For the Love of Books

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I’ll admit it.

I’m a sucker for lists.

I could nominate a list of reasons why this most venerable of media formats is so appealing but since NEW YORKER magazine has already done that (HERE) there’s really no need.

Instead, for an insight top-up I offer this heavy duty quote –

“Lists or listicles as they are now sometimes referred to, spatially organize  information and promise a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront.

This creates an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption—a bit like sipping green juice instead of munching on a bundle of kale and celery sticks. And there’s little that our brains crave more than effortlessly acquired data.”

Maria Konnikova – author of MASTERMIND: HOW TO THINK LIKE SHERLOCK HOLMES (2013)

With that out of the way it’s time to move onto our main act.

Favourite books? I’ve had a few. And so have others, including these celebrities –

celebrity novels 2Celebrity novels

This ribbon-cutting post is dedicated to the unveiling of my list of 50 favourite books. The oldest of the books listed dates back to 1897 and at the other end of the timeline there are four books included published in 2017. There are also a couple of titles mentioned I last read back in childhood but whose fond memory has lingered for so long they literally begged to be on the list. Non-fiction books well and truly take centre stage.

used to be

Each and every one of the books admitted onto this list I have poured myself into their pages and they into me. I have scoured these books. Many of them I have read more than once. I have read until I was almost cross-eyed and the words merged into nonsense. I have lived their pages in breathless rapture and spent, in some cases, a lifetime studying the characters, both fiction and non-fiction. These are my favourite books –

Click (HERE) to go straight to it.

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Ps. Before you do, check out these shenanigans –

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OZ COMIC CON is on in Brisbane this weekend.

If you want a schedule of events GO HERE

25 thoughts on “For the Love of Books

  1. For bothering to read the list, my barrel-chested Guardian of the ‘click through’ Thor has granted you instant immortality. I reckon you could get through a lot of books in that time.

    And Alfred Hitchcock & The Three Investigators?
    When I go retro, I REALLY go retro!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The reading list I’ve accumulated would require such a boon. lol. I’ll take what I can get.

      I’m having flashbacks from that one. Gives me a grin. I’m wondering how I’d ever narrow a list down to 50 or decide on which order to put it in. That can’t have been easy.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ‘Easy’ certainly could not describe this literary filtering task to end all filtering tasks. ‘Satisfying’ on the other hand would.

    Would love to see a similar list from you Emily some time down the track. Issuing from your horizon-busting reading recesses, that would be a list for the ages I have no doubt. And one deserved to be carved in Italian marble no less.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Once more, you’re way too sweet. Works for you though. *kiss* I’m trying to compile one right now. Probably going to take some serious spelunking to pull it off though. I’ll make sure I link back to you for the inspiration… whenever I can nail it down.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, I have read very few of those and mostly not heard of the others! I read the 1974 version of the Andes crash, parts of William Goldman’s book, Mommy Dearest, and Dracula. I want to look up a bunch of listed titles but I immediately had to look up People Who Eat Darkness and Rabbit Back Literature Society (because of the titles)The Death of Forever (because of the premise) and Seven at One Blow (because of the cover).

    Books as old friends, indeed. Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode where the bookworm who works in the bank never has enough time alone to read, then someone drops the bomb (I assume it’s The Bomb) and he climbs from the rubble, overjoyed to be alone and surrounded by books…and then immediately breaks his glasses?

    I’m sure you have a huge list of reading you still want to get to, but since you like true crime, have you ever read the Black Dahlia case?
    The Tao of Pooh reminded me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull (tho it’s probably Tao of Pooh lite). Smilla’s Sense of Snow fits into true crime perfectly…with a little supernatural thrown in at the end.
    The Terror is one of my favorite historical books…with a little supernatural thrown in at the end.
    Since you liked The Last Boyen Girl, what about Girl with a Pearl Earring?
    And then there’s The Maggot, which doesn’t have military history, but it’s historical, and it has murder and mystery. I explain a little bit about it in this review: https://wordpress.com/post/staceyebryan.wordpress.com/2014mn

    And by the way, I always thought David Lee Roth was fascinating, too. Not during his band days, but years later, we were working on something about him here at work. I looked him up and discovered how smart he is AND he’s a musician and he flies helicopters or something like that and just a bunch of stuff I never would have associated with him.

    Nice list!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Stacey,

    This is mostly definitely a ‘comment to die for’ standard of comment!
    A thousand thankyou’s for the tip-off regarding the Twilight Zone episode.

    Titled TIME ENOUGH AT LAST (originally aired in 1959) and starring one of my favourite ‘ol time actors Burgess Meredith (who among other famous roles memorably played boxing trainer Mickey in the Sylvester Stallone ROCKY movies) – I had no knowledge of it. Apparently in numerous polls of fans favourite episode of THE TWILGHT ZONE this one has come out on top with daylight second. It is the perfect companion piece to the listing of a person’s favourite reads, so again, incredible thanks!

