My Idea of Fun by Will Self (unfinished). I read nearly half before deciding life was too short for boring books.
A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine. Very enjoyable.
My Father and Myself by J.R. Ackerley. A lovely and most interesting memoir.
Stop-Time: A Memoir by Frank Conroy. Wonderful.
What Maisie Knew by Henry James. I usually love Henry James yet I was a little bored by this.
The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst. Intriguing and quite beautiful novel with lots of gay sex. Well written but I felt let down at the end. What happened to Luc? The broken hearted narrator also needed to know…..
Original Sin by P D James
Confessions of an Art Addict by Peggy Guggenheim.
Death and Nightingales by Eugene McCabe. Another old fashioned Irish book similar to December Bride which I read last month. I didn’t realise it was such an interesting genre.
Amongst Women by John McGahern. An Irish father’s effect on his family of five. Not a likeable man but I felt a real sense of sorrow at the end of the book.
The Nice and the Good by Iris Murdoch. What is all the fuss about Iris Murdoch? I didn’t like this at all. Such silly people, falling in and out of love at the drop of a hat
Unimagined by Imran Ahmad. Sweet. But it did end rather abruptly.
Stuffed by Patricia Volk. I loved this memoir. And it made me long to visit New York again.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski. Several of his best short stories and a couple that were not so good.
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. I love an unexpected ending!
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski. Cool.
The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. A very black comedy about erecting fences.
December Bride by Sam Hanna Bell. An old fashioned type of story about an unconventional threesome. I loved it.
Something Wholesale by Eric Newby. He’s such a fabulously witty writer.
Catholics by Brian Moore. Not as enjoyable as his other books.
Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick. There’s no real story to this, or rather it’s a collection of little stories, an old woman’s memories. The writing is lovely.
Watching the English by Kate Fox
Cheever by Blake Bailey. What a fascinating and deeply troubled man John Cheever was.
Great Dream of Heaven by Sam Shepard. I liked the first story a lot but the rest were quite patchy.
The Monument by T Behrens. Sad.
The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever. Seems very autobiographical.
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
The Mistake by Wendy James
Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe
Getting Stoned With Savages by J Maarten Troost
The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal. Such a beautiful book about the history of a European family and their netsuke collection
Travels Without My Aunt by Julia Llewellyn Smith. I’ve been to Vietnam but not to any of the other countries mentioned in this travelogue. They all sound fascinating, if rather troubled. Cuba is now on my wish list.
I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Talk of the Devil by Riccardo Orizio
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
No Second Chance by Harlan Coben
Why Not Say What Happened by Ivana Lowell
Virtual Light by William Gibson
The Wave by Susan Casey. Tow-surfing sounds really scary.
Extreme Science by the editors of Scientific American.
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. The intriguing title only warranted one sentence in the whole book. I was bored out of my mind, definitely not written to provide pleasure for the layman.
It’s OK! I’m From the Daily Mail by Richard Shears. I don’t know much about Shears but he appears to be a tabloid journalist who’ll do whatever it takes to get his byline on the front page. He doesn’t come across as very likeable but the book was ok, kind of gossipy, easy to read but ultimately not memorable.
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I didn’t know that Mormons were so bloodthirsty. a real eye opener for me.
Freak Show by Robert Bogdan. I got bogged down by this, rather too scholarly.
Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre. Fascinating story and lots of oddball characters
The Smoking Gun. A book version of the popular website. Oh my…. the things people get up to…..
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. I enjoyed the chapters on Sir Joseph Banks, the Herschels and the early balloonists. The later chapters were less interesting.
Ripperology edited by Paul Begg. A lot duller than I thought it would be.
Australian Ripping Yarns II by Paul Taylor
Dreaming to Some Purpose by Colin Wilson. I was glad to finish this. Colin does go on a bit.
Lost In Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff. What a great story, I couldn’t stop reading it. Highly recommended.
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean. I’ve always thought of myself as more of a cat person, but I was really touched by Rinty’s life, his many descendants and the strange people who worked with and loved him. I think I even had tears in my eyes at the end.
The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes by Scott Wallace. Exciting, enjoyable and informative. But rather him taking the journey than me.
A Bad Idea I’m About To Do by Chris Gethard
Eccentric Explorers by Michael Buckley. An excellent read.
The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. Another excellent read, especially the section on prohibition.
Best Music Writing 2009 edited by Greil Marcus and Daphne Carr. If this is the best music writing of 2009 then I’d hate to read the worst. Of the 35 pieces in this book only three were outstanding, most of the others were ho hum, while several were pretty bad.
True Pleasures by Lucinda Holdforth
Alcatraz: A Definitive History of the Penitentiary Years by Michael Esslinger
Tickle My Tush by Dr Sadie Allison. I was sent this book to review by Dr Sadie’s publicist. It’s subtitled Mild to Wild Analplay Adventures for Everybooty. I’m not really sure what demographic it’s aimed at. Maybe guys who want to experiment with anal sex might buy it for their hesitant girlfriends? Its good points are: cute illustrations, a down to earth bright and breezy style of writing, lots of reassuring facts, a few good hints. Bad points: It’s pretty repetitive at times with constant references to safe sex and lots of lube but maybe that’s because Dr Sadie expects that some readers will skip chapters. I suppose the curious or inexperienced might appreciate the advice and it certainly does a good job of demystifying what for many is a taboo practice. I’m just not sure the subject needs an entire book, even if it is only 135 pages long. Maybe it could be combined with a couple of her other books like Ride ‘Em Cowgirl and Tickle His Pickle. Check them all out (and the luscious doctor herself) at her website Ticklekitty
The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste by Jane & Michael Stern
Scribble Scribble Scribble by Simon Schama. I loved the essays on food and the one that highlighted the differences between British and American politics was excellent. But the rest of this book was pretty dry.
The Book of the Dead by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson. Lots of Gimcrack material in this one :-)
The Nympho and Other Maniacs by Irving Wallace
The Stories Behind London’s Streets by Peter Thurgood
The Self Illusion by Bruce M Hood. I downloaded a free excerpt of this as the book itself is not yet available. Will definitely buy it when released, the excerpt was every bit as interesting as his previous book Supersense.
Cafe Society by Thierry Coudert. A beautiful coffee table book with fabulous photos of a golden age. Those rich folk really knew how to spend and party and swap spouses.
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. I’m not overly fond of boating, but Jerome K could persuade me to dip my toes in the water.
The Trouble with Tom by Paul Collins. My mother sent me this for Christmas as she knew I liked Paul Collins’ work. I’d never heard of Thomas Paine before this, he was a fascinating man. Highly recommended.
Out of the Ordinary by Jon Ronson
They Lost a Fortune by Jacqueline Mroz. The back cover of this book promised a lot but failed to deliver.
Sex, Lies and Handwriting by Michelle Dresbold
The World’s Greatest Mistakes edited by Nigel Blundell
Twenty Four Hours in the Life of a Woman by Stefan Zweig. An exquisite story. Thank you Wil for lending it to me.
World Famous Robberies by Colin, Damon and Rowan Wilson
Dreaming of East by Barbara Hodgson
The Europeans by Henry James. I love everything Henry James has written. His characters are so well drawn and the language is exquisite.
A History of the World in 100 Objects by Dr Neil McGregor
Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart
Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy. I bought this book because I thought some of the newspaper clippings might provide fodder for the Gimcrack but they were mostly depressing and repetitive. However, the photos are sensational, I could look at them for hours.
Smoking Ears and Screaming Teeth by Trevor Norton. This is the second book by Trevor Norton that I’ve read this year. And I’ve just ordered a third. My current favourite non fiction writer
The Sex Loves of Cannibals by J Maarten Troost. This travel memoir about a couple living and working on the island of Tarawa in the South Pacific is rather endearing. It was written some years ago but it’s still topical due to Australia’s fluctuating policy of interning refugees on islands close by.
The Black Treasures of Scotland Yard by Guy R Williams. This book looked interesting and it had a great title so I was expecting some great insider gossip. But it was as dull as dishwater.
Underwater to Get Out of the Rain by Trevor Norton
Crimes of Passion by Colin and Damon Wilson
Last Dance, Last Chance by Ann Rule.
Notorious Australian Women by Kay Saunders
Funny Convulsing and Funny Confusing by Denys Parsons
The Devil’s Gentleman by Harold Schechter. Riveting stuff.
Encyclopedia of the Exquisite by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins. A lovely book.
Celebrated Crimes Volumes 1-5 by Alexandre Dumas. There are 8 volumes in this series but I could only bring myself to read the first five. He knows how to make history tedious.
Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. I prefer his novels.
Orchids and Salami by Eva Gabor
The London Monster by Jan Bondeson
Paris Was Yesterday by Janet Flanner
With the Kisses of His Mouth by Monique Roffey. I liked the first 140 pages of this memoir, but disengaged when she started attending tantric sex workshops. And I guess I don’t understand how you can desperately love someone you find sexually unattractive, which is how she felt about the man who broke her heart.
Oh What a Paradise it Seems by John Cheever. Lovely prose, typically Cheever
Between XX and YY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes by Gerald Callahan
The Deadly Dinner Party by Dr Jonathan Edlow
Short Treatise on the Joys of Morphinism by Hans Fallada
Misia by Arthur Gold & Robert Fizdale. A fascinating woman, can’t believe I’d never heard of her before reading this biography
Wait For Me! by Deborah Devonshire. Probably the nicest but perhaps the least interesting of the Mitford sisters. Sounds like she did an amazing job with Chatsworth though, I would really like to visit it one day.
Where’s My F*cking Latte by Mark Yoshimoto. Awful, awful book. Execrable.
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrad. This is the story of the ill-fated Scott expedition. Cherry-Garrad, at 24, was the youngest member of that party. The privations these men underwent are beyond my comprehension as is the heroic manner with which they endured them. I cried at the part where they finally found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers and the description of brave Oates walking out in the snow to certain death, hoping to save his companions.
The Memoirs of an Amnesiac by Oscar Levant
Lark Rise by Flora Thompson. Loved loved loved this history of an English hamlet in the 1880s
Digest of Hygiene: A Man’s Life by Joseph M Lee. A sex manual for young men, published in 1961. Rather sensible in a lot of ways, but there are still a few hilarious sentences I’ll extract for the Gimcrack at some future date.
