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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

Soulskill posted 1 year,28 days | from the i-loved-that-one-with-the-plot-and-the-characters dept.

Books 796

dpu writes "Part of my New Year's resolution is to encourage reading as a hobby in those around me — especially my friends' children (ages 2 to 22), but my wife and I as well. There is a lot of 'classic' literature out there I'm familiar with, and will be promoting to the short masses here (Fahrenheit 451, To Kill A Mockingbird, In The Heat of the Night, Huckleberry Finn, Cryptonomicon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, A Wrinkle In Time, When Rabbit Howls, etc.), but I know many of you are much better read than I am. What recommendations would you make? What are the books that everyone should read? I don't care if it's been banned by schools, burned by communists, or illuminated by 15th century monks. If you think everyone around you should read it, I'd love to know about it."

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SciFi list (2)

Toe, The (545098) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840039)

Stranger in a Strange Land
Ender's Game
Slaughterhouse Five
The Hobbit

Among the less well-known in the genre, but (imho) equally deserving:
Consider Phlebas
Steel Beach
The Peace War

Reasons for:SciFi list (5, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840145)

Posted too quickly and should have said why...

Stranger in a Strange Land - really stretches your mind. What is religion? What is humanity? Little questions like that.

Ender's Game - A great morality play; and a very exciting read.

Slaughterhouse Five - (or really anything and everything by Vonnegut. The guy is a great master, and every one of his books will open your mind.)

The Hobbit - Okay, not Sci Fi, but a great book on greed. Pure and simple. Or perhaps not so simple.

Aristoi - A deep look into a future of plenty, where society needs rigid controls to prevent a nano tech disaster. Also great insights into mind-computer interfaces and where they can lead.

Consider Phlebas - A different take on a future of plenty, where society is so advanced, the artificial intelligences we have developed treat us like their pets.

Steel Beach - Yet another take on a future of plenty, more near-term, and about the angst it can engender.

The Peace War - Just read it.

Re:SciFi list (1)

immaterial (1520413) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840347)

The Worthing Saga: I like Ender's Game, but The Worthing Saga is definitely the best of Card's work (if little-known). A great story about the meaning of pain and choice. If you read and liked The Giver in grade school, it was essentially a ripoff of The Worthing Saga, with different dressing.

Well... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840051)

1. Homer’s Iliad
2. Homer’s Odyssey
3. Exodus & Ecclesiastes & The Psalms
4. Virgil’s Aeneid
5. Socrates’ Apology
6. The Book of Matthew & Jefferson’s Bible
7. Plato’s Repulic
8. Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic
9. Aristotle’s Poetics
10. Dante’s Inferno
11. The Declaration of Independence
12. The Constitution
13. John Milton’s Paradise Lost
14. Shakespeare’s Hamlet
15. Newton’s Principia
16. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments
17. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
18. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (& all of his work)
19. Shakespeare’s Hamlet
20. Ludwig von Mises’ A Theory of Money and Credit
21. F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom
22. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
23. Einstein’s The Meaning of Relativity
24. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth
25. Ron Paul’s Revolution & End the Fed

Re:Well... (1)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840133)

I was going to put the Bible in there, but then you should include several versions, and several other such works as well. The Gita, Qabalah, Koran.

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840309)

And then read Christopher Hitchens' "God is Not Great" for an opposing point of view

Re:Well... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840423)

the Drunken War Jester of the Genocidal Bush Reign? The Grim Reaper hauled boorish little Hitch squealing off to Hell with 3/4 of the Scythe jammed up that jingoistic twit's gaping asshole!

Hitchens was a chest thumping ape and Media Whore. nothing more at all.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840163)

Von Mises, a Crackpot Supreme and out dated Libertarian Lunatic Fascist! be sure and pair him with some Korzybski and some Wilhelm Reich for some REALLY deranged childrens' reading!

Re:Well... (5, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840173)

Here are a few that are mentioned because of importance, or don't first come to mind.

