Best Books


Ben Curtis and his fave books

Perfume by Patrick Susskind

Faust Part I by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Candide and the Philosophical Dictionary by Voltaire

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

El Cantar del mio Cid by anonymous

Poetry and Bodas de sangre by Federico Garcia Lorca

The Divine Comedy by Dante

The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

James Bond series by Ian Fleming

Yellowthread Street mysteries by William Marshall

Collected stories of H.P. Lovecraft

Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy by Barrington Moore

National Identity by Anthony Smith

The Defeat of the Spanish Armada by Garett Mattingly

The King's Two Bodies by Ernst Kantorowicz

Beethoven biography by Maynard Solomon


Adam Goldstein's Fave Books

Here's a list of books, stories and literature off the top of my head that I have enjoyed in my exciting and tortured life.

The Right to an Answer by Anthony Burgess

Guilty of Everything by Herbert Hunke

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

The Fan Man by Leo Kotzwinkle

Lucifer Unemployed (and other short stories) by Alesander Wat

Three Plays by Slavomir Mrocek

My Last Sigh by Luis Bunuel

Woman Found Dead in Elevator by Ruth Tarson

A Field Guide to the Insects of America North of Mexico by Donald J. Borror and Richard E. White

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski

Babel by Patti Smith

Roman Poems by Pier Pasolini

Tales of Tears and Laughter: Short Fiction of Medieval Japan translated by Virginia Skord

Homage to Qwertyuiop by Anthony Burgess

Six Nonlectures by ee cummings

1984 by George Orwell

The Histories by Herodotus

How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce

Mussolini's Gadfly by Harry Fornari

The Art and Practice of Astral Projection by Ophiel

Bartelby the Scrivener by Herman Melville

Roman by Polanski

Estrelica & Vic by Malcolm Lawrence

Easy in the Islands by Bob Shacochis


Yves Jaques’ Fave Books

The Carnal Prayer Mat, by Li Yu

Fifteenth Century literary mayhem about a philanderer with a weenie weenie who undergoes a risky operation wherein his penis is crossed with a dog’s penis. The operation is successful, and he becomes a Don Juan of laundry beater proportions. Ultimately a morality tale! And between each chapter the author praises his inventiveness and originality of style!


The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje

As in several of his other novels, Ondaatje blends painstaking historical research with stunning imagination. The action centers around a bombed-out villa near the close of W.W.II - a Canadian nurse tends to her last patient, "the English patient," a man so horribly burned that no one is certain of his identity. Mix in a Pakistani bomb defuser with a Zen approach and a thief who’s thumbs the Germans cut off for spying, and you get the picture: not rebuilding shattered lives, just existing in a shattered world. "You, the darkest bean, the greenest leaf."


Autumn of the Patriarch, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Many people overlook this novel because it doesn’t have the comic, light-hearted aspects of "Love in the Time of Cholera" or "One Hundred Years of Solitude," but this is the novel where Marquez pulls out all the stops. It reads like a hundred year blink, taking it all in, never pausing, restless, fiercely imagistic. And it captures perfectly one cycle in the endless cycle of human ambition. The Patriarch, and his crushing grip upon those he rules will remain with you as an archetype forever after.


If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler..., by Italo Calvino

We all know the Italians have style. And that’s it. Style is after all what really matters. This book is so aggressively formalistic and ornamental in its style that it will make you ache somewhere. The book falls in on itself endlessly, in a way that may remind you of Pirandello, or perhaps Borges. Calvino’s story is the search for the book itself, the book you’re reading, and as in the best of endings, it ends with you the reader reading between the sheets. An ode to days spent reclining on pillows, sipping tea with a book in hand.


The Woman in the Dunes, by Kobo Abe

Forgive me for being somewhat stereotypical, but this novel has always seemed to me to embody what the Japanese do so well, which is to take someone else’s idea, and really kick the stuffing out of it! Abe takes the existentialist premise about Man’s position in the Universe and takes it places you never thought it could go. This novel is as violently physical, as it is hopelessly intellectual. It plays out a cruel and hopeless marriage of Man to Nature that will make you fear the out- of-doors, your neighbors, even your partner.


The Waves, by Virginia Woolf

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a nice turn of phrase, and I’ve always adored Woolf’s language-driven style of writing. The plot, if you can call it that, follows a group of friends from childhood through adulthood. It’s very stream-of-consciousness, but done by a writer who understands that even with an internal mode of discourse, touchstones are not only necessary, but represent the way consciousness is organized. The plot, instead of following a sequential ordering, is iconic in its connections - think of it as a series of chords modulated by a whacked out composer, that nevertheless has an ear for beauty and form.


Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy

Like I said, I like language-driven writing. Cormac sends you to the dictionary time and time again with lines like "Their movements were monitored by escapement and pallet." This novel turns the Western on its head, with the savages played by a group of cowboys who scalp Indians on a per scalp contract. The characters Cormac draws skirt the edges of impossibility. Like the Judge Holden, seven feet tall, entirely hairless, with little feet. And oh, I forgot to mention, he’s a good dancer. The baroque language clashes in the most delightful way with the spare dialogue and desert setting. A master at the peak of his powers.


