I have a lot of books waiting to be read. This isn’t all of them, but I’ve decided they’re the first ones on the list. Mostly because they fill up the shelf. Also, this doesn’t count the book I’m currently reading, which is a collection of Gasoline Alley strips from 1918, before Skeezix got added to the cast.
Going left to right, and summing up as quickly as I can:
Friday Night Lights: The book that spawned the movie and television show. It’s supposed to be really good! By Buzz Bissinger, who was a good sportswriter, then a guy who complained about nerds on the Internet, then a guy who wore a lot of leather clothing.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: I have heard that this is really quite readable. I took Latin in high school, but the only parts of Roman history that I’m strong on are Caesar’s Gallic campaigns. I need the education!
The Road: Everyone says this is an amazing book. I’ve had it sitting around for years. I’m hoping that having it staring at me will give me some motivation.
Finnegans Wake: Speaking of snob appeal, I really want to have read this book. Actually reading it is another story, because it’s…not really in English. It actually kind of reminds me of the way John Lennon wrote in In His Own Write, except that it just keeps going.
A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake: Naturally, you can’t just read Finnegans Wake on your own. Seriously, it’s impossible. So this book goes basically line by line and explains all the cross-language puns and stuff. I think my plan is to read one page of Finnegans Wake and then have this book explain it, then read the page again. Repeat until I’m done. I’ve had this plan for a really long time, though, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.
No Logo: It’s about globalization and consumerism. I admit I feel a little uncomfortable with how many of my clothes have logos on them.
Strange Tales of the Century: A sourcebook for the RPG Spirit of the Century. The part I love is an exhaustive rundown of all the standard characters found in adventure pulp fiction. It’s by Jess Nevins, who did those great annotations for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The Time Traveler’s Almanac: A collection of time travel stories. Fun!
EE “Doc” Smith: The four Skylark of Space books. Classic science fiction from 1928.
Steal Like a Artist: It’s about creativity. And it’s short!
Science and Sanity: Okay, Here’s the thing about this. I don’t know if Alfred Korzybski was a nut or not. I know Robert Heinlein thought he was a genius and worked a lot of Korzybski’s ideas into his writing. So did Asimov. And so did Robert Anton Wilson. And, um, so did L. Ron Hubbard. So this is a secretly influential work and I’d like to know what it actually says. I think this is the book I’ve had longest without actually reading it.
The New Annotated Lovecraft: As you may have heard, H.P. Lovecraft is a problematic writer. He had a lot of interesting ideas and was very influential on the fields of science fiction and horror. He was also very racist, which probably led to his general themes of xenophobia. And his writing is sometimes comically ornate. I think the best way to come to terms with his stuff is to put it in context, which Leslie Klinger should be great at. His Annotated Sherlock Holmes was tremendous.
Yes, Please: Amy Poehler’s great.
Do Not Sell At Any Price: The world of people who collect absurdly rare 78 RPM records.
A Song in the Dark: About super-early movie musicals, right after movies had sound. I love this era, because people were just figuring out what could be done with movies and they made some really odd choices sometimes. I’ve read this once already, but I need to go back through and make a list of movies to watch.
Li’l Abner: The first two years of the comic strip Li’l Abner. It’s supposed to be a brilliant strip, but all I really know about is the sage musical. I got this after reading American Cornball, which referenced Li’l Abner a lot.
Playing at the World: This is an amazingly detailed look at the origins of D&D. I’ve read most of it, but I need to buckle down and get through it. Play-by-mail Diplomacy was very important to the concept of pretending to be a historical figure in charge of an army, apparently.
Play Unsafe: The thesis of this book is that if you’re running an RPG, you shouldn’t prepare at all. Just improv your way through it. I really want to do this!
Complete Book of Chess Strategy: I feel that I ought to be better at chess than I am.
Creativity, Inc.: Everyone says this was great. I’m not 100% sure what it’s about. Creativity, probably. Right?
The Bone Clocks: The author of Cloud Atlas (which I liked for its ambition) wrote another book that got critical acclaim.
A Curious Man: A biography of Robert Ripley, of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” In his youth, he did a lot of traveling, then he was a world-famous cartoonist. So I bet he had an interesting life.