words, words, words ...

Books. Vonnegut in his cynical yet trenchant musings called them something like ink on mashed tree pulp, and that's pretty much all they are, except for the smell ... old paper, perhaps it's the glue they use too, and the smell of compressed universes writhing between covers. The smell of my grandmother's library, of our house, of a library. Of a good bookstore. I can sit and smell a book for hours, absolutely lost to the present, inhaling the pungence of a completely alternate reality. When I come out I am almost depressed to find I don't actually inhabit it.

This is not a comprehensive list of the best books in the world, or even those I consider to be the best. It grows and changes and I'm sure I've forgotten something. There is no way to sort out what makes a book good, what kind of category it falls into, so I lump The Fermata (pretty much just porn) in with Wuthering Heights (i just like to make the diarisis on the ë of Brontë--plus it's a good read) in with nonfiction. Pardon my literary taste.

At the bottom are links to my friends' booklists, which you should visit and soak up. We've all read different things and I love profiting from their recommendations.

bold = extra-cool

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

The Mists of Avalon (& its sequels), Marion Zimmer Bradley

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

1984, George Orwell

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

The Master and Margarita The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

Ishmael, The Story of B, and My Ishmael, Daniel Quinn

Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger

Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

One Hundred Years of Solitude One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García-Márquez, trans. Rabassa

The World according to Garp, John Irving

Hamlet & Macbeth, Shakespeare

Antigone, both by Sophocles and esp. Jean Anouilh

The War of the Saints, Jorge Amado (trans. Rabassa)

The Passion The Passion, Jeanette Winterson

The Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling

The Language Instinct, Stephen Pinker

Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen

The Fermata, Nicholson Baker

Orlando Orlando, Virginia Woolf

Le Premier Jardin, Anne Hébert

A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman

Flatland, Edward Abbott

The Alanna Books, Tamora Pierce

The God of Small Things The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder

The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Margaret George

Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard

The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

and, because all good things must come with bad, I must warn you NEVER TO READ The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbecki, or Grendel by John Gardner.


libraries of trusted others: