“I must have books”

Last week, Dana shared with you her essential reading list. Of course, I couldn’t resist doing likewise! Before I do, maybe I should tell you a little about my obsession!

Image result for Thomas Jefferson meme "I must have books"

I confess it openly: I am a bibliophile! I love books. I don’t just love reading them. I love collecting them, too! I love the feel of them in my hand–the weight of knowledge and authority. I love the creases that form in the spine of a paperback–the trophy of accomplishment that you get when you’ve read every page. I love the smell of a used bookstore, where every volume–like a hungry orphan–reaches with outstretched arms for you to pick it up, take it home, and love it once more!

In short, books to me are more than just paper, glue, and ink. They are gateways to other worlds, or times. Perhaps this accounts for why I spend most of my “mad money” on purchasing them. My personal library–acquired over many years of higher education and personal study–now runs to somewhere around two-thousand volumes!

Some people buy fancy cars, or stylish clothes….I buy books.

How did this obsession begin? Some of you may remember the late 1980s and early 1990s television show Reading Rainbow. You know, the one hosted by Gordy LaForge from Star Trek: The Next Generation? Well, the opening song began with the lyrics, “butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high…”

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And you know what? I really believed that with a book, I could do that!

I started in the early 1990s by reading children’s books on the Titanic that my Uncle Joe rented from the local library just for me! As you know from a previous post, this subject became a sort of obsession for me…especially when the James Cameron film hit theaters in 1997.

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Then in grade school it was R. L. Stein’s Goosebumps. A new one came out every month, and the scholastic book orders would always highlight it on the first page of their monthly order form! My favorite was Night of the Living Dummy.

Then when Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation of Jurassic Park came out, it was on to Michael Creighton’s novels–my favorite is Sphere. Similarly, when Interview with the Vampire and Bram Stoker’s Dracula were shown on HBO (I wasn’t old enough to go to an R-rated movie in the theater), I had my mother rush me to the local used bookstore to pick up copies!

Today, I mainly spend my money on non-fiction, but I still occasionally dabble in a little fiction. For instance, in the last year I finished reading all of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. My favorite was The Vampire Lestat.

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I like to consider myself a professional student. I loved learning in grade school, high school, and especially college, and I expect that I will continue to have an insatiable appetite for learning until the day I “shuffle off this mortal coil”….that’s a Shakespeare reference…I’ll let you look up which play it’s from.

In that vein, I suppose I resemble Thomas Jefferson, our third president, who once wrote in a letter to a friend that he could do without most luxuries of life, but he could not “live without books.”

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Yes, it true–I just put myself in the same group as Gordy LaForge, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Jefferson. No, I don’t have delusions of grandeur. I do, however, believe that reading can make you as great as these men.

Image result for Han Solo Meme delusions of grandeur

By now, if you are still with me, you probably get my appreciation for reading. So, without further ado, I can get to my reading list!

Being a historian, it should come as no surprise that I will have a lot of nonfiction on it. Every one of them I have personally read. Every one of them I highly recommend. Some are more enjoyable than others, but all are important!

Dr. Neels’ Reading List:


Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

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George Washington by Ron Chernow

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel


Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz

The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses S.

Grant in War and Peace by H. W. Brands

With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by

Stephen Oates

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by

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Stephen Greenblatt

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush

Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria by

Richard Goldstein

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of

Matthew Shepard by Stephen Jimenez

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck

All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward

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Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon


John Adams by David McCullough

Lincoln and the First Shot by Richard


A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn


The Once and Future King by T. H. White

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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff,

Christ’s Childhood Pal

by Christopher Moore

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rawling

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

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Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

1984 by George Orwell

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

So there you have it! A reading list fit for a bibliophile! Of course there are hundreds more that I could have added! Happy Reading!

— m.a.n.

Published by

Drs. Dana Pertermann & Mark Neels

Friends, colleagues, and sparing partners, Drs. Dana L. Pertermann and Mark A. Neels collaborate on research in military history, politics, and culture. They are currently both college professors in Wyoming. They blog weekly about the past, the present, and the future of the U.S. and the world.

One thought on ““I must have books””

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