Each year, I read dozens of books, that serve as a source of inspiration for my everyday life and as a pleasant break from the creative sterility - in most cases at least - of mass entertainment. On this page, I recommend books that recently left a lasting impression on me and present the best.
A book for all those who wish to identify which trains of thought will shape the dominant worldview in the very near future. Even though the majority of inputs from the mainstream are negative and inauspicious, The "Quantum shift in the Global Brain" belongs to a common thread of thinking underlying multiple areas of inquiry which is anything but negative. With an interesting approach and without degrading into quaint, wishful thinking, it is recommended for those possessing critical thought and the desire to envision an auspicious tomorrow. For more info... click here
The first volume of the famous trilogy. In the distant future, humanity has expanded throughout an entire galaxy and an empire is quickly heading towards its fall. A scientist named Hari Seldon, invents a scientific method known as psychohistory and uses it in an attempt to limit the period of chaos and barbarism between the fall of the Empire and the birth of a new Empire, to 1,000 instead of 30,000 years. This plot may come across as childish. However, this incredible Sci-Fi novel constitutes the definition of a page-turner. Moreover, as all prominent works of Science Fiction, it offers us a glimpse into the future. Arthur Clarke foresaw the advent of the Information Age and geostatic communication satellites among other things. Isaac Asimov (with his editor's input), foresaw through the notion of physchohistory that which is being attempted many decades later, with "Complexity Theory". The analysis of complex systems with advanced mathematical models, in an attempt to simulate and project to a certain degree, their paths. Society for instance is a prime example of a complex system. Once you have read this first volume of the trilogy, you will have a strong desire to read the other two volumes. They are equally addictive although the first is perhaps the best if only because it conveys a more unselfconscious craving to write. For more info... click here
A hawk, in the process of observing an unconventional hummingbird, starts questioning its own worldview. An allegorical fable which on numerous occasions brought to mind Karl Jung's idea of the collective unconscious. In other words, the idea of hereditary instincts, dogmas and predispositions drawing from a collective memory and consciousness, which in this book are put to the test through a chance encounter. The philosophical, psychological and ecological extensions one considers while reading this book, are invigorating and auspicious. For the time being, unfortunately, I was only able to locate this book in Greek and French. For more info... click here
An essay / study on the phenomenon of stupidity. Before any reference is made to the subject matter, we must account for the fact that this essay initially circulated in very limited copies, among people belonging to the author's circle. Only after submitting to "pressure" from his friends and literary / academic peers, did he give in to the idea of a broader publication.
Even though it appears to have a superficial, oversimplified way of defining what makes someone stupid, it is nonetheless a pleasant read that intentionally or inadvertently (I assume the former), is rather funny.
According to the author, an idiot is someone that creates losses to others without reaping any benefit whatsoever. A criminal (or bandit) idiot, is someone that inflicts greater losses on others than the benefits he reaps. And an absolute idiot is someone that causes significant losses upon both others and himself.
His reasoning is certaintly subject to criticism. On the other hand, it presents an interesting framework to further investigate the effect of stupidity both on a personal and a collective level. A characteristic quote appearing in the essay and borrowed from playwright von Schiller is the following: "against stupidity the very Gods fight in vain".
By searching online, you should be able to locate an online version of this essay. For more info... click here
The 3rd novel of Frank Herbert's Dune trilogy. Allegorical and topical, it examines a future more than 8,000 years forward, where humanity has colonized distant planets. A prescient body of work, dealing among other issues, with resource scarcity and ideological conflict. All this, however, within an anachronistic framework of feudal monarchy, reminiscent of the Middle Ages. From the book series, among many memorable quotes, one worth mentioning is, "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind", a command ratified by legal decree in this futuristic society. If we are to take account of the fact that by 2017, computer processors will be in a position to execute as many calculations p/s as the synapses a human brain produces, it makes one pensive. Countless philosophical thoughts and statements as the aforementioned, preoccupy the reader for a long time. Certain elements are undeniably dark, however, it is certain that this work in its entirety, will cause you to view many issues from a more universal vantage point.
