Washington State University World Class. Face to Face. Future Students Campuses WSU Home WSU Search
Michael Allen, PhD
Senior Instructor
Physics & Astronomy
Homepage | Contact | Astrophotos | Bio | Professional | Links | Projects | Planetarium tours | Astronomy @ WSU

Books I have enjoyed

I read mostly fiction, and of that mostly historical fiction and science fiction. My yearly reading list includes at least one item from each of: short story collection, classic sci-fi, modern sci-fi, English language classic, a play, historical fiction, non-fiction.


"The omnibus of science fiction" (42 classic sci-fi short stories
published between 1931 and 1952, edited by Groff Conklin)
  
"The Boys' Life book of outer space stories" (10 short stories
published in Boys' Life magazine between 1953 and 1963)

"The big book of ghost stories" (edited by Otto Penzler, 79 stories,
many classics, including "The monkey's paw")

"Dark delicacies: original tales of horror and the macabre by the
world's greatest horror writers" (20 original stories, commissioned and
compiled by Del Howlson and Jeff Gelb)

"Great tales of horror and the supernatural" (41 short stories
selected by Pronzini, Greenberg, and Malzberg.  The collection was
published by Galahad in 1985.  The stories were hit-or-miss with me;
enjoyable stories: "Passengers" by Robert Silverberg is first-rate;
"The Doll" by Joyce Carol Oates is a fascinating character study; "A
rose for Emily" by William Faulkner is my kind of story: told from a
distance, lots of missing pieces, in an interesting context.)

"Glenn Gould Variations. By himself and his friends" (a book of
essays, edited by John McGreevy)

"Alfred Hitchcock's haunted houseful" (A collection of short stories
for kids "who are too lazy to walk and too young to drive")

Aeschylus:
(The Oresteia; translated by Robert Fagels)
"Agamemnon"
"The libation bearers"
"The Eumenides"

Lloyd Alexander:
(The Chronicles of Prydain)
"The Book of Three"
"The Black Cauldron"
"The Castle of Llyr"
"Taran Wanderer"
"The High King"

Caroline Andrews:
"The war that killed Achilles"

Anonymous:
"The secret life of teachers"

Piers Anthony:
"Mute"
"Macroscope"

(Incarnations of immortality series)
"On a Pale Horse"
"Bearing an Hourglass"
"With a Tangled Skein"
"Wielding a Red Sword"
"Being a Green Mother"
"For Love of Evil"
"And Eternity"

(Biography of a space tyrant)
"Refugee"
"Mercenary"
"Politician"
"Executive"
"Statesman"

(Xanth)
"A spell for chameleon"
"The source of magic"
"Castle Roogna"

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin Aldrin Jr:
"First on the Moon"

Halton Arp:
"Quasars, redshifts, and controversies"

Isaac Asimov:
"The currents of space"
"The Union Club mysteries"
"Fantastic Voyage"
"A whiff of death"

(Robots)
"The caves of steel"
"The naked sun"
"The roots of dawn"

(Foundation series)
"Foundation"
"Foundation and empire"
"Second foundation"
"Foundation's edge"

(Collections)
"I, robot" (9 short stories from the 1940s)
"The bicentennial man and other short stories"
"The complete robot"

Jane Austen:
"Pride and prejudice"

Kiyohiko Azuma:
"Azumanga Daioh" (heart-warming story of a group of students and
teachers in a girls' school; laugh-out-loud funny in places; the
characters are very well defined; beautiful ending; the TV version
misses the mark)

Robert Bagar and Louis Baincolli:
"The concert companion. A comprehensive guide to symphonic music"

Iain M Banks:
"Espedair street"
"Consider Phlebas"
"The Player of Games"
"Use of Weapons"
"Excession"
"Inversions"
"Matter"
"The algebraist"

David W Barber:
"If it ain't Baroque...more music history as it aught to be taught"

Mitchell P Bard:
"The complete idiot's guide to middle east conflict"

Don Bassingthwaite:
"Breathe deeply"

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais:
"The barber of Seville"
"The marriage of Figaro"
(although I read and enjoyed these, the supposedly inflammatory political
content was lost on me)

