I will endeavor to list here all of the books I’ve read that I would recommend or that I wouldn’t call useless. (There will be a few exceptions to that rule. I sometimes read something [Walter Lippman for example] that I know will be negative. And sometimes I read something awful that I had no idea was going to be awful.) Mostly, This list will consist of books that I enjoyed and/or found informative. Sometimes I remember an author who I really enjoyed but I don’t remember the book or books. I’ll include such entries, but just give the authors’ names. That’s mainly a problem for fiction I used to read. And I don’t expect that I’ll be doing a lot of that.
As this progressed, I started adding in page numbers for my nuggets. It would be a daunting task to comb through all my earlier entries and do the same, so I won’t bother. I eventually developed the habit of scribbling in the margins and any white space available in books I read, and now also often staple a notepad to a page at the front or back of the book for note-taking. In other words, I’m an aggressive reader. That became gradually more organized. My earlier reads were neither aggressive nor of material where that mattered, so some of my entries here will be devoid of much in the way of nuggets. The organized scribblings are, to a great extent, my convenient source for nuggets or salient points.
This will be both a work in progress and dynamic, since I’ll be adding to the list continuously, which doesn’t mean that I won’t go through long spells where I neglect to add to the list. That’s life.
Obviously, I won’t be able to remember everything I’ve ever read. In my earlier days, I read science- and other types of fiction. I long ago quit that to just focus on learning. My reason at the time was that I didn’t enjoy all the foul language in fiction. If I’m going to put up with it, I felt, then it would be because I had to. And one can’t learn about the world without reading non fiction, which also tends to be less foul even if the people writing it are actually not. Around the same time as I gave up reading fiction, as I recall, I started to hunger for more knowledge of the world I lived in. It all worked out.
I’m less prudish now. But that doesn’t mean that I like foul language. I hate it just as much as I always have. I’m just more immune to it.
list index / Right click on link and select ‘open link in new tab’.
Now for the list:
1. The Christian Bible
The translation that I read, after joining up with Jehovah’s Witnesses, was The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. I don’t think it’s perfect (and I don’t think the Bible’s perfect, from one standpoint), but it’s good. And anyone who reads the Christian Bible in anything other than modern English, out of a belief that old English is ‘correct’ and everything else is wrong, is an idiot.
2. “A Fall Of Moondust” by Arthur C. Clarke (science fiction)
An excerpt from Wikipedia follows:
By the 21st century, the Moon has been colonized, and although still very much a research establishment, it is visited by tourists who can afford the trip. One of its attractions is a cruise across one of the lunar seas, named the Sea of Thirst, (located within the Sinus Roris) filled with an extremely fine dust, a fine powder far drier than the contents of a terrestrial desert and which almost flows like water, instead of the common regolith which covers most of the lunar surface. A specially designed “boat” named the Selene skims over the surface of the dust in the same manner as a jetski.
But on one cruise, a moonquake causes an underground cavern to collapse, upsetting the equilibrium. As the dustcruiser Selene passes over, it sinks about 15 meters below the surface of the dust, hiding the vessel from view, and trapping it beneath the dust. Immediately there are potentially fatal problems for the crew and passengers inside. The sunken Selene has a limited air supply, there is no way for heat generated to escape, communications are impossible, and no one else is sure where Selene has been lost…
3. Michael Moorcock (science fiction & fantasy)
Wikipedia’s page for Michael Moorcock’s bibliography.
4. “Cities In Flight” by James Blish (science fiction)
A an excerpt of the Wikipedia entry for “Cities In Flight Follows.” I remember reading three of these. I think that I just simply missed the fourth. Regardless:
Perhaps Blish’s most famous works were the “Okies” stories, known collectively as Cities in Flight, published in the science-fiction digest magazine Astounding Science Fiction. The framework for these was set in the first of four novels, They Shall Have Stars (first UK publication under the alternative title of Year 2018!), which introduces two essential features of the series. The first is the invention of the anti-aging drug ascomycin; Blish’s employer Pfizer makes a thinly disguised appearance as Pfitzner in a section showing the screening of biological samples for interesting activity. (Pfizer also appears in disguise as one of the sponsors of the polar expedition in a subsequent book, Fallen Star). The second is the development of an antigravity device known as the “spindizzy”. Since the device becomes more efficient when used to propel larger objects, entire cities leave an Earth in decline and rove the stars, looking for work among less-industrialized systems. The long life provided by ascomycin is necessary because the journeys between stars are time-consuming.
5. Piers Anthony (science fiction)
6. “The Midwich Cuckoos” by John Wyndham (science fiction)
7. “The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham (science fiction)
8. “Shakespeare’s Planet” by Clifford D. Simak (science fiction)
I read a couple of Clifford D. Simak’s books and loved them. He has the ability to paint pictures in your head. Fantastic pictures!
9. “Destiny Doll” by Clifford D. Simak (science fiction)
10. “The Vampire Tapestry” by Suzy McKee Charnas (horror)
A blurb, from Barnes & Noble, telling us what this very good book is about, follows: “Edward Weyland is far from your average vampire: not only is he a respected anthropology professor but his condition is biological — rather than supernatural. He lives discrete lifetimes bounded by decades of hibernation and steals blood from labs rather than committing murder. Weyland is a monster who must form an uneasy empathy with his prey in order to survive, and The Vampire Tapestry is a story wholly unlike any you’ve heard before.”
11. “The Silkie” by A.E. van Vogt (science fiction)
12. “War And Peace” by Leo Tolstoy (novel)
13. “Crime And Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevski (novel)
14. “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens (novel)
15. “Dead Souls” by Nikolai Golgol (novel)
16. “The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens (novel)
17. “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens (novel)
18. “Dune” by Frank Herbert (science fiction)
I was getting some upgrading (to approximately a grade 10 level) in Oshawa, Ontario, when a classmate, as I recall, passed me a copy of Dune. I loved it. I read a couple of sequels as well and eventually took in the very artsy, gothic-looking, David Lynch-directed movie version.