1: The Bible (because good or bad, it influences our society.
2: The Koran (similar to #1)
3: 1984
4: Brave New World
5: The Magna Carta
6: Dale C. Carson's "Arrest-Proof Yourself". This is an important book in the US to learn and understand. People may not agree with it, but it is how things function.
7: Applied Cryptography
8: Atlas Shrugged (one should sometimes read stuff just to show the errors in thought to boost critical thinking.)
9: Communist Manifesto (same as #8)
10: Wealth of Nations (same as #8 and #9)

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840389)

8: Atlas Shrugged (one should sometimes read stuff just to show the errors in thought to boost critical thinking.) 9: Communist Manifesto (same as #8) 10: Wealth of Nations (same as #8 and #9)

I'd recommend those to any young person. Not just to show errors, but also to be exposed to ideas that one rarely encounters in the classroom (YYMV per country). This can help to translate "deep down feelings" into a set of core values, which helps one to think critically about ones own convictions.

The Bible (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840053)

Start with the Gospel of John and then Romans.

Re:The Bible (4, Interesting)

RelaxedTension (914174) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840345)

Good pick!

The Bible has has intrigue, death on a massive scale, hypocrisy, and damnation, the makings of a great work of fiction. And that's just the parts the character god plays, never mind the other players that come and go. As you move through the stories, you get a sense of the ruthlessness of all involved (especially the writers) to stop at nothing in their attempts to control those around them through fear and intimidation. Thrilling!

On the minus side they forgot to do a continuity check after the constant re-writes that were done century after century to "update" it to current "standards". This leads to a fair amount of contradictions the subplots, such as what a person can and cannot do to anger the main character (spoiler: He gets mad at pretty much anything that has to do with personal pleasure, or things that don't involve group chanting and prostrating).

It is an epic read though, and if you can stick with it you are certain to come away with a greater appreciation of those afflicted with mental illness.

It's kind of long and meandering (4, Insightful)

thegameiam (671961) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840057)

But really, make sure The Bible is on the list. Actually having read it opens up a tremendous world of understanding of other art and literature, regardless of one's religion.

Re:It's kind of long and meandering (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840215)


I think too many people disregard it immediately because of it's association. But it covers so many stories from ancient history that, though widely geographically separated, appear in writing from all over the ancient world. If you truly understand it, and given some context from the rest of the ancient world, it really becomes fascinating.

Re:It's kind of long and meandering (5, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840387)

The Dictionary. All other books are generated from this one.

Re:It's kind of long and meandering (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840459)

Yeah, despite being an atheist I'm quite glad my high school included some pertinent excerpts from the Bible in the European literature class (which led to some controversy with some parents). If you're reading European literature prior to the 20th century, you miss large amounts of context and a ton of allusions that the author would've considered obvious to readers of the day, if you aren't familiar with some of the basic figures and stories in the Bible.

What to read (1, Insightful)

jodido (1052890) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840065)

Communist Manifesto--might seem dated but it's going to be big in the not too distant future. What other solution is out there?

Re: What to read (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840121)

What else is there?
Working your butt off and not being some cry baby who can't deal with the real world because he/she slacked off during college, studied some crap of degree and now can't get a decent job or deal with the fact you made horrible decisions. It is very easy to try and live of the backs of those who worked hard and made responsible decisions regarding their future.

Re: What to read (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840223)

Christ, talk about trying to fight stupid with stupid.

Re: What to read (2)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840465)

Works for forest fires so it's obvious it should work for stupidity.

Re:What to read (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840155)

What other solution is out there? Really? Spoken like a true communist tool.

Re:What to read (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840189)

What other solution is out there?

Start a new form of governance and make the old one obsolete. It's easier than you think, and it's being worked on right now. [metagovernment.org]

Re:What to read (0)

glavenoid (636808) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840449)

It's easier than you think, and it's being worked on right now.

