View Full Version : Best books ever?

August 18th, 2006, 07:58 PM
What are your favourite books of all time? If possible, please give a short explanation of why each book was good. I'm looking for some good books to read. :yes:

August 18th, 2006, 10:32 PM
If you're interested in something completely different, pick up Ayn Rand's works. She incorporates her own philosophy, objectivism, into her stories, which makes for a very interesting read. Not everyone loves her works, but they're worth a shot if you're openly looking for new things to read.

I just advise that you read The Fountainhead before reading Atlas Shrugged, should you choose to read Rand's literature.

August 19th, 2006, 12:01 AM
The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith. The seminal work on capitalism.
Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman. A more reader-friendly explanation of capitalism.
The Road to Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek. Why Socialism is wrong.

Ethics, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Fear and Trembling(?) by Soren Kierkegaard. Great religious philosophy. Also "Summa Theologica" and "Summa Contra Gentiles" by St. Thomas Aquinas, and "Confessiones" by St. Augustine.

The Belgariad series by David Eddings, and Raymond E. Feist's series beginning with "Magician". Good fantasy stuff.

The Divine Comedy by Dante, The Aeneid by Virgil, The Illiad and the Odyssey by Homer, Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle (his poetics as well), and The Republic by Plato (his poetics as well). Without the classics, you will not properly understand any of Western literature. And AFTER The Divine Comedy, the Aeneid, the Illiad, and the Odyssey, you may read Paradise Lost. Then you will understand it. And then Beowulf.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout, and everything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Witty and entertaining. Oh, and everything by Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift as well.

On the topic of witty and entertaining, read everything that Jane Austen ever wrote.

C. S. Forester's Hornblower series is exquisite, as are Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood novels and Scaramouche. In the "high adventure" genre, don't miss Alexandre Dumas Sr. and Jr.'s works, including (most notably) The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and the Count of Monte Cristo.

I naturally assume that any literate person who enjoys fiction has already read J.R.R. Tolkien's works, so I will not include ithem in this list.

Those are all the books on my bedroom shelf that I consider must-reads.

August 19th, 2006, 10:40 PM
A Hacker Manifesto: I bet a pretty penny that in under a decade we will be revisiting this book for guidance as globalization and urbanization begin to importantly incorporate the "information as property/commodity" philosophy into just about every form of government - at the very least in socialism/communism and most definitely capitalism. It gives the reader, in a simplistic and aphoristic format, lays the groundwork for a neo-crypto-marxist political theory involving numerous new classes (ie. vectoralist and "the hacker class" to name the main ones) and more importantly the infinite profitability present in information/intellectual property.

How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren (yeah... the guy from Quiz Show): Despite the lame title it is the quintessential book in understanding what it means to read. It also has an amazing list of essential readings of the classics.

Clive, you might want to look out for Mortimer Adler's "Syntopicon", if you haven't already. In fact, everyone interested in this thread should look up those volumes. Essentially, it's 2 volumes (the 2nd and the 3rd are the actual Syntopicon, the first vol. is just an introduction) highlighting great books (or at least semi-great) based on there reference to ideas (such as Being, Habit, Infinity, Logic, Love..).

cat's meow
August 24th, 2006, 08:24 PM
Man the Measure, by Erich Kahler
It is basically the history of civilization, the most pivotal points are used and his analysis is outstanding. Does take a read and then re-read to catch it all; the guy was genius at knowing and understanding history.

Plato's Republic
One of the great blueprints for modern civilization.

Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle
the nuts and bolts of how human ethics work. I was knocked out by this when I read it.

The Best And The Brightest, by David Halberstam
Everything going wrong in the middle east right now can be related to in this book.

Any writings of Ambrose Bierce, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, or William Faulkner...

August 25th, 2006, 03:01 AM
One of the great blueprints for modern civilization

Oh, really? I guess you don't mind slavery, which Plato heartily endorses?

Mr. Hyde
August 25th, 2006, 08:52 AM
Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons. Since finally buying it, I've read it over three times (and once before after several visits to a bookstore. Doing the same thing with V for Vendetta). Moore's writing and Gibbon's artwork are a masterpiece of both imagery and storytelling. Each flasback is told, and shown, with cunning precision and seamless transition. It takes a seemingly childish medium and treats it as seriously as though it were the Illiad being transformed. Each character has a complex, and realistic background with individual perceptions and moralities based on their life experiences. There's no clear hero or villain, and there's no bogus, "POW" "BAM" "KRAK!!" when there's fighting.

DMZ, Brian Woods & Ricardo Burchielli. I posted a thread about this very series. Since buying the first issue, I've read it several times over, each time marvelling at the excellence therein. The story follows a photojournalist who all but crash lands into the DMZ, Manhattan, in the US's second Civil War. The gritty realism and grim atmosphere of the story is compelling almost as much as the human driven narrative that plants you in a position of sympathizing with people who, at any other time, you'd think were just SOL.

