Top Ten Books From My Shelf

During the past three and a half years, I have read hundreds of books; when I finish one that I want to recommend, I post a review.

I have read fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, classics, and books by indie authors.

It was tough to leave out some I love, but here are my Top Ten, in no particular order. Click on the links to see the original reviews. A link to a list of all reviews is at the end of this post.

Okay for Now, Gary D. Schmidt. Junior high schooler Doug Swieteck’s voice touched my heart and made me laugh. This is no formula book; it is filled with twists as the boy seeks refuge from bullies.

Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness, Stephen Hinshaw. The author discovers why his father was silent so much and absent from home often.

Rocket Boys, Homer Hickam. Adapted to a great movie, October Sky. The book is even better.

Chasing Zorba: A Journey of Self Discovery in a VW Bus, Jerry Steimel. Jerry is one of my favorite indie authors with this compelling story.

Free Country, George Mahood. George and his buddy set out, wearing just Union Jack boxer shorts, from Land’s End, with a goal: ride bicycles the length of Britain. They begin with no bikes. No money or credit cards. “What?” you ask. It is a true story. George Mahood is one of England’s best contemporary authors.

The Trail Provides: A Boy’s Memoir of Thru-Hiking the PCT, David Smart. I have read a tall stack of books about treks on the Pacific Crest Trail. This is my favorite.

Henry David Thoreau: A Life, Laura Dassow Walls. This one is a gift to those who appreciate Thoreau’s contributions.

Way Out There: Adventures of a Wilderness Trekker, J. Robert Harris. Many of us think hiking a long-distance trail is an adventure. J. Robert Harris’ travels redefine adventure.

Walden on Wheels, Ken Ilgunas. The author graduates college and begins a life that may make you think, “I wish I could do that.”

On the Shortness of Life, Seneca. A classic. Brilliant. I expect some of you have read this one–several times.

I appreciate very much your taking the time to stop by. I would love to hear what you think about any or all of these books, or your own favorites.

A list of all book reviews on Books and My Backpack.

David McCullough: An Author and Historian Like No Other

Photo credit: Vineyard Gazette

Did you know that if not for the fog, George Washington and his troops may have been captured by the British in 1776? Where would that have put the future of 13 colonies?

That is one of many anecdotes uncovered by David McCullough, one of America’s greatest historians and authors, in my favorite McCullough book, 1776. Today, I feel like I have lost a friend. McCullough died Sunday (August 7) at 89.

While I traveled through his books, he was my guide. I imagined each word through his gentle voice that enthralled millions who listened to his work as a television and motion picture narrator.

His non-fiction works read like novels. He immersed himself in research that uncovered stories that other books about his subjects missed. Reading about history has never been so entertaining and informative.

He won a pair of Pulitzers and more awards than I can list here. I read his books before I started this blog; thus there are no McCullough book reviews on Books and My Backpack.

Another of my favorites was The Path Between the Seas, which chronicled the building of the Panama Canal. And if you think you know about the Wright Brothers, you don’t, unless you have read his book about their journey into the sky. Truman and John Adams set a high standard for biographies about American presidents. There are many more great stories that began on sheets of paper in his manual Royal Standard typewriter.

McCullough died just two months after the death of his wife, Rosalee Barnes, who was his editor.

What is your favorite McCullough book?