Bwaaaaaahaaaaaahaaaaaaaahaaaaahaaahaaahahahaa!! That's rich. Thanks for giving me literally the best laugh I've had all year. If you can't see the glaring and obvious problems with that proposal I don't know what to tell you. I won't bother to explain because you won't understand anyway

You can take your reddit circle-jerk form of governance to your reddit hivemind island y'all are trying to create and see how it works out there before inflicting it on the rest of us. It'll make Lord of the Flies look like a veritable utopia.

On second thought, I'd like to participate in this idea in a way you can understand: For this proposal, I bestow upon thee one downvote. It is my only regret than I may not bequeath more downvotes in this matter.

Re:What to read (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840425)

Communist Manifesto--might seem dated but it's going to be big in the not too distant future. What other solution is out there?

Great idea! What could possibly go wrong? The worst that could happen is that 100 million people are murdered or starve to death, and a billion more are impoverished. Maybe the Russians, Chinese and Cambodians will volunteer to be the guinea pigs.

Re:What to read (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840457)

Communist Manifesto--might seem dated but it's going to be big in the not too distant future. What other solution is out there?

"The Road to Serfdom". Any book that changed the course of history for 50 years should be read. It continues to be relevant, now more than ever considering that the Communist Manifesto is already big in the here and now. Communism is the road to serfdom. "Marxism has led to Fascism and National Socialism, because in all essentials, it is Fascism and National Socialism.... The generation to which we belong is now learning from experience what happens when men retreat from freedom to a coercive organization of their affairs. Though they promise themselves a more abundant life, they must in practice renounce it; as the organized direction increases, the variety of ends must give way to uniformity. That is the nemesis of the planned society and the authoritarian principle in human affairs.... Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion." [p. 32].

Of course (2)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840067)

The Iliad and The Odyssey. Canterbury Tales. Moby Dick. Oedipus trilogy. Beowulf. Rubaiyat.

Bad Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840069)

And its sister book Bad Pharma
Both vital to maintain the integrety of the healthcare system

The Jungle (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840073)

They made me read this in something like 8th grade, and it still sticks with me. Teaches you what it's like when capitalism is allowed to run rampant.

I won't say unions are godsends, but there has to be some check on industry or we end up with legal slavery.

The manual (5, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840085)

Just for once, read the f'ing manual.

Re:The manual (5, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840399)

The fucking manual, also known as Kama Sutra.

Everything by C. J. Cherryh (1)

msobkow (48369) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840087)

Best author of all time, hands down. Reading her books is like watching a movie.

Re:Everything by C. J. Cherryh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840187)

your kin are recent to the concept of thumbs and a middle brow, it seems...

Cryptonomicon? (3, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840091)

Sure, if you think that reading should be an exercise in excruciating drudgery.
That book bored me to tears, resulting in my finally giving up and throwing it in the trash.

Re:Cryptonomicon? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840251)

get a big stack of 'Archie' comics, much more your speed, along with a sack of tasty Dullard Chews (tm)

GEB (5, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840105)

GÃdel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid [goodreads.com]

Godel, Escher, Bach is not a simple read. The ideas are complex and the logic subtle. But it is a completely satisfying book, and reading it is one of those rare experiences when you leave feeling smarter than when you started.

its true, though I felt like a complete simpleton after reading it - its an awesome piece of writing. Its not something to read casually though, you're gonna have to think, a lot.

Re:GEB (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840453)

I've read it, and I agree with this [goodreads.com] review of it. Spend your time on a more useful book.

The best books are those that teach you something you do not expect. It can be a fiction book, or a non-fiction book, exploring a particular subject. Funnily enough, I found a lot of great books from Slashdot comments.

