Great Books List Alistair Cockburn

ErikMeade started this neat idea. He wrote, "I ran into the GreatBooksList and thought 'I wish I had a link on peoples pages to see their GreatBooksList.', so I made one for me, and linked it to my page." Good idea, Erik.

-----My "1-book for the stranded soul"-----

The Ramayana, by Aubrey Mennen.
Mennen reinvents The Ramayana with some brilliant insights and writing. Even the intro is brilliant in its discussion of ThorHeyerdahl and karma.

-----Great books-----

The Meaning of Meaning, by Ogden and Richards.
Written in 1921, and reprinted regularly, for good reason. Superb explanation of what it is to signify something. A middle-sized book, middling difficult to read.

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse.
Another short book. I reread it again recently. This time I could skip through it, but I read the ending again carefully.

Situated Learning: LegitimatePeripheralParticipation, by Lave and Wenger.
They woke me up to the idea of LineOfSightLearning? and ExpertInEarshot and the way people communicate in a profession. A short book.

Revising Business Prose.
Taught me that we are allowed to write short, simple sentences with active verbs, even in a bureaucracy. A short book, and I only read the first half.

-----Other particularly good books-----

Writing for Story.
Along with my other writing book. Is busy teaching me how to write nonfiction so that it contains a storyline anyway. Not a long book, and of course well written, by a teacher and Pulitzer prize winner.

TheGoal, by EliyahuGoldratt.
A thinly disguised novel about process control. Well done.

The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, by Watterson.
The hours of pleasure this series brought!

The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins.
Just finally read it, and enjoyed every page. Really changed my view of the world.

His description of the noosphere is outstanding. A fairly hard book, but worth some effort.

The Hobbit, by JrrTolkien, and Alice In Wonderland, by LewisCarroll.
Try reading them both out loud. You will then appreciate Lewis Carroll's accomplishment in this book. Alice Through the Looking Glass doesn't nearly have the effect.

The Hunting of the Snark, by LewisCarroll, and The Hitchhiker's Guide, by DouglasAdams.
Quotable on all sorts of occasions.

In the genre of fiction, there are more. PgWodehouse had me laughing nonstop. The Colour of Magic by TerryPratchett, very good. To Kill A Mockingbird I had to read twice through in the same sitting.

If you like the Ramayana, I recommend you read the Mahabharata if you haven't already. It's the other epic story. I read both back to back before I became a teenager and was too cool to read them. And I'm glad I did. -- SunirShah

Ah, but Aubrey Mennen's Ramayana isn't the usual one, as far as I can tell. He claims to have stripped out lots of stuff intervening writers stuck in, and tried to get back some of the cynical tone he asserts was originally in it. So I wonder what someone would think of it who has read the "orthodox" Ramayana.

Another PgWodehouse fan! Have you also read W W Jacobs -- a short story writer from the generation before? There's very little in print these days, mostly his darker side, but his comic stories are little gems. -- SteveFreeman

Would like to point to "Thus Spake Zarathustra" [AlsoSprachZaratustra] by FriedrichNietzsche. -- rajeev

Have you checked out the BookShelved wiki yet?


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