Tag: List

10 Books from New York Times Best Books of the Year Lists

Selections mine, descriptions from NYTIMES. Book links go to Amazon, list links go to NYTIMES.

The 10 Best Books of 2021
How the Word is Passed
A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America
By Clint Smith
For this timely and thought-provoking book, Smith, a poet and journalist, toured sites key to the history of slavery and its present-day legacy, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary; and a Confederate cemetery. Interspersing interviews with the tourists, guides, activists and local historians he meets along the way with close readings of scholarship and poignant personal reflection, Smith holds up a mirror to America’s fraught relationship with its past, capturing a potent mixture of good intentions, earnest corrective, willful ignorance and blatant distortion.

Invisible Child
Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City
By Andrea Elliott
To expand on her acclaimed 2013 series for The Times about Dasani Coates, a homeless New York schoolgirl, and her family, Elliott spent years following her subjects in their daily lives, through shelters, schools, courtrooms and welfare offices. The book she has produced — intimately reported, elegantly written and suffused with the fierce love and savvy observations of Dasani and her mother — is a searing account of one family’s struggle with poverty, homelessness and addiction in a city and country that have failed to address these issues with efficacy or compassion.

Editors’ Choice: The Best Books of 1998
We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families
Stories From Rwanda.
By Philip Gourevitch.
In 1994 the Government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority of the country to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. In 100 days 800,000 people were killed, most of them individually cut down with knives. The daily killing rate exceeded that of the Nazi Holocaust, and the deed was done mostly not by trained cadres but by neighbors, co-workers, even family members. In the years since, Philip Gourevitch, a New Yorker writer, has talked to survivors, witnesses and participants to discover the origins and personal motives for this collective crime. His grim book — it is his first — lays a burden on the world’s conscience. This genocidal crime now has faces, names, personal psychologies. As we encounter people involved in the massacre, we cannot pull back from looking into their souls, and our own. As the title — taken from a letter by seven Christian pastors to their religious leader — indicates, there were warnings. Those given to international agencies, especially the United Nations, make dismal reading. And American policy, which encouraged the United Nations to stay out of internal conflicts, is sickening in retrospect. The history of Belgian, French and British racism in colonial times bears on the massacres too. Gourevitch withholds judgments, but his restraint gives his book a subtle, subterranean power.

Editors’ Choice: The Best Books of 1997
Into Thin Air 
A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster.
By Jon Krakauer.
Until May 1996, 630 people had climbed Mount Everest and 144 had died on it. That spring at least 30 expeditions of tourists made the climb. On May 10 a rogue storm blew up, and eight people in three separate expeditions approaching or leaving the summit died. Jon Krakauer, a 42-year-old writer, was with one team, assigned by Outside magazine to report on the commercialization of Everest. Although 12 people died altogether in 1996, he says, a record, 84 made it to the top, so it was a safer-than-average year. Krakauer explains the economic incentives for experienced climbers to lead groups of amateurs up the mountain, the even greater incentive for Nepal to license the trips and the total lack of incentive to limit the numbers risking their lives. When things go wrong in the death zone, the last 2,000 feet, and eventually they do, even the world’s best guides cannot save the tourists, or themselves. But his book does more than report on lethal tourism. He wrote it to ”purge Everest from my life.” It didn’t. It may put Everest ineradicably into your mind. This deftly constructed tale lets you sense the excruciating torture of climbing five miles high, the exhilarating and terrifying disorientation of oxygen starvation, the capricious moods of wind and snow, the strange seductiveness of death at odd moments. His re-creation of the storm that killed his companions swirls around the reader like the gale itself and gives this appalling struggle with death a horrifying intimacy.

Editors’ Choice 1992
By Pat Barker.
Pat Barker has been the model of a working-class realistic novelist, but here she leaps the lines of gender, class, geography and history at once. And she takes another daring chance: her novel is about real people who published their own memoirs. “Regeneration” is the story of the British poet Siegfried Sassoon, a World War I combat hero who in 1917 writes a highly publicized letter protesting the war and is sent by a baffled Government to a hospital where the distinguished neurologist and psychologist W. H. R. Rivers is pioneering treatments for shell shock. As an intense father-son relationship develops between the men, Ms. Barker’s themes — war and madness, war and manhood — make the madness of war more than metaphor. But, in the tradition of literary realism, she confronts reality without polemics, anger or artifice. Her story becomes a magnificent antiwar novel and a wonderful justification of her belief that plain writing, energized by the named things of the world, will change readers profoundly by bringing them deep into imagined lives.

