Tom's Top 10 Books of All Time

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The Western Lands, William S. Burroughs

The Western Lands is actually the third book in the Cities of the Red Night trilogy. This is where William S. Burrough's culminated his work, but this is the zenith of his oeuvre and, in fact, the greatest book ever written by a human being; the absolute pinnacle of literature and a crowning achievement of civilization.

After ingesting and digesting most of the great books of Western civilization over the course of my life, I gained a clear panoramic view of this terrain. So, I want to leave to you the top ten books of all time, carefully found out from among the stacks and scores of lesser books. These top ten books are classics: richer, denser, more fulfilling than lesser books.

Historian Richard J. Smith says,
[These books] focus on matters of great importance, identifying fundamental human problems and providing some sort of guidance for dealing with them. [They] must address these fundamental issues in ‘beautiful, moving, and memorable ways,’ with ‘stimulating and inviting images.’ [Finally,] it must be complex, nuanced, comprehensive, and profound, requiring careful and repeated study in order to yield its deepest secrets and greatest wisdom. One might add that precisely because of these characteristics, a classic has great staying power across both time and space. — from:  Brain Pickings

The Cities of the Red Night trilogy consists of: 

  • Cities of the Red Night: 
  • The Place of Dead Roads: 
  • The Western Lands: 

In his collection of essays on classical literature, Italo Calvino produces these 14 definitions of a “classic”: 

  1. The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying: 'I'm rereading…', never 'I'm reading….'

  2. The Classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them.

  3. The classics are books which exercise a particular influence, both when they imprint themselves on our imagination as unforgettable, and when they hide in the layers of memory disguised as the individual's or the collective unconscious.

  4. A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.

  5. A classic is a book which even when we read it for the first time gives the sense of rereading something we have read before.

  6. A classic is a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers.

  7. The classics are those books which come to us bearing the aura of previous interpretations, and trailing behind them the traces they have left in the culture or cultures (or just in the languages and customs) through which they have passed.

  8. A classic is a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off.

  9. Classics are books which, the more we think we know them through hearsay, the more original, unexpected, and innovative we find them when we actually read them.

  10. A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe, a book on a par with ancient talismans.

  11. 'Your' classic is a book to which you cannot remain indifferent, and which helps you define yourself in relation or even in opposition to it.

  12. A classic is a work that comes before other classics; but those who have read other classics first immediately recognize its place in the genealogy of classic works.

  13. A classic is a work which relegates the noise of the present to a background hum, which at the same time the classics cannot exist without.

  14. A classic is a work which persists as a background noise even when a present that is totally incompatible with it holds sway.

from...Brain Pickings

Take a look at my bookshelf...


Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence

Never have I read a book which spoke to my soul like D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers. Profound and moving...
Paul Morel is probably the most stand-out character in all of these books, maybe David Copperfield is a close second. I really connected with this book, especially in the early years when Walter and Gertrude are raising up their family in their dark and modest home.

'I tell you I've written a great book," DH Lawrence informed his publisher Edward Garnett, after sending him the manuscript of Sons and Lovers in November 1912. "Read my novel&mdahs;it's a great novel." Lawrence's immodesty is forgivable: the book had been through four drafts, and after two years of struggle he was hugely relieved to have it finished. The sense of elation didn't last long. He worried about the title (he had originally called the book "Paul Morel"). He worried whether it might benefit from a foreword (and belatedly posted one to Garnett). He worried about the dust jacket, and arranged for a friend, Ernest Collings, to design one (like the foreword, it wasn't used). Beneath these worries lay a deeper worry, about the text itself: "I am a great admirer of my own stuff while it's new, but after a while I'm not so gone on it," he admitted. He was already on to the next thing (a draft of what would become The Rainbow), and had "scarcely the patience" to correct the proofs. But he was proud when a finished copy reached him in Italy. And the word he used to Garnett recurred, in letters to friends. "It is quite a great novel"; "I remember you telling me, at the beginning, it would be great. I think it is so." from...The Guardian

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Dune, Frank Herbert

These books are the greatest of human achievements and Dune by Frank Herbert out-classes all of its imitators. Dune, the masterpiece, is the first in a series of six books. You must read them all to truly marvel at the craftsmanship and skill of this author.

Dune is one of those rare novels that has met with unanimous praise, both in science-fiction and literary circles. Since the time of its first publication, it has become a best-selling classic, hailed as a landmark in the field and as an amazing feat of creation.

