More Books 2

PREVIOUSLY:

REVIEWS:

“All I ask of life is a bunch of books, a bunch of dreams, and a bunch of cunt.”
—Tropic Of Cancer

Here are some quick thoughts on books I’ve read in the past year or so, from best to worst.

ISBN: 0451524934
1984
George Orwell is my hero.

ISBN: 0061686697
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being
A beautiful, philosophical novel about love, choice, and death.

ISBN: 0679735771
American Psycho
Incredible writing, though extremely disturbing (hungry rat trapped inside a woman’s vagina that was filled with blue cheese, etc.). For a good laugh tell a feminist this is your favorite book of all time.

ISBN: 1595404295
Animal Farm
Good stepping stone to 1984. Short book that you can read for free (along with 1984).

ISBN: 1593080085
The Jungle
Page turner with the biggest underdog character in modern literature. Poor Jurgis.

ISBN: 1592403379
American Shaolin
Hilarious memoir of a plucky white guy who moves to China to train with shaolin masters.

ISBN: 015626224X
Down And Out In London And Paris
Gritty story of a man surviving in Europe’s underworld. Semi-autobiographical.

ISBN: 0143036556
Collapse
Attempts to answer why past civilizations failed. Author’s evidence suggests it’s almost always due to environmental problems. Long but enjoyable.

ISBN: 0684856476
The Rum Diaries
Good read, especially if you like to drink.

ISBN: 0307387178
Into The Wild
Interesting story about a young man who gives up all his money and possessions for a long trip that ends with his death in the Alaska wilderness. Was he courageous or stupid?

ISBN: 0451529693
Fathers and Sons
19th century Russian novel about feudalism, youth, rebellion, and love. Decent.

ISBN: 1594480001
The Kite Runner
Starts off strong but fades into silliness.

ISBN: 0385333846
Slaughterhouse Five
War book whose most compelling passages were about alien abduction.

ISBN: 8585556013
How To Be A Carioca
Slightly dated expose into the culture of Brazilians, particularly those who live in Rio do Janeiro. Contains handy phrases full of slang.

ISBN: 0802131786
Tropic Of Cancer
A stream of consciousness diary of a man slumming it in Paris. Writing is incredible but if you need a plot then this book is definitely not for you.

ISBN: 0805062971
Fight Club
The only book I have read where the movie was better. Skip.

ISBN: 0743297334
The Sun Also Rises
It had a couple moments, but mostly a snoozefest.

ISBN: 0553247778
One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich
What a slog. Hated it.

ISBN: 0140042598
On The Road
The most tedious book I’ve ever read in my life. Cheesy dialogue and characters. I dare you to finish it.

ISBN: 0312320906
Honeymoon With My Brother
The main character couldn’t stop whining about how his fiance dumped him. Get over it loser.

ISBN: 0375725342
The Art Of Travel
If the art of travel can only be figured out by going to the Bahamas with your girlfriend then I’m doing it all wrong. Utter tripe.

Do you want to read more book reviews? Click here for the previous set.

83 Comments
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josh
josh
11 years ago

Recomendations:

“The lie” and “The Average American Male” both by Chad Kultgen.

They are both hillarious. The lie especially will remind you of your days in college.

The Average American Male doesn’t read like a novel. It reads like a biography of yourself. It’s quite strange.

Get back to me.

The Brooklyn Boy
11 years ago

Oh, man. On the Road took me more effort and more attempts than any book I can remember outside of Mrs. Dalloway, and that is the archnemises of my reading life. I liked OTR — or wanted to — but stop driving back and forth across the damn country and DO SOMETHING. Ha.

The Brooklyn Boy’s last blog post: Two Haikus.

josh
josh
11 years ago

Forgot my email.

Rudy and Blitz
Rudy and Blitz
11 years ago

Just now reading Orwell, Miller, Kundera, and Vonnegut? Did you go to high school or college? Jeez. You are right about On the Road, though.

Anyway, you might like Dos Passos (Manhattan Transfer or USA Trilogy), Kundera’s The Joke, Easton Ellis’ Less than Zero, Saul Bellow, or Delillo, particularly White Noise.

DF
DF
11 years ago

I think ‘American Psycho’ is one of the most underrated satires in American literature. Its awesome and yes, a tough read. I’d recommend Dostoyevksi’s ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ but that’s kind of a long and involved read.

chris
chris
11 years ago

Want expat..ahem..literature…I recommend “The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia” by Mark Ames. Trust me.

