Book Reviews

“Only two classes of books are of universal appeal; the very best and the very worst.” ~Ford Madox Ford

“Pleasure is by no means an infallible critical guide, but it is the least fallible.” ~W.H. Auden

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ~Haruki Murakami


Books have always been one of my drugs of choice… books and beer and bourbon. It is difficult to imagine a satisfying time in life without at least one of the three at my elbow. All three at the same time means that I am on vacation.

Over the years at ClimbingSky and MontanaWriter, I have written about a number of books, and scores of poems. I have called them “book reviews”and “poetry reviews” but in most cases they are not really reviews at all in the classic sense. They are really just notes and impressions about books and poems and writers. Reader’s Notes if you will.

One of my new goals for ClimbingSky is to include more such notes here. For the few books that I actually read to the very end AND  for the many, many more that I only read for awhile and then abandon.

ClimbingSky’s Book Review Policy:
Books are reviewed here solely at the whimsy of the blog owner. Non-Westerns are seldom reviewed. Below you will find a list of 300 books I have enjoyed. If after looking at the list and the books reviewed here, you believe you have a book that I may be interested in reviewing, feel free to contact me at, markhinton(at)


300 books I am glad I’ve read (in no particular order):

  1. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
  2. Roughing It, by Mark Twain
  3. Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, by W. B. Yeats
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  5. Karpov on Karpov, by Anatoly Karpov
  6. Poems, by William Wordsworth
  7. Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, by Bill James
  8. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
  9. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown
  10. Omar N. Bradley a Soldiers Story, by Omar N. Bradley
  11. Life Work, by Donald Hall
  12. Boys of Summer, Roger Kahn
  13. A Sportman’s Sketches, by Ivan Turgenev
  14. Parades End, by Ford Madox Ford
  15. The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe
  16. The Green Hills of Africa, by Ernest Hemingway
  17. Dyer’s Hand, by W.H. Auden
  18. Selected Poems of Dylan Thomas, by Dylan Thomas
  19. Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan
  20. On Poetry and Poets, by T.S. Eliot
  21. I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane
  22. Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
  23. This House of Sky, by Ivan Doig
  24. Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  25. The Source, by James Michener
  26. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  27. Homage to Robert Frost, by Seamus Heaney, Joseph Brodsky, and Derek Walcott
  28. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
  29. Essays and Introductions, by W.B. Yeats
  30. Autobiographies, by W.B. Yeats
  31. Night, by Elie Wiesel
  32. The Seven Story Mountain, by Thomas Merton
  33. The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg, by Carl Sandburg
  34. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
  35. The Book of Basketball, by Bill Simmons
  36. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
  37. Sweeney Astray, by Seamus Heaney
  38. Poetry and Ambition, by Donald Hall
  39. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
  40. Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton
  41. .44, by H.A. DeRosso
  42. Can Poetry Matter?, by Dana Gioia
  43. For Whom the Bells Toll, by Ernest Hemingway
  44. Complete Poems, Marianne Moore
  45. 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  46. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solhenitsyn
  47. Idle Days in Patagonia, by W.H. Hudson
  48. The Fabulous Clip Joint, by Frederic Brown
  49. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  50. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
  51. At the Earth’s Core, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  52. On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder
  53. Gulag Achipelego,  by Alexander Solhenitsyn
  54. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
  55. Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
  56. Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, by W.B. Yeats
  57. A Bend in the River, by V.S. Naipaul
  58. A Day in the Bleachers, by Arnold Hano
  59. The Glory of Their Times, by Lawrence Ritter
  60. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. The Complete Father Brown, by G.K. Chesterton
  62. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
  63. My Turn at Bat, by Ted Williams
  64. The Plague, Albert Camus
  65. Travels with Charly by John Steinbeck
  66. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  67. Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
  68. Bible
  69. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  70. Collected Fictions, by Jorge Luis Borges
  71. Collected Poems of John Milton, by John Milton
  72. The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski
  73. Collected Poems, by W.H. Auden
  74. The Pitch that Killed, by Mike Sowell
  75. Black Elk Speaks, by John John Neihardt
  76. Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen E. Ambrose
  77. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  78. Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis
  79. Portrait of Picasso, by Norman Mailer
