C. G. McGinn


Ramblings about Books and Writing

The Reading List

A collection of books that I think should be read, Owned, and Discussed in polite Company.

The Passage

by Justin Cronin

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl—and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

CG Says: This book really changed the post-apocalyptic/horror genre for me. It stands out on its own as a true epic story about the fall of modern society with an undertone of the supernatural that never quite leaves the realm of science.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

by Lawrence Wright

A gripping narrative that spans five decades, The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of al-Qaeda, and the intelligence failures that culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat. Packed with new information and a deep historical perspective, The Looming Tower is the definitive history of the long road to September 11.

CG Says: They say people remember where they were and what they were doing on the day John F. Kennedy was shot. September 11, 2001 is like that for me. This book brought me right back to college. It's also a very clear depiction of the September 1oth world we were living in before the fall of the World Trade Center in New York. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but one that was much needed, for both an account from that time, and to put into perspective many issues pertainent today.

Snow Crash

by Neal Stephenson

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.

CG Says: This is required reading for fans of the cyberpunk genre, The Matrix, and sys-admins with a taste for science-fiction. The style of writing hits the ground running and doesn't stop until the last page.