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A few books which everyone should have read.. (1 Viewer)

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Lev Tolstoy - Anna Karenin

I just finished reading a beautifully bound, ancient edition of this, and can't possibly recommend it highly enough. Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment is next on my own 'to-read' list, then War and Peace (i'm in a Russian mood).

Franz Kafka - The Trial

Read it if you can. I can't stand book analysis in general, so I won't go further than saying it's an interesting read, and that Kafka is a genius.

Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray

A truly remarkable book. Oscar Wilde is undoubtedly one of the greatest persons of all history (one my rolemodels, I have to admit), and his writing in this is that of a true master at the height of his powers. The book has further meaning in connection with the authors tragic fall from grace, and in view of his later writing.

Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

A great, great book. Something that really makes you look at the way we personally, and society look at the world. Also an astounding story, and not only that, but a true one.

Isaac Asimov - Foundation

Just thought I'd get some sci-fi in here, and this is the real core of the genre. Asimov has all the imagination and ideas of an exceptional science-fiction writer.. You might want to give this a try even if you don't like sci-fi. While i'm on the genre, Dune is worth a read several times over.

Robin Hobb - The Liveship Trilogy

I feel slightly wrong putting a fantasy trilogy in here, but as I let Asimov in I'm gonna let this one in too. I doubt you've read this, but it is by far the best fantasy I've ever read. It might be better than LOTR... The characters are superbly written, as is the world and setting. The plot is fascinating and the prose are vivid and never boring... Read it.


OK enough. As an afterthought, you'll want to take a look at Larkin, Byron, Keats and Wilde for poetry (particularly The Ballad of Reading Goal by Wilde and the horribly overused This By The Verse by Larkin) and Pratchett, Adams and Rankin for comedy. If you want to rule the world, I suggest Michiavelli's 'The Prince' and Adam Smith's 'The Wealth of Nations'. Musically, you should be shot if you don't own Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon', Bob Dylan's 'Blonde on Blonde' and Led Zeppelin's 'LedZepp4' (I could go on...).

Please do add some of your favourite books etc, I always like getting recommendations.


Kitten Courna

Senior Member
Russian Heavyweights indeed. I'm glad Crime and Punishment is up there, it's one of my favorites.

I'm afraid though, I can't see what you see in Wilde. I couldn't even finish Dorian Gray. As an author, I would agree he is was talented, but that book drives me up the walls. I like his plays and children's stories better.

Herbert and Asimov are certainly staples and worth every praise they're given, but you should take a look at Orson Scott Card if you haven't. I'm not sure you need the recommendation but there it is.

Kind of a romantic when it comes to poetry, eh? I don't blame you. Cooleridge is worth a read, or at least "Kubla Khan." For comic fantasy I love Adams, but have a soft spot for Asprin, though he hasn't any plans to finish the Myth series, I think.

And did you say Rankin? As in Ian Rankin? As in Rebus? Comedy?

As for ruling the world, I think you should take a look at Plato's Republic. Devious; very devious.

Also a classical type for music I see? I won't comment on the selections, and am far too inept at choosing my own favorites.

Good to meet you, by the way.



Thanks for the post!

Shame about your stance on Wilde, but I suppose we all have our opinions. I often have to remind myself that my opinion is also just an opinion, rather than the sum of all human wisdom and knowedge. At least you like his plays, which are truly brilliant.

Orson Scott Card is an author I clearly need to make more effort to read. His name has several times got lost in an endless stream of books I need to read. Needless to say I'll correct that as soon as I'm able. Speaking of sci-fi, have you read much of the classic Arthur C. Clarke? Pretty good, in my humble opinion. God, i'm such a traditionalist. Maybe I should get more.

Romantic poetry! Yes indeed. I've got a soft spot for the great Romanticists. Cooleridge should have made the list, in reflection. I've never read any Asprin, though I've taken plenty (haha.) Poor Adams.. that film they made is a disgrace. I meant Robert Rankin, as opposed to Ian. I can see where your bewilderment came from. A good author, Ian, but not exactly laugh out loud.

Plato's got to be read, it seems. I'll get into it when i'm done trauling through Sartre's 'Being and Nothingness', Foucault's 'The Order of Things' and any Camus I can get my grubby mits on. Sigh. No rest for the wicked.

As for music, well you got the classics as that's what the post said on the tin, but hey, they're still brilliant.

Good to meet you too :)

Kitten Courna

Senior Member
Classic Arthur C. Clarke? I may have read a short story here and there, and from my vague remembrances I get the feeling I enjoyed it. It's evident you're a classicist, to a deep degree. Though I can't recommend many, I suggest you break out of that, at least to a minor degree, or you'll miss som brilliant new authors. A Canticle for Liebowitz and Neuromancer (the author of which I have forgotten at the moment) are well worthwhile.

I have to admit that Asprin could be a favorite just because it was one of the first full series I read...but nonetheless, he's a favorite. I haven't heard of your Rankin, although you've heard of mine. Somewhat of an unfair exchange, wouldn't you say?

I'm stodgy when it comes to poetry (hence I don't review it here, unless under special circumstances). So sometimes the Romantics are jsut the thing I want to hear, and then sometimes they go out just a little too far. I forget whether he was considered Romantic...I just have the word 'Pastoral' in my head for him, but I'm a fan of Thomas Hardy's poems. Dismal, of course, but there's something charming about them, I think.

And I'm not actually a fan of Plato myself. Though I appreciate his devious ways, I'm just not a fan. Though if you're looking into being and non-being, I suggest you start with the Theatetus as opposed to Republic. As for Foucalt, Sarte, and Camus, the education I'm pursuing at the moment will let me have at them later. Whatever I read of Sarte when I was younger I've forgotten.

I can hardly criticize the music choice. They are indeed known as classic for good reason.



I'm not all that bad. I have actually read and enjoyed Nueromancer. Woopee.

I would appreciate it, however, if you would force me to read any good new books that come your way -- I find second hand bookshops infinitely preferable to new ones, and constantly have so much to read that new books just don't get bought. Sigh.

Kitten Courna

Senior Member
Unfortunately, I'm almost as immersed in dust. However, I'll keep a sharp eye out. I've a feeling the relaxation would be a good cahnge.


Zachary Glass

Senior Member
Hesse's Siddartha led me to his Steppenwolf...but truthfully I did not like it as much. Still, a good read. Albert Camus's Stranger is a great read...should it make me feel happy? I think not, but it does just the same. We're all so ME ME ME. It seems so nice to see NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING. The book puts me in a great mood every time I read it. It's perfect that it's a one sitting read.

Zachary Glass

Senior Member
Incidentally, (to use the favorite word of my namesake) The Stranger was made into a song by The Cure. "standing on the beach with a gun in my hand...staring at the sea staring at the sand...whichever I choose it amounts to the same, absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing. I'm alive, I'm dead...I am the stranger." "Looking down the barrel at the Arab on the ground..."

The words are something like that. It's funny...the Canadian Government attacked the Cure for having racist lyrics with that song...they didn't even know it was a homage to Camus' classic. Nerds in Canada...I kid you not. (I feel a rant mood coming on!)


Mmm... Siddhartha could be considered a better book. It's certainly a beautiful and uplifting one. There was just something about the Steppenwolf which I liked; his solitary nature I suppose. And the whole thing with the magic theatre was great.

By the way, my new avatar is highly sexual.

Zachary Glass

Senior Member
Yes penguins are really quite riveting. There is something about a penguin walking away from me that really turns me on. It's the waddle...yes it's definitely the waddle.


Senior Member
Pawn- you mentioned Orson Scott Card. If you're short on time and looking at his Ender series, I recommend starting with Speaker for the Dead- in my opinion that's the best book in the series. It works as a stand-alone, and delves pretty deep into Ender's character (at least as I recall) and his relationship with the world around him. Ender's Game isn't too bad. Seventh Son is also very good, and I, personally, liked Treasure Box a lot, though a lot of people seem to dislike that particular work of his.

