Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Best Books I have read so far in 2017.

Responsibility and Judgment  by Hannah Arendt

This collection gathers together unpublished writings from the last decade of Arendt’s life, where she addresses fundamental questions and concerns about the nature of evil and the making of moral choices. At the heart of the book is a profound ethical investigation, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy,” in which Arendt confronts the inadequacy of traditional moral “truths” as standards to judge what we are capable of doing and examines anew our ability to distinguish good from evil and right from wrong. We also see how Arendt comes to understand that alongside the radical evil she had addressed in earlier analyses of totalitarianism, there exists a more pernicious evil, independent of political ideology, whose execution is limitless when the perpetrator feels no remorse and can forget his acts as soon as they are committed.

The Underground Railroad  by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. 

Survival in Auschwitz  by Primo Levi

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and "Italian citizen of Jewish race," was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi's classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even wit, Survival in Auschwitz remains a lasting testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit. 

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness  
by Peter Godfrey-Smith

A philosopher dons a wet suit and journeys into the depths of consciousness.  Peter Godfrey-Smith is a leading philosopher of science. He is also a scuba diver whose underwater videos of warring octopuses have attracted wide notice. In this book, he brings his parallel careers together to tell a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself.

Notes From Underground  by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man," the irascible voice of a nameless narrator cries out. And so, from underground, emerge the passionate confessions of a suffering man; the brutal self-examination of a tormented soul; the bristling scorn and iconoclasm of alienated individual who has become one of the greatest antiheroes in all literature. 

The Sympathizer  by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards, this had the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds

Gulliver's Travels  by Jonathan Swift

The classic tale from Lilliput to the land of the Houyhnhms.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage  
by Alfred Lansing

In August 1914, explorer Ernest Shackleton and his crew set sail from England for Antarctica, where Shackleton hoped to be the first man to cross the uncharted continent on foot. Five months later, the Endurance - just a day's sail short of its destination - became locked in an island of ice, and its destiny and men became locked in history.


Brian Joseph said...

A very impressive list James.

I have only read one of these books, Gulliver's Travels.

I would like to read them all.

Perhaps I will get to few of them this year.

James said...


Thanks. This has been a slow year for new books but the two novels, Underground Railroad and Sympathizer, stand out.