I haven't had any comments on the fact that I mindlessly propagate various Internet links around in my journal, but I hear enough people bitch about the practice to give me enough pause. So I thought I'd elaborate on why I do, since I'm feeling verbose today, and also like writing for an audience.
Chances are, most of the people reading this aren't the Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Everything2 kind of crowd. So, I feel it's my obligation to pass along cool stuff that makes it my way every now and then, because otherwise you'd never see it. In return, I don't read the BBC, and other people post stuff from there. See? We have a nice thing going on, and you may not have even realized it. Thank you, BBC-people.
Also? Thousands of years from now, aliens will be confounded upon reading the deuterium-infused discs I saved my journal to, not understanding how to interpret the URL's I left behind, and MLP is my way of spurning them by not coming to Earth sooner, the fuckers.
Books Every Human Being Should Read, and Why (Part 1)
This is a self-induced project that I've been meaning to get around to for a while - because when people ask me what my favorite books are, I tell them I'm making a list. So I figured, "hey - let's show them the list."
This is by no means exhaustive, and a side-project of the Knowledge Tech Tree Project ™ I've been making notes for since I was 12. If you disagree, let me know - and if you're not an ass about it, I may take what you say into consideration. If you know of a book that does what a book on the list, only stronger, faster, and better, For the Love of God let me know!
I have also made no attempt to rank the books, because that's dumb. So, here are the first 11 of the books on the list.
- The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck: When it's time to grow up, this is the book to read. This book is about becoming an adult, and a "good person". (quit laughing Chase and Cole!) This book is about finding meaning in life, and understanding the human situation - what love is, and why it's important, and what friendship means. It's also about spirituality, and I don't much care for people who tell me that Peck is "too Christian for them." I believe he succeeds in being non-exclusive in his spiritual explorations, and offers a lot in helping people come to grips with adulthood in general. Since I've read it twice (once when I was in Junior High), this is one of my stand-bys.
- Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut: "You are who you pretend to be: so be careful who you pretend to be." This is a book about doing the right thing, no matter what the cost. It's also a book about the masks we wear, and how they change who we are, were, and can become. Set in WWII Germany, it follows an American playwright who becomes the head of Nazi propaganda in order to send coded messages to the allies. When all people who knew his secret role are dead, he flees to the U.S., has adventures, and is extradite to Israel to write his memoirs and be executed. Best. Vonnegut. Evar.
- What Work Is, by Philip Levine: Poetry from and about the working-class - the follow-up to his Pulitzer-winning The Simple Truth. If you don't believe that you can "get" modern free verse, this is the book that will change your mind. An important self-contained work on what it means to work - I can't really say more than that.
- The Gunslinger, by Stephen King: King re-invents the Western as a fantasy novel crowded with action (cue bongos of death). A brilliant novel about tradition, survival, and the human spirit. It also begins a fantastic series, that King, popular shithead that he might be (is), has managed to maintain exceedingly well. Seeing as how this is his magnum opus, his best writing shines. If you like books, with stories in them, you need to read this.
- Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke: An investigation of the nature of art and the life (i.e. solitude) of the artist (in this case, a poet), through a series of letters. It changed the way I view the act of writing, altogether, forever. Important for understanding the writer's mindset, regardless of what they write. Fairly short, but sometimes the important things are.
- How to Solve It, by G. Polya: If you hate math, this book is about using math to do the one thing it's good for - framing and solving problems. It assumes a background in high school math (lucky you), and delves into some discrete and continuous problems (i.e. counting and calculus, respectively). The best insight into what a mathematician does, for the layman (or aspiring mathematician). If you feel your high school math experience was wasted, this book may change your mind. Also? Since I consider mathematics to be the queen of the sciences (and I'm not alone on this), I think every thinking person should know at least a little about what math is, and what it can do.
- People of the Lie, by M. Scott Peck: In a sharp turn from Peck's previous work, People of the Lie is an examination of what it means to be evil. And I mean really evil. Peck goes beyond psychology to begin a so-called "science of evil", examining how people become evil and why they stay that way. Important for all the same reasons Road is, more or less - with some "just the opposites" thrown in.
- A Matter for Men, by David Gerrold: How do we create a government from scratch? How do we unite the Earth in the face of a common foe? How does humanity bow out from the universe in general? This book is about (among other things), these questions, which Earth faces in the midst of being terraformed by the Chtorr aliens. The most coherent (and brilliant) of the War Against the Chtorr series yet - this book is out of print until Gerrold gets his ass in gear and finished number 5 - then Tor will re-print them all.
- Bomb the Suburbs and No More Prisons, by William Upski Wimsatt: The first literate examination of the urban counter-culture in a long time - specifically, graffiti and hip-hop. These books are about what the city does to people, and how they let go. It's about people who can still hold on to dignity, and still do the right thing. If you think the inner cities of America need work, No More Prisons is about finding the answer - Bomb the Suburbs will convince you they need work. Wimsatt himself will admit that Bomb the Suburbs is not that great as a thematic whole - I agree, but it's important to his style of narrative. Hard to find by browsing, but available from Soft-Skull Press on-line, and probably from Ruminator books, as well.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh: This is the best introductory book on meditation I have ever come across. Since meditation is a required step in transcending the average level of human consciousness, this book is requisite reading by all human beings- QED.
In other news, if people know a Chris or Dan from around Portland (OR) that may/may not have gone to Mac, let me know. Trying to figure out who some E2 people are (from Mac).
Obscenity is the crutch of inarticulate motherfuckers