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AlbertV

What Books Are You Currently Reading or Read?

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Does anybody use Goodreads?  Here is my account.

I'm at 48 read for the year.  Just two more for my goal.  I just finished Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges (1977) by Moe Howard which was a fun read from Howard with a decent amount of pictures in it :).  This edition was released posthumously.   Has anyone read I Stooged to Conquer: The Autobiography of the Leader of the Three Stooges by Moe Howard?

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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Holy cow!!! I finished A Kim Jong-Il Production, the story of Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok and actress Choi Eun-Hee, who were kidnapped and practically forced to make films in North Korea under Kim Jong-Il, who was at one point the director of the Film Commission there before becoming the country's Supreme Leader. They actually won awards for a dramatic film in 1984 called Salt and then they had a hit cult film with Pulgasari, a monster film in the vein of Godzilla. Eventually, while at the Vienna Film Festival in 1988, Choi and Sang went to the U.S. Embassy and successfully escaped from the clutches of Kim Jong-Il.

 

Here's what shocked me reading this: Upon entering the U.S., Sang would eventually gain notoriety in Hollywood to some degree. Using the name "Simon Sheen", Shin is responsible for creating the 3 Ninjas film franchise (he directed the second installment but released third, 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up). However, in 1998, after making the film The Gardener, Shin and his ex-wife turned wife again Choi Eun-Hee returned permanently home to Seoul. Shin died in 2006 but Choi Eun-Hee, the most popular actress of Korean cinema in the 1960's, is now 89 years old and had told her story in this book. A great read not just about filmmaking but two South Koreans who were forced into North Korea and did what they can to escape the clutches of the Supreme Leader while making films there and succeeding in their personal missions.

Edited by AlbertV

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Here is the tally for the year with a quick comment on each book.

 

2015 Books:

  1. Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke (1999)  by Thomas Cleary (Translator), Taira Shigesuke SLY
    Anyone interested in Samurai should read this.  I like Cleary's translations and the books he tends to translate.
  2. Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking 4th Edition (1995) by Vincent Ruggiero
    This is the second time I have read this.  It was originally for a class in Critical Thinking (duh).  Anyone who is interesting in dealing with logical arguments should read this.
  3. Chasing Dragons: An Introduction to The Martial Arts Film (2006) by David West
    This ended up being just an OK book on martial art films.
  4. The Hobbit (1937) by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The third time I have read this.  While not as in depth as the Lord of the RIngs, still a fun book to read before you see the three films biggrin.png.
  5. Money Master the Game (2014) by Tony Robbins
    A good book on financial information.  It deals with the basics and is a good read for those new into finance, stock, investing.
  6. Not Cool (2014) by Greg Gutfeld
    A humorous libertarian book.  I enjoy his humor, though he can repeat his jokes a bit too much.
  7. Chang Cheh: A Memoir (2004) by Chang Cheh, preface by John Woo, Sek Kei edited by Wong Ain-ling
    A must for any fan of Chang Cheh.  It is unfortunately too light and over too quick and hard to get, but once you have it you can lord it over those who do not.
  8. Akira Kurosawa Interviews (2008) edited by Bert Cardullo
    Nice OOP book of Kurosawa interviews.  I am a fan so I had to have this.  If you write on Kurosawa you would want this.
  9. Letters of the Dragon (1998) by Bruce Lee Volume 5 Edited by John Little
    Pretty obvious from the title.  Fans of Bruce Lee would definitely need this.
  10. Kung Fu Cult Masters (2003) by Leon Hunt
    A surprisingly good book on martial art films.  Sometimes overuses postmodern verbiage, but for fans of these type of films would want this book.
  11. The Joy of Hate (2012) by Greg Gutfeld
    A humorous libertarian book.  I enjoy his humor, though he can repeat his jokes a bit too much.
  12. Be Careful What You Wish For (2014) by Jeffrey Archer
    The fourth book in the Clifton Chronicles.  Archer is a good storyteller, not great with multi-dimensional characters though.
  13. Buddha’s Brain (2009) Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius, Foreward by Daniel J. Siegel, Preface by Jack Kornfield.
    I love books on neuroscience.
  14. My Wonderful World of Slapstick (1960/1982) by Buster Keaton and Charles Samuels, intro by Dwight MacDonald.
    This is Keaton's autobiography.  I loved it, though like all autobiographies it is good to supplement with a biography to get a more rounded picture.
  15. Ty Cobb A Terrible Beauty (2015) by Charles Leerhsen
    Ty Cobb had been done a huge wrong by Al Stump a previous biographer who wrote many untruths.  This is one of the more important sports biographies of the past several years.
  16. Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me (1990) by Bob Hope with Melville Shavelson
    A humor book on Hope's exploits as he traveled the world to entertain the GIs.
  17. Beam Me Up, Scotty (1996) by James Doohan with Peter David
    A fun autobiography from a bit of a grouch.  Too short though.
  18. Pure Drivel (1998) by Steve Martin
    Humor book full of drivel.  Not sure it is pure, but it is in the 90 percent range.
  19. The Wind and the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Graham
    The kid's classic, though I think most kids today would have difficulty with the diction.  Disney did a film based on parts of this.
  20. The Reagan Diaries (2009) by Ronald Reagan edited by Douglas Brinkley
    Very dry, but important as it does give you a ton of information on what Reagan did.  Not as much about what he thought, though occasionally does this.  I started this a previous year.
  21. Charlie Chaplin: A Bio-bibliography (1983) by Wes D. Gehring
    One of the best aspects of the book is when Gehring goes over all the previous biographies and autobiographies on Chaplin.  He is certainly a fan, but this is not hagiography.
  22. The Marx Brothers: Their World of Comedy (1969) by Allen Eyles
    Small book on the Marx Brothers films.
  23. Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat (2005) by Edward McPherson
    A solid biography on Keaton, though it could have used more sources.
  24. Warner Brothers Directors (1978) by William R. Meyer
    It is exactly what it states.  Only for movie wonks.
  25. Fit for the Chase (1969) by Raymond Lee
    A mostly picture book with lots of cars from the 20s and 30s.
  26. John Wayne: The Life and Legend (2014) by Scott Eyman
    One of the best biographies I have read.  Anyone interested in Hollywood film should read this.
  27. The Rise and Fall of the Matinee Idol (1974) edited by Anthony Curtis
    While this does go over a little film, it mostly goes over famous stage performers from England.
  28. Plunder And Deceit (2015) by Mark Levin
    Conservative creed.  Well written though.
  29. The Hollywood Posse (1975/1996) by Diana Serra Cary
    This is mainly about the author's dad who was an early Hollywood Cowboy performer.  She was an early kids silent movie star.
  30. A Pictorial History of the Western (1969/1975) by William K. Everson
    Everson is quite knowledable about silent and early sound film so he does concentrate more about the 1920s and 1930s westerns than later.  I learned a lot as my western knowledge is more in the 40s and after.
  31. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (2011) by David Eagleman
    More neuroscience.
  32. Classics of the Silent Screen (1959/1971) by Joe Franklin
    A must have for anyone into silent cinema.
  33. Why a Duck (1980) by Richard J. Anobile, Introduction by Groucho Marx
    Mostly pictures with funny statements.  No depth to this.
  34. The Jungle (1906) by Upton Sinclair
    Muckraking at either its finest or its worst.  Too heavyhanded.  Important for the influence it would have on legislature.  Not too many books have done that.
  35. The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway
    Nice characterization about the lost generation.  You can see a lot of this in Midnight in Paris.  This also was influential for getting more people to learn about the Running of the Bulls.
  36. The Chaplin Encyclopedia (1997) by Glenn Mitchell
    So much information that it is probably best that you use it for resource instead of reading it front to back like I did.
  37. Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011) by Niall Ferguson
    Awesome historical book on why some countries became more successful than others.  Read it with Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond to get another opinion on the subject.
  38. Treasure Island (1883) by Robert Lewis Stevenson
    Reread.  Always enjoyable tale.  Then watch the Disney version of it.
  39. How to Be Right (2015) by Greg Gutfeld
    Could have been more in depth.  Fun to read though.
  40. Greek Myths: A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (1852) by Nathanial Hawthorne
    I ended up liking this more than I thought I would.  Hawthorne reexamines certain Greeks Myths and slightly (or more) modifies them.
  41. Killing Reagan (2015) by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard
    Ended up quite disappointed by this.  Some of the sources he used were not good.
  42. War of the Worlds (1898) by H.G. Wells
    Quite different than the films, but still an interesting sci-fi read.
  43. My Father at 100 (2010) by Ron Reagan
    Reagan is a solid writer and this ended up being a quite enjoyable read on life with his father.
  44. American Silent Film (1978) by William K. Everson
    Another must have for fans of silent film.
  45. The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 (1997) by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner
    Funny, but over way too quick.
  46. Almost Interesting (2015) by David Spade
    Not as funny, though it has its moments especially Spade on Rob Schneider and his incident with Skippy.  Over pretty quickly.  I have a signed copy of it which I got from Barnes and Noble.
  47. A-Z of Silent Film Comedy (1998) by Glenn Mitchell Foreword by Kevin Brownlow
    Use for reference, do not use for reading from front-to-back which I did.
  48. Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges (1960/1977) by Moe Howard
    Quite a fun read.  Now I'm looking forward to the larger autobiography from Moe.
  49. Slander (2002) by Ann Coulter
    Very good researcher but she has an acerbic personality.
  50. The First Men in the Moon (1901) by H.G. Wells
    Another influential sci-fi from Wells.  I actually think this is more well written than War of the Worlds.
  51. A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens
    More of a Novella than a Novel.  Seriously great read.  The movies are so similar to this book.
  52. Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again (2015) by Donald Trump
    Got as a Christmas gift.  Probably not as many words (but more pages) than A Christmas Carol.  You get to learn more about his positions and of course his love of himself.