Gregroy Benford:
"Timescape"
"Eater"

Pierre Berton:
"Klondike"
"The national dream"
"The last spike"
"The invasion of Canada"
"Flames across the border"
"The comfortable pew"

Algernon Blackwood:
"Selected tales" (short stories written between 1905 and 1910)

Ray Bradbury:
"The illustrated man" (18 short stories with prologue and epilogue)
"A medicine for melancholy and other stories" (31 short stories)
"Fahrenheit 451"

Paul Bogard"
"End of night" (lots of good info; the prose felt forced, or consciously
lacking in spontaneity)

Richard Brautigan:
"Trout fishing in America" (it is what it is, a glimpse into the free
lifestyle of a more innocent time)

Bertolt Brecht:
"Life of Galileo" (a modern play in 15 scenes covering the 20 creative
years of Galileo's life; very balanced approach - some would say too
well balanced - to the events leading up to the trial of Galileo;
stands up well today, even after the release of Vatican documents that
Brecht would not have had access to; many philosophical subjects are
touched upon, such as the nature of knowledge and the weaponization of
information)

Dan Brown:
"The da Vinci code" (good story, one of the most poorly
written books I have ever had to fight through; it made me wonder if
the author was even literate; the female characters read like they
were written by a 12-year-old)

Stephen Brust:

"The phoenix guards" (brilliant sci-fi re-telling of The Three
Musketeers, the novel features a series of combats of ever-increasing
intensity, until the final, grand battle; superior characterizations
are realized via fun and witty dialogue)

"Five hundred years after"

James Burke:
"The pinball effect"

Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers:
"The power of myth"

Orson Scott Card:
"Ender's game"

Winston Churchill:
"My early life"

Benvenuto Cellini:
"Autobiography" (well-paced, unpretentious portrayal of life in
turbulent, heady, Renaissance Rome; Berlioz's opera version captures
the spirit of the book energetically)

Michael Crichton:
"Airframe" (well-researched, reads like a detective novel; the plot is a
bit thin in places)

James Christensen:
"A journey of the imagination"

Tom Clancy:
"The hunt for Red October"
"Red storm rising"

Arthur C Clarke
"The wind from the Sun" (18 short stories written in the 1960s)
"The sentinel" (9 short stories)

"Childhood's end"
"2001: a space odyssey"
"2010: odyssey two"
"3001: final odyssey"

Arthur C Clarke and Gentry Lee:
"Rendezvous with Rama"
"Rame II"
"The garden of Rama"
"Rama revealed"

James Clavell:
"King rat"
"Tai pan"
"Shogun"

Harry Collins:
"Gravity's ghost"

Neil F Comins:
"Heavenly errors"

Mark Danielewski:
"House of leaves"

Christian de Duve:
"Vital dust: life as a cosmic imperative"

Daniel Defoe:
"Robinson Crusoe"

Richard DeWitt:
"Worldviews, an introduction to the history and philosopy of science"

Philip K Dick:
"Do androids dream of electric sheep?"
"The man in the high castle"

"The minority report and other classics stories" (18 short stories
published between 1955 and 1963, with notes by the author)

Charles Dickens:
"David Copperfield"

Janet Gail Donald:
"Learning to think"

Stephen R Donaldson:

(Thomas Covenant series; as a teen I loved it; as an adult I found it
slow-going, constantly getting bogged down with Covenant's lengthy and
circuitous internal monologue; the 10th book reads like the author
just wanted to wrap things up as quickly as possible; you could easily
skip books 7-9 and read straight to book 10 b/c the author gives a
synopsis)

"Lord Foul's Bane"
"The Illearth War"
"The Power That Preserves"
"The Wounded Land"
"The One Tree"
"White Gold Wielder"
"The Runes of the Earth"
"Fatal Revenant"
"Against All Things Ending"
"The Last Dark"

(Gap series; dark and compelling sci-fi; a minor character, Hashi, has
a terrific story arc)

"The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story"
"The Gap into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge"
"The Gap into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises"
"The Gap into Madness: Chaos and Order"
"The Gap into Ruin: This Day All Gods Die"

