Dying Up Here coverSince I bought my Kindle a few years ago, I’ve read almost no traditional paper-and-ink books. I have hundreds of them lying around the house, but Kindle changed the game for me. It’s just a better experience, in my estimation.

So, I find myself thinking in a pre-Kindle, post-Kindle sort of way. And during the post-Kindle era, I’m Dying Up Here has turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s a history of modern stand-up comedy, focusing mostly on the 1970s, and the folks — legends and also-rans — who worked at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.

It’s a great story, expertly told. I’m a big comedy fan, and believed I was knowledgeable about such things. But I was wrong. Many of the comics who populate this book were unknown to me, and almost all are fascinating in some crazy way. I loved the stories of Leno and Letterman and Kaufman during the early days of struggle and hard work. But some of the lesser-known names are just as compelling.

I also wasn’t aware that the comics went on strike against the Comedy Store, demanding a small payment for sets performed at the club. This standoff led to decades-long grudges, backstabbing, political jockeying, and one spectacular suicide orchestrated for maximum impact.

If you’re a fan of comedy, I consider this one to be almost a must-read. It’s hard to put down, and wildly entertaining. The Suggestaholic suggests you check it out.

Martian coverIt’s funny how I keep saying “this is not my usual kind of book,” over and over again. Perhaps it’s time to reexamine the definition of my “kind of book?”

In any case, I read this one a few months ago and got all caught-up in it ‘n’ shit. It’s a story about an astronaut mistakenly left alone on Mars. His fellow crew members believed he’d been killed, and were forced to evacuate quickly during a storm. So, when he regained consciousness he realized he was now on his own. On Mars.

It’s a really fun book. The astronaut is the narrator, and is a regular guy with an enormous amount of training. He goes full-Macgyver with whatever equipment he has at his disposal, and is also really sarcastic and funny. This thing is suspenseful and exciting, and also full of laughs.

Another cool thing about it? It was originally self-published. The author was unknown, traditional publishers wouldn’t give him the time of day, and his book is now an international phenomenon. There’s also a movie version coming, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. So suck on that, traditional publishers!

As I type this The Martian is $5.99 for Kindle. You’ll have a blast with it. Here’s the trailer for the film:

wilco-star-warsA few days ago my email inbox was bombarded with messages about a new Wilco album, which is always exciting news. But this time it’s a little different. For one thing, nobody knew it was coming — the release is a legitimate surprise. Plus… the band is offering the full download for free.

Here’s the link to Wilco’s website. You’ll need to provide an email address, confirm that address by clicking on a link in a message sent there, and receive the full mp3 version of the album. Very cool.

I’m only listening for the second time, but digging it. There are a lot of positive reviews online already, and here’s an example. Here’s another.

Star Wars will be available as a free download through August 13. The CD will appear on August 21, and the vinyl LP on November 27. I have everything this band has ever released (and more), so it was — as annoying people often say — a no-brainer for me. Snag it if you’re so inclined. You have about three weeks to get it for free.

Liars Inc coverThis is the latest addition to my Kindle. I love the cover — it’s about as close to perfect as it gets.

It’s what drew my initial interest, to be truthful. But this review sealed the deal: Max is so well-drawn it’s hard not to be completely sympathetic to his predicament…the author twists and turns at all the right moments. Even the keenest mystery buffs will be hard-pressed to predict the book’s finale, which packs quite the emotional and physical punch. Captivating to the very end.

This is a “dark and twisted psychological tale that will keep readers guessing, ” according to the official description. It’s published by HarperCollins, and is ostensibly for young adults. But, at this point, that only means its main character is a teenager. Age of the reader means little. Modern YA novels should never be dismissed by adults.

And look at that cover! Is that not great? Somebody deserves a raise. Today’s price doesn’t hurt, either: $1.99 for Kindle. I’m looking forward to this one.

faraway gone coverThis is the latest addition to my Kindle. I chose it for several reasons.

First, the description:  In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

Also, the testimonials: “The Long and Faraway Gone is that rare literary gem — a dark, quintessentially cool noir novel that is both deeply poignant, and very funny . . . as hip, hilarious, and entertaining as it is wrenching, beautiful, and ultimately redemptive.” (Huffington Post)

Then, there’s the big-time publisher (HarperCollins), and the crazy low price: $1.99.

All those things add up to a pretty safe bet, I think. I’m happy to have this one stored away and ready to go, for some future “I get to choose a new book to read!” day. Check it out, if you’re so inclined.

prime day

They’re calling it Prime Day, and it’s created by our Amazon overlords. I’m unclear why they chose today — July 15 — as the date for this new day o’ deals. But I suspect it’s because there’s a long dry spell during the summer months, when there are no big shopping holidays. Dunno. In any case, it looks like there are some crazy deals going on, and new ones being added all the time. When I logged on a few minutes ago the site was bogging down and acting a little 1998. So, apparently they’re getting the traffic they wanted. Check it out, if you’re so inclined. I have my eye on this Kindle Fire tablet for $60 off. Please note: to get the deals you have to be a member of Amazon Prime. We’re members here at Suggestaholic World Headquarters, and love it. The free shipping is a great benefit, and their Netflix-like streaming service is pretty good, too. We consider it money well-spent.