Editors’ Choice 1988
Battle Cry of Freedom 
The Civil War Era.
By James M. McPherson.
James M. McPherson’s book – eloquent but unrhetorical, scholarly but not pedantic, succinct and comprehensive at the same time – may be the best volume ever published about the Civil War. Everything Mr. McPherson touches drives his narrative forward, and yet there is not a hint of ostentation from the first sentence to the last. He makes the war steal up on the reader the way it did on the nation, teaching the most important and dreadful truth of all – that no more than ordinarily sinful men and women, and able and patriotic politicians, and a nation enjoying unrivaled prosperity, can make irretrievable and deadly blunders. It is the timeliest possible lesson for us now, and we get it here from a great teacher.

The Magic Lantern
An Autobiography.
By Ingmar Bergman. Translated by Joan Tate.
It is not autobiography in the usual sense. For instance, there is much less about films than you might expect, even though Ingmar Bergman is the most thoroughly artistic film maker ever. And there is not much about his wives or other lovers, nor about his children. But there are gripping revelations, especially about his childhood, told in an unrelentingly honest manner. It is a random, anecdotal, unchronological book that gives you a picture of a highly emotional and not very adaptable soul. It holds you as many of his films do, and his story deals in totally unpredictable ways with a life filled with maladies and rages as well as with an intense love of theater. As in many of his films, by the end he has revealed things you may find it discomforting to know and a central character whom you may not like but who is stamped into your imagination.

Editors’ Choice 1986
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat 
And Other Clinical Tales.
By Oliver Sacks
With the lucidity and power of a gifted short-story writer, Oliver Sacks, an eminent neurologist, writes about two dozen patients who manifest striking peculiarities of perception, emotion, language, thought, memory or action. His decidedly original approach to neurological disorders – he writes like a philosopher-poet -is insightful, compassionate, moving and on occasion, especially when he plays naive about neurological literature, infuriating. His eminently humane approach, and his willingness to take seriously the ordinary locutions people use to talk about their conditions, are entirely to his credit. There is no one else who writes about what used to be called simply ”mental problems” with such understanding and such delightful literary and narrative skill.

Editors’ Choice 1985
Common Ground
A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families.
By J. Anthony Lukas.
Covering a great deal more than its subtitle suggests, this is a huge study of Boston in the 1970’s, when it was under the pressure of court-ordered busing to achieve school desegregation. The three families J. Anthony Lukas focuses on include only a handful of the hundreds of people in a multilayered account of the moral fabric of a city and the vastly different social universes of its neighborhoods. Eventually the turmoil surrounding the desegregation efforts is seen in the context of history, not just national history or that of Boston but the history of the little villages cities are made up of and in many cases even the histories of individuals.

Editors’ Choice 1984
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being
By Milan Kundera
With cunning, wit and elegiac sadness, Milan Kundera, the celebrated Czechoslovak emigre writer, expresses the trap the world has become in this relentless novel about four people who are born of images in Mr. Kundera’s mind – a doctor and his dedicated wife and a frivolous, seductive woman painter and her good, patient lover. The stories of this quartet, all of whom die or fade from the book, are engrossing enough. But this writer’s real business is to find images for the disastrous history of his country in his lifetime. He uses the four pitilessly, setting each pair against the other as opposites in every way, to describe a world in which choice is exhausted and people simply cannot find a way to express their humanity.

5 Short Novels

Indian Nocturne – 88 Pages
Antonio Tabucchi
Translated from the Italian, this winner of the Prix Medicis Etranger for 1987 is an enigmatic novel set in modern India. Roux, the narrator, is in pursuit of a mysterious friend named Xavier. His search, which develops into a quest, takes him from town to town across the subcontinent.

Wittgenstein’s Nephew – 114 pages
Thomas Bernhard
It is 1967. In separate wings of a Viennese hospital, two men lie bedridden. The narrator, named Thomas Bernhard, is stricken with a lung ailment; his friend Paul, nephew of the celebrated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, is suffering from one of his periodic bouts of madness. As their once-casual friendship quickens, these two eccentric men begin to discover in each other a possible antidote to their feelings of hopelessness and mortality—a spiritual symmetry forged by their shared passion for music, strange sense of humor, disgust for bourgeois Vienna, and great fear in the face of death. Part memoir, part fiction, Wittgenstein’s Nephew is both a meditation on the artist’s struggle to maintain a solid foothold in a world gone incomprehensibly askew, and a stunning—if not haunting—eulogy to a real-life friendship.

