books that give a new perspective on the world

right now i’m about halfway through “fahrenheit 451” by ray bradbury. i must say it’s an amazing book. it’s making me want to go see things differently, and i’m going to.

and now i want more books like it.

can anyone give me a suggestion or share a book that’s given them a new perspective on the world?

i would be very appreciative.

thanks in advance.

(ynh)

1984
The Illuminatus! Trilogy
The Fountainhead
On Certainty
In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat
One Market Under God

Err, that probably does it for now. :slight_smile:

Oh, and, er, I’d recommend them more or less in that order.

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evloution of Human Nature

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Plagues and Peoples

The Coming Plague : Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance

Atlas Shrugged

We the Living

The Giver by Louis Lowry. It’s on about an 8th grade level but it’s unusual to say the least.

On the Beach by Neville Shute

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand was the most prominent. That book really does make you think.

The Merchant of Venice did too, just due to all the stereotypes that were used, and as a picture of its time.

Oh! Can’t forget the Time Machine.

The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins
The Axemaker’s Gift: Technology’s Capture and Control of Our Minds and Our Culture by James Burke and Robert Ornstein
Another reccomendation for Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel.

Read Ayn Rand and realize she’s delusional.The real world will never measure up to her literary terms-as she didn’t when it comes to selling out.Complete philosophical nonsense.Raises snobbery to a new level.

For some insights into real human character and dreams/wishes/plans read Steinbeck.I still feel for the little boy in one of his short stories from,I think,the Long Valley, a compilation of about 3 short stories/novellas.

Vonnegut also wrote some compelling questions (novels)

Well, reading James Morrow’s Blameless in Abaddon singlehandedly destroyed my faith in God. It’s technically a sequel, although reading Towing Jehovah isn’t strictly necesary to enjoy the second book.

James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room took my breath away, like I had been punched in the stomach. I don’t know that it dramatically changed my world view, but it’s one of the most powerful emotional responses I’ve ever gotten from a book.

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe’s raised middle finger to Joseph Conrad, is an amazing take on colonialism from the native viewpoint, without laying on the white guilt.

Some personal choices, in no particular order,

Conscientious Objections - Neil Postman - excellent book about thinking critically in the modern age

The Postmodern Condition - Jean-Francois Lyotard

The Collected Books of Jack Spicer - an obscure American poet, but he goes deep into language theory

The Dunciad - Alexander Pope, and A Tale of A Tub - Jonathan Swift - two excellent critiques of the modern age

Brave New World and 1984, both in equal measure

and, strangely enough, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - a vastly important influence on my sense of humor, and my personal introduction to absurdity

I definitely second Guns, Germs, and Steel…simply one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in recent years.

Hyperspace by Michio Kaku. Some of the physics-talk can lead to a strong MEGO (“my eyes glaze over”) reaction for some readers, but it is a surprisingly engaging book about some of the research going on towards “The Grand Unified Theory”.

The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. Who knew that a book about twenty years of research on Galapagos finches could be so darn interesting?

Parliament of Whores by P.J. O’Rourke. I’m a big fan of this guy, and this book is simply one of the best and one of the most damning examinations of our nation’s government. I’ve heard that this book is supposed to be out of print, but you can still get it from Amazon.com. It was first published in 1992, but (unfortunately) a lot of the things he discusses still hold true today. You’ll never look at American government the same way again after reading this.

Eat the Rich by P.J. O’Rourke. Practically anything written by this guy is worth a look, and this is one of his best works. A great look at the different economies of the world…given the inherent dryness of the subject, it’s impressive how interesting and accessible this book is. Don’t let the title fool you…he’s definitely not a liberal.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Broke my heart the first time I read it. I still re-read this classic every couple of years.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. If you thought Fahrenheit 451 gave you a new perspective, then wait until you get a load of Big Brother.

Connections, The Day the Universe Changed, The Pinball Effect and others by James Burke

Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches, Our Kind, The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig (AKA Good to Eat), Cannibals and Kings and others by Marvin Harris

The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes (but read it with a lot of grains of salt)

oh, and, dare I say it …

Medusa Really. Not just self-promotion.

**
Haven’t read TRQ, but when I read The Origins of Virtue by the same author (Matt Ridley) I could feel the ground shifting beneath my feet. Goes deeply into the question “Is there such a thing as a selfless act?”

From the title, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman Dixon might seem like an unlikely book to change one’s worldview, but it did for me. It provided a tremendous insight into why men (unsurprisingly, given its subject, it does focus on the male of the species) turn out the way they do, giving a detailed account of the makeup, causes, and effects of the authoritarian personality. When I observe irrational behaviour in other men (particularly of the “he’s his own worst enemy” variety) I can usually account for it somewhere in Dixon’s writings. Plus I’m better at analysing my own behaviour and trying (not always succeeding!) to suppress my own negative and/or self-destructive traits.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig - Fascinating, strange, disturbing, and rewarding.

And seeing as how the book in question is classic science fiction…

Ray Bradbury - if you enjoyed Farenheit 451, try Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles.

Robert Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land
An interesting take on religion and humanity, with a Martian flavor to it.

Kim Stanley Robinson - Red Mars
An absolute must in science fiction. Changes the way you think about the future. Also, a good antidote to the dystopian tendency of most recommendations.

Orson Scott Card - Ender’s Game
Military strategy, applied to life. Brilliant book. Warning: do not start reading it until you have time to read the whole book.

The entire works of H.P. Lovecraft
In case you ever wondered how people became Goth. Nothing makes you gother.

Glad you liked Farenheit 451. Now I’m gonna have to re-read it.

Jared Diamond (again): The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee and Guns, Germs and Steel.

Totally changed my outlook on the world.

Looks like 1984 is way ahead. Can’t say it surprises me. I really think that book should be mandatory reading for 10th graders. I have read that book so many times, it never ceases to amaze me how great and terrifying it really is.

Anything by Philip K. Dick.

The Mind’s I by Hofstadter/Dennett (See remarks in this thread:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=108188 )

And I second most of the suggestions already made.

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. Tends to sneak in important thoughts while you not looking for them.

like many others, 1984

the catcher in the rye by jd salinger. best book ever.

on the road - jack kerouac. you read it and think, ‘damn, i gotta get out of this town!’

I was going to recommend Guns, Germs, and Steel too. I knew someone was going to beat me to it – but I didn’t expect like 10 recommendations before mine.

Also, like erislover, I think you should read some Wittgenstein. Mind-bending.