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Magic in books; Best in 10 January 8, 2007

Posted by whatacharacter in just my blogs.

Thank you for joining us. The written word is why we’re all here, and so I ask what 10 life-changing books would you recommend? Please share and if you can’t think of 10, or otherwise recall a tome both important and influencial you always meant to read but haven’t, plug it in anyway, and perhaps mention a quick “why.” Post on your blog and/or here … I’ll try adding it here somehow.

Simply “good reads” need not apply – I’m looking for intellectual substance and philosophical enlightenment, with global impact, be it social, spiritual, scientific, ficticous, etc. Which book transformed you? What do you think is a “must read” for it’s ground-breaking,  lasting and timeless affect?

Plato once railed against the poets and playwrites of ancient Greece. A theory explains that the theater and poety of his day simply rehashed the collective ethos of preliterate history, and failed to provoke the audience to intellectual awareness, critical thinking, individual social responsibility, or moral honesty.

Might today’s 21st century media fail us in the same way? Was South Park correct in lambasting Family Guy for titilating the masses with vapid, out of context and arbitrary references to popular culture? What kind of literate nourishment do our brains best require??

I’ll leave this up for awhile … I have lots to do! My best below.



1. whatacharacter - January 8, 2007

My own recommended reading
1. Biblical: Gospel of John, Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul, Proverbs, Psalms
– pure mystical treatise, and spiritual wisdom
2. Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
– opens up the world view
3. Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins
– humor, levity & insight
4. Catch 22, Joseph Heller
– fraught with symbolism
5. Prey, Michael Crighton
– chilling look at modern nano technology
6.The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
– epic life struggle
7. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
– roots
8. Plato’s Dialogues
– basis of rational thought
9. U.S. Constitution
– basis of modern democracy
10. Dante’s Inferno
– renaissance integration & imagination

I’ve read too many computer books and manuals, Art History collections, and Stephen King to be fully aware of all that I may have missed. I imagine some Twain, Joyce, C.S. Lewis, Lovecraft, Kerouac, Watts, Thompson, Huxley, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, Grant Morrison and other “modern” writers have left their mark, and other essayists, commentators, and scholars. I need some definitive titles!!

2. elaine k bond - January 9, 2007

1 “Le petit prince” Antoine de St Exupery
2 “Dr Sax” Jack kerouac”
3 “The book of San Michelle” Axel Munthe
4 ” Soul on ice” Eldridge cleaver
5 “The art of seeing” Aldous Huxley
6 “As I walked out one midsummer morning” Laurie Lee
7 “Memories,Dreams, Reflections” Carl.G.Jung
8 “Oeuvres completes” Arthur Rimbaud
9 “The Bluest Eye” Toni Morrison
10 ” MAUS” Art Spigelman

3. alistair - January 9, 2007


the majority of the books on my list are about perception and the plasicity of reality.

bandler and wilson ask us to smash through the semantic walls and create our own reality…..much like castenada but with neur-chemistry as opposed to plants…….though i have a feeling they`ve both done a few.

4. skip wiley - January 9, 2007

I stopped my list way short of ten for the sake of not diminishing the impact of the below books. Over the last 5-6 years, these have been the milestones for me:

“Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight” by Thom Hartmann
“Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn
“Original Wisdom” by Robert Wolff
“Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell
Harry Potter (series) by JK Rowling
“Memories, Dreams & Reflections” by Carl Jung

I would love to hear some recommendations for wide-ranging, all-encompossing “comparitive occultism” books, if they exist. After spending years reading most of Joseph Campbell’s comparative myth writings, this seems to be the natural direction I find myself moving.

Would anyone recommend “Psychology and the Occult” by Jung? Almost picked it up the other day, and plan to eventually, but have some other stuff to finish first.

5. whatacharacter - January 9, 2007

Hey thanks all for getting this started! It’s great so see so many books I admire, and others I’d love to learn about … but I don’t mean this to be an evaluation post, just an objective catalog of *your* subjective evaluations!

Hey Skip – there are 2 major tomes I know you might be interested in:
The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall (1928 – online text at http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/index.htm), and Ralph Metzner’s Maps of Conciousness (1971) … they’re pretty old, but useful in comparisons!

Here is alistair’s list from http://hypgnosys.blogspot.com/2007/01/ten-most-influential-books-i-have-read.html

The cosmic trigger, by robert anton wilson.

Wings of illusion, by john f. schumaker.

Filters against folly, by garrett hardin.

Artists, craftsmen, and technocrats, by patricia pitcher.

The prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli.

Frogs to princes, by richard bandler.

Games people play, by eric berne.

The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History, by terence mckenna.

Journey to ixtlan, by carlos castenada.

Let`s talk about ufos, by peter bros.

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts.
(11 is just fine!)

Thanks again! more! More!

6. alistair - January 10, 2007

thanks for expanding that greg……..i get lazy at times with hypertext.

some of aliester crowley`s writings are, while not everyone`s taste, a good place to start regrarding post-victorian mysticism. as i`m typing i am remembering two of my other favorite authors, gurdjieff and ouspensky. tertium organum by p.d. ouspensky is well recommended for those looking to plumb the depths of the esoteric.

7. dreamsleftbreathing - January 11, 2007

my short and sweet list:

Books by Anne Lamott= Plan B:Further Thoughts on Faith, Traveling Mercies (i am reading this now), and Bird by Bird (which i hope to read in the near future). I admire this author for her sheer honesty and willingness to say things that many will not say, and for the encouragement to tackle life that feel each time i read a portion of her words.

