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BOOKS I HAVE READ

This list is by no means exhaustive. I have tried to categorize them, however some books fall into more than one category. I have done my best to place them in the categories that I find most fitting. A book's appearance on this list does not indicate that it is of any particular quality. I will simply list the books that I have read as I read new ones or remember them. If this is not what you want perhaps you want to visit my favorite books page.

ACTIVISM


ADVENTURE

  • Krakauer, Jon - Into The Wild - Brilliantly written account of a young man who decided to "leave it all behind", trekking off to attempt a simpler life, closer to nature, in Alaska's wilderness.

  • Krakauer, Jon - Into Thin Air - Breathtaking and moving story of Krakauer's personal experiences during a tragic climb of Mount Everest during the deadliest season in the mountain's history.


BIOGRAPHY

  • Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written by Himself - Autobiography of the escaped slave who became a champion for the abolition of slavery and one of greatest orators in American history.

  • Franklin, Benjamin - The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Autobiography of the incredibly mutli-talented founding father, inventor, scientist, and ambassador.

  • Gandhi, Mohandas K. - Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth - Autobiography of the famed moral and spiritual leader of India's independence.

  • Gutman, Robert - Mozart: A Cultural Autobiography - Autobiography of Mozart that puts his life in the context of his times.

  • Jung, Carl - Memories, Dreams, Reflections - Autobiography of the psychologist second only perhaps to Freud in his influence on the modern field.

  • Mandela, Nelson - Long Walk to Freedom - Autobiography of one of the most universally admired men in the world. Mandela details his life from his childhood, through his early years as a lawyer, his imprisonment, his release after decades, and his rise to become the leader of South Africa.

  • McCain, John - Faith of My Fathers - Autobiography of the reform-minded U.S. Senator from Arizona, detailing his early life as member of an eminent Naval family, and his experiences during the Vietnam War, both in action and as a prisoner of war.

  • Westfall, Richard - The Life of Isaac Newton - A complete biography of the man who changed our entire view of physics and matter ranging from his childhood to his death.

  • Wilson, Edward O. - Naturalist - The autobiography of the Harvard naturalist, one of the most respected and prolific scientists of our time, and one of the founders and namers of the field of Sociobiology.

  • X, Malcolm - Autobiography of Malcolm X - The autobiography of the outspoken and militant Black civil rights leader.


EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY/SOCIOBIOLOGY

  • De Waal, Frans - Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals - De Waal, an evolutionary biologist specializing in primate research, looks at the traits and behaviors of humans and our closest animal ancestors, to determine the beginnings of the building blocks of what we now know as morality. Can chimpanzees, gorillas or orangutans understand right and wrong?

  • Miller, Geoffrey - The Mating Mind : How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature - Miller gives an excellent account of the forgotten "other part" of selection, sexual selection, which works alongside the more well-known natural selection. He shows how sexual selection can explain many of the previously confounding human traits/behaviors such as art, sports, and conspicuous consumption, that serve no obvious survival purpose, or even seem to hurt our chances of survival. Also, Miller explains a great deal of why men and women are attracted to the particular physical and mental characteristics that they are.

  • Morris, Desmond - The Human Zoo: A Zoologist's Classic Study of the Urban Animal - One of the preeminent zoologists of our time explains how the behavior of humans living in the unnatural conditions of our cities mirrors that of animals in the unnatural habitat of the zoo. Can humans avoid catastrophe by creating a friendly wildlife preserve for ourselves, rather than continue down this path of destruction?

  • Wilson, Edward O. - Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge - The famed Harvard naturalist, one of the most respected and prolific scientists of our time, argues that the various fields of science can and must work to form a more integrated picture of the universe.


FICTION

Members of The Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century denoted by a red **
  • **Anderson, Sherwood - Winesburg, Ohio - We follow a newspaper reporter through a series of short stories that elucidate the deeper meanings of the lives of the inhabitants of one small town in Ohio.

  • **Bellow, Saul - Henderson The Rain King - Witty novel describing the spiritual journey to Africa of Eugene Henderson, a millionaire who, in spite of money and status, feels unfulfilled. This book was the inspiration for the song Rain King by Counting Crows, my favorite band.

  • **Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness - Story of the narrator's dark journey along the Congo River in search of the fascinating, mysterious Mr. Kurtz.

  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment - A fictional exposition of the motivations and thoughts that lie within the mind of a murderer.

  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor - The Brothers Karamazov - A deeply psychological analysis of a family and the murder of a father.

  • **Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy - Dreiser's account of the quintessential American murder of the time. This is the story of a poor boy, his rise to success, and the motives that drive him to throw it all away in an instant.

  • **Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man - The story of a young Black man's search for identity, beginning in the deep south at college, and leading north to a search for truth within a social activist group known as "The Brotherhood". A look at both the obvious and the less obvious aspects of racism in America.

  • **Faulkner, William - The Sound and The Fury - Experimental and eclectic story of the dissolution of a southern American family.

  • **Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby - The tale of the 1920's American nouveau riche.

  • **Heller, Joseph - Catch-22 - A 20th century classic, so widely acclaimed its title became part of our everyday language. Catch-22 is Heller's fictional satire of the absurdities and vagaries of the military and of war.

  • **Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World - One of the greatest novels of the 20th century, this is the classic tale of a dystopia - a society made hideous and ugly by virtue of its very perfection.

