Authors, Recommendations, Recently Read, and Bookstores

Favorite Authors - Fiction

Lois McMaster Bujold

She's most well known for the Miles Vorkosigan stories, but has done a number of other top-notch works as well To date, she's been awarded 5 Hugos (3 novels, 1 novella), a truly impressve count for less than15 years as a professional writer.

She's received critical acclaim for Curse of Chalion, a recent fantasy novel, and a sequel to that is in the works.

The Bujold Nexus is a fan-created site with information about the author, plot summaries, interviews and some fan fiction. It also shows how to sign up for the lois-bujold mailing list.

Lawrence Block (two links)

A writer of both light and dark mysteries. I'm particularly fond of his Bernard Rhodenbarr novels, The Burglar [...Who Painted Like Mondrian, or ...Who Studied Spinoza, or ...Who Thought He Was Bogard, or the Library or...]. They made a pretty horrible movie about him a few years back, changing Bernie to Bernice, and having his role played by Whoopie Goldberg. The movie aside, I can recommend the books; Block takes most of the cliches about mysteries and stands them on end

If you prefer dark and gritty, his Matthew Scudder books are excellent. The earlier ones in the series are notably darker than the later ones, although even the later ones aren't very cheerful. Everbody Dies (a later book in the set) is a particularly good example where the title isn't misleading.

Donald Westlake

Westlake's been writing since the 1960's or so, and has a very light touch with his romp/caper novels (various Dortmunder ones, primarily) as well as a number of standalone ones (The Fugitive Pigeon, God Save the Mark, Who Stole Sassi Manoon, very etc.). His more serious ones, whether lightly serious (Smoke, which is a nice invisible man story; High Adventure, a classic con game; or Humans, where G_d decides to shut down His experiment [Earth]) darkly political (Kahawa), or classic dark and grim (the various Richard Stark books), shows a mastery of the breadth of the mystery genre.

Ken Grimwood

He hasn't written much (I think 4-5 books total), but I was particularly taken with his novel Replay (winner of the 1988 World Fantasy Award for novels), where the protagonist gets a chance to live his life over, but knowing, from about age 18, what he knows at age 50. A very interesting concept, and handled very well, with good characterization and the like. It might still be available in paperback, or as a used book from one of the bookstores listed below

Recommended Photoshop Books

I've been using Photoshop since version 1.04, and, while there are a lot of good books on the subject, there are a few standouts for excellence.

Photoshop Restoration and Retouching

by Katrin Eismann

If you're a photographer or need to learn how to make Photoshop work to improve regular images--not mystical stuff, not bizarre composites--this is the book. Katrin has been working with Photoshop for years, and has collected not just her own experiences, but those of dozens of other experts. Blemish removal, color correction, weight reduction, etc. are all covered extensively.

This is the book I recommend to those relatively new to Photoshop, or to photographers who want to get more from it.

Professional Photoshop 6

by Dan Margulis

This is the single best reference on color correction for Photoshop I have seen. It's not an introductory book for the novice, but if you want to get the most accurate colors, or best colors even if not accurate, I recommend it highly.

Photoshop Channel Chops

by David Biedny, Nathan Moody, and Bert Monroy

All of Photoshop's core is based around the channels: color channels determine colors; 'alpha' channels provide masking, selection saving, and more. This is the only book to address channels in depth, and it would have saved me months of experimentation had it been available when I started using Photoshop. If you do compositing, or even need to make a selection in Photoshop, I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Recommended Photography Books

This is a somewhat specialized list, as it only talks about lighting books. But that's my interest, and that's what you get here.

Basic Studio Lighting: Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Results

by Tony Corbell

Discusses the basics of lighting, equipment, and how-to for studio lighting.

Similar to Dave Montizambert's book (below), but with more emphasis on equipment, and less on the how-to's.

Creative Lighting Techniques for Studio Photographers

by Dave Montizambert

Goes into detail on basic lighting, metering, and how to get what you want, both in-studio and outside. Less equipment information than Tony Corbell's, but with more problem-solving discussions. Has a good section of fill-flash.

