So Gini Dietrich asked me what my ten most favorite books are. It seems like a super easy question, but that Gini, she has the devil on her shoulder. As it turns out, narrowing down all of my favorite books down to a list of 10 is pretty well nigh impossible.
Since I have a bit of the devil on my shoulder too, I found some super secrete loopholes that will allow me to answer this question successfully and frankly. So here we go.
1. Books by Civil War type now deceased women: The diaries of Mary Chesnut and Sarah Morgan are supremely interesting to me. Even though they sometimes can seem like jerks, I find these books to be like little time machines that take me back to a fascinating time in American History.
2. Books about the Civil War written by authors who may be living or deceased: The diary of Ulysses S. Grant was an outstanding read. As my mom says, it’s like sitting on your grandpa’s lap and hearing tales about the ole days. I would not advise reading Sherman’s book, by the way, because woah…the description of every blade of grass in 1820s California gets to be a bit much. Also great is Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson.
3. Books about Abraham Lincoln: If you haven’t read Team of Rivals by Dorris Kearns Goodwin you need to get on that. Historically, politically, sociologically, and psychologically, this book quite simply rocks. If you want a much more personal view of Abe and his wifey-poo, check out Mary, Wife of Lincoln, which was written by Katherine Helm (who happened to be Mary’s niece).
4. Other history type books: War Without Mercy by John Dower was an extremely eye opening book about how racism on the part of the Americans and of the Japanese made their battles particularly gruesome. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown is an important book to read but utterly heartbreaking – I could only read it in small doses. And of course, you can’t lose with any Howard Zinn book – You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train is one of my faves.
5. Guilty Pleasure Books: OK, I admit it. I read The DaVinci Code and I found it hard to put down. I mean, each chapter is like, 2 pages and it’s all written in 14 point font. Also on this list – The Testament by John Grisham. I couldn’t put it down, but boy did the ending tick me off.
6. The book I hated to love: Infinite Jest is a nightmare if you’re OCD about reading footnotes. You have to read the footnotes, which sometimes go on for 5 pages, because they offer important information for what’s going on in the story at that point. This is not a book to read at the beach. Or if you’re in a good mood. Or if you’re in a bad mood.
7. Autobiographies: As you may know, I’ve been plugging through Mark Twain’s autobiography all summer, and it’s stinkin’ awesome. Anne Frank’s Diary is a must-read, even though it’s not an autobiography in the strictest sense of the word. Helen Keller’s autobiography is phenomenal. Frederick Douglass’s autobiography is eye opening.
8. Fiction: You can’t really beat the Lord of the Rings series unless you’re talking about The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was a great read. Catch-22, Farenheit 454, and 1984 are all as good as you hear they are (in my opinion). The Friday Night Knitter’s Club was also pretty good, but again, the ending really ticked me off.
9. Books from my childhood: There are a lot of books from my childhood that I would recommend to any parent these days. The Little House books fed my love of history. Anne of Green Gables, the whole series, I found completely enchanting and wonderful. A Wrinkle in Time, Secret of Nimh, Tuck Everlasting, and The Bridge of Terabithia were all books that I read until the covers fell off. Even though I’m getting to be as old as the hills, these books still fill my heart with joy when I think about them.
10. Social Media/Business Type Books: OK, I know this is really what you’ve been waiting for. First, one you might not expect – a fantastic book called Ad Women, by Juliann Sivulka. Tracing the evolution of women in the marketing world in parallel with how marketing has changed over the years was a riveting read for me…for some reason. The Chaos Scenario by Bob Garfield, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, The Now Revolution by Amber Naslund and Jay Baer, The Referral Engine by John Jantsch, and The Fifth Estate by Geoff Livingston all are superior books that shaped a great deal of the knowledge I claim to have about the online world. Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki was a pretty darned good read too.
I’m going to go one step beyond this list and tell you some books that are on my “must read list.”
– The Shelby Foote trilogy on The Civil War. It’s a sin of gigantic proportions that I haven’t read these yet. Like woah.
– Every book about Abraham Lincoln that I haven’t read yet (this keeps expanding)
– Lou Imbriano’s book, Ric Dragon’s book, and all of the other books you folks are cooking up
– Atlas Shrugged – I feel like I need to read this just because. Same holds true for War and Peace. I know, I’ve heard the stories.
So now it’s your turn to play. You wouldn’t let Gini *just* torture me, would ya?:)
Image by Svilen Milev. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/svilen001