My Ten Favorite Books – The Meme!

Lying, figuring things out

My friend ADD tagged me to participate in My Ten Favorite Books – The Meme! In this regard, I do what I’m told.

I’ve been talking to [his friend] Aaron a lot about reading lately. He’s been building an incredible collection and even created a delightful, beautiful, and comfy-looking reading nook in his home.

Part of the reason I may not be reading a lot is that I need a comfortable place to do so. I used to have this wonderful recliner in the living room. I could sleep in it when I broke my rib in 2009. But my wife tossed it because the cats clawed it to raggedness. There’s a chair in the attic, but it would take a crane to get to it downstairs.

All this got me thinking about my own personal library, which is maybe a tenth the size it once was, but I kept all the essentials and these are my ten favorites. The individual photos are roughly in order of how much I adore them, but on any given day they might swap places on the list.

Books in my office surround me, save for the window at 8 o’clock and the door at five o’clock. The books to my right are my wife’s. The rest of them are mine.

I chose these based on the following criteria: – Quality of writing – The intellectual and/or entertainment value – The joy reading them gave and gives me – Their significance over time – The despair I would feel if I didn’t have them I tagged 10 friends. If you like, play along, preferably with photos of your own personal copies.

Based on these criteria, here we go, in no particular order.


The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus by Fred Hembeck. Even before I met Fred, I enjoyed his illustrated musings in the Comics Buyer’s Guide (CBG). I met Fred in February 1980, when FantaCo, the comic book store I frequented in Albany, NY, had a signing of his second collection, Hembeck 1980.

Then I started working at FantaCo in May 1980, and I, as the mail order guy, shipped out the remaining five Hembeck magazines, plus the expanded first issue, initially published by Eclipse in the early 1980s.

Skip to 2008. Fred has compiled those seven issues, backup stories in Smilin’ Ed #1 and #4, plus a WHOLE lot more. I was in Saratoga Springs, helping Fred haul boxes of his tome to a comic book convention. It was then I received my signed copy.

Play The Game: The Book of Sports, edited by Mitchell V. Charney. It’s a 1931 book collection of stories from 1923 forward published in American Boy magazine, with articles by Red Grange, Grantland Rice, and writers I don’t know. I’ve had it since childhood, and I had a reason to pull it off the shelf as recently as September 2023.


Figuring Sh!t Out: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival – Amy Biancolli (2015). Signed to me, my wife, and our daughter. About surviving the suicides in her life, including that of her husband, Christopher Ringwald. Chris had written A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath (2007); I have a copy signed to me. I got to hear him speak on the topic in my church, and I had some minor role in arranging that a few years before his tragic death.

The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip. When I wrote a blog post making a passing reference in 2005 about it, I got an email from her! I wrote far more about the book in the 2008 follow-up post.

The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh. The Ninth Edition, which I believe is the last one, came out in 2007. It is a historical treasure trove of descriptions of shows I watched and others I had never heard of. Importantly, it had an index of performers, September schedules (back when fall season premieres mattered), and ratings. I have lots of reference books, notably for music, but this is the most readable.

I have quoted the birthday info from Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen several times. But there’s a whole lot more to the book.

Growing Up by Russell Baker. I read it several times in the 1990s. His essays in the New York Times I read regularly.

What is truth

 Lying by Sissela Bok. I’ve stolen this Amazon review because it captures the book so well: “Sissela Bok challenges the reader to consider the effects of lying on the individual, relationships, and society. The author systematically covers the spectrum of lies from ‘little white lies’ to avoid an unwanted dinner invitation to the arguably moral lies required to survive in a totalitarian state – taking the reader step by step through a journey of increasingly complex moral questions. The book argues that lying, as it is often conducted in society, often lacks the moral basis of those few cases where it can be justified.”


How To Be An Antiracist (2019) by Ibram X. Kendi. As I noted here, I was taken by his owning up to his tacit misogyny, homophobia, and classism before he finally figured it out.

This is despite some apparent mismanagement, as reported in the Boston Globe:

“The numbers were staggering: nearly $55 million raised in just three years. And the ambitions were no less lofty. The Center for Antiracist Research, launched by celebrity author and activist Dr. Ibram X. Kendi at the height of the 2020 racial justice movement, strove to “solve [the] intractable racial issues of our time.”

“But… that dream has come crashing down, with more than half the center’s staff laid off, a new and far less ambitious vision revealed, and an inquiry launched by Boston University, which houses the center, into its culture and ‘grant management practices.'”

Everything on this list might or might not be on another iteration. But the one item has been on since I first read it in late 2011. Life Itself by Roger Ebert. As I wrote here, “I decided that, if I were ever to write my own autobiography – not that I necessarily would – it should be modeled on this book.”