The Master and Margarita, by Nikolai Bulgakov

The Devil comes to Moscow in this hilarious political satire. The Devil poses as a magician, and together with his accomplices (a fabulous assortment of creatures with abilities reminiscent of The Baron von Munchhausen’s entourage) befuddles the city with his act. Bulgakov uses this device to make a piercingly satirical attack on classism and bureaucracy in post-Tsarist Russia.


Wise Blood, by Flannery ‘o’ Conner

Hazel Motes, one of the most terrifying characters in all of literature. Symbolic of the disintegrated, self-absorbed mind, Hazel moves consistently in every direction that is sure to destroy his life. He preaches a religion he doesn’t believe in to a public that doesn’t care. He blinds himself out of spite. His actions are comic on such a dark level that we are almost too terrified to laugh. One scary writer. But what dead aim.


Deis Profundis, by Oscar Wilde

A seventy page letter from prison to his former lover. A times it can be ego-maniacal and hopelessly rambling, but consider that the man was in prison, and given one page per day to write upon, each day’s page subsequently taken away. That it’s at all coherent is testimony to Wilde’s intellect. Most interesting about this letter, and why I return to it again and again, is his iconoclastic take on Jesus Christ, whom Wilde poetically describes as "The first romantic figure in history."


Chris Kemple’s Favorite Books

Most Humorous Eco-Thriller: Stark, Ben Elton

Best Ass-Ripping of the Mass Media and US Foreign Policy: Manufacturing Consent, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Best Gangster Story: Legs, William Kennedy

Most Entertaining and Informative Spin-off of Another Novel: Flashman, George MacDonald Fraser (Prerequisite: Tom Brown's School Days, Thomas Hughes)

Best Historical Novel: The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara

Best Account of People Being Burned to Death and Why: Young Men and Fire, Norman Maclean

Most Entertaining History Writing/Best Original Source for Judging the State of the US Education System: Then Some Other Stuff Happened, ed. Bill Lawrence

Best How To Manual: Guerrilla Warfare, Che Guevara

Biggest Eye-Opener in College: The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan

Best Eye-Witness Journalism/Best Intro to the Vietnam War: The Making of a Quagmire, David Halberstam

Best Books from High School: Gulliver's Travels, Jonathon Swift; Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain; The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka; 1984, George Orwell; The Stranger, Albert Camus

Most Moving Account of Social and Political Struggle: I, Rigoberta Menchu, ed. Elisabeth Burgos-Debray

Best Book auf Deutsch: Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum, Heinrich Boll

Most Hated Genre: Feline Detective Stories


Ted Koppel’s Favorite Books

Marcus Aurelius: Meditations

Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian (there it is AGAIN!)

John Le Carre novels

Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment

Patrick O’Brien: the Jack Aubrey novels

E. Annie Proulx: The Shipping News

Graham Greene novels pre-1960

William Manchester: The Last Lion

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: The First Circle

Robert Graves: I, Claudius

Robert Caro: The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Means of Ascent, The Path to Power


Cason Swindle’s fave books

Books I loved as a child: The Seven Chinese Brothers; Sylvester and the Magic Pebble; Freaky Friday; A Billion for Boris; Time at the Top; Anything by Dr. Seuss; Anything by Judy Blume; Anything by Shel Silverstein

Books I actually read in High School (not just the Cliff's Notes): Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse; The World According to Garp, by John Irving; Anthem, by Ayn Rand; The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair; No Exit, by Jean Paul Sartre (a play); The Stand, by Stephen King

Best books I read in college: The Gospel According to Jesus, by Stephen Mitchell; Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, edited by Stephen Mitchell; The Awakening of Intelligence, by Krishnamurti; Ki In Daily Life, by Koichi Tohei; I and Thou, Martin Buber; Beyond the Limits, by Donella Meadows; All kinds of things by Erich Jantsch; The Way of the Spiritual Warrior, by Dan Millman; Education and Ecstasy, by George Leonard; The Upstart Spring, a history of Esalen; The Enlightened Heart, a collection of poems edited by Stephen Mitchell


Glynn R. Wilson's Top Twelve Book List To Call Yourself Educated

Best All Time Southern Novel: All The King's Men, Robert Penn Warren

Best Modern Southern Novel: The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy

Best Investigative Journalism in Book Form: A Law Unto Itself, David Burnham; Who Will Tell The People, William Grieder

Best Book for Understanding the Power of the Press:; The Powers That Be, David Halberstam

Best Science Book to Live By: The Diversity of Life, Edward O. Wilson

Best All Time Eco-Thriller: The Monkeywrench Gang, Edward Abbey

Best Recent Eco-Humor-Thriller: Tourist Season, Carl Hiaasen

Best Recent Biography of a Legendary Historic Character: Hugo Black, Roger Newman

Works Worth Re-reading From Time to Time: Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau; 1984, George Orwell