    The Black Dahlia (California – 1947) true crime case?
    Definitely familiar with that one. Anyone who claims title to being a true crime buff would be expected to be.
    Thankyou also for the head’s up about the 2007 novel THE TERROR by American author Dan Simmons as well as SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW, the 1992 novel by Danish writer Peter Hoeg. Ones to look for on my next library visit I reckon.

    And David Lee Roth?

    The autobiography CRAZY FROM THE HEAT (published in 1998 and coming in at #31 on my countdown) is truly one of the most originally written books I have ever had the good fortune to stumble across.

    From recounting stories of Van Halen supergluing entire suites of furniture to the ceiling of hotel rooms back in their touring days to the infamous ‘no brown M & M’s’ rider they had attached to their concert catering contracts to the picture on the back cover of Roth walking with a bottle of Jim Beam raised in one hand accompanied by two dwarf body guards either side of him, this book and the trippy, mind-bending and totally cliche-annihilating voice it’s written in guaranteed it would long live on in my memory after I’d finished devouring it.

    Thankyou Stacey for a very wonderful response to my Top 50 books list.

    Below is the final three minutes of the Twilight Zone episode featuring the spectacle wearing book worm character Henry Bemis, who dreams of a life of uninterrupted reading of his favourite books, and, courtesy of an end-of-the-world event, is granted that wish but with a cruel twist attached –

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You’re welcome! I definitely feel like I’m way more excited about books than I should be, but I’m an unrepentant story lover. In any form. So obviously movies have all my passion too. And an old man sitting in a park telling me a tale, etc. Any story, from any medium.

    And there he is, sitting in the rubble, surrounded by books! That’s the one. Poor bank teller. One of the best examples of irony ever. Glad you liked it! It IS perfect, isn’t it, for book lovers?

    Except today, if everything was destroyed and power was knocked out, although I have some collections of hard-cover books, most of my books are on Kindle now. I’m a terrible traitor to the library, which served me well for decades. But I grew to love the Kindle especially because I can read it in a dark room without having to mess around with one of those persnickety book lights.

    And really, realistically speaking, Burgess’s character COULD stumble his way to the bombed out pharmacy or eye doctor’s place and conceivably find ONE pair of glasses intact somewhere, couldn’t he? Come on, man! Grow a pair !!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You make a great point Stacey regarding the power of STORY per se, in any form (including, as you mentioned, an old timer sittting on a park bench recounting a tale from his youth).

    And yeah, the TWILIGHT ZONE episode is a classic. Little wonder that three minute clip from it on YouTube has attracted 1166 comments! As someone pointed out, after the glasses broke he still perhaps could have contented himself with the large print books (or maybe they didn’t make those back in the 50’s?)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I truly look forward to the day I have enough time to read again. Honestly the only thing I read these days are the report cards and school newsletters I get sent home about the kids. It’s a sad state of affairs and one I am not proud of. I used to pride myself on my literary prowess. Now, I am embarrassed to say that I have a list of ‘need to read’ a mile long. One day…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow, it’s quite a task you list your top 50 books but you inspired me to have a go! I’m posting now as I’ve been adding, moving and deleting book titles for the last two hours. Hopefully posting will stop me from any more moves! All the books on my list are non-fiction as that’s all I read at home. I do love reading children’s books (disguised as research for my library teacher job) but I haven’t considered any of them for this list. Here it is!
    1. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
    2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain
    3. Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
    4. Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, Mark Kriegel
    5. Killing Pablo, Mark Bowden
    6. One Down, One Missing, Joe D’Alo with David Astle
    7. Jim Henson: The Biography, Brian Jay Jones
    8. The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, Philip Carlo
    9. Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein, John Nixon
    10. Batavia, Peter Fitzsimons
    11. Playground of the Gods, Ian Stafford
    12. The General, Paul Williams
    13. George Lucas: A Life, Brian Jay Jones
    14. Marching Powder, Rusty Young,
    15. Freakonomics, Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
    16. Fab Five, Mitch Albom
    17. Operation Relentless, Damien Lewis
    18. Loose Balls: The Short and Wild Life of the American Basketball Association, Terry Pluto
    19. The Matriarch, Adrian Tame
    20. The Jordan Rules, Sam Smith
    21. Don’t Put Me in Coach, Mark Titus
    22. Zero Six Bravo, Damien Lewis
    23. Life Is So Good, George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
    24. The Hanged Man: The Life and Death of Ronald Ryan, Mike Richards
    25. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Joshua Hammer
    26. Drazen, Todd Spehr
    27. Tip Off: How the 1984 Draft Changed the NBA Forever, Filip Bondy
    28. Gallipoli, Peter Fitzsimons
    29. The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
    30. Join Me, Danny Wallace
    31. Dream Team, Jack McCallum
    32. Drive, Larry Bird
    33. 1788, David Hill
    34. Working Class Boy, Jimmy Barnes
    35. How long is a Piece of String? Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham
    36. Why Do Buses Come in Threes? Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham
    37. When the Game was Ours, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson with Jack McCullum
    38. What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell
    39. Grog: A Bottled History of Australia’s First 30 Years, Tom Gilling
    40. The Dig Tree, Sarah Murgatroyd
    41. Lasseter’s Gold, Warren Brown
    42. Kokoda, Peter Fitzsimons
    43. Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
    44. Hell’s Gates: The Terrible Journey of Alexander Pearce, Paul Collins
    45. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson
    46. David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell
    47. How to Survive the Titanic: The Sinking of J Bruce Ismay, Frances Wilson
    48. At Home, Bill Bryson
    49. Gold! David Hill
    50. Don’t Rock the Boat, Peter Wilkins

