Zanoni by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton
Zanoni tells the story of an immortal man, and the 5th chapter is said to explain the meaning of life. It is a hard read for most people, simply because it was written over one hundred years ago and the language is thick. And it is even harder to find since it is out of print. But if you can manage to get your hands on it through library loan, it is an incredible read.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Lately you can't admit to being a Plath fan without being lumped in with all of the obsessive teenagers who want to slit their wrists and write about it. Still, I will admit it. I love Sylvia Plath. Her form and content as a writer were intense, and I feel that few writers after her can unravel a story as perfectly as she did in her one and only novel. Her poetry collections are wonderful as well.
Dreaming in Cuban by Christina Garcia
I cannot do this book justice with any review. Garcia's imagery and metaphor alone is worth the read. It follows different members of a family through changes and realizations. Fantastic.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
If you are not familiar with Kahlil Gibran, he is a polific writer of inspirational poetry and prose. The Prophet is, in my opinion, the best. Although there is technically a story, the book works as a spiritual reference text. You can open up to the sections on "Love," "Reason & Passion," "Good and Evil," or any other subject.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hess
The story of Siddhartha is about a man who is looking for a spiritual path, and his best friend who follows him. It is sort of like an Eastern fable. Siddhartha leaves one faith or belief after another, searching for something greater, often getting sidetracked.
Savage Love by Dan Savage
Those of you who live in a larger city probably have Dan's sex & relationship column in your weekly Village Voice-type paper. This book is a collection of some of the most bizarre and informative topics he's evercovered. It is a quick, easy read that will leave you forever wondering what the people around you really do behind closed doors.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Yes, it is a story about rabbits. But there is a reason it is a classic. It is an intense, flowing story that has some obvious political and social commentary, much in the same vein as Animal Farm.
A History of Warfare by John Keegan
Keegan is an incredible war-writer. His knowledge on everything from primitive warfare on up is bizarre and facinating. I recommend all of his books, but this one covers everything in only necessary detail so it is less opressive than, say, a 500 page book on the Civil War (although I like those, too).
America's Naighborhood Bats by Merlin Tuttle.
Many of you might not know that I am a bat-fanatic (as well as an advocate for these important and interesting creatures). This book disells popular stereotypes about bats and explains what they are realy like. Merlin Tuttle is the founder of Bat Conservation International, and is responsible for most of the photographs and knowledge of bats that is known today.
Groovitude: A Get Fuzzy Collection by Darby Connely
In the past few years, no daily-strip comic has made the impcat of get fuzzy. Groovitude is a combination of Connely's first two books, which will make you laugh out loud like the first time you read Calvin & Hobbes.
Letters From a Nut by Ted L. Nancy
This man is a self-professed nut. He writes letters to many places and people, making bizarre requests. Many respond, and he prints the letters side by side. This was one of my dad's favorites.
Final Entries: The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels Ed. by Hugh Trevor-Roper
Goebbels was the propogandist for Hitler's war machine in WWII. His journals are disturbing and very interesting, and more about what was happening inside the Nazi party than anything else.
Quest For Perfection by Gina Maranto
This book is about human manipulation of the reproduction precess. Although about a decade old, it discusses what people are doing to build the perfect child, manipulating a child's sex, eye color, and more.
Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat: A Calvin & Hobbes Collection by Bill Watterson
Who doesn't love Calvin & Hobbes? Perhaps only a testament to my own stupidity, I still laugh at the sames strips over an over. Get a book and find out for yourself.
Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
Salinger is best known for Catcher in the Rye, which does not compare to his short stories. Still with some rather depressing scenes, he does not push you to conclusions. Rather, he sets a scene and you are simply left watching.
Urban Dingo from the Queensland Art Gallery
This book is about talented Australian artist, Lin Onus. It is difficult to find any information about his work in the USA. A lot of his work has political meaning, but the overall focus is the beauty of his work.
Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello
This is a short play, and you can pick it up for $1 or $2. It has many layers, and asks the reader to question reality as the characters seem only to exist because they exist as characters. Hard to explain, great read.
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
I am not sure what I can say that has not been said about Shaara's fictional, yet intensely realistic account of The Battle of Gettysburg. It is difficult to remember that it is fiction. The events really happened. And, although the thoughts and feelings of the characters are not exact, they cannot be too far off mark.
Other Good Reads & Useful Books:
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky
The many volumes of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
How to Spot a Bastard By His Star Sign by Adele Lang & Susi Rajah
The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
Tinker & Tanker: Pirate Knights by Richard Scarry
Other Staff Pages: Joann Calabrese, Nate Condron, Mark Gardner, Ben Dewey.