Read like Chuck Palahniuk

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What books inspired Chuck Palahniuk to write “Fight Club”?

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

– from interview to barnesandnoble.com

Also recommended by Bill Gates, mentioned in 5 Good Books To Read According To Haruki Murakami

The Great Gatsby, the crowning achievement of the literary career of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is set in the Jazz Age, that is, 1920s. This is the story of Jay Gatsby, very wealthy and powerful billionaire, who is in love with Daisy Buchanan. As almost every man of power, Gatsby likes to throw luxurious parties, gather the Beautiful People in his house. The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of XXth century literature.

“Knockemstiff” by Donald Ray Pollock

– from interview to theweek.com

Pollock’s tribute to the hardscrabble town of Knockemstiff is surrounded by all the necessary symbols of small-town depression and decay. The very name of the town is a tribute to its rowdy women, and appears as a tatoo on its drug-using inhabitants. Ramshackle trailers, smelly factories, and domestic violence make up the tapestry of this gritty and grisly collection of short stories. This book may never make it onto the reading lists of Nicholas Sparks fans or those seeking out feel-good stories, but it certainly reflects a sensational version of the author’s 30-year struggles with factory work and drug rehabilitation.

  “Gladiator: A True Storyof ’Roids, Rage, and Redemption” by Dan Clark

– from interview to theweek.com

Steroid use and abuse seems to be everywhere in the world of sports, from cyclist Floyd Landis’ urine test to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legal case against Dr. Heepe. While the use of steroids may no longer be surprising, some details of its negative effects will be of interest to avid readers of the latest in sports reading lists. For instance, American Gladiator Clark uses personal testimony to detail how steroids lead to anger outbursts, muscle depletion, hormone imbalance, and run-ins with the law. A natural follow-up to this book should be Juiced, the tell-all autobiography of baseball star Jose Canseco.

  “Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson

– from interview to barnesandnoble.com

Both a novel and a collection of short stories, Johnson’s fifth work explores similar themes to Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff: drug use, abuse of women, and unrealized dreams. The addition of eternal themes and questions of redemption are more prevalent than in Pollock’s work, but the soul-killing effects of internal and external poverty still prevail, along with the authors’ personal knowledge of the inside of rehabilitation centers. New York Entertainment magazine suggests this book as a worthy addition to intellectual reading lists, citing it as influential to younger authors such as National Book Award winner Dave Eggers.

“Reasons to Live” by Amy Hempel

– from interview to barnesandnoble.com

As you might deduce from the title, Hempel is no stranger to soul-searching questions or experiences. The Paris Review details some of the worst times in the author’s life, including the suicides of both her mother and aunt, her best friend’s unsuccessful battle with leukemia, and two car accidents. Nor was the author unsuccessful in rising above these experiences, since she went on to write for New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair. Readers whose favorites list include Frank McCort’s cautiously hopeful Angela’s Ashes will probably see similarities in this fictional story collection.

“The Ice at the Bottom of the World” by Mark Richard

– from interview to barnesandnoble.com

If variety of professional experience is the Mark Twain indicator of a great writer, Richard certainly deserves to be put at the top of the reading list. From bartender to investigator, from DJ to political string-puller, the author has lived both in poverty and in plenty. His novel also follows a dizzying array of human experience, from a beach-haunting vampire to children in a charity ward – and all sorts of drug users in between. This short story collection was added to the 2008 summer recommended reading list of Bates College, and Arlington’s University of Texas.

What is on Malcolm Gladwell’s bookshelf?

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Books that shaped the personality of an outstanding author and scientist

 “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

– Gladwell’s review

Also recommended by Steve Jobs, Evan Williams, Mark Cuban, Andrew Grove, Guy Kawasaki

Out of Harvard Business School Press has come a ‘must’ on the business book list – Christensen’s explanation of why technology changes can derail established companies. He points out the strengths of the companies who use best management practices (listening, aggressive investment in customer demands) but get side-swiped by the paradigm shifts that inevitably happen when disruptive technologies emerge. The cheaper and simpler technology of disk drives, for example, became increasingly more convenient to customers, who then demanded enough to establish that technology in the marketplace – above its competitors.

