America through 10 books – my list

61z95-jj0klI have done a post on India through 10 books.The books that unraveled the country to me. It is difficult to condense into 10 books or authors for someone who claims to be an ‘voracious’ reader. I really enjoyed going back into memory, identifying and listing those books that created an impression on me. I want to make a list of the books that compelled me to go on a journey of discovery. I will list them in the chronological order of my discovery of those books.

  1. The first introduction for me to America was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This was a prescribed non detail for us in High School. Though I read it in an abridged version it opened a whole new world for me. The places in the Atlas have now a story to associate with.
  2. Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchel : This one does not needs an introduction. A classic book and a legendary movie, this will definitely make the cut in almost every list of books. I was introduced to this book by Malathi Chandoor in her monthly column called Paatha Keratalu. I was so fascinated by her introduction, that the first opportunity I got, I read the original book and saw the movie too. Generally I am disappointed when books are adapted into the movie version. This was one of the exceptions where the imagination of the reader was enhanced seeing the movie.
  3. Wheels, Airport and Hotel and many more by Arthur Hailey: Arthur Hailey does not need any introduction. His books are like encyclopedias. In those days, when we did not have wikipedia, these books opened the world of business for us. Absolutely riveting story intertwined into the every day working of the business.
  4. Immortal Wife, Man to Match my mountains, They also Ran– Irving Stone. I am a big, big fan of Irving Stone. I have read all his books. He was the one who introduced me to the whole concept of “Manifest Destiny” and the westward expansion of the United States. They also ran – talked about the presidential hopefuls who did not make the cut. They are a must to read to know about the history of the United States.
  5. Biographies of Hilton, Lee Iococca and Sam Walton: Once during a business stay at the Hilton Amsterdam, I had run out of my books to read and in desperation read the biography left in every room – Be my Guest by Conrad Hilton. From then on whenever we passed a Hilton, I could associate the struggle, the raise and it became a story. Ford and Lee Iococca do not need an introduction. The story of Ford cars unfolded in our drawing rooms through his account. Walmart is one of the most recognizable retail stores across the world. Sam Walton described the whole journey in Made In America. It cannot get more American than Walmart.
  6. Surely you are joking, What do you care what people think by Richard Feynman: Feynman opened a completely different world with his autobiographical novels. Written in the backdrop of the development of the Atom Bombs for the 2nd World war, he has introduced beautifully the life and times of scientists during those times. Later on I read more about the whole nuclear program and got to learn a lot. All those leanings went through the gates of Feynman.
  7. A Walk in the woods, Made in America  by Bill Bryson: Appalachian trail, the history, the path, the trials and tribulations(well not much of those according to hard core hikers) everything could be experienced from the warmth of our homes without having to lift heavy back packs. Funny, entertaining and informative at the same time, that is Bryson’s walk for me. Made in America took us into the inroads leaving the 101’s, 180’s and route 66. Get a glimpse of american with Bryson riding through.
  8. Alaska, Hawai etc by James Michener: If you want to know about a place, it’s history and want to know in an entertaining way, then get Michener’s books. The sweeping tales of the far away lands told in an entertaining way. The books are voluminous but engaging.
  9. Odyssey: From Pepsi to Apple: by John Sculley: In all probability you might be reading this post on your iPad or iPhone or a Mac. Then Apple is more than a fruit that keeps the doctor at bay. It also talks about how Pepsi took on the giant Coke. Since then, Jobs came back to Apple turned around and left a huge legacy. This book was the first one I read before landing in the Silicon Valley.
  10. The Silicon Boys by David Kaplan:  Gives a 10,000 foot few of the mecca of the high tech industry. The culture the history, the evolution and the revolution of the hub of the knowledge industry.

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