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Tue, 02 Jun 2009 08:21
And here is Simon's Tuesday Top Ten:
Down Under by Bill Bryson
Reading Bryson I find myself vibrating with laughter at his wonderful pen sketches of eccentric characters, and his own physical failings. He is simply the funniest travel writer alive.
1491: The Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
I love books that challenge accepted wisdom, and Charles Mann connects the dots to paint a completely different picture of the continent of America before Columbas came along. More sophisticated, more civilized, and more people than Europe.
Collapse by Jared Diamond
As climate change starts to bite most people seem to think humans will reach the edge of the precipice and then step back. This riveting book draws on historical parallels to suggest otherwise.
Maximum City by Suketu Mehta
Writing for Time magazine a while ago I was told "make every sentence count". Suketu starts this grand portrait of the urban future by warning Bombay will soon house more humans than Australia, and I was immediately hooked.
The Places In Between by Rory Stewart
Rory Stewart inspires utter jealousy. He writes beautifully and has a career that matches any Victorian adventurer. Walking across Afghanistan? No problem for Rory.
Life after Life: Interviews with Twelve Murderers by Tony Parker
You can hear their voices talking through the pages of this old gem. With consummate skill Parker assembles interviews with nine men and three women, aged from 21 to 78, who have committed the ultimate crime, and turns each confession into a gripping, tense and powerful testimony.
Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry by Santo Cilauro
Frighteningly accurate guide to a fictitious East European state. Molvania is a land of garlic brandy somewhere east of Romania, where it is sensible to greet people with a shout of "Don't shoot!" I think I've been there.
The Stone of Heaven: The Secret History of Imperial Green Jade by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott Clark
A remarkable book by two remarkable journalists, this exposes the dark history of the most valuable of stones. The tale builds with riveting background and history before the reader is taken to a jade mine in Burma where one million HIV-positive miners labour in a disaster zone. Incredible.
King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
One of the great literary achievements of modern times, an overwhelming and horrifying account of slaughter and suffering in the Congo that demands to be read and deserves to be remembered.
Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally
A triumph. Keneally takes a thousand painful memories and weaves them into an astonishing tale of evil, survival and heroism. It is a stunning work of non-fiction.
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