Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Best of...Ken Cupples' Top 10 Books

OK, we had some fun with the wine. I hope it was helpful to all of you! I have returned with more book lists! Featured this week is a colleague of my husband's that we've been friends with for over 20 years. He has a background in the grain commodities business, rides a Harley, enjoys weekends at the beach, loves a good glass of red, and loves to read. He is responsible for my ongoing obsession with the Jack Reacher series, in fact he and I are always trading book titles. Here is his diverse assortment of literature that has inspired him over the years, with a little commentary:

1. East of Eden - John Steinbeck: I couldn't put this down - it is snuggle up in bed good reading. I love all of Steinbeck's work.



2. Outlaw - Warren Kiefer: You will live an entire life through the main character. I read it twice it was so good. (Sandy's note: He's not lying. This book would be on my top reads of all time.)



3. The Courtney Family in South Africa (series) - Wilber Smith: A multi-generational epic that covers your bases...romance, war, wilderness, survival, power, greed, murder. Series includes "Burning Shore", "Power of the Sword", "Rage", "A Time to Die" and "Golden Fox". (Sandy's note: Ken and I had a Wilbur Smith reading marathon with this series. It is phenomenal historical fiction.)



4. The Undefeated - Jim Dent: Oklahoma's undefeated winning streak in the '50's and Bud Wilderson's off-field exploits. A fun book to read and full of facts, heart-warming events and southwest football is everything you need in life.



5. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck: The era of my parents and grandparents is the setting. Steinbeck is a master. I love how he replied to a question in an interview once "I just tell a story".



6. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens: What can I say? It is a classic and should be required reading for everyone.



7. Hope to Die - Lawrence Block: A gripping, gritty murder mystery featuring a damaged P.I. Matthew Scudder. (Sandy's note: Read this one, followed by All the Flowers Are Dying. This is crime fiction at its best.)



8. Ugly Americans - Ben Mezrich: The true story of Ivy League hedge fund cowboys that raided the Asian markets for millions. Fast-paced thriller that once again proves that truth can be wilder than fiction. (Sandy's note: You don't have to know a thing about hedge funds to enjoy this ripping ride of a book.)



9. No Name on the Bullet - Don Graham: The story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in WWII.



10. My Turn at Bat - Ted Williams: Great biography of the left fielder for the Boston Red Sox 1939 to 1960. Honest and entertaining, and brings back childhood memories.

22 comments:

Catherine said...

Great List -- love the historical fiction recommendations. Thanks!

Beth F said...

Well I've read 3 off this list and like them so I'm confident that I might like the others. That Wilber Smith South African series sounds good. I have some other Smith books around here, but I like a good family saga with greed, murder, romance and so forth.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Catherine - I've not read all of Ken's books, but the Wilbur Smith novels and Outlaw will consume you with one bite!

Beth - I almost couldn't sleep when I was reading the Wilbur Smith series. They are absolutely amazing.

Susan said...

The only one I've read is East of Eden and it was wonderful. It's been 30 years since I read it and probably need to do it again. BTW, the movie and TV mini-series were, IMO, poor representations of the book.

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I love Ken's list. It reminded me of some books I haven't read in years but would like to go back and reread. I agree with him about Steinbeck. A few months ago I reread Steinbeck's Travels With Charley and loved it even more the second time around. I'm going to find Ugly American and reread it. That was very controversial at the time. Tell Ken thanks for the list.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Susan - I am almost ashamed to say how many of these books I haven't read. I have alot of making up to do!

Margot - so you read Ugly Americans, huh? That was a pretty fast-paced, shake-your-head kind of read. I just kept uttering "wow" while I was reading it. These guys had some moxie.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm not surprised about Jack Reacher - this is sort of a guy list!

Andreea said...

I really like these lists, especially since they always contain some classics:)

Literary Feline said...

Jack Reacher - I really need to start on that series. One of these days!

What a great list Ken has come up with. My husband recently got into Lawrence Block's novels, in particular his older ones. I hope to try him eventually myself.

Staci said...

That list is fantastic. In fact, I found a book for the hubby and one for my son off of it!! I love Steinbeck too. Would like to find time to re-read some of his works. My high school English teacher made up read Great Expectations...loved it!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jill - oh I do so love Jack Reacher! I know it is man-fiction, but I think he's great!

Andreea - I know, I am noticing my friends are much more versed in the classics than I am!

Wendy - Just give one a try, and most likely, you will be hooked. I've not only read the Scudder series from Block, but the Burglar series, which are wonderful!

Staci - well, I am glad I could help! Let me know how they like the books!

Frances said...

I want the wine back! Just kidding. This is a great and diverse list and, on the whole, very manly. The only thing I have missed out on is the Wilbur Smith series which of course I now need to check out because how many books can inspire that level of sleep deprivation? Happy reading!

Carrie K. said...

Great Expectations is my favorite Dickens of the two I've read so far. I agree - it's a must-read. I also wrote down Outlaw for my hubby and dad - looks like one they would both love.

Melody said...

Great list!
I need to read Great Expectations soon! (Am trying to read as many classics as I can, though I failed miserably.)

ds said...

There is a huge Steinbeck gap in my reading. Someday....Otherwise, agree about GE. If you like Lawrence Block, did you ever read any of his "Burglar" series? The first one is "The Burglar in the Closet"--and the Burglar's day job is bookseller! Fun stuff.

I wrote down the name of every label from both lists, btw. Now to quiz Mr. L-S. ;)

Gavin said...

I've read three from the list and am adding Lawrence Block to my TBR list. Have a wonderful week!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Frances - I don't think you would be disappointed with Wilbur Smith, despite the manliness. It has a little something something in there for us girls too!

Carrie - I suspect, if your dad and husband read Outlaw, you will end up reading it too. It sounds like an obnoxious man book but it is just amazing.

Melody - yeah, I'm kinda stinky at the classics too. I have Great Expectations on my Kindle, waiting patiently!

ds - Oh my, I LOVE the burglar series. Fun fun fun. I listen to them on audio and they are almost guilty pleasures. An antique book seller by day, burglar by night (but only burgling the asses that deserve it?). It doesn't get any better!

Gavin - thank you...you too Gavin!

The Bumbles said...

Will have to check out Teddy's book. Did Ken read The Teammates by Halberstam? If not I think he would enjoy it.

farmlanebooks said...

Another great list! I have never heard of Outlaw, but I've just added it to the wish list!

I used to love reading Wilbur Smith. I really should try to read another one of his books soon.

Amy said...

Is Outlaw a Western? Is the western that will win me over the genre?

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I love Steinbeck, but haven't read East of Eden yet. I actually haven't read any on the list but Grapes of Wrath, so I'll have to look them up!

mattviews said...

Great Expectations was the one Dickens classics that I didn't enjoy as much. It was good story but I just wasn't taken with it. Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver twist were my faves!