Like Being Killed by Ellen Miller. Hmmm…… not a novel my mother would like but I found most of it strangely appealing. Lots of drugs and sadomasochistic sex, suicidal Jewish heroin addicts surviving (or not) in New York.
Christmas Crackers by John Julius Norwich
Little Children by Tom Perrotta. Infidelity in the suburbs, very well written.
More Christmas Crackers by John Julius Norwich
Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nichols. So arch, so camp, so utterly delightful. Highly recommended.
The Popes by John Julius Norwich. I must confess to not liking this book very much, it’s well researched and well written but so dry. Given its subject matter it probably couldn’t be anything else.
Much Depends on Dinner by Margaret Visser
English Eccentrics by Edith Sitwell
The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne. Intriguing stuff.
Out of the Picture by Polly Samson. It’s ages since I read a novel, this one was quite good
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Fascinating story of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, excellent!
The Underdog by Joshua Davis. Entertaining read
Animal Magic by Andrew Barrow. An unusual memoir, I enjoyed it very much
There’s Something in the Woods by Nick Redfern. Oh dear, this is a load of codswallop. Save your money.
New York Encounter (Lonely Planet) I read this guide book from cover to cover because I’m having my third holiday in NYC in three weeks time. I’m sure a lot has changed since my last visit in 2003 so I’ve got a lot to cram in. Food, drink, museums, shops, theatres, architecture. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself
The World’s Greatest Mistakes edited by Nigel Blundell. Nothing new here
Hearst Castle Fare by Marjorie Collord and Ann Miller. I found this little book in a second hand shop in Leura. The photos are great and the 1940s recipes sound intriguing. I’d like to recreate Baked Soup, Prune Relish and Boula Gratine
Royal Babylon by Karl Shaw
Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
Mortuary Confidential by Todd Hara and Ken McKenzie. Disappointing collection of stories written by undertakers, only suitable for an in-house newsletter
The Whole Death Catalogue by Harold Schechter
The Hollywood Book of Extravagance by James Robert Parish. I really have to be more picky about what I order for my Kindle. This was just a disappointing collection of rehashed information about the usual suspects
Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,000 Bath Toys Lost at Sea by Donovan Hohn
Mortification edited by Robin Robertson
Mark Twain in Australia and New Zealand by Mark Twain
Immortal Blood by Barbara Hambly. Queenwilly lent me this, assuring me that I would love it. Sorry sweetie, it was readable but vampire books aren’t really my thing. Though I’m happy to watch True Blood with you any time
Scandal by Roger Wilkes
The Green Felt Jungle by Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris
Special Cases by Rosamund Purcell
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. Bone chillingly sad.
Which Lie Did I Tell by William Goldman
The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin
Homer and Langley by E. L Doctorow
We’re In Trouble by Christopher Coake. While Jennie Erin Smith’s Stolen World retains her position for best nonfiction book of the year so far, this collection of short stories is so good my words can’t do it justice. I’ll quote from this review instead…
It is obvious that the author is intimate with grief in all its morbidity but touched with acceptance and a faint light of hope that surfaces after the brutal finality of a black night of the soul – the alter-ego of bright days, laughter and the joy of devotion to another human being. These stories are emotionally wrenching yet impossible to resist, Coake’s talent palpable. He reaches into the human heart with both hands, sure as a surgeon, yet incredibly gentle with these fragile moments. To read We Are in Trouble is to be changed, the world illuminated.
The Literary Life and Other Curiosities by Robert Hendrickson
The Guinness Book of Oddities by Geoff Tibballs
Celebrity Family Trees by Ed Wright
Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
The Misfits by Colin Wilson
Stolen World by Jennie Erin Smith. My favourite book this year so far! The story is so exciting and these real life snake smugglers and reptile traders have fascinating personalities. They’re not necessarily people you’d want to have over for the weekend but their committment to the lifestyle is something else to behold. I had no idea that reptiles aroused such passion and obsessiveness. It was so enthralling I would have read it in one sitting if pesky things like having to work and sleep hadn’t intervened. Buy it now!
This Fabulous Century by Peter Luck
Tall Tales by Jerry Hall with Christopher Hemphill. Boring beyond belief
Banvard’s Folly by Paul Collins. Excellent tales about once famous people who have been more or less forgotten
No Name by Wilkie Collins
Extremes by A J Dunning. Pretty dull reading
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. An oldie but a goodie.
Ripping Yarns by Paul Taylor.
The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer by Eric Hansen. Lovely, lovely book
Black Earth City by Charlotte Hobson. I liked this book a lot. And now I want to go to Russia more than ever.
Manhattan Passions by Ron Rosebaum
The Rise and Fall of the Matinee Idol by Anthony Curtis
World Famous Scandals by Colin Wilson
Hollywood Diaries by Morgana Welch. So badly edited it made me want to scream. How many times do you need to say “amazing” in one paragraph Morgana? Once is enough.