  80. A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, by Hugh MacDiarmid
  81. Dispatches, by Michael Herr
  82. Chiricahua, by Will Henry
  83. Conan, Robert E. Howard
  84. Selected Poems, John Donne
  85. Riders of the Shadowlands: Western Stories, by H.A. DeRosso
  86. Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  87. Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
  88. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John le Carre
  89. A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean
  90. The Green Fool by Patrick Kavanaugh
  91. Poems of Byron, Keats and Shelley, by Elliott Coleman, ed.
  92. The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain
  93. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick
  94. The Empty Copper Sea, by John D. MacDonald
  95. Collected Poems 1917-1982, By Archibald MacLeish
  96. Night Squad, by David Goodis
  97. My Favorite Year, Mickey Mantle
  98. Deeper,  by Jeff Long
  99. Life of Tom Horn, by Tom Horn
  100. Eye of the Storm,  by Jack Higgins
  101. Valdez is Coming, by Elmore Leornard
  102. The Simple Art of Murder, by Raymond Chandler
  103. Collected Stories, by William Faulkner
  104. Red Storm Rising, by Tom Clancy
  105. Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918, by Paul Klee
  106. Mythologies, by W.B. Yeats
  107. Damanation Alley, by Roger Zelazny
  108.  Weather Central, by Ted Kooser
  109. Aran Islands by John M. Synge
  110. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  111. Savage Range, by Luke Short
  112. Let Me Tell You a Story, by Red Auerbach
  113. Field Work, by Seamus Heaney
  114. The Complete Angler, by Izzak Walton
  115. Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot, by T.S. Eliot
  116. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche
  117. The Celebrated Case of Judge Dee, by Robert Van Gulik
  118. The Curious Case of Syd Finch, by George Plimpton
  119. Iceberg, by Clive Cussler
  120. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
  121. The Complete Stories, by Franz Kafka
  122. Christ and Culture, by H. Richard Niebuhr
  123.  Native Tongue, by Carl Hiaasen
  124. The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction, by Ed Gorman, ed.
  125. Collected Poems, by  Patrick Kavanaugh
  126. Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, by Robert Penn Warren
  127. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  128. Hockey Heroes & Me, by Red Fischer
  129. The River Why, by David Duncan
  130. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
  131. Shadow Prey, by John Sanford
  132.  Sailing Alone Around the Room, by Billy Collins
  133. The Goodbye Look, by Ross MacDonald
  134.  The Haw Lantern, by Seamus Heaney
  135. Three Plays, by Sean O’Casey
  136. Collected Poems, by Austin Clarke
  137. War and Peace, by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
  138. El Borak, by Robert E. Howard
  139. Black Diamonds, John Holloway
  140. Letters to a Young Poet, by Ranier Maria Rilke
  141. Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig and His Time, by Ray Robinson
  142. Report to Greco, by Nikos Kazantzakis
  143. The Godwulf Manuscript, by Robert Parker
  144. Open Net, by George Plimpton
  145. Get Shorty, by Elmore Leonard
  146. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  147. Selected Poems, by Robert Browning
  148. Ted Williams Reader, by Lawrence Baldassaro
  149.  The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
  150.  The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
  151. Poems, by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  152. The Stanglers, by Loren Estleman
  153. The Polish Officer, by Alan Furst
  154.  Winter Morning Walks, by Ted Kooser
  155. Father’s and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev
  156. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
  157. Writers of the Purple Sage: Anthology, by Russell Martin ed.
  158. Tales from Ovid, by Ted Hughes
  159. The Mooring of Starting Out, by John Ashbery
  160. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  161. The Complete Stories, by Flannery O’Connor
  162. Far Away and Long Ago, by W.H. Hudson
  163. The Nine Tailors, by Dorthy Sayers
  164. New & Collected Poems, by Geoffrey Hill
  165. Exodus, by Leon Uris
  166. Collected Poems of William Blake, by William Blake
  167. Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella
  168. Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
  169. Beowulf, by Seamus Heaney trans.
  170. Savage Night, by Jim Thompson
  171. Plays of John M. Synge, by John M. Synge
  172.  Battle of the Bulge, by Charles Whiting
  173. Tal-Botvinnik, 1960, by Mikhail Tal
  174. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
  175. The Polish Officer, by Alan Furst
  176. Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, by Lawrence Block
  177. Selected Poems, by Galway Kinnell
  178. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  179. Christianity and Culture, by T.S. Eliot
  180. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  181. Selected Poems, by Osip Mandelstam
  182. A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
  183. War of the Rats, by David L. Robbins
  184. In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead, by James Lee Burke
  185. Sacred Hoops, by Phil Jackson
  186. Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy
  187. The Blizzard Voices, by Ted Kooser
  188. The Bride Wore Black, by Cornell Woolrich
  189. Plays of Henrik Ibsen, by Henrik Ibsen
  190. Penquin Book of Irish Verse, by various
