Saturday, November 17, 2007

Looking for a Few Good Books: A Challenge

I read a lot. There are certain authors that I follow, and I always want to read both fiction and nonfiction about New Mexico and the rest of the Southwest. However, I would like to challenge myself to read some books that are a bit different from what I usually seek out, so I have compiled a list of books I’d like to read over the next few months. My friend Sonja in New Hampshire used to let me know about great reads but alas, there is no Sonja here in New Mexico, so I’ve picked these ten titles from a variety of award-winning and “best” lists. I’ve linked the titles to reviews and/or additional information from resources like The New York Times Book Review and National Public Radio.

Now, here is where you can help. As the Wikinomics subtitle (below) says, “mass collaboration changes everything,” so I’d like to see the list of books you’d like to read. If we share, we can broaden our horizons. Please send a comment that includes your list. Thank you for collaborating.

My Challenge List:

I Am America (And So Can You!), by Stephen Colbert.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz.

The Gathering, by Anne Enright.

Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire; The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56, by Rafe Esquith.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini.

The Dangerous Book for Boys, by Conn and Hal Iggulden.

The God of Animals, by Aryn Kyle.

Black Swan; the Impact of the Highly Improbable, by N.N Taleb.

Born on a Blue Day; Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant, by Daniel Tammet.

Wikinomics; How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, by Don Tapscott.


Sony said...


Love the idea. It's a little out of my comfort zone to "plan" for reading, so right away, I'm stretching my boundaries! I usually go peruse my favorite local bookstore (Water St Books in Exeter, NH) to find my next reads. However, I have a stash next to my bed so I'll start there.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I went perusing in need of fun things to read. This seemed to fit the bill and, like a premonition, fits the "outside the boundaries ideal of being a Pulitzer price winner... I don't read many of those (and now I sound numb :) I have just started this, last night in fact.

The Zero by Jess Walter. A thriller with what seems from the jacket to be a tie to brain injuries. I fell on my head a few years back... I just like reading about TBIs!

What Next by Jason Ohler. This is a career read, and my career right now is educational technology. As we try to teach these digital natives, how do we keep the arts alive and integrated? I hope this book gives insight on this topic. This was recommended by my good friend and colleague Kathy M.

Oh that's only 3. I guess I'll have to come back later with more ideas (I'll have to research!!)

Jean (aka Auntie Bucksnort) said...

Clair, this is a great idea because I’m a self-confessed non-reader. I wish I wasn’t but I am. However, once I pick up a book, I can’t seem to put it down – forsaking food and rest - until it’s finished. Kind of a love/hate thing I have going with the written word.

Now, if I were to suddenly find myself in a library or bookstore, here are a few things I’d be interested in:

- God’s Dog, Get A God and Coyote Speaks, the three books by Webster Kitchell

- Tempting Faith, An Inside Story of Political Seduction by David Kuo

- Beyond Brokeback, The Impact of a Film by Various Authors

- Radical Hospitality, Benedict's Way of Love by Lonni Collins Pratt and Daniel Homan

- Why I Wake Early (poetry) by Mary Oliver

- Rational Mysticism, Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for Enlightenment by John Horgan

I’d also like to brush up on the current state of affairs in our political universe by reading The Bible, The Koran (and perhaps revisiting Arthur Miller’s The Crucible!)

Keep up the inspiring work, Clair. I love your blog. J.

Anonymous said...

Any adult fiction would expand my reading horizons---when I think fiction I tend to stick to Harry Potter or maybe old Conan Doyle or Dashiell Hammett. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy was good but The Road was too depressing. I like John Feinstein's writing about sports (Season on the Brink) so I plan to try a couple of his sports mysteries like Winter Games. Maybe I'll even give another try at Ulysses by James Joyce. I'm sure I did a college paper on it but I'd like to read it. I really like nonfiction better, currently reading Twitchell's Shopping for God--How Christianity Went from in Your Heart to In Your Face. Recent reads have been Twice as Good:Condoleeza Rice and her Path to Power by Marcus Mabry and Legacy of Ashes:the History of the CIA by Tom Weiner. I tend to watch for interesting titles in The Atlantic magazine or The Economist magazine as well as author interviews on NPR.

Anonymous said...

Clair, How cool! First and foremost, should you need someone to feed you books outside anyone's comfort zone, let me offer you the use of my daughter, who feeds me things to read that stretch my brain beyond the rational!!! And by the way, ridin geeky, I was at Water Street Books today! :)

Here is my current pile of almost reads:

1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz I plan on wandering in my next life...which begins in 2 years!

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders a Becca pick (daughter) ... have no idea what this one's about!

Until the final Hour by Traudl Junge Hitler's story as told by his secretary

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost another Becca pick

First They Killed My Father: a daughter of cambodia remembers by Loung Ung recommended by my other daughter after our trip to visit her in Thailand February

and last but not least-

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. ???? another Becca pick

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

What a fun idea! Here are few titles on my list:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. (Actually, I've already read this one and it is terrific. Deeply spiritual as well as deeply funny!)

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff by Rosemary Mahoney

Eat That Frog by Brian about ceasing to procrastinate.

Teach Like Your Hair is on fire by Rafe Esquith.

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston.

Left to Tell:Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee IIibagiza

A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation by David W. Blight

There's more but this should get you thinking!
Thanks, JL

BdVdB said...

Often, I find myself struggling with a large and unrealistic book cue. Honestly, I'll read anything, from Shakespeare to Dan Brown, cook books to graphic novels, even large instruction manuals. There's never enough time. Here's what I've got going on right now.

