For those with short memories, this is the birthday project I did when I was 35, which was significantly less ambitious than my 40th Birthday project, but obviously contained the seed of it (the use of others lists, and the conglomeration of multiple lists through the net.)
What lets me do the 40th Birthday project is the development of LibraryThing — which accumulates the lists and produces recommendations for you. You just pick the books you remember from their extensive lists, and it does everything else. It is one of the few services on the web I am willing to pay for — it’s cheap ($12 for unlimited books as opposed to the free option which lets you build a list of 200 books). The actual books aren’t available through the site, but I have found the list building and recommendation service to be invaluable.
I could develop my own list, and I might like the quality of that better, but it would also just serve to confirm me in my pre-existing biases. The point of a list generator from other people is that it will make me read books I haven’t heard of, or wouldn’t have thought of — that pushes out my exposure and makes me a more broadly literate person — which is the goal. But anyway — here is the top page from project XXXV — I think it still exists somewhere on the web on a backup server, but I don’t maintain it anymore.
A group of people were all asked to provide a list of their 10 – 25 most important books. Everyone was free to interpret “important”, “book”, and “10-25” in any way they wanted. This page is the compilation of all of the lists. Where convenient I have provided links from the books to sources on the internet where the books can be downloaded, purchased or discussed, so that if you see a book in someone else’s list which you are curious about, it shouldn’t be too hard to acquire it and experience it for yourself. If you see a book that doesn’t have a link on it, be patient, I would rather list quality sources than just any old thing.
I am exited to find that my friends are far more interesting than those slobs at the New York Times. Damn liberal media. 😉
In the order received:
My top ten books are . . .
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkahban by J. K.
Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede
The Golden Compass
A Wrinkle in Time*
The Egypt Game*
The Blue Sword
Where the Wild things Are by Maurice Sendak
All recommended for ages ten and under. The stared have won Newberry’s. I’m sure there are more, but I can’t remember much these days.
Ps Somebody at the New York Times thinks far to highly of E. M. Forrester.
The Bible (I recommend a version that includes Apocrypha all the real juicy stuff happens there.)
The Tao te Ching
The complete texts of the Sub genius
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER? And RAND IS #1?
Who are these fuckers?
The first list was a sham as well: apparently they surveyed a lot of living authors (they being the NEW YORK TIMES) and had them RANK some 1000 titles (which of course all had read ALL, right?)–from this they made the list.
And since when does “book” only mean “novel:?
I HATE these sorts of things, but I would have to say a few:
REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST Marcel Proust
THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN Thomas Mann
THE GLASS BEAD GAME Herman Hesse
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN James Joyce
COLLECTED POEMS OF TS ELIOT
PORTRAIT OF A LADY
DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE Edward Gibbon
THE MAGUS John Fowles
CRYING OF LOT 49
THE POST CARD
CALL IT SLEEP
THE MAKIOKA SISTERS
IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER
GENERATION X (yes, I do mean it!)
A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES Howard Zinn
THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG
THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET
PRICKSONGS AND DESCANTS
COLLECTED FICTIONS of BORGES
ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES
ILLUMINATIONS (Walter Benjamin)
THE COMPLETE ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
THE INVISIBLE MAN
Now you get me!
I’ll have to get back to you on this one. It’s a list I’ve been wanting to compile for quite some time. [Also, the best theatre I’ve seen.] But be careful – when these things are viewed as anything other than subjective, things can get ugly. I know what I likes and that’s what I likes – it doesn’t make it the greatest novel ever written. I can tell you right off the bat, however, that ‘Crime and Punishment’ will be in my top 10.
DISCLAIMER: This is by no means a comprehensive list. It is, however, an off-the-cuff recollection of those books which had a profound effect upon me – both as a writer and a human being – some, like Dickens and Brautigan, at a rather young age. I knew after reading each of these books that I would never be the same person again. I will amend and expand the list in the future – and due to the fact that their importance varies, I have listed them in alphabetical order by the name of the author. [Note: This list excludes plays and collections of poetry or short fiction.]
Scott Bradfield – The History of Luminous Motion
Lawrence Braithwaite – Wigger
Richard Brautigan – In Watermelon Sugar
Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange
Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment
Jean Genet – Miracle of the Rose
Robert Glück – Margery Kempe
Hermann Hesse – Demien
Milan Kundera – Immortality
Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
Ben Marcus – Notable American Women
J.D. Salinger – A Catcher in the Rye
Matthew Stadler – The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee
Jeanette Winterson – Sexing the Cherry
[I am currently reading Dennis Cooper’s “My Loose Thread” – expect to see it on the amended list.]
Saul Alinsky – Rules for Radicals
Fritjof Capra – The Tao of Physics
Erich Fromm – To Have or To Be?
Amit Goswami – The Self-aware Universe
Jane Hirshfield – Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry
Douglas Hofstadter – Gödel, Esher, Bach
John the Apostle – The Gospel According to Saint John
Roger S. Jones – Physics as Metaphor
P.D. Ouspensky – Tertium Organum (Gurdjieff links)
Robert Persig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Enid Starkie – Arthur Rimbaud
George W.S. Trow – Within the Context of No Context
Alan Watts – The Book [On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are]
Jeanette Winterson – Art [Objects]
Gary Zukav – The Dancing Wu Li Masters
OK, James, you really got me moving on books. It’s almost 3 am, but I really want to do this. Here’s my list:
First, two gimmies, with provisos:
THE BIBLE: But, only if you can read it without thinking about religion…any religion, any religious interpretations. Read the King James edition; it’s a more faithful translation than most, and the language is superb. You’ll get used to the thees and thous.