Theatre’s Strangest Acts by Sheridan Morley. What’s strange about this book is the idea that any of these writings qualify as anecdotes. Nearly all of it seemed to lack a point and hardly anything he wrote was humourous. Shame Sheridan shame.
Three in a Bed in the Med by Ann Rickard. Not as good as her previous books
Low Life by Luc Sante
True Crime Through History edited by Richard Glyn Jones
Black Lands by Belinda Bauer
News from the English Countryside 1851-1950 by Clifford Morsley
Stars Beneath the Sea by Trevor Norton. Fascinating tales about the men who pioneered diving. Such an adventuresome lot – Gilpatric, the Haldanes, Louis Boutan, I would have loved to have met them all.
Hunter Davies’ Lists compiled by Hunter Davies
Way Station by Clifford D. Simak. Queenwilly lent me this saying it was one of her “comfort books” that she liked to reread from time to time. While I wouldn’t put it in that category, it’s certainly an interesting and enjoyable story
Professor Branestawm’s Dictionary by Norman Hunter. A wonderful little book about words that don’t mean what they sound like they should mean. I chuckled the night away reading these….
Copper Nitrate: What policemen get paid for working overtime in the evenings
Abominable: A piece of explosive swallowed by a male cow
Accountant: Insect who is good at figures
Usher: Tell her to be quiet
Benign: Be a year older than eight
Spectator: A potato with spots on
Catastrophe: Pussy wins a cup
Commentator: An ordinary potato
Raucous: Uncooked swear word
Dentist: One who makes dents in things
Emergency: Go out and look
The Edge of Bali by Inez Baranay. Lovely book. And the Marla section leaves Eat Pray Love for dead.
The Devil’s Picnic by Taras Grescoe
The New Apocrypha by John Sladek
The Hollywood Book of Death by James Robert Parish
World of Strange Powers by John Fairley & Simon Welfare
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Great story and an amazing attention to detail.
Packing For Mars by Mary Roach. Hysterically funny like all her books. And now I know for sure I never want to be an astronaut. Highly recommended.
The Very Rich by Joseph J Thorndike Jr. Extremely interesting history of wealth. The photos are extraordinary.
The Promoters by Stuart Coupe
Secrets of the 17th Century Medicine Cabinet by Katherine Knight
The Last Book about Italy by Ann Rickard. By the same woman whose previous book inspired me to go to Lesbos. Now she’s turned her talents to promoting Marche. I’m very tempted.
Eureka by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Inside Hollywood by Fiona Manning
Awful Moments by Philip Norman. Simply awful.
Dust To Dust by Jerry J Gaddy
Show Business Laid Bare by Earl Wilson
Hollywood in the Fifties by Gordon Gow
The Sweet and Twenties by Beverley Nichols. He’s oh so camp and a bitchy snob but he wrote such delicious gossip. Now I need to find his gardening books and his expose on the strange marriage of Syrie and Somerset Maugham.
March by Geraldine Brooks. I think my mother recommended this a couple of years ago and I just got round to taking her advice. It’s really rather good.
Food in History by Reay Tannahill
The Kandy-Koloured Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe
Hollywood in the Twenties by David Robinson
Hollywood in the Thirties by John Baxter
Merde by Ralph A. Lewin
Sydney Bridge Upside Down by David Ballantyne. My mother sent me this for my birthday – what a great present. First published in 1968, it’s now been reprinted and hopefully will gain a wider readership. It’s been described as a sinister, gothic, disquieting family tragedy. It’s all that and more.
The Philosophy of the Bed by Mary Eden & Richard Carrington
Bedside Hollywood edited by Robert Atwan & Bruce Forer
Hollywood in the Forties by Charles Higham & Joel Greenberg
The Moons of Jupiter by Alice Munro. I first read this several years ago and it was such a delight to reread. No one writes about the minutiae of daily life with such perception and clarity like Alice Munro.
The Great Unfrocked by Matthew Parris
The Way We Are by Margaret Visser
A Japanese Mirror by Ian Buruma. An intriguing glimpse into the inscrutable Japanese way of life
A Mind to Crime by Anne Moir and David Jessel. Fascinating but heavy going. Brain chemistry is a scary thing
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. More good news about the brain
History’s Greatest Scandals by Ed Wright
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Strangely, I think I preferred the film to the book.
Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. This sequel is even better than Freakonomics! If you only read one non fiction book this year – make it this one.
Hype by Steven Aronson. A marketing book published in 1983, it’s still surprisingly relevant. And even better – full of gossip
Gossip 1920-1970 by Andrew Barrow. Now you know where I’ve been getting a lot of post ideas from lately. It’s mainly a lot of tantalising three line paragraphs which send me to the internet to find the back stories
The Summer of my Greek Taverna by Tom Stone. Intriguing memoir about what goes on behind the scenes in a small restaurant on the Greek island of Patmos. Includes lots of delicious sounding recipes which I am now keen to replicate as soon as possible.
The Coroner by Derrick Hand & Janet Fife-Yeomans. Memoirs of the NSW State Coroner who covered many high profile cases – Michael Hutchence, the Thredbo disaster, the Anita Cobby murder and the police shooting of Ron Levi on Bondi Beach.
