Zach’s Top Ten

I feel like I have a pretty diverse taste in books, and that is reflected in my favorite books.  My first criteria is, and always will be, entertainment.  Like a good action movie, there doesn’t have to be a ton of meat to a book as long as it keeps my interested and the pages turning.  Being as I’m easily entertained, it takes a pretty dull or poorly written book for me not to get through it.  My second criteria is how I feel about finishing the book.  I have read tons of good books, but I’m still glad to be done (Gilead) with the story.  The books that become favorites are ones that I wish weren’t over, so I could continue reading on and on.

If we were to rate my reading preferences on a scale of Cory to Luke, I think I’d be right smack in the middle.

1. Ender’s Game
Orson Scott Card

The rest of this list isn’t necessarily in order, but this is definitely my favorite book of all time. I was 10 or 11 the first time I read it and have re-read the book at least 5 times since then. I can’t imagine any guy (or girl for that matter) not liking this book. If you want to read it solely for entertainment, the book is second to none. If you want to dive into the psychology of it, the well-developed characters, or the implications on society, you could do that as well. I’m telling you: READ THIS BOOK!

2. The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas

One of the better developed stories that I’ve read. The book kept me eagerly anticipating what would happen next and never gave me a chance to guess how the story would play out. The Count is my favorite protagonist in literature, showing vulnerability in the decisions he wrestles with, but also has the strength and ingenuity to put into action his plans. People are often turned off by the length of the book or because they’ve already seen the movie. To that I say 1) You should never be turned off by the length of a book if you know that its great and 2) The book is COMPLETELY different from the movie. So don’t think that you know the story if you haven’t read the book.

3. The Bourne Identity
Robert Ludlum

The Bourne Trilogy represents my favorite story from start to finish. Again, the only similarity the books have with the movies are the titles. The Bourne Identity is the first spy book I read as a young man and Jason Bourne is still my favorite action hero in all of fiction. His nemesis in the books, Carlos the Jackal, is probably my favorite antagonist as well, to the point where its hard not to root for Carlos. Each book of the trilogy has its own complete story line, but they all add up to a great final showdown between Bourne and the Jackal.

4. The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Found this book through our book club. Our second book in and I found one of my favorite books. Its unlike any book I’ve read. Its about a young man charged with protecting an out of print book from a shadowy figure that has burned all the other copies of the book. Sounds like a crazy lame premise, right? Nope, its so much better than any description can portray.

5. The Devil in the White City
Erik Larson

Another book club book, our first in fact. I’d say we started off with a bang. Half of the story is about the Chicago World’s Fair, half is about a serial killer operating in the same area at the same time. See my full review here.

6. Midnight’s Children
Salman Rushdie

When I first read this book, I hated it. It was my first time reading a book written in another language and I had a hard time adjusting to the Indian style of the book and the different flow. So I powered my way all the way through, and set it aside. Then I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and as I read more and more books, this one got better and better in my mind. Like a fine wine, Salman Rushdie gets better with age.

7. The War of Art
Steven Pressfield

I’m a sucker for a book that makes you think in a different way. The Art of War was originally written for artists and writers, but it can easily be applied to all types of people. This quick manifesto is, to date, the most motivating book I have read. I find myself going back to it again and again when I need a quick pick-me-up.

8. The 4-Hour Workweek
Timothy Ferris

I read a lot of business books, and this is the most influential of any that I have read. Timothy Ferris finds a way to force you to look at work and making an income in a different way. As a former Retirement Planner, it speaks volumes for a book that can make me turn my outlook on its head. I look at work, my life, and my goals in a completely different way after reading the book. Its seriously life changing (if you’re willing to keep an open mind).

9. The Killer Angels
Michael Shaara

Despite my middle school history teacher’s best efforts, I knew nothing about the Civil War until I read this book. Its one thing learning about a war in terms of numbers lost per battle or political implications. Its another thing to learn about each battle from the integral participants’ points of view. Killer Angels is THE book for men who want to read an iconic war novel. Love the book and I love his son’s books as well. All of my Civil War through WWII knowledge comes from the Shaaras.

10. The Lord of the Rings
JRR Tolkien

C’mon. The defining fantasy series. Harry Potter doesn’t exist without LoTR.


Note: Some of my favorite authors to read didn’t make this list, only because there’s not one that stands out from the crowd.  They include: Cormac McCarthy, Vince Flynn, Seth Godin, Jeff Shaara, Malcom Gladwell, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, and Dan Brown.

…but that’s a different post

About zach

Staring out across the hazy mountain range on his latest summitting of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Zach saw with a clearness he had not yet seen. "People should tremble at the very sound of my name", he thought. And it was so. "I should master the manly arts of the world, such as barehanded hunting and blacksmithing". And it was so. "People should call me Z$". And it was so.

Currently Reading

-The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
-The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
-Twitter for Good by Claire Diaz Ortiz


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