“I’d say throw the book at that kid, but he would just read it”

Hey, everyone! Hope you’re all finding ways to survive this break period; it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me, not seeing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at eleven each night. One way I’ve been using my extra time is in diving into the weird and wonderful world of books — truth be told, I’ve been gorging on the mounds of novels and non-fiction books that I seem so compulsively moved to buy every time I’m anywhere near a bookstore.


Given that, when I heard that First Book was in the midst of its third annual “What Book Got You Hooked?” campaign, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to re-post info from that great charity. We’ve posted about them before (twice, actually), but it’s really a great organization, and I love the discussions that ensue when we start talking about books here. Here’s Stephen’s pick for “What Book Got You Hooked?”:

First BookHost and Writer, The Colbert Report

Swiss Family Robinson
The first chapter book I remember reading by myself was Swiss Family Robinson. It had it all – a shipwreck, a tropical paradise, a treehouse, pirates, home made bombs, a tiger pit, and the enviable freedom of those three Robinson boys who were seemingly on permanent Summer vacation. Oh! Plus, later they find this girl who they don’t know is a girl because her grandfather has dressed her up as a boy so the pirates won’t know, and the boys treat her like another boy until they find out she’s a girl, and she’s really pretty, and the older brothers fight over her, and they have to hold her hand and stuff to help her over rivers, and that seemed cool to me.

Please do swing by the “What Book Got You Hooked?” page and check out the other celebrity entries. And don’t forget to vote on a state (maybe South Carolina, for Stephen?) to receive 50,000 books for children in need. Banned Books Week is coming up, too — just one more reason to champion reading.

And please chime in the comments to tell us if you’d like to recommend anything you’ve particularly enjoyed, either as a child or more recently. This bookworm is already looking forward to reading your suggestions.


  1. MaryLovesColbert says:

    I, too, am an absolute bookworm – always have been. If I hadn’t just started a new semester at college this week, I’d be filling my Stephen/Jon-break with reading as well! As it is, there’s just a lot less time than there used to be, to my chagrin.

    I did recently finish reading “Boy Meets Boy” which was a touching and cutesy little teen lit book about two boys who meet and – after a series of misunderstandings – find love with each other. It was very sweet, even if it was kind of a fluff read. :P

    Before that, I read Matt Taibbi’s “The Great Derangement” where he goes undercover in the fundamentalist Christian movement and the “9/11 -was-an-inside-job” movement and reports his findings. I’d definitely recommend that book. It was hilarious, pathetic at times, and a really, really entertaining read.

    • I loved “The Great Derangement”! What a funny, kind of scary book. I worried that he was going to blow his cover. And I could hardly believe the stuff that the fundies believed of Matt. Really great book.

      • MaryLovesColbert says:

        I thought it was great! And you’re right, even though it was really funny, it was rather scary too. Those fundies were seriously crazy…

  2. Ms Interpreted says:

    I probably should have mentioned some of the books I’ve been reading lately, too.

    First off, there was Escaping North Korea by Mike Kim. This one was featured on The Daily Show a while back, and I have to say, it’s fascinating, especially considering the Euna Lee and Laura Ling detentions. Reading about the conditions over there was really mind-boggling, sobering and thought-provoking.

    Another one I read somewhat recently was All Governments Lie! by Myra MacPherson — it’s a biography of I.F. Stone. That one started a little slowly for my taste, but it was a compelling read by its end about a man who was probably one of the most dogged and singularly independent journalists, ever. Many have said he was a blogger before there was an internet, and I agree, but it doesn’t give him half the credit he deserves. Really awesome guy.

    Finally, I just finished Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Crazy, crazy book! It’s a horror novel … sort of … but more in the “creepy” vein than anything else. And the “horror” plot is the part of the story that deals with one family, whose story was recorded in a documentary that may or may not exist and is being described through a second (deceased) narrator’s notes/manuscript, which is itself being shared through a third narrator’s notes, etc., etc. There are crazy footnotes (the font varies depending on the narrator), and the text sometimes gets written backwards or upside-down based on what’s being described in the book, and there are “coded” messages in some of the reprinted letters, and it’s just a completely wild read. I’m not normally a fan of stuff like this (I think it’s usually just an exercise in postmodern cleverness, a “Look at me — I’m so non-linear!” indulgence), but the story and execution in this one were strong enough to keep me interested. Very impressive!

    I’m not sure what’s next on my list (I think something a little more traditional would be good), but I noticed that Walter Moers has a new book out this month … :)

    • MaryLovesColbert says:

      Ooh, I’ve heard a lot about “House of Leaves” lately. I’d be interested to check that out…

      • Ms Interpreted says:

        Yeah, it’s been out for almost ten years, and I think it’s being made into a movie. I’m not surprised, but this is one of those books that I think really needs to be read, you know? I’d definitely recommend reading it, anyhow.

        • MaryLovesColbert says:

          Wow, really? I thought it was a relatively new book. Well, that’s…three recs for this book so far! I think it’s going to be my Christmas break indulgence. :)

  3. I just finished “The Monster of Florence” by Douglas Preston. It’s a non-fiction telling of serial killings in and around Florence, Italy starting in the 70’s.

    His co-author is Mario Spezi, who is a newspaper journalist in Florence. He reported on all these horrible killings. It reads like a murder mystery. It’s also filled with great historical facts about Florence and Italian culture. It made me want to go back to Florence. It’s a beautiful city.