My insightful favourites are:

Snakes in Suits, When Psychopaths go to Work (nonfiction)
Freakonomics (nonfiction)

To live forever, by Jack Vance
The Space Merchants, by Pohl and Kornbluth

I don't read much nowadays though, and when I do, it's software dev specific...

read for fun (1)

wsxian (689313) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840107)

Andre Norton: Time Travelers Any Doc Savage book Foundation Series by Asimov Emma by Jane Austin The Last of the Mohicans by Cooper Freddy the Pig by Brooks Business Law (any edition starting with the 4th) by Chessman The US Constitution And not the least of all: The Whole Earth Catalog

goodbye slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840109)

this is a new low for editorial quality. what in FUCK does this loser's POS low brow taste in literature HAVE ANYTHING TO DO with 'news for NERDS NEWS THAT MATTERS ?

when rabbit howls? wtf? that is trash for disturbed women to read, the rest is junior high school Standardized Shite.

come back when you have Manned Up and at least got a grip on "Ada" or "Pale Fire" or at the very god damned least some Delilo or Pynchon.

ack. your stupid, IT BURNS!

Re:goodbye slashdot (1)

Morpeth (577066) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840149)

Actually I think /. should just stop letting ACs post at all, since 95%+ of the time is just trolling/flamebait, or some unstable person ranting like a lunatic. Please by all means, leave /. and never come back.

Re:goodbye slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840267)

I bet having CmdrDildo's dick tickle your tonsils is high on your to-do list, isn't it?
Why don't you go someplace else and let us trolls rip the shit out of this fagtard site?

Re:goodbye slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840161)

So post your list, or farewell!

Orwell (4, Insightful)

hellebore (993500) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840113)

Animal Farm

Re:Orwell (1)

wsxian (689313) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840153)

No. Might as well have them read 1984 by Orwell. I disliked those two books.

kamasutra (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840123)


Animal farm and 1984 (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840129)

Just as relevent now.

The Dark Tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840131)

need i say more?

SciFi List (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840135)

mote in gods eye

Re:SciFi List (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840271)

Lucifer's Hammer and Ringworld were great too.

Just have a couple (3, Insightful)

dugancent (2616577) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840139)

Michael Pollan - The Omnivore's Dilemma
Christopher McDougall - Born to Run

The Road to Wigan Pier (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840177)

By George Orwell.

Really interesting look at life.

Enders Game - Orson Scott Card (2, Funny)

LaughALot (3463309) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840181)

Whenever you see bugger read it as formic - ROFLMAO

Re:Enders Game - Orson Scott Card (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840393)

Orson Scott Card is a Mormon freak.

THE all-time most popular book (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840191)

Clearly for those who despise the notion of God or Faith, it would be insulting to read; but for anyone who allows for the possibility of things beyond the physical world our human bodies are constrained to, the Bible may offer insights and illuminations greater than any other book. Even if it has no life-changing impact on you personally, to ignore the single most influential compilation of writings would be negligent for anyone claiming to be scholarly, open minded, or simply curious about what all the fuss is about. Because - let's be honest - "Christian" behavior certainly doesn't always [ever completely] reflect the teachings contained with the Bible - so read it yourself.

Who, not what (1)

paiute (550198) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840195)

Instead of specific books, I usually recommend to people looking for reading material that they read the entire output of certain authors: Orwell, Sinclair, van Tilburg Clark, Shute, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Francis, O'Hara, Doctorow, and some others.

Oddly, some of my favorite single works come from writers whose other books which I either can't get past the first chapter or don't pick up because of the subject. For instance, Gravity's Rainbow is in my top five all time, but Pynchon's other books never engaged me. Stephenson's group about the Waterhouse/Shaftoe families is up there as well, but I vividly remembering picking up Anathem in a bookstore and leafing through it for a minute, then putting it down with no interest in it.

Re:Who, not what (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840327)


A good indication that you should ignore the rest of his list as well.

1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840197)

1984 - soon to be known as the handbook of modern living. Get a copy quickly, before they all disappear into the memory hole.

Here's a brief list (2, Insightful)

redmid17 (1217076) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840201)

What you listed: Fahrenheit 451, To Kill A Mockingbird, In The Heat of the Night, Huckleberry Finn, Cryptonomicon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, A Wrinkle In Time, When Rabbit Howls

All good stuff here. I'd add on the Bible, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (or On the Road), Animal Farm, Brave New World, 1984.

