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Books for bored bibliophiles

Patrick W. Crabtree "The Old Grottomaster"
The list author says: "These are all first-quality reads, all genres, both fiction and non-fiction, no incompetent authors included. I've written detailed reviews of most of these if you'd like to know more.

Enjoy!"
Company of Liars: A Novel
Company of Liars: A Novel
"Wow! What a great story. It's all about a reluctant band of oddballs who are forced into company and who flee the plague together in England."
Salammbo (aka Salambo)
Salammbo (aka Salambo)
"Carthagenian battles and a scheming princess -- based upon actual events. Lots of cool adventure."
Murder Down Under
Murder Down Under
"[A.K.A. "Mr. Jelly's Business" British title] When you begin reading Upfield (who died in 1964) you'll be wholly addicted to his numerous Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte mysteries, most of which are set in the Australian outback of the early 20th-Century."
Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing
Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing
"Non-fiction. This episode dwarfs the Columbine school disaster in its sheer magnitude -- few people know about this great tragedy involving a madman in Michigan, many years ago. A great amount of dynamite was shoved under a school over time and detonated while it was in session!"
The Enchanted Wanderer: Selected Tales (Modern Library Classics)
The Enchanted Wanderer: Selected Tales (Modern Library Classics)
"An old Russian Monk spins a life-story yarn for fellow boat travelers. Fascinating."
The Cossacks - A Tale by Tolstoy
The Cossacks - A Tale by Tolstoy
"Tolstoy was at his very best here -- a straightforward novel about a notable culture and their troubles during a turbulent period in Russia."
A Mummer's Tale
A Mummer's Tale
"I never knew the French theater of the 1800s could be so hilarious... or so tragic. Classic literature."
The Return of the Native (Modern Library Classics)
The Return of the Native (Modern Library Classics)
"I only got to this recently and I'm re-reading it already! Deceit and jealousy in Southern England. Old but good."
The Seamstress: A Novel
The Seamstress: A Novel
"Contemporary fiction at its best. An historical novel which highlights the early development of Brazil."
The Brothers Karamazov (Dover Thrift Editions)
The Brothers Karamazov (Dover Thrift Editions)
"Don't let the bulky size of this fantastic Dostoevsky novel scare you. An old scoundrel gets himself murdered by one of his multiple sons. It's actually darkly humorous at times but really easy to read. Constance Garnett is the translator of this fine edition."
The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone)
The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone)
"Here we have three novels paginated as one book. I couldn't put it down and will be re-reading it multiple times, as I have "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings"."
The Bomb: By Frank Harris [ 1909 ]
The Bomb: By Frank Harris [ 1909 ]
"Based on the actual Chicago Haymarket bombing by anarchists -- pretty compelling stuff."
The Farmers Hotel
The Farmers Hotel
"A classic novelette by John O'Hara. Inclement weather drives an eclectic group of souls into a small-town hotel. This one is superb."
Poorhouse Fair
Poorhouse Fair
"A real howler -- I loved this fast-paced short novel. Cat lovers beware!"
An Armful of Warm Girl
An Armful of Warm Girl
"One of the craziest books you'll ever encounter."
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)
"One of the most refreshing, if strange, reads that you'll ever come across. McCullers' writing is totally unique."
Puck of Pook's Hill
Puck of Pook's Hill
"Two kids conjure up a story-telling sprite while putting on a skit of "Midsummer Night's Dream"... inadvertently and precisely at a magical time and place -- the stories turn into journeys! Wonderful British fantasy."
The Spanish Cape Mystery
The Spanish Cape Mystery
"Terrific very early-period Ellery Queen. One of his best of all time. 'The Siamese Twin Mystery' is equally excellent."
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
"Non-fiction. Don't kid yourself that this is a boring read -- quite the opposite. One of the major contributors to this famous dictionary was a complete madman, locked away in an asylum, though no one realized it at the time!"
Kidnap: The Story of the Lindbergh Case
Kidnap: The Story of the Lindbergh Case
"Non-fiction. You simply will not believe all the twists and turns in this breath-taking national incident which dragged on for weeks. Waller was a literary master."
Mission to Circassia
Mission to Circassia
"I can find nothing else by this author but she surely hit a Grand Slam here. High adventure in the Caucasus Mountains."
Elephant Hill
Elephant Hill
"This award-winning novel has fallen off the radar of late but it's a dandy rainy weekend read. The setting is India."
