The BookWag List 11: 10 Books to Buy/Beg/Borrow and Read This Week

May 31, 2013

As we head into the weekend, here is our list of ten books that are worth getting your reading teeth into. They will remain stuck there for a while, we promise. As usual, our selection goes across genres and focuses on entertaining reading rather than the educational (we really believe we had an overdose of that in school), although there is learning in there, for those wishing to seek it. Anyway, without further ado, here are our ten books that worth a read for bookworms out for some page-y diet.

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower 1) by Stephen King

A world torn asunder. A cowboy walking through destroyed lands, wielding revolvers with sandalwood handles. His aim: to reach a Dark Tower and set things right. Trust Stephen King to avoid simple story lines and instead tank up heavily on the macabre. In terms of fantasy writing, the Dark Tower series and its hero, Roland, certainly are unlike any other you would have read. It is a grim, dark world and there is magic and horror as well as heroism. And it all starts with this book. Read it, and we reckon you will be finishing the other seven in the series in the coming days.

American Caesar by William Machester

Was he a military genius? Or an egomaniac? A brave man who led from the front? Or a coward who abandoned his men while escaping to safety himself? Opinions on Douglas MacArthur are inevitably extreme. But if you want to get a balanced, objective picture of one of the most influential generals of the twentieth century, or heck, just read a crackling good biography, William Manchester’s book is as good as it gets. And like the greatest biographies, it not only tells you about its subject but the times and contemporaries they lived with. Super reading, especially for military buffs.

Reach for the Skies by Richard Branson

The world might know him as the media-savvy, never-shy-of-a-publicity-stunt CEO of the Virgin Group, but Richard Branson has literally been a high-flier too. He has made an attempt to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, and went from Japan to Canada in one as well. Of course, he also owns a airline. And is known to be blunt and colorful. So what happens when he writes a history of aviation? Well, it would not be in this list if it wasn’t awesome, would it? One of the most readable books on the art of taking wing!

JLA: The Tower of Babel by Waid, Johnson, Porter and Geraci

The Justice League of America is perhaps the most powerful collection of superheroes in graphic novel territory (some might root for the avengers, but we will go with the JLA) but what happens when one of them actually is working on pinpointing the weaknesses of his/her comrades? And what happens when these weaknesses into the hands of the enemy? Mayhem, chaos and one of the most shocking expulsions and voting sessions in comic book history. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman…they are all there in this stirring, stunning tale, which exposes the perils of paranoia.

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Brown

Lilian Jackson Brown’s series of crime thrillers involving journalist James Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats, KoKo and Yum-Yum are an integral part of popular crime writing, especially for those who prefer their thrills mixed with gentle humor and sentiment. The books in the series all started with the words “The Cat Who…” and this was the book that set the series rolling. Interesting, it all starts with Qwilleran having no cats at all. Read on to know more. And be hooked.

Milligan’s War by Spike Milligan

War is a grim, gritty business, right? Well, it has been seldom presented in as hilarious manner as by legendary comedian Spike Milligan in this selection of writings. There are insanely funny conversations between Hitler and his staff, Gandhi and Churchill and Rommel and other generals, and wandering in the middle of all this, is wide-eyed Spike Milligan himself. Not all the humor is clean – swear words do turn up again and again – but then you will be too busy laughing to notice. The futility of war was seldom shown up with so much humour.

Insanely Great by Steven Levy

It might be known today as the company behind the iPhone and iPad, but it was the Macintosh computer that laid the foundation for Apple’s success. And this book takes you all the way back to the Mac and what made it special, as well as how Apple sold the idea of a computer to the person on the street. Of course, striding like a colossus through its pages is a certain Steve Jobs, replete with genius and attitude to match. A must read for all those looking at the art of building a brand, or indeed, a cult. And minus corporate/strategic jargon too!

Not Quite World’s End by John Simpson

The world knows him as an intrepid BBC reporter, but John Simpson is quite the traveller too. And this is his second book on his travels- following the very entertaining A Mad World, My Masters – and it proves that like wine, Simpson keeps getting better. Of course, it is not just about places (although he does get around all over the globe) – the stars, the politicians and politics are never too far away, but he manages to blend them all into the kind of book that should be made compulsory reading for all journalists.

And God Created Cricket by Simon Hughes

Can you sum up the history of a game spanning a few centuries in less than four hundred pages? And do so without boring reader? Oh, and without missing out any of the juicy bits, please? Simon Hughes takes on this onerous task and accomplishes it brilliantly in this relatively slim and yet immensely entertaining volume. Controversy, scandal, sledging…they are all here, and no cow is treated as holy as Hughes delivers one of the most readable histories of any sport, let alone cricket.

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson

Few people over the past half century have inspired as much biographical writing as Ernesto “Che” Guevara. And we think he would have been rather delighted at the way in which he polarized views across the world – some think he was a socialist revolutionary, others thought him a mindless anarchist, and yet others, nothing but a product of clever marketing. Jon Lee Anderson manages to keep a foot in all camps and tops it up with his own research to come up with one of the most compelling portraits of the man who dreamed of uniting South America.

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