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Wonder Boys: A Novel

Wonder Boys: A Novel

Michael Chabon

A great book for the type who like books about writers, about higher education, about the funny parts of the scarier sides of people, about intellectual redemption. There are those who have seen the movie, but it varies enough to make both of them worth it. Where most "writer" books deal with an artist having writer's block, this one has a pot-smoking, ne'er-do-well, philanderer who can't stop writing, and therefore, his long-awaited masterpiece goes unfinished. Is he a flash in the pan? Even his friends, students, and colleagues begin to wonder.

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We the Living

We the Living

Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff

This is one powerful,triumphant and tragic story all rolled into one. You won't know which character you love/hate or respect. Brilliantly complex and written during one of Russia's most painful times. The story traces the struggle of three individuals who deperately try to find meaning in their lives during post revolution Russia. A must read!

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The Tortilla Curtain

The Tortilla Curtain

T. C. Boyle

Just finished reading The Tortilla Curtin, by T.C. Boyle for my book club and it was wonderful. Went fast and hard to put down. I am sure that all of us while reading this can relate to some of the events. Because I live in the south west, the immigration issue is current in my neighborhood.

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The Faber Book of Diaries

The Faber Book of Diaries

Simon Brett

Blogs be damn'd. Here's four centuries of the best of the best, the most articulated tortured souls ever to scratch quill parchment, Underwood to bog paper, Olivetti to vellum.

1400 entries logging hangups, exhilaration, love lost, found and dumped.

Every time I open this lovely fat 495pp volume i find another entry to hold me enthralled.

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Me Talk Pretty One Day

Me Talk Pretty One Day

David Sedaris

i picked this up off our shelf at home one morning after having finished some other political rag, needing something for the 45 minute train ride to work. my wife said it was funny, and i'd always liked Amy Sedaris on Strangers with Candy. i figured if this is her brother, it can't be too bad. (you may be asking yourself, doesn't this moron realize that Sedaris is a regular-type NPR guy? i live in a vacuum, okay? doesn't my reference to a cancelled Comedy Central show tip you off to this fact?)

the book started off funny enough, recounting tales of his grade school years and trying to work out a lisp, which as Sedaris tells it, is an obvious, early sign of homosexuality. (make a note of that, girls and boys. you'll thank yourself come time to find a prom date). from...

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Cryptonomicon

Cryptonomicon

Neal Stephenson

Tour de force boundary-buster for the millennium I'd seen this novel around, studiously read by wired types whose social skills were amos certainly in inverse proportion to the Chinese takeaway and general grunge in their keyboards. I'd read the reviews and they clearly lacked perspective. Besides, at 900+ pages, no way was I going to bother here.

Then someone who knew me well gave me a copy to snap me out of gloom and if ever there was a literary epiphany, the 21st-century Renaissance savvy of Mr Stephenson delivered it.

Not just because I'm on disbelieving knees to Mr Stephenson's astonishing learning and tale-telling skills, I simply can't think of one aspect to latch onto as a summary.

What? Time-juggling tale that hops between 1942 Enigma-busting math genius and present-day crypto-hacker grandson messing with "data havens" in the...

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Thomas Paine : Collected Writings : Common Sense / The Crisis / Rights of Man / The Age of Reason / Pamphlets, Articles, and Letters (Library of America)

Thomas Paine : Collected Writings : Common Sense / The Crisis / Rights o...

Thomas Paine and Eric Foner

Letters, articles, and pamphlets—some previously unavailable—with a focus on Paine's American career.

Thomas Paine, the spokesman for the birth of the American nation, had a talent for cutting away distractions in an argument and making his readers receptive to previously unacceptable ideas. He, maybe more than any other person, was the catalyst that gave Colonial America the will to transform itself. From Common Sense:

...a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

225 years later few Americans have an appreciation of their own history and the darkness the Western world had wallowed in for 1,000 years after the disposition of Rome and Greece.

The cause of America is in a great measure the...
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The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Edward R. Tufte

Visual elements on the user interface are, as Churchill described military strategy, 'All things ... always on the move simultaneously." At the heart of design is the endlessly contextual and interactive nature of visual elements.

No other book has me both dipping into for pleasure and close reading for further advancement of my own feeble grasp on design.

What a debt we owe the incomparable Edward Tufte for his Visual Display of Quantitative Information and, if I can sneak this in, the equally beautiful and informative partner, Visual & Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Decision Making (ASIN: 0961392134).

Part I covers Graphical Excellence, Graphical Integrity, and Sources of Graphical Integrity and Sophistication.

Part II gets down to business: Theory of Data Graphics: Data-ink and graphical redesign; Chartjunk: vibrations, grids and ducks; Data-in maximization and graphical design; Multifunctioning graphical elements; Data density and small multiples; and Aesthetics and technique...

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The Sibley Guide to Birds

The Sibley Guide to Birds

David Allen Sibley

The New York Times review of this book points out the chain that led here. First John James Audubon gave us Birds of America in 1838, then Roger Tory Peterson gave us Field Guide to the Birds in 1934. Now, The Sibley Guide to Birds (published by the National Audubon Society) enters the roll of great natural history books.

This book is often cited as the prime resource for birding for good reason. I use it at least once a week as backyard birder and I see it as a sort of middle ground between Audubon's peerless but sometimes unscientific bird paintings and Peterson's depth of description. I had the Peterson guides as a young birder and what they lack in accuracy of modern taxonomy and range, I still believe they amply make up in behavior, nesting, etc, details. And if one finds The Sibley Guide to Birds...

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Scoop

Scoop

Evelyn Waugh

First published 1938, this irreverent novel about Fleet Street and its hectic pursuit of hot news figures among so many astute readers' favorite novels, I have no hesitation listing it as mine. Waugh strikes to heart of tabloid journalism, so this gem reads as hilariously relevant today as when it first took literary London by storm.

Shy William Boot writes the Lush Places country column for the Daily Beast, ruled over by the terrifying Lord Copper whose word none of his employees dares even cast doubt on: when Copper is right, the response is "Definitely, Lord Copper", when wrong ("What's the capital of Japan? Yokohama, isn't it?"), it's "Up to a point, Lord Copper."

Boot's style is distinctly bucolic - "Feather-footed through the plushy fen passes the questing vole .." - so it's a bit of a shock when a case of mistaken identity has him chosen...

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