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Ad Celebrity Book List: Chris Wall

Posted on February 19, 2008 and read 2,045 times

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I read a lot. I always did.


How can you write if you don’t read? If you don’t love words? If you don’t love stories?

I like writers more than books. If you’ve got one good one in you, why not another?

If I like an author, I’ll read more. Not always. Not Ayn Rand. But sometimes.

I live in Brooklyn in a neighborhood that used to be full of writers. Capote wrote In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s up the block. W.H. Auden lived here. So did Arthur Miller. Richard Wright. Norman Mailer lived around the corner.

I read on planes. On subways. I know I’m traveling too much when I’ve read every novel in the rack. Reading on planes is better than eating on them.

I like to see what people are reading on the A train. It’s a place to hide – just you and those words on the page to protect you.

That said…


No Country for Old Men
By: Cormac McCarthy
Capital letters are a crutch. Check your napkin rings at the door. It’s not Laura Ashley.


Love is a Dog from Hell
By: Charles Bukowski
The title alone puts this one on the list. I’m not much for poetry otherwise. John Dullaghan, a fine copywriter, did a shoestring documentary about Bukowski entitled Born Into This. You should watch it. It’s on Netflix. A great piece of work. A labor of love. Writers should have passion, and this was Dullaghan’s passion. Bukowski’s passion is in the book. Read it aloud, but not to your girlfriend. Turn it into a P&G spot, I dare you.


The Big Sleep
By: Raymond Chandler
Chandler was an oilman turned writer. He was old. He got fired. He understood the perversity of LA and he wrote it down in Philip Marlowe stories. He defined the LA detective novel and this is as good as it gets. Chandler was elegant, stylish, witty, and economical. He had manners.

I lived in LA for a long time and this about captures it. Geiger’s bookshop. Carmen Sternwood. Bogart starred in the film and it was made for him. Who cares who killed the chauffeur?

Chandler wrote the screenplays for Double Indemnity and Strangers on a Train, books on film and good ones at that.


The Black Echo
By: Michael Connelly
He wrote crime stories for the LA Times. Gave it up to write fiction. The Harry Bosch novels, they’re good. Marlowe redux. I’ve read every one. They’re addictive.


Devil in a Blue Dress
By: Walter Mosley
Another take on the LA detective. Easy Rawlins – a black man in a white town in a white decade; the late 40’s, sticking his nose into stuff that he shouldn’t. A rough place at a rough time, a different POV. A good bunch of stories. This was the first.


The Powers That Be
By: David Halberstam
An, 80s, era study of the rise of mass media: CBS, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and their impact on politics and power. Haven’t read it in a long time but it stuck with me. Halberstam wrote a lot of terrific stuff and I haven’t read all of it (it’s on my shelf, though).


Ogilvy on Advertising
By: David Ogilvy
This guy had my job way back when and he did it better. I bought my first copy at the Crown Books on Sunset Blvd in LA circa 1985, not far from the old Schwab’s Drug Store. It’s worth reading, not just for what he wrote but also for how he wrote it. Terse, witty, pointed and practical, it’s a fine piece of advice on how to run an agency, even if some of the examples are out of date. Best $12.95 I ever spent.


Microcosm
By: George Gilder
The impact of silicon on society. Dense but occasionally inspiring. I reread it when I’m stuck. If Bukowski had been a pundit instead of a drunk, maybe he would have written like this.


Blink
By: Malcolm Gladwell
Musings on the power of intuition by the intellectual, Gene Shalit.


Life After God
By: Douglas Coupland
Coupland gets the relationship, technology, humanity and absurdity better than anyone. I’ve read most of his books, including Generation X, Girlfriend in a Coma and Polaroids from the Dead. Not really airport material. Too much depth.


Eat Pray Love
By: Elizabeth Gilbert
So, you noticed that all of my writers are men and manly. Fine. I put this on the list. A female friend recommended and I found it pretty interesting – for a time, every woman on the A train seemed to be reading it.

The true story of a journalist, who dumps her husband, goes on a spiritual quest, tests herself, changes her life and finds true love. But is it true? I mean, really true? Is she telling you the truth as she lived it or was it a marketing exercise for a best seller she knew she was going to write before she wrote it?

Errol Morris wrote a fine blog on the nature of truth: http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/ read it…then this.


The History of Civilization
By: Will and Ariel Durant

Just kidding.






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