Book #15: Thunderstruck, Erik Larson

The greatest gig-perk I ever had was a bunch of years ago, when I performed at a co-sponsored Random House/Globe and Mail literary event at Hugh's Room. It was produced by Rheostatic and Bidiniband songwriter, author, and founder…

Book #14: More Baths Less Talking, Nick Hornby

The tagline on this book's cover is "Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself." It's a sexy, slender, perfectly manageable 135 pages, and Hornby's 4th collection of his very…

Book #13: Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, Brian Kellow

Last fall, I tackled this beautiful, compelling biography of legendary film critic Pauline Kael, which I've been carrying around since I bought the freshly-printed hardcover in 2011. Let me share this, from its Introduction:

In 1976 she found herself

Book #12: Factotum, Charles Bukowski

Confession: I bought my ECCO copy of Charles Bukowski’s Factotum many years ago as an intended gift for my brother, which I then never gave him. I kept it to read for myself, which I finally did last summer…

Book #11: The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss

As happens with the best books, I didn't know this one or its author even existed until I saw it on a friend's shelf. My friend, when I asked about it, spoke of Patrick Rothfuss in a "he's the real…

Book #10: Personal, Lee Child

My unread books really do taunt me and mock me from the shelves. They know my name. They hiss at me as I go by. The titles are my recriminations. They cause me to feel inadequate, exhausted, and overwhelmed. 

Book #8: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke


  My affair with this book began many Christmases ago. Well, I guess before that. It had been out a couple of years; I'd heard about it, picked it up; thumbed its fresh Bloomsbury pages under my nose. I'm pretty sure…

Book #7: Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson



  I must have read Treasure Island when I was a kid. Or maybe it was read to me. Or perhaps it's just one of those books, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, or Stevenson's other best-known novel…

PICADOR and STAX: Reflections So Far

  Let me say that only 6 books in, this self-imposed 100-book curriculum is already yielding a very sweet reward: with each book, the reader in me is less of a stranger. For many years, my life as an independent artist…

Book #6, The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey, Salman Rushdie

From its prologue: 

  “When the Reagan administration began its war against Nicaragua, I recognized a deeper affinity with that small country in a continent (Central America) upon which I had never set foot. I grew daily more interested in…

Book #5: The Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving

My only previous John Irving experience was reading The World According to Garp as a teenager, which I hazily remember being fun - though it didn't lead me to more John Irving. As for The Hotel New Hampshire, here…