OT - Best Book You Have Read?

Submitted by mgokev on June 21st, 2010 at 10:46 PM

So, I love to read and between news, sports, and of course mgoblog, I read whatever book strikes my fancy.  But I'm stuck and don't have a book "on deck" like I usually do.  So what are the best books you have read? Suggestions?  I mostly read fiction, but a well written non-fiction or biography can keep my attention.



June 21st, 2010 at 11:42 PM ^

The Fountainhead is probably my all time favorite book. I'm also a sucker for Michael Crichton.. Jurrasic Park and Next being my favorites by him. I also recently read Nanonethics: the ethical and social implications of nanotechnology. It was basically a bunch of essays by preeminent scientists and engineers about nanontechnology. Pretty boring for some, but if you're in to that stuff it is VERY interesting!


June 21st, 2010 at 11:44 PM ^

Ishmael (Daniel Quinn),  A Language Older than Words (Derrek Jenson), Zen and the Art of Mortorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig), Siddartha (Herrman Hesse), anything by Kurt Vonnegut, House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski), The Man Who Tasted Shapes (Robert Cytowic).


June 21st, 2010 at 11:47 PM ^

Exodus, by Leon Uris

Mother Night and Slaughterhouse-five, both by Kurt Vonnegut

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

The Godfather, by Mario Puzo

Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men, and The Road, all by Cormac McCarthy

Space Coyote

June 22nd, 2010 at 12:12 PM ^

I was waiting for someone to say The Road.  It is one of the best I have ever read and essentially couldn't put it down.  So if you don't mind a book lasting a few days (I am, self-admittedly, a slow reader, too), then I suggest reading that if you haven't already.


Also, like someone way above me said, Phillip K. Dick is good.  His stories aren't always the best written, however, his ideas are always very good.  So if you don't mind the words coming off like beautiful angels whispering poetry, then I would suggest him.


'Walt Disney' by Neal Gabler was a really good look at Disney, for anyone as obsessed with Disney as I am.


And something that is non-fiction, but seems like a very good fiction, Dersu the Trapper.  It is known in Russia as the Russian Lewis and Clark.  It also inspired a Kurosawa movie (for anyone is up on their Japanese film history).  It is a very good read.


Also, I'm sure the OP has read it if he's big into reading, but Of Mice and Men is one of my all time favorites.  Have to give that some love while I'm at it.


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:34 PM ^

I've read it four or five times (it's a short book) and I'm amazed every time at how much I love it. Well written and extremely thought-provoking.


June 21st, 2010 at 11:47 PM ^

On the Road - Kerouac

Sideways - Pickett

Hunt for Red October - Clancy

Travels with Charley (in Search of America) - Steinbeck

Catcher in the Rye - Salinger

White Fang - London

Death of a Salesman - Miller (Michigan Man!)


June 21st, 2010 at 11:47 PM ^

I'm saving this post and making my own list.

On the Road and One Flew Over the cuckoo's nest

Henry Rollins is a good read I think, most probably will disagree

Whether you like the band RUSH or not, try Neil Peart. Ghost Rider was a great great book and a couple of his others ones weren't bad either plus he talks about alot of the books he has read as well. He talked about how great Jack London's books are and I have meant to look into some of his.

I've never read John Fienstein either but some of his books seem like they would be good.

Nick Hornby is pretty good as well.

Robbie Moore

June 22nd, 2010 at 8:38 AM ^

By my reckoning the greatest satire ever written. "No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."


June 21st, 2010 at 11:56 PM ^

Jim Harrison (although he went to MSU and didn't finish) is Michigan's finest native writer. He is best known for the novella Legends of the Fall, but The Road Home is one of the greatest pieces of writing in the last 30 years.

Other books that can change you:

- The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien  (the definitive book about Vietnam)

- Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver

- anything by Cormac McCarthy, but particularly Blood Meridian because good lit should hurt

- anything by Philip Roth after he turned 40

- Annie Proulx: Close Range or Bad Dirt

- Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock will f**k you up, no matter how solid you think you are.

- anything by Ron Rash

- Pinckney Benedict's latest collection: Miracle Boy and Other Stories


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

Leonard is also a great writer.  He's just not grappling with the big psychological problems like Harrison, which means, to me at least, that they don't stick with me as well.  Entertaining as hell, but not as thought-provoking. 

