Reading Suggestions

I’ve been scouring the interwebs for good book lists as well as new music.  I figured I can also contribute to the mass of reading suggestions out there.  Maybe you guys have some suggestions for me as well?

Beautiful Books

  1. Brazil by John Updike – I stumbled across this book by chance in a Kentucky bookstore the summer before I came to Germany.  Reading this luscious book by the pool on hot summer evenings…ahhhh.  I’m a big fan of Latin American magical realism, and I’ve always kept an eye out for English-language books in the genre.  Which leads me to:
  2. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin – A very dear person read this book to me when I was 12.  This same person introduced me to Akira Kurosawa and Baraka (but I’ll save this story for a future post on movies).  I didn’t even know what magical realism was back then, but the images of a room of pure gold and an infinite bridge have stayed with me ever since.  Which leads me to:
  3. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman – Actually all of the books in the His Dark Materials series, but the last one was the best.  Again, I first read this as a kid and was absolutely hooked, but what I love the most about it is that it has grown up with me.  When I learned about quantum physics and the influence of conscious attention on electrons, I thought back to this book.  Taking Chinese Philosophy in college?  This book.  So beautiful, goddamn it.  I’m going to have to go read it again when I’m done writing this.
  4. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon – I first saw the aforementioned dear person reading this book when I was 8 or 9, and the title stuck in my head.  Unfortunately, my first go at Pynchon was Gravity’s Rainbow, and I just couldn’t get into it, like, fuck it, nah.  I just read this book a few months ago, though, and it was really, really good.  My dear person has good taste 🙂
  5. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – Actually everything by Kurt Vonnegut.  Except Galapagos.  Other favs: The Sirens of Titan, Hocus Pocus, Breakfast of Champions.
  6. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson – This book will keep your ass busy for a while.  It’s really long, and really complex.  Thanks to this book, I learned about Turing machines and Van Eck phreaking, among other things.  No but for real, it’s good.
  7. Jazz by Toni Morrison – I love Toni Morrison!  This was one of my favorites because of the way it’s written.  So, so beautiful!  I also love this book because it kept me company when I was living a very lonely period of my life.  I know that sounds all cheesy and everything, but books really were my best friends then.
  8. The Order of Things by Michel Foucault – OMG, this was a revelation.  First of all, I’m still not done with it because I can only read like 3 pages in one sitting.  It’s complicated, poetic, challenging.  I like postmodern philosophy alright, but I didn’t really get the foundations until I read this.  I feel like everything was broken open for me.  Also, I read about half of Discipline and Punish, and it’s also really good.  Foucault taught me the importance of really searching for the history of the societal understanding of any concept in my quest to learn about it, and plus I think he shares my kind of soul.  He was this dude who was attracted to some of the darkest things in life.  He chilled out in mental hospitals and prisons searching for answers, and had sex in the red light district in Hamburg and in San Francisco bathhouses.  Not that I do that, but I find it very interesting.  I wish he was still alive, I would write him fan mail fo sho.
  9. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – I just read this a month or so ago, and it actually made me cry and shit.  I don’t normally like books about teen angst and suicide (oops, spoiler).  But this was just a beautiful book that I read in two nights.  It reminded me of some people I know and some places I’ve been.
  10. The Summer of Katya by Trevanian – I think I did a book report on this in high school.  Whatever, it was really good, and I totally did not expect the ending.

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