Foie Gras and Trumpets by Charles Neilson Gattey
Body Guards by Desmond Morris
Talk to the Snail by Stephen Clarke. This book has the subtitle “Ten Commandments for Understanding the French”. I picked it up in the hope that it would enhance my upcoming holiday in the Dordogne (6 sleeps to go) and I’ve been laughing ever since. And not just because I can now say “Et mon cul, c’est du poulet?” Highly recommended!
Alma Cogan by Gordon Burn
The Year of Eating Dangerously by Tom Parker Bowles
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. I always read at least one classic novel when I’m on holiday, but I made a bad choice this year. Nearly 900 pages of turgid tripe. I only kept going to find out if Tom really did commit incest with his mother (no, he didn’t).
Dining With Princes by John Sligo
Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymous
Hollywood Undercover by Ian Halperin. I think Halperin is a bit of a tosser
International Gossip by Andrew Barrow
The Bad and The Beautiful by Sam Kashner & Jennifer MacNair
Just Tell Me When To Cry by Richard Fleischer
Beauty Queens by Candace Savage
Pages of History published by Harper Collins
Being of Sound Mind by Gerald Warner
Extreme Cuisine by Jerry Hopkins
The Word Museum by Jeffrey Kacirk
Maximum City by Suketu Mehta. At nearly 500 pages long this is a monster of a book about a monster of a city. There is so much corruption in Bombay, I can scarcely believe how things operate there. Utterly fascinating and more than slightly horrifying.
Classical Music’s Strangest Concerts by Brian Levison & Frances Farrer
More Love Lives of the Great Composers by Basil Howitt. Much duller than it sounds and written in a strange cobbled together sort of way. I didn’t even bother to read the last 50 pages
Howling at the Moon by Walter Yetnikoff
Long Way to the Top by James Cockington
Freak Unique by Pete Burns. Dear oh dear, don’t know what made me pick this book up, I didn’t even know who Pete Burns was though now I know he was the singer in Dead or Alive. Apparently he was in Big Brother in the UK but I’ve never even watched the Australian version so it’s not surprising that I blinked and missed that too.
American Sideshow by Marc Hartzman
The Mating Game by John Gribbin and Jeremy Cherfas
Q and A by Peter McCormack. Most of this book about Australian things is written in a question and answer format. The last third contains some amazing recipes for such delicacies as stewed bandicoot and casserole of mallee hen. I’m keen to make the lemon beer as soon as I can get hold of a kerosene tin.
Dixie Chicken by Frank Ronan
Molecules of Murder by John Emsley
The Tombstone Tourist by Scott Stanton
In the Devil’s Garden by Stewart Lee Allen. A fascinating look at food that history has associated with sin…. mmmm…. chocolate
Pox by Deborah Hayden. The history of syphilis might sound dry but this was written like a detective hunt through the ages. Totally engrossing and often sad, thankfully we now have penicillin
Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis
Strange Brains and Genius by Clifford Pickover
A Mind of its Own by David Friedman
Sex, Botany & Empire by Patricia Fara
Patently Absurd by Christopher Cooper
The Strange Case of the Walking Corpse by Nancy Butcher
Pickled, Potted and Canned by Sue Shephard
Mavericks, Miracles and Medicine by Julie Fenster
Stiff by Mary Roach. Every bit as fascinating as Spook and Bonk. Can’t wait for her next book.
101 People You Won’t Meet in Heaven by Michael Powell
Not Another Greek Salad by Ann Rickard. (I’m planning on meeting up with daisyfae in Greece this year so reading this book was part of my research. It’s so funny and informative I couldn’t put it down – finished it in one sitting. Ann is an Australian writer who conducts tours through the south of France with her long suffering husband Geoffrey. Normally I would HATE the idea of organised tours but hers sound like they could be fun. Check out her Greek photos here)
The History of Vanity by John Woodforde
Unmentionables by Elaine Benson & John Esten (This book wouldn’t rate a mention here except for the glaring inconsistencies between illustrations used and the titles that went along with them. A Degas image was listed as Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel and a man in underwear saluting a policeman was listed as Molly Ringwald. Molly would not be pleased.)
