Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

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Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby circasirvibing » Sat May 17, 2008 5:57 pm UTC

I read through the list of threads in here and couldn't find one on this topic, so I thought I'd make one.

I'm always searching for a list of books that will give me an idea of which books each person should read in their life. Those essential books that you need to get under your belt during your reading career. Not necessarily JUST classic books, but ones that define a genre or do something monumental.

Books like GEB by Hofstadter, Slaughter-House 5 by Vonnegut, 1984 by Orwell, or Catch 22 by Heller. These all seem to be very popular as well as having very unique stories and writing styles. Thanks for any suggestions.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby bigglesworth » Sat May 17, 2008 7:22 pm UTC

LoTR. because it underpins an entire genre.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Gojoe » Sat May 17, 2008 10:53 pm UTC

I only just started, but my brother assures me that The Wheel of Time series belongs on this list.

If comics are to be considered as well, ill add Watchmen and V for Vendetta. If i have to explain it means you haven't read them and you should stop wasting your life by not reading them
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby sparks » Sat May 17, 2008 11:11 pm UTC

I might list writers rather than books themselves, so I won't stay typing this up all night. Also, there's some poetry in the list :)

Anything by Shakespeare, anything by Oscar Wilde, anything by Marlowe. Also anything by Byron, Shelley and Keats. On The Road, Naked Lunch, Dharma Bums, Poe-everything, A Clockwork Orange, Frankenstein, Paradise Lost, The Vampyre, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Pride And Prejudice, The Metamorphosis, Little Women, Oliver Twist, Tale Of Two Cities, The Stranger (and basically anything Camus, Sartre, Beauvoir, etc). Also anything Anaïs Nin, Jean Genet, Lewis Carroll and Jules Verne. And also The Red And The Black.
Neil Gaiman, too. Because he's Gaiman and yeah.
There are so many!! I might come back to this later when I'm not nearly dead due to sleep deprivation (and please note I haven't read "everything published books-wise and excluding letters" by some of these authors -- except maybe Wilde and Marlowe -- but they ARE essential, they way I see it, and I definitely want to).

Oh, and I totally second the opinions above.

Comics-wise, my personal favourites are "Preacher" and "Sandman".
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun May 18, 2008 12:05 am UTC

Dune, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun May 18, 2008 12:49 am UTC

V. by Thomas Pynchon, because it's an absolutely incredible book, every moment is made of awesome. Also, it's a lot easier to get through than Gravity's Rainbow.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby JayDee » Sun May 18, 2008 2:29 am UTC

I'm currently working through these lists described as "books that a serious writer of speculative fiction should own and read."

I imagine that the top shelf at the least would be worth checking out for most everyone.
Gojoe wrote:I only just started, but my brother assures me that The Wheel of Time series belongs on this list.
I'm a big fan of the series, but I definitely wouldn't put it on a list like this. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to readers of fantasy. Lord of the Rings is perfectly capable of representing Epic Fantasy, I think.

Hmm. I'd say Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories to showcase Sword and Sorcery.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Narsil » Sun May 18, 2008 4:13 am UTC

I think that White Noise by Don DeLillo is an important book. Anyone could probably take away useful things from that.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Sun May 18, 2008 4:57 am UTC

I made you a post, but I eated it. Anyhoo...

The Bachman Books

The War Book

Good Omens

Bible Stories For Adults

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Anri » Sun May 18, 2008 7:57 am UTC

Neuromancer started cyberpunk, and The Handmaiden's Tale is the ultimate in "endings that make you want to scream."

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby bigglesworth » Sun May 18, 2008 8:59 am UTC

And Snow Crash and The Diamond Age ended cyberpunk in style.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Clumpy » Sun May 18, 2008 9:34 am UTC

I'd say that Animal Farm is essential along with 1984. It's a great snapshot of how a tyrant is born and upheld.

Harrison Bergeron is more of a short story than a novel, but it's more prescient now than ever.

The Armchair Economist is a simple read that helps one to overcome cognitive dissonance and create some sort of rational basis for decisions.

GEB speaks for itself, and Le Ton Beau de Marot (also by Hofstadter) is a great, highly facetious dialogue on language and translation.

