Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Top Ten Top Reads
Every January I reflect on the past year's reading and draw attention to a few special books so I hesitated at participating in this week's list at first. I wouldn't want to make my annual review sound repetitive, but I don't think it has anything to worry about.
Top Ten Top Reads
1. 1492: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus; Charles C. Mann
This book immediately came to mind as soon as I read the weekly topic. If I did a 'Book of the Year', this would be it. Mann reexamines the civilizations of the Americas, asserting that they manipulated the environment to suit their needs just as heavily as European nations
2. Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ' Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
I have read three fictional biographies and two or three conventional biographies of Jesus, and this is the best of either category. Despite being written to amuse, Moore's Jesus is more believable and sympathetic than any I've yet read.
Essays, news articles, and poems condemning the United States' role in Cuba and the Phillipines, quite useful to a student of the period or American expansionism in general.
4. A Guide to the Good Life: the Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, William B. Irvine
I have found philosophy a stalwart ally in living a quiet, happy life, and Irvine's work makes one of the better philosophical worldviews both understandable and relevant to the modern mind.
5. Red Emma Speaks, Emma Goldman
Red Emma Speaks collects essays and other opinion pieces by anarchist and social activist Emma Goldman, who regarded as inhuman most of which society holds dear -- states, capitalism, organized religion, and marriage. She was a great defender of human rights. (Speaking of which, this book was in my backpack when a police officer searched both myself and my car back in January. He was a small town cop, though, so I don't think he knew who she was.)
6. African Exodus: the Origins of Modern Humanity, Christopher Stringer and Robin McKie
Essentially a history of human evolution; I especially enjoyed the chapters on human and Neanderthal interaction.
7. The Lady Elizabeth, Alison Weir
The first of many reads by Alison Weir this summer, being the story of Queen Elizabeth's childhood.
8. The Iron Heel, Jack London
One of the first dystopias, and one predicts in part the rise of fascism. This is the story of Ernest Everhard, Marxist revolutionary who takes on the corporate police state. It was written in 1907 -- a decade before the Russian revolution.
9. Lost Souls, David Mack
The stunning conclusion to the incomparable Destiny trilogy, which sets the stage for an entirely new generation of Trek literature.
I was very impressed by this book when reading it. I had no idea how influential coal has been.
1. The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs
2. Captain Horatio Hornblower, C.S. Forester
3. Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
4. Revenge of the Sith, Matthew Stover
5. La Belle France, Alistair Horne