February 01, 2009


I'm on track to beat Bush's 2008 and 2007 scores in my George Bush 2009 Reading Challenge: I've read four books in four weeks. I'm gonna make sure I keep up the pace, which I think will be easy once my husband starts leaving town all the time. Heck, maybe I could even beat Rove.

I have plenty of things on my bookshelves to keep me occupied, but I always enjoy asking people to recommend books. What are your favorites? Maybe I will add some of them to my list this year.

Posted by Sarah at February 1, 2009 11:20 AM | TrackBack

If you haven't read them already, my husband and I both enjoyed Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, and also Thomas Sowell's The Quest for Cosmic Justice. I know you've read Atlas Shrugged before, which would have been my #1 otherwise. :)

Posted by: Leofwende at February 1, 2009 12:13 PM

Leofwende -- I have read Freakonomics and enjoyed it. I love Thomas Sowell and just finished his autobiography yesterday, but I haven't yet read The Quest For Cosmic Justice.

And you can't suggest 1200 page books for my reading challenge! That will slow me down! :)

Posted by: Sarah at February 1, 2009 12:57 PM

1.) "Patriots; Surviving the Coming Collapse" by James W. Rawles

2) "Invisible Resistance To Tyranny" by Jefferson Mack

Both very short but worthwhile "reference" manuals for these troubled times in which we find ourselves.

Posted by: retro at February 1, 2009 01:03 PM

Retro -- Thanks. I am not familiar with either of those books.

Posted by: Sarah at February 1, 2009 01:08 PM

Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut. Hands down, by far, (next to The Fountainhead) the best.... Ever.

Posted by: Allison at February 1, 2009 04:11 PM

When you first mentioned Bush/Rove's reading challenge, you linked to two other blogs that had their reading lists posted. One recommended Clarence Thomas' My Grandfather's Son, which I just finished. It was an absolutely inspiring book. The part where he discovers Thomas Sowell's writings for the first time - well, the book is worth reading just for that part alone! If you haven't already read it, it's a must for your list. I promise - you will love it!!!

Posted by: Amy at February 1, 2009 05:08 PM

Allison -- I read Slaughterhouse 5 in high school, and I liked it, but it's been a long time since I read it. Maybe I should read it again.

Amy -- Thanks for the tip! I will add it to the list. I have actually heard good things about that book before.

Posted by: Sarah at February 1, 2009 05:36 PM

War on Wealth is quite good...for a thinking book...

Posted by: AWTM at February 1, 2009 05:43 PM

For starters:

"A Canticle for Leibowitz," by Walter Miller. A deep, depressing, but often funny book: categorized as science fiction, but really philosophical/theological fiction

"Darkness at Noon," by Arthur Koestler..a committed communist is arrested by the Stalinist regime.

"On the Rails: a Woman's Journey," by Linda Niemann...a PhD in English takes a job as a railroad brakeman. (My review here)

"Father, Son, & Company," by Thomas Waston Jr..this memoir by the long-time CEO of IBM is something quite different from the typical look-how-brilliant-I-am CEO autobiography.

Posted by: david foster at February 1, 2009 05:58 PM

AWTM, thanks. Good idea. I also have never read Survivor, which I know isn't your favorite, but Palahniuk always makes me think of you.

David -- I will definitely read your picks because I just think the world of you and know your picks will be interesting and challenging.

Posted by: Sarah at February 1, 2009 06:02 PM

Thanks so much, Sarah! I look forward to seeing what you think of them.

Posted by: david foster at February 1, 2009 06:26 PM

I'm, at my son's house, his wife had another aneurysm fixed so I'm trying to help and can't remember ALL my books, we have about a million (no joke, our rooms are lined with bookshelves) but some I can remember are:
The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes book on the depression;
Seabiscuit, very good historical information in this;
Lone Survivor, Marcus Latrell;
anything by Steven Pinker, they are all on how the mind works and language, oh so good!
That is about as much as my mind can drag up from its depths.
I do very much recommend any Steven Pinker book, I think if you have an interest in language it would really be right up your alley. (and husband's)
Wish I had one of my books with me. I am trying to read Pride and Prejudice and it puts me to sleep, I need sleep so that is good.

Posted by: Ruth H at February 1, 2009 06:59 PM

Right now, I"m on a kick for Kent Haruf's books, thanks to RSM. I"ve read "The Tie That Binds" and now I'm on to Plainsong. Good writing.

I'd recommend "Atlas Shrugged" and "Fountainhead" but I know I'm preaching to the choir.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at February 1, 2009 07:00 PM

People here are definitely not shy about their recommendations! These benefit not only Sarah but her readers, myself included. Nobody said that the Bush/Rove challenge was just for our queen.

