Reading List

Here’s where I keep track of all the books I have been reading lately. This is mostly for my own personal benefit so that I don’t forget what I have read.

2020

Blood of Elves
by Andrzej Sapkowski

8/10
The first official book in The Witcher series is not as jam-packed with action as the short story volumes were. The plot mainly is... more

Sword of Destiny
by Andrzej Sapkowski

9/10
The second collection of Witcher short stories is actually the first or something like that. You’ll need to Google the series in order to... more

The Last Wish
by Andrzej Sapkowski

8/10
I’ve played the games, watched the television show, and now I am going to work my way through the books. This first book in... more

The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization
by Arthur Herman

7/10
This is yet another summation of Western philosophical thought. In this case it’s presented as a perpetual oscillation between the spiritual ideas of Plato and the... more

The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy
by Naoko Takahatake

9/10
One of the best looking books on printmaking I’ve seen. Printed on a think matte stock, with over 100 catalog images and equally as... more

Mediocre Saviors
by Landon Knepp

8/10
This was an enjoyable fantasy about a world that’s been turned to blight everywhere except a single kingdom which seems to be protected by... more

1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder
by Arthur Herman

8/10
In the past (“the past” get it… oh, wait you haven’t read the next bit yet), I have tried reading history books (see, history, past,  har... more

The Coddling of the American Mind
by Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff

7/10
I did not like this nearly as much as The Righteous Mind, but there are a handful of decent insights here about so-call “outrage” culture... more

Mystery of the Blue Train
by Agatha Christie

8/10
It’s been years since I read me some Poirot and it was refreshing to dive back in. I am a better mystery reader now, and I... more

Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

8/10
The historical fiction version of A Feast for Crows with the church versus the crown. It’s a thick but quick-paced read with a lot of detailed... more

Man and the State: The Political Philosophers
by Various Authors

8/10
A good collection of political writings spanning from Hobbes to Marx. Hobbes and Locke lay down a nice foundation for what follows. “On Liberty” remains... more

Mysteries of the Unknown: Mystic Places
by Time-Life Books

9/10
So far, my favorite of the MOTU series. I think I liked this one because there is some grounding in reality. The pyramids exist,... more

The City and the Stars/The Sands of Mars
by Arthur C. Clarke

4/10
Why do I do this to myself? I am always disappointed with classic science fiction. This stuff is so boring. Of the two books, The... more

2019

The City of Gold and Lead
by John Christopher

8/10
Ok. I may have goofed on the first book in The Tripods series earlier, but these are actually pretty fun reads. It’s not the deepest work of science... more

Prey: The Drovers, Book 1
by John D. Brown

7/10
Looks like I am ending the year on a YA fiction kick. Prey is the story of a young boy (aren’t they all) who takes a... more

The White Mountains
by John Christopher

7/10
Young adult fiction about giant three legged machines that transform children into mindless teenagers when they turn thirteen. So basically not much different than... more

Dance of Death: A Graphic Commentary on the Danse Macabre Through the Centuries
by Fritz Eichenberg

8/10
Filled with art featuring death (for the most part that means a skeleton… spooky, no?) taunting the living. The reproductions vary in quality from... more

Mysteries of the Unknown: Mysterious Creatures
by Time-Life Books

7/10
The first chapter about sea creatures is probably the best part of this book. Lots of great illustrations of ships being attacked. There is... more

Mysteries of the Unknown: Transformations
by Time-Life Books

8/10
Transformations is divided into three main sections: native American shapeshifters, werewolves and vampires. The shapeshifters chapter is filled with interesting images of masks and totems. The... more

Public Opinion
by Walter Lippmann

4/10
I agreed with many of his main points on stereotyping, democracy, propaganda, and the inability for a potential voter to actually understand beyond their... more

Tales of the Peculiar
by Ransom Riggs

6/10
I went into this book knowing nothing of the many Mrs. Peregrine books/movies/after-dinner mints. Unless Shirley Temple is the main character, I’m not one for reading... more

The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics
by Michael Malice

9/10
Malice takes a break from trolling to clarify what exactly “The New Right” is. The dear readers are guided through the intellectual roots of the movement, meme... more

The Gay Detective
by Lou Rand

7/10
A short, fun read with a simple plot and one-dimensional characters, but that should go without saying for just about any vintage pulp from... more

21 Lessons for the 21st Century
by Yuval Noah Harari

4/10
Apparently everything is going to kill us. There are a handful of insights among the doom and gloom, but mostly this is a litany of... more

Liberalism
by Ludwig von Mises

6/10
Short overview of the basics of classical liberalism with nary a reference to praxeology.