UPDATE: Apparently this little experiment didn’t go over very well. Check this out.

seinfeld coverThis is a Kindle Single, which means it’s short. About 60 pages, to be exact. But it’s a good one, and has a nice price to go along with it: $1.99 as I’m typing.

Fred Stoller is a comedian, actor, and writer — you might recognize him from Everybody Loves Raymond, and a bunch of other TV shows. Back in 1994 he ran into an old acquaintance at a party, someone he knew from his early standup days in NYC: Larry David.

David invited Stoller to submit a spec script to Seinfeld, the show he co-created. That led to a one-year stint as a staff writer on the program — one of the most popular in the country at the time.

This book gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the show, and the personalities involved. I read it several years ago, and really enjoyed it. In fact, I’ve been meaning to re-read it. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan, and this kind of thing fascinates me. Stoller is a good writer, self-deprecating and honest. Grab it, if you’re interested in the inner-workings of sitcoms, the life of a TV writer, or just the great program itself.

Unappealing coverI believe Amazon helped me discover this gem. I think I was looking at some lesser (but more popular) humor book, and this one was suggested to me. I’ve never written a Thank You note to a corporate marketing algorithm before, but in this case it might be warranted. I freaking LOVE this book.

I was unfamiliar with Sara Barron, but instantly liked the title and cover of her memoir. And the description sealed the deal. Here’s part of it: Born the child of a homo and a hypochondriac (Okay, okay. Her dad’s not really a homosexual. He just acts like it. Her mom, however, really is a hypochondriac), Sara Barron never stood a chance of being normal. At age eleven, she starts writing porn (“He humped me wildly with his wiener”). At twelve, she gets mistaken for a trannie. The pre-op sort, no less. By seventeen, she’s featured on the Jerry Springer Show. And that’s all before she hits New York.

Humor is highly subjective, of course, but I loved every minute of this book. For me it was perfection. The stories are the kinds you’d find on a personal blog, and the execution is flawless. There’s nothing PC about it, which I appreciate, and the language is sometimes a little rough. You know, the way regular human beings talk?

This is one of my favorite books of the past few years. Don’t miss it.

Ask The Dust coverThis is a book I’ve heard about all my life, and have always meant to read. But, you know how it goes… It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes on, and the next thing you know it’s 2 am and you’re covered in the residue of a thousand Cheetos…

Published in 1939, Ask the Dust is a novel about a man living in a shitty resident hotel in 1930s Los Angeles, trying desperately to make it as a writer. The setting alone is enough to make me prick up my ears. Right? It’s very likely autobiographical, based on the real-life struggles of Fante himself. And it has quite the cult following. Robert Towne called it the greatest book ever written about Los Angeles.

Charles Bukowski contributed the introduction to this edition, and admittedly worshiped at the altar of John Fante. In fact, he helped rescue this book from obscurity during the late 1970s, when he convinced his publisher to reissue it.

I’m no expert — I only downloaded it myself fifteen minutes ago — but I’m confident in recommending this one. I’ve been hearing about its greatness since the 1980s. And it’s hard to go wrong at today’s Kindle price of $1.99.

Icefloe coverIf there was ever a book that fell into the “not for everyone” category, this would be it. A gleefully over-the-top satire of romance novels, Pandora’s Box stars a deplorable human being known as Icefloe Jackson. Short, balding, and crass, Icefloe is every woman’s dream. He only uses four inches of his six-inch penis, because anything more might destroy a woman. He’s a super hero for the average man!

Here’s part of a reader review at Amazon: “OMG. Romance For Men: Pandora’s Box has to be the vilest, crudest, most wildly inappropriate piece of profane filth I’ve ever read. …That said, it’s also the funniest damn thing I’ve read in ages.”

Part of the official book description: Realizing that the end-of-the-world can only be averted by Icefloe’s superior sexual prowess, President Obama calls on him to use his penis to save us all. This carnal mission will take Icefloe from The Hot Nuns of Assisi (hidden beneath the Vatican by the Pope) to The Nazi Babes of the SS in their terrible lair on Fuhrer Island…

This thing is wild and filthy, and runs wide-open from the first page. It’s also written by Dean Lorey (under the Icefloe name) a screenwriter who has worked on Arrested Development, and a bunch of other TV shows and movies. You can see the many celebrity endorsements the book has garnered at Amazon. As I type this, the Kindle version is $2.99. If you like your humor uncut, and aren’t offended by every little thing, I heartily recommend this one.