I travel around the Midwest of the United States a lot doing shows, and some of my favorite gigs are at libraries. Library crowds are a really good fit for my show, and librarians are great to work with since they tend to be smart, friendly AND organized. There’s nothing like getting to a gig and not only having people know who you are and that you were coming, but also have a big homemade poster of you up in the lobby.

I like to read at home, but I also spend a lot of time in my car driving to and from shows. For me the best thing to have on those long drives is an audio book. It keeps me awake and entertained, and I can improve myself all while driving to work. I keep a list of books to read, and I always try to keep a bunch of books on the list so that when I go to the library to find an audiobook I have a greater chance of finding one I want.

Librarians are a great intellectual resource, and at one of my library shows last year I asked if there was a list anywhere of the books that every American adult should read before they die. They didn’t know of a specific list, but the ladies I was talking to sat down and wrote one up for me while I was performing. I wish I could give them credit here, but unfortunately none of us wrote down the names of the compilers, and I don’t even know which library it was. Here is their list:

  • Of Mice and Men -by John Steinbeck
  • Farewell to Arms -Ernest Hemingway
  • any books by James Michener
  • To Kill a Mockingbird -Harper Lee
  • Catcher in the Rye -J.D. Salinger
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  • The Good Earth
  • Pride and Prejudice -Jane Austin
  • The War of the Worlds -H.G. Wells
  • Gulliver’s Travels -Jonathan Swift
  • Scarlet Letter -Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Odyssey -Homer, Robert Squillace
  • Les Miserables -Victor Hugo
  • Paradise Lost -John Milton
  • The Count of Monte Cristo -Alexandre Dumas
  • Last of the Mohicans -James Fenimore Cooper
  • My Antonia
  • A Tale of Two Cities -Charles Dickens

I have not read all or even most of these books yet, but part of the purpose of this post was to remind me to keep working on it.