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Impressive list, masterofoneinchpunch. Haven't finished Dickens' Master Humphrey's Clock, but I bought a couple books recently:

Thérèse Desqueyroux by François Mauriac

The Bridge over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle (which was adapted into the classic David Lean movie in 1957)

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A More Perfect Union (2015) by Ben Carson with Candy Carson SLY
 
In ways this is similar to Trump’s Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again where both are released at the time of their campaigns both to make more money and of course help them in the primaries.  Trump’s book is a manifesto full of his bludgeoning personality while Carson’s book (and Carson himself) is the more erudite where he has penned a constitutional primer.  Trump’s book is more entertainment, while this is a bit more studious.  It is successful for what it is trying to accomplish – a somewhat quick monograph where I feel Carson was learning as much at the time of his writing.  It is not as in depth as Mark Levin delving into the famed document and there are certain areas where Levin would disagree (like the Constitutional Convention idea in Article V of the Constitution) but it is still an interesting read for those who are new to the topic.  
 
Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997/2003) by Jared Diamond SLY
 
This Pulitzer Prize winning book is a great read.  It is also a rather lengthy, detail oriented, academic read and which I started last year just so you do not think I am insanely fast at reading or spending all day reading or lying.  It is a good book to ponder over as you are perusing it as there is so much information that it pays to go over it slowly.   Last year I had read Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011) by Niall Ferguson which goes over the main thesis, but with different analysis and answers.  The main question is “why does one culture come to dominate over another?”  And Ferguson starts with what is known about earliest humanity and especially relying over his vast experience with New Guinea uses mostly biogeographical theories to explain broad trends over a vast period of human time.  Sometimes he relies too much on this approach (in software this would be called a Golden Hammer anti-pattern), but still a fascinating read.  I did find a few questionable aspects, mainly his overemphasis on how bad QWERTY keyboard is (it is not, but I have to find research on this which I have hidden away.)  A book that deserves a full length review.
 
Travels with Charley (1962) by John Steinbeck


Steinbeck is quite playful with his prose and this was a much more fun read than I initially had thought it was.  While this is labeled as non-fiction, most likely there are fabrications throughout.  He took a writer’s liberty with it.  Charley was Steinbeck’s French poodle and as Steinbeck was getting and feeling older he wanted to have one last hurrah across the country (supposedly roughing it in his modified truck/camper named Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse and without his wife) and it would also be a good opportunity to test himself and, of course, get a book out of it.  He is at his best when explaining the local characters, traits of locals as he slowly moves his way across the country.  One might wonder why he glosses over big sections of the country, but most likely he did not quite do all the journey he stated he had.

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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I don't read much outside of film critique these days and probably won't be reading anything until University is done,  but here's my list:

 

The Eleventh Son by Gu Long

Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher

Logan's Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson

Who Goes There? novella by John W. Campbell

The Girl with the Crystal Eyes by Barbara Baraldi

 

La Dolce Morte Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo film by Mikel J. Koven

Profondo Argento by Alan Jones (first print, not the updated edition)

Broken Mirrors / Broken Minds The Films of Dario Argento (again first print, not the updated edtion) by Maitland McDonaugh

Any Gun Can Play The Essential Guide to Euro Westerns by Kevin Grant (This is my favorite go to book for Spaghetti westerns)

Italian Crime Filmography by Roberto Curti (he also wrote a book on Italian Gothic horror) - this is excellent, a very good primer for these films.

 

 

Edited by Lady Jin Szu-Yi

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Top 10 books ? If it includes all the reads no matter what kind of stuff we're talking about (ie critical books, novels, poetry, comics...), my list will probably turn out colorful. Will have to think about it actually, so much stuff to choose from.

Edited by Secret Executioner

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8 hours ago, Secret Executioner said:

Top 10 books ? If it includes all the reads no matter what kind of stuff we're talking about (ie critical books, novels, poetry, comics...), my list will probably turn out colorful. Will have to think about it actually, so much stuff to choose from.

Include what you like from a combination of non-fiction to fiction if you like. I read all kinds so I'm always interested in seeing what are people's favorites.  I like colorful.  This also helps me decide on future reads as well (though you might not want to see my unwatched piles.)

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Here is more what I have read so far this month:
 
A Little Princess (1905) by Frances Hodgson Burnett
 
What amazes me when I go through these “children’s books” how little they feel like they are directed to children and instead about children.  I wonder how many young-ones grow up reading these.  The diction certainly can be difficult for children (though I do wonder if there is a lot more jargon and slang today).   I never read many of these books growing up, so I figured I should read them now.  Of course, one does not feel at his most manly reading this beautiful Barnes & Noble edition with pinkish cover and silver trim in public, but then again I did see Magic Mike by myself and check out the link for my theatrical story.  I had seen The Little Princess (1939; yes it is a “the” and not an “a”; I have not seen the later version) with Shirley Temple a year ago and I do like it.  But expect some key differences between the book and movie as usual.  Both I recommend, but the book is superior, has beautiful prose just like Burnett’s other book I read The Secret Garden and should be read by anyone interested in a movingly good story.
 
