A few months ago, the “Amazon Book Editors” put up a list with the description “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: A bucket list of books to create a well-read life”.
It contains some good (1984, Pride and Prejudice, The Right Stuff), some decent-but-thought-provoking (Man’s Search for Meaning), some leftist cant (Silent Spring), and a disproportionate amount of lightweight fiction, books for children, and books for young adults. I’m guessing this is a consequence of Amazon editors skewing rather young.
I think the list lacks broad perspective. It is weak on science, with only the often-purchased-but-seldom-read Brief History of Time plus an obscure book on nutrition. There’s nothing on technology, nothing on business unless you count Moneyball, nothing military (though it does have two books about the victims of WWII), and weak on history.
Fittingly for a Seattle-based company, the list leans left. I mentioned that Silent Spring is there, which is disturbing given the damage and death caused by its inaccuracies and environmental hysteria. It also contains Fahrenheit 451, which is the soft lefty’s go-to entry when they think they just have to cite a science fiction book. I could name a hundred better science fiction books off the top of my head, but most are from authors who have a nasty habit of not leaning left.
While the list is worth browsing through, I thought the largest bookseller in the world should have done better. That started me thinking about the list I would recommend. My list would contain books that gave me some of the greatest return on investment in reading them. That might be by changing or refining my worldview. It might be simply great entertainment. Some of the very best combine both.
It would be the best books I could name from a wide variety of fields. Being easily bored, I’m more of a generalist than a specialist, and I like to read lots of different kinds of books. So I began composing a list, and extended and refined it several times over a few months.
Creating such a list involves some tough choices between certain books that cover the same territory. I have dodged that by having some of my entries be categories, in which I think a well-read person should be exposed to the category, but not necessary any single work in the category.
For some works and authors, I also included some follow-on suggestions.
I ended up with about 50 books and categories. Here, then, are the books I think ought to be a bucket list for a well-read person, in alphabetic order except that I separated out the science fiction and placed it at the bottom.
The ones that are also on Amazon’s list have an asterisk. No doubt I’ve left off some obvious works, and no doubt our sharp and excellent commenters will remind me.
Dear readers of QandO.
I intended this to precede my musings on the Crimea, alas, Id10T error received by WordPress novice.
Normally you may see my…observations…in the comment section here, assuming you read the comment section, and assuming you read my comments.
After years of being ‘looker’ somehow my credibility would be increased (nay confirmed even!) if I used my real name, at least, according to one particular person I shall not name (curse you Voldemort!). On reflection perhaps ‘pain in the …’ would have been a better handle for me, but when I first commented, I was only ‘looking’, hence ‘looker’. That didn’t last long.
The proprietors have apparently had enough of my Irish whispers in the background and rather than show me the door, have decided that I should try and earn my keep instead. So they’ve offered me the opportunity to stop merely being a wordy guest, and maybe do some actual work.
Trust me, I have now officially discovered writing allegedly coherent, if not thoughtful, pieces for presentation versus commenting ain’t the same thing. My level of respect for those who do so daily has risen dramatically.
I would like to express my thanks to all the contributing authors, especially Dale and Bruce, for this opportunity.
As for everyone else, I am sorely tempted to warn you to flee while you may.
There’s this college kid named Evan Ewing in LA who really wants to make a cool, short film for one of his classes. And he wants to make it about the Nissan GT-R. He loves the GT-R and he’d like to show his fellow students, teachers, and car enthusiasts how much he loves it. Frankly, he’s a bit nuts on the subject. But, the thing is, he’s a student, which means he’s a dirty, poor person. And it costs money to make movies, even really short ones. So he needs to somehow scrape up $2,500. He can’t do it himself because he’s, as I mentioned, poor and dirty. So, he’s got a kickstarter page where he’s begging for money, like some sort of shameless third-world indigent.
Normally, of course, I would spurn this money-grubbing little ragamuffin like a rabid dog. Yet, somehow, he’s touched my heart. His pathetic longing for a car that, at his age and income, might as well be made of pure unobtainium, speaks to me. Much as Celine Dion said about the looters after Hurricane Katrina, "Dey never get touch de nice tings. Dey are so poor! Let dem touch it!", I want to let him touch a nice thing.
Hey! I’m talking about the GT-R he clearly loves so much, not the very naughty thing you were thinking.
I’m not sure why he loves the GT-R. It is, after all, a Japanese car, which means that, while fast, it is a soulless chunk of machinery, in exactly the way a Jaguar F-Type is not. But he loves it anyway, so I have decided to try and help him raise the $2,500 he needs to make his movie. He is billing it as The Greatest Nissan GT-R Film of All Time, presumably because he’s never seen The Fast and The Furious. Or The Fast and The Furious 2 through 5.
Also, helping him out gives me the illusion that I am not, in fact, a horrible human being. If you would like to enjoy the same illusion of caring for others, then go to his kickstarter page and drop a sawbuck on him. Then contact your attorney to get set up to sue his pants off for the appropriate return on your investment in case of the remote possibility that he ever makes one thin dime of off it.
Photo credit: By 韋駄天狗 (Own work (本人撮影)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Originally posted at dalefranks.com.
Today, we celebrated the life of my uncle, Rev. Raymond L. Franks Jr. There are few truly good men in this world–I certainly can’t claim to be one–but Uncle Ray was one of them. He was unfailingly loving, compassionate, and kind. In the 35 years he spent in the ministry in Albuquerque, NM, he touched and bettered an uncounted number of lives. The hundreds of people who came to pay their respects today are the merest tithe of the lives he touched.
Just being near him made you want to be a better person, to be able to live by the standards that he demonstrated in his own life every day. One of the great regrets of my life is that I was unable to be the person he thought I could be. Not once did he ever display anything but love and kindness to me, and occasionally regret that I was unable to spend more time with him in recent years. Now, he is gone, I can never spend time with him again.
Though he left an incredibly rich and lasting legacy, the remainder of my life will be a bit darker and bit more empty. Time, they say, heals all wounds, but for this one, sadly, I fear the healing will never truly be complete.
The world is a measurably poorer place for his passing.