The Monkey Wrench Gang
Comments: Edward Abbey is known for his writings about ecology and the Southwest. The Monkey Wrench Gang tells the tale of a motley crew fighting to maintain ``pristine beauty'' against corporate despoilers. Desert Solitaire is a ``spirit of place'' book ...
Five Minutes in Paradise
Comments: Kinflicks will make you laugh at the absurdities of the Twentieth Century.
The Handmaid's Tale
Life Before Man
Comments: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is probably her best known book - a commentary on the possible consequences of putting too much faith in fundamentalism, conservatism, and ``family values.'' While I think the book is worth reading, I don't consider it her best. Others of her books, such as Cat's Eye, I find much more moving.
Classic ancient works. Try various translations. Try to find the video of the Peter Brooks play also. Ask yourself ``what would Arjuna do?'' (WWAD)
Be Here Now
The Only Dance There Is
Comments: Sometimes didactict (he was a Harvard professor, after all :-), but worth reading. The titles are almost enough in themselves, if you can embrace them, and remember ...
The End of the Raod
The Floating Opera
Giles Goat-boy, Or, the Revised New Syllabus
The Sot-weed Factor
Lost in the Funhouse
Comments: I find John Barth a fascinating author. The End of the Road is a strong beginning - not a fun read, but definitely worth it. Some of his other books express a ``post-modern move.''
Waiting for Godot
Comments: Beckett is best known as a playwrite, but his novels, particularly the trilogy (Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable), are well worth reading.
Seize the Day
Henderson the Rain King
The Adventures of Augie March
Mr. Sammler's Planet
Comments: Bellow has many books worth reading. Herzog is probably his best known, but I encourage you to read his earlier works, like Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, and The Adventures of Augie March. His work continues strong - keep reading his work, and you will find much.
Rhinehart in Love
Crazy in Berlin
Little Big Man
Comments: Be sure to see the movie too, especially if you like Dustin Hoffman and/or Faye Dunaway. Remember that sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't ...
Comments: More post-modern moves. His short stories will make you think, and take you inside a strange mind and to strange worlds.
A Confederate General from Big Sur
In Watermelon Sugar
The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster
Revenge of the Lawn
The Hawkline Monster
Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt
Trout Fishing in America
Comments: Trout Fishing in America knocked me out when I first read it. Brautigan's spare prose will surprise you, and help you look at the world in new ways. I like his post-beat poetry too.
The Soft Machine
The Ticket That Exploded
Comments: Burroughs' work is a classic dark view of the Twentieth Century, with hallucinatory, visionary imagery. He isn't gentle, but you'll never think about the underside of life the same way again.
Parable of the Sower
Parable of the Talents
Comments: Strong science fiction - much of it near future. Dark, but rewarding.
The Myth of Sisyphus
Comments: Existentialism. We all need to read some.
Speaker for the Dead
Children of the Mind
Comments: I'm not sure what to make of Orson Scott Card. The Ender's Game series is strong, with interesting ideas, particularly about the place of children in society, and how we might relate with aliens. Card also has a strong current of magic and mystical powers in others of his works, some of which I enjoyed, others of which were just frustrating.
The Long Goodbye
The Big Sleep
Farewell, My Lovely
Comments: I could probably list hundreds of mystery/``defective thriller'' works. Chandler is always good. See the movies, but read the books too.
Heart of Darkness
Comments: Darkness earlier in the Twentieth Century. See the movie Apocalypse Now also.
Blow-Up : and Other Stories
62: A Model Kit
Comments: Hopscotch is a fascinating book. Cortazar suggests a variety of paths through the chapters of the book, overlaying stories in various ways. I first read this because he wrote the short story which inspired the movie "Blowup" (which is worth seeing - Antonioni's take on the sixties in England).
Comments: I keep trying DeLillo. I haven't been able to get off the ground in Underground, and I'm carrying Mao II with me. His writing is strong and evocative, but it often leaves me cold (which is probably one of his goals ...).
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Man in the High Tower
Radio Free Albemuth
Comments: More science fiction. Again, I could probably list hundreds of these (and maybe will someday ...). See the movie too (Bladerunner).
The Alexandria Quartet
(Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea)
The Black Book
Comments: I found the Alexandria Quartet to be an amazing, evocative, moving work. The four books (often sold bound in a single volume) will take you to another world, which you'll see through multiple eyes, with multiple takes on the same events.
The Name of the Rose
Comments: Eco is known for his work on semiotics, his cultural/literary criticism, and his fiction. I like both of these novels a lot. See the movie (with Sean Connery) too.
A Light in August
As I Lay Dying
The Sound and the Fury
Comments: Faulkner is generally not an easy read, but he captures the ebb and flow of thought - again with evocative and visionary textures.
