Fifty? The beginnings of an eclectic list...

This started with the idea of making a list of the 50 most influential books in one's life, on the occasion of one's 50th birthday... although I was more than 50 when I started this list. I may amend it, from time to time.

July 4, 2006   Far more than most people, I think, I am constituted by the books I read.  Here's my first (and probably last) pass at a list.

1. "Black Book House" series, aka "A Picturesque Tale of Progress", Olive Beaupre Miller (world history for children - many errors, but...)

2. "My Book House" series, Olive Beaupre Miller, ed. (esp. retellings of old myths & folktales, Thor, Robin Hood, Rustem, Cuchullain...)

3. An old children's series of Bible stories (it's in my sister's basement, now)

4. many other unremembered children's books on myths, history, knights, romance, science (dinosaurs!), cowboys, Indians...

5. Edgar Rice Burrough's "Tarzan" series

6. Andrew Lang, ed. "The Book of Romance" (Arthur, Roland, Diarmid, Robin Hood, others)

7. Mary Renault's "The King Must Die" (esp.)

8. Stephen Jay Gould's "Natural History" column & associated collections

9. Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique"

10. Nadine Gordimer "A Guest of Honor" and "Burger's Daughter", esp.

11. C. G. Jung... various

12. Harry Browne's "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World"

13. Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States"

14. Benjamin Ward's "Economic World View" series, esp. "The Radical Economic World View"

15. Bertrand Russell's "A History of Western Philosophy"

16. "Wet Mind (The New Cognitive Neuroscience)" Stephen M. Kosslyn & Olivier Koenig

[16A. "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind" George Lakoff]

17. "Fuzzy Logic", Burt Kosko

18. "Foundations and Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics", Howard Eves

19. "Against Capitalism", David Schweickart

20. "A Theory of Justice", John Rawls

21. "Pragmatism: A Reader", Louis Menard, Ed. (Charles Sanders Pierce, William James, John Dewey, et al)

[21A. "Experience & Nature", John Dewey ]

22. Howard Fast's "Spartacus" and "Being Red"

23. Irving Howe ed., "Essential Works of Socialism"

24. George Orwell "1984" and "Homage to Catalonia"

25. Christopher Jencks "Rethinking Social Policy"

26. Cornell West's "Race Matters"

27. Barbara Ehrenreich "Fear of Falling"

28. Gloria Steinem "Moving Beyond Words"

29. David Ruelle "Chance and Chaos"

30. Reino Hannula "The Blueberry God"

Additions on approaching 65

31. Lawrence Goodwyn "The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America"

32. Eric Foner "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877" and W.E.B. Du Bois "Black Reconstruction in America"

33. Frans De Waal "Chimpanzee Politics: Power & Sex Among Apes"

... and back to original

So much still left out... Shakespeare, the Iliad, Beowulf, the Durant series, various other science books (Einstein's little book on "Relativity", Feynman, "Cosmogenesis" and "The Tao of Physics"), economics books, philosophers: Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Hume, Mill, more Russell, books on logic (Langer, Quine, Russell, Priestly, Mill) and math, dozens of computer books (esp. "The C Programming Language", "Elements of Programming Style", and "Software Tools"), all the books on the occult, yoga, Zen, mysticism I read as a teen (Cavendish "The Black Arts", Crowley, Watts, Castaneda...), not to mention Zen-influenced beat novels ("On the Road", "The Subterranean"...), hard boiled detective genre (Chandler's entire oeuvre)... and especially the 600-700 mostly paperback science fiction and fantasy novels that still line our bedroom wall: Poul Anderson, esp. "The Star Fox", Piers Anthony, esp. the "Battle Circle" series and the "Omnivore/Orn/OX" trilogy, Butler, Cabell, Avram Davidson's "The Phoenix and the Mirror", Samuel R. Delaney, esp. "Dhalgren" and "Empire Star", Philip Jose Farmer, Gibson, Heinlein, esp. "Glory Road" and "Stranger in a Strange Land", Herbert's "Dune", Robert E. Howard's "Conan" series, R.A. Lafferty, Ursula K. LeGuin, esp. "The Dispossessed" and "The Left Hand of Darkness", Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorecock's "Elric" series, Andre Norton, Edgar Pangborn, Alexei Panshin, Joanna Russ "The Female Man", Robert Sheckley, Theodore Sturgeon, Tolkien, Jack Vance, A.E. van Vogt, Manly Wade Wellman, H.G. Wells, Roger Zelazny... all of these people and more, besides stimulating my love of romance and adventure, and helping me to develop a moral vision, taught me to open up my imagination, and never take the novelty or originality of a notion as a basis for rejecting it.


I kind of forgot most of my history reading, especially various books on Rome (esp. late Republic) and Greece (Homeric era thru Hellenistic age, but esp. Athenian empire and "golden age"), Korean history, Barbara Tuchman "The March of Folly", others. And other historical novels, esp. Mika Walteri's "The Etruscan" and "The Egyptian".


Also poetry (Khayyam, Marilyn Hacker, Frost, Naruda... ecclectic list), biography (Trotsky, Graham Greene, Saki, Gloria Steinem, Aleister Crowley, Philip K. Dick...), books on music and dance, "how to" books, *engineering* books...

How can one end such a list?

Books I've been reading list -- Home Page.