A Study in Scarlet (1887) by Arthur Conan Doyle
 
This is the first Sherlock Holmes novella by the author.  I am a big fan of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series, the two Robert Downey Jr. films (I need to see anything with Jeremy Brett in it, but as usual I am behind in TV series; like with Hellboy I hope there is a third film) and even the underrated Hammer Studio’s The Hound of the Baskervilles with Peter Cushing in lead.  The first thing I noticed that Nigel Bruce of the Rathbone series does not necessarily fit with Watson in the books, but then again Shirley Temple did not fit perfectly with the image of her character in A Little Princess.  But I like them regardless.  This is a bloody jolly good read my fellow geezers, though I was thrown off by the move to America and the Mormon western story which takes place toward the end of the book.   I do wonder how truthful that was as it does seem a bit anti-Brigham Young.  It is interesting that Watson’s wound from India moves from his shoulder to his leg in the next story The Sign of Four.
 
The Best in the World (2014) by Chris Jericho
 
I have a signed Barnes and Noble edition (with the nice signed sticker attached) so I figured I would give this a read.  It has been quite a long time since I have followed wrestling, in fact a little after Jericho came up with Y2J (it’s cool that he adds this to his signature in the book), but I do love memoirs and I have always been fond of Mick Foley’s writing on the subject – I highly recommend Have a Nice Day! from him.  Him and his ghostwriter, I mean cowriter Peter Thomas Fornatale weave many interesting stories from six years into this book even sometimes going over too much territory from his previous two books (I have not read, however in a running gag he refers to both of them, probably a bit too much.)  But he covers wrestling (love the tale with Undertaker catching on fire, though Undertaker did not like it), his group Fozzy and his time during Dancing with the Stars.  While he probably drinks too much (though a story with Shawn Michaels about this is classic), repeats some styles of humor too much (this is actually a habit many cowriters, ghostwriters do in books), it is an engaging read that was never uninteresting.

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15 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

The Best in the World (2014) by Chris Jericho
 
I have a signed Barnes and Noble edition (with the nice signed sticker attached) so I figured I would give this a read.  It has been quite a long time since I have followed wrestling, in fact a little after Jericho came up with Y2J (it’s cool that he adds this to his signature in the book), but I do love memoirs and I have always been fond of Mick Foley’s writing on the subject – I highly recommend Have a Nice Day! from him.  Him and his ghostwriter, I mean cowriter Peter Thomas Fornatale weave many interesting stories from six years into this book even sometimes going over too much territory from his previous two books (I have not read, however in a running gag he refers to both of them, probably a bit too much.)  But he covers wrestling (love the tale with Undertaker catching on fire, though Undertaker did not like it), his group Fozzy and his time during Dancing with the Stars.  While he probably drinks too much (though a story with Shawn Michaels about this is classic), repeats some styles of humor too much (this is actually a habit many cowriters, ghostwriters do in books), it is an engaging read that was never uninteresting.

 

I got a copy of Have A Nice Day, I bought it when the book first came out in the U.K. There were not as many books like it at the time and I remember it being very popular even with the non wrestling media. Never read any of Foley's other books to be honest.

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In between reading U.S. History I and other such things, I've started The Eleventh Son again. I better not confuse Gu Long characters with people in U.S. history :tongueout.  I only lament that Gu Long never wrote another novel or film with Xiao Shiyi Lang. Definitely my favorite GL swordsman by far. 

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Just skimmed through The Shaw Screen. Interesting, I would have liked more imagery and essays on the various films.  That said, what a treat to see Sun Chung and Tong Gai on the same page of the directory!   Not bad. Back to U.S. history 1 and Gu Long.

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32 minutes ago, Lady Jin Szu-Yi said:

Just skimmed through The Shaw Screen. Interesting, I would have liked more imagery and essays on the various films.  That said, what a treat to see Sun Chung and Tong Gai on the same page of the directory!   Not bad. Back to U.S. history 1 and Gu Long.

You got the book quickly :D.  That is one aspect I noticed from that book when doing some reviews on lesser known Shaws: the only information on the film was the release date or very little mentions (for example The Rat Catcher (1974: Kuei Chih-hung: Hong Kong) and Madam Slender Plum (1967: Lo Wei: Hong Kong); both I found some decent reviews online and had to figure out some information myself).  But there is a lot more information there than in China Forever.  I would be interested to here what you think of Dr. Reid's book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s where you can read lots on Shaw MA films of the 1970s though he focuses a lot on MA technique (which I like).

How many Gu Long novels do you have besides The Eleventh Son?  Any good translations of these?  I've been looking to read the main Chinese literature from the past like The Water Margin and Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  The only thing I have read is Sun Tzu's The Art of War (I have several copies and translations.) I've actually read more Japanese books from pre-1900 then Chinese.

I love history so I have hundreds of books on the topic.  Any favorites?

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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2 hours ago, masterofoneinchpunch said:

I would be interested to here what you think of Dr. Reid's book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s where you can read lots on Shaw MA films of the 1970s though he focuses a lot on MA technique (which I like).

How many Gu Long novels do you have besides The Eleventh Son?  Any good translations of these?

I'll definitely pick up Dr. Reid's book, sounds like something I'd certainly enjoy.   Thanks, Master. When it comes to film studies, I'm used to (and spoiled by) FAB press who will often go very deep into specific films, filmmakers, characters etc. and write in a way which doesn't feel overly academic. I hope they will one day do something about the Shaws (or a specific director / actor) because their books are so good, and easily accessible while providing intelligent and thoughtful commentary on the films / cast / crew. 

Regarding Gu Long, sadly The Eleventh Son (very loose basis for Chor Yuen's Swordsman and Enchantress) is the sole Gu Long  novel translated into English. I'd love to read more. He writes in what feels like more of a Western style (shorter paragraphs and  from a perspective of men and women's points of views. It's certainly different from what I was expecting and I like that.)

The thread below has Hei's list of translated Wu xia (I've been trying cut and paste that exact post but Safari won't have it. Please scroll down a little bit to see the list she compiled. )


 

 

Edited by Lady Jin Szu-Yi

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History...my short answer, um... my focus tends to be a specific type of person, culture or event. 

Most recently (meaning 2014 and earlier) I've read material on the 1960s, Russia in the 20th century and Rasputin - largely for research for fiction I am still wrangling. If any of those subjects are of interest, give me a holler. 

Currently  two books on the Boxer Uprising/Rebellion I've got here are woefully neglected.  Studying for the college board test for U.S. History 1 and American Government, but if I read anything interesting in school I'll be sure to post. 

Edited by Lady Jin Szu-Yi

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I kept my mini-reviews for this year.  Be warned:

The Sign of Four (1890) by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is the second Sherlock Holmes novella from the author.  You get to understand the drug use and reasons behind by Holmes (it is not unique among the canon.)  Watson falls in love (this aspect will be mentioned later in the series as well) with Mary Morstan who will eventually be his wife.   One aspect I noticed was that in the first two books: Scotland Yard got all the credit at the end.  Doyle seemed to get rid of this angle in the rest that I have read.  The plotline is more satisfactory than in his first book and overall a better read.
 
