By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Best New England books

Boston.com has posted an interactive list of the 100 best New England books evah. My nominee — Nicholas Howe’s “Not Without Peril,” a compilation of a century’s worth of fatalities in New Hampshire’s White Mountains — checks in at number 85.

Clarification: I didn’t mean to suggest that I think “Not Without Peril” is the best New England book. Rather, I proposed it to Boston.com a few months ago as one of the top 100. Boston.com’s choice of “Moby Dick” at number one is all right by me.

I also see that Boston.com has ranked “Not Without Peril” at number 90, not 85. I think I was looking at the “most read” category earlier.

Finally, I just finished Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower” (number 36) last week. A worthy choice, though slightly overrated, in my view. Too many impenetrable accounts of battles, not enough narrative sweep. But well worth reading.

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11 Comments

  1. Ron Newman

    Oooh, they listed Jonathan Franzen's "Strong Motion". Whenever I tell people I read and enjoyed this book, I usually get blank stares. Everyone's heard of the author but not the book.

  2. LFNeilson

    Nothing new, but three great New England classics from the Fourth Estate:Newspaper Row, by Herbert Kenney.Country Editor, by Henry Beetle Hough.I Wanted to Write, by Kenneth Roberts.

  3. Esther

    Thanks! It's a good list and there are lots of books that I've loved although some of the titles have a tenuous connection to New England and seem a little too recent to be considered essential. 😉

  4. Mike from Norwell

    Dan, just finished reading "Not Without Peril" over the winter (loan from a friend). Do I guess correctly that you had your scouts read that also so they might pay attention when you take them up to the White Mountains?Great book; also illustrates how things can break down if you're not prepared.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Scouts? Read a book? It's bad enough getting them in a board of review and finding out they haven't even cracked open the Boy Scout Handbook.

  6. Steve

    They left off Stephen Carter's "The Emperor of Ocean Park", a legal thriller/mystery set in New Haven and Oak Bluffs, which is a great summer read, especially for vacationing Vineyarders.Their Stephen King selection was "Carrie"? They could do MUCH better.(I noticed they also omitted Howie Carr's "The Brothers Bulger", a slight was probably expected and possibly even celebrated.)But given our host's omission also, perhaps it's just a prejudice against books from journalists. 🙂

  7. Mike from Norwell

    Maybe we can work on a PSP/WII game of how to screw up in the wilderness. Maybe that'll get their attention!Remember deciding in college to try Mt. Marcy one fall afternoon from VT and making it into the shelter about 4 miles in, with a climb to the summit the following morning. One group came in just around sundown talking about a couple that was still up at the summit to "catch the sunset". Well, we woke up the next morning to find 6 inches of snow on the ground. The guy and the (very unhappy) girl showed up about 8. They spent the night at 5000 feet huddled in the bushes to keep warm. Our assumption was that their relation probably didn't proceed too much further from that point, although in retrospect they easily could have been popsicles.

  8. bob gardner

    No poetry at all? And if Salinger is a New Englander, why isn't Ivan Denisovitch on the list, and why nothing by Kipling, or Mark Twain?

  9. Mike from Norwell

    Dan: Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was on the list (although surprised BG didn't opt for more well known works).

  10. Bill Toscano

    Dan: I really enjoyed "Not Without Peril."I thought it ranked up there with some of the other great mountaineering books.I need to go read the list so I can comment intelligently.

  11. badubois

    How about "We Took to the Woods" by Louise Dickinson Rich? A wonderful classic….

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