…for personal inspiration? I’m sure many Dopers will not regularly consult the traditional texts of organized religions, but are there works you like to keep by you for intellectual or moral uplift from time to time?
The Discworld and Oz series.
I also have several good biographies of Teddy Roosevelt in the permanent collection of the bedside book pile.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Emma Bull’s Bone Dance. There’s a paragraph about working for love I liked so much that, having read the book at the library, I spent several years searching for a copy. Finally found one, yay!
Cordelia’s Honor. It’s got several permanent page markers, including one defining my “issues with authority” (paraphrased from memory, “I don’t need to be in charge, I just refuse to take orders from idiots”).
Well, about everything in the Voskosigan series, really. Some books are lighter, some darker, but they’re all good to reread at different times.
Discworld has been mentioned. Any of the Witches books is good, but I tend to enjoy the Guard best (then again, my first Discworld book was “Guards, guards!”, so it might be a case of imprinting).
American Gods and Anansi Boys (both by Neil Gaiman) manage to suck me in every time. I really shouldn’t start them late in the day, because that’s a night I’m likely to end up skipping sleep. I don’t know if I’d call them “personal inspiration” but they’re darn good at getting me out of my head.
Not necessarily “inspiring”, but I still haven’t read a Pérez-Reverte book I didn’t like and many provide food for thought. Special kudos for being the only non-IT-guy writer from whom I’ve seen a believable IT-based novel (he does work a lot on getting stuff he doesn’t know about checked by someone who does).
Anything by Alan Watts, who is also all over youtube.
Tony Robbins may be criticized, but he is inspiring to read and listen to.
Any of Elmore Leonard’s books. Yes, I’m a simple sort.
Whenever I am feeling particularly discouraged about the state of the world, I reread a book about Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends. If they could display so much courage in the face of such evil, there must be hope for the world.
The singularity is near by Ray kurzweil, and the rational optimist by Matt ridley. Both claim human problem solving abilities will continue to grow and make like better, that we are on a reliable trajectory in this direction.
The Machinery’s Handbook
Looking out for #1
By Robert Ringer
Whenever I get down about the world or about my place in the world. Picks me right up.
A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelsson
Howard’s End by E. M. Forster
Pretty much anything by Dr. Seuss
Anything by P.G. Wodehouse.
Also, some of the Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe novels. (That’s the author followed by the main character. I can’t figure out how to punctuate it.)
I will mention religious texts – St. Therese’s autobiography since she talks about her Little Way of making small everyday things a spiritual exercise.
That, and the collected Calvin and Hobbes.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I’ve been reading it to the Firebug at bedtime over the past few weeks. We’re with Aunt Beast now.
Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth.
I have found a fair number of passages from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations to be directly applicable to my own life, especially the very first lines of chapter 5.
Stephen King’s “The Stand”, the long version.
SM Stirling’s “Dies the Fire” and “Island in the Sea of Time”
Harry Turtledove’s “How Few Remain”