5 I Am America (And So Can You!)
If you need something to lighten up the mood after reading Lone Survivor and A Long Way Gone, Stephen Colbert is happy to oblige. He packs the jokes in a little bit too tight so this may be more of a book to flip through than to read cover-to-cover but at least that way it will last you even longer. Following in the footsteps of Jon Stewart’s America (The Book), this one includes plenty of equally entertaining footnotes and sidebars but it has a voice very much its own. While Stewart chose to write his book in the form of a high-school text book, Colbert’s closely imitates the books that have recently been released by a number of right-wing radio hosts and pundits. At the end of the day though, the one person who Colbert most consistently mocks throughout is himself. If you’re not a fan of Colbert or his politics then you may not want to try it but if you like either one then you’ll be a happy camper.
4 Lone Survivor
After the initial reconnaissance force for Operation Red Wings was ambushed, the four Navy Seals involved were presumed dead and the operation continued, including the death of another fifteen Seals. In the meantime however Marcus Luttrell was still alive. For nearly a week he was on the run from the Taliban, who knew that he had survived despite serious injuries. His memoir was written with the help of Patrick Robinson, who has written numerous fictional naval thrillers. This is not only an account of what happened it allows us insight into the mind of at least one man who fights our battles. Marcus Luttrell reveals some of the breadth of knowledge that Navy Seals are expect to obtain as well as his philosophies and motivations that helped him become a Navy Seal and survive his ordeal.
3 A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
If you write a memoir before you’ve reached a certain age, you’re just asking us to mock you. But in the case of Ishmael Beah, there’s plenty to write about. When he was twelve years old his village in Sierra Leone was destroyed and when he was thirteen he was inducted into the government army, taught to use an AK-47 and was supplied with Cocaine. When he was fifteen he was placed in a UNICEF rehab center and when he was seventeen he was forced to flee to the United States. This book, written at the age of twenty five, is his life story which is written as part of his efforts as a human rights advocate. Although he is now a graduate of Oberlin college, it could be his lack of formal education that gives his narrative the honesty that makes it so heart wrenching. He doesn’t have to dress it up — the facts alone are enough to leave an indelible impression.
2 The Secret
We’ve seen self-help books that have become movies (chick-flicks primarily) but this is the first time that we have known it to go the other way around. The movie is actually a series of interviews meant to show that you will attract positive or negative experiences based on whether or not you are a positive or negative thinker. This book tries to tell you how to do that. We all know that the values of positive thinking aren’t exactly a new discovery but using some fancy phrasing this book has convinced a lot of people that it’s got something new to say. If you’re doing ok, then don’t bother. But if you’re still looking to be convinced that thinking negatively isn’t going to help you through life, then maybe the fancy phrasing is just what the doctor ordered.
1 The Dangerous Book for Boys
Boys seem to have a propensity for doing what some of us would call stupid things. But if you’ve ever watched an intelligent young lad jump off a roof, or politely asked him for the reasoning behind his decision to place his little sister at the top of the closet and then try to reach her by way of a towel he’s tied around her waist and the closet doorknob, you might find that it was all in the name of science. The idea behind The Dangerous Book for Boys is that the curiosity and thirst for knowledge that leads kids to do appallingly stupid things should be directed perhaps but not stifled. Today’s helicopter parenting often leads kids to miss out on some of the really cool information and skills that boys would have come by easily in earlier generations. So this book which is full of graphs of famous battles and instructions for things such as tying knots and playing paper football as well as historical anecdotes to inspire new recreations in the back yard- such as a chapter on the Navajo Code Talkers. That section particularly implies to us that this book will make an excellent gift for a favorite nephew: Part charming nostalgia, part brilliant plan to drive your sister-in-law nuts.
Did we miss anything? Let’s hear your take on the bestsellers of 2007.