Give Me Something Off Your Shelf To Read


Fact: I am merciless with books.

It’s probably not a good thing, but it is a thing, and I’m not sure there’s much I could do about it even if I wanted to.

It goes like this: I start reading a book, and unconsciously I look for just about any reason to put it down. Given my time writing and my time reading non-fiction stuff for research purposes, reading for pleasure is not a wide open free zone where I chew through book after book. It’s a limited window, and I’d rather not waste it on books that don’t really engage the shit out of me. Sure, a book might wait till page 100 till it “starts to get good,” and that’s fine. Me, if that’s true, I’ve probably already put the book down by page 50, so page 100 is mist, vapor, naught but shadow. It might as well not even exist.

I don’t mean to suggest I’m purposefully nit-picky. Editing mistakes won’t necessarily stop me. I don’t get irritated with weird chapter breaks or something like that. “These pages feel weird to my tender fingertips! I am angry! I will now throw the book into a bonfire filled with books!”

It’s mostly when I perceive problems in the big stuff — character, pacing, exposition.

On the one hand, this makes me a bit brutal.

On the other, it means I generally get to better books faster — I’m performing the equivalent of taking a nibble from each of the chocolates in the box until I find the ones I want. “Coconut kiwi cream? Fuck that. Blech. Ptoo! Oh! Oh. Caramel. Yes. Yes. I have to change my pants.”

Y’know, because I made nougat in my trousers.

…anyway, so it’s like this. I’m always looking to up the ratio of books I cannot put down to books that put me to sleep. I want books that make me think about them even when I’m not reading them. I want books that make me sad I’m not reading them right-the-hell-now.

So, once more I turn to the aggregate hive-brain of terrible minds that comprise you crazy creeps.

Recommend a book for me.

Just one.

A book you could not put down.

Sure, you can recommend Old Classics And Standards, but I may have read them. And some, I already know about — Homicide, or Song Of Ice And Fire, for instance, are already on my radar.

I’m also taking rec’s for graphic novels if you care to offer them. I don’t buy comic books anymore because I can’t really make the trip (and I feel a lot of them aren’t filled with the proper balance of words to images), but collected issues or graphic novels, I’ll still pick up now and again.

But it’s been a while.

So, hop to it.


One book.

Fiction, non-fiction, collected or graphic novel.

Qualification: couldn’t put it down.



  • Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch, etc. Russian modern fantasy. Someone earlier expressed surprise that they weren’t recommended earlier, and while I loved them, they do take some time to get going.

  • The movie was… yeah. It’s a bit of the second book, and about one-third of the first book. There’s a LOT going on that the movie doesn’t capture, but it does take a little patience to watch the situation unfold. The first books links together, but the movie is missing a few bits.

  • The Diamond Throne by David Eddings. First book of his Elenium series. Gets going right from the start. I like his Belgariad series better, but it takes a little longer to get flowing.

  • Okay, so you might think the title is suspense-lite, like I did, but whew, I could not stop reading this one. Murder, drugs, love, visitation from the dead in dreams, family mix-up, hidden money, and more surprising to me, the lead character is a young woman and the author is an older man. Oh, and there are actually a few really good positive messages about belief and trust and doing good in the world in Her Mother’s Diary by David Curry Kahn.

  • I’ve generally found Jim Butcher’s books (the Dresden and Alera series) to be hard to put down. They have an anti-social habit of pinning me to my chair for the last 200 pages — which would find me at 5:30 in the morning creeping into bed with my fuming (now ex-) wife.

    On the graphic novel side, these are probably on your radar already: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and the Watchmen. My preference is Miller’s work which has so much going on in it that I can re-read it incessantly and still find new insights.

    For a more contemporary Graphic Novel, I was pointed in the direction of Ragmop by Rob Walton recently. I’ve only just started, so I can’t speak to full awesomeness, but I love the writing so far. Rob’s also a local, so I feel compelled to give the shout-out.

  • Still taking suggestions?
    I have to offer up this one;
    The Electric Church by Jeff Somers (Avery Cates series, book one)
    Hit man Avery Cates takes on the contract for the leader of the largest most notorious religion in the world. The church members are converted into cyborgs. Creepy.
    Could. Not. Put. It. Down.
    The rest of the series is good but book one is, in my opinion, the best.

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