Top Ten “Must-Reads”

I cannot stress the importance of reading books without suggesting some books to read!  Since I have averaged reading 75 books a year for the past fifteen years, I have some strong opinions. Some books may not be the most popular but they are great reads. All I list here are non-fiction because these contain the human interest stories and ideas that can easily be incorporated in speeches and conversations.

But I love fiction, too. My favorite fiction writers are Harlan Coben, Robert Parker, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, and Barry Eisler. I have never read a dull book by any of the above. If you would like more good fiction/
mystery writers, email me and I’ll send a second list of recommended authors.

My Top Ten “must-reads,” alphabetical by author, include:

  • Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda. You may think of Mash when you hear his name, but this book is so entertaining and well-written you can’t put it down.
  • The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb is the story of Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile, which many thought would never happen. The account of the race is breathtaking.
  • Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington. A reporter for The New York Times got so caught up in covering the murder trial of a snake-handling preacher in Alabama that he wrote a book about snake-handling as a religious practice in the hills of the South. I learned about a sub-culture that I did not know existed.
  • Going Solo by Roald Dahl, a gifted writer for both children and adults, is a series of short autobiographical stories. His ability to describe and create suspense is masterful.
  • Try Giving Yourself Away by David Dunn was first published in 1947 and reprinted in 1987. This is one of the first how-to books I read years ago, and I still refer to it when I need a boost on the importance of serving others for your own happiness and well-being.
  • The Luck Factor by Max Gunther is a marvelous little book on how luck comes your way the more you become acquainted with various people. Although it was not hyped as that when this book was published in 1977, this is one of the first books on networking.
  • Sandy Koufax:  A Lefty’s Legacy by Jane Leavy is not only the captivating story of one of the greatest major league pitchers of all time, but also demonstrates what commitment to principles and hard work can produce. He played in the majors 12 years and retired at 30—one of the youngest ever to do so.
  • And Never Stop Dancing by Gordon Livingston is a series of short essays on his life philosophies. I love the title, and the chapter titles remind us of common sense principles told in creative and thought-provoking ways.
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauerwas the beginning of a plethora of books on heroic human fights against nature. This is a view of mountain climbing that is breathtaking and you don’t even have to climb to get the feeling.
  • Against Death and Time by Brock Yates chronicles one year in the history of racecar driving. The story is told through the daredevil lives of several young men, young because they never lived to old age.

This is the list. Testimony to how I feel about them is that I kept these ten for my own library instead of giving them away or donating them to the public library as I usually do. Have at it!

What non-fiction books would you add to this list? Comment so the rest of us can profit from your reading experiences.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *