My life has been changed by a book a thousand times, and it always seems like a fresh fireworks display being set off between my ears. That’s really the only way — or the best way — I can explain the impact of a book that hits you just right. It’s nearly as hard as trying to explain a rainbow to someone who’s never seen one. Impossible, right?
Well here are a few dozen of my favorites, books that changed my life when I first read them, and continue to change my life in mysterious ways when I re-read them.
I’ll start with a few of my top favorites, and end with some lists by genre, with maybe a few surprise additions as we go along.
My reading list starts here:
The Book, by Alan Watts: Watts was the foremost interpreter of eastern philosophy for Western audiences, and I owe him my life. In The Book, he unveils the fundamental illusion that human beings are separate from the universe, that we somehow “came into” the world, as opposed to what we really did, which was “come out” of it.
Read this book to find out how you are something the universe is “doing” in the same way that a wave is something the whole ocean is doing.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury: I’ve read this book over and over and over again and every time I do, I just love books more. It’s fiction, set in a dystopian future where books are banned, and where “firemen” don’t fight fires, but rather burn books. You may have seen the decent film adaptations.
Anyway, this is THE BOOK for book-lovers. Bradbury himself, being too poor to afford university spent every day for the better part of his 20s in the library, reading all the science fiction, all the philosophy, all the mystery, all the poetry, etc. Fahrenheit is basically his fictional ode to the power of books and literature to change individuals and societies, and a warning about what happens when societies turn their…