I’m an Open Book

… and I Love Turning Those Pages

By Jeff Salter

We’re discussing books as gifts this week and the Monday Fox wondered what titles we might give to particular people or for specific occasions.

An excellent question, because I love receiving and giving books — always have. I remember, in fifth grade, there was a class gift exchange and a girl, Robbie B., received a hardcover version of Pinocchio. Others who saw her unwrap that gift made such a stink about how she’d been gypped that Robbie also decided she felt that way. Recognizing an opportunity to expand my personal library, I stepped in and offered to trade whatever toy I’d received for Robbie’s book. She seemed quite grateful, the teacher proclaimed me a gallant hero, and I got a new book out of the deal! Win win win.

So anyway, that was some 55 years ago and I still have that book — somewhere. Now to the task of creating a list of titles I’d give… or would recommend as gifts. But my twist on the topic is to list them by subject or genre.


For James Bond movie fans, I’d recommend you go back to the original Ian Fleming novels and see what Bond was really like. Start with either From Russia With Love or Goldfinger.

For fans of the early spy novel genre series, I’d suggest reading the first dozen or so of the Matt Helm books by Donald Hamilton. I didn’t think the later titles were as good as his earlier ones.

If you want to laugh so much that your tummy hurts, read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. Redford and Nolte star in the movie, which I have not yet seen, but it could not compare with the text. Another truly funny book is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 — and much better than the film.

Love military history, but don’t know where to start? Start with World War II and begin with one of the better unit histories. Stephen Ambrose perfected those with Band of Brothers, but another excellent example was his Pegasus Bridge. After you’ve read a couple of unit histories, move on to the books which cover a single campaign, such as Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day. After you’ve gotten acquainted with how a unit functions and seen how an entire campaign is run, you might graduate to the excellent Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson, starting with An Army At Dawn, which pulls back the camera to cover entire fronts and theaters of war.

If you prefer to receive your dose of military history through the prism of fiction, try one of Jeff Shaara’s many novels — he’s got one or more on the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WW1, WW2… and possibly beyond. Superb mesh of history brought to life with fleshed-out dialog and thoughts and feelings of the actual principals. The one I’m reading now is Rise to Rebellion. And Shaara has me right in the chair with John Adams and Ben Franklin… and on the horse with George Washington.

Want to be scared to death? Read the Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. Believing it to be literally true when I read it, I didn’t sleep for a week. I’ve since read that the author allegedly embellished a lot and mixed in some fiction with his fact. But it’s still scary.

Want a pulse-pounding adventure thriller? Read James Dickey’s Deliverance. The movie – one of Burt Reynolds’s best dramatic roles – is also quite good.

Want to know what’s REALLY flying around in our skies under the overly-general and under-investigated category of Unidentified Flying Objects? Read Leslie Kean’s UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record.


What title would you recommend for a special person or for a specific occasion? Or, as I’ve attempted to do here, what titles would you recommend in certain subjects or genres?

[JLS # 284]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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17 Responses to I’m an Open Book

  1. I think I will check out A Walk in the Woods.

    I tend to suggest books I have read. My brother likes horror and thriller movies so I have gave him a copy of The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe by Kelly Martin and have also suggested her Heartless series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I’m pretty sure I have Lizzie Monroe on my Kindle waiting for me to get to it.
      I should warn you about Walk in the Woods — it has a lot of bad language, including the F-bomb.


  2. Still working on my recommendations,Jeff. But now you have me very curious about A Walk in the Woods, as well.
    I love the Pinocchio story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen Pollard says:

    I would recommend A Walk in the Woods to anyone. I have read it at least twice and used to read sections out to my kids when they were younger. I love Bill Bryson anyway, but this one is a good example – hilarious but with serious notes and a lot of fascinating information thrown in. I also particularly like The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (about growing up in the fifties).

    I recently bought a set of the Ian Fleming Bond novels. I read them as a kid and decided it was time to revisit them . . . if I could find the tine to read them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yes, Thunderbolt Kid was also very well done and quite funny in parts. I almost included it in my list. Bryson is a year or two from my own age, so his setting and experiences (in Thunderbolt) are very familiar to me.
      I bought a collection of Fleming’s short stories within the past couple of years, but have not gotten to read it yet. So much I want to read and so little time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good call on Pegasus Bridge. Ambrose did some good work on that. I proudly have a signed copy. And with Cornelius Ryan, if you like The Longest Day, both of his other books are classics, A Bridge Too Far and The Last Battle. Good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I have a copy of Bridge too Far, but have not been able to start it yet. I really liked the movie. My copy of Pegasus Bridge is also signed, but I can’t swear Ambrose did it himself because I bought it at a used book shop. They didn’t know either. Ambrose later said that he made a few mistakes in Pegasus… and he wished he had let some of those British soldiers review his ms. (as he did — years later — for B of B). I don’t know how significant the errors were, but they apparently bothered him.


      • I haven’t read it in a long, long time, so I can’t comment on what they might have been. That book was an early work on the subject so he can be forgiven. I catch loads of errors in brand new works on WW2 all the time. The movie of A Bridge Too Far was really good, I was shocked how good. But my favorite of them all remains The Last Battle, perhaps because I am fascinated by the Battle of Berlin.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        On your recommendation, I’ll try to track down a copy of Last Battle. Though, with my TBR stack (literally) several feet high, I don’t know which century I’ll get to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. jbrayweber says:

    For belly laughing and anyone who enjoys outdoors, I highly recommend Patrick McManus—A Fine and Pleasant Misery, They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They, & Never Sniff a Gift Fish. He has more, but those are the ones I’ve read. Seriously funny stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patricia Kiyono says:

    My dad read all the James Bond books. I like historical fiction, so I’ll have to check out Jeff Shaara and his stories. As soon as I finish the books I’ve already promised people I’d read – I just got another ARC last night, and I’m not a speed reader!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I think you’ll like Shaara. I’ve already decided to get at least two others of his and see if I like his handling of different eras as well as I do his coverage of the 1774-76 period.


  7. Pingback: I Wish I May, I Wish I Might | Four Foxes, One Hound

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