"Daughter of regals and other tales" (short story collection)

Arthur Conan Doyle:
Sherlock Holmes (complete)
"The white company"

Alexandre Dumas:
"The three musketeers" (translated by Richard Pevear)
"The count of Monte Cristo" (1846 translation)

Umberto Eco:
"The name of the rose"
"Baudolino"

Alfred Einstein:
"Mozart, his character, his work"

Timothy Ferris:
"Coming of age in the Milky Way"

CS Forester:
"The African queen"

(Hornblower series)
"The happy return"
"Ship of the line"
Flying colors"
The commodore"
"Lord Hornblower"
"Mr Midshipman Hornblower"
"Lieutenant Hornblower"
"Hornblower and the Atropos"
"Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies"
"Hornblower and the Hotspur"
"Hornblower and the crisis" (unfinished novel)
"The Hornblower companion" (charts and commentary by the author)

Richard P Feynman:
"Surely you're joking My Feynman"
"What do you care what other people think"
"The pleasure of finding things out"

Frederick Forsyth:
"The dogs of war"
"The day of the jackal"
"The Odessa file"
"The devil's alternative"

George Macdonald Fraser:
"Flashman and the dragon"

CS Friedmann:
"In conquest born"
"Black sun rising"

Neil Gaiman:
"Coraline"
"Anansi boys"
"American gods"
"Neverwhere"
"Norse mythology"

Edward Gibbon:
"The history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire"

William Gibson:
"Neuromancer"
"Count zero"
"Idoru"

William Gibson and Bruce Sterling:
"The difference engine"

Robert Graves:

"I, Claudius" (historical fiction at its very best; beautifully
crafted, interwoven story of many characters that will keep you
spellbound; I've never read a finer book)

"Hercules my shipmate"

Sydney Grew:
"Masters of music, a book for lovers of music"

Lauren Gunderson:
"Silent sky"

Clarence G Hamilton:
"Outlines of music history"

Stephen W Hawking:
"A brief history of time"
"Black holes, baby universes, and other essays"

Robert A Heinlein:
"The moon is a harsh mistress"
"The puppet masters"
"Stranger in a strange land"
"Revolt in 2100"
"Starship troopers"
"Job: a comedy of justice"

"Expanded universe. The new worlds of Robert A Heinlein" (27 stories,
this is the expanded 1980 edition)

Joseph Heller:
"Catch 22"

Zenna Henderson:
"The anything box" (about a dozen short stories from the first half of
the 20th century, with a creepy edginess to them)

Carolyn Hennesy:
(Mythic misadventures series)
"Pandora gets jealous"
"Pandora gets vain"
"Pandora gets lazy"

Frank Herbert:
"Dune"

ETA Hoffmann:
"The best tales of ETA Hoffmann" (10 famous tales, including
"Nutcracker and the king of mice")

James P Hogan:
"Voyage from yesteryear"
"Endgame enigma"

(Giants series)
"Inherit the stars"
"The gentle giants of Ganymede"
"Giants' star"

Homer:
"The Odyssey" (translated by Richmond Lattimore)
"The Illiad" (translated by Alexander Pope)

"Greek epic fragments from the seventh to fifth centuries BC"
(translated by ML West)

Basil Howett:
"Love lives of the great composers"

Antony Jay:
"The Oxford dictionary of political quotations"

James Jeans:
"The mysterious universe"

George Jellinek:
"Callas: portrait of a prima donna"

Dorothy M Johnson:
"Indian country" (11 short stories, including the two that were
filmed: "A man called horse", and "The man who shot Liberty Valence";
enjoyable, well-written, flavorful stories of the old west)

Daniel Keyes:
"Flowers for Algernon"

Rudyard Kipling:
"Rudyard Kipling's tales of horror and fantasy" (edited by Stephen
Jones)
"The jungle book"

Damon Knight:
"The best of Damon Knight" (22 short stories written between 1949 and
1972)

John Knowles:
"A separate peace"

Arthur Koestler:
"The sleepwalkers"

