A friend of mine recently called to ask if I would recommend some books for him. He wanted me to recommend good stuff that he was probably supposed to read in high school, but didn’t. He also mentioned that he wanted to read stuff that might be be fodder for allusions and pop-culture references. Finally, he’ll be listening to these books on audio books, which he’ll borrow from the library. Here’s what I recommended:
- Animal Farm â€“ Very short political allegory about the Russian Revolution.
- A Prayer for Owen Meany â€“ Long, but an excellent, excellent story. Occasional language, but not much at all.
- Catcher in the Rye â€“ Medium length, good, classic story. The language is occasionally kind of rough because itâ€™s written from the perspective of a teenage boy.
- 1984: This is a pretty long book, but it’s referred to a lot (both directly “Man, that’s straight out of 1984!” and indirectly, “That’s totally Orwellian!”). It’s very interesting, but dry reading.
- Fahrenheit 451: Shorter book, and a pretty interesting read. It’s about censorship and how governments try to control people… I think one of the more interesting aspects of this book was that it was written in the 50s as a futuristic book, and some of the author’s predictions into future technology are spot-on.
- Scarlet Letter: This is prototypical “Early American Literature”. It’s a medium-length book, pretty dark story. This is alluded to pretty frequently (I just saw it referenced on a TV show a couple nights ago).
- Catch-22: This is a very, very funny book. Heller’s sense of humor is almost exactly like mine (very dry, sarcastic), and he’s a fantastic writer to boot. It’s basically a satire of the American military. It’s pretty long, but very good. I think there may be some mildly “dirty” content… it is about soldiers after all!
I was careful to let him know when a book might contain cuss words or otherwise risquÃ© language because he has two young kids and I’d hate for him to be cruising along with his two-year old, listening to Catcher in the Rye when Holden drops an F-bomb, dirtying up junior’s vocabulary forever.
That is all.