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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read? 796

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-loved-that-one-with-the-plot-and-the-characters dept.
dpu writes "Part of my New Year's resolution is to encourage reading as a hobby in those around me — especially my friends' children (ages 2 to 22), but my wife and I as well. There is a lot of 'classic' literature out there I'm familiar with, and will be promoting to the short masses here (Fahrenheit 451, To Kill A Mockingbird, In The Heat of the Night, Huckleberry Finn, Cryptonomicon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, A Wrinkle In Time, When Rabbit Howls, etc.), but I know many of you are much better read than I am. What recommendations would you make? What are the books that everyone should read? I don't care if it's been banned by schools, burned by communists, or illuminated by 15th century monks. If you think everyone around you should read it, I'd love to know about it."
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

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  • Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:23PM (#45840051)

    0. THE BIBLE
    1. Homer’s Iliad
    2. Homer’s Odyssey
    3. Exodus & Ecclesiastes & The Psalms
    4. Virgil’s Aeneid
    5. Socrates’ Apology
    6. The Book of Matthew & Jefferson’s Bible
    7. Plato’s Repulic
    8. Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic
    9. Aristotle’s Poetics
    10. Dante’s Inferno
    11. The Declaration of Independence
    12. The Constitution
    13. John Milton’s Paradise Lost
    14. Shakespeare’s Hamlet
    15. Newton’s Principia
    16. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments
    17. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
    18. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (& all of his work)
    19. Shakespeare’s Hamlet
    20. Ludwig von Mises’ A Theory of Money and Credit
    21. F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom
    22. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
    23. Einstein’s The Meaning of Relativity
    24. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth
    25. Ron Paul’s Revolution & End the Fed
    26. THE BIBLE

  • by Toe, The (545098) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:30PM (#45840145)

    Posted too quickly and should have said why...

    Stranger in a Strange Land - really stretches your mind. What is religion? What is humanity? Little questions like that.

    Ender's Game - A great morality play; and a very exciting read.

    Slaughterhouse Five - (or really anything and everything by Vonnegut. The guy is a great master, and every one of his books will open your mind.)

    The Hobbit - Okay, not Sci Fi, but a great book on greed. Pure and simple. Or perhaps not so simple.

    Aristoi - A deep look into a future of plenty, where society needs rigid controls to prevent a nano tech disaster. Also great insights into mind-computer interfaces and where they can lead.

    Consider Phlebas - A different take on a future of plenty, where society is so advanced, the artificial intelligences we have developed treat us like their pets.

    Steel Beach - Yet another take on a future of plenty, more near-term, and about the angst it can engender.

    The Peace War - Just read it.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mlts (1038732) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:32PM (#45840173)

    Here are a few that are mentioned because of importance, or don't first come to mind.

    1: The Bible (because good or bad, it influences our society.
    2: The Koran (similar to #1)
    3: 1984
    4: Brave New World
    5: The Magna Carta
    6: Dale C. Carson's "Arrest-Proof Yourself". This is an important book in the US to learn and understand. People may not agree with it, but it is how things function.
    7: Applied Cryptography
    8: Atlas Shrugged (one should sometimes read stuff just to show the errors in thought to boost critical thinking.)
    9: Communist Manifesto (same as #8)
    10: Wealth of Nations (same as #8 and #9)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:37PM (#45840225)

    Rather than thinking about books, I would think about authors. Mark Twain, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Friederich Nietzsche, Feodor Dostoevski, Tolstoi, Voltaire, Edgar Alan Poe, Pablo Neruda, etc.

  • by danpbrowning (149453) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:39PM (#45840249)

    "The Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoyevsky. Characters and conflict that will really come alive in your mind.

    "Foundation" by Asimov. Start of a really good sci-fi series. I read the entire book as if computers were described in the story all along, only to realize after I was done that he wrote the book before computers were even invented. Whoa!

    "Israel" by Martin Gilbert. A fact-based history starting in late 19th century using Arabic sources that will make you shudder to realize how many lies are believed about the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict as well as the sheer magnitude of the current level of anti-Israeli propaganda (i.e. "news").