    Liked by 1 person

  10. OMG!
    I am literally like a kid in a candy store with this list.
    What could be better for a non-fiction lover like me than a treasure trove the likes of this?
    Where to begin?

    First of all, I see you have three books (KOKODA – published 2004, BATAVIA – published 2011 and GALLIPOLI published 2014) included in your list written by Australian author Peter FitzSimons. How brave of you! This word maniac writes 800 page tombs – so well done for getting through three of them.

    Two books also from Australian author David Hill – one of which, 1788, is also on my list – so naturally I’m a fan there.
    Two books also from master story-recounter Damien Lewis (who is also on my list with OPERATION MAYHEM) so understandably that caught my eye as well.

    KILLING PABLO (published 2011) by Mark Bowden? What can anyone say about this book other then it is a true classic of its type.

    Many other titles here I’ve just googled to see what they were about –
    the three Malcom Gladwell books
    the two Rob Eastaway titles
    and of course the most intriguingly named of the lot – THE BAD-ASS LIBRARIANS OF TIMBUKTU by Joshua Hammer.

    Magnificent, window-shattering and completely earth-shaking list!
    Would love to hear your thoughts sometime on DON’T ROCK THE BOAT (published 2008) by Peter Wilkins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’ve made a note to head to my local bookshop and purchase Operation Mayhem. I really enjoyed the Damien Lewis books I’ve read so I can’t wait to get my hands on that one. I’m also going to read How Music Got Free. I love reading books that give you an insight into world events, trends and people and that’s sounds like a cracker! I enjoyed Don’t Rock the Boat. Often sports books give you a filtered version of what happened but this one goes into detail of all the events and really shows the hard-work and time that elite sportspeople put in.

      I’ve just finished the Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. It’s an inspiring story of how a group of librarians risked their lives by smuggling ancient manuscripts out of Timbuktu to avoid the Taliban destroying them.

      I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. He does make some big generalisations but I like how it looks at things from different angles and comes up with interesting conclusions. He has a podcast – Revisionist History, that is interesting.

      Looking at my list, the top 3 books are all reads that changed the way I look at the world in some way. Bill Bryson explains world creation, history, evolution and everything in between in a way anyone can understand and creates genuine wonder at how amazing the world is. He also has a knack of finding absurd and funny facts that make me laugh – the story of the two satellite dishes, bird pooh and Nobel Prize is amazing. Being an introvert myself, Quiet gave me a new perspective and that it’s alright to be the quiet one. Raising Quiet kids it also gave me patience and understanding of the special qualities quiet people hold and their importance. Outliers gave me an understanding of different types of success and the various factors that effect it.

      Lastly, Playground of the Gods and Join Me are entertaining reads not just because of the style of writing but the idea those two gents had and their willingness to do them. Ian Stafford always thought he was good at sport but was getting older and hadn’t followed his sporting dreams. He then took on the world champions in several events and completed a week of training with them. What an experience! Danny Wallace started his own cult in Join Me!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Helter Skelter the book- and the original made for tv movie in the mid 70’s scared the hell out of me. I saw the movie first- and slept with the light on that night – then I had to get the book and read it.

    Charles Manson spent a lot of time during his childhood about 20 minutes away from where I live. Great book…..
    I read somewhere once that men were more into lists than women.
    I am a lover of lists also.

    Liked by 3 people

    • 20 minutes from where you live?
      Then YOU are the closest I’ve ever come to having any real-life association with someone who had any kind of even remote connection with anything or anyone related to Charles Manson and his Family.
      Thanks for a brilliant contribution to the discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My brother-in-law lived in the town where Charles lived – he is 15 years younger though. He claims he remembers his mother saying ‘stay away from that guy.” But I question the timing on that but I guess it’s possible.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I was gonna say I never could get into the Manson stuff ’cause I was too creeped out as a kid by that whole thing because it took place a few miles from where I lived, and I would imagine those drugged-out, murderous psychos skulking around in the vacant lots around our house. But hanspostcard at 20 minutes was much closer! *shudder*

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: My 50 Favorite Books | Knight of Angels

  13. My primary thought as I scanned your list Glen was how if I was ever complaining of boredom perhaps when retired (something I wonder if I will ever achieve), I will just need to be reminded of your list. There was much in there I wish I had to time to explore. After all this, up comes the topic of time and broken glasses. I’m clearly not the only one hankering for more time to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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