Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good Book Recommendations?

UPDATE: I've made a list of all the recommended books that I haven't previously read. Once I finish my first choice ("Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand) I will create a column on the right side of the blog that will list every book I finish. Keep an eye out for your reco and once you see it, pat yourself on the back for making me a better person and a more capable pick up artist when it comes to really smart chicks. Also get your ass down to the bar and claim a round of drinks.

This blog and by extension, my life, is getting stale. I think about sex, I write about sex. I bartend a few nights a week, I pay bills, I do the same stuff. I remember when I started this blog my life seemed a bit more perilous, a bit more exciting. I remind myself that I have a goal of eradicating my debts and getting back in the black, which is what I'm doing, but it's still a boring journey. Don't get me wrong, my life is fun, more fun than I can handle sometimes, it's just sort of, empty I guess. I can only write about hitting on girls and my sexual misadventures so many times. I need more.

I realize now that I had more ideas when I was reading more. Now instead of reading I just go to the gym or I drink or I sit in a stupor watching Family Guy and Man Vs. Wild. I've only read in the past few weeks while I was on the john and that's just sad. My brain is getting mushy. Don't listen to the people who say that regular sex keeps you sharp... I'm fairly certain it's just making me more stupider.

I need my readers help.

What are some good books that you would personally recommend (and that you have read) to a 25 year old with a peter pan complex and a lot of time on his hands? I need some new blood (books not women). This blog's future depends on you.

Leave your book recommendations and reasons for reading them in the comment section or email me and I'll make a list. Then hopefully I'll start next week by reading a few of the books while freeloading at Barnes and Noble...Cause I can't afford books.

If I read one of your book recos then you will be entitled to a free drink and a free shot on me....and that includes you, "anonymous".


Maggie said...

Anything by Bret Easton Ellis. Actually, not anything--don't read Glamorama, but anything else. Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, and American Psycho are my three favorites. They're all interesting, quick reads and the characters reappear in each novel, so you really get to know them. The first two are about college students, so you may be a bit past that and the book American Psycho blows the movie out of the water.

Also: The Rum Diary (Hunter S. Thompson) is one of my favorites, what I've read about your life via this blog reminds me a lot of this book; Lolita by Nabokov is excellent, but not exactly light reading like the others I've mentioned; Bright Lights, Big City (Jay McInerney) is a good read and interesting as it's written pretty much entirely in 2nd person, which we don't see often; Down and Out in Paris and London (George Orwell) is a great novel that I feel goes pretty unnoticed about a guy who's literally down and out in Paris and London. He has no money, no job, etc., but it's more interesting than most "rags to riches tales" (though I don't know if he ever actually gets "riches")

Oh and you can't really go wrong with anything by Chuck Palahnuik or Kurt Vonnegut. Sorry this is long, but I have too many favorite books to recommend just one. Good luck with the search!

Jocelyn Testes-Harder said...

The Contortionist's Handbook

Anonymous said...

my favorit book is "Mr. Nice" by Howard Marks.

Howard was one of the biggest Pott smugglers worldwide. This Book is about his life as a drug-smuggler. It is very funny, entertaining, authentic and easy to follow the story. just google it to get more!

kind regards from Germany

Jon said...

Without knowing your tastes it'll be a bit tough, but since I'm a 26 year old guy I figure it's got to be a bit similar to mine...

First off, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Amazing book about a boy who is picked up against his will and taken to a military training school in space, where he has to deal with being smarter and better but younger than everyone else. Insightful, moving, amazing book. There are a bunch of sequels but this is by far the best.

Tomorrow and tomorrow, by Charles Sheffield. Hard sci-fi, if you can stomach it... a guy's wife has some incurable disease so he freezes her, and then freezes himself because he wants to be with her, and says no one should wake him until there's a cure. Well obviously people wake him anyway and the rest of the book is a tale of his adventures and he keeps waking up and sleeping again in different periods of the future. Way cool.

Snow crash, by neal stephenson... the book is just crazy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Crash
really anything by neal stephenson, if you have't read him already.

If you need more I can keep em coming, let me know!

Dave said...

Tribes, by Seth Godin. Reading it now. It will be obsolete by the time I'm finished.

scottstev said...

"Fortress of Solitude" by Jonathan Lethem. Also "The Wonder Boys" & "The Adventures of Kavelier and Clay" by Michael Chabon. I really don't read too much contemporary fiction, but those were great.

Tom Sanchez Prunier said...

I came here to say Chuck Palahniuk (his debut was Fight Club, and he's only gotten stranger). He's got a staccato style, limits himself to seven or eight pages a chapter and you can rip through his stuff in days.

Also, you might want to invest in a library card. The city and county systems are pretty good, and they let you renew your books online.

