This week, the Broke and the Bookish are musing over books they’d like to re-read.
1. The Black Widowers Series, Isaac Asimov
(Tales of the Black Widowers, More Tales of the Black Widowers, Casebook of the Black Widowers, Banquets of the Black Widowers, Puzzles of the Black Widowers, and Return of the Black Widowers.)
Isaac Asimov is my very favorite author, and a few years ago I found a mystery series he’d penned while browsing in the library. The setting is a gentlemen’s social club, which meets in a downtown New York restaurant every month for drinks, dinner, stimulating conversation — and a mystery. The club calls itself the Black Widowers society, and they never intended to get into the mystery business — but every month they invite a visitor, and every month (oddly enough) that visitor manages to intentionally or accidently present them with a puzzle to think through. Intellectuals and artists, they ask probing questions and rely on both their collective knowledge and a series of reference books. The solution sometimes relies on literary, historical, or scientific information, but it’s always there for the reader to grasp — if only he can think of it before the Widowers’ gentleman waiter Henry can. I love the series and spent more money on books than usual just so I could have the complete set. If I happen to be having dinner alone for whatever reason, I like to go and fetch a Widowers book so I can enjoy dinner with Asimov’s sleuths. It doesn’t matter to me that I’ve read a given story so many times I know the solution: I enjoy their conversation and the way they work through things. The discussion ranges everywhere from the sciences to humanities to popular culture, so it’s a treat for someone who’s a regular visitor to every part of the library like myself.
2. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Max Shulman.
I do love this collection of tales concerning a cocky, brilliant, and charming college student who is always getting himself into trouble, usually over girls.
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
“Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.”
“Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.”
“Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor.”
“Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.”
It’s better if you know the context, obviously.
4. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
I remember being read this story in elementary school. It was one of the most depressing but touching books I’d ever heard, because I was so attached to dogs myself. Heaven knows why I want to read a book that’s just going to reduce me to blubbering like a toddler in need of a nap, but it’s been such a long time. (If you’ve never read it, it’s about a boy who works hard to buy two coon dogs (Old Dan and Little Ann), and they become inseperable companions until…bad things happen.
5. The Pigman, Paul Zindel
It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve read this tragic story about two troubled teenagers who befriend a lonely old man.
6. Too Good to be Forgotten, David Obst
This is a memoir of growing up in the 1960s, which I read in 2006 and remember fondly.
7. Redwall, Brian Jacques
This is the book which inspired a series, this novel is a fantasy adventure story of a large rat who leads and army of vermin against a abbey of peaceful woodland creatures defended by a badger, a funny old rabbit, and a legendary warrior with a sword forged from a stone from the heavens. It’s sort of like Lord of the Rings, but there’s no magic.
8. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
I read this back in 2001 (starting on 11 September, actually), but only for an American literature class. Now I would read it because it is the kind of book I’d be interested in: one with a social message that focuses on salt-of-the-earth people.
9. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, Carl Sagan
I bought this book last year (or the year before…) with the express purpose of re-reading it, but I’ve not quite gotten around to that. If I remember correctly, it’s Sagan’s anthropological work and concerns human evolution.
10. Disaster! The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, Dan Kurzman
I read this years ago (2004, 2005?) from my home library, but when I decided to re-read it I found the book had been discarded or lost. I wound up buying a similarly-titled book and enjoying it well enough, but it wasn’t this one. To be honest, I’m not positive this is The Book, since I wasn’t keeping a log back then…but the title makes me sure enough to look for used copies online.