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Thread: Essential reads

  1. #25
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    Vonnegut is king of good funny reads that move the mind, some favourites are Galapagos, Breakfast of Champions, and Cat's Cradle.

    Philip K Dick is less fluffy about his mind-moving but wrote some corkers, the ones that have interested me most are VALIS, The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. There's some great stuff about minds and meaning-seeking and madness and reason.

    The book I'd probably recommend above all others is Riddley Walker by Russel Hoban, it can be a bit of a hard start as it's not written in standard English - it's set in a future Kent hundreds (thousands?) of years after the collapse of a great modern civilisation. It's a story about humans, how meaning passes on through time, stories and where they come from, where they take us.

    Really enjoying the Earthsea books by Ursula LeGuin just now - wizards, dragons etc. but it's about life and death and The Balance and human lives and all that good stuff. Epic but personal.

    Also that reminds me of Shikasta by Doris Lessing and the other books associated, some big scale stuff but such insight into people and really moving.

  2. #26
    Khalil Gibran's 'The Prophet'. A very uplifting read

  3. #27
    Off the beaten track .... Maxal's Avatar
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    I've been meaning to read that for ages and finally got it. I've read the very first book (and assume it gets better as she gets older). I was surprised there were panthers in the US. So, that got put in the wrong place. [Spot the new guy.] This was supposed to be a reply to the Little House comment a while back.

  4. #28
    Off the beaten track .... Maxal's Avatar
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    [I read The Man in the High Castle - K Dick, and it wasn't as good as I expected, the style put me off, but I feel I should try more Dick (scuse the pun). I have the Exegesis, and I have severe doubts I will ever read it.]

    So, essential reads:

    Doris Lessing - The Canopus in Archives series - wonderful SF, with literary merit and great ideas. She lead me to Olaf Stapledon as she said Starmaker is amazing, so I read The Last Men, which is its prequel. For me, it is the mother of all SF, covering billions of years of evolution and making the idea of telekinesis seem an obvious stage.

    Patrick White's Voss, a mysterious book, when I read it I was awed by his ability to create distinctly different people - how did he understand the real psychology of people so well? He has a very real grasp of the essential mystery of individual people if that makes sense.

    Hermann Hesse - I love Narziss and Goldmund, Steppenwolf and The Glass Bead Game. The latter is probably my favourite and I need to reread it.

    Tom Spanbauer - totally over-the-top gay writer. All of his books are good, but I'd probably pick The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon as a favourite. They are a bit like a more perverted / weirder John Irving. Dense epics, written poetically, mad storyline and a gripping read from beginning to end. [A clear distinction between good and bad guys!]

    Mervy Peake - Gormenghast, the whole trilogy. Oh! Who wants to leave this stony world. Stunning characters, each and every one, the twins, the library, Fuchsia.

    Jules Verne is a fun read. Voyage to the Moon gives some interesting scientific detail. He goes on about canons, the ideal length, power needed etc, it's fascinating and makes you realise that anybody can go to the moon, all you need is a trash can, a fuse and some sandwiches. A bit strange how they jettison the dog at one point - I can't remember why, maybe it was panting too much, using up critical oxygen. Or food rationing, they goofed up on one of the calculations. Goes to show: do your maths right or lose the dog.

    I can see I'm doing this list off the top of my head, Verne leads to Italo Calvino - Cosmicomics. The first story is a naieve treasure, about how the moon used to be much closer to the Earth. If you jumped high enough, the moon's gravity would do the rest and you could quickly land on the moon where all the cheese was there, waiting for the harvest. With Time, the moon gets further and further away, you then need a ladder, and it becomes more dangerous. Very sad. I think I read that the moon actually is an ancient chunk of the Earth - imagine if by quirkfate, life had already seeded on it and followed a separate evolution?

    Poppy Z. Brite - Exquisite Corpse. Makes horror beautiful.

    Samuel Delany - a stunning writer and a joy to read. Dhalgren is a very surprising read, and to think it was written in the Seventies. In Dhalgren there is a scene about some dessert with whipped cream it was as rivetting to read as the sex. So many scenes in that book.

    I've just read The Lover by Philip Jose Farmer, very well written study of alieneity. And now I'm onto Thomas Disch, a fiercely independent writer (who wrote The Prisoner - I Am Not a Number), The Priest, this is an intense thriller about the darker side of religion - something that needs a bit more attention. Ummmm . . .

    I don't read fast by the way, the above is a life time achievement. I've listed more than 11, so I guess I have to stop.

  5. #29
    Off the beaten track .... Maxal's Avatar
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    Wo! Am I allowed to do that?

    [How do you spell wo?]

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