(Recommended Reference Books for the Eclectic)
During the holiday season, many people have surely gotten what they wanted and wished for—new clothes, new houses, new vehicles, new laptops, cellular phones, and other gadgets—each realizable depending on one’s economic status and purchasing power. For myself, I already bought in the months before Christmas some of what I needed such as a one-terabyte hard-disk drive, two pairs of Doc Martens six-hole boots, and a pair of skinny jeans. During the New Year though, I did one last shopping—nothing expensive and nothing fancy—just a few new books from Chapters.
501 Must-Read Books, edited by Emma Beare and Joanna Smith (2006, Bounty Books)
This reference book is perfect for eclectic bibliophiles—those who read books from different genres. As the title suggests, this hardbound book gives short descriptions—without giving away the plots—of 501 books from the classics to the contemporary Children’s Fiction, History, Memoirs, Modern Fiction, Science Fiction, Thrillers, and Travel. Books reviewed include The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678, John Bunyan), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865, Lewis Carroll), Pinocchio (1891, Carlo Collodi), The Last Unicorn (1968, Peter S. Beagle), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964, Roald Dahl), Sophie’s World (1994, Jostein Gaarder), Crime and Punishment (1866, Fyodor Dostoyevsky), The Hour of Our Death (1981, Philippe Ariès), The End of History and the Last Man (1992, Francis Fukuyama), Aubrey’s Brief Lives (1949, John Aubrey), Journal of Solitude (1973, May Sarton), The Alexandria Quartet (1957–60, Lawrence Durrell), What We Talk about when We Talk about Love (1981, Raymond Carver), The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940, Carson McCullers), The Sleeping-Car Murders (1963, Sebastien Japrisot), Golden Earth: Travels in Burma (1952, Norman Lewis), The Trial (1925, Franz Kafka), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984, Milan Kundera), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003, Mark Haddon). If you are a bibliophilist like me, 501 Must-Read Books is a great reference of great books to collect.
World Art: The Essential Illustrated History, foreword by Mike O’Mahony (JG Press, 2006)
This book is not only for the art connoisseur but also for anyone who is familiar with da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and Warhol’s The Shot Marilyns and is interested to know more of such paintings and about various art movements. From the dark images of the Gothic and Medieval times through the Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, and Impressionist movements into the Avant-Garde, Surrealist, and Pop Art movements of the modern era, World Art is indeed an essential reference book on the subject.
The Last Leaf
There are lots of books on sale at Chapters Bookstore and McNally Booksellers. Give yourself a favor—buy a book regularly and broaden your intellectual horizons. I remember one acquaintance of mine who, noticing that I bought books regularly, asked why I was wasting money on such stuff. I just smiled as I sifted through the pages of the newly purchased book I was holding. He then excused himself and went outside, opened his newly bought pack of cigarette, and smoked a stick in sheer delight. I would have asked him a similar question, but I thought, ahh, never mind.