Cathedrals of the Flesh by Alexia Brue (I started off not liking this book very much but it grew on me because I’m a sucker for research. Alexia Brue has researched the hell out of bath houses by travelling half way round the world and road testing as many as she could find. What I wouldn’t give for a job like that)
Mourning Dress by Lou Taylor (Oh those crippling Victorian restrictions on what one had to wear to a funeral… and for years afterwards)
Eating with the Victorians edited by C. Anne Wilson
Essential Substances by Richard Rudgley
Faith, Madness and Spontaneous Human Combustion by Gerald Callahan (I loved this book! It’s about immunology but interspersed with personal stories about his family. I’m going to have to hunt down the book he wrote on Intersex now. You can read an example of his work here)
The Duchess Who Wouldn’t Sit Down by Jesse Browner
The Quick by Agnes Rossi (I’d read this collection of short stories before but they’re so good they bear rereading)
Panati’s Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody by Charles Panati. (I found the chapter on extinctions to be the most interesting; poor quaggas, moas, passenger pigeons and sea cows)
Can I Recycle My Granny? by Ethan Greenhart (I laughed at most of this but Brendan O’Neill’s alter ego is probably better enjoyed by reading him online as a columnist rather than tackling a whole book. He is an excellent satirist though, and if it weren’t for him I would not have known about environmentally friendly bullets – surely an oxymoron. Google it and see)
Black Sheep by Christopher Simon Sykes
The Amorous Antics of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne
An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge
Johnno by David Malouf
Savage Girls and Wild Boys by Michael Newton
Final Exits by Michael Largo
Isms and Ologies by Arthur Goldwag
Fashion and Fetishism by David Kunzle
Pig Bites Baby edited by Michael Connor
More Macabre Miscellany by Geoffrey Abbott
Mysteries of the Human Body by Gordon Thomas
Adultery For Adults by Joyce Peterson & Marilyn Mercer
Savage Sex by Craig Scott
Curious Obsessions by Rachael Kohn
The Natural History of the Rich by Richard Conniff
You Are Not A Stranger Here by Adam Haslett. (I shouldn’t be surprised that I found this book in the Gimcrack’s library, nevertheless I am. We don’t usually stock such quality work by gay writers but with its themes of alienation and mental illness it’s very appropriate. Beautifully written.)
Murder in High Places by Jonathan Goodman (Better than In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. He writes about nasty people with a very witty acerbic style)
A Dictionary of Ghosts by Peter Haining
Extra Sensory Deception by Henry Gordon
The Strangest Human Sex, Ceremonies and Customs by Talalaj & Talalaj (Yep, it’s official, humans are truly weird)
Lazy Days Out in the Dordogne and the Lot by Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls (This is where I plan to travel next year. Just reading about the food and the historic villages has left me champing at the bit to get there. Goose fat gravy here I come)
Psychotropedia by Russ Kick (Borrowed this book from the library – 574 pages of books I need to read, movies I need to watch, art I need to see. Dammit, I’ll have to get my own copy to keep)
Execution by Geoffrey Abbott (I’m not recommending this book as the descriptions of the different methods of execution used through the ages are sickening. Impossible to say which method was the most barbaric but the True Gibbet, the Scaphismus and the Spanish Donkey were absolutely horrific. And to think people used to watch executions for entertainment….. perhaps television isn’t so bad after all)
The Erotomaniac by Ian Gibson (Sadly, not nearly as interesting as it sounds)
Adam’s Navel by Michael Sims
Come Hither by Gloria Brame
Not Quite Winning by Ken Harris
Sex in Films by Parker Tyler
Museum of Hoaxes by Alex Boese (The website in book form)
Great Mysteries of the World by John Pinkney
Manners From Heaven by Quentin Crisp (I love Quentin’s advice, highly recommended)
The Encyclopedia of London Crime and Vice by Fergus Linnane
Reverend Guppy’s Aquarium by Philip Dodd
The Best American Science Writing 2003 edited by Oliver Sacks
The Velocity of Honey by Jay Ingram
Will it be Funny Tomorrow Billy? by Stephen Cummings
Science’s Strangest Inventions by Tom Quinn
Supersense by Bruce Hood
The First Cuckoo (Letters to The Times since 1900)
20th Century Characters by Duncan Fallowell
The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace
Eccentrics by Dr David Weeks and Jamie James
Lonely Planet Unpacked by Tony Wheeler and others (Disappointing. I’ve read much better writing on amateur blogs)
Spook by Mary Roach (I love her writing – so funny and informative)
More Than Petticoats by Lynn Bragg
Will Storr vs. The Supernatural by Will Storr (Also a funny book but not quite as good as Mary Roach’s. It’s a shame I read them so close together, it wasn’t intentional)
Trading in Memories by Barbara Hodgson (I loved The Sensualist and this book is every bit as beautiful and as fascinating. The photos are gorgeous)
Body Reading by Ojha & Ojha
Breath by Tim Winton (Loved it – thanks Sexwax for sending it to me)
The Call of the Weird by Louis Theroux (I’ve had a secret crush on Louis since watching his television series Weird Weekends. This book followed up on some of the people featured in the series. It’s thoughtful, funny and serious, just like him *sigh*)
Banned by James Cockingham (Tales from the bizarre history of Australian obscenity)
Private View by Alexandra Connor
To Have and To Hold by Philipp Blom. A fascinating account of collectors through the ages
Working Stiff by Grant Stoddart. He’s cute, funny and self deprecating. What’s not to like?
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby. Damn you Nick, now I’ve got a list a mile long of books I need to read
We Thought YouWould Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro
One Hand Jerking by Paul Krassner
Orgy Planner Wanted by Vicki Leon
Bedlam – London and its Mad by Catharine Arnold
Let Them Eat Flax by Dr Joe Schwarcz
No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (Please read this book of short stories by the writer/director of You and Me and Everyone We Know. It’s simply fabulous)
Buenas Noches Buenos Aires by Gilbert Adair
Bullock Hearts by Ken Harris
Superior Person’s 2nd Little Book of Words by Peter Bowler. I’m a big fan of Mr Bowler, have read four of his books and now I see he’s got another new one on the bookshelves I’ll have to acquire. Expect to read posts about didymitis, gerontocomiums and obsolagnium at the Gimcrack soon.