The six books in this series are: 

  • Dune
  • Dune Messiah
  • Children of Dune
  • God Emperor of Dune
  • Heretics of Dune
  • Chapterhouse Dune


Frank Herbert’s classic masterpiece—a triumph of the imagination and one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for....

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.


Dune's Paul Atreides will make your Harry Potter  shit his pants
Tom K say:  There is the Real and then, again, there is the really Real. And until you have been to the brink and back again, you don't really know nothing.

Finally, after you have read Dune you will understand why I am so disparaging of Harry Potter. Dune makes Harry Potter look like a Bazooka Joe comic. Dune's Paul Atreides will make your Harry Potter shit his pants!


Dune, Frank Herbert

As with L. Frank Baum's Oz books or the Little House on the Prairie books, the franchise kept on rollin' after the originator was gone. It's hard to stop a train. Always, the inheritor cannot produce work of as fine quality as his predecessor, but the show must go on for the sake of the fans and the publishing industry behind the juggernaut. After Frank Herbert left off with writing Dune his son stepped up to carry the series forward. Unfortunately, the son wasn't the great craftsman of prose that his father was. The stories Junior pushed out are pretty good science fiction, but the text itself lacks the heavy, dense style of writing of the former books— and worse yet, there were no new ideas.

This list is the complete Dune series to date: 

  • Dune Messiah
  • Children of Dune
  • God Emperor of Dune
  • Heretics of Dune
  • Chapterhouse:  Dune
  • Hunters of Dune
  • Sandworms of Dune
  • House Atreides
  • House Harkonnen
  • House Corrino
  • Butlerian Jihad
  • Machine Crusade
  • Battle of Corrin
  • Paul of Dune
  • Winds of Dune
  • Sisterhood of Dune
  • Road to Dune
  • Mentats of Dune
  • By comparison, (and these are really good books or I wouldn't have wasted my time enumerating them): 
    • Little House in the Big Woods
    • Farmer Boy
    • Little House on the Prairie
    • On the Banks of Plum Creek
    • By the Shores of Silver Lake
    • The Long Winter
    • Little Town on the Prairie
    • These Happy Golden Years
    • The First Four Years
    • Little House in the Highlands
    • The Far Side of the Loch
    • Down to the Bonny Glen
    • Beyond the Heather Hills
    • Little House by Boston Bay
    • On Tide Mill Lane
    • The Road from Roxbury
    • Across the Puddingstone Dam
    • Little House in Brookfield
    • Little Town at the Crossroads
    • Little Clearing in the Woods
    • On Top of Concord Hill
    • Across the Rolling River
    • Little City by the Lake
    • Little House of Their Own
    • Little House on Rocky Ridge
    • Little Farm in the Ozarks
    • In the Land of the Big Red Apple
    • On the Other Side of the Hill
    • Little Town in the Ozarks
    • New Dawn on Rocky Ridge
    • On the Banks of the Bayou
    • Bachelor Girl
    • Old Town in the Green Groves
    • Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls by Heather Williams
    • Mary Ingalls on Her Own by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
    • Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams
    • Missouri Homestead
    • Children of Promise
    • Good Neighbors
    • Home to the Prairie
    • The World's Fair
    • Mountain Miracle
    • The Great Debate
    • Land of Promise
    The OZ books are great literature also. L. Frank Baum wrote the first bunch of books, and his descendents took over the last bunch of books: 
    • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
    • The Marvelous Land of Oz
    • Ozma of Oz
    • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
    • The Road to Oz
    • The Emerald City of Oz
    • The Patchwork Girl of Oz
    • Tik-Tok of Oz
    • The Scarecrow of Oz
    • Rinkitink in Oz
    • The Lost Princess of Oz
    • The Tin Woodman of Oz
    • The Magic of Oz
    • Glinda of Oz
    • The Royal Book of Oz
    • Kabumpo in Oz
    • The Cowardly Lion of Oz
    • Grampa in Oz
    • The Lost King of Oz
    • The Hungry Tiger of Oz
    • The Gnome King of Oz
    • The Giant Horse of Oz
    • Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz
    • The Yellow Knight of Oz
    • Pirates in Oz
    • The Purple Prince of Oz
    • Ojo in Oz
    • Speedy in Oz
    • The Wishing Horse of Oz
    • Captain Salt in Oz
    • Handy Mandy in Oz
    • The Silver Princess in Oz
    • Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz
    • The Wonder City of Oz
    • The Scalawagons of Oz
    • Lucky Bucky in Oz
    • The Magical Mimics in Oz
    • The Shaggy Man of Oz
    • The Hidden Valley of Oz
    • Merry Go Round in Oz
    • The Emerald Wand of Oz
    • Trouble Under Oz
    • Sky Pyrates over Oz
    • The Magical Monarch of Mo
    • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
    • The Enchanted Island of Yew
    • Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz
    • Queen Zixi of Ix
    • Little Wizard Stories of Oz
    • Yankee in Oz
    • The Enchanted Island of Oz
    • The Forbidden Fountain of Oz
    • The Wicked Witch of Oz
    • The Runaway in Oz
    • The Rundelstone of Oz

