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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Mar 07, 2011
Mar 04, 2011
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
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
Some might feel that Wharton was out of her element here, but I found these perfectly jewel-like tales. They are, as is to be expected, stylistically ...more
Jun 1999
Aug 01, 2007
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
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
The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson
Not all of Benson's ghost stories hit the mark, but the ones that do -- well, they'll literally haunt you. My favorite stories in this anthology, thou ...more
May 1999
Aug 01, 2007
The Night Life of the Gods (Modern Library Paperbacks)
One of Thorne Smith's better outings. When a scientist pairs up with a witch with the ability to bring statues to life, chaos ensues. The two decide i ...more
Nov 2000
Aug 02, 2007
We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance
Anything with endurance in the title gets my attention, especially when it's a tale of survival. Add that to the fact that I was planning a winter tri ...more
Nov 2006
Aug 03, 2007
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
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
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
Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War
A few months ago, I visited China, staying in Nanjing, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou -- all foci during the long, devastating Taiping Civil War that ...more
Sep 22, 2014
May 27, 2014
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
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
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 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
Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
I feel bad not giving this book a higher rating. Heaven knows we can use more books that explain complex scientific material to the general public. Gi ...more
Sep 2008
Aug 18, 2008
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