On Taking Sips (of Books)

Since I first got my hands on a Kindle, I’ve liberally abused the “Sample This Book” feature available in the Kindle Store.  In the last two years, I’ve downloaded and read samples of dozens of books.

Here’s an incomplete compilation of the samples I’ve acquired, which are surely all very interesting books worth a full reading… but we are only given so much time, right?

If anyone reading has a suggestion for which of these I should follow through to their conclusion, let me know in the comments…

  •  Punk Rock Dad – Jim Lindberg
  • Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
  • Bossypants – Tina Fey
  • Mental Models – Indi Young
  • In The Plex – Steven Levy
  • Guitar For Dummies – Jon Chappell
  • Understanding Marijuana – Mitch Earleywine
  • The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • What Technology Wants – Kevin Kelly
  • Aleph – Paulo Coelho
  • Alone Together – Sherry Turkle
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
  • The Paris Wife – Paula Mclain
  • The Art of Seduction – Robert Greene
  • Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter – Tom Bissell
  • Beautiful Testing – Adam Goucher
  • Freedom – Jonathan Franzen
  • Flight To Arras – Antoine De Saint Exupery
  • Lost Illusions – Honore de Balzac
  • Drown – Junot Diaz
  • The Practice of Everyday Life – Michel de Certeau
  • Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next – John D. Kasarda
  • Death in Venice – Thomas Mann
  • FDR – Jean Edward Smith
  • Black Coffee Blues – Henry Rollins
  • The Afghan Campaign – Steven Pressfield
  • Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
  • The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis
  • Miracles – C.S. Lewis
  • The Bicycling Guide – Todd Downs
  • Where Good Ideas Come From – Steven Johnson
  • After Dark – Haruki Murakami
  • From Barcelona – Jeremy Holland
  • The Paris Review Interviews – Paris Review
  • The Winner Stands Alone – Paulo Coelho
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • Curious? – Todd Kashdan
  • Empire of Illusion – Chris Hedges
  • A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
  • The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
  • Complete Short Stories – Ernest Hemingway
  • From Olympus to Camelot – David Leeming
  • Free Culture – Lawrence Lessig
  • Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky
  • Media Concentration and Democracy – C. Edwin Baker
  • Batman and Philosophy – Mark D. White
  • Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today – Jasper Becker


  1. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe: worth reading because it’s famous and oft referenced book. Not my fave though.
    The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien – Tolkien is a sick genius and you should read everything he’s written. It’s entertaining and a fast read.
    Aleph – Paulo Coelho wants everyone to be HAPPY and FULFILLED! Read when you need a boost.
    What I Talk About When I Talk About Running / After Dark– Haruki Murakami – Murakami is creative and bizarre and totally worth a read, my fave Murakami book is the Wind Up Bird Chronicles. His other books kind of feel like practice for this one.
    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter – Tom Bissell: I’ll save you the time on this one: video games don’t matter. Unless you have some kind of eye problem, in which they can be used as successful therapy (especially in kids).
    Freedom – Jonathan Franzen: for all the press this one got, I thought it was mostly cynical and very dirty. I wouldn’t pick it up again for a second read.
    Drown – Junot Diaz: Diaz has a very unique and intriguing voice. Worth the preview for sure to get a feel for that. Worth the whole book? That’s a personal call….
    The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis: def worth a read.
    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson: have a strong stomach for violence, especially against women. I don’t enjoy reading about such things so this was not my fave.
    The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown: Dan Brown next to Hemingway? Really?
    Complete Short Stories – Ernest Hemingway: yes. Hemingway was a MASTER short story writer. I like his shorts better than some of his books (here’s looking at you Old Man and the Sea). Especially read Hills Like White Elephants. Brilliant.
    Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky: terrible book. I have it, you can have my copy.

    1. Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I thought the same thing until (about halfway through the book) I read about Stieg Larsson, who was a crusader against violence against women. I was astonished to find that the book wasn’t just violent for no reason, and that he had written quite a good social commentary (about violence, among other things). In Swedish, the title of the book is actually “Men Who Hate Women.”
      I recommend it. I’d also recommend reading the Wikipedia article on Larsson first, too, because knowing his background really informed my reading of the book.

      1. Based on this comment, I would recommend American Psycho! There was such a furor about the text when it came out, but I’m convinced that Ellis’s novel makes a serious commentary on the pressures of gender performance for men and women during times of economic success. I teach it in my gender seminars.

  2. The Hobbit. And anything by CS Lewis, although I haven’t read the ones you’ve got listed there. But the Hobbit is the greatest book and everybody should read it 🙂 Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but it is very good.

    You might not know yet, but hey, you got Freshly Pressed. Congrats! 😀

    1. I was intrigued by the Batman book, since I had read the Simpsons and Philosophy. Putting that kind of lens up to pop culture can be surprisingly revealing about what can seem simple or superficial at first glance.

