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Top 20 Books - Transience Divine
July 7th, 2007
04:04 pm


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Top 20 Books
[Update: I've been exploring some wonderful new experiences, and hope to have many more. Life is good and I'm flirting with some new clients for work. My evenings haven't been as full as sometimes, but that's okay-- an evening at home is hours more to work on projects (drool).]

abangaku's Top books post inspired me to write up my own list. Below are the top 20 books of my life at this moment. They're a mix of influential books from my youth, books that opened my mind, books that titillated my senses, and books I can't make it through the week without referring back to. Vaguely from the top down:
  1. Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  2. Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
  3. Rosamund and Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility
  4. Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
  5. James Joyce, Ulysses
  6. George Orwell, 1984
  7. Plato, The Symposium
  8. Virginia Wolfe, The Waves
  9. Ram Dass, Be Here Now
  10. Douglas Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach
  11. Elizabeth Wurtzel, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women
  12. David Eddings, The Belgariad (series)
  13. Piers Anthony, Incarnations of Immortality (series)
  14. Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  15. Arnold Mindell, Sitting in the Fire
  16. Brad Blanton, Radical Honesty: How To Transform Your Life By Telling The Truth
  17. Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
  18. Robert Rimmer, The Harrad Experiment
  19. Eve Delunas, Survival Games Personalities Play
  20. Donald Palmer, Looking at Philosophy

I could ramble on every one of these, but let it stand that I love each one in a special way, and that my life was vastly amplified by having read them. What's your top 20 list? I'm always looking for book recommendations, and I'd love to hear what books have made you!!!

I had to leave some excellent books off this list. There were some that a few great ideas but don't overflow the way these do-- Don't Think of an Elephant, The Tipping Point, What Should I Do with My Life, How Children Fail, Training Trances. Also absent are several books I enjoyed down to their very core, but which have questionable literary worth-- The Elementary Particles, Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S., The Fourth Turning, The Phantom Tollbooth, anything by David Sedaris. I fully expect How to Succeed with Women to make this list, but I'm only a few chapters in and taking it slow.

In the past few weeks I've read Slaughterhouse-Five (loved the craft, hated the ethics until I talked it over with a lit grad friend-- now like a top 40 book), Waiting for Godot (oh the modernity! a wild ride, but I think it could have ended an act earlier), and Alice in Wonderland (even with Martin Gardner's notes, I'm reading it two decades too late), and now I'm trading off between Off the Map (wise, inspiring, bewitching; makes me want to leave everything) and A People's History of the United States (poorly written, sometimes fascinating, and good for the soul).

Current Music: If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel

(8 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:July 7th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
Loved The Belgariad, and almost everything else David Eddings has written. I've read 1984 and got partway through The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I remember not liking them, but I think I was just too young to appreciate them (12 or 13). I also liked The Phantom Tollbooth, but again, I was a bit too young to get all the references and puns.
[User Picture]
Date:July 7th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
I've enjoyed other Eddings books-- I've read the Malloreon, the Elenium, and a couple others, but I've never fallen in love with them the way I did the Belgariad (or really the characters from them, since that's what I found so amazing from the Belgariad).

What's your icon from?
[User Picture]
Date:July 7th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. Great series.
[User Picture]
Date:July 7th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
The Belgariad (and Mallorean) from Eddings, and Anthony's Incarnations series are big big favorites of mine. Im now glad to know you've read them.
Date:July 7th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
i'm not familiar with most of these (though i keep wanting to read the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) but i thought i'd recommend Yann Martel's Life of Pi.
[User Picture]
Date:July 7th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

I love this book. I find it simultaneously baffling and wonderful that I can get so completely attached to not just a character in a book, but one who isn't even human. Even thinking about it gets me all choked up.

With my complete lack of natural ability to create top whatever lists, I couldn't even begin to create my own top 20 book list. But thinking about the above, I found myself reflecting on which would be my favorite Heinlein. Cliche as it may be, I think I'd have to go with Stranger in a Strange Land. Among other aspects, I love how it challenges the reader to examine societally accepted mores. Reading it for the first time when I was in high school, I think it had a significant impact on me.
[User Picture]
Date:July 8th, 2007 02:06 am (UTC)
Why the Eddings books, if I may ask? I read them when I was in high school and remember not liking them much- and hearing a lot of similar (and rather venomous) comments about them from most other fans that I know. So, a question, I guess- why do *you* like them?
[User Picture]
Date:July 8th, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC)
Venomous? Weird. More than anything, I love the Belgariad for its characters. I feel like the depth of personality in each one goes far beyond what I've read almost anywhere else. Beyond that, the plot, the world, and the spirit of the whole series seem to me to be exemplify great fantasy. That said, the Belgariad was the first big series I'd read, so it was influential even if it didn't hold the same literary value of other books.
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