The fact is, no one needs another best-of list telling you how great The Great Gatsby is. What we do need, in a world with precious little time to read (and think), is to know which books—new or old, fiction or nonfiction—open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways.
Newsweek has a list of 50 books we should be reading right now, and why we should be reading them. Interesting stuff. 1 children's book (Dark is Rising) but only 6 written by women.
What book do you think people should be reading right now? I nominate Cause Celeb by Helen Fielding. It (rather unfairly) gets called "Bridget Jones goes to Africa" but underneath the romantic subplot and the humor, we see how crazy celebrities are, how hard it is to get money to do good in the world, and how often the rules we make to help only end up hurting further.
I read this book six or seven years ago, and I'm still struck how people living in the refugee camp weren't allowed to plant food because no body wanted them putting down roots (both literal and metaphorical.) The aid agency was running out of funds and didn't have enough food and everyone could forsee another famine coming. The people wanted to help themselves, they didn't want to be totally dependent on charity and foreign aid, but they weren't allowed to do the very things that needed to get done.
Plus, it's just hilarious.