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A response to Amazon’s editors: my own suggestions for a well-read life

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.

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An Introduction

Dear readers of QandO.

Hello.

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.

Car Review

So, terms that don’t seem to go together. Like “military intelligence”. Or, in the case of this week’s car, “Korean Luxury”. Kia’s brand new K900 flagship sedan hit the shores of the United States this month. I drove it. I wrote about it.


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