  191. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, by Stephen King
  192. The Flying Frenchman, by Maurice “Rocket” Richard
  193. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
  194. Selected Poems of Ezra Pound, by Ezra Pound
  195. Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame, by Bill James
  196.  Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon
  197.  Mr. Samler’s Planet, by Saul Bellow
  198. The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  199. A Continuing Journey, by Archibald MacLeish
  200. Indemnity Only, by Sara Paretsky
  201. Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever, by Satchel Paige
  202. Together We Kill, by Mickey Spillane
  203. Preoccupations, by Seamus Heaney
  204. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
  205. Lions in Winter, by Allan Turowetz
  206. Walking Down the Stairs, by Galway Kinnell
  207. My Greatest Game, by Ralph L. Finn ed.
  208. Dune, by Frank Herbert
  209. The Moving Target, by Ross MacDonald
  210. In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison, by Jack Henry Abbott
  211. Eight Million Ways to Die, by Lawrence Block
  212. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
  213. The Inner Room, by James Merrill
  214. Cancer Ward, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  215. The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
  216.  Streak: Joe DiMaggio and the Summer of ’41, by Michael Seidel
  217. Selected Letters, by Ernest Hemingway
  218. Thief of Time, Tony Hillerman
  219. Complete Plays, by W.B. Yeats
  220. End Game: Kasparov vs. Short, by Dominic Lawson
  221. The Castle, by Franz Kafka
  222. Selected Poems, by John Ashbery
  223. Cobb: A Biography, by Al Stump
  224. Trinity, by Leon Uris
  225. The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene
  226. Selected Poems, by Tomas McGrath
  227. Washington Square, by Henry James
  228. Iowa Baseball Confederacy, by W.P. Kinsella
  229. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  230. The Second Coming, by Walker Percy
  231. Selected Poems, by Derek Walcott
  232. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee
  233. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  234. Gustavo Gutierrez: Liberation Theology, by Robert McAfee Brown
  235. Letters and Papers from Prison, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  236. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
  237. Undaunted Courage, by Stephen E. Ambrose
  238. A Fine Red Rain, by Stuart M. Kaminsky
  239. Dubliners, by James Joyce
  240. The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  241. The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard, by Elmore Leonard
  242. St. Francis, by G.K. Chesterton
  243. Poetry and the World, by Robert Pinsky
  244. The Zebra-Stripped Hearse, by Ross MacDonald
  245. Eight Men Out, by Eliot Asinof
  246. Crossing the Threshold of Hope, by John Paul II
  247. The Black Company, by Glen Cook
  248. Notes from Underground, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  249. Jesse James, by T.J. Stiles
  250. Sez Who? Sez Me, by Mike Royko
  251. A Dance at the Slaughterhouse, by Lawrence Block
  252. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
  253. Timbered Choir, by Wendell Berry
  254. Poems, by Wallace Stevens
  255. Paper Lion, by George Plimpton
  256. Theology of Culture, by Paul Tillich
  257. My Life in Hockey, by John Beliveau
  258. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  259. D-Day June 6, 1944, by Stephen E. Ambrose
  260. Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges
  261. Selected Poems, by Ranier Maria Rilke
  262. Here at Eagle Pond, by Donald Hall
  263. Collected Poems, by Robert Frost
  264. The Long Walk, by Stephen King
  265. Theology in a New Key, by Robert McAfee Brown
  266. Under the Burning Sun, by H.A. DeRosso
  267. Leaping Poetry, by Robert Bly
  268. Slick, by Whitey Ford
  269. A Bridge Too Far, by Cornelius Ryan
  270. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carre
  271. First & Only, by Dan Abnett
  272. Selected Poems, by William Carlos Williams
  273. Farewell My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler
  274. The Continental Op, by Dashiell Hammett
  275. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, by John Ashbery
  276. The Odessa File, by Frederick Forsyth
  277. August 1914, by Alexsandr I. Solzhenitsyn
  278. Brand, by Henrik Ibsen
  279. Ball Four, by Jim Bouton
  280. Bunts, by George Will
  281. Daily Horoscope, by Dana Gioia
  282. Out of My League, by George Plimpton
  283. The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson
  284. Selected Poems, by Mark Van Doren
  285. Fathers Playing Catch with Sons, by Donald Hall
  286. The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett
  287. Either / or: The Gospel or Neopaganism, by Carl  E. Braaten, ed.
  288. Washing of the Spears, by Donald R. Morris
  289. The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  290.  Love and Responsibilty, by John Paul II
  291.  High Priest of Califorina, by Charles Willeford
  292.  Explorations, by W.B. Yeats
  293.  West of Honor, by Jerry Pournelle
  294.  Some Imagist Poets, by Richard Aldington and various
  295.  The Big Sky, by A.B. Guthrie
  296.  The Boat of Quiet Hours, by Jane Kenyon
  297.  The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford
  298.  Robert Browning, by G.K. Chesterton
  299.  Short Stories of Henry James, by Henry James
  300.  Complete Poems, by e.e. cummings