(i will think on this more)


8. speedbird - January 13, 2007

Ten is hard. But here’s a few that have really, really blown my mind:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – Robert C. O’Brien (seriously, it ain’t about mice)
Fistful of Digits – Christopher Hodder-Williams (out of print)
Descartes’ Dream – Davis & Hersh (non-fiction)

Other lesser raves:

Watership Down – Richard Adams (neither is this about rabbits 🙂 )
Limestone and Clay – Lesley Glaister
The Gate of Angels – Penelope Fitzgerald
The Evil Seed – Joanne Harris
The Scheme for Full Employment – Magnus Mills
British Summertime – Paul Cornell
The Spire – William Golding

All, I think, share a theme of ‘something more’, from a variety of angles. And they’re all fabulously, insanely, annoyingly well written to boot.

9. greg - January 15, 2007

Thanks some more! This effort has taken off like a herd of turtles, but perhaps I needed to “evangelize” some more … I’ll note the passing of influencial author Robert Anton Wilson, who I only recently became aware of. I had requested his list on his blog, but I think I was too late …
his Illuminatus Trilogy seemed note worthy for his affect on the modern generation.

Keep those titles coming!

10. pattirose - January 15, 2007

Here’s a few that I felt were earth shattering to me.

Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark – Laurence Gardner
Realm of the Ring Lords – Laurence Gardner
Footprints of the Gods – Graham Hancock
Earth Chronicles – Z. Sitchin (anything by him)
Flying Serpents and Dragons – R.A. Boulay
1984 – Orwell

11. whatacharacter - January 15, 2007

Thanks – Orwell to be sure!!!

Maybe if I get a few more titles streaming in, I’ll create a seperate page for this list of books. Also if anyone knows where a people driven list like this might find value being archived somewhere … let me know!!

This list should be abel to stand on its own merits and not be about me or my blog. It should be a helpful and generous resource to anyone who wants to feed their minds and spirits.
– Greg

12. alistair - January 18, 2007

laurence gardner is one heavy cat. he believes that the cathederal at chartres might actually be a time machine…… the labyrinth etched into the floor with an important part removed.

the arcane knowledge is rising to the surface ever so slowly.

13. whatacharacter - January 18, 2007

Yes I was looking into his titles. Bizarre… tho’ I had an Art History professor who was into Moissac Catherdral’s sculpture, how it incorporated Hindu motifs and may fortell the future!

Well, what may or not be, it’s probably distracting from working out the inner workings of me!

I’ll be emailing you alistair, once, I guess, “the time is right!”

14. speedbird - January 28, 2007

Can I add two graphic novels? –

‘Bone’ – Jeff Smith
‘The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones’ – Alan Moore & Ian Gibson

15. greg - January 29, 2007

You are welcome to! You really think they are life-changing/world-changing must reads?

16. alistair - January 29, 2007

more to the life changing reads.

i had forgotten about joseph chiltern pearce. he wrote the crack in the cosmic egg, which started it all for me.

i was a real estate agent when i read the book and my mind went wow!, someone else saw what i saw……….and managed to put it into words.

i had forgotten to add his book to the list and something clicked yesterday listening to a terence mckenna lecture……

17. speedbird - January 30, 2007

greg –

Bone and Halo Jones: life-changing? Most certainly. I met Bone at Uni and it just blew me away. I’m not a graphic novel fan, but this was something else. Bone is almost impossible to reduce to words – like the Matrix, you have to see it for yourself. I bumbled into the collected Halo Jones in a bookshop a couple of years back, and a dim recollection of reading bits of the original series in a mate’s comics when I was about 14 came back to me… it was good, wasn’t it?… so I made an impulse purchase. /My giddy aunt/, what had I found? I go back to both these every so often and find more than when I had read them the last time.

The best fiction, I think, digs down to deeper truths than a straight literal essay on a topic. So my list is mainly fiction. And I’ve tried to avoid the more famous epoch-making titles – some, I’m sure, would take Douglas Adams or Tolkein to their desert island, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Which are those books that shine a little light on those hidden things you’ve always suspected lurking at the corners of your vision?…

18. Jackie - February 5, 2007

“The Annie Dillard Reader” – Annie Dillard
“The Lord of the Rings” – J.R.R. Tolkein
“His Dark Material” trilogy by Philip Pullman
“Women Who Run With the Wolves” Clarissa Pinkola Estes
The New Testament
“I984” – George Orwell
“The Chronicles of Narnia” – C.S. Lewis
“Writing Down the Bones -Freeing the Writer Within” – Natalie Goldberg
“Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” – Lewis Carroll
I’m sure there are many more books, the titles of which slip my mind at present. The above are all books that I’ve read more than once – some as a young girl, and then again at different stages of my life. Mythology/fantasy/and fairy tales have had a huge impact on my creative spirit – the art that I make, and my writing. I like to read books about writing by writers. I also love nature, thus Annie Dillard – whose observational writing of the natural world just blows me away. I’d love to read Joseph Campbell’s books – but I’m watching the DVD “The Power of Myth” – which takes less time, and is fascinating, because I get to hear the man tell the stories.
The Bible – well -yes, according to Campbell -it’s mythology too. And it is beautifully written – especially the New Testament.

Thanks, Greg!

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