    "Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose. A great portrait of American heroes from The Greatest Generation. Better than the TV miniseries.

  • None (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kohath (38547) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:42PM (#45840277)

    How about if we all read different books? Then we'll have lots of different ideas to discuss. It'll be like we're thinking individually instead of just following along with the group.

  • Re:The Bible (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RelaxedTension (914174) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:47PM (#45840345)
    Good pick!

    The Bible has has intrigue, death on a massive scale, hypocrisy, and damnation, the makings of a great work of fiction. And that's just the parts the character god plays, never mind the other players that come and go. As you move through the stories, you get a sense of the ruthlessness of all involved (especially the writers) to stop at nothing in their attempts to control those around them through fear and intimidation. Thrilling!

    On the minus side they forgot to do a continuity check after the constant re-writes that were done century after century to "update" it to current "standards". This leads to a fair amount of contradictions the subplots, such as what a person can and cannot do to anger the main character (spoiler: He gets mad at pretty much anything that has to do with personal pleasure, or things that don't involve group chanting and prostrating).

    It is an epic read though, and if you can stick with it you are certain to come away with a greater appreciation of those afflicted with mental illness.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @06:59PM (#45840459)

    Yeah, despite being an atheist I'm quite glad my high school included some pertinent excerpts from the Bible in the European literature class (which led to some controversy with some parents). If you're reading European literature prior to the 20th century, you miss large amounts of context and a ton of allusions that the author would've considered obvious to readers of the day, if you aren't familiar with some of the basic figures and stories in the Bible.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @07:04PM (#45840511)

    1: The Bible (because good or bad, it influences our society.

    The Bible doesn't influence our society because of what it says, but because of what people that haven't read it think it says. Reading the bible can also be detrimental to your religious faith. But a big benefit is that with a thorough knowledge of the bible, you can really annoy any missionaries that knock on your door. I think I have managed to get on some sort of black list, because I have noticed several groups of clean cut bible carrying young men visit my neighbors but skip my house.

  • Zen (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @07:16PM (#45840595)

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @08:07PM (#45840993)

    >You want your kids to have a positive outlook, be confident in their ability to solve challenges, read them good, hero fiction.

    I agree, emphaisi on the good. And I think it's worth pointing out something somewhat unusual about The LotR and The Hobbit that make them particularly good- there's absolutely nothing special about the hero. He's just an ordinary guy who rises to the demands of extraordinary circumstances. No super powers, no magical birthright, no (pseudo-) divine messenger. Granted, the ring does bestow a powerful advantage, but one that comes at such a high cost (at least in LotR) that it's rarely invoked.

    Superhero stories, from Beowulf to Superman, let children dream of being one of the Chosen Ones empowered to do great things. "Everyman" heroes show kids that you don't necessarily need magic powers or great deeds - sometimes a great hero is simply doing what must be done even though they'd much rather be comfortable at home. You tell me which is more likely to inspire a man do something heroic like betraying his government for the sake of his people.

  • by PapayaSF (721268) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @11:07PM (#45842411) Journal

    This [amazon.com] should be required reading for everyone of junior high/high school age. It's basically a brief introduction to statistics, focusing on all the ways they are often misused. It's short, funny, and permanently changed the way I view news and politics. Once you know this stuff, you'll see examples everywhere, especially when partisans have an ax to grind. E.g., years ago I saw a group's study that purported to "prove" that California's taxes and regulations had no negative effects on businesses. Further investigation revealed that they studied only existing California businesses, not businesses that had closed down, or moved out of state, or never got off the ground. Um, sample bias?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @11:25PM (#45842547)

    "1984" by George Orwell, which could be renamed "2014"

  • by Wycliffe (116160) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @12:51AM (#45842985) Homepage

    Notice how several of the above books have been banned at one point or another?
    If you want a decent list of "must read" books a good starting point is to just read all the books
    that have been banned at one point or another. By definition controversial books are a great
    source of views "contrary" to the norm and are generally written in a way that opens your mind
    and make you think otherwise there would have been no reason to ban them.

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