Posts Tagged ‘The Last Lion’

Given that I generally prefer fiction to nonfiction, I was somewhat surprised by how many of the books I’d read in the All-Time Best 100 nonfiction books since 1923 — which was when Time  — as in the magazine — began.  http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2088856_2088860,00.html

Naturally, I’d read all the four nonfiction novels, including Capote’s In Cold Blood, although I would have subbed Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff for The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I also found favorites in autiobiography and memoir, biography, essays, history, social history, science, sport, food writing and war. But, where I wonder, are religion and travel? Ah, see history for Pagels’ The Gnostic Gospels, memoir for Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.

Mmm.  I’m pretty spotty in culture and politics, weak in ideas and business. I’ve never read Keynes or Chomsky, or Neibhur or Said, or a bunch of others.  And I really doubt these days that I’m ever going to get around to The Nature and Destiny of Man, or What Color is My Parachute?

I read nonfiction for the same reason I read fiction — for entertainment and enlightenment, and for narrative and story. Perusing this list, I note that my favorites in any category are mostly all good stories: All the President’s Men (politics), And the Band Played On (health), The Last Lion (biography), Slouching Towards Bethlehem (essays), Dispatches (war), The Best and the Brightest (history), and so on. Notable exceptions would be Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, which is marvelously written literary criticism/history, and Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, which is essential reading, and rereading, for writers.

Rereading is on my mind, because I’m on vacation and I’m immersing myself in old favorites. All novels, so far, although I did recently pick up A Moveable Feast again after reading The Paris Wife.

But there are a couple others, too, I will read again, like John Hersey’s moving Hiroshima and Virginia Woolf’s exhortation to readers, A Room of One’s Own.  I finally made it through William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich several years ago, so I’m not up  for that again. But  I’m not ruling out a rereading of Shelby Foote’s magnificent The Civil War. What a story! Which reminds me. Where is my paperback of Gone With the Wind?

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