    1. I am also usually reading 4 or 5 at a time, in addition to print paperbacks, online sources, etc. It can lead to information overload. In school I could easily focus on a single book at a time, because there were deadlines, lecture, meetings. Reading independently makes paying attention to a single work difficult. Thanks for reading!

  3. Read everything by Murakami, Tolkien, Murakami, Lewis, Murakami, and Murakami first.

    And then I don’t care.

    (did I mention you should read Murakami?)

    1. I have read ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Murakami and thought it was fantastic. His lyrical style and the emotional narrative made it impossible to put down. ‘After Dark’ seemed like it would be similar, based on the sample, and ‘Running’ appears to be an inspiring non-fiction memoir.
      Also, I recently started ‘Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack’ which is straight-forward reporting. I admire his ability to switch up styles so flawlessly.

    1. Thanks! …But is it a ‘collection’ if I haven’t really kept any of them? I guess people take pride in what they display on their bookshelves at home, but this list is different, since I haven’t actually finished reading any of them.

    1. When I come across a book that is really great, one that changes everything for me, its usually totally unexpected.
      Its almost never never a book I’ve heard about from glowing reviews, or an assigned classic. Its almost always a book that I pick at random from a library shelf, or something someone leaves sitting on their seat after the flight lands…

    1. I’m very fascinated by Paris, and also Hemingway.The two together make this high on my list of books to finish. Yet, I haven’t read ‘A Moveable Feast’ either, so I’m not sure which should come first.

  4. hmmm…
    I’d recommend the following:
    -Any of the classics, not only because you can’t go wrong there, but especially since most of them are for free.
    -Dan Brown. I’m a huge fan and although he has many opposers, all of his books, “The Lost Symbol” included, are quite entertaining.
    -Stieg Larsson. The best choice. Be sure, however, to dispose of several days in a row to read them all, because once you’ve started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down and will feel the urge to download the other two books immediately.

    1. I enjoyed both the Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Dan Brown can make mundane European history entertaining. I guess he has many detractors, but I thought what I read was great.

  5. I agree with Elizabeth: The Four Loves is definitely worth a read. CS Lewis’ “Until We Have Faces” is also fantastic. Thanks for sharing your list…I’ve added a few books from your list to my Goodreads list! Good stuff 🙂

    1. Goodreads is a wonderful site for tracking everything I read, I’m glad to see others also use it. I have enjoyed ‘sipping’ CS Lewis’ essays, but the Chronicles of Narnia series is still there lingering, also waiting for me to read it.

      1. Ah, there’s the rub! The man was so prolific and so good at writing that you want to read everything! It might be cool to read the “Chronicles” first and then dive into his essays. Good luck with mapping out a reading plan!

    1. Nothing to be ashamed of… if you had read them all, you’d still have a list of other books you haven’t. I thought the sample of Bossypants was great – it reminded me of ‘Why We Suck’ by Denis Leary, another comedian turned author.

  6. I loved Things Fall Apart. Some books I read and forget about what they were about a few years later. That’s why I started writing a book-reading journal. But Achebe’s book is somehow seared in my brain. Things did fall apart for me after reading this book and reading the last page felt like one of the bricks hit my head. Powerful stuff.

    1. I first heard of Things Fall Apart when the Roots used it as an album name. I’ve wanted to read it ever since, and so many people are suggesting it, its creeping up to the top of my ‘to-read’ list. A book reading journal is a great idea – I took more away from books that I wrote about while I was reading them in school.

      1. Things Fall Apart changed the way I understand the world – compare with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to further illuminate Achebe’s mission to rewrite the cultural history of pre-colonial Africa – fascinating if you love postcolonialism as I do!

    1. They make sampling so easy, its hard to resist! You can get a really good feel for a book, just by reading the sample. Its much easier and more effective than judging them by the cover.

    2. I used to read the newspaper a lot, but I’ve been cutting back in favor of ‘samples.’ I think I get more from Kindle ‘samples’ as far as introduction to new topics, where reading the news can just seem redundant.

    1. That would be great. I would also like a cord that plugs into my head, directly from the Kindle, that ‘downloads’ books to my memory instantly.

  7. I’d go for the Lewis and the Murakami…. and if you haven’t read any Tolkein before, I think each story takes a while to really catch my interest, but once it’s caught I can’t stop, so I’d say Yes to The Hobbit as well.

    I’ve done a lot of this myself – downloading the free sample and not buying the full book. Project Gutenberg has so many full free books, it’s hard to choose a newer one when there’s something else that’s free that I want to read just as much!

    1. Project Gutenberg is a great resource. I used it tons when I was a student and needed to find relevant quotes for research. I would love to see it integrated with the Kindle library somehow! Some public libraries are now offering Kindle books for borrowing, but the process for me has been stifling.

