[at-l] Reading List

Tom McGinnis sloetoe at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 17 15:27:09 CST 2012

A friend asked me for a reading list. 
I kind of like the result -- short enough, but full 'o fun.

The Te Of Piglet; Benjamin Hoff 1992
on the virtue of small, responsive, flexible adaptation to (quiet) life

Te is just a fun read, though.

Siddhartha; Hermann Hesse 1922
on the virtue of aesthetic "fasting, sitting, waiting" from a libertine prince

Hesse starts a book as slow as anybody I've ever read. One book, 800+ pages in length, didn't start until well past 200 pages. I would *never* have stomached it without it being recommended to me by a HUGE favorite undergrad mentor-type guy. WELL worth it. "Siddhartha"??? It's only 100 pages or so, anyway. Still, it doesn't really start until you're halfway through, and then little "Whoaaaaaaa... where did *that* come from???" start to leak in. Sneaky bastard. In modern Western parlance, this book tells you to "sit down, shut up, and *listen*" to life around you.

Life in the Woods (or, "Walden"); Henry David Thoreau 1854
on lasting values and freedom from having those lasting values conflict with societal "conventional wisdom"
esp. Economy, Where I Lived and What I Lived For, and Conclusion
Forget the essay Walking -- which should be burned. Thoreau's writing is very dense. Take it 2-3 pages at a time, and go chew on what you read. He seems to have the habit of writing with all these stultifying multi-syllabic words, and then, 2 or 3 pages later, "POP!" there's one of those Thoreau statements that encapsulates life so well, and ends up on a poster in a college dorm. Be patient with Thoreau. Read 'im as he wrote 'em.


Jitterbug Perfume; Tom Robbins  1984
on living in-the-moment, finding a purpose in life, and sexing it up
No waiting around for Robbins to get to work -- the guy is the single best writer of the English language that I have ever read. He's SO good, he takes you out of his story (ostentatious craft!) BUT YOU DON'T CARE. You are just reading along, and he writes some hugely marvelously outrageously crafty sentence, and you re-read it 3-4 times, as if you were a starving person, and the words were a warm morsel of London Broil with just the right hint of grill burn sandwiching its pinky goodness. (Anyway, a great story, to boot.)


Stranger In A Strange Land; Robert Heinlein  1961
on living in the moment, and really questioning what Western Civilization is all about, *and* sexing it up (again)...

This is a novel about uptight people and sexual mores. Right? Or, is it self-reliance, and doing what is right? Or, is it about eating the dead? To know him is to grok him. But a great (and easy) read.

There's some food for thought for ye. Bon Appetit'.

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