Some blog posts have clever themes; others are just lists of cool things. This post is of that second kind. Please enjoy.
Abbott, Edwin – Flatland: a Romance of Many Dimensions – This is my favorite book. It looks like a nice little fable about a two-dimensional world full of talking shapes, but it’s really a scathing criticism of Victorian society. Flatland is in the public domain now, so you can go get yourself a free ebook version. (Bonus: book on CD!)
Adams, Douglas – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Travel through space with Marvin the paranoid android and learn how you should react when someone calls you a “hoopy frood.” This may be the book that taught me how to be sarcastic. (Super Bonus Jackpot Bonanza: book on CD, ebook, original radio scripts, movie, television show!)
Cabot, Meg – Airhead – Average girl has brain transplant and wakes up in supermodel’s body. First in a trilogy, and yes, I’ve read them all. Don’t hate. It’s amusing fluff, despite the “only my boyfriend can help me now” crap that turns up now and then.
Dunn, Mark – Ibid – The fictional biography of a three-legged man told entirely in footnotes. What more can I possibly say? (Except perhaps that another of his books, Ella Minnow Pea, will do wonders for your vocabulary.)
Dutch, Dana – Romance Without Tears – 50s comics about young women falling in love but not acting like morons or putting up with jerks. Amazing stuff.
Fforde, Jasper – Shades of Grey – In a society that’s short on spoons, social standing is based on the ability to see colors. Also, no one can see at night. That’s a big one. And sometimes the roads eat people. That’s kind of important, too. (Bonus: ebook!)
Higashino, Keigo – Salvation of a Saint – A man with a plan is murdered by someone with an even bolder plan. One of a series about a detective and his physics professor pal that’s being translated into English. (Bonus: book on CD!)
Ozeki, Ruth – My Year of Meats – A Japanese-American documentary maker finds herself producing a television show designed to sell American meats to Japanese housewives. Surreal and alarming.
Timm, Uwe – The Invention of Curried Sausage – This one’s part war story, part messed-up love story, and part sausage story. It was published in Germany in the late 90s, but it’s set in the late 80s and reaches back to the mid 40s. Sort of a time-travelling sausage frame narrative thing going on here.
Colquhoun, Kate – Murder in the First-Class Carriage – Quite possibly the most gentle book about a vicious beating that you’ll ever read – features an oddly boring Trans-Atlantic chase and an awful lot of information about hats. But it is chock-full of amusing British spellings.
Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe – It’s possible that you’ll learn more from this series than you did from all of your high school teachers combined. It’s also very funny.
Johnson, Steven – The Ghost Map – A little bit about medicine, a little bit about plumbing, and a lot about bodily fluids. Ew. But in a good way. Or at least in an educational way. (Bonus: book on CD, eaudio!)
Shirer, William – The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – On one hand, you’re learning about Hitler’s income taxes. On the other, the author keeps using the phrase “homo-sexual perverts.” But you could say that in 1960, when this book was first published. (Bonus: really long book on CD, eaudio!)
Summerscale, Kate – Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace – A good book, though not nearly as salacious as the title would lead you to believe. It’s more about Victorian intellectual life and the early days of British divorce courts. (Bonus: book on CD!)
– Amy, who apparently enjoys sarcasm, history, and fluffy teen fiction