Dancing with Myself (2014) by Billy Idol
Since I have read Al Jourgensen’s autobiography “Minstry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen” I am a little desensitized to excess.  Now Idol, like Jourgensen, is lucky to be alive with the vast amount of substance abuse they partake in, but Idol does come off of more of the addict.  What I mean by that is that the drugs become the life and in fact it makes people less interesting.  It was fun reading about Idol’s youth.  I had no idea he moved to America when he was young, though moved pretty quickly back to England.  Good to read about Generation X, his earlier punk band and a big influence on his solo career and all the relationships, music-wise, that he has had.  It was also nice to hear he does not dismiss Cyberpunk, his most controversial and least-liked LP (though one of my favorites) though the criticisms did hurt him tremendously.  It seems he penned this himself with a cowriter, though some have stated there must be a ghostwriter – which I wonder, but the prose is a bit clunky.
 
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is where Sherlock Holmes starts to blossom.  This is a collection of short stories of Holmes and you get to learn more and more about the character, though maybe not enough about Watson since, so far, the stories are from his eyes in an idolizing of the titular character.  For me these types of stories are a blast.  Occasionally you are given enough to figure out who had committed the crime, occasionally you probably do not have enough info and sometimes you might wonder if the inductive and deductive reasoning might be a bit stretched (of course it is), but they are fascinating reads throughout (well with one major exception in “The Noble Bachelor” which was among Doyle’s least favorites.)  I start to think about the Basil Rathbone movies, the Guy Ritchie ones (who are more faithful then you might at first imagine) and of course films and TV shows I still need to see.
 
A Little Princess (1905) by Frances Hodgson Burnett
What amazes me when I go through these “children’s books” how little they feel like they are directed to children and instead about children.  I wonder how many young-ones grow up reading these.  The diction certainly can be difficult for children (though I do wonder if there is a lot more jargon and slang today).   I never read many of these books growing up, so I figured I should read them now.  Of course, one does not feel at his most manly reading this beautiful Barnes & Noble edition with pinkish cover and silver trim in public, but then again I did see Magic Mike by myself and check out the link for my theatrical story.  I had seen The Little Princess (1939; yes it is a “the” and not an “a”; I have not seen the later version) with Shirley Temple a year ago and I do like it.  But expect some key differences between the book and movie as usual.  Both I recommend, but the book is superior, has beautiful prose just like Burnett’s other book I read The Secret Garden and should be read by anyone interested in a movingly good story.
 
A Study in Scarlet (1887) by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is the first Sherlock Holmes novella by the author.  I am a big fan of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series, the two Robert Downey Jr. films (I need to see anything with Jeremy Brett in it, but as usual I am behind in TV series; like with Hellboy I hope there is a third film) and even the underrated Hammer Studio’s The Hound of the Baskervilles with Peter Cushing in lead.  The first thing I noticed that Nigel Bruce of the Rathbone series does not necessarily fit with Watson in the books, but then again Shirley Temple did not fit perfectly with the image of her character in A Little Princess.  But I like them regardless.  This is a bloody jolly good read my fellow geezers, though I was thrown off by the move to America and the Mormon western story which takes place toward the end of the book.   I do wonder how truthful that was as it does seem a bit anti-Brigham Young.  It is interesting that Watson’s wound from India moves from his shoulder to his leg in the next story The Sign of Four.

 

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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Forgotten Films To Remember (1980) by John Springer
This book concentrates on what the author considers forgotten films from 1929 to 1959 and then a few pages on the 1960s and 1970s. Do not expect too much analysis, just lots of movie mentions and nice pictures (which these Citadel books are quite good for) in categories such as what he considers the best films of that year, the ones that are popular and still known (at the point of writing), a paragraph on each of the forgotten films he wants to concentrate on and then a final paragraph on naming a whole bunch of other “forgotten” films.  What is interesting is what he considers forgotten at that time period is sometimes less forgotten today.  I find it fascinating that you do see trends of waxing and waning in popularity of older films, directors and actors.  For example he just has a sentence on The Palm Beach Story (1944) in his “other forgotten films” paragraph though today it is one of the more known Preston Sturges films.  One of the great aspects of DVDs is that it made film so much more ubiquitous and it is easier to see so many of these films that even the author confessed to only seeing once (or only having heard about).  This is an inexpensive, fun but not essential book.
 
John Ford Interviews (2001) Edited by Gerald Peary
For me this was a must purchase.  Ford is known for being an obstinate, cranky, surly curmudgeon interviewee who often would bait, antagonize, not say anything, talk about something else, contradict himself from other viewers, pretend not to hear (though he did have legitimate hearing issues after WWII) and otherwise be an interviewers worst nightmare.  But with an edited collection like this from a variety of time periods, you get to read so much of his opinions, when he decided to give it.  Yes he contradicts himself (both praises and condemns The Informer and Victor McLaglen’s performance, though if you read between the lines you know he really does like it) but he gets a chance to show himself here.  As he got older and past his filmmaking days he would become more unguarded and it shows here.  If you are interested in the director than this is a must own purchase from one of the great directors of all-time (hyperbole I know, but just check out his filmography).  From this same line of books I have interview collections from Buster Keaton, Zhang Yimou, Akira Kurosawa, George Lucas and probably some others.
 
If Someone Says “You Complete, Me, Run!: Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships (2015) by Whoopi Goldberg
While I would not say I am a huge fan of Whoopi, I have seen many of the films she has been in.  I got this mainly because it was a Barnes and Noble autographed copy and it was not particularly expensive.  Plus I had not read anything from her.  Though after reading this most of it can be summed up in a few sentences: be yourself and Whoopi just does not like long term relationships (she does like to keep friends though.)  Ultimately taking her relationship advice is like taking comedy lessons from Dean Shek.  It is a rather quick read with not that much material and afterwards you might just be happy you do not like with her. There are some funny moments, just not enough to justify the current price.
 
The Road to Serfdom (Fiftieth Anniversary  Editon) (1944/1994) by F.A. Hayek, Introduction by Milton Friedman
One of the more influential economic libertarianism and individualism books and has influenced such authors from skeptic Michael Shermer, economist Milton Friedman who wrote the introduction for this book, Thomas Sowell, to John Stossel.  It was written in Britain (during the end of World War II) though it reached a larger audience with a multitude of editions in America including a condensed Reader’s Digest version.  One of the great books against collectivism and especially a planned economy.   He also makes a convincing argument that many collectivist policies helped lead Germany to the Nazi party.  It is important to note when reading this that several word definitions like liberal and socialist are different than used today.  Liberal would mean what libertarianism (in the economic sense) means today and socialist is referring nationalization of production and central economic planning. 
 