ATLAS SHRUGGED: But, only if you first understand that Ayn Rand, while stunningly brilliant, had personality issues.
Now, On to the others:
A LODGING OF WAYFARING MEN, Anonymous. The first really important book of the 21st Century. Huge new ideas and breaks fresh ground in philosophy, theology, economics, sexuality, human organization, and more.
THE MURDER OF CHRIST, Reich: Wilhelm Reich is the only person in history accorded the honor of having his books burned by both the USSR and the USA. (Yes, it happened here, in about 1956.) This book is about psychology, not religion. The last printing was a reprint in the 1970s by a few of Reich’s remaining friends. (Reich died in 1956.) You’ll have to find it through Amazon, Alibris, or used book stores. You’ll pay dearly for a 30-year old paperback. Worth every penny, times five. Reich is a bit too flamboyant, but he’ll also blow you away.
A CHILD OF THE CENTURY, Ben Hecht. Best autobiography you’ve ever read. Get it cheap from E.R. Hamilton.
GUIDE FOR THE BEDEVILED, Ben Hecht. May have more passion per page than anything ever written. From 1943, as Hecht was screaming to a deaf world that the Jews of Europe were being annihilated. Wow.
LOGIC, Aristotle. (Somebody NEEDS to redo this work for the modern era.) You’ll have to go slow, and a lot of it will make you utter a very sarcastic, “duh.” Don’t let that stop you. This is the work that started the Enlightenment, that turned Judaism from a local cult religion into a very effective culture, that causes progress wherever it takes root. Forget Plato altogether, forget Aristotle’s other stuff, read this.
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, Gibbon. Yeah, it’s super long. But it’s also way more interesting than you think, and all true. A great read.
THE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE. Nuff said.
THE REAWAKENING, Levi. Recovering from Auschwitz, with interesting parallels in normal life. (Maybe it hit me especially hard because so many of my relatives died there, but since this is my list…)
INTRA MUROS, Springer. Another that you have to read without the pangs of religion. (Springer is VERY religious.) Either a magnificent vision or a magnificent fantasy. (Take yer pick.) There’s a lot in this old book that gags me, but still…what beautiful, elegant images and emotions! May be very hard to find. Originally written in the 1860s, I think.
Here are a few that don’t quite make the first cut, but you really should be familiar with:
THE DISCOVERY OF FREEDOM, Lane. “Lane” is Rose Wilder Lane. Yes, that’s the real-life Baby Rose from the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE books. She was a very important journalist in the first half of the 20th Century. A very important work, written “at white heat,” in 1943.
THE SOVEREIGN INDIVIDUAL, Davidson & Rees-Mogg. Sometimes too flamboyant, but very important. Paints a big picture of where the world is heading in the near future.
HOW I FOUND FREEDOM IN AN UNFREE WORLD, Brown. One of those books that changes people’s lives deeply. Definitely worth reading.
THE ART OF WAR, Sun Tzu. 2,500 years old, and still important for far more than war.
Bits & pieces:
THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD, Sagan, first section. Great stuff. Don’t bother with the rest.
THE THIRD WAVE, Toffler, Chapters 1-10. Really good. Forget the rest.
that’s a great topic.
My cursory list has no particular order to it, and some of it passes as pop fiction amongst critics and scholars. IMHO, most of the great books like “Finnegan’s Wake,” “Ulysses,” “Naked Lunch,” and “Gravity’s Rainbow” are just exercises in stream of consciousness and lack socially redeeming value. Note, that I mean that they lack value in a bad way: people generally don’t like them. John Waters’ works lack socially redeeming value in a great way: people love them as much as they hate them! For the most part, I go for lit that makes me think and re-think the story, the message (when applicable!), and the imagery. I’m still willing to include a book whose author’s career is not yet at finished, i.e. the author isn’t dead!
I’d have to ruminate on the final choices for a bit to be sure of a top 25. I’d also have to take a lot of time to determine an order for them. In no cardinal nor ordinal order, here are some of my favorites:
Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells
Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien
Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote, Jorge Luis Borges
Oms en Serie, Stefan Wul (not yet available in English)
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
Moby Dick, Herman Melville (I can’t believe that this wasn’t on “The Board’s” top 100!)
Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut
Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
I had great fun reading the 100 list. Let’s face it, I had to in order to remember what I had read! Haven’t read in a long time, sorry to say, but back in my reading days I did enjoy so many books. I think I did read most of the ones on the NYT list and enjoyed so many but a few stand out as having really been fun and especially enjoyable at the time. Memory can be a strange companion as we know. Mine is not really in tact anymore. These are the books I can remember being really fun to read when I read them, and that meant something real to me for a long time afterwards..
John Steinbeck, my all time favorite author. Travels with Charley, Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, Tortilla Flat, etc. The Pearl, The Red Pony (also)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
The Catcher in the Rye
The Magus (John Fowles)
Brave New World
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Darkness at Noon (Arthur Koestler)
MY favorite book of all time is “The Eight,” by Katherine Neville.
It is really difficult to remember authors, let alone titles! I DO remember Talbot Mundy and John Masters. He read those in Michigan. Mundy wrote “Old Ugly Face” “Jimgrim” and “The Nine Unknown.” Masters wrote “The Deceivers,” “Coromandel,” “Bugles and A Tiger,” “Nightrunners of Bengal,” etc.
