In no particular order cause I LOVE all my books:
10. Wheel of Time series of books by Robert Jordan
9. The Mercy Thompson series by Patrica Briggs
8. Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters
7. Harry Potter series (UK edition) by J.K. Rowling
6. 'Warrior' multiple series of books by Erin Hunter
5. The complete writings of Edger Allan Poe
4. The God Delusion by Dawkins
3. Strange Brains and Genius by Clifford Pickover
2. Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I just got finished reading 'Fried Green Tomatoes' by Fanny Flagg which is really good despite the religiousness of it.
I wondered about this topic. I could not stop with 10 books. So I made 10 categories, most of which contain more than one book each. These are the books that I recall, have most influenced how my mind works, how I behave, what I think of other people.
1. T.R. Pearson. A Short History of a Small Place. I love the rhythm and voices. I've read this book 5 times. It's my all time favorite book. I don't know why. The characters are just so human. It's mostly forgotten by all human beings on the planet earth, other than me.
2. Charles Mann. 1491. & Charles Mann. 1493. These books taught me about how the world came to be, how people, plants, and animals are distributed around the globe, how the modern era of humanity, biology, ecology, history, society developed.
3. Markus Rediker. The Slave Ship. and Douglas Blackmon. Slavery by Another Name. and Adam Hochshild. King Leopold's Ghost. These books taught me about the greatest mass crime of humanity, and the incalculable debt that modern society owes to the enslaved, and incalculable burden left to the slaves' descendents. Again, multiple reads of each.
4. Yann Martel. Life of Pi. A very touching book about lonely tragedy, existentialism, adventure, struggle, making peace, and even loving, the one who would kill and eat you, and coming through adversity. There is religion too, in a kind of woo woo kumbaya way, which for some reason I didn't mind.
5. Susan Jacoby. Freethinkers. and Susan Jacoby. The Great Agnostic. Jackby is a great historian and tells stories we need to hear. Freethinking and atheism are not new, and learning about the greats, gives me focus and keeps us from reinventing the atheist wheel.
6. George Orwell. 1984. and George Orwell. Animal Farm. These books have given me more insight into modern politics, both national and in the workplace, than anything else I can think of. I add, in a strange way: John Man. The Terra Cotta Army. Strange as it may seem, this book about the first Emperor of the united China, 230-221 BC, taught me there is no change in human "leadership" behavior, across vast reaches of time and vastly different cultures.
7. Dale Carnegie. How to Win Friends and Influence People. - not about cynicism, but about how to show genuine appreciation to others, and express what I really feel. I grew up in a coarse, plain spoken community. People were critical and did not mince words. If I stayed that way, I would never have risen to the challenges ahead. This book is worth a re-read about every decade. People can tell when you are faking it, but it's harder to show them when you are being real. This book helped me a lot.
8. Munro Leaf. The Story of Ferdinand the Bull. My hero.
9. The "Holy" Bible. Revised standard version. Much of this book is poorly written, tedious, boring, with many inconsistencies, senseless plot twists, bad poetry, and many evil characters. It does have a few good parts, not many. Even so, reading it set me free from christianity. It taught me that christians throughout history do not follow the bible, ever, including now. It taught me about humanity's inhumanity to humanity. It taught me about critical thinking, as a classic test subject. Nothing was more instrumental in freeing me from christianity, than this book. It is also the best reference for countering modern christian stupidity. Most christians are willfully and blissfully unaware of the contents of this book, and once you show them you know the book, they leave you alone. At least, they leave me alone.
10. Betty Crocker's Cookbook. I don't know what edition. also Bobbie Hinman and Millie Snyder. Lean Luscious and Meatless. Another Cookbook giving many vegetarian recipes. These books taught me to cook for myself. I don't make a lot of recipes form them any more, but they were empowering when I had to learn how to take care of myself ad a burgeoning adult.
Too long of a list. Lifetime reader. For good and sometimes not so good, reading on my own made me what I am.
Wow, no science books, no sci fi. Except Orwell. I would have thought I would have listed those. Strange of me.