“Stone’s Fall: A Novel” by Iain Pears

– from interview to The Guardian

Pears’ eye for detail as a financial reporter comes out in this historical novel, which describes the many influences and possible reasons for an arms dealer’s death. Since he fell from a London office window, and had many powerful connections in finance and the spy world, the possible puzzling reasons are many and varied. So are the reading list recommendations, from the New York Times to Richland College. While the book mirrors modern headlines, the setting is in Victorian times, which ought to intrigue fans of Austen and Dickens.

“Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” by Steven D. Levitt

– Gladwell’s review

Also recommended by Bill Gates

After publishing Freakonomics in 2005, Stephen D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner didn’t stop. Having worked a lot, unrevealling new sides of current situation in the world, they present SuperFreakonomics, a book that will twist our way of thinking once again! Can television rise crime levels? What do prostitutes and department store Santas have in common? These and many other at first sight looney questions that can arise in the head of everybody are answered by the authors. It’s not an analysis, it is a freakalysis!

“Fooled by Randomness: TheHidden Role of Chance” by N. N. Taleb

– Malcom Gladwell

Also recommended by Evan Williams

The role of luck in life is under-appreciated, and reasons assigned to success are over-simplified, declares Taleb in his new work. Positing that risk and uncertainty are an ignored part of life and business (including not knowing why something works and why it doesn’t), he points to the amount of information in which society drowns, after drawing misguided conclusions. Using historical figures such as the wealthy Croesus, and games of chance such as Russian roulette, Taleb forms a picture of unwelcome reality that must be faced. Recommended as thought-provoking, from Pine River Capital Management trader Steve Kuhn to the Trading Pitt, this book makes an intriguing addition to the reading list.

Washington Post chairman Don Graham’s recommends

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“Colonel Roosevelt”by Edmund Morris

– Don Graham’s answer on Quora

While fans of former President Theodore Roosevelt may be intrigued by works such as a Strenuous Life, these may be too short to really satisfy the need to know details about Roosevelt’s accomplishments and interests. Like William Manchester’s three-volume work on Winston Churchill, Morris has gone into eye-opening detail about Roosevelt’s early life, influences, and political prowess. It may startle some readers to know thatRoosevelt wrote over 100,000 letters per year, went on his famous African safari, and also promoted Woodrow Wilson into power over Taft. Political and legal readers may want to add this to their book lists, just on the strength of the libel suit details.

  “Lord of Misrule” by Jaimy Gordon

– Don Graham’s answer on Quora

Dick Francis has a dark horse competitor in the fictional world of horse racing. While the New York Times seemed to dismiss Gordon’s achievement as a winner in the 2010 National Book Awards, perhaps because the story centers around the small but complex doings of claims races and ill-paid grooms. The humans and the horses alike have exotic names and characters, fromMedicine Ed the philosophical groom to racers Mahdi and the Lord of Misrule.Business students searching for fictional additions to their reading lists can’t go wrong here. The compelling descriptions of human behavior and crooked attempts at profiteering read like any Wall Street expose.

5 powerful books Anthony Robbins recommends you

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photo: Wikipedia

Mind-blowing reading list from a famous author and motivational speaker

 “The Alchemist ” by Paulo Coelho

-Anthony Robbins

The lure of treasure, the advice of a gypsy, and the golden obsession of a king. These eternally alluring themes are woven with mystery and magic throughout Coelho’s novel, which features a travel-hungry shepherd boy named Santiago, searching for wealth and the meaning of life. This simply worded book has been added to the favorite lists of Hollywood stars Julia Roberts and Will Smith, as well as the reading list of former President Bill Clinton. Its fame came as a shock to its Brazilian author, who lived the nomadic life of the protagonist across many years and Latin American countries.

“As a Man Thinketh”by James Allen

– Anthony Robbins

Using many Scriptural quotes and real-life examples, James Allen shows why the thoughts of a man’s mind turn into the events in a man’s life. Many additions to bestseller book lists (such as The Secret) have used Allen’s illustrations on how the inner life of a person can either contribute to health and wealth, or sickness and poverty. Motivational teachers and speakers, from Anthony Robbins to Norman Vincent Peale to Steven Covey, have made use of Allen’s principles and examples on the power and nature of noble thoughts and visions.

“Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got” by Jay Abraham

– Anthony Robbins

Success is available using normal means, indicates JayAbraham. Readers of Russell Conwell’s business classic, Acres of Diamonds, willrecognize the same principle of looking at the resources in front of you(rather than treasure afar off) to bring wealth. Business leaders from HarveyMcKay to Tony Robbins have added Abraham’s work to their favorite lists.Businesses from Clear Vision Development to the Personal MBA recommend the bookfor its tips on increasing a businesses’ client list and profitability – and asa way to save on seminar costs.

