Dr. Zeus' Favorite Books

This is a little stale, but here you go...

A Collaboration with Nature, Andy Goldsworthy
The last of The Holy Three (Non-Fiction). Lost your sense of wonder recently? Look at these pictures.
Anxious Visions: Surrealist Art, Sidra Stich
One of the best exhibits I've ever been to. Introduced me to decalcomania.
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
The first Faulkner I read.
Codex Seraphinianus, Luigi Seraphini
The crown of The Holy Three (Fiction). It's an endless labrynth of fascination on multiple levels. Is it an encyclopedia of a parallel universe? A future reconstruction of our culture? The scribblings of an insane fetishist? Or not a book at all?
Concrete Island, J. G. Ballard
The book that started me on Ballard. Absurdist? Conceptual? Good.
Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey
I actually read this while cruising around the southwest. It was nice.
Earth Abides, George R. Stewart
A nice, solid book about the perpetuity of life after a global biological disaster. It wouldn't be here if not for the fact that it takes place in Berkeley...in my neighborhood...in my house!
Form, Function, and Design, Paul Jacques Grillo
My mom gave this book to me when I was twelve or so and still maintained that I wanted to be an architect. I, however, had no interest in this book and soon moved on to other career aspirations. Last year I pulled it off the shelf -- inexplicably, it's moved with me everywhere I've been -- and actually started reading the damn thing. It's good. So I thanked Mom.
Gödel, Escher, Bach, Douglas R. Hofstadter
One of The Holy Three (Non-Fiction). Better than PBS.
Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
Another of The Holy Three (Fiction). I've just started re-reading it to get a better grasp. The first time through I was febrile in Kathmandu with dysentary.
Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson
For obvious reasons. I once told my friend Bill that it was an allegory for The Meaning of Life. We flipped it open at random to the page that says, "He made a whole city full of windows, but none of the windows was his window."
If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, Italo Calvino
Reality is crumbling around me!
Magister Ludi, Hemann Hesse
It made me think alot...about not thinking. Hesse completely changed the direction of the book halfway through writing it.
Material World, Peter Menzel
Find out where you live.
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Stanislaw Lem
A tickling yet chilling study of madness. Or is it another Codex?
Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
My favorite Nabokov so far. Funny and witty, more than usual.
Shelter, edited by Lloyd Kahn
Makes me want to build. Oh, dear God, it makes me want to build.
Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey
One of The Holy Three (Fiction). Powerful is a gross understatement.
Stone Junction & Fup, Jim Dodge
I once tried to buy a copy of Stone Junction in Washington, DC. The bookseller said, "Jim Dodge? He's not very popular outside of California." Well, I live in California, and I love him. Read Fup aloud some night to a friend.
The Ants, Bert Hölldobler & Edward O. Wilson
I'll never finish it but I don't care. Just to have it in the house makes me warm all over. It's like a brick of rationality, an anchor, a well.
The Autumn of the Patriarch, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Only start this if you've got huge, uninterupted expanses of time stretching out before you. It's mind-boggling stream-of-concious, with perhaps four sentences in the entire book. It's well worth hours of your time to get into the rhythm.
The Book of the Subgenius, Bob
You'll pay to know what you really think!
The Fan Man, William Kotzwinkle
Dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky...
The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
The single best gestaltic introduction to anarchy and chaos theory known to mankind. If you can survive this, you've got it. Reality is what you make it.
The Portable Jung, edited by Joseph Campbell
My personal favorite interpretation of life and the mind.
The River that Flows Uphill, William Calvin
I can't find this book! It used to right here in the bookcase and now it's gone! Aaaggh!!
The Seven Mysteries of Life, Guy Murchie
Another of The Holy Three (Non-Fiction), discounting the last section. Murchie spends the entire book elucidating the wonder and inevitability of life and then succumbs to that bane of first-year logic students: begging the question.
The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac
Almost as painful as Joe Matt, but more fascinating.
The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells
One dizzy New Year's Eve, my friend Eric and I discovered this book. The first paragraph of it describes, in metaphor, the entire plot of the book. A year later, while in a used book store, I thought it might be fun to line up all of the various printings of it in chronological order to study their cover designs. There were about twelve in this store alone, with huge temporal gaps between them. And a dramatic change in iconography in the 50s when the movie came out.
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, Jorge Luis Borges
One interpretation of the Codex Seraphinianus, in prose form.
Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck
It's about driving around North America with a dog, writing a journal. I read it while I was driving around North America, writing a journal. I had no dog. Steinbeck's experiences 30 years previous were a baseline and a mirror to me.
Ubik, Philip K. Dick
Since discovering Dick a few years ago (why didn't my friends tell me sooner?), I've been plowing through almost all of them. This remains my favorite.
Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud
A comic book only in form. I keep this with my "real" books so that guests might inadvertantly read it and discover what's so great about comics.
Yesterday's Tomorrows, Joseph J. Corn & Brian Horrigan
This accompanied a Smithsonian exhibit of the past's impressions of today. Gives me hope for the future.

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Last modified: Tue Feb 16 11:33:47 PST 1999