Books

Select literature recommendations and commentaries from my canon for a zealous reader. In no particular order.

The only inclusion heuristic I followed was this: would I consider rereading the work? If the initial read didn’t strongly incite a repeat experience, I hadn’t included the work here.

The links proceed to a more detailed commentary.

Fiction

  1. Dickens - Bleak House.
  2. Dickens - Tale of Two Cities. A suspenseful historical narrative and a character study, amidst the French/British conflict during the French revolution period.
  3. Dickens - Great Expectations. The imagery, the Gothic elements are among the finest.
  4. Dickens - Oliver Twist. One of the earlier, more lighthearted works; broody juxtaposition of the innocent and the wicked; fantastic imagery.
  5. Herman Melville - Moby Dick
  6. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Faust. Russian translation of Boris Pasternak.
  7. Christopher Marlowe - The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. An earlier play inspired by the Faustus story; much shorter and compacter than Goethe’s epic, yet a powerful work that well mixes the comedic with the tragic.
  8. Shakespeare - Titus Andronicus
  9. Shakespeare - Pericles, the Prince of Tyre
  10. Shakespeare - Troilus and Cressida
  11. Shakespeare - Coriolanus
  12. Shakespeare - Taming of the Shrew
  13. Shakespeare - Too many to list, but among other favourites: Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It.
  14. Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales (Middle English).
  15. Alexander Pope - Rape of the Lock. A humorous and satirical ‘mock-epic’ poem, a genre I wasn’t aware of prior to this find.
  16. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. A solidly written Middle Age poem about Sir Gawain (of King Arthur’s court)
  17. Bernard Shaw - Pygmallion. Sardonic, witty, early 20th-century London play that captures the motives of the Ovidian tale (of Pygmallion).
  18. Bernard Shaw - The Devil’s Disciple. One of Shaw’s earlier plays inspired by factual events during the American Revolution period; questions the underlying mechanisms that drive a human spirit.
  19. Bernard Shaw - Caesar and Cleopatra. An anachronistic and ‘Shavinian’ account of Julius Caesar’s six-month stay in Egypt and his fatherly kind of relationship with the then 16-year-old Cleopatra.
  20. Beowulf (C. W. Kennedy translation of the original West Saxon).
  21. Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness (and more)
  22. Victor Nabokov - Lolita
  23. Tolstoy - War and Piece (Война и Мир)
  24. Tolstoy - Анна Каренина. Arguably a good starting point for someone new to Tolstoy.
  25. Tolstoy - Kreutzer Sonata (Крейцерова соната)
  26. Tolstoy - Смерть Ивана Ильича
  27. Edgar Allan Poe - Short stories. See also the wiki page. Many, many masterfully crafted stories of varied genre.
  28. Haruki Murakami - The Wind-up Bird Cronicle. Russian translation. The most epic and complex of all of Murakami’s works.
  29. Haruki Murakami - Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Russian translation.
  30. Mikhail Bulgakov - Master and Margarita (Мастер и Маргарита) - one of my all time favourite magic realism masterpieces.
  31. Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged
  32. Ayn Rand - Fountainhead. A philosophical predecessor to Atlas Shrugged, albeit shorter and more confined, for someone new to the author.
  33. Ayn Rand - Virtue of Selfishness. A series of essays especially helpful as a philosophical refresher years after having read the fiction epics.
  34. Gabriel García Márquez - Cien años de soledad
  35. Gabriel García Márquez - Memorias de mis Putas Tristes
  36. Gabriel García Márquez - Cronica de una Muerte Anunciada. The magic realism also plays a notable role in this shorter tale.
  37. Joseph Heller - Catch 22
  38. Dostoevsky - Crime and Punishment (Приступление и Наказание).
  39. Dostoevsky - Demons (Бесы)
  40. Dostoevsky - Idiot (Идиот)
  41. Dostoevsky - Notes from the Underground (Записки из подполья)
  42. Dostoevsky - Brothers Karamazov (Братья Карамазовы)
  43. Dostoevsky - Double (Двойник)
  44. Dumas - The Count of Monte Cristo
  45. Dumas - The Three Musketeers
  46. The Iliad. English prose translation by Martin Hammond.
  47. The Odyssey. English verse translation by Robert Fagle. Primary sources are more gratifying than anthologies and retellings.
  48. Virgil - The Aeneid. English prose translation by W.F. Jackson Knight.
  49. Frank Herbert - Dune
  50. Douglas Adams - Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Whimsical, satirical, nonsensical fantasy/science fiction full of humor, insofar as the first three books concerned.
  51. F Scott Fitzgerald - Great Gatsby. The only imposed high-school book I read to completion, and over the course of a night.
  52. J D Salinger - Catcher in the Rye. Nearly real-time, first-person narrative in considerably simple language, by what seems an unreliable, capricious, yet honest narrator.
  53. Kafka - The Castle (Zamek). Polish translation.
  54. Kafka - The Trial (Процесс). Russian translation.
  55. Kafka - Metamorphosis. Portuguese translation. Part satire, part horror story, part I don’t know what.
  56. Erico Verissimo - Incidente em Antares. Brazilian magic realism classic, set within Rio Grande do Sul. Spans much of the Brazilian history from the 19th - 20th century.
  57. Jorge Amado - Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos
  58. Isabel Allende - La Casa de los Espíritus. Magic Realism classic similar to Cien Años de Soledad and Incidente em Antares; spans decades of family and national history.
  59. Isabel Allende - Eva Luna. A warm tale of pathos and great imagery.
  60. Mario Benedetti - La Tregua
  61. Mario Benedetti - Gracias por el Fuego
  62. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (Аркадий и Борис Стругацкие) - various.
  63. Lewis Carroll - Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A beautiful fable of allegory and satire. Read in the original as well as Victor Nabokov’s Russian adaptation titled Аня в стране чудес.
  64. Lewis Carroll - The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits. Beautiful and witty nonsense poetry.
  65. Stanislaw Lem - Solyaris. A rare case that I prefer Tarkovsky’s loose film adaptation to the source, but the philosophical novel is unquestionably solid.
  66. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Haven’t read in decades, but would willingly reread whenever back in the mood for the genre.
  67. Ernest Hemingway - Old man at the sea. A gripping one-day read that inspires much thought.

Non-Fiction

  1. Marcus Aurelius - Meditations. Fairly modern Spanish translation.
  2. Seneca - Benefits (De Beneficiis)
  3. Seneca - Letters (to Lucilius). In gradual progress.
  4. Michel de Montaigne - Essays. In gradual progress.
  5. Matt Ridley - Evolution of Everything
  6. Nassim Nicolas Taleb - Antifragile. Also Skin in the Game and Fooled by Randomness, although Antifragile made the greatest impact.
  7. Ron Hale-Evans - Mind Performance Hacks
  8. Ron Hale-Evans - Mindhacker
  9. Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) - Out of Afrika
  10. Haruki Murakami - What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (О чем я говорю когда говорю о беге). Russian translation. About running, writing, music, habits and more.
  11. The Jazz Book - Berendt/Nuesmann
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Questions, comments? Connect.