After I finish NAKED, by David Sedaris, I will most likely go and pick up ME TALK PRETTY SOME DAY. I'd never read him before, despite him being on my list for some time. Wickedly funny stuff that has made me laugh out on the subway more than a few times.

For my birthday last year, my friend Pete gave me a book called THE PHYSICS OF SUPERHEROES, by James Kakalios. Another book that sat on the list for a while, it's almost at the top. It's a physics book with chapter titles such as "Can Ant-Man Punch His Way Out of a Paper Bag - Torque and Rotation"

THE MEZZANINE, by Nicholson Baker. Never read any of this guy, but my roommate Scot was telling me about it. Possibly infuriating, it's 120 pages of circular writing and footnotes, taking place in the time it takes the main character to ride up an escalator from the ground floor to the mezzanine.

I'M JUST HERE FOR THE FOOD, by Alton Brown. I love this guy. Science in the kitchen. Not so much a cook book as a manual of cooking techniques. He'll dispel myths like how searing a steak does not actually "seal in the juices", instead breaking down the science of what actually is going on inside your steak.

PLAYS AND PLAYWRIGHTS 2006, published by The New York Theatre Experience, Inc. Edited by Martin Denton. I've seen a lot of really bad independant theater, often in uncomfortable seats and it makes me suspicious of most everything. Despite my wariness with the scene, I can assure you that theater is not dead. Take a peak behind the horrible nightmarish Disneyland Broadway scene of Times Square, there is Off-Broadway theater, the very contrived theater version of independent film after Hollywood made it into a buzz-word. Somewhere in the alleyway behind that world as a dirty hole-in-the-wall world of the real independent theater, filled with grit, bad sets, and occasional brilliance. Martin denton sees about 350 of these plays a year and each year, he publishes an anthology of his favorites every year. A couple of friends have been published in this over the years, but I can't wait for 2007's edition featuring a play called "Universal Robots" by Mac Rogers.

That's enough books for now, though the list goes on and on...

Anonymous said...

We sure miss you guys in NH. But I love the idea of this blog. I've recently made a point to read more and it has reminded me why it's so important. I have the same issue as "j" that I will read until I finish, but am trying to teach this old dog a new trick. A few books that have been mentioned that I really enjoyed are Eat, Pray, Love; I am America and So Can You and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

One very heavy (literally and figuratively) book that I am slogging through right now is The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Kline. It is about the movement from Keynesian to Friedmanite economic policy over the past 30 years. I also just finished Lamb by Christopher Moore which is about a new gospel written by Jesus' best friend Biff. It made me laugh out loud and was a nice break from the heavy Kline book.

Lin said...

Hi Clairz, I know; I am such a stick in the mud but I just suggested another NM book to Towanda in her comments sections. It's out-of-print but I found a copy to read thanks to the local library. So many great unread books, so little time in this shrinking time continuum!

Unknown said...

Need to add "The Golden Compass" to my list! Want to see the movie, needed to read the book first! And it's most entertaining!

ameriaussie said...

Clair, this is so cool. As always, you challenge us to stretch ourselves and look beyond.
I'm still on my Asian kick but always looking for good winter stuff...
The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama,my current read, continues to teach me about customs and values of other cultures
Seven Hundred Sundays by Billy Crystal was warm and thoughtful and sincere and also about values and priorities
Jump into Literacy by Rae Pica is one I want to buy. I met the author today and was fascinated by her ideas on teaching literacy to 3-8yr olds through movement....
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - depression era story centred around a circus - very different
Hmm, I guess I go for books about the human experience, especially those from a different time or place. See, you've already got me thinking! Thanks.

photokeeper said...

Clair, I just finished, "The Good, Good Pig" by Sy Montgomery. What a beautiful story about the life of her pig. She is a gifted storyteller and her vocabulary is lyrical and creates an, "I can't put it down" book.

A wonderful mystery writer based in my hometown of Cheyenne, WY, is C.J. Box. His series of mystery novels center around "Joe Pickett", a Wyoming Game Warden, and the books grab your interest in the first few sentences.

Recent non-fiction reads I recommend are:

-The Bomb In My Garden by Mahdi Obeidi
-Inside The Kingdom by Carmen Bin Laden

I am an avid reader and so glad you are encouraging others to turn off the TV and read to yourself or, someone else!

Linda Gail

clairz said...

Thank you so much to everyone who has responded with comments so far--your lists will give us all books to read for a good while, don't you think? I hope that you will keep passing on the link to this post so that other readers will continue to send in their ideas about great reads.

brassring said...

So many good books, so little time! Each of you has listed at least one book that I have to add to my list now...darn it!

Currently I'm reading Wayne Dyer's Real Magic, Dave Barry's History of the Milennium (So Far), Teaching Music With Passion by Peter Boonshaft (okay, so most of you may skip this one). I just finished Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay, thanks to our blog-czarina's suggestion because our middle school encourages staff members to read and recommend books for young adults.

I'm looking forward to reading Slipknot, a novel by Linda Greenlaw of the Perfect Storm fame; Lisey's Story and Cell by Stephen King; and the Tao te Ching by Lao-Tsu... It's time I read the Divine Comedy, too, as well as War and Peace. Nothing to do with New Mexico, I'm afraid, and not much time to list the next few books on the list yet. But Jacksonrnnr, my hubby is reading 1000 Places...give us a call when you're ready to head out!

And Clairz, you blog-czarina, thanks for keeping our noses in the books and our heads in the clouds!!!