What's your best source for literature?

The SDMB has been a huge source of entertainment and information for me but I must state that it’s greatest value to me has been the books many posters have recommended.

In the past year alone I think I must have bought and read at least six great books that I’ve found referenced on these boards. The ones that come immediately to mind are “King Leopold’s Ghost” which was recommended by PLDennison, and, “Against the Gods - the story of risk” (don’t recall the source for this good read). Just a few minutes ago, I came across a post by SterlingNorth that mentioned the new book “Non Zero” by Rober Wright (author of “The Human Animal”). I loved Wright’s previous book and I cannot wait to rush out to the store to pick up his latest work.

So as much as I enjoy the lesbian orgies, the fundie bashing (when appropriate) and the occasional cogent debate on just about any subject, the greatest value of this site to me has been the literary recommendations.

Keep 'em coming boys and girls. We just may win this war on ignorance yet - though I’m not holding my breath.

I’m an English major at school, and I own about six versions of Norton’s Anthology - they are the literary standard for the required survey classes. The best thing about these books is they give a taste of the best literature from any era (my Vict. lit. book only covers the 1830s -1901). Although a lot of the writers included weren’t popular or widely read at the time, they are often shockingly good, considering they aren’t mainstream. I discover a new favorite author once a week, it seems (Matthew Arnold is my current fave - “Dover Beach” and “The Scholarly Gypsy” are unbelievable, and Lord Tennyson is about to be a new favorite as well). My love for Truman Capote, Muriel Rykisier (sp?), e.e. cummings, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O’Neill all stemmed from Norton.

Is there a time period you love? I’d suggest ordering a Norton on it from Amazon or a campus bookstore. Not only is it worthwhile reading in itself (I have my shortened Amer. lit. in the bathroom cupboard), but it can lead you to some new literary favorites.

First, are you a grad student? If so, Norton will send you anything you want for free if you can get department letterhead.

Second, though Norton is the standard, I find them to be somewhat limited. For example, I’d never teach from the new PostModern anthology because most of it is excerpts from novels; how are you going to teach V. from parts of three chapters? Hell, you can hardly teach Pynchon from the entire book. I’m looking forward to the fruition of the “anthology on demand” movement that some academic publishers are working on now.

Thanks Sara. I was thinking about books more along the lines of non-fiction like history, sociology, philosophy, socio-economics and politics. But thanks for your reply. I’m going to save the classics you’ve mentioned for when I retire and and wish to be left in peace to enjoy my remaining years while I luxuriate over these timeless prose with a cognac and good dark chocolates.

I’ve recommended this book a number of times and I’ll keep doing so: After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection by James West Davidson and Mark H. Lytle. I’ll even go so far as recommending you buy used copies of the older editions of this book if you can find them. There’s some great material that was replaced by new chapters in subsequent revised editions.

Like your handle, both because of the Quicksilver Messenger Service and Quicksilver tube amplifiers.

I must confess that my best “source” for literature is simply strolling through my local Barnes & Noble. I love non-fiction, too. The current events section of BN has lots of goodies. Ditto for biographies and history.

“The Civil War” by Bruce Catton is the best one-volume history of that conflict that I have run across.

“The Private Life Of Chairman Mao” by Li Zhisu is a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at Chinese politics, written by Mao’s personal physician.