Monday, May 08, 2006

Wow Im disappointed...

Wow, I’m disappointed. Ask for a little input and what do I get. A mere 116 recommendations for books to read. A bit disappointing.

Only kidding of course – overwhelmed is more like it. It took almost an hour just to compile the list. I’ve put it below. The first list are the books I’ve read (#13 in that list is some 11 books though – and the Asimov series is a lot of books too). The second is a list of books I have recently purchased but not read.

The third list is just intimidating. Some I’ve read – but so long ago that I cannot really claim knowing them anymore. Most I’ve heard of but not yet read.

I’ll probably be starting with The Three Musketeers – that was the first I found on the Project Gutenberg site – but I haven’t decided yet. Time for that tomorrow.

List 1
  1. 1984

  2. Catcher in the Rye

  3. "The Master and Margarita" Mikhail Bulgakov

  4. The Lord of the Flies

  5. Catch 22

  6. "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand

  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  8. Five people you meet in heaven

  9. Moby Dick

  10. The Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm

  11. Hitchhiker's Guide...Douglas Adams

  12. The Hyperion / Endymion series by Dan Simmons

  13. Dune books by Frank Herbert.

  14. "The Fountainhead" By Ayn Rand

  15. "A Brief History of Time" By Stephen Hawking

  16. "Foundation" By Isaac Asimov (now a six-volume tirlogy)

  17. War of the Worlds

  18. Fahrenheit 451

  19. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

List 2
  1. "To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

  2. Ilium by Dan Simmons

  3. Olympos by Dan Simmons

List 3
  1. Animal Farm

  2. The Great Gatsby

  3. The Three Musketeers' by Dumas

  4. ‘The Prince' by Machiavelli

  5. The Compromise Sergei Dovlatov

  6. His Dark Materials

  7. If this is a man; and, The truce by Primo Levi's

  8. The Life and Opinions or Tristram Shandy, Gent." by Lawrence Sterne

  9. A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens

  10. The Heart of a Dog" By Mikhail Bulgakov, "

  11. War and Peace

  12. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  13. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

  14. The Count of Monte Cristo

  15. His Dark Materials

  16. Treblinka

  17. Once and future king by TH White

  18. Rise and Fall of the Roman empire

  19. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

  20. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut's

  21. Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco:

  22. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco:

  23. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

  24. Walden Pond by Emerson.

  25. Leaves of Grass by Whitman.

  26. Innocents Abroad Mark Twain's

  27. Following the Equato Mark Twain's

  28. "The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant"

  29. "Goodbye to All That" by Robert Graves

  30. "Utopia" by Thomas Moore

  31. "Mary Barton" by Elizabeth Gaskill

  32. "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

  33. "Coningsby" by Benjamin Disraeli

  34. 'All The King's Men' by Robert Penn Warren

  35. "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross.

  36. "Cyberiads" by Stanislaw Lem

  37. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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

  39. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

  40. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

  41. The Glass Palace by Amitav Gosh

  42. From The Land of Green Ghost by Pascal Khoo Thwe

  43. Illusions, by Richard Bach

  44. Exodus by Leon Uris.

  45. Anna Karenina

  46. Sidartha by Herman Hesse.

  47. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse.

  48. The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse.

  49. The Seven Brothers by Alexis Kivi –

  50. Mila18 by Leon Uris

  51. The Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert

  52. and not only Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier

  53. The Citadell by A.J. Cronin

  54. Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

  55. The alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  56. August 1914 Solzhenitsyn's

  57. The Caine Mutiney Woulk's

  58. Middlesex

  59. 100 hundred years of solitude

  60. Their eyes were watching god

  61. "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote

  62. Disc World Novels by Terry Pratchett

  63. Sherman's memoir

  64. "Valis" by Philip K. Dick

  65. Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons

  66. "Way of the Wolf" By Martin Bell -- Christian inspirational

  67. "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" By Douglas Hofstadte

  68. "2150 Ad" By Thea Alexander

  69. Beloved - Toni Morrison

  70. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

  71. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald.

  72. Downfall by Richard Frank

  73. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

  74. Now It Can Be Told by Leslie Grove

  75. A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

  76. "Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde"

  77. "La recherce" by Proust

  78. Brave New World" by Aldus Huxley.

  79. 'Interpreter Of Maladies' Jhumpa Lahiri's

  80. The Hungry Tide'. Amitav Ghosh's

  81. Man's search for meaning by Victor Frankl

  82. ZMM and LILA by Robert Pirsig'

  83. Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand

  84. Oliver Twist - dickens

  85. David Copperfield – dickens

  86. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

  87. Phlebas

  88. Dog Years by Gunter Grass

  89. Notes from the Underground. By Dostoyevsky

  90. The Silent Cry by Oe

  91. The Stranger by Camus

  92. The Heart is a lonely Hunter by McCullers

  93. Mother Courage by Brecht

  94. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance.


Blogger Gary Myers said....

#82 ZMM and LILA by Robert Pirsig'
#94 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance.

Well that shortens the list a bit, but if you are still taking nominations, you could add Dracula and Frankenstein (both available in Project Gutenberg).

Mon May 08, 09:46:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Doug Burns said....

That's some reading list. It might come in handy personally, actually ;-)

Without wanting to be too pedantic, I think the ZMM here

"ZMM and LILA by Robert Pirsig'"

is the same as this one

"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

And, yes, I do really like it, but how do I know if anyone else will? So I'd do some research if I were you, even if the 'research' amounts to reading it ;-)

I was quite surprised to see how often 'A Tale of Two Cities' was mentioned. Not because I didn't like it - I did - but I was pretty young when I read it, I can't really remember why I liked it so much (I vaguely remember it was an engrossing wee adventure story) but it obviously had a similar effect on others.

Mon May 08, 09:51:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Noons said....

and Walden by Henry David Thoreau is not in the third list yet! That one is also mandatory reading, I reckon.
Welcome to the "impossible to catch up" lists!

Got the entire collection of "classic world books" that came with the Britanica back in the 80s and have only caught up with around a third of them. Just the Greek classics have lasted me years!

I'm actually MAKING time to read every night now, at least one hour. Otherwise there is no way I'll ever catch up with so much info out there.

The first company to produce a book reader that is affordable, practical to use and can be carried around and read easily in the bus trip to work gets my undivided attention, that's for sure!

anyways, folks: Tom needs to finish the third book, don't go about distracting him!

Mon May 08, 10:28:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Rachel said....

Damn you Buckaroo Banzai, you've just increased my "to be read" list by multitudes!

I've read some on all three of your lists. #6 and #15 on list 3 are duplicated, #52 on that list is actually Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier (and he recommended her other books as well) -- Rebecca will remind you of Jane Eyre.

Nice to see 5 of my recommendations on the list. May I add a few others? Read just about anything by Mary Renault. Oh, and I just read, over spring break, Eragon by Christopher Paolini and fell in love with it. Eldest, the next in the series is waiting on the bookshelf now.

I have a 7 foot tall, 6 shelf bookcase in my office, filled (as in books are lying on top of other books, spilling over the shelves) with "to be read" books and you have to add more to the list? Sheesh!

I'll admit your list is way better than "the 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia" which is my current reading for school.

And The Glass Bead Game is now waiting at the library for me to pick it up. Who needs to eat or sleep, right?

Mon May 08, 10:34:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Chaosrules said....

I am surprised that no one suggested the works of Salman Rushdie, specifically "Midnight's Children" and "Ground Beneath her feet".

Tue May 09, 01:01:00 AM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

Now that's a few years of reading you've got there. AskTom will suffer for sure.

"À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu" alone seems to be to be a couple of years worth, especially when you consider the controversies over translation -- "Remembrance of Things Past" or "In Search Of Lost Time"? ... if they can't even agree on the title then you just have to suck it up and read both sets of translations. Well, you can read about it at The Economist:

Personally I keep reading the first chapter of the first book time and time again -- the perception and insight of Proust is extraordinary.

But speaking of translations, let me put in a late mention for "Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language" by Hofstadter (of GEB), another very large and dense book but this time all about translations of a 28 line poem by Clément Marot.

Of the third list, "Animal Farm" and "Brave New World" are not intimidating reads but there is plenty to think about.

And I've just realised that you need much more George Orwell in there -- "Homage to Catalonia" and "Down And
Out in London and Paris" at least. And Robert Tressel's "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" is another must -- by cracky we'll have you throwing it all in and living on a hippy commune before the year is out, Tom!

More seriously though, if I had to pick just one book out of List 3 it would be Primo Levi's "If this is a man; and, The Truce". Considering that he is documenting his first-hand experiences he writes with an extraordinary dispassion, and it throws an enormous emotional burden onto the reader. Not in-flight materiel, I found.

Now, when is your own next book due out? I hope your publisher is not monitoring all these distractions.

Tue May 09, 01:06:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alex Gorbachev said....

"The Three Musketeers" series are the books of my youth along with "The Count of Monte-Cristo". I was reading them day and night and couldn't stop.

I liked "Twenty Years After" as well - to continue "The Three Musketeers" and it keeps the same style.

However, starting form "Ten Years Later" and on it is quite different and I liked it less and less as I was reading - the style changed quite a bit. Perhaps, I need to reread it now to re-evaluate.

Few more from my youth - Jules Verne and his "From Earth to the Moon", "Around the World in Eighty Days", "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea".

... and of coure "Robinsone Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe. I should stop now before it gets too long...

Tue May 09, 03:35:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Carl said....

Don't know what your definition of 'technical' is, but a few popular science/non fiction books that may be outside of your usual scope and are well worth a read are

The Selfish gene - Richard Dawkins (And if you are feeling brave, the extended phenotype)
Chaos - James Gleick (His biography of Richard Feynman is also worth reading)
Salt - A world History, Mark Kurlansky - a lot more interesting than it sounds!
Guns, Germs and Steel - Jared Diamond
Longitude - Dava Sobel
The red Queen - Matt Ridley
The Elegant Universe - Brian Greene
Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another - Philip Ball
The Man Who Loved Only Numbers (Can't remember the author!)

Tue May 09, 05:28:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Francois said....

If you like Herbert and Asimov, you'd probably love A. Van Vogh too.

Tue May 09, 05:30:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Rakesh said....

Hi Tom,

why not do this as a book club type thing? I think Oprah does that.

Say that this month you will be reading the Threee Musketeers then by the month end you can post what you thought and ask others who have read it too to contribute. Could be fun.

Also, the BBC did a list of the best books ever:



Tue May 09, 06:57:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Peter Tran said....

Hi Tom,

I would highly recommend The Ender's series from Orson Scott Card.

Ender's Game is still my all time favorite SCI FI book.

Ender's Game


Tue May 09, 07:57:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous joao said....

Top 100 List - FYI

Tue May 09, 08:53:00 AM EDT  

Blogger shrek said....

how about "the art of war" and "tao te ching"?;-)

Tue May 09, 09:26:00 AM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....


Amusingly, of the "Readers Top 100" Ayn Rand takes four of the top 10 places and L Ron Hubbard takes another 3. I wonder how many distinct ip addresses were represented in those votes?

Tue May 09, 11:59:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous LS said....

#2 and #71 are both The Great Gatsby, that helps eliminate one (though I'm sure the list will continue to grow). I do have to recommend it, it's one of my favorites. Did a paper in college on the colors in the book. Loads of fun.

Tue May 09, 01:01:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Robert said....


For Mark Twain, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is a 'must'! (you have Innocents Abroad down on your list).



Tue May 09, 01:14:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Surya said....

Agree with Mark Twain.

Also I am surprised no Lord of the Rings trilogy in there!

Tue May 09, 02:46:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

How about the classics

Old man and the Sea
For whom the bell tolls
- Hemingway

Tue May 09, 04:09:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I forgot to mention Dune the first time around, I'd rank that up there with Lord of the Rings.


Tue May 09, 04:28:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous doug c said....

To add to you complications of a large list, how about "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlen.

Tue May 09, 05:04:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Peter Lewis said....

A few more that are very well worth a look:

'Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow' and 'The Woman and the Ape' both by Peter Hoeg.

'The Periodic Table' by Primo Levi.

'Chrome Yellow' by Aldous Huxley.

'Trainspotting' by Irvine Welsh. You might want to combine this with the DVD at the same time...

Tue May 09, 07:04:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Peter Lewis said....

... 'Crome Yellow' ...sorry. Also available on Gutenberg

Tue May 09, 07:33:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

well, the list seems to be growing. How about one of William Somerset Maugham's collection of "Short Stories" - all of these are very thought provoking.

Tue May 09, 10:47:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

> Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow

_Similla's Sense of Snow_? The first 2/3 of that were the best mystery (with perhaps some fantastical touches) that I had read in 20 years. The last 1/3 degenerated into the worse sci fi (using the Harlan Ellison sense of "sci fi") that I had read in, well, at least a while. Too bad.


Wed May 10, 08:23:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I thought of more books, but I am guessing Tom is a bit overwhelmed at this point. But in memory of Jane Jacobs let me just mention her series of books. Most famously _Death and Life of Great American Cities_, but she had others as well including _Cities and the Wealth of Nations_.

I would then also recommend _Edge Cities_ and _Crabgrass Frontier_ if you become interested in city development.


Wed May 10, 08:25:00 AM EDT  

Blogger mattypenny said....

If you're still reading these comments... given you seem to travel a lot, how about some location-specific books? Hope this offends no-one....

When in London: Dickens (anything except Hard Times)
Ireland: Star of the Sea - Joseph O'Connor
The South: Gone With the Wind
West Coast: James Ellroy
East Coast: The Great Gatsby
Africa: The Poisonwood Bible
In several parallel universes: His Dark Materials

These aren't all old enough to be 'classics', but I enjoyed them all

Wed May 10, 10:29:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Robert said....


You, of course, have read (or are familiar with the contents of) Mortimer J. Adler's classic "How to Read a Book". he discusses techniques on how to *really* read a book, especially the "Classics" (as I recall).


Wed May 10, 10:35:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous bfb said....

If you like the Kite Runner you will enjoy the Power of One.

Thu May 11, 07:56:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Jon Waterhouse said....

Since someone started whittling down the list suggesting Smilla's feeling for snow was not that great, I'll chime in with a vote agains the Glass Bead Game. Sort of an interesting idea (a beautiful way of presenting the world), but is it worth reading ass a novel. Is it worth wading through 400 pages or so for "He was born. He thought about stuff. He died"? Not to mention the Appendices. Not worth it! I thought maybe I would get more out of it when I was older, than I did when I read it when I was 16. But no, just a tedious struggle to get through.

Siddhartha? Sure. It's short.

Thu May 11, 10:32:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Dawn said....

You're going to be reading "His Dark Materials" twice (#6 and #15 on list 3)... or is that a cunning way of getting your to-read list a bit shorter when you've read something?!

Thu May 11, 07:45:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Mike Ault's Oracle Internals Monitoring & Tuning. A genuinely hilarious work from a master of Sci-Fi.

Forget Black Holes, it's Brown Nodes that are the real terror of the Universe!

Who could fail to be *impressed* with the advice to flush the Shared Pool regularly? As Dr. McCoy may have said, "It's advice, Jim, but not as we know it."

Fri May 12, 07:57:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous sfurcas said....

Hi Tom , I recommend you another book of Umberto Eco, because I'm Italian guy, that I've finished to read yesterdy is called "Baudolino" very very funny.
My best Regards

Fri May 12, 09:47:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous gerald asp said....

Good luck with the combination of Ilium and Olympos. To me, they were not as good the Hyperion / Endymion series.

Sat May 13, 10:37:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Rumburak said....

One of the best books I ever read:

Oswald Spengler, "Man and Technics"

Sun May 14, 03:13:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Bob said....

Have you read ZMM yet, Tom? I'm most of the way through it and am thinking it will take at least one more read for it to soak in. I see applications of his ideas in many places. In researching Pirsig I found this NPR interview with him:
I'll have to pick up Lila too.

Thanks for this blog and AskTom, Tom! Very helpful.

Mon Jul 17, 01:16:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Yes - I finished it.

wrote about it there..

Mon Jul 17, 01:21:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom, I got this mail today:

World's largest EBook fair has started. You can download e-books freely from a collection of 330,000. This Fair is only till August 4, 2006. Topics ranging from Engg to Religion is available at free of cost.

The website for the fair is

Happy learning..........!!!

Hope it helps

Wed Aug 02, 10:24:00 AM EDT  

Blogger gina said....

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dosteovsky
also, The Brothers Karamozov by the same author.

[Now reading from my own list (some of these may or may not be already listed):]
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Tin Drum by Gunther Grass
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Virgin Suicides
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

So these are just some on my list that I have read so far that I have enjoyed. Have fun.

Sat Apr 07, 07:17:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I would rather read them all online. Why kill a tree? See Charles Dickens for example.

Mon Nov 12, 03:55:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Very good article. This article makes some interesting points. You made a good point, reading your article is a kind of enjoyment. Thank you.
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Mon Jun 23, 03:36:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Max Weismann said....

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Sun Dec 07, 06:44:00 PM EST  


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