Books of Adulthood

My copies of a few of the books on this list.

After I wrote about the books I love from childhood, a friend suggested I write about the books I love in adulthood.

Of course, I'm still reading. And I’m still an adult. (Well, sometimes I wonder. As do others.)

One of my favorite questions is about a person's favorite books. And recently, at a dinner gathering, I asked my table what they were reading. (Result: Awkward silence.) So my friend's recommendation is one I decided to take with one caveat: There might be a part two of this post somewhere down the line.

I missed many books in this compilation, I'm sure. And I culled a number off my original list, because it was just too long. (So this is a list of the favorites among the favorites.) Third, I am still voraciously reading. Who knows what I’ll encounter in coming years that I would add to the list below?

Much as with my childhood books post, I limited the list to books that socked me in the chest or the gut, that I learned from, that I still think about today, and that I'd recommend to anyone without hesitation. Juicy, meaty, books that I’m in love with--not just books I love.

Because I can't possibly order these books by value or importance, and I'm not sure of the date I read them, I've ordered them alphabetically by title:

I'd planned to write a note with each book, explaining the reason for my love, but then I realized that I might project my opinions onto yours--and sometimes it's best to approach something with a clear mind. But after you've read any of these--if you do--I'd love to discuss it.

Or if you've already read one or more, what did you think?

And what are the seminal books of your adult reading life?

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Reader Comments (8)

Of your list I have read "Interview" , "All Quiet", and "Name of the rose". "Winkie" sounds like a book I should pick up.

I have to admit to a fair amount of "brain candy" or junk food in my current reading diet. The sort of books that more than anything else keep the mind amused. Just the other day I was sorting through my library and found two boxes worth of paperbacks that are going straight to Half Price books.

I need to have a clear mind and a block of time to read something serious. Case in point.
"Maps and Legends" by Michael Chabon. A collection of essays about reading and writing. Only a couple hundred pages long but I was so distracted with work and life that it took me over a month to finish.

So it's much easier to read something like "Flip this zombie" by Jesse Petersen. A tasteless little story that I finished in about three hours. This is one of the books that's going to Half price books. If I wasn't totally opposed to censorship I would burn this one.

Of course there is brain candy and then there is brain candy. The "Sharpe" series of novels by Bernard Cornwell are excellent as are the "Master and Commander" series by Patrick O'Brian.

Some of the more fulfilling books that I have read in the past when I did have the time would include:

"On the road" - Jack Kerouac

"Stranger in a strange land" - Robert Heinlein. Along with every other thing that Heinlein has written.

"American Gods" - Neil Gaiman

"Horse Tradin'" - Ben Green

"Dune" - Frank Herbert

"Myths to live by" - Joseph Campbell, and "The hero with a thousand faces"

"Dreamers of the day" - Mary Doria Russell

"Neuromancer" - William Gibson

Lastly I have to mention two books that more than any others ignited my adult mind during college. "The art of war" by Sun tzu and "Traces on the Rhodian shore" by Clarence Glacken.

"Art of War" is so elegant and simple that it is still fresh after 2500 years. "Traces" was a book assigned to me for a philosophy class. In some ways this book lit the pilot light to my critical thinking process.

I'm leaving out many of the "essentials", from this list. Authors and books that most have read, in part because they are so well known but also because they are somewhat generic. These would include The HG Wells, the Charles Dickens, Jules Verne.

Lastly I am also leaving out "Wealth of nations" by Adam Smith because I cannot bear to confess that I fell asleep reading it.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

I've read three on your list: Gone with the Wind, Interview with a Vampire, and The Name of the Rose.

I've gotten about halfway through One Hundred Years of Solitude. I keep meaning to get back to it, but it's still sitting on the shelf. (Right next to Don Quixote - I try and give my books stimulating company while they wait.)

In college I discovered P.G. Wodehouse and read every one of his books I could get a hold of. I still have "Code of the Woosters" and re-read it every once in a while.

Also from college, and still holding a place in my heart: "Tom Jones" by Henry Fielding.

Post college:

Embers - Sándor Márai

My Mother's House and Sido - Collette

The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett

The History of Money - Jack Weatherford

Longitude - Dava Sobel

Kitchen - Bananna Yoshimoto

The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer

Girl Genius Omnibus Volume One: Agatha Awakens -Phil and Kaja Foglio

Now that I don't have reading assigned to me, I tend to go through phases in my reading. For months I'll read only biographies, then I get into books on science, (like Longitude) or go into a murder mystery phase.

Right now, I've got a hankering for travel literature and there's a book on Rome sitting on my desk.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

ooooo P.G. Wodehouse! How could I forget Jeeves! The only book series that ever made me want to dress in a tuxedo and attend a fancy 1920s type party.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

Know what I like most about this post, now that I've read it? I have a list of new books to read from people I trust!

August 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

I cannot wait to create a list but try
The Long Night by Andrew Lytle.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWalt Parmer

LOVE suggestions, Walt! Especially as I always ask for books for my birthday and the holidays. But I was bummed to see that "The Long Night" by Lytle is out of print. I'll definitely go ahead and get it used, though. A recommendation from you is worth reading!

November 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

Be forewarned I was a history major in college so lots of biographies and a sprinkle of gems.

American Lion - Jon Meacheam - Pulitzer prize

Franklin and Winston - Jon Meacheam

IBM and the Holocaust - Edwin Black - mind blowing

Escape from Davao - John Lukacs

Secrets of The Temple - How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country - William Greider

De Shootinest Gentleman - Nash Buckingham

The Dictionary of Words - John Ayto

The Warmth of Other Suns - Isabel Wilkerson

Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin

What Hath God Wrought - Daniel Howe

Derliction of Duty - H.R. McMaster

Seen and Unseen - Edward McCrady

A Bright Shining Lie - Neil Sheenan

Point Man - Steve Farrar

The Conjure Woman - Charles Chesnutt

Philip of Spain - Henry Kamen

Peter the Great - Robert Masse

The Years of Lyndon Johnson - Robert Caro

Counsel to The President - Clark Clifford

Theodore Rex - Edmund Morris

Barry Goldwater - Robert Goldberg

Sea of Glory - Nathaniel Philbrick

Traitor to His Class - FDR - H.W. Brands

Lords of Finance - Liaqut Amahed

Stonewall Jackson - James Robertson

The Ascent of Money - Nail Ferguson

The E-Myth Revisted - Michael Gerber

Collected Stories William Faulkner -

90 Minutes in Heaven - Don Piper

November 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWalt Parmer

WOW! Fodder for my holiday Amazon list, Walt--and I need it! Thank you, thank you! Great list!

November 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

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