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    Plan B, Chester Himes

    Violent, raunchy, transgressive...this unfinished masterpiece truly stands at the bleeding edge of avant-garde literature. A finely wrought novel, a credit to the author, and perhaps the pinnnacle of African-American literature. Plan B is one of the greatest novels ever written in human history.

    This was the culmination of the author's Harlem Cycle which consisted of: 

    • The Heat is On
    • The Five Cornered Square
    • The Real Cool Killers
    • The Crazy Kill
    • The Big Gold Dream
    • All Shot Up

    If you are interested in transgressive, African-American literature, you must not miss these authors: 

    • Donald Goines— The entry point into this man's great works, for me, was the graphic novel, Daddy Cool. This novel starts out in 1930s Flint, Michigan no less....
    • Iceberg Slim
    • Sister Souljah
    • Samuel R. Delany
    • James Baldwin

    Here are some specific books that I think you should read. These are cutting edge science fiction at the bleeding edge of literary avant garde. What does that mean? These are stories, ideas, and messages that have never been heard before. In a world where people say everything that can be done has been done, and they say contemporary authors just rehash old works, these are in fact a breath of fresh air....words and stories that have never been heard before. They may owe something to their predecessors, but these are genuine new works.. fresh from the foundation of the Mother Earth.: 

    • Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
    • They Fly at Ciron by Samuel R. Delaney
    • The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
    • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
    • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
    • Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
    • Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
    • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
    • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
    • The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
    • The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull
    • The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
    • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
    • Rosewater by Tade Thompson

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    Pulp, Charles Bukowski

    If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.—Charles Bukowski

    Opening with the exotic Lady Death entering the gumshoe-writer's seedy office in pursuit of a writer named Celine, this novel demonstrates Bukowski's own brand of humour and realism, opening up a landscape of seamy Los Angeles.

    Louis-Ferdinand Céline was one of the great ones. A man for the ages... Please read his absolutely great books and tell him 'Charles Bukowski sent you': 

    • Journey to the End of the Night
    • Death on the Installment Plan
    Charles Bukowski says,
    The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them. — from:  more Bukowski quotes here. . .

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    Steppenwulf, Herman Hesse

    Herman Hesse won the Nobel Prize for his masterpiece novel, The Glass Bead Game also published under the title Magister Ludi. However, Steppenwulf was his most transgressive, experimental novel, and one of the greatest books to have ever been written by a human hand.

    Herman Hesse wrote several books which were a credit to human literary achievement, among these: 

    • Demian
    • Steppenwulf
    • Magister Ludi/The Glass Bead Game
    • Siddhartha

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    The Razor's Edge, W. Sommerset Maugham

    Maugham was a prolific author, but the one book that propelled him to stand among the really great authors of all time, was The Razor's Edge.

    If you liked this book, some other good books concerned with self-actualization are: 

    • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
    • The Magus by John Fowles
    • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    • The Teachings of Don Juan & A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda
    • The Maze in the Heart of the Castle by Dorothy Gilman - This one is difficult to find, but I've provided a copy in RTF format here.
    • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
    • Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan

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    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte

    An Entire Mistake: The Suppression Of The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall: 
    The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë was an entire mistake. It should never have been written, and it would be better for everyone if it never saw the light of day again. These aren’t my views of course, in my eyes Anne Brontë’s second and final novel is a soaring work of genius. Nor are they the harsh words of a critic, although many contemporary critics were in agreement that this was a rough, brutal, ungodly book. No, these words are the judgement of Anne’s elder sister Charlotte Brontë, and they would have a huge impact upon Anne’s reputation.

    After the deaths of Emily and Anne Brontë within a few cruel months of each other in 1848 and 1849, the novel writing career of the two sisters, that had seemed so full of promise, was ended. Charlotte’s publisher, Smith, Elder & Co., approached her and asked if she would prepare new editions of her sisters’ novels to be published by them as a lasting tribute (the original editions published by Thomas Cautley Newby being put together in a decidedly sub-par manner). Charlotte was happy to do this for Wuthering Heights (although she changed much of Joseph’s dialogue to make it a bit more intelligible to readers outside of Yorkshire) and Agnes Grey, but she would not consent to do so for The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall. This was her verdict in the letter to the publishers:

    ‘”Wildfell Hall” it hardly appears desirable to preserve. The choice of subject in that work is a mistake.’

