Friday, May 05, 2006

A question for all of you...

A question for all of you.  Ok, I’ve been reading a lot outside of my area of expertise (that is, not techie books).  I’ve gotten interested in “the classics” –  must read books.  I’ve found a couple of lists and have gotten some of them.  Some “must reads” have been good – some not.

So, what would you recommend and why?  One I’m interested in is the ubiquitous ‘War And Peace’ – anyone out there actually read it, was it worth it (I hear it might be “large” but according to amazon it is only 127 pages longer than Expert One on One Oracle so it cannot be that large…).



Anonymous Anonymous said....

I haven't read War and Peace, but I would reccommend some that you've no doubt already read:

Animal Farm
The Great Gatsby
Catcher in the Rye

A non-classic, but one that I enjoyed, was The Gold Coast, by Nelson DeMille. A nice thing you can do with the oldies is get them electronically and read them on a portable device, like a Treo. Keeps your cost down (assuming you've invested in the hardware, that is) and you can put a lot of full-length books on one, just can read during takeoff or landing.

Fri May 05, 03:08:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


I got on the same kick several years ago after getting tired of technical books as well and joined the Easton 100 Greatest Books of All Time club.

At the top of my list for all guys is 'The Three Musketeers' by Dumas. The ultimate male teamwork book with enough political intrigue to make it worthwhile.

'The Prince' by Machiavelli is another. Everyone knows the term 'machiavellian' in the context of modern business power struggles so it was good to get the 'real story' from looooong ago.

Fri May 05, 03:09:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

hi, Tom.
'war and peace' is realy disgusting. i'm sure, that English can't make it any better.
if you want modern (!!!) Russian classics - here it is.

'The Compromise' is my favorite.

Fri May 05, 03:13:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

A good list is:

The Road to Freedom: One Hundred Best Books for an Education
As recommended by Will Durant in The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

"* Books marked with a star are recommended for purchase. Number of books starred: 27; number of volumes in the list: 151.
Time required for reading: 4 years at 7 hours per week, 10 hours per volume. "

1. THOMSON, J. A., The Outline of Science. 4v.
2. CLENDENING, LOGAN, The Human Body.
*3. KELLOGG, J.H., The New Dietetics; pp. 1-531, 975-1011.
4. JAMES, Wm., Principles of Psychology. 2v.
*5. WELLS, H. G., The Outline of History; chs. 1-14.
6. SUMNER, W. G., Folkways.
7. FRAZER, SIR JAS., The Golden Bough.