“The Singularity Is Near:When Humans Transcend Biology” by Ray Kurzweil

Anthony Robbins said that he has read this book two times and he loves it.

– from interview to CSMonitor

Science fiction books have profited off the concept (and fear) of man versus machine, from HG Wells’ futuristic reading list classic (War of the Worlds) to Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. Man in combination with machines, such as Frederik Pohl’s Man Plus, is an achievable goal, according to Ray Kurzweil. He includes scientifically baffling words such as gigaflops and ‘probabilistic fractals’ (per the New York Times) to make his point that the future will be filled with increased and personalized use of technology that will surpass human intelligence.

“Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain” by Pete Egoscue

Anthony Robbins

Pain management is both a growing concern, and a growing industry. In this book, Egoscue indicates that it is possible to achieve true health without the shackles of surgery, therapy, or objectionable pharmaceutical methods. Professional sports players should add this book to their reading list, on the basis of Egoscue’s expertise with sports injuries alone (such as rotator cuff issues). Office workers can benefit from the helpful instructions on how to stretch your way out of carpal tunnel issues and migraines. Retired workers may be intrigued by the author’s methods of mitigating chronic pain issues with knees, hips, and the lower back area.

David Foster Wallace’s book recommendations

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photo: Steve Rhodes (flickr)

An award-winning American novelist, story writer and essayist provides a list of the books worth reading.

“Where Are the Children?” byMary Higgins Clark

David Foster Wallace’s said that this book is one of his favorite and included in his 1994 Syllabus from hrc.utexas.edu

This novel was as ground-breaking in the author’s life as it was in the life of her reading public. This is one of the best books to read, either to get a feel for the author or for mystery fiction, because it taps into that psychological horror that every mother feels eventually – losing her children. Added to that is the fear of a murder charge by unsympathetic courts, another bout with sensation-hungry journalists, and the loss of a second marriage. The worst fear of all, in Nancy Harmon’s mind, is that somehow she has killed her own children – and forgotten about it.

   “Rock Star” by Jackie Collins

David Foster Wallace’s said that this book is one of his favorite and included in his 1994 Syllabus from hrc.utexas.edu

Collins’ novels are known for a ‘glamour girl’ appeal, mixed with the dark underbelly of Hollywood politics and people. This work is a slight deviation, focusing on three music stars at the height of their power – and vulnerability. For every hit, there is a hit man (or crew) to be reckoned with. For every dream, one lies broken, and the other has been hijacked by a blackmail attempt. The names (such as Kris Phoenix and Cybil Wilde) are as exotic as the locations and events, and reading through the pages should be a swift and exhilarating roller-coast ride.

“The Big Nowhere” by James Ellroy

David Foster Wallace’s said that this book is one of his favorite and included in his 1994 Syllabus from hrc.utexas.edu

Ellroy manages to exude both ennui and the dark currents of crime noir, in the best traditions of Raymond Chandler, and make it seem new. One of the best books of his litany, besides the sequel L.A. Confidential, this novel draws together three officers of the law into a grand jury investigation gone bad – and they’re not anyone’s idea of a boy scout. Federal Agent Considine is haunted by a heroic act on the books that also resulted in a marriage full of tension. L.A. detective Upshaw is getting closer to a crazed murderer, though the nature of the murders both horrifies and fascinates him – for personal reasons. Meeks the ex-officer is involved with mobsters and prostitution rings. Friendship between these three is bound to be explosive.

“Black Sunday” by Thomas Harris

Harris’ novel makes dangerous reading – especially for fans of the Superbowl. Though Harris is better known for other his serial killer character, Hannibal Lecter, this novel displays some of the author’s best gifts: suspense and conflict. A crazed Vietnam veteran should not be playing with explosive blimps in the vicinity of crowds, but that’s just what Michael Lander wants to do – set off a bomb and kill the President in the middle of the Superbowl. The power of the FBI and international experts are against him. The question is, how will they search out and destroy a timed bomb in the middle of such a huge crowd?

