Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A friend reminds me that I haven’t done a reading list in a while. He’s right. Here are some of the books on my bedside table…
*Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon. This is a short story collection, and I’m not usually a huge fan of short stories. I prefer more time to get to know characters. But I like the Outlander series, and I enjoyed all the Lord John books. The author has a touch I envy with writing historical fiction, giving just enough period color and language, without overdoing it. It's a knack.
I was also quite amused to see that one of these stories was solicited from her by none other than prolific editor Maxim Jakubowski. Mr. Jakubowski is also the editor of The Mammoth Book of Sex Diaries, in which a large chunk of this blog was published. Which means that as professional writers, there is only one degree of separation between me and Ms.Gabaldon. That just seems sort of crazy, somehow.
*The Snake, the Crocodile & the Dog (Amelia Peabody Mysteries), by Elizabeth Peters. As I’ve mentioned before, when I am sick, I want comfort reading. So when I had the flu a few weeks ago, I started working my way through all my Elizabeth Peters books once again. I have loaned so many out over the years (read as: given away, because they never came home) that I have some holes in my collection. Thus, I had to make a run through Powell’s when I was in Portland and fill in the gaps. No one does fast, fun, silly mysteries like Ms. Peters. I want to be Amelia Peabody when I grow up. (Although some people might tell you that I already am the Amelia Peabody of the kink world. And that’s okay with me.)
*Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam, by Pope Brock. This book must be read to be believed. In the words of Publishers Weekly: “John Brinkley…got his start touring as a medicine man hawking miracle tonics and became famous for transplanting goat testicles into impotent men. Brinkley built his own radio station in 1923, hustling his pseudoscience over the airwaves and giving an outlet to astrologers and country music. His nemesis was Dr. Morris Fishbein, who took aim at Brinkley in JAMA, lay publications and pamphlets distributed by the thousands. Even after the Kansas State Medical Board yanked his medical license in 1930, Brinkley ran twice for governor of Kansas and almost won.”
Yeah. This guy took goat testicles and implanted them into men’s scrotums, claiming it would give them erections and make them fertile. Because everyone knows goats are horny, right? It’s exactly as bad as it sounds. Not so much medical regulation back then. (And on a side note: love the author’s name: Pope. That’s cool.)
What I think I'll buy next: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely. Behavioral economics is the new sexy science, isn’t it? There’s a lot of stuff published lately about why we do what we do, but this one looks like it talks about individual motivations as well as group forces and dynamics. Both in my personal as well as my professional life, observing and predicting patterns of people’s behavior is a strong interest of mine. I’ll let you know if it’s good.