Friday, March 4, 2011

The Essential Library

Okay, you've been given the ultimatum to reduce your personal library to four books.  Maybe you're moving into an RV and have limited space.  Maybe it's for a stretch in the federal pen after someone linked you and that new Trek Madone with SRAM Red to Bernie Madoff. 
So you only get four books. 
Let's assume that you'll have a chance to borrow novels from the prison library or do trade-ins on used books from the truck stops.  That means we want reference books, but reference books that are also great reads.  Where should we start?
We want our bikes to be in top working order.  A great place to start is Leonard Zinn's "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance", an homage to Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".  This book has gone through several editions and has been kept up to date with the latest cycling gizmos.

We'll be thirsty after riding, so let's take a look at Michael Jackson's (the other MJ) "Great Beer Guide".  Jackson hosted a television series called "The Beer Hunter" and was noted as possibly the world's foremost expert on beer.  Jackson died in 2007, but has left a malty and hoppy legacy.

After a cold one, we'll be ready to eat.  Start with Steven Raichlen's "Barbecue Bible".  I will be the first to point out that many of these recipes involve grilling and not barbecuing.  However, roasted meat in its many forms is all good.  Raichlen references meats and cooking styles from around the world.

We may be fit, we might be full, and we might have satisfied our thirst, but let's not neglect our spiritual development.  For those of you so inclined, I would recommend the fourth book on the list to be the "Quest Study Bible" by Zondervan Press.  The text is a New International Version translation.  The notes in the margins provide reference to other parts of the Bible and notes about the cultural and historical context.  Each book has an overview page on who wrote it and why.  There are other study Bibles that contain more in-depth analysis, but this is a good place to start for the laymen without seminary training.


  1. While you're in jail can I borrow one of your bikes? :D I'll take good care of it, I promise. And if extra evidence comes to light that keeps you in the pen a little longer, it will most certainly not have come from me.

    Interesting idea. I tried to figure out what my four books would be, but your whole reference book thing stumped me. I'd go with the Bible, but none of the rest of your list.

    I'm going to assume that a) I'm not in prison; and b) I'm traveling with someone who'll take care of my bike for me and cook for me. Plus, c) I don't like beer and am perfectly happy withe cheap wine.

    Not sure where that leaves me...I guess with a little more room for shoes, an iPod full of This American Life podcasts, and a hangover.

  2. Space is not an issue with my Kindle, 3500 books in less space than one!

  3. True about the Kindle. I have one as well, but since I'm not going to prison (I think) or moving into an RV, this is somewhat hypotheitcal. I have found the Kindle to be great for novels and front to back reading, but not quite as good for browsing or reference books.

  4. No prison, huh? Rats...I mean, good. :)

  5. I'm big in to bbq and smoking too. I grill out every weekend I'm in town no matter how hot or cold it is. I have a tv and portable gas heater in the garage to keep me company.