Nimdok's Suggested Reading List

My real loves are history, philosophy, the study of religion and science. I also have a strong fondness for very long books that are rich in detail. To my mind a book isn't worth reading if it doesn't immerse you in a place that you've never been before. My favorite books are:
  • "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values"
    Robert Pirsig.

    When I first read this book, in the early '70s, it was a life-changing experience. We're in a more cynical age now, so I don't know if it holds up as well with new readers. It begins as an interesting motorcycle road trip by a man and his son and ends in a dramatic race for sanity. Along the way are delicious excursions into the nature of philosophy, education, human values and self-worth. This book was my generation's "Catcher in the Rye."

  • "The Name of the Rose"
    Umberto Eco.

    This is, simply, my favorite book of all time. On the surface it's a murder mystery set in 14th century Italian Benedictine Monastary. Beneath that is an outstanding inquiry into the notion of truth and knowledge, empiricism and faith. Along the way are discussions of the politics of the catholic church, the price of knowledge and the very human nature of faith and sensuality. There's a wealth of rich historical detail and description that immerses you into the time and place of the book.

  • "A Distant Mirror"
    Barbara Tuchman

    I kind of see this book as a companion piece to "The Name of The Rose." Tuchman is a marvelous writer who captures the important dynamics of the 14th century through the eyes of Enguerrand de Coucy, a nobleman. This gives the book a personal point of view which brings life to what could easily be a dry recitation of people, places and dates. This is history as it should be taught, rather than as it is all too often taught.

  • "Hyperion", "The Fall of Hyperion", "Endymion", "The Rise of Endymion"
    Dan Simmons

    The Hyperion series is absolutely the best science fiction I have read in the past twenty years. Simmons is imaginative, literate, and subtle. He expects his reader to be well-read enough to understand his references and allusions. There are delights on every page and worlds and worlds of rich imagery. He has crafted a galaxy which rivals that of Larry Niven. From the River Tethys, which flows from world to world in a single stream to God's Grove where trees so large they are made into spaceships are grown his visual imagination will suck you in.