This is rather embarrassing to admit, but other than writing, I have only one other hobby. I read. The truly bad part is that I am in no way normal when it comes to this particular pastime. I read like other people breathe. I am obsessive-compulsive when it comes to reading. I read the fine print on legal documents, the flyers that people hand you in the mall that you don’t want, and just to prove how sick I am, I actually read the directions that come with the products I buy (see – I told you it was bad). In keeping with my hobby, I decided to try to share some of this passion with you. Below you will find a listing of favorite books of mine (some old, some new, some fiction, some non-fiction, some for adults, some for kids/teens). To make this different from every other “Favorite Books” list you will run across, I’ve tried to limit my list to those books that people probably are NOT familiar with (I’ve left out most of the classics you already know and have most likely read). I will try to update this list periodically as I run across new favorites. Most of the reviews listed under the book titles come from the book's back cover or jacket or from Amazon. I also recommend Loco Lobo Enterprises as a great place to pick up some of these titles as well as many others. I hope you find a surprise or two on the list and if you want to discuss any of them, just drop me a note. [all prices listed as of May 2000 and subject to change]


"'Tis the good reader that makes the good book."
~~ R. W. Emerson (1803-1882)


“Bridget Jones' Diary”
~~ Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones' Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement -- a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult -- and learn to program the VCR. She remains optimistic. Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter. She is channeling something so universal and horrifyingly familiar that readers will giggle and sigh with collective delight. Fielding has rummaged all too knowingly through the bedrooms, closets, hearts, and minds of women everywhere.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $11.99]

“Collector, The”
~~ John Fowles
Erotic and terrifying, The Collector, Fowles' first novel remains a chilling tale of a beautiful girl's abduction by a psychopath. The lovely Miranda's struggle to free herself from a specially designed cellar prison and Fred Clegg's obsession to possess her, as he does the butterflies in his collection, form one of the most gripping psychological thrillers ever written. The Collector becomes a macabre parable about the captivity we all experience . . . in that cellar of the mind and heart where we too are unwilling "guests."
[paperback available at Amazon for $10.40]

“Delta of Venus”
~~ Anais Nin
Looking for erotica that is not too far over the edge into bizarre? In the 1940s, Anais Nin created the female language for sexuality. She did it for a wealthy male patron for $1.00 a page. He ordered her to "leave out the poetry," but she simply couldn't. Delta of Venus makes available to the rest of us the seductive, erotic and full-bodied nature of her writing. And it reveals Anais Nin as a woman writer ahead of her time.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $5.99]

“Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café”
~~ Fannie Flagg
You saw the movie; now read the book. It's the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women -- of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laugher, even an occasional murder. It is folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting.
{paperback available at Amazon for $11.20]

“Griffin & Sabine Trilogy, The”
~~ Nick Bantock
Few books are more romantic than this trilogy, nor more surreal. Griffin Moss is a rather doleful, lonesome, and haunted postcard designer in London. Sabine Strohem is an illustrator of stamps living on an island in the South Pacific. One day Griffin gets an extraordinary letter from Sabine revealing she knows all kinds of things about his life and work--somehow, she can share his soul from afar. They start exchanging love letters, yet it remains an open question whether Griffin and Sabine are two hearts that beat as one, or simply illusions. "You're a figment of my imagination," Griffin accuses Sabine. "You cannot turn me into a phantom because you are frightened," Sabine replies. Phantom or soul mate, Sabine is pursued across the globe by Griffin in an increasingly impassioned fashion, and the mysteries deepen. Worth every penny of the cover price.
[boxed collection available at Loco Lobo for $42.49]

“Haunting of Hill House, The”
~~ Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson's was one of the most brilliant writers of her time, widely acclaimed for her hair-raising stories and novels of the supernatural. The Haunting of Hill House is her best. I can vouch for the fact that this is no book to read yourself to sleep with in a lonely house. It is a super-deluxe ghost story and will make many a reader wonder after he turns off the lights if he really is alone in the dark room. A spine-chilling classic of supernatural suspense.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $10.49]

“High Fidelity”
~~ Nick Hornby
It has been said often enough that baby boomers are a television generation, but the very funny novel High Fidelity reminds that in a way they are the record-album generation as well. This funny novel is obsessed with music; Hornby's narrator is an early-thirtysomething English guy who runs a London record store. He sells albums recorded the old-fashioned way -- on vinyl -- and is having a tough time making other transitions as well, specifically adulthood. The book is in one sense a love story, both sweet and interesting; most entertaining, though, are the hilarious arguments over arcane matters of pop music.
[paperback available at Amazon for $10.36]

