Danny Manning

Danny ManningThe Energy Bus by Jon Gordon made a very positive impression on me. No matter what your goals are in life, it is important to attack them with positive energy. This is a book that gets you in the right frame of mind by presenting 10 rules to follow that will help you reach all of your goals.”

The Energy Bus book cover

Click to purchase

Danny Manning, Men’s Head Basketball Coach, Wake Forrest University. Manning was a two-time All-America while at the University of Kansas, named Big Eight Player of the Decade at UK, then drafted as the NBA’s first overall pick in 1988. He enjoyed 15 distinguished seasons in the NBA.

Clyde Edgerton

Author Clyde Edgerton“An older book I’d like to recommend is Candide by Voltaire. There is plenty of action in this book and a good bit of beneath the surface philosophy — applicable today. Additionally, the author’s wit and insight reminds us of the fact that we moderns are not getting any smarter; we just don’t have to work so hard to get places and do things, and that is not always good for us perhaps. The more things change the more they stay the same, as the saying goes.”

Candide book cover

Click to purchase

 — Clyde Edgerton, an award-winning author, teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Among his works that have received national acclaim are RANEY, Walking Across Egypt and Killer Diller. For more about Clyde Edgerton and his books go to:


Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick“The best novel I have read so far this century is The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. It’s his first novel, and while it’s still relatively unknown here,
it is a brilliant and totally charming fable that has sold over 8 million copies in Europe since first appearing in 2009.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Click to purchase

Robert Sheckley’s Dimenson of Miracles is not only the funniest novel to appear in the science fiction field, but created a form of humor that only worked as science fiction. Can’t be much more creative than that.

The best single novel I’ve ever read? Easy. The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis — and I’m a lifelong atheist.”

 — Mike Resnick, winner of five Hugo awards for his science fiction, has been nominated for the Hugo more than any other writer. For a look at Mike’s bestselling books go to

Frank Batavick

Batavick“Everybody remembers a super athlete from high school, one who received mass adulation and from whom great things were expected once he made the transition to the big world beyond twelfth grade. There are two books that absolutely hit the nail on the head for this topic, and either might qualify as a candidate for the “Great American Novel” we’ve patiently been waiting for since Huckleberry Finn.

Jon Updike Rabbit, Run book cover

Click to purchase

The first is John Updike’s Rabbit, Run in which we meet a star basketball player whose currency gets devalued after graduation. His name is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, and he left his slice of the American Dream and his fifteen minutes of fame back on the hardwood. Harry gets married, has a kid, and ends up selling MagiPeeler, a kitchen gadget, but can’t get rid of the emptiness inside.  Booze and a fling with a prostitute offer no remedy. It all ends badly, but Updike’s powerful prose and gift for description make the journey memorable. If you like the book, you should continue with the rest of Updike’s pentalogy: Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit at Rest, and Rabbit Remembered. Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Philip Roth American Pastoral book cover

Click to purchase

Updike’s professional rival was Philip Roth and his contribution to this special genre was American Pastoral. The book focuses on the once golden life of Seymour “Swede” Levov who lettered in three sports, fought in World War II, and came home to take over his father’s glove business. But the real action is centered on the sordid escapades of his teenage daughter who is radicalized by the nation’s Vietnam misadventure and gets involved with domestic terrorists. Roth’s attention to detail recreates the discordant atmosphere of 1968 that ripped apart families and country alike. American Pastoral won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and is considered by many, including the New York Times Book Review, as one of the greatest works of American fiction in the last 25 years.”

Frank Batavick is a retired television writer/producer/director who, over his 40-year career, produced a wide range of live and recorded programs, from documentaries to talk shows. His work has garnered more than 60 national and international awards, including a Peabody and a regional Emmy. Living in Maryland, he is a weekly columnist and occasional feature writer for the Carroll County Times.  

Randy Woodson

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson“My number one suggestion is Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year. First, I am a fan of Abe Lincoln and a fan of American history. This book describes the year 1862 and speaks to the perilous nature of our nation at this critical time in our history. What is amazing to me is that during this most difficult year, Mr. Lincoln was able to get some key legislative items approved. Two of which, I believe set this nation on the path to be the greatest of all time.

Rise to Greatness book cover

Click to purchase

The first was the Land Grant act that established the opportunity for states to create a university focused on agriculture and the mechanical arts, two key technical needs for America that enabled the industrial and agricultural revolution we benefit from today. The second major item was the Transcontinental Railroad, which allowed this country to connect–from coast to coast–and thus enabled commerce. The third was the act that created the National Academy of Sciences, bringing together the most talented scientists in the country to insure that our federal government always had science advisors independent of political influence. Amazing stuff given the intensity of the Civil War.”

Dr. Randy Woodson, Chancellor, North Carolina State University

Nick Valvano

Nick Valvano“There are two older books that I would recommend.

