List the five books you think everyone should read
June 4, 2012
I read a lot of books. As a matter of fact, I read more books these days than I have in any period of my life, although I have always been a reader. Now that I have come to know many working authors and established some connections with them, I like to check out their books.
I also have a pile of books in line to review.
But, all this reading made me reflect on books I have read that made a lasting impression on me for whatever reason. When this thought hit me, I also immediately wondered what other people’s lists of need to read books would look like.
So, let’s do this. I am going to list five books I wish everyone would read. If you feel like it, I would love to see your list.
Here are the only rules of the games: Authors cannot include their own books in the list, and they can’t include any book written by a friend of theirs, even if the book is otherwise worthy to appear on the list.
Here are my five books I wish people would take the time to read at some point in their literary journey:
1. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway.
I’ve always been a Hemingway fan, and this is my favorite. I try to read it every year or so.
2. Moral Man and Immoral Society, by Reinhold Niebuhr.
This is a classic two-volume work on political philosophy and ethics written in the heart of the Cold War. I read it in the summer of 1974 right after I graduated college. I haven’t read it since, but I still think about it. Neibuhr’s thesis is that while people have an innate sense of justice and fairness that leads them to do good to their neighbors, they lose much of this groundedness when they allow government to make their decisions for them.
3. The Holy Bible (King James Version).
Regardless of whether one is a person of faith, he must recognize the enormous influence the King James Bible has had on all Western literature over the course of the last four hundred years. Even though there are hundreds of translations of the Bible available today, the exalted language of the KJV is unparalelled in its beauty.
4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain.
When I read this as a boy, I didn’t realize it was one of the great books of all time. I just thought it was a fun book. I still feel that way, although I now appreciate how great Twain was. Earlier today, I thought about something he said about Wagner’s music.
“It was better than it sounded,” he said.
The same is true with Tom Sawyer.
5. Last Car to Elysian Fields, by James Lee Burke.
I like anything by James Lee Burke, but the Dave Robicheaux books are my favorites. Last Car to Elysian Fields is the one that stands out for me. Plus, you have to love the title.
Okay. So there’s my list.