Category Archives: Non-Fiction Books

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon

zevon coverThis oral history of Warren Zevon’s “turbulent” life was released shortly after the singer/songwriter died of lung cancer at the way-too-young age of 56.

From the Publisher’s Weekly review:

For those who know them, the brilliant, dark songs of Warren Zevon (1947-2003) inspire nothing short of adoration; for those who don’t, this stunning biography of the irrepressible rock ‘n’ roll singer/songwriter should send them sprinting to the nearest record store. By taking an unexpurgated, oral-history approach to Warren’s life, his former wife and lifelong friend Crystal has crafted a sharp, funny, jaw-dropping rock biography that’s among the best of the sub-genre. Provocative and unflinching, her account distills Warren’s journal entries and the author’s exhaustive interviews with 87 family members, business associates, band mates, fellow musicians and former lovers into a chronology ranging from Warren’s ancestry to his death.

This is a good one, my friends, and right now it’s priced at $1.99 in the Kindle Store. I love Warren, but even if you know nothing about the man… I’m confident you’ll enjoy his wild real-life story.

I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High-Times in Stand-Up Comedy’s Golden Era by William Knoedelseder

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.

My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller

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.

People Are Unappealing: Even Me by Sara Barron

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.

President Me: The America That’s In My Head by Adam Carolla

President Me coverIn this, his third New York Times best seller, comedian Adam Carolla describes how he would fix most of society’s ills. It’s part silliness, part seriousness, and totally profane. The Washington Post hated it, so it’s got that going for it, as well.

Here’s a random quote, to give you a taste of what’s inside: “…we judge smokers more harshly than we judge deadbeat dads in our society. Seriously, how many antismoking PSAs have you seen this week vs. ones saying raise your kids, or don’t have kids if you can’t afford them? And what’s hurting our society more? People need to see that asshole and call him an asshole so maybe other people thinking about being assholes wouldn’t become assholes. We stopped judging people a long time ago because the idiots on the left told us everyone is the same and that we couldn’t do that. We need to bring back judging.”

President Me is available for $1.99 in the Kindle Store today. The opinions are unpredictable, so there’s something to annoy and delight almost everyone. And did I mention that it’s pretty freaking funny? Here’s to judging!

The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ by Roger Stone

Man Who Killed Kennedy coverI heard the author of this book on Coast to Coast with George Noory a few months ago. Many of the guests on that radio show are deep-dish kooks, but this dude sounded legit. Oh, I’ve been fooled before, but he struck me as a serious and grounded journalist.

His thesis: LBJ arranged for the assassination of JFK. You know, as a career move. It’s not a unique theory, many people have suspected that Johnson was involved. But Stone had a fleshed-out scenario, backed with some new information. I was intrigued, all the way home from my job, listening to the details of this conspiracy theory unfold.

When I got home, I added the book to my Wishlist and it’s remained there for a long time. Until today… when I noticed it’s priced at $1.99. So, I snagged it. There are a lot of positive reviews, and it’s continued to cause controversy. Looking forward to it!

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase to Catch Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

manhunt coverThis is a good one. I read this book years ago, and it’s history written like a novel. Meaning… it’s entertaining, and not just dry data.

To be honest, I didn’t even really know that John Wilkes Booth escaped and was on the run for so long. I’m not sure I should admit it, but that was all new information to me. I also didn’t know that Lincoln wasn’t the only person targeted for murder that night.

There are several scenes that remain vivid in my mind, even years later. It’s very well-written, and highly recommended.

Today it’s on sale in the Kindle Store, for $1.99. It’s a great book, worth every cent — even on days when it’s full-priced. I bought the hard cover when it was a new release, and considered it money well-spent.

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil

Please Kill Me Cover 2It feels somewhat inappropriate to make the first post at the newly reconfigured Suggestaholic site to be a suggestion for a book I haven’t yet read. But, what does it matter, really? I doubt anyone is going to call 911.

In any case, this thing has been on my Amazon Wishlist for years. It’s widely considered to be a classic, and is mentioned in roughly every other episode of WTF with Marc Maron.

And today… it’s on sale for a mere $1.99 in the Kindle store. You see? My patience has paid off, once again.

If you’re interested in the history of punk, I can confidently recommend this one. Buy before midnight Seattle time (that’s where Amazon is headquartered, correct?) for the low price. Or, if money is no object, pick it up tomorrow or next week. Me? I prefer to lie in wait for three or four years, then STRIKE like a cobra!