Alchemical Thoughts

Five books that make me think

Posted on: April 9, 2012

This small post was inspired by this thread over on FriendFeed, which refers to this article out of The Guardian on “My Top Five Books: Books That Make You Think.” I am sure that if I hear the question at a different time I might come up with five different titles. These are the five books I came up with when I saw the discussion. So, here is my small list with some small commentary:

  • Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude).My four readers may know that is just my all-time favorite book. I do read in Spanish, and I make it a point to reread every few years or so. I usually just pick it up when it feels like it is time to go back to Macondo. This novel packs so much in it, and I always discover just a little something new or different with each new reading.
  • El Alquimista (The Alchemist). I have a small special place for Coehlo’s novel, likely his most well-known. This I read also in Spanish, which I feel is closer to the original than reading it in English. The first time I read this I was between jobs, and the novel did provide me with some comfort. I have revisit it soon. I also have a soft spot for Coehlo because he was one of my mother’s favorite writers. In fact, one of the last gifts I got before she passed was a copy of La Quinta Montaña (The Fifth Mountain), which I remember her later being happy to read and telling me she was enjoying the story of Elijah in the novel.
  • Time Enough for Love. I may have mentioned this before, but I have a love-hate relationship with Heinlein. Some of his books I like, and others I have despised (for instance Farnham’s Freehold). I’ve tended to like more of his short fiction. In Time Enough for Love, I like the expansive story and the picaresque wisdom and adventures of Lazarus Long. I particularly like the aphorism the books collects. It took me a long time to read for the first time, but I felt it was well worth it.
  • 1984. I had to teach Orwell’s novel when I was in high school to seniors. We are talking both fairly bright seniors (honors level) and some a bit more reluctant (to put it mildly). It made me think back then, and the book has stayed with me. Given all the things that are going on now, especially in the U.S., the book seems very relevant and even prophetic. This is a book that more people should be reading today because so many of its ideas are alive and well, or those ideas are coming to life.
  • I have a bit of a tie for the fifth book. One title is The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, which does make me think about the nature of war, especially the nature of wars that do not seem to end. This may well be another  book that people should be reading now, especially in the context of the never-ending American adventures in the Middle East and Asia.  The other title is Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. There is social commentary here that will make folks think as well.

These are my five at the moment. What are your five books that make you think? Feel free to let me know in the comments, or if you write a response in your blog, feel free to leave the link in the comments. I am curious to see what others out there choose.



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April 2012
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