Humor and entertainment is more difficult for me, and more subjective. For humor, I'd throw in some of Mark Twain's humorous writings, Benchley, and even Dave Barry and P.J. O'Rourke for booger jokes and snide political remarks, respectively. Benchley is arguably the forefather of the modern humorist and Barry and O'Rourke are his spawn who carried the field into the mainstream newspapers and magazines. Heck, throw in some Jack Handey for good measure.

I don't read much fiction so I wouldn't be much help there.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby bigglesworth » Sun May 18, 2008 10:00 am UTC

The Dictionary (It doesn't really matter which, as long as it's a big one. The OED is excelsior, naturally)

Just flicking through, picking up words. It makes an ape a man.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby theamberkey » Sun May 18, 2008 12:32 pm UTC

The Book Thief -- The life of a girl in Nazi Germany through the eyes of Death.

Do it.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Skeedish » Sun May 18, 2008 4:58 pm UTC

I'm told Plato's Republic is a nifty read.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby circasirvibing » Sun May 18, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:I'm currently working through these lists described as "books that a serious writer of speculative fiction should own and read."

I imagine that the top shelf at the least would be worth checking out for most everyone.

That site is the exact type of thing I wanted to find when I started this thread. Thanks a lot I will definitely be adding those to my 'to read' list.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby sparks » Sun May 18, 2008 5:46 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:The Dictionary (It doesn't really matter which, as long as it's a big one. The OED is excelsior, naturally)

Just flicking through, picking up words. It makes an ape a man.



I actually do this, especially when bored with a dictionary nearby. This accounts for the fact that I have several dictionaries and enjoy buying them.

theamberkey wrote:The Book Thief -- The life of a girl in Nazi Germany through the eyes of Death.

Do it.


Oh, I have seen this book! I was actually wondering if it was good because it sure sounded interesting. I might get it, then, since it is good.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby dbsmith » Sun May 18, 2008 9:18 pm UTC

Where the Wild Things Are

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby clockworkmonk » Wed May 21, 2008 4:01 am UTC

Ovid's Metamorphosis, Don Quixote, and The Once and Future King for my humble opinion.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby masher » Wed May 21, 2008 4:07 am UTC

The list of books that I want to read:

1984
Lord of the Flies
the Bible
Flatland
Hitchhikers' guide

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby l33t_sas » Wed May 21, 2008 1:03 pm UTC

I fail to see why a distinction between a book reader and just any person has been made. But the books that have affected the way I think most (being a 16 year old male teen) are:

Flatland
Brave New World
Animal Farm
The Catcher in the Rye
Ender's Game
The Selfish Gene

And that's all I can really think of for now.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Zombor » Sat May 24, 2008 5:18 am UTC

Walden, i dunno, it explains a lot about the green/movement back to nature recently but also explores Transcendentalism and the diffusion of pure culture/thinkers in recent times
An Elegant Universe, actually i haven't read it yet, but just from a 1 hr long lecture by Brian Greene i knew so much more about string theory than i think i could have ever learned on my own, i am going to buy it soon though
Othello, tackles race and trust issues in a throughly captivating format, which are still highly applicable
Beowulf, maybe cause I was in a class of highly energetic, intelligent people when I read it in class, but it is a really good read (though i will always remember the no swimming sign on the lake Grendel's Mother lived in. . . . oh, that law-breaking Beowulf, he is quite the scamp)
at least 2-3 of Sherlock Holmes stories, he being the original mystery/detective

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Barton » Sat May 24, 2008 7:23 am UTC

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Last edited by Barton on Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:56 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat May 24, 2008 2:04 pm UTC

Zombor wrote:at least 2-3 of Sherlock Holmes stories, he being the original mystery/detective


Actually, that'd be Poe's Dupin.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Mimi » Sat May 24, 2008 6:25 pm UTC

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin perfectly marries psychology, sci fi, and just regular ole fiction. And even thought it's very interesting from a psychological point of view, you can still muster up a lot of feeling for the characters.

I cried at the end.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby SkaBassist » Tue May 27, 2008 5:50 am UTC

As always, "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn. I'd also say "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran.

