Reading list

of Fabrice

Fp.laussy.jpg in no particular order (I aggregate at the end). Entries striken through are those I finally read (maybe with a line or not commenting on my experience).

A good source of suggestions is that compiles various lists of "best books".

  1. Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler, set in 1938 during the Stalinist purges and Moscow show trials.
    • Interesting for its role in shaping Orwell's thoughts, but actually failing to convey the atrocity and fear of totalitarianism, precisely what Orwell achieves.
  2. Le Feld-Maréchal von Bonaparte and Au bon beurre, Jean Dutourd.
    • Following reading le Feld-Maréchal in July (2018), and recognizing Dutourd as a major contemporary writer and thinker, I add to this list Le Septième Jour, 2024, Rivarol and Mémoires de Mary Watson as a first salve (there are more titles of interest).
  3. The Diary of a Young Girl of Anne Frank, classic.
  4. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe (1958), as the most widely read book in contemporary African literature, focuses on the clash of colonialism, Christianity, and native African culture.
    • A masterpiece with a deserved position in the list of universal and timeless writings. Achebe's Nigerian particular case describes the estranged man from any cultural background. It resonated a lot with me. As the first part of the African trilogy, this brings No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God in my list.
  5. Syntactic Structures Noam Chomsky (1957), laying out his ideas of transformational grammar, revolutionized the field of linguistics and at the same time dethroned behaviorism in psychology.
  6. Seven Habits of Highly Successful People Stephen Covey (1989) set the standard for books on leadership and effectiveness in business.
  7. Darwin’s Black Box Michael Behe (1996), though roundly rejected by the scientific community, epitomizes the challenge of so-called intelligent design to evolutionary theory and has spawned an enormous literature, both pro and con.
  8. Man’s Search for Meaning Victor Frankl (1962) provides a particularly effective answer to totalitarian attempts to crush the human spirit, showing how humanity can overcome horror and futility through finding meaning and purpose.
  9. In the Shadow of Man Jane Goodall (1971), in relating her experiences with chimpanzees in the wild, underscored the deep connection between humans and the rest of the animal world.
  10. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Kuhn (1962, last edition 1978) changed our view of science from a fully rational enterprise to one fraught with bias and irrational elements
  11. The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad. Inspired a movie that inspired a score to Philip Glass, the novel is noted as well.
  12. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman. An evil danger for society even Orwell might have overlooked.
    • Interesting idea but a bore to read as too anchored in its time.
  13. L'Enculé and L'âge du Christ, Marc-Édouard Nabe.
  14. Confessions of a Mask, Yukio Mishima, on homosexuality in wartime Japan; I put the more urgent Temple of the Golden Pavilion on my May reading list.
  15. Billy-Ze-Kick, Jean Vautrin, recommended by Henri Guillemin [1].
  16. Le camp des Saints, Jean Raspail.
    • Premonitory.
  17. Catch-22, major contemporary work that sets out the catch-22 fallacy.
    • Disappointing. Too clever, the same trick ad nauseam quickly tired me. As compared to Slaughterhouse 5, this is mere litterature.
  18. Works from Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt such as Le Visiteur or L'Évangile selon Pilate.
    • Fine but one can do without. The jounal d'un roman volé after the Évangile selon Pilate is more interesting than the work itself. No hurry in this life to read more from this Author, whose masterpiece seems a poor man's version of Kazantzakis (but don't avoid it if curious yourself).
  19. The Good Soldier Švejk, a classic of Czech literature.
  20. Everything from Kurt Vonnegut; after reading Slaughterhouse 5, I realised that Vonnegut is probably a favourite Author (what Cat's cradle by itself did not make me realise right away although it gives a consistent picture). This could include as a first further exploring: Player Piano (first novel), Mother Night (memoirs of the American Nazi met by Bobby Pilgrim) and Galapagos, as a later work, featuring Darwinism. Breakfast of Champions should also surface at some point.
  21. The portrait of the artist as a young man, not in my Joyce's reading list selection of August 2017.
  22. Robinson Crusoe, Defoe, classic.
  23. The Call of the Wild, Jack London, classic.
  24. Moby Dick, Herman Melville.
  25. Madame Bovary, Flaubert.
  26. La princesse de Clèves, Madame de Lafayette
  27. The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner [2]
  28. La cantatrice chauve, Eugène Ionesco.
  29. Les Faux-monnayeurs, André Gide.
  30. Le Hussard sur le toit and Un roi sans divertissement from Jean Giono.
  31. Thérèse Desqueyroux, François Mauriac
  32. The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu
  33. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  34. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  35. The Man Without Qualities, Robert Musil
  36. The remaining novels from Victor Hugo I haven't read yet: Bug-Jargal, Han d'Islande, Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné, Claude Gueux, Les Travailleurs de la mer and L'Homme qui rit.
  37. Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw.
  38. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.
  39. The Pigeon (Die Taube), Süskind.
  40. Soljénitsyne's books: Une journée d'Ivan Denissovitch, Deux siècles ensemble, etc.
  41. Books recommended by Andrew White: "The Future Eaters", by Tim Flannery; "Guns, Germs & Steel", by Jared Diamond; "The Red Queen", by Matt Ridley; and "The Language Instinct", by Steven Pinker.
  42. Batouala de René Maran, Français noir d'origine guyanaise, Goncourt 1921 pour son roman "véritable roman nègre".
  43. Ivanhoe, Walter Scott (made Ashby de la Zouche's castle famous).
  44. Kary Mullis' reading list (itself a must-read), including Julian Barbour's "The End of Time", Max G. Gergel's "Excuse Me Sir, Would you like to buy a Kilo of Isopropyl Bromide" or David Bohm's "Wholeness and the Implicate Order".
  45. All of Burgess, or almost, starting with a selection of his most-interesting looking pieces after those already read (and in addition to his own reading list):
    1. 1985, Burgess' take on 1984, can't be missed (top of the sub-list).
    2. Napoleon Symphony, no comments necessary.
    3. The End of the World News, following Trotsky, Freud and the future.
    4. M/F, unclear what this is but Burgess' own personal favourite.
    5. Biblical trilogy: Moses, Man of Nazareth and The Kingdom of the Wicked.
    6. Any old iron, seemingly with the same epic journey throughout history than in Earthly Powers, which was one of the highly appealing features of the novel.
    7. One Hand Clapping on the demise of Western culture.
    8. The Wanting Seed on overpopulation.
    9. The Right to an Answer on returning from exile.
    10. A Vision of Battlements his first novel, written in Gibraltar during WW2.
    11. The "exotic novels": Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket, Beds in the East and Devil of a State.
    12. The Enderby series: Inside Mr Enderby, Enderby Outside, Enderby's End (aka "the Clockwork Testament") and No End to Enderby (aka "Enderby's Dark Lady").
    13. An Essay on Censorship, as title says.
    14. Homage to Qwert Yuiop, essay on journalism.
    15. One Man's Chorus, latest pieces (essay, articles...)
    16. The Doctor Is Sick.
    17. The Pianoplayers, a similar title to Vonnegut's first novel.
    18. Little Wilson and Big God and You've Had Your Time, biographies.

I have a much longer reading list but it is not in electronic format yet, so I just add titles here now.