      1. I agree about integrating PG into Kindle – I’m now in the unfortunate position of having an extensive PG library in Stanza that I would (probably) lose if I upgrade my iPod software – but to use our local library’s ebook lending software, I have to upgrade iOS. It’s really frustrating. Right now I’m sticking with the old OS, but I’m torn…

  8. ‘Back in the day’ I went through a similar phase buying the first chapter of lots of books from WHSmiths (UK booksellers) for £1 – and if you took the introductory chapter back to buy the full book they gave you the £1 off. 🙂
    From your list, I think everyone should read The Hobbit too, a great book.
    The Murakami’s I’ve read are Hard-boiled Wonderland, Norwegian Wood, A Wild Sheep Chase, and just finished Kafka on the Shore – they’re all superb.
    But I think if you read the first chapter of a book and don’t know if you want to finish it yourself – then you probably don’t want to?

    1. If ‘back in the day’ you used to do the same thing – does that mean you’ve stopped? Do you get more reading done, now that you don’t just do samples?

      If I read the first chapter, and haven’t decided to finish it, its usually not that I don’t want to – I just get distracted by something else I want to try.

      1. Yeah, I know what you mean, I sometimes don’t finish a book even tho I like it. I still read a lot, just that particular scheme finished years ago. Will be Kindle-ing soon so may end up doing it again in the near future!

    1. My inspiration for checking out Thomas Mann came from the book ‘In Motion: The Experience of Travel,’ by Tony Hiss. Many references are made to ‘Magic Mountain’ and the experience time-altered reality. Hiss points out that travel can warp the mind’s perspective of time, and looks to Thomas Mann for illustrating that sensation.
      Magic Mountain is a huge read, so I went for Death in Venice first as a primer. Thank you for posting your link!

  9. I would suggest that you buy the Steig Larsson trilogy because I think it was an exceptional read containing mystery, action and a lot of suspense. A very at the end of your seat kind of book. I finished reading all three books in a matter of days.

    The movie ( both the Swedish and American versions) was good but not as good as the book.

    1. I am interested in the series, because I’ve never read anything by a Swedish author before. I don’t usually go for crime fiction, but this has been so popular its hard to ignore. Movie not as good as the book – isn’t that always the case? Hard to think of any exceptions…

  10. Definitely read “Black Coffee Blues” by Henry Rollins. I once stood in line behind him (at the only water fountain availiable) on a scorching hot summer at a Dead show. He is totally down to earth, and an amazing artist.

    1. Rollins at a Dead show? That doesn’t sound very punk rock. I didn’t know he had written any books until I found this in the Kindle store. He’s a talented speaker, so I thought I would enjoy the book, but I wasn’t gripped by what I read in the sample. He recently released an amazing collection of his travel photography which I found to be very inspiring.

      1. His unmistakable Sun tattoo gave him away. You would be surprised to know how many different types of people are in fact Deadheads. Deadheads are everywhere. In the 80/ 90’s, my friends and I were punks and Deadheads often seeing bands like Johnny Rotten one weekend and the Dead the next. I’m going to check out “Black Coffee Blues” and let you know what I think. 🙂

  11. I can’t say that I’ve read many of the books that you have listed here, neither do I have a kindle – I still like a good old fashioned paper copy, but that’s just me.
    As a Lord of the Rings fan I would have to recommend that you finish, The Hobbit. I also like a lot of C.S. Lewis’ writings, The Screwtape Letters in particular.
    Good luck with your reading decisions!
    God Bless,

  12. A rather eclectic list, but I like that you’re all over the map!
    The Hobbit, Death in Venice totally worth their classic status. The Paris Wife I enjoyed for its peek (however fictional) into Hem’s life. Bossypants wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped, but certainly sounds true to Tina’s voice. No to Freedom, not worth the effort.
    That’s all I have from this list, but it’s worth digging deeper than the samples, books in their entirety so much more gratifying.

  13. I read The Hobbit at age 12…it was ok, but I preferred the adult sci-fi I was reading at the time. Slogged through LOTR and was unimpressed…preferred 17th century naval warefare novels. Yes, I’m odd!
    C.S Lewis – not read the one you list, try Out if the Silent Planet triology
    GwDT – definitely. I need to get the rest of the books!
    Congrats on FP 🙂
    Have you hunted down the free kindle books on Amazon…I have far too many. Some are very good.

  14. Lost Ilusions, for sure. It describes the life of a provincial/ambitious young French journalist in the 1840s — cld be a NYC newsroom today. It’s always on my short list of recommendations….CS Lewis for sure as well.

    No non-fiction????? Gotta read non-fiction….Read Random Family by Adrian Nicole Leblanc and I defy you to put it down.

    1. I found a review of Random Family, and it does look interesting. There are other works of non-fiction on my list, ‘What Technology Wants,’ ‘Alone Together,’ ‘Curious,’ etc… I enjoy well-researched non-fiction that’s written with style. ‘The Executioner’s Song’ is a good example. As the saying goes, ‘Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.’