Coney Island of the Mind
The Secret Meaning of Things
A Far Rockaway of the Heart
Starting from San Francisco
Comments: Among my favorite poets - still hard at work. His work can be fun to read aloud - he captures the rhythms of the spoken word.
A Passage to India
Comments: The clash of cultures, with an overlay of the mystical ...
The Gameplayers of Zan
The Warriors of Dawn
Comments: Somewhat obscure science fiction, worth reading.
The French Lieutenant's Woman
Comments: Somewhat self-conscious ``post-modern'' work sometimes, but I like his writing.
Comments: You need to read these ...
Lord of the Flies
Comments: Parables of good and evil ...
The Tin Drum
Comments: German to the core. Keep reading.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Stranger in a Strange Land
Comments: Over the years I have read more Heinlein than maybe I should. These two are very much worth reading. When he's good, he's very good.
Good as Gold
Comments: Catch 22 is a true classic - how things work, and don't, and the terrible truth of the process of war. This is one I reread when I need a dose of deadly absurdity. The others are worth reading too.
Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, etc.
The Santaroga Barrier
Comments: Dune is a true classic of sci-fi - cosmic themes, good writing, characters you can care about (up to a point ...). The series maunders a bit, but even the later books are often worth reading. The Santaroga Barrier is a good read too.
Zen in the Art of Archery
Comments: It's not enough just to read Zen. Be the arrow . . .
The Child Buyer
Comments: I read this when I was ten or twelve. It gave me some insights into how the world works, but also made me wonder what might make a life worthwhile ...
Journey to the East
Magister Ludi (the Glass Bead Game)
Comments: I particularly like The Glass Bead Game (but then, I would ...).
Godel, Escher, Bach : An Eternal Golden Braid
Comments: A tour-de-force - amazing book. Not exactly fiction, but everybody should read this sometime. If you get frustrated, put it down for a while and come back later.
After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
Brave New World
The Perennial Philosophy
Point Counter Point
Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell
Comments: Huxley is one of my favorite authors. Many people have read Brave New World, but I encourage you to explore his other writings as well.
Comments: Again, try several translations. Maybe not quite as ``supermarket tabloid'' as Linda Goodman's Sun Signs, but much deeper and much better for you ...
The Water Method Man
Hotel New Hampshire
Setting Free the Bears
The World According to Garp
Cider House Rules
Comments: I read The Water Method Man long ago, and could see the beginnings of a talent. I'll have to admit I have been frustrated by Irving over the years - too much of his fiction reads (to me) like the fulfillment of a contract. Garp is a meditation on castration, if you're into that sort of thing. On the other hand, I find Cider House Rules to be a wonderful book - another one that moved me (the movie is worth seeing too). It feels like the book he kept meaning to write, but only finally got around to. It's why I kept reading his work all those years ...
Fear of Flying
Fear of Fifty
How to Save Your Own Life
Comments: What fictionalized autobiography can become - mostly fun to read, but often depressing in the end. Twentieth century life ...
The Three Pillars of Zen
On the Road
Visions of Cody
Vanity of Duluoz
Scriptures of the Golden Eternity
Comments: I find Kerouac uneven, but worth reading. Give Maggie Cassidy a try.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Sometimes a Great Notion
Comments: Two amazing books, both definitely worth reading. Sometimes a Great Notion is classic americana. I'm ambivalent about both movies, but so it goes ...
Flowers for Algernon
Comments: And see the movie (Charly) too.
The Painted Bird
The Tao Te Ching
Comments: Try various translations. Some days (when I'm not thinking Hindu) I think I'm a Taoist.
Sons and Lovers
Women in Love
Lady Chatterly's Lover
Comments: Sure, he's another one famous for censorship battles - but read some of the less famous books. Also, try his short stories, like The Woman Who Rode Away or The Rockinghorse Winner.
Diary of a Hope Fiend
The Intelligence Agents
The Tibetan Book of the Dead (with Richard Alpert)
Comments: You may not be able to find some of these (like the Diary), but try anyway. If Leary hadn't come along when he did, our culture still would have had to invent him. What happens when pop culture and celebrity meet the mystical and visionary? It may not be a pretty sight, but we ought to look anyway.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The Tailor of Panama
The Little Drummer Girl
Comments: Spy thrillers, but with something more. I keep reading whatever he publishes, and continue to find them worthwhile. Richard Burton is good in the Cold movie.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Comments: Good movie too.
The Lathe of Heaven
The Left Hand of Darkness
Comments: I like her science fiction - I'm not so fond of her other work (like sword-and-sorcery). I've used both of these books in classes.
The Futurological Congress
Comments: What if it is all a dream (or a hallucination)? The Futurological Congress is a pretty quick read - quirky, but good. See the (Russian) movie of Solaris too.
The Golden Notebook
Comments: The Golden Notebook is a portrait of disillusionment, and the various faces of a life. More autobiography through fiction. Think about Freudianism vs. Communism ...
