Category Archives: Fiction

TV Shows to binge-watch 

On Acorn

Antipodian: New Zealand:

800 Words“,  Suddenly a widower, an Australian writer moves with his kids to the NZ village he spent summers in as a kid. Complications ensue. Great stories, charming characters, excellent writing and acting, several seasons.

Brokenwood Mysteries“,  Brokenwood, a medium size town in NZ, gets a new senior detective, colorful but as it happens, good at his job. Slightly flaky-seeming local Maori guy turns out to know everyone and something about everything. He’s like a benificent Trickster god. Detective Sims, 2nd most senior, is the only actual adult in the plain-clthes part of the station.

Antipodian: Australian:

Rain Shadow“, – a former grain-growing area of South Australia now in drought. Perminently? Story follows a young vet from the big city

Crownies“, – Crown Prosecuturs: Ensemble, very long-form stories, each lawyer has multiple cases moving at different points in the system. 
Janet King”  (sequel to Crownies), Crownies refashioned to center on one lawyer in particular, and with a brilliant freienemy mixed in
Jack Irish“. A winning, low-rent PI, only takes cases he wants…
Mr. and Mrs. Murder” – mostly comedy, two crime-scene cleaners show up after the cops are done, but often discover what really happened. The couple are charming and their neice keeps it in the family. The slightly hapless cop they are consistantly bailing out is at least grateful for the help

My Life Is Murder” – A retired ace detective neglects her baking to come back to the force, from time to time, solving crimes her old boss can’t get cleared by anyone else. Stars Lucy Lawless, formerly Xena, Warrior Princess.


Striking Out” lawyer drama, wonderful cast and writing- Brief adult situations. 2 seasons!
Finding Joy“, – a lot of the same cast as Striking Out.. Newspaper copy editor suddenly assigned to local-color TV reporter’s beat. Bungie Jumps, New Age retreats. Serious fish out of water.
The miniseries of Tara French’s In The Woods and The Image. Really, really, dark, but gripping.
Jack Taylor” about a former Guardi working as a private investigator. Noir-ish.


No Offense” – perfect cop comedy drama, funny as hell. But bad bad guys are in earnest, dark stuff happens. Story arcs are season-long but each episode has a point and arc of its own. Inspector Deering leads her squad with if-it-isn’t-true-it-ought-to-be-true verve. Mostly.
Ackley Bridge” – luminous comedy / drama about public school for a mixed stone poor Anglo and stone poor Pakistani imigrant/2nd generation community. Colorful cast of teachers and administrators. Superb writing and acting. We didn’t expect a 3rd season, but there is! and we’re enjoying it. Drop dead funny, and heart-breaking when it gets dramatic. An amazing amount of characters and their lives are stuffed into each episode.
Loch Ness“, the protagonist detective is leading her first murder investigation, on the shore and environs of the famous Loch. Her husband does “Nessie” tours for tourists, and gets a bit of education too.
Agatha Raisin” – former fashonista / publicity person moves to the Cotswalds and starts solving murders. The senior local cop is utterly incompitent, but she can work with the junior, and local worthies. Some of the outfits Agatha gets to wear may perimently damage older TVs…
Murder (Investigation) Squad“,  – London- based squad similar to Vera Stanhope’s Northumberland and City bunch- different people with different skills, one old-school white guy in a coat and tie, Inspector is a short, intense woman, her bagwoman is a taller, quieter Mc(something), not quite as driven. This is a DENSE show- You get more in one hour than some 2 hour or multi-part shows.”Line of Duty“. Anti-corruption/internal affairs procedural, in Northern Ireland. Complex plots.”The Good Karma Hospital” British doctor returns (?) to India, running a clinic with volunteer locals, ex-pats and returning migrants. Engaging stories move around the location of the hospital. 



19-2” as good as TV gets, but dark. A country cop with back-story moves to Montreal, teams with a city cop who’s former partner was disabled in a horrific shooting. Each has to prove himself to the other, while meeting their own high personal standards. And avoiding the machinations of the creepy captain. Crimes tend to be smaller and involve less gunfire than US cop shows- sometimes they get called for a fight in a bar, and assualts, property crimes, public safety and the usual sorta-organized illegal stuff you expect in a big city. One story starts with a homeless guy who’s outdoors, that the city cop knows. on a clear night that’s going to freeze. He should be indoors… and there-in lies the tale.

We loved the first episode, and thought, “lets have another, even if they can’t all be *that* good”. But they *are* that good. Each better than the one before. Stories build and interconnect. The characters, and the rest of their station (19th precinct, they have car #2) have stuff going on, and histories. Substance abuse, domestic violence, everyone’s stupid problems and the cops own relationship issues offer a range of situations that don’t go as hoped, or planned. There are losses, and hurts that don’t heal quickly.  Yet, after 4 seasons, and the cruel and senseless challenges that most survive, there’s the matter of an out of season deer carcas that the country cop’s brother arrives with one night. Its cleaned and hanging in the back of the tractor-trailer the brother drives for a living.  The short term solution involves packages wrapped in pink butcher’s paper, but one of the cops at the station has a venison pie recipe… and there’s the happy ending!


Rebecka Martinsson” A detective from the forest and lakes part of the country is about to marry a guy from the big city, then things get complex and she has to stay where she grew up and get it all sorted out. Beautiful locations, a smaller town with more rural and less agricultural land than Wallander.

Straight Forward” A second-generation con-artist flees Denmark when her father is killed, going to ground in New Zealand and trying to rescue her daughter…

Megahertz Network / Cable channel 17:

Beck” – Swedish detective squad led by older widower, nearing retirement. Comedic relief by his wacky neighor- guy with orange-tinted glasses who always appears with a neck brace, like he just had whiplash… usually meeting inconveniently in the hallway or out on the balconies of their flats. Beck’s squad has a hot-dog guy who’s cynical but a good shot, a female nerd, normalish plainclothes dudes and one  guy clearly descended from Vikings- wild red hair and beard, He’s the emotional one. Beck has a daughter who’s a uniformed cop. Not as bleak as “Wallander,”

Baantjer“: Dutch detective, older guy, younger team, like “Beck”, or “Wallander” come to think of it.