The Wood and the Graver: The Work of Fritz Eichenberg
by Fritz Eichenberg

9/10
My copy was bought used and man-o-man does it smell musty. The odor is, at best, like a stack of old newspapers in the... more

Shirley Temple and the Screaming Specter
by Kathryn Heisenfelt

5/10
This is a strange old book. It’s a Nancy Drew style mystery but the main character is a teen-aged Shirley Temple. Characters in the book... more

A History Of Wood Engraving
by Albert Garrett

6/10
The title of this one is a bit deceptive. The book is actually a history of British wood engraving. It starts out at the very beginnings... more

Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales
by Penn Jillette

7/10
Penn details his weight-loss journey and his wacky diet. It’s an interesting take on how we view food and there are elements of his... more

The Divine Comedy
by Dante Alighieri

6/10
I primarily have this book because I am interested in the spectacular Gustave Doré wood engravings. The text is a deep and thoughtful meditation... more

The Pool of Fire
by John Christopher

8/10
The final book the The Tripods trilogy delivers a satisfying conclusion to the story. I picture the aliens looking like Sigmund the Sea Monster and it all... more

Anthem
by Ayn Rand

5/10
Having read her other books, I felt obliged to read this novella. It’s a fairly literal take on individualism that would have benefited from... more

2018

Swap Clubs
by William and Jarrye Breedlove

8/10
Published in 1964, this book presents itself as a scientific analysis of swinger culture. The opening chapters are filled with various statistics about the numbers... more

Mysteries of the Unknown: Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects
by Time-Life Books

8/10
The chapters on Free Masonry and The Golden Dawn were pretty informative. I think my big takeaway about these sects was not so much... more

The Naked Sun
by Isaac Asimov

5/10
A murder mystery on a sparsely populated planet where each person lives isolated from everyone else and all the work is done by robots.... more

A Renegade History of the United States
by Thaddeus Russell

6/10
The premise here is that the outsiders and the misfits, by rejecting puritanism and pushing the limits of what is acceptable, are the real driving... more

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
by Paul Bloom

7/10
I think it’s telling that throughout this book the author in constantly having to backtrack and clarify what he means by empathy. Compassion and caring... more

Mysteries of the Unknown: Witches and Witchcraft
by Time Life Books

9/10
I enjoyed this one a lot more than Phantom Encounters. The historical accounts are more fact-based rather than anecdotal and the modern accounts had more... more

In the First Circle
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

8/10
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn brings us more thrilling tales from the gulag! This is his fictionalized account of life in the Marfino prison where the inmates... more

Mysteries of the Unknown: Phantom Encounters
by Time Life Books

4/10
This book is a collection of anecdotal tales of various people from the olden days being visited by spirits. The stories go as follows:... more

Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs
by John Bloom & Jim Atkinson

8/10
Outside of Helter Skelter, I have not read much true crime literature. I picked this one mainly because is was co-written by John Bloom (and it’s... more

Caliban’s War
by James S. A. Corey

7/10
This the second book in The Expanse series. It felt like a bit of a retread but with less interesting characters. The T.V. show is better.

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

8/10
Another rambling philosophical tome from Taleb. It expands on the idea that good policy emerges from the participants having skin in the game. I’m... more

Leviathan Wakes
by James S. A. Corey

8/10
I’ve been watching The Expanse lately and wanted to get a taste of the novels that the show is based upon. This was a good read,... more

Discrimination and Disparities
by Thomas Sowell

7/10
Sowell is always an interesting read. However, I find that he can be a bit repetitive in his points from book to book’I get... more

The Raft
by Robert Trumbull

8/10
The harrowing true life account of three airmen who are adrift in a rubber raft for thirty-four days following an emergency landing in the... more

The Gulag Archipelago (Vol. I & II)
by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

7/10
This massive book has been sitting on my shelf taunting me for twenty-plus years. Ages ago it was recommended to me (by my art... more

No Holds Barred
by Barry Devlin

6/10
The ridiculous plot of this pulp trash novel is as follows: disgraced big city reporter winds up in small town; proves his investigative reporting... more

Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans
by Ben Shapiro

4/10
I generally like the various Ben Shapiro “Destroys” videos I come across on the webs. He is an excellent debater and can take down... more