I'd say Hemingway, but to be honest, none of it is really too essential. Still enjoyable, though. I find most classics are dated, irrelevant, and boring nowadays, mostly because the books warn of something (Animal Farm warns of the dangers of absolutism, Fahrenheit of censorship), but it doesn't actually do anything for it. I didn't read Animal Farm and say to myself, "Oh my god, I'd better keep our world powers in check!".

My list of books that "every reader should read" would probably be mostly non-fiction.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby bigglesworth » Tue May 27, 2008 10:59 am UTC

Then again, if you read Fahrenheit as a warning against consumerism and the dumbing down of society via television and lowering literacy (as in the proportion of the population who reads books for fun)...
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby kovan » Tue May 27, 2008 8:03 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:LoTR Foundation Series. because it underpins an entire genre.


FTFY.

And because Hitchhiker's guide contains about a billion references to it.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby SkaBassist » Wed May 28, 2008 2:59 am UTC

bigglesworth wrote:Then again, if you read Fahrenheit as a warning against consumerism and the dumbing down of society via television and lowering literacy (as in the proportion of the population who reads books for fun)...


...Well shit. I'd better dust my copy off and get re-reading.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Aethernox » Wed May 28, 2008 3:51 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Dune, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World.


This is more-or-less what I intended to post.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby kellsbells » Wed May 28, 2008 4:02 am UTC

Aethernox wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:Dune, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World.


This is more-or-less what I intended to post.

This, generally.

Though it seems that we're avoiding some classic styles in here, and like it or not, moody classic romance is a significant genre. To that end, I recommend Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, which is wonderful because the ending (in fact, the whole love story!) is not what you expect from modern romantic comedy movies and chick-lit. It's much more realistic and heart-breaking.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby arbivark » Wed May 28, 2008 4:30 am UTC

The Golden Bough, Frasier. The 1 volume edition; I've never read the 13 volume one.

It sort of explains religion and social structure from an anthropology type point of view.
Maybe there's a cliff notes version.

I don't know what one book does a good job of setting out memetics.
Progress and Poverty, Henry George, and The Machinery of Freedom, David Friedman, cover some important political/economic stuff.
Something about feminism, but I'm not sure what or who - maybe Mary Daly.

Either Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Doctorow, http://www.craphound.com/down) or The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Eric S. Raymond, for an intro to the open source economy.
How to Kill, Paladin Press. Not that you'll need it.
How I found freedom in an unfree world, Harry Browne, a self-help type book about attitude,
The Richest Man in Babylon, a book of fables that teaches basic finance concepts.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Quixotess » Wed May 28, 2008 5:09 am UTC

JayDee wrote:I'm currently working through these lists described as "books that a serious writer of speculative fiction should own and read."

I imagine that the top shelf at the least would be worth checking out for most everyone.


This man speaks blasphemy. Blasphemy. He's "hesitant to include Dickens as a positive example"? Dickens could eat anyone on his third shelf for breakfast! And most of the authors on the other shelves as well. He also seems to think that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were meant to be published all together as one novel. Wrong. LotR was meant to be published as one book and not three, but not together with the Hobbit. And--oh, infamy!--where is Thomas Covenant? Where is the Unbeliever?

dbsmith wrote:Where the Wild Things Are

YES. This above all.

Pride and Prejudice--absolute classic, witty, greatly influenced the modern novel.
The Book of the New Sun--incredible, surreal, completely destroyed Orwell's 1984.
In Cold Blood--epitome of the true crime novel, disturbing.
A Prayer for Owen Meany--John Irving's best work, the gold standard for combining tragedy and comedy.
Something Wicked This Way Comes--liked it better than 451 and you MUST read some Bradbury, his style is like no other, lyrical, incredible.
Guns Germs & Steel--will kick your elitist ass
Nickel & Dimed--will punch your elitist face
Genome--inspiring, cheering look at free will and human nature through science
The Diary of Anne Frank, and Beloved--lest we forget
The Double--disturbing, dark, a Portuguese Ray Bradbury, or is it more like a Midsummer Night's Dream?
Works of Edgar Allen Poe, to includeThe Tell-tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Cask of Amontillado at least.
Lord of the Rings--some love it, some hate it, but you must experience it. The chapters At the Sign of the Prancing Pony and The Council of Elrond have been emulated in many novels since, but never matched.
And you must have a good collection of poetry, including Ode on a Grecian Urn, the Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, some Dickinson, some Whitman, Shakespeare's sonnets, etc.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Heisenberg » Fri May 30, 2008 5:49 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:I'm currently working through these lists described as "books that a serious writer of speculative fiction should own and read."


