This will be an ongoing series of books that I feel are important to read or just a good read. *Note* these lists are in no particular order
10. Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
One of the best anti-war novels ever written, and mostly unread is ‘Johnny Got His Gun’. The story is about a young man who wakes up after in a hospital after a terrible incident during WW1. He soon comes to realize that his body and face is gone. The story talks from 1st person perspective of the horrors of war and the real implication of what happens to some young men during battle. A great and necessary read.
9. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
A book I come back to time and time again. It’s poetic in its prose and speaks to the simplistic living and the beauty of the world around us. This is a great book to read either on a cool spring day or by a window after a snowfall by a fire. It’s so reflective and quiet and Thoreau really puts in perspective the idea behind his trip to Walden and the importance of taking time to slow down and the satisfaction of working and living by your own means.
8. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
I’m not huge into philosophy. I think each person’s idea on life is their own personal philosophy and it’s hard to say that one man’s idea is better or more correct since we are all just guessing in the dark. With that said, ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ has some great ideas on quality, points of view, and more. The book itself is broken into sections of ideas followed by the story of father and son on a lengthy road trip and the beauty and the complications of their trip. A very interesting read that does have some important things to say.
7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A book that is hard to say too much about but what I will say is that Golding really hit on something when he wrote the story of children stranded on an island and what happens when they are left to their own devices. To me, Golding used children to stick the point more, but I believe he’s speaking of society in general and how with all our technological advances, we are still nothing more than basic animals when society is broken down. A terrifying novel as important now as it was when it was written.
6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I love ‘1984’ but I like Brave New World better. A book about keeping the masses calm by drugs, sex, and visual distractions. The class structure that is chosen by birth and the general malaise of the population really struck home for me when reading this. The idea of people being horrified of someone wanting to be an individual and not conforming to the rest of the world and a world were real emotion is suppressed and shunned is almost as scary as a world run by a police state. Denying emotion is to deny being human.
5. The Stand by Stephen King
Dickensian in size and scope, The Stand is possibly the greatest novel written about Good vs. Evil. With an astounding cast of characters and King’s ability to fluctuate between grand scale and intimate moments make this book a classic. You will love (and hate) the characters in this book. Each is unique and has their own voice and style. This book truly is epic and will really pull you into the world that is painted for you.
4. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Mark Twain is truly one of the great American Novelists. His style of writing and humor really is like a time capsule for his era. Huck Finn is a great primer to his large catalogue of great writing. To read Twain’s work and then read the internal dialogue and style he used for ‘Finn’ you can really get his genius. A classic American novel.
3. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
In a way, Slaughterhouse Five is the quintessential Vonnegut novel to read. It features many of his creative liberties and genre-bending stories he creates. A novel that jumps in time forward and backward and to other worlds, features some incredible writing and some hilarious and sobering work that will truly stand the test of time. This is an important novel and a must read. And I am putting in my will that my tombstone will have only two things on it: My name and *So It Goes
2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The great novel about guilt, nature, and the importance of redemption, Crime and Punishment has ideas that have now permeated culture while standing alone itself as a masterful piece of writing. Dostoyevsky is a favorite writer of mine (and The Idiot is my favorite of his works) and this book begs to be read generation after generation.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald really knows how to construct a sentence. This is a novel I went into thinking I would hate it and couldn’t care less about the synopsis but I fell in love with it and was riveted by it. This is another novel that is timeless in the themes and ideas posed in the book. It also contains what may be the most perfect sentence ever written:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.