It took me a while to think about this one, as I’ve been an avid reader and collector of the printed word since early childhood. So sifting through a lifetime of reading in order to “skinny things down” to 10 books can be a little challenging. The following is a list of those books I’ve long held a copy of and quickly replace if I should lend a copy out and not get back.
10. Le Petite Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine Saint-Exupéry. This was a book I first learned to read when I was just a child. Yes, it’s the original French language version and it was something I wanted to learn to read early on, partly because I enjoyed the story and partly because I thought French was a beautiful language.
9. The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco. I came upon this book not long after my divorce (05) and was getting ready to move to Australia. The story seemed to complement the event’s of my life at the time. Especially Roberto’s reminiscences of his youth, his life and his love.
8. Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain. This is the cookbook! One of the largest categories of my library is my collection of cookbooks and Les Halles is “the one” book that I’ve come to enjoy reading most, partly on the merit of it’s culinary information, partly on it’s wit and partly because of the fact that Bourdain is such an entertaining writer. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to eat great food.
7. The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke. This was a book I first discovered in a used book store in my late teen’s (circa 1977). I also found it to be metaphorically prophetic on a personal level. The story describes the life of a man who journey’s on into the great unknown to find enlightenment and after discovering it, find’s himself shunned and hated by those he loved for uncovering the truth. All of which has happened to me.
6. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. The story begins with, “The thing was: One million years ago in 1986 a.d...”. With an opening like that I knew I had to read more. Galapagos is a weird, silly goat trail of a story that never seems to be getting anywhere but seems to be getting there in good time. It was a strange but fun read.
5. The Canopus in Argos Archives (Shikasta) by Doris Lessing. In my early adult years (circa 1982) I came upon this 5 book series. It was very deep, somber, with parts bordering on stories of legend or scripture as told by a truly advanced society. The story is of the development of Earth, it growth into a society and it’s eventual demise as interpreted by intergalactic archivists.
4. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Initially I decided to buy the audiobook
version of this back in 2011 as an avid runner and backpacker I love listening to audiobooks. It wasn’t long however that I realized this was too important a book not to have, as it definitely raises questions religio-secular society either doesn’t want to answer or is incapable of addressing.
3. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This was another book that I first came upon in audio format and it was also something I quickly realized I needed to own. Again for similar reasons as given to The God Delusion. Why I place this in a higher standing is because the vast majority of leading atheistic literary figureheads are mostly male. It’s rare to hear about it from the feminine perspective and especially from that of an Islamic woman.
2. The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin. I first came upon this book back around 2001 and was quickly hooked by it’s premise. It was probably one of the strongest influences is proving to myself that we lived in a Godless universe. It also gave me a strange sense of comfort in that knowledge.
1. Starmaker by Olaf Stapelton. This is a book (and a writer) that I’ve long admired. It’s a piece of fiction that doesn’t neatly fit into the category of writing called “Science Fiction” because it tends to dwell more into the area of philosophy from the perspective of “emergence”. Stapelton is attempting to write myth in as close to a non-metaphysical vein as possible. He illustrates an idea of God (or “The Starmaker”) which is eternal yet mortal, “all powerful” and omnipotent yet unwilling to use it’s power for anything more than creating it’s “toy” universes, and finally, interested in it’s creations yet aloof to it’s needs. The Starmaker is working towards creating it’s perfect universal masterpiece (of which our universe is just a rough sketch). But a masterpiece universe in which the Starmaker itself can finally come to rest within and give birth to another of it’s kind. It’s an idea of God that most spiritualists find to be quite discomforting and often “too challenging”, yet it’s one I have found to be most enjoyable to contemplate. If there was a higher power in the universe, this would be the one I would most readily accept.
I'm going to restrict my list to fiction, even though about a third of the books I read are nonfiction. In no particular order, my favorites of all time are:
A Song of Ice and Fire (series), George R. R. Martin
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Book of the New Sun (series), Gene Wolfe
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
Otherland (series), Tad Williams
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy