There’s a thread on Facebook called ’15 books’ in which they ask the question: What makes a book sticky? In other words, what are 15 books that “stick with you.” Here’s my list, with the caveat that it’s the 15 books that I can think of right now, in no particular order, and eschewing the books that are significant because of my scholarly work.\
I leave authors out of the list because I’m a jerk.
- Ender’s Game. A book I read at least twice a year well into my twenties. I’ve cooled on this since I learned OSC was an outspoken homophobe.
- Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. A book that pushes the envelope of what you can do with fantastic / SF fiction, in a good way. Amazing. (The Scar is nearly as good, IMO)
- City of Glass. Okay, this is somewhat related to my scholarship, but I like it for its wide-ranging philosophical important and kooky layered referentiality.
- Freakonomics. I can’t think of another book that started so many cool conversations. Pools are more dangerous than handguns. Discuss. (See also: Sway)
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Hands down my favorite comic. Bears repeated re-readings.
- Catch-22. Another defining book from my youth about the madness of modern bureaucracy. I should re-read that again to see what I’d get out of it today. I’m laughing already thinking of Major Major.
- Forever War. More than any other SF novel, I find myself referring to this one as a book of cool ideas. I have brought it up in many classes and conversations.
- Cryptonomicon. I love all of Neal Stephenson’s works, but I think this is the best. That said, I could easily add two or three other books to this list, particularly Snow Crash.
- The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Sarah Vowell’s writing mixes history and commentary and personal experience and I love it immensely.
- Isaac’s Storm. Erik Larsen crafts a tight narrative about hubris, science, and the most deadly hurricane in the U.S. before Katrina. When people encounter a certain kind of excitement about a writer, I invoke this book as a must-read.
- Shadow Divers. An excellent book about human daring and ingenuity, exploration, and the weakness of addiction. Plus, really interesting history.
- World War Z. I’m a zombie fan, I’ll admit it. This book captures what’s exciting about zombies in so many ways, it’s hard to put down. I’ve read it three times: the first time I couldn’t put it down. It’s too good.
- Right-Ho, Jeeves. If you have read Wodehouse, you know. If you haven’t, you should. Get on it.
- The Man in the High Tower. Alternate universes, trippy ideas, Philip K. Dick. All important and interesting. (See also, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
- Getting Things Done. As a perpetual procrastinator who always wishes he wasn’t, this book stands as the paean to all things I wish I would do, and sometimes I can.