 “The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris

One of the best books to read on the psychology of a murderous madman, this novel sets the tone for all of Harris’ other works…and the serial killer genre. A former crime reporter and Associated Press editor, Harris blends action with good word choice. Hannibal Lecter knows all about psychology and killers, because he used to practice it on his patients – and then eat them. FBI agent Clarice Starling is on a mission to prove herself and find a serial killer named Buffalo Bill. When Clarice tries to glean information from Lecter, he turns the interaction into a life-and-death game, while Clarice struggles to keep a hold on her sanity and her mission.

“Carrie” by Stephen King

If every girl’s American dream is to attend a high school prom, it wouldn’t be the kind of prom within 100 miles of Carrie White. King takes the idea of a troubled teen, exacting vengeance on her bullies, to new levels in his first novel. After suffering years of neglect and psychological abuse from her mother, and ridicule at school, Carrie’s new powers of telekinesis become a dangerous weapon. Highlighting the issue of not fitting in, Carrie’s first blood comes from herself, as other high school students in the shower room crowd around, throwing tampons. Carrie takes on the idea that one cruel act deserves another, and the rest is well worth reading to fans of horror fiction.

  “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

Besides the Lord of the Rings, perhaps no other series is as well-loved globally by the reading public as Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. This is the first introduction to the family of four (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) who become kings and queens in a magical land, which just happens to appear at the back of a seemingly ordinary wardrobe. Family ties are tested alongside their characters, as the four children discover why the frozen land of Narnia must be freed from the tyrannical hand of the White Witch. Behind all stalks the regal lion, Aslan, who will bring eternal spring to Narnia – at a great cost.

“Lonesome Dove” by LarryMcMurtry

Not only did McMurtry win a Nobel prize because of this novel’s quality reading level, but it set the tone for Westerns written after the 1980’s. Cattle drives across American prairies, Texas Rangers and ranchers, outlaws and American Indians, and their women – this story has it all. One young man carves out his own identity as he works his way toward Montana. Meanwhile, a sheriff searches for his wife, who’s run away in search of more adventure than a two-horse town can provide. There are international trade issues with Mexico, and cattle rustling, and the ever-present threat of outlaw leader Blue Duck. Behind all of the drama are the horses and cattle, on which the West was built.

Chris Anderson’s book choice

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photo: Carito Orellana (flickr)

Edidor-in-chief in WIRED talks on favorite business books

    “Rework” by Jason Fried

– Anderson’s review

Also mentioned in Mark Cuban: 6 Great Books For Entrepreneurs

This book is enthusiastically endorsed as a reading list additive by Tribes author Seth Godin and Diane Danielson of Entrepreneur.com. From the guesswork of business plans, to the need for speed in making priorities, Fried and Hansson have written a book that will appeal to startups and managers alike. Many of the research and development issues are the same, though some business leaders may be surprised by topics on which the authors urge their readers to say no – including third-party investors and business escape plans. If boiled down to a phrase, this book would heavily promote the rejection of multi-tasking and the necessity of focus.

“The 20% Doctrine: HowTinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success inBusiness” by Ryan Tate

– Chris Anderson

Goofing off has its business virtues, as pointed out by Tate and the Shanghai Daily. Instead of rejecting and marginalizing the young and restless rebels, their creativity should be shaped and allowed to blossom. Letting them spend one-fifth of their time on projects with personal significance is the way to encourage innovation and real progress. As a Gawker gossip blogger, the author has lived his advice. For skeptics who believe in twelve-hour workdays, he provides compelling examples from real industry leaders: Google, Condé Nast, Flickr, Huffington Post, and National Public Radio.

 “Hackers & Painters:Big Ideas from the Computer Age” by Paul Graham

-Chris Anderson

Graham has developed the promotion of unpopular, go-against-the-grain habits of nerds to a fine art. A common pitfall for large companies, he says, is simply imitating and improving on someone else’s innovation, like Hollywood blockbusters that use a tried-and-true formula with a few new plot twists. Startup companies can nip around bureaucracy, please customers, and award those who get things done, joining in the true joy of wealth creation. InSITE, a New York City hub, featured his work on a top 10 reading list for 2012, along with startup job promoter GetWakefield.com.

