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The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Two Men Who Battled to Save Victorian London
By turns thought-provoking and irritating, The Ghost Map meanders from its central story -- how an unorthodox physician found the source of a cholera...more
Jan 28, 2008
Dec 14, 2007
John Adams
"No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it," wrote John Adams, and this superb biography by David McCul...more
Aug 28, 2008
Aug 26, 2008
This is the story of a man who does nothing... or almost nothing. Literally. It takes him over a hundred pages to get out of bed.

Sound dreadful? Well...more
Mar 1982
Aug 05, 2007
Arthur & George
I give five stars sparingly, so I was torn between giving and "four" and a "five" here. Ultimately, though, when I considered that I'd put aside all o...more
Dec 2007
Dec 14, 2007
Queen Lucia
This book is my cure for the doldrums -- a comic masterpiece. Granted, it helps to be an anglophile and a bit of a misanthrope to boot, but the antics...more
Apr 23, 2007
Aug 01, 2007
White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India

A grand, slow-moving procession through 18th-century India

Stately processions are a leit motif in William Dalrymple's epic account of a doomed love af

Aug 04, 2010
Jul 28, 2010
Cold Hand in Mine: Strange Stories
Robert Aickman's term for his stories is "strange," and indeed they are, but I tend to think of them as "disquieting." His fiction takes me places tha...more
Sep 2000
Aug 02, 2007
Greenmantle (Richard Hannay #2)
The Ripping-est of Ripping Yarns

I've got a special shelf, "Ripping Yarns," set up here at Goodreads devoted to this sort of tale. The salient feature...more
Nov 11, 2011
Nov 11, 2011
The Monster of Florence
The Dark Side of Italy or An Innocent Abroad

Douglas Preston and co-author Mario Spezi undertook their own investigation into an unsolved string of ser...more
Dec 08, 2008
Nov 30, 2008
Sea of Poppies
"The truth is, sir, that men do what their power permits them to do. We are no different from the Pharaohs or the Mongols: the difference is only that...more
Apr 03, 2011
Mar 07, 2011
Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World
Bananas on Bennies

I’m a big fan of “commodity histories” -- books on how everyday objects and products have become interwoven into our daily lives....more
Mar 07, 2011
Mar 04, 2011
Miss Mapp (Lucia, #3)
In the third of his six "Mapp and Lucia" novels, Benson shifts the scene from the village of Riseholme to that of Tilling. Here the social queen is no...more
Jan 1981
Aug 01, 2007
He Who Fears the Wolf (Inspector Konrad Sejer, #3)
I'd pretty much sworn off of detective novels, but two things made me pick up a few of Karen Fossum's crime novels: the Norwegian settings and the pro...more
Feb 2007
Aug 03, 2007
Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood
Terrific collection of Blackwood's best-known tales, including "The Willows" and "The Wendigo." Calling these thirteen tales "ghost stories" may be so...more
Oct 1998
Aug 01, 2007
The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman's Fight to Save the World's Most Beautiful Bird
I'm an admittedly "distracted" reader and often have several books going at once, but once I was a few pages into this one, I dropped all other readin...more
Jun 14, 2008
Feb 16, 2008
Thunder At Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914
I can think of few other books, save Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station and Andrei Biely's St. Petersburg, that so brilliantly captured the spirit...more
Aug 20, 2008
Aug 02, 2008
Loitering with Intent
One can't take Fleur Talbot, the central character of Loitering with Intent, entirely seriously, but then I think that may be the point. Fleur is slig...more
Aug 04, 2011
Aug 01, 2011
One of my favorite science fiction books in recent years, this intricately plotted book creates a complete world and is utterly absorbing. Tepper remi...more
May 2001
Aug 02, 2007
A Clubbable Woman (Dalziel & Pascoe, #1)
OMG this was awful... I was positively spellbound by its awfulness. It was dreadful on so many levels -- the prose, the plot, the very assumptions tha...more
Nov 1988
Aug 29, 2007
Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese
Hmmmm.... I was intrigued by a short video I saw on the WSJournal site, but this method is less useful than I thought it would be. Do I really think I...more
Mar 23, 2014
Mar 19, 2014
Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table
This proved the most insightful -- and unexpectedly useful -- book I read prior to going to New Orleans. In fact, you could say it provided a springbo...more
Mar 17, 2008
Feb 23, 2008
Around the World in 72 Days
Nelly Bly's epic account of her trip around the world, undertaken as a publicity stunt in 1889-1890, has an unmistakable aura of Gilded Age enthusiasm...more
Jul 2000
Aug 02, 2007
Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War
Painstakingly argued, authoritative, original, and engrossing, this is the sort of book that I could read again soon and still profit from. (Which mea...more
Feb 20, 2013
Feb 12, 2013
The Purple Cloud (Frontiers of Imagination)
This is a strange and unsettling novel, quite original. It chronicles one man's discovery that he is the last man on earth. The central character, Ada...more
Feb 2000
Aug 01, 2007
The Snake Charmer: A Life and Death in Pursuit of Knowledge
I'm at odds about this book. On one hand, I very much enjoyed learning more about herpetology and field biology. The best parts of the book, I thought...more
Dec 14, 2008
Aug 02, 2008
The Hours After Midnight:  Tales of Terror and the Supernatural
Le Fanu was an enormously influential writer in his time. It's said that his vampire tale Carmilla inspired Bram Stoker. Later on, two of the 20th cen...more
Apr 28, 2012
Aug 01, 2007
Lonely Planet Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
Newby writes in a now-well-established genre of travel writing: the improbable, disastrous trip taken to an unlikely place by the totally unprepared....more
Jan 04, 2009
Dec 15, 2008
Dear American Airlines
Oh. My. God. I kept listening to this book, hoping it would get better. It didn't.

Admittedly, it started off promisingly enough, with a virulent rant...more
May 03, 2011
Apr 28, 2011
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Dystopia, Revisited

The Hunger Games borrows heavily from issues explored in previous dystopian novels and stories. Obvious precursors include Shirley

Jun 30, 2012
Jun 26, 2012
The Rivals
I think it was this reading of The Rivals at age seventeen that disabused me of the notion that people several centuries back were not as fond of bein...more
Feb 1972
Aug 04, 2007
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