*8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, The Human Adventure.
2v. vol. I, chs. 2-7.
5. WELLS, chs. 15-21, 26.
9. BROWN, BRIAN, The Wisdom of China.
*10. The Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Amos, Micah, the Gospels,
Acts of the Apostles, and Epistles of St. Paul.
*11. FAURE, ELIE, History of Art. 4v. vol. I, chs. 1-3; vol. II, chs. 1-3.
12. WILLIAMS, H. S., History of Science, 5v. bk. I, chs. 1-4.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. I, chs. 8-19.
5. WELLS, chs. 22-25.
13. BURY, J. B., History of Greece. 2v.
14. HERODOTUS, Histories. (Everyman Library.)
15. THUCYDIDES, The Peloponnesian War. (Everyman Library.)
*16. PLUTARCH, Lives of Illustrious Men (esp. Lycurgus, Solon,
Themistocles, Aristides, Pericles, Alcibiades, Demosthenes,
17. MURRAY, G., Greek Literature.
18. HOMER, lliad. Trans. Bryant. Selections.
19. HOMER, Odyssey. Trans. Bryant. Selections.
20. AESCHYLUS, Prometheus Bound. Trans. Eliz. Browning.
21. SOPHOCLES, Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone. Trans. Young.
(Everyman Library.)
22. EURIPIDES, all plays so far translated by Gilbert Murray.
23. DIOGENES LAERTIUS Lives of the Philosophers.
*24. PLATO, Dialogues. Trans. Jowett. Esp. The Apology of Socrates,
Phaedo, and The Republic (sections 327-32, 336-77, 384-85,
392-426, 433-35, 481-83, 512-20, 572-95). 1v. ed. by Irwin Edman.
25. ARISTOTLE, Nicomachean Ethics.
26. ARISTOTLE, Politics.
12. WILLIAMS, History of Science, bk. I, chs. 5-9.
11. FAURE, History of Art, vol. I, chs. 4-7.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. I, chs. 20-30.
5. WELLS, chs. 27-29.
16. PLUTARCH, Lives (esp. Cato Censor, Tiberius and Caius
Gracchus, Marius, Sylla, Pompey, Cicero, Caesar, Brutus, Antony).
27. LUCRETIUS, On the Nature of Things. Trans. Munro. (Certain
passages are admirably paraphrased in W. H. Mallock, Lucretius
on Life and Death.)
28. VIRGIL, Aeneid. Trans. Wm. Morris. Selections.
*29. MARCUS AURELIUS, Meditations. (Everyman Library.)
12. WILLIAMS, bk. I chs. 10-11.
11. FAURE, vol. I ch. 8.
*30. GIBBON, E., Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 6v.
(Everyman Library.) Esp. chs. 1-4, 9-10, 14, 15-24, 26-28, 30-31,
35-36, 44, 71.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 1-11.
5. WELLS, chs. 30-34.
30. GIBBON, chs. 37-38, 47-53, 55-59, 64-65, 68-70.
*31. OMAR KHAYYAM, Rubaiyat. Fitzgerald’s paraphrase.
32. MOORE, GEO., Heloise and Abelard. 2v.
33. DANTE, Divine Comedy. Trans. Longfellow, or C. E. Norton.
*34. TAINE, H., History of English Literature, bk. I.
35. CHAUCER, G., Canterbury Tales. (Everyman Library.)
36. ADAMS, H., Mont St. Michel and Chartres.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs. 1-3.
11. FAURE, vol. II, chs. 4-9.
37. GRAY, C., History of Music, chs. 1-3, 5.

