"If we cling only to that which we know, then we'll only know that to which we cling."  

I am an avid reader. I was about ten when I began to really read on my own; the first real book I read was The Miracle Worker . I also read books like the Bobbsey Twins and The Hardy Boys Mysteries. Every summer I would scour the bookstore shelves looking for that "perfect" book to read over those three months. I estimate that I've read at least 600 books... many of the books I've read, I have read more than once.

Some years ago while visiting my brother-in-law in Colorado, I noticed his extensive library of books, when I asked him how many of the books he actually read, I was impressed to learn that he'd read them all. It was that visit which inspired me to do the same. I decided then that I would finish every single book that I started, and also that I would start every book that I purchased, checked-out, or borrowed; with only one exception to this self-imposed rule, I will not continue to read something that I find morally reprehensible.

A couple of my favorite fictional authors are Louis L' Amour and Clive Cussler. Not a lot of substance in them, I know, but simple good-guy-gets-bad-guy-then-gets-girl stories that always entertain.

Below is a very short list of my recommended must read authors and some of their books:

C.S. Lewis

  • The Great Divorce
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • A Grief Observed
  • The Problem with Pain
  • Mere Christianity

The first of his books that I read was The Abolition of Man, I had to write a paper on it in college. It wasn't a very thick book, so I sat in the library and read it all the way through in a short period of time. As I finished, I found myself wondering what on earth I'd read! I didn't understand much, if any, of it. I had to read it a full two more times and very carefully and slowly, to begin to understand it. By the end of the third reading (several days later), I was hooked on C.S. Lewis!

If you've never read any of C.S. Lewis' works, you really must do so. He is quite extraordinary in his evaluations and conclusions. While he is marketed as a Christian writer, he appeals to all. I make it an annual event, beginning on my birthday, that I reread his Signature Series of books.

C.S. Lewis is probably most famous for his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the only one of his children's books that I have read.

Lyall Watson

  • Dark Nature: A Natural History of Evil
  • SuperNature: A Natural History of the Supernatural

Despite the ominous title of Dark Nature, it is a scientific and anthropological look into the nature of evil. Why life-forms, especially human, do bad things. It adheres, fundamentally, to the principle akin to the notion that a chicken is just an egg's way of making more eggs; better described, in this case, as, a human (or dog, elephant, lemming, bird, etc.) is just a gene's way of making more genes... If you were hoping for Stephen King-like horror, you'll be disappointed. :)

Supernature is a fascinating and refreshingly objective study of the nature of the supernatural... this book is a must for those who, like me, see the inter-connectivity of all things.

Fred Alan Wolf

  • Parallel Universes

When Einstein suggested relativity, he both answered a lot of questions and raised several more. Parallel Universes addresses these questions and discusses the very real possibility of multiple universes. This book is fascinating and will make you think!

Malcolm Gladwell

  • Blink
  • The Tipping Point

Blink discusses what humans can know in the blink of an eye. The Tipping Point describes social epidemics as viral infections in the collective mind of society. While Malcolm Gladwell is a very entertaining writer, the processes to his conclusions are compelling to be sure. If you enjoy philosophy and are (or desire to be) a critical thinker, you must read these two books!

Ayn Rand

  • The Fountainhead
  • Atlas Shrugged

These are really great books relating to principles of economy and value. It is my understanding that the three top-ranked books among the Forbes' 400 are, or at least were, The Holy Bible, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, in that order.

Ayn Rand could be best described as an atheist and a fundamental Capitalist.

Charles Dickens

  • David Copperfield
  • Oliver Twist

I only recently finished reading Oliver Twist. I was inspired to do so by the upcoming movie of the same title. Before I see the film, I like to have read the book... I know myself better than to think I would read the book after seeing the movie. Oliver Twist was thoroughly enjoyable... David Copperfield (perhaps my single most favorite fictional book) I read some years ago. Dickens has a way of painting (verbally, of course) a picture more vividly than any canvas could possess. I felt myself empathizing with young David; my heart ached at his plight and soared at his success. A powerful story at the very least.

Leo Tolstoy

  • Anna Karenina

This is the only book of his that I have read. I only read it because I had to during my last year of high-school. In addition to this reading requirement, I also had to write a several page book report. This book left such an indelible mark upon me that I often refer to it, mentally, when I find my attitude resembling that of Anna Karenina. While the book's title bears her name, she is hardly the protagonist one might expect of the title character. When she reaches her ultimate demise late in the story, I could not help but think that, horrific as it was, it was a fitting end for a person of her diminutive caliber. Though tragic, the lessons learned and the compare-and-contrast between Anna and her sister-in-law's sister is the great message of the story.

Victor Hugo

  • Les MisÚrables

Possibly, and probably, the greatest fictional book of all time. A dauting read, to be sure!

Carl Jung

  • The Undiscovered Self

If you're interested in self exploration, in truly understanding and getting to know the real self, then you must read this book. In fact, if you're like me and are interested in a profound understanding of this world, it is essential to understand oneself; however, too often self-exploration is mistakenly confused with ego-exploration, a grave pitfall. A thorough read of this book will help to guide us in the proper exploration.

Plato

  • The Republic

Plato is possibly among the most intelligent mortals to have lived on earth. While virtually all of his works are profoundly thought provoking, the Allegory of the Cave is particularly poignant. If you are unfamiliar with his writings, you are indeed in for a wonderful ride!

The Book of Mormon

If you haven't heard of it or haven't read it, you can get a free copy by clicking here . I have read this book several times. It is a remarkable ancient scripture written by prophets of God who lived in the ancient Americas (long before they were called the Americas). It is a companion to the Bible and, when used with the Bible, eliminates much of the confusion that exists between the numerous religions of the world. It is the only book (of which I am aware) that includes the promise to its reader that if you would read the book, then ask God, the Eternal Father of us all, if the book is true, that He will reveal the answer to you. I have personally put this promise to the test... as a result I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

If you, like me, are interested in knowing truth, then I would exhort you to read this book! But be forewarned, it will change your life!