Albert Einstein’s 5 favorite books

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photo: Wikimedia

Good books to read recommended by the scientist

“Don Quijote” by Cervantes Saavedra

–from “Quest” by Leopold Infeld

Much reading and book-learning can drive you to try and become one of the characters in your favorite novels. This is what happens to Don Quixote, who attempts many chivalrous knightly acts while hampered by a world that has rejected knightly virtues. The Guardian rightly placed this 400-year-old classic novel among the its all-time Top 100 books, and quite rightly between these three selections: Diary of a Madman, The Divine Comedy, and Anderson’s Fairy Tales. Cervantes weaves all three elements – madness, comedy, and fantasy – in between conversations and adventures shared between Quixote and Sancho Panza, his seemingly simple-minded but loyal and outspoken aide de camp.

“A Treatise of Human Nature” by David Hume

David Hume’s “Treatise of Human Nature“ had according to Einstein’s own words quite an influence on his development.

Exploring the link between science and human nature, or a scientifically applied moral philosophy, is the goal of this Treatise. Building on early complaints against the endless conjecture and wranglings between philosophers, this work promotes a move away from metaphysical speculation and a permanent shift toward systems based on observational fact. By banishing supernatural doctrine that looks beyond the existing world, fear and prejudice can take a backseat in human experience. Kennesaw State University listed this work in its Honors program, along with the famous Enquiry. KSU should have also included Hume’s friend Adam Smith, who worked out many of these philosophies in economics.

  “None” by B. Kovner

“Isis Unveiled: Secrets of the Ancient Wisdom Tradition” by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

This was one of Einstein’s favorite books

Along with The Infinite Way and Kahlil Gabran’s The Prophet, this book made its way into Elvis Presley’s reading list. As a Theosophist, Blavatsky promoted pantheism and greatly influenced both Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Besant. In this work, spiritualism and occult practices are the base for examining ancient Eastern and Western wisdom, rather than the traditionally reversed path of finding knowledge. Like David Hume, Blavatsky examines existing philosophical systems and ideas and finds them to be inadquate, especially in the light of the Kabbala, the Vedas, and Nostradamus prophecies.

“The Brothers Karamasov” by Dostoevsky

Einstein very much liked to read The Karamasow Brothers by Dostojewski.

Also recommended by Vladimir Putin, mentioned in 5 Good Books To Read According To Haruki Murakami

This is of the best allegorical novels to explain the fractured nature of 19th century Russia. Each character is representative of one of the ruling classes. There is the father Fyodor, the landowner who is negligent about his land, but greedy in using its produce for himself. There’s Dmitri, who has been passed around from house to house, and has grown up an entitled but debt-ridden soul. There’s the skeptic Ivan, who wishes to live more among cold concepts than people. Third is gentle Alyosha, the mystic and religious peacemaker, and the illegitimate Smerdyakov. Throughout are themes of love, law, and duty, which makes this one of the best Dostoyesky books to read besides Crime and Punishment.

Haruki Murakami recommends 5 good books to read

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photo: murakamiharuki.ru

Japanese writer about favorite books

Philip Marlowe series by Raymond Chandler

-from interview to The Guardian

These top four Marlowe novels are what launched Raymond Chandler into the big leagues of hardboiled detective fiction: The Big Sleep, The High Window, Farewell My Lovely, and the Lady in the Lake. Anyone wanting a mystery with condensed descriptive language, equating faces with stale beer or smiles felt in pockets, won’t be disappointed by the Omnibus. Stolen golden coins, mousy secretaries, gun molls and casinos – Marlowe encounters them all. Chandler’s experience as a reporter, auditor, and oil executive led to truly memorable fiction and screenplays. The successful Big Sleep screenplay included Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, while the novel won a spot on Time’s 100 Novels of All Time list in 2005. Definitely, good book to read.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

–from interview to Time

Also recommended by Chuck Palahniuk, Bill Gates

The Great Gatsby, the crowning achievement of the literary career of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is set in the Jazz Age, that is, 1920s. This is the story of Jay Gatsby, very wealthy and powerful billionaire, who is in love with Daisy Buchanan. As almost every man of power, Gatsby likes to throw luxurious parties, gather the Beautiful People in his house. The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of XXth century literature.

“Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger

Haruki Murakami

Also recommended by Bill Gates, mentioned in Woody Allen Recommends What To Read Next

Catcher in the Rye is undoubtfully a classical work of the American literature and is very popular in “Top 10 books” lists. This novel was the peak of J.D. Salinger’s career, as after it was published, he decided to live a life of a hermit. The main character being an expelled student named Holden Caulfield, the book is a first-person story written in the accordingly stylized language. Though he is just 16, he encounters many events that tend to preclude adults. Catcher in the Rye is about a youth of 1960-s,but it is still actual today.

