Julie from Smiling Shelves has an excellent blog. Back in March, she did a post called “Books I Desperately Want to Read “ in which she listed the top 10 books currently on her to be read list (TBR). Not only did I enjoy reading her post and learning what was on the horizon for her, reading-wise but it also inspired me to do a similar kind of post. I can’t speak for all book bloggers, but it seems like you get so wrapped up in trying to review all the books you’re been reading that you never take time to reflect on the stuff you want to read. Sometimes it feels like all work and no dreaming. And I’ve always felt if you take away a person’s dreams, then what do you have left?
With all that in mind, I’ve decided follow Julie’s lead and blog about some of the books I’ve been wanting to read. I’ve also decided to put my own kind of twist on things and tell you about some books I’ve been wanting to read for a long. long time. None of these books are currently in my possession, so that means I’ll need to buy, beg, borrow or steal them. (One of them, Cross X, isn’t even in my public library.) I’ve restricted this list to nonfiction, not because I dislike fiction but because I’m saving that stuff for another posting. Keeping in mind there’s millions of books out there I wanna read, these are at the top of a very special list.
- 1848: Year of Revolution by Mike Rapport – It feels wrong to include a book I actually checked out once from the library only to later return it unread, but there’s something about this book that refuses to let me not read it. It’s hard to imagine in today’s world that over 150 years ago a wave of violent uprisings swept across the Continent from the English Channel to the borders of Russia. This was 19th century Europe’s “Arab Spring.”
- Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire by Simon Winchester – I’ve always had a fascination with the British Empire’s far-flung possessions like the Falklands, Ascension Island and St. Helena. Before I dive into Winchester’s more recent offerings Pacific and Atlantic I wanna read this little forgotten treat from 1985.
- Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings – Five years ago when I saw Max Hastings interviewed on Book TV about this book I was blown away. Sounds like this is a book like no other when it comes describing the scope and depth of World War II’s massive cost in human life.
- Cross-X: The Amazing True Story of How the Most Unlikely Team from the Most Unlikely of Places Overcame Staggering Obstacles at Home and at School to Challenge the Debate Community on Race, Power, and Education by Joe Miller – It’s not the book’s incredible long subtitle that’s been making me want to read this for 10 years. I wanna see how an inner-city high school’s built a world-class debate team. Bring it!
- The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914 by Philipp Blom – I’ve always been fascinated by the decade leading up to World War I. Years ago I had a chance to grab a copy of The Vertigo Years during one of my visits to the public library and passed on it. I’m still kicking myself.
- Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future by Will Bunch – Just like 1848, I borrowed a copy from my library only to return it unread. Reading Rick Perlstein’s Invisible Bridge last year rekindled my interest in Bunch’s book.
- Resurrecting Hebrew by Ilan Stavans – I’ve had great luck over the years with the Jewish Encounters Series. I’m hoping with Resurrecting Hebrew my luck will continue to hold.
- James Dobson’s War on America by Gil Alexander-Moegerle – This one has been on my list to read since 1997. Perhaps 2016 is the year I finally read it.
- When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry by Gal Beckerman – Soviet Jews trying to flee the Soviet Union was a huge deal in the 70s and early 80s and it’s always fascinated me. After coming across Beckerman’s book a few years ago at Portland State University’s bookstore I’ve been wanting to read it ever since.
- The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop – Ever notice that conservatives prefer living in places like Texas and Mississippi while liberals seek out big cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles? As a long time resident of Portland, OR my city’s political and social landscape has changed considerably thanks in no small part to the large number of young progressives who’ve moved here over the last few decades. With that in mind, The Big Sort has been on my radar for a long, long time.
- Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus by Thomas Cahill – I’ve read all of Cahill’s Hinges of History books except this one. Will this be the year I finally read it? I hope so.
- The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan by Gregory Feifer – I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since I saw it for sale in the History Book Club’s monthly catalog. After recently reading Christian Caryl’s Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century in which he discusses what led up to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan I really wanna read The Great Gamble.
- The Passion Of The Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World Views by Richard Tarnas – I’ve wanted to read this book for years, but I have no idea how I found out about it. I keep thinking I might have seen a guy reading it at the bus stop. Honestly though, I’m really not sure how I first learned about this book. But who cares, I’ll just read it.
- Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan – I think I have Amy from Amy Reads to thank for bringing this book to my attention. With this being the hundred year anniversary of the First World War there’s no time like now to get started on this book.
- The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War by John V. Fleming – I’ve been itching to read this since 2011 when I read the classic 1949 anthology The God That Failed: Six Studies in Communism. Since I have a soft spot for anti-totalitarianism I have a hunch I’ll enjoy Fleming’s 2009 book.
While I’d love to you I’m going to read all of these by year’s end we all know that’s not going to happen. But I would like to slowly but surely begin to make my way through this list of books since I’ve wanted to read them for years. I would also like to believe just as a person could be defined by the books he/she reads, a person could also be defined by the books he/she has been wanting to read. If that is indeed the case, then this is a list worth sharing.