Achieving The Perfect In-Home Library
It’s no secret that movies are one of my biggest passions in life and they forever will be. In the past year, however, I have re-kindled my passion for another form of storytelling; books. Books-I mean we all know what books are, right? Of course we do. It’s a webpage without ads made of trees. A real book. No wifi signal required. Ever. None of this e-reader crap either.
How old did I just sound as you read that last sentence?
For years I’ve relished in spending hours walking aimlessly in libraries and bookstores of all kinds. I sometimes fantasized that I was the guy from The Twilight Zone (but without my glasses breaking.)
Books are often times the catalyst for a movie. A story told in a different medium. An original medium. A timeless medium.
This thinking and over-thinking about books got me fantasizing about wanting to build a home library. Let’s be honest, it would be a lot cheaper and reliant than a game room or a home theater for sure.
But of all the billions of books in existence… which books belong in MY library?
This is not going to be another Top 10 list. For one thing, this list will certainly recommend more than 10 books. But aside from the classics or cliché titles, (which will obviously be included), I want to give you my reasons as to why these particular books would go in my library and why they’re so important to me. That being said, I absolutely suggest and recommend all of these books to you if you have a home library already and want to add to it or are about to build one.
It should also be noted that the list will be in a chaotic order. But that’s on purpose. Because you need to introduce a little chaos when you want to recommend so many stories and characters in your head at the same time.
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Published in 1971, this is a first-person narrative of a teenage girl’s tragic plunge into drug addiction in the format of a diary. Edited by Beatrice Sparks, she claims that the story is based on an actual diary that she found, and if that is true, the original owner of the diary remains a mystery. A somber story, but an important one nevertheless. It’s like the Anne Frank diary but in the world of “Requiem For A Dream.”
Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss
Real name Theodor Seuss Geise, Dr. Seuss is the William Shakespeare of children’s books authors. His collection of rhyming narratives is arguably everyone’s introduction to freestyle rap battles. Yeah, I just said that… Let that sink in for a minute. This particular story is about a stubborn, picky eater who just won’t give a new meal a chance. Reread it as an adult and clearly you identify so much more subtext.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
A coming-of-age science fiction novel for the ages. It’s no secret that this book has been one of my favorite things to talk about on my blog for the past few years. I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug my review here as well. It’s the story about a group of social misfits-led by Wade Watts-combing through a seemingly endless virtual reality world called the OASIS in search of a very real $250 billion dollar fortune hidden inside under layer after layer of pop-culture trivia from the 1980’s and 90’s.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
One of-if not the best-writer of the English language in history. What more can be said? 37 plays, 160 sonnets, and 5 books of poetry all with very distinct genres and messages. Many expressions still used today (or in the modern dictionary) were created by this man and his writings. My personal favorite is “Hamlet,” but no matter your fancy, this guy has probably written something you’d not only enjoy, but adore. If you’re new to his work or intimidated by it, there’s no shame in finding publications that have a modern translation attached with it because some of it can go over your head the first time around.
Salinger by David Shields
A literal accompaniment to a spectacular documentary about the life and work of J.D. Salinger. This biography tells very revealing stories and details about one of the most recluse and obsessive American writers of a generation. Did you know that Salinger fought in World War 2? That his first time seeing battle was on D-Day? That while on Normandy Beach he had six chapters of “The Catcher In The Rye” with him? That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s revealed in this incredibly in-depth look at Salinger’s life and career.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
A must read with timeless advice and strategies that clearly don’t only apply to military tactics, but also the corporate world, psychology, and even sports. During his glory days of coaching the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson required his players to read this book before they even stepped foot on the court. Despite it being first written in the 5th century, it’s lessons still hold true just as accurately today.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
One of the most imaginative and terrifying books I’ve ever read. Set in the 1980’s Manhattan where it’s all about big hair, big dresses, and big bank accounts, Patrick Bateman is all about living life hard. Really hard. A young, handsome, and extremely successful Wall Street broker by day, a brutal and merciless killer by night. Some of the most disturbing prose in modern literature that I’ve ever read is in this book. If you’ve seen the movie starring Christian Bale, it barely scratches the surface to what gruesome details are told by Bateman throughout.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
In my opinion, one of the most important debut novels in my lifetime. A dark comedy that never makes you laugh, but rather think. The story is told by a nameless narrator who complains not only about his life, but also existence as a whole. Then he meets Tyler Durden, who introduces him to a new perspective and approach to life through an underground fight club… and making soap. A psychedelic trip of a book that will leave you with either a disdain for life or lust for it each time you read it; never something in between.
Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
If Dr. Seuss is the William Shakespeare of children’s books, then Shel Silverstein is the Walt Whitman. Voted one of Parent & Child magazine’s 100 Greatest Books for Kids, WTSE is chuck full of hilarious and entertaining poetry with virtuous lessons as well as adorable and imaginative illustrations. A great book to read to your kids, but then you’ll find yourself continuing to read long after they’ve gone down for their nap.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes pens the classic tale of an elderly man suffering from dementia in the most fantastic way possible. It is because of this book that I get the urge to pick a fight with a windmill every time I see one. The original Spanish text is very difficult to read because it is written in an almost archaic dialect (comparable to Shakespeare’s English), but has been translated and reinterpreted in nearly every major language and skill level. I remember reading this my sophomore year of high school and giving it a very raunchy nickname that I will not repeat on here, but nevertheless, it is a timeless classic and must-have for your collection.
The Martian by Andy Weir
A great movie. An even better book. The story of Mark Watney marooned on Mars is one of survival, adaptation, and his ability to “science the shit” out of every situation. Weir allows his character to do all these things in the most informative, simplified (but not too simplified) and hysterical ways. As wonderful a job as Matt Damon did in the movie, I believe that the character Weir created in his book is a lot funnier. About 70% of the book is told in first-person by way of video log entries but the few additional characters play a pivotal role in the progression of the story. There is no “stock character” in this book. An absolute must have in your library, especially for people interested in science and space travel and a “believable” worst-case scenario.
The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
Salinger had this ability to know us better than we know ourselves and shamelessly tell us that through the eyes of a teenager named Holden Caulfield. His voice is the most eloquent of all throughout the various characters we meet and also the most honest by far. An observational story that has (and will continue to) transcend time. There is nothing else in all of literature quite like Holden’s voice and message in the way it is presented to you.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
A children’s book of the Victorian era arguably intended more for adults because of the political whimsey that stands before you with the introduction of each character. A massive story made of several volumes. But when your story revolves around psychedelic drugs and public beheadings, how can you not be entertained? A children’s book that even the most dedicated scholars cannot unanimously come to a consensus on with its many messages.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
A pop-culture phenomenon back in 2003, this murder mystery novel had a cult following so massive, it spawned numerous conspiracy theories about secret societies, The Vatican, and the Catholic religion as a whole. So much so that more books and documentaries were coming out in drones to either agree with Brown’s work of fiction and try to state it as fact or call him the second coming of the devil. When a book has that kind of impact on society in the 21st century, it’s certainly one you want to add to your collection.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
One of the most well-known science fiction writers of all time, Philip K. Dick has written several unforgettable and mainstream stories about scientific mystery and deception thickly layered in the topics of belonging, humanity, and civil rights. The source inspiration of the 1980 mind-bending film, “Blade Runner;” a trippy one-two combination all sci-fi fans must dive into.
1984 by George Orwell
Published in 1949, this dystopian novel probably rings truer today more than ever. When you’re talking about constant government surveillance and the top 1 percenters bringing formal charges on its citizens for expressing individualism and independent thought, it’s only a matter of time before a revolt happens. Winston Smith works as a writer for The Ministry of Truth whose job is to rewrite historical news articles so that it favors the party line. The term “big brother” that we all know and use today came from this book.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Considered the Don Quixote of The French Quarter, this comedic masterpiece and Pulitzer Prize In Fiction winning novel wasn’t even published until 11 years after Toole’s apparent suicide. The story goes that Toole was rejected by publisher after publisher for this book and it was his mother who finally convinced the Louisiana State University press to publish. The title of the book is inspired by an epigraph from Irish poet Jonathan Swift that says, “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by his sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy.”
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Few literary masterpieces have been immortalized and/or reimagined more than this one. The revealing story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his encounters with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future making him realize the true meaning of Christmas and that altruism and family are the most valuable riches of all. We all know the story, but come on, if you’re going to have a home library, you have to include this one.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
A seven-book anthology that is one of the most successful and fastest-selling book series in history. J.K. Rowling was a homeless single mother working as a barmaid and started writing about the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends on cocktail napkins. Since then, the books have become a world-wide phenomenon parlayed into a hugely successful movie franchise, theater productions, and now more books continuing the story are said to be on the way. It’s like Cinderella meets The Magic School Bus but with wizards!
The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Written in extremely simplified but powerful language, Hemingway tells the story of an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago battling a giant marlin on The Gulf Stream off the coast of Florida. A story of perseverance and survival, this story especially rings true to me because of my Cuban heritage.
I’m going to stop here for now, otherwise I’d go on and on forever. Which books do you want to include in your own home library?