Kill All Normies
by Angela Nagle

7/10
This is a pretty good overview of the roots of (mostly) right-wing Internet subcultures and trolls with a little fair-and-balanced lip service given to... more

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047
by Lionel Shriver

8/10
Apocalyptic dystopia from a libertarian perspective. Biases confirmed! In this story it’s not war, plague or environmental catastrophe that brings the end times, it’s... more

Based on a True Story
by Norm MacDonald

8/10
He starts off with a typical comedian’s memoir and, after about three pages, Norm gives up and go total autofiction. There’s a grain of... more

Friday
by Robert A. Heinlein

4/10
Even as an audio book, this was a chore to get through. It’s a tale of a future with super human artificial persons (the... more

The Cosmic Computer
by H. Beam Piper

7/10
Pulpy science fiction about a remote planet on which the inhabitants are convinced exists a super-computer that could solve all their problems. The characters... more

2017

To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter
by Vladimir Bukovsky

7/10
A memoir of what living in The Soviet Union was like in the 60s and 70s. Bukovsky spent most of that time in prison... more

The Secret History of Twin Peaks
by Mark Frost

6/10
I listened to the audiobook version which features many of the original cast members reprising their roles. The book itself is somewhat of a... more

Food: A Love Story
by Jim Gaffigan

7/10
An entertaining read that pretty much says everything funny that can be said about food. I’ve read a couple of these books by comedians... more

You’re Better Than Me
by Bonnie McFarlane

8/10
Another comic’s memoir, but this time it’s actually funny. The first half is really is much better, in which she details her life in... more

Two Years Before the Mast
by Richard Henry Dana

5/10
This is a memoir of life aboard a merchant vessel in the early 1800’s. It is also noteworthy as a glimpse California before the... more

Happy Endings
by Jim Norton

6/10
Norton is usually a very entertaining guest on whatever chat show on which he appears. However, I’ve watched his stand-up and it never really... more

Coolidge
by Amity Shlaes

6/10
This was a fawning look at Coolidge’s life and tenure as the 30th President. It was okay up to a point, but there’s something about... more

Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson

8/10
This was my first cyberpunk novel (if you don’t count getting stuck in Neuromancer on the IIgs). I thought it was pretty good but the middle... more

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

8/10
Another big book about risk from Taleb filled with math, anecdotes, history and Fat Tony. This time it’s all in service of his idea... more

Marxism
by Thomas Sowell

4/10
I got this as an audiobook, hoping to get a decent overview of what Marxism is without having to actually read Marx himself. Even... more

Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story
by John Bloom

9/10
Eccentric Orbits is the history of the rise, fall, and eventual rebirth of the world’s first (and only) global satellite phone system. This is not... more

Connecticut Privateer Samuel Smedley
by Jackson Kuhl

7/10
A short book about a lesser known hero of the American revolution. As the captain of a Connecticut privateer vessel, Smedley captured a dozen or... more

The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture
by David Mamet

7/10
Mamet’s political coming out book doesn’t offer much new insight into conservatism. Instead it cribs a lot from Thomas Sowell and other prominent conservative... more

Black Rednecks & White Liberals
by Thomas Sowell

8/10
A collection of six lengthy essays on race, history and misconceptions. The “Black Rednecks” essay is probably the most important of the lot. In... more

The Seven Deadly Virtues
by Jonathan V. Last

8/10
A compilation of humorous essays by eighteen conservative authors in which each tackles the merits and faults or various virtues. Overall it was a... more

2016

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future
by Johan Norberg

8/10
Johan Norberg wrote one of the clearest accounts of the 2007 financial meltdown and, after that dismal tale, he’s back with a more uplifting story. Politicians... more

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
by Jonathan Haidt

9/10
Required reading for anyone who is sick of the political name calling and soft bigotry that permeates every single political post on social media.... more

Bad Penny
by John D. Brown

7/10
I enjoyed his fantasy series, so I thought I’d try out Brown’s crime thriller series. This is the story of an ex-military/ex-con who gets caught... more

The Wave
by Todd Strasser

5/10
This short novel tries to show how it was possible for normal German’s to just sit back and let the Nazi’s take over. Apparently... more

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
by Michael Booth

8/10
Billed as a travelogue, this book covers the culture, politics and history of the Nordic countries from the perspective of a British ex-pat. While... more

2015

Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad

5/10
I read this mostly because I am an admirer of Apocalypse Now. It sorta lost me by the end so I really didn’t enjoy this.

