The Big Book Thread About Books

Well, it’s not big yet, but I hope it soon will be.

I read a lot of books in my spare time, a hobby I picked up over 30 years ago, and have kept to this day. If I haven’t gone through at least one new book a week, I feel as if I’m cheating myself of a new experience, a new and exciting world, or a new and fascinating person and their story.

Since I try to read so many books, I’m always on the lookout for new authors, or titles I may have missed, and it seemed like a good idea to expand my search here, and see what other people are reading.

If you’ve got a book you’re reading that you enjoy, or an old favorite that has been reread so many times the pages are falling out, then this is a place to share it. Go ahead and write a bit about why you like it, what made it interesting and entertaining, or what drew you to read it. I’ll be posting some of my favorites here too, so I’ll do my best to give as good as I get.

Feel free to just chime in with how much you agree with my unparalleled good taste in literature, and feel free to chime in with anyone else’s somewhat more paralleled good taste in literature. :wink:

Please no flaming or criticism about people’s book choices, though, especially for those of us who do, in fact, read it for the articles.

Last Chance to See
Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine

Quite possibly one of the best books on conservation ever written. Douglas Adams is justifiably famous for his Hitchhikers series, but this lesser known book is in my opinion–and in the opinion of Adams himself–the best of his work.

Based on a BBC radio series, the premise of the book centers around Adams and zoologist Mark Carwardine traveling around the world and searching for various endangered species. It’s written from a humorous perspective, and Adams’ trademark wit shines throughout; however, the animals he is searching out are very real, and the threat they face is very serious. Adams manages to paint a very vivid picture of the animals and their crises, and his perspective as “an extremely ignorant non-zoologist” only reinforces the potential catastrophe we are slowly leading many species towards. Underscoring the threat of extinction is the potential loss humanity faces, as we’re forced to come to terms with our actions.

Despite its age–the book was published in 1990–it’s still very much relevant today. Many animal species teeter on the brink of extinction, and while the efforts of many dedicated individuals are improving the chances of some, they are largely still swimming uphill both ways in their fight; the lessons that Adams teaches so well in this book are ones that sadly may always be necessary to teach. In fact, one of the species discussed at length in the book has since gone over the edge that Adams and Carwardine warn of, and is now considered functionally extinct.

Last Chance to See is high on my list of favorite books particularly because it takes an idea like conservation and puts a multitude of supporting ideas behind it without coming off as preachy or boring. Adams interweaves the seriousness of the subject with amusing anecdotes about his travels in a way which keeps the pages turning without cheapening the subject at all, and his observations are top notch.

Wikipedia link A good jumping-off point for more information about the book, the radio program, and the animals, as well as the followup series from the BBC in 2009. Dead tree and Kindle editions.

Barnes and Noble Dead tree and Nook editions

The Big Book of Words You Should Know: Over 3,000 Words Every Person Should be Able to Use
David Olsen & Michelle Bevilacqua & Justin Cord Hayes

It’s entirely Aderynn’s fault that I own this book.* Not too long ago, the subject of obscure yet cool words came up briefly while several of us were chatting around on the mumble server. Only a few days later, I came across this book, which contains precisely what we discussed: cool words that you ought to know.

The book is separated into several sections, each section containing increasingly more esoteric and infrequently encountered words. They’re listed with a definition, pronunciation, and are used in a sentence for that authentic spelling-bee feel.

I am still working my way through the earlier parts of the book, where I have yet to encounter a high percentage of words that are foreign to me, but I expect that as I progress, I’ll learn plenty. However, even with only a few revelations so far in what I’ve read, I still find it very useful as a good reminder that vocabulary neither has to be boring nor repetitive. It’s handy as a reference, and while this isn’t the sort of book I can dive into and read at length over the course of an evening, it’s great to pick up when you’ve got 10 or 15 minutes to kill.



*Yes, it does contain both obfuscate and legerdemain. Yes, they were the first things I looked up.

What are some of your preferences? While I am not the voracious reader you are probably hoping to hear from, my better half leaves libraries with grocery bag full for a week or two. Does that make me sound boring?

Anyway, being in her presence has allowed me to absorb a morsel here and there of her literary appetite. And that which was beyond my reach, well I am sure she would be willing to share some ideas. So tip your hand and we’ll see if we can offer up some ideas.