To fill in the blanks from the first 2 volumes, prior to reading this book, it is recommended you read or see the big screen adaptation of the 1st book (Dune), directed by David Lynch, coupled with an incredible soundtrack by Toto and Brian Eno. For more info... click here
The novel adaptation / synopsis of the original famous Indian epic that in its original version, spans over 100,000 (!) verses in addition to long prose passages. A tale of two competing families and all accompanying human vices and dilemmas at play, with sound philosophical underpinnings. A valuable read for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of a worldview that is increasingly influencing western thought. Unfortunately, this book does not appear to be available in English. However, it is available in other languages including French and Greek while the Mahabharata play edition, is available in English. For more info... click here
Collection of short essays, articles and poems by Tom Robbins. Of those, one essay that grabbed my attention was entitled "In Defiance of Gravity". Definitely unconventional. In its broadest sense, however, unconventionality is the common denominator wherever the evolution of thought, creativity and science are concerned. Through the process of creative transformation which accompanies times of widespread change, the questions and answers you come across in this particular passage may find fertile ground, provided you do not readily and dogmatically dismiss adult ...childishness. There is one caveat however: Sound principles. For more info... click here
The history of Ancient Greece, from an inquisitive, detached, journalistic vantage point. A book worth reading for anyone concerned about the global state of affairs. Irrespective of your field of expertise, by reading this book, you will draw inspiration for present day. For example, the chapter entitled "The battle of the Drachma", references the financial system in ancient Athens. The simple, no frills logic of the ancient Athenians is an eye-opener. Unfortunately, I was unable to find an English version of this book. It is, however, available in Spanish, Italian, French, Ukrainian and Greek among other languages. For more info... click here
I only regret one thing having read this book. That I ...did not discover it earlier. A tale that even for those of you who are usually averse to fiction, is worth reading. A very strong message for a new era that may be at its dawn in view of the evolutionary process.. of our...kind. For more info... click here
Aliens undertake the task of "supervising " the human race imposing utopic living conditions. Is there a hidden agenda though? This book put me in a philosophical mood by realizing that even utopic conditions cease being utopic given that as humans, we have the innate tendency to constantly seek something different from what we are living. Something that all of us are aware of and that Arthur C. Clarke articulates in his very unique way.By far the best book I have read this year from the author that gave us the "A Space Odyssey" book series. For more info... click here
An optimistic book about the love of a 90 year-old for a young prostitute. Marquez's writing style is mesmerizing as usual. Who said that life can't begin at...90? For more info... click here
A book that belongs in the Sci-Fi genre with a dose of surrealism. College professor, on his way to commit suicide, dies in a car accident. During his funeral, he comes back to life. Mass hysteria ensues, with the media besieging him... An adventure with a very positive message, a fun read. The ending is a bit abrupt, expected something more inspired in keeping with the rest of the book. Definitely worth reading though. For more info... click here
This book is exactly as its title suggests. It's about going on the road, crossing the USA and not only, during the late forties and early fifties, the writer along with an insane friend of his, where vagrancy is a conscious lifestyle selection. A way of living that most of us can envisage with difficulty in present day, where free time and reflexive responses to our impulses are a rarity. Of course this book is the brainchild of an author who was the epitome of self-destructiveness. However, if only for what it conveys - once the self-destructive aspects are removed - for the vividness and the directness of the narrative, it is worth reading. For more info... click here
A surreal adventure, a love story with doses of humour. A bomber falls in love with a "marginal" princess in the 80s. A fun read where you will certainly retain one thing. The phrase "Oh-oh spaghetti-o ". For more info... click here
A "heretic" for its time novel, depicting an alternate for its time present: The axis forces are victorious in WW II and the US is under Japanese-German rule. Considered by many as Philip K. Dick's greatest work, whom many of you will know through cinematic adaptations of his books, such as Bladerunner, Minority Report and Total Recall. For more info... click here
Many times, while watching a big screen movie, you will have felt your adrenalin rise. In a book, however, rarely to such a great degree, and for those with a more vivid imagination, exceeding the sensations caused by even the most realistic 3D rendering. It would be very interesting to see a cinematic adaptation of this novel. After all Bladerunner, based on one of Philip K. Dick's books, has entered the pantheon of classical movies, still viewable many years later. For Sci-Fi fans and not only. For more info... click here