Inspector Manara“: Groovy Italian detective, has a Zappa poster up in his apartment  and plays solo saxaphone to soothe his soul.


Animal shows, In order of best and most soothing staff and animals.

Bronx, NY, Zoo:

Chester, UK, Zoo:

Columbus, OH, Zoo:

Want more?

Houston, TX, Vet Clinic:

San Diego, CA, Zoo:

Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Aus. :

The Georgia Aquarium, GA


Big Little Lies“, both seasons. Very dark. Spectacular cast and writing, set in Monterey! Extra intense 2nd season goes past the source book and brings in Meryl Streep!

Six Feet Under” The unexpected death of the owner/father of a family morturary in L.A. leaves his widow, their 3 kids and the partner in the business, mourning, and existentially challenged. The painfully disfunctional family have to pull together,  with the partner, to chart their own course for the business. And as idividuals, to build new lives with or without significant others. It takes 63 episodes, in 5 seasons, to figure it out, with one of the coolest end-of-the-last-episode-endings ever made.

Tremé,” set in the neighborhood of the same name in New Orleans, starting some months after Huricane Katrina. The superb cast and writing show how great TV can be made from stories of normal people trying to make a living and stay relatively honest in tragic times. Great food and music never hurt, even when the apocolypse has come and gone. Death is still in business. Love isn’t always enough. But even a character who seems to only be for themself can find some redemption, doing something for someone else.

The Wire“, further proof that good TV is character and story driven. One season follows one character into his new career as a public school teacher. No superheroics, just seemingly hopeless disfunction only occasionally redeemed by small success. Or rare grace. And yet. Andre Royo, the actor who portrays the recovering heroin adict, “Bubbles”, so intensely inhabited his role that people, in Baltamore, would see him on the street and press money on him, because he *was* that character, and that character needed the help. The good guys are good, the bad guys bad, and like any story it has to end. After far too much death and destruction. Besides its quality as art, the practical tutorial on drugs, crime, poverty, hollowed city centers and race is well worth your time.


Masterpiece detective procedurals:

Vera“, “Shetland“, “Broadchurch“,(UK version), “Foyle’s War


I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” A gentler, “Parts Unknown”: travel+food

KQED’s “Check Please Bay Area”

On PBS and also on Acorn:

BBC’s venerable: “Doctor Who” The new Doctor had her break-out role in Broadchurch (UK).
Endeavor“, – Inspector Morse prequil. Interesting stuff, but the imagined Morse is a bit of a stretch, the senior Inspector he works with is fun, as is the young officer Strange and young medical examiner.
Inspector Lewis“,
Inspector Morse
Last Tango In Halifax“.
New Tricks“, An active duty detective gets assigned to cold cases and recruits 3 retired detectives as her squad. They’re all characters, the cold cases are a wide range, and the retirees change, and then the lead detective, as the seasons run on. Watch from the beginning if you can.

Recently, at our house, on cable TV:

Last week BBC miniseries “Pride and Predjudice”: (Collin Firth)
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” – Fred Rogers’ biopic.
“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”
“The Best of Enemies” (recent, not David Niven WWII movie)
“Pride and Predjudice”: (2005 Kira Knightley)
“A Star is Born” (most recent version)
at a theatre: “Onward”
Before that: “Parasite”
We enjoyed “The Bridge” (Texas/Mexico) and “The Tunnel”, UK/France, both of which are very, very dark, though also very good

Don’t Forget: (From our DVD collection)

“Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With TIme”
“My Neighbor Totoro”
“A Grand Day Out With Wallace and Gromit”
“Porco Rosso”
“Spirited Away”
“Howl’s Moving Castle”
“Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams”
“A Taxing Woman”
“Hidden Fortress”
“Seven Samarai”
“Le Mans” (Steve McQueen, 1970 = sequel to “Ford Vs. Ferrari”, in some ways…)
“Endless Summer” (Bruce Brown, mid 1960s)
“The Kids Are Allright” (The Who’s biopic, ending just before Keith Moon’s death)
“The Way Things Go” (31 minute Rube Goldberg machine made of industrial junk in a dis-used industrial space)


Stay safe!

The Ballad of Ronald McDonald – Merle Kessler / Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater

Thanks to my friend Eric Lindberg, I can report that the content of the 45 rpm “The Ballad of Ronald McDonald“, can be found at ““, from 16:00 to 19:15 or so.

The Ballad of Ronald McDonald – Merle Kessler

His face painted gayly, young Ronald did ride

All with his soldiers, 2 Shakes and Large Fries

Big Mac he rode with him, and Mayor McCheese

To fight Colonel Sanders, his worst enemy


While in the White Castle fair Wendy did stay

She watched all a-tremble her lord ride away

She loved not Lord Ronald, though she was his McBride

Another clown had the franchise on her pride


All in the moonlight Jack’s onion rings shone 

To court this fair damsel he’d come all alone

The Taco Bell struck the young lover’s McDoom

As Ronald McDonald stepped into the room.


“My burgers are bitter!” young Ronald he cried

as he wiped a McTear from his orange McEye

“I blew-up your boxes, Jack, outsold you too”

“And Wendy, oh Wendy, I did it all for you!”


It was not Colonel Mustard in the hall with a knife

That parted the lovers away from their lives

But Ronald McDonald killed them and himself

Crying, “No need to go-o-o anywhere else!”


The Burger King found them on the sanitized floor

The blood thick as catsup, it grieved him full sore

He said, “Millions consumed your fast food while they roamed!”

“Now your arches have fallen, we’ll eat burgers at home”


This was a single put out by Mr. Kessler but also performed as part of Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre shows. He was a member of that comedy troupe. I have the 45 rpm disc, autographed, somewhere, I hope. I meant to keep it.

This song was written and performed by Merle Kessler, and he holds the copyright to it. This publication of the lyrics is intended to keep knowledge of the song alive, and provide a reference for discussion. I assert that this is “fair use” under current law.

