Books I've Read

I read a lot. For now, this list shows only those things I've read since starting this page in September 2001. If I get around to it, I'll try to backfill.

Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius
by Marc J. Seifer
Abandoned August 15, 2003
6 out of 10

Tesla is an interesting guy, but unfortunately this book isn't. That isn't to say that it is bad. It's just didn't hold my attention. If you were doing some research on Tesla, look no further than this book, however. It is extremely well researched, but this makes it a bit dry. There are certain sections of the book that are "dramatized" by presenting conversations as dialog when no actual transcript existed (though the documentation describing the discussions usually existed). I got the distinct impression reading these dialouges that they were added to spice up the book some, which as I mentioned is needed. Unfortunately, the rest of the book is so factual that I found these dramatizations cheap and somewhat annoying. I'm just hard to please, I guess.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Autobiography
by Chuck Barris
Finished January 28, 2003
8 out of 10

Originally published in 1982, I read this book before hearing that it was being made into a movie. Inside, you'll find very funny recollections of Chuck Barris' television classics (the Gong Show, the Dating Game, etc.). You'll also found an account of how Chuck killed people for the CIA. Regardless of how much of this is true or not, it's extremely entertaining and difficult to put down.

You Got Nothing Coming
by Jimmy Lerner
Finished November 5, 2002
8 out of 10

Though not a Shakespearean masterpiece, this tale of a fairly clean-cut guy who finds himself in prison is extremely entertaining. I flew through this book, anxious to find out what happened. Lerner writes like a guy that you'd enjoy meeting, and you identify with his perspective on prison. He also avoids pointing blame at other people, which is refreshing for a prison memoir.

The Psychic Battlefield: A History of the Military-Occult Complex
by W. Adam Mandelbaum
Finished October 20, 2002
3 out of 10

The topic of this book is incredibly intriguing. This book is not. While the first half does survey the spotty history of paranormal activity in politics and war, all the while you are waiting for the author to make some sort of point. None is forthcoming until late in the second half of the book (dedicated almost exclusively to CIA research into psychic phenomena) that the author's purpose in writing the book is revealed: a rant against a 1995 report refuting the usefulness of "remote viewing" for intelligence purposes. For this book to be enjoyable, the author would need to be a more thorough researcher, a slightly better writer and much less full of himself.

The Drawing of the Dark
by Tim Powers
Finished September, 2002
8 out of 10

A funny, wonderful (though all too short) book which ties the whole history of the Western World to one important tool: beer. Powers is incredibly good at characterization and setting the mood with just a few sentences. Portions of the plot are a bit transparent, but that doesn't detract much in a story like this.

The Miocene Arrow
by Sean McMullen
Finished August, 2002
6 out of 10

The sequel to the much more enjoyable Souls in the Great Machine, this book suffered most of the same flaws as the first book, but with little of its charm and originality. This book, like the first, features a huge cast, but names many of them so similarly (two different characters actually have the same name, for example) that they are difficult to track. A map would have been of immense benefit in tracking the various military and political machinations of the plot. Unlike Souls, the plot in this case doesn't capture attention and I had a hard time continuing to the end. Still, McMullen paints his world well and the bits dealing with the origin of the Call were interesting.

Otherland I: City of Golden Shadow
by Tad Williams
Finished April 27, 2002
6 out of 10

Way too long. And it's only the first volume of the trilogy! I read this over two separate Bahama trips. Very enjoyable reading, but it just went on and on without really getting anywhere. On the plus side, Williams has a great vision of how virtual reality would/will be used and his writing style really makes it come to life. His vision of the book's non-virtual world comes to life equally well, especially with the "news blurb" snippets at the beginning of each chapter. Part of me wants to read the remaining volumes, but most of me thinks it isn't worth the effort.

First Line: "It started in mud, as many things do."

Between Silk and Cyanyde
by Leo Marks
Finished September 20, 2001
6 out of 10

The war memoirs of Britain's chief code-maker during World War II. Pretty interesting, though more about interdepartmental bickering than codes. The first half is much like the first, but both halves are interesting.

Hostage to the Devil
by Malachi Martin
Finished September 4, 2001
7 out of 10

A true-life account of the possession and exorcism of five modern people. A bit freaky, but very interesting. Not a compulsive page turner, so it took me a while to get through it.