Another good read I'm enjoying right now is Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope. Whether you agree with his politics or not, it's a good read. Smart person. To me, quite trustworthy. Plus it's nice to see what's coming up.

joe said...

Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail


Bookstore Piet said...

Gee, I would recommend City Of Thieves by David Benoit but I already loaned you my signed copy (which you graciously returned...). Is the free drink retroactive?... :)

Anonymous said...

The book I am cutrently reading "Live, learn, lead". good stuff, i know u will like it.

"Good to great"

The Bible "New King James Version"

Anonymous said...

And also, chasing daylight. was written just in a few hours by the author before he died like couple days later.

Matt W. said...

A Confederacy of Dunces:

A novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published in 1980, 11 years after the author's suicide. The book was published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a revealing foreword) and Toole's mother Thelma Toole, quickly becoming a cult classic, and later a mainstream success. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. It is an important part of the 'modern canon' of Southern literature.

Scott W said...


I recommend The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson (1956). While this is an older book I have read and re-read it may times over the years. I first read in while in my early 20's and have enjoyed it several times since then. It's "a novel of the American search fpr purpose in a world dominated by business." Sounds like it might be right up your alley Jack.

Jamie said...

A few of my favorites:

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, What is the What by Dave Eggers, Geek Love by Catherine Dunn, Post Office by Charles Bukowski, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo, oh oh and Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

in vino veritas said...

sex,drugs and cocoa puffs - or- smack. If those don't fit the bill - choke that'll do, pig - that will do.

Lisa said...

-Travels by Michael Crichton
-Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice by Mark Plotkin

Anonymous said...

Two very good ones (not too long, either) that I come back to when I am in malaise:
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Bridge Over San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

Foodfan said...

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

The World According to Garp by John Irving

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

latrimose said...

Their Finest Hour - by Sir Winston Churchill.

Want adventure? Want a new perspective? Read what it was like to learn about WWII as it was unfolding and you did not yet know the outcome (i.e. the fall of your country). The British always have a refined, entertaining way of telling you even mundane details. I like it especially cause although a long book of the series, its skimmable when you want to move faster through the book. Just be on the look out for the one liners that really capture what it was like.

And then think about your life by comparison. Something worthwhile around Thanksgiving, says I.

Robbie said...

Another Orwell recommendation: Homage to Catalonia, about his experiences volunteering with a Trotskyist militia against the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. It's like reading about someone running off to join the Foreign Legion, except with more communists, wine, and better food.

Anonymous said...

"Round Ireland with a Fridge" by Tony Hawks.

He's a comedian from the UK who accepted a dare to hitchhike around Ireland toting a dorm-sized fridge.

He made friends, drank some beer, grew attached to his traveling partner (the fridge) and discovered new things about himself and others.

It's an easy read - it's fun and it makes you think!

Anonymous said...

Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The editor of the french version of Elle has a stroke, which completely paralyzes him aside from use of his eyelid. With this eyelid and an invented method of communication, the author blinks out his memoirs.

Quick, poignant read. Most importantly, you can pretend you're a smart and sensitive man when girls come over and see the book on your shelf.

Meeze said...

Definitely check out Factotum, Post Office, and Women by Charles Bukowski (preferably in that order). I'll also second the Lolita rec, and also add Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky if you're looking for books that would more generally be considered literature.

Jack Goes Forth said...

Yes, good, keep em coming.

I've written down every suggestion on this list so far.

Some thoughts:

No need to mention Ellis, Palahnuik, Thompson, McInerney,Heller, Vonnegut or Bukowski. I live and die by these men.

Suggestions that caught my eye/ and/or I've been meaning to read:

Atlas Shrugged, Man In The Grey Flannel,Enders Game, Marching Powder, Confederacy Of Dunces, Garp, Lolita and anything by Orwell.

It's interesting someone mentioned Seth Godin. I read his blog a lot.

Keep the suggestions coming and I'm going to start reading some of the ones that jumped out at me. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I've also got about 7 emails with various suggestions, so once a week or so has gone by I'll post the entire list and some sort of queue in which I plan on attacking them. Then a few people better get their ass downtown for a free round of booze.

And yes, a library card might be worth the effort.

Al Green Radio said...

Atlas Shrugged
American Gods
Peace is Every Step
Godel Escher Bach : an eternal golden braid

Chris said...

Obviously not as high brow as previous authors (although I'll still give a shout out to Vonnegut's "Sirens of Titan"), Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" is actually an entertaining read. And probably right up your alley.

Of course I enjoyed it more when she didn't look like a duck. Oh well.....

Anonymous said...

you may not be reading books as often, but it's probably because you read about 50 blogs a day. Not quite as scholarly as a book, but depending on the blog, it's still pretty enriching.

Matt Frost said...

Here are some of my more recent all time favorites, the foremost being Forever, and a Short History...