  • Huxley, Aldous - Island - The tale of a civilized man shipwrecked onto the last island that has escaped civilization, this book is a vehicle through which Huxley paints his picture of an ideal society.

  • Irving, John - A Prayer for Owen Meany - A beautifully written story about the deep friendship between two boys, one a virtual orphan, the other an irreverent and tiny boy who believes he is the instrument of God. This book was the basis for the major motion picture Simon Birch.

  • **Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man - Extremely poetic and abstract novel depicting Joyce's younger days.

  • **Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird - One of the best loved novels of all-time, this book is consistently rated among readers' favorites. It is the tale of southern American racial injustice, seen through the eyes of children, and through the eyes of their father, a lawyer named Atticus Finch.

  • **Maugham, W. Somorset - Of Human Bondage - We follow Philip Carey, a sensitive, clubfooted orphan through his journey to study art in Paris, to London to study medicine, and through the torrid infatuation that he finds there.

  • **McCullers, Carson - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Story of loneliness told through the characters of a sensitive young girl and a deaf-mute in 1930's Georgia. An impressive work considering McCullers was only 23 herself when she wrote it.

  • **Nabokov, Vladimir - Lolita - Sardonic, witty, tragic tale of a man and his murderuos obsession for a young girl.

  • **Orwell, George - Animal Farm - Orwell's brilliant and hilarious satire of the Russian communist revolution modeled by a group of farm animals.

  • **Orwell, George - 1984 - The eerily prescient classic, in which Orwell warns us of the dangers of government secrecy, manipulation, and concentration of power. This is the story of what happens when a man knows the truth in a society that does not.

  • **Roth, Philip - Portnoy's Complaint - The utterly hilarious tale of a brilliant, neurotic Jewish man as he explores his sexual ambivalence with his psychiatrist.

  • **Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye - The story of a couple of days in the life of Holden Caulfield, a cynical adolescent, just expelled from school. His disillusionment with the phoniness of adult life rings true to alienated teens even today. Ever since its release, the book caused quite a stir and many schools have banned it from use.

  • Voltaire - Candide - The great French satirist and playwright delivers his parody of the foibles of those who claim that we live in the best of all possible worlds.

  • **Vonnegut, Kurt- Slaughterhouse Five - Vonnegut's most acclaimed novel, the anti-war story of Billy Pilgrim who, having witnessed World War II's butchery in Dresden, has come "unstuck in time".

  • **Woolf, Virginia - To The Lighthouse - A study of the relationships between a family, their guests, and each other told through in the simple context of a vacation to a lighthouse.

  • **Wright, Richard - Native Son - The story of a young, poor, Black boy accused of the murder of a young White woman in the 1930's.


PHILOSOPHY

  • Durant, Will - Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers - A moderately concise summary and overview of the major philosophers and schools of philosophical thought throughout world history.

  • Pirsig, Robert - Lila: An Inquiry into Morals - In the sequel to his classic Zen and the rt of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig continues his pursuit of an understanding of quality. After meeting a beautiful, but trashy woman, Pirsig seeks to reconcile his conflicted feelings about whether or not she has quality. As in its precursor, he explores issues of deep philsophy through the analogy of an actual physical journey, this time on a boat.

  • Pirsig, Robert - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values - In this unique autobiography, Pirsig uses the context of a motorcycle trip through America with his son in order to delve into some high-level philosophy. Ultimately, Pirsig seeks a definition of quality, and in pursuit of this goal, he offers a critique of American values, Greek philosophy, and insight into the heart of both genius and madness.

  • Thoreau, Henry David - Walden - The classic account of Thoreau's experiments in simple living amidst nature - out in the woods - at a distance from civilization's discontents.


PHYSICS

  • Hawking, Kazu, etc.

POLITICS

  • Franken, Al - Why Not Me? - The satirical account of Franken's fictitious presidential campaign and short-lived tenure.

  • Toobin, Jeffrey - Too Close to Call : The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election - Extremely well-written account of the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, based on extensive interviews and first-hand experience by the Harvard Law graduate and New Yorker staff writer.

  • Wellstone, Senator Paul - The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda - Written during his second term in the Senate, shortly before his death in a plane crash, the most liberal Senator in America describes his grassroots campaign, his priorities for the nation, and offers advice to those wishing to improve America.


PSYCHOLOGY


SELF HELP

  • Brown, Nina W. - Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents - If you grew up with an immature, self-centered parent who expected you to meet his/her needs rather than helping you to nurture your own, you probably maintain many symptoms including self-doubt, ambivalence, and difficulty empathizing with others. This book will explain how these current traits were established by the patterns of life with your narcissistic parent and what can be done to overcome them.

  • Carnegie, Dale - How to Win Friends and Influence People - One of the founding books of the people-skills movement, this book still offers some useful, if trite, advice for readers today.

  • Hill, Napoleon - Think and Grow Rich - A self-help classic discussing how to translate positive thinking into dollars and cents.

  • Miller, Alice - The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self - Miller analyzes the way in which children who are constantly forced to repress their genuine feelings in order to meet the needs of their parents and other adults can ultimately end up losing touch with their true selves. This leads to a vicious cycle of worthlessness and attempted overachievement which, if not addressed, can be passed down to their own children.


SKEPTICISM

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