I may not be as high-brow as some, and I may enjoy more historical fiction than most, but there are a number of fantastic books that I want to share with the book soup public.
1) Fordlandia by Greg Grandin - Henry Ford takes on the jungle - it's not a battle of nature vs. civilization, it's also a peak into the mind of a genius who was losing touch with reality.
2) The Illustrious Dead by Stephan Talty - another genius loses touch with reality - you may think that Napoleon's army was wiped out by the harsh Russian winter, but long before the cold and ice started at them, Typhus weakened the greatest army in Europe in over a thousand years.
3) Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen - tells you the truth about Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, and Helen Keller. This book single-handedly made me into a historian.
4) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - in my opinion, her greatest book. The mistress of twists delivers a mind-blowing tale of unpunished crimes being avenged.
5) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco - even better than the movie (and that has Sean Connery in it). The library is basically another character, and it is as mysterious and veiled as an inanimate object can be.
6) The Alienist by Caleb Carr - CSI for the late 19th century. Forensic psychology hunts down an early serial killer against the back-drop of industrial-imperial America.
7) Skin by Roald Dahl - adult short stories by the children's master. These tales are short and none too sweet, but are wickedly funny.
8) Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut - the title story alone is worth the price of the book. Vonnegut confronts conservative values, the triumph of mediocrity, and the perils of overpopulation in stories that are observant and biting, but never bitter.
9) Perfume by Patrick Suskind - who would have thought that something as small as being born without a scent could make a person so a-moral? Not me, that's for sure.
10) Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut - one of Vonnegut's last novels, if you have read Slaughterhouse 5 and Mother Night and are wondering which of his novels to read next, this is the way to go.
11) Medea by Euripides - things go badly for the famous Jason of the Argonauts when he leaves the woman who helped him get the golden fleece for a young and pretty princess. Medea is far more heroic in the traditional Greek sense, in the same way that Clytemnestra is. Do you doubt my overeducation? Because I will fight you about this.
12) Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - dinosaurs and chaos combine in one of Michael Crichton's best thrillers. If you loved the movie, do yourself the favor of reading the book.