This article was last modified on May 26, 2009.


Gavin’s Recommended Reading List

Lots of schools and libraries offer a “Recommended Reading List” full of the classics or other important books from history. And that’s helpful for many people, especially students. But as anyone who has read the classics knows, many of them simply aren’t that good and fewer and fewer of them are applicable to modern times. Some, such as Shakespeare or the Bible, will always be important reading simply for the strong societal influence, not to mention the references within other literary works. Others, such as Charles Dickens, will strike certain audiences but fall flat with others.

I make no claim that my list is going to appeal to everyone. In fact, it’s quite likely it will appeal to a very select few. My goal is not to give someone a broad education from the list, but to point them to books I found influential or worthy of my time. Some on here will be familiar, while others may be new to you. The subjects are wide-ranging, covering not only literature but also philosophy, history and other topics I find interesting. Due to my bias, some topics will not be covered at all. Deal with it.

And here they are, the 50 books I find worth reading (in no order):

  1. Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and all sequels.
  2. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment. All other Dostoevsky is worth reading, too.
  3. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker
  4. Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival and Failed States. Past works are good, but should really only be read by serious students of history, as they are quite dry. For those with no Chomsky exposure, What We Say Goes or Imperial Ambitions may be your best bet.
  5. Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto
  6. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Human All Too Human and Daybreak. More experienced readers should read Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals.
  7. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  8. Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro
  9. Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea.
  10. Anton Szandor LaVey, The Devil’s Notebook.
  11. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary.
  12. Marquis de Sade, 120 Days of Sodom
  13. Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian
  14. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  15. Stendhal, The Red and the Black
  16. Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States
  17. Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct
  18. Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger
  19. Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living
  20. Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night
  21. Charles Panati, Sacred Origins of Profound Things and Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Objects
  22. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
  23. Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
  24. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought
  25. Watson, Behaviorism
  26. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time
  27. William Blum, Freeing the World to Death
  28. Hardt, Empire and Multitude
  29. Jon Lee Anderson, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
  30. Thomas Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  31. William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew
  32. Bram Stoker, Dracula
  33. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
  34. George Orwell, Animal Farm
  35. Voltaire, Candide

Also try another article under Personal
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

One Response to “Gavin’s Recommended Reading List”

  1. Roland Says:

    Genealogy: Where you confuse the dead and irritate the living.

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