  15. I have to say that I’m fascinated with this post for a deeper meaning. I have started numerous books that I haven’t finished because I simply didn’t understand them or didn’t enjoy them. However, I have never started a book with the intention of never finishing it, as I assume one would when they only download a small portion.
    What fascinates me is the question of whether you feel you are cheating yourself out of an experience by not finishing the book. You have listed some classics and some I’ve never heard before, though I’m no great expert on literature. I’ve read some of your other postings, and find your writing style to be generally engaging. I see that you’re a musician as well. Does reading influence your writing or music? Do you think not finishing the stories has any impact on that? I’m curious how creativity is affected by such things. I think the dynamic of being a “sample” reader is incredibly interesting.
    For me there is a joy, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment when I finish a good book. When I decide to not finish a book, I’m sometimes left with feelings of disappointment, that though I wasn’t enjoying the story I’d still like to know how it ended. Sort of. I think some of the other comments have given you some really good suggestions on which books to complete and why. But if you don’t…sample on!!

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog. I’m not sure if ‘sampling’ affects creativity or not. I think generally speaking, the more you read, the better you’ll write, whether you’re finishing entire books or just partially reading them.

  16. I would suggest Franzen’s Freedom –it is well worth it; The Hobbit because it is well done and such a part of our culture now; Death in Venice–it won’t take more than a few hours; Hemingway’s Short Stories–particularly the Nick Adams stories; and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, though as iamtheinvisiblehand mentioned, block out a large chunk of time because the trilogy is addictive. I’ve never been a fan of Lewis.

    1. Freedom seems to elicit a variety of responses. I first ‘sampled’ it when it was partially published as a short story in the New Yorker. It was engaging, but I think the full text would be a long, difficult read.

  17. I absolutely love Things Fall Apart, so I encourage you to finish that. I’ve enjoyed past books and short stories by Haruki Murakami, so I’d encourage you to finish his two books you’ve listed as well.

    1. Things Fall Apart and Murakami are winning the recommendation race, for sure.
      A writer who I have read that reminded me of Murakami is Ha Jin. His novel ‘Waiting’ is an insightful look at modern China, and also a great character-driven story.

    1. I think ‘Sampling’ has become a big part of modern culture. Not only with books, but also with news, music, television, etc. I love hip-hop music, which has a foundation of ‘samples’. Newspapers are struggling to compete with ‘sampling’ machines like Twitter. Many of the best comedy programs on television are satirical ‘samples’ of current events.

  18. May I add a suggestion? The Shallows : what the Internet is doing to our brains / Nicholas Carr ..very intriguing read..also helped to explain why, nowadays, I speed read and skim most written content.. 😀

    1. I did read The Shallows, and I thought it was very interesting. I recognized many of my own habits, and was apprehensive at some of the gloomier ideas. The suggestion that technological dependency can reduce the strength of human memory sounds awful, as Carr describes it, yet it also validates the aim of computer development over the past several decades. Its a fascinating book, but I’m not completely on either side of the argument.

  19. Read The Hobbit. It might take a bit to get into but you won’t regret it. It’s a fantastic tale. Although I haven’t read The Four Loves or Miracles, I think C. S. Lewis is brilliant. Interesting list. I”ll have to do some “sipping” myself.

    1. I’ve started reading the Hobbit after the many responses to this post. I thought the LOTR films were great, though I haven’t read any of the books, and so far I’m enjoying the Hobbit. Thanks for reading!

  20. Don’t know about all of them, but The Hobbit and Things Fall Apart are surely worth reading. I liked the idea of sampling that you bring out in the KIndle store, just like browsing at a bookstore!

  21. “The Hobbit” is a great book! It’s much easier to read than the Lord of the Rings…and with the movie coming out, you might enjoy reading the original story! I haven’t read it, but I hear that Tina Fey’s book is hilarious. 🙂

  22. Interesting list with some I should probably already have read (Murakami,The Hobbit) and some new ones to look out for (oh no I already have a bookshelf of unread books…but yet I still buy more:-)) I am struggling with Franzen, therefore I would give this one a yes but with a lower priority. Hemingway – yes! The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (in fact the whole trilogy) yes. But as already mentioned they are quite violent so not for the squeemish. The latter is far far better than Dan Brown – NO!! In fact not reading anything is far far better than Dan Brown!

  23. I love the Lewis-titles you got on there, but I see I am not the first one to point it out. I think that out of the books on the list, A Grief Observed is definetely a stand out title that most anyone can really get a strong experience by reading, it is definitely possible to combine with watching the movie Shadowlands about C S Lewis and his dying wife. Miracles is awesome for the so inclined, but migh depend a little more on background to connect fully with.

  24. Read “The Hobbit”! It’s a great book, and easier than Lord of the Rings in my opinion. Just think about all the fun you’ll have after the movie comes out…you can find all the differences! 😉 Well, some of us think that’s fun…

  25. Bossypants was fantastic. I read it in hard copy form, but I’ve heard it’s especially spectacular if you get it as an audiobook, since Tina Fey narrates it herself.