Krista just reminded me of The French Lieutenants Woman, which I remember he really got into. Romantic that he was in many ways.
Also, more authors I remember being on his shelf
D. H. Laurence
James F. Cooper
E. M. Forster
Stewart E. White
Lets not forget The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, or whatever, by Julian Jaynes
And Turgenuv ? Fathers and Sons
Any Dictionary he could get his hands on. Dad loved to just sit and read a dictionary. His most favorite subject was etymology. Any Encyclopedia he could get his hands on. Dad bought us the only one we ever had and used to bring his out during any discussion he was having. Historical novels about Ancient times. Anything Egyptian, Roman or Greek The author Mary Renault, (spelling?) Wrote historical novels that didn’t sound like a woman! Later found out she was a lesbian! A biography of Andrew Jackson, some kind of hero figure for my Dad. Was especially proud to have read Caesar, Virgil and Cicero His bookshelf included the complete Shakespeare, who he worshiped and could quote. He never was willing to read Hemmingway, Faulkner or Thomas Mann. Loved reading a book called Lorna Doone as a young man and was excited to find it again for me. It seemed so heavy and foreboding I couldn’t read it. All of Thomas Hardy Much of Dickens Loved his command of the English language Sons and Lovers was on his bookshelf Read 100s of spy type novels in his later years. Just for the fun of it. Had many favorite authors who I can’t remember. Jody might know some of these. Bought several complete works sets of books. Just because he could. They looked good on his bookshelf. Books made him feel good. Sir Walter Scot, everything And he loved to quote his poetry.
I’ll think of more. Dad read every day of his life until his eyes failed him.
I don’t read much. I haven’t read most of the books listed, and the ones I
have, I didn’t like particularly well. such as catch-22, catcher in the
rye, and some other required reading from high school.
Corelli’s Mandolin was a good story, as was the Mistress of Spices, which
I read over vacation last week. I liked it in part because of the magical
component and it resonated with me since I felt my emotional angst and
anger was in part responsible for the 1989 Loma Prietta earthquake. I
loved the Mists of Avalon when I was in high school. I read a lot as a
child. I like Kurt Vonnegut, such as Cat’s cradle, but it wasn’t terribly
awe inspiring or mind shattering. I read these book called “State of the
world” which are put out by government agencies, evaluating things like
the water supply and industry and world problems, basically. very
depressing. I read pop psychology, like parenting books and how to be
effective and such, but I never read the entire book. I also read
astrology and other things-to-learn hobbies like that. Hokey superstition
But since I primarily read text books and journal articles, I don’t read
in my free time anymore. It hurts my eyes, my neck, and my wrists. I read
online journals. I read some erotica, posted to newsgroup under alt.*.* or
book given to me by friends. I like to borrow books and I like to get rid
of books I have already read.
OK, the guilt got me.
1. Trout Fishing in America, Richard Brautigan
2. The Once and Future King, T.H. White (childhood favorite)
3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
4. Lolita, Nabakov
5. Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker
6. Dangerous Angels, Francesca Lia Block
7. Crazy Wisdom, Wes Nisker
8. The Myth of Freedom, Chogam Trungpa Rinpoche
9. Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
10. Absalom, Absalom, Faulkner
11. The Passionate Mistakes and Intimate Corruption of One Girl in America, Michele Tea
These are not in any particular order:
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
The Story of Pi
Ulysses, James Joyce
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Shakespeare’s Collected Works
Moby Dick (terrible in parts, wonderful nonetheless)
Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenter — Salinger
Zoom! (children’s picture book)
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut
The Island (I think is the title), Huxley
The Heart of Darkness, Conrad
The Magus, by John Fowles
The Sotweed Factor, John Barth
Games People Play, (nonfiction), Eric Berne
Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda
Beginning chapters of Little Women (Alcott) and Anne of Green Gables(Montgomery)
The Shipping News, Proulx
Cat’s Eye (I think), Margaret Atwood
The Idiot, Dostoyevsky
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Moliere?
The Teachings of Don Juan, Castaneda
There’s one by Jane Smiley that I can’t remember the title of (not Moo) and one
by Kingsley Amis I can’t remember
The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck
The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner
Aeschylus’ plays, and Sophocles’.
Goodnight Moon (children’s picture book)
Harold and the Purple Crayon (children’s picture book)
The Poisonwood Bible
The Secret History
One Flew over the Cookoo’s Nest
The Hundred Secret Senses, Amy Tan
Some of John Updike’s things are haunting — one about a Centaur
Chimera, by what’s-his-name — that one’s not Barth, is it?
Ender’s Game IS pretty good
And if I think of any more (which I know I will) I’ll try to send them on too.
Oops A correction to my list: Autobiography of a Yogi is by Paramahansa
Yogananda, not Patanjali. Namaste –
Happy Fucking Birthday, baby doll.
In no particular order:
1. Cunt by Inga Muscio (cuz I have one and I dig that)
2. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (see above)
3. White Oleander by Janet Fitch (written like a poem)
4. Harry Potter (ALL OF THEM- that’s right; I said it. I fucking loved them)- JK Rowling (cuz there’s something magical in all of us and these tap that)
5. The Beach by Alex Garland (like Lord of the Flies but better)
6. Being There by Jersy Kisinsky (I definitely spelled that wrong- because it’s fucking clever)
7. Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins (see above)
8. Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (such a sad story by such a talented writer)
9. Life After God by Douglas Coupland (because it moved my bitter teenage heart)
10. Atlas of the Human Heart by Ariel Gore (because it moved my swelling adult heart)
11. Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (see #6)
12. Candide by Voltaire (also clever and SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO funny)
13. Catcher in the Rye
14. Franny and Zooey
15. Ten Stories all by JD Salinger (because he’s the master)
16. Lolita by Nabakov (because he’s the 2nd master)
17. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb (because you forget that a man wrote it or because you like that a man wrote it and gets it)
18. Naked and…
19. Me Talk Pretty One Day both by David Sedaris (because he’s FUH-UH-NY)
20. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (cuz it’s gross and engrossing and wonderful)
I can’t think of anymore.