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

Some recommendations:

Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
At about page 500 or so of this 750 page magnum opus, I wondered whether I was going to love or hate the book when I got to the end. Pynchon’s prose crackles on every single page and the thing is brimming with absurdist humor. Tyrone Slothrop is at once the single most pathetic character in literary history (which says a lot given that you’ve read Slaughterhouse 5), as well as the most moving. A tremendous (and tremendously rewarding), if difficult, book.

Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
While failures of dialogue are frequent (meaning that the dialogue is occasionally pretty stilted), Roberts has a good ear for descriptive detail and he is a master storyteller. The 900 or so pages fly by.

Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
A well-written and extremely moving call to arms. Mandela emerges from this as perhaps the most human hero of the twentieth century.

Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
Follett is a vastly superior writer to most other potboiler writers out there. But he’s also got one thing that most of them don’t have and that’s the ability to weave together a massive cast of characters, tones, and plot into one cohesive, satisfying whole. This is long (over 900 pages), but breathtakingly quick reading.

The Fate of Africa – Martin Meredith
If you are even remotely interested in African history or politics, this is your introduction. Meredith brilliantly synopsizes the history of the continent since independence. This is history writ large – tragedy, crazy characters (Lumumba, Bokassa, Amin, etc.), humor – it’s got it all. Meredith is also an exceptional writer and the pages go by very quickly.

Greg
Greg
11 years ago

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

jkc
jkc
11 years ago

i agree with American Psycho. misunderstood and brilliant, not to mention extremely well-written. i think 20-30 years from now, it will be regarded as a masterpiece…

If you like Ellis’ style, check out “The Delivery Man” by Joe McGinnis. added bonus – he lives in DC!

Ida
Ida
11 years ago

Catch 22. Read it. You’ll love it.

The Kite Runner is yuck. Starts off fantastically. Story line went downhill once the father croaked.

Sam Midhurst
Sam Midhurst
11 years ago

Orwell… yes indeed.

I just finished Crossing California by Adam Langer. It was a great read. It’s set in Chicago in the late 70’s. He takes a bunch of characters and does a great job at weaving their stories together.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Clash of Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington. Will help a lot in your understanding of conflicts and cultures all over the world. Always gives me something to say to a foreigner about her country when I meet one in DC. I need to reread this.

About Into the Wild: the guy was a complete moron. Giving up money and possessions is fine, but he died like a fool.

Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
11 years ago

Book recommendations, where do I begin?

Well, first off I have to recommend Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Essentially these are the personal philosophical musings of the most powerful man in his time (he was the Emperor of Rome). This was a personal journal he kept while he was on a military campaign fighting the barbarians in Europe. I’m sure you can read it for free on the internet.

Another book I’d recommend is Cosmos by Carl Sagan. Just an all around amazing book. If you don’t feel like reading the book, watch the documentary series for free on Hulu.

Lastly, I would have recommended Guns, Germs and Steel over Collapse by Jared Diamond.

Firepower
Firepower
11 years ago

When I crash into the vapid fleshbags of Barworld, I’m encouraged that people like me can still appreciate literature. That is, until they hunt us down and execute us.

Read H.G. Wells The Time Machine and

Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day.

TTM has the usual Wells social insight that was way too un-PC for the movies. Disturbing

Rajia
Rajia
11 years ago

Vonnegut – “Welcome to the Monkey House”.

Kerouac – I found that The Dharma Bums was far superior to On the Road.

And for Krakauer, I prefer Into Thin Air to Into the Wild. I seriously read it in one night, then read it again. Then read The Climb, and then read Into Thin Air again. Am waiting patiently for his book on Pat Tillman and the war.

Rajia
Rajia
11 years ago

Oh – and also “Crossing Over” by Ruben Martinez.

Chuck
11 years ago

“On the Road” is a great book. Don’t know how you didn’t like it.

Good pick up on the Hunter S. Thompson, although “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Fear and Loathing: Campaign Trail 1972” are much better.

You *have* to read Charles Bukowski’s novels if you haven’t already. “Post Office” is hilarious. First time I’d ever heard the word “shack-job” as term for woman who lives with you. It’s also the quintessential drunk, struggling writer novel.

Others:

“The electric kool-aid acid test” – Tom Wolfe

“Hip: The History” – John Leland, gives insight into the development of what’s been cool in America

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – Ken Kesey

“Moneyball” – Michael Lewis

“Junky” – William S. Burroughs

Also, if you’re feeling philosophical, check out Jiddu Krishnamurti. He’s a dead indian guy, but he doesn’t spout all this Buddhist/Hindu b.s. He’s above that.

