Living Out Loud

My 10 Favorite Books


  1. A Peoples History of the United States - Howard Zinn - The book that changed my whole world view. I wouldn't be wrong to say I was a different person after I read this at age 35.  
  2. From Here to Eternity - James Jones - Just a great story of an Army no one really talks about, the pre-WW2 feudal society where enlisted men were basically servants of the officers.
  3. Born on the Fourth of July - Ron Kovic - The true story of a gung-ho Marine who learns in the worst way possible what the US government and society at large really think of the men and women who pay the price for our foreign policy. Kovic actually called me when I was organizing against the war in Iraq, and I consider it one of the honors of my life.  
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - My mom made me read this when I was in elementary school. I started it against my will but was soon enchanted. As a Southerner growing up in the first generation of integrated society it's always had special meaning.
  5. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - Here's where I started to learn that the ruling class and their supporters really don't care about the rest of us and that those at the bottom of the social ladder have it worse than most can possibly imagine.
  6. Lies My Teacher Told Me - James W. Loewen - A continuation of my real education, wherein I learned that there is a tremendous propaganda machine in the teaching of American history
  7. Alcoholics Anonymous - Bill Wilson - Although dated and more than a little sexist, The Big Book's principals of admittance, honesty, amends and service are truly principals to live by.
  8. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote - Alright, maybe Capote wasn't the greatest human being, but he could write like nobody's business. This is the best true crime book ever written.
  9. Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris - North Carolina is glad to claim Sedaris as one of our own, even though his funniest stories take place in New York, France and England.
  10. Woodie Guthrie - A Life - Joe Klein - I can honestly say this book was recommended to me by none other than Bruce Springsteen (in a spoken clip from his 1985 live album). Woodie Guthrie is to me the great American poet, a thoroughly imperfect man who lived and learned and taught for all of us.