EL Konigsburg:
"The view from Saturday"
"From the mixed-up files of Mrs Basil E Frankweller"
"A proud taste for scarlet and miniver"

Lawrence Krauss:
"The physics of Star Trek"

M Owen Lee:
"Wagner's ring: turning the sky around"
"Wagner: the terrible man and his truthful art"

Trevor Leggett:
"Shogi, Japan's game of strategy"

Ursua K LeGuin:
"The left hand of darkness"
"The dispossessed"

Fritz Leiber:
(Adventures of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser)
"Swords and deviltry"
"Swords against death"
"Swords in the mist"

Stanislaw Lem:
"His master's voice"
"Solaris"
"The investigation"
"More tales of Pirx the pilot"
"The cyberiad"

Gaston Leroux:
"The phantom of the opera"

Cixin Liu:
"The three body problem"
"The dark forest"
"Death's end"

Malcolm S Longair:
"The origins of our universe"

HP Lovecraft:
"Crawling chaos: selected works 1920-1935" (selected and edited by
Colin Wilson)

Naguib Mahfouz:
"Arabian days and nights"
"The thief and the dogs"
"Midaq alley"
"Adrift on the nile"
"Miramar"

Yann Martel:

"Life of pi" (do not waste your time on this one; it read like the
author was trying to tell us something profound, but in the end it was
empty and dull)

Vonda McIntyre:
"The moon and the sun"

China Mieville:
"The scar" (boring)

Hermann Melville:
"Moby Dick"
"Billy Budd, Bartleby, and other stories"

Yehudi Menuhin and Curtis W Davis
"The music of man"

Pamela Meyer:
"Lie spotting"

Arthur Miller:
"Death of a salesman"
"The crucible"

Walter M Miller:
"A canticle for Leibowitz"
"Saint Leibowitz and the wild horse women"

Yukio Mishima:
"Confessions of a mask"
"Thirst for love"
"The temple of the golden pavilion"
"The sailor who fell from grace with the sea"
"Acts of worship" (short story collection)
"Death in midsummer and other stories" (short story collection)

(Sea of fertility tetralogy)
"Spring snow"
"Runaway horses"
"The temple of dawn"
"The decay of the angel"

LE Modesitt Jr:
"The towers of the sunset"

David Moffitt:
"The Jupiter theft"

Moliere:
"The misanthrope, or, the cantankerous lover"
"The bourgeois gentleman"
"The doctor in spite of himself"

Randall Monroe:
"What if?"

Michael Moorcock:
"Legends from the end of time"
"Gloriana"
"The fireclown"

(Elric series)
"Elric of Melnibone"
"The Sailor on the Seas of Fate"
"The weird of the white wolf"
"The Vanishing Tower"
"The bane of the black sword"
"Stormbringer"
"The Fortress of the Pearl"
"The Revenge of the Rose"

(Elric and Oona von Bek)
"The Dreamthief's Daughter"
"The Skrayling Tree"
"The White Wolf's Son"

(Hawkmoon series)
"The Jewel in the Skull"
"The Mad God's Amulet"
"The Sword of the Dawn"
"The Runestaff"
"Count Brass"
"The Champion of Garathorm"
"The Quest for Tanelorn"

(Corum series)
"The Knight of the Swords"
"The Queen of the Swords"
"The King of the Swords"
"The Bull and the Spear"
"The Oak and the Ram"
"The Sword and the Stallion"

(Sailing to utopia)
"The ice schooner"

(Nomad of the time streams)
"The Warlord of the Air"
"The Land Leviathan"
"The Steel Tsar"

(Jerry Cornelius quartet)
"The Final Programme"
"A Cure for Cancer"
"The English Assassin"
"The Condition of Muzak"

(von Bek series)
"The War Hound and the World's Pain"
"The Brothel in Rosenstrasse"
"The City in the Autumn Stars"

Joan Murray:
"Tom Thomson, the last spring"

Miyamoto Musashi:
"The book of five rings"

Larry Niven:
"Ringworld"
"The ringworld engineers"
"Ringworld's children"
"The ringworld throne"
"Flatlander"
"Crashlander"

Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper:
"Building Harlequin's moon"

Patrick O'Brian:
"Master and Commander"
"Post Captain"
"HMS Surprise"
"The Mauritius Command"
"Desolation Island"
"The Fortune of War"
"The Surgeon's Mate"
"The Ionian Mission"
"Treason's Harbour"
"The Far Side of the World"
"The Reverse of the Medal"
"The Letter of Marque"
"The Thirteen Gun Salute"
"The Nutmeg of Consolation"
"The Truelove"
"The Wine-Dark Sea"
"The Commodore"
"The Yellow Admiral"
"The Hundred Days"
"Blue at the Mizzen"
"The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey" (unfinished novel)

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway:
"The collapse of western civilization: a view from the future"
(thesis: it is already too late to prevent a runaway greenhouse effect
on Earth, so expect the ecofascist revolution)

Nel Noddings:
"Philosophy of education"

Kakuzo Okakura:
"The book of tea"

Michael Ondaatje:
"The English patient" (good story, poorly written: poor grammar and
punctuation interferes with the story telling; the story of the Sikh
is not covered in the film but is one of the most interesting parts)

Camille Paglia:
"Glittering images"

Edgar Allan Poe:
Complete stories and poems

Terry Pratchett:
(Discworld)
"The color of magic"
"The light fantastic"
"Mort"
"Wyrd sisters"
"Witches abroad"
"Small gods"
"Men at arms"
"Maskerade"
"Feet of clay"
"Hogfather"

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:
"Good omens: the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch"

Richard Preston:
"The demon in the freezer"

Philip Pullman:
(His dark materials series)
"The golden compass"
"The subtle knife"
"The amber spyglass"

Earl Mac Rauch:
"The adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: across the eighth dimension"

Matt Ridley:
"Genome, the autobiography of a species in 23 chapters" (lots of
interesting info, but poorly written to the point of distraction)

JK Rowling:
"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

Nicholas Russell:
"Communicating science"

Sean Russell:
"The initiate brother"
"Gatherer of clouds"

Fred Saberhagen:
(Lost swords series; I read the "omnibus edition" which packaged all 9
books into 3 volumes)
"Woundhealer's Story"
"Sightblinder's Story"
"Stonecutter's Story"
"Farslayer's Story"
"Coinspinner's Story"
"Mindsword's Story"
"Wayfinder's Story"
"Shieldbreaker's Story"

Carl Sagan:
"Contact"
"Cosmos"

John Ralston Saul:
"The doubter's companion"
"Voltaire's bastards"

Antin Felix Schindler:
"Beethoven as I knew him"

Sir Walter Scott: 
"Waverley"
"Guy Mannering"
"The Antiquary"
"The Black Dwarf"
"The Tale of Old Mortality"
"Rob Roy"
"The Heart of Midlothian"
"The Bride of Lammermoor"
"A Legend of Montrose"
"Ivanhoe"
"The Monastery"
"The Abbot"
"Kenilworth"
"The Pirate"
"The Fortunes of Nigel"
"Peveril of the Peak"
"Quentin Durward"
"St. Ronan's Well"
"Redgauntlet"
"The Betrothed"
"The Talisman"
"Woodstock"
"The Fair Maid of Perth"
"Anne of Geierstein"
"Count Robert of Paris"

(novels in verse)
"The lady of the lake"
"The lay of the last minstrel"

Dirk Schulze-Makuch:
"Voids of eternity: alien encounters"

Justin Sewell:
"Who killed John F Kennedy?" (Lose your own adventures series, book 1;
a poor parody of the Choose your own adventure series)

Clifford Simak:
"City"

Simon Singh:
"Big bang: the origin of the universe"

Cordwainer Smith:
"Norstrilia"
"The best of Cordwainer Smith" (12 short stories selected and edited
by JJ Pierce, arranged in their chronological order)

Michael Marshall Smith:
"Only forward"
"Spares"

Victor Snaith:
"The Yukiad"

Sophocles:
"Oedipux Rex"

Sigmund Spaeth:
"Stories behind the world's great music"

