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   Sep 21

Fun Reading

Learning stuff is great, but sometimes you need to just relax. These are some of my favorite books. Most involve travel, some are hilarious, some are heart warming, but generally speaking, they aren’t dark or sad, although some have sad parts and a few are even a bit bittersweet. When I say fun reading, I mostly mean cheers me up and entertains.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost–who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs–decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish–all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is "La Macarena." He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including "Half-Dead Fred" and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life). With "The Sex Lives of Cannibals," Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years–one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.






Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu

Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu

With "The Sex Lives of Cannibals," Maarten Troost established himself as one of the most engaging and original travel writers around. "Getting Stoned with Savages" again reveals his wry wit and infectious joy of discovery in a side-splittingly funny account of life in the farthest reaches of the world. After two grueling years on the island of Tarawa, battling feral dogs, machete-wielding neighbors, and a lack of beer on a daily basis, Maarten Troost was in no hurry to return to the South Pacific. But as time went on, he realized he felt remarkably out of place among the trappings of twenty-first-century America. When he found himself holding down a job–one that might possibly lead to a career–he knew it was time for him and his wife, Sylvia, to repack their bags and set off for parts unknown. " Getting Stoned with Savages" tells the hilarious story of Troost’s time on Vanuatu–a rugged cluster of islands where the natives gorge themselves on kava and are still known to "eat the man." Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles against typhoons, earthquakes, and giant centipedes and soon finds himself swept up in the laid-back, clothing-optional lifestyle of the islanders. When Sylvia gets pregnant, they decamp for slightly-more-civilized Fiji, a fallen paradise where the local chiefs can be found watching rugby in the house next door. And as they contend with new parenthood in a country rife with prostitutes and government coups, their son begins to take quite naturally to island living–in complete contrast to his dad.






Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He

Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation, or How He

The bestselling author of "The Sex Lives of Cannibals "returns with a sharply observed, hilarious account of his adventures in China–a complex, fascinating country with enough dangers and delicacies to keep him, and readers, endlessly entertained. Maarten Troost has charmed legions of readers with his laugh-out-loud tales of wandering the remote islands of the South Pacific. When the travel bug hit again, he decided to go big-time, taking on the world’s most populous and intriguing nation. In "Lost on Planet China, "Troost escorts readers on a rollicking journey through the new beating heart of the modern world, from the megalopolises of Beijing and Shanghai to the Gobi Desert and the hinterlands of Tibet. " Lost on Planet China" finds Troost dodging deadly drivers in Shanghai; eating Yak in Tibet; deciphering restaurant menus (offering local favorites such as Cattle Penis with Garlic); visiting with Chairman Mao (still dead, very orange); and hiking (with 80,000 other people) up Tai Shan, China’s most revered mountain. But in addition to his trademark gonzo adventures, the book also delivers a telling look at a vast and complex country on the brink of transformation that will soon shape the way we all work, live, and think. As Troost shows, while we may be familiar with Yao Ming or dim sum or the cheap, plastic products that line the shelves of every store, the real China remains a world–indeed, a planet–unto itself. Maarten Troost" "brings China to life as you’ve never seen it before, and his insightful, rip-roaringly funny narrative proves that once again he is one of the most entertaining and insightful armchair travel companions around.






Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story

Jody never asked to become a vampire. But when she wakes up under an alley Dumpster with a badly burned arm, an aching neck, superhuman strength, and a distinctly Nosferatuan thirst, she realizes the decision has been made for her. Making the transition from the nine-to-five grind to an eternity of nocturnal prowlings is going to take some doing, however, and that’s where C. Thomas Flood fits in. A would-be Kerouac from Incontinence, Indiana, Tommy (to his friends) is biding his time night-clerking and frozen-turkey bowling in a San Francisco Safeway. But all that changes when a beautiful undead redhead walks through the door … and proceeds to rock Tommy’s life — and afterlife — in ways he never imagined possible.






Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have read–and reread–Christopher Moore’s irreverent, iconoclastic, and divinely funny tale of the early life of Jesus Christ as witnessed by his boyhood pal Levi bar Alphaeus (a.k.a. Biff). Now, in this special (check out the cool red ribbon marker, gilt-edged pages, and gold lettering) gift edition of Christopher Moore’s bestselling "Lamb," you, too, can find out what really happened between the manger and the Sermon on the Mount. And, in a new afterword written expressly for this edition, Christopher Moore addresses some of the most frequently asked questions he’s received from readers since Lamb’s initial publication, about the book and himself. Fresh, funny, poignant, and wise, this special gift edition of "Lamb" is cause for rejoicing among readers everywhere.






Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Take a wonderfully crazed excursion into the demented heart of a tropical paradise–a world of cargo cults, cannibals, mad scientists, ninjas, and talking fruit bats. Our bumbling hero is Tucker Case, a hopeless geek trapped in a cool guy’s body, who makes a living as a pilot for the Mary Jean Cosmetics Corporation. But when he demolishes his boss’s pink plane during a drunken airborne liaison, Tuck must run for his life from Mary Jean’s goons. Now there’s only one employment opportunity left for him: piloting shady secret missions for an unscrupulous medical missionary and a sexy blond high priestess on the remotest of Micronesian hells. Here is a brazen, ingenious, irreverent, and wickedly funny novel from a modern master of the outrageous.






Godmother

Godmother

Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings-the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming. But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica-a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men-and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for. . . .






Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale

Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after? Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father’s greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom. Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart…. A surprising take on the classic tale, "Mermaid" is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page.






Rain Village

Rain Village

In this hypnotic, magically real debut novel, a tiny young woman from the heart of the Midwest overcomes an abusive childhood by following her mysterious and beautiful mentor’s footsteps to become a circus trapeze artist.






You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking But Utterly True Facts

You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking But Utterly True Facts

You’re going to wish you never picked up this book. Some facts are too terrifying to teach in school. Unfortunately, Cracked.com is more than happy to fill you in: *A zombie apocalypse? It could happen. 50% of humans are infected with a parasite that can take over your brain. *The FDA wouldn’t let you eat bugs, right? Actually, you might want to put down those jelly beans. And that apple. And that strawberry yogurt. *Think dolphins are our friends? Then these sex-crazed thrill killers of the sea have you right where they want you. *The most important discovery in the history of genetics? Francis Crick came up with it while on LSD. *Think you’re going to "choose" whether or not to buy this book? Scientists say your brain secretly makes all your decisions10 seconds before you even know what they are.






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