I read a few books in 2009. So let’s look at the best. Unless you have somewhere else to be?
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Steig Larsson, 2008) – Steig Larsson tragically died in 2004 after delivering the manuscripts of three novels. This is the first. About a journalist solving a 30-year old mystery and a strange, genius girl who helps him. It will knock your socks off. You won’t stop reading it. Then pick up The Girl Who Played With Fire and read that too. Then wait until next April when the The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest is released. If you’re having trouble waiting, re-read the first two.
Outliers: The Story of Success (Malcolm Gladwell, 2008) – there are no self-made men (or women if you strive for PC). You have to earn it. You have to practice your craft. You have to work hard. You have to have the right opportunities available at the right time. No exceptions. Even if you disagree with this premise, you will be completely immersed in the examples and case studies. Actually, you can’t disagree, it’s that convincing.
Made In America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States (Bill Bryson, 1996) – I’ve read a lot of Bill Bryson lately, and now I’m starting to get to his earlier work. As a writer or just a simple user of the English language, discovering the origin of words, slang, and phrases is very cool. Doing it in a way that is compelling and fun? That’s Bill Bryson.
Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign (Stephen Talty, 2007) – if the sub-title doesn’t sink your battleship, than maybe you should actually read this. It’s not a thick tome, so if you have even the smallest interest in the history of the ‘privateers’ of the Caribbean (the English Crown endorsed Morgan, so he wasn’t a pirate for much of his career), and their cunning exploits in stealing from the Spaniards, you will not be disappointed. This is the stuff you should be learning in history class. The history of Jamaica? Yes. Port Royal? The epicenter city of its day. Now gone. Panama City? Burned to the ground. The city that exists today was built about 10 miles from the original site. Pirates? Oh yes, Johnny Depp would have fits.
Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How it Can Renew America (Thomas L. Friedman, 2oo8) – climate change, globalization and a planet brimming with too many people. Any questions? Read this. Do this. Get off your ass. Peace.