Although the book industry seems to be hell bent on putting out crap between two covers these days, there will always be those that mistakenly get through the clutter and go on to be loved and reveered. Here are the 12 books I loved the most.
1. A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It by Stephen Kinzer
In my opinion, the single greatest piece of journalism ever written. In A Thousand Hills Kinzer gives a 360 degree perspective on what lead to Rwanda’s genocide, the war, its struggles and the amazing rebirth of one of Africa’s smallest countries. I have read other books on the topic, but Kinzer’s book goes into the most depth of all of them all the while never forgetting he is telling a story. The perspective he gives on the good, bad and undecided of all previous and current players gives everyone an inside look onto the true events that did and continue to happen.
2. Dry by Augusten Burroughs
There are few books that can make you evoke both hysterical laughter and tears, but this is one of them. A raw account of dealing with abuse, addiction, love, life and loss. Burroughs storytelling makes you never want to put the book down and all the while never wanting the story to end. Read it once and the story will be with you forever.
3. First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
A moving account of a young woman’s survival of the Cambodian genocide. An absolute must read for anyone interested in understanding the spectrum of humanity and for anyone traveling in Southeast Asia.
4. Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now by Jan Wong
For all who want to throw away your ties to capitalism – Jan Wong is your girl. A Canadian who went to China to throw away her roots and join the collective slowly learns the realities of Mao’s “ideals”. Told in a brilliant manner in which the storyteller herself is just as much of the story as the history of China and Mao. It is absolutely brilliant writing and most certainly qualifies for one of the best books. Ever.
5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The first Afghan novel ever to be published in English. This is the story of an unlikely and complicated friendship between two young boys from very different social and economic backgrounds. A devastating secret follows the two their entire lives as their story evolves into and through enormous heartbreak and great hope.
I was so touched by the Kite Runner I left it where I finished it – in the Taipei Airport in Taiwan. I left a note in it telling whoever was to find it how much it meant to me. Months later I received an email from a Malaysian woman who had picked up. She loved it as I did. It is a book that truly touches the world.
6. 1984 by George Orwell
Proof that high school English classes have an impact on teengagers beyond being a prerequisite to graduate. 1984 was was my first entre into the world of political control and the brother we all have in common — the big one. My fear now is that perhaps Mr. Orwell was a little overly optimistic.
7. A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
John Irving was the first author I ever fell in love with. I was introduced to his Hotel New Hampshire in the summer going into my sophomore year in college and the rest of the season was spent with my face in John Irving’s work. Granted you can, as I did, over do the John Irving thing, but in A Prayer For Owen Meany Irving does a spectacular job of covering every human emotion possible all the while telling a story of two characters you will never forget.
8. What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank
An insightful account of how the Republicans mega-marketing machine used the abortion issue to change Kansas from a blue state (yes, the KS was once blue) to a red state. Was it because they really cared that much about abortion? Of course not. A brilliant look into the best marketing organization in the world: the United States of America’s Republican Party.
9. The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Had major life trauma show up on your door step? Think this crud you are stuck in is your destiny or perhaps it may just feel that way? You should read this book. Pronto.
10. The Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
I will await for you to stop laughing.
Trust me, I am hesitating to even mention this one – but truth be told – I freaking love this book. I love it because it tells the story of our worst enemy – ourselves – through a manner in which you can reach everyone – laughter. It was a wild success not because Renee Zellwhatsherhead gained 50 pounds to be in the movie based on it, but because it is so funny because it is so true. My one dream in life is to write my own version of this book. Wwe all really have our own version of it, don’t we?
Please hold me to it.
11. Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Karen Rauch
When I told my mom I signed her and I up for a Feng Shui class her response was, well, luke warm. But, she went with me to see learn the why’s and how’s of your chi screwing up everything from your health and love life to your travel plans and ever since we have both been hooked. Afterwards, I started gobbling up all Feng Shui books I could buy. With Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life being not only my favorite amongst them but one of the most influential books of my life.
Using the very easy to understand instructions in this book (read: super super dumbed down to ensure even the most chi-less amongst us get it) I am convinced my life has done a major turnaround. With employing the techniques Rauch describes in this book I have never had financial issues (even though I have gone large periods of time without a stable paycheck), I have traveled more than I did all decades prior combined (when I earned far more money) and I fell in the best kind of love you can imagine. So many people I talk to about what I learned in this book are skeptics until I do it for them — and it works.
12. Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating by Jane Goddall
The #1 most influential book of my life and I am thankful as hell for it. Don’t let the title scare you. I picked it up solely because Jane Goddall wrote it and in the end, without her really even trying, she has completely changed my life. I know major skeptics who I encouraged to read it who came out complete evangelists. It is 320 pages and 6 dollars of life changing goodness (and hope!).
I need good book recommendations. Which are on your list?