More than ever,
Now I suppose you want to know all about my favorite books, after I tell you what I had for breakfast and every trivial bourgeois thing that happened to me today (like getting cancer). I’m afraid the best I can do is give you a list of books that I think are both well written and have deeply influenced me (either emotionally or philosophically) in no particular order:
Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
Steppenwolf- Herman Hesse
Even Cowgirls get the Blues- Tom Robbins
The Tales of Alvin Maker (5 book series by Orson Scott
A Doll’s House- Henrik Ibsen
Johnny Got his Gun- Dalton Trumbo
Of Mice and Men- John Steinbeck
Ender’s Game- Orson Scott Card
Philosophical Investigations- Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tar Baby- Toni Morrison
Breadgivers- Anzia Yezierska
A Game of You- Neil Gaiman
Grapes of Wrath- John Steinbeck
Structure of Scientific Revolutions- Thomas Kuhn
The Reef- Edith Wharton (questionable- the writing I found hard to endure but the ending was worth it)
This is probably incomplete and unrefined, but these are the works that come to mind when I think of times I’ve been hooked into writing styles, almost sort of tempted to cry, or irreparably changed while reading.
1. _Of Mice and Men_ John Steinbeck. I went through a big Steinbeck phase and read most of his stuff in my late teens and early twenties. _Of Mice and Men_ is still my favorite. The descriptions of Nature and the tragedy of human nature are so compelling. “Tell me about the rabbits, George.” _The Grapes of Wrath_ and _East of Eden_ are great books, but they sometimes ramble and get bogged down in themselves.
2. _Demian_ Hermann Hesse. Another writer whose short novel is superior to his longer works, in my opinion. I went on to read _Narcissus and Goldman_, _The Glass Bead Game_, etc. looking for more _Demian_, but the concentration of ideas gets too diluted in the longer works, though _Steppenwolf_ comes closest.
3. _Tao Te Ching_ Lao Tzu. If I had to be stranded on a desert island with only one book… “The Way that can be named, is not the Eternal Way.”
4. _Fuzzy Logic_ Bart Kosko. This is R.A. Wilson type stuff for the more literal minded who want some math to back up the Eastern philosophy.
5. _The Principia Discordia_Or, How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her: The Magnum Opiate of Malacypse the Younger_Wherein Is Explained Absolutely Everything Worth Knowing About Absolutely Anything_. Is it a joke or a religion? Could it be both? And what does the number five have to do with it all?
6. _Cat’s Cradle_ Kurt Vonnegut. Again, I read a short work and then go read the longer stuff and come back to the short work as the better one… _Slaughterhouse Five_ would be my 2nd choice and Breakfast of Champions 3rd for Vonnegut.
7. _A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_ James Joyce. I haven’t finished _Ulysses_ so I can’t say if it’s part of the trend.
8. _The Best Short Stories of the Modern Age_ ed. by Douglas Angus. I like ’em short. Got no attention span. Good collection.
9. _The Story of Philosophy_ Will Durant. I read this on the bus from Seattle to Evansville, IN back in 1995. I like it because it reminds me of that time and it showed me that I wasn’t the first to ask these unanswerable questions. It also made me see that some very highly respected philosophers have come up with some very silly answers to those questions.
10. _Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland_ and _Through the Looking Glass_ Lewis Carroll. Caterpillar on a mushroom smoking from a hooka, yo!
11. _Days of War, Nights of Love_ The Crimethinc Collective. The most intelligent, sexy, media-savvy exposition of anarchist thought I have ever seen. Skip over the old boring shit by Bakunin and read this.
12. _A People’s History of the United States_ Howard Zinn. Your history teachers didn’t exactly lie, they just passed on the misinformation they were taught. This book fills in the gaps of history that are left out when the only things being studied are the views of the “winners.”
13. _The Illuminatus! Trilogy_ R.A. Wilson and Robert Shea. Humans are proud that they are intelligent enough to build skyscrapers. Whales are proud that they are intelligent enough to NOT build skyscrapers. This big-ass book is an exception to the “shorter is better” rule.
14. _The Invisibles_ (comic book series collected into seven books – the whole thing takes about as long to read as Illuminatus!) Grant Morrison, et al. If Illuminatus! was written by an English comic book writer 30 years later…
15. _From Hell_ Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Another comic book the size of a phone book. The movie scratches the surface and leaves out so much, to the point that the movie ought to be called “From Purgatory.” Alan Moore is a fucking genius. See also: _The Watchmen_ with Dave Gibbons as artist, and_Promethea_, Moore’s most recent masterpiece.
16. _Paul Auster’s City Of Glass_ adapted to comics by Paul Karasik and David Mazzuchelli, illustrated by Mazzuchelli. A reviewer on Amazon.com says, “The original book’s concern with the gap between language and meaning is given further depth and resonance in the comic, which finds a visual language equivalent, and does it in a way that no other medium could have. This is no mere illustrated text, but comics as a formidable language and medium in itself.”
