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I love to read

I mentioned previously this week that I had just read Exodus by Leon Uris and was thoroughly impressed by the book. So much that I would argue that it should be required reading for anyone interested in how Israel was founded and the struggle that the founders of Zionism went through, although it is historical fiction, I have new found respect for secular and religious Zionists alike. Someone asked me to in one of the comments to talk about my favorite reads- which is extremely hard for me to do.

First off I read too many books to remember exact names and authors, second although I like to amass books and have two book cases filled with stuff I have recently read and have yet to read, I also take out lots of library books- so this task of explaining my favorite books is very hard. However just to start discussion of great books and hopefully get some recommendations from you folks I will go on a book rant.

As many of you could have guessed I love anything that has to do with wilderness adventure, whether it be hitchhiking, walking, hiking, traveling on boats, trains and by bike, I love the thrill of reading and actually going on adventures which take humans to places where no humans go or just to extreme places events.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is definitely one of my favorite books, by Aron Ralston- it describes his harrowing canyoneering accident which led him to cut off his arm with a pocket knife. In the process he talks of climbing, skiing, mountain biking and backpacking in the west- my kind of guy. Into the Wild- which was just made into a movie is also up there on my favorite adventure books. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson- about two overweight middle aged clueless guys who take on the AT (Appalachian Trail) very funny and interesting. On the Water- the author escapes me, about a guy who decides to row from NYC up the Hudson through the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi and around Key West and back up again. Rolling Nowhere- google it- about a guy who after college decides to assume the life of a hobo, and rides the rails for a bit.

Other adventure books I absolutely love are the Walk across America books 1 and 2 by Peter Jenkins; I just bought his Walk Across China book at a library sale for a quarter. I also tend to pick up and read all the arctic adventure books, including the famed all books that have to do with the Hudson Bay Trading company, such famed expeditions as lead by Ernest Shackelton.

I also have an obsession with road trip books and have read many although besides Kearouacs On the Road and Steinbecks Travels with Charley- I cannot seem to think of any, and being that my book cases are at home I am at a loss- I am all ears for good recommendations. Runni8ng with the Dogs about a couple that move to Alaska to compete in the Idiotrod- 1000 mile dog sled race- great insights on east coast views while living in Alaska- I read it just before I went to Alaska last year.

I am also addicted to reading the classic rags to riches stories, and biographies of famous Americans I have been in the middle of a Hearst biography for some time, as well as Carnegie and Rockefeller. I read 200 pages of Clintons book and it became too dry, Woody Allens is quite interesting, I read a great shortened Jefferson Biography. Reagan and JFK are on my shelf, waiting for me to delve into them. I also must recommend the Shalom Auslander memoir which has been written about on this blog- documents his years growing up in a strict yeshiva environment and consequentially going off the derech.

Although I am no engineer or inventor I do enjoy reading of engineering feats and inventions. Especially industrial revolution things like steam engines, mining techniques, submarines, screw propellers, ships, trains factories etcI can go on and on. I have a bunch of books about things such as how suspension bridges were built and the history behind the techniques etc I recently read about the history of Submarines, Iron clad steamships, how the London Sewer system was built, and a very interesting book on the history of gunpowder.

Of course like any environmentalist I like to read about the conservation, environmental projects, alternative energy and organic self sustaining farms.

Now on to the Fiction portion of this post- I read much less fiction than I do of non-fiction and most of the books are famous. Of recent note I have read the Haj and Exodus by Leon Uris- both great books about the founding of Israel . I absolutely loved the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I also liked all the Dan Brown books. My favorite book ever is probably Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and I also love the Fountainhead as well. Germinal by Emile Zola is phenomenal, as is Amerika by Kafka, I love the Jungle by Sinclair and the Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck.

I have read all the classics and remember nothing so in my old age will start them all again one day. There was a point in high school that I started reading Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and Joyce and Hawthorne, but I dont think I understood them.

I should not forget the book Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up by John Powers- definitely on my top 5 fiction books, a hilarious book about a kid in all boys Catholic school, this book can be made into a yeshiva book and would be great. This other book Memoirs from an Antproof Case by Hepburn which my friend Maureen gave me for Valentines day a few years back, was the biggest shocker- I read it because nothing else was around and while it was slow at first- it ended up being one of the most enjoyable reads ever.

{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Tee Jay March 27, 2008, 11:45 AM

    If you liked Exodus and Haj, you might enjoy Mila 18. It is also by Leon Uris. Great Book.

  • heshman March 27, 2008, 1:42 PM

    Thank you, I will check it out.

  • Frum Librarian March 27, 2008, 2:10 PM

    I have too many comments to make on this post. I will just say your tastes are classic textbook male reading interests, and I am a HUUUGE Ayn Rand fan.
    GO BOOKS!! (Sorry, that was the overly enthusiastic librarian in me)

  • Headbanger March 27, 2008, 3:01 PM

    My favorite book of all time would have to be “The alphabet of Manliness” by Maddox mainly because it is so damn funny that I shit myself. The book even has its own webpage, http://www.alphabetofmanliness.com

  • heshman March 27, 2008, 3:02 PM

    Classic male taste eh… well I would consider myself a male- so there. and GO BOOKS!!!!

