Thursday, April 17, 2008

1 More Way to Find Another Great Read

By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

Another way to find a good read by an author you like is to use the online Literature Map Web site. Simply go to and in the "Name of the author" field, enter the name of the author whose work you just enjoyed and click the "Continue" button. The result will be a screen showing your author's name surrounded by other names. The closer the other names are to your original author, the more likely you will like their works. It's based on people entering author names and indicating whether they have liked those authors' works.

Example: I like Horatio Hornblower by C.S. Forester. If I want to find other authors who write stories similar to hose of C.S. Forester, I enter his name in the entry field. It shows me Dudley Pope, Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Kent, and Bernard Cornwall as closest. It's interesting that Patrick O'Brian, who also writes Napolean-era sea adventures is far to the right. And it's also interesting that the author whose Napolean-era sea yarns I admire most -- Julian Stockwin -- doesn't even show up. But this is a work in progress and the more people who participate, the more accurate it will become.

Give it a try. My good neighbor across the street told me about it and he uses it faithfully. Let me know what you think.

3 Easy Ways to Find Another Good Read

You liked one book, how do you find another like it?

By Alan Eggleston, bookseller

Originally published 7.10.05 on my blog under the same title.

Often we find books that we really enjoy and want to extend that enjoyment by getting another book like it. How do you find one?

Did you like the author's writing style or tone?

One way is to look up more books by the same author. Although an author's style can change over time, and subsequent books can easily be different, it's a good bet that if you like an author's style he or she will repeat it in other books.

Did you like the subject matter?

If what you like is the subject matter, then look up other books by entering appropriate keywords for the subject matter in the Amazon search box on either our business books page or our leisure books page. Here, making sure you get a good read isn't as easy, since different authors often vary widely in style and tone.

Find what other readers have liked

Another way to find similar material is by using the same search boxes mentioned above. Enter the title of the book you enjoyed (better yet, enter the ISBN) and when the book comes up on the page, scroll down. Amazon often lists similar books, suggestions of similar subject matter or similar authors that other readers have ordered. "If you like this book, you may also like these..." in essence.

• Search on our
Business Books section

• Search on our
Leisure Books section

(c) 2005 e-Messenger Consulting Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I was so intrigued by Five Years of My Life!

By Alan Eggleston, Writer, Editor, Bookseller

I was so intrigued by Five Years of My Life by Murat Kurnaz, I read it in a day. It's the story of a young German of Turkish descent who was charged with terrorism by the Bush Administration and was forced to live five years of hell in torture, even though he was actually innocent.

The book covers 255 pages, including epilogue. It tells of this teen of hard-working Turkish immigrants in Germany who decided to give up the wild life of a bouncer for a straighlaced Muslim wife from Turkey, a woman who knew much more about his faith than he did. After marrying her, he decided to study his faith before bringing her back to Germany to live, and he made secret arrangements to travel to Pakistan where he could attend a quick-study school on Islam. He didn't tell his family because he was afraid they would stop him from going. That was the biggest mistake of his life.

Kurnaz planned to accompany friends on the trip, but ended up going alone. He traveled from mosque to mosque with friends he made along the way. At the end of his trip, just as he was heading home, he was arrested. Although official papers said he had been arrested in Afghanistan, he was in fact sold out in Pakistan to American interests for $3,000 and shipped to Afghanistan. There he was interrogated, beaten, tortured, barely fed, and eventually shipped to Guantanamo, Cuba, where he spent the rest of his imprisonment.

This book is not well crafted English. It is a well written narrative. You will experience his uncertainty, his confusion, his pain, his human degredation, and the depravity of a government so focused on capturing terrorists that it refuses to see what it actually has, which is an innocent man. In fact, the government learned early on that Kurnaz was innocent, but Germany didn't want him back -- for silly reasons, it turns out -- so they kept torturing him anyway.

Thank goodness Kurnaz's family learned of his whereabouts, people of goodwill fought for his release, and he didn't give up hope. At the very end, even though the government knew Kurnaz was innocent, as he prepared to board a plane to freedom, they insisted he sign a declaration of guilt or he wouldn't be given his freedom. When he refused, they let him go.

See if you're hooked by the details, the memories, the fear, the insanity of it all like I was. I read this in a day, and I never read a book in a day.
Five Years of My Life, An Innocent Man in Guantanamo
By Murat Kurnaz
ISBN-10: 0230603742
ISBN-13: 978-0230603745