1995 Wunderfool Reading List

Rating Guide
**** Stop reading this review and get this book
*** Definitely worth your time
** Not bad, but not a must-read, either
* Better than reading the shampoo label, maybe
no stars Reading this may damage your brain
MOTS = More Of The Same (Not necessarily bad. See previous reviews of same author.)

  1. ** Streiker’s Morning Sun, Robin Hardy. MOTS
  2. * The Sword Of Shanara, Terry Brooks. Very forgetable, mediocre writing. Waste of time and paper.
  3. *** The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco. Great first book, easier reading than the second. Recommended reading, but not for the faint of heart. Listen to Gregorian Chants while reading. Best with a nice wine or brandy and a pipe or two.
  4. ** All’s Fair: In Love, Politics, and Running for President, Mary Matalin and James Carville. Disappointing. I was fascinated by this marriage of a rabid Democrat and a rabid Republican, but there was very little in here about their relationship. It was primarily a journal of the ups and downs of the 1992 Presidential race.
  5. **** Tempest-Tost, A Mixture of Frailties, A Leaven of Malice, Robertson Davies. An excellent trilogy (The Salterton Trilogy) from one of my favorites. My previous experiences with Davies (two novels) have both been rather serious works, so it was a surprise and a joy to discover the two lighter novels that form the first two parts of this trilogy, with some remarkably excellent writing. The third novel seemed a complete change of gears as far as tone, but was still quite well written and eventually very entertaining. Strongly recommended reading.
  6. *** Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, James Garner. Amusing. Worth the read.
  7. *** Lord Of The Flies, William Golding. I read this over 20 years ago, but somebody checked out the movie and we watched it and so I had to read it again. What an excellent book, if somewhat depressing. Highly recommended reading.
  8. *** To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee. Excellent, recommended reading. I think I have read this one before a long time ago. I decided to read it again because Sarah was reading it for school. I think they should have saved it for a few years. She would understand a lot more in about 3 years. Milly rented the video with Gregory Peck. I didn’t see it because the Hs. came over and Traci didn’t want to watch it because it was sad. However, Sarah said it wasn’t near as good as the book, so I didn’t waste my time with it.
  9. *** The Ides of March, Thornton Wilder. Very good book, recommended reading, but not for the average bear. Lots of reflection on the nature of life, religion, human nature, etc. Just happened to have a lot of relevance to where I was at the time. I think first person is easier to achieve a natural tone, but I remember reading somewhere that first person is harder to write effectively than third. I don’t remember why, now.
  10. *** The Thanatos Syndrome, Walker Percy. Interesting book, well-written, recommended reading, with some reservations. This almost seems like two books, or one book written in two gears. The first 200 pages are mainly reflection on the human condition, human nature, society, etc. The last 200 pages are a fast-paced action-thriller type of stuff, with the ATF bugging phones and following people and busting a child pornography ring. (With rather explicit descriptions of the photographs I could have done without!) Also, there are many places where we get in on the thinking of the protagonist, (since it is first person) but then, when the action hits, we often have to guess what he is thinking from the dialogue. Rather strange mix of styles.
  11. *** Roughing It, Mark Twain. Some excellent parts, but also some slow parts. Got to remember to pull some quotes out. It is rather spotty, but there are some really good sections. If there were a best-sections version about half the size, it would be a must read kind of thing. As it is, I would still recommend it, but I find that most people are not willing to read really gripping, high quality stuff, so there’s no chance that they will read something that takes a little digging to find the gems.
  12. ** Beating the Street, Peter Lynch. Decided it would be a good summer project to learn about investing in the stock market. This is the first book I’ve read on it and it was not boring, unlike my expectation. Great writing and lots of good advice, it seems. Not enough to completely educate me, however.
  13. ** Stock Picking, Richard Maturi. Another good book on the stock market, but a little drier than Lynch.
  14. *** A Burnt-Out Case, Graham Greene. Another great Greene book. Recommended reading.
  15. ** Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives, Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Book left for me by C. to pass on to K. I read it. Not bad.
  16. *** A Palm for Mrs. Polifax, Dorothy Gillam. MOTS. Getting better.
  17. **** The Tragedy of American Compassion, Marvin Olasky. A must read. Highly recommended reading. All UUs should be forced to take an extensive written and oral exam on this information.
  18. **** A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole. See reviews from 1993. I was cleaning out the book case and ran across this one and decided to re-read it. Very funny. Highly recommended reading, but not for prudes.
  19. *** Winter in Eden, Harry Harrison. MOTS.
  20. *** Return to Eden, Harry Harrison. MOTS.
  21. Prophet Motive, Cleo Jones. Trashy mystery set in Utah and based on Mormon culture. Complete waste of time.
  22. ** Who Killed What’s-Her-Name? , Elizabeth Daniels Squire. Mediocre writer, decent plot, kept me wondering in spite of the occasional groaner, like “Mother put rocks in the front yard. They made the lawn look rugged. Rugged. Like we would have to be.” But, if you can survive such things, it’s an entertaining read.
  23. *** The Medical Detectives, Volume 2, Berton Roueche’. Case histories of difficult diagnoses or challenges in isolating the source of epidemics. Worth the read.
  24. *** Rumpole for the Defense, John Mortimer. Carole M. picked up The Second Rumple Omnibus for me at a used bookstore in California, so I’m reading the whole thing, even though I have read part of it before. This one I had not read, and it was quite good, as is usual for Rumpole. Recommended reading.
