Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, one of the greatest pieces of literature I have ever encountered. Just when you think you know all there is to know about the trilogy, read "The Silmalirion", and find out why you were wrong. I hear the "Unfinished Tales" are also worth reading. Many thanks to Peter Jackson for creating a movie worthy of the book. Lord of the Rings:The Fellowship of the Ring was one of the few movies that I have ever seen that was true to the book it was based on, and still managed to be exciting.(Perhaps I need to start a movies page).
Aleksander Dumas(pere) wrote a lot of novels. I could recite "The Three Musketeers" chapter by chapter a few years ago. I have read an awful lot of books by him, so coming up with a personal favorite will be a little hard, but "The Count of Monte Cristo" wins. I had hoped that the movie wouldn't be a total dissappointment. Unfortunately, it was. And how. From a novel replete with plots twists, came a simple and straightward "and lived happily ever after" script and film. No Dumas fan could have possibly enjoyed that.
I really wouldn't belong at the leading technical college in the nation if I didn't have a place in my heart for Jules Verne. I have read every book by him that I could get my hands on, and this covers two continents. "The Mysterious Island" is perhaps a slightly outdated, but still fairly useful survival guide. Just remember, all you need to make fire is a couple of watches and a little clay.
I got depressed a few times reading "Crime and Punishment", but there is something incredibly mesmerizing about the way Dostoyevsky describes extreme poverty and human suffering. His writing makes you want to read on, even though you know that nothing is going to improve for his characters.
F 451 . That's all you need to know to really appreciate Ray Bradbury as an writer. But read "Martian Chronicles" anyway.
All you really need to survive is this universe is a towel and a copy of "The Hithickers Guide To the Galaxy". If you just want something very fun to read, just a copy of the latter, by Douglas Adams, will do quite nicely. The whole series of the Hitchhiker novels is very entertaining, but the first three seem to be the best.
"The White Company", "The Adventures of the Brave Brigadier Gerard", "The Lost World". I found all of these to be very well written and entertaining to boot. The author was a knight of the realm, and wrote some very good historical fiction. Oh, and he dabbled in detective stories a little. Perhaps you have heard of a detective living a 221B Baker Street in the city of London? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a prolific writer, and those mysteries were only part of what he did. In fact, he desperately tried to get rid of the famous detective, but the adoring public was not willing to let that happen. My two favorites are "The Sign of Four" and "The White Company".
Some of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels feature a character named Igor. How could I possibly resist? It turned out that his novels were also extremely funny. I think I've now read most books in the series, and I only started in the summer of 2001. I am not addicted. I don't have a problem. Alice, now she has problems. :)
Laurie King. I read "The Beekeepers Apprentice" because as a reader, I am obsessed with most things related to Conan Doyle. It was an interesting perspective on the great detective. I was compelled to read the other four Mary Russell novels. (Read them yourself, and find out what I am talking about.) Then, it turned out that King was perfectly capable of producing riveting characters of her own, and so I read the four Kate Martinelli novels, and two more novels--"A Darker Place" and "Folly", which I believe covers all of her published works. A great modern day mystery writer!
I am finally going to start a non-fiction section. Rejoice, heathens! (2/16/2003)
Thor Heyerdahl, "Kon Tiki". In order to prove his theories on the origins of the natives of Tahiti and other pacific islands, this man built a raft out of balsa wood, and in nineteen forty freaking seven set out from the coast of Peru to prove it. This is really what science and exploration are about. When in doubt, don't just theorize about currents, available materials and artifacts. Go out, build a damn raft, and prove it. A very inspirational book for anyone interesting in science or engineering, or well, actually, just about anything.
David Halberstam, "The Amateurs". Yeah, well, I am an oarsman, eh? And as far as sports writing in general goes, this story of a handfull of young men trying to make the 1984 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team is written by one of the best in the business. It's a great story, and a great introduction to the trials and tribulations of elite-level rowing. The coolest thing is that I have actually met most of the characters in the book, and have spoken to some of them. Unlike other sports, our legends tend to keep their egos relatively small.
Lance Armstrong (with Sally Jenkins), "It's Not About the Bike. My Journey Back to Life." Whenever I feel the need to remind myself that there are still some athletes worthy of being role models, I just have to look at the front of cover of this book. Inspirational and gut-wrenching does not begin to describe it. If you don't get goosebumps while reading this, then you might want to re-evaluate your membership in the human race. If you ever feel down after a really bad race, this also serves to remind you just how damn lucky you are to be able to compete.
Jon Krakauer, "Into Thin Air." A climb up Mount Everest gone horribly wrong. A reminder that modern technology may have made things safer, but challenging Mother Nature is still a perilous task. Also, a great example why having fifty grand to spend on paying a guide to walk you up a mountain does not make you superman. You want to see what you are made of? You don't need oxygen tanks or goretex for that.
A whole lot more to come sometime soon. I promise.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.