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) by Arthur Conan Doyle 
I have been really enjoying these series of Sherlock Holmes books.  This is the fourth book that is a collection of short stories that were previously printed (just like the third book.)  This is famous for a couple of reasons: the first mention of Sherlock Holmes brother Mycroft (did you know Kareem Abdul Jabbar just wrote a book with this character) and the cliffhanger ending of the book where Holmes appears to die.  The second Guy Richie film has both of these elements (with some differences of course.)  Doyle had been getting tired of the character and had previously thought of “killing him.”  Doyle wanted to do other work and not be known for just Holmes (which maybe to his chagrin he is mostly known for this character; understandable like Robin Williams not wanting to get typecast for Mork or Boris Karloff not wanting to by typecast for horror, but eventually accepting his fame in that area.)  It would be several years till he penned another Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and that would take place in the past (the prequel, the easiest way to get around a “dead”character.”

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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Academia Waltz and Other Profound Transgressions (2015) by Berkeley Breathed
I have been a huge Bloom County fan over the years.  I had first picked up Billy and the Boingers Bootleg in 1987 and then got all the previously released Bloom County books and all the ones that would come out that next several years.  I even got Breathed’s next strip Outland when the books came out.  But there were two OOP Academia Waltz books that I had heard of, but never seen for sale except later on the Internet either ebay or Amazon used for at minimum 150 dollars or higher..  They were self-published by Breathed and had limited runs.  These were strips originally done for the University of Texas school newspaper The Daily Texan.  Luckily IDW publishing has been putting out all of Breathed’s comic-strips out, even ones missing from previous volumes.  Here it is the same, though there is no ribbon book mark like the other releases and no comments other than a terse intro from the author.  But this books does have some of his political humor from that newspaper, which was not printed before, and copies of the actual strips he keep.  This is fun to read, it is definitely more anti-PC (sometimes not funny and actually racist) than the later Bloom County, not quite as funny either, but you can see his humor in an embryonic stage and early versions of such characters as Steve Dallas and Cutter John.  Now the one aspect that surprised me was how many strips he would reuse later on (though that should not have as he had so many problems with deadlines it makes sense to cannibalize his past work.)  If you are new to Breathed than I would recommend the Bloom County collections first (any of them) as this is not as funny as he would be later, the drawing is nowhere near as good as his subsequent work and more of the humor hear is Texan specific.
 
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) by Arthur Conan Doyle
The most famous book of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle.  Doyle had “killed” off Sherlock in his last short story several years before, but the outcry from the public and the money that would be earned were good reasons for him to resurrect the character.  Technically this is a prequel so in the Sherlock world he was still presumed dead until his resurrection in the first story of The Return of Sherlock Holmes. This Victorian tale has a nice gothic horror edge to it which I really liked and with that old cliché: if you were to read only one original Sherlock Holmes book this would be the one (though I would recommend reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as well.) This has been filmed a good amount and I definitely recommend the 1939 Basil Rathbone version and the Hammer Films 1959 version with Peter Cushing (oh such an underrated film.)  But I have not seen all of them.
 
The Films of the Thirties (1982) by Jerry Vermilye
Another Citadel book which has plenty of pictures, it is still rather cheap to buy, and is fun to read if you like the topic.  Vermilye, after an introduction by Judith Crist and his prologue where he mentions important and popular films not listed, he chooses and writes on 100 films, 10 from each year, from the 1930s.  He is not putting together a “great” movie list, but one “Instead, an attempt has been made to represent a cross-section of Hollywood-produced motion pictures released in those largely escapist years.”  He does this well enough.  This gives me some ideas for future film watches.  I think 1939 is the only year where I have seen all of the listed films.  This is a fascinating decade for films where silent films would mostly disappear this decade, the corporations of Hollywood have taken over (and still owned the theaters), vaudeville actors were still quite present, Universal had a great set of horror films, three-strip Technicolor was introduced, world-war I films (The Great War) were still around, but soon patriotic films started to more prevalent in the late 1930s as the fear of another war would come, Columbia’s Three Stooges shorts were started and probably most important The Hays Code was in effect which limited what could be shown.  I am missing so much, but it is a fascinating decade for Hollywood. 
 
Valley of Fear (1915) by Arthur Conan Doyle
The last Sherlock Holmes novella is quite familiar in structure to his first A Study in Scarlet (1887).  The first section deals with Holmes and his case and the second half is a story that takes place in the United States before the case though here it is a Freemason-like group instead of the Mormons of the first book.  The second-half is done well-enough, I just have more interest in the tales of Sherlock and Watson then a third party inspired by the Molly Maguires and the main character inspired by real life James McParland.  This book does has the best description of arch-enemy Moriarty in the Sherlock canon and this would also be considered a prequel to many of the stories since Moriarty is alive and killing.  This book is a little lower in the canon for me, so I do not rate this highly as any book except it is better than A Study in Scarlet.
 
The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1904) by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is a collection of thirteen short stories and features the return of Sherlock after his “death” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894; technically the last short story).  Holmes was a good boxer and fencer so was it any surprise that he eluded death because of a Japanese martial art of baritsu he had studied (it seems not so far off that Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes had learnt Wing Chun.)  But a solid set of stories which will interest anyone in the continuing adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  Supposedly at the end of this Watson is not supposed to write about any more tales of Holmes while he is now retired and bee keeping (I just cannot see Holmes doing this for long.)  I have the complete collection of stories/books from a nice hard bound Barnes and Noble release, but strangely this book comes before The Hound of the Baskervilles (the most famous of the books/stories), which I am reading now.

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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The Films of Errol Flynn (1969) by Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer, Clifford McCarty, Intro by Greer Garson 
This is another one of those Citadel big paperback movie books that are out-of-print but you can find often in a used books bookstore.  With Rudy Behlmer (how many DVD extras and commentaries is this guy in?) you get a bit more credibility with the information.  Flynn is a complicated figure and while I have most of his major works I have not seen his earliest career as a minor actor (it was not for long) and his last films when his wait increased and his looks became more distressed from too much drinking, drugs and his long sicknesses over the years (though he did not look bad, somewhat Tom Selleck like).  I have joked before that he had Three Stooges syndrome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmBj8r1-fDo.  He was not a happy man.  He carried an anger with his Mother all of his life, he had too many affairs (in like Flynn) and in many ways was probably could be considered a misogynist in ways, though really he was more aloof than anything else (often preferring the company of men, who doesn’t – yes another Simpsons reference).  But back to the book: there are lots of nice pictures as with all of the Citadel books.  It is interesting to see his career in film from the humble beginnings, to the fame started with Captain Blood, to the fall from grace which really was not slow, but one semi-failure after another (did not help when he blew his money on trying to make William Tell.)  He will be remembered for his successes, but he was a much more complicated man (though you would get that information more from his autobiography My Wicked Wicked Ways (the first half if less truthful than the later-half of Jackie Chan’s autobiography, though that is the point, Flynn is being a storyteller first; he always had wanted to be a successful writer). 
 
Outland: The Complete Collection (2012) by Berkeley Breathed
I thought it would be fun after going through Academia Waltz to Outland which was Breathed’s Sunday-only comic strip after Bloom County.  This is the same size as the Academia Waltz release, but luckily it keeps the pattern of the complete Bloom County books as well as has a nice ribbon bookmark.  I bought and read the three Outland books*.  The nice aspect of this is you get all of the comic strips released which some were missing from the three books (though if you collected the Bloom County books before this complete series, you see there are a lot more strips that were not initially released).  Also, this is going from memory so I might be wrong, the first frame was missing from some of the strips in those releases (I need to check this.)  But back to the strips: this was a fun series.  It started off slow with too much emphasis on Ronald Ann and Mortimer Mouse (seriously check how much they are initially used and then become background characters), but then, maybe inevitable, the Bloom County characters like Steve Dallas, Cutter John, Oliver became more prevalent.  Of course Opus was always there.  There are some hilarious strips including the most infamous one on the front cover which cost him a lot of money.  This cartoon series would later be followed by another Sunday-only strip Opus.  I need to buy that complete volume.
 
