Monday, February 10, 2014

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime?


As most of you probably know, Amazon.com recently published its list of "100 Books to Read in a Lifetime," advertised as "a bucket list of books to create a well-read life." Goodreads has published a list, too. It seems like everyone has an opinion about the books you ought to read.

These lists have been a hot topic of conversation at work, with everyone perusing them and comparing the number of books on the list that they've read. In my case, the number is 18 from the Amazon list, and 41 from the Goodreads list. Some of the books on the lists are old classics, some are new works, and some are children's books (many of which I've read because I've read them to my grandchildren). There are mysteries, science fiction, and nonfiction titles represented, and the editors at Amazon and Goodreads encourage readers to vote on their favorites, and on the titles they believe ought to be on the list.

My own list is a bit different. Here are a few of the books I would add:

The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. The definitive story of the Civil War battle of Gettysburg.

The Kapillan of Malta, by Nicholas Monsarrat. A priest keeps up the spirits of the people of Malta during the terrible siege of World War II by telling them stories of the history of the island. Gripping history for people who otherwise don't like history.

Embers, by Sandor Marai. Love and betrayal in the dying years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer. No one has ever chronicled Germany's descent into madness any better than this.

Guests of the Ayatollah, by Mark Bowden. The ugly story of the Iranian hostage crisis. I played my own small part in the aftermath of that crisis ... a story best told over a few drinks.

The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan. The invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, told from the viewpoints of both generals and common soldiers. War at its grittiest, funniest, and most terrible.

The Lucifer Principle, by Howard Bloom. What is "evil," why does it fascinate us, and why is it important to history? A very interesting and thought-provoking book.

And last but not least ...

The True Believer, by Eric Hoffer. One of my all-time favorite books. Very short, easy to read, and packed with insights into the nature of mass movements and fanatical behavior. Good reading for a time when we're awash in politicians, religious bigots, and others who absolutely believe that they - and only they - are correct and everyone else is not only wrong but inherently bad.

How about you, Dear Readers? What do you think of the 100-book lists? What books would you add that are your particular favorites, and why? Leave a comment ... I'm always looking for good things to read.

Have a good day. Read more. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

8 comments:

Duckbutt said...

I found the Goodreads list to be the far better one than the Amazon list.

I would add these:

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

Jack London, The Call of the Wild

Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny

Cervantes, Don Quijote

Aleksandr Soltzenheitzen, Cancer Ward or August, 1914

George V. Higgins, The Friends of Eddie Coyle

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I must admit that I've read more from the Goodreads list.

Definitely, The Hunger Games should be included.

I would also throw in:

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Sigrid Undset, Kristen Lavrensdatter

Robert Penn Warren All the King's Men

Tom Wolfe, A Man in Full

I'll definitely look into The True Believer and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Banana Oil said...

I find the novels of Carl Hiaasen to be engaging.

And, yet, Agatha Christie and Willa Cather.

Sometimes a good Victorian read for those cold winter days.

Bilbo said...

Duckbutt - I also thought the Goodreads list was better. You have some good choices, especially Solzhenitsyn. My favorite of his was "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich."

Angel - why would I have expected your list to include Faulkner and "All the King's Men"?? I think you will enjoy both "The True Believer" and "Rise and Fall," although the latter will be a lot bigger time investment.

Banana Oil - Now that you live in Florida, you should be able more fully to appreciate Carl Hiassen's novels, and Dave Barry's "Insane City," too. My favorite Willa Cather novel is "Death Comes for the Archbishop."

Big Sky Heidi said...

I prefer the Goodreads to the Amazon list. Anyway, I've read more from that one. As for inclusions or substitutions, I would include "The Big Sky" or "These Thousand Hills" by A. B. Guthrie, "Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, and "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin.

Mike said...

I'm surprised Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy wasn't number 42 on the Goodreads list.

Chuck Bear said...

I would include The Hitchiker's Guide, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

All Quiet on the Western Front

Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe

Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose

Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather