A list by Fred Miller
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Fred Miller
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
Funny yet full of valid observations regarding the crazy animals we humans are.
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Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
Insightful
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Dune
Frank Herbert
Inspired by a visit to the famed sand dunes of Oregon, Herbert delved into research on environmental science and related matters as he began to chart the long, complex backstory of his epic, which ultimately came to span some twenty-one thousand years of future history. Through canny and judicious t...show more
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Gravity's Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon’s phantasmagoria of arcane knowledge, low humor, high anxiety, and pop culture leads the reader through a disorienting and exhilarating series of imaginative theaters in the waning days of the Second World War. Gravity’s Rainbow is entirely postmodern—and ground breakingly so—in its v...show more
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Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Vivid, unpredictable, insinuating, uncomfortably intimate, the voice that tells Invisible Man is one of the most supple and powerful instruments ever fashioned in American prose. His skin is black, his soul is blue, his mind is lit with both desperation and deep thought. Naturalistic and surreal, fa...show more
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee
At the outset of his long, ever-evolving career as a dramatist, Edward Albee was an American heir to the intellectual energies of the European Theater of the Absurd. In Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, first staged in 1962, Albee moved his ferocity out of the absurd into a more realistic setting, a ...show more
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Voices from Chernobyl
Svetlana Alexievich
This book is an oral history of the nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl in 1986, and of the suffering, death, and contamination—biological, environmental, psychological, existential—left in its wake. It is constructed from the testimony of dozens of people whose lives were transformed by the disas...show more
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The Complete Stories
Franz Kafka
Anatomizing the absurdity of modern life through ever more bizarre situations and ironies, Kafka’s tales have a force out of all proportion to their small scale (one, the cat-and-mouse story “A Little Fable,” is just three sentences long). Yet within their deceptive dimensions, they seem to move ele...show more
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Letters of John Keats
John Keats
Encompassing everything from the black eye Keats received during a game of cricket (courtesy of an errant ball) to drafts of verses from “La Belle Dame sans Merci” and the “Ode to Psyche,” to commentary on his current reading (Voltaire), this family packet of news and musings also finds time for an ...show more
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On the Road
Jack Kerouac
Within the catalog of books to read before you die, there is a very short list of books to read between the ages of fifteen and twenty, and On the Road is certainly near its top. Jack Kerouac’s novel has qualities that transcend its youthful appeal, but none measures up to the intoxication it can de...show more
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American Prometheus
Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin are well aware of the mysteries surrounding the brilliant man most famous for his role as director of the Manhattan Project, which built the first atomic bomb. It is a paradoxical but undeniable measure of their achievement in this magnificent biography that their scho...show more
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Sons and Lovers
D. H. Lawrence
David Herbert Lawrence was one of the most influential and controversial British writers of the twentieth century, and Sons and Lovers is his most autobiographical novel. In its pages, he came of age as a novelist by re-creating—through the story of Paul Morel, an artistic boy with a fierce attachme...show more
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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is near the top of the list of most-beloved American novels. Set in Depression-era Alabama, it is the story of six-year-old Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout; her older brother, Jeremy, nicknamed Jem; and their father, Atticus Finch, a middle-aged lawyer who...show more
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The Journals of Lewis and Clark
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, edited by Bernard DeVoto
In the first month of 1803, President Thomas Jefferson sent a secret message to Congress requesting funds for an expedition to explore the Missouri River and seek the Northwest Passage to the Pacific, make contact with the land’s native peoples, and expand the potential of the fur trade and other co...show more
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Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings
Abraham Lincoln
If the Gettysburg Address is the pinnacle of Abraham Lincoln’s oratorical achievement in terms of expressiveness and influence, it is still but one exhibit from our sixteenth president’s considerable legacy as speaker and author. Any collection of his speeches, letters, proclamations, and miscellane...show more
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The Bourne Identity
Robert Ludlum
Espionage is by definition a web of secrets, codes, nuances, duplicities. To set an amnesiac loose in such a nexus of determinedly shifting identities adds an extra shot to the conventional spy novel cocktail. This is what Robert Ludlum famously did in The Bourne Identity, the seed from which would ...show more
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A Mencken Chrestomathy
H. L. Mencken
The author’s own selection of his best work from the previous four decades, the Chrestomathy (from the Greek, the word means “a collection of choice passages from an author or authors,” and reveals Mencken’s mastery of arcane as well as popular lingo) affords us the opportunity to engage his bracing...show more
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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Dee Brown
“I have tried to fashion a narrative of the conquest of the American West as the victims experienced it, using their own words whenever possible.” So Dee Brown announced his intention in this book, which fundamentally altered our perspective of the past. Published in 1971, Brown’s unprecedented chro...show more
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A Beautiful Mind
Sylvia Nasar
Before he was thirty years old, John Forbes Nash Jr. had proposed an influential theory of rational behavior and promoted visionary computing concepts. His work was original and varied: He was a pioneer of game theory and differential geometry, and his ideas have proved relevant to subjects that ra...show more
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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Hunter S. Thompson
Whacked out and drug crazed; riotous and exuberant; immature and irresponsible; brilliantly original and more than a little insane, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas chronicles the “bad craziness” that overtook Hunter S. Thompson and a sidekick on a journalistic assignment in 1971. It’s a book of headl...show more
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