We had to do oral book reports when I was in the seventh grade. I’m pretty sure the student who went in front of me gave his report on Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary.
My book report was on The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, an attempt at a prophetic stab at the nation’s future based on Scripture interpretation.
I’m not sure my report was very good, but my teacher gave me an A, with a little note.
“Interesting choice for a seventh grader.”
I’ve loved to read since I plopped into the lap of Mrs. Williams in the first grade and completed my first book, The Firefly.
All 12 pages of it. Illustrations included.
I can’t call this list the five best books I’ve read, so I’ll just refer to it as five books worth reading (by the way, I gravitate to non-fiction):
Homicide, by David Simon
Leave it to a newspaper person to recommend a book written by a newspaper person. Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon gathered information for this book, written in 1991, by spending a year with detectives from the Baltimore Police Department Homicide Unit. Often chilling in its delivery, Simon gives readers a glimpse into the daily grind of homicide detectives who have little time to begin one murder investigation before another killing occurs. It later became an NBC television show and ran for six years.
Killing Pablo, by Mark Bowden
Bowden is also a former newspaper person. His breathtaking account of BlackHawk Down in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper later became a successful movie. Bowden’s book details the hunt for drug kingpin Pablo Escobar as good as any around. The book also vividly describes the culture of his country, which caused him to become a hero to many. I’ve read several books by Mark Bowden and they’re all good.
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
Whether you are a longtime Christian, just curious about faith in general or even a completely disinterested party, Mere Christianity is an excellent treatise on the faith by a former skeptic. Lewis describes in detail the turning point in his faith journey and tackles head-on some of the tough questions surrounding Christianity without getting too esoteric.
The Big Short, by Michael Lewis
As is typical, the movie only skims the surface of what is explored in the book. The circumstances surrounding the 2008 housing/bank collapse have always fascinated me, and Lewis does a great job explaining the often-complex factors by following 3-4 people who saw it coming before anyone else did. As an aside, Lewis also wrote Moneyball.
All Over But the Shoutin’, Rick Bragg
Quite possibly the best book I have read. An incredibly told personal story about Bragg’s father’s demons, a devoted saint of a mother and the struggles of growing up dirt-poor in rural eastern Alabama. Bragg paints a picture with words as good as any. He allows those he writes about to maintain their dignity without shying away from their warts.