I fell in love with books at an early age. There wasn’t much TV in our house when we were kids, beyond nature and public broadcasting programming, so books were my entertainment, my inspiration, and my escape. I’ve always wanted a room in my house that could be a dedicated library, complete with big comfy chair and rolling ladders. I have the comfy chair, and bookshelves all over the house, but my only rolling library ladder is in the garage. Stepping stones I guess!
This is a core list of my absolute all-time favorite books. I adore others of course, and will share those in successive posts in my blog. But these… these take the cake!
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
If you gravitate toward true crime and have an interest in architectural or American history, this will be a riveting read for you! Aside from the brilliant storytelling, the book is a phenomenal learning tool too. All history books should be this gripping!
Stiff — the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
It’s morbid, gross at times, deeply fascinating, and surprisingly hilarious! An exploration of cadavers and their contributions to science, history, and the progress of humankind that defies explanation. Seriously, just freakin’ read it.
Elizabeth I – CEO by Alan Axelrod
Part biography, part history, and part business manual. And a beautiful read. Whatever you think of English monarchs or the monarchy in general, Elizabeth was one heck of a leader. Axelrod puts her life, conflicts, victories, and era into perspective.
Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer
Krakauer’s inside look at the world of fundamental Mormonism in the United States is intimate journalism at its very best. And it continues to inspire me as I hone my own craft.
A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia Savage McAlester
This is a book for anyone who wants to learn about American residential architecture. Each period and style has a concise explanation, you can look up individual features, compare buildings to a plethora of photos — it’s a veritable encyclopedia in one toteable volume. SO GOOD.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Another riveting true crime story, that taught me so much about writing. Whether you call it intimate or investigative journalism, or something else, Capote’s storytelling is spellbinding.
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
This book inspired me to enroll in pre-veterinary science at University. Unfortunately, I discovered a nauseating aversion to the sight of blood and animal dissection which prompted a swift change of major. I’ve read everything Herriot has ever written, and done my best to convert everyone in my circle. Sometimes I still wish I could have been the country vet he was, but (although I have done my fair share of lambing and calving) that would have been a disaster for farmers and livestock alike. England is much better off with me NOT as a vet. And you’ll be much enriched by reading about Herriot’s escapades as one.