Happy Reading

Frosty Board

Forever - Pete Hamill
Blink - Malcom Gladwell
Freakenomics - Levitt and someone else
Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson

Mike Janssen said...

Moby-Dick. Anna Karenina. Anything by Haruki Murakami, esp. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore or South of the Border, West of the Sun. The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson (especially for you as an aspiring writer and free spirit). I second The World According to Garp -- a great read. Michael Chabon (try Wonder Boys). Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Whitman.

Daniel said...

Into the Wild by John Krakauer
If you've seen the movie, you'll know why you should read the book. If not, you need to see the movie and you'll want to read the book.

caitlin bridges said...

Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent

Matt Frost said...

Also -

Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole


The Wrestler's Cruel Study - Stephen Dobyns

onetinyspark said...

Rant by Palahnuik.

I also second anything by Murakami.

southsidestunner said...

After his recent suicide, I went back and revisited my David Foster Wallace collection, and I think you'd appreciate "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men". Not a comment on you, per se, but I found many universal truths in that one. It's also a collection, so it's easy to pick up at any time without getting too involved. That IS a comment on you. And me.

Also, FoofFan's list is great. Garp is a must-read, if you haven't already.

Kelly said...

jack... hope you have a great turkey day with much drinking and much basting of fine meat...

Anonymous said...

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Benedict Smith said...

maggie - you're a a girl after my own heart, yes, anything by ellis is good. avoid lunar park (his latest) and Glamorama, but The Rules of Attraction, Less Than Zero, and the Informers are all quick but very very good reads. American Psycho is great as well, but a lengthier read. Junky by William S. Burroughs is also a great read.

Anonymous said...

I say learn a new language. You will have that wanderlust again soon, so may as well prep for it during this lull in your life.

Tammy said...

I don't have any particular suggestions, except to just start reading - different books, different genres. I also second getting the library card. That way, if the books sucks, you aren't out any money. : )
This past summer, for a book club I'm in, I read The Kite Runner (blech) and Angels & Demons (by Dan Brown) (good & fast-paced read). So those are some fluff suggestions!

El Sabroso said...

Easy. "Dispatches" by Michael Herr.

I've never read anything quite like it, and may never again. Herr lived with the Marines in Vietnam 1967-68 and posted about it for Esquire. Took him 10 years to write a book about it. It will eat clean through your head. Ten bucks at Borders and money well spent.

Herr later wrote Capt. Willard's voiceovers for Apocalypse Now for F.F. Coppola. He went on to co-screenwrite Full Metal Jacket for S. Kubrick.

Also, HST loved this book.

RVA Foodie said...

I've long believed that everyone alive should read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. For any writer, Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet is especially important (and very short). For an updated and more politicized take, I recommend Christohper Hitchens' Letters to a Young Contrarian. Any of these can be borrowed from me. And for a little nonfiction, how about The Devil in the White City, by Eric Larson.

blah-blah-blogger said...

Well, I was going to suggest A Confederacy of Dunces as it's one of my all-time favs, but since Matt beat me to the punch, I will recommend a similar but relatively unknown novel.

Horace Bixby, by RF Seabury. Marvelous book, written by a Marvelous man, and friend of mine.

Happy Reading from a fellow blogger, Milf, Cougar, but not a housewife :-)

Anonymous said...

Read A Glorious Accident. Even if you don't do drugs it will blow your mind. It will also come in handy if you ever date an evolutionary biologist or neurologist.

Anonymous said...

_V._ by Thomas Pynchon
Vineland " "
The Ice Shirt by William Vollman

& get a library card!!

garregus said...

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, he has a similar voice to yours and I'm sure you've had similar experiences

Gates of Fire, by Stephen Pressfield - a fictional account of the Battle of Thermopylae, think 300 without all the ridiculous pretense.

Jack Goes Forth said...

I've taken every book and put them all on my list. I'll get to them all sometime before my 45th birthday hopefully.

I've already began on "Atlas Shrugged" by Rand. Please come forward and collect your Jager Bom if you suggested it.

Benedict Smith said...

i know you've been working on your writing/fiction for a time as per some of your previous blog posts. i finally self-published my first novel, so keep at it champ. don't let the blogging and article writing permanently derail you from the larger picture.

Anonymous said...

"Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

"Crime and Punishment" Fyodor Dostoevsky

"We Die Alone" David Howarth

"Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage " Alfred Lansing

"Guns, Germs, and Steel" Jared Diamond

Anonymous said...

If you're interested in how the world really works, and not how people wish it worked, put down "Atlas Shrugged" and pick up "Guns, Germs, and Steel".

hoobie said...

The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, both by Richard Dawkins. Look for books by Sam Harris and Daniel C Dennett.

Makes you think about religion and reason. Guaranteed to make give your brain a workout.

Sam Midhurst said...

Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Guy had a great story and passes along a lot of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

To continue in your readers flavor..