The Big Sleep
by Raymond Chandler

8/10
Gritty crime fiction. Basically the blueprint for the entire genre. The writing and language are a tier above most of the pulp trash I’ve... more

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

7/10
I want to eventually read Huckleberry Finn, so I figured I should read this one first. It’s pretty entertaining, but not terribly deep and it... more

Raveler: The Dark God Book 3
by John D. Brown

8/10
The most recent book in this series builds up to a grand conclusion, an last-stand battle of epic proportions, and then, once the dust... more

Curse: The Dark God Book 2
by John D. Brown

7/10
Despite an exciting opening, the second book in this series is not as good as the first. The stakes aren’t as high and it... more

Servant: The Dark God Book 1
by John D. Brown

8/10
This is a fantasy novel I picked up based strictly on the reviews and auto-recommendations online. I enjoyed it for the most part, but,... more

Falling Up the Stairs
by James Lileks

7/10
I know Lileks mostly as a humorous conservative commentator and a connoisseur of cheesy 50’s pop culture. I wasn’t sure what to expect with... more

The Three Languages of Politics
by Arnold Kling

9/10
Essential reading for understanding that people who might disagree with politically are not evil or stupid, they are just speaking a different political language.... more

Something in the Shadows
by Vin Packer

8/10
I really do like Vin Packer’s pulp thrillers. This book continues her knack for creating conflicted and dark characters who never seem to be... more

2014

The Slow Regard of Silent Things
by Patrick Rothfuss

6/10
Well, this isn’t the next Kingkiller book, but, fortunately, I wasn’t expecting that. The author himself goes to great length to basically apologize for... more

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness
by Russ Roberts

8/10
In this book Roberts (of EconTalk fame) takes Adam Smith’s other major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and makes it understandable in a modern context. There isn’t much... more

The Golden Spiders
by Rex Stout

8/10
Nero Wolfe is a dick. It’s a wonder that this mostly unlikable character spawned such a successful series of books. This is the second... more

Weekend
by Kim Savage

6/10
A fairly blah read from Vixen Press. This one is pretty short on plot and lacks the hardboiled edge that I usually like in... more

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by Haruki Murakami

5/10
This book started off okay enough and was pretty interesting for the first hundred pages or so. The premise was that a man and... more

Warm Voices Rearranged
by Brandon Kearney & Gregg Turkington

7/10
The subtitle of the book is “Anagram Record Reviews” and that pretty much sums it up. Take a record artist and title, rearrange the... more

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
by Jonah Goldberg

8/10
The thesis here is that, despite the constant cries of “fascism” when talking about right-wing policies, the real heirs of fascism are those on... more

The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown

6/10
Amazon recently gave this ebook away for free as a promotion for the sequel Inferno. It was my beach read for spring break this year.... more

How to Piss in Public: From Teenage Rebellion to the Hangover of Adulthood
by Gavin McInnes

9/10
When I started this book I was apprehensive. As much as I love Gavin’s current incarnation as a wild libertarian/conservative provocateur, I knew this... more

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

7/10
Admittedly, I didn’t finish this book. There’s a point about halfway through when he tells the casual reader that now would be a good... more

Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You
by Greg Gutfeld

8/10
Another enjoyable read from Red Eye host Greg Gutfeld. The thesis as I see it is that liberals own the definition of cool, but the... more

Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il
by Michael Malice

9/10
I have read quite a few books that give an account of what it is like to live under the control of a totalitarian regime,... more

The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion
by Virginia Postrel

7/10
Virginia Postrel is a great, thoughtful writer and, although I am not terribly interested in the topic of glamour, I enjoyed this book for... more

2013

Baby Shark’s Grass Widow Legacy
by Robert Fate

10/10
Another thoroughly enjoyable book in this series. This time Kristen is told to take some time off from all the revenge killing and, of... more

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

8/10
I’ve heard a few interviews with Taleb and he can be very interesting so I tried to give one of his books a try... more

Let’s Tell a Story Together
by Jimmy Maher

8/10
I’m a regular reader of Jimmy Maher’s blog The Digital Antiquarian which documents the history of the early days of home computing with a focus on... more

Venus in Furs
by Leopold von Sacher Masoch

7/10
After seeing Jess Franco’s movie of the same name, I noticed that this ebook was available for free at Amazon. The book and the... more