I also really liked Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land when I first read it. Also, Chaim Potok's The Chosen is fairly good. As for Chinese-American fiction, once you've read The Joy Luck Club, you've read it all. I'm really disappointed with what I've read so far of Chinese-American fiction- I think I care more because I'm Chinese American (and I consider myself a writer). It seems that we can't come up with anything beyond the conflicts between various traditions and parental wishes, female angst, and inability to get over past pains. I'd really like to see something different, but maybe that's just me being me.

Zachary Glass

Senior Member
Joy Luck Club was a great read for me, but for Chinese Canadian fiction~~~have to tout Canada, folks!~~~nothing beats Wayson Choy's THE JADE PEONY.


1984 by George Orwell would have to be one of the most influential books I have ever read. His portrayal of the future is chilling.


Olly Buckle

I wouldn't say you should read, but,
Tom Holland, Persian fire
almost any Rudyard Kipling short story collection and "Puck of pook's hill" and "Rewards and fairies"
Louis de Bernier's trilogy that starts with "The war of Don Emanuell's nether parts"
Christopher Hill, The world turned upside down.

I may well think of some to add to this.


Senior Member
A few points of disagreement, I'm afraid.

Your first four selections are excellent. Anything by Tolstoy or Kafka I would agree with. 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' is one of the few books by Wilde I enjoyed.

Pirsig's account of his travels with his son, interwoven with a basic philosophy of life is fantastic.

There are a few, a very few, science fiction short stories I have enjoyed. 'Foundation' I couldn't get through when I tried to read it.

Hobb I don't know. The only fantasy I've read is Tolkien. I've tried to read others and found them all boring as hell.

I can't believe that you've left out the 20th Century's masters. Faulkner, Joyce, Hemingway, Gárcía Marquez, and the second rank, Capote, Salinger, et al.

For years I preached that 'Absalom, Absalom' was the greatest novel of the 20th Century. Then I read 'Cien años de soledad' and changed my mind. How can you put science fiction and fantasy in your list and leave out these masterpieces?

And what about the Snopes trilogy? What about 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'? What about 'A Farewell to Arms' and 'The Old Man and the Sea'?.

I'll stop now.

Edit - No I won't. Camus. I forgot about 'The Stranger' and it is not about nothing despite what everyone says, including Camus.

And I forgot some of my favourites, including '1984'. How could I forget that? Along with 'Animal Farm', Brave New World', and 'Man's Fate'. (Grammarians, please note the sentence fragment used deliberately.) Edit - And I was about to leave out Koestler's 'Darkness at Noon'.

I've not even considered the real classics here. That's a whole separate list. Although I will pass on a bit of news. Recent research has definitely proven that Homer did not write 'Iliad'. He may have written 'Odyssey' but we know now that 'Iliad' was written by another blind Greek poet of the same name who lived at about the same time.
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Senior Member
'El amor en los tiempos del cólera' y 'Cien años de soledad' ought to be on everyone's 'must read' list. There are English translations which are fair, but like anything else they are best appreciated in the original.

Yes, Capote. More substance than he has been given credit for in the years since his death. 'In Cold Blood' ended his career, and it's a shame. I believe he had more to say but was too emotionally torn up to do anything but sit home and drink. Even his university lecture and writer-in-residence time produced only echoes. Though it did produce one of my favourite quotes. Holding up a student's short story in a writing class, he declared 'This isn't writing. This is just typing'.

And remember that he was the inspiration for 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
Yeah, I've heard that remark and always thought if was funny from somebody who basically got a bunch of money and glory for a true crime story.
And one in which, I'd say, he became a sob sister for the killer and ignored the victims. Probably a swishy crush. I have never seen why people call him a major writer and I don't know anybody who'd call him a great one or consider that his books are must-reads that do anything for anybody.
But then I think Catcher in the Rye was a bore, too.
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