  • Adam Hyman March 27, 2008, 4:49 PM

    Exodus is a great book. I’m reading Pefidy right now…. which is a really controversial but talks a lot about the history of Israel.

  • stacy March 27, 2008, 5:10 PM

    your tastes are surprisingly good. coming from a major literary snob thats quite a compliment
    i hope you actually go back and read the classics i dont think anything can compare to those

    you should read -for the relief of unbearable urges by nathan englander

    great post you should do a more detailed book post for us book junkies

  • abandoning eden March 27, 2008, 9:15 PM

    you only have 2 bookcases? 😛 I’m overflowing with 4, and I need to buy a new one soon…and that’s AFTER leaving all my childhood books behind after college (but also after 4 years of grad school…1 bookcase is only sociology books)

  • Anonymous March 27, 2008, 9:20 PM

    “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World” fascinating, true, South Pole survival story. Read it with my students, but I enjoyed it more.

    “Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers. Pain, grief, family. Parents die, brother raises brother.

    “Turbulent Souls” by Dubner and his “Confessions of a Hero Worshipper.” His writing has an honesty and realness– like good country music.

  • utubefan March 27, 2008, 9:21 PM

    That last one was me.

  • Hesh March 27, 2008, 10:50 PM

    Hey Eden I have loads more books, but mostly VERY old stuff I picked out of garbages purely because I like owning old things, especially books with the cool hand drawn art in the front pages. I also have a load of Political Philosophy books (so much that you may think I was a Marxist) from my college days- all in random garages in Upstate NY.

    Utube- thanks for the recommendations- I am walking distances to the Finkelstein Mem Library- so they will be seeing a lot of me, come winter.

  • utubefan March 28, 2008, 7:41 AM

    When I first got to Monsey, I was a Suffern Library snob–nicer digs, but then, I realized that Finkelstein has a larger circulation and is very responsive when ordering transfers or new books.

  • A Simple Jew March 28, 2008, 8:32 AM

    Thanks for the suggestions. I just ordered “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” and “A Walk in the Woods”

  • Anonymous March 28, 2008, 9:44 AM

    Try The Starship and The Canoe.

  • jennthejewess March 28, 2008, 10:29 AM

    Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander…great book…one caveat though…if u have any doubts abt g-d or any other g-d issuesthis is NOT the book for u. I think you really need to be confident in your beliefs for this book

  • Frum Punk March 28, 2008, 11:15 AM

    Hesh, you should read that Dahl book I mentioned. Theres an incredible story in there (probably fictional) about one mans journeys through the Sinai desert. Its a great read and a short story so not too much investment. 🙂

  • heshman March 28, 2008, 12:05 PM

    Wow I love all these recommendations.

    I think next week is going to a be a music post. It goes along the same lines.

  • empty March 29, 2008, 4:29 PM

    the fountainhead-Ayn Rand

  • rebecca March 29, 2008, 8:38 PM

    you must must must read Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. it’s about his VW van journey across america in the ’70s, with photographs and delicious stories and frequent walt whitman references.

  • Headbanger March 29, 2008, 10:54 PM

    I recommended that to him a while back, he read it. Hard for a road tripper to miss that one. I found the long drawn out descriptions of all that scenery he described to be pretty boring.

  • Erev Rav March 30, 2008, 1:52 PM

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Foer)
    Portnoy’s Complaint (Roth)
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Pirsig)
    Short Friday (Singer)
    Dad (Wharton)
    My Name is Asher Lev (Potok)

  • Hesh March 31, 2008, 12:41 AM

    For some reason I have two coppies of Blue Highways, and I really didn’t like the book- there are so many road books and I own many of them- but I think Blue Highways is over rated and boring.

    Ok Erav Rav I shuld have mentioned Portnoys Complaint- that is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Zen and Art I have been looking for used for exactly 4 years- since driving around the southwest with my buddy Danny S. For some reason I refuse to buy it online, I have a penchant for finding it under a bunch of fraying Erich Fromm books on the philosophies of Marxism and Fascism and smelling its wonderful mustiness from years of being burried in some hole in the wall book store in some podunk town.

    Unfortunately no one will part with their copy and therefore you may not find one in a used book store. It took me that long to find a used copy of Travels with Charley and that was all the way in Montana where I found that treasure

  • stacy March 31, 2008, 7:54 AM

    if youre a fan of the beat generation you must read “the holy barbarians” by lawrence lipton
    anything allen ginsberg and all the other keroac he wrote more than “on the road” you know
    i loved “the dharma bums” ohh and ghraham green especialy “the destructors”
    nice call on ayn rand though where’s the other female authors? dorthy parker dawn powell ?

  • Headbanger March 31, 2008, 4:57 PM

    Foer should be shot for making such a shitty book and actually getting it published. Extremely loud has no place on any bookshelf except my chometz furnace. If he made a dollar profit it should be confiscated.

  • stacy March 31, 2008, 10:09 PM

    i agree i liked “everything is illuminated” though

  • Katie April 10, 2008, 10:57 PM

    masada plan, also good

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