I'd also add some books *not* to read: Catcher in the Rye, Girl of the Limberlost

If someone recommend CitR to you, you can question their taste from then until they die. If someone tells you it changed their life, I'd just stop talking to them.

Re:Here's a brief list (4, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840315)

If someone tells you it changed their life, I'd just stop talking to them.

If someone told me any book changed their life, I'd start talking to them to find out more. If anything, such an event always makes for great conversation.

Re:Here's a brief list (3, Informative)

jddj (1085169) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840361)

Sorry, I think Catcher in the Rye is worth the read. Not life-changing, but yeah, read it - worthwhile.

++On The Road - awesome book - might supplement it with some third-party history of the beats.

Recommend Dune in the Science Fiction realm. Take the series as far as you wanna - but at least Dune.

Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug is essential for the web developer, and I think "Simple and Beautiful" by Giles Colburne a close second. Maybe top it with "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman - you'll never look at a door handle the same way again.

Recommend for ANY coder Kernigan and Ritchie "The C Programming Language" - such a brief tome, and a comprehensive document on how to write in the language that rocked the world. Would be a good read for any tech writer, as well.

Whatever they say about Steven Ambrose (and they say a WHOLE lot...accusations of plagarism, f.e.), "Undaunted Courage" presents the Lewis and Clark expedition in Technicolor - if only they could teach with books of this quality.

If you're gonna read any Stephen King, gotta read The Stand, for the sweep of it.

2 that left an impression on me (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840203)

The Hawkline Monster and Flowers for Algernon

Read the Bible (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840205)

I was a Christian before I actually read the damn thing. Now I am convinced that God does not exist. Most people who go around spouting off how great it is and blind quote scripture like robots have clearly never read the thing for themselves but instead have had others interpreting it for them. Forget about Muslims' 72 virgins in heaven, Christians have at least 10 and on top of it all one ends with the conclusion that both God and Jesus are hypocritical lying pricks.

Four Agreements / Don't shoot the dog (1)

rvw (755107) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840213)

The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz Miguel, easy read, very inspiring, if you're open to this kind of thing. For me it made a difference in my life, especially the second one - don't take anything personally. Just reading the agreements is not enough, read the book because it explains why. Reading the book is still not enough however.... You need to practise this to make it effective. Then read the book again because it has more layers than you realise the first time.

Another interesting read: Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. This book is about operant conditioning, how we learn things by positive or negative reinforcement, consciously or unconsciously. It explains a lot of things about your own behavior. The most important lesson: positive reinforcement is the way to go, but it won't be easy. It's a fun book! It explains click training, how that works for animals. It's often confused with manipulation; like anything it can be used for good and bad things.

Re:Four Agreements / Don't shoot the dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840325)

"Four Agreements" is a dumb down new age rip off of Carlos Castaneda (a fake and plagiarist who ripped off Hokey Injuns of the New age with warmed over Dzogchen), which itself is _not_ high quality literature, but at least had an interesting psychedelic drug angle. Anyone who is impressed by Don Miguel Ruiz has the reading comprehension level of a King Charles Spaniel and Bad Taste that is truly subhuman.

Authors rather than books..... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840225)

Rather than thinking about books, I would think about authors. Mark Twain, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Friederich Nietzsche, Feodor Dostoevski, Tolstoi, Voltaire, Edgar Alan Poe, Pablo Neruda, etc.

Watership Down (5, Insightful)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840231)

by Richard Adams. I truly believe it helps people build empathy, and sympathize with animals and understand how frail and exposed they really are.

Re:Watership Down (1)

mrbester (200927) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840467)

The Girl In The Swing is a better Richard Adams book. It's not for kids though.
Henry Williamson and John Fowles should get a mention too.

don't read To Kill a Mockingbird! (1)

Michael Wolf (23460) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840233)

It's soul-crushingly boring. All those years ago it had daring content, but now it's just long and tedious.

