Including my ultimate Top 10
Loved this piece! On your first point, I just wanted to share:
A friend asked me this: "Why do you prefer reading fiction ('fake stuff') over real-life experiences (biographies, etc)?"
I think fiction is such an amazing medium for artists to translate specific experiences and feelings into something tangible and relatable to human beings all over the world, by tapping into people's imaginations. You're right that it's very different to looking at fine art or listening to a podcast. Different forms of art have their own merit, but reading is definitely a very unique experience!
Books I could read over and over: The Sorrows of Young Werther, Animal Farm, The Song of Achilles, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Things Fall Apart, The HP series, anything Shakespeare, and Christmas Carol!
Great article and list! I think my top 10 would also include Lonesome Dove (very excited we are reading this for the Big Read 2023) and Christmas Carol. I would actually include another Stephen King book, IT, and the other 7 would be The Road (read it every year), To Kill A Mockingbird, Flowers for Algernon, Of Mice and Men, The Book Thief, All the Light We Cannot See, and Fearless (about the legendary Navy Seal Adam Brown).
Congratulations on being a reader who isn’t afraid to read voraciously and widely! I am so, so enjoying your corner of the internet and it is inspiring me a lot as I begin my own reading newsletter journey. It’s so refreshing to hear another unpretentious perspective on why reading across genres and authors is so much damn fun and truly the best way to be “well read”.
I love how you acknowledged that reading is magic and yes, we could talk about all the scientific benefits, but at its core it is just you and the world or experience the author has created for you. Thank you for being another reader who is acknowledging that there is such a heavy focus on what is being released as the only thing that is fun, good, or the best to read. I am working my way through many “older” books and authors and oh the discoveries I am making, so delightful!!
My top 9, because I cannot commit to a #10:
1. All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot
2. Years - Lavyrle Spencer
3. The All Souls Trilogy - Deborah Harkness
4. Range - David Epstein
5.Winds of War/ War of Remembrance Epic - Herman Wouk
6. The Library of the Unwritten - AJ Hackwith
7. The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides
8. Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain
9. The Dirty Life - Kristin Kimball
Love what you do, thanks for doing it!
The consistency is just so impressive. It's like you've daily fed your mind since 2009, but ALSO documented it. I hate feeling "behind" but starting now is better than not starting at all. The 520 Project is about reading 52 books a year for 10 years - 1/2 of your output but I just love my TV/YouTube/TikTok and refuse to give it up! ;)
Thanks, as always, for the inspiration, consistency, and camaraderie!
And hey, another reason to read to add to your list is the bonding over books that one can experience with others. Reading itself is solitary but it can result in such rich and rewarding social experiences.
I just love you, man! *wipes tear*
This was a fun read, and well worth taking a minute out of my reading time 😉 what’s on my list? here are a few off the top of my head: Pride & Prejudice, Emma, The Little Prince, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Book Thief, East of Eden, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Way We Live Now, David Copperfield, Middlemarch.
Loved this one, wonderful tips. I get major guilt when I don’t finish a book, but I’ve also noticed that forcing myself to keep reading really drains the love of reading out of me and I find myself wanting to read much less. I may just have to accept that in order to read more I will also have to quit more - do you still keep the books you didn’t enjoy or do you donate them to make room for new ones?
I’d love to be able to read as fast as 100 pages in 90 min, but I’ve noticed I’m a bit of a slow reader. If I rush through it I don’t necessarily get the meaning as if I take my time, perhaps because English is not my first language.
Thoroughly enjoyed this and will be featuring your top 40 book list on a future newsletter of my own!
Loved the list. Your emails and updates here definitely inspire my reading. As a high school teacher, I committed last year to not work during my lunch break but to read. Those 25 minutes add up and help me reach my goal of reading 25 books a year. Here's my current top 10 in no particular order.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Man's Search for Meaning
The Great Gatsby
The Art Spirit
The Lord of the Rings
Return of the Prodigal Son
To Kill a Mockingbird
What criteria do you have to count a book as being 'read' and being added to the Books Read spreadsheet? E.g. does it count if you read a few pages then quit it? Or 50%? Or 99%? What if you skim the entire book but don't soak it in enough to really understand? You get the gist. I've been thinking about my own criteria and am curious on your take.
I think for me I've arrived at either 1) I read 100% of the pages or 2) I understand the content enough to have a general but comprehensive discussion with someone about the content.
Thanks for sharing your notes each week. - Ben
Jeremy - You've probably read a few hundred biographies. How did you land on Hamilton and Douglass's autobiography as the top two? I would love to know!
My top ten:
- The Snowball by Alice Schroeder. Biography of Warren Buffett
- The Fish that Ate the Whale by Rich Cohen
- Not Fade Away by Peter Barton
- 1491 and 1493 by Charles Mann
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- The Count of Monte Cristo
- The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan
- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
- Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Such an interesting article. And so true, those are the moments I read too, but not as fast as you can read! Loves your top ten reads. I love War and peace and I will read lonesome dove soon.
Pondering whether all that time spent reading was time well-spent is making my head swim. I love the way you put words to it all, and I’m sticking a few ideas in my back pocket: reading more classics and thinking about the most memorable books.
At the local library they had displayed, for checkout, books wrapped in butcher paper. The wrapping obscured the title of the book. On the front was a barcode to check out and the where, when, and why these books were banned. My wife and I each took one. Hers was banned in Italy “A Farewell to Arms”. I went for the gusto and took a book banned in 6 countries, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” Once I finish, I am going to swap and read my wife’s selection. A nice way to get people to read the classics.
My list of memorable books, in no particular order, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Little Women”, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “Gone with the Wind”, “Dune”, “The Lord of the Ring”, “Jian” by Van Lustbader, “Flow”, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”, and “Hamilton”.
Exactly! I tell people this all this time: “Life is too short to read things that you don’t want to be reading.”
Point #3 is KEY! I peruse the goodwill and book thrift shops for older reads that were best sellers when they were released. Keeping up with new titles will always have you tied up. Instead I read a new title like every 3/4 books.
Great article! I still struggle with DNF’ing but I’ve started mentally using the same language i use with my kids with their play activities- “if it’s not fun now, we can always try again later”...
- Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
- Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara
- Know My Name by Chanel Miller
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
- The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch
Bonus clever audiobook w/ A+ narration: Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema by Lindy West