  25. *** Rumpole and the Golden Thread, John Mortimer. MOTS, which is good. Recommended reading.
  26. *** Rumpole’s Last Case, John Mortimer. I remember some of the stories, but not others. At any rate, first-class Rumpole material. Recommended reading.
  27. ** Bad Habits, Dave Barry. Written in early to mid 80’s, fairly humorous.
  28. *** The Man In The Corner, Baroness Orczy. Nice little armchair mysteries from the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Very little character development but nice puzzles.
  29. ** Memnock: The Devil, Ann Rice. Helene made me read it. Not too bad, but I doubt if I’ll read any more of her stuff.
  30. *** McNally’s Luck, Lawrence Sanders. Helene made me read this one, too. This guy is a great writer, although the protagonist is as randy as a billy goat Catch these quotes (which are paraphrases, since I’ve already returned the book), “Like most men, my life is a contest between brains and glands. You would do best to bet the Old Grey Matter to place.” “He knitted his eyebrows, which, given their hirsuteness, could have resulted in a sweater.” “He was a self-proclaimed poet and his first book, The Joy of Flatulence, was so obscure and cryptic that the critics labeled him a genius.”
  31. *** A Morbid Taste for Bones, Ellis Peters. I’ve been looking for some books in the Caedfel series for some time, and Mark H. up and loans me a couple. Not bad.
  32. *** One Corpse Too Many, Ellis Peters. Another Caedfel. Pretty good. Check out the last sentence in the book. “From the highest to the lowest extreme of man’s scope, wherever justice and retribution can reach, so can grace.” Recommended reading.
  33. *** McNally’s Risk, Lawrence Sanders. “Her conversation was a diarrhea of words and a constipation of ideas.”
  34. *** McNally’s Caper, Lawrence Sanders. MOTS.
  35. * Bittersweet Grace: Twentieth-Century Religious Satire, Walter Wagoner. A big disappointment. Most of the selections weren’t satire at all, but commentary or observation. However, there were a few good selections, most of which I had read before, such as an excerpt from Elmer Gantry and one from Life With Father.
  36. *** The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christi. Mark H. loaned it to me, so I felt compelled to read it. I’ve been saving Christi for my twilight years, but I guess it won’t hurt to read one occasionally. Very good.
  37. *** The Marlowe Chronicles, Lawrence Sanders. I’ve succumbed to the obligation to read whatever people loan to me. The problem is, it’s all so good. Of course Helene keeps pumping Sanders in my direction, and he’s such a great writer that I find it hard to resist reading them, even though they have way more sex and profanity than I prefer in an author. This one was very well done, written in the mid 70’s.
  38. *** Taliesin, Stephen Lawhead.
  39. *** Merlin, Stephen Lawhead.
  40. *** Arthur, Stephen Lawhead. Since Daniel was reading these, I decided to finally finish the series. Not bad. Probably the best stuff Lawhead has done. I hear there’s a fourth one out.
  41. ** The Fourth Deadly Sin, Lawrence Sanders. Not bad.
  42. ** Lost In The Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, Walker Percy. Amusing in an erudite way. Thought-provoking in spots. Quite slow reading over all.
  43. *** Pendragon, Stephen Lawhead. MOTS
  44. *** Murther and Walking Spirits, Robertson Davies. No time to do this justice now.
  45. *** Death Is A Lonely Business, Ray Bradbury.
  46. *** The American Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Hugh Greene. Graham Greene’s brother!
  47. *** Lancelot, Walker Percy. Well-written, but too explicit in a few spots. Not near as egregious as The Thanatos Syndrome, but there nonetheless. I wonder that Bennett ranks Percy #1, but maybe I’ll figure it out one day. Recommended reading.
  48. *** Maigret and the Gangsters, Simenon. Good stuff.
  49. **** Trent’s Last Case, E. C. Bentley. Highly recommended reading for mystery fans and pretty much anybody else, too. Dedicated to G.K. Chesterton (a contemporary, and evidently boyhood companion, of Bentley), forward by Dorothy Sayers, blurb by Agitha Christi calling it the best detective novel ever written. The last chapter is a gem purely on writing alone, not to mention the complete whiplash of plot that occurs.
  50. * Many Waters, Madeline L’Engle. Waste of time and paper. Poorly written.
  51. *** The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene. MOTS, quite good.
  52. *** The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gillam. MOTS, entertaining.
  53. ** Winnie-The-Pooh on Problem-Solving, Allen. OK, but I found the Pooh stuff distracting me from learning problem-solving. I either want to read Pooh for the beauty of the writing, or learn problem-solving, but I don’t think I can do both at the same time.
  54. *** McNally’s Trial, Lawrence Sanders. MOTS.
  55. *** The $30,000 Bequest, Mark Twain. Some excellent stories, here. The title cut reminded me of Carissa R. Then there was “A Cure For The Blues” which reminded me of reviewing Mark S. early stories. Must pass this on to him. Recommended reading.
  56. *** Rumpole on Trial, John Mortimer. MOTS. Quite good, recommended reading.
  57. *** Mrs. Polifax on Safari, Dorothy Gilman. MOTS
  58. *** Mrs. Polifax on the China Station, Dorothy Gilman. MOTS