The first novel by 26 year-old (2009) writer and poet Joe Dunthorne, awarded the Times Literary Supplement. An adolescent's life in Wales, circa 1997. Narration of experiences with many touches of humour, cynicism and honesty that everyone will identify with at some level. A fun to read novel that captivates the reader from the first few pages. For more info... click here
Truman Capote's last, uncompleted novel written over the course of many years. The author, undoubtedly one of the best American writers of the 20th century, presents various events always within a cosmopolitan setting, that are bound to intrigue the reader. Capote reveals the caprices and eccentricities of many of his famous contemporaries, through particularly entertaining dialogues. For more info... click here
This novel is the brainchild of acclaimed contemporary Japanese author Haruki Murakami. It is a departure from the typical Japanese themes and takes place in the recent past. Written by an author that experienced an ...epiphany during a baseball game, which lead him to become a writer. Murakami has the rare talent to convey the novel's atmosphere to the reader, evoking strong emotions. A mysterious adventure bound to charm you from beginning to end. For more info... click here
An autobiography by director Ingmar Bergman, a point of reference for international filmmaking, recognized by many, including Woody Allen, as the greatest movie director of all time. Bergman himself, recounts events from his life with raw honesty, beginning from his childhood. The world of cinema, theatre and his personal life are presented from an analytical vantage point, frequently sprinkled with humour. For more info... click here
Picasso is definitely one of the most interesting personalities of the 20th century, both from an artistic point of view and as far as his personal life is concerned. Henry Zidel, portrays the Master-painter's multi-faceted character through the narration of frequently entertaining events in the artist's life. A portrayal of the often sadistic and passionate character of Picasso, through the prism of his many romantic liaisons and his boundless creativity. As of 14-Jun-09 only available in French, Greek, Czech, Polish) For more info... click here
An adventure novel, which is an answer to the philosophical quests of the Enlightenment. Voltaire, in an often ironic manner, with large doses of humour, negates certain philosophers' theories through the narration of a bizarre story, on the boundaries of surrealism and phantasy. However, it must be taken with a grain of salt since it is a polemic on philosophical optimism and metaphysics, currently making a solid comeback as constrasted with the mechanistic, clockwork universe approach Voltaire and Newton espoused. For more info... click here
A biography of the well-known Hollywood star, based on the collaboration of the actor with writer Robert Lindsey. Although the book beautifies certain situations and aspects, at the same time it recounts many interesting events and personalities of past decades from a point of view of a man who was always in the eye of world events. The account begins with his childhood, and there are references to people such as James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and many more, and it contains many elements of philosophical thought and humour. For more info... click here
Athens during the Golden Age of Pericles, and much more. An in depth analysis and account with fictional elements, of distinguished Athenians during the period of Athenian Domination, the prototype of which many past and present leaders try to emulate ...that of a sovereign democracy. It is said that history teaches and that we learn ...from the mistakes of the past. A book which concerns everyone and not only enthusiasts of the Classical Age. For more info... click here
The autobiography of the surrealist painter. Recounts memories which begin with his childhood until the beginning of the 1940s. An abundance of surrealist thought, clear accounts of anticonformist experiences, humour, black humour and an inside loook into the intellectual mechanisms of this great spirit of the 20th century, whose influence remains unchanged today. For more info... click here
Seven "lessons" which draw their inspiration from the always popular Chaos Theory. Everyday we experience manifestations of Chaos. This book, without going into long drawn-out scientific analyses, reveals a philosophy of facing daily living, with practical applications based on Chaos Theory. For more info... click here
Moments from the personal life of Andy Warhol, from his own accounts in this non-linear autobiographical work. The world of this well-known artist-founder of Pop Art, as shown from telephone conversations, dialogues and thoughts sprinkled with humorous elements and philosophical assumptions. Warhol for the most part maintains the anonymity of his friends and often puts us into the temptation of presuming that the person he is conversing with could easily be... For more info... click here
A novel by Dusan Kovacevic which was subsequently awarded in its cinematic rendition, under the direction of Emir Kusturica, the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. A historic retrospective, through the eyes of three "friends" from the beginning of WWII, in Belgrade, up to the wars of the 90's. Surrealistic elements, plentiful humour, and a writing style which keeps the reader's attention from the first until the last page. For more info... click here