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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm stealing the idea from from Bacardi Jim...... here are my 10 favorite novels... all 13 of them. ;D

Some of them aren't on the Kindle yet, and may not be for quite some time. But I'm still going to dig them out and read them.

My criteria here is that these are the books I read over and over. I'm not claiming any literary superiority for them. I'll probably be posting them over the next few days. Unless I get a cease and desist order. ;)

13. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Despite Holmes being absent for a goodly portion of the novel, I think this is the quintessential Holmes story. It's certainly been made into more movies than any other Holmes story.

It's got a mysterious moor, a family legend of a ravening monster, characters haunting the night fog, you name it. It may be the Holmes work that allows for the most character development, as arguably the short stories don't allow much room for that.

The Sherlock Holmes Complete Illustrated Collection
was one of the first things I downloaded for the Kindle. I slipped up and didn't get the Mobilereference version the first time but I intend to rectify that soon, as it has the original Sidney Paget illustrations. There are a number of free editions out there, but I don't know that they offer the illustrations, which to me are critical to setting the atmosphere of the stories.

 

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Sherlock Holmes was a boyhood favorite of mine; I read them over and over again.

Looking forward to the rest of the "ten"..!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
12. Mr. Glencannon Ignores the War by Guy Gilpatric
"Our hero tries to ignore World War II only to find it won't ignore him"

Not yet on Kindle.

Published in 1945, this is one of the few novels that Guy Gilpatric wrote about Glencannon (if memory hasn't failed me; my printed books have all been packed up and in a storage facility for a while, so I can't check). I've read the entire collection and didn't find any that failed to entertain me.

Colin Glencannon is a feisty Scottish chief engineer (and notorious tippler) on board the S.S. Inchcliff Castle, a decrepit cargo ship out of Scotland. He always seems to have some scheme going to transfer money from everyone else's pocket to his. Mostly they don't work out all that well. This is a series at which I frequently laugh out loud.The Glencannon series stretches out over several decades or so, and were immensely popular when they were first printed. The short stories were almost always published in The Saturday Evening Post and were a huge draw. These days they might be called a wee bit politically incorrect by some.

These stories have never failed to please anyone I've recommended them to, including my aged mother and my youngest brother.

There was a TV series in the UK around 1957-59 (39 episodes) with Thomas Mitchell as Glencannon. Probably lost forever, sigh.

Unfortunately, none of the Glencannon works are available in an e-book format, although the print editions are still around in used book stores (including Amazon) and some expensive reprints from specialty presses. Maybe this will change someday, if Jeff Bezos lives up to his promise.



You can find e-text of three of the short stories from The First Glencannon Omnibus at:

http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/gaslight/glencann.htm

Where you can copy and paste into a file to send to your Kindle if you like.

Guy Gilpatric's writing career was tragically cut short in 1950 when his wife was told she had inoperable terminal cancer, and they went home and both ended their lives. Shortly afterwards, it was discovered that her record had been confused with someone else's and she had been fine.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
11. The Little World of Don Camillo
by Giovanni Gaureschi (1950)

Not yet on Kindle (I'll specify that for those who don't want to read about things that can't be read on the Kindle).

This little gem of a book was first published in Italy in 1950. The English translation is of the highest order, in my opinion. Essentially a collection of short stories, it is the first of a series of 6 or 7 books that relate the continual feud between Don Camillo (village priest) and Mayor Peppone (leader of the local Communist party), neither one of which is the "bad guy." These stories are filled with a very gentle humor. As one reviewer on Amazon said: "This book is very Italian and very Catholic . . . but you needn't be either to enjoy it (I'm not)." They do give some insight into the political situation in Italy during the post-WWII era. The stories are sprinkled with little humorous line drawings that add to the charm (I believe they were done by the author).

They are very much tales of a long-gone and simpler era. Whimsical might be the operative word here. They are tales from a small village in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and the later books go into the early 1960s. They are probably best read as a chapter every day or two.

I stumbled on this series in a small bookstore, and spent the next 10 years finding the rest. This was in the 1970s, before the internet, so I had to actually go to book stores. This is one of those series that seems to always be well-received when I make a recommendation.

There have been at least two movies made from the books (they are in my Netflix queue at the moment).