“The Brothers Karamasov” by Dostoevsky

Haruki Murakami

Also recommended by Vladimir Putin

This is of the best allegorical novels to explain the fractured nature of 19th century Russia. Each character is representative of one of the ruling classes. There is the father Fyodor, the landowner who is negligent about his land, but greedy in using its produce for himself. There’s Dmitri, who has been passed around from house to house, and has grown up an entitled but debt-ridden soul. There’s the skeptic Ivan, who wishes to live more among cold concepts than people. Third is gentle Alyosha, the mystic and religious peacemaker, and the illegitimate Smerdyakov. Throughout are themes of love, law, and duty, which makes this one of the best Dostoyesky books to read besides Crime and Punishment.

“The Castle” by Franz Kafka

Haruki Murakami

Hailed as one of the best books of Kafka by the Guardian, this novel details the unquenchable human spirit of the unnamed protagonist (K) in his monumental struggle against the mist-enveloped Castle. The overwhelming beauty and reality of snow and darkness are almost tangible things, along with the isolation and need for companionship experienced by K. The superstitious awe and suspicion of the villagers is reminiscent of Silas Marner, while the constant struggle with snow and darkness seem in keeping with Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

6 books that everyone must read. Paulo Coelho recommends

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photo: Paulo’s flickr

One of the most popular author suggests inspiring books

“Songs of Innocence and Experience” by William Blake

“You don’t need complications to be connected to the miracle of life.”

-from interview to Barnes & Noble

While many know the most famous Blake poem, The Tyger, the pastoral context of the Songs of Innocence — such as The Lamb — are just as important. The battle between the human struggle against suppression and heavy-handed rule come out in the Experience songs, while the Innocence songs show elements of childhood and adulthood blended together. Individualists can see anti-establishment themes running through the poems, though there are warnings against the vulnerability of an overly innocent perspective. Blake himself was an unorthodox Englishman and Dissenter against the Anglican church, and elements of his starving poet’s life can be seen in ‘A Poison Tree’ and ‘Sick Rose’.

“A Separate Reality” by Carlos Castaneda

“The first time I heard about “the way of the warrior.”

-from interview to Barnes & Noble

For those interested in the drug culture of the 1960’s, or metaphysical reality with all of its highways and byways, this translated sheaf of notes can provide some insight. Readers may want to first read Castaneda’s precursor, The Teachings of Don Juan, to get a background picture of the Western thinker versus the Eastern shaman – and to understand why Castaneda left the Yaqui sage after a badly navigated peyote experience. The heady mixture of philosophy and experience, especially when the anthropologist describes the terror of dark visions and the unknown, is enhanced with the arrival of another sorcerer (Don Genaro) and the idea that psychotropic plants influence a person’s ability to See energy.

Great Dialogues of Plato

“Where we realize that there is nothing new under the sun.”

-from interview to Barnes & Noble

If the Aeneid is a necessary epic poem for any reader’s library, as A.N. Whitehead declared in his ‘footnotes’ quote, a philosophy section can’t be complete without Plato’s Dialogues. Many Western readers find that the W.S. Rouse translation reads easier than other transcribed Plato texts. This makes a walk through the ‘Apology of Socrates’, his debate against a prison break in ‘Crito’, and the judgment in ‘Phaedo’ after a discussion on life after death, even more gripping than usual. Footnotes help with the ancient cultural references and quotes, especially in ‘The Republic’, in which an ideal form of government is drawn out.

“The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran

“An underrated masterpiece on dealing with human conflicts.”

-from interview to Barnes & Noble

According to the BBC, The Prophet is one of the few continually printed books of Arabic poetry, accessible to multiple life stages and declarations of faith. These prose poems, or sermons by Al Mustapha, cover life topics: family, love, labor, and death. Like Jonathan Swift’s creation, Gulliver, Mustapha wrestles with life questions after years of overseas exile. However, this book is quite free of sarcasm or irony. Like his friend and fellow poetic painter William Blake, Gibran promoted a non-orthodox and non-judmental attitude for the world

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“Reflects the richness of the Latin soul (and body).”