17. _The Adventures of Luther Arkwright_ Bryan Talbot. Another English cartoonist creates another comics masterpiece. Something in the water over there perhaps… Sci-Fi epic across multiple universes. Visually astounding. (I seem to like books that have “The Adventures of” in the title. Interesting…)
18. _Read Yourself Raw_ ed. By Art Speigelman and Francoise Mouly. Also _Raw_ Vol. 2, Issues 1-3. These comics are the best work of its time (late 80’s). Experimental, beautiful, amazing work. This is where Speigelman’s _Maus: A Survivor’s Tale_ was serialized.
19. _1984_ George Orwell. See also _Brave New World Revisited_ by Aldous Huxley wherein he compares _1984_ to his own _Brave New World_. Huxley argues that the world is more like his subtle form of fascism in BNW rather than Orwell’s blatant distopia in 1984. I’d have to say they were, unfortunately, both right. At the same time, the world is also as beautiful and amazing as we make it. I had a good time at the Battle in Seattle (the 1999 WTO riots), for example. As Lao Tzu would say, without oppression there can be no expression. One complements and defines the other. As Grant Morrison would say, “Whose side are you on?”
20. _T.A.Z. the Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism_ Hakim Bey. How could I have forgotten this one? It rearranged my neurons like a literary blender.
21. _9-11_, and _Power and Terror: Post 9-11 Talks and Interviews_ Noam Chomsky. You are being lied to.
22. _The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ Mark Twain. This is _The Catcher In the Rye_ of the 19th Century.
23. _The Cosmic Trigger (Vol. One)_ Robert Anton Wilson. Don’t bother with Vol.s 2 and 3. The first blows your mind, the other two bore it. Try _Prometheus Rising_ or _Quantum Psychology_ instead. R.A.W. is a literary acid trip, my friends. (This was #3, but was moved to this position for obvious reasons…)
24. _V for Vendetta_ (by Alan Moore and David Lloyd)
I can think of other books, but nothing that has had the impact that the stuff above has.
Of mice and men
a fine balance
a wrinkle in time- madeline l’engle
the little prince
cloak of laughter- may mellinger
enders game- orson scott card
first light- richard preston
annapurna, a womans place- arlene blum
they are just the first ten book to come to mind whos titles i could remember. there is another one about the connection between astronomy and music, but i can’t remember the name of it.
Since this is all time favorite books I’m including books that I loved as a wee child. I certainly shall represent the “easy summer reading” contingent. But at least it won’t be like Opera’s’ book club.
Another Roadside Attraction. Tom Robbins. This book started my questioning my protestant upbringing.
Skinny Legs and All. Tom Robbins.
Nancy and Plum. Bettie McDonald. Beloved children’s book.
Youth in Revolt. CD Payne. It’s just so funny.
The Dirt. by Motley Crue. Oh no I di’nt! Oh yes I did. Fabulous Smut! Highly Recommended!
Geek Love. Katherine Dunn
Pretty much all of Douglas Coupland’s books.
I can’t say that these are in order, but here are some of my favorites by author…
Demian, by Hermann Hesse
Narcissus and Goldmund, by Hermann Hesse
Sidhartha, by Hermann Hesse
Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse
The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann
1984, by George Orwell
Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Focault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco
The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
Of Mice and Men, by John Stienbeck
The Brothers Karamozov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Now Watch Him Die, by Henry Rollins
The Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
Here’s a list I have compiled, in no particular order – except the first one. Sorry if there’s overlap!
1. THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV – Dostoevsky (sp?)
2. SHOGUN – James Clavell
3. THE FOUNTAINHEAD – Ayn Rand
4. ATLAS SHRUGGED – Ayn Rand
5. BYZANTIUM – Stephen Lawhead
6. HENRY VIII – Margaret George
7. THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY – Henry James
8. ALL CALVIN AND HOBBES, PERIOD – Bill Watterson
9. RIVER GOD – Wilbur Smith
10. LORD JIM – Joseph Conrad
11. MERE CHRISTIANITY – C. S. Lewis
12. 1984 – George Orwell
13. ANIMAL FARM – George Orwell
14. FLATLAND – Edwin Abbott
15. THE COLOR PURPLE – Alice Walker
16. THE YELLOW WALLPAPER – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
17. MOLL FLANDERS – Daniel DeFoe
18. FRANKENSTEIN – Mary Shelley
19. MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS – Margaret George
20. INFERNO – Dante
21. HEARTS IN ATLANTIS – Stephen King
22. READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN – Azar Nafisi
23. JANE EYRE – Charlotte Bronte
24. WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Emily Bronte
25. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE – Jane Austin
Runners up (since there were 40 in the list I placed the extra on a separate page.)
I’m falling asleep here. I know so many many more to recommend, but I just need to pass out. Work tomorrow, ugh. See you soon!
If you ask me in a year I may have a different list. It just may depend on my mood or which personality is present.
1. Torah, and Tanakh by G-d or by various crazy dessert wanderers that had to much sun.
2. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
4. The wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
5. Beloved by Toni Morrison
6. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
7. Illusions by Richard Bach
8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber
10. He, She and It by Marge Piercy
11. Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol
12. The Sabbath by A.J. Heschel
14. Rainer Maria Rilke
15. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
16. Night by Elie Weisel
17. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
18. I Ching
19. A Winters Tale by Mark Helprin
20. Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco
21. The Odyssey by Homer
22. Captains and Kings by Taylor Caldwell (hey I was twelve and it was great!)
23. The Godfather by Mario Puzo (what else could keep my interest after Captains and Kings)
24. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (Godfather drove me to get religion.)
