My Favorite Books

A while ago, someone asked if I would list my favorite books. So here’s a shot at it. I’ve had many favorites that have fallen from favor, and I won’t list those. There are books I feel I should like, but for which I’ve never developed a true enthusiasm, and I’m not listing those either. So this is my current list of the books that I really love—my short list if I had to seriously reduce my library. In no particular order.

I Ching, translated by Richard Wilhelm. My favorite book. None of the other translations even come close to this one.

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu. I have two favorite translations, one by Richard Wilhelm and the other by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo.

A Reader’s Manifesto by B. R. Myers. A brilliant, true, and hysterically funny work about what’s gone wrong with American literature.

Ishi in Two Worlds by Theodora Kroeber. The story of the last wild Indian in America, or so the book says. Whatever the truth is, it’s an incredibly moving story.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The more I learn about Nabokov, the less I like him. But he was a master of language, and the book makes me laugh.

The Real Work by Gary Snyder. I find his ideas more compelling than his poetry. This is a book of interviews, and I’ve learned a great deal from it.

Anything by Suzuki Roshi. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is the best place to start, but I like all the books that have come out under his name. They’re all edited transcripts of his talks.

Anything by Stephen Gaskin. Like Suzuki Roshi, his books are edited transcripts.

The Diamond Sutra One of the central texts of Mahayana Buddhism. Translation by Red Pine.

The Platform Sutra By Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen. Translation by Red Pine.

The Gospel of Thomas, one of the so-called Gnostic gospels. It’s a collection of the teachings of Jesus, and is free of all the mythology.

Cold Mountain Poems. Poems by an old Chinese hermit. I like the translation by Red Pine, which is complete. But Gary Snyder translated some in his book Riprap, and they are excellent.

Almost anything by Noam Chomsky. I have some disagreements with him, but not many. He taught me how to read the news.

Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis. The Chalmers Johnson trilogy about the inevitable fall of the American Empire. (All empires are doomed to fall.)

The Party’s Over by Richard Heinberg. A recent find. I intend to post something here eventually about this book and its subject, Peak Oil. An important book.

3 Responses to “My Favorite Books”

  1. Tracy Glomski Says:

    Ah, thank you so much! The only two I’ve explored are the first two on your list. I can’t remember if the translations were Wilhelm’s, though. I’ll look back into it. I recognize quite a few of the other authors’ names but haven’t got round to them yet.

    You’ve mentioned Peak Oil several times recently. Just curious if you ever read The Archdruid Report? John Michael Greer, author of The Long Descent (another book I still need to read) has insights that I often find to be interesting and helpful. You might check it out, if you haven’t already seen it.

  2. Floating Clouds Says:

    Richard Heinberg was my professor at New College of CA NorthBay in 2004. It was through him that I learned of your book and movie which he spoke about and highly recommended to our class. He even wrote about it in his Muse newsletter # 156 dated April 2005. I saved the newsletter tucking it away inside your book. We are all somehow connected in this web of life; including parrot preservation and national resource depletion.

  3. markbittner Says:

    Yes. I intend to write about Richard’s book, “The Party’s Over,” and Peak Oil in the near future. I’m just waiting for the decks to clear.

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