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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.

1. Monsters in the Movies, by John Landis.
Around my house in the 1980s, John Landis was known 1) as the weird bearded guy who was talking when Michael Jackson wasn’t talking in the making of “Thriller,” which we owned on VHS; and 2) as the weird bearded guy who directed The Twilight Zone movie that killed Jennifer Jason Leigh’s dad.

2. Arguably, by Christopher Hitchens.
I think about Christopher Hitchens on my daughter’s birthday because I saw him read the night she was born. (Before she was born, of course—-I didn’t leave the hospital to go to see Christopher Hitchens reading at Politics & Prose. Jesus, don’t even think that.) But, not-so-secretly, I wish I’d seen another, less cynical, less drunken, less British, less atheist author read that night, like Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary. Even a Bret Easton Ellis reading would probably be better than a Christopher Hitchens reading if you’re going to see a baby born afterwards, right?

3. Casino Women: Courage in Unexpected Places, by Susan Chandler and Jill B. Jones.
The morbidly obese guy I watched get a back massage as he played 5-5 Texas Hold ’em at the Taj Mahal and refused to tip tip cocktail waitresses should probably check out this title when not stuffing his fat, pimply face with steak sandwiches.

4. Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, by Ken Jennings.
This book’s by the dude who lost to that computer on Jeopardy! For the love of Christ, please buy a copy and make him feel better.

5. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard.
No one ever talks about the assassination of President McKinley. Not even Candice Millard, who wrote a book about the assassination of President Garfield instead.