The rhythm is 10 syllables, 1,2,3; 12, 3; 12, 3; 1; : da da da, da-da  da, da-da  da,  da

It looks like 4 bars, or  6 groups of notes, per line, repeated 4 times per verse.


11/9/18 – add *what* struck the McDoom, then follow Eric’s note and get the rest! Thank you!

11/8/18  – add McDoom line & one after

Top 10 Bookstores in the East Bay

A nice write-up on a key subject! Omits “Dan Webb Books”, doesn’t mention “The Booktree” right across the street from “A Great Good Place For Books” but my picks belong in my list. This is theirs and I’m glad to have found it!

The writer mentions the Montclair Egg Shop as a pairing with A Great Good Place for Books. Absolutely yes! Best place I can think of to take a new book or an old friend or both.

Source: Top 10 Bookstores in the East Bay

Bat-Mitzva and Bar-Mitzva book lists

Books for 13 year olds. “Today, I am an adult, and I take my place…”

“For Bar mitzvah or Bat mitzvah I used to wonder what to give, then I realized I had a list of books in my head that I’d found illuminating and helpful to have read as a young person. Books to return to as you grow into adulthood, books to provide a guide, a commentary, and perhaps, an inspiration. Books I gave to high school graduates, and camp counselors at my son’s summer camps. I’d have been pleased to get any of them, and I’m honored to give them, in turn.”

1. The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
“Unique and magical, a chemist’s life, each chapter centered on one element and its relationship to the author and those around him. Mercury, Lead and Carbon are imaginary, the rest autobiographical. My favorite chapter is the story of the chemists at lunch, and the slice of onion in the linseed oil.”

2. The Caine Mutiny: A Novel by Herman Wouk
“A detailed dissection of a failing organization and the price it extracts. Not to mention a great novel. (The typhoon made my hair stand on end when I was a kid) I give this book to people in crazy organizations (most organizations are crazy…). I have never read a better description of where the distress and responsibility fall when things aren’t working right.”

3. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
“Hammett’s best, not withstanding the Charles’ of The Thin Man (and the movies it gave birth to…). All the elements are familiar, and yet the way it unfolds is riveting. The writing is gripping, laugh-out-loud funny and timeless. The subjects are honor, duty, loss, romance and having to get up every morning and get on with your life. Because “..a man … has to do something.””

4. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking
“This is it – how we know what we know, only one equation, and as readable and instructive now as ever. Hawking’s ability to express himself against the challenges of his own body is beyond my words. This book is so clear, and starts with a wonderful joke. I was overseas the first time I read it, and his contrast of Einstein and Aristotle gave me courage to get the job done.”

5. Emma by Jane Austen
“One of those remarkable books which seems dauntingly long when you start and far, far, too short by the time you’ve finished. Emma, of good family and comfortable circumstances, trys to help her friends by matchmaking. The results are far from what anyone wants, complication and crisis compound on each other. But all is made well. Her own match is concluded in the sweetest way.”

6. The Wisdom of the Bones: In Search of Human Origins by Alan Walker & Pat Shipman
“This terrific book focuses on the Nariokatome Boy, a 1.6M yr old Homo Erectus’ skeleton. Kamoya Kimeu found the first pieces, Alan Walker and Meave Leakey assembled them, the scientific descriptions were published by Walker. The Boy is most complete Homo Erectus skeleton so far. Like us. But not us. Pat Shipman, Walker’s wife, is gifted writer. The story is his, the voice hers.”

7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Hailey
“I read this book in 1971 and I found it electrifying- Brother Malcolm X plumbed the depths and climbed the heights and had his life torn from him just as it seemed his greatest work was beginning. The hell of segregated America is something we must never forget. How one man educated himself out of prison and became a national leader is always worth knowing.”

8. The Hominid Gang: Behind the Scenes in the Search for Human Origins by Delta Willis
“A great how-they-did-it adventure, led by Richard and Meave Leakey, Kamoya Kimeu, etc. Kimeu is a treasure in his own right, worth meeting. Willis was with the expedition as they, Alan Walker, etc, found the Nariokatome Boy, a 1.6M yr old Homo Erectus skeleton. She also covers friction between the Kenyan team and the Institute for Human Origins (from Berkeley), who found “Lucy” in Ethiopia”

9. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
“Pirsig wastes no time. You need a thin aluminum shim for your top-of-the-line BMW motorcycle. Do you buy expensive shim stock from the BMW dealer, or snip a piece of essentially the same thing from an empty beer can? Pay someone to think for you, or call it yourself and accept the consequences? What *is* high quality, how do you define or apply it? A great story too!”

10. When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson & S. J. McCarthy
“Written by a noted natural science reporter and a once-enfant-terrible of Freudian Psychology, is very readable and not always comfortable. Elephants are not the only species here. Animals feel and express emotions; cases to cite don’t hurt.
Full disclosure: S. J. McCarthy is a personal friend of mine. my admiration of her writing has been verified in double-blind tests.”

11. To Kill a Mockingbird: by Harper Lee
“Some people can’t stop writing books. Harper Lee had one book to write. Her love of her father and the story she wanted to tell is worth more than the whole production of many other writers.
Atticus Finch’s story wasn’t leading straight to Rosa Parks, Brown Vs. Board of Education or the Voting Rights Act of 1964. Low-key person-by-person didn’t get the job done. But it wasn’t a coward’s path.”

12. The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll
“An Astronomy post-Doctoral student at UC Berkeley writes a new program to manage the department charges at the campus Computer Center. A $0.75 imbalance can’t be explained. Investigation reveals a German hacker working for the KGB and using Berkeley’s computers to search the early Internet for military weapons data. Stoll isn’t completely comfortable calling the CIA or FBI, but they know nothing and the break-ins are real and even less comfortable. The FBI advises him to call back when the losses exceed $1 million. A remarkable adventure that gets to a courtroom in Germany on its way to conclusion. The era of cyber-espionage starts in text, over modems. Beautifully written, with a good chocolate chip cookie recipe included.”