  26. Loved the Hobbit and the Stieg Larsen trilogy. Read “Freedom” and did not think it was worth the hype. I know it’s considered an “important” book but it didn’t resonate with me. If you haven’t read “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Vergese add it to your list. One of the best contemporary books I have ever read.

  27. Congrats on the press 🙂
    But don’t you ever get sucked in? Is that only a small proportion of the samples you get, because the others you get the book? How often do you get thirsty for the rest of the pint? 😉
    I love the sample feature on kindle, but for the most part, i tend to get the book afterwards…cos i just HAVE to know!

    1. I DO get sucked in, sometimes. I didn’t include my ‘samples’ that led to purchases, which is a pretty long list, as well.
      But for every sample I end up buying, there are probably two or three that I don’t.

  28. Top Three:
    #1 A Grief Observed & Four Loves (Both are amazing and they tie for 1)
    #2 The Paris Review Interviews (Soooo cool to hear what some of those authors have to say! Favorite line has to be [Interviewer] Mr. Hemingway, how do you come up with your characters names? [Hemingway] As best I can.)
    #3 The Hobit (It’s a classic for a reason. Good stuff.)

    Great post!

    1. Thanks for your comment!
      I have read one of the Paris Review books – ‘For Planes, Trains and Elevators’
      They cover such a wide variety of topics and have so many talented writers. I thought the sample was great, and if I don’t finish it, I will try to at least follow up with some of the interviewers other work.

  29. Absolutely Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe, but also (particularly if it’s one of the free ones) Terence Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Chinua is ‘writing back’ to the Western traditional canon of colonial writing and it’s sometimes worth reminding yourself of that…then read Bossypants – Tina Fey because it’s also worth reminding yourself that you should piss your pants at least once a week with a funny book as well 🙂

    I lurvvvvve books, so any blog devoted to them is a hit with me!! I had to get someone to bring me a Kindle Touch back from the US+A last year because the irony of ‘Amazon’ is they actually thought Australia was too remote a market to bother us. Feel a bit guilty using an e-reader when so many actual book shops are closing down – maybe books will make a retro comeback like vinyl records eventually!? 🙂 It breaks my heart a little bit that works such as Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Marlowe, Dickens, Gaskell, the Bronte’s, Austen, Woolf, Joyce, etc etc etc can be downloaded ‘for free’……but if it get’s more people reading quality writing I suppose it does at least keep those works alive.

    1. E-reader technology is awesome, and beneficial in so many ways, but I hope that bookstores don’t completely disappear in the way that music stores are doing. Spending time browsing in a store has a more communal feel than flipping through links on a screen.

  30. I like the idea that they’re sips. Sometimes that’s all you need. I have a habit of doing the same. The Hobbit is a yes. You can skip at least 3/4 of The Lost Symbol.many of the others I haven’t read but if you decide to, perhaps you’ll share what you think.

  31. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s a murder mystery type book but the other 2 books that follow are just as good. Yes, there is a lot violence against women–in fact the original Swedish title is “Men Who Hate Women.” But the story is great! Lisbeth Salander is one of the most complex and interesting female characters I’ve come across in awhile! The first book takes awhile to get into, but once the action starts, it doesn’t stop!

    And Guitar for Dummies–random but my family knows Jon Chappell! I used to be friends with his daughter when I was younger. He lives in my hometown and gave my dad an autographed copy of his book because my father is a guitar nut. Nice guy. 😀

    1. That’s awesome that you have a connection to the author. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit I had a sample of a book with that title – playing for as long as I have, I hate the idea of being a guitar ‘dummy’. 😉

    1. I thought the sample of Batman and Philosophy was great. If I can find the time, I’d really like to read it before the next film comes out! Pop culture / philosophy mash-ups are great – the Simpsons, Seinfeld, etc.

  32. I do the same exact thing with my Nook! I would definitely read Bossypants, it was hilarious, and The Hobbit. The Lost Symbol was ok; I wouldn’t spend money on it, though. The Batman and Philosophy book sounds interesting.

  33. Freedom, without question. With Things Fall Apart a close second. You read Things Fall Apart because it is a “must read” in the way of, for example, To Kill A Mockingbird. You read Freedom because I told you that it’s so specific, vivid and rich that you feel like you’re actually walking around in these people’s lives wearing an invisible cloak.

  34. Freedom, without question. With Things Fall Apart a close second. You read Things Fall Apart because it is a “must read” in the way of, for example, To Kill A Mockingbird. You read Freedom because it’s so specific, vivid and rich that you feel like you’re actually walking around in these people’s lives and minds wearing an invisible cloak.

  35. The samples on my kindle outnumber the books by a hefty amount. If there were an uprising, samples would win by numbers. I can recommend The Paris Wife. I did download that after enjoying the sample

  36. Glad to see I’m not alone! Lol! “Guitar for Dummies” is a great read. Especially if you’re like me and holding to two guitars that you can barely play. (I can now proudly say that can play several chords and atleast know what a barre chord is.) “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is also great.