Light-Science and Magic: An introduction to Photographic Lighting

by Fil Hunter & Paul Fuqua

Much more in-depth on the theoretical underpinnings of lighting than either Tony's or Dave's books. If you learn best by getting the theory first, then application, read this one first, then one of the others. If you learn best by example, then use theory to help expand that understanding, read one of the others then this one.

Not to be missed, even if you think you know the basics; there's some techniques that are not obvious but that may save time and let you obtain far better results.

Topics include dealing with reflective (shiny) surfaces, matte textured surfaces, glass and transparent/translucent surfaces, etc.

Recently Read Books

Note that by the time I upload this, it'll be out of date; I've been accused of reading too much. After all, I'll read just about anything; books, catalogs, magazines, comic books, computer manuals, cereal boxes...

A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold

A comedy of manners, it's best if read along with Komarr, as it's essentially part 2 of a larger storyline.

Replay, Ken Grimwood

Yeah, I've read it before. I'm probably going to read it again, too.

The Deadline, Tom deMarco

Few people would expect a novel to revolve about project management. Fewer would expect it to be very good. They'd be wrong.

The Deadline is a fantasy-esque look at project management from the perspective of one project manager, but the information contained is very pertinent to project management today.

Strangers in Paradise, Terry Moore

This comic book series is excellent. I started reading it when it first came out, and have followed it across 3 (4?) publishers. It examines the interpersonal relations between Francine, a young woman with low self-esteem; Katchoo, her best friend--who doesn't have low self-esteem; and David, who defys a sound-bite explanation. Poetry, music, prose, and the more common 'comic book' graphics are all used to make this a very rewarding read. Strongly recommended, even (especially?) for non-comic book readers. Collections of the earlier issues are available.

A recent issue had a hilarious dream sequence in Xena-land--and I've never actually seen the Xena show itself.

Various Perl and JavaScript books

None were exceptional enough to note specifically.

I still recommend Learning Perl by Randal Schwartz and Programming Perl by Randal Schwartz, Larry Wall, and Tom Christensen as the best on Perl, the scripting language I use most. Both are O'Reilly and Associates books. (I haven't see Effective Perl Programming which is supposed to be good too.)

For JavaScript, I've had the best luck with Danny Goodman's JavaScript Bible.

Favorite Bookstores

Everyone seems to know about and They're decent places to find new full-price books, but there are a lot of books which are no longer current, or are new, but heavily discounted, and those sites aren't very good for that. The ones I use most often are:

Hamilton Books / Bargain Books

They've been sending newspaper sized "catalogs" out for years, with current or recent books selling for 20-30% of their original cost. They're remainders, but still 'new', and in many cases, still selling new at amazon or barnesandnoble. (Or the paperback is for sale for more than the cost of the hardcover from Hamilton.)

Particularly nice values are their computer books. If you can deal with 1-2 year old books, you can easily save a bundle: Lynda Weinman's first edition of Coloring Web Graphics sold for $50.00 when it first came out, and I picked up a copy for $7.95; the JavaScript Quick Reference guide was only $1.95, down from $19.00. Sometimes you need the absolute latest; sometimes you don''t.

Best of all, their web site has a search engine. This can save hours over reading their paper catalog. Note, however, that not all their books are listed online; some are only listed in the catalog.

Powells Books

Possibly the largest bookstore anywhere in terms of "real" rather than virtual ( or distributed (Bibliofind) books, Powells took to the web with a vengeance. As far as I can tell, their entire stock of new and used books is available online, and their search capabilities are excellent. I'd been looking for some books from the 1930's and 40's and found them at Powells for dirt cheap. OK, so they weren't first editions, and I couldn't see them first, but the shipping was prompt, inexpensive, and their service was excellent. I've managed to limit myself to fewer than 20 books from them so far, but it's very difficult for a bookfan. Recommended--but only if you have willpower or a little extra cash.


This place is a book collector's dream! Collectable and specialty books, first editions, etc., are listed by thousands of booksellers and individuals. You can even sign up to be notified when a book meeting certain criteria is posted (you get 2-3 free ones; if you want a whole lot, you can sign up for their advanced services). I used that, and 4 months later, when a small bookstore in Walnut Creek listed it, I was e-mailed about the offer, and I ordered the book. It's got links to many specialty booksellers as well, making it a great place to bookmark and start looking.

E-Mail Keradwc [ ]