© 2002-2006
the matthew show

Whatcha Readin'?

Here's stuff read from 2002-2005, with rudimentary ratings (Great, Excellent, Good, Fair):


A Treasury of Great American Scandals, Michael Farquhar: Excellent (written shortly after the now-mundane Lewinsky scandal, this book skips the last 20 years and reminds us that American politics have historically provided the press with plenty better fodder than a misplaced cigar)

Come Over, Come Over, Lynda Barry: Great (it took me a while to get into Barry's comics, but now they're an addiction; never was ordinary life so extraordinarily captured)

My Perfect Life, Lynda Barry: Great (read it!)

It's So Magic, Lynda Barry: Great (and this!)

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell: Great (I wasn't sure if Mitchell could beat Ghostwritten, but I'll venture to say that he finally has...pick up a copy or miss one of the 21st century's great writers)

Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky: Excellent (so far-reaching and alarming that it takes quite a while to wrap your head around, but well worth the read...a fine work from one of the keepers of forgotten American history)

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut: Excellent (all of the things Vonnegut is; humorous, incisive, and fascinating...add to that a great historical perspective, and you have this book)

Persepolis 2 , Marjane Satrapi: Great (not quite as sweeping as part 1, but every bit as personal and touching)

Inquisition, Edward Peters: Excellent (quite comprehensive and engaging, while also providing a variety of viewpoints on one of history's great miscarriages of justice)

In the Shadow of No Towers, Art Spigelman: Excellent (an emotional, humorous, and memorable recollection of a cartoonist's life in the aftermath of 9/11)

Country Property Dirt Cheap, Ralph C. Turner: Excellent (a tremendously personable tale of perseverance by a man with simple desires: 10 acres, a tractor, and a barn to put it in)

The Spanish Inquisition, Cecil Roth: Excellent (written in 1937 during the rise of Nazi Germany, this is history foretelling history)

Coraline, Neil Gaiman: Great (incredibly disturbing for a young adult novel...scared the bejeezus outta me)

Down and Out In Paris and London, George Orwell: Excellent (a fabulous time capsule and a reminder of how far we've come; quite hilarious, too, which is something few people know about Orwell)

War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, Chris Hedges: Great (gets to the very bottom of war and what it means to us; one of the best books I've ever read)

Dark Journey (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order series), Elaine Cunningham: Good (I'd start at the beginning of the series, which is perfectly enjoyable sci-fi for weary minds)

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi: Great (graphic noveling from an Iranian perspective, a fabulous story and a great window into those threatened most by the "Axis of Evil")

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Al Franken: Great (it'll get you good & pissed off for election year)

You're Something Else, Charlie Brown, Charles Schulz (out of print): Great (sometimes one tends to forget why Peanuts became as popular as it did; these old strips from the 1960s are proof of Schulz's genius)

Church & State II, Dave Sim: Excellent (good series, worth the read, though Sim's gone a little batty of late...)

Church & State I, Dave Sim: Excellent (the continuation of High Society, this series has got an interesting wit that most graphic novels don't have)

Charlie Wilson's War, George Crile: Great (the untold, often alarming story of how one crazy Texas congressman almost singlehandedly--despite Reagan revisionist claims--kept the CIA at war through the 1980s by funding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, defeating the Soviet Union and creating...well, Al Qaeda)

High Society, Dave Sim: Excellent (I'm only recently getting into graphic novels--I know, I should've done that in my Dungeon Master days, but there was all that keyboard noodling to do)

The Templars, Piers Paul Read: Excellent (covers one of my more esoteric areas of interest, without the conspiratorial fluff that most Templar books promulgate--though sometimes that's half the fun)

Ghostwritten, David Mitchell: Great (Knocks your ass over with intermingled story lines, all of which are great enough by themselves)

Six Days of War, Michael B. Oren: Excellent (almost daunting in its comprehensiveness, but required reading for armchair Middle East historians)

The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene: Great (accomplishes the difficult task of explaining string theory, Einstein's relativity, and quantum mechanics to dummies like me)

Warriors for Jerusalem, Donald Neff: Great (damned enlightening history of the Six Day War and the Middle East in general)

Mohawk, Richard Russo: Great (not quite at Empire Falls' prose level, but much darker)

Star By Star (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order series), Troy Denning: Good (though start at Vector Prime, the beginning of the series)

Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger: Great

Empire Falls, Richard Russo: Grrrreat

My Dream of You, Nuala O'Faolain: Good, occasionally Great

The Difference Engine, William Gibson & Bruce Sterling: Fair (actually, Good until the ending, which was pretty weak)

A Galaxy Not So Far Away, various: Great (interesting thoughts from the Star Wars generation)

U2: At the End of the World, Bill Flanagan: Great (if you're a U2 fan, that is)

American Gods, Neil Gaiman: Great

With Charity Toward None: A Fond Look At Misanthropy, Florence King: Great

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