There are 21 reviews on Amazon.



Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
10. Dune
by Frank Herbert

At last, here's another novel that someone has heard of.......

Certainly one of the best-known works in the Science Fiction field. I first read it in paperback loaned to me, and liked it so much I went and ordered the hardcover, which was still in print (and ended up with a pristine first edition).

An epic story in a very detailed universe for which Herbert spent years developing the background. This book made an immediate impression on me. I'd read a number of his previous works and thought they were only so-so, but Dune knocked my socks off. It won the Hugo for best Novel in 1966. I can't recall that Herbert ever wrote anything outside the Dune universe afterwards.

Dune is the story of Paul Atreides, from a young man being suddenly uprooted from his home on a water-rich planet and moved with his family to a desert planet, to being the chosen one of the people of the desert planet, to being ruler of the known universe. There's a lot of ecological and political subtext in this book, more so than I can recall in any previous work in the genre. I think that Herbert did a particularly good job at contrasting he cultural differences between the Atreides clan and the natives of Arrakis, the sand planet they have been moved to by the political maneuvering of their enemies.

There's a lot to keep track of in this book..... fortunately it has an appendix to help the new reader keep things straight (sometimes it helps the repeat readers, also). Herbert does a pretty good job of explaining what you need to know as the story progresses, This is, though a book that almost demands a second reading to appreciate and understand more fully what is going on.

There is a Kindle version of this book, which I have purchased but not read. I'm told that it has many typos and other errors, unfortunately. But it costs less than $2.00!

Mike

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
9. The Caves of Steel
by Isaac Asimov

Not available for the Kindle (but given all the other Asimov works already on the Kindle, it shouldn't be long before it shows up).

One of the classics-- a science fiction mystery novel, with emphasis on the mystery aspect.

Set in a time 3000 years in the future where the human race has moved out to other worlds, the earth has become insular and people live under huge steel domes. A scientist from one of the "Spacer" worlds has been murdered (prior to the beginning of the novel) and an Earth policeman has been assigned to investigate the murder, accompanied by a human-like robot partner (R. Daneel Olivaw) from the Spacer worlds. The presence of robots has been tightly controlled on Earth, and there is immediate antagonism towards the robot from Elijah Bailey, the Earth detective.

This novel shows its origins of being written the the 1950s.... the novel is set 3 millennia in the future, where contact lenses exist but are removed from the eye with a suction cup on a small stick, just as they actually were in the 1950s. Not a major point, but enough to pop me out of the story momentarily.

I first read this in the early 1960s, and it made a big impression. It combined the two genres I liked to read: mysteries and science fiction. This may be the first example of that kind of cross-over writing, certainly the first I came across. This is one of Asimov's better attempts at characterization, in my opinion. He does seem to dwell a bit more on characters and their daily lives than in most of his other stories.

Followed by a sequel, The Naked Sun
, in which Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw are teamed up once again, this time on a spacer planet, where Bailey goes out on the unprotected surface of the planet (hence the title).

Reportedly, this book was written because someone said that the two genres would never work together, and Asimov decided to prove they could.

 
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^^ Love the first two books in this series. However, I was a tad disappointed with The Robots of Dawn, the series finale. It seems that after 40 years of being criticized for not having any sex or romance in his novels, Asimov went overboard to shut his critics up in his last few books. And, sadly, he handled sex/romance awkwardly when he tried his hand at it. :(
 

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Bacardi Jim said:
^^ Love the first two books in this series. However, I was a tad disappointed with The Robots of Dawn, the series finale. It seems that after 40 years of being criticized for not having any sex or romance in his novels, Asimov went overboard to shut his critics up in his last few books. And, sadly, he handled sex/romance awkwardly when he tried his hand at it. :(
If, despite being disappointed, you'd like to see The Robots of Dawn on Kindle, you can click here

Betsy
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
8. The Flying Sorcerors
by David Gerrold and Larry Niven

Not on Kindle yet.

Published in 1971, this is the story of an anthropologist that lands on a distant world and his travails there. He immediately makes an enemy of one of the most powerful sorcerers (a legend in his own mind) in the land who decides to make a small moon come down and crush the anthropologist, whom he regards as a competitor.