* The three are: Politically, Fashionably, and Aerodynamically Incorrect: The First Outland Collection, His Kisses Are Dreamy-- But Those Hairballs Down My Cleavage--!: Another Tender Outland Collection, One Last Little Peek, 1980-1995: The Final Strips, the Special Hits, the Inside Tips.  That last one is particularly worth having since he has stories in it that are not repeated elsewhere.  If you like Bloom County/Outland, get that last one.
 
The Films of W.C. Fields (1966) by Donald Deschner, Introduction by Arthur Knight, includes essays by W.C. Fields. 
If you go into a used bookstore and peruse the movie/cinema section (I always do), you probably have seen some of these Citadel books for sale.  They are notebook large, either paperback or hardback (I always seem to find the paperbacks), have loads of pictures and with a few exceptions are probably only for the movie collector with monomania (which is everyone reading this. The format for most of the book is basic: order his films in chronological order and for each film list the cast (IMDB has made these sections superannuated), a description of the film which missed so many opportunities in explaining anything else about the movie instead of giving no information but the exact description, and if available have some quotes of movie reviews which was my favorite part of these selections. Now there is a brief bio and a few essays from Fields himself (the section I recommend the most.)  I am a big W.C. Fields fan.  This is only for the fan, with a few exceptions like his two essays “Speaking of Benefits” and “Anything for a Laugh” which is my favorite of the two.     
 
Keaton (1966) by Rudi Blesh
There are a few issues with this book.  There are some noticeable errors with plot descriptions and even pictures (Cheated on Amazon reviews writes about several of them.)  It skimps a little too much on his later days, especially post silent-films.  Now this may be not be in error given peoples memories, but I also noticed inconsistencies with what is written here and what Keaton and others had written about the Arbuckle trial, how he was fired from MGM, the days missed during his last film with MGM due to drinking and several other issues.  Though this is a fun read and covers his early days rather well (though so does Keaton’s autobiography.)  Blesh had interviewed Keaton and several of his relatives for this.  The book had come out right after Buster had died.  The back of the book cover has Blesh looking over Keaton’s shoulder as he is reading this.  But it hilariously looks like someone had just snapped a picture of Buster reading a book while Blesh inserted himself into the picture without Keaton knowing it.  It is a big of a hagiography, though I was expecting it to be.  This book is OOP, though still relatively inexpensive.  It is referenced in many books on Keaton including Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat (2005) by Edward McPherson which I had read last year and constantly used references in this book.
 
Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body (1998) Bruce Lee, John Little Forward by Allen Joe
In a way this is a mixed blessing.  This book is as much John Little’s as Bruce Lee where you are really reading Little speculating about much of Lee’s workout and workout philosophies through Lee’s writings in his Archives, his massive library and one of the best aspects of this book various new interviews of his friends, family and/or students.  The organization of this is all over the place and some chapters are filler like “A compendium of Bruce Lee’s Personal Training Routines” are sparse and since they are based on quick notes are sometimes too terse to be of good use.  What helps in most workout books, but is not here, is when you are describing more difficult routines you should show it in pictures.  However, this book does help you to understand Bruce Lee’s monomania.  He changed his workouts over the years, modifying what he did and his philosophy of what he did.  A couple of things that I found interesting: his overall workouts were not quite as long as I thought before reading this (though he often split up his exercise routines throughout the day.)  He worked out his forearms like crazy, making me realize that I probably should do more in this area (for me always an afterthought when working out with larger muscle groups.)* Also that Lee did not like coffee.  There a good amount of pictures in here.  I think most Lee fans would find this a worthy read and purchase.
 
* My philosophy on this though is to never do small muscle sets first.  Work out the largest ones or multi-muscle sets first like bench press, then shoulder press, then isolate triceps with tri-extensions then say put in the wrist work or you could do the wrist work at work/school/home where it will be its own separate routine.

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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Opus: 25 Years of His Sunday Best (2004) by Berkeley Breathed
This is the hardback release of this.  Collectors of Breathed will want this, though all the cartoons are in the newer editions (and most of them are in the previously released editions though sometimes missing part of the top of the Sunday strip) which puts out all of his comic-strips, though they are expensive to collect them all.  Breathed is known to be reclusive and aloof in interviews and public, but collecting these you do get to know a little more about him (as well as there are many autobiographical factors to his strips.)  This covers three strips: Bloom County, Outland and his latest at the time Opus with his favorite strips featuring Opus.  You can see quickly how Opus changed in appearance (not uncommon, look at the earliest Garfield strips for example), but Breathed’s artistic style gets better and better as the years go on.  But look how nice the strips look in color (most of the older releases of these were in black and white).
 
The Food of the Gods (1904) by H.G. Wells
In many ways Wells reminds me of Michael Crichton.  He has a penchant for science gone awry, his characterizations tend to be weak and often the dialogue superfluous.  But his best books like The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds and The First Men in the Moon are entertaining, sometimes thought provoking page turners.  This book is not.  While there is something in the idea of creating a substance which can aide growth leading to giant bugs, weeds and ultimately humans it is not well written.  The ideas are scattershot, often too heavy-handed in it’s almost anti-scientific glee.  At its best is early on when the results of the bugs/weeds by this formula are attacked by humans, but then delves into a snail’s pace with quite an uninteresting story of exploiting giants and their somewhat comeuppance in the last half of the book.
 
Sherlock Holmes FAQ (2014) by Dave Thompson
While there is much to learn about Holmes and Sherlockians from this book, it is full of spoilers and should not be read unless you have read the canon (56 shorts and 5 novellas) or do not care about spoilers.  He goes, sometimes too much, into plot detail and he is not shy of his opinions of the stories he likes and dislikes, but his wealth of knowledge into the subject is vast and written specifically for hard-core Sherlockians.  There is a good amount of information on Doyle himself, along with some comments on his other writings, the era itself and various esoterica that might interest fans.  My favorite later chapters deal with the vast amount of movies and TV series.  He is a fan of many of the Holmes portrayals especially Jeremy Brett and Peter Cushing (a vastly underrated Holmes in my opinion.)  He has good words to say about the two Guy Ritchie films, though he prefers the first while I prefer the second.  But there are so many series that I am not that familiar with that are listed here.  I have hours and hours of future watches in this wonderful sub-genre.

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927) by Arthur Conan Doyle
I have finally finished the “canon” of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series of 56 short stories and four novellas.  This last book was a collection of short stories to round out the Holmes series previously published from 1921 to 1927.  This is not a bad lot, but one gets the feeling that Doyle was writing more for the money (which he was) than his interest in the series or his ever-growing fascination with the paranormal especially fairies (not kidding on this).  There are a couple of singular facts about this book: it has one story told in a third person narrative (adapted by a stage play Doyle was going to do) and two told by Sherlock Holmes himself.  A lot of it does take place in the past, though there is one story after his retirement (can anyone believe that Holmes actually retired to be a beekeeper.)  This is best for those who have already read everything else from Doyle.  It is a good read, just not as sagacious as the previous books.
 