Try Pride and Prejudice. The great thing about it is that it's hilarious from the opening sentence. Also, it turns out that one of the seemingly odeous characters in part has some social anxiety problems that masquerade as something different, which some people on this website may be able to identify with. There are so many other interesting characters, some with completely obvious flaws, some whose appearances are completely deceptive, and some who are in the middle, straightforward but with issues going on that surprise even themselves.

The contrast between the two books couldn't be greater in terms of the pleasure you will get. And the second has more to teach about life as well, despite being written 100 years earlier.

Re:don't read To Kill a Mockingbird! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840385)

christ! it only takes 20 minutes to read a tiny, simple little book like To Kill a Mockingbird! your attention span must be like that of a Capuchin monkey to be "bored" by it! Typical articles in the New Yorker are 6x as long. you are subliterate and subhuman, though it is a crapulous little book perfect for the tepid cultural indoctrination junior high school is standardized to.

Joy of Sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840235)

At least you have something to do afterwards.

basic works (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840243)

Gordon W. Allport: The Nature of Prejudice
Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene

Must Read Books (1)

Trouvist (958280) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840245)

In Order:

Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler
Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank
Godel, Escher, and Bach - Douglas Hofstadter

This should give anyone a good look into the way humanity works, and you can truly look past any libertarian, communist, or religious. Lots of thinking and perspective. I've omitted many others have already suggested.

Sci-fi, non-fiction, and a classic (4, Interesting)

danpbrowning (149453) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840249)

"The Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoyevsky. Characters and conflict that will really come alive in your mind.

"Foundation" by Asimov. Start of a really good sci-fi series. I read the entire book as if computers were described in the story all along, only to realize after I was done that he wrote the book before computers were even invented. Whoa!

"Israel" by Martin Gilbert. A fact-based history starting in late 19th century using Arabic sources that will make you shudder to realize how many lies are believed about the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict as well as the sheer magnitude of the current level of anti-Israeli propaganda (i.e. "news").

"Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose. A great portrait of American heroes from The Greatest Generation. Better than the TV miniseries.

Lord of the Rings, and even the movie (2, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840253)

"Put aside the Ranger, and become who you were born to be."

"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end⦠because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing... this shadow. Even darkness must pass."

"I don't know how to say it, but after last night I feel different. I seem to see ahead, in a kind of way. I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can't turn back. It isn't right to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want - I don't rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire. I must see it through, sir, if you understand me."

You want your kids to have a positive outlook, be confident in their ability to solve challenges, read them good, hero fiction.

here are a few (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840261)

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman

The Lord of the Rings
J. R. R. Tolkien

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey

Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Call of the Wild
Jack London

Watership Down
Richard Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams

Frank Herbert

The Stand
Stephen King

A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway

The Wheel of Time series
Robert Jordan aka James Oliver Rigney, JR

Toni Morrison

People smart (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840269)

http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-People-Smart-Giblin/dp/9380227302 [amazon.com]

How to be People Smart by Les Giblin.
This book greatly contributed to my retirement at age 51.

The advice on only giving yourself 1 no per 9 yes's will completely change the way you interact with others in a highly positive way.

The rest is equally good. Very basic. Very obvious. But few know or practice anything except knowing the most important word in any language.

Dale Carnegie's book's on dealing with worry are also extremely useful.

None (3, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840277)

How about if we all read different books? Then we'll have lots of different ideas to discuss. It'll be like we're thinking individually instead of just following along with the group.

Re:None (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840383)

Yes. Nothing so tedious as having people trying to get you to read books that you have no interest in.

A small list (1)

sandbagger (654585) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840281)

The Bible - As Canadian Northrop Frye said, this is the basic code for understanding Western Civilization, its laws cultures and ethics.
Shakespeare - Not only are his works very funny, but they're really good stories.
Code of the Woosters - PG Wodehouse at his best
The Joy of Cooking - Get a 1950s version before all of the processed food came in.
The Complete Editions of National Lampoon and Playboy - If you want to understand me.