    1. I didn’t get very into Guitar for Dummies. If your’e looking for a great resource, try the video game ‘Rocksmith’! Its really fun to play and also a great learning experience.

  37. I sample too on as many formats as possible (Kindle app, Nook app, audible.com). But I have “read” some of the books on your list to completion. “Freedom.” Franzen gets some (perhaps) well-deserved criticism but I appreciated this story (via audible.com). “Bossypants” was funny and I enjoyed listening to it with Tina Fey reading, but it got a little tiresome. I read/listened to the entire Stieg Larsson series — it’s not brilliant literature but it’s exciting, intense and a nice escape. I started “The Paris Wife” via Nook but just haven’t gotten into it for some reason. I have a paperback copy of Hemingway’s short stories — I haven’t read all of them but have enjoyed a few. One book not on your list: “11/22/63: A Novel” by Stephen King. I didn’t think I’d like it but thoroughly enjoyed it. Nice blog.

  38. Although I read a lot, the only one of these I have read is The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien is my favorite author, and The Hobbit is a fantastic book. The plot is easy to follow, but interesting. The characters are unique and fun. It’s also an easy, quick read. I highly recommend it.

  39. My take on what NOT to read – Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol. I found it very disappointing after having all the previous books. It felt a lot like he ran out of inspiration, as though he reached certain points where he didn’t know what to do next and just put something, anything in out of desperation. I’ve read his other books several times over but can’t make myself pick up Lost Symbol again.
    If you liked Dan Brown’s style but with more action, I would recommend Matthew Reilly – he has two series, revolving around characters named Scarecrow and Jack West Jr aka Hunstman respectively, and James Rollins’ Sigma Force novels. They’re like a summer action blockbuster merging Indiana Jones + Tomb Raider + National Treasure.

  40. Congrats on fp, this post is fabulous. C.S. Lewis in bold, all caps, and with exclamation points. You can’t go wrong with any of his, in my humble opinion. Happy reading, and again congrats. Such a fun twist and the sips analogy is great.

  41. I have read The Four Loves…CS Lewis is a great. Things Fall Apart is a great read. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is pretty awesome, you must commit. I highly suggest anything by Paul Coelho, the Alchemist was my first selection….powerful. I was disappointed with The Lost Symbol, I had previously read The Davinnci Code and Angels and Demons and loved them but this new book seemed detached and the characters seemed flat and over the top. I have attempted many times to read The Hobbit and I suggest really getting your mind right before beginning it. Also the samples on my Nook out number the actual books in my library. But that is a little piece of beauty that I love.

  42. I do the same exact thing, I have dozens of books that I have yet to begin. I would start with the CS Lewis ones, they’re not to time consuming to get through but there is so much to think about.

    Margaret, Mselene.wordpress.com

  43. Hello! Congrats on making it to ‘Freshly Pressed’!

    I hated The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo so I wouldn’t recommend that. A lot of people do seem to like it though.

    I have Bossypants on my TBR list. I should probably read it because I love Tina fey.

  44. Great selection.
    All of them are great, I just have read — ” Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today”, it’s very wonderful…

  45. I would really recommend The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown. He is an amazing writer and if you’re into philosophy and religion and a bit of action,I would definitely go for that one. Its a great read.

  46. Aleph – Paulo Coelho! This is beautiful! Well, do be honest, all his books are great. He’s an amazing person. And he’s not that type of being so proud and show off. He actually stays in touch with his fans through Twitter. He tweeted me a couple of times!

  47. The Haruki Murakami books! But then I’m biased as I’m a fan. Personally, if you want to get inside Murakami’s head, What I Talk About.. will not disappoint. Not sure about the Coelho books. After The Alchemist, I didn’t read anything by him again. Definitely not one of my fave writers. Do finish the Hemingway collection. Again, he’s one of my favorites. Great list.

  48. What Technology Wants – Kevin Kelly is a great book on where the world is going, super interesting to read even if you are not a technology addict. Keep up the good work. Marco

  49. “The Hobbit” by Tolkien – This is a must! It’s completely different to The Lord of the Rings saga; fantastic imagery and quite humourous in some parts!

    “The Paris Wife” – I haven’t read it, but I really want to! Can I recommend it on that basis please?!

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
    (Ps – I’ve been doing a lot of artwork based around books recently – take a look at my blog!)

  50. Didn’t recognize a lot of those titles, but I would be intrigued to read “Extra Life” and their take on video games. Good list, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed

  51. Well, I could join the choruses encouraging you to read Tolkien and Lewis – they’d certainly be my first choice. The Four Loves is beautifully lucid; A Grief Observed a bit less structured (but it’s all to the good, given the subject matter); Miracles is worthwhile but is more like a steep mountain hike than a pleasant jaunt.

    As for the rest – since you’ve been to Spain and have already read some Hemingway, I should think you’d enjoy the rest of his short stories. What I’ve read of Leeming struck me as rather dry (but to be fair, I never made it all the way through).

