Today I continue with my list of 100 favorite books of all time.
90 T. H. White:A Biography by Sylvia Townsend Warner
The life story of the author of one of my favorite all-time books (foreshadowing!) is in itself a great addition to art of biography. Townsend Warner finds humanity in someone who at best was reserved from the human race (at worst, misanthropic) drawn from his writings and correspondence.
89 You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting
The United States and Japan share a national pastime in baseball, but approach the game in different ways. This book expertly explores the culture of Japanese baseball and inevitable culture clash that occurs when “gaijin” – players from the US and Latin America – play in Japan. Whiting also wrote a follow-up about the arrival of Japanese stars in the Major Leagues called The Meaning of Ichiro, but Wa is the better work.
88 Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback by George Plimpton
I’m a big fan of George Plimpton’s writings especially his participatory journalism writings within professional sports teams. Although all are enjoyable reads, I think Paper Lion is the best example of Plimpton’s ability to show the inside experience of playing the game and more importantly the personalities and fellowship of the athletes.
87 The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Like many classic children’s books, I didn’t read this as a child but discovered it when I was in college. It inspired me then and I look forward to reading it again with my son (while he’s still a child).
86 Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
My favorite Shakespearean comedy (partially because I portrayed Sir Toby in a high school production) with the perfect mix of witty dialogue, physical humor and characterization.
85 Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk
This biography is great on two levels. First, it is an excellent perspective to understanding Lincoln the man, the leader, and the President through the lens of his melancholy. Second, it is inspirational to learn that not only Lincoln suffered from depression, but that this seeming mental disorder was an advantage to his leadership skills.
84 Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Another children’s book I read as an adult, follows the adventures of a boy and his baby sister as they go on a quest in the magical Underland beneath New York City. It’s a wonderfuly imaginative adventure that is at times disarmingly introspective.
83 Tales of the City Series by Armistead Maupin
Maupin’s serial of newspaper articles-come-novels are a wonderful, quick-witted, dialogue-rich collection that bring San Francisco of the 1970’s & 80’s, with a 2007 update. I have to confess that the 2nd & 3rd books get a little ridiculous, but the series is redeemed by the 4th book Babycakes which among other things is the first fictional work to feature the AIDS pandemic as a central theme.
82 Snowshoeing Through Sewers: Adventures in New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia by Michael Aaron Rockland
Forget hiking the Appalachian Trail or climbing the highest peaks, this book is a great travelogue about outdoor adventures in America’s urban and suburban places. Stories include canoeing around Manhattan, cycling across New Jersey on Route 1, and participating a Delaware River Raft Race. I recreated one of his adventures by walking Manhattan’s Broadway from end to end and it was a refreshing way to see the City. This is a good fun book and will make you reappraise what it means to get outdoors and back to nature.
81 Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird by Andrew D. Blechman
Don’t dare call them “rats with wings”! This book explores the most noble of birds the pigeon and their tempestuous relationship with human beings. I think every pigeon-hater should read this book to dispel the myths and learn the truth about my favorite bird.
Next Friday, another ten books!