1. “The History of Japan” by Louis Perez. The author is a Professor of Asian History at Illinois State University and uses this as his textbook. It reads like a textbook yet was engaging at the same time. I recommend it to those who’ve never read a book on Japanese history.
2. “The Case Against Sugar” by Gary Taubes. He makes a pretty damning case against sugar (i.e., table sugar and high fructose corn syrup). Reads more like a history book than a nutritional book, which is good for a layman like me. How little sugar is still too much? Taubes says it’s impossible to know, mostly because the symptoms of metabolic syndrome don’t appear until much later in life. So should you then cut sugar entirely out of your diet? Taubes doesn’t answer “yes” or “no;” he lets you make that decision yourself.
3. “Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterton, and the Wickedest Town in the American West” by Tom Clavin. An entertaining book that my father recommended to me. I’ve been fascinated by the Wild West since high school, so any book on the subject—whether it’s a historical account or a Western novel—is fair game for inclusion in my library.
4. “The Wisdom of Life” by Arthur Schopenhauer. Although an atheist and notorious pessimist, there is no philosopher I enjoy reading more than Schopenhauer. His writing style embodies clear thinking and is a treat to read on its own. This little book concerns “the art of ordering our lives so as to obtain the greatest amount of pleasure and success.” I highlighted it often and, like any of Schopenhauer’s works, I’ll be returning to it some time in the near future.
5. “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare. Can’t ever go wrong with The Bard!