Harrison manages to work at an earthy (sex, wine, food) and cerebral level at the same time.  Some of his passages give me chills, which doesn't happen with Leonard.






June 22nd, 2010 at 12:00 AM ^

One of the best works of modern fiction:  Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

One of the best non fiction books for fiction buffs that need historical perspecitive:  Six Frigates:  The Epic History of the Founding of the US Navy by Ian Toll.

I'm not saying I am absolutely right, but I'm definitely not wrong.  Anyone who loves to read would never be disappointed by these books.


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:02 AM ^

Since it hasn't been said - World War Z; the premise isn't something that you would think would lead to a good book, but Brooks weaves an amazing work and also manages to catch the essence of human nature in it.


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:05 AM ^

Wow, no Charles Bukowski yet?  Guess he'd be more popular over on Maize n' Brew...

Bukowski - Post Office, Ham on Rye, Tails of a Dirty Old Man and (to a lesser extent) Hollywood

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Sirens of Titan

William S. Burroughs - Naked Lunch

Hunter S. Thompson - Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, The Rum Diaries

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged

Frank Herbert - Dune (and the other 5 novels in the Dune series)

Jean-Paul Sartre - Nausea


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:07 AM ^

Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle: post-apocalyptic fiction at its best.  Despite the name, there is no Stephen King-like battle of good vs evil; just a lot of thought-provoking and often irreverent entertainment.  Little characater quirks such the postman who only delivered pre-apocalyptic junk mail on one day of the week, "Trash Day," make this a unique read.


June 22nd, 2010 at 1:31 AM ^

Yes!  I loved Lucifer's Hammer, though a lot of what Niven and Pournelle did together was good quality.

On the sci-fi topic, I love Richard Hienlien, Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers are both fantastic book.  If anyone is a fan of military philosophy, Starship Troopers is a really interesting read (along the lines of Ender's Game).


June 22nd, 2010 at 12:16 AM ^


Shantaram -- Gregory David Roberts

Infinite Jest -- David Foster Wallace

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius --Dave Eggers

Ullyses -- Joyce

Anna Karenina -- Tolstoy

Brothers Karamazov --Dostoevsky

Taras Bulba -- Nicholai Gogol

In the time of the Butterflies -- Julia Alvarez (an embellishment of the true story of the remarkable Mirabal family's women, the likes of whom integrally catalyzed the end of Trujillo's dictatorship in Cold War Dominican Republic)



The Elegant Universe -- Brian Greene

Critique of Pure Reason -- Immanuel Kant

Treatise of Human Nature -- David Hume

Works of Love -- Kirkegaard (I've read these last three in order and plan to progress to Schopenhauer and Nietzche next, but I have no idea which of theirs to read [which wasn't a problem with Kant and Hume])

A long way gone -- Ishmael Beah (an emotional autobiography from a former child soldier of the Sierra Leone civil war of the early 1990s--a subject that's always interested me deeply).

Walden --Thoreau

Anything from Emerson

The Upanishads

I like the Dialogues of Plato's that I've read (Apology, Crito, Euphyro), and I should read more of them; they are very quick, tasty reads.

American Sphynx -- author forgotten (a commentary on the enigmatic personae of Thomas Jefferson)



Anything from Whitman, Neruda, or Vallejo. I like reading obscure poems from med students and physicians, too--I'm not sure why.

I don't really like Shakespeare; maybe I'd feel differently if I was confident that "Shakespeare" was the man we thought he was, not many men or some other man.



I picked up Bo's and Bacon's Lasting Lessons, and I liked it. I didn't agree with all of it. But I liked it--because I was able to effectively *hear* Bo's voice read the contents. Really cool stuff.

South Bend Wolverine

June 22nd, 2010 at 12:24 AM ^

A recommendation, re: Shakespeare: don't read him.  Ever.  To my mind, reading Shakespeare is an act that can only be justified by the greatest extremity of desparation.  Shakespeare is to be seen, performed, live, on stage.  He didn't write to be read, he wrote for the stage.  I am about as big of a Shakespeare fan as you will find, and I cannot abide reading his plays.