I don’t have a lot of time to read, but when I do I am a James Patterson addict. Maybe I’m a crime addict… hmmm.

I love the Alex Cross series. I recently picked up one of Patterson’s Michael Bennett books and loved it. After I read the Hunger Games trilogy, I was desperate for a book and picked up The Witness by Nora Roberts in the grocery store. I hesitated because I thought she was a mush and gush writer, but this book got my attention when I saw my dream log cabin on the inside cover. :slight_smile: The book was not mush and gush, it was about crime and murder, and I loved it!

I tried the 50 shades crap…yep, it was crap. I made it to chapter 8 and gave it away.

One thing about me and books…they have to be pristine, hardbound and mine. I love a new book, I’m careful who I lend to, and I don’t get rid of them.

I’ve finally got around to (re-)starting Our Oriental Heritage, the first volume of Will and Ariel Durant’s eleven-volume The Story of Our Civilization. It is precisely what it supports to be – an account of the history underpinnings of western civilization, starting in the paleolithic and continuing until the “Age of Napoleon.” The first volume was published in 1933 and the last was completed in 1975, a few years before the authors passed away.

I inherited the entire set from my grandfather almost 20 years ago, but I never got past the first few hundred pages until I realized I could get them on Kindle (2.5-pound hardbacks just don’t fare that well on the subway). I can’t believe I waited this long.

The books were derided as “popular” non-fiction when they came out, and while that characterization may have been true by the standards of the day, their approach (if the first volume is any indication) is no less rigorous than any of the “serious” non-fiction in bookstores today. The pace is (necessarily) swift, and dense material is leavened with entertaining observations on art, literature, and human nature that are no less fresh now than they were when they were penned. Other than its complete lack of cultural relativism (which is refreshing if you take it with a grain of salt), the book doesn’t seem in the least dated despite having been written 80 years ago. Highly recommended, especially if you have a couple of years to spare for non-fiction.

I’ll read almost anything, truth be told. For me, good literature can transcend genre, and even your most favorite setting can be ruined with enough cliches.

If I had to pick a favorite, I’d say that these days, I lean heavily towards nonfiction. Particularly history and culture with an emphasis on American history from the revolutionary war on up. Though I do greatly enjoy historical fiction as a side effect. I have piles of science fiction and nonfiction. I like the classics, I favor Solzhenitsyn over Tolstoy, and I had the required Ayn Rand phase during my senior year in high school.

I don’t read much horror/suspense, though my mother is a Stephen King fanatic, so I try to keep up with his bibliography. I don’t recall the last western book I read, but since my grandfather passed, Louis L’Amour novels just bring up sad memories. If I pointedly avoid anything, it’s romance/mommy porn; just never my cup of tea, really.

And zombies beat vampires any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

This is exactly the sort of thing I love, and it’s going right up at the top of my list of things to spend way too much money on.

Thanks, Pixiedust!

Aulm, you’re sick; I love it.

I assume you’ve read some of Daniel Boorstin’s books – e.g. The Discoverers, The Creators, and The Americans: The Democratic Experience? If not, I highly recommend. Very accessible, very insightful histories with an emphasis on culture. And great prose, to boot.

James Clavell

One of my all-time favorites. I’ve probably purchased additional copies of this book more often than any other over the course of my lifetime; occasionally as gifts, but most often because I re-read it so frequently that even with care the spine goes and the pages start to fall out. I imagine I might even have to replace my ebook version at some point, as I wear the bits down from overuse.

Set in the year 1600, Shogun is the story of English sailor John Blackthorne, his arrival in feudal Japan, his adaptation to life there, and his role in a feudal lord’s quest to become Shogun, the sole ruler of Japan. As he strives to cope with the shockingly foreign world and people around him, his struggles to adapt and his quest to escape Japan and return home thrust him further into the intrigues and politics of the island empire.

Blackthorne is loosely based on actual English sailor William Adams, who is accepted to be the first Englishman to reach Japan, as well as the first recorded foreign samurai. The book draws heavily from Japanese history, and many more of the characters are based on actual figures from the Tokugawa shogunate.

The paperback weighs in at more than 1100 pages, yet never feels that long. Its densely layered characterization and intricate plots keep your attention focused, and great attention to historical accuracy is paid: you’re given a very tangible sense of life in feudal Japan. Intrigue, action, romance, and history are woven together in a marvelous tapestry; a book that, for me, never gets old.

Shogun is the one of the books of Clavell’s Asian Saga, a series of books featuring interconnected plots of characters. I’ve read them all, and they are good books in their own rights, but in my opinion, none of them compare to Shogun, the true gem of Clavell’s bibliography.



Excellent choice, Aulm. I devoured the book in high school after seeing the TV mini-series. The book is much, much better (of course) and a great intro to the Asia series by Clavell. Noble House is probably my second favorite after Shogun. Shogun also inspired a lifelong interest in Japan and may have pushed me into my Asian Studies major in college, taking the Japanese language, and living in Japan for 6 years. There are some unintentionally funny translation flaws with the small amount of Japanese language in the book, but that’s just nitpickng : )

Shogun also led me into the Bushido Table Top RPG (still being published by Fantasy Games Unlimited) with my high school gaming buddies. We even did some gaming reunions many years after college and dragged out the old game rulebooks, miniatures and 20-sided dice. \

At the high school where I teach, I gave a copy of Shogun to a graduating senior.

Funny how one book can have such an impact on your life. I heartily suggest anyone with even a minor interest in historical fiction to grab a copy.

I highly recommend Order of the Stick (a comic series the first of which can be found online at

Not a book per se, but several softback volumes can be purchased for those who still prefer paper. Not me anymore as I cannot move books around due to their weight and browsing bookshelves from a wheelchair is a pain. I hope most of my remaining books sell this weekend at my next garage sale, as I wold like to replace as many as possible with eBooks. The reader apps on the computer work so very well.


Resurrecting the book thread after Aulm, Praiser and I started throwing great titles around tonight on mumble. Need a book, pick one up, have a book, leave one! =D

The standouts thus far in my historic writers course:

Anna Katharine Green: The Forsaken Inn (free on (I dislike murder/mystery… but this historic mystery was actually very enjoyable!)
William Wells Brown: Clotel, or, The President’s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States (this struck me as something that should be read in high school. Don’t read if you’re on depression meds =/ )
Jane Alison: The Love-Artist (As far as historic fiction goes, it was an entertaining read. Not the best novel I ever read, but if you love Rome, then I would give it a go)

I have 3 more novels in the course and I’ll post those if I find them to be worth a mention. =)

Outside of my course, still chugging through Robin Hobb based on the numerous suggestions from the last time we updated the book list. =)

I’ll join in. What many people don’t know is that Stephen King is not just about horror. He’s written non-horror books and stories that have become very popular movies such as The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption. I took a long break from Stephen King because his books became very wordy. I found it very hard to finish one. Recently, and because Under the Dome was on tv, I picked up Under the Dome. It was a very good book, and very, very different from the show. So different in fact, that I couldn’t watch the show after reading the book.

Another very good book, a case of fantasy meets history is 11-22-63, also by Stephen King. It’s a what-if book. What if there was a rabbit hole to the past. Could you change history and save John F Kennedy from assasination?

Other than that I’m currently reading book 5 of the Game of Thrones Series titled A Dance with Dragons. All 5 books are large books that test my eyes. The frustration will be waiting for book 6 to come out :frowning:

The Eyes of the Dragon is one of my favorite Stephen King novels. Medieval fantasy, and connected to some of King’s other work, it’s very far from the horror people come to associate with his books. It reads very quickly, has great characters, and I highly recommend it to fans of King that might have skipped over it because of the unorthodox setting.

I loved that one, Aulm. As a fun trivia, I recall reading that he wrote that one for his kids. =)

Holy cow, a great blast from the past, Aulm. I heartily agree. Don’t count this one out just because it’s Stephen King.

Just finished rereading what I regard as the best science fiction series ever written :clap: , the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov, my thanks to the public library. Even after all these years and with many readings the storyline and themes are remarkable and compelling and still have relevance in today’s world. It makes me wish I had access to Blizzard’s rendering software and artistic team so I could do an animated version of the story.

I’m just here on this very old thread to Bump the James Clavell “Shogun” recommendation.