Chuck’s last blog post: The Directional Burp.

Kathryn
Kathryn
11 years ago

Excellent write-up.

Re: Into the Wild – I would argue he was both courageous *and* stupid. A little preparation would have gone a long way.

Re: Ivan Denisovitch – I had to write about that for private school in 9th grade, then milked it for a 10th grade public school assignment that I handed in late but snuck into the teacher’s grading pile (after she told me she would not accept it late) and got an A without a single comment about its tardiness. Therefore, I love this book.

Re: On the Road – I haven’t read this since 11th grade, when I wrote my AP English final paper on the Beat Generation. I so enjoyed my teacher’s inability to pronounce Kerouac – and the fact that she’d never even heard of him – that I will always love this book.

de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville
11 years ago

I second Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball” — ostensibly a book about baseball and statistics but it has become required reading for many MBA students. Very readable.

I also suggest:

– Sudhir Venkatesh’s “Gang Leader for a Day” — about a Chicago sociology grad student who infiltrates a Chicago South Side gang to see how black market capitalism really works.

http://www.amazon.com/Gang-Leader-Day-Sociologist-Streets/dp/014311493X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238002197&sr=1-1

– Ha-joon Chang’s “Bad Samaritans” — Cambridge Professor Ha-joon Chang’s revolutionary argument that developed countries became successful precisely through high tariffs and protection of infant industries and NOT free trade, and these countries are kicking away the ladder for developing countries by forcing on them a free trade regime. Sounds like dry economic reading but he writes it with personal anecdotes for laymen.

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Samaritans-Secret-History-Capitalism/dp/1596915986/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238002642&sr=1-1

– Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” — Very well-written work on the premise that success is just as attributable to luck, background, and situational factors as it is to the commonly held notion of personal abilities or innate genius.

http://www.amazon.com/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwell/dp/0316017922/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238002940&sr=1-1

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Blindness by Jose Saramago. Great novel that shows the fraility of our society. As society melts away – how does basic human nature take over?

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Anyone who recommends a Malcolm Gladwell book is either:
1) dumb
2) naive
3) not an independent thinker

I read him before I realized how terrible of a thinker he was. His writing is great, it flows well, but they package some very poor ideas. E.g., Blink: trust your instincts, except when you shouldn’t. Outliers: To be successful, work hard, but often you need more and let me give you this one ancedotal example superficially paraphrased from wikipedia to prove to you why.

Sebastian Flyte
11 years ago

Ivan Denisovitch is one of the best books I’ve read. I actually felt hungry after finishing it, a classic. I rarely if ever feel emotionally altered by a book, but One Day in the Life did that, it makes one appreciate what you have more.

Here are some good books:
Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis.

Bruce Charlton’s Psychiatry and the Human Condition – explains how hunter gatherers had it best and how malaise is natural in an unnatural world. Brilliant. All online
http://mangans.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-were-unhappy-truth-of-noble-savage.html#comments

http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/psychhuman.html

Sebastian Flyte’s last blog post: Art of Pickup.

Chuck
11 years ago

de Tocqueville:

is Chang’s “Bad Samaritans” really that groundbreaking?

I recently had to read a paper by Harvard economist Dani Rodrik discussing how the Washington Consensus (a series of bullet points for success of emerging economies) was an utter failure. He pointed to India and China as evidence that countries can forget all the free trade crap and be highly successful.

China has benefited greatly from America’s free-trade posture while they have been relatively closed.

Very interesting implications, I’m just wondering if Chang originally developed that thought. Any insight into that? Thanks.

Chuck’s last blog post: The Directional Burp.

lurker
lurker
11 years ago

Walden, or Life in the Woods—Henry David Thoreau.

Perfect book for a simple way of living. Very in tune with Roosh’s lifestyle, except with no talk of game.

Other than that, though, its philosophy on money, work, nature, men, civilization, and living are right in line with Roosh’s.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Roosh is to be commended for being able to finish books that he hates.

I lost that wherewithall a few years back. If I get 100 pages in and its a chore at that point, I just chuck it. I even dumped a book recently that was by one of my favorite authors because it had an awful, unbelievable plot. It was called the Gatehouse. It was a follow-up to one of my all time favorite novels, The Gold Coast. I couldn’t finish the new book, and refused to make myself labor in my spare time by doing so. I guess Im getting lazy in that regard. Its a waste of money, but still………

Ive done some movies in the past few years the same way. If they still suck forty minutes in………I’m inclined to leave and waste my money rather than sit through it attempting to daydream about what chores need doing that evening.