Friday, January 16, 2009

some favorites

  • Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin series
  • PG Wodehouse: many many titles
  • Jane Austen's 6 novels
  • Ring Lardner: You Know Me Al
  • Josephine Tey: The Franchise Affair; Brat Farrar
  • The Provincial Lady in America by E. M. Delafield
  • George Smiley books by John le Carre
  • A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  • Colin Dexter: Inspector Morse mysteries
  • Agatha Christie (esp. Miss Marple)
  • Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone; The Woman in White
  • Ngaio Marsh mysteries
  • Bruce Marshall: The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith
  • Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight
  • James Herriot: All Creatures Great and Small series
  • Thomas Hardy: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
  • Charles Dickens

best books I read in 2008

*I've affixed asterisks to the best titles.*

These were good but not great. I'm still looking for a great new mystery author, and have high hopes for Donald Westlake.
Elizabeth Ironside: Death in the Garden and The Accomplice
Barbara Vine: Anna's Book
Ian Rankin: Knots and Crosses

Sea books: Patrick O'Brian is the best, followed by CS Forester. Ramage will suffice if you need a fix of salt air and a couple of broadsides.
Dudley Pope: Ramage series
Nordhoff and Hall: Mutiny on the Bounty

CS Lewis: Till We Have Faces, The Screwtape Letters*
Anthony Hope: The Prisoner of Zenda and sequel

Best-kept secret:
Louis Hemon: Maria Chapdelaine*

Rind Lardner: You Know Me Al*

Mark Steyn: America Alone*

Neufeld and Mata: Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers*
Robert Karen: Becoming Attached*

Saturday, January 3, 2009

donald westlake

The next book I read will be by Mr. Westlake. He wrote comic mysteries as well as hard-boiled detective fiction.

(Photo: Louis Lanzano - AP)

From the Corner:

Donald Westlake R.I.P. [Mark Hemingway]

One of the best crime/mystery writers around just passed away. The work of the prolific Westlake, also wrote under the pen name Richard Stark, was the subject of numerous Hollywood adaptions including the influential Point Blank with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson (the more recent Mel Gibson vehicle Payback was based on the same classic Stark novel), the underrated Robert Redford heist movie The Hot Rock and others. I don't know if Westlake was a conservative, but he was a favorite author of Bill Kristol and once wrote a piece for The Weekly Standard, FWIW.

UPDATE: Terry Teachout, critic par excellence, was a fan of Westlake and has a nice remembrance here.

Don't miss the Teachout remembrance mentioned above.

From the Post:
Westlake wrote more than 90 books, mostly on a typewriter. Aside from his own name, he also used several pseudonyms, including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin West, in part because people didn't believe he could write so much so quickly.
The print-version of the Post ran a longer and better article. In it, Westlake is called "the funniest man in the world" by Carolyn See. Patricia Sullivan writes, "As Richard Stark he produced the leanest, bleakest and fastest-moving crime novels of the 1960's."

I know that when I check, I'll find that my husband has already gone online and reserved some Westlake books for us from the library. :) Thanks!