The Penitent – 114 Pages
Isaac Bashevis Singer
In 1969 I.B. Singer goes to the Wailing Wall for the first time and meets a man wearing ritual garments named Joseph Shapiro. Shapiro survived WWII in Poland and Russia, moved to the US and became a successful business man in New York. Over the next couple of days he tells Singer how he came to renounce his old life, move to Israel, and become an observant Jew.

Prater Violet – 146 Pages
Christopher Isherwood
Prater Violet concerns the filming of an unashamedly romantic and commercial musical about old Vienna. It is a stinging satirical novel about the film industry, trifling studio feuds, and the fatuous movie Prater Violet, which, ironically, counterpoints the tragic events on the world stage as Hitler’s lengthening shadow falls over the real Vienna of the thirties. At its center are vivid portraits of the mocking genius Friedrich Bergmann, the imperious, dazzlingly witty Austrian director, and his disciple, a genial young screenwriter-the fictionalized Christopher Isherwood.

The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith – 221 Pages
Thomas Keneally
In Australia at the turn of the twentieth century, Jimmie Blacksmith is desperate to figure out where he belongs. Half-Anglo and half-Aboriginal, he feels out of place in both cultures. Schooled in the ways of white society by a Protestant missionary, Jimmie forsakes tribal customs, adopts the white man’s religion, marries a white woman, and seeks a life of honest labor in a world Aborigines are normally barred from entering. But he will always be seen as less than human by the employers who cheat and exploit him, the fellow workers who deride him, and the wife who betrays him—and a man can only take so much. Driven by hopelessness, rage, and despair, Jimmie commits a series of savage and terrible acts of vengeance and becomes something he never thought he’d be: a murderer, a fugitive, and, ultimately, a legend.

NOTE – Selections mine, description via amazon.

10 Books Recommended by Flea

The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
The Slave – Isaac Bashevis Singer
Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape – Susan Brownmiller
Jazz – Toni Morrison
Coming Through Slaughter – Michael Ondaatje
True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey

There’s just too damn books so I gotta stop but those ones really had an impact.

Acid for the Children

5 Movies for Pride Month

Selections mine. Taglines/summary via IMDB.

Desert Hearts 1985
While waiting for her divorce papers, a repressed professor of literature is unexpectedly seduced by a carefree, spirited young lesbian.

Torch Song Trilogy 1988
Arnold is a gay man working as drag queen in 1971 NYC. He meets a handsome bisexual man.

Paris is Burning 1990
A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Brokeback Mountain 2005
Ennis and Jack are two shepherds who develop a sexual and emotional relationship. Their relationship becomes complicated when both of them get married to their respective girlfriends.

Moonlight 2016
A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.

ChatGpt – If I like these books what else would I like

If I like these books what else would I like:
The Exorcist
Rule of the Bone
The Beginning of Spring
Watership Down
The Penitent

Based on the books you listed, here are some recommendations for similar books:
  1. “The Shining” by Stephen King – Like “The Exorcist,” this is a classic horror novel that explores the darker aspects of human nature.
  2. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger – Like “Rule of the Bone,” this is a coming-of-age novel about a young protagonist who is trying to find his place in the world.
  3. “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov – Like “The Beginning of Spring,” this is a literary novel set in early 20th-century Russia that explores the themes of love, art, and revolution.
  4. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell – Like “Watership Down,” this is an allegorical novel that uses animals to explore human society and politics.
  5. “The Power and the Glory” by Graham Greene – Like “The Penitent,” this is a novel that explores themes of sin, redemption, and faith, set against the backdrop of political turmoil.

New Black Canon – Books, Plays and Poems That Everyone Should Know – The New York Times

Pauline E. Hopkins, “Of One Blood” (1902-3)
Chester Himes, “Lonely Crusade” (1947)
Fran Ross, “Oreo” (1974)
Alison Mills Newman, “Francisco” (1974)
James Alan McPherson, “Elbow Room” (1977)
William Demby, “Love Story Black” (1978)
J. California Cooper, “The Wake of the Wind” (1998)

Jean Toomer, “Balo” (1922)
Eulalie Spence, “The Starter” (1923)
Lorraine Hansberry, “Toussaint” (1961)
Charles Gordone, “No Place to Be Somebody: A Black-Black Comedy” (1969)
Adrienne Kennedy, “An Evening with Dead Essex” (1973)
Andrea Hairston, “Lonely Stardust” (1998)

Esther Popel, “Flag Salute” (1934)
Bob Kaufman, “The Collected Poems” (1965-78)
Gwendolyn Brooks, “In the Mecca” (1968)
Ishmael Reed, “A Secretary to the Spirits” (1978)
Dolores Kendrick, “The Women of Plums: Poems in the Voices of Slave Women” (1989)
Melvin Dixon, “Love’s Instruments” (1995)
Ai, “Vice: New and Selected Poems” (1999)

The New Black Canon: Books, Plays and Poems That Everyone Should Know
A guide to some of the undervalued 20th-century works that testify to the richness of the Black American literary archive.