Huge ups for including Heinlein's 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' on your top shelf. That is my favorite book. For sci-fi readers, make sure you've checked out everything from my list. I've included some good authors everyone should experience.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby invadermonks » Sat May 31, 2008 2:02 am UTC

Classics:
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
and really any other Joyce you can get through, this and Dubliners are his most accessible books though
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

Modern:
The Chronicles of Amber by Robert Zelanzy
Not so much for literary merit (although they are fun reads) as for impact on current fantasy, The Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy has shaped a lot of modern fantasy
Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
The Gryphon Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
The Time Travellers' Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which is the best book I have read in the past few years

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Jesse » Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:32 am UTC

Underworld by Don DeLillo. I've never seen anything so beautifully written.

World War Z by Max Brooks. A great fiction book written as fact, fantastic real-life prose.

Hope & Memory by Tzvetan Todorov. Yes, it's a non-fiction book, but that doesn't stop his wiritng being some of the most powerful I've ever read.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby devillic » Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:33 pm UTC

Misc. Fiction:
The Blind Assassin, Love in the Time of Cholera, Watership Down, Lord of the Flies, Ishmael, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Hamlet, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Lolita, A Confederacy of Dunces, Wuthering Heights, Dandelion Wine, The Fountainhead (just to know what the fuss is all about), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, Robin Hood, Anna Karenina, The Bell Jar, Catcher in the Rye.

Fantasy:
LotR, obviously, and The Hobbit, The Once and Future King, His Dark Materials trilogy, The Gormenghast Trilogy (Mervyn Peake; better than LotR in every way, made me cry, the writing is BEAUTIFUL if you like a poetic style. It's a hefty trilogy but I was hooked from the first paragraph. Great characters and incredible settings. No one's heard of it but everyone should read it.)

Science Fiction:
Brave New World, 1984, Ender's Game

Ostensibly for Children:
Alice in Wonderland, Coraline (Gaiman!), The Neverending Story, The Little Prince, The Wizard of Oz

Nonfiction: The Culture of Make Believe, Propaganda and the Public Mind, Godel Escher Bach.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby cathrl » Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:35 pm UTC

sparks wrote:I might list writers rather than books themselves, so I won't stay typing this up all night. Also, there's some poetry in the list :)

Anything by Shakespeare, anything by Oscar Wilde, anything by Marlowe. Also anything by Byron, Shelley and Keats. On The Road, Naked Lunch, Dharma Bums, Poe-everything, A Clockwork Orange, Frankenstein, Paradise Lost, The Vampyre, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Pride And Prejudice, The Metamorphosis, Little Women, Oliver Twist, Tale Of Two Cities, The Stranger (and basically anything Camus, Sartre, Beauvoir, etc). Also anything Anaïs Nin, Jean Genet, Lewis Carroll and Jules Verne. And also The Red And The Black.
Neil Gaiman, too. Because he's Gaiman and yeah.


I think I may be the anti-Sparks. At least seventy percent of that list come in my absolutely minute fraction of books I've loathed with a fiery passion and would sooner eat ground glass than read again. I'll read almost anything, but Camus? Couldn't care less whether his characters lived or died. The Red And The Black nearly put me off reading anything Russian forever.

And I'm afraid I thought GEB was pretentious drivel. (ducks)

I'm not sure I consider any individual book essential reading in any genre. I do think that a serious book reader should have read at least one classic from as many genres as possible, but I don't think you can say that it's essential to read the #1 compared to the #2.

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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby goblin_subway » Sat Jun 07, 2008 6:05 am UTC

I will second previos posts. Read all 5 1/2 books of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. They are zarkingly frood.
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Re: Books You Believe Every Book Reader Should Read.

Postby Wondrej » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:08 pm UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Dune, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World.



I was about to say almost the same :P so I'll just quote
there was a light, then earth, then human, then simpsons, then futurama and then... sudenly xkcd apear!


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