100 Favorite Books of All Time (50-41)



Before I count down the next ten books on my list, I have to deal with some erratum.  I was thinking of a book I really like a couple of days ago and wondering if it was on my top 100 list.  It wasn’t, which seemed unfortunate so I checked Library Thing to see how many stars I’d given it.  The book was not in my Library Thing catalog at all!  I checked my old spreadsheets and documents and it wasn’t there either!!!!   I read and loved this book just 3.5 years ago, yet I wrote down nothing about it.  This bothers me more than it should.

At any rate, this is not a scientifically ranked list, so let’s just make it my 101 favorite books list and slide this book into number 50.5:

50.5   Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

This memorable biography tells the life story of Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health and his tireless efforts for the preferential option for the poor.  Farmer’s work in Haiti and elsewhere is awe-inspiring, and Kidder captures Farmer’s story in an engaging and enlightening manner.

50    The Baroque Cycle by Neal  Stephenson

This is probably a cheat since The Baroque Cycle is not a book, but 3 books.  Or 8 books.  And I haven’t even finished reading them yet!  But it’s a masterful story of the birth of modern Europe that dabbles in science, finance, politics, cryptology, numismatics, black humor, and rip-roaring adventure.

49    Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay  Stevens

A fascinating history of the mind-altering drug and its use and effect in American society, arts, music, and politics.

48    Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara  Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich participatory study of what it’s like for the working poor in America.  Should be required reading for anyone who thinks the poor are lazy.

47    The Grapes of Wrath by John  Steinbeck

A classic novel of one family’s exodus to California during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

46    Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by David Garrow

Perhaps the most comprehensive biography of King and his contemporaries, it draws upon FBI surveillance tapes that allow for day-by-day, hour-by-hour exploration of King’s Civil Rights campaigns.  A great book for learning about the man behind the legend.

45    The Appalachian Trail Reader by David Emblidge

I really love hiking and this collection of stories approaches the Appalachian Trail from different viewpoints: history, poetry, naturalism and best of all the stories that hikers pass along to one another along the trail.

44    1939: Lost World of Fair by David  Gelernter

A beautiful and poetic telling of the fair as a utopian experiment and what it meant in the lives of some of the visitors of the time.

43    The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz

A great book that dismantles the romantic myths of rugged individualism in American history and shows that Americans have prospered best during times of communal efforts and government aid.

42    The End of Elsewhere: Travels Among the Tourists by Taras  Grescoe

A voyage both humorous and depressing in which the author deliberately follows the beaten path to the world’s most touristed spots.  It’s part sociological and part cynical view of humanity’s need to travel.

41    Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass by  Lewis Carroll

Fantastic works of nonsense literature.  Not just for children, and not what Disney et al makes of them either.

10 more books next week, or maybe 11 or 12.