "When I ask a group of professional writers to state the essential difference between nonfictionand fiction, most are unable to do so.... Let us state the difference in the simplest way. Nonfiction conveys information. Fiction evokes emotion." Strunk and White couldn't have said it better.

Speaker's Sourcebook II by Glenn Van Ekeren. Because I had a presentation to do, and needed a quick quote about risk. (The quote I chose: "You've got to go out on a limb sometimes, because that's where the fruit is." - Will Rogers)

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