13. The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme by John Keegan
“A landmark book, explaining the often unrealistic conventions of military history, as far back as Julius Caesar and as close as the Charge of the Light Brigade. He then describes three notable battles in the history of England and Great Britain, and what the typical soldier would have experienced. Keegan’s account of the first Battle of the Somme is heartbreaking.”

14. Ancient Engineers by L. Sprague De Camp
“A wonderful (filled with wonder) history of engineering in the long ago and far away. From the Tigris/Euphrates and Nile civilizations to Leonardo, who De Camp rightly points out, was the last of the ancients- wise, but secretive, not publishing during his lifetime or after. Not a specialist book on any area or culture, its a guided tour by someone who loves the subject. Too middle-Eastern/European centric by today’s standards, it wasn’t bad for the 1960s, and still a fun read today.”

15. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
“A year in the National Parks of the Utah desert. Abbey was a Ranger and his love of wild land fills this book like rain or sunshine.”

16. Fate is the Hunter by Ernest Kellogg Gann
“One pilot’s experiences from the birth of the US airlines in the 1920s through possibly profitable business in the 1930s, then flying freight and passengers world-wide in WWII, and the post-war boom. Gann had enough luck, skill, and courage to survive. Many of his friends and acquaintances did not. His writing is both graceful and direct, humble without being laconic. He doesn’t start something unless he has a point to make.”

17. Funny Money by Mark Singer

18. A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm by Stanley G. Crawford

19. The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman

20. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters  by Matt Ridley

21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

22. Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway by Walter Lord
“The best kind of history, built of quotes from 350 survivors, 250 from the US and 100 from Japan. How code breaking, courage, luck and sacrifice stopped the Japanese conquest of the Pacific. A human tragedy, triumph and a victory that comprised 1/3 of what Winston Churchill called “The Hinge of Fate””

23. Rising From The Plains by John McPhee

24. Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo by Eric Hansen

25. Assembling California by John McPhee

26. The Survival of the Bark Canoe by John McPhee

27. Young Men and Fire by Norman MacLean

28. Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin

29. The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler

30. The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature by Loren C. Eiseley

31. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

32. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition by Edward R. Tufte

33. Synapsida by John C. McLoughlin

34. Five Equations that Changed the World: The Power and Poetry of Mathematics by Michael Guillen

35. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

36. A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell

37. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

38. Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys by Michael Collins

39. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

40: Ultramarine: Poems by Raymond Carver

“Buy a copy for your brother. Read one of the poems to him.

I think I’ve bugged more of my friends and family with Carver’s masterpiece, “The Car”, from this book, than with any other poem I’ve ever read. More than “Howl”, more than “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “McCavity the Mystery Cat” or “Greed and Aggression”. There are teaching guides for middle school teachers to use this one as an exercise. Find it. Read it. Make up your own verses. Make up your own poem when you’re driving somewhere with your family. I’ll come back and edit in an excerpt, but trust me, you need this book, as a gift if nothing else.

When I bought my brother a copy and stopped by his house and read him, “The Car”, he laughed and looked thoughtful, his wife squeezed his hand. and he paused, at the end, after,

“… Car of my sleepless nights.
My car.”

and then he said, “‘The car I struck with a hammer.’ ‘The car I struck with a hammer.’ The car I cut to pieces with an oxy-acetylene torch !”


Yeah, there’s sadness here too, but there’s a LOT of that tough heart that people, not just men, need to have to get by in this world. The first poem is called “What You Need To Paint” and lists (from a letter? a notebook?) things a well regarded fine art painter recorded. Brushes, Colors. And then the zinger, that gives the whole thing life: “The ability to work like a locomotive”.

Its what we all need. Raymond Carver had it, and its beautiful to listen to, to watch, to live up to in your own life.

So buy this one for your brother, or sister, or someone who YOU love, who can work like a locomotive, when its required.

You won’t be sorry.”

41: Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943 by David Khan

42: Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain



—=== Original Post: ===—
Its that time of year again, so beside a check, its time to pass around books that I think are worthwhile to those who are learning how to take their place in the wide world

Last year I put “The Prince” by Machiavelli into the hands of a couple of Abby’s classmates, Both boys had been talking politics, so it seemed like a natural. I also gave a copy of “Carrying the Fire” by Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins.

One boy did have an actual Bar Mitzva and by way of celebration, I gave him:
The Periodic Table – Levi
A Brief History of Time – Hawking
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Pursig (His dad noted this approvingly – “ah”, he said, “Pursig? Well, its not depressing like ‘Lila'” and I said, “Now he takes his place…” or something similar.
The Maltese Falcon, Hammett
I’ve also got a copy of
The C Programming Language” for him.
He’d probably enjoy “The Curve of Binding Energy” too.

For another boy I’ve got:
The Face of Battle – Keegan
Brazen Chariots – Crisp
and not-yet delivered:
Assembling California – McPhee

For a third I got:
When Elephants Weep – Mason and McCarthy
The Fallen Man – Tony Hillerman
The Thin Man – Hammett
For this child and the next, both girls, I need books with a strong female character/voice. Sue Hubbell, Jane Goodall, Pat Shipman, Delta Burke… Obviously fiction such as Pride and Prejudice or Little Women would be appropriate, but at least some is likely to have been given… Neither Kinsey Milhone in “A is for Alibi” or in “Shooting the Boh” are quite right for 13 year olds. This is harder than it looks. “October Sky” has been recommended for an inspirational teacher who is an unconventional woman who inspires the author. His mother also has a strong role. Good suggestions, from a woman who’s son is all over the submarines, tanks, airplane books used to read. She also says she was big on Judy Blume at age 13. I’ve certainly seen Judy Blume’s books, but haven’t read any yet. Probably ought to, and October Sky too. We had a copy once…
How could I have not included
To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee?