The Razor's Edge
Comments: For what do we search?
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Comments: Coming of age - but a woman, not a boy ... See the movie, but read the book.
Tropic of Cancer
Tropic of Capricorn
Comments: Breaking fiction free from old rules - in many ways.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Comments: Luminous writing. I keep coming back to Nabokov, and reading more.
The Magic Bus
The Milagro Beanfield War
The Sterile Cuckoo
Comments: Some might wonder if he has the right to write about these issues. I think he's an artist - an observer - who will write about what he sees, wherever he is. Another outsider - I guess I'm attracted to them ...
Comments: Read Nineteen Eighty-Four. Are we there yet? Are we still there?
Love Among the Ruins
Woman on the Edge of Time
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Comments: Zen is another of those astonishing books. His insights into how to approach problems are alone worth the price of admission. And remember that the motorcycle is your own self (or not :-) ...
The Gold Bug Variations
Plowing the Dark
Comments: Powers is one of my favorite writers these days. ``Muscular'' writing, allusions and references abound. I sometimes have trouble caring about his characters, but you should run out right now and get copies of The Gold Bug Variations and Galatea 2.2.
The Crying of Lot 49
Comments: Three classics from one author. You should run out and get copies of these three too. Keep reading. There keeps being more. I'm still working through Vineland and Mason and Dixon. Give them a try.
The Story of B
Comments: Didactic with a vengeance, but worth reading. You're likely to think differently about this modern world (but then I wouldn't have been born in the twentieth century if I didn't want to take hot showers and drive fast ...).
Another Roadside Attraction
Still Life With Woodpecker
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Comments: Robbins keeps being fun, although sometimes a little too self-consciously quirky for my taste. Another Roadside Attraction is probably my favorite, and probably the strongest commentary on contemporary (American) culture among his works.
Comments: A one shot wonder, but a classic bit of sci-fi.
I Married a Communist
Comments: There are times when I think Roth is the most American of authors. His writing grabs me and holds me, and I still care about various of his characters. He has written a lot, and I have only listed a very few. Keep exploring Roth, and he'll keep rewarding you for it.
Catcher in the Rye
Frannie and Zooey
Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenter
Comments: Sure, he's famous for Catcher, but there's a lot more to Salinger than just that. You should definitely read all of these. Frannie and Zooey may be my favorite.
Comments: More existentialism. We still all need to read some.
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Comments: Gritty. Not an easy read. Life in the inner city.
Earth House Hold
Cold Mountain Tales
Comments: One of my favorites among the Beat poets. Some of his later work is more didactic than I would like, but he is always evocative.
Flash and Filligree
Red Dirt Marijuana and Other Stories
Comments: Southern has an edge you won't find in many other writers. He gets extra points for co-writing the movie Dr. Strangelove; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (which everyone should see!). Southern is Twentieth Century satire, while it was still possible ...
Comments: This is a great book. It moves me every time I read it. It explores what we value in life, and why, and what we could do without if we needed to.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Comments: Wonderful plays. Read them. See them in a theater. (See the movie ...)
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Comments: It's not enough just to read Zen. Be the arrow ....
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
Comments: Thompson is sometimes too full of himself, and his gonzo persona - but he has an hallucinatory clarity of vision that sometimes can't be beat. Read the Campaign Trail before the next big political campaign (whichever the ``next'' one is for you ...).
Toward the End of Time
Rabbit Run, Redux, Is Rich, at Rest
Comments: I can't help it, I like Updike's writing. He has a way of reminding me of the difference between transcendence and immanence. The Centaur spoke to me as a teenager, as did Rabbit Run.
The Weapon Shops of Isher
The Weapon Makers
The World of Null A
Comments: Sci-fi. Sometimes ``space-opera''. Oh, well. Pretend you are twelve years old, and read them for fun.
God Bless You Mrs. Rosewater
Breakfast of Champions
Comments: Another author I kept reading - and Slaughterhouse Five was the payoff. I find most of his work amusing (although too often too self-consciously quirky), but Slaughterhouse moved me.
The Infinite Jest
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
Broom of the System
Comments: More muscular writing. I confess I'm still working my way through Infinite Jest and Broom - but I recommend them anyway. He always seems to have more things to say than will fit on the page. Some of the essays in Supposedly Fun are simply marvelous (and charmingly snide :-).
Day of the Locusts
Comments: Just find them and read them.
Look Homeward, Angel
Of Time and the River
Comments: Some would say the author of the Great American Novel. Make the time to read at least one of these ...
To the Lighthouse
A Room of One's Own
Comments: A luminous writer. Like Updike, for me, a reminder of the difference between immanence and transcendence. Be sure to find and read A Room.
The Caine Mutiny
The Winds of War
Comments: A variety of writers came out of WWII. Wouk made his name with The Caine Mutiny, but I like much of his other work too.