25. Jihad : The Origin of Holy War in Islam by Reuven Firestone
buy it, every library should have a copy!
Here is a few more don’t need to add them but
just feel like mentioning them…
I liked the Island of the day before better too.
And I liked a soldier of the great war.
and I liked Narcissus and Goldman by Hesse
and I liked Marriage of Cadmus adn Harmony
and be here now by ram dass
and the golden bough
and the tao of Physics
Oh yeah and Those books by Farley Mowat were good, boat that wouldn’t float and the book by John Irving, The World According to Garp was really good., and Henderson the Rain King, by I can’t remember right now who. Stuart Little, that was a good book, and James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and also Charlottes Web.
I forget how to spell Charlotte, I read something or maybe of few things of John Hershey to, I cant remember right now what but I liked him.
And John Steinbeck too. and William Blake and Ralph Waldo Emerson
and Thourow (SP?) and the book a separate peace was good and also
the book Catcher on the rye. oh so many good books… right?
(He’s the guy who got this whole thing started.)
Now this is bothering me. I’m wondering where this list came from. It
was a snippet I found on my hard drive that I passed along.
At any rate, in no particular order:
Grass – Sherri S. Tepper
Dragon Riders of Pern series – Anne McCaffrey
Ender’s Game series – Orson Scott Card
Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein
Earthships – Michael Reynolds
The Magus – John Fowles
The Bible, specifically Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. The only
ones that satisfy.
God my list is small. I know if I think about it, it will get larger.
We spent a week at my mother’s side last summer as she slowly passed
away, and we read those chapters out loud to each other. My mom finally
made “The Early Service” Sunday morning August 28, 2002.
Grass was so descriptive, Tepper is a brilliant story teller.
Ender’s Game – Very good.
Starship Troopers – NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT DAMNED MOVIE. I had to keep
thumbing back to check it was written in ’55 and not ’95.
The Magus – A recommendation from James. Fowles placed me in the story
with his descriptions of the greek isles, and rage, fear, lust,
Earthships – Comfy Hobbit holes with one glass side, made of recycled
materials, and using no energy or water. See http://www.earthship.org/
for what I’m ranting on about. Saving the world by starting with my own
Dragon Riders of Pern – Once again, an excellent feeling of place.
I will read any recommended book so long as I can be transported to the
characters locale and understand what it is he/she is feeling. Like I
said before, I’m trying to read Nostromo by Conrad, and it’s damn
my list, in no particular order(i jus want’d 2 git this out):
the Counterfeiters (&) the Vatican Cellars (Gide)
Tin Drum (Grass)
Midnight’s Children (Rushdie)
the Autobiographies of Maxim Gorky (3)
the Cherry Orchard
Sweet Bird of Youth (&) the Milktrain Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
100 Years of Solitude (Marquez)
A Passage to India (Forster)
Franny & Zooey (Salinger)
the Loved One (Waugh)
6 Degrees of Separation (Guarre)
the Last Playboy of the Western World (Singe)
the Violent Bear it Away (& other short stories of O’Connor)
There are a few books, like Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land that were on your list that I really liked. Two books that weren’t on your list that I love are
The Outsiders and
Dumbing Us Down.
I’m reading Dumbing Us Down right now and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. It gives a well thought out critique of institutionalizing learning and what it does to the human spirit. I also loved the
Tin Drum, it’s a story that pops into my head quite often.
Here are a couple of really good movies you could put on your list:
Bowling for Columbine
Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels
Salt of the Earth (A movie about a real labor strike where the women took over. hard to find, may be at the library)
These are just the first 10 I think of, in no particular order…
This is a partial attempt to pick ones that I don’t think others have chosen,
and which were not on the standard book lists.
A LIST OF WONDER (FOR SYMBOLISTS/IDEALISTS/SEEKERS/KIDS)
Mt. Analogue (Rene Daumal)
Flatland (Edwin S. Abbott)
The Sufis (Idries Shah)
The Tao of Physics (Fritjof Capra)
Dialogues with Scientists and Sages (Renee Weber)
ANYTHING of Rainer Maria Rilke’s
The Outsider (Colin Wilson)
Conference of the Birds (Farid-ud Din Attar)
The Interior Castle (St. Theresa of Avila)
and from the child vault… A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)
Read ’em all if you haven’t already! 🙂
Magician – Raymond Feist – this is a particularly good first effort. his world is a very well conceived low magic fantasy with several plot threads and minor characters that aren’t lost or forgotten, nor are they resolved heavy handedly.
Reave the Just and Other Tales – Stephen R. Donaldson – do i need say more? really anything written by this man is incredible.
Watership Down – Richard Adams – the bunny book. everybody loves the bunny book.
The Battle Circle Trilogy – Piers Anthony – I hesitate to put this author on the list because of the prolific form writing that he participates in. however, this particular book has all of the well thought out plot and world construction with none of the sequels ad nasuem. Anthony has a knack for creating incredible worlds and then using his patented form writing technique to beat the idea into submission. just look at the first three xanth books compared to the next twenty or so.
The Birth of Tragedy – Frederic Neitzsche – A not very concise book on aesthetics. i’m not sure about the rest of his books but this one is a very interesting look at art in any venue. p.s. just read the first half.
The Cyrstal Shard – R. A. Salvatore – this is the introductory book to the drizzt saga. probably one of the most liked fantasy characters of all time. salvatore is probably the best battle scene author i have ever read. his plots are adequate. his characterizations are good only for his main characters, but his battles jump off the page and fight themselves right in front of you.