5. WELLS, ch. 35.
38. SYMONDS, J. A., The Renaissance in Italy, 7v.
39. CELLINI, B., Autobiography. Trans. Symonds.
40. VASARI, G., Lives of the Painters and Sculptors. 4v. Esp.
Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci,
Raphael, and Michelangelo.
41. HOFFDING, H., History of Modern Philosophy. 2v. Sections
on Bruno and Machiavelli.
42. MACHIAVELLI, N., The Prince.
37. GRAY, chs. 6, 8.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 13-14.
43. SMITH, P., The Age of the Reformation.
44. FAGUET, E., The Literature of France; sections on the 16th
45. RABELAIS, Gargantua and Pantagruel.
*46. MONTAIGNE, Essays. 3v. (Everyman Library.) Esp. Of
Coaches, Of the Incommodity of Greatness, Of Vanity, and
Of Experience.
47. CERVANTES, Don Quixote.
*48. SHAKESPEARE:, Plays. Esp. Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Othello,
Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Henry IV, Merchant of
Venice, As You Like It, Midsummer Night’s Dream,
Timon of Athens, and The Tempest.
34. TAINE, bk. II, chs. 1-4.
37. GRAY, chs. 4, 7.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs. 4-8.
11. FAURE, vol. III, chs. 4-6.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, ch. 15.
44. FAGUET, sections on the seventeenth century.
49. LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, Reflections.
50. MOLIERE, Plays. Esp. Tartuffe, The Miser, The Misanthrope,
The Bourgeois Gentleman, The Feast of the Statue
(Don Juan).
*51. BACON, F., Essays. All. (Everyman Library.)
52. MILTON, J., Lycidas, L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, Sonnets,
Areopagitica, and selections from Paradise Lost.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs.9-13.
41. HOFFDING, sections on Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke,
Spinoza, and Leibnitz.
53. HOBBES, Leviathan. (Everyman Library.)
54. SPINOZA, Ethics and On the Improvement of the
Understanding. (Everyman Library.)
11. FAURE, vol. IV, chs. 1-4.
37. GRAY, chs. 9-10.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 16-21.
5. WELLS, chs. 26-27.
44. FAGUET, sections on the eighteenth century.
55. SAINTE-BEUVE, Portraits of the l8th Century.
56. VOLTAIRE, Works. I-vol. ed. Esp. Candide, Zadig, and essays
on Toleration and History.
57. ROUSSEAU, J.J., Confessions.
58. TAINE, H., Origins of Contemporary France. 6v. vols. I-IV.
*59. CARLYLE, The French Revolution. 2v. (Everyman Library.)
34. TAINE, History of English Literature, bk. Ill, chs. 4-7.
*60. BOSWELL, Life of Samuel Johnson. 2v. (Everyman Library.)
61. FIELDING, H., Tom Jones. (Everyman Library, 2v.)
62. STERNE, L., Tristram Shandy. (Everyman Library.)
*63. SWIFT, J., Gulliver’s Travels. (Everyman Library.)
64. HUME, D., Treatise on Human Nature. 2v. (Everyman Library.)
Esp. bks. II and III.
65. WOLLSTONECRAFT, MARY, Vindication of the Rights
of Woman.
66. SMITH, ADAM, The Wealth of Nations. 2v.
(Everyman Library.) Selections.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs. 14-15.
41. HOFFDING, sections on the eighteenth century.
11. FAURE, vol. IV, chs. 5-6.
37. GRAY, chs. 11-12.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 22-28.
5. WELLS, chs. 38-39.
58. TAINE, Origins of Contemporary France. vol. V,
The Modern Regime, pp. 1-90.
67. LUDWIG, E., Napoleon.
68. BRANDES, G., Main Currents of 19th Century Literature. 6v.
*69. GOETHE, Faust.
70. ECKERMANN, Conversations with Goethe.
71. HEINE, Poems. Trans. Louis Untermeyer.
34. TAINE, History of English Literature, bks. IV-V.
*72. KEATS, Poems.
*73. SHELLEY, Poems.
*74. BYRON, Poems.
44. FAGUET, sections on the nineteenth century.
75. BALZAC, Père Goriot.
*76. FLAUBERT, Works. I-vol. ed. Esp. Mme. Bovary and Salambo.
77. HUGO, Les Miserables.
78. FRANCE, ANATOLE, Penguin Isle.
79. TENNYSON, Poems.
80. DICKENS, Pickwick Papers.
81. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair.
82. TURGENEV, Fathers and Sons.
83. DOSTOIEVSKI, The Brothers Karamazov.
84. TOLSTOI, War and Peace.
85. IBSEN, Peer Gynt.
86. DARWIN, Descent of Man.
41. HOFFDING, sections on the nineteenth century.
87. BUCKLE, Introduction to the History of Civilization
in England. Esp. part I, chs. 1-5, 15.
88. SCHOPENHAUER, Works. I-vol. ed.
89. NIETZSCHE, Thus Spake Zarathustra.
11. FAURE, vol. IV, chs. 7-8.
37. GRAY, chs. 13-17.

*90. BEARD, C. and M., The Rise of American Civilization. 2v.
91. POE, Poems and Tales.
92. EMERSON, Essays.
93. THOREAU, Walden.
*94. WHITMAN, Leaves of Grass.
95. LINCOLN, Letters and Speeches.

8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 29-30.
5. WELLS, chs. 40-41.
96. ROLLAND, R. Jean Christophe. 2v.
*97. ELLIS, H., Studies in the Psychology of Sex. vols. I, II, III, VI.
*98. ADAMS, H., The Education of Henry Adams.
99. BERGSON, Creative Evolution.
*100. SPENGLER, O., Decline of the West. 2v.

Fri May 05, 03:18:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Rob H said....

His Dark Materials (sort of kids book)

Fri May 05, 03:28:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

After your visit to Dachau, you may be interested in Primo Levi's
If this is a man; and, The truce
, where the author wrote about his experience in Auschwitz/Birkenau, and his coming back home.

It's historical, since the Author chose to tell the facts, and nothing but the facts - as an Amazon reviewer put it wonderfully:
"Primo Levi is the most insightful, pragmatic realist of all holocaust authors."

It's the only classic (it's a classic at least here in Italy, usually read at the age of 14) that in my opinion can't be missed.

Fri May 05, 03:36:00 PM EDT  

Blogger James Petts said....