    Haven’t read Flight to Arras, but Antoine de Saint Exupery’s prose draws me like iron to a lodestone. I’ve heard you should read The Little Prince/his other writings first; it’ll prepare you for Flight to Arras.

  52. I don’t tend to do the sample thing on my Kindle. I tend to already know if I want to read a book or not. That being said, I love The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Lost Symbol is not really worth it. The Hobbit I would read if you’re planning on seeing the movie, or I wouldn’t read if you’re planning on seeing the movie – I guess it depends on how you look at it. I’m not a big Coelho, but that’s just me.

  53. Definitely finish Things Fall Apart. I had the pleasure of meeting Achebe at a reading (which was fantastic, if you can find audio of him reading, I highly recommend it). He definitely knows his stuff from a craft sense.

  54. “Things Fall Apart,” and then follow up with the rest of the trilogy. Incredible books, well worth it. They’re also not terribly long or difficult reads, although beautifully written and highly rewarding.

  55. read things fall apart its a nice,but stronge write up by achebe.now i’m with deadly exposure,i dropped the lady with dragon tattoo after reading first seven pages.thanks fresh press.

  56. You should definitely finish After Dark, it’s an incredible book!

    The only other book on that list I’ve read in its entirety is Bossypants, which is amusing but you’re not missing anything if you never read the whole thing.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I checked out your blog about Spain, its great! I’m surprised you didn’t suggest I follow through with the Hemingway books.

    1. Why not read them all? Hmm… there’s about 48 books on the list… Just a wild assumption that each is about 300 pages… and that it takes me a minute to read a page… about 240 hours of reading time… Just six weeks of 8 hour days… I guess that can be done!!

  57. Interesting list of books. Anything by Tolkien is great and I like Hemmingway’s short stories too. Freedom, I thought was overrated and self indulgent-I’m not sure why the critics raved about it. I need to add some of those books to my readign list.

  58. A very interesting list or, in any case, impressive and also very heterogeneous, with titles from heaven to Earth, scattering. I read some of the books mentioned, I was in touch with some of the authors, even to make “trade feelings” with them, but I beleive that the task of making (from the “air”) a reading proposal, in a completely unknown land, is a very delicate one. You should post a list of at least ten books you realy liked in a special way, in order to have a basis for discussion. But if you want a piece of advice for a shortcut in a big list of good books, reffered by critics or by trusting friends I can say this: Choose those books which have a meaningfull title for you. If the title sound good to you pick it. Chances to be wrong are very few.

  59. Great post! Am currently reading Pride & Prejudice but appreciate the inspiration for the next title in my 2012 Reading Challenge
    PS Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed 🙂

  60. I haven’t actually read Black Coffee Blues, but I’m a huge fan of Henry Rollins. Seeing it on your list makes me want to pick up a copy of that book myself, I’ve been lucky enough to see Henry Rollins a couple times doing his spoken word, and when he talks you hang onto every word. He’s inspiring, charismatic, creative and entertaining from start to finish, and I can’t imagine his writing being any different. He’s lived such an interesting life, too.

    1. I wanted to read the Lost Symbol, because the setting is D.C. where I live, and I was hoping to glean some fresh knowledge about my town from his research. When I started reading the sample I realized that his habit of re-imagining history would be difficult to enjoy when the subject was a place I’m familiar with. I anticipated that I would be laughing at the implausibility of the whole story, instead of enjoying the transportation to an exotic place that happened when I read Angels & Demons.

  61. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- certainly read that one. It is a trilogy, and I can tell you the second book is good as well. Working through the third right now, good so far.
    Also, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen- I only got through part of this strange, strange novel. It was so unusual that I couldn’t finish it. Maybe some of the characters reminded me too much of people in my life. They were all just so depressing. Not exactly a recommend.

  62. Follow through with FREEDOM and DEATH IN VENICE. Franzen’s second work is far superior to his first, ‘The Corrections’. Mind you, this one requires staying power, but I thought the inter-generational characterisations were strong and as a story it holds together really well. It’s an overview of one kind of ‘america’. Regarding Thomas Mann’s novel, read this completely for its patient unfolding, the beauty of the language, the delicacy of its homo-eroticism, its lack of sensation. And yet – it IS a pretty sensational, dark story.

  63. I think you’ll get as many replies as there are commentators. Here are my 3:

    The Hobbit – if you haven’t read Tolkien you’re not fully educated.

    Guitar for Dummies – as you said there is only so much time. Guitar is a wonderful thing to soothe the soul and give your eyes a break from reading, besides it builds your mind, you score IQ points.

    Coelho – Haven’t yet read him myself but he’s on my list. He’s a classic, one must have read him. See Point 1 concerning Tolkien.

    Btw I disagree about the “sick”, where Tolkien is concerned. Anyone calling the creator of the genre of fantasy “sick” needs to look at their own honesty issues.

