For some reason, books in a lot of conversations in the last week. Perhaps my friends are all trying to better themselves. Maybe we are all just sick and tired of talking about improv. Who knows?
Here's my recommendations off the top of my head.
Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
This is PDK's masterpiece. Some of his other books are more daring (A Scanner Darkly, VALIS) and some will mess with your head more (Ublik), but High Castle is wonderfully crafted and not as self-indulgent as a lot of his stories. (Side note: PDK not only used the I Ching as a major plot device, but used it as he was writing to make choices about where the story would go.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Love, romance, and a messed up family of circus freaks. What's not to love?
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
It's a dense book but very rewarding. Don't try to think too hard about it while reading or you'll just get confused. It all adds up (except where is it doesn't). Another messed up family, addiction and consumer culture in the near future. I once lived in a house and we hung a sign with "Te Occidere Possunt Sed Te Edere Non Possunt Nefas Est" on the wall.
Bone by Jeff Smith
Yeah. This is a comic book but a masterful one that is often skipped by comic nerd because the art looks all Disney-ish. A great epic tale.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
For my money one of the funniest books ever written. But then again, I have always found the Apocalypse funny.
Bunny Modern by David Bowman
I actually like his first book Let The Dog Drive better, but that is in part because I read it when I was young and confused and it struck a cord. Bunny Modern is a slim book with weird ass ideas. Maybe it is not a great book but it is wholly original. Make sure you read the About the Font in the back.
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Hilarious, cutting and still current. The suburban Great Gatsby. Proto-Simpsons.
Devil In The White City by Erik Larson
Fantastic tale of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a serial killer. Non-fiction. This is my favorite time period. The clash of the industrial age, with all of its wonderful inventions and ambition, leaving a dark smear of soot and darkness. Also read Larson's Thunderstruck about the development of the wireless telegraph and also murder.
Russia's The Dead Hand
8 years ago