Just one book. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever. Just one book, you think everyone should read and why, what's your "if you never read anything else, read this"?
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the original one.
I've read this book about 5 times now and still love it, I don't know what it is about it that I find so interesting but it's great.
The way it's written and the content just makes me want to read more all the time.
Basically the book by the Strugatsky brothers (Boris and Arkady) that sparked the whole Stalker movie and then later on went on to give the game many of it's idea's along with the Chernobyl incident.
Easily one of the best sci fi books to come out of Russia in a time when good old Mother Russia was smothering writers and their works that would show the USSR in a bad light. Rather depressing at times but it's scary just how much it describes the "zone" 15 - 25 years before the actual Chernobyl accident. Obviously not based on a nuclear plant explosion but artifacts/radiation/time instabilities etc left over from an alien visitation. (If you've ever played Stalker, when you read through this you will notice a lot of the anomalies names are taken from this book)
Not going to say too much about it, just buy it, well worth the money, if anything its a little too short, I think I chunked through it in a day or two as I just couldn't put it down.
The Analyst - John Katzenbach
Gripping novel about a man stalked by a psychopath for a long forgotten act, and how he eventually turns back on the stalker and in the process re-defines himself.
Actually a lot better than my one liner - a book I couldn't put down, and even now go back and read just to enjoy the subtleties and intricacies of the plot. Lots of suspense, and some unexpected twists.
Shogun by James Clavell.
I first read it when I was about 11, 12 or in my very early teens and I couldn't put the book down. It's brilliant, very atmospheric and the story hooks you and takes you with it.
There are many others I could list but that book got me at a formative age and it was really the first novel to really grab my attention in that way.
Bending the rules (floodgates open, sorry)
1 book - Waylander - David Gemmell
1 Series - The Farseer Trilogy - Robin Hobb
Bill Bryson, Notes from a Big Country, purely because it's the funniest thing I've ever read, seen or heard.
Obviously it's very much down to taste, but I thought it was fantastic: both as an odd insight into American life (it looks at it from a few very particular and peculiar angles) and for the humour value.
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The Importance of Living by Dr Lin Yutang.
Found it on my landlady's bookshelf in 1993 while I was at college in Yeovil, and it literally changed my life !
I now have all but four of LYT's books in English, and duplicates of most, except IOL ! I keep giving copies away and right now have no spares otherwise I'd make a book swap list for it.
Enders Game by Orson Scott-Card, SF about a small boy, Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin, who is sent to the Battle School where the governments of earth are desperately trying to train soldiers to fight against an alien invasion threat. Really is a good read.
Carter beats the devil
Whodunnit meets quirky magician's biography in the 1920s. Very offbeat book. Writing is really good IMO. Hard to categorise or describe other than it really does capture the feel of old school 1920s razmatazz and theatrical drama of showman's magic, but keep it in a fast paced interesting story.
I honestly wouldn't know where to start recommending fiction as it's so subjective. Plus most of the fiction I rate highly enough to recommend as "must read" material comes in series form like The Dark Tower.
So, non-fiction everyone should read.. Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. Because for my money people just don't hate their governments enough these days, or know enough about what they've been getting up to every time something goes wrong in a foreign country and how they've turned a profit doing it everywhere from Chile to New Orleans to Iraq. Yes, I know, it sounds like it comes with a free tin foil hat but it is definitely worth reading
The Collector by John Fowles
Sci-fi horror at it's absolute finest IMO. Vampires, like you have never seen before. A man who can "talk to the dead" and a doorway between universes....
I was young when I read it and I guess it left a big impression! Read the first one around 86/87 and then carried on reading the next 12 books in the series as soon as each one was released.....over 14 years or so!
Everyone I have leant it to, has ended up reading the entire series as well.
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The Alchemist - Paul Coelho
Inspiring fiction that makes you appreciate what you have now and what you can achieve in the future.
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