Monday, December 15, 2014

Top 10 Books Read 2014

#1. Finding George Orwell in Burma
By Emma Larkin
A splendid, intrepid, and thoroughly original marvel of a travel memoir. Most interestingly, in this day & age of facebookesque over-sharing, Emma Larkin has no web page nor author "head shot"-- such is the nature of her work. Dear reader, if you don't know who George Orwell is, get your 1984 here.
P.S. Emma Larkin on pen names

#2. The Courage to Remember: 
PTSD- From Trauma to Triumph
By Lester Tenney
This may not qualify as a "literary gem," but it takes stupendous guts and a heart as big as the world to offer up such a gift as this author, now elderly, did with his memoir. I would go so far as to say, don't depart Planet Earth without having read this book. 

#3. River of Ink: 
Literature, History, Art 
By Tom Christensen
It was an honor to be able to give this one a pre-publication blurb:
Truffle-rich, cumin-exotic, from Mutanabi Street to Céline's ballets, Gutenberg and the Koreans, a winged sphinx and an iron man and Nur Jahan--  oh, and a beturbaned Sadakichi Hartmann-- these world-trotting essays make one groovy box of idea-chocolates.
#4. Demon of the Waters: 
The True Story of the Mutiny on the Whaleship Globe
By Gregory Gibson
Read my post about Kindles and the Kindle edition of this extraordinary travel memoir / history, which has the strangest ending of any I can think of... (no worries, I won't give it away).

#5. Struck by Genius: How A Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel
By Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg
Deeply, wonderfully weird. Actually made me nostalgic for high school geometry, college calculus, and linear algebra, too.

#6. The End of the Sherry
By Bruce Berger
Read my post about this five star memoir of a soon-to-be Baja bohemian in Franco's Spain.

#7. Texas People, Texas Places
By Lonn Taylor
If you don't love Texas and Texans, you will at least be thoroughly charmed (I mean, "thuruhleh chahmd") after reading Lonn Taylor's latest collection of columns for the Big Bend Sentinel. Plus, he's knee-slappingly hilarious, in a southern-gentleman-historian kind of way.

#8. The Last Frontier: 
Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death
By Julia Assante
As those of you who have been following my blog know, I've crunched through a heap of Afterlife literature in researching my book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual I read Assante's book too late to include it in my bibliography, alas. If you're willing to explore this subject (and I know not everyone is) I would suggest that you first read Eban Alexander's Proof of Heaven: A Scientist's Case for the Afterlife, then, highlighter in hand, Julia Assante.

#9. A Gathering of Fugitives: 
American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1948-1965
By Diana Anhalt
As a long-time expat living in Mexico City, I especially enjoyed this one. For those who know little about Mexico, this beautifully written memoir / group biography lights up some murky corners of Mexican and U.S. history. (It went at once onto my list of recommended books on Mexico.)

#10. A tie between

The Last of the Nomads
By W. J. Peasley
This is one of the most powerfully moving books I have ever read. It tells the true story of the 1979 rescue of an elderly couple, Warri and Yatungka, the last of the Mandildjara people, marooned in the vastness of Australia's Gibson Desert, starving and slowly dying of thirst. 


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: 
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. 
By Marie Kondo
A one-time Shinto shrine maiden, Kondo bases her "KonMari" method on the assumption that one's house and all the objects in it have consciousness but, boy howdy, even if you're a die-hard materialist, follow her method and you'll zoom to a wiggy new oxygen-rich level of tidy. I am not kidding. 

Your COMMENTS are always welcome.