“How the Mind Works”
~~ Steven Pinker
In this extraordinary book, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading cognitive scientists, does for the rest of the mind what he did for language in his 1994 bestseller, The Language Instinct. He explains what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and ponder the mysteries of life. And he does it with the wit, clarity, and verve that earned The Language Instinct worldwide critical acclaim and awards from major scientific societies.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $14.49]

“How to Stay Lovers for Life”
~~ Sharyn Wolf
Discover a marriage counselor's tricks of the trade. Sharon Wolf charts a course on the bumpy road of love. Between these covers you will find proven tips for keeping romance alive, secrets for making great sex last, unique ways to become the lovers you were meant to be, and suggestions on how to have fewer fights and more fun. This book is truly more than just a manual of sexual techniques and tips. It is a marriage manual that will help you in all aspects of your most intimate relationship.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $11.99]

“In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop”
~~ Steve Kowit
In In the Palm of Your Hand offers inspired guidance for poets at every stage of development. It is a book about shaping your memories and your passions, your pleasures, obsessions, dreams, secrets, and sorrows into the poems you have always wanted to write. If you long to create poetry that is magical and moving, this is the book you've been looking for. Complete with examples and practical exercises.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $12.99]

~~ Mameve Medwed
There's something about a man in uniform. And for Katinka O'Toole -- Radcliffe graduate, published author, writing instructor at Harvard -- her handsome, working-class mailman, Louie Cappetti, is one sexy, irresistable package. But in her quest for true lust, Katinka must hurdle a riotous array of obstacles through Cambridge's academic community: interference by her pretentious ex-husband and never-ending advice from her class-conscious mother, not to mention those nagging questions about Louie's past. She'll also have to learn the difference between what she wants now and what she really needs -- and whether she's making her decisions from the heart, head, or somewhere else. A sharply drawn comedy of class, family, and romance.
[paperback available at Amazon for $9.59]

“On Death and Dying”
~~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
One of the most important psychological studies of the late twentieth century, On Death and Dying grew out of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's famous interdisciplinary seminar on death, life, and transition. In this remarkable book, Dr. Kübler-Ross first explored the now-famous five stages of death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Through sample interviews and conversations, she gives the reader a better understanding of how imminent death affects the patient, the professionals who serve that patient, and the patient's family, bringing hope to all who are involved.
[paperback available at Amazon for $9.60]

“Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Sex”
~~ Dr. Sandra Scantling, Sue Browder
Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Sex introduces fresh insights and possibilities for enhancing sexual pleasure. This exploration of the mind-body-spirit connection to sexuality is provocative, exciting and new. If there were a whole new language for sex, with words like "sexous," "sexitive," and "sexational," and you could imagine these being a hyper-intense and transcendent strength in yourself, that's what this book is designed to help you accomplish.
[paperback available at Amazon for $10.95]

~~ Jane Kenyon
This posthumous overview of Jane Kenyon's work reminds the reader time after time how much beauty and possibility may be found in any given moment. Taking the dog for a walk, smelling rain, looking at stars: these are the pleasures of life, and Kenyon's struggle with leukemia heightened her attention to them. The title poem is a work of simple beauty, and the grace and clarity of this good work will reward many readings. A testament to the life force.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $13.99]

“Room of One's Own, A”
~~ Virginia Woolf
Why is it, Virginia Woolf asks, that men have always had the power and influence and wealth and fame -- while the women have had nothing but children? There will be women Shakespeares in the future, Mrs. Woolf urges, provided women can find the first two keys to freedom: fixed incomes and rooms of their own. Future historians will place this little book beside Mary Wollstonecraft's The Rights of Women and John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of Women. It does for the intellectual and spiritual liberation of women what those works did for their political emancipation. But A Room of One's Own outshines them both in genius.
[paperback available at Amazon for $7.20]

“Snake in Her Mouth, A”
~~ nila northSun
nila northSun has been writing some of the cleanest and most powerful poetry to be found in the growing body of contemporary American Indian literature. Although easy to read, her poems are often as deep as the roots of the Nevada mountains. Quirky and lyrical, by turns gentle and harsh, the many notes she sounds all make strong music. Competition pow-wows and suicidal res poverty, late night 49s, and cable TV coexist in her poems with the drumbeats of old songs still alive on the tribal winds.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $7.99]

“Stone Diaries, The”
~~ Carol Shields
The Stone Diaries traces the life of an ordinary woman, born in Manitoba in 1905, college-educated, married twice, mother of three children, newspaper columnist, widow and world traveler. Daisy Goodwill Flett of this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is brought clearly to life in both print and sound by author Carol Shields. Her gentle diction, her matter-of-fact delivery and almost emotionless tone are reflective of Daisy's life.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $11.49]

