While I was visiting my friend, Chris, down in Tucson, I was admiring her late husband’s book collection. Selling beautifully bound “Great Book” collections used to be a thing–maybe it still is. I have my own collection of world fiction classics with leather binding, gold lettering, marbled end papers, and silk ribbons to mark your place. That got me to pondering what are the current best books to read.
I am a fan of nonfiction so I went looking for the ubiquitous lists that clog the internet. The Greatest Books gives you 1319 nonfiction titles, generated from 130 “best books” lists. That might keep you busy for a while, but if you are interested in more recent works, Book Riot gives you the top twenty nonfiction books of the past decade. Good Housekeeping has a list with a slight bias toward women’s and social issues. You obviously can pick and choose your focus based on the source of the list.
I get a lot of my ideas for books to read from the reviews in The Economist and other media sources. Whenever Retired Admiral James G. Stavridis is interviewed on NBC news, he has a book prominently displayed on a table behind him (he is often the author). The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea looked so interesting I got my hands on a copy. It’s obviously another book list and with a very particular emphasis.
One of the books I found on the Discovery weekly list of best nonfiction books was The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning by Maggie Nelson. This book seems to address the very issues I was writing about in my last blog post, Killing the Dog. I have it on reserve at the library now and can’t wait to read it.
I was surprised, and perhaps shouldn’t have been, at the number of these books I have read. I just might be better informed and well read than I thought. But there are a great many I have yet to read. These reading lists should keep me occupied all through the summer, deep into the winter, and well beyond. Great adventures lie ahead, and I am eager and ready to begin.
Image: Where the books live, Kansas City Public Library, Waldo Branch. By Marilyn Evans.