For a fourth child I’ve got:
Genome – Ridley
Assembling California – McPhee – both sent today via Abby. Maybe “Rising from the Plain” would be better, with so much coming from the geologist’s mom’s diary. I think a Sue Hubbell and/or Pat Shipman needs to follow.
5/13: Added When Elephants Weep – Mason and McCarthy
The Fallen Man – Tony Hillerman

For a fifth child I’ve got
Assembling California – McPhee, and I need a couple more-
I’m thinking The Periodic Table – Levi
Fate is the Hunter – Gann
All Creatures Great and Small – Herriott

for GM I’ve go little beyond good intentions, yet

For MG I’m getting another copy of
The Periodic Table

For the school’s library I donated
Fighting On Two Fronts
Autobiography of Malcom X” by Halley,
Animal Farm” by Orwell

Sitting here burning a hole in my bookshelf are give-away copies of

Desert Solitaire” – Abbey,
A Garlic Testament“, – Crawford
Robinson Crusoe” – Defoe
“Your Inner Fish” – Shubin
The Curve of Binding Energy” – McPhee
The Wisdom of the Bones“, – Shipman & Walker

I’ve got between one and several copies of

The Periodic Table” – Levi
The C Programming Language” – Kernighan and Ritchie
Broadsides from the Other Orders” – Sue Hubbell
A Country Year” – Sue Hubbell and
Waiting for Aphrodite” – Sue Hubbell

on order and presumably making their way to get there.

I realize I need more female voices. I’ve received some suggestions, along the lines of young adult fiction with strong female characters:
Judy Blume
Mercedes Lakey
M Pierce (not the other Pierce)
Earthsea (Not U. K. LeGuinn’s Earthsea Trillogy)
Harper Lee writes from a young girl’s perspective, and if “To Kill A Mockingbird” isn’t quite in the’ books for girls’ zone, neither is “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Ann Frank, who is also an undeniable girl.
Besides Hillerman, Hammett, Chandler and Conan-Doyle, Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries, written with her cat Sneaky Pie, are said to be child-friendlly and female voiced. I picked one up for a look through at the library sale.

I need to add
Young Men and Fire” – MacLean
Fate is the Hunter” – Gann
The Simple Art of Murder” – Chandler
Incredible Victory” – Lord.
And more

Alphabeticly, by title, this all and some other old favorites adds up to:

The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Hailey
A Brief History of Time – Hawking
Brazen Chariots – Crisp
The Cuckoo’s Egg – Stoll
The Curve of Binding Energy – McPhee
Desert Solitaire – Abbey
The Face of Battle – Keegan
The Fallen Man – Hillerman
Fate is the Hunter – Gann
Funny Money – Singer
A Garlic Testament – Crawford
Giant Squid – Ellis
Genome – Ridley
Huckleberry Finn – Twain
Life on the Mississippi – Twain
Incredible Victory – Lord
Little Women – Alcott
The Maltese Falcon – Hammett
The Phantom Major – Cowells
The Periodic Table – Levi
Pride and Prejudice – Austin
Rising From the Plain – McPhee
Robinson Crusoe – Defoe
Sense and Sensibility – Austen
Stranger In the Forest – Hansen
Taking Wing – Shipman & _____
The Thin Man – Hammett
To Kill A Mockingbird – Lee
Waiting for a Ship – McPhee
When Elephants Weep – Masson & McCarthy
The Wisdom of the Bones – Shipman & Walker
Young Men and Fire – MacLean
Your Inner Fish – Shubin
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Pursig

Now that’s a list of old friends!

50 books every geek should read- from

Ok, lets see: I’ve read 16 of these, gave up on another and have 2 in-progress.

I think there are a few good books missing:

1) “The C Programming Language” – Kernighan and Ritche. Not only a great book about programming, especially for beginners, it also shows how clear a programming text can be, how little needs to be said, and how to spiral around the same problems with increasingly capable and complicated programs.

2) “The C++ Programming Language” – Stroustrup. By comparison to C, a much thicker book, containing K&R’s language and a whole lot more, for practical coding and for object oriented techniques.

3) “The Codebreakers” – Herman Kahn A huge book and one that ends in the era where crypto was still a government issue, mostly. But a great history, and clear proof that no cypher system, or code book, is 100% unbreakable.

4) “Seizing the Enigma” – most complete discussion of BREAKING Enigma I’ve seen so far. There are any number of good lessons here, starting with, a small, motivated, team can accomplish what is considered impossible. Never treat the opposition with contempt. Define your requirements as well as you can, do what you can to satisfy them, pay attention to what actually happens.

The actual analytic technique to break Enigma was cooked up by two Polish intelligence officers who could see how the wind was blowing in the late 1930s. When the Germans invaded, they escaped with their method and presented it to the French. The French passed it on to the British before they collapsed. The technique wouldn’t do for rapid recovery of plain text from a well operated system but it could break in by brute force, with some time, and it could also rapidly exploit any laxness in technique by the cypher users. Whereas the Germans believed that Enigma was essentially unbreakable and never seriously looked for its weaknesses, or their own in using it.

Code and cipher trade-craft was good in the Kriegsmarine, so-so in the Wehrmacht and lousy in the Luftwaffe, oddly echoing Hitler’s complaint that he had a Christian Navy, a Reactionary Army and only one National Socialist (Nazi) armed force, the Luftwaffe. The Brits mounted a frontal assault on Luftwaffe Enigma traffic and got what they needed because of bad practices by the users. With the Wehrmacht they got enough to combine with conventional intelligence, what the Soviets gave them from “Lucy”, from the Italians sending cables to each other, etc., to get the job done. The Kriegsmarine used Enigma intelligently, so that frontal assaults hit a blank wall. Fortune gave the Brits the keys, the initial rotor position for each message, occasionally, and they knew what they were missing, so they made it their business to GET the keys, through espionage, Soviet salvage of a sunken German ship, the capture of a shipboard weather station in the North Atlantic, the US Navy’s capture of U-505. Every six months when the key changed, they had to get the new one and did, EACH TIME. And tight security at the Allied end allowed the Germans, all of them, to ignore any suspicion that their cyphers and codes were less than 100% secure. They had no “Red Team”s, or even someone looking at the pattern of Allied luck in finding lone U boats, bombing the right place at the right time, etc. Convinced of their own superiority, like the Japanese, they caught “victory disease” and when the tide turned, retained a confidence that events did NOT justify. Lucky for us.

