stack of books


"All that man has done, thought, gained or been:
It is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.
They are the chosen possessions of man."

I (pretty much) keep up with several periodicals:

The Wall Street Journal
The Economist
Science News
Latitude 38

I also read books: Lots of non-fiction, plus brain candy such as science fiction and mysteries. My long sailing trip was a reader's treat. Sea time is reading time. In a year, I was able to read dozens of books, perhaps even a hundred.

Since I've put together a list with some pretty good books, please allow me to mention a really good online bookstore:
Are you shopping for a book? Consider shopping here: Better World books

Books I particularly liked or which made a strong impression are highlighted.
The top ten favorites are marked with a Gold Star.    Picking just ten was very difficult.

I belong to a few book groups, which each meet every month or two. The lists below are about ten years' worth of book group picks:

Book Group 1 (The Peninsula Reading and Dessert Society) over several years read and discussed:
  • "Snow Crash," Neal Stephenson
  • "Tortilla Flat," Steinbeck
  • "The Bridge on the Drina," Ivo Andric
  • "The American Way of Death," Jessica Mitford
  • "Biopiracy," Vandana Shiva
  • "Across Realtime," Vernor Vinge
  • "The Solace of Open Spaces," Gretel Ehrich
  • "Dear Digby," Carol Muske-Dukes
  • "Into the Wild," Jon Krakauer
  • "Their Eyes were Watching God," Zora Neale Hurston
  • "School Girls," Peggy Orenstein
  • "The Bean Trees," Barbara Kingsolver
  • "King Leopold’s Ghost," Adam Hochschild
  • "Ex Libris," Anne Fadiman
  • "Daughter of the Queen of Sheba," Jackie Lyden
  • "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Milan Kundera
  • "Beyond Good and Evil," Nietsche
  • "The Discourses," Machiavelli
  • "Airing Dirty Laundry," Ishmael Reed
  • "Before Night Falls," Reinaldo Arenas
  • "The Reader," Bernhard Schlink
  • "Opelia Speaks," Sara Shaidler
  • "The Undertaking," Thomas Lynch
  • "Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone," JK Rowling
  • "Goddess of the Americas," Castillo (ed.)
  • "Actual Innocence," Dwyer et al
  • "Who’s Irish," Gish Jen
  • "Adventures of a Bystander," Peter Drucker
  • "John Wayne’s America," Garry Wills
  • "Shrub, the Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush," Molly Ivins
  • "Captains Courageous," Rudyard Kipling
  • "Pay It Forward," Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • "If the Gods Had Meant for Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates," Jim Hightower
  • "The White Nile," Morrehead
  • "When We Were Orphans," Karuo Ishiguro
  • "The Meaning of It All," Richard Feynman
  • "The Romantics," Pankaj Mishra
  • "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families," Philip Gourevich
  • "Bobos in Paradise," David Brooks   Gold Star
  • "A Man Called Intrepid," William Stevensen
  • "Nickel and Dimed," Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "A Peace to End All Peace," David Frankin
  • "Spelling Clarence," Anne Ursu
  • "Why God Won’t Go Away," Newberg, D’Aquili, & Rause
  • "The Disappearance of Childhood," Neal Postman
  • "Demian," Herman Hesse
  • "Autobiography of a Face", Lucy Grealy
  • "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier& Clay", Michael Chabon
  • "The Eyre Affair", Jasper Fforde   Gold Star
  • "Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies", Jared Diamond   Gold Star
This group folded in 2003 or 2004 because too many of us were in grad school and scheduling got to be a big problem.