The Bedside Companion to Sherlock Holmes (1998) by Dick Riley, Pam McAllister
There are a lot of supplemental books on Sherlock Holmes out there.  There are a vast amount of books that deal with Sherlock Holmes whether as pastiche, homage, new stories featuring the detective or ones like this that serve as sort of a reference to the Doyle books.  The term Sherlockian refers to the fans of this character and his multitude of forms.  This book goes over the author, movies, radio, tv shows, other books, the time period of the books and a hodge podge of topics that might be of interest to the budding Sherlockian.  A fun read though only for a particular group who are interested in the detective.  Now unlike other books on Holmes, there Is not a lot of spoilers here so you can read it concurrently with the novels if you like (the Sherlock Holmes FAQ do not read unless you have read everything or do not mind spoilers).  Did you know Holmes was based on Doctor Joseph Bell?

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The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling
I had seen the Disney cartoon version of this several times and I had just recently watched the new live (well mostly CGI) version which I liked (Matt Zoller Steiz gave it four stars at rogerebert.com).  So I thought it was about time I read the original source. What I found interesting is that the book is several stories and that the Disney films just take from the first part of the book (possibly some from the The Second Jungle Book but I have not read that).  While the differences in the source material are vast it did not annoy me as much as J.M. Barrie’s brilliant Peter Pan versus the watered down Disney version.  Adapting a short story has the advantages of being able to add more if necessary while novels will usually have to cut to fit to the medium.   Like with Barrie’s book this one is much more violent than the resulting Disney films. But it is a fun read taking place in India during the author’s time (though “The White Seal” takes place over a vast amount of watery territory.) 
 
My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Autobiography of Errol Flynn (1959) by Errol Flynn, Intro by Jeffrey Meyers 
Oh this is a fun read.  Those who like their autobiographies to be bigger than life, full of boasting and bigger than life characters then this is definitely recommended.  A certain percentage of this is true, with it becoming more truthful in the later day events (where he could have a better chance of being sued.)  Now Flynn always fancied himself a storyteller, so the story comes first.  This usually means that items that almost happened, happened to someone else or were slightly exaggerated whether by memory or by purpose are pushed if it serves the story.  Regardless of what exactly was the truth he did live an exciting life.  You gleam that he adored his dad, disliked his mother, had trouble with women with his Lothario style of life, had trouble with alcohol (while he does admit to certain drug uses, he leaves out a good chunk of his addictions especially to morphine, he would also leave out his last love with his infamous underage companion at the end of his life.)  He can be quite bitter, especially when he is covering the early 1940s rape trial that somewhat made his name a joke, though did not hurt him at the box office.  That event, like his anger with his mother and his first wife, he never got over.  Those interested in Golden Age Hollywood will especially like his comments on actresses (especially those he dated) and actors such as Charles Chaplin.
 
In the Days of the Comet (1906) by H.G. Wells
Do you ever read a book or watch a movie because it is the last one left in the set?  While with a movie you lose a few hours, a bad book can make you lose a lot of time.  I like Wells’s early science fiction books like The Time Machine and The Invisible Man which like Michael Crichton deals with science gone awry.  But when Wells became more interested in political platitudes and pushed them into his writings much to detriment to the story he becomes less fun to read.  He is a socialist and he will beat that into you with a didactic tone that reaches its nadir when his narrator pontificates that private property was worse than war.  Now I wrote that in the past tense, for the book is about the narrator’s writings on the events leading to and after a comet passes through the Earth.  The book is structured as such.  The first part is the story of the narrator’s life, shortcomings and lost love who puts his life into strife (when he is not arguing or reading about socialism).  The second main part is the events after the comet which changes humankind into a much more rational (according to Wells) figure and then he explains the modifications (or the Change as he writes) into this happier existence.  Of course when reading his it comes to mind that one person’s Utopia is another’s Dystopia.  Technically better written but more didactic than The Food of the Gods which I had previously read and written a capsule review on.
 
Anne of Green Gables (1908) by L.M. Montgomery
I am surprised on how many of these “children” books with girl protagonists from the early 20th Century that I actually like.  This, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess are all solid reads.  They also all have some similarities dealing with an orphan girl in early 20th Century usually with some imagination and storytelling ability. This is the first in a long line of Anne books from Montgomery (this is the only one I have read from the author), but I do not know when (or if) I will get to them.   But this overly talkative redhead from Canada with an imagination who becomes adopted by a childless brother and sister (who originally wanted a boy to help with the farm) and fall for his singular ways. Her character is well written, though she seemed a little less interesting as she got older in the book and less into trouble.  I have a nice little hardback release from Barnes and Noble (10 dollars) that looks pretty good and has a nice ribbon bookmark.
 
Hope: Entertainer of the Century (2014) by Richard Zoglin
Bob Hope is one of the more influential comedians who struck it big not only in movies, but television, radio and almost everything else he got into.  This entertaining biography is vast in its information on Hope with many new interviews from the author and covers so much information that if you are a Hope fanatic like me you are bound to read it.  It certainly is not hagiography though the writer is a fan.  Hope was somewhat tight-lipped about his past and his multitude of affairs (though understandable), even though he has had several memoirs all ghostwritten and had countless interviews he would often tell a quip rather than go into too much detail about his past.  Zoglin does a nice job of going over his whole career, telling the good and the bad and only really hurts the writing when he tries to analyze some of the films which he is not particularly good at (like when he is ambivalent about the brilliant Son of Paleface or when he denigrates W.C. Fields in The Big Broadcast of 1938) at or when he lets his anti-Vietnam stance dominate sections of the book somewhat discoloring how popular Hope still was with an audience (though he is correct that Hope kept going on even when his delivery and health was hurting his performance, though that was later in my opinion than the author infers.) 

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The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (2012) by Brion McClanahan
A bit dry but otherwise fun read on the framing of the United States Constitution.  What is quite interesting is how much argumentation there was over almost every single idea of the document.  A quite amount of variety of opinions from Federalists to Anti-federalists are quoted and it interesting how many complaints would eventually be solved by the addition of The Bill of Rights (which would also cause more complaints as well.)  It is fascinating to see how far the United States sometimes strays from the original document, especially through the “living document” philosophy of it that the progressive movement has pushed since even before Woodrow Wilson (his Sedition Act of 1918 was one of the worst pieces of passed and eventually removed legislature abominations – it made protesting against the war illegal and people were jailed for it.)  But back to the book: it delves quite a lot in minutia so it is more for scholars of U.S. History.
 
The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (1975) by Bruce Lee
Finally I have read this from end-to-end.  I have quoted from it, perused it many times, but never went through the whole thing till now. This has an introduction from Linda Lee and the editor Gilbert L. Johnson.  Later John Little would be synonymous with the posthumous Bruce Lee books.  Obviously since this was not organized by Bruce Lee and was released after his death one has to be wary when deriving a source from a plethora of notes.  Lee was influenced by so many books that his notes are infused with them.  But this is important in itself as well.  Lee was influenced more than most people realize by fencing, especially from the Castello family (for example Fencing (1962) by Hugo and James Castello.)  The books is organized by a variety of topics mostly on fighting but philosophy is imbued here as well.  You mostly get fragmentary bits of wisdom and occasional drawing or notes from Bruce Lee.  I feel this is worth reading, especially for martial artists and fans of Bruce Lee.  Besides the fencing influence, one can easily see the Western boxing influence.  There was a lot less written about kicks in here than I was expecting.  According to Wikipedia there was a 500-copy hardback release in 2006 signed by Linda Lee and Shannon Lee.  In 2011 a newer extended edition was released which I do not have yet.
 