“Snow Crash,” Neal Stephenson
“Neuromancer,” William Gibson
“I, Robot,” Isaac Asimov  <———- 1
“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams  <———– 2
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Philip K. Dick  <————– 3
“Ender’s Game,” Orson Scott Card
“The Time Machine,” H.G. Wells  <————– 4
“Microserfs,” Doug Coupland  <————— 5
“Flatland,” Edwin A. Abbott  <——- tried, couldn’t get into it. Should try again I suppose
“1984,” George Orwell  <—————- 6
“Brave New World,” Aldous Huxley  <————— 7
“iCon,” Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon
“iWoz,” Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith
“Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire,” Jim Erickson
“The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,” Edward Tufte  <——————- 8
“Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,” Steve Krug
“The Non-Designer’s Design Book,” Robin Williams
“Tog on Interface,” Bruce Tognazzini  <—————– 9
“User Interface Design for Programmers,” Joel Spolsky
“Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made,” Andy Hertzfeld
“The Soul of a New Machine,” Tracy Kidder  <——————- 10
“Where Wizards Stay Up Late,” Hafner and Lyon
“Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age,” Michael A. Hiltzik
“The Cuckoo’s Egg,” Cliff Stoll  <—————- 11
“The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness,” Steven Levy
“Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time,” Dava Sobel  <– 12
“The Code Book,” Simon Singh
“Cryptonomicon,” Neal Stephenson
“Crypto,” Steven Levy
“The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master,” Andrew Hunt, David Thomas
“Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction,” Steve McConnell  <—— working on it
“Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software,” Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John M. Vlissides  <— working on it
“Dreaming in Code,” Scott Rosenberg
“The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering,” Frederick P. Brooks  <———- 13
“Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think,” Andy Oram
“Cathedral and the Bazaar,” Eric S. Raymond
“The Long Tail,” Chris Anderson
“The Future of Ideas,” Lawrence Lessig
“On Intelligence,” Jeff Hawkins
“In the Beginning was the Command Line,” Neal Stephenson
“Code: Version 2.0,” Lawrence Lessig
“The Wisdom of Crowds,” James Surowiecki
“The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” Ray Kurzweil
“Gödel, Escher, Bach,” Douglas Hofstadter  <——— 14
“Gut Feelings,” Gerd Gigerenzer
“A Brief History of Time,” Stephen Hawking  <————- 15
“Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age,” Paul Graham
“The Evolution of Useful Things,” Henry Petroski  <————– 16
“Getting Things Done,” David Allen
“Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better,” Gina Trapani

“Gut Feelings,” Gerd Gigerenzer

Movies seen- w/ Abby, w/Jean

We just saw:

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. Nice, very, very, nice. Much as J. K. Rowling did herself proud in writing the books and bringing off the sprawling yarn and its many loose ends, so now yet another director picks up with mostly the same actors and makes a VERY compact and effective movie. Its a keeper, no doubt. The three principals are maturing as actors as they grow taller, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman would have stolen any NORMAL movie, that they don’t says much about the focus of the script writers and directors of this epic industry. They’ll be sorry when its over, I can tell you that. The brief appearance of the now-married (in the movie, in the Movie!) Tonks and Professor Lupin is nice, and the scenery, the world outside the cloister of Hogwart’s, is just beautiful to look at. At one point The Hogwarts’ Express rolls along tracks through a autumn gold land dotted by a thousand ponds, lakes, streams. Another scene depends on raging seas against cliffs out of a nightmare. I can’t tell how  much of this is digital and how much literal, but I’m not complaining…

Recently we’ve also seen:

The 2nd Transformers movie, Abby loved it. Really. A lot. Still talking about it a week, two weeks, later. Value for money, there.

Me, perhaps not so much. The human interactions don’t make any more sense than the robot interactions (Can’t tell a Decepticon from an Autobot? You’re not alone…) One of the bad robots disguises itself as a very attractive young woman and then throws herself (itself?) at Shia LeBouef’s character. I have nothing but respect and admiration for attractive young women but this bit and the key point between SLB’s character and Megan (?) Fox, that SLB, recent highschool graduate won’t tell Ms. Fox’s character that he loves her , don’t seem aligned with a special effects spectacle derived from a cartoon and licensed product gold mine aimed at 6-9 year olds.

Up in 3D. we all thought it was terrific fun. Sad at the beginning, less so than Finding Nemo, but its no accident that Pixar can have sadder and more touching things happen in their animated features than any other animated studio, with the possible exception of Studio Ghibli (H. Miyazaki) in Japan. Perhaps Pixar will made a bad movie, someday, this one isn’t it.

Lovely, unexpected depth in the characters and the story. The whole concept of taking the little house hemmed in by the big city and floating it away is wonderful. The trick of the dog’s thoughts being rendered into speech is as funny here as in The Far Side- Abby and I are still breaking suddenly and looking to one side while saying “squirrel”…

Coraline in 3D. What a great movie! For sure wierd, very wonderful. and appealing. The apparently wish-fulfilling mother in The Other Side sets off all kinds of alarm bells from the word go. And the cat and neighborhood boy are terrific foils for Coraline. Not to mention her real mother and father, and all their messy difficulties.

Milk. Wow. “I’m Harvey Milk and I’m hear to recruit you!” boy oh boy can Sean Penn put across a character, and the supporting cast are superb. Directing tight, script crisp and emotionally satsfying. A truely great movie.

“Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day” – Frances McDormand in an overwhemling sweet and happy story. Many adventures, Amy Adams’  astonished, round, eyes and a happy ending that only gets telegraphed at the very end.  Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle) has a meaty and unsympathetic character,  Ciarán Hinds  is a treasure.

