As is the case with most writers I read a lot of books. If I am not writing, or thinking about writing, I am almost certainly reading something. So when today’s postaday 2011 topic asked me to list the five most important books that I’ve read it seemed like an easy subject to tackle. I knocked up a quick list of my favorite books and soon realized that five was going to be a hard number to get it down to. Looking at the question more closely it asks specifically for five important books. But, important to whom? It would seem that if you were to ask five people to list their five most important books there would be five different book lists. So I decided to list the five books that have changed my thinking and, in some instances, the direction that my life has taken.
Beginning at number five on my list would be One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This masterful novel that explores the rhythms and cycles of life, with its intricate story lines and overlapping plotlines showed me what could be done within the format of the novel in the hands of a skilled and inspired writer.
Number four on my list is The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. This book was Hesse’s magnum opus and expressed his humanist philosophy to its fullest. This tale of a mystical game by which any and every human concept can be expressed, where winners are judged by the elegance and inspiration behind their gambits in the play of the game, turned me towards a world less material and more open to enlightenment. It taught me to live in the moment
The third book on my list is The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche. In this, his final but incomplete book Nietzsche’s collected notes explain the driving force behind all action as the Will to Power, the desire to be the dominant existence. His most famous quote comes from the pages of this long and complicated tome- God is dead!
Second on this list is the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, an ancient book and one of the canons of Taoism. The Lao Tzu, as it is also known, describes the nature of the Tao, the energy that flows through the universe and sustains it. Its cryptic, poetic passages offer instruction and advice on how best to be at one with the Tao and require deep contemplation to reveal their essential meanings.
The first book on my list is The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley. In this short book I found a philosophy that is practical and an explanation of the universe that I can identify with. The Book of the Law announces the beginning of the Aeon of Horus and was, according to Crowley, dictated by the minister of the God Horus who was named Aiwass. It remains a unique book in my experience and reading it altered the entire course of my life so I suppose that make it important to me at least.