The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic by Kinky Friedman. This book makes me want to go to Austin Texas so I can hang out at Threadgill’s
What’s Your Sexual IQ? by Eve Marx. I narrowly missed out on achieving “sexpert” status. Instead I’m a “middlesexer”. Obviously I’m not doing enough homework.
Rolling Away by Lynn Marie Smith
Her Mother’s Daughter by Linda Carroll. This is the memoir of Courtney Love’s mother. Can’t say I empathised with Linda too much though I’m sure Courtney was a handful. Maybe Linda got what she deserved, self absorption seems to run in the family.
Conned by James Morton and Hilary Bateson
In the Danger Zone by Stefan Gates. Great stories about how the rest of the world finds their food. A companion to the television series, but with much more detail.
How Animals Have Sex by Gideon Defoe (This little book is hilarious and informative and Gideon Defoe is HOT
Jewels by Victoria Finlay (Almost as good as her fabulous book Colours)
Headless Males Make Great Lovers by Marty Crump
They All Laughed by Ira Flatow
Quirkology by Richard Wiseman
Bonk by Mary Roach. My new favourite non-fiction writer. Now I have to read her other two books Stiff and Spook
The Body’s Edge by Marc Lappe
Put What Where? by John Naish. I’ve covered most of this bizarre sex advice already in several different posts but it would make fun reading for anyone who’s new here and hasn’t seen the illustrated Gimcrack versions.
How Sex Works by Dr. Sharon Moalem. Last year I read this author’s riveting first book, Survival of the Sickest. His second book is equally good, full of information about esoteric sex studies and theories on the importance of smell when choosing a lover.
Wild Thoughts from Wild Places by David Quammen (Written by a man’s man, he makes me want to try white water rafting and a host of other things. Maybe not conservation hunting, but he does present another side to the argument which is well presented)
The Cause of Mosquitoes’ Sorrow by Surendra Verma
Cemetery Stories by Katherine Ramsland
A Traveller’s Life by Eric Newby. (Another pretty old book, but Eric Newby is one of the best travel writers ever. Highly entertaining stories)
Cowboys are my Weakness by Pam Houston (I’ve read this wonderful book before but I picked it up again after finishing Wild Thoughts from Wild Places (see above). I am convinced that one of the men in these stories is David Quammen. If not, then he should be. Would love to talk to soneone else who’s read both these authors)
Goodbye Culinary Cringe by Cherry Ripe (Even though this book is about 16 years old, Cherry Ripe’s food writing is still wonderfully readable)
Best American Science Writing 2007 edited by Gina Kolata & Jesse Cohen. (Another excellent book of scientific essays)
Lies, Deep Fries and Statistics: Essays introduced by Robyn Williams
Secrets of Science by Graham Phillips
Sex, Drugs & DNA by Michael Stebbins
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (I LOVE this book)
The Easter Parade by Richard Yates
Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates
Incredible Phenomena introduced by Brian Inglis
Brainiac by Ken Jennings (Great fun all about trivia and Jeopardy!)
The King’s English by Kingsley Amis. (Hilarious and serious, makes you think twice before attempting to pronounce even the simplest words)
Best American Science & Nature Writing edited by Brian Greene (Some really interesting essays. Can’t pretend to have understood them all but there were at least a dozen that were truly inspiring)
Discarded Science by John Grant (Another fascinating science book)
Left Hand Turn Around the World by David Wolman
In the Know by Nancy MacDonell
Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein (Fascinating book about twin girls who were separately adopted as infants and only discovered each other as adults. Very highly recommended. As an adoptee I loved it and now really wish I’d had a twin too.)
Coffin Nails and Tombstone Trails by Nick Wood
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Notes of an Anatomist by F. Gonzalez-Crussi
Every Man’s Book of Superstitions by Christine Chaundler
The Border by Elaine Feinstein
Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup
That Takes the Cake by R Brasch
The Outcast by Sadie Jones (A Christmas gift from my mother which I really enjoyed. Beautiful writing and so sad. My heart always aches for little boys who are unloved)
Secret Sex Lives of the Rich and Famous by Andrea Love (Almost as tacky as it sounds but I did like the chapter on 18th century French courtesans)
Wordsmanship by Claurene du Gran
The Word Museum by Jeffrey Kacirk
The Man with No Endorphins by James Gorman (If you like Oliver Sacks’ writing, you’ll love James Gorman. As the blurb on the back cover says, “Totally irrelevant, irreverent and highly recommended”)
A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities by Jan Bondeson
Cowgirls, Cockroaches & Celebrity Lingerie by Michelle Lovric
Anatomy of Nakedness by Paul Ableman
The Past of Pastimes by Vernon Bartlett
Not Without a Chaperone by Cecil Porter (This book is an hilarious look at manners in Edwardian times. Expect to see excerpts at the Gimcrack)
The Gift of Travel edited by Habegger and O’Reilly (Collection of travellers tales, some of which were excellent, especially No Distance in the Heart by Thom Elkjer)
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (I had no idea this was a book by a blogger when I picked it up but it only added to my enjoyment of it. Now I think I could be persuaded to see the movie when it gets here and I’m definitely making a Julia Child omelette for dinner tomorrow night)
A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (Daisyfae sent me this amusing novel about a man going not so quietly insane. It’s funny and clever and I wish all weddings were as dramatic as the one in this book. Wait a minute…. mine was… there were guests doing unspeakable things on my new sister in law’s dining room table, and NOT with their own partners either….)
