Update Dec 31 2018: 

Here I list books I’ve enjoyed and perhaps a bit on why. This is an ongoing project, which means I get to it when I can, which, as you can see, hasn’t been to often. But that’s what a new years are all about.





Talk Show by Dick Cavett.  A son of Nebraska relates stories and opinions from his NYT blog. Brilliant and funny. Did I say he was from Nebraska? Memorable Quote: #3. I feel almost silly when I do this one, but it works. Grab a bunch of words off the prompter and, instead of staring straight ahead, glance down and to one side as you do—in real life—when thinking just what to say next. Then look back and deliver those snatched-up words to the camera. It works like a charm. (As a beloved childhood magic catalogue of mine used to say—with unintended ambiguity—“We cannot recommend this trick too highly.”

Grant Takes Command by Bruce Catton. Grant is a fascinating example of how grit, savvy, and good writing lead to success. Catton’s prose is a delight.

Unbroken by Lauren Hillebrand

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald. Beautiful prose: depression, loss, and falconry.

Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt. Patton’s obsessive mind and over-the-top writing captures his 20’s, when he was effectively a graduate student of film and standup comedy. Memorable Quote: Suddenly I had to chew my way out of the safe, pastel cocoon of road material I’d built around myself and learn to walk the stage in the raw red of my exposed psyche, the deep blue of my lurking depression, the stinging white of my angers and resentments, the blazing yellow of my cowardice and the black black black of whatever dark thoughts I might be having.

Little Failure: a memoir by Gary Shteyngart. A Russian emigre with his parents in the Reagan era, a funny revealing memoir. Memorable Quote: The human element wanders between these sandstone and cement giants, pissy looking and vegan, suffering from either Low Self-Esteem or Way Too Much Self-Esteem.


So Anyway by John Cleese. The first of two memoirs by the tall Python. A belly laugh on every page. Memorable Quote (waaaay too many, but here’s one):One of our professors described a lecture as “a mystical process by which the notes on the pad of the lecturer pass on to the pad of the student, without passing through the mind of either.”

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