Sunday, May 21, 2017

Best 100 Books I've Read in the Last Decade

Dear readers, today is a special today -- the tenth anniversary of my writing about books!  In the next few days I will have some reflective posts,  but today I'd just like to thank my regular readers for your digital company over the years -- and especially Cyberkitten, who has been coming by at least since 2008.

Five years ago, I celebrated my five-year blogging anniversary by posting a list of fifty of my favorite or most memorable books. It's  time for another round!   In chronological order, the fifty most memorable books read since 2012:

  1. Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert D. Putnam
  2. Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back, Jane Holtz Kay
  3. Lucifer's Hammer, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (Fiction)
  4.  Blood, Iron, and Gold: How Railroads Transformed the World, Christian Wolmar
  5. Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich
  6. A Conspiracy of Paper, David Liss
  7. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Eric Schlosser
  8. Suburban Nation: the Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck
  9. Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, Jennifer Linn
  10. The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community, Ray Oldenburg
  11. The Green Metropolis: Why Living Smarter, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability, David Owen
  12. John Adams, David McCullough
  13. A Man on the Moon, Neil Chaiken
  14. No Logo: The Case Against the Brand Bullies, Naomi Klein
  15. Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, Susan Strasser
  16. The Arthur Trilogy, Bernard Cornwell
  17. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities, Jeff Mapes
  18. Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile, Taras Grescoe
  19.  The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs
  20. The Plain Reader: Essays on Making a Simple Life, edited by Scott Savage
  21. Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry 
  22. The Conservative Mind: From Burk to Eliot, Russell Kirk
  23. Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton
  24.  The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, Jonathan Haidt
  25. small is beautiful: economics as if people mattered, EF Schumacher
  26. Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein 
  27.  Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front Porch Anarchists, Bill Kauffman
  28. Human Scale, Kirkpatrick Sale
  29. Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping,  Rose George.'
  30. Antifragile: How Some Things Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
  31. Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, Brant Pitre
  32. A Short History of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich
  33. The Cult of the Presidency, Gene Healy (Politics)
  34. The Iron Web, Larken Rose (Political Thriller)
  35. Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design, Charles Montgomery
  36. The Horse in the City,  Clay McShane and Joel Tarr
  37. How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had it Coming, Mike Brown (Science)
  38. Picking Up:  On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City, Robin Nagle
  39. Future Crimes:  Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable, and What We Can Do About It, Marc Goodman
  40. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein 
  41. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens 
  42. The Chosen, Chaim Potok 
  43. Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR, Neil Thompson
  44. Sphere, Michael Crichton 
  45. All the Shah's Men,  Stephen Kinzer
  46. The Porch and the Cross, Kevin Vost
  47. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, Brad Birzer
  48. Musonius Rufus on How to Live, adapted Ben White. 
  49. The Twilight of the Presidency, George Reedy
  50. Fear no Evil, Natan Sharansky


  1. Well done on 10 Years blogging! I'm already looking forward to the next 10. I can't remember how I stumbled upon your Blog (or what link took me here) but I'm glad I found it/you. You've given me a lot to think about and a lot of books to consider. I was just thinking today that we seem to have similar aims but are coming at the target from very different directions. I think we have many interesting arguments/debates ahead. [lol]

    A good list. A few I've read and a few are in various TBR piles - but many are (apart from your reviews) unknown to me. I guess that's mostly because of the Atlantic Ocean between us and growing up in very different cultures (I won't say a word about our age difference!)

    Keep up the good work (and the good fight). I know you will.

  2. Stephen,

    I've only read five that are on your list, and all are fiction. Four of the five are SF, and the fifth is Potok's _The Chosen_, which I just read last month. I was so impressed with it that I got the sequel from the library, and I'll probably read it next week.

  3. I congratulate you on two accomplishments: the longevity of your fine blog; your ability to recall and list your best reading experiences. As I am someone who has difficulty remember yesterday's lunch, I am impressed by memory. Well done!

  4. I'm curious about how you select your books, it seems your middle name must be eclectic... Like Fred, I've read several of the fiction, but none of the others except for the one about the history of bicycles in the. Netherlands...

  5. @Cyberkitten: I'm sure it must have been through skeptical blogrolls or something. I'm not sure who discovered who, though! I think we've both been enablers of our respective habits..Bernard Cornwell and John Stack are two authors I discovered through you, not to mention "The Age of Absurdity"...which I've read 3 times and have never reviewed. Sigh..

    @Fred: Enjoy "The Promise"! I'd like to read more of Potok, especially "I Am Asher Leve".

    @Tim: Oh, keeping lists of books helps! Thank you. :)

    In the beginning I would literally wander the library and hope titles caught my eye. These days I rely on amazon, goodreads, and Worldcat. It helps to be curious about EVERYTHING, as I am -- horses, trains, pavement, medieval Spain, it seemingly never ends. All I have to do is search for a topic and those sources produce books, and those books lead me to other books....

  6. I just finished THE PROMISE--excellent. Time to move on to some of his other works.


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