Hellblazer: All His Engines, Mike Carey & Leonardo Marco. As a child coma pandemic sweeps the planet, Chas Chandler's granddaughter becomes a victim, and he calls in longtime pal, John Constantine. The story puts you in a frame of mind that has you at times seeing that Constantine is the hard luck hero. He's despised by a lot of people, and even in the end, doesn't really get his dues for saving the day. THe story is twisting and pretty complex, and I prefer it over the rest of the Hellblazer series, for a number a reasons, the consistency in artwork being a minor one. Unlike any other Constantine story I've read, Constantine actually loses at his own con game for most of the story. Something that had me going, "HOly ****, he could lose!"

After Dachau, Daniel Quinn. Ever wonder what the world would be like the Nazis won WWII? Quinn pulls the veil back and explores the idea with practiced bravado. EVERYTHING is explained. The ideology, the history, culture, etc. Even the title is explained in the story as an answer to our own. Whereas we may say, "A.D. 2006" "2006 C.E." respectively for Anno Domini and Common Era. The idea of After Dachau is that, according to the Nazi history books, Dachau, instead of a concentration camp, was a major battle, and since then, instead of "AD 1945" it became, "01 AD." to say, one year After Dachau. Through the useage of reincarnation, and character interraction, Quinn paints a view of the Nazis that are at once horrifying and comforting. Comforting in that there's no more genocide or anything (this is thousands of years after everyone but white people are gone), and horrifying in that it seems strikingly similar to our own global and national cultures.

The Story of B, Daniel Quinn. As a Priest charged with a secret mission to track the ANti-Christ, infiltrate his inner sanctum, and assassinate him, we're exposed to a wealth of ideas and explorations that challenge us to look our own ideas from an individual and global level, and to do so from a different angle, and what we're left with is a striking possibility that maybe we're the product of something terrible. At the same time, the story flows much better than it's loosely related prequel, Ishmael, by carrying the reader across the underground of Europe, and eventually running from the same order the Priest was sent by.

Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk. What if a nursery rhyme could kill? Aside from clearing up your daily commute to work, what would it be like? Palahniuk, in another return to the world of satire and social commentary, blazes a path across the novel's pages as Journalist Carl Streater chases down every copy in an attempt to both find the original, and destroy every copy in existence while trying his best not be the accidental serial killer he started out as through reading the nursery rhyme. Funny, dark, incredibly entertaining and thought provoking, this is an outstanding addition, and heir apparent, to what should be a list of instant classics.

cat's meow
August 25th, 2006, 09:14 PM
Oh, really? I guess you don't mind slavery, which Plato heartily endorses?

Clive...I take that as one of your 'funnies'...

No, I do not endorse that and you have to put that writing into the epoch it was written. The brilliant aspect of the writing is that many parts were far ahead of its time.

Um...hmm...Franklin, Madison, Jefferson and those other guys of THAT epoch highly revered Plato but also had slaves...what do ya' have to say about that(?)...and women were not getting the right to vote along with non-land owners.

August 26th, 2006, 01:05 AM
Clive...I take that as one of your 'funnies'...

No, I do not endorse that and you have to put that writing into the epoch it was written. The brilliant aspect of the writing is that many parts were far ahead of its time.

I didn't say Republic was bad. I was just pointing out that it has its flaws, which I thought you glossed over. It's a great work. In fact, I included in my list of "must-reads".

September 3rd, 2006, 08:26 AM
Good Fiction: I really enjoy Nelson Demille..(he wrote Generals Daughter)
I think his better works are Up Country and The Gold Coast.
Up Country is a Thriller of sorts but has Historical tones as well. Demilles imagery of Vietnam is remarkable. It is pretty fascinating.

Gold Coast is The Great Gatsby meets The Godfather.

Wally Lamb's I know this much is true. I just REALLY enjoyed this book.

I am a HUGE Dickens fan. My favorite would be David Copperfield.

I have more, but it would depend on the type of read you are looking for.

September 3rd, 2006, 05:11 PM
I am a HUGE Dickens fan. My favorite would be David Copperfield.

Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations rank higher on my list.

September 3rd, 2006, 05:25 PM
If you haven't read the best-selling book in history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_bible#Distribution), you should.

September 4th, 2006, 07:55 AM
Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations rank higher on my list.

I love those also..Great Expectations is one of my favorites..It was also req. reading in most schools, so that is why did not mention it. Also most people have already seen the movie, so they become less anxious to read the book.
Dickens is my GGGGreat (something like that) Uncle.Just some useless trivia about Tink..

September 11th, 2006, 04:36 PM
I just got done reading The Time Traveler's Wife, and it was fantastic.