soul food
 7books
INVISIBLE MAN
Ralph Ellison 

A truly disturbing work. To be viewed as an embodiment of preconception and a repository of stereotype is to not be seen at all. It took me an embarrasingly long period of time to realize that the protagonist's name is not uttered once in the entire novel. This epic story is of one black American, but the final question leaves no doubt, that it is about every one of us. 
 

THE 100: A RANKING OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS IN HISTORY
Michael Hart 

I was checking out of the Sylvia Beach House in Newport, Oregon (I believe it was the winter of 1989), when this book caught my eye from clear across the room. I'm not an impulse buyer, but in that moment I did. Once home I devoured it with glee and haven't stopped re-reading ever since. 

The premise is simple: who are the individuals who have had the greatest impact on humankind? The operative word is influence, not nobility or popularity. I won't tell you who tops the list (you will probably be a little surprised), but I will tell you that Isaac Newton comes in a well-deserved second. Hart casts a global net and catches many you will not have heard of. 
 

THE SILMARILLION
J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien 

Perhaps the most purchased, least read book of the twentieth century. Let's face it. I'm not going to earn any cool points for loving Tolkien. But before you pull down that honkin' list of bookmarks, answer this question: have you read it? 

Most people have a hard time getting past the intros. Tip: don't try to memorize the names. Get through the early chapters where the Valar build the stuff up and Melkor keeps trashing it. When Feanor comes onto the scene and Melkor makes off with the jewels (the Silmarils of the title), the story heats up. Rebellion, fratricide, betrayal, vengeance, suspicion -- you name it, it's in there. 

Looking for a neat tidy, happy ending? Look somewhere else. Want a book that stands up to a third, fourth, tenth reading? Pull it off your shelf, dust it off and get to it. You will not regret it. I promise. 
 

PSALM AT JOURNEY'S END
Erik Fosnes Hansen 

You know they are going down, I mean, it's the Titanic. But you can't look away as Hansen weaves together the stories of these musicians' lives. An extraordinary work from a fellow Norwegian and Spawn of '64. 
 

THE FORGOTTEN DOOR

How does it feel to be alone? I mean truly alone -- and hunted? What will you do when someone you don't know or understand needs help? 
 

THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
Frank Miller based on Bob Kane's creation 

The publication of The Dark Knight Returns was the point at which you could speak the words "graphic novel" without trepidation. If you think that there are no new myths, guess again. 
 

SHOGUN
James Clavell 

The sacrificial leap, the tea ritual, and the plan. Whoa. When I was a kid I used to think Clavell was a hack who catered to the middle-aged. I don't think that any more. 
 

THE POWER OF MYTH
Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers 

I've read Campbell's brilliant but hopelessly tangled debut work, Hero of a Thousand Faces and a few chapters of his other books, but the ones, like The Power of Myth, that simply record his words as he tells the stories and unpacks the meaning are magic. 
 

14 MORE 
THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT THE UNBELIEVER Stephen R. Donaldson * I SING THE BODY ELECTRONIC x * THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOM X as told to Alex Haley * DUNE TRILOGY Frank Herbert * ORANGES John McPhee * THE DECAMERON Boccaccio * 

 
 
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