The story is sometimes fall-down-laughing funny. The native sorcerer, named Shoogar, is unrelenting in his efforts to kill the newcomer (who seems not to perceive Shoogar's enmity). The narrator, a bone-carver named Lant, has two sons that carve bicycles for a living. The two sons are named Wilville and Orbur. I think you can see where this is going, heh. They later help to build a flying machine.

There are various gods that the locals believe in. Two of them are Rotn'bair (the god of sheep), and Elcin, (the small god of thunder and other loud noises). Think about it (you have to be a SF fan to get it).

The teaming of Gerrold and Niven is to my mind, an unusual one but has hilarious results.

 
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^^ Never heard of it, but it sounds like a must-read for me. I think the only Niven I've read is Footfall, one of his many collaborations with Jerry Pournelle. Thanks for letting me know about this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
7. You're Stepping On My Cloak and Dagger
by Roger Hall

Not on Kindle, and don't hold your breath.

Recently re-issued after long being out of print, this is the very tongue-in-cheek story of a WWII army officer assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was the precursor of the CIA. First published in 1957, this book was extremely hard to find for a number of years. I finally found a hardcover first edition back in the 1980s and was immediately offered 4 times what I paid for it by an acquaintance who owned a book store. It was re-published not too long ago, and I've heard rumors of a movie deal.

Based on the author's own experiences, this is the tale of his training experiences to become a spy/intelligence officer. One of his first training assignments was to be sent in a car with blacked-out windows to a secret training facility to learn to navigate unfamiliar territory at night, which turned out to be the country club where he had been a golf caddy for a number of years when he was growing up. He confessed this to his training officer, who immediately closed the office door and told Hall to forget about it, don't tell anybody, and pretend he had never seen the place. He had to spend quite a while pretending to stumble over things.

This book became a favorite of ex-intelligence people by all accounts, some of whom said it was probably closer to the truth than many "serious" books.

Hall wrote in an engaging style, he was one of those authors who just didn't get the breaks for some reason. He wrote two other books, one a general fiction novel All My Pretty Ones (1959), and the other an intelligence novel titled 19 (1970), probably the only book ever named after a breakfast cereal ("good old 19, you can always count on it"). I liked 19 almost as much as Dagger.

After I wrote this, I found his obit: :'(
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/28/arts/28hall1.html?partner=rssnyt

 

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jmiked, regarding Don Camillo: You have the first of his stories, published in 1948. There are several others including
Don Camillo e il suo gregge (Don Camillo and His Flock, 1953)
Il Compagno Don Camillo (Comrade Don Camillo, 1963)
Don Camillo e i giovani d'oggi (in USA: Don Camillo Meets the Flower Children, 1969.

There's a Don Camillo story written by Guareschi in English called Don Camillo and the Devil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Teninx -

I have the full set of English Don Camillo hardcovers in "fine" condition. One of the places of honor in my 4,000+ book library.

I also have his The House That Nino Built, which is biographical, and not part of the series.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
6. The Time Masters
by Wilson Tucker

Not available for Kindle.

A relatively short novel published in 1953, and one one immersed in its time: the Cold War era. The title refers not to someone traveling through time by artificial means, but through being long-lived.

The novel opens with one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of any SF novel I've read: the sudden almost unheard of failure of a starship in a remote area. Some of the crew make it to survival suits, and are scattered in all directions by the explosion - "like dandelion seeds." Their short, hopeless farewells to each other as they drift out of communication range are affecting.... or at least they were to me. But then, I cry at card tricks. ;D

One of those survivors makes landfall (that's some survival suit!) on a hospitable planet. Thus ends the prolog, which pretty much gives away the entire plot.

Forward 29 centuries to the 1950s. A private detective named Gilbert Nash becomes the subject of a government investigation. A nuclear scientist has hired him, and the feds want to know why. There are some pretty improbable coincidences here and throughout the book, but if you suspend some disbelief it's an entertaining story.

It's revealed pretty early that Gilbert Nash is a survivor of the starship accident all those centuries ago, and regards the intervening 29 centuries as mere decades in his lifespan. The similarity of "Gilbert Nash" to the name "Gilgamesh" is no accident.