Tropic Thunder. Wow again! A surprising comedy-drama. Laughs are deadly, well aimed, lighting up conventions found in far too many places. The panda bit is howlingly funny, in a very, very, dark way, and Tom Cruise shows why we bother paying attention to him- his performance is simply jaw-dropping and would have overwhelmed a lesser movie. (The strength and sure-touch of the this film are reminders of how good a movie can be. Even turned up to 11, Jack Black, well cast and with a real part that matches his talent, can’t steal more than a scene or two. The material and the rest of the cast are that strong.) Ben Stiller really has a lock on funny characters who aren’t actually likable, but remain sympathetic. Robert Downey Jr’s, “dude pretending to be another dude, who’s pretending to be another dude” (or however that goes) is even further over the top than Cruise. Its like fireworks- once the fuse it lit, everyone’s committed. Jean and I saw this by ourselves and really enjoyed it, and after talking it over, let Benjamin see it on-demand at home. The beginning is gorey-er than he was comfortable with and we’d forgotten sexual nature of one of Jack Black’s character’s drug-withdrawal-crazed rants. We were embarrassed, but it didn’t last long. This is a real “R” for violence and strong language, folks. So wait until your 12 year old turns 13, perhaps, but this one’s a keeper, for sure. Just as good, maybe better, the second time I saw it.

Night At The Museum II – Battle of the Smithsonian. A sequel which basicly wrote itself – the primary characters are known, complexity is turned down, slapstick turned up and everyitng is what you’d expect and more. The bad bad guy’s dismissal of Darth Vader (or someone wearing a Darth costume) is wonderfully realized and puts that particular icon in its place quite firmly. I must agree with the review in one national print media which noted that all the skill and attention devoted to special effects are good but what most fathers will remember of Movie Magic ™ is Amy Adams’ painted-on pants.

Ghost Town Another one Jean and I saw by ourselves and a delight, a terrific showcase for Ricky Gervais, a wonderfully wacky premise and a full measure of both romance and comedy. Gervais is less off-putting than his breakthrough role in the UK “The Office”but he’s still mining the awkward and not easy to like formula. Dr. Pinkus is not a bad person, a bit prickly, a bit odd, but not a bad person. But he’s complicated and dropping him into something MORE complicated plays to his strengths. – he has that Fred Astare thing going,, he makes it all look SO easy.

Recommended Reading

We are a household of readers and we read a lot of books. Here are some particular favorites, past and present. Our son is now 12…

Perhaps these are aimed too young, but they’re delightful reads…

Winnie The Pooh
The House At Pooh Corner

When We Were Very Young
Now We Are Six
Old Possums Practical Cats
The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald
Alvins’ Secret Code
Emil and the Detectives
Rabbit Hill, The Long Winter
– Robert Lawson
Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpet of the Swan.

Age Appropriate & enjoyed by all of us:
Bone” graphic novel(s) Really, really, great art, characters, story, plot, you name it. Beautiful.

All Creatures Great and Small, etc, etc. “James Herriot”.
Really good story telling, and yes, though based on real people, this is fiction. Some drinking, smoking, a fair number of complicated deliveries for sheep and some other farm animals.
Based on the writer’s experience but a work of fiction. In the real world, “Helen” wasn’t the woman he married, for starters… All Creatures and the second book were re-read requests, I think we read the pair more than 3 times all the way through…

My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives – Gerald Durrell.

British expatriots in Corfu during the 1930s. No clue where theirmoney comes from or what happened tothe father- Gerald (Gerry) is a pre-teen and already a naturalist in training and the youngest of the 4 children. Oldest brother Lawrence is already becoming A Famous Writer, middle sister and brother are teenagers, nowhere near as interesting as the animals Gerrald collects or the locals he meets. “My Family and Other Animals” is my favorite, and we re-read it at least 2-3 times.

A Zoo In My Luggage – Gerald Durrell.

Durrell’s other books are accounts of his collecting expeditions to find animals for other people’s and finally his own zoo. He has great stories, and started the first zoo-as-refuge-for-endangered-species around 1960, on one of the
Channel Islands.

The Cockcoo’s Egg – Cliff Stoll.

True story of a Berkeley grad student who discovers someone breaking into the computers he’s supervising, ends up discovering a German who is hacking university and government computers for the KGB. Includes a goode chocolate chip cookie recipe

The Periodic Table – Primo Levi –

Levi trained as a chemist, growing up in Italy in the 1930s.When the war starts he ends up in the Reisistance, is captured and shipped off to Auchwitz. He survives (working in the I. G. Farbin facility) and returns to Italy after the war. He becomes a paint and varnish chemist. Each story/chapter uses an element as the anchor for an episode, telling his life story from youth to age. Two stories are fictional the one about lead and the one about carbon. He wrote them in a feverish burst along with his acclaimed “Survival In Auchwitz” in 1946. Its wonderful in translation, it must be even more fun in the original Italian.

The Survival of the Bark Canoe – John McPhee.

Profile of Henri Vallencourt, a young man who mastered Native American canoe building technology and built them to order in the 1970s. No pencils, no saws, just a hatchet and a “crooked knife”, bought from the Hudson’s Bay Company. They’re easier to use and maintain than the sharpend beaver tooth they replaced, which is why HBC still sells them. Second half of the book is a canoe trip consisting of McPhee, the canoe maker, and some friends, through the Maine woods that Henry Thourou traveled and wrote about 150 years ago. One half-page reference to Deliverance and jokes about banjo-playing rapists mean it can’t be “G” but “PG” is very fair.

The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings trilogy. You know these.

The Harry Potter books. You know these too.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle

All 1100 pages. out loud, twice. If you haven’t had the pleasure, I recomend it. Smoking, light drinking, cocaine use by Holmes when he’s bored. (Watson portrays this unsympatheticly…)

The Fallen Man – Tony Hillerman.

Set on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, Hillerman’s mysteries are solved by members of the Navajo Tribal Police. They’re deeply rooted in place and time, and the Navajo and dominant cultures. In this story, a skeleton discovered over 1000 feet up a pinacle which is both popular with climbers and a Navajo sacred place. It may be a rancher who disappeared on his honeymoon years before…

The Maltese Falcon – Dashiel Hammett.

A woman with a complex story visits the small detective agency of Sam Spade and Miles Archer. Archer agrees to watch over her case personally. He is found, shot dead, in the middle of that night, and Sam Spade has to figure out who killed him, and why, and do something about it. One character in a criminal association is gay, and Spade refers to him as a “fairy” in one scene. There are suggestions that another male member of the gang may be his lover, which are not treated as positive. Relatioinships outside of marriage, past and present are key parts of the plot. Archer’s is not the only death. None the less, this is Hammett’s finest and a terrific book about being an adult.