-from interview to Barnes & Noble

Also recommended by Bill Clinton

This winner of a spot on the Oprah reading list is focused on time and family. The small town of Macondo, begun by Jose and Ursula Buendia, is affected if insulated from the rest of Colombia and the world. Marquez explores human issues, from solitude to politics and poverty, from the perspective of five generations of the founding family – while the dangers from without become the dangers from within. Written in a vivid poetic style, English professor Kiely of the New York Times called this book an overwhelming mix between idealism and practicality. This may also be an accurate description of the author’s childhood in a small Colombian coastal town, fed fantastical stories of ghosts and soldiers by his grandparents.

“Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller

“Shows how a man can write from the heart.”

-from interview to Barnes & Noble

Also recommended by Bob Dylan

What was salacious and banned American reading in the 1930’s (but not in France) can now be added to anyone’s reading list. The over-the-top descriptions of women’s bodies provide insight into Miller’s own tempestuous personal life, and the deep anger expressed at life’s unfairness was all his own. From disappointing night club jaunts to a parade of interactions with prostitutes, the main character celebrates all things out of the ordinary and the triumph of the body – if not the body politic. They are good for free dinners and conversation, but not much more. Those inspired by the Beat writers, like Jack Kerouac, may find this a fascinating reading list addition.

Woody Allen recommends what to read next

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Some amusing and brilliant fiction books to read

“The World of S.J.Perelman” by S.J. Perelman

– Woody Allen’s interview

For those who love satire and parody and the off-balance wit of Woody Allen, Perelman’s sketches embrace absurdity and revel in the eccentricities of pop culture. From car dealers to movie mavens, from Broadway to writing screenplays for the Marx Brothers, the author reviews them all with a quizzical eye. Per The Paris Review, the humor writer saw his job in a Marilyn Monroe light, as the dance of a ‘cat on a hot tin roof’. Alone among the madmen and wishing in vain for peace, the author relates some of his written work and the drama in between.

                  “Elia Kazan: A Biography” by Richard Schickel

– Woody Allen’s interview

Like Ariana Huffington, Kazan was born to Greek parents and lived in a swirl of controversy. Unlike her, Kazan focused his life on moving pictures, and the development of realistic method acting. These included intense and moody works such as Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire, culminating in the Marlon Brando classic – On the Waterfront. His fame suffered when he gave out names of American Communists at the request of the House Un-American Activities Committee, but he is better known for his prolific writings and enthusiasm for blonde actresses.

“Epitaph of a SmallWinner” by Machado de Assis

– Woody Allen’s interview

For those who enjoy portraits of people who have unlocked the mysteries of life beyond the grave, Assis can offer a surrealist self-analysis of his main character Brás Cubas, steeped in the culture of Brazil. Cubas says what he really thinks about the presumption of grave worms, and the positivity of never passing on his earthly miseries to hapless heirs. Even for today, the New York Times indicates that the author’s critique of colonialism may be ‘radical’. His character’s perspective was influenced by the author’s life of poverty, slavery, and epilepsy – and the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer. In turn, Assis was an influence on Woody Allen, who thought him insightful and even brilliant. Great book to read next

“Catcher in the Rye”by J. D. Salinger

– Woody Allen’s interview

Also mentioned in Haruki Murakami Recommends 5 Good Books To Read, recommended by Bill Gates

Catcher in the Rye is undoubtfully a classical work of the American literature and is very popular in “Top 10 books” lists. This novel was the peak of J.D. Salinger’s career, as after it was published, he decided to live a life of a hermit. The main character being an expelled student named Holden Caulfield, the book is a first-person story written in the accordingly stylized language. Though he is just 16, he encounters many events that tend to preclude adults. Catcher in the Rye is about a youth of 1960-s,but it is still actual today.

“Really The Blues” by Mezz Mezzrow

– Woody Allen’s interview

Red Hot Jazz focuses on the book’s first sentence as the linchpin to the rest of the story. The main character’s saxophone education, learned at a Reformatory rather than a music school, flavors the other period-piece imagery: smoky dens and dance halls, tea and opium dens, and women of all sorts of ill repute. Harlem prisons and jails are scattered throughout the text, along with the music – always the music. As a Chicago resident, the author’s interactions with Al Capone included telling him off for interfering with staff hires since he couldn’t judge between the good and bad of his own whisky. If nothing else, this book is an eye-opening experience and re-education in words like ‘hipster’ and ‘gumbeaters’.

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