Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Books of influence

Lists can be fun. I was trying to come up with a top ten list the other day when I got to thinking, what books have I read over the years, that have had a real impact on me. Not ones that I simply enjoyed but books that helped change the way I see the world. Cheesy yes but true!

The Heart of philosophy by Jacob needleman.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
The Hobbit by Tolkein.
Lord of the rings. I put it separately because it influenced me separately.
1984 by George Orwell.
Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome - probably the funniest thing I have ever read.
In a blink of an eye by Walter Murch.

Interesting no? What does this say about me I wonder. Feel free to add your own list


Michael Valiquette said...

Siddhartha was a good one for me too. I read it in high school but it left a mark.
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Davies' poetic prose would be enough on its own but this one struck a chord in its underlying principle.
Vonnegut, don't remember which one in particular. He wrote one about a painter, it had a Norman Rockwell counterpart in it. Blanking on the title.
The Rum Diaries, by Hunter Thompson. Not everybody's favourite of his works, but I really liked it. Not so frenetic in its writing but still chaotic in the lifestyle it represents.
Franny and Zooey, by JD Salinger. this book kicks Catcher in the Rye's ass. Holden Caulfield was a whiny bitch.
Homer's Odyssey. I had a Classics teacher with a slight scottish accent who would read to us. When a teacher believes so much in a literary work as an espousing of virtue and philosophy... it kinda rubs off.
Run With the Hunted, a Charles Bukowski Reader. This was my first exposure to Bukowski. I used to read this on the Hastings bus route into downtown Vancouver from Burnaby surrounded by a sea of sweaty human trash. This book ruined me for people. It probably contributed to the ruination of my relationship with the girl I was living with at the time. Bukowski's distaste for his fellow man was contagious. It was a decade before I was able to pick up another of his books. By far my favourite author. Now, rather than chasing me off, I find his work steels me against the mundane and hopeless.

Eifriger said...

Hummmmm! A poser for sure.. I devour books. I placed here books I have read multiple times. These are books that are precious to me, that I would buy, lend out and never see again, then have to rebuy.

1. Charles de Lint "Memory & Dream"
Helped me to Come Out wayy back in '95.
2. Rohinton Mistry "A Fine Balance"
A huge eye-opener regarding poverty and hope.
3. Joyce Cary "The Horse's Mouth"
A definitive book on an aging artist.
4. Morgan Llywelyn "The Red Branch"
The story of CuCulain, this reduced my whole family to tears.
5. Anne McCaffrey "Crystal Singer"
Spent most of my pre & teen-aged years wanting to be an Anne McCaffrey character.
6. Elizabeth A. Lynn "Dancers of Arun"
Also helped me to Come Out.
7. J.R.R. Tolkien "Lord of the Rings" & "The Hobbit"
Began my love affair with dragons and all things fantastical as well as prepared me to be a good rpger.
8. The Harvard Lampoon "Bored of the Rings"
'nuff said.
9. Joan D. Vinge "Psion"
Another helpful book if you feel completely apart from your societal niche (teenager, gay, etc.)
10. C.J.Cherryh "Merchanter's Luck"
A gritty s/f world where the carpets NEVER get vacuumed.
11. Tom Wolfe "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test"
Opened my brain to the Merry Pranksters, Cassidy, the Beats and the Grateful Dead.
12. Stephen R. Donaldson Thomas Covenant series.
Blew my mind. First experience with an anti-hero.
13. Roger Zelazny "Amber Chronicles"
Helped shape me as a story-teller.

There are SO many more..didn't brush the classics (and comics!) Great topic Robbie!! :-)

Doc Savageland said...

Though I have enjoyed reading many books, and since the criteria is books that have changed the way we look at the world, I can only think of four. Here they are.

1 Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

This book let me on the path to discovering First Nations History, and how, though I do love this country and what is stands for, it was built on the largest extermination in history, rivaled only by the atrocities of the Nazis. Just goes to show you that even though Canada enjoys a good world image, we still have a lot to answer for, because the repercussions of what our ancestors did as still felt today.

2 The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton

What can I say, it’s a cheesy book, but it has some good ideas on how to save money. These days we need every survival trick we can find.

3 Pretty much anything written by Noam Chomsky will grab you by the head, turn it sideways and shake out all the propaganda you have grown up with your whole life and get you to look at the world the way it really is. Before you dismiss the guy as a conspiracy theorist, remember that he is first a scientist, a world renown one, and that he doesn’t come to his conclusions without having done a lot of research.

4 Gold Warriors by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave
This interesting book makes a very persuasive argument as to how much Asian gold the Japanese and the Americans were able to sneak away after the ending of WWII from all over Asia. If any of this book is true, it puts the whole Japanese economic miracle, and the whole Gold market, and Asian politics into question.