Three Recommendations from Patrick Kurp

In his blog, Anecdotal Evidence, Patrick Kurp gives a nice plug for this site and offers three recommendations of his own:

The Pleasure of Ruins, by Rose Macaulay

A wide-ranging travel book, in which Macaulay considers ruins from Tintern Abbey in England to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Normandy Revisited, by A.J. Liebling

Liebling’s war reporting on DDay through the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944, a day he called “the happiest in my life.”

The Old Forest, by Peter Taylor

A 1986 PEN/Faulkner Award winner, this collection of stories by an author thought by some to be the finest American short story writer of the 20th century, tells of life in the South in the 1920s and 1930s.

Nicaragua: Its People, Scenery, Monuments, Resources, Condition and Proposed Canal, by E. G. Squier

From The New York Times, 19 April 1998:

Traveling Companions

… One of my favorites is a forgotten classic called Nicaragua: Its People, Scenery, Monuments, Resources, Condition and Proposed Canal, by E. G. Squier, who served as the American charge d’affaires in Central America during the 1850’s. The years have not diminished its value as a guide.

I watched the collapse of Nicaragua’s 40-year Somoza dictatorship, and was amazed to read Squier’s account of a terrible bandit who roamed the countryside in his time, “a lawless, reckless fellow under proscription for murder, named Somoza.” One of my favorite pastimes there was climbing to the steaming crater of the Masaya volcano; Squier had also done it, and proclaimed the experience “singularly novel and beautiful.”

In the town of Granada, I visited a neglected museum where two dozen giant stone idols found on an island in Lake Nicaragua were on display. No one there knew much about them, but they had so impressed Squier that he shipped several home to the Smithsonian. He surmised that before Jesuit missionaries cut off their genitals, they had been worshiped as gods of a fertility cult.

“They are plain, simple and severe, and although not elaborately finished, are cut with considerable freedom and skill,” he wrote. One of them, he said, “seemed like some gray monster just emerging from the depths of the earth, at the bidding of a wizard-priest of some unholy religion.” Another, Squier wrote, “was a study for Samson under the gates of Gaza, or an Atlas supporting the world.”

According to, there are copies available for sale, but the prices start at $150 and go up into the high hundreds.

A Contract with God, by Will Eisner

Greg Hill, director of Fairbanks, Alaska North Star Borough libraries, gives this site a plug in the Fairbanks News-Miner and add his own recommendation:

As with all lists, there are bones to pick there, too. How’d they leave out Will Eisner’s A Contract With God, the first graphic novel and the one that paved the way for that new literary form? Reading a graphic novel is a different experience from reading pure text, but the same parts of the brain are exercised, unlike watching videos, which utilizes fewer. And graphic novels re-engage reluctant readers and hone their reading and comprehension skills.