20 November 2011
A fellow blogger recently asked me, “What is the best book you’ve ever read?” That’s a tough question. I can’t pick just one, but I’ll tell you some of my current favorites, and I may add to this list occasionally.
As a faithful Latter Day Saint, I’m supposed to answer, “The Book of Mormon, without a doubt.”
For a non-religious spiritual work, this one is tough to beat:
Pirsig packs a lot of wisdom (and common sense) into his story of a father and son riding a motorcycle across the country. Every time I re-read a part of it I discover new insights.
This is probably the best non-fiction book I know of (although there are many others that come close):
Bryson does a remarkable job of making science interesting and understandable, even for the casual reader. He covers physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, and biology, and he also weaves human history into every chapter. A wonderful combination of entertainment and education.
For poetry, it doesn’t get any better than Robert Frost. This is one of several excellent collections:
Arguably, many poets surpass Frost in technical perfection, emotion, and/or in ethical or moral gravity. But I find his work gives the greatest rewards for a given level of investment from the reader. I never tire of his poems.
Anyone who enjoys fantasy (and honestly, who doesn’t?) should read this one:
I’m about halfway through this book right now. My wife and I are slowly reading it aloud together. Six or seven decades ago, White and Tolkien laid the foundations of modern fantasy, setting up many themes and patterns that have been followed by hundreds of subsequent authors in that genre. Reading The Once and Future King, you see examples of this on almost every page.
I confess I’ve never read a Hemingway novel, but I adore his short stories. This collection contains a good representative sample:
I’ve revisited some of the stories over and over. “The Killers,” for example, is probably my all time favorite short story.
Finally, another one I’m currently working through for the first time:
Chabon is among the most literary authors in America today, which is how we English majors say he’s super talented at serious writing. Kavalier and Clay is very serious in places, but it’s also full of sweet, simple brain candy. This would be an excellent pick for a book discussion group.
Thanks for the question, flameinside.