Bob Hope My Life in Jokes (2003) by Bob Hope, Linda Hope
This is pretty much what one expect from the title.  It is a compendium of jokes with biographical interludes from the time of his youth up to almost his death.  The hardcover book came out just a few months before he died at the ripe age of 100 (same age as George Burns).  This is a fun and quick read and for, of course, Hope fans who know what to expect from his multitude of one-liners that were once considered risqué but no one would be confusing his comedy for George Carlin.  If you want to learn more about Hope one should read Hope: Entertainer of the Century (2014) by Richard Zoglin.
 
Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1943, 2010) by Joseph A. Schumpeter
So far the most difficult book I have read this year and along with The Road to Serfdom (Fiftieth Anniversary Edition) (1944/1994) by F.A. Hayek and Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997/2003) by Jared Diamond my favorite non-fiction reads of the year.  A background in economics (or at least a few classes or books read on the subject) is probably a must for this book and I was constantly looking up material to supplement the read.  The term “creative destruction” was made famous (relatively speaking) from this book.  It is probably the most even-handed dissertation on Karl Marx that I have read (both critical and supportive.)  Ultimately he is trying to present a multitude of facts that will explain why Capitalism will possibly fail because of its success and why Socialism might be the future.  He does not say which he favors and tries to write as evenhanded as possible given his prognosis.  His definition of Socialism is synonymous with Communism because he is referring to the command economy model which has most famously become mixed economies with the move from both Russia and China to that model.  Ironically one can state that his thesis could be partially wrong because of “creative destruction.”
 
Skeptic (2016) by Michael Shermer
Michael Shermer is, of course, a skeptic, a debunker and the founding member of Skeptic magazine (and website).  He is a libertarian who has a rational and engaging writing style.  This book is a collection of his writings for the Scientific American magazine.  Given the length constraints for each article, though several are extended from the original articles, it does feel a bit pop science more than detailed examinations of the topics involved.  He covers a myriad of issues from pseudoscience, paranormal, UFOs, alternative medicine, evolution and more.  Heavily influenced by James Randi, Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan and Jared Diamond among other (mostly scientists) from the outset you know where most of his opinions/facts will lay.  I tend to agree with him mostly.  I think his date on Singularity (2030) will not happen or even close (if ever) to that time (note: as I peruse the book again I notice he states it will happen later on than he previously did in the book).  Of course reading these makes me think about my own biases and how one should try to strive toward the truth which can often be a lonely road and we are apt to be wrong now and then.  I do believe that some opinions are better than others and that science is often an inexact science but is often the best guess at a particular time.  It itself has found itself in fad and groupthink (and technically not scientific thinking; examples Social Darwinism and the cause of ulcers) but it has overall improved countless lives.

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Typee (1846) by Herman Melville
Moby Dick is one of my favorite books of all-time and I generally have liked everything I have read from Melville (French director Jean-Pierre Melville took his last name from the author).  It has been a few decades since I have wanted to read this.  This is Melville’s first foray into a full length novel and it is partly based on his real life escapades.  The protagonist decides, along with one other, to escape his current torment on a whaling ship in the Marquesas Islands only to find himself a revered captive among the Typee – a tribe among the islands that is feared, but he gets to understand them quite well and they were not what he expected.  However, while he is treated well, he is held against his will and some members of the tribe are a mercurial lot.  This book would be followed by a sequel Omoo.  While Moby Dick is quite famous among literary circles today it was not a success while this semi-fictitious book was a success.  The movie In the Heart of the Sea (2015: Ron Howard) which I actually liked but was received lukewarm goes over some of this.
 
The Ascent of Money (2008) by Niall Ferguson 
Ferguson whose book Civilization I admire, writes about this history of money. Written during the financial crisis of 2008 it came out at a well-timed and auspicious release date.  It is a bit of a dry read and since it covers the entire history of credit, banking, stocks (and derivatives), housing and globalization it is also a bit terse.  With a byline of A Financial History of the World it is going to have to be terse.  But it is worth reading, especially if your financial education could be improved.  One important aspect of history is you often find that most situations are not new, just forgotten or more likely never knew about in the first place.  This tends to make assessment of current events more even-handed.  In the words of Douglas Adams “Don’t Panic.”  But this also helps in investing too.  Never invest in something you do not understand.  The book was adapted into a documentary the following year, but I have not seen it.
 
The Rhapsodes: How 1940s Critics Changed American Film Culture (2016) By David Bordwell
Bordwell’s Planet Hong Kong is my favorite book on Hong Kong cinema and a worthy purchase for anyone into film.  I was also a fan of Minding Movies which came from his blog writings.  This monograph is certainly an esoteric topic in dealing with several movie critics who had influence on film and later critics: James Agee, Manny Farber, Otis Ferguson, and Parker Tyler.  I knew of Agee and Farber, but had not heard of the latter two.  I had not read anything of length from any of them so it was fascinating to read about film critics that were an influence on later writers such as Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael among many others.  But what the book mostly made me want to do was to seek out the writings of those four individuals.
 
Lean UX (2013) by Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden
Unless you are into computer science, writing about software design and the many philosophies behind design would be as probably as interesting to you as listening to a stranger discuss his bowel movements.  I could write a book about it though -- software design not bowel movements.  I had a track coach tell me once that there are 3046 ways to improve you workout and/or your distance time.  The number is not important, it is that there are so many vast ways to accomplish something.  The same can be said for improving software and there are a lot of books out on the topic as there are a lot of methodologies on how to do this.  Many, like religion, claim they are the best approach.  Iterative development as opposed to the waterfall approach is certainly an improvement in most areas of software (to understand the main difference one would have to know about the software development life cycle SDLC.)  But you have many different camps of iterative development and many different opinions on how it should be done.  This book is a take-off of a previous book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and is specifically for User Experience.  Like most software methodology books I find a combination of good, bad and common sense (of course Will Rogers used to say “Common sense ain’t that Common.”)  While they want to fall wholesale for their approach I find it best to take bits and pieces to improve your software methodology.
 
The Five Temptations of a CEO: 10th Anniversary Edition (1998) by Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni books are short, overly simplistic, referred by managers everywhere (which helps knowing them if you are into business), but are generally good reads.  Of course, there are not many CEOs out there, though you could transfer these five maxims to business owners or any type of management.  Of course, the more you understand business and the more you learn about it the more frustrating a bad CEO/owner can really be.  Lencioni’s best and most well-known book is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  He usually starts with a story, one to get you interested into the book, though his character development and dialogue would not scare John Grisham or the late Michael Crichton.  Ultimately you can boil his book down to the aphorisms in the title.  Here the Five Temptations (not a musical group) are Choosing status over results, Choosing popularity over accountability, Choosing certainty over clarity, Choosing harmony over productive conflict, Choosing invulnerability over trust.

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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