Hank Howls For Books You May Have Overlooked


There’s nothing left to read!  I’ve read everything, that’s any good, that’s ever been written.  My only hope is that somebody writes a new book that’s up to snuff.

Ever had thoughts like that running through your head?  I know you have. I’ve seen your kind – desperately pawing through the new books.  Opening them up, reading a few paragraphs, then tossing them back on the shelf with a snort of disgust.  Okay, you don’t snort, but you feel like it.

Well, you’re in luck.  I’m going to give you a list of eight books you may not have heard of, but are almost certain to enjoy.

Check them out:

In the Time of the Butterflies*  by Julia Alvarez.  This novel blends fact and fiction as Alvarez recounts the lives of four sisters who dared to stand up to Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo.  It is a book I would never have read, had the ruthless women in one of my book clubs not forced me.  Now, I include it in my list of best fiction ever.

The Talented Mr. Ripley*  by Patricia Highsmith.  “One of the great crime novels of the 20th century,” Highsmith’s tale concerns a young sociopath who does the usual bad deeds his kind are known for.  Yet,  you cannot help but empathize with him to a certain degree.  European locations give this suspenseful novel an element of the exotic.

Seabiscuit*  by Laura Hillenbrand.  In 1936, a small colt with bad knees named Seabiscuit raced on various second-rate race tracks.  In 1937, the same horse drew crowds of 60,000 at the best racetracks and received more newspaper coverage than Roosevelt and Hitler. In 1938, Seabiscuit, the darling of the depression’s downtrodden, was put up against the invincible triple crown winner, War Admiral, in a race called by many the  Match of the Century.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings*  by Maya Angelou.  This coming of age autobiography relates the early years of African-American writer Maya Angelou.  Spanning the ages of three to seventeen, Angelou describes how she used a love of literature and her own strength of character to overcome racism and an inferiority complex.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest*   by Ken Kesey.  Here is an example of a very readable book that just happens to be one of the 20th century’s greatest classicsThe formidable Nurse Ratched bullies the patients at a psychiatric hospital on a daily basis Her time of domination ends upon the admission of one Randle Patrick McMurphy, a prison inmate who has convinced his warden that he is mentally ill and should serve out his sentence in a psychiatric facility.

All Quiet on the Western Front*  by Erich Maria Remarque.  Another readable classic.  This novel about World War I is from a German soldier’s point of view.  The anti-war novel describes the extreme physical and mental stress soldiers have to go through.  When the Nazis came to power in Germany, All Quiet on the Western Front was banned and burned.

Red and Me*  by Bill Russell and Alan Steinberg.  A tall African-American from Louisiana and a short Jew from Brooklyn lead the Boston Celtics to 13 NBA championships.  How did these two intense individuals from two completely different worlds bond so closely?  This biography is more about people than basketball.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich*  by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  Okay, I snuck another classic on the list, but it is only 138 pages longAnd like most people, you secretly wonder what it would be like to live in a Siberian labor camp. Don’t you?  Yes, there is actually humor in this very readable novel by one of the great authors of all time.

There you have it.  Eight great books suitable to all tastes — pretty much.  Take a chance and try one.  I dare you!

* I have read and enjoyed these books.


from http://www.poddys.com/jokes/jokes_025.htm

 It seems a pastor from Maine skipped services one Sunday to go bear hunting in the mountains.

As he turned the corner along the path, he and a bear collided.

The pastor stumbled backwards, slipped off the trail, and began tumbling down the mountain with the bear in hot pursuit.

Finally the pastor crashed into a boulder, sending his rifle in one direction and breaking both legs.

As the bear closed in, the pastor cried out in desperation, “Lord, I’m sorry for what I have done. Please forgive me and save me! Lord, please make that bear a Christian.”

Suddenly the bear skidded to a halt at the pastor’s feet, fell to its knees, clasped its paws together and said, “God, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

In the hospital, where their family member lay gravely ill, the relatives gathered in the waiting room.

Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber.

I’m afraid I am the bearer of bad news,” he said as he surveyed the worried faces. “The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant. It’s an experimental procedure, risky, and you will have to pay for the brain yourselves.”

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news.

At length, someone asked, “Well, how much does a brain cost?”

The doctor quickly responded, “$2000 for a female brain, and $5000 for a male brain.”

The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye contact with the women, but some actually smirked.

A girl, unable to control her curiosity, blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask, “Why is the male brain so much more?”

The doctor smiled at her childish innocence and then to the entire group said, “It’s a standard pricing procedure. We have to mark the female brains down, because they’ve been used.”


A guy goes into a restaurant/lounge wearing a shirt open at the collar and is met by a bouncer who tells him he must wear a necktie to gain admission.

So the guy goes out to his car and he looks around for a necktie and discovers that he just doesn’t have one, although he does see a set of jumper cables in his trunk.

In desperation he ties these around his neck, manages to fashion a fairly acceptable looking knot and lets the ends dangle free.

He goes back to the restaurant and the bouncer carefully looks him over for a few minutes and then says, “Well, OK, I guess you can come in – just don’t start anything.”


Best T-shirts of the summer

(around a picture of dandelions) I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won.

Princess, Having Had Sufficient Experience With Princes, Seeks Frog.

I Didn’t Climb to the Top of the Food Chain to Be a Vegetarian

Coffee, Chocolate, Men… Some Things are Just Better Rich.

The Old Pro…Often Wrong…Never In Doubt.

Author: hank

I am married with two daughters and one grandchild. After teaching in the inner city of South Bend, IN for many years, I now work at the St. Joseph County Public Library. I started keeping track of the books I read when I was sixteen years old, and now have read over 1700 books with a page count of more than 500,000.


  1. Thanks for the list, Hank.

  2. I will take In The Time of the Butterflies on my iPod for vacation!

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