    This verdict was unfortunately to be a lasting one. In effect Charlotte prevented the re-publication of The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall at a time when it was still in the public eye, and when it had in fact been a huge success – the first edition selling even quicker than Jane Eyre had. The novel was buried along with its writer, and would in fact not be published again until another ten years had passed.

    Anne Bronte dot org

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    David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

    It was very difficult to pick just one of Charles Dickens' novels for this list. I finally chose David Copperfield because it tells the story of one of the greatest characters in one of the greatest narratives in English literature. Paul Morel remains my favorite character in all of literature, but David Copperfield comes in a close second.

    The other high points of Charles Dickens lustory career include: 

    • A Tale of Two Cities
    • Great Expectations
    • Bleak House
    • The Pickwick Papers
    • Oliver Twist

    A Tale of Two Cities was Charles Dickens' historical novel. Although they seem historical to us 120+ years on, it is important to realize that his other novels were contemporary literature written for a contemporary audience.


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    Some French Books

    I was unable to narrow it down because these are all great books and should be recognized as pillars of Western literature. At the same time, I didn't want to clog up my top 10 list with a bunch of foreign books, so I have grouped these stellar entries together for this edition, which I title "Some French Books." They are all great and stand alone and should be read first in translation and then read again in their original French.

    • L'education Sentimentale by Gustave Flaubert
    • Les Faux-monnayeurs by Andre Gide
    • Notre Dame des Fleurs by Jean Genet
    • La Route des Flanders by Claude Simon

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    The Seafaring Stories of Herman Melville, most famously Moby Dick

    Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, and Henry David Thoreau are all titanic authors of the 19th century, but Herman Melville stands head and shoulders above them all on the lofty perch of world class literature. When we read his magnificent tomes, we really have a window on the world of the 1800s (although, Laura Ingalls Wilder, for a 'land-lubber', is good in that regard too).

    Moby Dick is truly a masterpiece of writing, but several other books are standout master works of the author's creation too, including: 


    • Billy Budd
    • Typee
    • Omoo
    • Redburn
    • Mardi

    The 'Illustrated Classics Edition' which my parents bought for 59¢ at Woolworth, was my first exposure to this great body of literature.


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    The Castle and The Trial, Franz Kafka


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    A Flag for Sunrise, Robert Stone

    In case you haven't noticed, we have gone over ten books! It's okay though, there are just too many really awesome books out there.  

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    The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie


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    Shogun, James Clavell

    The Asian Series of James Clavell consisted of: 

    • Shogun
    • Tai Pan
    • Gai Jin
    • Noble House
    • King Rat
    • Whirlwind

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    We are going to talk about some books that I read as I was coming up, in my years, and these are really monumental, life-guiding books, they really "rocked my world" so to speak. These are the books that got me where I am at now. Here they are enumurated: 

    • Their Master's War by Mick Farren
    • Prince of the Godborn by Geraldine Harris
    • Jay's Journal written by Anonymous
    • Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
    • TimeQuest by Ray Faraday Nelson


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    Books That Flew Under the Radar

    These books are every bit as great as the world-class literature I've talked about above, but they are less well known. Here they are enumurated: 

    • The Fifth Science by Exurb1a
    • True Grit by Charles Portis
    • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
    • Tabloid Dreams by Robert Olen Butler

    D I V E   D E E P E R   I N T O   T H E   C A N N O N > > > >

    These are the blogs I follow: 
    No particular order. These are not ranked.

    These are the websites I visit as I "wander about Athens with a lamp": 

    Where can you find me on social media?

    How about video/music networks?




    End Blasphemy End SatanismStop Satanism • Blaspheme Never Again !

    The First Amendment protects against the infringement of religion and in so doing, it protects religion itself from blasphemers, heretics, iconoclasts, and apostates.

    Satanism is NOT a legitimate religion and does not deserve any protections under the First Amendment.

    Satanism exists solely as a repudiation of another religion, Christianity. Satan is NOT a god. He's a flunky. Any worship of Satan is merely a rude gesture AGAINST the God of Christianity. The entire act of worship in Satanism IS flinging an insult at the God of Christianity. As such, it is not the practice of a religion, but rather the practice of an insult.

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