Friday, August 18, 2006

Bill’s Book List

Here are some non-fiction books that I’ve read and think some of you might enjoy.

The Unsinkable Titanic Thompson, by Carlton Stowers
This is the true story of the world’s greatest conman. I laughed on just about every page at the clever and bold swindles invented by Ti.

Dan Rice, The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of, by David Carlyon
Rice was the greatest clown of his time, not the white face baggy pants kind of clown, but the Dennis Miller, John Stewart, or Bill Maher kind of clown. He toured America with one of the earliest domestic circuses. The book is an amazing look at civil war era entertainment. Now forgotten, he was the most famous man in America.

The Great Farini, The High-Wire Life of William Hunt, by Shane Peacock
Farini was second only Blondin in fame for his wire walking and he may have first in skill. This is a rousing account of one of the great daredevils of all time. Not only that, but Farini invented the shooting-out-of-a-cannon act and was Barnum’s equal in the advertising and promotion field.

Secrets of the Sideshows, by Joe Nickell
Who knew that the indefatigable skeptic and exposer of humbug once worked in a sideshow? This book is less exposé and more nostalgic look back. Fun to read.

No Applause Just Throw Money, by Trav S.D.
Another fun read. A history of Vaudeville full of great stories and important insight.

With It, A Year on the Carnival Trail, by Barbara Bamberger Scott
Listed as fiction, but it rings so true. You, too will be “with it” after reading this book. It is total immersion in the argot of the carny world. I can’t wait to get a good loke and set up some flash in my alibi shop.

City of the Century, by Donald Miller
Floyd Dell, in 1912, said, “One reason for knowing the history of Chicago is that the history of Chicago is the history of the Middle West. And the history of the Middle West is, to a larger extent than the school textbooks have ever permitted us to discover, the history of a nation.” City of the Century covers Chicago from its discovery to the Columbian Exposition. None of the historical books I recommend are dry reads; they are full of life and vigor, much like their subjects.

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
The construction of the greatest of all World’s Fairs and the serial killer who used it as his hunting grounds. Wow. Compelling history at its best. Reads like a novel, but it is all true.

The Wicked City, by Curt Johnson
This is one of the best histories of Chicago. The subtitle reads, “From Kenna to Capone”. The book covers turn-of-the-century Chicago by comparing the ways of the dynasts, like Marshall Field, and the crime lords and politicians. How similar they are.

Secrets of Closing the Sale, by Zig Ziglar
The greatest salesman writes the greatest book on sales. In every facet of your life, personal and professional, you are selling yourself. Talking to a client, you are selling. Going on a date, you are selling. Trying to talk your spouse into buying your dream house, you are selling. This book will give you a toolbox of sale techniques. Have I sold you yet?

Selling the Invisible, by Harry Beckwith
Great advice for selling services instead of products.

You are the Message, by Roger Ailes
A must have book for anyone that have to communicate anything. Roger was a republican political consultant, but don’t hold that against him. He has important advice for communicating more effectively.

Jump Start Your Brain, by Doug Hall
Doug Hall is a genius and if he doesn’t have the papers to prove it, he should. If you want to be more creative, use this book. Real world examples and exercises to stimulate your thought processes. There is no better book on creativity.

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White
The tiny bible of writing. I have read a lot of bad writing in the blog world. You should at least know the rules before you break them. Besides, can you be taken seriously if you sound like a dope?

On Writing, by Stephen King
Part biography, part writing lesson, from the most popular writer of our times. It is hard to argue with success. Valuable writing advice with not a lot of rules.

On Writing Well, by William Zinsser
Informative guide to writing nonfiction. I find this book particularly inspiring as a writer.

Now run over to Amazon and pick up a few titles. Next time I’ll work up a few choice selections of fiction.

And don’t forget to let me know what you thought of the books.

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