Re:A small list (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840439)

I second the Bible. Even if you don't want to believe in a God who loves you so much he died for you, it helps you understand those who do. My favorite books other than that are The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

An incomplete list from my shelf (4, Informative)

Cronopios (313338) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840285)

A Confederacy of Dunces
Dharma Bums
Lord of the Flies
On the Road
The Golden Notebook
The Grapes of Wrath
The Razor's Edge
A Clockwork Orange
Brave New World
Player Piano
Slaughterhouse Five
The Diamond Age
The Dispossessed
The Island
The Stand ...

Goodreads (2)

morcego (260031) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840289)

Goodreads.com will provide you with several recommendation reads, as well as several book clubs.

As for book clubs, if you are into SF/F, you might want to check Sword and Laser (www.swordandlaser.com), which is both a book club and a podcast.

As far as book lists, check this one:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/12864.Novels_mentioned_in_Among_Others_by_Jo_Walton [goodreads.com]

good lists (2)

kqc7011 (525426) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840295)

Each branch of the military has a reading list that is very good. Usually they are put out by the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For those of you that get your military knowledge from television, reading some of the books on these lists will help you gain a understanding of how the military works and lives.

Fantasy suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840305)

If you are into fantasy then I would read everything by Brandon Sanderson. Start with the Mistborn Trilogy and then get hooked on the Stormlight Archives.

The Loeb Classical Library (1)

Any Web Loco (555458) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840321)

Just kidding. That said, it's definitely worth reading "A Loeb Classical Library Reader" - it's a subset of the Library and gives a great introduction to Classical Greek & Roman thought.

Naturom Demonto (1)

kaoshin (110328) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840329)

When thou retrievest the book from its cradle, you must recite the words, 'Klaatu Barada Nikto'.

The Big Read (2)

E.R. (116391) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840333)

A decade isn't very long in book years, so I'd recommend browsing through the top list from BBC's 2003 survey The Big Read [wikipedia.org] .


goodreads (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840335)

I've been using the web site and iPhone app goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/ [goodreads.com] . While not perfect, it is a nice way to keep track of what you've read, want to read, and see what others are reading. Better integration with Audible would be nice.

House of Stairs (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840337)

House of stairs

"Systems of Survival" by Jane Jacobs (1)

pacanniff (2882083) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840341)

Subtitled "A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics", this work is a compact yet penetrating examination of what distinguishes the means and ends of government and business.

For Americans: James Baldwin-- any nonfiction (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840349)

His statements about race relations sound fresher than anything you will ever hear today. If listening to discussions about race tends to give you a headache, try to read as much (non-fiction) James Baldwin as you can. You may still get a headache, but at least you finally get to hear it straight. And it may lead you to reading his (and others) important fiction books.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions - Abbot (2)

stox (131684) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840363)

The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems - Galileo
1984 - Orwell
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid - Hofstadter
The Foundation Trilogy - Asimov
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus - Shelly

Extraordinary Popular Delusions (1)

umdesch4 (3036737) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840367)

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds, written in 1841 by Charles Mackay. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_Popular_Delusions_and_the_Madness_of_Crowds [wikipedia.org] ) Classify this one under "Those Who Fail to Learn from History Are Doomed to Repeat It".

I second (or 3rd by this time) (1)

koan (80826) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840395)

Iain M Banks Culture series, some of the best SciFi I have ever read, I still chuckle every time I think of the drone bringing the body-less human head (still alive) the gift of a hat.

I had the pleasure to find this, it is (they are) a BRUTAL read, but it was worth it.
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/473 [gutenberg.org]

Bill Bryson, Short History of Nearly Everything (2)

retroworks (652802) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840397)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Short_History_of_Nearly_Everything = Best Science book I've ever read, very approachably written and very funny.

