Powerful Books Wanted Here

May 10, 2009 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

Mental floss cover 2The Library subscribes to a variety of magazines but one of my new favorites is a fun title called Mental Floss that presents facts, trivia, and puzzles. My Boomer brain finds it amusing and interesting. The March-April issue had a cover story on “The 25 Most Powerful Books of the Past 25 Years.” I love reading articles like this since I am always interested in what other folks think are influential and important books and I also like discovering titles I may not know about. Often I agree with the compilers of such lists but frequently I’m frustrated because some of my favorites have been left off and there are so many good books deserving attention.

The list, as proposed by writer Rosemary Ahern, includes works that have all had real-world impact and I was happy to see a healthy number of fiction titles, as well as some hard-hitting non-fiction. Among the books cited are And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts (a history of the AIDS epidemic and its aftermath); Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (a memoir that provides insight into the world of a person with autism), Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (the plight of the working poor), The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (a satiric look at the life of the prophet Muhammad), Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (an exploration of gender and intersexuality narrated by one of the most engaging and unusual protagonists ever), What is the What by Dave Eggers (the fictionalized story of one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan), The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (dystopian future in which most of the population is sterile; women have no rights and are valued only for their ability to breed), and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (it’s the only book the article doesn’t summarize – the writer assumed we all know about the boy wizard and his epic struggle against the one who must not be named).

You’ll have to consult the article to see the full list and read the rationale for each title’s inclusion. However, there are certainly other titles that one might want to suggest, for example, The 9/11 Commission Report, Fast Food Nation, and The Year of Magical Thinking.

What are some of the books published in the past 25 years that have greatly influenced you? We’d love to hear from you and share some of your suggestions.

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