10 Tostolyan Conclusions

These conclusions, which paraphrase Tolstoys thought or draw dotted lines from his thought to the present, are offered not as so many truths but as prompts for dialogue.

1. We live in a world of uncertainty. Assured prediction is impossible. History and individual lives contain contingent events that might just as well not have happened. No account that tries to think contingency away can be adequate.

2. There can never be a social science, in the sense that nineteenth-century physics is a science.

3. We need not only knowledge but also wisdom. Wisdom cannot be formalized or expressed adequately in a set of rules. If it could, it would not be wisdom at all. Wisdom is acquired by attentive reflection on experience in all its complexity.

4. Because the world is uncertain, presentness matters. The present moment is not an automatic derivative of the past. In human life, more than one thing can happen at any given moment. Theories that assume otherwise mislead.

5. Because presentness is real, alertness matters. The more uncertain a situation, the greater the value of alertness.

6. Numerous biases distort our perceptions of our lives. We must undeterstand these biases to minimize their effect.

7. The idea that truth lies in the extreme is not only false but also dangerous. Even extraordinary moments are largely the product of what happens at ordinary ones.

8. The road of excess leads to the chamber of horrors.

9. True life takes place when we are doing nothing especially dramatic. The more drama, the worse the life.

10. Plot is an index of error.

Anna Karenina In Our Time
Gary Saul Morson
From the section One Hundred Sixty-Three Tostolyan Conclusions

Top Songs of the 80s

WFNX Top 101 of the Decade (1989)

1. The Smiths – How Soon is Now?
2. The Cure – Just Like Heaven
3. Modern English – I Melt With You
4. The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
5. U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
6. The B-52’s – Love Shack
7. R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
8. The Cure – In Between Days
9. Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
10. New Order – Blue Monday
11. R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe
12. U2 – Bad
13. XTC – Dear God
14. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
15. The Clash – London Calling
16. Talking Heads – Burning Down the House
17. New Order – True Faith
18. U2 – Pride (in the Name of Love)
19. The Cure – The Lovecats
20. The The – Uncertain Smile
21. Kate Bush – Running Up that Hill
22. The B-52’s – Roam
23. U2 – I Will Follow
24. The Mighty Lemon Drops – Inside Out
25. Public Image Ltd. – Rise
26. The Sugarcubes – Birthday
27. The Cure – A Night Like This
28. R.E.M. – Fall on Me
29. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
30. Ministry – Every Day is Halloween
31. Sinéad O’Connor – Mandinka
32. U2 – New Year’s Day
33. The Cure – Let’s Go to Bed
34. The Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven
35. The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty in Pink
36. R.E.M. – So. Central Rain
37. O Positive – With You
38. New Order – Age of Consent
39. The English Beat – Save It for Later
40. The Cure – Close to Me
41. XTC – Mayor of Simpleton
42. Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun
43. Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2
44. New Order – Temptation
45. The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You
46. The Vapors – Turning Japanese
47. The Replacements – Alex Chilton
48. Tears for Fears – Mad World
49. INXS – The One Thing
50. R.E.M. – Pretty Persuasion
51. Bryan Ferry – Slave to Love
52. Chameleons U.K. – Swamp Thing
53. The Clash – Rock the Casbah
54. The Waterboys – The Whole of the Moon
55. Mission of Burma – That’s When I Reach for My Revolver
56. The Smithereens – Blood and Roses
57. Roxy Music – Avalon
58. Hoodoo Gurus – Bittersweet
59. Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine
60. U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
61. The Cure – Lullaby
62. The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again
63. Love and Rockets – So Alive
64. Peter Gabriel – Red Rain
65. The The feat. Sinéad O’Connor – Kingdom of Rain
66. Roxy Music – More than This
67. New Order – The Perfect Kiss
68. The Pretenders – Precious
69. The B-52’s – Private Idaho
70. Echo & the Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
71. The Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion
72. U2 – With or Without You
73. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Cities in Dust
74. The Clash – Clampdown
75. Echo & the Bunnymen – Bring on the Dancing Horses
76. The The – Infected
77. Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
78. INXS – Don’t Change
79. Morrissey – Suedehead
80. U2 – Two Hearts Beat as One
81. The Cure – Fascination Street
82. Echo & the Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar
83. The Pixies – Gigantic
84. The Church – Under the Milky Way
85. The English Beat – I Confess
86. The Cure – Love Song
87. XTC – Senses Working Overtime
88. Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
89. INXS – Need You Tonight
90. Tribe – Abort
91. Midnight Oil – Beds are Burning
92. The Godfathers – Birth, School, Work, Death
93. Billy Idol – White Wedding
94. Simple Minds – Don’t You (Forget About Me)
95. The Psychedelic Furs – The Ghost in You
96. INXS – Devil Inside
97. Blondie – Rapture
98. The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang
99. Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science
100. Gene Loves Jezebel – Desire
101. David Bowie – Cat People