    1. Thanks for your comment. You’re correct that guitar is a great way to soothe the soul. I’d lose interest in everything if I couldn’t clear my mind by playing every day.

      I think the comment about Tolkien being ‘sick’ was used in a less critical way than you interpreted.. In this case I believe the commenter meant ‘sick’ as “crazy, cool, insane” (as the Urban Dictionary defines it)

      1. Ah. :)) (*embarrassed grin*) I’m not at all fluent in the Urban Dictionary! ‘fraid I’m quite a nerd, and so is my teen daughter who should be cluing me in…

  64. my votes are: Things Fall Apart, The Four Loves & What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I read the first two they’re great. The last looks interesting.

  65. You have to read Larsson. The whole trilogy. You’ll finish it mighty quick, the pace moves so fast. It’s a fab thriller. And then catch the movies – both the Hollywood and Swedish versions.

  66. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a mustmustMUST read plus the sequals that go along with it. Things Fall Apart, I personally thought was not very good at all, because as much as its great to get exposed to many different types of culture, it did not catch my attention and make me want to read more.

  67. I would highly recommend The Hobbit as its a classic. Also, The Lost Symbol is a must-read, its an amazing novel. I would definitely also say that The Girl with A Dragon Tattoo is a good read. I personally found the beginning few chapters a bit slow but once it picks up, its pretty intense.

  68. I’ve only read The Lost Symbol out of all these books. I would recommend it although there are many haters out there. Anything by Dan Brown is great if you need a huge jolt to your heart! I’ve got The Hobbit on my to-read list. I’ve heard it’s a great book and cannot wait to lay my hands on it after my exams. Meanwhile, Happy Reading to you!

  69. I wouldn’t recommend The Winner Stands Alone. It’s so unlike any of Paolo’s other book, bordering on boring rather than philosophical and gripping. I’ve been struggling with it for a while now, but I just can’t bring myself to finish more than a couple of pages at one time.

  70. Yeah the sad case of having too many books. I have found i start alot books now that an e reader is mine but forget or lose sight of the one im reading to replace with something else for forty pages. Great post and great reports from other readers. Nice interplay.

  71. I loved reading Cold Mountain…it’s epic. So much much MUCH better than the movie. In fact, do NOT watch the movie. Ever. Just read the book and absorb the beautiful storytelling.
    Your post reminds me why I SO need to buy a Kindle for my birthday present. 🙂
    Happy reading – congrats on FP!

  72. I was hooked by your illustration…we love books and pictures of libraries. People with anti-Kindle biases should read this. I grow weary of explaining that Kindle/books is not an either/or proposition.

  73. Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice is a classic I would not want to argue about. With its subtle cynicism and modernist tinges of desperation, I totally recommend it. And Hemingway’s stories are surely delightful, too. I like him better in his short fiction than in his novels. Special mentions shall be accorded to Hills Like White Elephants and A Clean, Well-lighted Place — that is Hemingway speaking about alienation and desolation at his best. And is not even suicidal, it is charming! 🙂

  74. The images reminds of whole days spent between similiar shelves and the outside world ceased to exist. Pure bliss. Now I still get lost behind those shelves for my own indulgence and also to keep our libraries open!

    1. Thanks for noticing the image. 😉 I snapped it after finishing up for the day at my photography internship and stopping by the library, where I noticed the sunset reflection on the floor.

  75. The Hobbit, Death in Venice, anything at all by Murakami. I tried The Lost Symbol, it was dreadful; I couldn’t get past chapter 1.

  76. Reblogged this on Maya Panika and commented:
    Is this the big problem with the Kindle? Has it done for reading what the ipod did for music – everyone’s sampling, no one’s listening.

  77. out of all these books that i have read, The Hobbit and The girl With the Dragon tattoo are quite amazing, and as a matter of fact all the books of the Millennium Series and The Lord of The Rings series are wonderful.
    very well written, they will get hold of you and you would never feel like leaving them without finishing

  78. You need to take all of these books, tape it to your head, and fall asleep. You’ll either have read them all in your sleep, or have had your head crushed. Either way, a great story to tell people.

  79. Well as I haven’t read any of the books you’ve listed I think I’m more than qualified to assist you in your search for quality reading material. If I had to make a call I would suggest Jack Kerouac. It is sublime and I’m biased.

  80. You should definitely read The Paris Wife and Bossypants. The Paris Wife was fascinating and reading it made me feel like I was in Paris with Hadley. The author was amazing at evoking the atmosphere of Paris in the 1920s. Bossypants made me laugh out loud and is a very quick read. Once you start reading it, you won’t want to put it down.

  81. If I were you I would read the last book to be added to the list.

    The Shallows by Nicholas Carr is all about “how the internet is changing the way we read, think and remember” it reveals how, because of the internet, we now struggle to digest a whole book and instead seek out these snippets of information as intellectual nourishment, but which actually lead to “shallow” learning. Something which your experience with the Kindle seems to also be encouraging.

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