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover

Click to purchase

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is beloved by millions of readers worldwide and critics credit its appeal to the depiction of childhood innocence, its scathing moral condemnation of racial prejudice and its affirmation that human goodness can withstand the assault of evil.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. One of the most celebrated books of all time. A very funny book about  Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to

Catch 22 book cover

Click to purchase

kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: A man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.”


Nick Valvano, President Emeritus, The V Foundation for Cancer Research

General Henry Hugh Shelton

General Henry Hugh Shelton“There are two books that immediately come to mind when I think of books that have had the greatest impact on me, other than the Bible.

Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

Click to purchase

Once an Eagle, a novel by Anton Myrer, traces the career of two Army officers. One, Sam Damon, is an officer of great character, who is steeped in ethics and integrity, and is committed to selfless service to our nation. The other is Courtney Massengale, an officer intent on reaching the highest ranks and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his personal goals.  It is the story of the different ways in which they rise to power and how they elect to wield that power. After reading Once an Eagle, Army officers frequently characterized their contemporaries as a “Damon,” which was considered a great compliment, or as a “Courtney Massengale,” the ultimate insult.

Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster

Click to purchase

Dereliction of Duty, by H.R. McMaster, chronicles decision-making at the highest levels of the U.S. government during the Vietnam War. It shows the deceit, deception and lying involving the President, Secretaries of State and Defense and The Joint Chiefs of Staff. This book sensitized me and the other members of The Joint Chiefs to be on the lookout for individuals who might be motivated by their own agenda. Ironically, almost 40 years later, I learned that similar behavior and agendas were still alive in D.C.”



General Henry Hugh Shelton, USA (R) 14th Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Founder and Executive Director of the  Shelton Leadership Center, NC State University   


Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain“This is embarrassing for a writer to admit, but I’m not a book saver. There is only so much space for books in my house, so I give many away. However, there are several books I devoured, loved and studied when I first began writing fiction, and I hold onto them like old friends. Here are two of my favorites.

Click to purchase

Click to purchase

White Horses, the fourth novel by Alice Hoffman, was published in 1982. I stumbled across it in a bin at my grocery store. I’d never heard of Hoffman (few people had back then) but I fell in love with her style of writing and her unusual story of a young woman influenced by a folk tale of brave men on white horses. After reading this book, I sought out Hoffman’s earlier novels and wished there had been more of them. When I reread my first novel, written while in my “Hoffman phase,” I can see her influence in certain paragraphs and turns of phrase. I will keep White Horses until they cart me away!

The Female of the Species by Lionel Shriver

Click to purchase

Another book that influenced my writing is The Female of the Species by Lionel Shriver, published in 1987. I learned a great deal about point of view as I read–and reread and reread–this novel. It’s the story of a 59-year-old female anthropologist who falls in love for the first time. What made her story so fascinating to me is that most of it is told in third person through the eyes of her younger assistant, Errol. I studied how Shriver accomplished the telling of one person’s intimate story through the eyes of another. She does a brilliant job of it, and as with White Horses, The Female of the Species is a book that I will keep always.”

Diane Chamberlain is the bestselling author of more than 30 novels including her latest works The Silent Sister and Necessary Lies.

Elliot Engel


click to purchase

Elliot Engel“The odd and misleading title (sorry, potheads) of Stoner by John Williams (1965) refers to the last name of the hero, William Stoner, a turn-of-the-twentieth century English professor in Missouri. Though Stoner’s life is one of nearly unrelieved misery, Williams’ writing is so lyrical and Stoner’s stoicism is so inspiring that you want to adopt this remarkable hero as your mentor and best friend. Not for the happy-go-lucky, this book will make your own life trials seem trivial in comparison. And who of us doesn’t want to escape from our own problems by wallowing in those of a searingly real fictional character who, unfortunately, has been placed in the absolutely best novel you’ve never heard of. And, no, all you persnickety people, I don’t mind ending a sentence with a preposition–Professor Stoner, bless him, would allow it.”

Dr. Elliot Engel, American scholar and a member of England’s prestigious Royal Society of Arts, speaks nationally and internationally on Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain and other literary notables. Engel’s highly entertaining and literary web site can be found at:

Greg Fishel

Forecast for Overlord book cover

Click to purchase

GregFishel“There is one page turner from the past that always pops up in my mind. The title is Forecast for Overlord, by J.M. Stagg.  It is the story of a young meteorologist named Stagg in charge of giving General Eisenhower the “go” or “no go” for the D-Day invasion. I believe the account of events in the book mentions that General Rommel returned to Germany to celebrate his wife’s birthday because he didn’t think there was a chance in you know what that the weather would permit an invasion. But Stagg thought he saw a hole, and Eisenhower trusted him. The rest is history.”

Greg Fishel, Chief Meteorologist, WRAL-TV