A Needle in the Heart by Fiona Kidman (possibly my favourite book so far this year though it has made me feel rather melancholy. She’s a fantastic writer. If you like Alice Munro you’ll love Fiona Kidman)
Q Road by Bonnie Jo Campbell (I liked this book too – so far November has been a good reading month)
How To Kill by Kris Hollington ( A mildly interesting history of assassins. Though I did learn stuff about Woody Harrelson’s father that was rather intriguing)
The Missing by Andrew O’Hagan
And You Visited Me by Penny Wheat
Divorce Among the Gulls by William Jordan
Half a Life by V. S. Naipaul
The Warden by Anthony Trollope (I love 19th century literature and this book is a perfect example of why)
The Hypochondriac’s Handbook by John Naish
Tweaked – A crystal meth memoir by Patrick Moore
Medical Murders edited by Jonathon Goodman
I Peed on Fellini by David Stratton
Daughter Buffalo by Janet Frame
What Just Happened? by Art Linson (he’s a very average writer but the hollywood gossip was interesting)
Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Naked Man by Desmond Morris (I thought this would be full of interesting stuff for the gimcrack but DM is unexpectedly misogynstic and has nothing new to say. Disappointing.)
Freaks Talk Back by Joshua Gamson
Normal by Amy Bloom (Excellent book about transsexuals, crossdressers and intersexed people. If I had my way it would be compulsory reading in high school. Tolerance and understanding is the lesson of the day but it’s not at all preachy. There’s probably a copy in your local library, check it out)
The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine
Famous Trials 1 edited by Harry Hodge
The Corpse by Christine Quigley
Eccentric and Bizarre Behaviours by Louis Franzini and John Grossberg
The Culture Club by Craig Schuftan (fascinating essays about popular culture. I had no idea that Sartre could be linked to Saturday Night Fever)
The Body edited by Bill Buford
Crazy Therapies by Margaret Singer & Janja Lalich
The Film Club by David Gilmour (my mother sent me this for my birthday and I read it in one day. Loved the relationship between father and son. As the mother of two boys who have had their share of heartache it really touched me. If you have children, read it. hell, if you don’t have children read it anyway
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (I didn’t really like this book, but it made for light holiday reading)
The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies
Bizarrism by Chris Mikul
The Floral Mother & other essays by Kate Llewellyn (she makes me nostalgic for the past)
Too Cool edited by Gene Sculatti
Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje
Immaculate Contraception by Emma Dickens
Underbelly 7 by John Silvester and Andrew Rule
Lascivious Bodies by Julie Peakman
Pink Samurai by Nicholas Bornoff
In the Arms of Morpheus by Barbara Hodgson
MotherKind by Jayne Anne Phillips
My Life in Heavy Metal by Steve Almond (I loved this book of short stories)
Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Fireside Book of Deadly Diseases by Robert Wilkins
The Long March by William Styron
The Story of V by Catherine Blackledge
The Journal of Dora Damage by Belinda Starling
The Stopping Place by Helen Slavin
In Transit published by Duffy and Snellgrove (the highlights were Congo Journey by Noel Purdon and The Witch in the Garden by Paul Toohey)
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung
On Being Grumpy by Tony Perry
Movie Dreams by Rosie Scott
Girls at Play by Paul Theroux
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
The Wine of Youth by John Fante
Wishbone by Marion Halligan
Leaving a Doll’s House by Claire Bloom
Age of Dissent by Michele Hanson
Freaks by Leslie Fiedler
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Selman-Troytt Papers by P J Barrington
True Believers by Joseph O’Connor
Words by Paul Dickson
On Love and Death by Patrick Suskind. (Only 90 pages long but a beautiful meditation on these events in our lives. By the author who wrote Perfume)
Strange Angels by Andy Bull
The Bodysurfers by Robert Drewe (published over 20 years ago, but the writing still rocks)
I Killed compiled by Ritch Shydner & Mark Schiff
The Art Book published by Phaidon
The Future Just Happened by Michael Lewis
The Shark Net by Robert Drewe
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Hot Water Man by Deborah Moggach
Lanzarote by Michel Houellebecq
Life at the Extremes – The Science of Survival by Frances Ashcroft
Escapades by Daniel Farson
Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame (I’m rereading this. cannot recommend it highly enough. JF was scheduled to undergo a leucotomy back in the 60s when a surgeon at the hospital realised in time what a gross mistake it would be. her writing is sheer poetry. I also recommend The Lagoon and Other Stories and the 3 volume autobiography To the Is-Land)
Survival of the Sickest (A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease) by Dr. Sharon Moalem. (I found this book fascinating, expect to read posts inspired by his work coming up soon on the Gimcrack).
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
Patrimony by Philip Roth (this book made me cry)
Cry of the Damaged Man by Tony Moore