Eric Mueller's Favorite Books

shelved under Personal Favorites

 

Carter Beats the Devil

by Glen David Gold

This sweeping, beautiful story, set in San Francisco in the early 20th century, has so much going for it — childhood longings, world travels, magicians, pirates, famous literary figures, and some of the sharpest story and dialogue I've read in ages. There's a reason this book was hugely, hugely popular and successful, and I truly wish it had never come to an end.

This book also appears on Great Books About Magicians or Circuses

 

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear

by Jim Steinmeyer, foreword by Teller

This fantastic, fascinating book not only gives a lush, well-researched history of magic but also the intersection of magic and spiritualism, as well as the history of specific illusions... for example, an entire chapter is devoted to the genesis of levitation and the various methods and tricks used by magicians to produce the effect over the years. Not only does this reveal all the secrets, it shows a reverence and well-researched love of magic. If you're at all interested in magic, you'll probably find this book as absolutely engrossing as I did.

This book also appears on Great Books About Magicians or Circuses

 

Disneyland the Nickel Tour: A Postcard Journey Through a Half Century of the Happiest Place on Earth

by David Mumford, Bruce Gordon

This REMARKABLE book takes a look at nearly every postcard issued at Disneyland, with photos of lost attractions and mood-setting scenes you'll find nowhere else.

This book also appears on Disneyland Coffee Table Books

 

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

by Erik Larson

This is two interwoven stories that take place around the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago... that of a serial killer, and Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair. What's absolutely incredible about this page-turner is that it reads like a novel, yet it's non-fiction and every single word of dialogue is actually from that real person (the author went through reams of each character's personal notes, letters, testimony, etc.). That alone is quite an accomplishment, and the stories are engrossing and fascinating. This book definitely cemented my belief that the world needs more World's Fairs. :-)

 
 
 

The Confessions of Max Tivoli

by Andrew Sean Greer

If you enjoyed "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," you'll love this novel— it tells a very similar reverse-aging story (don't worry, I'm not giving anything away!) but frankly, I found it much more emotionally powerful and resonating than that film. I though it was a deep, moving look at a very unusual love story... but one that stuck with me.

 

The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars

by Joel Glenn Brenner

Not only does this entertaining book trace the history of the big players in the chocolate biz, but a lot of smaller chocolate companies that you'll recognize. There's tons of fun stuff in this book and a lot of surprises — for example, who knew that corporate security (and espionage) is ENORMOUS in the chocolate industry? Companies are super-secretive and there's a lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff going on... for chocolate!

 

Don't Stop the Carnival

by Herman Wouk

This hilarious, vivid book will immediately squash any fantasies you may have about buying and operating a Carribean Island resort! :-)

 

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Deborah Batterman says:

There's some symmetry here, I admit, in opening and closing the list with books by women who found themselves falling off a cliff, so to speak, into a life more spiritual. It's never an easy, straightforward path, and Gilbert underscores the triad of her title with an explanation, in the introduction, of the number three as representing 'supreme balance'; within the threefold structure she has deliberately incorporated 108 tales (36 times 3), symbolic of the traditional Indian japa mala necklace, strung with 108 beads. Gilbert's memoir, of course, became a runaway best seller and movie, which speaks to the appeal of stories that manage to incorporate romance and spirit. Those critical of the book want more, I daresay, of the kind of wisdom issuing from Miller's book. Those who admit to loving it clearly understand that the courage it takes to see things for what they, rather than what we'd like them to be. One clear message echoing through both books: when the student is ready, the teacher appears.