Animal, Vegitable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver.

A year of eating locally, and in low-impact, means raising their own food animals and growing crops, as well as preserving by canning and freezing, and seeking meals away from home which are also of locally produced food. Naturally, seasonal foods become staples, and much thought is given to what comes from far away and how commercial, agribusiness farming works, as opposed to small, organic,efforts. Many recipes, the majority of the text is by Kingsolver but her husband and one daughter contribute as well. A really delightful book. A more positive take on the same subject as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Hoot, Flush,

These are really terrific kids books- kid centered points of view, serious conflict without it becoming overwhelming, justice triumphs more or less. Unsympathetic characters get a comeuppance and wits and dairing are shown to match brute force and come out ahead. Very likable protagonists, not the same in each book. I was sorry when each ended. Also see “Scat“, about Florida panthers.

Fate Is The Hunter – Ernest K. Gann

Memior of an airline pilot, from the wild days of the 1920s through the Depression, the war and the post-war boom. Superb, humble and honest adventure stories where nobody succeeds without help and kindness from others. Much dry wit, and a steady roll of the names of friends, co-workers and legends who died when fate finally had their number. I read this in 6th grade and loved it. We read it with Benjamin a couple of years ago and he loved it too. Superb writing. When he tired of the airline business, Gann went to medical school and became a doctor- quite a guy.

The Silent World – Jacques Y. Cousteau

From the invention of the Aqualung, in occupied France, through setting up Calypso for expeditions and setting out to make a life with science and diving. Cousteau wrote all his books in English directly, for the world market I suppose.

The Living Sea, World Without Sun, Jacques Y. Cousteau

Further adventures, exploration and science in the 1950s and early 1960s. I remember reading about most of this in The National Geographic some in the latest issues, some in back issues…

Incredible Victory – Walter Lord

The battle of Midway, as told by hundreds of survivors to Mr. Lord, 20 years later. He manages to tell the central parts of the story using quotes from people who were there, on both sides, the very best kind of history. In mid-1942 the Japanese Navy sets out to destroy the remaining US Pacific fleet. By capturing Midway, only 1200 miles from Oahu, they expect to provoke the US fleet into a final battle and defeat them. They don’t know the US Navy is reading their radio codes. In a single day, and amid enormous cost in American lives from Midway and afloat, dive bombers from two US carriers sink all 4 Japanese carriers, though the Japanese manage to sink one American carrier and an accompanying destroyer. This is the beginning of the why Admiral Nimitz got a freeway named after him… This and “A Night To Remember” are Lord’s most famous books, It helps that the good guys win, but the waste and savagery of war are not glossed over.

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

This is such a great book- it starts with a good cosmological joke, and contains only one equation. Its both a story of what is and how we know it, and what we don’t know yet. We saw Hawking on his last visit to the Bay Area and he’s inspiring. Robert Heinlein once wrote that any scientist who can’t explain what they’re doing, to a child, in 10 minutes, is a fraud. Hawking is not a fraud.

Benjamin read a number of Charlie Bone books to himself, and we read one as bedtime reading. Not my first choice, but he liked them a lot. He’s also current in the Maximum Ride and Levin Thumps series’, and looking forward to the next one in each case.

More fiction:

Around the World In 80 Days, Jules Verne
A Wrinkle In Time – L’Engle (?)
Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Bach
Owls In The Family
– F. Mowat

More natural history:

A Fish Caught In Time –
Waiting For Aphrodite – Sue Hubbell
The Ancient Engineers
– L. Sprague de Camp
Wonderful Life – Stephen J Gould
Life (the first 4 billion years) – Richard Fortey
Trilobite Eyewitness to Evolution – Richard Fortey
The Decypherment of Linear “B”
The Periodic Kingdom
Giant Squid – Ellis

The Wisdom of Bones – Walker & Shipman – Benjamin loved this and after this we read The Hominid Gang, by Delta Willis, which he liked even more. Willis has a different view of some of the same people and places that are the foundation for Walker and Shipman’s book. Willis was writing while the Nariokatome aka Turkana Boy, the oldest and so-far best preserved Homo Erectus, was being un-earthed and pieced together.

Books we read pieces of but stopped before the end or didn’t want to read all the way through start to finish:

Little Women – Louisa May Allcott – stopped before Amy died.

Read some, then stopped:
Little House In The Woods
Little House On the Praire
Anne of Green Gables
The Yearling

Read here and there, but not the whole thing. Enjoyed in small pieces. Favorites of mine :^)
Rising from the Plain – John McPhee
Assembling California – John McPhee
Looking for a Ship – John McPhee
Taking Wing – Pat Shipman and
Synapsida – McLaughlin
The Man Who Walked Through Time – Colin Fletcher
Carrying The Fire – Michael Collins

In theory good ideas but not yet actually read by/to Benjamin, yet:

Broadsides From The Other Orders – Sue Hubbell
A Country Year – Sue Hubbell
Life on the Missippi,
Mark Twain

A Distant Mirror – Werthimer
Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
Huckleberry Finn
– Mark Twain
Endurance – Lansing (a powerfully written account of Shackleton’s last Antarctic expedition.)
House of Seven Gables
The Red Badge Of Courage – S. Crane

I, Juan De. Pareja

Historical fiction, story of a Moor who is enslaved and owned by the painter Velasquez… De Pareja eventually becomes a paint himself and provokes controversy by painting a black Jesus and Mary Mother and Child picture.

Pride and Prejudice – J. Austin
Sense and Sensability – J. Austin
Emma – J. Austin
Persuasion – J. Austin
Northanger Abbey – J. Austin
Is Paris Burning?
Beyond the 100th Meridian – W. Stiegner
Wuthering Hieghts
Last and First Men, Starmaker – Olaf Stapleton
A House In Space – Henry F. S. Cooper
(More) Tony Hillerman…
Diary of a Young Girl – Ann Frank