Down Second Avenue
Down Second Avenue
"Mphahlele recounts his days in the notorius "locations" (forced black enclaves) of Apartheid South Africa -- but it's not all gloom and doom. I loved this story."
The Abdication of King Edward VIII, edited by A.J.P. Taylor
The Abdication of King Edward VIII, edited by A.J.P. Taylor
"Non-fiction. There has been a revival of interest in this gossipy British peccadillo, chiefly attributable to Prince Charles' most recent marriage. Lord Beaverbrook was working on the inside for the King. Postumously published."
The Royals
The Royals
"Non-fiction. A very detailed and frank exposition of The Windsor family, monarchs and royalty of Great Britain. I especially savored this gossipy work because it was published only weeks prior to Princess Di's tragic death and, therefore, pulls no punches, (not that this author would do so in any case.)"
True At First Light: A Fictional Memoir
True At First Light: A Fictional Memoir
"The best work that Hemingway ever did but I don't think that he ever intended for it to be published -- it came out long after his death. It's supposedly fiction but it's really about his life in Africa."
The Way of All Flesh (Dover Thrift Editions)
The Way of All Flesh (Dover Thrift Editions)
"Here's a classic that often slips under the radar -- I don't know why because it's compelling reading. The story is all about a religious zealot who dominates his son's life, even into adulthood. But the son blossoms with the aid of a kind mentor. Very well-written."
Vril: The Power of the Coming Race
Vril: The Power of the Coming Race
"This is a very early science fiction work, a hollow-earth yarn, that's as good today as when it was originally published. It's certainly better than 90% of the contemporary sci-fi entries."
Utopia
Utopia
"So you thought that Marx and Engels invented Communism? Nope, Thomas More gave us all the details of such a society *long* before those two were ever born. And after you've read this story, you'll wonder why people think Utopia was such a terrific place."
Peter Lawford Story
Peter Lawford Story
"After Peter Lawford died, his wife completed his biography (chiefly from Lawford's own notes) and boy did she ever reveal some juicy secrets about Peter's mom, the Kennedys, Nancy [Davis] Reagan, and many more! Hot stuff and a great read."
Maria Callas
Maria Callas
"Yet another biography with a link to the Kennedys. Maria Callas was perhaps the greatest opera soprano of all time (it's clearly up for debate.) But one fact is certain: she was abruptly dropped by Aristotle Onassis for Jackie-O. This is a pretty tragic story about a remarkably talented and stunningly beautiful lady."
A Burnt-Out Case (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
A Burnt-Out Case (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
"Greene wrote so many great novels that it's a real head-scratcher to pick out just one. While not so well-known, I thought this story was one of his best. 'Travels with My Aunt' is equally terrific if you prefer humor."
The blue dog, and other fables for the French
The blue dog, and other fables for the French
"This is a children's book but I've never been caught so off-guard as I was when I first read these stories, all written by a young French girl and translated into English by Gertrude Stein's lifelong companion."
Train Man
Train Man
"If you have somehow missed out on the many fine books of P.T. Deutermann in your readings of contemporary fiction, this would be a great place to begin. *Compelling* doesn't even begin to adequately characterize this fine thriller."
The Algiers Motel Incident
The Algiers Motel Incident
"Hersey was a proven master at penning novels but this non-fictional account of the Detroit, Michigan race riots and the murders subsequently carried out by authorities is a nefarious incident of which we heard little at the time. Artfully conveyed."
Main Street (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (B&N Classics)
Main Street (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (B&N Classics)
"I wouldn't call this a page-turner but it's one of those books that subtly draws you in as it develops and blossoms -- and here we have a flawless novel about an uncertain relationship."
The Unicorn
The Unicorn
"I'm hot and cold on Iris Murdoch but this exemplary novel really bowled me over. Set in the very rural English countryside -- great stuff. I plan to read it again quite soon."
Murder at the motel
Murder at the motel
"Once you've read a Victor Gunn (a pseudonym for Edwy Searles Brooks, died 1965) mystery you'll want to consume them all. They're not always easy to acquire but after you do, all the effort and expense becomes a secondary concern. English cozy murder is typically the most delightful sort."
Homer Price.
Homer Price.
"If I were forced to choose only 2 books from my huge library, I would pick 'War and Peace' plus this hilarious omnibus of nostalgic early teen-tales. Homer Price, the hayseed and youthful midwestern American Jeeves, can resolve any dilemma that adults can lay before him."
One list item is no longer in our catalog.