Law and Conversation

June 3, 2011

Book lists

Like many lawyers, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool booklover. I’ve connected with a number of likeminded people on Twitter and, as a result, have had some interesting conversations and gotten some great reading ideas.

Over the past week, several other bibliophile attorneys have tweeted links to several intriguing lists of books. Though I have a TBR list of my own that does nothing that grow, I always love examining someone else’s.

Esquire magazine published “an unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published” under the header “75 Books Every Man Should Read.” On the same page you’ll find links to other lists, including The Authors Every Man Must Know and 10 Essential Books to Read Before You Die.

High-quality though Esquire’s list is, it contains the work of only one female writer, Flannery O’Connor. That inspired Joyland magazine, which publishes short fiction, to ask its readers and contributors to come up with their own suggestions for inclusion on a list of 75 Books By Women All Men Should Read. The magazine received more than 250 submissions in just two hours – so it ended up publishing a list of 250 Books By Women All Men Should Read. Thanks to Harrisburg, PA intellectual property lawyer Harvey Freedenberg, who also writes thoughtful book reviews and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, for tweeting that list.

Taking as its inspiration the US Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of summer here, The Atlantic magazine published a list of 10 Essential Books For Thought-Provoking Summer Reading. I hadn’t heard of any of the books on that list, but “The Late American Novel,” by The Millions founders Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee, particularly piques my interest. Thanks to New York writer and lawyer Mark Fowler and California IP lawyer and literary agent Dana Newman for that tip!

In a post entitled “Books of the Year,” Jason Farago of the London Review of Books provides suggestions for what not to read if you don’t feel you’ve accomplished enough so far this year (and don’t want to feel worse about it than you already do). Each book seems to be a memoir focusing on one year of the (overachieving) writer’s life. I’ve read only one, Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.” I found tons of wisdom in Rubin’s book and enjoy her inspirational blog, where she maintains a relentless daily posting schedule. I’ve put Nina Sankovitch’s recently published “Tolstoy And The Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading” on my own reading list. I love Sankovitch’s unabashed preference for reading over housework! Oh, I almost forgot–Rubin and Sankovitch are also lawyers!

Finally, I never miss an opportunity to tell people how much I love a program from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “The Book Show,” which I listen to on podcast. Not long ago I discovered another program of that name from the UK and followed it on Twitter and Facebook, where it posts intriguing updates from the literary world. A few days ago, that “Book Show” posted a list of Books To Read Before You’re 21.

I have so many thoughts about that list that I’ll devote an entire post to it next week. For now, I’ll just note that, like the other lists I’ve included here, it includes wonderful books and is worthy of close attention.

The website of The Millions says the publication started out as a way for its founder, Max Magee, to keep track of his reading. Now, Magee’s own reading lists get their own page. (One of the many reasons I started this blog was that I thought it would help me think more deeply about and remember my own reading. I’m happy to say that it has!)

What’s on your reading list for this summer?

UPDATE: What a lovely review of Nina Sankovitch’s book Chicago book critic and reviewer Lisa Guidarini has posted on her blog, Bluestalking!


  1. I took a Fly Lady approach to reading Rubin for book club. I read an awful lot of that book I’m brief spurts, say 10-15 minutes on my phone while waiting for the train and on the train (love the Kindle app).
    I finished the book earlier this week and book club isn’t until next weekend.

    Now back to finishing Mantel’s Wolf Hall. This fictionalized account of Cromwell, Boleyn, and Henry VIII will certainly send me down a rabbit hole of books about these real characters. Then, if not while still reading Wolf Hall I want to re-read Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and actually cook from it as well. Yes, I do read cookbooks.

    Comment by Ava — June 4, 2011 @ 5:50 am | Reply

    • I think Rubin’s book lends itself admirably to the FlyLady approach (Love FlyLady, too!) or to a steady schedule of, say, one chapter a night. It bears rereading, too.

      “Wolf Hall” is on my shelf! That and Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl” renewed my own fascination with the Tudor era and inspired me to refresh my memory on a number of historical points that had grown very fuzzy in my mind.

      Comment by Helen Gunnarsson — June 4, 2011 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  2. […] Potter, book lists, children's literature, John Updike, Rabbit, reading lists, The Book Show Last week I wrote about some recently posted reading lists. One was from the Sky Arts UK program, “The Book Show,” which posted a list of Books […]

    Pingback by Books to read before you’re 21 « Law and Conversation — June 6, 2011 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

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