Where does one start? Well, here are four that I turn to again and again:

For fun, plain and simple, I don't believe you can better "The Life and Opinions or Tristram Shandy, Gent." by Lawrence Sterne (the ORIGINAL shaggy-dog story: you don't even get to meet the narrator till nearly the end of the book).

If you can stand the saccharine nature of both Charles Darnay, and Lucy Manette, read "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens: Madame Defarge is the most horrifying character in any book I have read.

By Mikhail Bulgakov, "The Heart of a Dog" is the best satire you can find this side of Jonathan Swift. Also check out "The Master and Margarita" by the same author.

Finally, if you have a child/children, check out "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame. Ignore all he tv/film versions: get the book (preferably illustrated by E.H. Shepherd, who also did Pooh) and read it aloud, either with your kids or without them.

Fri May 05, 03:39:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Re your comment on the relative lengths of "War and Peace" and "EOoOO" , I know that people say WaP is hard going, but it takes less work to get through than the latter!!

Fri May 05, 03:42:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Vadim Bobrov said....

Please do read War and Piece. It's a masterpiece whatever they might say.

And "Master and Margarita", by Mikhail Bulgakov, you won't be able to pause until you are done with it

Fri May 05, 03:56:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Rachel said....

1) anything by Jane Austen, although my favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility

2) The Count of Monte Cristo

3) The Lord of the Flies

4) His Dark Materials (actually a trilogy, supposedly for young adults but the theme is, not to pun, dark)

5) Treblinka (story of that concentration camp and the escape from it)

Fri May 05, 04:01:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Herod T said....

Once and future king by TH White

1984 is a must
Animal Farm is a must

War and Peace, it is a good, but long.

Rise and Fall of the Roman empire
is a absolute must.

Anything by HP Lovecraft if you want your way of viewing people and the world slighlty altered.

And for enlightening online reading, pretty much anything from

Some amazing fiction there. Lots of "BS" too and some silly stuff.
But all a good read.

Since it is "all the rage" read the Da Vinci notebooks.

The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci
by Jean Paul Richter [1883]

Not too much bias in the above.

Catch 22

All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque (don't judge it by the movie)

Be drinking while you read
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut's

Fri May 05, 04:08:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Herod T said....

I can't believe I forgot

Umberto Eco:
Foucault's Pendulum
The Name of the Rose (forget the movie)

Fri May 05, 04:14:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Anything by Neal Stephenson, especially Cryptonomicon.

Fri May 05, 04:19:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Walden Pond by Emerson.
Leaves of Grass by Whitman.

Fri May 05, 04:40:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

And "Master and Margarita", by Mikhail Bulgakov,

I have that - for me, it has so far fallen into the "some not" category. I just cannot get into it - in fact, I'm pretty sure I do not like it at all.

I'll give it another go though.

Fri May 05, 04:42:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad and also his Following the Equator. As good as his other traditional classics are, his own life and travels are far too interesting to ignore.

Fri May 05, 04:44:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Howard J. Rogers said....

A couple of suggestions to add to your growing list!

"The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant" -probably the best military (auto)biography ever written, and by a US President, too!

"Goodbye to All That" by Robert Graves

"Utopia" by Thomas Moore

"Mary Barton" by Elizabeth Gaskill

"A Tale of Two Cities" and "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

"Coningsby" by Benjamin Disraeli

Fri May 05, 04:45:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

In case you didn't have to read it in college check out 'All The King's Men' by Robert Penn Warren.

I see someone else put Catch-22 on the list - classic humor in it's rawest form!

Fri May 05, 04:50:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I'd recommend "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand, it changed my world view.
In a similar, if more controversial vein, "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross.

Fri May 05, 04:55:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous mikito harakiri said....

"War and piece" is the most boring book I ever read. It is not witty and not insightful in any way. The last tome is phylosophical, where Tolstoy invented some differential and integral calculus of history. Typical crank.

"Cyberiads" by Stanislaw Lem is near the top of my list.

Fri May 05, 05:08:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Classics that ring as true today as the day they were published.

“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Inherit the Wind," a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

"To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Fri May 05, 05:13:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous dan said....

My recent non-technical reading seems to have been dominated by books that involve nutty people (usually Brits) stuck in the ice somewhere for a few years. But i've recently picked up Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago.

I've only just dipped into it and plan to make more headway in the next few days as I have some air travel coming up. So far the style is not what I expected and the book is quite engaging.

I came to realize a few years ago that if I was going to read all the things i wanted to read I'd have to quit work and live in a cardboard box behind the library. Tempting though that is I'm just not up to the sarifice.

Fri May 05, 05:34:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alex Gorbachev said....

>And "Master and Margarita", by Mikhail Bulgakov,

I have that - for me, it has so far fallen into the "some not" category. I just cannot get into it - in fact, I'm pretty sure I do not like it at all.

I'll give it another go though.

Tom, without knowing, or better yet, feeling Soviet mentality I believe you would miss some points in this book. I like it but it's subjective and, perhaps, translation makes it different.

"War and Peace" - my wife Olga read it when she was in the school. She isn't particularly excited about it but it was ok to her and a bit borring. Pehaps, school age is a bit too early for this book.

"Gulag Archipelago" - I read half of it long time ago and stopped - it felt a bit too heavy... sometimes too pressing on me. Maybe that's why I didn't finish it - I didn't want to believe it at that time

Fri May 05, 06:27:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mario Cariggi said....


Don Quixote
by Miguel de Cervantes

Fri May 05, 06:55:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thet said....

Walden, Two Cities, Atlas Shrugged, and Leaves of Grass are beautiful works. I consumed WaP when I was in my mid-teens when one tends to have more time and the days were longer. It was great and stayed with me for a long time.

I would recommend both 1984 and Animal Farm both. Umberto Eco's books are great - one would want to learn Italian just to be able to read his work (these are translated into English by some very capable folks).

I would also like to recommend these recent great books:
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- The Glass Palace by Amitav Gosh
- From The Land of Green Ghost by Pascal Khoo Thwe

In any case, if you wish to get a better idea of the classics I would recommend 'The Great American Bathroom Book' series (single sitting summaries of all time good books). I have the first two vol. and they are helpful. I bought them around 1992-93. I am sure Amazon would have it.

Once you have had a chance to digest these recommendations, could you please write a blog about what you end up picking? Thanks.

Fri May 05, 10:02:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


Not classic, but if you are looking for something short and light, try

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
Illusions, by Richard Bach

I spent several years recovering from these short books as I just could not read any longs ones. You can read the first one over and over again.

Long books:

Moby Dick - referred to as the first American classic somehwere - I don't remember the Author, but it was increadible reading this book. I was reading a technical book where the Author said "Good documentation is like Moby Dick - everyone has read it but nobody wants to read it". That made me smile - because I would not read Moby Dick AGAIN.

One book on the genesis of Israel:
Exodus by Leon Uris.

Sat May 06, 12:03:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I was definitely on that kick about 10 years ago. What started it for me was listening to a Dennis Miller rant and then referring to something as Kafkaesque...what? So I read all his books which took me to Russian literature, Tolstoy and Dostoesvsky. I liked War and Peace but I think I liked Anna Karenina better.

My wife also got me interested in Herman Hesse. Sidartha was one I believe (great book). His are hard to find though.

War and Peace is definitely worth if only for the, "Yeah, I read it" factor.


Sat May 06, 12:04:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Wolfgang said....

I'm not sure about "must read", but these are the ones I like - and some I have read more than once - in no particular order:

anything by Herman Hesse:
The Glass Bead Game (my personal favourite, it's time I read it again)
many more - some may not be available in translation

The Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm

Alexis Kivi - The Seven Brothers

Leon Uris - Mila18

Wolfgang Borchert - The Man Outside

Daphne duMaurier - and not only Rebecca

A.J. Cronin - The Citadell

Sat May 06, 12:25:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous D. Radoulov said....

Everyone should know Russian classic writers. It's not necessary to read exactly War and Peace, but you should definately read Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Gogol.
Before reading those authors you need to read about the historical context they have been written in.
As far as your question "why should I read them?" is concerned,
it's something which requires long discussions and it's better to find the answer yourself.

Sat May 06, 04:37:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Probably not old enough to be "classics" that an English teacher in high school would make you read, but are great stories nonetheless. Future classics perhaps?

- Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Sat May 06, 05:31:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Solzhenitsyn's August 1914 (the original 750 page release, not the much longer Special Edition that he released a few years ago {like most special editions it is a good advertisment for strong-willed editors}).

If you haven't read Woulk's The Caine Mutiney since high school, give it another read. You really can't appreciate it until you have worked for a corporate employer for 10 years or so ;-)


Sat May 06, 10:23:00 AM EDT  

Blogger KD said....

1. Catch 22
2. Catcherin the rye
3. Freakonomics (my favorite among recent)
4. Five people you meet in heaven (small but interesting)
****heavy but good****
5. Middlesex
6. 100 hundread years of solitude
7. their eyes were watching god
kinda technical
8. where wizards stayed up late (or something like that)
9. Uh-Oh
10. everything I wanted to know I learned in kindergar

Sat May 06, 03:00:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous doug c said....

I'd like to suggest "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. It was a book I "had to read" in High School and I ended up liking it a lot. It is a modern classic.

Sat May 06, 03:20:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Holger Schweichler said....

Well - since you mentioned the magic number 42 on Wednesday you must know the famous Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide...

If you liked that, I bet you will also enjoy reading the Disc World Novels by Terry Pratchett (the last I read was "Disc World Science") - I would count those as "modern classics" .


Sat May 06, 04:16:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Gary S said....

Someone beat me to Grant's "Memoirs". Sherman's memoir is even better, if you can believe that. The wrong one was elected president, that is for sure.

"Valis" by Philip K. Dick is a sci-fi/religious-fi book by a remarkable sci-fi writer. It's worth reading several of his books because of the way he develops several themes that he was obessed with.

"The Starr Report" (Just kidding. Heh. Heh. Can anyone remember what that was about, anyway???) :-)

Sat May 06, 10:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Ian Murphy said....

Books that I'd consider "modern classics":

The Hyperion / Endymion series by Dan Simmons (Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, Rise of Endymion)

and also by Dan Simmons; Ilium and Olympos - sci-fi based around Homer's Iliad.

Oh, and the Dune books by Frank Herbert.

(You've probably guessed I'm a sci-fi / space opera freak :-P )



Sun May 07, 06:13:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Not all classics, but all worth a read, IMNSHO.
"Atlas Shrugged" By Ayn Rand
"The Fountainhead" By Ayn Rand
"A Brief History of Time" By Stephen Hawking
"Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" By Douglas Hofstadte
"Foundation" By Isaac Asimov (now a six-volume tirlogy)
"Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" By Douglas Adams (and others in the series)
"Way of the Wolf" By Martin Bell -- Christian inspirational
"2150 Ad" By Thea Alexander

Sun May 07, 10:05:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Lisa said....

Here's my list - in no particular order:

Catcher in the Rye - J.D Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Beloved - Toni Morrison
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald.

I have all of them, let me know if you would like a loan of any of them.


Sun May 07, 12:10:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

_Downfall_ by Richard Frank, IMHO one of the best books about World War II and one of the best works of history ever written. You do have to read it at least twice though to really understand it, the second time reading the footnotes.

_The Making of the Atomic Bomb_ by Richard Rhodes.

Although if you read that you should also read _Now It Can Be Told_ by Leslie Groves. Most writings about the Manhatten Project are written from the scientists' perspective and although Rhodes tries to be more evenhanded Groves' writings show that there was more to the story than the physicists liked to think (not to mention a second side to the physicists-vs-Army story).

_A Night to Remember_ by Walter Lord, the classic description of the Titanic disaster. This along with the dueling British Maritime Commision and US Senate Committee investigation reports are "must reads" for every engineer.


Sun May 07, 03:08:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous glenm said....

Another vote for "A Tale of Two Cities"
Also enjoyed "Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde". A short story which has been modified heavily for movies.

Sun May 07, 06:28:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

When I realised I was spented over $60 a month on books a few years ago I read War and Peace. Very good value for money. I doubt there's a higher words/$ value.

Enjoyed the read too.

Mon May 08, 03:46:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Nicola said....