What’s In My Bag – Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado goes shopping at Amoeba Music in Hollywood. His latest album ‘Reggae Film Star’ is available from Maraqopa Records.

Check out his picks:
Scott Walker – Scott 3 (CD)
Cécile McLorin Salvant – Ghost Song (LP)
Ritchie Valens – Ritchie Valens (LP)
The Standells – Why Pick On Me / Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White (LP)
Fugazi – Instrument [OST] (LP)
Bobby Darin – The Direction Albums (LP)
Various Artists – Back From The Grave, Volume 9 (LP)
The 4 Seasons – The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette (LP)
Frank Sinatra – Watertown (LP)
The Doors – The Doors (LP)
Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs (LP)
King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King (LP)

What is the all time greatest driving song?

Radar Love. Golden Earring.

Highway Star [Deep Purple]

For late night driving, Riders on the Storm by The Doors.

Kickstart my heart by Motley Crue

Panama – Van Halen

Born to be Wild. – Steppenwolf

move bitch, get out the way – Ludacris

The Passenger [Iggy Pop]. Even people who don’t know it will sing the chorus by the second time it comes around

Bestsellers – Amazon Germany

List via Amazon, translation via google:

The Child in You Needs Home: The Key to Solving (Almost) Any Problem
Stefanie Stahl

Everyone longs to be accepted and loved. Ideally, we develop the necessary basic trust during our childhood that will carry us through life as adults. But the insults experienced also leave their mark and unconsciously determine our entire relationship life. Successful author Stefanie Stahl has developed a new, effective approach to working with the »inner child«: When we make friends with it, amazing possibilities arise to solve conflicts, to make relationships happier and to find an answer to (almost) every problem.

Mimic: Psychological Thriller
Sebastian Fitzek

Do not be afraid! Except for yourself…

Sebastian Fitzek’s outstanding psychological thriller about a mimic resonance expert who can no longer trust herself when she is in dire need

A tiny twitch in the corner of the mouth, the smallest change in the pupil is enough for her to “read” the true self of a person: Hannah Herbst is Germany’s most experienced mimic resonance expert, specializing in the secret signals of the human body. As a police advisor, she has already convicted a number of violent criminals.

But just when she is struggling with the consequences of memory loss after an operation, she is confronted with the most terrible case of her career: A previously completely blameless woman has confessed to having brutally murdered her family. Only her young son Paul survived. After her confession, the mother manages to escape from prison. Is she looking for her son to complete her “death mission”? Hannah Herbst only has the short confession video to convict the mother and save Paul. The problem: The murderer on the video is Hannah herself!

Her only way out leads deep inside her…

The Song of the Crayfish: A Novel
Delia Owens

The touching story of Kya the march girl, of the fragility of childhood and the beauty of nature

Chase Andrews dies, and the residents of the quiet seaside town of Barkley Cove agree: the march girl is to blame. Kya Clark lives in isolation in the marshland with its salt marshes and sandbars. She knows every stone and seabird, every shell and plant. When two young men become aware of the wild beauty, Kya opens up to a new life – with dramatic consequences. In an intense and atmospheric way, Delia Owens tells us that we will always be the children we once were. And cannot oppose the mysteries and violence of nature.

The Only Book You Should Read About Finance
Thomas Kehl

Better now than never!

From now on there are no more excuses to put off building wealth. Investing your money profitably has never been easier than it is today. The book by the creators of the successful YouTube channel “Finanzfluss” picks you up and gives you impulses to take responsibility for your own financial situation and to spark enthusiasm for personal wealth accumulation. Former investment banker Thomas Kehl and journalist Mona Linke explain how you can use stocks and ETFs to passively build wealth and how it works.

