Your Top 10 Books: Do you know them?

My 52 Books Challenge via Goodreads is well underway now, but as some of you may have gathered the challenge really is to write 52 Book Reviews. I will probably read more than 52 books across the year but not review all of them. Anyway, with such a focus on getting organised for this book challenge it set me thinking about what have been my favourite books across the past half century of my long life.
Strangely, I didn’t read much fiction until after university and at the age of 26, being a science student through to a doctorate there wasn’t much time for reading anything except chemistry books for reference! But post university it was that damn TV programme, University Challenge, that irritated me because I could hardly answer any questions at all unless they were science questions. So, I decided to educate myself and became “hooked on classics”!
In rapid time I devoured the works of Zola, Dostoyevsky, JB Priestly, Robert Graves, Virgil, Homer, Tolstoy ……. I think you get the picture. My wider reading continued as I returned to university to study psychology so my book genres now included works connected to philosophy as well as psychology and sociology. In more recent years Buddhism and aid work in Nepal entered our lives so these have been influences too. So, here is my list of the best 10 books I have read, not in a strict order of merit, although The Baroque Cycle trilogy is way ahead of the rest.
If you click each one it will take you where you can read a review of the book, in some cases it’s to my own website where I’ve written something, in others it’s to Amazon. I would be pleased to hear anyone else’s view on any of these books, most of which are significant to my life in some way. I wonder if you can spot any connections?
  1. The Baroque Cycle
  2. Travels With Epicurus
  3. The Image Men
  4. I Drink Therefore I Am
  5. I Claudius
  6. The 100 Year Old Man
  7. Longitude
  8. Why Nations Fail
  9. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat
  10. The God Delusion

I read the Baroque Cycle as a trilogy carried on my Kindle as I hacked my way up several Himalayan peaks, an easy way to pass time as we waited for it to stop snowing. It is a tough read at first but I had to keep going as I had nothing else to do inside a tent or mountain lodge!

Travels with Epicurus I read fairly recently a couple of years ago, the prospect of living on a remote Greek island for a year and philosophising about my own life appealed to me, but not to Dr C!

The Image Men I read shortly after university, its an old book but with a concept years ahead of its time. Nowadays JB Priestly would have called it The Spin Doctors!

I Drink Therefore I am is by the recently deceased Sir Roger Scruton, a great English philosopher who was also a wine lover. Its very funny in parts.

I Claudius by Robert Graves, a classic, as was the TV series many years ago starring Derek Jacobi in the ttt title role!

The 100 Year Old Man Who Jumped Out of a Window And Disappeared is one I read a week or so ago and it is one of the funniest novels I have read. Straight into my Top 10.

Longitude is a true story and a movie on Youtube, its about John Harrison who developed the method of longitude measurement for ships at sea. Its a cracker of a story and full of political intrigue, human determination and elitism from various powers lined against him.

Why Nations Fail is extremely enlightening and virtually destroys the myth that overseas aid funding (except for disasters) is a complete waste of money! I read this about 10 years ago during our time running an education aid NGO in Kathmandu and started to realise that there were forces working against us I could never overcome.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a hat is a comical but sad series of clinical cases from Oliver Sachs, describing how a whole range of brain disorders can affect specific behaviours in very bizarre ways. I read it during my second university stint studying psychology, but it is written in everyday language for non psychologists.

The God Delusion is an extremely famous book, if you haven’t heard of it or its author I would be very surprised! Richard Dawkins pulls no punches in his debunking of the existence of God, or any god for that matter. It’s a Darwinian perspective that pierces many of the beliefs within Christianity and Islam, though he has a sympathetic word for the philosophy of Buddhism, which is why I read it quite a few years ago!


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4 replies

  1. I think I would have trouble picking ten favourites. I find my tastes change over the years. I see I have The Hundred Year Old Man on my Kindle so I plan to read it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. It must be hard to pick ten books. I don’t think I can achieve it.
    Unfortunately I haven’t read any of the books in the list, so I won’t be able to share opinion, but I can share an experience instead.
    I studied English literature, and when I graduated from Faculty of Letters, I took an exam to be able to get a master’s degree. I passed the written exam and was interviewed afterwards. I answered all the questions regarding the world literature, but then one of the American professors asked me which Turkish authors I liked. I wasn’t able to answer. I could hardly name a poet (Nazım Hikmet), which was not enough of course. I am not an academician at a college now, but I do read so many fiction and nonfiction books written by Turkish authors every year 🙂 I just wanted to share. Thank you…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve only read Why Nations Fail. Bravo for choosing your top 10. I find lists like these difficult to come up with as there are so many worthy candidates.


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