Friday, December 6, 2013

Ten Books

The newest social media fad (outside of pining for Obama's third term) is to list ten books that "stayed with you".  It is my general practice to avoid all Facebook chain letters, but I love books too much to skip this one.  I love books so much that at times in my adolescence I would carry two to three books with me everywhere I went.  Everywhere.  Before there was an iPhone to quell the slightest tinge of boredom, I had books.  Although I have less time now, I still read every night and normally read 15-20 books a year (maybe only 10 this year, but I blame What It Takes for some of that).

So while I take great pride in my list, I think that it would change from year to year, mood to mood, life crisis to life crisis.  Some of the books listed below (Corner, Lincoln's Sword) are fundamental to how I see the world, but others may wash away or be replaced over time.  Without any further introduction, my top six:

1. The Corner - David Simon 

If you haven't read this book, you are doing yourself a disservice.  It is my all time favorite nonfiction work (although I think there are fictional components).  Simon interweaves essays on urban policy with a narrative following a dozen residents of a Baltimore neighborhood.  The most lasting impact of the book is the exasperation involved in a complex social problem that many intellectuals believe they can solve.

2. The Black Swan - Nassim Taleb

Another book that changed the way I see the world.  My favorite quote (that I follow): "Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them."

3. Lincoln's Sword - Douglas Wilson 

Lincoln's Sword is the reason this blog exists.  This book should inspire us all to write more, particularly about the manner in which we are governed.  In an age where everything is either an insult or deification, Lincoln's writing style is refreshing.  Wouldn't it be a different place if people saw an obligation in disagreement to engage the other side in debate?

4. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

Just a great book about leadership.  Much of the hype about this book focused on the personalities, but I think the much more interesting aspect of the book is the balance Lincoln struck between dove and hawk Republicans (a feature of the Lincoln movie).

5. Bloodsworth - Kirk Bloodsworth

I read this book in law school, which is a feat all its own.  When you can accept that our legal system, and a jury of our peers, sentenced an innocent man to death, you can't help but view that system with great skepticism.

6. A Problem from Hell - Samantha Power

Now the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power wrote this powerful book about genocide and our country's role in ensuring intervention whenever it occurs.

That's all for today.  Maybe I'll get to my last four in another post. 

Have a great Friday doing what you love!