The Empedocles' Suggested Reading List

By no means an exhaustive list, but some books that everyone's favorite Paratwa has been known to enjoy....

Math-y, Geeky Stuff

  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid,
    Douglas R. Hofstadter

    You'll probably see this recommended by others as well, and you should listen to us. We only have your best interests at heart. A really wonderful book of mathematics, logic, art, music, and generally cool thinking stuff. I also enjoyed Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas, so be sure to check that out as well.

  • Calendrical Calculations,
    by Nachum Dershowitz and Edward Reingold

    Very cool treatment of gobs of different calendar systems, with source-code for computing them (in LISP). Amazing how many ways there are of marking time, and how accurate they can be.

  • What is the Name of this Book?,
    This Book Needs No Title, et al.,
    by Raymond Smullyan

    Great books of logic puzzles, anything you can find by Smullyan Will be wonderful if you like logic puzzles. But in particular try This Book Needs No Title if you can. It's not so much logic puzzles as philosophy puzzles. Questions of philosophy and thought that really make you say Hmm! It does for your centers of higher thought what logic puzzles do for your logic centers.

  • The Elements of Typographic Style,
    Robert Bringhurst

    A new addition, but something not to be missed. You'll never look at a book the same way, once you read this one. Strange that a book on typography of all things could be so cool. Yes, it sounds dry, and you do need a bit of prior interest, but you'd be amazed how much goes into making a book. The details of the typeface, the proportions of the page, just how to set text... there's a lot to look at in a book you didn't necessarily know about before. The author of this book happens to be a published poet in his spare time, so the writing is very interesting and clear.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

  • Assorted books by Larry Niven:
    The Ringworld Engineers,
    All the Myriad Ways,
    Convergent Series,
    Dream Park,

    ... basically just about anything you can find by this guy. I haven't read all his books, and I hear some of the ones I haven't gotten to are among his best work. He's a great writer, if you like "hard" science fiction. He's very good at starting with a hypothesis and working out "what would the world be like if THIS had happened/were possible/had not happened."

  • Watership Down
    by Richard Adams

    You might have heard of this one; there was a movie of it a while back. You know, with the rabbits. It's a good book. Must be something when you can say that about a book about rabbits. Better than the movie. Lovely writing, interesting story and characters... puts you in the minds of the rabbits, how they live. Also some wonderful literary tricks. Watch for the paragraph-length sentence somewhere along the line, or the sentences that seem (to me) to have nothing to do with their context. Make no mistake, it's a readable story, and a page-turner. Try it out! I just heard there's a Tales from Watership Down, a sort of collection of other lapine stories, but I haven't read it (yet) so can't tell you much. Gimme a sec, I'll get a copy and read it.... OK, I'm back. I read it. It's nowhere near as good as the original; it reads like mediocre fan-fiction. It's really strikingly lacking. Bummer.

  • Classics by J. R. R. Tolkien.
    The Fellowship of the Ring
    The Two Towers
    The Return of the King,
    The Silmarillion,
    The Hobbit

    Yes, you probably didn't need to be told about these, but they bear mentioning anyway. Don't neglect The Silmarillion, or for that matter Tolkien's other, non-Middle-Earth-related works. The man had a bad case of hypergraphia and an imagination to die for. Take advantage of it.

  • The Klingon Dictionary
    The Klingon Way
    Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, by Marc Okrand

    Hey, learning obscure languages is cool; I recommend it whenever possible. Klingon for the Galactic Traveler I thought particular good.

  • The Sandman (series), by Neil Gaiman
    Watchmen, by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
    Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller

    What Sketch said. Some real favorites.

  • Elfquest,
    by Wendy and Richard Pini

    I haven't kept up with the very latest and greatest turns and twists of this series, but at least I like what I've read. At least to start with, it's fairly light fantasy, but engaging and a good read. Wendy Pini's artwork adds a distinctive style. And the guy in charge of their website is cool.