The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander – young adult fantasy. this is a great book for your children or for you if you want light reading. it’s all there and it’s not quite fluff. it also leads off four other very entertaining books each one successively more demanding on the reader
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – Simply amazing. absolutely incredible. you could probably do without every reading anything else by this man.
A Light in the Attic – Shel Silverstein – excellent book of poetry that is not quite all childish
The One Pig With Horns – Laurent de Brunhoff – simply fantastic children’s story, very twisted, i believe the author is French
Giant Size X-Men #1 – Dave Cockram & Len Wein & Chris Claremont – Here begins one of the greatest saga’s of all time. as well as the beginning of one of the best stints of comic writing every. three cheers for Claremont!!
Jitterbug Perfume – Tom Robbins – an excellent read. all around enjoyable
Dungeon Master’s Guide 1st edition (w/efreet picture) – Gary Gygax – Here lies the repository of all knowledge, read well and learn. an excellent game and an excellent history of war gaming
Any Phone Book – Anywhere U.S.A. – i highly suggest the local phone book for hours of entertainment, fun for prank calls at parties or just to find names like “Eskimilio Thnuderbunny”
Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkein – he’s the granddaddy for a reason people
Little Black Sambo – Helen Bannerman – some may call me racist for this but i really like this story. it was one of my favorites when i was young. and i still don’t see the problem
Lysistrata – Aristophanes – this is one of the funniest of the greeks, although i have a special fondness for all of them i particularly like the idea of women ending a war by demanding sex, chew on that you fucking liberal feminists. did it ever occur to you that us men don’t think about killing when we’re fucking…well not much anyway
Candide – Voltaire – this book is hysterical
The Guide to Getting It On – Goofy Foot Press – simply put “The Best Sex Book Ever Written”
The Eye of the World – Robert Jordan – if you don’t mind the same female character over and over again with different names then this series is for you. very prolific, mostly overwritten but still very entertaining. very complex plots that are well kept track of.
The Trail Guide to the Body – Andrew Beil – excellent anatomy book covering all the muscles of the body. great for anyone interested in how their body works, or for those into massage or physical therapy
Stranger in a Strange Land Unabrigded – Robert Heinlein – this book changed my life
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Tom Stoppard – this play rocks
The Sleeping Dragon – Joel Rosenberg – excellent fantasy idea. send gamers to actually play their characters. it becomes a bit stretched in the later books but the first two are excellent
Penthouse Forum – Penthouse – Those stories are true…i swear they are…excellent stroke mag
there you go fucker i hope you’re happy
for the fourth time, i will attempt to send you my
booklist. cross your fingers that the gods of
technology do not see fit to smote my humble email
with their cruel will! smote? or smite? smite.
i tried to come up with the most life changing books
i’ve read. or those that i re-read all the time.
those that have affected me the most, changed my
course completely, or those that make me want to write
the crimethink book isn’t the most mind-blowing thing
i’ve ever read, it really is for -beginners- like they
say, but it came into my life at an important time,
and has since been passed to others who’ve found it a
revolutionary read. so it made the list.
maybe i’ll save my comments till after, so i don’t
ruin the surprise of the list itself, eh?
here it be. not really in an order. i can’t choose a
number one! so, randomly:
*Arundhati Roy – The God of Small Things
*Lewis Thomas – The Lives of a Cell
*Lewis Thomas – The Medusa and the Snail
*Robert Sapolsky – The Trouble with Testosterone
*Jarred Diamond – Guns, Germs and Steel
*Oliver Sacks – An Anthropologist on Mars
*Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
*Tolkien – Lord of the Rings
*Andrei Platonov – The Fierce and Beautiful World
*Richard Brautigan – Trout Fishing in America
*Crimethink – Days of War, Nights of Love: Crimethink
*Howard Zinn – A People’s history of the United States
*d.a. levy – Zen & Concrete, etc.
*Madeline L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time
*Roald Dahl – Matilda
*Robert Parkharris(on?) – The Architect’s Brother
*Kurt Vonnegut – Harrison Bergeron (short story)
that’s it, i think. i’m doing this away from home,
with all my books in moving boxes, so… (i just moved
to Belltown) i read a lot of non-fiction. Lewis
Thomas and Oliver Sacks made me want to be a
doctor/biologist, Arundhati Roy makes me want to write
gorgeous fiction (and she gives amazing lectures, like
her speech “Come September”, transcripts available at
lannan.org) and d.a. levy makes me wish i knew what
the hell he was talking about. (ha!)
harrison bergeron changed my 11 year-old life. as you
can see, i greatly value children’s books too.. i’d
include more (like the secret garden and a little
princess, which i’ve read about fifteen times each)
but i figured you knew those guys already and i should
scale back a bit. i’m also a big fan of “Hope For
the Flowers”, though it isn’t really a pillar of
i should also add that the companion book to the OSHO
Transformation tarot has also been of great importance
to me. it is full of parables from many cultures and
religions, and i really learn philosophical concepts
best through stories. i also love “Be Here Now” (of
course), the writings of Gandhi and a few anthologies
of essays on non-violence and civil disobedience that
include Quaker and Mennonite writing, Jainist writing,
ack.. i’ve got to catch a bus up to Lynnwood, so i’d
better get going.
much love kiddo. take care!
