1.) Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
For people new and old to Faustus, you have to WATCH THIS. It’s only 30 seconds but it’s the most EPIC trailer for an EPIC stage adaptation of Doctor Faustus. Only a coincidence that my Brit boyfriend Arthur Darvill plays Mephistopheles lolol
Technically not a book because it’s a play. Everytime I read this I get chills down my spine and I end up crying because it’s so damn epic and timeless and applicable. Marlowe answers the questions “What would you sell your soul for?” and “Is anything really worth selling your soul for?”
2.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reading Atticus Finch’s epic line “Courage is not the man with the gun in his hand.” made me both tear up and angry at the world. How fitting is this for our country where as long as you wield any sort of political power (from being a president’s nephew to just being a police officer), a false sense of bravery is immediately installed. /frustration
3.) The Giver by Lois Lowry
My gateway drug into the addicting world of dystopian science fiction. I read this when I was 10 years old and the scenes between Jonas and the Giver recollecting “colors” and “memories” from time forgotten still runs vivid in my mind.
4.) The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
“LET THERE BE LIGHT”. The AMAZING Asimov does the science fiction genre a huge favor with such a short story on The Last Question. Because of this, I was able to deviate from my usual dystopian sci-fi (Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury) and moved onto Hard SF (Arthur Clarke, Neal Stephenson). whoop!
5.) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
During my entire high school life, I was the biggest Ayn Rand fangirl. I was the obnoxious preachy pseudo-obssessed follower who would light up at anything connected to Objectivism or the Virtue of Selfishness.
Nowadays, not so much.
Aside from the fact the Rand’s philosophy has rendered itself outdated in the Web 2.0 generation, it also has a lot of contradictory ideas (i.e. how Rand always says emotions shouldn’t get in the way of your life when she writes so angrily all the time with so much hate for Peter Keatings and Ellsworth Tooheys of the world).
Also being a white supremacist doesn’t really help with alluring new people into your school of thought.
Still, reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and Anthem and her other books did give me a lot of insight.
I know the feeling of being so alone in your ideas and feeling as if everyone seems to be going along with everything society tells them in an almost robotic kind of way.
Having read almost all of Rand’s works, I have a lot more to say on this subject so maybe I’ll just leave this for another blog post.
6.) The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
I’ve referenced this essay a hundred times on this blog! I love it. The Myth of Sisyphus is Albert Camus’ great essay on the futility of life.
He argues that men are just like Sisyphus, the mythological character doomed by Zeus to push a boulder up a mountain which ends up falling again after the rock reaches the top and this results in a lifetime of cyclic boulder pushing. (..lol..)
Camus says that Sisyphus, from our perspective, seems to be living such a pointless life pushing the boulder up over and over again. But as a mythological character doomed to a life of futility looks pitiful to men’s greater minds, don’t we look exactly the same as Sisyphus in the perspective of someone much greater than us (possibly God)? Doing the same things over and over again in our lives?
In the end though, Camus says that while it seems our mythological counterpart should be pitied and depressed because of living such a futile life, Sisyphus is actually happy with what he’s doing because that’s all he knows and that’s all he will ever know.
7.) Inferno (from The Divine Comedy) by Dante Alighieri
Oh, what Dante would go through just for his Beatrice…
Along with John Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Divine Comedy is probably where we all got the notion of what hell, purgatory, and heaven are like. Reading this had the same effect to me as reading Faustus. Although I’m not religious in any orthodox way, Dante’s vivid descriptions as he goes along the 9. circles of hell makes you want to run to the nearest confessional in fear of being eaten whole by Lucifer.
8.) The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
This is a testament to atheism! The God Delusion is wonderfully written, and less scientific than Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth” which I didn’t enjoy much. For my Christian friends, this would be a good read to understand the other side of the religious sphere
9.) Animal Farm by George Orwell
Tell me that communist pigs who start walking on two feet don’t freak you out and I will smack you a hundred times with Animal Farm.
10.) 1984 by George Orwell
RATS. THE ROOM OF LUV. BIG BROTHER. NEWSPEAK. INGSOC. What’s affected me so much about 1984 is the fact that it seems to be coming true little by little.
There have been a lot of fiction books which ended up foretelling the future accidentally. It would be creepy if 1984 ended up being one of them.
11.) A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman
A must must must read for fans of Sherlock Holmes and anyone who wants to learn the art of writing in First Person. The story is amazing, but what amazed me more than the plot was how Neil Gaiman used perspective as his main literary device. The ending is kind of /mindfuck/ so I don’t want to spoil it here. This is the first story in one of his anthologies, Fragile Things.
12.) The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
The joke mentioned from the title is the laugh Batman and the Joker share at the very end of the graphic novel. Alan Moore is my graphic novel god just because he deviates from the usual “action” comic and goes deeper into the supposedly comical characters by giving them depth and psychological features. This is also the Joker’s origin story if anyone’s interested.
13.) The Stranger by Albert Camus
Albert Camus means a lot to me mostly because his books are the ones I’ve read during the time I was clinically depressed. I get the feeling in The Stranger where the protagonist/narrator, Meursault, has no feelings, no grievances about a family member’s death. (This book is NOT AT ALL about depression by the way.)
It’s one of Camus’ most famous works where he beautifully explores that man can only be happy when he finally learns to accept that the meaning of life is that it has no meaning.