The Cafe on the Edge of the World: A Tale of the Meaning of Life
John Strelecky

A small café in the middle of nowhere becomes a turning point in the life of John, an advertising manager who is always in a hurry. He actually only wants to take a short break, but then he discovers three questions on the menu next to the menu of the day:
»Why are you here? Are you afraid of death? Do you lead a full life?” How strange – but once intrigued, John decides to unravel this mystery with the help of the chef, the waitress and a guest.

Questions about the meaning of life take him far away from his boardroom to the seashore of Hawaii. Along the way, his attitude toward life and relationships changes, and he learns just how much can be learned from a wise green sea turtle. Ultimately, this journey becomes a journey to one’s own self. A book that is as lively and humorous as it is touching.

Best Books I Read in 2022 that Weren’t Written in 2022

Selections mine. Descriptions from either Amazon or associated review or link. Listed in order of publication date.

English Journey – 1934
J. B. Priestley
Where I heard about it – David Bowie liked this and it was one of the books in Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie’s Life
Funnily enough, for all the bad news it imparts, English Journey is a consoling, optimistic read. This is down to Priestley’s tone, which, like his way with the mostly affectionately sketched characters he meets on his travels, is genial and uncontrived, or at least plays that way. Being a man of the people matters hugely to Priestley. He can’t resist a dig at “literary” writers who dismiss him as middlebrow but remain aloof from the poverty and suffering of ordinary folk. If T. S. Eliot ever wants to write a poem about an actual physical wasteland, he jokes, he should take a trip to North Shields.

Correlli’s Mandolin – 1995
Louis de Bernieres
Where I heard about it – This book was big in the 90’s.
The acclaimed story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history: “An exuberant mixture of history and romance, written with a wit that is incandescent” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).

The Smoking Diaries – 2001
Simon Gray
Where I heard about it – David Shields mentioned it in this NYTIMES interview
When he turned sixty-five, the acclaimed playwright Simon Gray began to keep this diary: not a careful honing of the day’s events with a view to posterity but an account of his thoughts as he had them, honestly, turbulently, digressively expressed. 

Stage Blood – 2013
Michael Blakemore
Where I heard about it – Amazon recommendation
Five tempestuous years in the early life of the National Theatre

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace – 2014
Jeff Hobbs
Where I heard about it – New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014
A heartbreaking journey from a New Jersey ghetto to Yale to a drug-­related murder.

Surfing with Sartre – 2017
Aaron James
Where I heard about it – NYTIMES Book review from 2017
Meet Aaron James. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, and an accomplished surfer. His new book, “Surfing With Sartre,” aims to articulate the distinctive philosophical value of the surfer way of being. His conclusion is bold: “What the surfer knows, in knowing how to ride a wave, bears on questions for the ages — about freedom, control, happiness, society, our relation to nature, the value of work and the very meaning of life.”

Five Minutes to Kill – 2017
Fred Stoller
Where I heard about it – Amazon Recommendation
In the 1980s and the 1990s, HBO’s annual Young Comedians Special was the ultimate launching pad for emerging comics looking to break into the world of show business. The Young Comedians Special produced some of the most recognizable—and bankable—comedic stars of all time, including Sam Kinison, Bob Saget, Jerry Seinfeld, and Judd Apatow. But what about the ones who didn’t exactly make it?

Three Girls from Bronzeville – 2021
Dawn Turner Trice
Where I heard about it – New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2021
A former columnist for The Chicago Tribune offers a textured portrait of her 1970s childhood on the South Side, where three Black girls with similar aspirations ended up with wildly divergent fates.

Best and Worst European Theater of 2022 – NYTIMES Critics

The Best (and Worst) Theater in Europe in 2022
The Times’s three European theater critics pick their favorite productions of the year — plus a turkey apiece for the festive season.

Matt Wolf – Four favorites from The Times’s London theater critic:
Blues for an Alabama Sky
The Seagull
A Number (no link given)
Mad HouseTurkey

Laura Cappelle – Four favorites from The Times’s Paris theater critic:
Catarina and the Beauty of Killing Fascists
One Song
Fat People Skate Well. A Cardboard Cabaret
Free Will

A.J. Goldmann – Four favorites from The Times’s Berlin theater critic:
Oasis de la Impunidad
Verrückt nach Trost
Queen LearTurkey