I was going to post a long list, but I've mentioned most of it to Sarah at one time or another. So I'll try to name books that I haven't constantly quoted from - hence no Mao:

The Tears of My Soul (autobiography of a North Korean terrorist; probably full of fabrications and distortions by South Korean intelligence, but spellbinding even if it is partly fiction)

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag

The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea

(Do we sense a common theme?)

Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present

Cogs in the Wheel: The Formation of Soviet Man

Oops, that was a long list! Oh well.

My strongest recommendation would be

Breaking the Maya Code

My Russian language professor gave a copy to me as a gift when I got my PhD. He had helped me read Тангутская филология and other Russian-language works on Tangut and he understood what I was doing because he had read Coe's book. Mayan is not Tangut, but human writing systems share universal principles, and there are parallels between the human stories underlying their decipherment. Until someone writes the story of Tangutology in English, Breaking the Maya Code is the next best thing. It is not a technical book, and it requires no knowledge of Mayan or any other foreign language. Coe opens the door to a lost world and guides you at every step of the way. I may get the sequel someday.

Posted by: Amritas at February 1, 2009 07:23 PM

Hmm... I'm kind of reading founding-type documents or philosophers referenced in John Adams (by David McCullough) right now. Starting with Frederic Bastiat. Then maybe some Cicero...

After reading John Adams, though, I get the sense that David McCullough is simply an EXQUISITE biographer, so more bios by him are on my list. OTOH, it took me a year to read just one book, chunk-by-chunk every few months, LOL! But they're great! :-)

Posted by: kannie at February 1, 2009 09:10 PM

A few more:

1)"We the Living," probably Ayn Rand's least-well-known novel, is IMNSHO her best from a literary standpoint. (There's also an interesting film based on this book, made in fascist Italy, of all places)

2)"Year of the French," by Thomas Flanagan. Ralph Peters called it "the best historical novel written in English," and he's not far wrong. It's about an incident in Ireland in 1798, when the French revolutionary government landed a force to support the Irish rebels.

3)"The Forging of a Rebel," by Arturo Barea. A narrative of Spain and of the Spanish Civil War. From my review:

This book is "about" the Spanish Civil War, but it is not conventional military or political history. It is the story of Spain in the first half of the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of one man. The writing is so rich, dense, and vivid that reading it is like finding yourself inside someone else's dream.

Posted by: david foster at February 1, 2009 09:50 PM

Books I've absorbed in the last couple of months:

Juggler of Worlds
Fleet of Worlds
THe Blank Slate (Pinker)
The Demon is in the Freezer
The Nurture Assumption
Crimes Against Logic
Building Harliquin's Moon
The Stuff of Thought (Pinker)
A Walk in the Woods
Damned if We Do (obscure tanker scifi!)
When You Are Engulfed In Flames
Chilton Volkswagen Jetta 1999-2002 repair manual

I'm acquired a complete set of Patrick O'Brian novels (the whole Master and Commander series) so that will be next.

Posted by: deskmerc at February 2, 2009 01:36 AM

In between all these tomes, you need a little fun, light reading that you can breeze through--like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, etc.).

Posted by: Pat in MN at February 2, 2009 08:39 AM

I am currently reading The Three Junes (the book I have been trying to finish since November)...and it's good. But otherwise I can recommend some children's books, if you never read them:

Anything by Roald Dahl, especially Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also really liked his autobographies, Boy and Going Solo. He led an amazing life, especially his years in Africa during WW2. He also has some wickedly funny adult short stories books. But I think you would really enjoy Going Solo.

I recently read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm. Defintely want to read that with my kids one day.

I want to re-read all the Laura Ingells Wilder books too...I loved those! But I guess re-reading doesn't count, huh?

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at February 2, 2009 10:45 AM

Wanted to stop by and invite you to come on over!

I'm so happy to be able to do this for our military community. I'm a military wife and the daughter of a veteran.

eMail Our Military (eMOM) is offering 10 ways for our military community the opportunity to win FREE flowers just in time for Valentine's Day ♥ http://snurl.com/b55mb

Posted by: Trish | eMail Our Military at February 2, 2009 12:06 PM

I am currently reading A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalitt. A young conservative Jewish woman examines the loss of sexual modesty in our society and the consequences. Very different from what I have been reading lately but absolutely fascinating.

Anything by Jen Lancaster (blame AWTM, she sent me Bright Lights, Big Ass).

Posted by: Butterfly Wife at February 2, 2009 02:21 PM

DavidFoster ~ that's next on my list of Ayn Rand's books to read. I've heard it's incredible.

Amritas ~ very true. I've taken the challenge too. It's a good one to take!

CVG ~ LOVED the LHotP series. My daughter is reading them now and it's great to be able to read along with her and discuss them. Dahl is awesome - we love him too. I'd also recommend "Despereaux" - incredibly well-written. We're reading it before the movie hits the dollar theatres.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at February 4, 2009 02:47 AM

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks.

Currently reading The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands.


Posted by: Sig at February 4, 2009 09:07 PM