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 Steinbeck’s 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 Allen’s 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 etc…I 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 don’t 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.