Neal Stephenson:
"Snow crash"
"The diamond age"
"Anathem"
"Seveneves"

(The Baroque cycle)
"Quicksilver"
"The confusion"
"The system of the world"

Robert Louis Stevenson:
"Treasure island"
"Kidnapped"
"The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"

Bram Stoker:
"Dracula"

Nicolas Stonimsky:
"Lexicon of musical invective"

Tom Stoppard:
"Arcadia"
"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead"

I Nyoman Tantrayana:
"Bali storylines, the guide to Balinese arts and culture through the
stories that inspire them"

Charles Taylor:
"Exploring music: the science and technology of tones and tunes"

Sheri S Tepper:
"The gate to women's country" (a thoroughly dislikeable book; included
here only for the sake of completeness)

Wildred Thesiger:
"Arabian sands"

Kip Thorne:
"The science of interstellar"

James Tiptree Jr:
"Brightness falls form the air"

JRR Tolkien:
"The hobbit"
"The lord of the rings" (three novels)
"The silmarillion"
"The adventures of Tom Bombadil"
"Sir Gawain and the green knight and Sir Orfeo" (JRRT as translator)

Dave Tomar:
"The shadow scholar: how I made a living helping college kids cheat"

Nigel Tranter:
"Columba"
"The Wallace"

(Robert the Bruce trilogy)
"The steps to the empty throne"
"The path of the hero king"
"The price of hte king's peace"

Harry Turtledove:
"The man with the iron heart"

Mark Twain:
"Tom Sawyer"
"Huckleberry Finn"

Sun Tzu:
"The art of war"

Martin Uman:
"All about lightning"

Jeff Vandermeer:
(Southern reach trilogy)
"Annihilation"
"Authority"
"Acceptance"

Abraham Vienus:
"The concerto"

Jules Verne:
"Around the world in eighty days"
"Voyage to the centre of the Earth"
"20,000 leagues under the sea"

Verner Vinge:
"The peace war"
"A fire upon the deep"
"A deepness in the sky"

"The collected stories of Vernor Vinge" (17 short stories up to 2001)

Voltaire:
"Candide"

Kurt Vonnegut:
"Cat's cradle"
"Breakfast of champions"
"Slaughterhouse five"

Lew Wallace:
"Ben Hur"

David Weber:

(Honor Harrington series)
"On Basilisk Station"
"The Honor of the Queen"
"The Short Victorious War"
"Field of Dishonor"
"Flag in Exile"
"Honor Among Enemies"
"In Enemy Hands"
"Echoes of Honor"
"Ashes of Victory"
"War of Honor"

HG Wells:
"The war of the worlds"
"The time machine"
"The island of Dr Moreau"

Andy Weir:
"The Martian"

Oscar Wilde:
"Lady Windermere's fan"
"The importance of being earnest"

Henry Smith Williams:
"The great astronomers"

Tad Williams:
"The war of the flowers"

Jack Williamson:
"The humanoids"

Simon Winchester:
"Krakatoa: The day the world exploded: August 27, 1883"
"The professor and the madman: a tale of murder, insanity, and the
  making of the Oxford English dictionary"
"The meaning of everything: the story of the Oxford Engllish
  dictionary"
"Outposts: journeys to the surviving relics of the British empire"
"A crack in the edge of the world: America and the great California
  earthquate of 1906"
  
PG Wodehouse:
"The Jeeves omnibus"
"The girl in blue"
"Leave it to Psmith"
"The luck of the Bodkins"

Richard Woodman:
(Nathaniel Drinkwater series)
"In distant waters"

Guy Worthey:
"The adventures of Ace Carroway"

John Wyndham:
"Chocky"
"The day of the triffids"
"Trouble with lichen"

Greg Wyshynski:
"Keep your eye off the puck"

Roger Zelazny:
(Amber chronicles)
"Nine Princes in Amber"
"The Guns of Avalon"
"Sign of the Unicorn"
"The Hand of Oberon"
"The Courts of Chaos"
"Trumps of Doom"
"Blood of Amber"
"Sign of Chaos"
"Knight of Shadows"
"Prince of Chaos"