Literary Lists

Check out some favorites, top ten at a time. In 1974 my brother had the chicken pox. In a rare display of generosity, my brother gave me a large handful of his chicken pox virus. While I’m not quite ready to forgive him for sharing his cooties, I do owe him a little bit of gratitude. You see, since our health plan didn’t include leaches or bloodletting, I was placed in isolated quarantine (bedridden) for the next 10 days. So as to avoid my contagions, my parents bought me a copy of the 1974 Guinness Book of World Records and avoided me like the plague. I think that my mom also fed me soup, but all I remember was the book. The book was my ticket into the world of geeky-nerddom. While learning all about the tallest, largest, most expensive and the stinkiest everything, I became completely enamored with superlatives, trivia and Sandy Allen (look her up). Mind you: the GB of WR was both a catalyst and a gateway. Before the year was out, I had discovered the Book of Lists and the People’s Almanac. This led to years of untreated addictions to other books of lists, almanacs, yearbooks, trivia books, believe-it-or-not books and other books that would move me to the bottom of every E-Harmony list of desirability ever concocted. Now that I’ve provided evidence of my unique qualifications for creating disparate lists, please feel free to give me a tremendous amount of latitude as I try to blend my talents with this month’s themes: Top Ten Listings, and “What’s hot in music, art, books and entertainment!”   MY FAVORITE TOP 10 LIST 1: BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU SMARTER 1. The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2012 by Sarah Janssen ($12.99) 2. The New York Public Library Desk Reference ($34.95) 3. An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn’t by Judy Jones and William Wilson ($35) 4. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn ($25) 5. The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind ($35) 6. The CIA World Factbook 2012 ($14.95) 7. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia: Fifth Edition by Bruce Murphy ($60) 8. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch ($29.95) 9. The Great American Bathroom Book, Volume 1 edited by Stevens W. Anderson ($19.95) 10. Guinness World Records 2012 by Craig Glenday ($7.99)   MY FAVORITE TOP 10 LIST 2: BEST BOOKS ON MUSIC 1. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Revised and Updated for the 21st Century) by Holly George-Warren ($29.95) 2. The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection : The 350 Essential Works, by Ted Libbey ($15.95) (and 2A- The NPR Listener’s Encyclopedia of Classical Music, also by Ted Libby ($19.95) 3. At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene by Nat Hentoff and Lewis Porter ($40) 4. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil ($16) 5. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña by David Hajdu ($18) 6. Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation by Philip Norman ($16.99) 7. Where Did Our Love Go?: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound (Music in American Life) by Nelson George ($25.95) 8. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil by Chris McGowan ($36) 9. White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s by Joe Boyd ($18) 10. No One Here Gets Out Alive by Danny Sugerman ($7.99)   MY FAVORITE TOP 10 LIST 3: BEST BOOKS ON LANSING/MIDMICHIGAN 1. Lansing: City on the Grand; 1836-1939 (Images of America) by James MacLean ($19.99) 2. R. E. Olds and Industrial Lansing (Images of America) by Michael Rodriguez ($19.99) 3. Dedicated Lives: 162 Years of Liberal Ministry and Its Ministers in Lansing, Michigan 1849 – 2011 by Ed Busch, Shirley Beckman and Harry Schwarzweller ($17) 4. Our Lugnuts : Year One! by Bob Roth ($10) 5. Charter of the City of Lansing, Passed by the Legislature, 1893 ($14.99) 6. Inaugural Proceedings, at the Dedication of the New Capitol of Michigan, at the City of Lansing by Allen L Bours ($17.66) 7. A History of the City of Lansing, from the Foundation Thereof Down to the Present Time by John Munro Longyear ($17.75) 8. City in the Forest the Story of Lansing by Birt Darling ($16 – 1950 publication that is long out of print. That said though, we can still gladly get you a used copy) 9. Out of a Wilderness: An Illustrated History of Greater Lansing by Justin L. Kestenbaum (Also out of print. Price varies a good bit, but if you call into the store, we’ll find a copy for you!) 10. Michigan’s Capitol: Construction and Restoration by William Seale ($32.50)   MY FAVORITE TOP 10 LIST 4: BOOKS BY AND ABOUT NOTABLE LANSING RESIDENTS 1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley ($7.99) 2. Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country by Thom Hartman ($15.95) 3. When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird, Earvin Johnson Jr. and Jackie MacMullan ($15.95) 4. Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year by John Smoltz and Don Yaeger ($26.99) 5. Frazz 3.1416 by Jef Mallett ($12.99) 6. Don’t You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes by Jaime Clarke and Ally Sheedy ($16.95) 7. The Google Guys: Inside the Brilliant Minds of Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin by Richard L. Brandt ($14) 8. Seagalogy: The Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal (New Updated Edition) by Vern ($15.95) 9. Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg by Carolyn Cassady (Out of Print, but again, we can easily acquire a copy for you) 10. Burt And Me: My Days and Nights With Burt Reynolds by Elaine Blake Hall (Out of print. Ah heck, they can’t all be winners!)

Tags: books, lists, recommendations


Scott Harris

Liberal, Jewish and vegan. Scott has six kitties, a dog, four kids and a wife who saves peoples' lives. He operates EVERYbody Reads bookstore, 2019 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.

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