“There Should Have Been Castles”
~~ Herman Raucher
Yes, this is the same Raucher that wrote Summer of '42. I thought this novel was even better and it will stay in my heart always as one of my top choices. I read this book when it first came out in the late '70s, and re-read it every few years or so. Recently picked it up again, and it's as funny and engaging as it was the first time. Set in the 1950s, you will hear the story of Ben and Ginnie in alternating chapters. The characters are wonderful, the wit and sense-of-humor of Raucher will make you laugh out loud. Run, don't walk, to find a copy of this one and don't stop looking until you do!
[currently out of print -- check used bookstores like BOOK Avenue or the library]

“Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach & Medication Can't Give You”
~~ Richard O'Connor, Ph.D.
Like heart disease, depression is fueled by complex and interrelated factors: genetic, biochemical, environmental. In this refreshingly sensible book, O'Connor focuses on an additional factor often overlooked: our own habits. Unwittingly, we get good at depression. Undoing Depression teaches us how to replace depressive patterns of thinking, relating, and behaving with a new and more effective set of skills. With a truly hotistic approach, O'Connor offers new hope -- and new life -- for depressives.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $11.49]

“Vagina Monologues, The”
~~ Eve Ensler
Adapted from the award-winning one-woman show that's rocked audiences around the world, this groundbreaking book gives voice to a chorus of lusty, outrageous, poignant, and thoroughly human stories, transforming the question mark hovering over the female anatomy into a permanent victory sign. With laughter and compassion, Ensler transports her audiences to a world we've never dared to know, guaranteeing that no one who reads this book will ever look at a woman's body the same way again.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $11.49]

“When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”
~~ edited by Sandra Haldeman Martz
This remarkable collection of writings and photographs evokes the beauty, humor, and courage of women living in their later years and tells of the joyful and poignant moments found in the rich and varied world of midlife and beyond. By younger writers looking forward in time and older writers who have already experienced the rewards and challenges, this award-winning anthology takes a refreshing look at the issues of aging in a society that glorifies youth.
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $9.49]

“Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life”
~~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Meditation is the art of paying attention, of listening to your heart. Rather than withdrawing from the world, meditation can help you enjoy it more fully, more effectively, and more peacefully. In Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn provides access to the essence of meditation and its applications for both the beginner and those who wish to deepen and expand their practice. He embodies what he describes and is one of the best teachers of mindfulness you will ever meet.
[paperback available at Amazon for $11.96]

"Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself . . .
You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world.
You bring your history and you read it in your own terms."
~~ Angela Carter (b. 1940)


“Borrowers, The” (the entire series)
~~ Mary Norton
The Borrowers -- a Carnegie Medal winner, a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award book, and an ALA Distinguished Book -- has stolen the hearts of thousands of readers since its 1953 publication. Mary Norton lived in England where she was an actress, playwright, and award-winning author. As a child she created a make-believe world in which tiny people inhabited the hedgerows, living their lives out of sight of humans. It is from this private fantasy that The Borrowers was created. The magic and charm of the writing convince children and grown-ups, too, that Borrowers really do exist. (all ages)
[paperback available at Loco Lobo for $5.49]

“Dana Girl Mysteries, The” (the entire series)
~~ Carolyn Keene
I bet you thought Carolyn Keene only wrote Nancy Drew books, didn’t you? Well, if you enjoyed those, you will find the Dana Girl Mystery Series even better. Previous Dana Girl stories were written in the 1930s and included 16 books. The new Dana Girl series began in 1963 and ended in 1979 after the 15th book was published. You will be introduced to two sisters who, like Nancy Drew and her friends, solve mysteries. I found these two sisters even more engaging and fun than Nancy Drew. I highly recommend the entire series. (all ages)
[currently out of print – check out of print search services like those at Amazon or the library]

“Maggie Now”
~~ Betty Smith
This book begins its story before Maggie Now's birth. It introduces her contrary father, Patrick, as a young man in Ireland and her gentle mother, Mary, as a school teacher in New York at the turn of the century. Maggie Now grows up attending Catholic school, rearing her younger brother and yearning for love and a family of her own. I found many of the passages in the book touching, particularly the description of the Easter dinner which she cooks for Claude, whom she falls in love with. I revisit this book every year and will continue to do so for a long time. (Ages 13 and older)
[currently out of print -- check used bookstores like BOOK Avenue or the library]

“Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A”
~~ Betty Smith
Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics -- and in the hearts of readers, young and old. (Ages 10 and older)
[paperback available at Amazon for $9.60]

"Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or,
like the ambitious, for instruction. No, read in order to live."
~~ Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

Are one or more of these links not operating properly and you'd like to notify me about that? Would you like to start a discussion about one of these books or another title that is a personal favorite of yours? You can do either of those things; just leave a message for me on my Message Board. Thanks for your participation.


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