June 22nd, 2010 at 8:29 AM ^

For Schopenhaur, read The World as Will and Idea. He's kind of hard to get through, but he was really influential for Nietzsche, so he's worht the read at least once if you're interested in the history of philosophy.

Nietzsche, there's really no easy starting point. Birth of Tragedy is pretty readable, but the philosophical ideas are a bit buried in the aesthetics. That's one I found I understood best after having read a lot more of his stuff. Don't start with Thus Spake Zarathustra or The Will to Power. Those are two books that really have to be read in the overall context of his thought to make any sense at all. Beyond Good and Evil or The Genealogy of Morals wouldn't be bad first reads. I also recommend Walter Kaufmann's philosophical biography of Nietzsche. It is kind of old (written in the 1950s) and it's pretty long (450+ pages), but for my money he still provides the best overview of Nietzsche's thought, and is a good starting point if you're serious about getting what Nietzsche is doing.

By the way, I'm re-reading the Treatise right now. Hume is fantastic stuff.


June 23rd, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

I know it isn't the same as the colloquial "pleasure reading", but if Schopenhauer is anything like Kant, e.g., then I'll get a lot of pleasure out of reading him. It isn't easy, and it isn't quick-reading, but guh-damn is it satisfying to first prove able to read, then prove able to understand, and finally prove able to critique and judge the merits of the contributions of the greatest thinkers in the history of western philosophy. I call that pleasurable. Maybe, that's weird. I don't think so, though.


June 23rd, 2010 at 5:20 PM ^

Given that I was going to begin with Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I ought to thank you. Really. That's a good, brief run down of things about which I didn't know. I had been excited to jump right into the corps of Nietzsche's literature on "amor fati", and I was told this was it. I'm going to hold off, though. I don't mind being patient. Ha: I only have one life and its path to live and love, right?: So, I'll let myself thoroughly enjoy taking the long way around on this Nietzsche character.


Thanks again.

South Bend Wolverine

June 22nd, 2010 at 12:21 AM ^

I could honestly go on all day with this, given that I am a graduate student in ancient Christian history, and thus my job is about 80-90% reading, and 10-20% writing.  Narrowing it down is tough, but a lot of my favorites have already been named, so that helps.  A few that I didn't see:

"The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," Benedicta Ward, trans.  A collection of (very) short sayings & stories from the earliest Christian monks.  Nowhere in all of lit - fiction or non - have I encountered such vividly *alive* individuals.

"Blue Ice," John U. Bacon.  A great work of sport and university history, my favorite sports book ever.  I want him to write an identical book about the history of M football, and then one about the Red Wings.

The Father Brown Mysteries, GK Chesterton.  English Catholic priest Fr. Brown solves all manner of mysteries, and also reveals Chesterton's unbelievable energy for life.  If you like the TV series Columbo, look into Fr. Brown - he was one of the major inspirations behind the character.

"The World of Pooh," AA Milne.  Possibly the greatest children's lit in the world.  Also, I wrote the college application essay that got me into Michigan about that book, so it will always have a special place in my heart!

Dark Blue

June 22nd, 2010 at 12:46 AM ^

The Wheel of Time series started by the late Robert Jordan and currently being finished by Brandon Sanderson, is a great read. The story can get a little bit drawn out at times, but it will change the way you look at fantasy fiction.

Tai-Pan, Shogun and The Noble House by James Clavell are great reads if you care about the Historical far east(Japan, Hong Kong).

I'm currently readin Oswalds Tail by Norman Mailer, its been pretty interesting so far.


June 22nd, 2010 at 7:16 AM ^

"The story can get a little bit drawn out at times..."

This is an understatement. A better way to put it is you will start hearing the story from the point of view of a minor character whose name is exactly like another minor character except spelled a little differently, and who of course can use magic which is supposed to be rare except it isn't because if there's 3,000 magic users of the world you have literally met 900 of them.

Jordan got a little lost in his later books, more interested seemingly in world building than advancing the story. Plotlines extend further the later you go in the books, and it becomes irritating when you get through an entire book and most plotlines haven't advanced one iota.

In the last book before Robert Jordan passed away, he finally started fixing this, remembering again that the main characters have plotlines and points of view too, and extending the time you spend with each PoV so that everything isn't as jumbled. Sanderson then took over and did an even better job of this, writing the series' best book as its next-to-penultimate volume.