There are other important ones mentioned here already, I'd add Crime and Punishment, Walt Kelly's Pogo comics, Larsen's Far Side comics, Hesse's Siddhartha, and Huckleberry Finn.

"The Way of All Flesh," by Samuel Butler (2)

dpbsmith (263124) | 1 year,28 days | (#45840433)

This book is more irreverent and more subversive than Mark Twain. And it is very funny and an entertaining read. It's especially good if you happen to be feeling annoyed at your parents.

He said: "Oh, don't talk about rewards. Look at Milton, who only got â5 for 'Paradise Lost.'
"And a great deal too much," I rejoined promptly. "I would have given him twice as much myself not to have written it at all."

Surely nature might find some less irritating way of carrying on business if she would give her mind to it. Why should the generations overlap one another at all? Why cannot we be buried as eggs in neat little cells with ten or twenty thousand pounds each wrapped round us in Bank of England notes, and wake up, as the sphex wasp does, to find that its papa and mamma have not only left ample provision at its elbow, but have been eaten by sparrows some weeks before it began to live consciously on its own account?

All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it- and they do enjoy it as much as man and other circumstances will allow. He has spent his life best who has enjoyed it most; God will take care that we do not enjoy it any more than is good for us.

Never learn anything until you find you have been made uncomfortable for a good long while by not knowing it; when you find that you have occasion for this or that knowledge, or foresee that you will have occasion for it shortly, the sooner you learn it the better, but till then spend your time in growing bone and muscle; these will be much more useful to you than Latin and Greek, nor will you ever be able to make them if you do not do so now, whereas Latin and Greek can be acquired at any time by those who want them.

Nothing is well done nor worth doing unless, take it all round, it has come pretty easily.

Tennyson has said that more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of, but he has wisely refrained from saying whether they are good things or bad things. It might perhaps be as well if the world were to dream of, or even become wide awake to, some of the things that are being wrought by prayer.

And, best of all:

[Mendelssohn] wrote "I then went to the Tribune [a room in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence]. This room is so delightfully small you can traverse it in fifteen paces, yet it contains a world of art. I again sought out my favourite arm chair which stands under the statue of the 'Slave whetting his knife' (L'Arrotino), and taking possession of it I enjoyed myself for a couple of hours..." I wonder how many chalks Mendelssohn gave himself for having sat two hours on that chair. I wonder how often he looked at his watch to see if his two hours were up. I wonder how often he told himself that he was quite as big a gun, if the truth were known, as any of the men whose works he saw before him, how often he wondered whether any of the visitors were recognizing him and admiring him for sitting such a long time in the same chair, and how often he was vexed at seeing them pass him by and take no notice of him. But perhaps if the truth were known his two hours was not quite two hours.

My Recommendations: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840441)

For the shorter readers (And the taller ones if they haven't read them yet)
1. Have Space Suit, Will Travel -R.A. Heinlein
2. Rocket ship Galileo - R.A. Heinlein
3. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - R.A. Heinlein
4. Pokadyne of Mars - R.A. Heinlein
5. Dragonsong - Anne Mcaffery
6. Dragonsinger - Anne Mcaffery
7. The White Dragon - Anne Mcaffery
8. Huckleberry Finn - M. Twain
9. At least two translations of the bible (To point out that while it is claimed to be the word of god, it's translated by humans and should be treated accordingly. Also it contributes a lot to western 'Culture' and bias)
10. At least two translations of the Koran (Same reasoning as number 9)

For the Taller Readers:
1. Job, a Comedy of Justice - R.A. Heinlein
2. Stranger in a Strange Land - R.A. Heinlein
3. At least two translations of the bible (To point out that while it is claimed to be the word of god, it's translated by humans and should be treated accordingly. Also it contributes a lot to western 'Culture' and bias)
4. At least two translations of the Koran (Same reasoning as number 3)

Robert H.

Infinite Jest (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#45840455)

by David Foster Wallace. Long and sometimes a bit of a slog, but worth reading and rereading.

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