Honorable Mention Books of 2010

For my first contribution to the wonder that is Surf Waco, I will offer my Top 10 book list for the past year.  My goal for the year was to read 100 books.  Though I live in Dallas now, I stayed true to my Wacoan heritage by falling short of my goal at 65.  The top 10 are not the 10 books that I think are the greatest (how do you compare Shakespeare or Plato with Hemingway or Solzhenitsyn?), but rather the 10 that I most enjoyed reading and think will most appeal to our faithful fellow surfers.  I will begin with 5 honorable mentions, books that I thought deserved a word but didn’t quite make it to the hallowed 10.  Tomorrow will see books 10 through 6, and Thursday will feature the final five.

Honorable Mention Books of 2010:

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

This one took some determination, but I persevered through seven volumes and came out the better for it.  This is, simply put, the greatest work of historical writing of all time.

When in Doubt, Mumble by James H. Boren

Jim Boren was a great friend and mentor to me during high school.  One of the most humorous political satirists that ever put pen to paper, Jim’s first book displays his wonderful combination of biting wit and kind spirit.  Jim passed away this year, and I wanted to honor his memory by reading a book that would have been featured on the Daily Show if it hadn’t been published decades before today’s satire showcase came into existence.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This book could easily top any list, and lands on the honorable mentions only because I read so many other books for the first time this year.  If you haven’t read this, go stand in the corner for 15 minutes as punishment and then buy a copy and read it.  Tonight.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Although technically Young Adult Fiction, this book is a thrilling dystopian picture of the future that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.  My 8th grade students insisted that I read it.  I am happy to admit that they were absolutely right about this book.

Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse

If you haven’t read much (or any) Hesse, do not start here.  Read some of his longer works before moving on to this more slender volume.  This book is both simple and sublime.  It paints a fantastic picture of the loneliness and disillusionment we all feel when we make the erroneous assumption that nobody else is going through the same difficulties we are.  The fact that it involves a Secret brotherhood spanning all of time and imagination that includes the likes of Mozart, Plato, and Don Quixote makes it all the more interesting.  Tinged with the Eastern mysticism of Siddhartha, displaying the same zest for life as Narcissus and Goldmund, and offering the same concerns over the direction of his contemporary world as Das Glasperlenspiel or Steppenwolf, this book is a wonderful and succinct encapsulation of the world according to Hesse.



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