Good House?

"Get out, get out, this is not a good house,
I see no books by P.G. Wodehouse."

I can't remember where I first heard that line but, looking around my own house, I had to conclude that mine was among the bad'uns.

Who the hell was P.G. Wodehouse?

So, being the up and coming literary snob that I was, I toddled off to the nearest library to check one out. (Wodehouseianisms, I must warn you, spring from the old lemon as soon as the subject is broached.) Read more about Good House?


I'll Never Forget You, Nagapate!

The scene is etched in my memory. A young couple sliding down the muddy trail through the jungle hillside in Borneo, making a dash for the safety of the ship that they hope lies at anchor below. Behind them a tribe of doughty headhunters, who had decided that the novelty of the newcomers had worn off and it was time to add a little something exotic to their extensive collections. Read more about I'll Never Forget You, Nagapate!


Thanks for the Books

I've won very few awards in my life. I like to think I would have won more if I wasn't so lazy. But the first (and I'm trying to think, but it could be the only one) was for "most books read in kindergarten," away back in 1948. I lived in Badger, Iowa, a town of 300 or so Norwegian farmers and their relatives, and began my education in the same two-room schoolhouse that my grandmother had attended.

Books have been my life since that time. I don't know what I would have done without them. Here are a very few among the proverbial 10,000 things:

CHILDHOOD Read more about Thanks for the Books


Learning English

When I visited England for the first time back in 1979, I prided myself on knowing all about "chemists" and "lorries" and "boots." When I was asked how I knew all this stuff, I told people I read a lot. Leaving them with the impression that I was talking about all the best in English literature. Oh, I had read my Austen and Dickens and Hardy, but the truth of the matter was that most of the "Englishisms" I knew came directly from Agatha Christie. Read more about Learning English



"...he (Humbert) wants her (Lolita), a living breathing human being, to become stationary, to give up her life for the still life he offers her in return." , Azar Nafisi

It's been too long since I read Vladimir Nabokov's to say anything of my own about it. I don't remember finding anything in it that spoke to me. Read more about Lolita


Old Favorites: The Mysteries

I'm going through one of those periodic scourings of the bookcases, looking for good homes for old favorites, and luckily I've found a few. These books will live a little longer on warm, dry bookshelves where I can still find them if I really need them. But should you want to try them for yourselves, take a look at these lists: Read more about Old Favorites: The Mysteries


Reading Afghanistan

In 2001, when it became apparent that my country was going to invade Afghanistan, a country my knowledge of which was limited to the fact that I knew how to spell it, some people took to the streets. I took to the books. Here's a list:

This set of CD's can be every bit as frustrating to use as some of the critics say, but for me worth it for articles like Maynard Owen Williams' 1931 piece on the Citroen Trans-Asiatic Expedition. Read more about Reading Afghanistan


The Glory of Old Timey War

For a rollicking good time roll in the blood of the flower of French chivalry, there's nothing quite like Bernard Cornwell's . I found the "grail quest" story line here a little silly, entirely unnecessary, since there is only one reason to read this book and that is to place yourself in the front lines at Crecy, circa 1346. Read more about The Glory of Old Timey War