::Literate Blather::
Monday, January 28, 2008
A Menu of Tasty Books
DP’s Best Books from the Last Seven Years

Since 2001, DaRK PaRTY has kept a written record of the books we have consumed. Generally, we like our books prepared medium well (seasoned with bold spices) and served with sides dishes of roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. We also like crusty French bread smeared with butter and a large goblet of a Burgundy.

Our menu of books runs eclectic. For example, our fiction tastes go from classics like Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to genre thrillers like “Echo Burning” by Lee Child to modern literature like Jennifer Haigh’s “Mrs. Kimble.”

But we also sample quite a bit of non-fiction, volumes of short stories and poetry, and lately we’ve sunk our teeth into graphic novels (fried and slathered with hot sauce).

Obviously we can only comment on the books that we digest, but here is an attempt to provide a tasty menu of the best books that we’ve eaten in the past six and a half years. We encourage readers to add their own recommendations for books that dazzled their taste buds.

The most difficult part of this exercise was narrowing down each category to only five books each.


  • “The Straw Men” (2002) by Michael Marshall. Paranoia and conspiracy intersect in this debut thriller.
  • “The Deep Blue Good-bye” (1964) by John D. MacDonald. The first of the Travis McGee novels is one of the best.
  • “Blue Edge of Midnight” (2002) by Jonathon King. Ex-cop Max Freeman moves into the Everglades to get away from his past and becomes caught up in a search for a child killer.
  • “The Butcher’s Boy” (1982) by Thomas Perry. The adventures of a resourceful and relentless hitman.
  • “Echo Burning” (2001) by Lee Child. A hard-boiled thriller about a drifter who saves a married woman from her rich husband in the Texas panhandle.


  • “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1940) by Ernest Hemingway. The story of Robert Jordan, an American helping the communists fight the fascist government during the Spanish Civil War.
  • “Madam Bovary” (1857) by Gustave Flaubert. The wife of a country doctor searches in vain for happiness.
  • “David Copperfield” (1850) by Charles Dickens. The life story of David Copperfield is well worth the effort.
  • “Pride and Prejudice” (1813) by Jane Austen. Perhaps the greatest love story ever told.
  • Revolutionary Road” (1961) by Richard Yates. The destruction of a suburban family in the 1950s.


  • “House of Sand and Fog” (1999) by Andre Dubus III. What happens when three flawed and misunderstood people collide over ownership of a house.
  • “The Hours” (1998) by Michael Cunningham. A contemporary retelling of Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway.”
  • “Old School” (2003) by Tobias Wolff. A prep school teenager enters writing contests to meet Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, and Ernest Hemingway.
  • “The Feast of Love” (2000) by Charles Baxter. Multiple stories converge to paint a portrait of modern love.
  • “The Road” (2006) by Cormac McCarthy. A man and his son try to survive in post-apocalyptic America.


  • “In the Heart of the Sea” (2000) by Nathaniel Philbrick. The fate of the crew of the whale ship Essex after being sunk by an 85-foot Sperm whale in the South Pacific. The story that inspired “Moby Dick.”
  • “Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century” (1999) by Jonathan Glover. A probe into the brutal history of the 20th century from Nazi Germany to Stalin and Mao to Rwanda.
  • “An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America” (2003) by Henry Wiencek. A compelling argument that George Washington came to despise slavery and what it meant for America.
  • “Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero” (2004) by Leigh Montville. A warts and all biography of the greatest hitter in baseball.
  • “The God Delusion” (2006) by Richard Dawkins. The best book ever written about why there is no god.


  • “The Consolations of Philosophy” (2000) by Alain de Botton. An accessible introduction to the philosophies of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Montaigne, Socrates, Epicurus, and Seneca.
  • “Romance in the Roaring Forties and Other Stories” (1986 collection) by Damon Runyon. Be transformed back to Depression era New York City.
  • “Dubliners” (1916) by James Joyce. Perhaps the greatest collection of short stories ever published.
  • “Nine Horses” (2002) by Billy Collins. A collection of his poetry.
  • “Alex” (2006) by Mark Kalesniko. A graphic novel about a washed up artist returning to his hometown to start over again.

Read about 10 Very Strange Ways Famous Authors Died here

Read about 10 Movies that are actually better than the Books they were based on here

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great list! This will add a few titles to my reading list. You might want to correct the spelling of Alain de Botton's name, though. Thanks.

Blogger GFS3 said...
Good eye. Thanks.

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