Book Group 2 (The mostly-Stanford, mostly-Doctor book group) enjoyed:
  • "The Moral Animal", Robert Wright
  • "Selected Stories", Nadine Gordimer
  • "Angle of Repose", Wallace Stegner
  • "Conquest of Happiness", Bertrand Russell
  • "House of the Spirits", Isabel Allende
  • "The Moral Animal", again
  • "The Lexus and the Olive Tree," Thomas Friedman
  • "The Perfect Storm," Sebastian Junger
  • "East And West," Christopher Patten
  • "Big Trouble," Dave Barry
  • "BoBos in Paradise," David Brooks
  • "White Teeth," Zadie Smith
  • "Man Called Intrepid," William Stevenson
  • "Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire," Chalmers Johnson
  • "Emotional Intelligence," Daniel Golman
  • "Amusing Ourselves To Death," Neil Postman
  • "The Sweetest Dream," Doris Lessing
  • "Roughing It," Mark Twain
  • "Enduring Love," Ian McEwan
  • "The Botany of Desire," Michael Pollan   Gold Star
  • "Doing School," Denise Pope
  • "The Arabian Nights," trans. Sir Richard Francis Burton (skimmed; didn't read them all)
  • "Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before," Tony Horwitz
  • "Bringing Down the House: The Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took vegas for Millions," Ben Mezrich
  • "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," Al Franken
  • "The Moon and Sixpence," W. Somerset Maugham
  • "The Culture of Fear," Glassner
  • "Dark Star Safari.," Paul Theroux
  • "Yellow Dog," Martin Amis
  • "The Professor & the Madman," Simon Winchester
  • "The Devil in the White City," Erik Larson
  • "An Equal Music," Vicram Seth
  • "The Kite Runner," Khaled Hosseini
  • "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything," Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • "The Human Stain," Philip Roth replaces "Canterbury Tales," Chaucer
  • "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy," Greg Palast
  • "A Constant Friend," John Le Carré
  • "A Question of Torture," A. McCoy
  • "The Earth Dwellers," Eric Hoyt
  • "The Unbearable Lightess of Being," Milan Kundera
  • "A Dirty Job," Christopher Moore   Gold Star
  • "The Optimist's Daughter," Eudora Welty
  • "Conned Again, Watson," Colin Bruce
  • "Fatherhood," Bill Cosby
  • "The Tender Bar," JD Moehringer
  • "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Michael Pollan
  • "No Country for Old Men," Cormack McCarthy
  • "The Pilgrimage," Paulo Coelho
  • "The Socrates Cafe," Christopher Phillips
  • "Six Questions of Socrates," Christopher Phillips
  • "An American Romance," John Casey
  • "Mountains Beyond Mountains," Tracy Kidder
  • "The Audacity of Hope," Barack Obama   Gold Star
  • "Three Cups of Tea," Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin   Gold Star
  • "The White Tiger," Aravind Adiga
  • "Lost in a Good Book," Jasper Fforde
  • "Tobacco Road," Erskine Caldwell
  • "The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood," Helene Cooper   Gold Star
  • "The Given Day", Dennis Lehane
  • "The Secret River", Kate Grenville
  • "The Book Thief", Markus Zusak
  • "Neuromancer", William Gibson
  • "A Fine Balance", Rohinton Mistry
  • "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", Stieg Larsson
  • "My Stroke of Insight", Jill Bolte Taylor
  • "The Brain That Changes Itself", Norman Doidge
  • "Shop Class As Soulcraft", Matthew B. Crawford
  • "Shadow Tag", Louise Erdrich
  • "Factory Girls", Leslie Chang
  • "Hunger Games", Suzanne Collins
  • "The Map That Changed the World", Simon Winchester
  • "The Windup Girl", Paolo Bacigalupi
  • "Einstein's Dreams", Alan Lightman

There was a Book Group 3, but it folded for lack of a cute nickname.

While I was getting my MBA, I tried to start a Finance book group, but it didn't take off.
In a nutshell, the problem was that students always have too much to read anyway.

...and of course, I read some books all by myself ;-) Quite a few. Here are some that stood out from the last year or two:

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"The ancient commission of the writer has not changed.  He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement.  Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit-- for gallantry in defeat-- for courage, compassion and love.  In the endless war against weakness and dispair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation."
                              -John Steinbeck

dangerous books

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modified 2011-10-04