Hi Tom,

Reading is a very personal (intimate?) thing. It is difficult to advice / share taste, it is like share thinking. But I want to tell something about War and Peace.
I finished War and Peace a little time ago. I tried to read for years but never be able to go after the first pages. This year I go after and don't be able to stop until finish
In my reader experience, every *great* book has this kind of "feature": it is difficult to "enter in", because a book is a universe, and the more rich, complex it is the more difficult is to "enter" (the same can be told about good music, or even good tech literature).
But the more difficult the more it is able to give to you.
The same happened to me with "La recherce" by Proust.
It is difficult to describe the beautiness of a masterwork like "War and peace" without falling into banality: you can see inside history, politics, love ....
but there is one thing that make me thinking about you, Tom, while I was reading: debunking (is it the correct word?) myths.
Tolstoy debunks the myth of Napoleon
as a militar chief..
Hope you try reading and hope you find difficult at the begininng..

Mon May 08, 04:19:00 AM EDT  

Blogger potentialmillionaire said....

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Mon May 08, 05:16:00 AM EDT  

Blogger potentialmillionaire said....

For all those who recommended 1984, "Brave New World" by Aldus Huxley.

The strata of society are so close to our current arrangements.


Mon May 08, 05:17:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Shuchi said....

A little late on this, but here are my recommendations:

- Oscar Wilde's plays. His brand of sarcasm and cynicism is unmatched. Special recommendation: The Importance Of Being Earnest
- Jane Austen's novels. She has great observation and wit, which makes her writing a delight to read.
- Not really classics, but you might like Indian authors in English too. Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Interpreter Of Maladies' and Amitav Ghosh's 'The Hungry Tide'.

Mon May 08, 05:48:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Man's search for meaning by Victor Frankl was the best book I read on the Holocaust. He later challenged most of Freud's theories with his own logotherapy. A short read, I read the first part, the story, in about 90 minutes. I got sucked in and could not put it down until I finished.

Mon May 08, 06:42:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Jay said....


I've used to spena a lot of time trying to read all the 'must-reads'. Though recently, I've gone back to reading the 'popular bestsellers'.

I had made a spreadsheet, don't know whether you will find it useful. Anyway here it is.

Some of the books which have left a deep impact on me are (though I don't think you can put them under 'classics').

1. Robert Pirsig's two books - ZMM and LILA. - brilliant insights on what is 'value' and what is 'quality' in life?
2. Ayn Rand's Romantic Manifesto -One of her lesser read but greater books.A brilliant look into the role of art in life.
3. Siddhartha - Herman Hesse


Mon May 08, 06:53:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Jon Waterhouse said....

Ok, here's my short list.

Catch 22- Joseph Heller

Since you seem to be interested in the "real" classics, I'd suggest some Dickens. Some of it gets a bit repetitive, but he certainly knows how to tell a story. I'd say that Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Great Expectations are the best. In the same vein, arguably better, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

You mentioned Science Fiction. You should try Iain M. Banks. He also writes other fiction (as Iain Banks) some of which is OK. Maybe Consider Phlebas for Science Fiction. Then of course there is Clasic sci-fi to do (HG Wells - War of the Worlds, Fahrenheit 451)

A bit more contemporary, but still classic, I'd say are some of the novels by Gunter Grass about how Germany succumbed to Hitler. The Tin Drum is the most famous, but personally I preferred Dog Years. Some of his stuff is hard going, though (The Flounder, Meeting at Telgte...).

...I feel like I've not even started.

Mon May 08, 10:59:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous chris said....

Ah lists, like in "High Fidelity". I know I'm a little late but whatever. Haven't read much of Tolstoy, but most of Dostoyevsky. Here are some of my favourite books, but they're not light reading (though "War and Peace" is heavier):

Dostoyevsky: Notes from the Underground.
Oe: The Silent Cry
Camus: The Stranger
McCullers: The Heart is a lonely Hunter
Brecht: Mother Courage

Others mentioned some of my other favourites (Fitzgerald, Kafka, even Pirsig). If you want to know a bit more about where HJR lives, you might like Chatwin's "Songlines" :-).

Mon May 08, 04:06:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Dude said....

I would recommend 'Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson. Also in the Science Fiction area, check out the Baen Free Library at . It has about 80 books in HTML, RTF, MS Reader, Palm, and Rocket formats.

Tue May 09, 08:51:00 AM EDT  

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