Culture Education

100 Books Down and A Few Recommendations

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Last January, feeling nostalgic for the kind of in-depth reading I did as a kid before the Internet intervened to make me a scanner of text, I decided to set of a goal of reading 100 books in 2012. I just finished—and thought I would mention the books that I either enjoyed the most or got the most satisfaction from this year. Other than The Winter of Our Discontent, I deliberately left out books that I re-read this, because Discontent was a very different read now than when was 19.

Fiction

  • This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  • The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck.
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  • Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Honorable Mentions: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and Demian by Herman Hesse.

Non-Fiction

  • The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Paradox of Love by Pascal Bruckner
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary
  • One Life at a Time, Please by Edward Abbey
  • How to Be an Existentialist: or How to Get Real, Get a Grip and Stop Making Excuses by Gary Cox

The Worst Choices

I disliked three of the books I read this year enough to mention them here. My debate research led me to read a radical environmental text called Deep Green Resistance and a libertarian transportation tract called The Best Laid-Plans. Each was terrible.

The worst fiction title I read was Chris Cleave’s Incendiary. I’m not sure I can remember a book I’ve hated more, despite my admiration for Cleave’s Little Bee.

For 2013, I think I’m going to abandon the goal of 100 books and pursue some weighty classics I haven’t read or haven’t read for years, starting off with East of Eden and Les Miserables, two books I loved in high school. Feel free to send recommendations my way for other excellent reads.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • Interesting that you praise Abbey’s “One Life at a Time, Please” while suppporting Tester in his efforts to undermine the Abbey ethos. Every contradiction is indicative of something … Sometheeeeeeng …. I’ll have to work on this for a while. You’ve just made an unintentional revelation, but I cannot quite see it clearly.

    I loved all of Abbey’s essay work, his river trips and his private journal. He made a valuable contribution to the philosophical underpinnings of the need for wilderness not for our sake, but for its own sake. Given opportunity, opportunists seize and destroy. That’s why we fight your Tester and Baucus.

  • All good. I recommend as the three most important books of our time the following, for these three do more than any other that I’ve read to explain our times.

    JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglas
    The Beast Reawakens by Martin A. Lee
    The Family by Jeff Sharlet

    • p.s. And for those who haven’t read it yet, I would highly recommend The Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose, in honor of George McGovern who recently passed away. GOD how I miss the greatest generation! They would certianly have kicked some serious ass on these pissants in the teatard party. They were my mentors, my heroes, and my role models. The did NOT abide horseshit! And they knew shit from shinola. RIP, George.

  • If you don’t mind reading graphic novels, I recommend V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore. If you do mind, then go for Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux.
    P.S. I saw Les Miz with my cousin. It was REALLY good.

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