Favorite books

The National Association of Scholars’ blog is asking people to list their 10 favorite fiction and non-fiction books. My list is here.

I’m reading other people’s lists to find new books to read. Though I majored in English and read my way through the canon, I know there are holes in my reading.

We can’t teach students to love reading, writes Alan Jacobs, an author and English professor.

Education is and should be primarily about intellectual navigation, about—I scruple not to say it—skimming well, and reading carefully for information in order to upload content. Slow and patient reading, by contrast, properly belongs to our leisure hours.

Serious “deep attention” reading always has been and will be a minority pursuit, Jacobs argues.


About Joanne


  1. Thumbs up on Graves, Tuchman and Shirer…

  2. Eminent Victorians? What a pompous book. Goodbye To All That? Terribly lightweight.

    Sheesh. No way they’re on my list.

    Ah, but Thurber. There we agree.

  3. The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein

    The Unoriginal Sinner and The Ice-Cream God by John R. Powers

  4. I love the Victorians — though I lean more strongly toward the Russians. I also adore Wodehouse. It would be hard to pick a top 10. For non-fiction — Pinskey, Eco, and The New Yorker writers are up there. I love Alain de Botton, too.

  5. Too bad you combined one of those endless, endless book list posts with the far more interesting and relevant Jacobs post.

  6. j.d. salinger says:

    Everybody apologize to Cal, immediately.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Got a collected Wodehouse years ago, read it for hours. My face felt odd. Seems I’d been smiling all the time.
    Tried it again last year. Nothing.
    Goodbye to All That. Got it in college for the two pictures of the guy. It was interesting, along with Memoirs of A Foxhunting Man. After I had been an Infantry officer, it was even more interesting.
    Keegan, Hanson, Mattingly. Bernard Fall. Patrick O’Brian. Morison. “This Kind of War”.
    Dorothy Dunnett
    As always, Rosemary Sutcliff
    Kipling aka The Master.
    Poul Anderson’s potboilers. When he got serious…no serious results.
    Heinlein up to Starship Troopers. After that, he was a navel-gazing dirty old man.
    Most Asimov.
    My father had a college friend who ended up censoring correspondents’ dispatches from the ETO. Did Hemingway. His conclusion was that when Hemingway found out he was Hemingway, he went to pot.
    Ernie Pyle. Here Is Your War , Brave Men.