James…ok, here’s a list–could change as I give it more thought–Michael
RICCIARDI’S TOP 50 NON-FICTION WORKS [That is, the books that I’ve actually read
– in NO particular order]:
1] Finite & Infinte Games [James Carse]
2] Laws of Form [G. Spencer Brown]
3] Godel Escher Bach [Douglas Hofstadter]
4] SYNNERGETICS I & II [R. Buckminster Fuller]
5] The Dragons of Eden [Carl Sagan]
6] The Immense Journey [Loren Eiseley]
7] The Rebel [Albert Camus]
8] The Guttenberg Galaxy [Marshall McLuhan]
9] Order Out of Chaos [Ilya Prigogine]
10] Infinity and the Mind [Rudy Rucker]
11] The Third Wave [Alvin Toffler]
12] The Sane Society [Eric Fromm]
13] The Tree of Knowledge [Maturana & Varela]
14] Symbols of Transformation I & II- Prelude to an Analysis of Schizophrenia
[C. G. Jung]
15] The Selfish Gene [Richard Dawkins]
16] Wholeness and the Implicate Order [David Bohm]
17] Tractatus [Wittgenstein]
18] Phenomenology of Mind [Hegel]
19] MetaMagical Themas [D. Hofstadter]
20] Shadows of the Mind [Roger Penrose]
21] The Phenomenon of Man [Teilhard de Chardin]
22] On Human Nature [Edward O. Wilson]
23] The Gnostic Gospels [Elaine Pagels]
24] On The Origin of Species [Charles Darwin]
25] Society of the Spectacle [Guy DeBord]
RUNNERS UP: (since there were 50 in the list I moved 25 of them to a separate page)
James D Newman
The History of the Warfare between Science and the Theology (Freely available as a text file online at about 100 places)
The Complete Works of Plato (Freely available at the Perseus Archive along with other good stuff)
The Complete Works of Nietzsche (all philosophy between Plato and Nietzsche can be skipped.) When possible read him in Kaufman’s translations.
Narcissus and Goldmund (Hesse) (Really – everything by Hesse is good, but if you only get one, get this one. — Steppenwolf, The Glass Bead Game, Siddhartha, Damien also worthy.)
The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony; Ka; and The Ruin of Kasch – Roberto Calasso – The first 3 parts of a 5 part series. Impossible to summarize well. I’m sure the final two books will go here also when they are complete.
Calculus in two Volumes by Thomas Apostol (Rare) How it is presented is important. There isn’t a remotely close second to this book – if the subject interests you then read this presentation.
The Single Volume Edition of Halliday and Resnick “Fundamentals of Physics” Black cover c. 1991 (Rare)
Clear and complete (as an introduction.) The 7th edition of this book is availible in Europe and looks great, but I miss the “Black Brick”.
Magick : Liber ABA (Book 4) Second Revised Samuel Weiser Edition Second Reprint (2000) If you had to pick a single work on meditation, ceremonial magic, OR religion this would be it – if you get two take also Frazier’s Golden Bough (I thought this was the unabridged version — but it seems to be the 1922 abridged version — crud.), if you get three take also Campbell’s Masks of God (complete series). But you really only need one. (How many books about the taste of coffee would you recommend as compared to a draught of coffee?)
Finnegans Wake – the greatest linguistic achievement in the history of man. It will never be surpassed. Art will evolve past the book – but this book represents the most that will ever be achieved by a book as book. Literature, to go forward from this monumental achievement needs to become film, performance art (living ones life as art) and meta-text – works which span several different Media – (such as Peter Greenaway’s Tulse Luper Project). Finnegan’s Wake is the Ontologico-historical end of text as literature, it possibly could go beyond this point, but it will not.
Ada, or Ardor – Nabokov. (Hands down his best work. Possibly the best novel after Ulysses)
Gödel, Escher, Bach – an Eternal Golden Braid. Explores fundamental questions relating to cognition.
In Search of Lost Time – Marcel Proust
The Collected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke – Stephan Mitchell’s translation. Best lyric poetry of all time in any language.
The Complete Works of James Joyce (minus Finnegans Wake, which gets its own entry.)
The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir
Building Scientific Apparatus: A Practical Guide to Design and Construction (A collection of things that everyone living in a technological society should know how to do. Nothing in this book is particularly hard to understand. It demystifies technology.)
The Island of the Day Before – Umberto Eco (better than Foucault’s Pendulum, far better than the Name of the Rose – not that “Name” is bad!)
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
The Modern Sequel to the Odyssey – Nikos Kazantsakis – his best work. The greatest epic poem in any language ever. Period.
The Guide to Getting it On – because it is irresponsible to possess genitals without knowing how to enjoy and share them properly.
Order out of Chaos – Ilya Prigogene – this book will save you from having to read dozens of poorly written popular science garbage toss offs about chaos theory and self organization.
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison. Exquisite.
A Soldier of the Great War – Mark Helprin (choosing between this and a Winter’s Tale is really hard – I think this book is more mature and ultimately more meaningful, but that a Winters tale is more fun.)
Oxford English Dictionary – a grand project, both in its design and execution. It has an entertaining history and is so far superior to every other English dictionary that I don’t know why anyone else bothers. Available on the internet for a fee. I am astounded that no one cares enough to endow the OED so that people can have it for free. That is totally disgusting. I think the big 12 volume paper version at the library is much more fun anyway.
Society of the Spectacle – Guy Debord, and The Revolution of Everyday Life — Raoul Vaneigem Both books are available for free on the internet.
Be Here Now – Ram Dass (An inspired graphic philosophy book)
The Phantom Tollbooth – which set me off on the quest to read and understand the rest of these books. Places suffering in the split ‘tween rhyme and reason.
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