From information revealed by the scientist, Nash suspects there may be another survivor from the starship (more suspension of disbelief required, heh).

Again, not great literature, but solid writing from a writer that didn't have a high output, although highly regarded by other SF writers. His book The Year of the Quiet Sun was a Hugo and Nebula runner-up, and probably his masterpiece. I concede the point, but it was so bleak and grim that I couldn't ever bring myself to read it again. It has a revelation late in the book that threw all the previous events into a new light.

From a literary standpoint, his book The Long Loud Silence , about the aftermath of a biological outbreak that leaves half the US in quarantine is superior to The Time Masters, as is The Lincoln Hunters . But they aren't the ones I reread.

I couldn't find a cover picture anywhere. All my books are in storage, or I'd do a quick scan and post it.

I know some will complain about most of these books not being available for the Kindle, but I hope that they will be at some point and people will read them with as much enjoyment as I did. Or even get the printed version. Most of them can be bought as used books from Amazon or the like for a nominal sum. Or use your imagination.

Next time I'll have one you can actually purchase for the Kindle!!

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
5. The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz

AVAILABLE FOR THE KINDLE!! Baen books webscriptions has it.

I can't do better than quote the description from Baen books:

"NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED . . .

Captain Pausert thought his luck had finally turned-but he did not yet realize it was a turn for the worse. On second thought, make that a turn for the disastrous.

Unlucky in love, unsuccessful in business, he thought he had finally made good with his battered starship Venture, cruising around the fringes of the Empire and successfully selling off odd-ball cargoes which no one else had been able to sell. He was all set to return home, where his true love was faithfully waiting for him ... he hoped.

But then he made the fatal mistake of freeing three slave children from their masters (who were suspiciously eager to part with them). They were just trying to be helpful, but those three adorable little girls quickly made Pausert the mortal enemy of his fiancee, his home planet, the Empire, warlike Sirians, psychopathic Uldanians, the dread pirate chieftain Laes Yango-and even the Worm World, the darkest threat to mankind in all of space.

And all because those harmless-looking little girls were in fact three of the notorious and universally feared Witches of Karres. A rollicking novel from the master of space adventure."

This is one of the most-read books I have. I don't think that Schmitz ever wrote anything I didn't like. Okay, they tend to be a bit on the space-opera side, but so what?

Schmitz also wrote The Demon Breed , also recommended. It's not around as an ebook, though.

Curiously, although Witches is sold by Baen, it's not on Amazon as are (some of?) his other things.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
4. The Problem of the Wire Cage
by John Dickson Carr

Not available on the Kindle

Published in 1939.

A prime example of the "locked room" sub-genre from the Golden Age of mysteries. John Dickson Carr was the prime exponent of this type of mystery. I have great fondness for the "impossible crime" story. It's a shame that no one is writing them these days.

The Wire Cage in this mystery surrounds a tennis court. A body is found in the center of the court, with only a single set of footprints leading to it. The task set to Dr. Gideon Fell is to figure out who did it.

Gideon Fell is one of the two main protagonists of Carr's stories (the other being Henry Merrivale). Fell is a typical storybook detective, in that he refuses to let anybody know what he is thinking, all the while dropping hints that the solution is child's play, except for that one elusive point. In real life, of course, such a detective would have long since been shot dead by aggravated friends and co-workers who had been pushed past the limit. Fell's main occupation, when not solving crimes, seems to be research for a book he is writing on the drinking habits of the English.

Typical of the day, not much time is spent on characterization. This may irritate some, but you get a good idea of what Fell is like over the series of novels he is in. The puzzle is, of course, the main draw in these novels, of which Carr wrote almost a hundred, with various main characters. He used several pen names throughout the years.

I like this particular one- it seems to have a goodly portion of all the things that make this rather old-fashioned type of story work: a brilliant but eccentric detective, a cast of other characters who may have a good motive for murder while dashing around doing stupid things such as picking up the murder weapon, etc.

But it's good fun. This probably is the least likely of the books on my list to appeal to very many other people that aren't hard-core vintage mystery fans. I'll concede that nostalgia plays a big part in my enjoyment of this work.

And yes, Columbo is one of my very favorite TV shows. Clever of you to guess. ;D

Mike

 
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