    • Ms Interpreted says:

      Sounds cool — I just finally got around to reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson a week or two ago, too; sounds sort of like a similar premise. (By the way, that book is about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and a serial killer who confessed to murdering twenty-seven people and was estimated to have murdered up to several hundred. It’s really well done — a National Book Award and Edgar Award winner.)

      • MaryLovesColbert says:

        Ooh, I have to read “The Devil in the White City” for my Creative Non-fiction class this semester!

        • I loved it! Right now, I am reading “Thunderstruck” by the same author. I love his approach to these novels!

          Enjoy! My reading list for class is NOT as exciting! :)

  4. The Kite Runner, The Lovely Bones? Come on! To put them on a “banned” list makes it sound as if those books were marketed to kids, sexual and violent material and all, so it unfairly pegs them as “banned”(i.e. deviant), even though they are totally appropriate (and very skillfully written, amazing stories, by the way) for mature audiences. I agree that not all books belong in a school library, but to try and take them out of a public library is absolutely ludicrous.

    Huck Finn? Why? Because it has the n word in it? Have we forgotten how people used to speak during Mark Twain’s time? It’s a historical artifact! And Harry Potter “promoting Wicca?” Ridiculous.

    The attempts to censor literacy irks me in the most profound way, as I’m sure it does to any of us bookworms in the world. I don’t know what I’d do if I was told I couldn’t have access to all the books I could ever want just because some backwards party pooper wanted to ban them.

    *deep breath* Now I shall go grab my old copy of Stephen’s King’s “banned” Bachman Books and all three Golden Compass books and hug them.

    • Ms Interpreted says:

      Hee! I really enjoyed that His Dark Materials trilogy (although I’m not at all surprised that it’s on the list, unfortunately). The ones that always made me really angry when I saw them on the list — other than, you know, all of them — were A Wrinkle in Time and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. I have an autographed 25th Anniversary Edition of Roll of Thunder, and the author (Mildred D. Taylor) adds a foreword in which she basically dismisses all the critics who whine about the ugliness of her use of the “N” word by reminding them that racism was ugly. And A Wrinkle in Time? I mean, really?! The climax of that story is Meg being able to save her baby brother because she loves him, and that’s more powerful than all the totalitarian forces trying to keep them apart.

      • A Wrinkle in Time?! Really?! *eyeroll*

        Hmmmmm. Favorite books… Well To Kill A Mockingbird, A Confederacy of Dunces, all of Mary Roach’s books just for starters. I’m trying to finish up The End of Overeating right now. I love books but have found that with two young children it takes me forever to finish a book and I don’t get to read as much as I would like. Well, that’s not completely true. I still read a lot but it’s to them. I’m really enjoying watching my 6 year old fall in love with books and reading and read books to his little sister.

        • Ms Interpreted says:

          Heh. Is that eyeroll because you disliked the book or disliked seeing it on the list? Either way, I just like seeing what other people are reading, and I get incensed when people try to take books out of circulation.

        • The eyeroll is for it being on a list of banned books. I enjoyed that book, although I read it a really long time ago. Actually I roll my eyes at banning books period. Like you, it really, really gets me angry.

        • I’m trying to get the local library near where I work to give me a library card so I can check out The End of Overeating (which they have on hold for me), but since I don’t live in the town where I work, they’re making me jump through hoops to get a card, and it’s bordering on ridiculous. I’m hoping my own library will have it soon. But, the point of this comment was to say, I’m glad you found it to be a good read. [/rant]

        • I was talking about enjoying A Wrinkle in Time many, many years ago but I’m enjoying The End of Overeating as well. I used to the episode threads over on the CN messageboard and when I was making the one for Dr. Kessler I came across an article where he explained what the book was about and it really rang true for me so I ended up buying the book and eventually getting around to reading it. He takes the long way around to get to his point but basically he’s saying that, for a lot of people, the typical American diet, heavy in the fat/sugar/salt combo and processed foods, has altered the brain chemistry and rewired the brain in such a way that food becomes an obesession and people lose control over their eating. I am not currently overweight but have been 30-35 pounds overweight in the past and have struggled to maintain that weight loss. What he says resonates with me and makes complete sense but YMMV.

  5. I keep skipping around between books because I’m terrible at finishing things that I start, plus it always takes a long time for me to read books. I love reading, I love books, but I have a terrible time concentrating….I need absolute silence lol. I really really want to read Escaping North Korea after I saw the author on The Daily Show. Right now I’m trying to read The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I find David Sedaris books really easy for me to read though, because the stories are so well written and hilarious I just fly through them.

    • *slaps forehead* How could I have forgotten about David Sedaris?! His books are definitely among my favorites! I’m going to blame lack of sleep.

  6. Peppermint says:

    If you are interested in the history of science, I read these books in the past couple of months that some of you might enjoy reading – these are all non-fiction, I read them for my uni course and thoroughly enjoyed them:

    A people’s history of science – as the title implies, it pushes aside the “Great Men” view of science and looks at the people who did the work for/with them but remained in the background. Highlights women, factory workers, slaves contributions etc.

    Flat earth – obviously its a history of the idea and the philosophy underpinning it.

    Darwin’s sacred cause – looks at his personal philosophy (anti-racist, anti-slavery, quite a progressive mind for his time). Some anti-evolution people have tried to claim that Darwin was racist and evolution is a racist idea, so it attempts to set the record straight on that front.

    Now I have some spare time (mid-semester break in my country) so I am going to read something a bit lighter – not sure what yet.

  7. The first real book I read that got me hooked on reading was Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I read it in first grade (with the help of a dictionary) and that was that.

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