August rambling: Fill the hole with water

Rebecca Jade; Central Warehouse; woke

from Wrong Hands:

The secret history of the U.S. government’s family-separation policy

What is punishment for?

The Republican Party now has embraced the mindset of Timothy McVeigh

Why djt is PANTS ON FIRE wrong to suggest Obama personally kept 33 million pages of documents

Guide to every excuse Republicans have made for djt’s theft of documents

Alex Jones Ordered to Pay $49.3M Over Sandy Hook Lies; does he know what perjury is?

The  West Wing: Fill The Hole With Water

Dr. Oz Gets Skewered In ‘Wizard’ Parody

White Southern Evangelicals Are Leaving the Church

How the Central Warehouse became Albany’s albatross. Chunks of the building facade fell onto railroad tracks, disrupting Amtrak service running west of Albany for four days. Check out a Flickr photo album of the building.

Hank Green: The Biggest Climate Deal in History Almost Didn’t Happen

Climate Migration: California fire pushes a family to Vermont

Chimps digging wells shows learned behavior that may help amid climate change

Unpicking the link between smell and memories

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

Life After Death by Powerpoint (Corporate Comedy Video, 2010)

Human nature

Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole Have Spent the Past 23 Years Reading to Each Other

David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning historiandied at the age of 89. The 60 Minutes interview (2013).

Pat Carroll, Emmy-Winning Actress and Voice of Ursula in ‘The Little Mermaid,’ Dies at 95. 

Roger E. Mosley, Actor on ‘Magnum, P.I.,’ Dies at 83

Anne Heche, 53, Declared Brain Dead Following Car Crash

Vin Scully reads a grocery list

John Green – Liberty Leading the People: How Revolutions Turn

‘Batgirl’ Star Leslie Grace Responds After Film Is Shelved, Calls Herself “My Own Damn Hero”

DC Will Have 10-Year Plan Akin to Marvel’s Playbook, Says David Zaslav; Reset Adds More Confusion

Art v. History: John Adams, 1776 and Hamilton

The most beautiful cities in the world and it’s Chester, England that’s No. 1

Stony Creek ruins in rural Caswell County, NC

What are Neekerbreekers? | Creatures of Middle-earth

Wiley Wallaby Licorice


Florida’s Un-Civic Illiteracy Program

Jamestown, MI, just voted to defund its public library over refusing to censor LGBTQ authors

WI school district bans pride symbols and preferred pronouns

Don’t Call Them Conservatives


Monkeypox and Mental health: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

NYS Health Department says hundreds of people may be infected with the polio virus. Polio? WTH.

Adults ages 50 and older infected with COVID-19 are 15 percent more likely to develop shingles within six months of the diagnosis than people who weren’t infected, according to a 2022 study published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases. That likelihood increases to 21 percent among older people hospitalized due to COVID.

COVID Increased Racial Learning Gap

Allergic to cold

In a Landslide Victory, Kansas Chose to Trust Women

Why You Should Put on Sunscreen Before You Go On Vacation

I guess I don’t know what WOKE means. An article entitled Et Tu, Brute? Cracker Barrel’s Menu Goes Woke is about the restaurant recently announcing that “it is including artificial meat in its menu, thus annoying its conservative customers.”

You Shouldn’t Store Leftovers in Your Hotel Mini Fridge


Judith Durham, the voice of the Seekers and Australia’s first global pop queen, dies at 79. KumbayaSinner Man

Olivia Newton-John, Australian Songstress and ‘Grease’ Star, Dies at 73.  Let Me Be ThereMagic 

Coverville: 1409– The Grateful Dead Cover Story II and 1410 – The Olivia Newton-John Tribute 

K-Chuck Radio: Judith, Archie, and Olivia, three voices of Australia

Peter Sprague Plays Drive My Car featuring Rebecca Jade; in fact, Live(ish) at SpragueLand, Episode 30- Peter Sprague Plays The Beatles — Day Tripper, w Rebecca Jade

Thoughts and Prayers – Randy Rainbow

Joe Hisaishi and Summer

Peter Sprague Plays You Make MeWant To Sing, featuring Kate Sprague

Words by Tennyson

Now You Has Jazz – Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong from the film High Society (1956)

Who Wants To Live Forever – Queen, from Highlander

Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Camelot by Lerner and Loewe

Bolero– Maurice Ravel

Bohemian Rhapsody – Brian Hull

Now I Know

Why 1984 Debuted in 1983 and The Danger of Posting Selfies and How to Sell a Stolen Plane and Why Winnie the Pooh Makes for a Bad Soldier? and How a Ouija Board Can Protect You from a Lawsuit and How to Mint Extra Tips? and How to Feed Your Penguin 

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